Posted by othiym23 Fri, 01 Feb 2008 21:14:47 GMT

Stuck in my head this morning: “Wham City” by Dan Deacon. At least it’s a different song, and one that’s durable enouth to bear being in a fragmented, self-remixing loop in my head through showering and shaving and whatnot. Here’s a video on YouTube of Dan performing it live (skip past the first couple minutes of Videohippos footage).

I must stop. Can I stop? I think I can stop.

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 01 Feb 2008 09:59:43 GMT

I know some music nerds who seem to live to amass a hoard. They, like me, have stacks of CDs covering every flat surface, and connive to find ways to fit more CDs into more places in their houses. Most of them share a problem in common, and that problem is one I try very hard to avoid: they’ve lost track of what they’ve acquired, and it’s entirely likely they have a big pile of music scattered around that they’ve never heard.

That sort of thing makes me itch. Music is a thing to hear and to experience, not to collect and sit on like Smaug, the greedy dragon from The Hobbit, was with his stolen gold. Since I’m not a professional critic, I pay for my music myself, and music claims the biggest share of my disposable income. If I buy music, I want to get my money’s worth out of it.

One of the most useful side effects of ripping my entire CD collection was that it gave me tools for tracking information about what, when and where I buy music, and helps me make sure that I actually hear everything I buy. I make heavy use of iTunes’ smart playlists to help me give equal time to my collection, and one of the main things that drove me to upgrade to a new MacBook Pro was that iTunes was getting so bogged down in dealing with the hundreds of playlists I’ve created that it was taking minutes (literally) to do trivial tasks, and syncing my iPod was taking half an hour each time.

These tools come with their own problems, though, which is that periodically I get overwhelmed by buying too much new music at once. It happens. I don’t really have a list of new releases I want, because for at least the last ten years I can walk into and out of a record store in under a half hour having spent an uncomfortable amount of money and not having to look too hard to find a big pile of stuff I absolutely must have right now. As I gradually make the transition to buying music online, resisting the temptation of immediate gratification only gets harder.

So last year I came up with a solution to the problem, which was yet another set of smart playlists that I used to create a music budget. Capping my spending on music isn’t really a concern to me, at least right now: I’ve got a good job, no car and few vices aside from music shopping. No, really it was about trying to make sure that I wasn’t buying more music than I could get to know. After looking at my listening habits over time (something for which last.fm is extremely helpful), I decided about 24 hours a month was a good cap.

The idea is a good one, and it’s definitely helped, but I’ve also blown the budget more often than not (I’ve also come in way under budget a few months, in part to balance out the months where I get out of hand).

It is my sad duty to report to the world at large that January 2008 was not a good one for my music budget, as I added, um, 3.5 days’ worth of new music to my iPod. Oops. Even after last night’s Amazon & Interpunk orgy, I ended up downloading these releases from Bleep and Boomkat after Bleep suddenly fixed my Clark order:

  • Clark: Throttle Promoter (Warp)
  • Amon Tobin: Kitchen Sink: Remixes (Ninja Tune)
  • Autechre: Untilted (Warp)
  • Autechre: Draft 7.30 (Warp)
  • Autechre: Quaristice (Warp)
  • KTL: KTL 3 (Mego)
  • Æthenor: Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light (vhf)

For somebody who used to claim he didn’t like Sunn(((O))))) very much, I sure do have a lot of their side projects. And now my Autechre collection is complete again. But either way, I’m sort of hoping I can ease up for a month or two, both so I can assimilate all the new stuff I’ve gotten, and so I can make some progress in listening through my collection, which is what I’m supposed to be doing for this blog.


Posted by othiym23 Fri, 01 Feb 2008 02:32:07 GMT

Domine non es Dignus cover

If I had to choose a single word to describe Anaal Nathrakh’s style of heavy metal, it might be “unyielding”. Another good choice would be “totalizing”. From the very start, their music has been dense, noisy, seamless, enamored of production tricks that saturate the sound field. Whether it’s driving every single channel on the mixing board into the red or expanding and compressing the masters so whispers are at the same volumes as shouts, they don’t miss a trick to make their albums into massive stone walls of aggressive, violent noise. There are even a couple moments on Domine non es Dignus where a trailing sibilant in one of the vocalists’ words completely blows out the rest of the music, the compression’s amped up so far.

What this does is provide a Procrustean sonic frame into which Anaal Nathrakh can stretch the rest of their hyper-extreme music without you noticing how many different things they’re doing at once. They’re sonic magpies (or should I say stormcrows?), scavenging elements and tropes of just about every form of extreme music out there to create something that is both sophisticated and ineluctably British.

“Sophisticated” is not a word that immediately suggests itself when it comes to Anaal Nathrakh; the only time you can clearly understand the vocalists – when they break out into the declamatory tones of operatic power metal – the lyrics become clear in all their blunt misanthropic eschatology and pessimism. Consider narrative song titles like “Between Piss and Shit We Are Born” and “When Fire Rains Down from the Sky Mankind will Reap as it has Sown”. And the compression and unyielding sonic attack of their songs can make listening through entire albums a bit of a slog if you’re in anything other than the most amped-up frames of mind. The blown-out volumes create a sustained noise assault that erases any notion of narration, that creates an eternal suspended Now where a time before or after you were hearing Anaal Nathrakh did not exist.

However, when one of their albums comes up on my iPod, I tend to end up listening to the rest immediately thereafter. Part of it is that all of their albums have at least a couple songs that are brilliant at evoking precisely the frame of mind that makes their music sound good – they’re catchy and get you pumped. An important part of it, though, is that their magpie approach makes listening to any of their three most recent albums – Domine non es Dignus, Eschaton and Hell is Empty, and All the Devils are Here – akin to hearing a kind of greatest hits of extreme metal for the last 20 years. There’s a great deal of variety buried within the churn.

Considering the way they join chromatic, atonal death metal guitar solos (reminiscent of later Carcass) to overdriven drum machine blast beats (redolent of Brutal Truth), for instance, points to the fact that grindcore was just death metal with a punk attitude and a fascination with pathology textbooks. Or the way a soaring, epic power metal vocal (a lá Ulver at their most soaring) immediately followed by hoarse death metal growls (along the lines of Deicide) makes clear the dialectic between the majestic and the abject throughout metal. It’s pointless to try and hang a specific genre around Anaal Nathrakh’s neck: each album builds on ideas from the album that preceded it, and they move fluidly between styles within the same phrase, much less between songs.

What makes this all a very British phenomenon is the way a dour pragmatism seeps out from the edges of the frame: while there are frequent stabs at the epic in Anaal Nathrakh’s composition, they seem categorically incapable of pomposity. This is the main thing that separates their newer albums from the progressive metal madness of the last two Emperor albums (IX Equilibrium and Prometheus: The Discipline Of Fire & Demise): those records are full of fantastic compositions and heroic playing by some of the most talented musicians heavy metal has ever seen, but the whole enterprise is fatally undercut by Ihsahn’s irrepressible need to portray himself as the omphalos of Creation. By contrast, Anaal Nathrakh’s songwriting, production and musicianship, while not quite as accomplished, have a lived-in quality that evoke Blake’s 7 or Warren Ellis’s recent portrayal of the Battle of Crécy. Heavy metal as medieval trench warfare: a metaphor I think Anaal Nathrakh could appreciate.

What Anaal Nathrakh remind me of most, though, is something that is also deeply British, and probably close to the hearts of quite a few of Anaal Nathrakh’s English fans: their relentless downbeat cynicism, pessimism, and misanthropy-as-ideology reminds me of nothing so much as the miniatures-based wargame Warhammer 40,000, a game that impresses me more for its ambitious envisioning of a universe of eternal dæmonic conflict than the reality of the game itself. Warhammer subsumes the pan-dimensional evil and intergalactic deicide of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos into a world of Roman prætors and legionnaires, and it’s easy to read Anaal Nathrakh’s eschatological death-lust as a soundtrack to neverending, metaphysically fraught strife.

on Turning Dragon

Posted by othiym23 Thu, 31 Jan 2008 23:39:26 GMT

Turning Dragon cover

Clark’s Turning Dragon is a vast, immediate, atonal monster of a techno record. The first half, in particular, is probably the finest half-hour of hard techno released since Surgeon’s Klonk. The album starts out with a short field-recorded ambient intro, and then warps (ha!) itself through a series of thudding hard techno rhythm loops, oversaturated noise-ambient interludes, diced R&B and disco samples splattered all over the mix, and Clark’s instantly recognizable downcast melodies, all fused into a seamless whole. Things calm down in the second half, but it’s still heavily beat-driven. The net effect is like moving between rooms at a very large, very loud and very postmodern warehouse rave, and it seems to me that this was the effect that Clark was looking for.

Chris Clark spent a bunch of time on tour after he put out his last full-length album, Body Riddle – his first under the shortened name of Clark – and it shows. Turning Dragon, for all its excess and outsized energy, is a concise and taut record that has obviously been refined by exposure to the dancefloor. There are parts of Central and Eastern Europe where the kids still want dance music to make the obvious dancefloor gestures – prominent kick drums, reverb, stabbing synths, meandering acid lines, everything compressed to hell and gone – so it’s not so surprising that Clark came back from a European tour sounding more like Chris Liebing or Umek than his beardy labelmates at Warp.

Something similar happened to fellow Warp alumnus Speedy J a few years ago (to which I alluded in my previous hyping of “Volcan Veins”, which is still my favorite track on the album), but Speedy J got so wrapped up in making an album that perfectly mimicked the “schranz” style Liebing made popular that he ditched most of the elements that made Speedy J sound like Speedy J. Clark doesn’t repeat that mistake – there is no point on this album that is not obviously Clark music. The combination of his sharp ear for atmosphere and the telling detail with straight-up techno and electro rhythms makes for a stunning, deep album. And techno albums that work as coherent wholes, rather than collections of tracks, are precious because they are rare. Only time will tell if this stands up to my personal choice of high-water marks, Surgeon’s Force+Form, but it’s off to a good start.


Posted by othiym23 Thu, 31 Jan 2008 20:17:34 GMT

Stuck in my head this morning: Second verse, same as the first. “I’m So Gay With the Boner” for Dan Deacon!

This year is shaping up to be a major trip, music-wise. Either it’s been a great year for new music, or writing this blog has made me hyperaware of what’s being released, but whichever it is, a bunch of my favorite bands either have new things out, or are about to:

  • Season of Mist just released Anaal Nathrakh’s brutal, unrelenting and majestic latest, Hell is Empty, and All the Devils are Here in America, finally. The UK’s had it for four whole months already!
  • The unpredictably brilliant grindcore / IDM hipster assault unit Genghis Tron have a new album out next month. Their first full-length was one of my favorite records of whatever year in which it originally was released. (H/T to Tomas.)
  • Autechre have emerged from their laser cocoons, sound swords smoking, to unleash Quaristice, their latest bit of tortured Max/MSP mangling. Maybe it’ll be better than Confield and Untilted. Maybe. I think I’m gonna get that one on digital (which is available now – the physical edition’s out in a weekmonth or so, although if you wanted the laser-etched steel cased limited edition, too bad! You snoozed! You lost!).
  • I was able to download my copy of Clark’s newest, Turning Dragon, finally. One of Bleep’s servers slipped a disk. I am very excited to finally have it. I was so excited about “Volcan Veins”, I bought it off iTunes to tide me over until I was able to get the album. It has not gotten old yet.

You know what would be awesome? If Autechre and Radiohead co-headlined a tour, with Dan Deacon opening. Dan could get the party started, and then Autechre and Radiohead could take turns confusing the shit out of everyone. I think that would be a lot of fun.

Major Disappointment Reporting For Duty

Posted by othiym23 Thu, 31 Jan 2008 09:03:13 GMT

Like I promised, I tracked down those two Ganglion records. It wasn’t that tough; I just had to find their MySpace page and then follow that to their Interpunk page. Interpunk’s price schedule for shipping is kind of jacked for small orders, so I hunted around and ended up picking up a few other things (including a Drowningman album I didn’t have, with its requisitely smartassed song titles – one of which, in turn, provided the title for this post). They included a free label sampler, as is their way, but I’m not very hopeful that anything other than the No Trigger song will be any good.

While I was at it, I bought this album I discovered through Mutant Sounds, because I was really enjoying it and the MP3s linked from Mutant Sounds sound like crap. And I grabbed two more Dan Deacon releases, which I may end up regretting (song titles like “Shit Slowly Applied On Cock Parts” do not prefigure happy fun-time easy listening), but I love Spiderman of the Rings, and maybe naming things just isn’t his strong suit: another song is named “ksjfhgljkhertykjlehgskjhkjvhda”. (I bought these three using Amazon’s MP3 store, which is scarily easy to use, in case anyone’s curious.)

Finally, I grabbed these crappily encoded MP3s of Steve Albini recording demos for Fugazi because Cosmo’s description was interesting.

So here’s the newest grist for the mill:

  • Dan Deacon: Meetle Mice (Carpark)
  • Dan Deacon: Silly Hat vs Egale (sic) Hat (Carpark)
  • Fugazi: In on the Kill Taker [Steve Albini demos] (bootleg)
  • Ganglion: Of the Deep (self-released)
  • Ganglion: As Steel Takes to Flesh (self-released)
  • Drowningman: Don’t Push Us When We’re Hot (Thorp)
  • Last Perfection: Drawing Conclusions (United Edge)
  • Shizzo Flamingos: Years Passed By 83-85 (Fuego)
  • Supermachiner: θριαμβος της μεγαλης μηχανης (Undecided)
  • v/a: New School Records: Summer Sampler 2007 (New School)

Dear Jacob Bannon

Posted by othiym23 Thu, 31 Jan 2008 07:22:35 GMT

No Heroes cover

Dear Jacob,

Thank you very much for your work with the most awesome hardcore band in existence. The damage you have done to your throat (and my ears) over the years is very much appreciated, and I certainly hope you feel better now than you did when you were writing the songs on Jane Doe and You Fail Me, because to be honest you sounded sort of depressed. Although I guess you’re still not feeling so chipper, because your new solo record sounds like it’s going to be pretty emo. That’s OK, though. I miss Swans too.

Also, thank you for being such an awesome artist and designer. Every time I wear my “PLAGUE QUEEN DEATH KING” T-shirt, it makes me smile, and the covers to Jane Doe and No Heroes are among my favorite in heavy music. Elegant and forceful in their economy, very dirty and very punk.

I do have one question for you, though. Well, not really a question, more an observation. A tiny criticism, even. That would probably have been a lot more useful before Supermachiner put out Rise of the Great Machine. Sorry. I was busy then. But anyway, here it is:

Writing the title out as «ρισε οφ τηε γρεατ μαχηινε» is some incredibly dorky design wankery. Wouldn’t «θριαμβος της μεγαλης μηχανης» have made more sense? I mean, if you had to use Greek? Why not stick to blackletter? That always looks pretty hardcore. Or maybe Gaelic would have been nice.

Aside from that, I look forward to your upcoming projects and hope this letter finds you well. Best of luck with your solo project and Irons!



Posted by othiym23 Thu, 31 Jan 2008 02:39:00 GMT

Stuck in my head this morning: Dan Deacon’s “Trippy Green Skull” and “Snake Mistakes”, both from his much-lauded Spiderman of the Rings. Both songs are incredibly poppy, bright and electronic, with childish Dada lyrics, and both have unexpected catchy bits near the end that get lodged in your head and just will not come out. I’m about six months late to be bringing up Mr. Deacon and Spiderman, but the album is just as fresh, charming and mildly brain-damaged now as it was when it was first released. Jess Harvell (whom I was abusing here just last week) wrote a great, perceptive review of Spiderman of the Rings over on Pitchfork that I endorse wholeheartedly.

Deacon’s faux naïf act works, paradoxically, because he’s got a master’s degree in composition and takes a deeply serious approach to his very silly songs. The dude can put together a 3-minute pop song like nobody’s business, but his command over his (sometimes self-made and often very primitive) gear is impressive, and – especially on longer, more elaborate songs like “Wham City” and “Jimmy Jay Roche” – there are obvious influences from the classic minimalists – Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Philip Glass – as well as an odd kinship with new wave schmooptronica acts like M83 and Ulrich Schnauss, even as his lyrics ramble a lot closer to Devendra Banhart’s childlike psychedelia or a particularly gentle version of Ween. I find the combination of minimalist restraint and sugar-addled weirdo pop super charming.

UPDATE: I have got to see this guy live.

shadows from the album skies

Posted by othiym23 Wed, 30 Jan 2008 11:20:40 GMT

There’s a small circle of musicians making a very specific kind of drone music that sits somewhere between processed field recordings and pure electronic ambient. It’s never quite clear what made the sounds you’re hearing, and this mystery, as well as the way that elements shift, emerge and disappear keeps it from being sonic wallpaper. Most of this artists in this circle (Andrew Chalk, Jonathan Coleclough, Colin Potter, the modern-day Hafler Trio, Andrew Liles, Christopher Heemann) know each other, and they all cultivate their indifference when it comes to finding an audience: Mirror, one of the most talented of these groups, spent a long time putting out 2-500 records at a time (and I do mean records). There’s something weird about buying a record with sides that are more silent than not. It’s somewhat disquieting and anonymous.

Andrew Chalk was in Mirror (along with Christopher Heemann of HNAS), and right now I’m listening to his Shadows from the Album Skies, which has a peculiar name but is a beautiful record. It’s more static and mysterious than most of these lowercase drones, with the only recognizable sound on the whole release being some microphone feedback subtly woven into the first track. It’s subtle and unchanging enough that it draws you in, forces you to listen closely to hear the variations and textures. Moreso than most ambient music, it creates a numinous aura of sound. It is quietly sacramental.

Chalk’s stuff can be hard to find, but it’s worth digging up. Without really meaning to, I’ve collected 7 of his releases and find them all beautiful, soothing and deeply strange.

notes from the inside

Posted by othiym23 Wed, 30 Jan 2008 02:40:55 GMT

Just to give you an idea of what it’s like to work at Rhapsody, there was a time last year where a bunch of us were hanging out in the kitchen: a mustachioed QA contractor whose tastes seemed to have frozen sometime around 1977, one of the senior editors, and a couple of engineers (including me). I think it was probably the tail-end of a company meeting. Anyway, we were talking about psychedelic music, and – as it does – the conversation turned to Pink Floyd, and Dark Side of the Moon. Some of us got to wondering who did the ridiculously overblown female backing vocals, and not one or two but three of the people in the conversation were able to name both Clare Torry and Lesley Duncan without looking anything up (unlike me just now). I have a lot of random trivia crammed in my head, but I can’t get at it like that; it’s all connected sideways, and I have to get at it indirectly. Also, I just like listening to Dark Side of the Moon, and feel mild twinges of jealousy that my dad got to see it performed live.

make a note of it

Posted by othiym23 Tue, 29 Jan 2008 23:27:28 GMT

“Let’s Free Your Head From Your Ass And Worry About Tibet Later” is a near-perfect name for a song, especially when the band playing it sounds suspiciously like early Nirvana.


Posted by othiym23 Tue, 29 Jan 2008 23:13:44 GMT

Stuck in my head this morning: hey presto, more Wall of Voodoo! This time, it was “The Passenger”, which then shaded imperceptibly, in the way of amorphous post-dreaming music, into “Long Arm”, yet another Stan Ridgway ballad of sublimated resentment and alienation in the working class. And so concludes my dreamland tour through Wall of Voodoo’s debut EP.

20 Minute Loop at Noise Pop

Posted by othiym23 Tue, 29 Jan 2008 01:49:39 GMT

From my inbox, just because it’s funny. 20ML are just as witty, self-deprecating and clever in person.

Dearest Friends,

Over 200 tickets have already been pre-sold for our Noise Pop show, so consider this an early heads-up for those of you who would like to see us perform with a British band more buzzy than a beehive.

In the spirit of this election year, we are happy to inform you that 20 Minute Loop has been VOTED into this year’s Noise Pop festival! That’s right. Instead of carefully cultivating our indie cred, or mixing with the right people (without seeming to care or be aware about it, in true indie fashion), or being signed by a really cool label like Absolutely Kosher or Barsuk, or just catching that unpredictable luck wave that has captured a few worthy acts over the years—instead of those possibilities, we have been selected by popular election to appear in this year’s biggest music festival. We have you, the voters—our music-loving constituents—to thank. Democracy in action. And let us tell you right now: we will not discredit the opportunity you have given us. We sense a desire on your part for CHANGE; not the empty promises of beltway hipsters, but real, positive change. More stimulus packages that actually work: individually-packaged breath mints in a Pyrex bowl placed between the monitors, more projectile vomiting into our sneakers, more goats slaughtered, more of the kinds of things that are meaningful to people like Emily Swansea in Alameda, a young woman who has been disappointed by the timid live performances of her favorite bands to the point that she now refuses to lavish any portion of her modest income on twenty-dollar performances that simply replicate recordings. Emily’s struggle is your struggle.

Love, 20ML

Noise Pop!
w/ British Sea Power
20 Minute Loop (on 3rd)
Sat, March 1
Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco
21+, $14 (tickets)

Gary Cloud & the Gospel of Power

Posted by othiym23 Mon, 28 Jan 2008 21:21:13 GMT

Imagine, if you will, lo-fi retro-disco with a totally bloodshot dude doing stream of consciousness rapping in a style not entirely unlike the work of Wesley Willis (RIP). This, in essence, is Gary Cloud & the Gospel of Power’s “Puff Rider”, which is fun in a greasy, low-brow kind of way.

Now imagine it being remixed by one of the UK’s most talented electronic production teams. The result is still greasy and low-brow, but also sketchy and glistening. As I mentioned yesterday, Various Production are all over the place, and that’s part of what makes them so fun and irritating all at the same time. They never settle in one place, and they’re talented at coming up with curveballs like this one.

the other night I tripped at Knox 3

Posted by othiym23 Mon, 28 Jan 2008 21:17:04 GMT

Getting lunch at Whole Foods just now, I found myself singing along completely unconsciously to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”. It’s amazing and more than a little sad how much of my brain is devoted to retaining completely random lyrics.

(The name of this entry is an apocryphal reading of one of the more mumbly parts of the song, passed along from one generation of Knox College students to another. The further I get from my time at Knox, the more unlikely it seems that anyone in REM would remember it well enough to stick it in a song. It’s that kind of place. Google doesn’t find it very likely, either.)

From Wikipedia’s entry: “See also: Apocalypticism”


Posted by othiym23 Mon, 28 Jan 2008 19:46:21 GMT

Oh, you guys:

Qtrax—the free, ad-supported, “legal” P2P service that launched at MIDEM today—apparently isn’t as ready for prime time as it claims. The company claimed it had licensing agreements with all four major record labels, when in fact it has none.


The inconsistencies with its music licensing status is just one of several missteps that may make Qtrax one of most bungled service launches in the history of digital music. The company’s press release and pre-briefings with reporters all pointed to the “live” launch of the Qtrax service. But on Monday the site shows it is only a beta launch, something the company didn’t mention in its press build-up.


Allan Klepfisz, Qtrax’s CEO, says the service will go ahead and launch with the four majors’ catalogs. When asked if he is worried about a lawsuit, Klepfisz replied, “The answer is nobody has threatened us with a thing.”

Meanwhile, back in reality (this article also discusses last.fm’s new service):

Despite a stable of early ad clients signed on for the untested site, Mr. Kent still was uncertain about what the market’s ad model would look like. “I don’t think any music sites can make money on impressions alone,” he said. “You’ve got to get out there to make the advertisers notice you. You have to stand for something and be a brand. Ad money is going to follow a brand over a long period of time.”


Posted by othiym23 Mon, 28 Jan 2008 19:15:36 GMT

Stuck in my head this morning: Wall of Voodoo’s “Can’t Make Love”, which more or less speaks for itself:

Well, I can’t make love
To the girls in this city
‘Cause the girls
Say I abuse them
And I won’t go out
With girls because
Girls will fall in love with you
Everybody’s lonely, that’s true
Maybe it’s psychology
I don’t know, I gotta move someplace

I can’t make love
To the girls in this city
‘Cause the girls
Say I abuse them
And I won’t go out
With girls because
Girls will fall in love with you
Everybody’s lonely, that’s true

Maybe it’s psychology
I don’t know, I gotta move someplace
Where the girls are easy
And it makes me miss my lonely city
And the girls are so easy
And it makes me miss my lonely city
And it seems so easy
But I can’t say the words that are on my mind

I’m a nice guy but I don’t love you,
I just wanna sleep with you.
I’m a nice guy but I don’t love you,
I just wanna sleep with you.

Well, I can’t make love
To the boys in this city
‘Cause the boys
Say I abuse them
And I won’t go out
With boys because
Boys will fall in love with you
Everybody’s lonely, that’s true

Maybe it’s psychology
I don’t know, I gotta move someplace
Where the boys are easy
And it makes me miss my lonely city
And the girls are so easy
And it makes me miss my lonely city
And everybody’s so easy
But I can’t say the words that are on my mind


I’m a nice guy… (repeats until fade)

Vulcan Vanes

Posted by othiym23 Mon, 28 Jan 2008 11:22:00 GMT

In the alternate world where thudding European techno is (still) being dropped on heaving, roiling dancefloors in American Legion halls in small towns across the Midwest and every major city has a Technodrome right next to the basketball coliseum expelling crowds of sweat-soaked, euphoric clubbers every Sunday morning, Clark’s “Volcan Veins” (released today on his new album, Turning Dragon, on Warp) is entering the charts at #1, where it will tenaciously hang for the next six weeks. Good gravy, I didn’t think anyone was still making music like this. Sounding like nothing so much as an exceedingly messy yet propulsive blend of Jackson at his nastiest and Speedy J’s from-out-of-nowhere heavy techno flawed-masterpiece Loudboxer, “Veins” also reminds me of Neil Landstrumm’s “Gigolos Trapped in Retro Hell”, Kiki’s “Gas126” and some of User’s more alarming Moroder-on-bathtub-speed disco loops. Which is to say that it’s a grainy, oversaturated chunk of High NRG disco-loop fury, and is exactly the sort of thing that makes me regret having hung up my slipmats. This is some seriously whacked-out dancefloor business and it ends the only way it could – by collapsing into a murky black hole of distortion and echoes.

Don’t believe me? Listen to the second track in this album sampler. I already tried to buy the whole album through Bleep (the samples make it sound fucking fantastic, but I sort of expect that from Clark at this point – his last album, Body Riddle, was a nearly flawless slab of loud bedroom techno), but they sent me a ZIP file containing only the liner notes. Thanks, guys.

mirror of a medium

Posted by othiym23 Mon, 28 Jan 2008 08:13:50 GMT

Mordant Music’s Dead Air is too much to absorb on a first hearing. It meanders through a multitude of electronic music styles and sounds vaguely like a wildly overdone soundtrack for a very technical documentary about the history of British television: many of the tracks feature semi-disconnected bits of media-obsessed narration (by Philip Elsmore, a former continuity announcer for Thames TV), the beats and synths sound like a cross between Boards of Canada and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and there’s a dystopian haze and confusion hanging over the music that suggests the grimy, egalitarian vibe of 1970s instructional films.

Mordant Music seem to have a symbiotic relationship with the idea of the library music they occasionally make for Boosey & Hawkes (as Boomkat astutely notes, Carrion Squared sounds and is put together exactly like a library music album). I would say they remind me of Various Production (who have a similar take on off-kilter electronic music, and with similar detours into glitchy folk and broad pop gestures) if it weren’t for their obsessive focus on mass media and their nostalgic use of raw analog synthesis. They’re using similar elements towards different ends. There’s a dialectic at work in their music that defies easy characterization; their relationship with the old television they base their work on isn’t really direct imitation, satire, or any other kind of ironized commentary. Dead Air sounds like the soundtrack to a dream about television.

lookit those shining eyes

Posted by othiym23 Mon, 28 Jan 2008 01:59:27 GMT

Part of the appeal of listening to surreal music is that it often brings along with it surreal art:

cover for HNAS's Melchior

cover to Hirsche Nicht auf Sofa’s Melchior snarfed from Brainwashed’s HNAS discography. You can get the 2002 reissue of Melchior from Mutant Sounds, or from a record store with a really good selection of used CDs in its experimental music section, like Amoeba. Also, [here](http://www.fakejazz.com/articles/coolerthanyou/hnas.shtml). Read that article and [this one](http://www.fakejazz.com/articles/coolerthanyou/hnas2.shtml) to get more of an idea what HNAS were all about.