Sunday, November 14, 2010

who turned down the sun?

Agathocles -- THIS IS NOT A THREAT, IT'S A PROMISE [Selfmade God Records]

The Belgian grindcore gods return with another exquisite offering of short, spastic tunes (27 of them) and iffy production -- exactly what you were expecting, in other words. It's an acquired taste, to be sure, but if it's the taste you need, they are here to deliver the illness in extra-large portions. Or maybe that should be extra-small portions: seventeen of the tracks are under a minute (one is only thirteen seconds), and only five are over two minutes. Like most grindcore bands, brevity suits them; most of the time, they get their grind on long enough to make their point then come to an abrupt, crashing halt. For a band whose songs routinely clock in at less than a minute, though, some of the best tracks here are the longer ones, especially "Gaszilla" and "Motherfucker (Swing That Axe)," where they have enough time to beat their shredded-wheat riffs into your skull with a vengeance. The beats come fast and furious, the vocals are impressively clotted, and the guitars exude the kind of nastiness that only comes from amps being driven far beyond their saturation point. There are some intriguing moments of the unexpected, like the clanging metallic bass breakdown in "God Save the Real Green Crocodile," but otherwise it's pure classic grind chaos. Those who know will rejoice; those who don't probably won't be buying this anyway.

Selfmadegod Records

Astrosoniq -- QUADRANT {Exile on Mainstream]

Oooo, spacy sounds that hark back to the glory days of "Telstar" as much as anything else, at least on the opening track "Faustian Bargain." Once the full band kicks in, there are definite strains of power metal mixed in with the spaced-out prog-rock. The tracks that follow are riff-rock heaviness in the vein of Monster Magnet and Orange Goblin garnished with liberal amounts of cosmic effects and a general spaced-out vibe that owes a lot to the more stoned years of Hawkwind. There's a nice groove and swell bass line in "As Soon As They Got Airborne," which also features some nifty guitar work rooted in both blues and prog-rock, along with plenty of sci-fi noises and related film samples. They favor crunchy fuzz tones for their guitars, which lends a heaviness to the sound that sometimes sits at odds with their proggy ambitions; as the album progresses, it becomes obvious they are entrenched in some kind of weird seventies European acid-rock revival, especially since the word "baby" crops up way too often in the lyrics (apparently no one told them that went out of style decades ago). There's plenty of energy and drive on tracks like "Bored," but those not weaned on Hawkwind and the like may find the obsession with effects distracting. Listeners pining for the glory days of hallucinogenic rock will probably find this highly entertaining, though.

Exile on Mainstream

At Vance -- DECADE [AFM Records]

I'm going to admit upfront that this is the first time I've ever heard of At Vance, despite the fact that they've released eight albums over the past decade. The band is from Germany and from the first song on the first disc, it's obvious they are a power metal band, which may explain why they're unfamiliar; European audiences eat this stuff up like hotcakes, but it's a genre that has generally never gone over well in America. Nevertheless, AFM is determined to promote them over here, and thus we now get a double-cd anthology containing selected tracks from all of the studio albums and a whole pile of bonus material: Japanese bonus tracks, a slew of covers (some of them quite surprising, like the Eagles classic "Desperado" and Supertramp's "Logical Song"), and versions of classical pieces by Vivaldi, Bach, and Beethoven. It's certainly a generous offering: sixteen tracks on the compilation disc plus twenty-one on the bonus disc equals an awful lot of At Vance to swallow in one sitting. Good news for fans of the band and newcomers looking for a well-rounded introduction to the band, but sort of intimidating in its sheer scope. The songs on the anthology disc are pretty much what you would expect of a power metal band -- lots of power, speed, and instrumental virtuosity, topped with impassioned operatic vocals -- but it's the other disc where things really get interesting. Mixed in with the Japanese bonus tracks (including a live version of "Broken Vow") are a whole string of eyebrow-raising covers, including a version of Supertramp's "Logical Song" that retains the original's feel while adorning it with plenty of metal bombast and swirling guitar wizardry, a radically retooled version of the Tears For Fears classic "Shout," and a bizarre electronics-heavy version of Deep Purple's "Highway Star." For reasons I frankly fail to understand, they also cover three Abba songs -- which is about three Abba covers too many for my taste -- but they do a pretty fair cover of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" (still a great song despite the cheese factor), and a surprisingly faithful acoustic version of the Eagles weeper "Desperado." The reinterpretations of classical fare -- a metal trope already trotted out numerous times over the years by a horde of ambitious metalheads ranging from Yngwie Malmsteen to The Great Kat -- offer them an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their significant technical chops, but if you aren't familiar with the original work then you'll miss out on a lot of the context. Still, any band capable of pulling off Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Bach's Invention No. 13 deserves your respect, dig?

AFM Records
At Vance

Clockcleaner -- AUF WIEDERSEHEN [Load Records]

The most hated band in Philadelphia has apparently gone to the graveyard now that head cleaner John Sharkey has moved to Australia to terrify people with his new band Puerto Rico Flowers, but this -- their appropriately-titled last gasp -- is a great way to go out. Sharkey bleats in his best Michael Gira imitation croon over what sounds like Rozz-era Christian Death after listening to various select records from the Amphetamine Reptile catalog (but especially the Cows circa CUNNING STUNTS), churning out four amazing slices of improbably catchy noise rock. Always an abrasive bunch, their attitude remains unchanged this time around (for evidence, see the opening track title "Pissing at the Moon"), but this time their songs are a lot closer to traditional song structures, with lyrics that offer actual narratives, and their penchant for ugliness is tempered by a gothic sensibility and some really swinging rhythms (especially in the bassline for "Chinese Town," the catchiest track). Sharkey's guitar riffs are a sick mixture of stunted but potent melodies and highly repetitive rhythms filtered through an excruciating level of squealy treble; the rhythm section throws down in simple but hypnotic fashion, leaving plenty of room for Sharkey to festoon the tracks with howling shards of reverb-drenched guitar and the occasional sheet of pure filthy noise. Sharkey claims they're a punk band, which is sort of true, but it's obvious from this EP that they also have a secret love of pop tunes (or did, anyway) that's just taken this long to make itself obvious. It doesn't hurt that all four tracks are excellent, either, making this a fine way to exit stage left.

Load Records

Ehnahre -- TAMING THE CANNIBALS [Crucial Blast]

If you need evidence of extreme metal's growing love affair with the avant-garde, this is certainly a good place to start: three dudes from Boston (plus a few guests here and there) welding the free-jazz antics of John Zorn and Last Exit to the creepy-ass dissonance of Bartok and Schoenberg over a death-metal chassis with genuinely chaotic results. I like it when bands with actual technical skill do stuff like this, because then you get the chaos and unpredictability of free-jazz with the blind, unrelenting heaviness of metal and it's like the sonic equivalent of a bomb exploding in your face with all the little bits of glass and bone fragments flying through the air captured for all posterity. Their vibe often reminds me of Zu, only heavier -- much heavier -- and far more enamored of dissonance for the sake of dissonance. Plus the "singer" sounds like Gollum after smoking a carton of cigarettes and trying to heave up a lung, always a good thing if your intention is to scare the shit out of people. Their swath of destruction is leavened here and there with trumpets (courtesy of Greg Kelley), additional vocals from ex-Milligram / Only Living Witness singer Jonah Jenkins, and violin from C. Spencer Yeh of Burning Star Core, but the main attraction here is the core trio, who wind their way through eccentric song structures rooted more in jazz and improv music (and in the case of "Revelation and Decline," maybe soundtrack music as well) despite their talent for bludgeoning heaviness. It's not all about smashing things, though; they have a surprisingly light touch at times, which only makes the heavier parts more intense, and the judicious use of noise and power electronics just adds to the already plentiful weirdness. This is strange, alien-sounding shit, like a black metal version of Painkiller, that will probably permanently rewire the circuits in your brainpan if you are foolish enough to listen to it while under the influence. This band would fit perfectly on a bill with Last Exit and Painkiller, so since both of those bands are now tragically defunct, this should serve as a panacea to those weeping for long-lost purveyors of freedeathjazz. This is actually the band's second full-length, and now I'm curious to hear what the first one was like. In the meantime, this will do just fine.

Crucial Blast

Hulk Smash -- THE HULK SMASH ALBUM [self-released]

Their Myspace site describes this Philadelphia duo's sound as "E and A sharp over and over and over again with high annoying keyboards on top, long ass songs that go nowhere," which is fair enough, but doesn't even begin to describe how deeply weird (and weirdly heavy) this band is. This is art-damaged metal that sounds like what might happen if one of the bands from Load Records -- Lightning Bolt, maybe -- got the brilliant idea while listening to King Crimson and huffing paint thinner to redefine metal by way of prog-rock. Fizzy keyboards drone over dark, repetitive chord structures that burst into violent spasms of free-jazz drumming, fuzz-encrusted guitar heaviness, and aggrieved shouting. It's not exactly a new idea, sure, but these guys turn everything around in unexpected ways, with songs that lurch from one bizarre idea to the next in wildly unpredictable fashion. The keyboards are frequently prone to vomiting up high-pitched bursts of squealing noise when they're not droning away, while the hocus-pocus guitars and baroque drumming make me think of Harvey Milk, around the time of COURTESY AND GOOD WILL TOWARD ALL MEN, practicing after eating glue sticks. This is severely out of left field, and even the genuinely bizarre keyboard antics cannot obscure the tendency toward pure blinding heaviness that eventually rises from the chaos again and again. Puzzling and inscrutable, sure, but heavy is as heavy does, no matter how whacked-out the origins.

Hulk Smash


Over approximately thirty minutes and seven songs, Hulk Smash offer definitive proof of their secret allegiance to 70s prog-rock (among other things); outside of two songs (the grinding "Intro / Herbert" and "Odor in the Court," from their initial demo), the material here consists of covers of classic tracks by King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Yes, Crucifucks, and Iggy Pop. Of course, since they are a band steeped in heaviness, their versions of songs like "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Owner of a Lonely Heart" are much different than the originals -- King Crimson and Yes never sounded as grotesque as this. Keyboards smothered in fuzz and heavy guitars transform the prog-rock classics into angst-laden displays of sonic violence as they smash and reassemble the song structures to suit their perverted whims. Their version of "Heaven and Hell" doesn't stray too far from the original, except in the crushed-larynx vocals and raw production, but it's the only cover here that even remotely resembles the original. Their version of "Brick By Brick" is light-years removed from the shiny, indie-pop sound of Iggy's original recording, crawling in the gutter like a king snake like black metal slowed down to a doom-style crawl. It's a bizarre mix of songs, no doubt, but the band covers them all with a black panache and a style that's all their own.

Hulk Smash

Locrian -- THE CRYSTAL WORLD [Utech Records]

Chicago's favorite audio-terror duo are back with an extra partner in sonic crime (Steven Hess of On, Pan American, and Ural Umbo, handling percussion and electronics) and a wildly ambitious double-album inspired by the 1964 J. G. Ballard classic of the same name. This time around their dense, dark, apocalyptic sound is informed as much by prog rock as black metal and noise, and their increasingly exacting approach to songwriting and the meticulous layering of sounds makes this album a significant step forward. The opening track, "Triumph of Elimination," is essentially a link back to their previous album, opening with an ominous synth drone and creeped-out electronic whining that spirals upwards in frequency until the hellish vocals arrive -- but there's a lot more happening in the background, including tinking bells and primitive rumbling sounds. along with nearly subliminal bursts of screechy electronics and more audible sounds of sonic distress before the track ends in a brief flurry of percussion. The considerably more spare "At Night's End" is dominated by spooky synth drones and wailing peals of feedback that rise and fall; as the track progresses, the synth drone grows even darker as processed sounds warble and bleat in cryptic fashion. Then slow-motion drums kick in and eerie, disembodied vocals take the track in another direction, one that's as hypnotic and strangely beautiful as it is ominous. Things take a turn for the unexpected in the title track, where a percolating synth line rises from the noise fog and is eventually joined by some extremely devolved percussion and gothic keyboard washes. The evil bass hum of "Pathogens" -- along with some extremely spaced-out cyclotron moves -- moves the sound back into more familiar territory, especially when the wind-tunnel noises appear, along with muted percussion akin to someone trying to break his way out of a buried coffin. Eventually the percussion turns into actual drumming, accompanied by morbid drone and noise, in which Hess plays one convoluted pattern with minimal changes for quite a while, in a cruel act of minimalist torture, one that continues long after the background sounds have faded out of existence. The next track, "Obsidian Facades," wastes no time getting underway, opening with bone-chilling shrieking and dissonant, crashing chords from a distorted keyboard before settling into a cold and frigid soundscape heavy on the reverb and swaddled in layers of fuzz and drone. As the track goes on, a gorgeous piano melody enters the equation; by the time the track finishes, it is the sole sound. It is followed immediately by baroque acoustic strumming as "Elevations and Depths" kicks off, a song also enriched by Gretchen Koehler's violin when the percussion and synth drones eventually arrive.

The second disc is one track, "Extinction," that lasts nearly an hour and encompasses a wide variety of sounds. Structurally speaking, it unfolds in movements dominated by different uses of sound and texture, and varying levels of intensity in both dynamics and the number of layered sounds. At times it's sparse and bleak, with just one drone or electronic sound happening; at other times it's a thick, soupy fog of harsh sounds and paralyzing drones. The movements flow from one to the next in seamless fashion, and while it definitely takes a certain level of patience to sit through a track this long, the steadily shifting dynamics and textures keep things moving in a brisk fashion. At times they revert back to thunderous walls of black, shrieking noise, with passages far harsher than anything on the first disc. There are also proggy moments, as with the first disc, but the vast bulk of what's here is more focused on grim electronic frippery, cold wailing feedback, and drones of the darkest kind. The sound itself is consistently dark and chilling, regardless of what's going on at any given moment; this is the sound of urban decay in a concrete jungle where the skyscrapers blot out the sun and the wretched refuse of humanity squats in abandoned buildings. How bleak is it? None more bleak, my friend. Bonus points for the packaging (a gatefold digipak resembling a miniature LP sleeve) and the grotesque artwork by Vberkvlt. Essential listening. Note that a vinyl edition is forthcoming sometime next year.

Utech Records

Mystified -- PASSING THROUGH THE OUTER GATES [First Fallen Star]

This dark ambient offering, designed as a soundtrack to death and the transition to the afterlife, comes from one Thomas Park, notable for having collaborated in the past with Robin Storey (Rapoon) and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions). Coming in the wake of several EPs on labels like Gears of Sand, Droehnhaus, and Tosom, this is his first full-length. It's a dark and somber piece of work, dominated by subdued washes of keyboard drone, tolling bells, and found sound of an indeterminate nature. Some of the tracks, like "Lost My Body," are marked by muted and repetitive percussion, and the sounds that float up into the ether on many tracks are almost medieval in nature; this is definitely an album for ancient times. Between the airy nature of the ambient keyboards and the neo-primitive beats, the album's sound often borders on that of ritual music as much as dark ambient. The rhythms become a bit more modern, verging on the sound of electronica, on "Soul in Motion," a track that's also punctuated by eerie skittering noises. The album's overall vibe is one of bleak emptiness and vast spaces fading into darkness at twilight; it's a vaporous sound that's as eerie as it is oddly soothing. The cd comes in a paperback-sized digipak and is limited to 500 copies.

First Fallen Star

Phaenon -- HIS MASTER'S VOICE [Malignant Records]

Inspired by the Stanislaw Lem novel of the same name (about scientists attempting to decode a series of alien space transmissions), this album consists of four long (and I mean long -- two of the tracks are over twenty minutes each) slices of isolationist interstellar drift. This is truly cosmic music, heavy on the drone and drift, with no percussion or vocals and very little else to disrupt the ceaseless flow of interstellar space dust. Occasionally electronic noises burble up from the darkness, and sometimes the reverb-heavy sound swells up with surprising volume, but otherwise this is a pretty sedate affair, very much in tune with the original spirit of isolationism. The sounds here are totally in sync with the album's concept -- dark, bleak, and otherwordly -- with a terrible beauty at its alienated core. It's not for everyone; the action here is so minimal that if you're not into the isolationist sound, you may well find yourself falling asleep halfway through the album, and you have to really be down with the drone to fully appreciate the subtle nature of the tonal variations taking place over songs of such epic length. Those who are, though, will find much to appreciate here. The disc also comes in a luxurious digipak with truly haunting artwork by Eric Lacombe.

Malignant Records

Phelios -- ASTRAL UNITY [Malignant Records]

Oooo, spooky stuff -- and a serious throwback to the glory days of isolationism, welding industrial percussion to dark sheets of drone and ambient noise, with a sound that's somewhere between the early work of Lustmord and the less violent sounds of MZ.412. German sound architect Martin Stuertzer has an aesthetic that's rooted equally in ritual music, industrial sounds, and droning dark ambient. Like Lustmord, he favors vast sheets of sound distorted by excessive amounts of reverb, a sound that frequently resembles exotic machinery vibrating in subterranean caverns. His use of percussion adds another dimension to the sound, with spare beats cropping up occasionally to give the music a ritualistic feel. The layers of drone, generated by keyboards and other devices, are augmented by field recordings provided by False Mirror and integrated so seamlessly into the mix that it's impossible to recognize them for what they are. The mood throughout the album is intense and dark, often resembling the soundtrack to an Italian horror flim; Stuertzer makes the most of his battery of synths, generating icy clouds of sonic fog that float like vapor above the rumbling low end that makes everything sound so menacing. At the same time, it's the simple but hypnotic rhythms, appearing and disappearing against at unexpected intervals, that really separate the album from similar entries in the dark ambient canon. It's excellent, unnerving stuff of a quality on par with dark ambient favorites like the aforementioned Lustmord and MZ.412.

Malignant Records

Sektor 304 -- SOUL CLEANSING [Malignant Records]

You want punishment, old-school style? Then check this out: two guys from Portugal channeling the forbidding spirits of early Swans, Godflesh, Chu Ishikawa (he of the brilliant soundtrack for TETUSO: IRON MAN), Einstuerzende Neubaten, and SPK. This is a heavy, heavy album filled with thudding, pounding percussion, shuddering bass hell, and sinister noises radiating in all directions. The rhythms are as absorbing as they are ass-shaking, though, sometimes even bordering on catchy (especially on "Voodoo Machine"), while the bellowed vocals stake out a clear debt to M. Gira's bloodcurdling howl on early Swans albums like COP and FILTH. This is the sound of violence in locked underground cells, or clandestine raids by rogue military personnel. The obsession with martial beats owes as much to the early British industrial sound as it does to the Swans, and their electronic sounds are often reminiscent of early Godflesh (check out the brooding bass feedback loop on "Pulse Generator" for proof), but their delivery -- while intense -- is far less fanatical than either of those bands. Where those bands preferred to step up and scream in your face, these guys are more into hanging back in the shadows and occasionally spraying you with sniper fire just to keep you on your toes. The unholy union of man and machine yields disquieting and frequently brilliant results here.

Sektor 304
Malignant Records


When I first threw this on, I was struck by how much it reminded me of Navicon Torture Technologies... then I read the poop sheet and discovered that Theologian is actually the work of Leech, the guy behind NTT. Why the name change? Your guess is as good as mine, but if you've heard anything by NTT, then you have a pretty good idea already of what's happening here. The sound is a combination of drone, power electronics, and cosmic space rock that leans mostly toward the dark-ambient side of things. The opener, "Zero," is a good summation of everything the band is about -- big, sweeping sheets of fuzzy drone rise and fall like rockets taking off and descending over the horizon while electronic blasts of white noise explode in the distance, all accompanied by wordless howling swaddled in acres of reverb and buried in the mix. The cosmic drone rock is transformed into something far more unsettling, even threatening, by the industrial elements (not to mention all that creepy wailing). He backs off a bit on "In Times Of Need, We All Go Against Our Natures" (which is a great title, incidentally), which is essentially a free-floating sea of dread built on rumbling waves of noise and horrorshow synths droning bleakly in the background that grows slowly but steadily more intense as the track wears on. The brilliance in this minimalist set-piece is the way the tones gradually shift, growing edgier and more dissonant over time, but happening at such a glacial pace that it's impossible to tell where the sound started getting darker and more forbidding. On top of that, as if the gruesome slide into corroded sound weren't enough, toward the end hellish vocals abruptly enter the mix with enough force to make you jump about two feet out of your chair. "Unfamiliar Skies" starts in a similar vein but is soon consumed by whooping noises like electronic buzzards circling in the sky and power electronics doing an excellent simulation of a vast cave-in; it makes a fine segue into the title track, in which ass-quaking death drone swaddled in sawtooth noise eats away at the cosmic firmament, in stealthy fashion at first, then with alarming gusto. "Bearing Bitter Fruit" lives up to its name with an intense display of gritty power electronics offset by dry-ice synths, while "It's All Gone" is an epic slice of power-drone leavened with shrill waves of feedback that eventually morph into the sound of a great machine's gears grinding into dust on a faraway plain. Speaker-shredding bass drone up front, high-pitched evil in the background, vast open spaces empty of anything human... that's the band's aesthetic in a nutshell, perfectly encapsulated in this one track. The finale -- the unlisted bonus track "The Fragility of the Male Ego" -- is even more punishing, an audio hate letter steeped in bowel-wrenching power electronics, feedback, and grotesque skullfuck EQ designed to eat away at the soft parts of your mind like a hungry parasite. This is a brilliant combination of beauty and ugliness that also comes in a dvd-style digipak with mysterious, semi-erotic artwork equal to the soul-crushing sounds on the disc.

Crucial Blast

Wolfskin / Last Industrial State -- STONEGATES OF SILENCE [Malignant Records]

This is apparently the final release by Wolfskin, an enigmatic one-man band operating in obscurity for the past fifteen years, and this collaboration is with Anders Peterson, better known as the man behind Objekt 4. What you get here are five dank, creepy exercises in slow death suitable for a horror soundtrack: bleak sounds and textures sprawl out in a thick sonic fog, evoking the feel of inmates lurking in the shadows of a crumbling mental asylum. The sound is restrained but bleak, conjuring up images of solitude and madness, a sense of decay both material and spiritual; this is the stuff of nightmares you can barely remember upon awakening but keep you awake the rest of the night, sweating in darkness. It's interesting that such deeply unsettling music can be so sedate and minimalist, but then again, that's the essence of dark ambient music at its best, isn't it?

Malignant Records

Yen Pox -- BLOOD MUSIC (2 x cd reissue) [Malignant Records]

This is turning into a banner year for overdue reissues, and few are as overdue -- or welcome -- as this one. Originally released in 1995, this stunning piece of work helped define the dark ambient / isolationist movement then beginning to take shape (along with key works by similar artists like Lustmord, Final, Vidna Obmana, Lull, Zoviet France, and Robert Rich), and remains a classic in the genre to this day. Tragically, the album -- one of the earliest releases on Malignant -- went out of print almost immediately, and for reasons I don't even pretend to understand, has remained that way... until now. This reissue was worth the wait, though; the original tracks have been remixed and remastered, the already-impressive package has been redesigned by Andre Coelho (of Sektor 304) and expanded into an eight-panel DVD digipak, with genuinely stunning results, and a generous amount of additional material has been added. The first disc, featuring the full original album, has been appended with the previously unreleased track "Beneath the Sun," while the second disc is a compilation of early material that's damn near impossible to find now (the 1993 self-titled cassette, the "Hollow Earth" 7" on Cohort Records, and "Summer Skin," the band's contribution to the Relapse sampler RELEASE YOUR MIND VOL. 2).

The music itself is the main reason to own this -- track after track of dark, ominous, reverb-heavy drone that sounds like noise reverberating in vast underground spaces filled with water and not much else. It's an empty (but tonally rich) sound suitable for an avant-garde science fiction film about the isolation of deep space, a series of soundscapes more concerned with subtle dynamics and the flow of processed sound than anything resembling conventional music. Both alien and appealing at the same time, this is a sound so amorphous yet so filled with tonal character that it becomes the sonic equivalent of a Rorschach inkblot; whether you interpret the vast, swirling vistas of sound as beautiful or terrifying is entirely dependent on the makeup of your own psyche. The original album is so thematically and conceptually perfect that even the addition of the unreleased track (which sounds like it might well have been an outtake left off the original album due to time constraints) cannot prevent it from playing out as one long, continuous piece of epic drone divinity.

The tracks on the companion disc are equally interesting, if different. The cassette material, while offering up plenty of drone, also has textures more consistent with old-school industrial music and subdued power electronics. Some of the tracks like "Suction" are definite harbingers of the sound that would appear on BLOOD MUSIC, but the textures are harsher and dynamics more pronounced, and the other tracks are definitely on the grittier side of ambient. "Hollow Earth" plays out in similar fashion -- lots of reverb-heavy bursts of noise burst forth as wailing, droning noises float in and out of the mix, all to supremely unsettling effect, especially when the distorted vocals kick in. "Summer Skin," on the other hand, more closely resembles the album tracks, although it's even darker and more threatening.

The two discs are different enough, but still clearly part of the same aesthetic, to complement each other in fine fashion. Malignant was wise to include this material with the reissue package, because it's every bit as vital and eerie as the original album on the first disc. I have no idea why it took so long for this to materialize, but it's arrived in time to school a whole new generation of listeners in the art of dread. Anyone with even a passing interest in dark ambient music needs to hear this.

Yen Pox
Malignant Records

Saturday, November 6, 2010

a wee update

For those of you who don't already know, I moved to a new home at the end of October. Between the hassles of moving and having stuff packed away, this means no reviews have happened since the last post. Now that I'm settled in and (mostly) unpacked, I'll begin cleaning up the review pile, with a new post to follow by the middle of the month. With the move behind me and most of the work done on the two impending Korperschwache releases (IGNORE THE NEED on Public Guilt and EVIL WALKS on Crucial Blast), I am hoping to finally clear the entire backlog of reviews by the end of the year. So if you sent something and it hasn't shown up in a post yet, take heart -- the reviews are coming! Thanks for your patience.