Monday, November 19, 2007

thee glowing second post of november

Aidan Baker -- EXOSKELETON HEART [Crucial Bliss]

The ever-prolific Aidan Baker returns with two long slices of live guitar drone, each one clocking in at just under or just over thirty minutes. The first one, "interior," is a vast and unfolding panorama of reverb-soaked dream drone nearly 28 minutes in length, beatless and celestial, with a sound owing much to the German dream-music band Troum; the extended piece is less about structure, melody, or anything resembling conventional song structure and more about drifting through cascading waves of tone and depth, allowing new elements of tonal sound to gradually develop like billowing fog. Like most of Baker's work, solo or otherwise, it's extremely minimal and requires a fair amount of patience to absorb, but it's worth the effort to do so; few people in the school of minimalist drone have as solid a grasp of dynamics and tone as Baker, and despite the length of the piece, it's never boring. The second piece, "anterior," is even longer (just over 32 minutes) and -- in the beginning, at least -- even more minimal than the first, centered around a shrill (but not overly loud) drone that rises and falls in volume, akin to the wavelike motion of the ocean, gradually increasing in volume over time as more depth is added to the texture and additional drones appear, eventually culminating in a lovely cathedral-style drone that builds in intensity before resolving in a dissolving slo-mo wash of spaced-out fuzz that finally ends in a high-pitched drone that slowly fades into nothingness. Stellar work from Baker, as usual, and limited to 300 copies that will probably go quickly (which is your cue to act now if you want in on the heavy drone action, and you should).

Aidan Baker
Crucial Blast


Wasn't I saying something last time around about the recent emergence of quality black metal from France? You can add this band to the list -- this album, the band's fifth, is excellent stuff, raw and minimalist without being totally primitive, atmospheric and dark without succumbing to pure cheese, and filled with unrelenting, old-school guitar vileness. The rampaging drums (often bearing a mild industrial feel along with the traditional blackened beats) and knitting-needle guitars are bolstered at times by dark keyboard washes that are simple but highly effective. They favor guitar riffs that are frequently dissonant, mostly fast, and filled and with howling shards of near-monochromatic melodicism; at times the guitars rhythms are distinctly cryptic and unconventional as well. Shrouded in layers of reverb and distortion, possessed of a severely antisocial (and totally uncommercial) vibe, this is work more concerned with occult atmosphere and the mysteries of the unknowable than with any kind of current trends or some fey desire to "please their audiences." It helps that unlike a lot of black metal bands, they make truly worthwhile use of droning, brooding keyboards, but the real meat here is in the serrated tornado guitar and relentless rhythms. Heavy, fatalistic stuff, and highly recommended.

Blut Aus Nord
Candlelight USA

Freedom Call -- DIMENSIONS [Steamhammer / SPV]

This is the seventh release by German power metal band Freedom Call, and it's a hard one to pigeonhole, bearing traces of prog-rock, thrash metal, a dinstinctly European sound, and an awful lot of keyboards. Extremely melodic and usually up-tempo, this is the kind of thing that rarely goes over well in America (especially now, when the musical climate of metal and hard rock appears to be fixated on brutality, simplicity, a general ban on keyboards outside of black metal’s morose droning in the name of atmosphere), which is too bad, because there's probably an audience here (a small one, true, but still) for melodic hard rock, and this is a good band. The material is a tad grandiose for my personal taste, but there's nothing wrong with the songs, which tend to sound like a updated take on NWOBHM with heavy prog theatrics thrown in just to make things that much more interesting. They make really startling use of backing vocals on tracks like "United Alliance," resulting in a harmonic vocal sound that hasn't been fashionable in this country in ages, one that's a whole lot more distinctive (and listenable) than the cookie-monster vocal approach that has become standard operating procedure among most American metal bands these days. There are moments of highly melodic, classically-tinged playing on tracks like "Words of Endeavour" as well, and each song has its own distinctive flavor, but they are all unified by the interplay of flashy guitar and keyboards over a solid rhythm section. It's probably not heavy and brutal enough for the average American metalhead, but progged-out devotees of power metal who have been lamenting the disappearance of melody from metal will want to hear this.

Freedom Call

Hatesphere -- SERPENT SMILES AND KILLER EYES [Steamhammer / SPV]

This Danish metal band is not quite classifiable as pure thrash metal, but they're close; they favor a big, thick sound, fast and blinding guitars, and machine-gun drumming, but they slow down to mosh now and then as well, demonstrating that they're not totally obsessed with speed and more speed. They are also not afraid to employ melodic guitar along with the huge stop 'n start riffs, which makes them far more accessible than a lot of equally heavy thrash bands. "Drinking with the King of the Dead" is probably the most melodic song on the album, opening with a decidedly non-metal guitar line and gradually growing denser as the rest of the instruments come in, then turning into full-blown metal with a nice, crunchy riff and heavy drums. "Let Them Hate," with its highly melodic opening riff and a series of equally catchy riffs that appear when the rest of the band comes in, is a close second in the catchiness department; the rest of the songs work at striking a balance between catchy melodicism and high-velocity intensity. There's nothing particularly ground-breaking here, but it's well-done, with plenty of shifts in tempo and dynamic attack to keep things interesting, and certainly not lacking in full-blown ferocity despite the lust for melodicism.


George Korein -- TOO MANY DAYS [G Records]

This solo album from one of the members of Infidel? / Castro! shares that band's affinity for abruptly shifting soundscapes and textures, not to mention a serious fondness for processed sound and sheer noise -- but this is not a noise album, but rather a pop / rock album that has been severely deconstructed and disrupted by an unconventional approach to background sound and the use of droning noise. Bursts of jagged noise shrapnel give way to bouncy synth-pop on "Writhe, Sally, Writhe" that is boosted into overdrive by absurdly distorted bass, while everything is overdriven, distorted, and processed in a deliberately grating manner on "Constant Confrontation." The absurdly jaunty toy-piano sound of "Lonely Fun" is in complete contrast to the increasingly hyperactive, broken-beat sound of the drum machine behind it; "The World Is Your Ashtray" combines gothic-sounding symphonic keyboard washes frosted with noise and a morose, plodding beat; and "Termite Anthem" features dueling keyboards, one cheesy and one gruesomely distorted, along with clattering drums and squeaky melodies. The rest of the songs (fifteen in all) are every bit as strange, and sometimes stranger. This is pop-rock noise for the future, a sound made from the reassembled leavings of half a dozen genres dominated by the heavy use of efx processing, noise as a texturing device, and an extremely eccentric musical vision. Those already hep to Infidel? / Castro! will want to check this out, along with anybody interested in hearing a really different approach to the combination of pop and noise.

G Records

Light of Shipwreck -- FROM THE IDLE CYLINDERS [Crucial Bliss]

Ben Fleury-Steiner is both the mind (and hands) behind this drone project and Gears of Sand Recordings, the label responsible for releases by Aidan Baker, Encomiast, Mikronesia, and other drone / ambient artists. Light of Shipwreck is very much in that vein, with three long tracks heavy on the drone quotient, but unlike most drone acts, Light of Shipwreck is fond of tribal beats and percussion along with its droning walls of blissed-out noise. The opening track, "I Rode and Am Riding on an Ocean of Violent Lights," features heavy blocks of oceanic ambient drone that occasionally fade in intensity to accommodate Krautrock-influenced tribal rhythms; the sound is at times thickened by sheets of electrofuzz and heavily-reverbed percussion on top of that, making for a sound far more densely textured and motion-oriented than the average drone epic. "I Watched and Am Watching a Cold Dead Sun Rise and Explode" is a bit more conventionally ambient, filled with cyclotron drones and reverbed guitars, but also prone to bursts of elliptical rhythms and understated percussion; it's also largely dominated by a swirling, hollowed-out tone like the sound of some faraway din being channelled through the world's longest metal pipe, and toward the end, heavy beats and notes processed through shimmering ping-pong delay that grow denser and louder as the loping beat continues. The final track, "I Swallowed and Am Swallowing the River Ganges," fades in with tribal percussion, a sound that is eventually joined by more drone sounds, followed by stuttering jump-cuts between a motif like a processed foghorn and other startling noises, all of which grow in volume and intensity before shifting to more percussion as the noises recede. The piece undergoes a number of other tonal, texture, and volume shifts as it progresses, and the percussion comes and goes, before finally ending in a shrieking flurry of cycling noise that gradually fades out. It's nice to see elements of rhythm and percussion incorporated into drone pieces, especially ones this imaginative. The title, incidentally, is a reference to now-deceaseed Objectivist poet George Oppen, a major influence on the album's imagery. Limited to 200 copies.

Light of Shipwreck
Crucial Blast

Luasa Raelon -- INTO THE VOID [Crucial Bliss]

The five tracks of brooding, dark-ambient drone on this disc are the work of David Reed, better known to some by his other project Envenomist and his noise label snip-snip, which has released material by Conure, Marax, Hive Mind, and many others, including other releases by his own two bands. Armed with iced-out synths and dark electronics, weaned on the likes of Troum, Yen-Pox, Lustmord, Megaptera, Lull, and early black metal, Reed's work here is straight-up dark ambient with a heavy drone quotient that recalls the early days (and darkest efforts) of the early isolationlist movement. Most of this sounds like a cold wind after dark blowing through the empty ruins of ancient cities built by alien civilizations; it's all very sinister and Lovecraftian, subtle and restrained, and oh so very dark. The sound is dominated more by the synths than the efx boxes (which are mostly used to provide texture and grit to the drawn-out and often subterranean synth washes). This sounds like the soundtrack to an obscure science fiction horror film (which may explain the totally boss artwork that amplifies on this theme), especially one invoking the inexplicable terror of Lovecraft's Elder Gods; at the same time, though, it bears a distinct relation to early 70s prog-rock, often resembling a more forbidding and drone-laden answer to Tangerine Dream. At low volume this is actually more soothing than unsettling, like a dream-music release by Troum, but at higher volumes it becomes distinctly more oppressive and laced with dread. All of it is excellent, and a pleasant thing to discover, given that I already liked what Reed was doing in Envenomist. Limited to 200 copies, and like all the Crucial Bliss releases, it comes swaddled in ultra-swank full-color packaging.

Luasa Raelon
Crucial Blast

Naked Mall Rats -- SOMEWHERE ON THE INTERNET [self-released]

This is one of the many side-projects of George Korein, one-half of Infidel? / Castro!, so it's no surprise that it turns out to be a deeply strange listening experience. A concept album about the internet, the fourteen tracks here were conceived through several hours of unrehearsed jamming between George, Dylan Sparrow, and Keith Abrams that George later edited down to an album's worth of something relatively coherent; George, Dylan, and Liz added vocals later (plus some eccentric sitar and glitch-electronica overdubs). Like the subject parodied and dissected in the lyrics, the music here is esoteric and sprawling, a flowing series of near-random jams marked by the deranged collision of devolved funk-pop, avant-garde freejazz, glitch-electronica, and pure sonic strangeness. There's a black (and sometimes prurient) sense of humor to the lyrics that's matched by the sheer perversity of the music, which is strange and unfathomable one moment, then surprisingly poppy and catchy the next... but always genuinely unpredictable, no small feat at this juncture in the history of recorded music, by which point new ideas are hard to find and even more rare to hear. Strange, perverse, inexplicable, at times even wonderful, and definitely one of the more unusual listening experiences you're likely to ever encounter.

Naked Mall Rats

Tom Nunn -- IDENTITY [Edgetone Records]

Nunn is a composer and improvisational artist who generally performs using original, homemade instruments built from common materials and amplified with contact mikes, and this solo release features three such inventions -- the "Hybrid Mothics," consisting of three triangular boards festooned with bronze rods, a curved line of finishing nails, and a textured surface, to be played with wooden dowel mallets, combs, steel rods, a large spring, a knitting needle, guitar picks, and bows; the "Octatonic T-Rodimba," a sheet of plywood with three v-shaped tiers of threaded steel rods bent at 90-degree angles and tuned in an octatonic scale (alternating major 2nd with minor 2nd), designed to be struck with wooden mallets or plucked by hand; and the "Crustacean," a 32-inch diameter steel pole supported by toy balloons and adorned with bronze rods of varying lengths, designed to be struck with any number of implements. Nunn employs these three exotic instruments throughout the ten tracks here, harnessing a wide palette of extremely unusual sounds to create pieces that are at times reminiscent of the sound of a bizarrely-tuned xylophone and at other times the sound of pure tonal chaos. Despite the lack of electronic processing -- what you hear is what came directly out of the instruments -- there's some truly otherworldly sounds happening here, along with more melodic tones rendered in a highly percussive manner. The back of the cd case helpfully lists not only the track listing, but the instruments used and the tools used to strike them, which allows you to get some idea over the course of the album as to what sounds the individual instruments can produce. The Crustacean emits deep, droning ambient sounds when attacked with bows, a sonorous and haunting sound worth exploring in more depth; the Mothic and T-Rodimba produce more percussive and textured sounds, lending a great deal of variety to the different pieces. It would be interesting to hear how these instruments could be used in a more structured, less improvisational context. As it is, the album is most interesting, and full of sonic surprises.

Tom Nunn
Edgetone Records

October File -- HOLY ARMOUR FROM THE JAWS OF GOD [Candlelight USA]

It's somehow appropriate that the band appears to be named after a Die Kruezen album, because they are every bit as elliptical and uncompromising as that legendary Touch & Go band, if considerably more metallic in nature. The poop sheet accompanying this disc makes prominent mention of Killing Joke, Prong, New Model Army, and Swans, which is fair enough, but I suspect the Die Kreuzen connection is probably more relevant than any of these -- certainly the band's politics and angular ferocity (along with their unexpected approach to both song structure and ability to extract melody from guitars bordering on white noise) has more in common with DK than any of these other bands other than Killing Joke, and the only real Killing Joke connection I can discern (outside of a tendency toward repetitive heaviness, which Jaz and his pals didn't exactly invent) lies in that fact that Killing Joke vocalist produced the album and appears as a guest performer. The band's musical lineage is far less important, however, than the fact that they are one of the most intense listening experiences to come down the pike in some time -- they don't play their songs so much as they bludgeon their instruments to death while the vocalist rages about murder, war, religion, rape, the failure of humanity, and other angst-filled topics. They're not as monochromatic as that description might make them sound -- surprises abound, like the pretty melodic break in "High Octane Climate Changer" and the near-funky beats that follow. The one song that truly does deserve the Killing Joke comparison is "A Sun That Never Sets," although it sounds like KJ on massive steroids and welded to scorched-earth black metal guitar. Otherwise, while some of the beats are indeed reminiscent of the Joke and Prong, the band's claustrophobic vibe of innate heaviness (and pure steamroller approach) demonstrates they have plenty to offer on their own. This is especially true of their enormous and hate-filled guitar sound, which owes as much to black metal as to post-rock or traditional metal. Bonus points for the amazing cover art.

October File
Candlelight USA

Axel Rudi Pell -- DIAMONDS UNLOCKED [Steamhammer / SPV]

German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell is not exactly a household name here in the US, although he's been a significant force in the European hard rock and metal scene since the formation of his band Steeler (not to be confused with the American metal band led by Ron Keel and at one time including guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen); he left for a solo career in 1989 and has since unleashed a whole pile of solo records, the latest of which is this one, a covers album featuring unorthodox and highly melodic reinterpretations of material by Riot, U2, Chris Rea, Kiss, Michael Bolton (!!!), Free, Montrose, Phil Collins, The Mission, and The Who. Of the lot, American listeners will probably be most familiar with the ones by U2 ("Beautiful Day"), Kiss ("Love Gun"), Phil Collins ("In the Air Tonight"), and The Who ("Won't Get Fooled Again"). Pell is a seriously melodic (you’re going to see that word frequently in this review, which should tell you something about Pell’s musical agenda) guitarist, and his band's sound is akin to a more European answer to Journey or Aldo Nova -- very 80s-sounding, in other words -- and the band's sweet-sounding, radio-friendly sound will probably be the kiss of death for a lot of metal listeners on this side of the big pond. If you're into melodic metal, though, this is highly listenable stuff -- I'm generally kind of dubious on the whole concept of cover albums, but Pell has an interesting way of reinventing the songs here (the acoustic version of "Love Gun" totally smokes the original, frankly), and his version of the Michael Bolton tune "Fool's Game" is much, much heavier than the original (not that this would be difficult) and absurdly catchy (yes, I know I'm going to hell for actually admitting to liking anything by Michael Bolton, but such is Pell's genius -- how many people could make Michael Bolton listenable?). His space-rock, jazz-fusion remake of "In the Air Tonight" is nearly unrecognizable, with lots of fuzzy guitar, melodic soloing, and no gated drums, and thus he gets bonus points for making the beer commercial soundtrack listenable again; on the other hand, there's way too much stuff going on in the Who remake -- it's not bad, but it just proves that it's really difficult to improve on The Who. This is a good starting place for American listeners interested in hearing what Pell is all about, and for fans of flashy, melodic hard-rock guitar.

Axel Rudi Pell

Raging Speedhorn -- BEFORE THE SEA WAS BUILT [Steamhammer / SPV USA]

The band returns with its fourth album and a lineup change, introducing new vocalist Bloody Kev (formerly of Hard to Swallow) and new bassist Dave Thompson (ex-Scurge), and a change in direction -- while earlier releases were in the vein of Black Sabbath, now they appear to have discovered more modern purveyors of metal like Neurosis as well, and the resulting sound is an interesting mix of extremely old-school, blues-derived hard rock and esoteric prog-metal made even more unusual by the use of two vocalists (apparently inspired by Kev's former band, ironically enough). The album is heavy, very heavy indeed, but not without nuance and dynamics, and while the song structures are rooted primarily in British rock and metal, the powerful, intense drumming and insistent, often-dissonant guitar work add a fresh dimension to a sound that essentially owes more to classic hard rock than modern metal, especially with the addition of Kev, whose harsh, declamatory vocal style is more reminiscent of hardcore than hard rock, and makes a nice contrast to the band's melodicism. The songs are mostly uptempo and insistent, full of busy drumming and grinding, knife-like guitar riffs, but as the eerie opening of "Who Will Guard the Guards" proves, they are fully capable of holding your attention even at slow speeds. Dark, angry music with an awareness of the sounds of the past but every bit as interested in moving forward into the future, with a thick but crisp sound captured well by excellent production.

Raging Speedhorn

Scissor Shock -- TEASE THE SKELETON ep [DFRP]

The unclassifiable glitch-noise band from Columbus returns with a new EP of damaged sounds and anti-tunes, eight slices of perverted riffs, exotic sounds, obtuse structures, and weird noises all configured into random-sounding tracks of... well... randomness. “Random” is probably the operative word with this band; despite their noise tag, their individual albums sound surprisingly different, and they are less about blowing up your ears than figuring out new and quixotic ways to scrunch together sounds that have no business coexisting in the same audio space. Revolving around Adam Cooley (the only full-time member), their approach to randomness is nowhere near as random as you might suspect -- there’s definitely a thoughtful kind of madness behind the construction of these audio blips -- but their approach is sufficiently arcane to make it nearly impossible to guess what will happen next, no matter what they’re doing at any given moment. The only real constant is that everything tends to sound like a damaged cd, one warped by heat or some other accident in such a fashion that everything is speeded up and skipping; this is the sound of enormous amounts of information being force-fed into intensely short increments of time. Contrary to some of their earlier releases, there’s very little harsh noise on this one, but instead many, many, many snippets of what were probably ordinary, entirely recognizable sounds before Cooley and co. started whittling them down and tying them together in bizarre musical strings. There are lots of frantic, broken beats and peculiar pinging sounds amid the sonic wreckage, along with what might be actual guitar riffs here and there or just samples from bargain-bin records. Any way you slice it, the EP is a strange listening experience, to be sure. Good, interesting, and heavy on the damaged-sound tip... but strange. Very strange.

Scissor Shock

Skullflower -- IIIRD GATEKEEPER (reissue) [Crucial Blast]

Crucial Blast's reissue of this iconic Skullflower album, originally released in 1992 on Godflesh guitarist Justin Broadrick's HeadDirt label, is a welcome development in the Skullflower chronicles. Long considered the leading fan favorite, this disc has been out of print ever since HeadDirt went under, despite its ready availibility on the used market, and the reissue (in a gatefold digipak) improves on the original artwork without getting carried away and boasts remastered sound that is a serious improvement on the original release. (It also includes epic liner notes, but modesty prevents me from commenting on that since I wrote them.) This is only one of two studio albums (the other is LAST SHOT AT HEAVEN) featuring the classic (but short-lived) lineup of Matthew Bower on guitar, Stuart Dennison on drums, and A. DiFranco on bass, and for various reasons, it remains one of the band's most focused discs; there's no filler here, no extraneous frippery or dodgy experiments, just nine tracks of savage psychedelic noise-rock so adept in its whirling-knives guitar skronk and leviathan bass heaving that it pretty much opened the door for the whole field of free-form noise rock now dominated by the likes of Sunn O))), Earth, and a million other heavy-drone bands. Unlike most of the early albums, which were recorded piecemeal with shifting lineups, or the later albums, which were either essentially singles compilations or considerably more ambient outings, this was recorded by one lineup in a short timeframe, and is consequently far more focused than anything else the band has ever done (with the possible exception of XAMAN, the album with Stefan Jaworzyn on guitar that was recorded prior to this one). It's also one of the band's heaviest albums -- only INFINITYLAND in consistently heavier, if nowhere near as sharp and focused -- and the combination of Dennison's heavier than lead drums, DiFranco's overwhelming bass crush, and Bower's genuinely psychotronic noise guitar is entirely too much to resist for any discerning noise-dronehead. The improved remastering makes it far more obvious than before just how out-there Bower's guitar playing was, and just reaffirms that the band was ahead of their time, especially on this release. You need this, period, and with any luck it will turn out to be just the first salvo in a whole series of reissues of the band's back catalog, most of which is hopelessly obscure and tragically out of print.

Crucial Blast

Yes, Collapse -- FINAL DIAGNOSIS [Crucial Bliss]

This is the final release from the Dayton, OH trio of Dan Rizer, Josh Fink, and Matthew Reis; for many years they were one of the centerpieces of the noise / drone label Epicene Sound System, releasing a steady stream of incredibly obscure limited-edition cassettes, cd-rs, and splits with similar bands. Last year the band more or less ground to a halt when the band members moved away, but before it all ran down the drain, they tossed this material into the hands of Crucial Blast to release as part of the ongoing Crucial Bliss series. What you get are nine tracks of highly unpredictable, often virulent clotted sonic grue -- screeching, buzzing, freaked-out sound collages whipped together from amplifier hum, metal tapes, efx boxes, stuff being broken, huge processed sounds, and more sonic effluvia than you can even begin to imagine, all shaped into streams of ambient sound that abruptly disintegrate into epics of sonic flagellation. There are some moments of near-ambient washes and drones, but mostly it's a series of violent, abrasive exercises in earhurt heavy on the imagination and low on the respect for your ears. This is not so much harsh noise or even standard noise rock as much as it is the cunning juxtaposition of a great many annoying / alienating / otherworldly sounds, clustered together for maximum mind obliteration and subjected to some pretty creative mixes, especially by noise standards. Like a terrible and blood-soaked collision of art-rock, free improv, sound collage, and noise, the results are alternately hypnotic and sonically horrifying, at times buried in a cyclone of harsh noise din, at other times fixated on heavy repetition, but mostly aimed at prying loose the hinges of your subconscious with jarring segues, inexplicable sounds, unpredictable dynamics, and a pure lust for audio ugliness. Powerful, uncompromising stuff that's far more nuanced and layered than your average noise album made through efx-box overkill. Limited to 150 copies, which I bet won't last long, given the band's standing among collector scum.

Crucial Blast

Sunday, November 4, 2007

thee miraculous first post of november

Ala Muerte / Max Bondi -- SATURDAY 3-inch cdr [Public Guilt]

Ala Muerte is actually Destructo Swarmbots guitarist / vocalist Bianca, hailing from Queens, NY and infatuated with processed sounds; Max Bondi is a mysterious dude from London who also favors playing with efx boxes and creating mutant sounds. Together they craft haunting, elliptical drone rock that's heavy on repetition and melancholy moods, despite plenty of melodic bits that are frequently looped to form the backbone of their largely ephemeral songs. Their sound is at once minimalist and vast, with endlessly-repeated melodic phrases (snippets of guitar, bells, and other lovely-sounding instruments) enveloped in ambient sound that is often dissonant in nature; the vocals (from both, at different times) are breathy and faraway and drenched in reverb, more like the wailing of ghosts in the walls than actual singing. There's a gentle, pastoral feel to much of the material that's offset by pulsing space-rock movements and the occasional burst of outright dissonant noise, and the EP strikes an uneasy balance between airy folkiness and ominous, bad-trip psychedelia. Unsettling, psychotronic stuff that's alluring and disturbing at the same time. Six songs total, all of them excellent. As with all the releases in PG's 3-inch cdr series, this is limited to 100 copies and comes in swank full-color packaging.

Ala Muerte
Max Bondi
Public Guilt


It seems like the thrash metal genre has gotten a second wind lately, but Norway's Audiopain are no bandwagon-jumpers; they've been rattling their skulls since 1996, with four EPs and a full-length album to show for it. (They also have the blessing of Fenriz from Darkthrone, who wrote the lyrics for one track on the third EP.) Their latest release, a six-track EP clocking in at just over 26 minutes, sounds a lot like a throwback to early 80s NWOBHM, with a little Motorhead thrown in for good measure (especially on the mid-tempo "Termination Fields," whose main riff would not have been out of place on any of that band's early albums), and like most thrash bands that are actually any good, their guitar sound is heavily influenced by late-70s Judas Priest. They're not exactly breaking new ground here by any means, but they know what they're doing and they do it with lots of explosive energy, razor-slashing precision, and manic intensity (especially where the drumming is concerned)... not to mention plenty of impossibly fast, ridiculously convoluted riffs, the bread and butter of thrash. With the exception of "Termination Fields," this is all high-velocity stuff, and unlike most of the original thrash albums that helped to shape the band's sound, this has excellent production. Rattleheads in search of quality neck-snapping tunes would be wise to investigate.

Vendlus Records

Avenue in Oceania -- s/t [self-released]

The vocals are unquestionably reminiscent of Joy Division, but the band's sound is much poppier and more upbeat than the electropunk pioneer that launched a thousand new bands. It's a sound that calls to mind the beat-happy catchiness of early Depeche Mode, Human League, Soft Cell, and Tears for Fears, but with more modern production, a mild inclination toward the postmodern use of incidental noise, and brooding, ambient synths factored into the mix. The twelve songs here are quality offerings -- concise, catchy, and well-arranged, with rhythms that not just invite but demand body movement and serious lyrics that are considerably more urgent and thought-provoking than the lyrical fare offered by most bands of the electro-pop genre. It's harder than it looks to be this consistently good, and even harder still to be so catchy; strong songwriting and a nuanced eye for detail in the mix helps to make it look more effortless than it really is. Just when I was beginning to think the EBM genre had run out of steam, this band shows up to prove that there's still life yet in the business of crafting memorable body rock with sharp pop hooks. Serious fans of poppy EBM should seek this out -- their near-gothic beat mojo is strong, you hear?

Avenue of Oceania

Avichi -- THE DIVINE TRAGEDY [NMB Records]

I'm beginning to think there's a fourth wave of black metal happening now, a renaissance that's inevitably going to force everyone to take the USBM scene far more seriously. If you consider the third wave to be all the bands following in the wake of early pioneers (Venom, Sodom, Bathory, etc.) and classic second-wave bands like Emperor, Abruptum, Burzum, and Mayhem, it's obvious that far too many of those third-wave bands have been either a bit too slavish in their devotion to their forebears, considerably uneven in their attempts to expand on the genre's conventions, or exquisitely crass in their attempts to turn what was originally a pure expression of individual will and emotion into commercial success (yes, Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, I'm talking about you). This has led to exactly what Euronymous (RIP) feared -- a trend toward way too many black metal bands that all sound way too much alike and continue to strip-mine the same musical and philosophical territory with pathological zeal. Over the past decade, the original spirit of black metal has ossified into a codified set of rules regarding musical direction, philosophical belief, and artistic presentation, resulting in stagnation and, in many cases, outright boredom. Over the past few years, though, a growing number of bands have begun to break away from these overly rigid conventions to create a new sound for black metal, one that still bears respect for the past without being chained to it -- bands like Ruins of Beverast, Verdunkeln, Staalagh, Nachtmystium, Wolves in the Throne Room, and N.I.L., just to name a few -- and the biggest surprise of all is that a great many of them are from the US, where the black metal scene was considered something of a joke until very recently.

Which brings us to Avichi, the one-man project of ex-Nachtmystium player Aamonael, and the band's first full-length album, recorded (at the increasingly-popular Electrical Audio, as it happens) with the assistance of studio percussionist Xaphar. The band's name is a reference to the Theosophist concept of hell, in which the damned are disembodied and eternally plagued by desires of the flesh without a body capable of expressing those desires -- a state of permanent frustration, in other words. This is significant, because Avichi's lyrical concerns are deeply rooted in occultism, and these themes (along with the requisite tropes of hatred, nihilism, and general misanthropy) greatly inform the lyrics, which hold true to the nihilist school of thought while still being considerably more sophisticated than those of the average black metal band. Musically, the album incorporates the more mystical sounds of ritual music on the opening track "Entrance to God," and while many of the songs are fast and furious in the old-school tradition of Burzum and Darkthrone, they are notable for containing atypical riffs and unusual chromatic shifts, and some songs -- especially "Prayer for Release," which is much more conventional in its sound and structure, but also directly linked to the original school of minimalism in its use of an arpeggiated guitar figure that is repeated throughout the song -- are far more melodic than one might expect given the band's influences. The album's eight tracks are full of surprises and unexpected turns, no doubt the result of the album's lengthy gestation (Aamonael spent three years working on the release), and the excellent production makes the attention to detail readily obvious. This is a spectacular debut, and highly recommended listening.

NMB Records

Decimation Boulevard -- PUT YOUR HAND IN FIRE 3-inch cdr [Public Guilt]

The six songs on this short but potent limited-edition cdr (100 copies) are the work of Tradd Sanderson, the "noise choker" for Cream Abdul Babar, and choking noise it is indeed. Heavily rhythmic and and leaning toward gritty, textured blocks of noise and crapped-out, overdriven distortion, this disc differs from other, similar examples of power electronics in that there is an actual discernible structure to the songs, rather than just a messy pile of efx boxes all turned up to eleven. A lot of this is actually reminiscent of early Skinny Puppy, where there are actual rhythms and real songs, but here all the song elements come from badly-abused efx boxes and digital noise rather than synths and sequencers. Sanderson is not afraid to get ugly, real ugly, and there are points where it sounds like everything is breaking up, especially when he harnesses the healing power of deliberately-induced digital distortion, a sound that's definitely not for the weak. This is definitely the sound of controlled chaos, though, with a real sense of dynamics at work, an aesthetic that's aided considerably by the use of some really grotesque and dissonant tones much different from the usual sounds emanating from your average power electronics disc. Bonus points for the innovative (and spare) use of real (if enormous and overdriven) drum sounds at unexpected intervals. Like the rest of the label's limited 3-inch cdr series, this comes in a nifty full-color package.

Decimation Boulevard
Public Guilt

Demons -- EVOCATION [No Fun Productions]

Stoned electronic frippery is the agenda here on the first release by the duo of Steve Kenney and Nate Young (Wolf Eyes), with four tracks (although only three are listed on the jacket) of bleating and peeping and strange low-end throb. The duo herd a fleet of little black boxes and analog synths and other bastardized tone-manipulators into vomiting up hallucinatory sheets of sound like the electronic auditory equivalent of abstract psychedelic paintings; it's not as violent or abrasive as, say, Wolf Eyes, but it's certainly a lot weirder and more unfathomable. There's a certain noise factor at work, but more as a texture element than an alienation strategy -- this is less about sanding your face off (in fact, it's not terribly abrasive at all, although it is at times fairly dissonant and disorienting) than rewiring your brain to fire out random neuron sequences that will ideally lead to psychedelic visions without the cumbersome need for hunting down a dope dealer. The core of the duo's sound is rooted in the warm, fuzzy world of vintage analog gear and cosmic tones for mental therapy -- music for heavy tripping, in other words. The final track is actually sort of soothing, in fact, and the others are more akin to the uneasy sound of a third eye opening than anything resembling traditional face-peeling noise. The artwork comes courtesy of the band's usual visual collaborator, Alivia Zivich, and is a pretty accurate depiction of the mind-melting sounds on the disc.

No Fun Productions

End of Level Boss -- INSIDE THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE [Exile on Mainstream Records]

Driven to riff and possessed of a distinctly peculiar jazz-metal sensibility, this band comes across like Voivod on a funk-jazz bender; they also have a serious love for repetition, plus a guitar tone more in line with stoner rock than progged-out metal. Too complicated and eccentric to qualify as stoner rock but nowhere near as uptight and anal as the average prog-metal band, they occupy a space that's relatively unique for metal. They also distance themselves from prog-rock that much more by actually rocking and understanding how to ride a good groove; there are moments where I think they're secretly the world's most ornate and progressive boogie band. The album is a wild and heavy ride from start to finish, and there's a method to the madness of their disorienting but catchy riffs that makes them instantly accessible despite their eccentricity. Hard to describe, sure, but well worth hearing.

End of Level Boss
Exile on Mainstream Records


The album's on Van, Germany's best souce of real black metal (along with No Colours), so you know it must be good... and it is, although it's really strange to see a band this new (they formed in 2005 and this is their first full-length release after a demo, a compilation contribution, and an EP) sound so old. They play straight-up old-school black metal, going so far as to look and sound like a band from the early 90s, one with obvious debts to the likes of Bathory, Sarcofago, and Beherit. In true old-school tradition, you can hardly tell what the bass player is doing -- what mostly comes out of the speakers is a furious blur of monochromatic guitar so trebly it sounds like the guitarist's strings are made of barbed wire and equally frantic drumming that sound appropriately lo-fi without getting totally lost in the blackened swirl of sound. They slow down every now and then to mosh through some utterly vile riff, but not for long; most of the album's eleven songs are fueled by a terrifying lust for speed and more speed, barreling along like a thundering herd of pigs being driven over a cliff, bleating and shrieking all the way. Speaking of shrieking, the vocalist is in fine form, howling throughout the album like he's having his anus probed with a hot meat fork; you can't tell what he's saying, true, but the band helpfully included lyrics in the booklet for just that reason, and besides, with song titles like "Command for Genocide," "Crucify (the scum)," "Spill the blood of Christ," and "Eternal Holocaust," it's not like you need to know what he's saying to get the drift of their thinking, right? Bonus points for the front cover's grim and convoluted logo that incorporates a pile of skulls AND an inverted iron cross (above a picture of a burning church, no less). This is nasty, hateful, unforgiving stuff, and if you're down with the crown, you know you need it.


Havoc Unit -- H.I.V.+ [Vendlus Records]

If you were hep to Finland's black metal export ... and Oceans, but have been wondering where the hell they disappeared to, here's your answer -- as the band's sound morphed from traditional black metal to a sound more reliant on industrial and electronica elements, they decided to change their name to Havoc Unit. The new sound combines traditional black metal ferocity and industrial rhythms with electronica and a theatrical bent that sometimes recalls the more avant-garde side of Bethlehem (especially in the spoken-word bit hidden between two of the songs, which mostly elaborate on the band's anti-Christian sentiment). As brutally blackened as Impaled Nazarene and propelled by juggernaut electrorhythms that would bring a tear to KMFDM's collective eye, the band's sound alternates between crushing rhythmic violence harnessed to blazing black metal fury and slower, more deeply-textured onslaughts of electro-industrial soundscapes. Wallowing in the same techno-metal tarpit as Neurosis and the like, but with considerably more black metal in the mix, the band's sound is every bit as nihilistic as its lyrical content, which is nihilistic indeed. Their approach to black metal is not a monochromatic one, though, encompassing symphonic (sometimes even gothic) textures (not to mention haunting piano figures on "Kristallnacht") and even choral vocals on "Ignoratio Elenchi," and their approach to the industrial elements is equally unorthodox, with moments in which the electronic frippery evolves into actual rhythms and lots of electronics abuse as texture throughout the album. The album as a whole is a punishing attack on the senses with a scrupulous attention to detail and above-average intelligence, as sophisticated as it is brutal, and as boldly experimental as it is traditionally misanthropic. The new paradigm for electro-metal terrorism makes its point by leaving boot prints on your face, confident (and rightly so) that you will be helpless and unable to resist their cunning juxtapositions of black metal, industrial, and electronica.

Havoc Unit
Vendlus Records

High Priestess -- OAK SONG [High Priestess Productions]

This is the High Priestess Regan's second album, and it's obvious that her sound (and the production quality of her releases) has continued to evolve. (This probably explains why her music is increasingly showing up in television shows like 24, LOST, and ALIAS, along with films like MUNICH and RESIDENT EVIL.) Her latest release, a naturist song cycle inspired by the oak groves near her home, merges goth, pagan, new age, and traditional folk stylings into a lush and varied listening experience that's only enhanced by the addition of the harp, an instrument she learned to play while writing these eleven songs. Lush and nuanced like the work of Laura Nyro but dedicated in content mainly to nature and Goddess worship, this is consistently excellent material made even more enjoyable by Regan's powerful singing and delicate harp playing, as well as the use of highly skilled studio players throughout the album. The songwriting is grounded in traditional folk / pagan structures, but accented by subtle use of gothic and new age touches that add depth and texture without cluttering up the songs. It's all easy on the ears, but there's an emotional depth to the delivery and a level of intelligence to the lyrics that makes this more than just a collection of pretty tunes. Pagans, naturists, and fans of well-orchestrated, sophisticated pop music will want to hear this.

High Priestess Productions

Long Distance Calling -- SATELLITE BAY [Viva Hate Records]

In a simple world, you could get away with describing this band as a heavier, vaguely more metallic answer to Godspeed You Black Emperor! -- but this is hardly a simple world, and of course there's a lot more to it than that. This (mostly) instrumental quintet, made up of former members of much heavier bands, has just as much in common with bands like Mogwai, King Crimson, Tool, Lockgroove, My Bloody Valentine, and other post-rock bands weaned on prog-rock and fond of extended songs that deliberately eschew the verse-chorus-verse format in favor of movements through different sonic textures and styles. With seven songs that clock in at approximately an hour, it's obvious that they like to take their time getting where they're going, with plenty of opportunities for sonic changes of scenery. This tactic is kind of a double-edged sword; on one hand, the flowing nature of the songs and the continuing movement through different patches of musical real estate makes the individual songs highly listenable and engaging; on the other hand, by the time you've heard the fourth such outing, everything starts to run together and it's difficult to tell the songs apart. How much of a liability that is in reality has a lot to do with how fixated you are on such things, though, and given the band's epic scope and appeal to fans of complex prog-rock, I'm not sure how much that actually matters. Certainly the playing is all top-notch and there's plenty of dynamics. Arty and expansive without being totally pretentious, this is a good album, but not one for the impatient or those expecting easy digestible pop singalongs.

Long Distance Calling
Viva Hate

Pain Jerk / Incapacitants -- PAIN JERK / INCAPACITANTS LIVE AT NO FUN FEST 2007 [No Fun Productions]

If the title alone doesn't fill you with either delirious, cell-bursting joy or deep jolts of pure, blinding fear, than nothing will, buddy. For the uninitiated, Pain Jerk is one Japanese artist (Kohei Gomi) and a LOT of efx boxes turned up to "unremitting noise" comparable to Merzbow or Masonna, a guy who has been eviscerating eardrums since the early 90s; Incapacitants are two bankers (!!!) who occasionally take off their suits and ties and wallow in pure sonic obliteration before stupefied audiences, a duo whose act came of age in the early 90s while sharing stages with the likes of Hijokaidan, C.C.C.C., Merzbow, and Solmania, among others. To say that both acts are "loud" is like saying the ocean holds some water; the truth is that Incapacitants, along with Merzbow and Hijokaidan, are one of the standards by which all other sonic excess is measured, and Pain Jerk isn't far behind them in the audio violence sweepstakes. Recorded May 17-18, 2007 in Brooklyn, NY at the most recent No Fun Fest, this disc is approximately an hour's worth of gruesome sonic carnage at its finest. Pain Jerk's track, "Hello America (excerpt)," is 33 minutes of swirling filth that occasionally settles into harsh industrial rhythms overlaid with unpredictable bursts of wild freeform noise, but more often simply explodes in all directions with pained squeals and shrieks, with wave after wave of damaged electronics piling up with increasing density until your head begins to swim. The Incapacitants piece, "The crowd inched closer and closer" (which is preceded by some rude audience antics), is not quite so defiantly and constantly loud, but it's far more obnoxious, based more around high-pitched squealing and stuttering, chopped-up sound that builds into thick clusters of overamped sound before breaking up again. If Pain Jerk's set was the sound of the world's largest noise tornado, the Incapacitants set is more about the joy of breaking shit; it frequently sounds as if their strategy is to end when all their equipment is no longer functional. Certainly the sounds they get are akin to the sound of pure destruction, and it's a strategy that just gets more obnoxious (and more painful) as the set progresses. As an added bonus, the packaging includes a full-color booklet with liner notes about the two bands by No Fun mastermind Carlos Giffoni and Sickness member Chris Goudreau. Anybody into heavy noise would be a complete fucking fool to miss out on this, especially since releases by both bands tend to be available in this country only as expensive, obscure imports.

Pain Jerk
No Fun Productions

Planet Y -- SPACE STATION [Public Guilt]

The title does not lie; this is space rock from a most unusual source, namely the truly warped pairing of Stinking Lizaveta guitarist Yanni Papadopoulos and electronic guru Charles Cohen. On this short (under thirty minutes) but sweet live improvisation recorded at St. Mary's Church in Baltimore in November of last year, Papadopoulos plays a DG-20 Casio digital guitar while Cohen plays a Buchla Music Easel, and the results are appropriately exotic-sounding and blissfully spaced out.Cohen uses his otherworldly gadget to create happening beats and assorted sci-fi noises while Papadopoulos creates strange rhythms and interplanetary sounds with his guitar, and while the results are definitely out there a minute, the sound they achieve together is remarkably accessible -- perhaps this is the modern answer to the crowd-pleasing "Telstar" of a previous generation. Hum-driven drones, eerie Arabic guitar figures, and toe-tapping beats are a mainstay of the live action, even as these things occasionally come and go as the improvisation flows, and in an age where it seems like everything you hear sounds like something you heard somewhere else already, this is highly original-sounding work whose only real forerunner is possibly in the outer fringes of Krautrock and the more tantalizing electronic diversions of Sun Ra. Fabulous music for exploring the planets, in other words, with or without the help of pills or leaves. Limited to 500 copies and packaged in an environmentally-friendly gatefold sleeve.

Planet Y
Public Guilt

Rose Funeral -- CRUCIFY KILL ROT [Candlelight USA]

Fast-paced and relentless, with lots of stop 'n start riffing, Rose Funeral frequently sounds more like a machine than a band -- the ten songs here are mostly short, hyper-focused blasts of intense hate with lots of machine-gun riffing and tricky breakdowns. I'm not particularly enamored of the tinky snare sound, but otherwise the drumming is crushing, the guitars thick and nasty, the playing tight and focused... and the vocalist has a nice, intimidating death-grunt happening that sometimes turns into high-pitched rage, a perfect complement to the bludgeoning riffs and all-around metal angst. At times the complex drum beats and convoluted riffing borders on technical metal, but for the most part they're more about stomping your face into the dirt more than impressing you with their chops. They favor barreling along at ridiculous speeds and invoking punishing rhythms, but on "Intereo Deu" and "Dawning the Resurrection" they slow down and show some restraint along with considerable melodicism (of course, on the second of those, the melodic intro abruptly segues into crushing, fast-paced violence). This is mechanistic death metal at its most extreme and antagonistic, a festival of punishment that owes as much to the extreme end of industrial rock as it does to traditional metal.

Rose Funeral
Candlelight USA

Son of Gunnar Ton of Shel -- s/t [Edgetone Records]

The band with the amusing but unwieldy name is actually a duo of Aram Shelton (sax, bass clarinet, trumpet, electronics) and Steini Gunnarson (electronics, prepared guitar), who present here seven tracks of highly experimental duets built around simple rhythms and bizarre sheets of melody and sonic texture. Their music is largely improvised, frequently built around real-time sampler processing, and high on abstraction; the tracks are often essentially a rhythm that might be percussive guitar tapping, might be samples, might be something else entirely, over which they throw down a series of irregular electronic noises and fragments of melody. Some tracks, like "A Charming Decoy," come a bit closer to traditional-sounding improv, with a sound dominated more by wind instruments and not quite so much by fractured glitch electronica; "The Populous," though, is built around a looped rhythm that sounds very much like a brief sample of a stick bouncing off a snare, a rhythm that provides the structure to muted improv figures from the woodwinds. The prepared guitar is most prominent on "One Early Riser," with a sound that closely approximates the fast-forward sound of a damaged cd as Shelton improvises sax melodies over the increasingly thickening sheet of processed sound. The three parts of "Constitution" are related in thematic fashion by certain recurring rhythm motifs and a clustered approach to harmonic sound, but vary in their methods of execution and intent. The overall result is an aesthetic rooted in the possibilities of combining elements of subdued traditional improvisation with the new and enigmatic sounds of glitch electronica and processed sound. There's an interesting sound at work here, a sound with one foot in the past and another in the future, a distinctive sound that makes more sense the more you listen to it.

Edgetone Records

Vennt -- s/t [Divorce Records / Hear More Records / Housepig]

If you're already hep to the doomed noise of Canada's Torso, then this should be of enormous interest to you, seeing as how it's centered around Torso mainman Sandy Saunders. Joined by Jordan Hines on bass and Darcy Spidle on drums, he takes his scary passion for noise-heavy power electronics one step beyond, adding histronic vocals to the mix as the rhythm section plods along like dinosaurs defoilating a major forest. Imagine early Swans / early Godflesh with way more noise and equal parts doom and black metal, and you have an inkling of the sonic tar pit at work here. The four longish tracks on this EP are all grim, frightening excursions into hellish subterranean horror laced with evil ambient noise and hideous shrieking, made even more immense by a dark, downtuned bass sound that wouldn't be out of place on an Unsane record. It's the combination of styles that makes this so fresh-sounding (and unsettling); the closest I've heard anyone come to this distinct sound is Sword Heaven, and even then this is much darker, much closer to black metal than noise, without ever really becoming truly one style or another. Harsh, brutal, uncompromising, and bleak are all good key words here. Scary, scary stuff that's highly recommended to those in search of the ultimate in feel-bad music.

Divorce Records
Hear More Records


I know damn near nothing about this band, except for this: they're from Germany, this is their second album, the two members are also in Graupel, the album title translates to something along the lines of "view the cause of agony," and this is one of the darkest, bleakest black metal albums EVER. This album sounds like the missing link between Joy Division at its bleakest and Burzum at its most ferocious and alienated (that would be circa FILOSOFEM, if you ask me) -- in the slower moments, the guitar riffs have a feel and sound that owe an obvious debt to Bernard Sumner's catatonic tone, but when they pick up the pace, that same guitar sound mutates into the chaotic hypno-riffing that Varg the Imprisoned favored in his more vicious moments before giving up guitar entirely. Aesthetically speaking, there's plenty of Burzum worship happening here, with long, minimalist songs filled with grinding guitar dissonance and heroic synth bleating, but these guys are even more avant-garde than Varg, and while their songs share the same relentless drive of mid-period Burzum, their songs are more dynamic and prone to unexpected shifts in density and mood. They are also even more atmospheric, and greatly enamored of reverb abuse -- there's so much of it here that the guitars frequently sound like they're being dialed in from another continent, while the vocals sound like they're being shrieked from the bell-tower of a crumbling cathedral. (It doesn't hurt that they sing entirely in German, which makes them sound even more mysterious if you don't actually understand German.) One of the biggest surprises here is the absolutely enormous drum sound -- the beats are simple, yes, but very clear and very persistent. At times their sound grows so violent and dense that it borders on white noise, and while the riffs vacillate between slow and majestic to fast and cryptic, they are never anything less than excellent. Their sound is a dark and suffocating curtain of dread, sure, but it's an engaging and highly listenable dread, made all the more intriguing by careful atttention to detail and a mix that is considerably less monochromatic than the music itself. This is an album in the true spirit of what black metal started out as before it the style became popular, with a highly singular sound that has nothing to do with trends or concessions to accessibility, and should be required listening for anyone who wants to embrace the real essence of black metal.


Matt Weston -- HOLLER [7272 Music]

Solo percussionist and composer Matt Weston returns with a maxi-single of sorts, a cd with two tracks clocking in at about twelve minutes total -- a brief burst of activity, yes, but it gets the job done. "Holler" opens with crunchy, growling noise that never remains static for long -- it grows, it retreats, it flows into the droning sound of heavily-reverbed percussion, then grows crunchier and turns into an ominous, throbbing hum... and keeps shifting, cutting out abruptly and seguing into other mutations of sound, with the two major recurring themes being gritty abstract noise and snippets of percussion that are often heavily processed. There's a wide dynamic range at work in the piece, from hushed moments and outright silence to catastrophic explosions of sound and violent noise, and it's definitely designed to disorient. The second piece, "Do You Hear Me?," is longer and less enamored of cut-up antics, with a more static composition that calls less attention to itself -- a noisy (but not overly loud) motif circles back and forth endlessly, approaching ambient noise, as muted percussion and other electronic strategies appear from time to time in the background. until it ends as abruptly as it began. It's definitely not your father's freejazz -- there's more noise than actual percussion happening here -- but it's definitely an intriguing exploration of the meeting of electronic abuse and unorthodox approaches to percussion.

Matt Weston
7272 Music