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2021-05-02

cassette craze chronicles IV (feat. ASSUMPTION, CHELSEA WOLFE, DSKNT, KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD and 夢遊病者)


Whoah, already? Yes? Here's yet another installment of my little segment hitting the play button on recent tape purchases old and new.






CHELSEA WOLFE - The Grime And The Glow (2010)
CHELSEA WOLFE - Unknown Rooms (A Collection Of Acoustic Songs) (2012)

The UK webstore of Sargent House is closing down and thus giving high discounts, so it was a no-brainer for me to snatch these last two Wolfe works which were still missing in my collection. Nothing spectacular regarding the package here, but then the price was also accordingly sparse, right?

The music is of course wonderful. Much closer to PJ Harvey than today, minimalistic, raw and sometimes challengingly shrill on the debut, pure and beautiful on the acoustic album. She may have only been ascending the stairs back then, but you can't deny that the artist on these two tapes is on the unstoppable way of becoming our all rightful contemporary gothic queen.

Two awesome albums which haven't lost any of their original impact.







The next four tapes were all ordered on last Bandcamp Friday (where the artists/labels get the full share of the profit without fees). And three of them all come from the always interesting black/death/avant-garde label Sentient Ruin Laboratories:
 


ASSUMPTION - The Three Appearances (2014/2020)

Originally released on CD in 2014, Sentient Ruin saved this EP from obscurity with a fresh run of vinyl and cassettes. And boy they did good, because the not three, but four tracks on "The Three Appearances" are a master class in thick, sludgy, yet still atmospheric doom death metal.

I can only approve the label's own promotional text when it places the sound of these Italians between AsphyxBolt Thrower, Skepticism and Winter. Especially the thirteen minute title track with its mournful contemplating organ, Morbid Angel lead guitar madness, psychedelic swirls and many other elements skillfully thrown in, is an enormously exciting crawl through the richness of possibilities within the subgenre.








DSKNT - Vacuum γ​-​Noise Transition (2021)

Could it be that the title is some kind of ironic nod to the fact that anyone who hates this music could easily describe it as just being the sound of several vacuum cleaners in different pitches playing at once?
The good thing is that this description also works just fine in case you totally dig the nihilistic apocalypse which the Swiss black metal commando DSKNT unleashes on this completely mind-and-body-annihilating monstrosity of an album.
If you love the recent dissonant death metal masterpiece "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse" by Ad Nauseam even close to how I love it, but your preference is black metal (squished together with industrial and pure noise) and/or you're just in a mood for more cosmic chaos and utter relentless aggression, this might just be your cowbell.
"Vacuum γ​-​Noise Transition" blasts with a level of unforgiving weird violence that is almost incomprehensible for human perception. If you deem this your prefered soundtrack for romantic hours, you're in urgent need of therapy. Just sayin'. It's bloody awesome though.









夢遊病者 - Noč Na Krayu Sveta (2021)

One may have noticed by now that I'm kind of in an extreme/avant-garde black/death spree at the moment. And yes, even after Ad Nauseam and DSKNT, there are still limits to be pushed.

Personally I wouldn't even per se categorize this new two-tracks/half-hour EP by the - let me quote - "Russian/Japanese/American experimental ritualistic black metal entitiy 夢遊病者" as metal.
The black metal riffs and voices and whatnot are there, but then there is so much more going on in this creative chaotic thunderstorm, which originates in completely different realms, most prominently free jazz, Middle-Eastern folklore, drone, industrial... yeah, it's a lot. And it's always a lot of stuff at the same time, performed by a lot of instruments including Moog synthesizer, fretless bass, quray and bouzouki by the three core band members, but also strings, winds, brass, oud, electronics, clerical choir vocals and whatever a kubyz is by several guest musicians.

This is Alice Coltrane and Toby Driver having a raging black metal baby. This is Mansur torturing Mono in hell. This is ambitious and beautiful, a piercing bliss so bright, it burns the eyes out of your skull.

Congratulations to Sentient Ruin for releasing this gem, which would also have aesthetically fit into the roster of labels like I, Voidhanger, WV Sorcerer or even Karlrecords. And while I'm already at it, thank you also for putting some real love into the artwork and layout of your tapes. Even though - common problem - the typography is really tiny, especially this package is a true beauty. Just as it should be to measure up to the music.







KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD - Teenage Gizzard (Manic Juice Records version) (2021)

Nope, I'm not even trying to find a smooth transition from Sleepwalker (yes, that's the english name for 夢遊病者) to the hyper-prolific Australians King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. When Stu MacKenzie's insane psych posse announced a whole bunch of "official bootlegs" a couple of months ago, I definitely knew that now was the final point to admit that I'll never even try to catch up with their discography.
Basically published by anyone who wants to publish them, most  of these albums are live recordings from (relatively, you know, you know...) recent shows, but also demos and other leftovers.

And even though some of the many additions seem to be absolutely wonderful works of love and art, I don't think that I realistically need half a dozen of King Gizz live album, so I quickly decided that the one album I wanted from that bunch was the best cassette version of "Teenage Gizzard", which pretty self-explanatory consists of the earliest - teenage - demos of the band, which I could find.
Fast forward to April 2nd I sought Bandcamp thoroughly and found this beauty with just the right artwork from the Canadian mini label Manic Juice Records, which is limited to thirty hand-numbered copies.

Musically infant Gizzard can't really be called psychedelic yet, but their at times almost punky, enthusiastic garage surf rock for sure is infectious and fun.

"Life Is Cool."






2021-05-01

AD NAUSEAM - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse

"How can you look into the emptiness
If your own experience exists out of it?
How can you listen to the voice of the self
If the listener hears only his own echoes?"

"When I look at the cosmic mirror
The universe sees itself through me."

(Ad Nauseam on "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse")



Are you ready to be brutally dazzled and confused?

Are you ready to stare into the abyss and embrace it when it stares back?
 
Are you ready for some death fucking metal to end all death fucking metal?




"This is the kind of metal that is worth listening to.
Other metal is just tame in comparison."

(some dude in a YouTube comment)

While I do think that the statement is a slight exaggeration, since there are tons of worthwhile metal out there, I certainly understand where it comes from.
Because frankly, at least while I'm spinning this double album I find my self very close to this sentiment. 



AD NAUSEAM - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse (smoke clear vinyl 2LP) (2021)

I always found "Avantgarde Music" and that of all names combined with a NSK rip-off logo, to be a quite, let's say bold choice as the brand of a metal label. The new album of Italian dissonant metal extremists Ad Nauseam couldn't be represented more fittingly though, since every single minute of the six longtracks on "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse" screams avant-garde through and through.

Yet the huge difference to most other bands earning said tag is that Ad Nauseam don't need to bring in any unusal instruments or crossovers with unsuspected genres to achieve the effect. They even go so far as to declaring "no synths" like Queen did on their 1970's works. (Along with an explanation that this album needs to be played louder than most other because of its dynamics.)

I already said it in the introduction and I'll double down on it: This album is also without any doubt death metal through and through. It's only towards the end that we get some breathier passages with a kayo dotish doom and darkjazz feeling, but far over ninety percent of this is pure death metal onslaught on the highest technical, compositional and brain-bashing level.

So how do these two poles merge together so well?

A common sign of successful (not only) avant-garde art is that it speaks to the gut and soul, even though it might be based on a very intellectual and "set up" concept.
In the case of Ad Nauseam it's obvious that the guys have a profound understanding or at least affinity to the avant-garde varieties of jazz and classical music, but apply their knowledge in a manner that may challenge and broaden the boundaries of death metal, but stay true to the sound and feel of the genre nonetheless. This is just much more traumatizingly intense and horrifying than most other death metal.

The key is the key.
If there even is any.

Just like an avant-garde composer setting up a weird array of custom instruments or Miles Davis contemplating over the then more theoretical idea of modal jazz before recording "Kind Of Blue", Ad Nauseam probably started their whole process with some serious conceptual nerd-work and developed their very own tuning systems, which seems far more "out there" and dissonant to European ears than Arabian microtonal music, which at least has a somehow familiar cultural backbone and should be part of any well-assorted music collection in at least some capacity.

Like always when metal guitars explore the realm of dissonance and atonality, you can of course cite forefathers like Voivod, their ancestors like King Crimson or in this case closer relatives like Ulcerate.
And while the tone of bands like the hyper-bleak surrealists Portal or New York's much more openly jazz-influenced creators of the metal album of the year 2020Imperial Triumphant may sound similar in many instances, the consequence in which really every single note and sound emerging from this nightmarish cacophony seems to come from a parallel universe of aural perception, is hardly to be matched.

Despite love love loving this sick sick sick monster like I presumably won't love many other metal records of the foreseeable future, I am also kind of relieved that this kind of music will always be a marginal sub-genre affair without any chance of reaching the popularity of Genesis or Pink Floyd. Because how in all hells should any future Volkswagen-sponsored Ad Nauseam tribute band in the 2060s ever be able to decrypt and reproduce this? Come on!



Last but not least "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse" is rounded up by a dark elemental artwork, which totally matches the vibe of the music as well as the beautiful transparent smoke vinyl of the album's second pressing.

Consider all this and you have a complete masterpiece on every imaginable level.

If you dig any kind of carefully askewed extreme metal like Imperial Triumphant, Ulcerate, but also Sumac, VirusOrannssi Pazuzu, avant-garde black metal in general; or if you just want to know how far the Morbid Angel / Gorguts tradition of death metal can be pushed - you ought to give this a listen!







2021-04-29

cassette craze chronicles III (feat. CRYPTOSIS, THE AMENTA and VEKTOR)

 


Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh... *highthrashmetalscream*

It's time for some cassette craze again. This time it's a smaller and a little more homogenic bunch, as all these three new releases dwell within in the realm of technical over-the-top metal.

Let's start with a sci-fi thrash metal split EP, which marks the return of prime Voivod worshippers Vektor five yeary after their masterpiece "Terminal Redux".


VEKTOR / CRYPTOSIS - Transmissions Of Chaos (Split) (2021)

Even though guitarist/squaller David DiSanto has started over with three new band members, the Canadian quartet's technical thrash metal with tons of lead guitar action remains instantly recognizable.
The only thing which has changed quite a bit is the average pitch of DiSanto's screaming, which is no longer as excessively high as we are (or have never gotten) used to. While this takes a bit off their originality during the verses, it's not a change I really mind, as his voice is still very poisonous and aggressive.

The longer track "Dead By Dawn" begins with an even bigger change of pace, albeit one which isn't totally new for fans of "Terminal Redux". During its slower passages it features pink floydish influences and even clean singing. Not with the most spectacular voice of course. But it's ok, it's cool. It remains to be seen in which capacity these ten new minutes of Vektor foreshadow their next release.

The neon green cassette looks cool, but if you have enough space to fill two booklet pages with a hardly perceptible band picture, maybe you could also include the track titles somewhere?
Sadly apart from its collector's value this whole release is a little redundant anyway, since Vektor have also released their half of it as a single.

And what about the other half? Well, I haven't even mentioned it yet, because the two Cryptosis tracks are also featured on their debut album, which I conveniently ordered together with it...





CRYPTOSIS - Bionic Swarm (2021)

It's quite fitting that this Dutch trio was introduced on a split release with Vektor, because on paper they are doing almost exactly the same thing: high speed thrash metal with off-the-charts instrumental chops, equally based on Slayer, Atheist and Voivod with dystopian science-fiction themes. But luckily you can distinguish them. And not only by the vocals.
(For all who miss the high frequencies vocals in new Vektor - Laurens Houvast has you at least partially covered with the occasional super-high Araya screech here and there.) 

On the instrumental side this shit is an absolutely frantic ride, which never really takes a break to let you breathe. Cryptosis include a lot of synthesizer sounds, which often makes them sound like a thrash version of Nocturnus. There's also a lot of stuff which tonally brings up the "Odium" phase of Morgoth.

Every detail on "Bionic Swarm" has been meticulously refined, these guys are definitely perfectionists. And luckily the precision and clarity in everything does not take away from the impact of the album, but only enhances it.

It doesn't happen too often that I hear a thrash metal tune and immediately think whoa, I got to have this, but this one absolutrely triggered that reflex. Luckily. Because this is a killer that will surely turn some heads and relocate some necks.






THE AMENTA - Revelator (2021)

Last but not least let's get a little more extreme with the Australian group The Amenta, who definitely share the more is more approach with Cryptosis and Vektor, but indulge in a wider and probably more modern spectrum of extreme music, in which thrash metal is only one flash among many others, like death metal, post metal/hardcore/everything, all delivered with a heavy dose of dillinger escapish panic (including a similar variety of vocal styles) and devin townsendish production overkill.

Even though the print on the cassette booklet may be a little too small for eyes older than 16 years, it's very well worth checking out the lyrics of tracks like "Parasight Lost", "Twined Towers" or "Wonderlost" - no wait, that last one is an instrumental -, because just like the titles suggest, The Amenta are permanently diving deep through wordplay hell in the best possible way.

While I must admit that I cannot stomach this particular flavour of overabundance of sonic information and aggression at any given time - there is no way around acknowledging that this album sucks the pus out of your pimples. Fuck yeah.





2021-04-19

ROADBURN REDUX - review

Roadburn Festival as we know and love it can't happen right now, obviously.

So this year it's Roadburn Redux - a free to watch mix of exclusive performances (mostly pre-recorded live shows from all over the world) and actual live streams from the 013 venue in Tilburg.

Add to that video premieres, interviews, documentaries... and you're quickly at the point where you decide to keep it real and - just like at Regularburn - don't even try to see everything.

The good thing is that you don't have to watch everything exactly when it happens. Until at some point on Tuesday night everything can be revisited. Good for me, since on Thursday night, when Roadburn Redux began, I was working on "druturum VIII-I" of "Druturum VIII" (further title to be revealed later) with my own band DruturuM. A great piece of psychedelectronic dronekraut low-fi weirdness is forming there, if I may say so myself...

And on Friday the party already started when I still had several hours of work to do. So was a lot to catch up to right from the start for me.

After Tuesday it's up to the artists and labels if, when and where all this greatness might reappear. Much of this would be worth a physical release.



I have written a couple of short reviews about streams in the course of the previous year, but following the fleeting nature of this happening I will keep this one rather brief and just focus on (not even all of) my highlights.
This is the stuff I re-watched, these are the shows I'd tell you about if you were foolish enough to engage in a real life conversation about Roadburn 2021 with me:





GOLD - This Shame Should Not Be Mine

Gold were already established as phenomenal genre-bending live band and being experienced in the live streaming game for me, but this show took them to a whole new level.
Premiering a commissioned personal piece about sexual violence, sounding more electronic and björk-inspired (even using an interview snippet of her as a sample) than ever, this show surely was no easy dish and had an unmatched sincere intensity. The first time I really felt that special, brave adventurous Roadburn spirit fully grabbing me at Roadburn Redux. One for the festival's history books!

I kind of hope that Gold don't even bother to turn this into a studio album, but instead just release it as it is. It's just so damn powerful and on point. Even the underlying discomfort and akwardness which shines through at the end of almost every livestream show without a direct audience, works in its favour. 







NADJA - Seemannsgarn

Drone. Metal. Mastership. Think Godflesh slowed down to infinity! One must have an amazing fantasy to imagine this fourty-minute chunk of cathartic noise possibly being any more perfect. Unconditional love!  







BADA

Bada
is the band, which mostly consists of members of Anna von Hausswolff's live band, including Anna herself, but here not in the center of attention, but in the role of an equal member among others on the keys. As their debut record was a fantastic exploration of droning doomy ambient noisy psychedelic rock, so was this live recording, captioned in one of my favorite settings of all pre-recorded performances. Masterfully spellbinding atmospheres!
That one amp in the middle looks like a washing machine though.







JO QUAIL

Short and sweet. Initially the modern post rock and metal's favorite cello player was supposed to play her big commissioned piece "The Cartographer" as the only part of the canceled Roadburn 2021, but due to travel restrictions that wasn't possible. Still nice of her to bring us some dark looped, never before played string goodness in a solo performance instead. 







TRIALOGOS - Stroh Zu Gold

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Conny Ochs, cellist/composer Sickerman and experimental musician Kiki Bohemia are Trialogos. And their mixture of experimental noises, minimalist krautrock, folk and post rock vibes, that one part which reminds me of the "Knight Rider" theme and some surprisingly heavy monster riffs was without a doubt one of Saturday's highlights. Album pre-ordered!







HAUNTED PLASMA

Sometimes the hype is real. Electronic artists (or bands with strong electronic elements) have become a vital part for Roadburn, and one of my favorite acts embracing the 0s and 1s this year might be Haunted Plasma, a dark and danceable meeting of Finnish minds, including members of Oranssi Pazuzu and guest singer Mat McNerney of Hexvessel in his most gothic register. Addictive!







KNOLL

One of the shortest shows, performed by probably the youngest guys in this Roadburn edition came from the grindcore collective Knoll. So refreshingly close to the early Napalm Death roots of the genre, but still with a distinct sound including some electronic elements. Fuck yeah, this was just pure raw fun!







NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM - Set Chaos To The Heart Of The Moon

Every Roadburn edition has this one show which you enter with ridiculously high expectations, to a point that other visitors might not take you seriously anymore. But you are in the know, and after the show everyone agrees with you that Magma, Anna von Hausswolff etc. totally won the festival.

This year that show was the larger than life spiritual jazz / drone / doom / psychedelic rock fusion extravaganza  of Neptunian Maximalism. Already when the eight members of this live incarnation of the group started the performance just standing in a row and chanting a capella you felt that this was going to be special. And indeed there's no other band out there invoking this blend of elevating cosmic chaos out there. Not even NNMM themselves in a way, because this show sounded deliberately different than their giant three-part debut "Éons", but equally as ancient, mighty and all-embracing.
No doubt, Neptunian Maximalism have done their name justice. If you're a fan of The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Sun Ra Arkestra, Swans, Sunn O))), Kikagaku Moyo or just watching the communication between two drummers giving everything, this is for you.

More is more - and more than this is as good as impossible.







PLAGUE ORGAN - Orphan

When we start to talk about drummers of Roadburn Redux, there is no way around René Aquarius and his blasting-it-relentlessly-for-fourty-fucking-minutes performance with Plague Organ. Accompanied by an equally persistent almost-only-one-note bass and his Dead Neanderthals mate Otto Kokke, he delivered one of the surely most talked about instrumental performances of this weekend.
While the meditative aspects of "Orphan" may haven taken a little longer to set in than on the album, the live version made up for it with the typical Neanderthals trolling quality, which was taken to a whole new level with this display of stamina.







DEAD NEANDERTHALS - IXXO 

And the drum robot strikes again! But this time in another tempo. The Dead Neanderthals show on Sunday took their concept of pushing minimalistic ideas to maximal effect into a quite surprsing direct. While you would typically expect some kind of extreme jazz or drone noise from them, the performance of "IXXO" was actually quite... let's say listenable.
Extended to a quartet with three synth players they grooved through a hypnotically repetive krautrock piece, which you would have rather expected from Minami Deutsch or Radar Men From The Moon. Just a bit more minimalistic of course. I was actually a little disappointed that it already ended after thirty-five minutes, haha. If you can blast for fourty minutes, you can do this for a full hour, right?







STEVE VON TILL - A Remote Wilderness

Let's close this bunch of impressions with maybe the most emotionally striking performance after Gold! Why hasn't Steve von Till's solo work been more on my radar before?
What a charismatic presence. What a real voice. And what a profound work of art. If I had to choose, then this show would be among my top 3 alongside Gold and Neptunian Maximalism. I'm speechless.







DE WOLFF 

Or no, let's close this with the actually last band on the bill! The Dutch working animals DeWolff are what you could call streaming veterans by now. I've just seen them do a very entertaining special streaming show in a vintage TV show setting with many guest a while ago. And after that they played a string of nine shows a row, on each performing another one of their studio releases in full.
That probably made them the ideal candidates to jump in almost in the last minute without the chance to rehearse extendly, because Radar Men From The Moon sadly had to cancel their appearance. DeWolff confidently promised "the freakiest, dirtiest, heaviest and swampiest set we'll ever play".

Of course we're not talking The Body or Conan dirty, yet rather Dirty Purple, so yeah, it definitely was a fun vintage rock dirty blues jam party finale. Good times, fuck yeah!







MIZMOR - Wit's End

So far I've only written about live streams and pre-recorded live performances.
Of course there were also tons of audio and video premieres. Kayo Dot, DarkherTelea Jacta meets Electric Moon or my personal favorite among all those: This epic ultra doomy commissioned track by Mizmor, which comes with a fittingly dark animated video. Looking forward for the forthcoming EP with this on it very much!

Oh wait. I forgot that that was also an amazing video premiere from Big|Brave. Well, I'm getting their new album anyway and it's not a competition, alright?






Ok folks, that's all I was able and willing to write about for now.

That doesn't mean there wasn't more quality and greatness in the line-up. Of course some artist weren't my cup of tea or failed to completely reach their full potential like the Wolvennest offspring The Nest, which despite Ryanne van Dorst being on guest vocals, just had to many aimless and dragging parts.
Similarily Solar Temple, who achieved an amazing richness of sound for two people, just could have told their whole story in half an hour instead sixty minutes.

Both shows weren't really bad at all though. Further shoutouts go to all that those flavours of black metal, be it the crushing might of Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, the class of Wesenwille, the western variant of Wayfarer or the harsh raw purity of Doodswens. There were also great ambient-influenced shows from Die Wilde Jagd Autarkh III, the unbelievably beautiful Of Blood And Mercury or Dirk Serries. There was the joyful experimentalism of Spill Gold and the melancholic punch to my gut seeing Hexvessel, who were the second last band I've actually seen in the flesh over a year ago. There was the dirty rock of Maggot Heart. There were Might, Tesa, Kairon; IRSE!, Doctors Of Space, Territoire and more.

And there are some a lot like The Ocean or Aaron Turner, who I still have to catch up on by the time I'm publishing this review.


What a line-up for a freaking streaming event! And what an amazing and elaborate production on all fronts! Roadburn has never done something like this before and is already setting new standards.

I didn't use all social media gimmicks which were offered, but I sure as hell successfully tried that "donate" button, because this weekend of excessive live music consumption exceeded all expectations by far and has been the best thing since forever really.


Thank you Walter, Becky, the whole Roadburn Redux team and all the artists who made this possible!

And also cheers to all fellow Reduxians, each one in their own special bubble, but united in being apart, who against all odds made this feel like a communal experience!



2021-04-15

WORK MONEY DEATH - The Space In Which The Uncontrollable Unknowns Resides, Can Be The Place From Which Creation Arises

Ein
Titel
welcher so
ausufernd lang
wie dieser ist, ergibt einmal zitiert
ja im Grunde schon eine halbe Rezension.


WORK MONEY DEATH - The Space In Which The Uncontrollable Unknowns Resides, Can Be The Place From Which Creation Arises (LP) (2021)


Wie empfehlenswert dieses Album der Band um Saxophonisten Tony Burkhill ist, ergibt sich zum großen Teil schon automatisch aus dem Verhältnis des Rezipienten zu den spirituellen Werken Alice Coltranes, dem Klassiker "Karma" ihres an jenen beteiligten Pharoah Sanders und der überlebensgroßen Inspiration wiederum jenes Albums, John Coltranes "A Love Supreme".

Es gibt also drei mögliche Ausgangslagen:

1. Jazz ist keine Musik und Du findest diesen Scheiß furchtbar.
Alter, komm mal klar! Wieso liest Du das hier überhaupt?

2. Du kennst die genannten Künstler/Alben (noch) nicht.
Beneidenswert! Du kannst mit diesem Album eine komplett neue Welt entdecken.

3. Du kennst und liebst diesen Scheiß!
Wenn Du nicht gerade zu der speziellen Stock-im-Arsch-Fraktion gehörst, die unverfrorene Huldigung prinzipiell als Majestätsbeleidigung ihres Heiligen Grals betrachten, musst Du mit "The Space In Which The Uncontrollable Resides, Can Be The Place In Which Creation Arises" sehr glücklich werden.

Denn dieses Album ist eine perfekte, authentisch zeitgenössisch klingende Hommage an die Giganten des Spiritual Jazz. Schon der Titel weckt ja Assoziationen zu "The Creator Has A Masterplan" und dem afrofuturistischen Big Band Sound des Sun Ra Arkestra ("Space Is the Place").

Und big klingen die beiden Longtracks "Dusk" und "Dawn" auch in jeder Beziehung. Dafür müssen Work Money Death allerdings gar nicht das ganze gigantische Besetzungsbesteckauffahren. Der größte Teil des Albums wird von einem klassischen Quartett aus Saxophon, Klavier, Bass und Drums bestritten, allerdings erweitert um zusätzliche, für den Eindruck epischer Breite entscheidend mitverantwortlicher Congas und Percussions.

Weitere Bläser, welche dazukommen, fügen sich da eher subtil, fast unbewusst ein. Im Finale allerdings, wenn sich schließlich Gesang dazugesellt, blüht das Album vollkommen auf und das Karma Supreme Worshipping erreicht seinen strahlenden Zenit.

Sind Work Money Death hier besonders innovativ? Nein. Doch das verlangt dieses Album ja auch überhaupt nicht.
Was es aber sein will, das ist es in Perfektion. Jede Note hier gold und voller Seele und Liebe zur Musik. Absolute, heilige Jazz-Ekstase!




2021-04-13

SENYAWA - Alkisah (CN Version)

Dass das neue, dezentral auf zahlreichen unterschiedlichen Labels erschiene Album des indonesischen Duos Senyawa ein Knaller und bisher - nach wie vor - eines meiner absoluten Lieblingssalben des Jahres ist, habe ich ja schon zuvor in einer Rezension beschrieben.

Nur die Gestaltung der Vinylvariante von Les Albums Claus, welche nicht einmal ein Tracklisting beinhaltete, fand ich persönlich doch etwas sparsam.

Da konnte ich einfach unmöglich nein sagen, als ich die sehr viel opulentere Veröffentlichung des französisch-chinesischen Labels WV Sorcerer sah. Zwar habe ich leider gerade zwischen zwei sehr schönen (und natürlich noch viel limitierteren) Farbvinylpressungen bestellt, doch auch das schlicht schöne Schwarze hat es in sich, angefangen vom ansprechenden Coverartwork + Obi-Streifen...


SENYAWA - Alkisah (CN Version / LP+CD) (2021)

Nein, fetter lässt sich dieses tolle Album in dieser noch vertretbaren Preisklasse wohl nicht präsentieren: Gatefoldcover mit vollständigen Credits und Songtexten - man will ja auch mal ein wenig Indonesisch aufschnappen, dazu als Beigaben ein Poster und ein Umschlag mit einem Dutzend hochwertig bedruckten, matten Fotokarten rund um die Entstehung von "Alkisah". Für mich eines der geschmackvollsten Extrabeigaben, die ich bisher in Händen halten durfte.

Doch für den Hörer in mir ist natürlich die LP an sich wichtiger. Und hier gibt es zum Glück keinen Abzug.
Auch die Pressqualität kann mehr als die belgische Claus-Version, welche somit ab sofort auf Discogs den Daumen zum Trampen nach Irgendwo raushält.

Last, but auf keinen Fall least, ist auch noch eine Bonus-CD mit Remixen diverser Künstler aus Hong Kong und dem Rest Chinas dabei, welche zeigt, dass der rhythmische, schamanistische, dröhnende Charakter von Senyawas Musik sich extrem zur kreativen Fremdbearbeitung eignet.
Dann ob tanzbar, experimentell, einfach nur lärmend, was diese neun Extrastücke aufbieten, weiß mich durchweg zu überzeugen. Und ich bin wahrlich nicht der größte Superfan des Konzepts "Remix" an sich auf diesem Planeten.

Gesamturteil: Aaaaalter!

Ich kann mir kaum vorstellen, dass es noch eine Version von "Alkisah" gibt, die dieses absolut würdige, auf dreihundert handnummerierte Exemplare begrenzte Paket schlagen kann. Jetzt mal abgesehen von den erwähnten, eng verwandet Farbvarianten natürlich.

Nein, das Ding wird definitiv so schnell nicht ausgetauscht. Ein Traum.




2021-04-11

ANARKHON - Phantasmagorical Personification Of The Death Temple

Okkulter lovecraftscher Old-School-Death Metal?

Ok, da ich momentan neben diversen Extremlärmspielarten eh recht viel Schwarz- und Todesgeballer höre, leihe ich dem Download, den mir Debemur Mortis Productions zu meiner Bestellung (u.a. neueste Vinylauflage des letztjährigen Ulcerate-Hammers "Stare Into Death And Be Still") beigelegt haben, doch gerne ein Ohr!

Und ja, dieses Album, welches ebenfalls sein Genre im Titel trägt, macht alles richtig!


ANARKHON - Phantasmagorical Personification Of The Death Temple (2021)

Wer die ersten Werke von Sepultura kennt, der weiß, dass gruftig verwaschener Sumpfhall zu den brasilianischen Extremmetal-Urtraditionen gehört. Und wo, außer vielleicht im Funeral Doom,  kommt ist so ein aus der Tiefsee zu gurgeln scheinender Gesangssound besser zur Geltung als in einem fett, aber dennoch natürlich roh produzierten Weltuntergangsdeathmetalinferno?

Ganz so apokalyptisch und technisch herausragend wie bei den deutschen Lovecraftianern Sulphur Aeon geht es hier zwar nicht zu, doch das heißt natürlich nicht allzu viel, außer in erster Linie, dass der Anteil an gradlinig stumpfscheppernden Frühneunzigerdeathmetalriffs, die zwischen den Blastattacken und frickeligeren Parts durch die atmosphärisch erstaunlich dichte Suppe bollern, hier im Vergleich deutlich höher ist.

Und das ist auch gut so. Mit "Phantasmagorical Personification Of The Death Temple" haben Anarkhon nämlich eine verdammt abgründige, todespartytaugliche Dampfwalze des Bösen aus der Unterwelt auf uns losgelassen.

Von meiner musikalischen Sozialisation her, ist das Ding hier im Prinzip nostalgisch machendes Komfortzonenfutter, doch es stecken genügend über reine Garstigkeit hinausgehende Kreativtät und Abenteuerlust in diesem Album, um es auch im jetzigen Jahrzehnt relevant zu machen, vor allem als Gegenpol zum klinisch keimfreien Teil der permanenten Veröffentlichungsflut.




2021-04-05

DER BLUTHARSCH AND THE INFINITE CHURCH OF THE LEADING HAND - Rejoice

Ein neues Blutharsch-Album war in der Post, und ich hatte mir sogleich zwei Vorsätze für die Rezension gemacht:

1. keine flachwitzigen Wortspiele mit dem überlangen Bandnamen
2. das Ding schnell und spontan nach ein paar Durchläufen von der Leber schreiben


Punkt 1 kann noch was werden, aber an Punkt 2 bin ich gnadenlos gescheitert: Hier keine Zeit, da gerade keine Lust, dort was anderes vorgeschoben. Zwischendurch hatte ich im Grunde schon den halben Text im Kopf, doch dann auch wieder irgendwann vergessen.

Die gute Nachricht ist aber, dass ich "Rejoice" nun schon viel häufiger gehört habe als erwartet. Und ich leide noch nicht an Ermüdungserscheinungen.


DER BLUTHARSCH AND THE INFINITE CHURCH OF THE LEADING HAND - Rejoice (CD) (2021)

Dabei geben sich Tastenmann Albin Julius, Sängerin Marthynna und der Rest der unendlichen Kirchenbande durchaus Mühe, einen zu zermürben, bestehen die meisten der sechs Tracks noch vor allem aus Spannungsaufbau, aus dem Warten darauf, dass endlich irgendeine Form von Auf- und Erlösung kommt.
Doch stattdessen hören die Stücke irgendwann einen in der Luft hängen lassend auf und das Spiel beginnt mit der nächsten Nummer erneut.

Dabei bedienen sich DBATICOTLH durchaus in jedem neuen Anlauf einer anderen Klangfarbe ihres über die Jahre aufgebauten Repertoires.
Der Opener "Coming" (ja, wann kommt es denn? aaargh!) wird von neoklassischen, beinahe marschierenden  Streichersounds dominiert.

"Fear" ist von Toms, dumpf dröhnenden Rhythmus- und jaulenden Leadgitarren getrieber Psych Rock.
"Darkness +" mischt einen behäbig schleppenden Beat der neuen Swans-Generation mit morriconescher Westerngitarre, lynchig entrücktem Flüstern und einem Hauch Flöte. Das Ding könnte ich mir so ähnlich auch von SQÜRL vorstellen.

"Darkness ++" führt das Swans worshipping dann etwas treibender und auch gesanglich fort, ehe im Titeltrack "Rejoice" dann endlich das große Aufatmen angesagt ist.

Ein flotter, gerade durch die ständig über allem herumträllernde Querflöte für Blutharsch-Verhältnisse schon beinahe fröhlicher Krautrockjam, welcher mich rhythmisch an Bowies "Beauty And The Beast" erinnert. Hallelujah! Das Album hat wirklich auf diesen verdienten Moment hingearbeitet.

Danach folgt mit dem Abschluss "Burn" noch der längste Track, der einen Teil der hoffungsvollen Energie von "Rejoice" weiterträgt und mit der bedrohlicheren Ästhetik der Albummitte ringen lässt.
Auch hier wird wieder vor allem Spannung gehortet, bis die Musik irgendwann zerfällt und sich per Sample Satan verschrieben wird.

Das war also das Ziel der ganzen Reise? Ok.


"Rejoice" ist ein schlau aufgebautes Album, dessen Einzelbausteine vor allem dem Ganzen dienen, für sich alleine allerdings auch durchgehend stark sind.

Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand sind natürlich wie immer irgendwie etwas kauzig und speziell, doch wenn man ihren Sound grundsätzlich mag, dann wird man auf "Rejoice" erstklassig bedient.




Gar kein BANDCAMP DAY diesen Monat?

Doch, klar.

Allerdings habe ich diesmal keine reinen Digitalveröffentlichungen, sondern "nur" vier Tapes abgeerntet, die alle einen langen Überseeweg vor sich haben.
Und da ich mir tendenziell angewöhne, in bestellte Tonträger erst richtig einzutauchen, wenn ich sie in der Hand habe (auch wenn bereits ein Download verfügbar ist), widme ich ihnen hier entsprechend später ein Segment. 




DEAD NEANDERTHALS - Rat Licker

Patience is a virtue.

And boy, I had some patience with Dead Neanderthals!

Bought digital EPs, CDs, cassettes, LPs, even checked out numerous other projects in which Rene Aquarius and/or Otto Kokke were involved, all in the naive belief, that one day the Dutch disaster duo might possibly come around, embrace its inherent talents and finally deliver some decent, listenable music.

And now with this seven inch bearing the romantic title "Rat Licker" that day has finally arrived.

Fans of catchy, poppin', swinging (but still moderately performed - so the children can sleep in the next room) barbershop tunes, rejoice!


DEAD NEANDERTHALS - Rat Licker (7" album) (2021)


Nah, I probably had licked on those rodents too long.

So seriously:

On this album, which is disguised as a single (or is it the other way around?), Dead Neanderthals go back to the roots of their own journey and also to the influental classics of the grind jazz genre.

On twelve tracks with lengths from eleven to one hundred and twenty seconds, just sporting drums and saxophone, they pay loving homage to John Zorn's legendary extreme bands, in which he either let jazz musicians play grindcore (Naked City's "Torture Garden") or the pioneer grind drummer Mick Harris of Napalm Death play jazz (PainKiller's "Guts Of A Virgin" and "Buried Secrets").

And what can I say? Even though Dead Neanderthal's instrumentation is a little more stripped down in comparison and they don't even try to get into the ten-genres-in-five-seconds complexity of peak insane Naked City, "Rat Licker" is just pure brazen and unhinged filthy fun.

Ironically this might actually still be one the easiest listenings for anyone who wants to get acquainted with the godfathers of the New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz.
For a group which usually tries to stretch minimal concepts to maximum effect, often resulting in monolithic, challenging long tracks, there is quite a lot of changes and shit happening in the snaplike run of this fast little fucker.

Delicious!

"Rat Licker" has been released last Friday by the band plus eight record labels simultanously. So if it's sold out at one source - which it probably already is - maaaybe there's still a chance to find it in another place.






2021-04-02

NAOKO SAKATA - Dancing Spirits

Anna von Hausswolff knows best.

My suggestion is that you just take that as a given fact and trust her when her label Pomperipossa Records releases an album of pure piano improvisations. It's not that have too many enlightening words to say about what Naoko Sakata does on this record anyway.


NAOKO SAKATA - Dancing Spirits (golden vinyl LP) (2021)

During the first two (of seven) improvisations which the Japanese musician performed inside a church in Gothenburg I sometimes find myself waiting for Tori Amos' vocals to kick in, which in itself is already one of the biggest compliments I can give to a piano player.
There are indeed a lot of similarities to Tori in tone and melody surfacing everywhere in the highly dramatic flow of the free-form pieces.

Later a more eerie darkness creeps into the movements, partly akin to Anna's droning organ atmospheres, but delivered with the nightmarish touch of Diamanda Galas and the brutal attacks of Sašo Vollmaier on his "Kind of Laibach", combined or alternating with ever present light speed arpeggios sparkling into every conceivable direction.

Naoko Sakata is without a doubt a wunderkind with a mind-melting technique, who can immediately express every thought and feeling she has with her fingertips in a way which lets average mortal spectators drop their jaws on the floor.
Her background is obviously classical, but it's pretty sure to assume that she is no stranger to keys in jazz, rock or whatever. The genre-defying nature of her performance at least strongly suggests that.

Yet even though she has - and uses - major league technical chops, Sakata seems less concerned with showing off than other (both amazing, don't get me wrong!) contemporary players like Hiromi Uehara or Jordan Rudess tend to do from time to time.
The virtuosity just seems to be something that happens on the way, while a feeling or story is explored. In the end she really puts her everything into the emotion. This can't be proven better than by the utter stunning beauty of "Improvisation 7", which gives me vibes of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" era quintet, above all makes me want to start the whole wonderful experience of immersing in this album again.

The only thing about this release which leaves something to be desired is the pressing quality of the hand-numbered golden vinyl edition. It looks great, but it really could use a bit less surface noises. Not the first Pomperipossa release where I had issues with that...


You can't kill the magic of the music though.

So overall "Dancing Spirits" still earns my full recommendation. It's just amazing. 




cassette craze chronicles II (feat. A/LPACA, ANGEL OLSEN, DHIDALAH, HIERONYMUS DREAM, LANA DEL REY, SOW DISCORD and THROWING BRICKS)

 


Still nothing to see here. Just a bunch of recently bought tapes, including some purchases from last Bandcamp Friday.


But let's start this with an emotional double whammy of my almost-namesake Angel Olsen:



ANGEL OLSEN - All Mirrors (2019)

I've had this one on my long I-should-get-this-one-day-list since it came out in 2019. Since that was before I started using this medium again, I surely wouldn't have bought it on tape. But now with a song titled "New Love Cassette" did I even have a different choice anymore?

Having released several works between the realms of reduced, almost folky singer/songwriter material and equally guitar-centered indie rock, "All Mirrors" was the album, where Olsen dialed up bombast and production to the maximum. The larger than life big sounds and strings could almost wash a lesser artist's performance away, but Angel Olsen sits in it very comfortably and uses especially the epic vintage arrangements to her full advantage to create a sparkling experience which channels the emotional integrity of Emma Ruth Rundle through the lens of Shirley Bassey.
Sincere, cinematic, huge!










ANGEL OLSEN - Whole New Mess (2020)

As big, shiny and glamourous "All Mirrors" had been, the album never fully relied on its fassade, but was rather an experiment in how far Angel Olsen could takes the songs, which were initially written just with her voice and guitar, into this aesthetic direction without "losing" them.

The raw and intimate "Whole New Mess" seems like the radical counterdraft. A break-up album, recorded inside a church, using the room's acoustics to create distorted, dirty echoes. Even though it's technically a rather stripped-down recording of mostly the same songs with slightly altered titles, the sonic imperfections and underlying depressive tone make it feel much heavier than "All Mirrors".

In fact the recording of "Whole New Mess" predates the previously released work, so you could view this as a demo version. The term could be misinterpreted as diminishing though. Which would be a shame, because this is in no way a "lesser" version. Just a very intense, different take. I think I might actually even like this a little more. Both albums are great, no question.










A/LPACA - Make It Better (2021)

There's also no question that the debut album from these punky Italian krautsters ist great, because d'oh, I just reviewed it two weeks ago. I broke my promise to order it on violet vinyl though. You know why. If you dig Karkara, Slift and the "Nonagon Infinity" direction of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, do yourself a favour and through this into your tapedeck!










DHIDALAH - No Water (2017)

The five year old tape from the Japanese power trio Dhidalah, which I was lucky to find an affordable copy of in the Discogs shop of Burning World Records, feels familiar for different reasons, as these two heavy stoner doom metal spacerock crossover jams refresh the memories of a killer Roadburn show in 2018. Ripper!









THROWING BRICKS - What Will Be Lost (2021)

And now lets get just a megaton angrier with a recent release I ordered on last  Bandcamp Friday from the leading tape label in my young collection, Tartarus Records.

The sludgy, droning blackened post hardcore doom quintet Throwing Bricks proves that Dutch shit smells the nastiest. The nine tracks of "What Will Be Lost" are a journey through everything distorted and oppressive. Oathbreaker, Cult Of Luna, Mizmor, Sunn O))), Vattnet Viskar, their label mates Farer and in their melodic moments also Alcest are all names this multi-faceted ferocious beast brings to mind. Crushing, noisy, desperate, overwhelming. A punch into the face which disintegrates it like the one on the cover artwork.










SOW DISCORD - Quiet Earth (2021)

Continuing with the punishing art of discomfort, the list of bands from which the industrial black noise project Sow Discord recruits its guest musicians on the dystopian (or probably rather realistic/pragmatic) stocktaking "Quiet Earth", already reads like the promise of a world of pain: The Body, Primitive Man, My Disco. Fuck!
Somewhere in the sweet easy listening spot between JK FleshMerzbow and early Laibach vibes, yet with their own variation of dark spoken words vocals, this album want you to rightfully hate humanity and does a pretty good job at it. But come on, David Coen, the man behind the rusty spikey curtain, is also the electronics guy of Australian doom steamrollers Whitehorse. So what else can you really expect but brilliant bleakness!









HIERONYMUS DREAM - Clairvoyance (2020)

Too much oppression now? Need someone to lift you up again?

Just when I thought I had already spend enough money on Bandcamp Friday and the week before, here come the sodding Psych Lovers on facebook guiding my attention to a special super-limited re-release of last year's debut EP "Clairvoyance" from the Greek instrumental band Hieronymus Dream, which included not only the "Weird Beard Tapes" strip for braggers, a beer mat and a nice t-shirt with a depiction of said beer mat, but above all with "Second Trail Of Alcyone" a new 13 minute bonus track on the B-Side.

What made me immediately buy this however is the sweet crystal-clear and warm sound. This floyd-fueled kraut engine runs so smoothly... you just tie yourself to its rear with a yarn thread and float in its wind like a happy kite in love. "Dream" in the band's name approved!








And while we're already up in the air now...




LANA DEL REY - Chemtrails Over The Country Club (2021)

Damn, eight tapes is a lot to talk about for such a little collective review. And after all that experimental and krauty and noisy mainstream stuff, I'm glad to finally support the underdogs once more and close this post with the new tape of a promising young American singer, who I really believe will one day be selling her albums also on CDs and vinyl all over the world.

It's a new Lana Del Rey album, so the expectations are pretty much set - and met. "Chemtrails Over The Country Club" starts close to where "Norman Fucking Rockwell" left off, with Del Rey's hightened pop persona equally ripened to a state that expertly balances the naiveté of her ex-lolita image and her typical piling of pop culture references with a healthy dose of cynicism - and above all a flawless vocal performance and damn good instrumental arrangements, which leave nothing to be desired and feel even more like one consistent band throughout the whole album this time.

The "features", which were a mixed bag on "Lust For Life" are back again, but this time Lana's three singer/songwriter sisters Nikki Lane, Weyes Blood and Zella Day, who join her on "Breaking Up Slowly" and even close the album on the Joni Mitchell cover "For Free", fit right into the organic, dreamy, nostalgic folk ballad appeal of this once again perfect summation of how great pop music can actually be.

There are brutal earworm battles being fought between Lana and Angel Olsen in my head right now for sure.