Friday, 30 April 2010

Ulaan Khol - I

Ulaan Khol is an alias of Steven R. Smith, who is a prolific guitarist in the realms of ambient/psych/drone. I didn't know anything about him until I decided to post this album, whic I have been enjoying immensely for quite a while. Composed from layered guitar and feedback, enveloped in an atmosphere of reverb. It begins with a full band fuzz psych-out sound, but most tracks have minimal, distant percussion, or none at all. There are ringing overtones, angelic choirs and space horns singing in the mix, conjuring an epic devotional vibe of mystic depth. This is the first part of a trilogy, which I must acquire now that I know about it, especially as the last track is like a laser of distilled and focused Popol Vuh at their most ecstatic. Beautiful and cosmic.

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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Ween - Push Th' Little Daisies +

I love Ween, and this 1993 Ep was a bit legendary amongst me and my chums. This has a few extra tracks thrown on, various b-sides etc, and I thank the proprietor of whatever blog I got it from a few years back. I have this on 12" and the three b-sides from this are brilliant. This single preceded Chocolate And Cheese, and a period where they recorded a lot of songs in certain musical styles. Not necessarily always a pastiche - there seems to be a genuine love of the original forms. Thus you have 'Mango Woman', a ludicrous(ly brilliant) reggae track - a style they would revisit (King Billy, The Fruit man). My favourite is 'Puerto Rican Power' - a kind of teen power rock anthem, with bad drum fills and inept guitar leads. This so beautifully evokes a bunch of spotty hispanic teenagers rehearsing in their parents basement it's unreal. It's also a great song. Then there is 'Ode To Rene', where they effortlessly offend Francophones with a load of nonsense lyrics in a breezy easy listening style that used to dominate French airwaves. Excellent stuff. All the tracks demonstrate Gene Ween's brilliant vocals in many styles, which just seem to improve with age - there are some amazing performances on their most recent album La Cucaracha.
Tracklist:
1 - Push th' Little Daisies
2 - Mango Woman
3 - Puerto Rican Power (Pts. 1&2)
4 - Ode to Ren├ę
5 - I Smoke Some Grass (Really Really High)
6 - I'm Fat
7 - I'm Fat (Remix)
8 - Sky Cruiser
9 - Cruise Control (Sky Cruiser Remix)
10 - Cover It with Gas and Set It on Fire
11 - Silent Night

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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Black metal compilation


I know I've just posted the Wrnlrd album: this is a request/dedication to Steve, to cheer him up. Because black metal was invented to cheer people up.
This is not supposed to be definitive, even of my taste - it's just some of my favourites, and I am aware of glaring omissions. Lots of harshness, noise, violence and general nastiness; but also some great, triumphant tunes and riffs, as well as an assortment of amazing vocalists. You also have the two best BM drummers - Frost (1349) and Hellhammer (mayhem), but also some pretty inept work (Judas Iscariot - great track, though). It all sounds great to me, from the strange and technical compositions of Deathspell Omega and Mayhem, right down to the primitive thrashings of Bone Awl and Ildjarn-Nidhogg. Also, plenty of outrageous speed.
Tracklisting:
1. 1349 – I Am Abomination (Hellfire)
2. I Shalt Become – Fragments (Wanderings)
3. Gorgoroth – Wound Upon Wound (Ad Majoram...)
4. Belenos – Tal Ifern (Spicil├Ęge)
5. Bone Awl – In Eternal Dark (Magnetism Of War)
6. Darkthrone – A Blaze In The Northern Sky (A Blaze...)
7. Funeral Mist – Sword Of Faith (Maranatha)
8. Nehemah – Nehemah In Vulba Infernum (Light Of A Dead Star)
9. Gorgoroth – Procreating Satan (Twilight OF The Idols)
10. Judas Iscariot – To The Black Tower Of Victory (Distant In Solitary Night)
11. Burzum –Dunkelheit (Filosofem)
12. Mayhem – Whore (Chimera)
13. Diaboli – As I Walk Through The Shadows (Anthems Of Sorrow)
14. Leviathan - Fucking Your Ghost in Chains of Ice (The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide)
15. Ildjarn-Nidhogg - Svarte Hjerter (Ildjarn-Nidhogg)
16. Satyricon – Dawn Of A New Age (Nemesis Divina)
17. Blut Aus Nord – Choir Of The Dead (The Work Which Transforms God)
18. Endstille – Monotonus II (Navigator)
19. Triumphator – Heralds Of Pestilence (Wings Of Antichrist)
20. Watain – The Limb Crucifix (Rabid Death’s Curse)
21. Deathspell Omega –Sola Fide pt. 1 (Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice)

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Links dead

Yes, lots of links are dead, which is why you should never use Rapidshare for anything. I am replacing them from oldest to newest, and they should be fixed in a few days; but if you have any particular requests, leave a comment.
Also, Blogger has been known to pull the plug with no warning, so I have backed up the entire blog at Wordpress here. This was surprisingly easy to do, and is a very cool function.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Shipping News - Flies The Fields


Excellent album of muscular, focused and intense US indie. Released on Quarterstick in 2005, this band has quite a serious pedigree - the members featuring in such groups as Rodan, Rachel's, June Of '44 and The For Carnation. A look at that line up gives a good indication of the sounds herein - there is a large post-rock influence, with rumbling bass and angular, repetitive guitar lines dominating fairly long instrumental passages; but there is also plenty of powerful melody, very much in the vein of Shora and The For Carnation, but mostly played with the standard band instruments of bass, drums and guitar.
There are some nicely heavy moments, too - achieved as much by considered composition as stepping on a distortion pedal: the way that instrumental 'Louven' builds is a beautiful example. Some of the songs occasionally explode, too: 'Morays (Or Demon)' is gloriously adorned by brilliant guitar lines, fractured by metal vocals and distortion a couple of times.
The building of tension is key to the success of this album - the stronger melodies are thrown into bold relief when they appear; the heavy moments appear more violentm and throughout, there is a seriousness of intent, and a sense of lurking threat amidst the sober introspection.
"We are a generation of everyday collision" is one of the lines from the magnificent 'The Human Face', and might well sum up this band, although that song is followed by the rather lovely 'Untitled With Drums', which is sweetly softened by the addition of duet vocals by Fay Davis Jeffers of Pit Er Pat. It has a similarly effective magic as the unexpected female vocals in the Shora album, and perfectly sets up the epic album closer 'Paper Lanters (Zero Return)', with its relentlessly heavy bass.
As I sit listening to this album writing about it, I am wondering why I haven't tracked down all their other releases.

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Tipsy - Trip Tease

1996 album from duo Tim Digulla & David Gardner, with the help of a horde of musicians. This is a giddy and psychedelic fusion of the already-weird sounds of Les Baxter-styled exotica; mashed together with the then-current sounds of experimental trip hop and a palette of loungetastic horn stabs, vamps and not-so-E-Z casio-keyboard-gone-wrong plinky plonky cheezerama, soundtracking rictus-faced grinning flourescent zoot-suited 50s TV presenter-clowns on acid.
Marvellously executed - everything is played live by the en-suite musos, then sampled, looped, edited and generally manipulated into a freaky yet 'seductive' weird-out: a blend of swinging advert music for space-age fridges, bombarded with springy cartoon sound effects and twangy surf guitar. It's all joyous good fun, but with a real undercurrent of hallucinogenic displacement, which means it could cheerfully soundtrack any party population from Eleven Mustachioed Hipsters, to ultra-heavy hair-bear bunches.

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Monday, 12 April 2010

Wrnlrd - Cperadt

Is April the cruelest month? If so, here is a suitable offering from this US black metal band. I say band - I think this is yet another USBM one man operation. It's nasty, cacophonous, and very dense. Where a lot of the similarly spaced-out and psychedelic black metal bands go for a thin shoegazey guitar sound, this has grinding, amped up mid-range and treble riffs piled on top of one another, making for a pretty heavy sound. It sounds like there are some quality distortion pedals in use, here, and the heaviness is most welcome. This also has plenty of blasting speed, and some excellent distorted, grim and generally unpleasant vocals which merge in a muddily splendid fashion with the guitar assault. There is great use of very well executed doomy atmospheric moments which punctuate the ferocious and strange riffs, and give the album a bit of depth.

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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Byetone - Plastic Star

Byetone is a recording alias of Olaf Bender, one of the co-founders of the Raster-Noton label from Germany. I love a lot of the music on this label, which is normally a kind of icy, detached electronic minimalism; sometimes even distant and sterile (and often brilliant). This, on the other hand, is a bit of a beast. Right from the off it storms in with an electro kick drum and a glorious throbbing bass. This is driven along by minimal cymbals, and punctuated with stabs of distorted harmonic noise, before a triumphant droning melody is introduced and the track rises to a victorious peak. This demands to be played loud, and is the kind of tune that makes you raise your fist into the air.
There are four mixes on here, all excellent, none of which deviates greatly from the original, which is a good thing. Sleeparchive does a characteristically excellent job, shaping it into a more syncopated techno pounder. Fellow Raster-Noton luminary Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) funks it up a bit, cutting and chopping with clipped beats and some of his trademark high pitched noise signals. And it's nice to see Dr Walker turn in an Air Liquide-style acid-hop version, adding some acoustic bass and swirling trippy synths in the classic mid 90s Air Liquide style.
Marvellous. After hearing this I had to buy it on vinyl.

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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Odawas - The Aether Eater

2005 release on the excellent jagjaguwar label. Odawas are a west coast two man psychedelic band, with ambient, spacy, and occasionally folky overtones, making them right up my street. The songs are delivered in a tremulous tenor that gels perfectly with the music. The music is generally strummed acoustic with hand drums or simple percussion, with drums on a few tracks. A fairly simple formula that is overlaid, often overloaded with a distant hazy wash of reverby keyboards, harmonica, spangles of space synth, blasts of noise and strange found sounds. It even gets a bit 'Dark Side Of The Moon' with the sax and vocals drenched 'Song Of Temptations'. It's a heady concoction, and highly successful, as well as quite lovely. The brevity of the songs helps - instead of protracted jams, we get short blasts of hazy psych sweetness.
Odawas have had two subsequent album; 'Raven And The White Night', which is also excellent, and 2009's 'The Blue Depths', which I haven't heard but will confidently predict is also very good. So check them out, and buy an album.

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Thursday, 1 April 2010

Do Make Say Think -Do Make Say Think

Debut album from the still-going-strong DMST - scary to think that this came out way back in 1998. I saw them on tour shortly after at the Garage in Islington - the refurb of which I still have yet to see. I don't think I've heard all their output since, and the other albums I've heard have been decent, especially the new one; but none have bettered this. A lot of post rock albums in the intervening years are quite obviously influenced by other post rock, but this still has loads of influences from all over the shop. Like a lot of similar albums this has a strong dub element, with bass-led melodies, as well as references to post punk/industrial experimentalists; soundtracks, and prog/space rock. This music is also completely comfortable rolling along at a very slow pace, and letting the compositions unfold in their own time. Opener '1978' rumbles along for 9 low slung minutes before a guitar melody comes in. 'Highway 420', probably my favourite, is a definite throwback to the 70s - opting for a 'Wish You Were Here' style intro of shimmering synths which ushers in some space-country style guitar twanging; then a sax joins in, and the track becomes something like 1973 Gong stretched out to a 10th of its speed before dissolving into the ether in a blissful haze. It's not entirely laid back - 'Dr. Hooch' lays down a thundering and pretty menacing groove of strident bass, with alien attack siren synths cutting though the mix to slightly fry your brain. Later on, 'Disco & Haze' explodes with fuzz and wah guitar.
Another refreshing aspect of this album is that it steered away from the consciously epic crescendos of a lot of other instrumental and Constellation bands; relying on great grooves, tuneful embellishment and finely recorded analogue sounds to make its case. Terrific stuff that I've listened to countless times over the years.

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