Monday, October 19, 2009

Cresting - An E.P.

Cresting's latest offering, simply titled An E.P., is a brief foray into a world of synthesized simplicity. With pulsating melodies and rhythms, warm textures, and an aversion to unnecessary complexity, the album breathes deeply and relaxedly. The seven songs wrap around the listener like a musical bear-hug from a loved one upon reunion. Saying much more about this album will only take away from its direct musical language.


Dirty Beaches - The Horror LP

Listening to The Horror LP from Fixture Records' Dirty Beaches is feels like thumbing through a musical sketchbook of sorts. The fourteen pieces give deep impressions of a somberly beautiful world from various angles and perspectives. While maintaining a consistent sonic aura, The Horror LP, contains a variety of colors and textures that gives the album its depth and drive. Played mostly on guitar, this album is a great suite of pensive static-washed pieces that might light the imagination or lull one into deep sleep.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Brave Radar - A Building

A feel-good collection of lo-fi pop songs, A Building is, at the very least, an enjoyable listen for a warm afternoon. At times throughout the album the music does seem to fall a bit flat if you really dig into listening, but for the most part Brave Radar glides above the typical pitfalls of similar aesthetics. As the album goes on, the songs get stronger with my personal favorite on the album being the beautiful Line Storm. Overall, a strong album for fans of earnest songwriting, and an admirable addition to Fixture Records' growing catalog.


Omon Ra - Monolith 1

Judging by the name, one might expect Omon Ra's Monolith 1 to be some sort of conceptually lofty free jazz manifesto, but, as wisdom would advise, it's not a good idea to judge a band by its name. The actual content of Monolith 1 is a pleasant collection of tunes touching many areas of folk, pop, and even a bit of doo-wop, though sans outright dooing and wapping. Most of this album breathes with the ambiance of a bedroom rather than the sterility of a studio, which brings an air of intimacy to the album that can be very different to convey. Omon Ra has something in their songwriting that brings out a uniqueness that allows them to simply write songs without worrying about standing out via some overt display of incongruity within their genre.


BBBlood - Alien Nosejob

London's BBBlood is to tranquility as a blender is to your left hand and Alien Nosejob is no exception. Digitally mangled sounds blend with sine wave harmonies and hauntingly ethereal textures to create a work that is destructively jagged and yet somehow imbued with an idiosyncratic mystique. This album has some real depth beneath the squealing surface that is beautiful in its own right. Definitely a worthwhile album for those who want to hear what its like to get possessed by a robot demon, which is pretty damn awesome if you're up for the trial.


Sarah's Carity - Logic of Collapse

Logic of Collapse, the latest album by Danish artist Sarah's Charity, is an impressive collection of spatial soundscapes that summon a mood of pensive reflection. Warm swells of white noise laden harmonies create a bed of musical warmth that feels almost cozy at times. The image that comes to mind when listening to this album is a sunset offset by storm clouds in the distance. At a half-hour long, Logic of Collapse is timed perfectly and seems to grow in depth with each listen.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sparkling Wide Pressure - Meaning Plane

Sparkling Wide Pressure's Meaning Plane might as well be a self-titled album, conceptually at least. The essence of the music is in the name, bringing an expansive spectrum of noisy textures that might feel familiar to some, but thankfully authentic to most, if not all. Through the five pieces on the album, SWP creates a series of sonic sculptures that manage to incorporate many sounds without feeling bogged down or diluted by sheer variety. The album is satisfyingly colorful and well focused.


Defibrillators - Live at Colour Ride Club 16/10/08

I recently became aware of the Colour Ride label when Edward, the man behind the mayhem, contacted me about doing a set of reviews. This first one comes from the Defibrillators, a London-based band that seems to thrive on chaotic musical creation. This live album consists of one twenty-four minute monster that paints a portrait of improvisatory freedom at its best. This group wears "free" music on its sleeve but seems to have an element of subtle cohesion that belies a highly developed language of interplay between these musicians. They seem to have a handle on improvisation as their medium of choice rather than just an excuse not to sit down and write music the long way.

Throughout the disc, most of the melodic and harmonic chaos is nestled atop a steady rhythmic foundation that gives the listener a point of reference amidst the constant musical metamorphosis. There are elements of a plethora of musical influences throughout this set, from droning textures to harsh walls of noise as well as everything in between the two. In the transitions of the music, this group excels, seeming to wordlessly decide each change before the listener has a chance to guess their next move. For fans of unabashedly improvised music done well.


Dante Augustus Scarlatti - Demises of the Dynamic Microophone (In Monodelity)

One man's fervent (or stoned) reflections on existence come to life over seven compositions that make use of a plethora of sounds sources and methods of manipulation. Like a carpenter meticulously crafting an altar, DAS carves a somber piece of beauty relying primarily on minimalistic guitar and various raw sound recordings. This is perfect accompaniment to a thunderstorm, in fact, if you listen to this music on a nice day it becomes gradually harder to believe the sun would have the gall to shine while it is being played. Scarlatti doesn't have the blues, he can't even see color. He paints worlds of grey, with thousands of tiny shades covering the spectrum from white to black. Think Ansel Adams in sonic form; looking toward the most gripping images nature has to offer and stripping it of any color. Simply breathtaking at times. This album comes packaged in "sacrificed" reel to reel cases with beautiful inserts and a complimentary patch.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hail Architeuthis! - s/t EP

Architeuthis is the biological genus of the giant squid, a fact which I learned a few days before seeing this band play their first live show ever some months ago. That show will be burned in my memory for a very long while as the first, so far only, but hopefully not last, time I witnessed a band live up to a name that unabashedly conjures images of the epic and chaotic. This ship-sinking mayhem I witnessed at that first show and the ones that followed, however, is merely the face of the beast above the surface of the sea. Below, the creature fluidly roams the depths, silently vigilant of the surface for any ships unfortunate enough to cross into his waters.

This latter image is the subject of this debut EP, which serves as a sacred prelude to the ascent of their sacred beast. Twenty minutes of hallowed drones and aqueous soundscapes lead to a brief glimpse of chaos toward the close. This first release from HA! is damn near perfect in terms of the composition and execution of the music in relation to the image under which it was released. Beautifully haunting, this EP should be much more widely known, if only to let everyone in on how high the bar was set for a debut while they weren't paying attention.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Icuab Drain - You're Uncomfortably Sane

Icuab Drain, another member of the Auris Apothecary family, has released an impressively compelling debut EP that, if nothing else, proves that video game inspired music can be more than a gimmicky show of musical masturbation. The four songs that comprise You're Uncomfortably Sane push the use of the 8-bit palette into new territory. Its like staring at the Mona Lisa everyday for five years before walking to the next room and seeing a sky by Turner for the first time.

The strongest song on this EP is the appropriately titled 8-bit Revelation. This track alone makes the tragically short fifteen minutes of the release worth its weight in gold, driving it to its end. Icuab Drain has set a high bar for anyone who even dreams 8-bit when making music. Gamers beware: you're sound has new masters.


Hou - Retriculating Inner Shade

Ever since the internet began to reshape music and its distribution some years ago, leveling the playing field for a bast number of would be unheard artists, there has been a deluge of music far to big for anyone to manageably keep up with. This flood has brought to light some amazing music and some big disappointments. It seems that every ass-clown with a guitar and a bad day starts up a music myspace and lets his emotions out into the world to make his authentic personal depth known to this heartless, superficial world.

Luckily, Hou is one of those artists that makes this explosion of music bearable and even likable. His debut album, Retriculating Inner Shade, is anything but a musical myspace diary. Over the course of fifteen songs, clocking in at just over an hour, Hou creates a contemplative atmosphere from a plethora of synthesizers and sequencers. On the surface of the music not much reaches out and screams "Hey I'm innovative!", but this is one of the main strengths of this album. Hou avoids musical extremes in favor of a subtle passion buried throughout the album. He speaks softly and directly, but, like all wise men, does not care to use gimmicks to get your attention.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Parasails - Skylife

Matt Mondanile of Ducktails has just released a new tape on El Tule as The Parasails. Equal parts Steve Reich, laid back pop, and Pina Colada, this tape is thirty minutes of airy bliss that could give anyone a much needed taste of vacation, anywhere there is a tape deck. I don't have too much to say about this tape, the best word is 'lush'. The minimalist arpeggios on both sides serve to open up the miniature resort this tape builds on a beach in the mind of the listener and take them on a high-flying journey over sand and sea that reminded me, for whatever reason of the main flight scene from the classic, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Pick it up while its still there, this resort only has one hundred rooms available and they're booking faster than spaces at neverland ranch right now.


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Crux - Now, Ferment

If there is a ruckus being caused in any of the bars within thirty miles of Santa Rosa, California, I would not be surprised to find The Crux at the heart of it. Straightforwardly moving through a wide breadth of song styles centered on a beautiful dark, folk feel, this band doesn't dick around. From the raucous opening track to the surprising final piece, Now, Ferment is a refreshing musical journey.

What stands out the most with this band as opposed to other folk/blues groups that I've encountered lately is the range of feels that they navigate through with apparent ease. Encompassing most of the sonic and stylistic spectrum of modern folk, even closing with an almost GY!BE-esque piece, the group manages to speak all of the dialects of their genre without losing a strong musical cohesion throughout the album. If you like folk or blues by any stretch of the imagination, you will almost certainly find something on this album that strikes a chord in your ears. This is a band to see if they come anywhere near you.

9.0/10 -

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Brown Book - Thirty Nothing

The Brown Book is a name I wasn't familiar with until the band recently contacted me about their album, Thirty Nothing. Based on the press release that they sent along with the album, it seems these guys have been getting a fair amount of press already. This is certainly not undeserved. Going instrumental with a typical band instrumentation is nothing new to music over the last few years, but The Brown Book has brought something unique to the table.

While most instrumental bands attempt to ascend great heights with their music (some with greater success than others), The Brown Book is content to play to their medium in a fairly straightforward way. Walls of fuzzed-out guitars meet drums in a way that might be more expected from band with a vocalist. That being said, this album is happily pretension free. This might be the closest to the punk rock equivalent of the instrumental scene right now in terms of the overall aesthetic of the album. Not overly technical or cinematic, this album is best heard LOUD.

There is something within these seven tracks for just about anyone, at times brutal, at times fairly catchy, great driving music if you like to speed. I'm looking forward to their future output, as the potential here is enticing.

Check these guys out at


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dylan Ettinger - Safari Zone, Bread of the Dead

Dylan Ettinger is a man on a mission. From his face-melting blend of chaos and catchiness that goes into his live set with his band, The Rude Dudes, to his label El Tule, which is putting out a variety of music on cassette, Ettinger exudes passion for music and artistry that belies his age. If you are fortunate enough to have seen him or heard any of his music, it will come as no surprise that his two most recent releases, Safari Zone and Bread of the Dead are both beautiful in their own right.

Safari Zone, which was released on Dylan's own label, is a sterling juxtaposition of groove, chaos, and nostalgia. The opening track of side A, Gameboys begins with the construction of a sonic wall that eventually resolves into a melodic section whose simplicity reminds one of its namesake. The following song, Sub Sub grooves hard and makes use of a veritably infectious synth hook as well as driving percussion and effected vocals to produce a piece that lends itself well to getting lost in the music. The final track of the side begins with meandering percussion, distorted synth swells, distant vocals, and a laser-like drone. This track treads familiar territory for many listeners, and it is to Ettinger's credit that he can own the textures so convincingly. This track builds to a final disintegration resting on a single sustained not and a snippet of conversation, and throughout the build the drummer on the album shows great patience in his part, bringing a dynamic sense that is lost on many percussionists that seem to be merely a time-keeping formality when it comes to playing this sort of music.

Side B opens with the beautiful Love Song which centers around a bell-like melody fed back into itself to make an almost crystalline musical aura. Beneath this comes shimmering swelling textures and chant-like vocals that seem to float somewhere behind everything else. This is not your typical love song, but it might be one of the most honest, owning up to the inexpressibility of its subject and walking the razor's edge in terms of sound between ecstasy and agony, such as can be the case in life. Following this, Ocean Rain defies its new-age-sounding title and puts a different perspective on instrumental reflections on nature's work while still being honest about its inspiration. The final track, the title track of the album, builds off of samples from the game Pokemon, from which the name Safari zone comes. Eventually percussion comes in and propels the track to a sparkling finish that evolves into an almost tribal chant over a drone that sounds beautifully organic, especially given its digital source material.

The second tape that I have of Ettinger's is Bread of the Dead. The opening track is a complementary piece to the second track on Safari Zone, making use of similar instrumentation and some saxophone work by Clark Joyner, the percussionist on Safari Zone. This tape seems more aqueous than the other one and uses a sonic palette that is warm shimmering. On this tape Ettinger makes use of some of the material from the infamous Buddha Machine and bears witness to his ability to paint sonic landscapes with tangible depth.

Overall, Ettinger's maturity in his output is what stands out as his greatest quality. Both tapes are extremely well put together and all of the strengths of the first carry over to the second. It would be useless to say that either is better, except on the basis of textural preference. Furthermore, his choice to put these out on tape rather than on cdr or something similar is a wise artistic choice that really brings out the strengths of the medium itself. The warmth of cassette is done much justice in this music and complements the production style of these two releases. The work and reflection that has gone into these two releases transcends its ephemeral availability. The amount of thought in these two releases is rare in the tape world and is on par with much of the material coming out on much bugger experimental labels.

Ettinger mentioned that a new batch of the second tape will be available soon and that the first is still in print, pick both of them up soon as they will disappear quickly it Ettinger's reputation parallels the quality of his music.

Both tapes get a 9.3/10, to make room for future improvement.

Both releases will be found on the EL TULE page,

Good job kid.