Blood Libels 1

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 31 Oct 2008 03:18:00 GMT

Antaeus are surprising for a French black metal band, because they subsume the weirdness beneath an assaultive barrage that reminds me of Destroyer-era Gorgoroth. It’s seriously mean stuff, made more interesting by the traditional chromatic filigrees and hints towards atonality that are par for the course in other French groups like Blut Aus Nord. The drumming is a particularly interesting blur of triggered blastbeats and high-speed grindcore flailing, glued together with unpredictable stops, starts and industrial ambient interludes.I’ve been looking for something like this, and other fans of Anaal Nathrakh should give Blood Libels a listen.

2008/07/25 1

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 25 Jul 2008 18:37:26 GMT

There’s something admirably frank yet suicidal about the beginning of Rosetta’s Wake/Lift: an echoing, truncated burst of distortion is immediately followed by a two and a half minute progression of slab-like open minor triads, weighty and roaring despite their massive compression. It’s surging and glorious. From just about any other band in the business of pushing crowd-pleasing heaviness, it would be the climactic release point of the record, but Rosetta are up to something else. The rest of “Red in Tooth and Claw” settles down to some low-key Line 6 Delay Modeler noodling and Rosetta’s usual emo-derived swells and ebbs of distortion and screaming. After that blistering start, this is awkward.

Rosetta are a band that have shown a very deft hand for arena-sized post-metal rock gestures (their debut The Galilean Satellites was one of my favorite records of 2006 & 2007, largely because it is so unrepentantly over the top), so I figure this anticlimax is purposeful, but it still comes across as premature ejaculation. I like jammy, sunlit indie heaviness as much as anyone, but the rest of the record is sort of drab, and it makes me wish they’d saved that outburst for the end, because I think it overshadows the rest of the record to a degree that obscures its strengths. I would love to know what they thought they were doing.

2008/07/25 1

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 25 Jul 2008 18:37:26 GMT

There’s something admirably frank yet suicidal about the beginning of Rosetta’s Wake/Lift: an echoing, truncated burst of distortion is immediately followed by a two and a half minute progression of slab-like open minor triads, weighty and roaring despite their massive compression. It’s surging and glorious. From just about any other band in the business of pushing crowd-pleasing heaviness, it would be the climactic release point of the record, but Rosetta are up to something else. The rest of “Red in Tooth and Claw” settles down to some low-key Line 6 Delay Modeler noodling and Rosetta’s usual emo-derived swells and ebbs of distortion and screaming. After that blistering start, this is awkward.

Rosetta are a band that have shown a very deft hand for arena-sized post-metal rock gestures (their debut The Galilean Satellites was one of my favorite records of 2006 & 2007, largely because it is so unrepentantly over the top), so I figure this anticlimax is purposeful, but it still comes across as premature ejaculation. I like jammy, sunlit indie heaviness as much as anyone, but the rest of the record is sort of drab, and it makes me wish they’d saved that outburst for the end, because I think it overshadows the rest of the record to a degree that obscures its strengths. I would love to know what they thought they were doing.

teh last sucker iz u 5

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 26 Apr 2008 01:33:00 GMT

After spending the week wrestling with my own bad conscience, trying to decide just how accountable to hold myself for the music I own by murderers, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and other sorts of people with whom I do not hold, it’s something of a blessing to listen to something I can wholeheartedly support: the most recent Ministry record is loud, it is pissed, and it is pissed for all the right reasons. We are tangled in the thresher of a very stupid war, we are governed by mendacious, authoritarian idiots who have committed very real crimes against whatever morality we collectively share, and our society is beset by corruption – corporate, environmental, moral – on all sides. Al Jourgenson belts out all these sentiments and more with the same cartoony hard-edged clarity that has always been Ministry’s stock in trade.

The Last Sucker is a very fine Ministry album on its own merits, being at least as good as Psalm 69, and having one or two songs that are far better than anything on that album. Somewhere along the line Ministry transformed from an arty industrial techno parody of thrash metal into the real thing, and on this album they can stand toe to toe with Strapping Young Lad – the band who, in my opinion, took the latent promise of Burning Inside and converted it into something powerful and real, in much the same way that the Pinocchio at the end of the tale is more real than the puppet at the beginning. It’s not real subtle, but isn’t that the point?

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Ministry is a product of Clan Bush. Ministry’s finest albums (StigmataThe Land of Rape and Honey and Burning InsideThe Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, of course) were a product of Bush I, and during the Clinton years, Jourgenson – and Ministry – sunk into a torpor that has only lifted in the last couple years of Bush II’s seemingly endless reign. There have been tons of distractions in Jourgenson’s life (smack, booze, swingin’ dick contests with ex-bandmates and miscellaneous others), but I have this pet theory that he takes the Bushes personally, and that’s what reignited his fire. They’ve fucked up his country, they’ve fucked up the world, and – most importantly – they’ve fucked up the reputation of Texas, and that shit will not stand.

Looked at in that light, it makes sense that Jourgenson claims The Last Sucker will be the final Ministry album. This time next year, the Texans will have left the White House (at least until the Jenna / Barb ticket in 2024), and the United States will in all likelihood have an entirely different set of problems to confront. Jourgenson’s bête noir will have retired to the ranch, obdurate in his refusal to take any responsibility for the wholesale fuckup that was the 43rd Presidency. In my mind I see Jourgenson with a bottle of Jägermeister in one hand, watching the George W Bush Library burn to the ground as the tears stream down his face, having come as close as he dares to facing down his own Colonel Kurtz at last.

teh last sucker iz u 5

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 26 Apr 2008 01:33:00 GMT

After spending the week wrestling with my own bad conscience, trying to decide just how accountable to hold myself for the music I own by murderers, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and other sorts of people with whom I do not hold, it’s something of a blessing to listen to something I can wholeheartedly support: the most recent Ministry record is loud, it is pissed, and it is pissed for all the right reasons. We are tangled in the thresher of a very stupid war, we are governed by mendacious, authoritarian idiots who have committed very real crimes against whatever morality we collectively share, and our society is beset by corruption – corporate, environmental, moral – on all sides. Al Jourgenson belts out all these sentiments and more with the same cartoony hard-edged clarity that has always been Ministry’s stock in trade.

The Last Sucker is a very fine Ministry album on its own merits, being at least as good as Psalm 69, and having one or two songs that are far better than anything on that album. Somewhere along the line Ministry transformed from an arty industrial techno parody of thrash metal into the real thing, and on this album they can stand toe to toe with Strapping Young Lad – the band who, in my opinion, took the latent promise of Burning Inside and converted it into something powerful and real, in much the same way that the Pinocchio at the end of the tale is more real than the puppet at the beginning. It’s not real subtle, but isn’t that the point?

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Ministry is a product of Clan Bush. Ministry’s finest albums (StigmataThe Land of Rape and Honey and Burning InsideThe Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, of course) were a product of Bush I, and during the Clinton years, Jourgenson – and Ministry – sunk into a torpor that has only lifted in the last couple years of Bush II’s seemingly endless reign. There have been tons of distractions in Jourgenson’s life (smack, booze, swingin’ dick contests with ex-bandmates and miscellaneous others), but I have this pet theory that he takes the Bushes personally, and that’s what reignited his fire. They’ve fucked up his country, they’ve fucked up the world, and – most importantly – they’ve fucked up the reputation of Texas, and that shit will not stand.

Looked at in that light, it makes sense that Jourgenson claims The Last Sucker will be the final Ministry album. This time next year, the Texans will have left the White House (at least until the Jenna / Barb ticket in 2024), and the United States will in all likelihood have an entirely different set of problems to confront. Jourgenson’s bête noir will have retired to the ranch, obdurate in his refusal to take any responsibility for the wholesale fuckup that was the 43rd Presidency. In my mind I see Jourgenson with a bottle of Jägermeister in one hand, watching the George W Bush Library burn to the ground as the tears stream down his face, having come as close as he dares to facing down his own Colonel Kurtz at last.

Hands 2 Take

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 25 Apr 2008 09:13:28 GMT

The Flying Lizards were a bizarre manifestation of the post punk / No Wave era’s anything-goes spirit. Even for the times, they were an unbridled Dada mindfuck, releasing one of the most resolutely inaccessible “pop” albums ever made in the form of Top Ten – an achievement made doubly notable by the fact that it was, indeed, the Lizards interpreting hit pop and rock songs, rendered as cold, mechanical deconstructions of the originals. In spirit they’re close to some of the mutant disco groups from New York (the more overtly disco songs remind me quite a bit of the awesome Cristina, who is similarly neglected by history), but with a much more forbidding affect.

The cover effectively telegraphs that Top Ten isn’t a typical collection of standards:

cover of Flying Lizards' Top Ten

As this patchy but informative Sound Collector encomium makes clear, The Flying Lizards were more an art project than a band, and their music was more sketched than composed. (The Art of Noise were trying for something similar, but were fatally undermined by Trevor Horn’s connection to the self-conscious seriousness of the progressive rock scene he came out of. Which is not to say that Art of Noise weren’t great, just that as a prankish art-fuck they weren’t successful.) The remarkable thing about the Lizards is how fresh they sound even today: their music has lost none of its alien allure, and actually reminds me of a lot of the recent experimental laptronica, which is especially impressive given the shoestring budget and relatively primitive recording techniques available to the David Cunningham back in the early 80s.

One of the most delightful contradictions posed by the Lizards is that the most accessible song in their catalog is the one that had the most high-art credentials: “Hands 2 Take” is a woozy slab of post-Eno art rock, with abrasive sine tones over a bed of horns, winds, deliriously slurred vocals, and one-note piano pounding by none other than Michael Nyman.

Nyman is my favorite minimalist (which, believe it or not, is high praise – Philip Glass’s Mishima and Koyaanisqatsi are favorites of mine, and my ringtone is a bad MIDI version of Steve Reich’s “Piano Phase”). I got to know his work, as did most people, through his scores for Peter Greenaway’s films, but there’s much more to him than his soundtrack work. He takes Philip Glass’s repetitive cell structures and combines them with a prankster’s spirit: my favorite work by him is a savage, ripping piece for solo harpsichord called “The Convertibility of Lute Strings” (available on his collection of commissioned pieces on Argo, Time Will Pronounce). It is utterly uncompromising and intimidatingly beautiful and strange, full of dizzying modal shifts and endlessly mutable rhythms. I bet it’s a hell of a lot of fun (and extremely challenging) to play.

His mastery of minimalist technique makes it all the more delicious that his role on “Hands 2 Take” is to relentlessly pound the same 2-tone octave for 4 minutes, a la Brian Eno’s “Baby’s On Fire” or the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man”. It’s entirely in keeping with the Lizards’ up-yours ethos that they’d make such off-handed use of someone capable of so much more, while still entirely in keeping with Nyman’s own sensibilities. Not only that, the song is an oblique paranoid fantasia worthy of Low-era Bowie. I love it.

The Flying Lizards are now almost totally obscure, although they still have a small but rabid group of fans online. Finding their music is nearly impossible, as all three of their original albums (and, of course, all their singles) are now completely out of print, and the most recent pressing of their albums were Japanese CDs released without the knowledge or authorization of the band. That said, you can find them all via Dualtrack here and here. Fans of ZE Records, the Residents, Art of Noise and the Soft Pink Truth (Top Ten must have been an influence on Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want The Soft Pink Truth) are advised to give them a careful listen.

Voigt-Kampf testing Satan 1

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 25 Apr 2008 04:51:03 GMT

Just because he plays black metal for fans of black metal, and is all bleak and black and misanthropic and secretly a dirty San Francisco hippie, Leviathan’s Wrest thinks he can sneak covert science fiction references past us. He cannot. First it was a beefy sample of The Agent from The Matrix on the Leviathan / Crebain split. I’ll admit that wasn’t covert so much as completely blatant, but it was a major WTF moment just the same, given how resolutely inward-looking Leviathan’s airless nightmare closet of a world usually is. Now, on Massive Conspiracy Against All Life, his most recent and supposedly final album, he has a song, “Merging With Sword, Onto Them”, that is ten minutes of black metal carnage culminating in a buried melody that is an unmistakable clone of Vangelis’s indelible Blade Runner theme. I wonder how many other people have noticed.

the pleasures of the familiar

Posted by othiym23 Wed, 23 Apr 2008 04:33:28 GMT

So I sorta fell silent and haven’t been posting much lately. This is due, in large part, to having accumulated a huge pile of music that is entirely new to me. It doesn’t help that it would be difficult for me to write about much of this music even given the advantage of intimate familiarity; most of it was obscure to begin with, and is abstract verging on the obtuse. Jazzy krautrock improv from Scandinavia, broad-spectrum wiggly noise bursts, ramshackle protean compositions that were coming unraveled even as they were recorded: these are highly individual outbursts of noise and creativity, and even when they’re affiliated with a time and a place or from a reasonably well-known artist (depending on how well-known you think Nurse With Wound is), they’re difficult to describe.

But that’s not really an excuse or a complete explanation. The simple truth is that spending sustained periods of time listening to music I’ve never heard before erases my ability to talk about music at all. There are albums where I can confidently say, after a single listen, “I like this,” or “this doesn’t interest me,” but for the most part the stuff I’ve been listening to lately resists that kind of immediate judgment. I can tell after hearing Mnemonists’ Horde or Rota-Limbs for the first time that they’re both interesting and exciting, but I lack the words for putting that fascination into concrete terms, and given the tiny audience for this kind of music, just saying “this rox u shud listn 2 it” isn’t going to do much for anyone. Especially when I don’t really know how I feel about it myself.

I think that explains why I’ve fallen off the soundwagon a little in the last few weeks and have spent some time listening to stuff that’s a little less demanding. There have been a number of great new records put out over the last month, too: the Breeders erase time with a miraculously good / unpretentious / direct set of songs on Mountain Battles, as accomplished as anything they’ve done since Safari; Torche’s new record, Meanderthal, is almost as good as their monstrous debut, putting the “thunder” in “thunder pop”; M83 have returned from the wilds of Elektronikaslavia with a newer, sleeker sound and a new album, the aptly named Saturdays = Youth; and a Dutch label has released a remastered version of OMD’s brilliant Dazzle Ships, with its incredibly infectious New Wave hit single that never was, “Genetic Engineering”. These are the things I find myself returning to when the stress of moving (oh yeah – I’m preparing to move me and my enormous pile of media across town) overwhelms my ability to deal with hours on end of square waves and rambling percussive scree.

But I’m going to try to suck it up and deal, both by documenting the enormous piles of stuff I’ve continued to add to my collection, as well as trying to come up with some kind of game plan for talking about it. It’ll probably be fragmentary and incomplete, but that’s what blogs are, aren’t they?

dead sound

Posted by othiym23 Wed, 26 Mar 2008 21:47:51 GMT

“Dead Sound” off The Raveonettes’ recently released Lust Lust Lust is perfect streamlined buzzsaw pop. The whole album, in fact, is a near-perfect fusion of their noise-drenched Jesus and Mary Chain worship with the more spacious and reverb-drenched sound of Pretty in Black. It doesn’t have a thought in its head, but it sure is pretty.

owww

Posted by othiym23 Sat, 22 Mar 2008 00:30:54 GMT

I love me some Giorgio Moroder. “The Chase” and “I Feel Love” are two of the finest chunks of dance music ever recorded, and I say this even after the time my dad and I were having dinner in the Castro at Rave Thai (not its real name) and upstairs at The Café they played an “I Feel Love” megamix that lasted throughout our entire meal. Actually, that was pretty much awesome, and gave my dad a good feel for what the Castro was all about (as did the dude who wandered by later with the loincloth and club ensemble). I miss Rave Thai.

I also love me some Sigillum S, who are considerably less famous than Moroder and Donna Summer. They’re a completely bent Italian group who started out as a bog-standard noise-industrial group haunting the fringes of the industrial cassette scene and have gotten weirder and wilder as the years have gone by. Their most recent album, 23|20 is an unclassifiable melange of industrial cabaret, arrhythmic dance music, and random hooting. I love it.

However, the combination of the two is horrible, albeit in a funny way. Back in 1989, the bright sparks at Misty Circles put out La Mort Heureuse, a compilation of mostly obscure industrial artists rapaciously violating the corpses of pop songs. They attain varying degrees of horrifying, transcendent badness, with the in-concept-only cover of “Like A Virgin” achieving some sort of benchmark for the loosest and most vile interpretation of Madonna that doesn’t involve death metal. I could fart out something better without trying at all, which I think was the point.

Sigillum S’s version of “I Feel Love” keeps the arpeggiated bass line, but that’s about it. The vocals wander in and of the rhythm, and don’t even have a conversational relationship with the melody. It’s totally ghastly, and I love it. But mostly it just makes me want to listen to the original again. So I think I will.