Tagged: cassettes

Three Rotary Rampages

Kordik Lucas is the duo of Daniel Kordik and Edward Lucas, making a bizarre and near-indigestible improvised noise with one trombone and a “Vostok” synthesizer on the cassette MMXXII (URBSOUNDS COLLECTIVE N. 28). I found this intensely irritating at first, but now I’m finding some way to key into its craggy and non-musical surfaces; they seem intent on noise-creation rather than music, but that isn’t to say they don’t coalesce nicely as a duo. The title ‘broken bone’ is highly applicable, if you use the word ‘bone’ as an abbreviation for trombone; all of their music is deliciously “broken”. The duo can’t keep their hands still – they saw, they sputter, they doodle, they bluster, and from much frenetic activity some sort of half-knitted unpatterned fabric may eventually emerge. Not tremendously satisfying, but at least you can hear what they’re doing; I think I’ve just about had my fill of “reduced” or near-silent improv. From July 2013.

One fine split cassette of gritty death-dealing noise (TR-013) on the Spanish micro-label Truco Esparrago records. Generic Death are a trio of disaffected young Spaniards grinding out a ten-minute howl called ‘Continuity of Deception’ with just vocals, a bass guitar and drum kit, making a splendid angrified and fiery punk-noise racket. Plenty of grisly pedal effects, distortion and feedback are used to punch the message home, and while it starts off with a steady beat, the song collapses into an anarchic state, leaving the listener in no doubt as to the depth of the bitterness felt by these three firebrands as they exact their revenge on society. I for one would love to be in a band where a guy named Iago is playing the bass. Since Othello, the very name is redolent of revenge tragedy. On the flip side, Varunian take us on a ‘Black Hole Trip’ for fourteen minutes; he too favours excessive effects and creates a non-stop, dense and thickly layered coagulation of ugly noise which is tempered at the finale by sweet but desolate angelic drone effects – a very compelling and near-psychedelic concoction, a Technicolour rendition of the Apocalypse. The creator is Roberto Bustabad, who also calls himself Rober or even Graverobber; he hasn’t made too many records as Varunian, but has been very active in the Spanish grindcore and Death Metal “scene” since 2001, playing his diabolical guitar (probably built in the shape of a scythe) for the bands Banished From Inferno and Machetazo. It’s fair to say his entire work’s underlying theme is an attempt to recreate Paradise Lost in sound, and this spectacular horror-show is no exception. From October 2012.

Another fine split from Truco Esparrago. This cassette (TR-017) features Mubles on the A side and Grassa Dato on the B. I raved about Mubles in 2012. It’s the team-up of the great Miguel A. García with his buddy Alvaro Matilla, although on ‘Oh Pequeno Muble’ there may be some other contributors involved to the general hurly-burly. They create a very jumbled, layered and disconnected sound, as if assembling parts found in a junkyard, and the illogical electronic music brews like a fetid gaseous mist around your ankles, while Matilla intones his chants and poems in a surly snarling rap, this time speaking through a broken telephone receiver. This is completely incoherent, half-insane continuous art-drivel and bound to irritate the heck out of 99% of normal listeners; just great! Grassa Dato’s side is called ‘Los Que Habitan en la Obscuridad’, and is likewise jumbled and chaotic, but with considerably more emphasis on the aggressive and unpleasant power electronics. There’s a voice to the forefront of the hideous murk, said voice naturally enough transformed into that of an ugly barking cybernetic creature intent on covering us with radioactive slime before chomping off our limbs with crocodile jaws. Grassa Dato creates a highly effective and dynamic roar, not without its fair share of grotesque distortion and shrill air-bomb bursts. This all seems to fit the profile of this very prolific noise and power electronics act which has made about 28 albums since 2011.

A Worm is At Work

Kink Gong is Laurent Janneau. He’s been very active recording the speaking and singing voices of ethnic minorities in Asia, China, Vietnam and Laos, and quite often contributing extensively to the Sublime Frequencies catalogue with his recordings. On Voices (DISCREPANT CREP08), he creates imaginative and unusual assemblages using these recordings of his, supplementing them with archive tapes, field recordings, electronic music, and computer transformations; in this way he creates dazzling vocal-heavy collages of sound events that never existed, but are full of drama and incident, amounting to beautifully strange music and aural portraits of a vanishing world. Or perhaps glimpses of a fantasy world, one that is disappearing before our ears even in the very telling of it. Unlike Ghédalia Tazartès, who wants to turn world music inside-out so that he can spin us fantastic yarns of the impossible, you can sense that Janneau is being very true to his source material here. The long track ‘3 Hani Pipa’ is particularly impressive, and one that’s bound to attract descriptive terms such as “shamanistic” or “delirious”. Sometimes, life truly is as strange as this. From 16 April 2013.

Another who presents us with snapshots from remote corners of the worlds is Glochids, on his solo cassette Originals (WEIRD EAR WER-002). This is James Roemer from Arizona, whose work here comprises short and extremely opaque assemblages, combining odd and rather mysterious field recordings with instrumental snippets. Roemer not only plays many instruments, but is an electronic musician and computer programmer. His locations are many and various, and he appears to have roamed South America, Chile and Bolivia, as well as picking up additional recordings in parts of North America. The press descriptions are quite specific about some of the locations, yet Glochids himself prefers to remain “evasive”, and what ends up on the tape tends towards the vague and drifty. Originals does have many moments that intrigue, but the work is rather formless in its assembly; it’s uncertain where things start or end, events or musical passages fail to gain traction, and sparkling moments end before they have a chance to pass on anything of value. All of this leads to a somewhat frustrating listen. From 15 April 2013.

From Oslo, another quality release on the Va Fongool label…the duo Skrap is Anja Lauvdal and Heiða Jóhannesdóttir Mobeck, making a very distinctive abstract noise-blart in the studio, using just a Korg MS-10 and a tuba. Synths and brass instruments have rarely created such a strange sound together in a single space. The brevity of the duo on K.O. (VA FONGOOL VAFCD004) is admirable; many of these tracks come in at around two minutes, some last even less than 60 seconds, yet these miniatures are packed with ideas and incident. Skrap claim to be partially inspired by Sunn O))), but if they are, it’s certainly not by the durational aspects of Stephen O’Malley’s excessively amplified and over-long drones. That said, Skrap don’t seem to have quite enough material to fill an entire album satisfactorily, and some of the work descends into aimless doodling. After a while you also begin to notice the rather flat and toneless quality of the recording, made by Christopher Brenna; somehow the team have yet to find a way to bring a more sculptural quality to their sounds, give them more mass or density. Even so, it’s a solid and sustained attempt at innovation and experimentation, apparently brought about by accident when the two musicians were locked in a small room with just two bass amplifiers for company (unless the press notes are being jocular on this matter). The word Skrap translates as “scratch” in English, even though the K.O. of the title might lead us to expect a scrap or fight. Related musical endeavours of Anja and Heida are Muskus, Skadedyr, Broen and Your Headlights Are On. From 20 May 2013.

Russian electronicist Dmitriy Krotevich is from St Petersburg, has released a couple of download albums for Enough Records and Treetrunk Records, and has played with Ilia Belorukov (probably a mandatory part of any underground musician’s apprenticeship in Russia). His olgoi-khorkhoi (INTONEMA int006) arrives in a lurid sleeve printed with a fantastic illustration of a red snakey monster, drawn by Solongo Monkhoorai. This is the Mongolian death worm of the title, a hostile beast which is supposed to live in the Gobi desert and emit acid or electric shocks when attacked by the incautious traveller. Although not explicitly stated in the supplied text, it’s also as gigantic as the worms in Tremors and has a taste for terrifying the local cattle. Using abstract grinding and scrapey bursts generated by his turntables and no-input mixing desk, Krotevich summons all his brooding energies to limn a sonic portrait of this beast. The menacing noises he makes start out subtle and understated, growing ever more abrasive and threatening; each track of this four-part epic broadly follows this developmental arc as to the musical construction. Gradually, he arrives at some extremely unpleasant and sickening tones, some of them quite unacceptable to the human ear, and it’s something of a relief when each segment comes to its conclusion. But the slow build-up creates a lot of tension and is quite effective; unlike the “traditional” noise artist who dives straight off the deep end into an unbearable harsh noise assault, Krotevich prefers to “worm” his way into that zone through means of patient burrowing and writhing. In short, he has become the Mongolian death worm. From May 2013.

Upset Twilight


From 12 March 2013, fabulous cassette in a mostly black package from the swell Fang Bomb label of Goteborg. As you may know Fang Bomb is a personal favourite of mine for some reason. Maybe we share the same sense of the macabre. If they were a printing or engraving workshop, they would etch their lines deep and use a black ink of the deepest hue, resulting in evil tomes which, when opened, would give the reader forbidden glimpses of an ashen world and induce nuclear-holocaust strength headaches. Imaginary Forces is the London composer Anthoney J. Hart, who comes to us from a background shaped by 1990s drum and bass music, and whose Begotten (FB022) is a very rich piece of complex dark ambient music, with multiple layers – “environmental field recordings, the chug of train on rail, percussive chatters, insect song and whipping wind” all fed into its creation, selon thequietus.com. The fact that he was approached by Anthony Di Franco for a collaboration may also help you to situate his work. That and the fact that Begotten is based on his own personal obsession with a movie of the same name. I expect he’s referring to the 1990 experimental horror film made by E. Elias Merhige, which looks like it could be a mind-searing experience. Ironically, Hart spent a lot of money getting hold of a copy of this deleted item, but for the non-squeamish among you it can be viewed on YouTube now. The music of Imaginary Forces is compelling, not quite as “bleak” as much emptied-out dronery I’ve heard in this area, where the creators insist that we accept and participate in their sense of futility, and endure the aural equivalent of sub-zero temperatures that numb the brain. By contrast, Begotten gives us a lot to listen to and in its subtle layering often appears to be spinning in four directions at once, its elements shimmering and shuffling apart like decrepit tree limbs slowly withering away before our eyes. Yet it also retains an insistent and mesmerising power. Hart seems to have found a way to suffuse and disguise his pulsations so that they have the same impact as an entire week spent in a club with high-volume dance music, yet remain almost imperceptible in the mix.


Here’s CD 2 of the mammoth P16.D4 box set Passagen (MONOTYPE RECORDS mono58) which we broached some weeks ago. For Distruct, the trio of Ralf Wehowsky, Roger Schönauer and Ewald Weber were joined by Stefan Schmidt, Gerd Neumann, Thomas Memmler and Peter Lambert, for these 1982-1984 recordings which were released by Selektion on LP in 1985. RLW had been given the idea – by Harry C. Poole of Smegma – to do a remote collaboration; Poole proposed to send across tapes from America for P16.D4 to complete, without having to meet up. Apparently the American found the idea of a thousand-mile distance extremely appealing. This kind of thing is fairly commonplace nowadays, especially since file-sharing has been made easier by the internet, but I suppose it was an innovative and bold step in the early 1980s. Although Smegma don’t actually appear on the finished item, RLW went ahead with the idea anyway, and with his characteristic productiveness organised collaborations with numerous international names from the “noise” and “industrial” music areas. Consequently, you can hear contributions from Bladder Flask, DDAA, De Fabriek, The Haters, Merzbow, Nocturnal Emissions, Achim Wollschied and Nurse With Wound, plus many others. Even an anonymous submission was used for this ambitious postal project; on ‘Aufmarsch, Heimlich’ you can hear a choir from a tape sent to the band from somewhere in Eastern Europe. Said tape has of course been severely mangled by RLW’s unusual treatments and deep slices as he wields the scissors of truth. Impossible to summarise the intense and wild music on this release – every track seems to exhibit a different approach or inhabit a new sound-world – but one thing they all have in common is that they produce very disjointed, broken and difficult listens. The rubble and bracken of unpleasant noise is jumbled and rehacked every which way, resulting in an extremely uncomfortable ride. Truly radical deconstruction techniques at work here. While admirable and important, it’s not much fun to listen to with its general air of nihilism and misery, although I found some respite from the grimness on ‘Les Honteuses Alliances’, whose success might be attributable to the fact that it’s a multiple collaboration: Merzbow, Bladder Flask, Nocturnal Emissions and Phil Johnson all supplied elements to the work, although once again it’s mostly Wehowsky putting the materials into the frame. A very clever and elaborate frame it is too, one made of robust wooden struts and held together with dovetail joints and screws. The CD release includes a couple of related bonus tracks, which have only been available previously as part of a subscription-only Vinyl On Demand box set.

Two Sides to Every Story

The Dogs In You

Just under 20 minutes of experimental trip hop/noise from Belgium collective L.E.G., a band whose moniker is presumably an acronym for something, but despite the best efforts of Google search, exactly what it stands for is a mystery to me.

This cassette release is, perhaps appropriately for the format, very much a tale of two halves. I’ll take the less obvious route and discuss the ‘B-Side’ of the tape first, as it’s the side I feel most comfortable discussing. There are no song titles here, so I’m not even sure if what I’m listening to is one long song, or a number of shorter ones. Whatever it is, it starts with a slowed down rumble of ominous noise, before the mood is lightened considerably after about 30 seconds by some chilled-out keyboard stabs. A regular wobble of thunderous sound flutters in and out, sounding not unlike Rolf Harris on distorted wobble-board (possibly he is making an un-credited guest appearance, but I wouldn’t bet on it). Random distorted snare hits puncture eardrums like gunshots. A backwards trippy drum machine comes and goes, before the snare hits return, this time with someone yelling ‘blood!’ in the background. Wind chimes offer a soothing note above a more violent storm of electricity. Finally the piece is stripped back to isolated bass riffs played out against ethereal sung voices. In short, this is interesting, unpredictable experimental noise, and I liked it a lot.

The ‘A-side’ of the tape however, is a completely different kettle of fish, being to my ears pretty much straightforward trip hop. There’s little of the sense of experimental nature of the other side of the cassette, with looped regular drum beats, and what seemed to me to be a very traditional rap about ‘cosmopolitan hip hop’. What confused me slightly, is that despite seemingly originating from Belgium, the vocalist still manages to rap in what sounds like an American accent. Maybe it’s a genre thing. Be aware however, that hip hop/trip hop really isn’t my thing – so if this sounds even vaguely interesting to you, go check it out on the label’s website.

Beyond This Vessel: a dark and demonic sermon of swamp folk psychedelia


Geist & the Sacred Ensemble, Beyond This Vessel, Moon Glyph, cassette MG68 (2013)

It’s time for some dark and demonic ritualistic psychedelic folk from way down in the fetid, humid swamplands of … uh, Seattle, courtesy of a bunch a-callin’ their selves Geist & the Sacred Ensemble. Lazy drawling half-singing / half-declaiming vocals from Geist himself lead the way and what a trail is blazed by these musical gypsy travellers: a lackadaisical rhythm, simple tribal percussion, stark and sometimes massive guitars, and a generally heavy kind of atmosphere.

The guys swagger through “On the Next Full Moon”, simmering up some Southern Gothic rock dirge drudge drone for the monthly sacrificial lynching ritual to appease an angry Old Testament spirit. The music becomes a bit more urgent and apocalyptic on “Seeker”, Geist almost in supplication to the personal demons and angels locked in eternal battle in his heart for his soul. The guitars change from insistently heraldic and emphatic to soft woozy wash. This becomes “Terraformer” and as the title suggests, the music has indeed metamorphosed from structures based on simple beats, repetition and riff loops to soft desultory, dreamy ambience with rippling guitar notes out front and reverbed guitar wash out over the skies above. Geist’s singing sleepwalk barely holds the track together. Black misty shadows rise from the still green waters beneath the tangle of mangrove and tree roots, a giant reptilian shadow glides through the muddy depths, a deep alien machine starts to rumble  - perhaps there is a UFO down deep within the marshes?

“Bird Passage” is a peculiar name for the lethargic ritual conducted by Geist in deadened preacher mode, leading an equally enervated congregation in prayer to their unholy chthonic spiritual masters. Woozy wobbly effects and a solemn acoustic guitar accompany Geist on his journey to whatever passes for spiritual enlightenment and union.

It’s a surprisingly short album for its cassette format – the album repeats over on the B-side (this must be the new trend in recording albums to cassette tape) – and with the songs sort of joined up, listeners could be forgiven for wondering what happened to the second half of the album, unaware that it in fact has sailed right past them. The music is brooding and haunted yet not very absorbing; the vocals tend to be exaggeratedly twangy and drawling and need some real sulphurous fire-and-brimstone passion to capture that full-on prophet-in-the-wilderness apocalyptic quality. There probably should be more thumping hypnotic psychedelic music with the guitars soaring at wild and swerving tangents to create an intense rallying mood in which it should be possible for listeners to fall to the floor shaking uncontrollably, foaming at the mouth, perspiring by the bucket-loads and uttering pathetic little cries that appeal to their dark pitiless god for mercy or delivering warnings of global doom in guttural demon tones.

They Mask Us


Broken Penis Orchestra
Plays With Itself

For those that don’t understand classical music here’s a quick lesson. An orchestra is just like a band but it has LOTS of members. The convention for orchestra/band names is [where the musicians are from] + [the place where they have a residency] + Orchestra. All orchestra / band names have to end in the word ‘orchestra’ to avoid confusion with bands who don’t have many members. All orchestras have to have a residency (in local pub, church hall etc) because they are too large to travel. Because they are too large to travel all members live in the same area. Two examples – ‘The London Philharmonic Orchestra’ is a band (orchestra) who’s members live in in London and they have a residency at a place called ‘The Philharmonic’. ‘The Broken Penis Orchestra’ is a band (orchestra) whose members live in in Broken and have a residency at a place called ‘The Penis’. I don’t know how many members the Broken Penis Orchestra has but I suspect it runs into the hundreds.


Hirsute Pursuit
Tighten That Muscle Ring

Front cover shows a Russian sailor (‘Yason’ according to the press release) who has lost his trousers. Back cover shows either some haunted goalposts or some goalposts in a haunted field. It isn’t obvious which. The two things seem at first totally unconnected but there are clues, hidden and obscure both on the sleeve and elsewhere. What is a sailor? A traveller, an adventurer, a brave soul. What are trousers? More importantly what are clothes? Clothes are the connection to the birth of humanity. Adam and Eve. First they mask our modesty, hiding our sexual organs. Next they mask us. Completely. Proffering an image that isn’t there. Who could walk into work naked? Clothes are identity. A sailor with no trousers has no identity, is not a man. What is football? A team game, humans working together and simultaneously fighting each other for control. What is a haunted football pitch? Loneliness. Alienation. The apocalypse. I’ve read a lot of other reviews of this release, slating it purely because of the way Yason is (un)dressed – in some circles the trouserless Russian sailer look is deemed ‘uncool’ or ‘not noise enough’. Well fuck that. I always thought Bill Hailey had good style and Yason is all right by me. anyway, it’s the noise that counts right? The noise is THE THING. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from or where your pants are – THE NOISE IS THE THING.


Can “Khan” Oral
Angels Of Disguise


Ha. These came with a ‘press release’. That went straight in the bin. No one’s telling me what to think. I don’t need your guiding hand. The thing with press releases is that they are just a collection of lies. Big lies and small lies. ‘Audio Pornography’ does NOT sound like a delicious mix of Nevermind ere Nirvana and the glam pop of Slade fronted by king of the red boys Desmond Dekker. It sounds fuck all like that. And the lies roll on.

Plopping the DVD in I was expecting over saturated gooey monsters in graveyard ejaculation. Expectant mothers on the examination table. Lurid visualisations of lurid visualisations . I was somewhat surprised by what’s in this DVD – nine films of a distant star through a telescope. Sometimes it’s proper near, a big ball of lava and then it’s far away smothered in huffs of radiation. The visual effect puts a spin on the audio. Brain makes connections. I wasn’t thinking porn at all. My literal worms wriggling towards radio waves, communiques from some other place – an echo of a dead civilisation. What would aliens at the other end of the universe see if they could pick up a satellite porn channel? just some glitchy digital huff, like radiation traces.

These two discs come in card covers nowt on em but plain writing, the word porn looms large but there’s no flesh in town. What’s that about? Is it some statement on modern life? The loneliness of the long distance masturbator? I dunno, I chucked away the press release so I’m clueless.

That’s a Great Name

Hello and how do. How do. Hello. How do. Can your pussy do the dog? I’m the king of the jungle and my name is Darenn Wyngarde. I spend much of my time wriggling in the mud of the Burselm tombs and delivering an exquisite service to many of the local witches. In my quieter moments I like to roll around on the floor and listen to music. I love music. But only two kinds : Rockabilly and Noise. Everything else is junk. For me, Rockabilly and noise are the same thing, I can barely tell them apart. The rockabilly explosion of the 50′s was partly co-axed into existence by the emergence of cheap technology. For the first time ever members of the public could buy a tape machine and a microphone. All they had to do was plug it in (in the toilet or anywhere that had good natural echo/ reverb) make up some business cards for their new venture – CHEAP LOCAL STUDIO, ARTISTS WELCOME. And what artists did these shiny conniptions attract? Beasts from the hills, addicted to sex, violence, and cheap speed, their language functions burnt out by huffing gas and drinking paint-stripper. Unable to form words they beat on guitars and howled, stuttered, yelped. A crazy sound full of emotion and intent. Of course the industry reacted to this with complete aggression. Re-writing history. Tweaking reality. Elvis loses his penis and gets put into a romper suit. He dies, gurgling in his cot. In the early 80′s my sister had a mental breakdown listening to Shaking Stevens. I was downstairs watching Jaws. It was the first time it had ever been on TV. Some people say there is too much noise music. It’s too easy to do. There is no quality control. All these things are what makes noise great and by design – what makes noise Rockabilly.. Here now, for Ed Pincers I will attempt to review noise releases on a regular basis. If you play in a rockabilly band please send me your stuff too.

Tape Noise. That’s a great name. I like those two words. TAPE. NOISE. Sticking them together is doubly good. TAPE NOISE. I’m tempted to dial some random phone numbers and shout it down the line. It’s the kind of thing that could get inside a fella. Bring about a twitch. I am slightly annoyed. Inside the cover is a piece of card containing a phone number and words other than TAPE NOISE. Why? Why water down the message? Dilute and pollute the perfect stream of TAPE NOISE. I am somewhat aghast. Not quite shaking with lividity but simmering. If Tape Noise were to come a-knocking on my door I would sock him on the jaw. On the tape itself there are carefully placed dinosaur stickers. Perfect. If dinosaurs were about today I can guarantee that they would listen to tape noise. Can you imagine dinosaurs listening to Dubstep? Impossible. Laughable. It’s a fairy story. I started this review one million years ago. As a human being I’m strictly unreliable and quite often purely imaginary. Have you read Ron Haylers blog ‘Radio Free Midwhich‘ – You should , it’s the tits. I recently read a review of TAPE NOISE down there in the Midwich, and I learnt new things. Many of which may not be true. So the legend goes all TAPE NOISE tapes are hand made and limited to one copy!!! He shifts them on Ebay. That’s an incredible story. It may have some of you more ‘serious types’ retching out the kitchen window. After all, what’s the point in doing something that is LIMITED TO ONE COPY? Hmmmm depends where you’re orbiting on the matter. I think all music production is stupid, a vain and useless excise. So if TAPE NOISE made a million copies of every tape it would make him a million times stupider. As it is, he’s a smart fella and I like him. But is any of this true? I searched Ebay high and low but only found a copy of a completely unrelated Judie Tzukie album and an issue of ‘Everyday Electronics’ from 1974. Huh? Regardless.

Decollate: going headless again with the thinking person’s favourite black metal horde

Source: http://clothbodies.blogspot.co.uk/
Source: http://clothbodies.blogspot.co.uk/

L’Acephale, Decollate, Black Horizons, Canada, cassette (2013)

L’Acephale‘s latest release “Decollate” is a short five-track set on cassette that includes two original songs and three covers of songs by Emperor, Darkthrone and Current 93 in that order. For less than 30 minutes in total, Set Sothis Nox La and his merry musicians deliver some of the most militaristic, sabre-rattling, operatic and bombastic music this side of La Scala Theatre in Milan. Plenty of industrial, folk and ambient music elements abound here without the band’s essential black metal style floundering under so many different genres.

First up for the headless horde’s treatment is Emperor’s “Ye Entrancemperium”, a thumping martial folk beast with savage rhythms and riffs, a venomous gabbling vocal and super-bombastic percussion. Multi-layered at various points, the song is complex and murky. L’Acephale’s rendering of the track sticks closely to the original with details in the vocals and percussion being different and the production distorted. Then follows one of two original songs, “Sleep is the Enemy”, a seething sinister beast, laidback yet doomy, lurching into view with subliminal swamp-monster groans and growls and rhythms that slouch from somnambulist soldier march to frenzied blast-beats and chaos, and back again. And again. It’s a simple song to follow though with much of its emphasis on the quietly creepy atmosphere that envelops it.

Flipping over to the B-side, we find Darkthrone’s “As Flittermice as Satans Spy” given a dramatic neo-folk reworking that makes the song supremely sinister and inhuman. Militaristic horns, severe marching percussion, jittery mandolin tones and crabby misanthropic grim vocals render the track an implacable juggernaut experience. My complaint is that it’s not long enough to drive a listener totally deranged. “Passing into Sleep”, the second original track which might be a continuation of “Sleep is the Enemy”, is another quietly malevolent and oppressive piece with samples of droning vocal chant combined with operatic singing, percussion experimentation, guitar drone and piano punctuation. Again the atmosphere is the most important element here, more so than the previous original, allowing L’Acephale the opportunity to experiment with tone, space and texture.

Last up is a Current 93 cover “Allons vior si la Rose” (“Let us go to the Rose”), dressed Burzum-style in folk melodies and a lead guitar playing over a steady repeating rhythm and a basic drum beat. The ambience is a curious mix of not-quite summer folkiness and sinister blackness. The song ends all too quickly after a minimalist delivery and listeners are likely to feel a bit cheated that the cassette ends much too soon.

Thirty minutes for a recording, even if it’s an EP, are just too short and cramped for an ambitious and maximally inclined band like L’Acephale who like throwing everything they know or can reference into a big pot just for one song. The individual tracks go by far too quickly and, though some songs can perhaps sound overdone and overwrought, they all seem to need more development to become mighty huge structures of black metal evil.

One problem with covering other people’s songs and including them with your own work is that the song covered can show up deficiencies in your own song-writing and arrangements. This is true with particular bands whose work you’re covering and which happens to boast complex musical structures and arrangements – like Emperor for example. But I should think SSNL and company would have been well aware of the scale of ambition and ability needed to tackle Emperor’s work and what they needed to do to make their version succeed. The cover is very good indeed but L’Acephale’s own compositions on the cassette pale in comparison as a result.

As always, L’Acephale make no concessions to first-time listeners who have to come prepared with sufficient general knowledge worthy of ten university doctorates to understand the references the band tosses into its music. Fans will find this cassette an essential addition to their collections, as long as they realise it’s not likely to deliver to their high expectations.

Slow Death

Three more doomy cassettes from Andre Foisy’s Land Of Decay label. Line ‘em up in a row and you have title-page illustrations from three chapters of the most chilling book of horror stories never to have been brought to print. Unlike some, this label doesn’t see the tape as a disposable item and time and money is expended on the production, including professionally printed cover artworks in full colour with foldouts…Gates is the duo of Bryan W. Bray with Pau Torres and they produce exceptionally slow, dense and heavy music. On Eintraum (LAND OF DECAY LOD 026) Bray plays a heap of guitars, probably overdubbed and heavily amplified, and isn’t satisfied until he can clog up the entire room with large blocks of frequencies swaying from his mighty axe. I do like the way Bray manages to arrive at a melody (of sorts) in among the teeming clouds of lead-lined dust he kicks up in slow motion with the hooves of his black horse. Torres’ synth and laptop work might be in danger of being swallowed alive by the gigantic whale of Bray’s guitar, juddering and strumming its way into the cold abyss. That inhospitable terrain would be the destination of this Gates work, since it’s clear they are fixated on transporting the listener to a bleak and depressing land where we must dwell forever under the curse of the Icy Ogres. Trees in wintertime are used on the front cover to assist in this metaphor, unsurprisingly. I say that because the bare trees motif has been, dare we say it, a trifle overused on the artwork in this particular genre (cold / depressive / ambient / bleak / metal, delete as applicable) for the last ten years. Demian Johnston however has also provided some ink drawings for this release, which are original and strong. This cassette edition is sold out, but a CD version is on the way from Storm As He Walks. Looks like Gates are from Toronto and Bray may also be associated with Orca, Gardenia, and Fires Of Mammon.

The Subtraction. have a great title – The One Who Infests Ships (LAND OF DECAY LOD 031). If that sentence isn’t a perfect summary of the original Nosferatu film, then I’ll eat F.W. Murnau’s Homburg hat. Said supernatural theme should clue you into horrifying moody content of this tape, which is as chilling as the heart of an eight-foot snowball. The musicians here are J.Soliday and Omar Gonzales. Jason Soliday wowed us with his Nonagon Knives solo album for the CIP label, and his skillful yet intuitive approach to electronic music is nonpareil. He plays his modular synth here like an animal trainer stroking a wild jaguar, barely restraining the animal on its metal chain, secure in the knowledge that said wild cat could probably shred his arm into a stringy pulp in five seconds. Omar, credited with tapes and electronics, is a Chicago noise guy whose music I have not heard, but he’s also No Dreams and runs two labels called Anabolic Dimensions and Depravity. I think even if he just turned up to the session and stood in a corner, his surly demeanour would still leave some impression on the tapes. Could be he’s curbed his tendencies towards violent and harsh noise for this release, as side one’s ‘Noden’s Breath’ is an intensive eerie driftfest, where the solemn tone and tense atmospheres are enough to paint the inside of your face black. Further grim and plague-infested drone may be dredged up from the B-side, with ‘The Violet Gas’ and the title track. The entire release is very suggestive of disease and poison, and the pulsating music attempts to insinuate itself in your nervous system like an evil invisible host. Notice how this project spells The Subtraction. with a full stop at the end, as if you could bring everything in the world to a close simply by saying their name. Alarming and angsty ambient doom.

Kapustin Yar has the ultra-mysterious Trithemius (LAND OF DECAY LOD 035) to his name, and it’s an intense gloomulating spider of misery. Apart from some short contributions to obscure CDR comps, this seems to be the only full-length work released by Antonio Gallucci under this alias. He certainly has a very original sound – not too overloaded with distorted layers of filth and he occasionally displays a flair for bass guitar riffage of which he ought not to be ashamed. Album was perhaps realised using synths, echoed voices, bass, and lots of percussion, but he’s using his twisted imagination to build very dynamic industrial doom-scapes that speak volumes about his own private terrors. If “darkwave” musicians, or those in similar genres, use insistent drumming in this way, I usually feel obliged to bring in the “ritualistic” word, even if it is a terrible cliché; but your man Kapustin does proceed with a sense of ceremony to his tasks, and is certainly determined to work something quite cancerous and deathly out of his system as he realises these terrifying horror-films in sound. Remorselessly evil and miserable, he never lets up the pressure. I don’t listen to so much Black Metal these days, but this release gets close to one of the forbidden thrills I was always hoping for from that genre, a despairing glimpse of abomination and a taste of the cold fires of Hades. Kapustin Yar delivers: agonising extended synth tones, relentless slow drumbeats hammering away, and obscure voices chanting obscure utterances from out of the pallid background murk. ‘Collapsing Palace’ is one very notable achievement on this album. It’s a blood red tape housed in a black cathedral cover. Recommended!

All the above from October 2012.

I am the Eggman

We were sent a box of cassettes from the UK micro-label Mantile Records in January 2013, probably on the strength of their Kayaka release or rather reissue of a CDR called Operation Deep Freeze (see here for review). All of these were released in 2012 and are available in digital form if you don’t like cassettes. The item by Burd called Wild Saloone (MANTILE #019) comprises two long instrumentals, very melodic in nature but not much more than rather tame techno enhanced with some hesitant keyboard playing. The serious lack of “groove” here starts to get a bit wearing for me, although fans of Emeralds may want to investigate. Brood Ma‘s Fission (MANTILE #022) is more interesting, with a slightly darker tone to its electronic jacket and tie. It has a number of shorter tracks, some of them decked out with very surreal titles, and musically it shows that the creator has a range of effects he can wring from his sequencers and beat-boxes, attempting to engage us in many moods – from the upbeat and jolly to the sullen and grim. Like Burd, Brood Ma suffers from a lack of conviction in the playing, even when some of the actual sounds he makes have potential. Probably not quite as grotesque as the cover art would like you to believe. Spoils & Relics have their Stammer Challis (MANTILE #023), which is quite chaotic – lots of creaky and cranky home-made equipment, wobbly tapes and ugly electronic burbles, everything chopped to pieces and served up in an ill-formed and half-baked mess which is barely digestible. A very disjunctive approach to form would seem to characterise the music of this bedroom experimenter. I see there are some other releases which may appeal, on Chocolate Monk and Harbinger. They are (I can’t help thinking of them as a duo, for some reason) comparative veterans compared to Burd and Brood Ma, and have been concocting this kind of broken noise since 2009. Not too bad actually; if you can withstand the utter absurdity of it, this tape can be quite entertaining, in a nauseating sort of way. Lastly we have Fossils with What A Drag (MANTILE #020). At first spin, this derelict oddity may appear to be emerging from the same sort of broken noise outpost as Spoils & Relics, and it exhibits the same attachment to lo-fi recording methods and the production of inchoate, lumpy sounds that are very hard to swallow. Fossils are quite a well-respected improvising / free noise “collective” from Ontario who have been doing it since 2004 and the two key members, David Payne and Daniel Farr (who may or may not be represented on this tape), have been known to pass their tapes over to Graham Lambkin for additional treatment. The Lambkin connection earns them endorsement points from this quarter, and I may even be prepared to validate their parking some day. The tape is still a tough row to hoe for your ploughing ears, however. It’s not a question of harsh, blasting noise, but its determination to remain klonky and non-musical at all costs, as if sawing apart pieces of junk and reassembling them in a degenerate workshop of the mind. If Burd belongs on Spectrum Spools, then this release should also find a home on Public Eyesore.

A couple more items from Nick Hoffman and his Pilgrim Talk label, these from 9th November 2012. Back Magic is his “garage rock” combo in which he performs (I assume) as Hair Exp, the guitarist and singer, with just a drummer named Terror Trans to back him up. Blood Plaza (PT23) is a small lathe-cut three track which barely plays at 45 RPM. If it’s lo-fi you’re after, this particular wan item turns that aesthetic into a new form of trans-dimensional travel – you never heard such a pale and sickly sound, drums changed into soggy cardboard packets and the guitar screeching like a stillborn weasel. True connoisseurs of lame 1960s garage punk (as collected on Pebbles, Nuggets, etc.) tend to cherish the real bottom of the barrel stuff, Midwest bands who couldn’t afford proper recording facilities and yet still somehow got a record made on the cheap, most likely by piling into a phonebooth and using the receiver as an amplifier. Freak-beat lovers who dig that stuff should get their collecting fangs deep into this slice of anaemic coffin-fodder, while there’s still a pulse. The other CDR, Jonestown Death Tape (PT24), seems to be another release for the infamous Jim Jones tape recording, which has been issued in various forms by assorted sickos; at least three other versions can be accounted for since Genesis P. Orridge did it on Temple Records in 1984. While I’m personally slow to see the appeal of this “icon” of death culture, there’s no denying it’s a classic of nihilism and despair, and as such it fits into the Pilgrim Talk aesthetic perfectly.

The LP by Egg, Eggs is called The Cleansing Power Of Fruit (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS FTR073). The secret weapon of this zanoid American combo is the vocals and performing skills of David Russell, a charismatic fellow who is much more than just the singer in a band – just check out any of the numerous Egg, Eggs videos on YouTube to get some idea of the eccentricity and physicality of what transpires when a microphone is slipped into his paw. He looks like he just stepped out of a 1950s Bleecker Street café – he projects this formidable image of a burly jazz-loving beatnik with his wild hair and fearsome hornrims, and even so none of this prepares you for the sheer untrammelled craziness of his vocalese. You might expect free-form poetry of some kind, but what Russell offers us is mostly unintelligible – high-pitched whining, squeaking, barking and wailing, occasionally given added weight by nursery-rhyme styled chanting of nonsensical phrases. The main appeal is just the sound he makes with his voice – the twists and turns of his accent and phrasing, akin to which very little else sounds. Except David Thomas, of course. The press notes here do note the resemblance to Crocus Behemoth, and there’s even a physical likeness to some degree. Russell’s degree in far-out-ology should not distract us from the music on the LP – the collective efforts of Sheldon, Crespo, Robinson, Lee, Brewster, Callahan and St. George are all here, along with the drummer John Moloney (from Sunburned, and recent drummer for Thurston) and special guests including Matt Valentine. Together, these crazed North-Easterners blast out unhinged free rock sludge using guitars, basses, electronics, and lots of drums, also adding their vocal efforts to the general hullabaloo. It’s overblown, over-worked, and exhausting to listen to. This particular LP has been edited together from numerous live performances recorded in a three-year period (2009-2011), and this does add extra fire to the material; the editing knife always kicks in precisely at that moment when David Russell’s performance is at its most manic and emotionally heightened. This strategy is guaranteed to give the listener a high ratio of jolts and shocks per square inch of vinyl. For that reason, it’s a bit more rewarding than sitting through some of the longer YouTube episodes, which don’t seem to vary much over 20-40 minutes. Egg, Eggs is clearly a “live band” experience and I expect you really had to be there in Massachusetts to receive the full charge of 115 volts to your rocking bones, but if you want to collect more physical emanations from their odysseys, there are at least two dozen (very limited) cassettes of their work available from this label.