Archive for September, 2014

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (September 29, 2014)

Did some highlights of a few labels’ recent batches including Kranky, Full Spectrum, PAN, Malignant, and a couple others.

AGB Radio 2014/09/29

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Background music: Inryo-fuen – That Which Falls From The Sky (from Early Works 1980-82)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:43 James Hoff – Sterbia (from Blaster)
00:03:46 Lee Gamble – Nueme (from Koch)
00:11:05 Daniel Bachman – And Now I Am Born To Die (from Orange Co. Serenade)
00:17:51 United Waters – Our Beat (from Sunburner)
00:23:59 The Vomit Arsonist – Black Bile (from An Occasion For Death)
00:28:33 Gnawed – The Scales (from Feign And Cloak)
00:32:33 Talk break
00:33:59 G.S. Sultan – agtestgreathit_mv9 (from Ag_Greatesthit)
00:39:49 Derek Rogers – You Don’t Think In Terms Of Trains (from Visual Echoes)
00:50:04 Maar – Low Surface Brightness (from Ceto)
00:59:58 Talk break
01:00:53 Glou Glou – Side A (from Hymn Her Hum)
01:25:40 Wes Tirey – Memories, Byegone (from O, Annihilator)
01:30:26 Talk break
01:31:18 A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos VI (from Atomos)
01:38:44 Anjou – Backsight (from Anjou)
01:47:17 Grouper – Made Of Air (from Ruins)
01:58:18 Talk break

13 Reasons Why We Can (And Should) Pick Our Favorite Records: A Defense For The Quantification Of Aesthetics

13 reasons for lists winners podium
Drew Daniel is widely known as that well respected Matmos dude and the guy behind The Soft Pink Truth who just put out that batshit crazy electronic black metal tribute Why Do The Heathen Rage? that “abjures black metal homophobes, racists, and Nazis categorically and absolutely.” The Quietus asked him to share his 13 favorite records but instead he published an article titled “13 Reasons Why I Can’t Pick My 13 Favourite Records: A Rant Against The Quantification Of Aesthetics.” As a guy who got a state college education in Aesthetics, my knee-jerk reaction to that title was “Fuck yeah! Finally someone speaking up about this music ‘journalism’ bullshit.” Then I read the article and found myself shaking my head, going “No, no, no, Drew, you’re not wrong, you’re just totally missing the point.” I literally never feel the urge to call someone out online for being wrong or misguided or whatever, let alone do any sort of long-form writing on AGB, but I felt like Drew was begging for a conversation about this, that he was intentionally pushing people’s buttons (while still being true to his opinions), and that I actually had a strong enough opinion of my own (again, very rare) that I should respond to Drew’s rant and make people not feel bad about saying something like The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid is their favorite ambient record.

We can and should make Top 10 lists because they’re good exercises in further analyzing records, they’re good conversation starters, and they’re just plain fun. We can and should talk in superlatives and hyperbole about what we think the best Sunn O))) record is because that’s what makes our language and culture so rich. Those are the origins of this article that I never thought needed to be defended, but Drew started it.

Drew had 13 points, in line with The Quietus’ Baker’s Dozen column, and I go through each of them, so this is a bit long and I don’t like to clutter the front page, so the meat is after the jump.
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Album Review

The End Of The World Championship – Balance Beam (Sacred Phrases, 2014)

the end of the world championship - balance beam album cover
The End Of The World Championship – Balance Beam I (Sacred Phrases)

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This dude put out one of my favorite drone records from last year, the In Slow Motion tape on Umor Rex, it was his debut and it was phenomenal, and Balance Beam is now his third release (I missed his second, oops) and it’s every bit as excellent as you’d hope for after hearing that debut, this is more of his mega monolith drone, hugely dense & blissfully minimal, this is the drone that others should aspire to, beyond what we have come to know as Drone, TEOTWC is working a transcendent magick that brings subtle tonal shifts and overwhelming walls of buzz & hum to new heights, slowly & discretely adding hidden layers of beauty, it feels like it builds up so much that it has to collapse in on itself creating a black hole of minimalism except it somehow stays afloat, offering moments of clarity & euphoria amid the crushing weight of maximum volume, but there is a darkness in these sounds, a deep bleakness that resonates in my core, struggling to see the other side and never quite making it, so yeah, this is blissful in it’s hypnosis but supremely melancholic, and absolutely fucking perfect, this is my favorite kind of drone and it’s done incredibly well. Now it’s time for TEOTWC to get some vinyl in the works.

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (September 22, 2014)

just started listening to Arvo Pärt for the first time and holy shit

AGB Radio 2014/09/22

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Background music: Earthling Society – Journey Into Satchidananda (from England Have My Bones)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:43 Casiotone For The Painfully Alone with Dear Nora – Hot Boyz (from Advance Base Battery Life)
00:04:09 Portopia ’81 – Balcony On The Outer Space (from Stardust Memory)
00:10:43 Moniek Darge & Graham Lambkin – Ladakh (from Indian Soundies)
00:30:39 Talk break
00:31:43 Neurospora – Macro Embed Deny (from Neurospora)
00:45:05 Ak’chamel – Yahval Balamil (from Lowlands Of Hteklum)
00:53:36 Shellac – Riding Bikes (from Dude Incredible)
00:58:59 Talk break
00:59:49 Teeth Engraved With The Names Of The Dead – Vital Reaction (from Starving The Fires (Pt. 1))
01:12:58 Anjou – Sighting (from Anjou)
01:20:18 Harold Budd – Jane 12 (from Jane 12-21)
01:26:35 Talk break
01:27:31 Arvo Pärt – Salve Regina (from Adam’s Lament)
01:39:32 Camera – Ozymandias (from Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide)
01:45:39 Ant’lrd – Surfacing (from Ant’lrd / Gardener Split)
01:47:16 Scott Walker & Sunn O))) – Herod 2014 (from Soused)
01:59:10 Talk break

Album Review

Smokey Emery – Soundtracks For Invisibility Vol. III: Qui Mal Y Pense (Holodeck, 2014)

smokey emery - soundtracks vol 3 album cover
Smokey Emery04 (Holodeck)

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Smokey Emery is one Daniel Hipólito who works primarily with reel-to-reel tape loops, he’s been working on this Soundtracks For Invisibility series for a while (as well as a series titled Lives), and while this one, Volume III: Qui Mal Y Pense, was originally released digitally in 2011, Holodeck gave it a proper physical debut on cassette this summer, so thanks a ton for that, because this is fucking awwwwesome, a wide open space jam of dark dank beautifully transcendent drone, an hour’s worth of material, half of which is from a single 30 minute piece, this thing goes all in for minimal cheap cialis weirdness, slow-mo fog horns and glacial swells, subdued industrial dread with possessed moaning and ethereal resonant guitars, the sound of an inter-dimensional séance that’s not meant to contact the deceased but rather alternate versions of yourself, and it goes horribly wrong leaving you deranged and with an abyss for a soul, this takes you on a harrowing journey to great & terrible places, a glorious black slab of ancient drone that will reach your innermost thoughts, this is unsafe music for those seeking the true phenomenons of life, an absolutely killer fucking record, love it ’til it’s dead.

Album Review

Howard Stelzer – Brayton Point (Dokuro, 2014)

howard stelzer - brayton point album cover
Howard StelzerUntitled (excerpt) (Dokuro)

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I remember first getting into weird music and having Howard Stelzer be one of my launchpads. All I knew was that he made the most awesome sounds essentially from messing around with tapes, and of his innumerable collaborations, the ones with Giuseppe Ielasi on Night Life and Jazzkammer on Tomorrow No One Will Be Safe were on constant repeat for a while. Then I went to a show he put on with Astronaut (early OPN group), Geoff Mullen, Fire In The Head, Skeletons Out (which unbeknownst to me at the time was a collab between Stelzer and Jay Sullivan), and Red Horse, and while talking to Howard at the merch table afterward, I realized that 1: the dude I was talking to was in fact the one & same Howard Stelzer who collaborated with anyone worth a damn, 2: this guy ran a super boss label Intransitive, and 3: he was from Boston! I was a kinda floored. He had his brand new solo CD Bond Inlets for sale, so I snatched that up and have been enamored ever since. According to Stelzer, Brayton Point is his first solo full length since 2008’s Bond Inlets (although Discogs begs to differ), but yeah, I’m pretty fucking psyched about this one, and yeah, it’s as good as I hoped it would be.

Brayton Point is comprised of sounds taken from the Brayton Point Generating Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, and it’s one big horror show of industrial chaos swirled together in a hulking drone storm, a dense and twisted hellmouth with fleeing screaming demons, the sort of music your parents thought you’d hear if you played a melted Black Sabbath record backwards, except way fucking cooler, with more high end skree, whirlwind static, and core shattering garble, but with plenty of moments of reprieve, a subtle mechanical hum with ancient technology creaking in the distance, the texture of tape making its way to the playing field, this is absolutely & ridiculously awesome, the whole 50 minute piece a welcome beast of Stelzer’s patented tape fuckery, so glad this dude is back in the game, and he’s back with a motherfuckin winner, really can’t wait to see what else he’s got on deck.

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (September 15, 2014)

100% awesome

Update: Broken Limbs Records asked me to remove a couple songs that I played because they decided to try to have them premiered somewhere. Originally Planning For Burial’s Mischief Night and Liar In Wait’s Paper Houses were played starting at about 1 hour into the show, so those are now silence (so as not to mess up the 2 hour length and the playlist) and the show continues as normal at about 1 hour and 10 minutes in.

AGB Radio 2014/09/15

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Background music: Aidan Baker & Thisquietarmy – Hypnodrone (from Hypnodrone Ensemble)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:41 Jordan De La Sierra – Temple Of Aesthetic Action (from Gymnosphere: Song Of The Rose)
00:25:22 Music Blues – Premature Caesarean Removal Delivery (from Things Haven’t Gone Well)
00:29:39 Talk break
00:30:41 Tomaga – Mountain Opener (from Futura Grotesk)
00:38:29 io – Binaural Cymbal (Solo No. 6 For Gustavo) (from Dedication Vol. 1 (Solos))
00:46:22 Morgan Evans-Weiler – 4 (from Two)
00:55:02 Muscle And Marrow – Tongues (from The Human Cry)
00:59:14 Talk break
REMOVED 01:00:26 Planning For Burial – Mischief Night (from Planning For Burial / Liar In Wait Split)
REMOVED 01:06:03 Liar In Wait – Paper Houses (from Planning For Burial / Liar In Wait Split)
01:10:13 Mark Templeton & Kyle Armstrong – Side A (from Extensions)
01:28:22 Talk break
01:29:31 Isengrind – Ghost Pond (from Underflesh)
01:33:22 Aby Ngana Diop – Ndame (from Liital)
01:39:52 The End Of The World Championship – Balance Beam II (from Balance Beam)
01:59:31 Talk break

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (September 8, 2014) – Ladies Only Edition

I did a special Ladies Only episode last year and it went over pretty well, so I thought I’d do another one. There’s no lack of amazing female musicians, so this isn’t like a rare or unusual set or anything, and there’s plenty of other premium artists that I could have just as easily included. Just like last time, all of these records came out this year, and with the exception of Half High, Paco Sala, and Esben And The Witch (all three of which I know have one or two dudes involved), as far as I know this is 100% lady talent on display.


AGB Radio 2014/09/08

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Background music: Half High – Calling Nina Pt. 1 (from Calling Nina)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:41 Julianna Barwick – Two Moons (from Rosabi)
00:05:32 FKA Twigs – Two Weeks (from LP1)
00:09:37 Samantha Glass – Outsider Family (from Surface Water Perception)
00:18:11 The Oath – All Must Die (from The Oath)
00:24:38 Emma Ruth Rundle – Living With The Black Dog (from Some Heavy Ocean)
00:29:13 Talk break
00:31:08 Jenny Hval & Susanna – Black Lake (from Meshes Of Voice)
00:36:35 Fait – Slow Glow (from Atmosphere)
00:42:04 Paco Sala – Peace Keeper (from Put Your Hands On Me)
00:48:39 Yuki Murata – Elegy (from Gift)
00:52:41 Foie Gras – The Throat Of The World (from Held)
00:56:21 Fatima Al Qadiri – Szechuan (from Asiatisch)
01:01:02 Talk break
01:02:41 Linda Aubry Bullock – All Of The Crowns (from YDLMIER 050)
01:10:13 King Woman – Dove (from Dove / Fond Affections)
01:25:12 Tara Jane O’Neil – Glow Now (from Where Shine New Lights)
01:29:39 Talk break
01:30:42 Anne Guthrie – Long Pendulous (from Codiaeum Variegatum)
01:36:59 Islaja – Temporary Haven (from S U U)
01:40:22 Alice Boman – Burns (from EP II)
01:43:58 Esben And The Witch – Those Dreadful Hammers (from A New Nature)
01:47:29 Isnaj Dui – Orthoclase (from Euplexia)
01:53:52 Jackie McDowell – Little Maggie (from Baptisia)
01:58:48 Talk break

Album Review

Tecumseh – Violet (Anti-Matter, 2014)

TecumsehSerenade For The Dead (Anti-Matter)

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This Portland trio (Ian Hawk, Jeremy Long, and John Krausbauer) has been pretty dormant of late (their last release was in 2011) and now all of a sudden they’ve got two new records out on Anti-Matter, this 30 minute LP Violet and the For The Night 10″, so yay! but regardless whether this is a sign of things to come or they’ll just hide out for another few years, this new stuff is the fucking besssst, Violet diving deep into the minimal drone via heavy dark doom vibes, this is like Sunn O))) minus the metal and laid up on downers, sorta like that Culver record on Fabrica from last year but way louder, funereal tonal shifting that’s absolutely fucking massive, a monolithic drone that roars in your head and rattles you to your core, but doing so without too much crunch or abrasive grit, so while this is evil as fuck, it’s also kinda soothing, like being inside a mausoleum reverberating from a constant rolling thunder, mega monstrous minimalism for those sleepless nights spent watching demons crawl up the wall, this is just fucking spectacular, and fyi For The Night is just as good, so do yourself a favor and scoop up both of these limited leviathans, if for no other reason than being able to see that beautiful eyefuck of an album cover (by Tauba Auerbach) in person.

Album Review

Death Blues – Ensemble (Rhythmplex, 2014)

death blues - ensemble album cover
Death BluesUnseen (Rhythmplex)

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Disclaimer: I was a bit heavy handed with the quotes in here because there’s just too much to not share. No apologies, just a heads up.

Jon Mueller has been working on his Death Blues project for a few years, addressing “the inevitability of death as impetus to become more present in each moment,” which is to say (and I’m paraphrasing a quote I can’t find the source of) Death Blues is as much about death as firemen are about fire. He’s put out a handful of releases as part of this project, including Mueller’s Death Blues debut on Taiga and the Here manifesto, all of which were variations of a visceral motorik transcendence founded on hammered guitar, propulsive percussion, and spiritual incantations, but this is different, a whole new beast.

Ensemble is the feather in the Death Blues hat, the fully formed masterpiece that seems as if Mueller had been planning this all along, because not only is there the record, a bright orchestral blossom aided by composer William Ryan Fritch and a bunch of other multi-talented musicians, but also a 16 page book of essays from seven of Mueller’s friends writing on loss, regret, and vulnerability, Mueller is hoping this “offers both a chance for people to escape within the work, and to then come out of it with a new perspective on their own situation. And ultimately, to consider what positive actions can be taken based on that new understanding.”

The music here is absolutely fucking incredible, it’s the score to the realization of the self, or more specifically, the self as finite, and every moment here is a triumph, an explosive but tender display of the world’s beauty, seeing past the pain & destruction into the positive, a hopeful potential way of life, these are rich, lush movements with cheering strings, majestic chords, yearning melodies, and bombastic climaxes, completely distinguished from the previous incarnations of Death Blues, the hammered guitars almost gone entirely, the wordless chants relinquished to the background of a few pieces, and now a much more dynamic song structure, this is downright pop in comparison, but this is the future Mueller intends, overwhelming & uplifting, take the bliss head on and proceed knowing fully your ultimate destiny.

As fantastic as the record is, I think I may even be more enamored with the essays, all of which speak to me on a fundamental level. There’s so much raw wisdom offered up, so many emotions & ideas that will take a long time to truly sink in.

Brent Gohde’s piece on suicide is the opener and he sets the mood for the remainder of the book when he proclaims “And there will come a day that I’ll sleep forever. But until then, I made a promise to wake up, if at all possible.”

David Ravel’s story of his father and wife dying, and watching them die, literally brought me to tears. His honesty is one that I feel will probably resonate with many: “We, all of us, die. This is not only true but also strikingly obvious. And yet, in spite of my experiences with death, I don’t think I’m smart enough or strong enough to practice the mindfulness that Jon encourages and us.”

Tom Lecky’s short abstract piece is a lipogram, which means he never uses the letter “i” and his explanation of why he chose this method is something I will always relate to: “The significance of that is quite obvious, and coincides with what I try to do with any creative act: kill the sense of self, destroy the idea of expression, make the act of making and the resulting thing the subject. I never want to be the subject. I, insofar as I am an individual, is not at all interesting to me artistically. The desire to obscure and see a self disappear is the goal.”

Stacy Blint writes a powerful multi-page stream of consciousness poem where she talks about being raped, having shitty parents, and the inherent difficulties of life.

Chris Koelle proved to me how similar people can be while having such starkly different belief systems. This is a man who seems deeply religious and believes lust to be an evil, a “slow motion suicide,” neither of which I identify with, but who also tries to find the fleeting moments of wonder in the world, which is something I also strive for, and I know this is a whole lotta stuff I’m about to quote but it’s just too fucking good. “I feel now as if the only heart I’ve ever had is a broken one, and healing don’t come easy. But somehow, there have been moments, and all the brokenness, of signs pointing toward Hope, of felt healing: through a friend’s gracious word, in a knowing smile, within a solid embrace and a mere, miraculous pat on the back. In split seconds of feeling the weight of the glory and beauty of this world press in, just for a moment, outweighing the crushing threat of despair from inside and out there.” And finally “This quiet shudder of being grateful is a gift I think I’ve experienced more and more frequently as I’ve gotten older. Which, when I stop and think about it, is really encouraging, considering the fact that the pains and problems of life become more acute the older we get. Perhaps that’s the very reason why this feeling of gratefulness wells up more and more as time goes on. Fire both consumes and refines.”

Faith Coloccia has an amazing piece on her “experience with exorcism, and sacrifice, having seen behind the veil of heaven in a nascent state” and how profoundly it has changed her outlook: “The blood is red, I cross the threshold into resurrection and the open eyes of life.”

Sally Haldorson concludes the book with a story of winning a poetry contest at a young age, the long lasting memory of her mother’s hand written book of poems, and what it’s like cleaning out your dead parents’ home.

The physical object that is Ensemble is a gorgeous piece of artwork, it’s a large hard covered book (different than an LP with bound pages inside) that’s adorned with artwork of masks made in the 1970s, and it has a slot in the back of the front cover for the vinyl. Absolutely amazing.

Death Blues’ Ensemble is something a written review can barely hope to explain. This is one of those rare times when the trope of “you need to experience it yourself to really understand” is 100% accurate. This is the whole package of concept & art perfectly realized, raising the bar for music, writing, and experimental projects of any kind. Ensemble might literally change your life, and will at the very least offer a totally unique experience, one that you’ll treasure for quite a while.

Album Review

Foie Gras – Held (self released, 2014)

foie gras - held album cover
Foie GrasWants You In That Way (self released)

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Foie Gras is one strong, tender force hailing from San Francisco who makes music in the subtlest ways. She’s as yet released a physical record under this name, instead gifting us with free downloads on her Bandcamp (although I think there’s something tangible in the works), and you would do well to hit up each and every one of her albums (currently two available in addition to Held) as she is prone to taking them down whenever she fancies, and this is one is especially special, with a couple covers (Sparklehorse’s “Heart Of Darkness” and Heroin Party’s “Summoning Ritual”), and a slow-mo drifting drone, a welcome smothering of soft thick fog that moves effortlessly through you, blank of all emotion on the surface but digging deeper shows this is lined with an almost imperceptible but undeniable void, a bittersweet minimalism under a thin veil of devastation, frequently singing of death & suffering but always from the most delicate perspective, including the intimate Chelsea Wolfe-esque acoustic closer “Cliffs” where she croons “This is why we can’t have nice things, this is why I’ve destroyed my being, and this how you prolong the suffering,” this is the brightest dark music I’ve ever heard, and it’s just fucking outstanding, a painfully doomed record that floats above and rests in the ether bliss, truly excellent shit that makes me wonder how she’s not at the top of the drone chain, so maybe you can do you part and give this a listen, it’ll stay with you forever.

AGB Radio

AGB Radio (September 1, 2014)

Elisa Ambrogio’s solo debut is like my new favorite thing. <3 <3 <3   AGB Radio 2014/09/01

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Background music: Alpha Wave Movement – Cloud Sculptures & Desert Dust (from Archaic Frontiers)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:37 Elisa Ambrogio – Far From Home (from The Immoralist)
00:05:09 Drophead vs. Silent Land Time Machine – II (from From Ashes Comes The Day)
00:16:13 Mlimani Park Orchestra – title unknown (from Tanzania Heritage Project)
00:21:23 Rivulets – Ride On, Molina (from Ride On, Molina)
00:28:35 Talk break
00:29:57 Dan’l Boone – Mindface (from Dan’l Boone)
00:33:36 Last Ex – Girl Seizure (from Last Ex)
00:36:24 Lewis Hairston – Bile Them Cabbage Down (from Virginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music)
00:39:01 David Shea – Green Dragon Inn (from Rituals)
00:53:35 Popol Vuh – Wanderschaft-Wanderings (from Letzte Tage – Letzte Nächte)
00:59:30 Talk break
01:00:36 Christophe Bailleau – Put My In Your (from Sonic Pool Hypnose Club)
01:08:27 Sid Hemphill – The Devil’s Dream (from The Devil’s Dream)
01:11:34 Clipd Beaks – Fkwrk (from Fkwrk)
01:14:46 0 – Black Elf (from Simplifying A Demon)
01:21:37 Bugskull – Icarus Rising (from Collapsed View)
01:26:32 Windy & Carl – Set Adrift (from Depths)
01:32:54 Talk break
01:34:36 Pip Proud – They Took Us All So Kindly (from A Fraying Space)
01:39:07 Vibracathedral Orchestra – Magnetic Burn (from The Queen Of Guess)
01:43:06 Mary Butler – Electric Chair Blues (from Mississippi Girls (1928-1931))
01:45:52 Akemi Ishijima – Time Drops (from Time Drops)
01:51:02 Earth – There Is A Serpent Coming (from Primitive And Deadly)
01:59:00 Talk break