Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Queen Adreena - taxidermy (2000)

In the post-grunge (post-Hole), post-alternative (post-Garbage) and post-feminine (post-PJ Harvey) world, Queen Adreena's mainwoman Katie Jane Garside established a turbulent environment to be in, as shown in opener "Cold Fish", an angst-ridden pop anthem, unpegged by razor-sharp feedback. The twisted lounge "Soda Dreamer" followed, dreamy and haunted, while in "I Adore You" the violent thrusts of the guitar pushed further towards what was already a tense track. Katie Jane Garside occupied a dejected territory, delineated by "Yesterday's Hymn", a ghostly trip-hop comprised of her broken baby-doll delivery, male chanting vocals, and raspy loops. Then "Pretty Polly" started as a depressed dream-pop lullaby, but was later having feedback-laden rage-attacks.

More eclectic, "Yemaya" resembled a post-grunge cabaret for lost little-girls in an adult hostile environment. "Madraykin" continued to occupy a desolate territory, in what was essentially a fading radio transmission of a post-alternative serenade. These schizophrenic alternations between manic depression and rage attacks continued in "X-ing Off The Days", whose cries of agony pierced the air in what was basically a supersonic litany. The mania retreated in "Hide From Time", the little girl lost covering herself in a cocoon of psychological fortress. Alas, it was not to be, the raging mania resurfaced in "Friday's Child". The album was displaying a borderline dual personality. All these rage attacks, resulted in the same lapse of positive energy, a vicious loop confirmed by the trip-post-blues "Sleepwalking". The closing "Weeds" didn't offer any ray of hope, essentially a lament for what was a vicious circle of emotional dysfunction. Get it here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Liars - they threw us all in a trench and stuck a monument on top (2001)

When dance-punk was a prevailing movement in the early 00's, and before the Liars decided they were an art-rock band, they gave one of the definitive records of the genre with They Threw Us All In A Trench. It started with "Grown Men Don't Fall In The River", introduced by typical slacker-rock plucking, but soon got a kick up the butt by turning to a manic Gang Of Four-like punk-funk exercise, though it's structure was anything but stable, a trait that was also evident in the quasi-free-form and quasi-rap "Mr. Your On Fire Mr.", reminiscent of the Beastie Boys at their best, before it embarked once again in a Gang Of Four-styled chorus. Then the irregular chanting and rhythming in "Loose Nuts On The Velandrome" veered into no-wave territory, reminding of the Teenage Jesus & The Jerks' shattering "Orphans".

"Tumbling Walls Buried Me In The Debris With ESG" harked back to the Bush Tetras more broad punk-funk, albeit in modern post-everything production settings, and in the end embarking in a very effective dark-punk and punk-funk jamming, proving that the Liars were above all good musicians. In the meantime, industrial gurgling electronic noise enhanced the spazz framework in "Nothing Is Ever Lost Or Can Be Lost", one of their most angst ridden endeavors. The most impressive experiment was "This Dust Makes That Mud", whose fluid structure, led by tense synthesizer lines and agonizing thrumming shrieks, harked back to such cold-wave classics such as Joy Divisions' "I Remember Nothing" and the Talking Heads' "Overload", eventually leading to a nightmarish, psychedelic loop going on for 20 minutes, from where it seemed there was no exit. Get it here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Erase Errata - other animals (2001)

Erase Errata were amongst the more extreme practitioners of the dance-punk movement of the early 00's, essentially harking back to the no-wave of the late 70's and the spazz-rock of Brainiac from the 90's, as introduced by "Tongue Tied". The highlight was how the lead-guitar indulged in manic geometrical shapes within the already effervescent structures of the tracks.

This practice hinted towards a schizophrenic version of math-rock, as in "Bully Mummy", which basically enhanced Ludus' program from the early 80's, further shown in "Delivery". In the meantime, the noise-funk "Marathon" felt like a more extreme version of the Bush Tetras, while also remembering the Gang of Four in "Other Animals Are #1", and let's not forget the inventor of the chaotic math-no-wave, the Captain Beefheart of Trout Mask Replica, in the multi-layered chaos of "High Society".

Following that, the sheer noise of "..." reminded of the spasms of DNA. On the other hand, "French Canadia" was pure hysterical progressive-rock. Again, Ludus was the benchmark, a characteristic that was manifesting itself as intense and groovy in "How To Tell Yourself from A Television", or obsessive and ceremonial in "C. Rex", as impressive short circuits in "Walk Don't Fly", and finally resulting in spastic electrons trying to escape the confines of the atom in "---". Get it here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ludus - mother's hour (1981)

"Mother's Hour" dispensed with the long progressive complex structures of their other work, but intensified the chaotic approach. At two minutes, this raised a tribal hell, free-form guitar noise, cathartic screams, yet still was perversely danceable and groovy. The B-side, "Patient", was not as spastic, but still sounded like a lounge-jazz tropicalia band having a panic attack. Ludus prove to be a quite versatile outfit. Get it here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Half Japanese - loud (1981)

A sprawling, spazztastic nerdcore no-wave attack, backed by a competent band that veers in off-kilter free-jazz and damaged ethnic mayhem (two saxophones, two drum-sets), occasionally revisiting the Pere Ubu-esque modern dance in a more dissonant form ("Gift"), and of course the Beefheart-ian damaged blues ("I Know How It Feels. Bad."), and further enhanced by the vitriolic lyrics. Get it here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Butthole Surfers - rembrandt pussyhorse (1986)

Arguably, their masterpiece. "Creep In The Cellar" served as a timid introduction, turning just a bit more sinister and damaged in "Sea Ferring", more than ever applying their art-damaged punk aesthetics to a broader American context, not urban, but modern rural, as if freak redneck farmers from Texas living in their own decadent incestuous microcosm. An unrecognizable mutilated cover of "American Woman" supported this impression, veering into psychedelic tribal chaos, while later resembling a mutant electro-rap. "Waiting For Jimmy To Kick" revisited the debut's acid-punk from another perspective, more sound-effect laden, with more ambitious arrangements, no less severe, no less drug-fueled.

Ever increasing the intensity, "Strangers Die Everyday" was a delirious requiem, an organ mass gurgling in a lake of LSD, creating nightmares. In "Perry" they paid tribute to their godfathers, Chrome and their supersonic acid punk-rock, albeit from an american populist defunkt robotic point of view. Then "Whirling Hall of Knives" assumed the form of a vibrant raga, glowing as if splattered with radioactive waste, marching and ponderous, self-transcendental amidst the miasmatic atmosphere. It was a recipe that got more rarified in "Mark Says Alright", before turning to a disorienting and abstract nightmare in the reprise of "In The Cellar". Get it here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Animal Collective - here comes the indian (2003)

It seems funny now, when considering the kind of stature they enjoy today amongst the indie community, how uncompromising the Animal Collective used to be. "Native Belle", a direct continuation of the spirit of Danse Manatee (their masterpiece), was an even more abstract tribal chant amidst a jungle ambience. "Hey Light" went further beyond, basically a flat-out free-form acid-trip, and ditto for the 12-minute "Two Sails On A Sound".

In "Infant Dressing Table", the musique concrète sampling turned to a mechanical chant. In "Panic", it was the reverse, it was the tribal chanting that formed a musique concrète ballet. After such excruciating dadaist environments, the hyperactive pop oddity "Slippi" came as some sort of relief, and felt like a cover of The Trashmen' "Surfin' Bird", paving the way for the fluid defunct chirping of "Too Soon". Get it here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tuxedomoon - joeboy in mexico (1998)

Tuxedomoon had another partial reunion in 1998 (Brown and Principle) with the release of Joeboy in Mexico, and to their credit, this sounds closer to the post-rock generation than to new-wave revival. The industrial/ jazz/ ethnic collages "Door", "Viaje En La Sierra Madre", "Les Six", "Bitter Bark", "Hindi Loop" etc have something of the expanded noise jams of Jackie-O Motherfucker, or the disjointed elements of some Legendary Pink Dots works. It's rare that jam-based music can be successful, but this makes the grade, despite a few tracks ("Zombie Paradise 1") being overlong and slightly unfocused. Get it here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Angels Of Light - everything is good here / please come home (2003)

Having exorcised himself from the tension of the Swans, Michael Gira reinvented himself as a folk-shaman that turned to mysticism and religion for inspiration, as evidenced by "Palisades", a mystical folk/gospel that went back to Buffy Sainte Marie's Illuminations as a point of reference. The obsessive, almost delirious boogie/ hymn "All Souls' Rising", viewed the other side of the same shape, whereupon Gira recaptured some of the Swans' frenzy, but the gentle psychedelic raga serenade "Kosinski" retreated back to a delicate emotional balance.

The solemn folk lullaby "The Family God" grew more vibrant, eventually radiating a spiritual choral grandeur, but "Rose Of Los Angeles" freaked out, in what was essentially a devilish folk-dance ceremony. Clearly Gira was not freed from all his demons yet. His mystical folk acquired it's most spiritual guise yet in "Sunset Park", a folk chant which rotated like a nebulae until it ascended to a heaven-like trance. "Wedding" was the dizzy aftermath of this vision, but still acknowledging the existence of the mystical forces that exist around us. "What Will Come" was a much more somber aftermath, a mournful stream of metaphysical ambience that had no other way to go but to keep recycling itself in cul-de-sac tension. Get it here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jackie O Motherfucker - change (2002)

In the post-rock atlas, though labeled as freak-folk, Jackie-O Motherfucker more so assumed the mantle of the Fahey-ian troupe recollecting their traveling experiences, but whereas Fahey was the wise troubadour singing about his travels in the civilization, Jackie-O Motherfucker were intellectual freaks that sung about their experiences in the primeval jungle, as evident in the translucent, shaman abstract blues "Everyday". Then "Sun Ray Harvester" dispensed with the blues and was left with an abstract current of ritualistic ambience, and Doors-ian psychodrama a la "The End". It was a sound infused with jazz and ethnic flavours in "777", and then turned full circle in the electrifying jazz/ ethnic/ blues "Bus Stop".

"Feast Οf Τhe Mau Mau" was their most jazz moment yet, but it was a primitive, ritualistic, atavistic jazz. In contrast, the essence of their music transubstantiated in a higher trance in "Fantasy Hay Co-Op", the tribal shamanism had apparently reached the spirit world. By "Breakdown", it wasn't as if the previous trance was revealed to be a temporary mirage, but more like the spiritual directions were being channeled in a more psychological direction, almost pathological, and ending in a fragile impressionist jam, the whole experience this fading away, being only a dream, a hypnosis. Get it here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Legendary Pink Dots - malachai (1993)

With Steven Stapleton (of Nurse With Wound fame) producing and participating, Malachai was a bit of an anomaly in the Dots' discography, no other album of theirs sounded like it, which proves how extensive Stapleton's contribution was.

"Joey The Canary" was a vibrant acid ballad, borrowing from an American Indian tribal ritual, and featuring a psychedelic screeching guitar solo. In contrast, "Kingdom Of The Flies" dived into the void of a catatonic psychedelic ballad, solemn, ethereal and graceful, with a mysterious and sinister epilogue. The Stapleton factor fired on all cylinders in "Encore Une Fois", a disjointed electronic lullaby, that felt like a magnet that dragged metallic musique-concrete arrangements, and moved them around at will. "Wildlife Estate" was just as weird, a freak soul-funk with expansive arrangements, as if a fusion collaboration between Frank Zappa and Syd Barrett.

Instead, "Pavane" was almost ambient jazz, abstract and cosmic, and with impressionist brush-strokes; it was an environment. Then "Window On The World", after a sinister and climactic noir-jazz first part (as if the soundtrack to a psychological thriller), it veered in a disorganized electronic jazz-ethnic march, bringing to mind both the anarchic spirit of Half Japanese and the junk culture of Faust, while the coda added further dysfunction, with a radio frequency going all wobbly and out of sync.

This dadaist mayhem also reminded of the collaboration between Ron Geesin & Roger Waters in Music From The Body. This was also echoed in the 19-minute "We Bring The Day", arguably the most ambitious piece, that assumed the forms of the fantasia, the requiem, the sonata, the folklore lullaby, the abstract symphony, the psychological ambient environment, and so forth. The lush jazz symphonic tapestry of "Paris 4 AM" was a fitting epilogue, as if the whole experience was a dream that faded away in the horizon. Get it here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meredith Monk - dolmen music (1981)

Meredith Monk and her vocal troupe cut a line between experimental theatre and music, marking a passage through the Ancient Greek tragedy, the opera, world-music, the archaic ritual and the mystical chant. It started with "Gotham Lullaby", presenting a contralto over a desolate and stark piano sonata. Then "Travelling" set a feverish gypsy dance, a wild ritual stirring the primeval forces at play. The sonata returned in "The Tale", as the backbone to an offbeat pantomime/ theatrical performance.

The album got progressively more ambitious, with "Biography" combining the operatic wail, what seemed like twisted reflections of some tragic torch song, and an experimental Ancient Greek tragedy. Yet the masterpiece was "Dolmen Music", an archaic ritual, a mystical chant that reached from the depths of time to the far reaches of the universe, a menacing polyphonic counterpoint between the male and female choir, like a cosmic beam resonating through the edges of the universe, and leaving behind a streaming echo of mass-subconscious particles.

Get it here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jon Hassell - fourth world volume two: dream theory in malaya (1981)

It'd be wrong to say that Dream Theory In Malaya was jazz/ ethnic. It was much more than that. Jon Hassell was a musician researcher delving into the realms of Jung-ian psychology. Dream Theory In Malaya was expressionist, futuristic, impressionistic, surrealist. It was folklore set in a sub-chamber in a void. It was a subconscious dream.

"Chor Moire" was a futuristic camouflage for a world-ethnic music, vivisected and rearranged, miraged from a shapeless reality. "Courage" was an ectoplasmic ethnic-ritual stream, floating over a jungle landscape, formulating the turmoil of the spiritual-dance "Dream Theory". The end of the journey was the ghostly landscape of "Datu Bintung at Jelong".

The focus had shifted from the jungle to the sky, it was a subliminal landscape, reflections made out of aether.

It reflected both towards the future and towards an unimaginable past. "Malay" was an impressionistic sketch, it was the memory of hundreds of small streams running in the jungle to connect with a bigger whole. By "These Times", all that was left was a whisper, an inaudible gust of wind. By "Gift of Fire" the spiritual forces had gathered again, ready for yet another day of dance, condemned to be repeated in eternity, like seashell resonance. Get it here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Residents - eskimo (1979)

The Residents turned to ambient-concrete and ethnic in Eskimo, whose tracks were accompanied by text explanations, thus patronizing what should have been a visceral experience.

Purely musically, the ambient ceremonial chant "The Walrus Hunt" artificially recreated the feel of the arctic wasteland, whereas the starlit ritual "Birth" got some of the Residential weirdo treatment. Then in "Arctic Hysteria", the internal ethnic-concrete collage hinted at Jon Hassell's work to come. Similarly, "The Angry Angakok" reminded of Pink Floyd's concrete chaos in "Several Species" from Ummagumma. "A Spirit Steals A Child" was a deformed ethno-theatrical performance, while surprisingly, in "The Festival Of Death" the ritual metamorphosed to a delicate concerto, a warm moment in the frozen land.

Basically this album represents the point in The Residents' career when their music moved from being a stream of lava of abstract junk-culture to a conceptual art-rock.

EDIT: Dead link because of complaints to Rapidshare.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Yello - stella (1985)

Yello maintained their place amidst the most creative bands of the 80's with Stella. "Desire" was one of their fluid, atmospheric, soundtrack-based, exotic tinged, electronic doom jazz themes. "Vicious Games" occupied the same territory, as if a haunted disco theme for a surreal soap-opera. In "Oh Yeah", the ever present deformed disco-theme was vivisected with an abundance of distorted vocal effects.

The epitome of elegance, "Desert Inn" was a mixture of ethnic ritual chanting, disco beats, jam-rock flourishes, and an epic ambient electronica awe. "Stalakdrama" was a symphonic experiment in tension, it's Wagnerian overture magnified to a point of feverish splendour. In "Koladi-ola", another ingenious piece of electro-pop, prevailed a digital funk-rock whose elements came from all sorts of disparate sources.

This wild eclecticism continued in "Domingo", a mix of heavy-metal, soundtrack themes, chanting, classical, banging beats etc. "Sometimes" returned to their elegant and gentle side, yet still managed to sound like a rolle-roaster ride. Similarly the desolate but grand synthscape of "Ciel Ouvert" evoked images of spiritual delirium. The amazing creativity encapsulated in these synth-rock tracks would make indie favourites like New Order or Depeche Mode blush at their own mediocrity. Get it here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Metro Decay - υπέρβαση (1984)

A classic record from the otherwise anemic Greek new-wave scene. Metro Decay's gloom-rock was electronic flavoured and lyrical ("Μαύρος Κύκνος"), occasionally acquiring an austere and epic tone ("Ανάμεσα σε 2 Κρεσέντα"). They were also capable of crafting ambitious compositions, such as "Το Ταξίδι", that vibrated amidst sinister synthesizer drone-oscillations, a robotic beat, ethereal piano brushstrokes and the melodic outburst of the chorus.

"Εισαγωγή στην Κινηση" was clearly influenced by Joy Division's "Isolation", but the ace up their sleeve was the traditional Greek-music garnishes amidst the frenetic electronic march. The same fundamentals were also applied in "Παιχνίδια στην Επιφάνεια", where the solo splashes veered almost into jazz territory. They were also competent at constructing fluid environments, like in the moving-blindly in the darkness threat of "Απειλή".

The ethereal gloom-rock returned in "Το Πάγωμα του Πάθους", where the cosmic sheen in their music simulated a free-fall in an ecstatic whirlpool. With the robotic beat replaced by a ritualistic trance and abstract symphonic ambience, "Υπέρβαση" reached for a sorrow far deeper - like Fra Lippo Lippi did in In Silence. It was a trend repeated in the galanty-show of "Λίμπιντο", that moved menacingly beneath the surface like a tectonic rift.

Get it here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Sound - shock of daylight (1984)

Having embraced a more pop orientated direction, the Sound gave it their best shot with Shock Of Daylight, starting with the triumphant technicolor splash of "Golden Soldiers", all the while their gloom-rock assumed a more elegant and humane garb in "Longest Days", which was washed off in a melancholic stream in the paean "Counting The Days", and accompanied by minimal strumming and keyboards in "Winter" (the highlight). They also half embraced new-romanticism in the melodic funk-rock "A New Way Of Life" and the nocturnal "Dreams Then Plans". Emotion and melodies had replaced dark-punk edge.

Get it here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Essence - nothing lasts forever (1991)

The Essence were always perceived as Cure copycats, and rightly so. But then again they always wrote great songs, and at their best (A Monument Of Trust) they could tackle glimmering drama with ease. So it was with Nothing Lasts Forever, making it's case with bruised and elegiac pop ("Separation"), spiraling mood-swings ("How You Make Me Hate"), autumnal paeans ("September"), shimmering dramas ("Out Of Grace"), sparkling sorrowful sighs ("Everything"), triumphant pop that rose like a phoenix out of it's ashes ("Never Let Go"), wind-torn rain-soaked landscapes ("Thirty Second Song"), fragile farewells ("All Is Empty" and so on.

Get it here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Slowdive - souvlaki (1993)

Slowdive diluted their sound somewhat in Souvlaki but, what they lacked in density, they made up in emotional gravitational pull.

"Alison" was a shoegaze paean that flickered like a small flame in the wind, before incandescing itself in the chorus. Then "Machine Gun" was a tender hymn that floated like a feather in the atmosphere. In contrast, "40 Days" traveled in space in supersonic speeds and was wrapped in motion blur. "Sing", co-written by Brian Eno, employed a twirl of electronics to emulate a state of weightlessness, before picking up speed in an endless fall in space.

"Souvlaki Space Station" continued the trend, now burning itself in this infinite fall in space. "When The Sun Hits" mourned for the fall and loss, eventually losing itself in the process. "Altogether" had lost it's senses, taking comfort in the temporary refuge of an internal cocoon. Even this embankment wasn't to last. "Melon Yellow" was falling too fast, too soon, into this internal abyss. "Dagger" certainly didn't offer any solace. By now the flickering flame of "Alison" was all but gone and all that was left was the memory of the flame, which in turn was fading into nothingness.

A masterpiece. Get it here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Bloody Valentine - loveless (1991)

My Bloody Valentine was the one band to push the shoegaze sound to it's limits. The other was Slowdive. Loveless was their grand statement.

"Only Shallow" was a dream-pop dissevered with monstrous fuzz acid-rock outbursts. In "Loomer", their dream-pop became an amorphous toxic fuzz cloud. Then, after the loop intermezzo "Touched", "To Here Knows When" rose triumphantly like purging steam towards the sky; essentially this was the previous amorphous cloud having gotten rid of the fuzz and vocals, and having transubstantiated higher in the stratosphere to pure ethereal ecstatic sound.

When compared to these bold sonic experiments, "When You Sleep" was classic shoegaze (i.e. fuzz ridden dream-pop). Again, from this relatively standard moment, "I Only Said" exploded with giant whirlwinds of pure soaring, melodic, spiritual elation; if new-age music relaxed the spirit, then My Bloody Valentine's music washed off the spirit with white light from heaven, uniting it with the great one in a dizzying nirvana.

And again, this was followed by a more normal shoegaze track, "Come In Alone", which also reminded of 60's psychedelia. "Sometimes" was also fairly standard, though aided by a superb melody and a more pensive tone. The ectoplasmic nature of their music returned with "Blown A Wish", which was akin to a gospel floating in the airwaves in search of a heaven. And finally, in "What You Want" they merged their two guises: one, the superb shoegaze pop-psychedelia and, two, the impalpable ecstatic harmonic structure.

A triumph.

NOTE: Sorry folks, link removed by request.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ride - nowhere (1990)

Nowhere is generally considered one of the landmarks of shoegaze (aka an evolution of dream-pop, more psychedelic and enshrouded in colossal doses of distortion). It started with "Seagull", which was basically the shoegaze adaptation of a hippie anthem - typically buried in a thick veil of distorted effluviums. All the while "Kaleidoscope" winked to the Merseybeat sound - though again drenched in ecstatic and exhilarating distortion. "In A Different Place" was less good, essentially a shoegaze contemplative ballad, but they rebounded - and how - with the mesmerizing psychedelic acrobatics of "Dreams Burn Down" - replete with spectacular guitar fireworks splashing through the sky and then hanging in suspended animation.

Get it here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jarboe & Justin Broadrick - j2 (2008)

Justin Broadrick's and Jarboe's J2 offered at least two masterpieces.

Firstly, "Decay", a Jarboe litany combined with disturbing loops, which slowly picks up pace until it forms a symphonic vortex of sorts, and then gets more and more intense and inhuman, a virtual black hole that warps everything. Bearing in mind where Jarboe and Broadrick come from, this is a worthy heir to both the Swans and Godflesh.

The second highlight, "Romp", features gospel influenced vocals and soaring symphonic synthesizers. Then these two elements blur and coalesce, creating a hyper-realist emotional environment. The end result wouldn't sound unlike Morcheeba covering Jesu while on a spiritual ecstasy.

The rest of the songs are not as intense. Nevertheless, the industrial trip-hop "Let Go", the supersonic rave-raga "Tribal Limo, "Magick Girl" (with emphatic hard-rock guitars and a multilayered dreamy electro pattern), and "8mmSweetBitter" (which is grainy ambient slowcore and dream-pop, but with soul vocals) are hardly without charm.

EDIT: Dead link because of complaints to Rapidshare.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Giddy Motors - make it pop (2002)

Amidst an overly clinical (the electronic kind) or melodramatic (the GYBE kind) post-rock climate, the Giddy Motors re-consolidated what rock music is all about. Thus the hellish growls and fragmented structure of "Magmanic" returned to the no-wave and the noise-rock of the 80's - if not the progressive-rock of the 70's. Indeed, the loose structure of the noir no-funk "Hit Car" was genuinely menacing and demented. "Bottle Opener" added brains to the recipe - with refracted reflections of lounge, an elliptical punk-funk footing, and warped electronics.

This trend continued in "Cranium Crux", essentially a noise-rock band playing trip-hop cocktail-lounge. Nevertheless, the noise spasm resurrected in "Sassy" - replete with insane growling and howling. Their noir side also reappeared in the complected thriller boogie "Dog Hands". "Venus Medallist" was another surprise, an elegant strings ballad that wouldn't sound out of place in a Rachel's album. "Whirled By Curses" was the most eloquent yet, whereas after a Slint-ian introduction it veers into a noise salsa, then into a Birthday Party-like noise-funk, then into a magnified noise anthem and so on.

Get it here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Contortions - buy (1979)

James Chance and the Contortions were among the apostles of the no-wave. "Designed To Kill" was a visceral no-funk that utilized a semi-progressive structure, atonal saxophone and seething guitar work, as well as wild screams. "My Infatuation" used an even more deflating and arhythmic structure, with looser guitar and saxophone. "I Don't Want to Be Happy" was the most zappy yet - a veritable frenetic chase. Minus the feverish rhythm, their music reached levels of paroxysm and hallucination in "Anesthetic". With the rhythm added, it felt like the 50's rock 'n' roll dance of a madman in "Contort Yourself". Ditto for "Throw Me Away", that felt like a jazz-funk orchestra on amphetamines, an axis of discordance that continued in "Roving Eye", and in the sharp polygonal edges of "Twice Removed" (that even included some noir-swing).

Get it here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Captain Beefheart - trout mask replica (1969)

A highly complex, completely disjointed free-jazz funk blues which predates no-wave by about a decade.

Amidst the chaos, one can trace, to cite a few examples, a disguised convoluted harmonic progression in "Hair Pie Bake 1", wild up-and-down dynamics in "Sweet Sweet Bulbs", the robotic nonsense "Neon Meat Dream Of A Octofish" - featuring a devilish guitar solo counter-effected by a clarinet on fire, the faux chamber music of "Dali's Car", the multi-layered delirium of "Pena" etc.

It's hard to actually tell, but actually each piece is quite different than the other. It's like each piece represents a different diagram in a geometrical parabola wihch in turn represents structured chaos, though sometimes things are far more playful as in the clownish funfair big-band exercise "Sugar 'n Spikes", or in the sketch "Ant Man Bee".

Get it here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Birthday Party - junkyard (1982)

The Birthday Party stripped their sound to the bare essentials in Junkyard and if it didn't benefit them directly, it at least highlighted the substance of their demonic songs. It started with the ghostly explosive blues "She's Hit", whose tender (sort of) melody revealed a softer side in Cave. But it was not to last, as "Dead Joe" steamrolled it's way with a lightning-fast spasm. And there was no respite.

The hellish growls of "The Dim Locator" followed, and then the supersonic metallic nightmare Elvis-image "Hamlet" (unreal), then another menacing punk-blues ("6" Gold Blade") with a rollercoaster panic-inducing chorus. Finally, "Junkyard" proved that beneath the carnage lay a mature band that knew how to tamper with dynamics for as to provide mood. In the meantime, "Several Sins" let surface a spiritual side, with it's deformed faux-gospel crooning.

Get it here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Les Georges Leningrad - deux hot dogs moutarde chou (2002)

Les Georges Leningrad's debut blends the frenzied post-punk of early Section 25, the no-wave of the Contortions and DNA, and the synth-punk of early Tuxedomoon, but also updates these sounds for the digital age, adding grotesque vocals, distorted drum machines and electronic noise ("Lollipoplady", "Bad Smell", Didi Extra"). Spastic robotism prevails in "Georges V" and in the Residents cover "Constantinople", while too often they sabotage their grooves with noisy absurd instrumentation (as in the blues parody "Unimpermeable" or the quasi ethnic "Ccamcknenechn"). This insane energy and approach escapes the limits of mere imitation; Deux Hot Dogs is a worthy continuation of the post-punk program of the late 70's by a group of genuine fans and weirdos.

Get it here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sonic Youth - confusion is sex (1983)

Sonic Youth signaled the transition from the no-wave to the noise-rock, underlined by the epic, menacing, irregular structure of "She's In A Bad Mood". Yet it was still rock: psychedelic, progressive and industrial. Sonic Youth never meant to destroy rock 'n' roll like the original no-wavers, but rather apply the new culture into it.

The nightmares of Lydia Lunch (think "The Agony Is The Ecstasy") were a reference-point in the ritual of doom "Protect Me You". They also resorted to horror theatrics in the semi Stooges cover "Freezer Burn/ I Wanna Be Your Dog" (first suspenseful tension, then all hell breaks loose), that also featured a nice display of Glenn Branca-inspired guitars.

"Shaking Hell" was essentially one long theatrical sketch, a music-hall from an industrial hell. Instead, an indicator for the future was the supersonic noise anthem "Inhuman", while "Confusion Is Next" was a different kind of punk, the most claustrophobic and progressive post-hardcore yet. Finally, "Lee Is Free" flirted with the subliminal and the possessed religious primitivism, echoing Circle X's similar experiment from the same year, but in a less ambitious way. Get it here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tuxedomoon - divine (1982)

Tuxedomoon's soundtrack to Maurice Bejart's ballet
Divine is even more ambitious and austere than previous releases. Basically herein Tuxedomoon invented a new form of futurism, one that worships the machine but also draws heavily on past classicism. Or to put it another way, the numerous classical and traditional references in Divine almost hang in suspended animation, ready to be manipulated by these industrial new-wave elitists.

Check how "Grand Hotel" is a European traditional string-dance based on an electronic vocal loop, or "Ninotchka"'s constant movement between the strings/ vocals (borrowing from Russian folklore) and electronics, the romantic psychological soundscapes of "Queen Christina" and "Camille", the slow-motion tension of "Mata Hari", and the feverish hallucinations of "Anna Christie" and "Freudlose Gasse".

Get it here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bush Tetras - rituals (1981)

Bush Tetras concocted one of the most groovy sounds of the new-wave era, and Rituals is probably their peak. Theoretically originating from the no-wave movement (Pat Place was a guitarist in the Contortions), Bush Tetras have actually more to do with punk-funksters Α Certain Ratio and Gang Οf Four.

The hyperactive bass and airy percussion/ guitar in "You Can't be Funky" underlines a superb groove and tight melody; the remix "Funky" displays brass and synthesizers; "Cowboys in Africa" is an excellent fusion of punk, blues and funk, while "Rituals" adds psychedelia and dark-punk to the recipe.

It's just a shame that the Bush Tetras never got to release a full album back then. Get it here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Prolapse - backsaturday (1995)

was another impressive entry in the Prolapse discography. "Mein Minefield, Mine Landmine" introduced their angular kraut/ post-punk, which was enhanced with a glittering pop sheen and tempo-changes in "TCR". The eight-minute bass/ drums/ atmospherics cylinder-engine "Framen Fr. Cesar" hinted at a more subtle menace, but went into overdrive in "Every Night I'm Mentally Crucified", only for "Zen Nun Deb" to rise like a ghostly entity. The frenzied ethnic-folk dance "Irritating Radiator" reverted to a frenetic groove, but Linda Steelyard and Mick Derrick saved their most impressive vocal partnership for the fifteen-minute tour-de-force of "Flex": Steelyard's dream-pop lushness crossed spectacularly with Derrick's obsessive drunken rant, in a roller-coaster ride of a song.

Get it here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Kommunity FK - the vision and the voice (1983)

Kommunity FK presented a magma of death-rock, punk, garage and heavy-metal in The Vision And The Voice, as typified in "Restrictions". The recipe was able to establish several chemical bonds, like the claustrophobic, droning dark-punk buzz of "Bullets", or the suffocating environment created by the frenetic beat and ambient-effects in "Incompatible Disposition". At times their sound is even flirting with the intensity of hardcore ("Fuck The Kommunity"), achieving an almost symphonic, anthemic quality in "To Blame", or a cold-wave paralysis in "No Fear", and finally a call-to-arms in the gurgling gothic-garage "We Will Not Fall".

Get it here.