bwguitar

Tommy West – Frequencies Of The Sun

Tommy WestArtist: Tommy West

Album: Frequencies Of The Sun

RIYL: Buckethead, Mark McGuire, Bill Frissell, Pat Metheny

 

 

 

The guitar has been called “an orchestra in itself”, by no less than Ludwig Van himself. That’s why it’s such a shame that not enough guitarists get past first position bar chord strumming – power chords and predictable picking patterns. Frequencies Of The Sun, the newest from Nashville guitarist Tommy West, breaks the cage wide open, to take you an expansive journey.

Frequencies Of The Sun is that rare and elusive beast, a solo guitar record. This is a plus, in this case. Too often, I hear good bands, who are obviously great musicians, only to have some fool open his mouth and start yarbling. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve thought, “This band would be great! Why did they have to ruin it with singing?” Tommy West has the gall to go it alone. But just because it’s an instrumental record doesn’t mean it’s all musical meandering. The album is rife with memorable hooks and leads, like on “Blue Marble Happy”, which is the perfect palm-swaying soundtrack for yr next beach outing, to beat this infernal heat.

“His style reflects 70s  rock sensibilities;  layers of acoustic guitars, odd tunings, familiar- yet-fresh and melodic guitar playing splashed against driving rhythms,” according to the press release. FOTS is steeped in ’70s guitar mysticism – along the lines of Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, which gives the sensation that you’ve heard it somewhere before, like when the title track trails off into a “Laylah” outro. Rather than being derivative, it just means West’s music is based in traditional values like melodicism, and strong song-writing, that understands the rules, and knows how to break them. Because of this, classic blues forms break down into heaving, chunky stoner riffs, preventing this from being New Age chaff. It’s also indebted, obviously, to the realm of the shredders – Vai, Satriani, and, of course, Buckethead – but in a way is reclaiming the genre from them, at least the first two. They value technical proficiency over emotional content, which I always thought was a damn shame, as solo guitar records can be quite a visionary journey, when the head and heart are lined up. Frequencies Of The Sun reminded me of Buckethead’s Colma, where the KFC-headed one evokes the sensation of a graveyard in California, as well as some of the ’70s John Fahey records, both of which are the highest possible compliments.

The album highlights for me are “Pyre Of The Pale Horse”, a soundtrack for an imaginary western, complete with horse whinny; Torn, which breaks the guitar template, to introduce some soulful, and very well played blues piano; and “Under The Dreaming True”, with it’s low ominous rumble, dripping water, and shamanic flute.

“Under The Dreaming Tree”, with it’s journey to the center of the Earth, shows where this record’s heart lies. The album’s mission statement claims, “His musical sensibilities flow from a spirit of compassion, humility, harmony, and unity resulting in a tall drink of water for a divided and burning world. Tommy’s latest album, Frequencies of the Sun, is a scenic ride through the cosmos, traversing the universe on waves of textured guitars with soaring melodies. Candy for the imagination and food for the soul.” While maybe 10 years ago I would’ve turned up my nose at such Wyndham Hill niceties, these days it practically seems to be the only thing that matters (apart from the music, of course). With so much music out there, if you’re a dick, I’m probably not going to listen to yr music. It’s weird, this quality of character is conveyed somehow in the etched grooves and binary jams. Something is transmitted.

I dub Tommy West pure of heart, and thankfully, he’s got the chops to transmit something beautiful, to take you on a journey for an hour, through the Big Green Universe. The only downside is the record suffers, somewhat, from a digital shellac, that detracts from it’s warmth, and makes it edgy, when it should be seductive. A couple of you, buy a copy, so Mr. West can buy some mastering time!

You can do so from Big Green Universe

Big Green Universe facebook
@tommywest

ruralnoirresize

Sono Morti – the Revival ep

ruralnoirresizeI’ve recently discovered the comic book series Revival, written by Tim Seeley and drawn by Mike Norton. Not sure how many of you are aware, how much cross-pollination there is, but i’ve recently been reviewing a bunch of horror comics, over at the Amazing Stories blog. I’ve discovered a grip of fascinating new, dark art, that has reignited my bloodlust for the sequential word and image.

I was looking for something to listen to, as I sat down to de-compress, and read a few issues from the first arc, and noticed a mention to a soundtrack, at the beginning of the comic, with a bandcamp address. Well, it doesn’t get much more convenient than an officially sanctioned soundtrack for a work, and I was curious how Seeley imagined this “rural noir” might sound like.

Revival is about a small town, Wausau, Wisconsin, that has an outbreak of resurrection. People just won’t stay dead, one day. They climb off their slabs, or out of their coffins, and return to their regular lives. They’re not exactly zombie-like, although some don’t handle the transition of returning back to life very well. Most just can’t handle the lack of escape. They were promised heaven! Now it’s just more of the same.

I’m only two issues deep in this series, so far, but i dig it. First, and most importantly, it’s ACTUALLY SCARY. There’s scenes of a bloodless howl ringing out over a dark forest, as dog and owner listen in panic, all senses on edge. That’s true horror right horror, knowing something is out there in the dark, and not knowing what it is. Feeling small and frightened. Secondly, the returned-to-life, the “revivers” become a new kind of sub-group, banding together, lending community support. The in-depth characters, and the society of the dead that springs up, allows a lens to look at philosophical and cultural issues.

The Cleveland, Ohio band Sono Morti, is described as “Spaghetti Western Inspired Horror Rock”. That’s not back; they play a dusty American desert rock, that is laced with lysergic doses of spookshow organs and goth vocals. Sono Morti play a brand of post-punk, good ol’ deathrock, the likes of The Sisters Of Mercy, The Chameleons UK, Nick Cave, Magazine, but over a foundation of biting Western guitars, like The Handsome Family, mentioned above.

The songs on this EP explore the insides of the returned, what it is like to be without hope, without something to strive for. This can be seen on the track “Cumulus Crown”, where the singer wonders what kind of heaven they’re supposed to dream for? It’s also my least favorite track on the album, as it’s a little shrill and glammy for my bloody, but it’s short, and it’s not a deal-breaker.

I dig the carnivalesque organs on here, which give a colorful sheen to the dirt-brown earth tones of your standard desert fare. My favorite thing about this short EP, however, is the flanged vocals of “Intro To Revival” and “Undying Mystery”, which manages to sound truly psychedelic, full of yearning but still adventure, and the future. I love post-punk psychedelia! “Undying Mystery” is my favorite track on here, and a legitimately good song, i think. It’s a primitive, plodding post-punk ballad, sung from the experience of someone who’s lived and died and lived again. It’s the sound of walking in the night, looking for yourself, your own kind, trying to find somewhere where you belong, looking to quiet your own mind.

For some of us, we feel like remnants or shadows, even in the daytime. Sometimes it feels like you’re always peeking in windows, watching happy families eat dinner, while you have no place to lay your head.

Revival is a cool series, so far. I’m into it. It strikes me as a cross between the French TV series Les Revenants (where are you, Les Revenants? Come back!), a little bit of Twin Peaks, a little bit Night Of The Living Dead. It has the potential to explore some philosophical issues, while not being afraid to get very, very bloody.

I am so grateful to be rediscovering the wonders of good comic books, and series like Revival and Junji Ito‘s Tomie. It’s reminding not only of why comics are awesome in the first place, but some strengths of the medium, and how they may be taken advantage of, in the comics medium. Because you get these full-page panels of bloody monstrosity, rendered on glorious sickening color and detail. Or you can play with suspense, by leaving things out, between panels. Comics are a cool intersection of novels, movies, animation, and fine art, that not enough people full take advantage of.

Sono Morti’s soundtrack will take you back, if you’ve ever been a goth kid, or death rocker. If you ever felt an outsider. If you’ve ever worn a long, black coat, and felt misunderstood. Both goth and comic books were super important in my striking out on my own, and finding a world and a culture where I could fit in and belong, so it’s nice to be transported back to that place, on one sunny Saturday afternoon.

Both comic and soundtrack come recommended! Especially together.
 

 
Like i said, i’ve been getting into a lot more horror comics and manga lately, and i’ve been branching out, to write other kinds of reviews, more than just music. Looking at all the many, myriad ways the dark side intersects, and reflects, our culture.

Other horror comics you love? Soundtracks you think we should hear? Have you read Revival? Let us know in the comments!

childrenofthedrones2

Horrorscore: Various Artists – Children Of The Drones

childrenofthedrones1Welcome to another edition of Horrorscores, where we transform yr waking dreams into living nightmares.

For today’s installment, we travel back to the heyday of music blogs and hauntological meanderings, via this compilation from 2007 from the Cottage Of Electric Hell blog.

Children Of The Drones is a wonderful illustration of why i write about music, and what got me into it in the first place. It’s a wyrd collection of acid-fried psych, horror movie soundtracks (mainly ’60s/’70s British horror), pure hauntology (read: Ghost Box), and spooky folk, with a confusing array of layered samples and abstract post-processing. What is sampled? What is original? What is going on?

I came upon Children Of The Drones on a random hard drive. The track titles and artist information were all unknown, the album labelled only by an anonymous date and time (8.20.07). The music sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Googling only led me to a battery of articles on the horrors of unmanned aircraft.

childrenofthedrones2Obsessive digging finally led to the Cottage Of Electric Hell, where i am a frequent visitor. Their blend of custom soundtracks, tasty mixes, and tasteful design is an example of the kind of art that have spurred me beyond random, bullshit blogging, merely posting hyperbole and the same links as everybody else. This level of care and deep knowledge of obscure subjects is what makes me want to GO FURTHER, try harder, to do something meaningful with the knowledge that swarms around us.

Because you can be a leading authority on whatever slice of culture that floats yr boat. Due to a series of random happenstance, perhaps even genetic disposition, i just so happened to end up as a lifelong fanatic of horror and the occult. That’s my PERSONAL preference, it’s my angle, the lens through which i view the world. But you can apply the same thoroughness and fervor to any subject, and along the way, you begin to know yrself, yr own particular soul and Holy Guardian Angel, through the sounds and images that we gravitate towards.

As i was unearthing the origins of this special spectral mix, it led me down a wormhole of some of yesteryear’s finest blogs, Weird Brother and The Active Listener, whom i have started writing for since they initially posted a link. Not only is the music contained a weird collection spanning decades and multiple genres, but when you take into account the people talking about and sharing this mix, it expands even further. Bizarro Radiophonic records rub shoulders with gritty blues field recordings, and the most cutting-edge avant garde electronic music. When taken as a whole, Children Of The Drones is an electron microscope to view the hauntological continuum, it’s roots and scintillating atomization.

This compilation is like listening to the past 7 years of my life, condensed into an hour. The artists and songs have gone past being friends and acquaintances, to become more like family and trusted confidants, so wholly have i been effected by this school of art/thought. It’s guided my listening, reading, viewing and ultimately my thinking. These 28 songs have become part of my DNA, as i have gone further and further into the Netherworld, in search of Wyrd Britannia. I am both delighted and ashamed to acknowledge that i can now identify Acanthus’ “Les Frissons De Vampire” and samples from Black Christmas immediately, and can spot The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water and Power Station PSAs from 100 yards. I recognized the themes to Tomb Of The Blind Dead and Guardians Of The Abyss without looking up. I have sampled at least 3 of these songs, and written about probably half-a-dozen of the featured artists.

Children Of The Drones just goes to show that hauntology isn’t dead, it has just gone underground and mutated. Artificial soundtracks, horror re-issues, and music that either references, samples, or replicates aged horrorscores abound. In addition, interest in old psych/library music and vintage electronics has never been higher.

Let this serve as a battlecry, to know thyself, to investigate yr obsession to their fullest. Make the past work FOR and WITH you, rather than oppress you. Let’s build a future we want to live in, beginning with a better past.

Download: Children Of The Drones

Cottage Of Electric Hell (not as active as it once was, but still a source of much amazement)
More hauntological thoughts, on the nature of half-memory, from Island Of Terror


 

 

galactus

Various Artists – Bourgeouis Kerb Stomp (Herhalen)

herhalen1Two sides of tape scuzz, detailing the activities of The Ex-Servicemen, Glasgow’s only dub power trio.

I’ve not yet heard The Ex-Servicemen, but judging from what we hear on this tasty bumblebee yellow missive, they must be one of the strangest bands on the planet. Mournful, sprawling piano dirges, courtesy of Splashy The Blame-Shifter, meet white-hot sheets of sound, via Lenina, and stark and surreal slice of stream-of-consciousness, via Ship Canal, our favorite purveyors of budget dole noise.

Things start off with Splashy’s “Gas Station Homophobe”, a beautiful and plaintiff piano ballad, with rickety embellishments of tape head percussion. Like Library Tapes recording on The Mountain Goats’ 4-track. The reverie doesn’t last long, however, as you are sucked into Lenina’s white-light-white-heat-from-beyond-infinity witches cradle of droning static and feedback, on “Below Me Lay The Wide Waters”. Could this be the power electronics version of Fahey’s “God Moves On The Water”. Like watching Galactus rise over the ocean. There is a sudden and extreme jump in volume, between tracks, which leads me to believe this power trio’s goal is not to seduce, lull, or comfort. As subtle as a sock full of pennies.

galactusThis unease continues on Ship Canal’s first outing, “The Stigma Of Drinking Alone”, a dense and rolling fog of croaking voices, detuned electronics, fifes, electric guitars, rain, rhythms, and Turkish mysticism. This drunken debaucherous room is full of voices and ancient wisdom. Do they seek to help and enlighten? Or do they masquerade, in an extended campaign of progressive entrapment, like Captain Howdy or David from Witchboard? Also sounds like a group of hashishin jamming on Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor.
 

 

These first three tracks set the pace and tone for the rest of the album, where harsh power electronics give way to darkened drones, and abstract collage soundscapes, leading you further and further down Shiva’s tunnel, approaching the event horizon of that final blink. It can also be read as an attack or a condemnation on Late Capitalism, in all its smugness and its premature victory lap. This is what it might sound like if the Morlocks were to get their hand on a couple of oscillators and distortion units, holding subterranean rituals deep in the night, while the Eloi huddle in the dark.

You can ignore us, but we will never go away. The Ex-Servicemen adopt the tools of production and communication, to strangle the status quo with telegraph lines, ramming jammed fax signals down their throats like so much rotten chum and cheap bread that we are forced to subside on. In the dark, in the underground, we grow mighty and disaffected, sharpening our razors and our minds, spurred on by hunger and isolation.

A particular highlight of Bourgeois Kerb Stomp is Ship Canal’s “Communicating Directly With The Restaurant”, which might be the sound of gray data, or if Yelp were to develop an artificial consciousness and start constructing artsy ambient soundscapes. Reminds me of Dolly Dolly’s surreal and sinister commentaries on British bleakness, but even more stripped of humor and magick. This is the sound of receipts and wrappers, fading back into pulp and mud, in the gutters of decaying cityscapes, that themselves are fading back into the earth.

Mud. Degradation. Signal. Noise. Transmission. Communication. Spirits. Madness. Ritual. Emptiness.

All contained on 2 sides of cheap yellow tape, available for a fiver, and labelled like a dollar store’s going out of business sale. Each tape comes with original screen-printed artwork by Vickie McDonald, a unique, hand-numbered Polaroid photograph by Victoria Stevenson, and a hand-stamped cardboard outer sleeve.

Strong stuff, here, reminding us to not go gentle into good night. Stand up and fight. Fight the machine, with misinformation. Jam the lines, with busted signals. Turning a feedback loop on the smug bastards, until they choke on their banal data and marketing algorithms.

Herhalen looks to be a label to watch, with 3 quality tapes coming out in the last 4 months Expect to hear more, so watch this space, and their bandcamp.
 

 
HERHALEN fb
@Herhalen
soundcloud
bandcamp

26-interior-clock-photography

Emma Tricca – Relic (Bird Records)

Emma Tricca - Relic coverMeet The Giallo Princess

On Relic, Emma Tricca combines Nick Drake pastoralism with ghostly flourishes of classic album making.

Emma Tricca is an anomaly. On one hand, she is as pure folk as they come, encouraged by the likes of Odetta and John Renbourn to pursue her craft, writing sparse, bare-boned acoustic sketches of the world that she was living in. Unlike the first (or even second wave) of American folk artists, Tricca did not grow up in the Appalachians or the Ozarks or even a village, for that matter. Instead, she split her time between London and Rome, and her gentle folks song are influenced by “Giallo Comic books, whistling Morricone film scores, vibrant religious imagery and expensive furniture design”, as well as naturalistic influences like the sound of bells, tolling on the breeze, or the play of light and shadow on a hillside or a living room wall.

Superficially, Emma Tricca’s music resembled the like of Vashti Bunyan, like some gypsy troubadour, transplanted from 1796 in a wooden-shingled caravan. While i have a great fondness for Ms. Bunyan, and every other purveyor of the folk tradition for the most part, Tricca’s music is an update and an adaptation on those rustic roots, as you might guess from the fact that Relic is out on Bird Records, the female-fronted subsidiary of British obscureniks Finders Keepers Records. FKR & Devon Folklore affiliate Sam McLoughlin, of Sam And The Plants and N. Racker, who supplies “some Northern rural radiophonics to this ROMANtic relic.”
 

 
It is in these flourishes that Relic reveals itself for what it is, what it could be, and how it deserves to be perceived, with thin slivers of mercurial organ, like on album opener “Golden Chimes (intro)”, to the lush, Disney-esque stacked vocal harmonies of “Sunday Reverie”, my personal favorite, a timeless classic that is like walking around the insides of a Swiss clock on a village green.

Relic is rife with vibes, quite literally. Mallet instruments abound on the record, as do wheezing organs, thin buzzing electric pianos, horns, and the occasional string section. These are mere textures and shading, to add shadow and depth to Tricca’s clean, precise, bell-like guitar playing and weatherbeaten voice, that are Relic‘s true centerpiece.

The production on Relic is magnificent. Emma Tricca has created a truly ageless classic. She is using technology to accentuate the natural, with modern precision meeting classic sensibilities. Relic is an exercise in restraint, a model of good taste.

For those that feel that Joe Boyd’s heavy-handed production on the first couple of Nick Drake records, Relic provides an alternative, an alternate timeline to explore. Also, for fans of Jane Weaver’s Watchbird Alluminate, which Tricca was involved with, and bears a great sonic similarity, you will find much to love.

And mostly, Relic is a folk song for people that get down with tradition AND horror comics, Italian soundtracks and mandolins. Explore the slipstream, and exercise good taste!

Very much recommended!

Emma Tricca: Relic

Emma Tricca FB
@emmatricca
homepage
Bird Records @ Finders Keepers

Vincent Price as Roderick Usher

Horrorscores: Les Baxter – The House Of Usher OST

maf7136booklet1.indd

Welcome to another edition of Horrorscores, where we transform yr waking dreams into living nightmares.

Today, we will transform this beautiful sunny summer day into a cobweb riddled crypt, via Les Baxter’s score for The House Of Usher, directed by Roger Corman in 1960.

Les Baxter is best known for creating tropical drink sipping, easy swinging hammock exotica for the discerning armchair tourist, most famously in the case of the oft-covered “Quiet Village”. Baxter made about every style of music under the heavens during his long career, which featured over 100 soundtracks.

Three of those soundtracks were for Roger Corman’s adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories: The Raven, The Pit And The Pendulum, and The House Of Usher. The House Of Usher was first.

Vincent Price in The House Of Usher

Vincent Price as Roderick Usher

The House Of Usher, also known as The Fall Of The House Of Usher, starring Vincent Price and Myrna Fahey, tells the story of Philip Winthrop (played by Mark Damon), who goes to the gothic House Of Usher, a desolate mansion surrounded by a murky swamp, to meet his fiancée Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey). The union is opposed by Madeline’s brother Roderick (Vincent Price), who believes their bloodline is afflicted by a cursed bloodline which has driven all their ancestors to madness.

 

Myrna Fahey in The House Of Usher

Myrna Fahey as Madeline Usher

During a heated argument with her brother, Madeline suddenly dies and is laid to rest in the family crypt beneath the house. As Philip is preparing to leave following the entombment, the butler, Bristol (Harry Ellerbe), lets slip that Madeline suffered from catalepsy, a condition which can make its sufferers appear dead.

Winthrop tears open the coffin to find it empty, as Madeline wanders the corridors of the family crypt, now quite mad. She evades him and takes her revenge on Roderick, who knowingly buried her alive. Both die, as a fire breaks out, “”…and the deep and dank tarn closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the ‘House of Usher'”.

The House Of Usher plays upon such classic terrors as madness, decadent aristocracy, and being buried alive, and are here chilling orchestrated by Baxter’s orchestral score. The feeling of romance is summoned with swooning violin leads, which is underscored with tension and insanity, courtesy of tense pizzicato strings (a la Bernard Hermann), and spectral choirs, which gives an eerie, otherworldly psychotropic quality to the soundtrack.

The adventure and romance are achieved with lovely, melodic, emotive strings, which are quite classic and memorable, while the feeling of unsettlement are evoked with an atonal orchestral foundation, that bring to mind the avant-garde modernism of Morton Feldman. Flourishes of percussion punctuate the goings-on, with xylophones sneaking through mildewed corridors, and tympani rumble like cursed blood. This mixture of the classic and the avant-garde is a nice summation of the realm inhabited by Edgar Allan Poe.

Most of The House Of Usher was scored, so there is a theme for every occasion. Roderick and Madeline both get one, as do the family crypt, and the premature internment. Perfect fodder for yr next Buried Alive mixtape, or Gothic haunted house.

buried aliveWhile Baxter may have composed soundtracks for over 100 films, only a handful have survived. Archival was just not a priority at the time. Baxter frequently worked with small orchestras, 30 or less, and had less than two weeks to complete a score, with the actual recording typically done in 4 – 6 hours. Feeling was valued over technical perfection, creating a perfect atmosphere of tense dread than could teach sterile modern perfectionists a thing or two. Intrada has performed a great public service, making these grooves available to the public again.

You can hear echoes of Baxter’s score, and this kind of classic orchestral horror, in Broadcast‘s soundtrack for Berberian Sound Studio, particularly the ghostly choirs, my particular favorite aspect of this record.

I personally haven’t seen any of Corman’s Poe adaptations yet, which i now plan on rectifying immediately, but Baxter’s score makes for a superb soundtrack for reading Poe, or other Gothic, imaginative fiction, or as a soundtrack for an evening drinking wine or absinthe (or blood), with yr hand on a skull.

Yet another indication of horror’s continuing emergence, rising from the underground, from the fertile mud of the id, as people continue to pay attention and pick over the archives, giving more legitimacy to classic works. More Please!

Get a copy: House of Usher (Reissue)

You can hear most of The House Of Usher OST on Spotify:

Les Baxter Official Homepage
Intrada homepage
Intrada facebook
@intradaCDs

 

transhuman

Parlous – Parlous

Parlous album coverHere we have a lovely limited edition cassette object from Portland’s Parlous. He got in touch via a mutual adoration for Tobacco and Moon Wiring Club, and was kind enough to send me a copy of this luxurious tape, complete with ornate scrolled logy to. I also had the unique opportunity to meet Parlous in person, as we live in the same city. He had an extra ticket to see Com Truise at Rotture, and i had a chance to meet the man behind the music, as we bonded over gear, songwriting, and old horror movies.

Parlous’ debut outing is a poignantly short EP of retroactive electronics, equally inspired by early ’80s soundtracks, as well as their recreationists. Blurred melodies meet growling basslines, as haunting arpeggiators enter a world of echoes, to evoke a feeling of subterranean and underwater worlds, as dawn breaks over some glittering city skyline. On all 5 tracks, there is a feeling of ADVENTURE, of potential, of rushing into the future at 60 mph.

Things start off with “Himalayan Peaks”, the most Tobacco-indebted track on here, as Parlous uses a similar template of tapemelt synthesizers and muscular breakbeats. “Himalayan Peaks” is FUN… the kind of music you want to listen to while eating popsicles in a kiddy pool. That may or may not be full of slime or gelatin. “Softcore” is not as pornographic as the name would suggest, more Brian De Palma than Linda Lovelace. But as an electro-breakdance thriller, it is top notch, with a simple drum machine boom-bap beat, while starburst synths meet rubber basslines. “Turn the lights down low,” as Bob Marley commands.


The jauntiness subsides on “Summer Eclipsed”, my personal favorite on here, as it is the moodiest and most mysterious. A truly beautiful electric piano drifts like windchimes, against a backdrop of rippling shadows, with a very sparse but effective beat. The shadow of the summertime, full of romance and regret and anticipation; music for after the sun has set, for the long, warm summer nights.


The bottom drops out further still with “Dawn Machine”, which is like that hour of cold blue dawn, right before the sun breaks over the horizon and the birds start up for the day. This could be the incidental music for some Jacques Coustea documentary, as yr world seems to transform into a dimly lit barrier reef. Dream with the fishes…

And lastly, “Tjeodn”, perhaps the most ominous outing, with its glitched out rhythms and backwards melodies, fuzzy warble basslines and a haunting lead, that sounds somewhere between a gypsy violin and a theremin. This could be the soundtrack for a version of Dracula, filmed in 1979.

Parlous’ music, and his personality, reveal something important about inspiration. About the past, about technology and our relation to it.

If i recall correctly, this is Parlous’ first attempt at making music, after getting interested in the music of Tobacco, Moon Wiring Club, Boards Of Canada, and various other sundry hauntologists. Most of the sounds on his debut were sourced from cheap iPad apps, and then hacked and prodded into place. He was inspired by stumbling upon the community of Bandcamp musicians, with the ease and availability of putting out music yrself.

You can tell Parlous’ influences; he makes no secret of hiding them, and quite simply, if you like Tobacco/Black Moth Super Rainbow, Moon Wiring Club, Vangelis, or old ’80s VHS soundtracks, you will adore these ferric grooves. But, more than that, superseding influences, Parlous has an arranger’s ear and an incredible palate for tasty and memorable melodies. It is these melodies, stacked and layered, quickly giving way to another, that shows that Parlous is a true musician, and would have stumbled his way into making and releasing music, one way or the other.

Parlous is a technological man. He has gadgets and gizmos aplenty; he’s got whozit and whatsit’s galore. During the time we hung out, i noticed a GPS, an iPhone, satellite radio. He described himself (and i hope it’s okay to divulge this) as a “self-diagnosed Aspergers”, which is a form of autism that “can lead to difficulty interacting socially, repeat behaviors, and clumsiness.” When we went to the show, he offered to buy me a beer, to discover the fact that i don’t drink, which is kind of rare and weird in this rock ‘n roll world we dwell in. It is an awkward situation for almost anybody – he seemed non-plussed for a moment, then asked if i would like something else instead, and if it would bother me if he drank. That is pretty much the most reasonable, logical, considerate reaction one could hope for, and i was able to tell him i didn’t mind at all if he imbibed, i just don’t partake myself. Here is a man who is describing himself as an “Aspy” (someone with Asperger’s), who is actually entirely smooth, competely genteel; someone who is both mental and emotional.

I submit, for the record, that Parlous processes his emotions through his intellect (which is how i am), and, similarly, he conjures his music with technology. He is using technology emotionally, and i think he would’ve done the same with whatever tool happened to catch his fancy, whether that be jazz or classical piano, or violin, or tape-collage. We like what we like, and there is little accounting for what ignites that initial spark of interest.

This is noteworthy, as Parlous’ music may be digital in origin, but is leagues away from the clinical austerity of Vaporwave, which i perceive as the REAL sound of Asperger’s. Parlous’ music is full of excitement, passion, and adventure. It will light you up, and inspire you, as he was inspired.

To me, this is the best way to use technology; it is the heart and mind working together. Using technology to CONNECT, rather than isolate. To more fully express yr emotions, with greater control and detail, rather than disassociating or escaping. And using technology to dive in and express yrself!

This is the kind of bold audaciousness i applaud. Don’t wait for permission; do yr thing, and likeminded people will find you. I mean, Forestpunk is about as raw and ragged as they come, and i’m sure there have been some embarrassing moments in the last 2 years, as i’ve been learning and figuring things out. But fuck it, this is my thing, and i’m putting it out there, and i’ve met tons and tons of like minds, sympathetic souls, kindred spirits, and partners-in-crime like Parlous, along the way.

Very much recommended, and the cassette is super sweet, which i recommend nabbing while there are still copies.

You can watch a video for TJEODN here.
And another for Softcore, which should be considered NSFW

@parlousPDX
par70u5

a dying star

The Poetics Of Space: Alessandro Cortini – Sonno (Hospital Productions)

cortini-sonno-hospitalA sense of place is becoming increasingly important in these disassociated times, as is lovingly illustrated in Boomkat‘s exceptional 14tracks compilation Psychoacoustic Cartography. These seems to be true of every style and genre, but is triply compounded in the realm of electronic music, which all-too-often never emerges from the claustrophobic confines of motherboards and processors. Electronic musicians seem to be drawing a line in the sand, falling into one of two camps. On one hand, you’ve got the hyper clean and precise alien grime eskibeat sculptures favored by James Ferraro and lashed together into spastic contraptions, via juke and footwork. And on the other hand, you’ve got, what i rather lamentably label “industrial techno“, (there has got to be a better name. Any takers? Industrial techno makes me think of, and often leads me, mid ’90s hardcore/gabber, which is similar, but not the same), with musicians channeling dancefloor miasma from antiquated gear, packed in styrofoam and white noise. Post-industrial techno is more like it, as it definitely often sounds like music made for decrepit warehouses on shitty, broken equipment in a bunker,somewhere between Wim Wenders‘ Berlin in Wings Of Desire, and The Zone, in Tarkovsky‘s Stalker.

stalkerSonno entirely corrects this uncanny dislocation, as a symphony of tones, pulsing drones, fathomless bass, and coruscating echoes were entirely recorded in hotel rooms, with Corsini walking around the room like a water witch with a field recorder, picking up the sine waves, as they weave, dive, and dodge, creating unique, interesting, and lush phasing that is damn near impossible to replicate digitally.

Alessandro Cortini is best known as the live electronics performer in Nine Inch Nails. It shows, as many moments on Sonno bring to mind NIN’s Ghosts I – IV, so for those who have worn out those records’ 8 sides shall rejoice, with a new sound installation to lose yrself in for days, weeks, and months at a time, transforming yr house or office into a version of La Monte Young‘s dream house.

dream house

Cortini is also known as a master of the Buchla synth (did you even know there WAS such a thing), although in this case, Sonno was conceived with a much more rudimentary setup, Roland MC 202 through a delay pedal, recorded direct, sometimes into a small portable speaker system. Yes, that’s right, he even used speakers as microphones, further contributing to Sonno‘s distant, ruined fidelity, something like the sound of a dying star, its light reaching us 230 years after its demise. Or like macroscopic photography of tearing lace.

a dying star

Even though Roland is best known for their beatmaking apparati, Sonno is a beatless affair, as in “devoid of percussion”, as Marc Weidenbaum recently noted in his 33 1/3 Book on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II, every sound has a beat, as they are comprised of sine waves, which rise and fall. This is an apt connection, as Sonno is definitely in the same spirit as SAW II, as well as ambient classics like Music For Airports or Discreet Music by Eno, and is easily as good as any of them, and i don’t say that lightly.

Sonno works as a whole, although each individual track is beautiful and stands up on its own. Some highlights are album opener “Ravina”, with its warm swells of organ-like bass drone, or the lonesome haunted drift of “Voltaggio Solitario” that sounds like Leyland Kirby smearing “1/1″. “Di Passagio”, posted above, is the undisputed champion for this gentle scribe, however, with an intimation of a bassline that makes me think of underwater minimalist techno, watching a meteor shower from the Dead Sea.

There is not a bad moment or bunk note on Sonno; i’ve been hypnotized and mesmerized from hearing the opening strains a week ago, and have become irrevocably obsessed. Cortini has had two successful albums recently on Important Records, Forse 1, and Forse Two, that i can’t wait to hear, so expect to hear more about this.

This is a modern ambient classic, one of the best i’ve heard in a minute, further situation Hospital Productions at the peak of the interesting electronic music pyramid. At this point, you might as well buy anything by them that you can get yr hands on, as its bound to be interesting.

I cannot recommend this album highly enough.

You can get mp3s and FLAC from Boomkat now: mp3 and flac
And pre-order CD and vinyl, out 7.22: Sonno

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@blindoldfreak
Hospital Productions

streetsects2

Street Sects – Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings

streetsects

The hole that I came screaming out of was wet and dark, and I want to go back.
Do I ever fantasize about the violence of my youth?
No.
I fantasize about going home.

- Excerpt from Gentrification: A Serial Album

Leo Ashline is a nasty piece of work. Or, rather, Street SectsGentrification serial album is. When we first met Street Sects, earlier this year, i described part 1 of the Gentrification series, The Night After We Raped Death, as “music for the pit, whether mosh or infernal,” going on to describe Street Sects as “Rough and tumble. Raw and real. Polished black metal cybergrind, shining like obsidian, pools of dark blood beneath the streetlights.”

Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings follows the same template as the Night After… 3 tracks of short, sharp, digitally enhanced grindcore. First time around i compared Street Sects to Canadian post-apocalyptics Skinny Puppy, the brash digital hardcore punk rock of Mindless Self Indulgence, with the noisy abrasion of Death Grips. All of these comparisons stand, although Street Sects are in no way as fun as MSI. Sickly detuned vocals, meet spastic and intricate beats, courtesy of Shaun Ringsmuth, the evil music genius behind Street Sects, who creates a dense wall of chop ‘n paste glitch dada spew, white noise and air raid sirens, that sets yr little mouse nervous system into a panic. Where’s the hawk? Where’s the owl? It is a fine, corrupt setting for Ashline’s tales of self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, angst, ennui, boredom, and psychosis.

Along with the digital download, (which will be transferred to vinyl at some point), comes a short and brutal story, straight from a teenager’s id. It tells the story of the narrator’s first encounters with sex, via a mother who is less than wholesome. It bends and warps the narrator’s sex drive, fusing it with violence and confusion. The story should be regarded as a Trigger Warning, in the extreme, involving sexual abuse, pig masks, and sweaty tank tops.

All in all, Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings could be seen as Charles Bukowski penning lyrics for James Plotkin‘s Old Lady Driver (OLD) project. Speaking of James Plotkin, he mastered Broken Windows, which as any fan of heavy music will know, is synonymous with unrelenting brutality.
 

 
That is what is so striking about Street Sects – how well planned and well executed it is. This is pure primal fury, about some of the darkest stuff that life has to offer, but expertly mastered, and packaged in slick, sharp, and clean graphic design. This is no GG Allin, spraying gray matter all over record grooves. Rather, this is thought out, planned and schemed to the utmost. Even the format of a “serial album” requires foresight, follow-through, and careful planning.

This mixture of violence, darkness, and careful planning, is noteworthy. This is not the work of some street thug. More like the work of some criminal mastermind, an evil genius. It’s a good thing that Leo Ashline has a creative outlet.

And that’s the heart of the matter, for all of us who walk in the dark side. We do not turn away from unpleasantness. We are forced to look at it. For anyone with an interest in horror movies, pulp novels, who spends any time in the subculture underworld, we are confronted with violence and nastiness constantly. It’s just as much of a danger to repress that stuff, as it is to act on every impulse.
 

 

Easily 80% of the people i know are fucked up and crazy beyond life. We’d probably all be dangerous, if not for art.

My own life, and nearly every person i know and especially the ladies, has been decimated by sexual abuse. My own introduction to the world of sex was less than wholesome, and i’ve had to actively work, nearly every day for the last 23 years, to not be fucked up, jaded, skewed, or bitter. It’s a major trigger for me, that sets my teeth on edge, and curls my fingers into fists (hard to type that way). Does that mean i think people shouldn’t talk about this stuff? Absolutely not. If anything, i get the feeling that Street Sects are using the fuel of VERY EXTREME IMAGERY to portray their anger at the status quo, using it as a commentary on gentrification, and the increasing power of the system. Much like David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet, Street Sects are here to remind you, it’s not as wholesome as it seems.

So A+ for musical quality and delivery, and any fan of extreme angry music will flip shit over Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings. And much like any other grind-related activity, you can’t understand many of the vocals, anyway, as they’re delivered in a hoarse strangulated gargle, and you’d never know the concept, just by listening, although the feelings come across. Those that are easily offended should stay the hell away from Street Sects, however, (and you probably won’t like a lot of what else i have to say), so consider yrself forewarned.
 

 
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Horrorscores: People Eaters – Disincarnate (Aetheric Records)

People Eaters - Disincarnate album cover

artwork design by slowthaw & Crow Versus Crow.

8 Threnodies For A Late Father.

Welcome to another edition of Horrorscores, where we transform yr waking dreams into a living nightmare.

It is our trembling pleasure and shivering delight to introduce Disincarnate, the first proper LP from Fiji horror drone mesmerist People Eaters, the spectral figurehead behind Aetheric Records.

We often ask ourselves, both personally as well as universally, what makes a person obsessed with horror? This is more like a zen koan, rather than investigative journalism, as each wayward soul has their own path and reasons for wandering into the shadowed realms. Like some ship of lost souls, each has their own tale to tale.

Disincarnate hit close to home, and conjures some fierce sympathetic resonance, with its 8 threnodies for People Eaters’ father, who passed away in 2013.

Let us look, first, at what exactly is a threnody.

A threnody is a song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word threnoidia, from threnos “wailing” and oide “ode”; ultimately, from the Proto-Indo-European root *wed- (“to speak”) that is also the precursor of such words as “ode”, “tragedy”, “comedy”, “parody”, “melody” and “rhapsody”.
Synonyms include “dirge”, “coronach”, “lament” and “elegy”. The Epitaphios Threnos is the lamentation chanted in the Eastern Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday. John Dryden commemorated the death of Charles II of England in the long poem Threnodia Augustalis, and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a “Threnody” in memory of his son.

- wikipedia

From the whisper-quiet lamentation of Emerson’s resignation, at his son’s passing, to the screaming nuclear blast of Penderecki’s Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima, another famous Horrorscore, for its inclusion on The Shining soundtrack, that sounds like nothing so much as the peace of the 20th Century psyche ripped to shreds by 1000 hungry ghosts, threnodies remind us there are as many ways to mourn as there are people.

Disincarnate is largely made up of ominous cello swoons, and bilious clouds of static electronics, that congeal in the air like ectoplasm, only to turn into a plague of locusts and sandstorms. The 8 tracks work as a cohesive whole, a nocturnal journey, although there are individual moments that stand out. Disincarnate sounds like a seance held in a subterranean laboratory. Its what the soundtrack to Flatliners might’ve sounded like, if they had turned to black magick to exorcise Billy Mahoney. They entire proceedings is suffused in a sickly green phosphorescence, like walking at the bottom of the sea.


Most of Disincarnate is subtle, instrumental, and atmospheric, casting a mood, a long-shadow reverie, and leaving the listener to draw their own conclusions.

An incantation emerges on “Me Mokutu Vakamatea” that acts as manifesto for Disincarnate as well as THIS horror fanatic.

Buried/lying open mouthed/beneath the shadow/of the black sun/forever lost in the silent void of the final dream/an end to the body/a new heathen earth/gives birth/to godland/in the desolate half light/of their rotting temples/the nearly alive kneel before their false idols/afraid/their blood turns to powder as they eat HIS flesh and swallow HIS lies/a feast of forgiveness.

When seeking to deal with grief and make sense of the world around us, sometimes Christianity’s “Golly Gee, I hope i’ll see them again some day in some better place”, feels a little weak, and is a cold comfort in the face of losing a parent. For some of us, waiting around for the afterlife is not going to cut it, and we fly into a pagan rage at the vastness and mystery of life, and our powerlessness. Can a (wo)man be blamed, for wanting to conquer death?

These heretical vocals, written by Slowthaw and delivered by Joshua Levesque, are delivered in a disaffected drawl, but containing all the fury of black metal. It is subdued, to become an event horizon of human emotions that you suspect could rend the veil, once and for all.

I have come to suspect that, at the lowest level of psychological motivation, that my own interest in horror, fantasy, and the supernatural stems from the fact that my own dad died when i was little. Horror and the occult were my only hope of seeing him again, with my eyes, rather than in my dreams. It is a shattering psychological wound, that i don’t think there’s any coming back from. Just coming to grips with, and learning to live.

All of these revelations, of course, come long after the fact, and is still largely guesswork, even though it seems silly i don’t know the shadows and corners of my own mind. The obsession started because it started, and i have always been obsessed with the dark side. From this simple fissure, this root compulsion, has built a complex world of associations, thoughts, observations, aesthetics. Horror is as useful as a lens for analyzing the world around us as any, frequently revealing people’s hidden fears and motivations. It is the symbolic language of the unconscious; where nothing stays hidden, and nothing is as it seems.

Like Hamlet can tell you, a father’s ghost is something serious to contend with. One wonders what People Eaters’ relationships with his/her/their father was? Was he supportive of the label, of PE making musick? Or did they have to fight tooth and nail to go their own way? Were they supported or repressed? Is this a benevolent ancestor or a vengeful demon?

The ghosts of my family inform everything that i do. They’re wonderful people, loving and compassionate, but rather stuck in the American midwestern protestant work ethic. Yr job is yr life, and you are yr job. End of story. Unfortunately, no one bothered to inform them that the industrial revolution is over, and there is little place for a dual-brained, ghostly, androgynous man, so i’ve been forced to go my own way. I recently lost one of my closest relatives, who had been with me through the hard, dark years, and seen me return to light. She was incredibly lovely and supportive, but wished i would “settle down and get a real job”, right to the end. Sorry, Auntie, as much as i was looking forward to a bright and shining future in service industry slavery/whoredom, i’m afraid i must decline. I’m a bit busy this century.

This mixture of emotions: the sadness of loss, the regret of not having been more successful while they were alive to see, the excitement of FINALLY inheriting adulthood and the freedom to go away, are just an example of some of the dense tapestry that lie, like a school of barracuda, beneath the obfuscating surface of Disincarnation.

Aetheric Records are some of the finest purveyors of spectral drone, dark ambiance, and harsh noise. There is a QUALITY, some dark inner light, on each of their releases, that is difficult to quantify but impossible to ignore. And Disincarnate is one of their finest releases yet.

If yr not yet familiar with the label, (or if you are), AR made us an introductory mix for their label. Check it here.

Enter the haunted laboratory:

Aetheric Records facebook

@peopleeaters1

People Eaters soundcloud

Aetheric Records soundcloud

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