Portland ambient/drone project Braveyoung describe themselves as “a punk band, kind of”. That sentiment speaks to the fact that the band is sort of an enigma in the musical landscape. Previously collaborating with noise doom duo The Bodyon a wonderfully dark 3-track EP, Braveyoung has found ardent supporters in the most unlikely of places, the metal scene. Just Google this EP and you’ll find scads of blogs typically only cover metal talking about how beautiful this EP is. And I’m inclined to agree with them.
Featuring four tracks of gorgeously composed stringed arrangements, the EP is classified by the band as ambient drone, but in my eyes it’s almost more like neoclassical. With a heavy emphasis on tenderly plotted atmosphere, the tracks are understated and build towards gut-wrenching climaxes that feel nothing if not cinematic. I’m seriously struggling with how to put this release into words. It’s just something that you need to experience on your own. So find a quiet spot and revel in the beauty of Will the Dust Praise You.
On a side note, it’s weird to think that this band is best known for collaborating with The Body, a band that specializes in calculated ugliness, when this EP is anything but.
Forgive me, Pharmakon, for I have misjudged you. Although in my defense that introductory interview was annoyingly pretentious. I don’t need someone to tell me how punk rock they are (poopy diapers notwithstanding). Let the music do the talking. While we are talking about the music, I’m not sure why “Crawling On Bruised Knees” was chosen as the single. I believe it’s the album’s weakest track. Whatever. We can let bygones be bygones. So let’s just chock it up to a bad first impression.
So Abandon. This albums absolutely slays and I’m not afraid to say I was wrong. So very wrong. I gave this girl such a hard time when as it turns out all she wanted to do was scream (oh, the screaming) and wail on her electronics. Granted there is nothing really new presented here, although maybe in how it’s dressed up. I mean who doesn’t loved Wolf Eyes, Throbbing Gristle, and Swans? Right? I guess I just never expected such nightmarish music to come from a young, blonde white girl. But it’s like they say in Ratatouille: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”
Drawing on elements of power electronics, noise, industrial, drone, and even metal, Pharmakon has concocted a particularly lethal potion. The music is brutal, raw, and punishing even on the most desensitized ears. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a joy to listen to. There is something thrilling about dragging yourself right into the eye of the storm and seeing yourself come out the other side unscathed (well, mostly unscathed). There are times that the music even has a darkly cinematic vibe (upon my first listen through yesterday I think I compared it to the soundtrack to a snuff film). I mean there are sections when the music sounds like a distorted, even more nightmarish version of the score of The Shining. So all that’s to say that I really enjoyed this album when I really expected not to. That’s two times that that’s happened this week. I’m looking at you, Daft Punk.
Oh, a kudos to Sacred Bones for sticking their neck out on this one.
All it takes is one look at the band name and cover artwork and you pretty much know right off the bat what sort of music you’ll be getting. But in case you need a little help, Old Witch play music that is bleak, cold, and oppressively dark. More specifically they play an organic combination of doom, black metal, and ambient drone. The drone elements are few and far between, so if you are looking for something to space out to you might want to look elsewhere.
The darkness of this six-track album is calculated and heartless, but it’s also an album that is extremely powerful and, more often than not, gorgeously rendered. The doom metal riffs move at a glacial pace, flattening anything in their path while the black metal-leaning vocals provide a raspy, tortured narration over top them. And all the while the evil spills out over everything like a sticky black oil. And yet for all of their darkness and macabre, Old Witch know that the ears can only swallow so much. It’s in these moments that they pull the mask back and reveal the beauty of the artist at work. The instrumental interludes are gorgeously crafted with a heavy emphasis on thick atmosphere. It’s a combination that completely works and it makes for an exhilarating release that turns out to be one of the better doom metal efforts I’ve heard this year.
Head to their Bandcamp page and grab this album for free while it lasts.
Mother Nature is just getting sloppy now. It’s not the fact that it’s been snowing off and on for weeks; it’s more that it’s a wet, soggy, damp mixture that just leaves me feeling lazy and ready for warm weather. You’d think that listening to music that exudes tropical vibes would serve to counteract my seasonal affect disorder, but I think it’s just making it worse. That being said Fluorescent HeightsVendetta In Paradise is really good. I can’t help the way I feel, so whatever.
This guy pitched his music to me as,“There are bloodstains on your Hawaiian shirts and you know why. There’s no escape route to paradise from the petit bourgeois world you wanted to leave behind. Your new-age-bachelor’s pad is paid with money made in a first world still exploiting the so called third. Keep in mind: the music may still sound lovely but the prospects within are gloomy.” Poetry. The music itself exists in a matrix somewhere between tropical exotica and drone. The samples and synths bleed into each other and the tracks linger on to almost the 10-minute mark which serves to trick your brain into some sort of lost paradise trance. I’m getting some serious 2009 vibes from this thing and that makes me very happy.
When I think of Switzerland I think of neutrality. Well, I used to anyway. Swiss metal band Rorcal is doing their best to change all that. The band blends elements of doom and black metal (and sometimes drone) to create the perfect storm of bleakness. They know where they stand, they don’t mince words, and they are dark dark dark. Almost oppressively so. So don’t be fooled by the soft artwork, this stuff will leave you in stitches.
Apparently these guys have been at it for around seven years and it shows in the musicianship and songwriting. Their latest album Világvége is a solid piece of metal, refined in the fires of hell, and allowed to roam free on the Earth claiming victims at will. It’s a brutal exercise in controlled chaos that knows when to fire on all thrusters and when to put the cruise control on (that’s where the drone element comes in). It’s an extremely punishing album so making it all the way through in one sitting will be difficult for most, but for those who like their music raw and unbridled it’s a breath of fresh air.
Portuguese mysterioso cassette tape label Exo Tapes have just released their latest in a string of experimental, drone, and ambient works. Label head “J” (Sofa Pits, Mediafired, JCCG) sent it to me last week and I’m just getting around to sharing it today because that’s how long it took me to sort of wrap my head around it. The label has always dealt in music that could loosely even be labeled as such, but their latest tape from Whatever™ pushes that notion to its farthest reaches.
The individual behind Whatever™ has always had a presence in Exo Tapes workings, but it’s always been as an art designer. His work is always a sort of a minimal collage take on found art (have a look). It’s a sort of repurposing of images from various places and making something new out of them. That notion sort of speaks to NO AU!, his first official release for the label. It’s not to much ambient noodlings as it is a compiling of field recordings from a tannery layered over top of each other. There’s more to it than that, but I’ll let you do the digging. It’s a interesting conceptual release that’s soothing as it is interesting.
I’m always up for some new Chushi, my anonymous Russian pal. Although there are some serious language barriers between the two of us, I always love getting emails from him and letting his music do the speaking for him. I’m finding that he has quite a lot to say on Alabama, his latest and longest album to date.
Continuing to experiment with any sonic textures that he can get his hands on, Chushi has begun to push his boundaries outward a bit on Alabama. In the past his music was mainly composed of a sort of stream-of-consciousness sonic experimentation that refused to follow any sort of convention. Centering around what could loosely be called “beat music”, the tracks on Alabama show that Chushi might be starting to embrace traditional song structure (albeit in his own way). Lyricism even plays a part on this album in the form of carefully selected dialogue samples and what I assume to be Chushi’s own vocals. And yet for all of the growth evidenced on this album, there still remain a lot of the angular, formless audio noodling that has identified the project up til now. It’s a mix of the old and the new and it’s easily Chushi’s most convincing work to date.
Of all the metal subgenres, I think that doom metal has the capacity to be the most beautiful. For being a subgenre, doom can be pretty expansive with room for plenty of diversity within its walls. Atlanta’s Outer Gods is a pretty great example of this with their 10 minute droning monoliths. Although the band has only released these two demos to date, they have set themselves up with a great sound to flesh out on further releases.
With these tracks both clocking in at around 10 minutes, there is a measure of patience that is required to absorb everything that is going on here. This isn’t the sort of music where you click play and let the track run for 20 seconds before deciding whether or not you like it. You have to lower your mind down into the intensely dark atmosphere and let your brain tune into what they are broadcasting. Let it build. Once you do you’ll find a bleak world of churning, drop-tuned guitar distortion courtesy of a guitarist known only as The Flail and swirling synth blackness and noise courtesy of The Wrathe, the other half of the duo. Add in the fact that some of the audio sampling is downright disturbing and you have yourself a party. This music is not accessible by any means, but if you can find a way to appreciate what’s going on here, there is much to be digested and enjoyed.
(Please, I implore you to listen to this. Yes, I know that’s a triangle, but I assure you that this has nothing to do with drag or witch-house or whatever you wanna call it.)
Black Polygons is the musical project of Cyril Rampall. When I reached out to him for more info on the enigmatic project, Cyril responded with only a sentence or two. In fact the only thing he said to me was: “I’m from Paris, and this EP is my third release. Recorded here, at my home.” A man of few words. I can dig it.
Opting to instead let the music do most of the talking, I can tell you that Landscape is a short collection of minimalist tracks that wield a crushing beauty. Featuring mostly sonic tones created with synths and guitars, these three tracks showcase an organic beauty. Like when the wind sweeps through the trees in just the right way to create a natural musicality. Haunting, ethereal, and gorgeous.
The internet is a strange place, guys. Where else could something like this exist? I mean, I can’t even pretend to understand exactly what this is and frankly I don’t really want to either. Released on the vibe-alicious label Ailanthus Recordings, Waikiki Kosmos is an amalgam of sample-collaging and internet drone that does its best to defy description. So bear with me, I’m going to try and somehow squeeze this into my box of understanding.
According to the label’s bandcamp page, AFRIKA PSEUDOBRUITISMUS operates two different soundcloud pages. One puts the project in Morocco, the other Spain. The project’s blog is a collection of bizarre collage work with accompanying soundcloud and youtube links. It’s this sort of messy ambiguity that defines the music as well as the overall aesthetic. Misplaced samples run rampant, interwoven into pools of watery, era-ambiguous, droning synths. It’s like the byproduct of a pseudo-tropical pool party hosted in ReBoot’s Mainframe City. Hands up if you know what I’m talking about.
This Phoenix band reached out to me after they saw the write-up that I did for one of their fellow Phoenix bands Otro Mundo. They are called Drainbowand they play a very droney brand of psych-noise that could have only come out of an arid climate. It feels dried-out and bleached and it burns with the heat and intensity of the desert sun.
There is something almost naturalistic about the way this band does things and it reaches down into even their chosen imagery. It’s almost as if these four tracks were dreamt up in a smokey sweat lodge session. Each track is most obviously identified by the buzzing guitar distortion that is sort of the burning hot embers at the heart of the music. Building on that foundation the band creates storms of pummeling noise that are as harsh as they are listenable.
Drainbow is out now on Tagobella and you can download it for from Drainbow’s bandcamp page. Make sure you also check out the label’s bandcamp page which is home to a ton of other awesome releases that I will be eagerly checking out in the future.
If you ever, like me, get in the mood for some absolutely soul-crushing drone the search can sometimes be long and arduous. For me, drone is either something that sucks me in or it doesn’t. Fortunately, the folks at Sweat Lodge Guru made the search a little easier by releasing Wroom’s Fungal Overlord. The label not only claims it as one of their best, but also likens it to an “intense, stunning walk through a spidery metallic drone mansion.” There you are, poetry.
It seems a bit criminal to listen to this beast any other way than straight through on a pair of solid headphones or speakers. But to give you just a taste check out the album opener “Cylindrical Cubezoid” a buzzing, creeping monster of viscous gothic noise with doom-like undertones. Fungal Overlord is a dark journey, to be sure, but one that must be taken. You can download it for free on bandcamp or own it on cassette from Sweat Lodge Guru.
Featuring three of the four members of Honeydrum, this new side project Video Thrillsis the most recent outing by these crazy New Brunswick dudes. If you’re familiar with the pitch-perfect retro pop of Honeydrum then listening to Video Thrills self-titled album should not be too much of a mental stretch. They are definitely riffing off of the same era, albeit in a fundamentally different way.
Just going off of the name, the song titles, and the artwork should give you a clue as to what to expect here. But let me tell you that these guys are into more than just resurrecting and looping tired VHS soundscapes. What they do here is somehow manage to corral what sounds like lost 1980’s commercial transmissions that have been seemingly bouncing around in space for 25 years. Abandoning pop sensibilities for vibrant droning ambient pieces, Video Thrills has created something that feels simultaneously vintage yet wholly new. Fitting in alongside acts James Ferraro, Punks On Mars, and Rangers; the sounds of Video Thrillswill thrill for sure.
I love getting emails with little more than a link. I know that some people hate it but I much prefer it to an endless string of lifeless PR emails spouting off all the reasons why I should love their band. I’m not saying that that sort of thing doesn’t have its place, but I just prefer to let the music speak for itself. And regarding ĸŋüłł that is literally all I was able to do.
You see all of the vocals here are sung/spoken in Russian with the overall fidelity feeling like it’s been tied to the back of a truck and dragged for five miles. The style wavers between crushing drone and some of the slimiest experimental psych this side of the trash can. It’s very dark and potentially alienating music, but for all of its grit and grime there is something undeniably hypnotic about it all. So yeah, no apologies for this one.
Title: Overdoseful YouthArtist: Bodhi Syurfs170 plays
Bodhi Syurfs // Midnight Premiere
I knew I likedBodhi Syurfs, but come on! This release is so crazy good! On his last release, Bodhi Syurfs was content to swirl these big dark clouds of crushing drone and if you were able to see the wonder through the noise then there was a lot to play around with. On his latest album Midnight Premiere he almost basically starts from scratch and builds a solid collection of songs that feels like a noirish California nightmare.
Now don’t be mistaken, Bodhi Syurfs is still all about the noise, but here he adds some coherent lyricism (emphasis on “some”) and it all smacks of a stab at accessibility. If I had to compare it to something I would say that it’s not in an entirely different universe as Alex Zhang Hung-Tai’s Dirty Beaches (when he was content to make camp on the noisier side of town). It’s a dark journey to a shady place where the ghosts of the past still linger amongst the living. Sure the hairs might stand on the back of your neck, but who doesn’t like that feeling?! If this at all sounds appealing to you then please take the journey. It is time well spent.