Sunday, December 9, 2012

NEGATION - Demo [2012]

Here's a demo tape fresh outta New Orleans. Pretty rough around the edges but I definitely hear something good coming out of these folks' amps. Negation have a driving post-punk sound in the vein of the better purveyors of no-wave, with feet planted firmly in the realms of both the cerebral and the untamed. But this ain't some No New York ripoff band; a closer point of reference might be Silver Abuse, and the scuzz guitar reminds me of End Result more than a little bit (of course, most everything sounds like 80's Chicago punk or Hüsker Dü to me, so what do I know). The three members all share vocal duties, which is always a plus in my book when done well.

I will say this demo sounds pretty great paired with the Orbit/Regrets 7" by Kitchen's Floor. They don't really sound the same, and the association is probably arbitrary on my part, but their respective rackets complement each other in my ears.

I don't want to draw too many conclusions from such an early document of a band, but suffice it to say I'm excited to see what happens with this three-piece. A couple months ago I ran into the bass player Osa when the POC Zine Project Tour stopped in Urbana. She's much of the brains behind Shotgun Seamstress, a "black punk fanzine that also focuses on black queer & feminist artists and musicians." If that zine is any indication, there are some great ideas to be played with here, so keep an  ear out.

You can download the demo for free-ninety-nine at Negation's bandcamp page.
Follow them on tumblr for photos, live dates, etc.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sexgender - Split w/ Baklavaa [2012]

Baltimore is home to a thriving radical queer community, members of which are up to all kinds of cool stuff. One such example is Sexgender. On this split EP they dig out some muddy noise terror with mid-tempo beats just right to get you dancin' (if you're as screwed in the head as me and find this kind of stuff danceable). The lyrics deal in personal politics that channel a special kind of fear and desperation, and beat you over the back of the neck with it. There's definitely some My War-era Black Flag sound in here, and the second to last song is a shit-caked (in a good way, of course) cover of Nirvana's "Negative Creep." As for Baklavaa's side, I haven't heard it. If you have, lemme know if it's any good?

You can listen/download (PWYW) on Sexgender's bandcamp. Physical copies don't appear to be avialable online (try emailing, but if you're in B-more check them out -- they're playing at Club K (2101 Maryland Ave.) tonight. They're playing two more East Coast shows this weekend:

Dec 8 - Philadelphia PA
At Motel Hell (Watts & Mckean Streets)

Dec 9 - Brooklyn NY
At Fitness (1196 Myrtle Ave)

Sexgender tumblr
Sexgender bigcartel

Dog Faced Hermans - Hum of Life [1993]

Sometimes I'm shooting the shit about music with someone or having some other idle conversation, and one of us will mention Dog Faced Hermans. Inevitably we'll both crack a grin of having the shared knowledge of the band. Because they're criminally overlooked among your Sonic Youths and Chumbawumbas of the late '80s/early '90s. Their sound really cannot and should not be aped -- much in the same way that Can made music that was singularly Can, the Hermans' music was a convergence of four personalities whose expression at all times openly defied the restrictions of a 'style' that might be copied or clotted into some fad subgenre. Musical and philosophical connections with the Ex are readily discernable, as Andy Moor was playing with these guys in Scotland for years before he joined up with those Hollanders, and the two bands frequently collaborated and toured together.

"How We Connect" is a perfect example of what makes the Hermans so great. Stomping, bassy drums, excavator-engine bass, aggressive horns, and guitar that scuffles and screes on a no-wave frequency, only to stop on a dime and change to something resembling West African highlife. And then there's Marion's vocals. She never really yells so much as sings fiercely, with a poetic clarity that demands your attention and thought. Definitely a good LP band, because these folks know how to exercise song dynamics (for all the experimentation the Hermans engaged in, they wrote good songs, first and foremost). They close this album with Ornette Coleman's "Peace Warrior," a rollicking punch in the gut of a cover that fuses free improv jazz with punk in the most brilliant and intuitive way.

Hum of Life has been out of print for a long time, but in 2009 the vinyl was reissued on Mississippi Records, a very cool-sounding establishment in Portland. I don't know if it's still available, and the store/label's web presence is rather scant, but see if you can get in touch with them to find out: their facebook page has their contact info. For those of you who aren't registered on that NSA shadow site, there's always the old-fashioned physical location/phone number:

Mississippi Records
4007 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, Oregon 97227
(503) 282-2990

Mystery lies in the space between us, I make sound which approaches language

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mark McGuire - Nightshade [2012]

This has been my night music for a little while now so I'm posting it tonight. If you are into what Mark McGuire does, have at this, 'coz it's a good one. In his words:
"NIGHTSHADE" was originally released in May of 2012 on cassette, for a short tour in Japan. Although there were 50 or 60 copies made, only about 30 or 40 of them ever got assembled and out, so it's fair to say it won't be popping-up in stores anytime soon. Originally inspired by a deep, nocturnal journey that took place in New Zealand earlier this year, these tracks were made as a devotion to the spiritual elements of the infinite space of the night sky. Electric & acoustic guitars, and vocals run through guitar-synthesizer and other electronics, calling back to the voices in the sky. A small, dark stage in the open air, a light drawing constellation trails on the hills, underneath the infinite Recorded Spring 2012 in a big, empty house in Portland.
Guitars, vocals, and electronics recorded during the first first-quarter, and the last first-quarter (the waxing gibbous and the waning gibbous) of March 2012 at Heavenly Bodies, Portland, Oregon. This music was first inspired under the bright and beautiful night sky of the southern hemisphere. More specifically, at 41° 15 41.12 S, 174° 57 3.04 E, Wainuiomata, New Zealand, February 11th, 2012

This music is some top shelf latter-day American kosmische; in my light-polluted corner of the world, music of the heavens has to substitute for the sight of them. Good for reading, headphones, sleep, ambience or active listening, pondering, etc etc etc. Get into this you heads.

You can stream/download/buy Nightshade on McGuire's bandcamp.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

VA - Ethiopian Soul and Groove [1960s-1970s]

Just look at the cover. I shouldn't even have to try to persuade you about this comp. As was true for a huge portion of the world by the late 1960s (Cambodia, Iran, Peru, Japan, and much of West Africa stand out in my admittedly limited experience), Ethiopia had been permeated by American jazz, r'n'b, and rock music, only to spit back out their own take on the stuff. Ethiopian musicians tended to blur the lines dividing these genres in the US, and the results are pretty fantastic.

A few of the more famous guys on here include Mahmoud Ahmed, Alèmayèhu Eshèté, and  Gétatchèw Mèkurya (who fans of the Ex are probably familiar with). But the whole tracklist is stacked with funky psyched-out tunes that naturally incorporate the region's folk melodies thanks to a tendency to play traditional songs in popular styles. Musical influence from Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa via Sudan can be heard -- though what do I really know about that? Just give this one a listen:

Buy Ethiopian Soul and Groove at Dusty Groove
Yegenet Muziqa

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

VA - DeKalb Brawl City [2012]

This comp arrived in my mailbox some weeks ago, and finally I can share it with you. For those of you who don't live in Illinois, DeKalb is a town at the western extreme of Chicagoland, out on the Emperor Reagan Expressway. It's isolated enough from Chicago to have grown its own punk scene in the past few years, and the label Don't Panic, It's a Distro have assembled this compilation of the town's premier DIY artists. Sounds range from the thrashpunk of Sick/Tired (featuring members of MK Ultra & Weekend Nachos) to the World Inferno-infused ska stylings of Danger Boy to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it electronic glitch of Gonzo Violence to the folkpunk of Davey Dynamite ... you get the idea. For a comp with such a variety of genres, one might be tempted to write it off as being 'all over the place.' Truth is, it works together really well. Usually you can't pay me to listen to metal, but when the tracks from Minimum Wage Assassins and Baptism came on, I actually kept listening. It's possible you won't dig every track on here, but there's definitely something for everyone.

1. Hasta Lumbago - Race Car
2. Turbo Vamps - For My Boys
3. Sick/Tired - Sky High
4. "Richardson" Richardson - Beard Option / Incestuous Scene
5. Danger Boy - Dinosaur Neil
6. The Stockyards - Dead Roses
7. Minimum Wage Assassins - Chopped Up Burnt Left for Dead
8. MZRCDXVL - Pace
9. The Rales - First World Decay
10. Nobelium 102 - Unicorn Genocide
11. Davey Dynamite (& Friends) - Up and Down (Live from College Ave)
12. Gonzo Violence - Ghetto Tactics
13. Seasonal Men's Wear - Ice Climbers
14. Baptism - Ezway
15. A - DeKalb Raw Pity
16. Sleeping Under 47 - Rain Comin'
17. Jim Crowbot - DeKalb Brawl City

DeKalb Brawl City - listen/download here
Don't Panic, It's a Distro

[p.s. - 100th post! here's to the next hundred]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ONO - Albino [2012]

Since I mentioned these guys in my End Result post, I figured I should bring it to your attention that ONO released a new record on Halloween. It is a hell of a thing. But before I get into the record perhaps some introduction is in order:

Around 1979 or 1980 the two founding members of ONO, P. Michael and travis, started playing dirty R&B tunes at strip clubs, weddings, wherever else would have them. They were as likely to play stuff by King Crimson as Rufus Thomas or Bo Diddley. Eventually they found their way into the punk scene via queer bars like La Mere Vipere, O'Banions, and Medusa's (travis had been on shore leave from the Navy in time to be around for the Stonewall riots in NYC), freaking out the audiences at shows they played with Chicago bands like Naked Raygun, the Effigies, Algebra Suicide, and of course End Result. Actually their first gig in late 1980 was opening for Special Affect, which featured a pre-Ministry Al Jourgensen. Whenever out-of-towners like Lydia Lunch or Cabaret Voltaire would roll through, ONO would bring the noise.

During that first decade ONO released two LPs, 1983's Machines That Kill People and 1986's Ennui. Two slabs of true weirdness ... people were not particularly receptive to the industrial-noise-gospel-synth dirges contained on those albums, especially when confronted with the band members' outlandish stage attire and unsettling ritualistic behavior in live shows. Still, the band continued to perform through to 1990, appearing on compilations alongside Algebra Suicide, Portland weirdos Smegma, and a whole rabble of forgotten groups. For more info on the band's history, consult the writeup/interview in Roctober, always an authoritative source for Chicago punk and outsider musics.

There wasn't much noise from the ONO camp through the '90s, though travis and P. Michael kept themselves busy with other projects. Then, in the late aughts the world seemed to catch up to them, and ONO started gigging again at various DIY venues throughout Chicago. Which brings us to Albino: a haunting  summation of the dark magic the group have generated over the past three decades. I could tell you about "I Been Changed," with its gospel-tune lyrics of redemption sung over a Birthday Party-style blues-punk din, or the excellent cover of the VU's "All Tomorrow's Parties," but really my words can't do this album justice. Just hit play:

Albino is out now on Moniker Records in a pressing of 300. You can stream the album and purchase it on the label's bandcamp page.

Divine Intervention Now - Demo [2012]

I just heard this from Ongakubaka and felt compelled to pass it along. Doom-laden lyrics delivered in a captivating folk-pop fashion. This is some masterfully played stuff from one Phillip Mahoney over in Philadelphia. He calls it a demo but the production is razor sharp. I don't want to talk your ear off on this one, you should just listen.

If you want to shell out $20, you can get a copy of the album sent to you in a unique beetle-shaped flash drive. To quote Mr. Mahoney:
After the coming apocalypse, only the bugs will remain. Contains full five-song demo, lyrics, original image for playback display, and the full text of Erich Von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods."

Short of that you can download the songs for free on bandcamp. Highly recommended.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Puke Skywalker - Poison EP [2012]

So I dig this Puke Skywalker stuff for a couple of reasons. One is that it's a name I was often called in grade school by the ever-so creative dipshits with whom I was educated. Another is that this dude used to maintain an excellent music blog that had a lot of influence on the stuff I've listened to in the past few years. A third is that this guy makes some sick, often bizzare, always interesting remix music. 

This EP is a different animal than the Tripper Crust EP I posted some months back. While that one dealt exclusively in blastbeats and grind sounds, Poison has an almost optimistic sound (I'm reminded of James Ferraro's Far Side Virtual stuff), and could even be perceived as 'danceable.' It opens up with a reworking of the VU's 'I'm Set Free,' followed by an Alan Parsons Project tune. He still manages to work in some early 90s powerviolence samples, but it doesn't run the show this time.

Get into this and share it with your weirdo friends.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Roselit Bone - Live at Ella Street Social Club [2012]

I had already been digging these outlaw countrypunks' knife fight tunes for a while by the time one of them sent me a submission. Roselit Bone plays apocalyptic folk songs that bring to mind the likes of a Beefheart or Tom Waits. Or even Man Man, to cite a more recent example (mostly in the vocals). Shit must look pretty dire from up in Portland for these fellows to conjure the haunting mood present on this live set. Roselit Bone seem like the kind of band that is best heard whilst staring into an empty glass of hooch in a dim saloon. It's not all drunken gloom, though. Maybe the standout of these tunes is 'My Coward Heart' -- a ballad in a classic style (chord melodies!?) that is refreshing to hear.

This 7-song set was released on cassette back in the summer. You can order it for $5 on Roselit Bone's bandcamp page, or download a digital copy, PWYW. Do yourself a favor and get into this.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Atomic Tanlines - Demo [2012]

I was beginning to worry that nobody made punk music this catchy anymore. The Atomic Tanlines hail from Denton, Texas, home to such folks as Wiccans and Marked Men. This demo contains a handful of grade-A good-times punk bangers that will leave you wishing it was longer than eight minutes. Songs titles like 'BSDM vs. Tupac' and 'Fuck My Reproductive Duty' give you an idea of what you're in for. Vocalist Allyssa Lowe has got some righteous pipes, real charismatic and performative. Just watch the video so I don't have to spell it out for you:

You can read a Shotgun Seamstress interview with the singer of the Atomic Tanlines here.

The demo is available for free download so have at it, fiends.

Vice Versa - Rehearsal Tapes [2012]

If the blues stylings of the Chaw were a little too polished for your primitive ass, give these Russian mudslingers a listen. Instantly bringing to mind heavy Japanese sounds à la Blues Creation, High Rise/Mainliner, Leningrad Psychedelic Blues Machine, or American heads like Purling Hiss or an old Black Keys album mixed under the influence of cough syrup, Moscow's Vice Versa play the kind of feedback-drenched rock and roll that I should by all rights be sick of already, for all its simple premises. But bands like this keep dragging me back in. There are some really fine moments on this demo; at some points, like on the 10+ minute 'Stranger,' the racket reaches the stratosphere where you'd expect to find Les Rallizes Dénudés. During the less noisy passages Vice Versa sort of resemble the somberness of St. Petersburg's Sonic Death, but without the acoustic instruments. Highly recommended, especially if you're into the stuff mentioned.

This was released earlier this month and you can download it for free on bandcamp.

Distract - Demo [2012]

Featuring members of the Outs (RIP) and excellent noisy bludgeoners Cold Lovers, the pist punx of Chicago bequeath to you this sick demo. I'm not nearly well-enough versed in the folk culture of hardcore to speak about this with any fluency, but suffice it to say this one burns proper. The chorus to 'Our Strength' is a singularly concise statement of feminist defiance against patriarchy in the punk world (or anywhere else, for that matter). If you hang around hardcore shows in Chicago, you've probably already seen these ladies play -- but if not, you should correct that. Ask a punk!

Distract bandcamp

The Chaw - LP [2012]

I'll kick off the submission pile with the Chaw, hailing from the East Bay. The guy who sent me this expressed an affinity for the Janitors, whom you are probably familiar with if you visit this blog with any regularity. The Chaw are definitely kindred spirits in that realm of dark, fuzzed-scuzz psych rock; but whereas those Swedes like to drive a jam into a well-dug repeating groove, these guys sound more like the kind of dudes who'd sucker you into a drunken brawl at one in the morning. There's a palpable unifying ambiance in these songs, whether they're playing straight-ahead gutter blues or sinister ballads. The baritone vocals feature prominently and recall Nick Cave (especially the Grinderman stuff) more than a little bit -- though you'll hear no objection about that from me. At its heart this is an LP of meticulous pop songs, but with the rough edges of a Jim Morrison or Tom Waits sort of vehicle.

This untitled (self-titled?) LP got released earlier this month. They're offering free listens here, and you can stream/purchase a copy over at the Chaw bandcamp page. Down a few tumblers of whiskey and stagger around to these jams.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mark Stewart interview in The Wire magazine

So I've been pretty distracted from writing about musics, what with heavy classes and falafel-slangin' taking up most of my time. But I'll have a few days free to get back into things on this page, so look forward to some new submissions and classic hits.

In the meantime, check out this lengthy interview in The Wire with Pop Group vagabond Mark Stewart. Dude is all over the place -- quite literally in terms of geography, as well as music and ideas.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Interview with DIVE SIGNALS

Ever since I first heard Dive Signals, the solo electronic project of Californian Angel Ortega, I have been curious to know what motivates his work. Much of his music makes use of drone to effect a mood that is simultaneously distant and inviting. You can read my writeups of a couple of his albums here. But first, hear the truth from the man himself.

When I heard 10,000 Tropics I immediately got a coastal, Southern California sort of feeling. Do you think your location has much influence on your music? Do you do most of your work in Orange?

Indeed a sunny coastal sensation is eminent in 10,000 Tropics, but I tried to embed deeper in the tracks a certain ambiguous lonely, claustrophobic sensation – a lower mood basically. For instance the track “Mother Says Please Come Home” is followed immediately by “May the Circle Be Unbroken,” a song about a man’s mother passing.

My location is very influential on my work and that location is the suburbs of Orange County. House after house, telephone wires following bland sidewalks – the environment is stifling to my creativity. My studio is a bedroom. Amidst the creation of 10kT I became extremely reclusive, almost to the point of depression. 10kT was birthed out of desperate frustration and longing for something greater, something bigger than my surroundings. Regardless of whether or not listeners see the tonality I was trying to produce I feel a sense of great emotion is unconcealed.

How long have you been working as Dive Signals? Have you been/are you involved in any other musical projects?

Dive Signals began about a year ago … I had a good amount of equipment stolen and was forced to look for other methods of creating music. This was both a depressive time and a growing experience in terms of artistic matters. About 3 years ago I was in a collaborative group with fellow label mate Opacities. Together we conjured experimental harsh noise and abrasive drones following the exuberant influence of bands such as Wolf Eyes and Sunn O))). And then came a time where we both felt it would be healthy to explore what we were capable of as solo artist. We do collaborate here and there – a split is on the way actually.

What are the details on the Opacities split? Any word as to what we might expect from your contribution?

The Dive Signals / Opacities split / collaboration EP was released digitally in July and features a collaboration track and a few remixes of each other’s tracks. Sound-wise it varies up a bit yet bears a unique flow as our sounds are both formidable yet deeply involving. On this album, we are both trying to push our boundaries as artists in that field of thinking. The tracks thus far are a bit darker and lean towards some kind of odd psychedelic meditation. It’ll be an interesting listen.

Last time I checked, you have something like 14 releases out this year. What drives you to stay productive? Do experience any 'creative fatigue' when working at this pace?

I’m not sure what drives me … I suppose it’s just in my system. Though I never settle in comfortably with one genre for too long I maintain a certain consistency that somewhat strings my releases together, but it’s loose as is the process in churning out the final product which keeps the experience fresh and challenging. I need this in my life though. I love what comes with creating music, the burdens and the triumphs – especially with me being something of an outsider amidst the current music scene. There’s an odd passion that drives me to create something bigger and better than the previous releases.

Besides the swiftness of your release schedule, I've been impressed with the variety of styles present on your recordings. Does this stem from whatever you're listening to at the time, or is it a conscious effort?

It’s most definitely a conscious effort. The last thing I want is to feel overly comfortable recording a track. Dive Signals is a free form project, an extension of my thoughts – it goes down to my very core. I should be pushing my personal boundaries. Music is obviously an art form, thus it being an expression of self; one, I feel, should grow from such experiences. And, damn do I want to grow as an artist. There’s a certain urgency in this matter that I maintain, and I’m not all too sure why… but it feels significant day in / day out. I seem to see my passion as a musician is never at the level I care for it to be. It’s difficult to maintain a fan base this route, but I’m not doing this for other people. It’s a deeply personal excursion.

Who are some of your influences, musical or otherwise? What are you listening to lately?

As production is always the primary focal point in creating my tracks I really don’t look at musicians for inspiration, but rather producers – Phil Spector, Martin Hannett, Steve Albini, Brian Eno and Mark Linkous, are some of the few – a varied group.

Lately I’ve been spinning a lot of Stax artist such as Otis Redding as well as Songs: Ohia’s Ghost Tropic, AFX, Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations, the electronica work of David Holmes (From which Don’t Die Just Yet was heavily inspired) and Opacities’ Field Reconnaissance – all really good stuff.

After listening to some David Holmes (his '90s stuff at least), I can definitely hear some similarity with how dynamic musical elements are presented on Don't Die Just Yet (which, I am learning from youtube, is the title of a David Holmes song ). He does a lot of film soundtracks, right? I think your work has a certain cinematic quality to it – have you ever thought of making music for films?

Don’t Die Just Yet was a straightforward ode to David Holmes; his manner of looking at music has been very influential on all my works (at least his early years as an artist) and yes, he frequently works with director Steven Soderbergh among others. Holmes’ albums are known for their cinematic nature and I fire for that aesthetic in my music. That’s part of my love for the full album experience – going from track to track conjuring mental images based on the atmosphere of each song and having an overall journey.

To work in film would be wonderful. If the occasion were ever to arise I would most certainly jump on it. My love for music began with film. Composers such as Ennio Morricone, Max Steiner and Henry Mancini, creating colorful sounds and having them matched with lush visuals – it affected me greatly.

What is your setup like? Computers? Analog equipment?

My setup consists of really the cheapest equipment around. I have a 75-dollar organ – which is always in rotation – a few pedals, a glockenspiel … most of the effects used are created in mixing: meticulous EQ laboring, heavily altering samples such as brass instruments and drums, reverb, compressors – all digital computer work basically.

For independent (and especially solo) artists, there are obvious practical reasons for using cheap equipment, but do you think there is any particular aesthetic value to producing this way?

I was once at a place where I had vast amounts equipment and that time came to an end – just stolen, all of it – and I never really recovered what was lost. I was then put in a position where I had to find other ways of creating the sounds I wanted. These moments were influential on the sound I have now, though I’m not one to particularly shoot for lo-fi production, à la garage rock, or anything of that matter. My core point with music is creating atmosphere and ambiance that is deep, enticing, and involving. I go to great lengths to achieve the sounds I produce. If that should mean my production style is to be categorized with the lo-fi genre then so be it. I have no qualms with the matter. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum and I prefer the route I take.

Well, I guess what I was trying to get at is that while your setup is very lo-fi, the actual music sounds anything but. As a non-musician, it appears to me that the availability of a wide range of (often freely acquirable) production software makes ostensibly 'lo-fi' equipment potentially more powerful for recording than it might otherwise be. Do you think this is the case?

My equipment is ridiculously cheap; what one can do with software these days is astonishing. My early base tracks sound just bare-boned and thin. Some computer magic goes a long way. Working with Bryan Schuessler of Opacities was an experience. Him being a laptop based glitch artist who utilizes MAX/MSP, high fidelity mics, etc. – it was just something else. My production style does indeed maintain a lot of PC work: extensive EQ, multiple overdubs, reverb and heavily altered samples, but I personally don’t use high-end software, though I now understand the unlimited possibilities of its practice.

Your recent EP, 1989, makes me think of the drone work of This Heat and Future Days-era Can (especially the track 'Pop Route Love Song'). I guess the highlights of the EP for me are opener 'Slow Kitten' and 'Holly.' Those two in particular have such a well-conceived sense of spatial sound; I feel like I'm being led around in the song as if it is a real place. It's very psychedelic. You seem to approach songs in terms of space and orientation, changing in time, to the end of crafting a rich and unique experience that is an EP or album. I don't really have a question related to this, but I was curious about your thoughts on this topic, and/or on 1989.

1989 was me making a bold effort in culminating all the ideals I carry when creating a Dive Signals release: lush atmospherics, loose cinematic notions – just a dreamy wall of sound platform for the imagination to run rampant and do what it does best. I tend not to look at typical song writing for direction when putting together a track, but rather psychedelic production and crafting textures that mix and mingle with a unique sense of space. Upon close inspection you can see that these are the elements that tie my releases together – from Don’t Die Just Yet to Mesa Verde as different as they are from each other genre wise. 1989 was just me striving to push these ideals to their full extremities.

How does a Dive Signals song get written?

Well, it depends on the vibe I’m shooting for. There’s no real formula – what really matters is showcasing the center piece that will drive the track, be it a drum skit, a guitar strum, anything really and just building drones and vibrations to amplify the center piece and mood, but keeping the process loose to allow for mistakes and surprises to happen as to make the experience of creating the track interesting.

I know very little about ambient/drone music myself, but I think what puts a lot of people off it is the relative "inactivity" of the music. But when I listen to a Dive Signals recording, I've found it works well for both ambiance and active listening. Is there anything in particular you do to keep listeners engaged?

As I stated before, production is my main focus – that being said, upon careful listening a lot of crucial elements are brought to the attention of the listener – vibrations, tones, unique atmospheres all hidden beyond the foreground. Amidst this I try to implement multiple genres into one track – the most blatant would probably trip hop, dream pop, or shoegaze – basically, just creating something unique from pre-existing statements and letting the drone ride.

People seem to look at music these days as tracks rather than the whole album experience. A lot is lost skimming through albums rather than playing the beast straight through and really sinking into the subject. Artists such as Spiritualized and early Cure albums are perfect representations of this. I feel when the vinyl scene slowed down this matter came up.

Is Dive Signals a studio-only project, or do you play live?

I do play live, but Dive Signals Live and Dive Signals Over Cushiony Headphones are completely different entities as I cannot replicate what I do in the “studio” live at this point in time.

So what is Dive Signals like live? Do you present the material differently onstage?

Dive Signals live is mostly original drone work, often improvised and varies tone-wise from show to show. Sometimes a calm atmosphere is presented and other times more abrasive vibes are emitted – simple instrumentation backed with live, almost metronomic drum work and heavily altered vocals. Playing live is as of this time is not really a priority, though this may change soon.

Whenever I google "Dive Signals," most of the results have something to do with scuba diving. It seemed an apt term, given the sense of place and atmosphere communicated nonverbally in the music. Do you partake in any such hobbies?

Dive Signals is a term used to describe hand signals scuba divers use to communicate with each other underwater. I suppose a sense of irony is embedded in the name, though I did not know this at the time I picked it. I thought of Dive Bars and lo-fi frequencies – fused the two … I dunno, the former is pretty cool I guess. I do like dive bars though.

Can we expect any other new Dive Signals releases in the near future?

I may take a short break in releasing material after this Opacities split to focus on expanding the label I co-run: Static Reason Recordings. So far we have a few artists’ releases coming that we’re very excited about. 10,000 Tropics will be re-issued and sold as a CD-r / Cassette package. I may also be producing an upcoming Static Reason artist’s EP. I don’t know though, an EP or single may slip at some point in between all that. I have a few ideas I’m tossing around, but we’ll have to see.

Finally, what can you tell us about Static Reason recording artist E. Bry? The double single up on bandcamp is a real jam, and I'm intrigued.

Well, we’re releasing an upcoming LP of his. The album is expected to drop around early winter. From what I hear the general sound is going to be a bit different from the single released through Bandcamp. Be sure to be on the lookout for it – I expect really great things from this up and coming talent.

Well, it was a pleasure discussing all this with you.  Thanks for your answers and insight!

Thanks for doing it, I really enjoyed the experience.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Janitors - Head Honcho EP [2012]

If you dug the last Janitors post, well, here's some more. The infamous Stökpsych purveyors kick out the jams once again with this new EP, recorded in the first half of 2012. As with their previous release, you get some well-executed, sinister-sounding psych rock. The Janitors have been called a shoegazey Nick Cave-esque animal, and I don't think that's too far off the mark. The  melodies have a pernicious sort of vibe, and the vocals are low enough and mean enough to warrant the comparison. As I have said before, some bands just channel all the right vibes and make good psyched-out rock music, and the Janitors are one of those bands.

The centerpiece on this EP is the twelve-minute darkjam "A-bow," which combines ominous acoustic riffs with heavy psychedelic fuzz and stooge-rhythms to create the perfect atmosphere for your next freekout or come-down. I don't know a whole lot about the Swedish music scene these days (or any other days for that matter) but as far as I can tell, the Janitors are group worthy of your attention if you're in Stockholm. See them play so I can jam vicariously through you, you lucky Swedes.

A best-of collection of Janitors material is slated to hit the vinyl/physical world in November, but for now you can hear the Head Honcho EP at the Janitors' bandcamp page.

Also, in the meantime, check out the Al Lover remix of "Death Song," from the Worker Drone Queen EP.

The Janitors will be playing the first annual Stockholm Psych Fest on September 22nd, and will be supporting the Ravonettes in Stockholm on October 25th.

Janitors website
You better run

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

XAXAXA - Siromašni i Bogati [2012]

Nothing like a new submission to knock me out of the bullshit-stress-induced apathy and malaise that has kept me from updating this space. Writing about bands is certainly a welcome break from reading about nanoscopic interactions of hydrated clay particles, but I digress.

XAXAXA (pronounced HAHAHA, for those of you who don't recognize Cyrillic characters) hail from Skopje, Macedonia and contain member(s?) of the wonderful Bernays Propaganda, whom I have unconscionably neglected to feature here (to be rectified soon). The sounds, by their own admission, resemble the likes of Dag Nasty, Hüskers, Wipers, Rites of Spring etc., with some early Fugazi thrown in. Beyond these influences XAXAXA supplies a healthy dose of power pop hooks and political frustrations both personal and external. I can see myself spinning this stuff repeatedly, though I'm only on my first listen through as I write this.

Siromašni i Bogati will be released in physical formats by Junk Cola on September 8th. You can preorder it on CD or LP at Moonlee Trade Center.

On Friday, September 7th XAXAXA embarks on a European tour, so if you're on that continent in the next couple of months, check the dates below:

07 Sep (Fri) @ CUBE, Kumanovo/Mkd* xaxaxa only!
08 Sep (Sat) @ FEST, Belgrade/Srb
09 Sep (Sun) @ ATTACK, Zagreb/Cro
11 Sep (Tue) @ GROMKA, Ljubljana/Slo
12 Sep (Wed) @ PEKARNA, Maribor/Slo
13 Sep (Thu) @ SUB, Graz/Aut
14 Sep (Fri) @ tba,Viena/Aut
15 Sep (Sat) @ BOOGIE, Trencin/Svk
16 Sep (Sun) @ BORO, Brno/Cze
18 Sep (Tue) @ CAFÉ NA PUL CESTY, Prague/Cze
19 Sep (Wed) @ SZABAD AS A,Budapest/Hun
20 Sep (Thu) @ HAFFENKLANG, Hamburg/Ger
21 Sep (Fri) @ CONNI, Dresden/Ger
22 Sep (Sat) @ ZORO fest, Leipzig/Ger* Siz only!
23 Sep (Sun) @ Koma F, Berlin/Ger
25 Sep (Tue) @ BLACK FLECK, Potsdam/Ger
27 Sep (Thu) @ Glockenbachwerkstatt, Munich/Ger
28 Sep (Fri) @ DESERT,Lausane/Swiss
29 Sep (Sat) @ tba/Swiss
30 Sep (Sun) @ tba/Swiss
02 Oct (Tue) @ L’ AQUIL, Casematte/Ita
03 Oct (Wed) @ Rietti /Ita
04 Oct (Thu) @ MKC, Koper/Slo
05 Oct (Fri) @ Metelkova, Ljubljana/Slo* xaxaxa only!
06 Oct (Sat) @ CK 13, Novi Sad/Srb

XAXAXA bandcamp
XAXAXA page on Moonlee

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sonny Sharrock - Ask the Ages [1991]

Here's some real classic Sharrock skronk for those of you who were intrigued by the Space Ghost soundtrack.  

Ask the Ages is the last thing released while Sonny was alive. It's got all range of sounds and feelings, rooted in the jazz idiom but journeying far beyond it. The session here is totally stacked, with the masterful drumming of Elvin Jones, Pharaoh Sanders tearing up the sax parts and mind-expanding bass playing by Charnett Moffett. Sonny produced the disk with Bill Laswell, after that guy spent a decade recording the likes of Mick Jagger, PiL, Motörhead, The Ramones, Iggy Pop and Yoko Ono (thanks Wikipedia for that list of names). Anyway everyone on here is doing great things, and people who know this album could probably tell you better than me that this is something to be treasured.

The double bass particularly stands out to me every time I listen to this album, because the playing is so beyond perfect. Just listen to when the sound drops low on "Promises Kept," leaving the drums and bass to conjure up ancient magics out of the thin air of folk history. Equally so on the bass solos in "Who Does She Hope to Be," which might be my favorite song on the whole record.

There is such warmth in the chords of that ballad, and the way Sonny inflects songs with his singular blend of sorrowful jubilance affects my mood for the better in all circumstances. "Little Rock" shines with hope and optimism, and the chorus in "As We Used to Sing" sounds about as triumphant as I could imagine music being, as it slips seamlessly into the nine and a half minute tour de force of "Many Mansions," a space jam if I have ever heard one.

I'm probably belaboring the point, but this is one of my favorite albums of all time and I can guarantee you not a note is wasted during these 46 minutes.

Get a used CD copy of Ask the Ages (pretty expensive, though)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sonny Sharrock - Space Ghost Coast to Coast [1994]

Sonny Sharrock is easily one of the coolest guitarists ever, and he stayed good to the very end. This, in fact, is what I believe to be his last recording. That's right, Sharrock fans, Sonny did the Space Ghost soundtrack, and Space Ghost fans, this is the name of the guy who plays your favorite theme song. Of course, some of you already knew this from episode 26, on which they played a bunch of these tunes:
Very loosely based on the original Hanna-Barbera Space Ghost series, Coast to Coast was aired in the early 90s as a light-hearted manifesto of post cold-war dadacidal humor, and could be seen as Cartoon Network's attempt to tap into the then emerging "alternative" nation of America. Anodinous, hilarious or plain weird, Coast to Coast reinvented the honorable fake-interview tradition by having pre-recorded conversations with "celebrities" and people like us rearranged by the nonchalant and ego-maniacal Space Ghost. In this very special episode, Thurston Moore incarnates one Fred Cracklin in a brief nonsensical cameo which is but a pretext to pay homage to the great avant-noise-jazz-blues guitar player Sonny Sharrock, who had recently expired. If the Coast to Coast series is bizarre for any standards of good TV conduct, the Sharrock episode is particularly strange in that its plot is a lame excuse to pay tribute to the musician and listen to several minutes of his ethereal noise-jazz guitar, thinly framed by some silly jokes between the Ghost and his adorable sidekicks.

There's plenty of free-kout to go around here, with some vamping on the main theme as well as forays into other sonic dimensions. If it seems like a novelty, it's really not, but as a 15-minute EP it makes for a great punk record. All I know is that Sonny Sharrock makes some of the most joyous and chaotic music I've ever heard, and that you should have this. Space Ghost, while being a brilliantly subversive kids' show in its own right, not to mention endlessly entertaining to re-view as an older child, is also responsible for planting Sonny in my six-year-old head (and, perhaps, many of yours).

WFMU blog entry on the Sharrock episode
And now, Zorak and the Original Way-outs (not to be confused with Chicago's Wayouts)

Batpiss - Batpiss CS [2012]

Batpiss are a noisy death-punk outfit outta Melbourne, Australia who play pretty straight-ahead midtempo punk that ratchets up to hardcore then lurches back to a mid-80s Black Flag screaming crawl. The guitars are crunchy and tuneful, and the vocals are are so nasty you can practically feel the bile in your throat vibrating in concert with the music.

In case I need to intrigue you any further, one of the members of Batpiss is associated with the dude who runs the jamful tumblr Bandcamphunter. Batpiss' self-titled tape is digitally available for free +PWYW on their bandcamp page, linked below.

Batpiss bandcamp

Lark's Tongue - 3 Songs [2011]

Lark's Tongue are another great Peoria band, and I've been banging my head to their EP's stadium-sized heavy guitar jams for a while now. I'm sure the actual stadiums they play in are more basement-sized, which can only mean that seeing these guys live would be an event to pummel the eardrums. However, the best part of this EP might be the vocal harmonies, which come down on high to lift you out of the guitar cloud. Somebody in this band must dig old Smashing Pumpkins albums, and the results are good. 

Lark's Tongue seem to keep busy enough, playing in and around Peoria, throughout central Illinois, Chicago, Milwaukee, and as far as Denver. This demo EP came out at the start of 2011, but Lark's Tongue has a few vinyl releases planned, a 7" due out August 15 which will be available at their Brass Rail gig with Planes Mistaken for Stars, the Forecast, and Angry Gods, for those of you within driving distance of Peoria. September will bring a split 12" with fellow Peorians Men of Fortune. And if that wasn't enough, Cavity Records will be releasing a split 10" with Across Tundras from Nashville later in the fall. Pay attention, these dudes have plenty for you coming up.

Lark's Tongue/Bird Dialect label site
Sophisticated and tongue-tied

Sunday, August 5, 2012

MC5 - Power Trip [1968-1970]

I was planning on posting a version of this MC5 bootleg when I first started this blog. But since I still haven't gotten around to ripping that record, I might as well give you this CD version. This one is superior because it has more songs on it than the 10" vinyl would allow. Opening with a karaoke version of "Looking at You," the bootleg aims to have you singing the whole way through. Next is a 1968 recording of the 19-minute live jam "I'm Mad Like Eldridge Cleaver's Mad," and well, if you don't know who Eldridge Cleaver is, then go do your goddamn history homework on google. There's one other 10+ minute song on here, the 1970 workout called "Head Sounds (part two)", which resembles a bluesier Can session from around the same time. As always, vocalist Rob Tyner shouts like a madman throughout, but especially on the aforementioned tracks and also on their cover of Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign," and the title track. Like almost every bootleg of the Five, there's also of course a version of "Black to Comm," this one from late '69.

Come now, this is essential Five material, and true rock and roll.

Let it come on down babe in the midnight hour

Toothpaste - Oh Yeah Come On 7" [1987]

Toothpaste were an '80s Chicago band consisting of Naked Raygun/Silver Abuse/Wayouts folks who played ultra-simple, goofy, self-aware punk that makes me think of what Strike Under would have sounded like if they didn't take themselves seriously. According to the Chicago Punk Database, Toothpaste's first show was in 1981 at a "communist art gallery across Damen Avenue from the Busy Bee diner. Opening act was a performance artist who beat a dead rat with a coffee can." They only have two releases that I know of, and this is their later one, a 7" featuring the ever-so-catchy A-side "Oh Yeah Come On." The title is all of the lyrics, which makes it very easy for you to immediately yell along. Is this the so-called 'Chicago Sound?' I still don't know, but I dig this record a lot.

The B-side is the wierdo jam "Kids Do the Darndest Drugs," which is an apt-enough way of describing the song, really. Anyway if you're interested in the venerable heritage of Chicago punk (which you should be), grab this one for sure.

I'll be uploading their 1983 12" EP soon as well.

Oh yeah oh yeah come on

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

bdphones - Turning Off (Love Songs) [2012]

Okay, so this tape dropped onto the web a couple months ago and I've been continuously meaning (and subsequently forgetting) to post it. For those of you who haven't read my previous Bedphones post (just click the link already), the now-named bdphones plays some rather beautiful pop songs that are hard to pin down stylistically. It's not that the music jumps around a lot; it's more like you can hear that the guy has a lot of original ideas and cool influences that he channels into these very unique, gorgeously-produced, hypnotic folk ballads augmented by synthesized guitar, mandolins, electronic rhythms, and vocals that arrive on your ear's doorstep with a haunting melancholy. I honestly can't recommend this enough, so if you trust anything I ever say about music, dear reader, do yourself a favor and snatch this release. Damaged outsider pop jams, these are, in the best way possible.

Turning Off was released digitally (fo' free) back in May but it doesn't appear to be available yet physically. In the meantime, you can acquire all manner of quality DIY wares from SSF Tapes, who puts out bdphones' music.

bdphones bandcamp
bdphones soundcloud
SSF Tapes bigcartel

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Faust - Something Dirty [2011]

I don't know that I need to make any introduction here ... with Faust you kind of know what you're going to get, even when you don't. They've been in the experimental game for some four decades now, and all the recent stuff I've heard from them has been top-shelf. When I listen to Faust, I mostly go for the textures rather than songs -- though they have no lack of great songwriting -- because they are master producers, repurposing all manner of sounds for musical utility. Anyway this disc is a good'n, sounds great as usual.

Something Dirty sounds pretty great as a continuous piece (and fairly well-pissed-off much of the way, too), but the 13 songs are undeniably different from each other. And that's all I'll say; nobody should have to convince you to listen to Faust.

Buy Something Dirty at Bureau B's Faust page
It's so much better when you're gone

Meat Mist - SMUT LP [2012]

Saw these dirty punks play in Urbana tonight. Meat Mist hail from Kansas City, Missouri (which is evidently the place to be for raw noisy punk these days) and irrupt a raucous equalizing distort that dares you to listen to without earplugs. (My own young tinnitus is on its way and these guys helped it along.) I dunno what to tell ya -- it's gonna be pretty easy to decide whether you like this or not but I'm into it. I was sorta reminded of Homostupids, or perhaps a sloppier Big Black/Rapeman.

Meat Mist recently released the LP SMUT on the XO Press imprint, which deals in scummy Kansas City noise punk and black metal and the like, so check that out. A four-song digital preview of the 14-song LP is free + PWYW, and their previous releases are along the same line. Give 'em a listen, they won't disappoint. To nab a physical copy, get to a show on their 3.5-week US tour sharing stages/floors with a host of great bands (dates below).

AUGUST 1 Lansing MI @ 4th Culture Studios w/ Texas Instruments, Borrowed Time, DSS
AUGUST 2 Cleveland OH !!!NEED HELP!!!
AUGUST 3 Syracuse NY @ Badlands w/ Death Camp, Flip Shit, Natural Selection
AUGUST 4 Allston MA @ w/ Districts, Matahari, Strike to Survive
AUGUST 5 NYC @ Charleston w/ My America
AUGUST 6 Philadelphia PA @ Underground Arts w/ Wiccans, Heavy Medical, Cop Problem, Britches (STL)
AUGUST 7 Atlantic City NJ @ Boneyard
AUGUST 8 Columbus OH @ Legion of Doom
AUGUST 9 Cincinnati OH @ Kirby House w/WHITE WALLS (12" release)
AUGUST 10 Indianapolis IN @ Skull Mannor
AUGUST 11 St. Louis MO @ No Coast Sk8 Shop w/ Shaved Women, Trauma Harness
AUGUST 12 Birmingham AL @ TBA w/ Japanese Women
AUGUST 13 New Orleans LA @ EUCLID Records
AUGUST 14 Houston TX @ SuperHappyFunLand w/ A N G S T
AUGUST 15 San Antonio TX @ Houseshow
AUGUST 16 Austin TX @ 29th Street Ballroom w/ Naw Dude, Bath Salts, Ghetto Girls
AUGUST 17 Denton TX @ Houseshow w/ Innards
AUGUST 18 Oklahoma City @ Bad Grannies w/ CHUD, GRG
AUGUST 19 Columbia MO @ Hair Hole w/ Gay Uncle, Coward 

Meat Mist bandcamp

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hanetration - Tenth Oar EP [2012]

This is a submission I've been meaning to post for a while now, so behold: Hanetration hail from the UK and secretes some excellent IDM jams -- and this EP is full of them. 'Rex' opens with electronic ripples, letting little quanta of musical information escape until an off-kilter rhythm breaks a hole in the wall and staggers into your ear, phasing in and out as if a dish is struggling to keep the signal. The vibe is not unlike This Heat's 'Fall of Saigon,' which is a welcome influence to my ears.

I could go on about each song like this but the overall sense I get from Hanetration is of some meticulously crafted ambient-but-active-listening music, defying expectation without getting you totally lost. The four compositions all move in and out of each other unnoticeably, morphing from jagged riddms to undulating drone tones with natural ease. Hanetration makes good use of (what sound like) non-electronic instruments the way much of the best electronic music does -- such that the sound is not perceived as 'synthetic.'

I highly recommend this EP to anyone who liked my Dive Signals posts (more of that on the way as well), or the late UK electronic guru Muslimgauze. And like that stuff, this EP is a Quality Headphone Experience™. So plug in, light up some incense, alter yr consciousness if you care to, and let the madness pour in.

Hanetration bandcamp