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

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