Friday, December 28, 2007

Top Ten of 2007: Tusk - The Resisting Dreamer

Julie Christmas's side project Battle of Mice released one of my favorite records last year in the form of 'A Day of Nights'. blending the harsh, dissonant metal of bands like Isis and Neurosis with a one of a kind female vocal performance, it was a side of metal that i had really never heard before. basically most post-metal is distinctly monotone in the vocals. Isis' Aaron Turner may sound tortured, but he is basically like a guitar without any effects; he can be distorted or clean. Julie Christmas essentially put that idea to rest and let out one of the most terrifyingly, volatile vocal performances ever. imagine the squeaky voices of Bjork and Joanna Newsom thrown through the vocal linguistics of Diamanda Galas. Christmas lets you feel her pain on 'A Day of Nights' through her unabashed, charismatic, story telling and cries for plea. the guitar playing behind her on 'A Day of Nights' is unsurpassed in its simplicity. the rhythm section, a slow plodding monster that beautiful accents, Christmas' variety of howls. anyways, the point is nothing ever really sounds like 'A Day of Nights' and i wasn't expecting anything else to. it was one of a kind its pure emotion involved with a very metal performance. of course, this was all before i had heard Tusk's 'The Resisting Dreamer'.

battle of mice's 'a day of nights'
'The Resisting Dreamer' is a collaboration between former Breather Resist vocalist Evan Patterson and Kayo Dot front man Toby Driver with the back up of 3/4ths of Pelican playing behind them. where A Battle of Mice was very devoted in making a certain kind of atmosphere with 'A Day of Nights', Tusk seems holy been on forming a trinity between The Jesus Lizard, Pelican and Kayo Dot. i only say Kayo Dot, because of Toby's tortured vocals on track 2 which are interestingly enough very similar to Christmas' on 'A Day of Nights'. Tusk is totally noisy and epic all over 'The Resisting Dreamer' and the even manage to pull off a sixteen minute noise track without making it seem boring. these two bands are obviously pushing for a more interesting take on the long overdone post-metal. Battle of Mice with their strangely anthematic atmospheric metal, and Tusk with their forways into making post-metal less sterile and over produced and turning it into something raw, almost reverting back to a simpler more 'hardcore' time.

tusk's 'the resisting dreamer'
both of these records have had tremendous replays in my collection. excellent with any form of psycho-active and just all around heavy, stoned reflections on various perspectives of life. they both share a common line in their mix of very serious music with almost childish perspectives in terms of their vocals. Tusk is clearly one of the best records of the year with it's obtuse take on post-metal and if you have any interest in the versatility of metal, i suggest you take a look at both of these albums.

tusk's 'the resisting dream' (2007)
battle of mice's 'a day of nights' (2006)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Top Ten of 2007: Charles Mingus - Cornell 1964

the most beautiful thing to me about audio production is the broad varieties of rawness that appear on various records. if Spot of SST fame was involved in your debut 12" you'll know it simply because of how Spot used his complete lack of knowledge in the field to create some of the most simple and emotional releases ever. 'Cornell 1964' has some of the best produced jazz sounds i've ever heard. although that should come to no surprise what with the line up of Mingus, Dolphy and Byard. all brilliant performers in their respective ways and all in a variety of ways. while Mingus mostly dealt in realms of composed beauty (see his masterpieces: 'Blues and Roots' and 'The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady'), Dolphy was known for his intense devotion to the free form avant garde sound that he'd help basically patent (see Andrew Hill's 'Point of Departure' and Dolphy's own 'Out to Lunch'), Byard was sort of a meeting point between the two who turned in great work with Sam Rivers and Mingus himself.

charles mingus
perhaps, the most important factor of 'Cornell 1964' is the way it treads the line between the new and old of jazz at the time. surely Mingus and Dolphy's incredible interpretation of the song "Meditations" isn't something you'd hear any of Mingus' teachers play, but his devotion to honoring his elders is clearly seen in Fats Wellar's "Jitterbug Waltz". where Mingus embraces the more playful side of jazz with his takes on folk songs and old classics, in his own band's compositions there is an intense feeling of seriousness. "So Long, Eric" and the previously mentioned "Meditations" are all intensely intrinsic performances that define the players skills and also their ability to present emotion.

charles mingus sextet with eric dolphy - 'cornell 1964'
'Cornell 1964' is such a great release and to think that it has only been heard by the masses this year is mind blowing. clearly a definitive mark in Mingus and Dolphy's careers and in terms of jazz in my life it is just a great record that embraces the various kinds of jazz i love. very few times do i connect to a jazz album as personally as this one and the slight irish undertones in honor of St. Patrick's Day that are present give me even more of an interest in this record. one of my top ten releases of the year and for good reason.

charles mingus sextet - cornell 1964 (disc 1)
charles mingus sextet - cornell 1964 (disc 2)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

ghostface killah - ironman

i guess you could say that i enjoy a decent amount of bleakness in my music. from John Frusciante to Andrew Hill all of my favorite composers have been involved music that even at its most accessible still was stuck in a realm of darkness. i guess the definition of hip-hop completely goes against that whole mindset since hip-hop and rap are essentially an updated version of funk. still, i find myself relating to records across the board and dwelling in their menacing and almost sinister quality. El-P's "Fantastic Damage" comes to mind and interestingly enough the artist this post is based on collaborated with El-P on a track for a Prefuse 73. Ghostface Killah is certainly known for wearing a variety of masks, but as with all of his other clan members his best involves a certain producer and seven MCs. The Wu-Tang Clan is in my opinion the most flawless rap group to release a record and in many ways there members do little to disprove that fact with their classic solo records. perhaps the most ambiguous of these solo releases is Ghostface's own "Ironman". basically, the record is a mash up of the synth heavy choruses found on GZA's "Liquid Swords" and the mafia infused darkness of Raekwon's "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx".

dennis coles aka tony starks aka ghostface killah
"Wildflower" is obviously the moment of mastery on this record. a verbal slap to a past flame of Ghostface Killah's the song reminisces about previous encounters ranging from sipping yoo-hoo to breaking furniture while fucking. basically, this is emotional distraught Ghostface which is completely odd considering the years before this release all you had heard from the members of the Wu was essentially about how strong and bad ass they were. "Wildflower" is certainly not sensitive but in a way it is, at least on Ghostface's part. that some girl could effect the same person that has dropped lines like " don't laugh / bag the cash / grab the hash / don't forget his stash / grab the tear gas /and place it in his face fast " in the same way that every man has by a girl, made Ghostface human. is this the reason for Ghost's looming success as a solo artist and his solid credibility since the release of "Ironman"? i can't really say. what i do know is that a man that can express his sadness over losing a girl who he was "the first nigga that had you watchin flicks by DeNiro" in the same way as Ghost does on "Wildflower" must be sincere in a way few are.

ghostface killah's "ironman"
"Ironman" is in a sense Ghostface's coming out party. his love of soul, his intense metaphorical lyrical content, and his personal stories are all shown on this album as they would be on every one that flows it. but something is different on "Ironman". sure, you could blame it on RZA's traditional technique being basically all over it, but i think it is something more. after "Cuban Linx" Ghostface's conceptual edge seemed to be full exposed and so he may have unintentionally made the most "human" Wu-Tang album in attempt to have his debut be different from Raekwon's. where RZA and GZA are obviously poets in their delivery of their stories and beliefs, Ghostface is an every man talking about what every man wants. guns, pussy, and drugs. how can you not dig that?

ghostface killah - ironman (1996)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

infidel? / castro! - bioentropic damage fractal

there are very few records that introduce something new to me today. sure, i can discover a record like Ghostface Killah's "Ironman" that really is everything i've ever wanted in a rap album, but it is still a Wu-Tang production which is something i've obviously heard before. i'm sure Kayo Dot's new record will probably reorganize these thoughts just because all of their previous ones have done that but, how can i be sure of this? its sad to me that i can place most contemporary music into a box, so whenever i find a band that completely redefines my notion of what music it is i usual take notice. Time of Orchid's has been able to do that with their last two releases ("Sarcast While", and "Namesake Caution".) and Birchville Cat Motel did help revitalize my fetish in the genre of "noise" with their masterpiece "Beautiful Speck Triumph". but perhaps the only band to redefine my notion of what music can do after Kayo Dot is Colin Marstin's Infidel? / Castro! a dazzling blend of post-rock, electronica, and Calculating Infinity era Dillinger Escape Plan.

Colin J Marston

"Bioentropic Damage Fractal" is a vicious cycle of insanity and solace. beautiful tracks like "Bedridden" and "Temporarily Dissolving Into Plasma" placed in between the idm blast beats of "Bedsores (For GWB)" create a tense, schizophrenic journey of epic proportions. very few albums resonant like this album in an emotional sense, which is strange because most of their recordings are simply based on samples of noise and the steady layering of minimal electronic guitar playing. there is obviously very little of the cartoony tech metal of Marston's other head project, Behold... The Arctopus. in a recap "Bioentropic Damage Fractal" is simply just one of the most original and creative records ever made and its strong sense of crescendos and climaxes places it amongst the greats of this kind of music like Kayo Dot or Time of Orchids.

infidel? / castro!'s "bioentropic damage fractal"
"Bioentropic Damage Fractal" came to me in the midsts of a hard break up that left me not being able to sleep, etc. etc. this record was so beautiful that it basically gave me something to look forward to during work and other boring activities. obviously that is a very trite story, but this album just has the power to bring out statements like that. i remember one of the original things that pointed me towards it was a ten page analysis on the album on the website it was an excellent review and probably one of the most comprehensive ones i have ever read. obviously i can't recommend this record enough to those interested in the avant garde. highly recommended. a classic.

infidel? / castro! - bioentropic damage fractal - disc 1 (2005)

infidel? / castro! - bioentropic damage fractal - disc 2 (2005)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

navio forge - as we quietly burn a hole into

from the opening hi-hat rolls you can tell this album is going to be different. Navio Forge's "As We Quietly Burn a Hole Into" is probably emo's best kept secret. an incredibly personal and heavy record, few hardcore bands could say they replicate the kind of noisy fury that Navio Forge was prevalent in. contribute this to Aaron Arroyo's pounding bass lines, or Mike Kirsch's insistent background vocals and signature guitar playing. Navio Forge was important to me because they gave me the first record from the "early emo" scene that i truly fell in love with. every song on this record is an emo classic, but "Haloed Eyes" is the obvious highlight and we will discuss that later. another important fact about this is record is as i said before it has Mike Kirsch on it. as those in the hardcore scene know any project involving Kirsch whether it be the brutal aggression of John Henry West that is most similar to Navio or the spaced out, sample heavy Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack! is going to be worth your time. well, in all honest Navio Forge is probably the best project associated with Kirsch even if it doesn't seem to be of his own creation.

"As We Quietly Burn a Hole Into" can essentially have its purpose explained by just the listening of its final track, "Haloed Eyes". an emotionally dynamic hardcore epic that completely personifies the entire genre as well as shows off an incredible vocal performances for Navio's vocalist, Sean Lynwood. the closing minute with Lynwood's unparalleled pleas of "cripple me" and "never move" are some of the most tense in the history of hardcore. in other words "Haloed Eyes" is the finest hardcore song, i've ever heard and while the rest of the record certainly doesn't achieve that same glory, it still surpasses most hardcore release released in the 14 years since "As We Quietly Burn a Hole Into" was first released.

navio forge's as we quietly born a hole into

Navio Forge can be considered a foot note in my own progression of emo, but that doesn't lessen its impact in times of emotional turmoil. this is a record for people that are not content. music like Navio Forge's was a key factor in helping to shape who i am today and for that i'll always consider it one of the finest emo releases ever.

navio forge - as we quietly born a hole into (1993)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

richard youngs - sapphie

i felt as if a relaunch or such was in order. this blog is meant to be a place for me to share music that has been truly effective in my own personal development. so, from now on there will probably be a far more expansive description in relation to each album that is posted on here. this isn't a blog dedicated to hype or new release, but rather records that are bluntly emotional and transcend simple genre descriptions. i was thinking about leading this new phase of with one of Nation of Ulysses' records (the inspiration behind this blog.) but instead have settle with one of my more recent favorites, Richard Youngs' "Sapphie".

richard youngs.

so, why exactly does Richard Youngs get the honor of starting of this new trend of realism? well for starters, his music is bluntly obvious. drawing from a steady background of folk and "classical" guitar, his instrumental sections are almost always highly dense and minimal arrangements usually relying on the sounds of acoustic guitar. over top this Youngs can go many ways from heavily effect ridden vocals (his latest, 2007's "Autumn Response".) to totally demented guitar playing (see his collaboration with Tirath Singh Nirmala.). Although Youngs covers a variety of ground through all of his various releases, "Sapphie" is perhaps his most basic and bleak. simple acoustic guitar lines, Youngs unmistakable voice, and nothing else. "Sapphie" features compositions inspired by the loss of one of Youngs' pets among other things and the amount of emotional presence he is able to put into the performances can only be heard.

"sapphie" cover.

"Sapphie" was recommended to me by user, ormi. i'm not sure if there was ever a specific moment it clicked, but this record has seen my obsession of yet another peculiar songwriter come yet again. perhaps the intense personal nature of the recording struck me the hardest. as Youngs himself described it, "Sapphie's" recording was "recorded round my friend John's flat and it was the first time I'd ever done more than one take." the process was apparently intimate as Youngs said the early takes of the record were marked by their background ambient noises of neighbors leaving and appliances at work. Youngs also made an important note about the recording in the fact that "there's no overdubbing and no remixing. everything went straight to DAT. what you hear is the best of what went on." and of course that is what draws me to constantly play this record, its intense personal nature. for sure, a late night listen.

richard youngs - sapphie (1998)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Six Organs of Admittance - Shelter from the Ash

Six Organs of Admittance - Shelter from the Ash
"Six Organs of Admittance may sometimes confound and surprise but disappointment is not a word I associate with Chasny. Thankfully after several runs through Shelter from the Ash my prediction has been proven to be true. This is a captivating album, full of passion and power. Here's to another ten albums."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Organized Konfusion - Organized Konfusion

Organized Konfusion - Organized Konfusion

"The inspired debut album from the duo of Prince Poetry and Pharoahe Monch was arguably the underground rap album of the 1990s...Organized Konfusion may be, alongside Main Source's Breaking Atoms, the quintessential cult hip-hop album from a decade full of forward-looking efforts."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Heat - Deceit

This Heat - Deceit

"The whole speak, 'Little Boy', 'Big Boy' [sic], calling missiles cute little names. The whole period was mad! We had a firm belief that we were going to die and the record was made on those terms.… The whole thing was designed to express this sort of fear, angst, which the group was all about really. " - Charles Hayward

Deceit is considered by many as a classic of the post-punk era and was ranked by Pitchfork Media as the 20th greatest album of the 1980s. The Trouser Press Record Guide called the album "austere, brilliant and indescribable.""

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Coco Rosie - La Maison de Mon Reve

Coco Rosie - La Maison de Mon Reve"Sierra Casady may have sung opera around the world but Montserrat Caballe she is not. Rather than blasting her tonsils, Sierra turns Billie Holiday and angelically croons over her sister Bianca's odd percussion - a jangly belt, squeaky toy, kitchen sink. Recorded in a poky flat in Paris, the New York siblings' lo-fi debut owes more to Williamsburg than the Ride Of The Valkyrie. Their haunting, homesick lyrics yearn for apple pies, Jim Morrison and Madonna. This is pop which crackles like a wartime gramophone. "

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hisato Higuchi - She

Hisato Higuchi - She
"The seven songs on She (some of them very brief) all share a sensibility that holds them together, despite a range that spans field recordings and shadowy guitars. Higuchi's created a very personal, effective set of songs here that clearly stem from a singular personal vision despite the variation in approach. "sister.girl" is constructed from splashes of buzzing noises with low keyboard tones mixed in amongst the spattering static. It's an unexpectedly pretty song: the noises and keyboards blend to create compelling overtones. "

Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane

Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane

"There is a strong sense of thematic unity tying each song's various riffs and sections together, and the soaring, darkly majestic guitar melodies are consistently memorable. Sure, there is a little bit of melodrama here, but Dissection is most certainly on top of their game, and Storm of the Light's Bane is deservedly hailed as a landmark in the melodic black/death metal genre."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ryan Adams - Heart Breaker

Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
Sorry about the lack of updates, one of my good friends came and visited me for a couple of days so I was busy being obsessed with that nonsense. In honor of mixed feelings and hurt hearts Ryan Adams classic "Heartbreaker" will be the upload for today. This is a fantastic bare recording that basically Adams has based an entire career off of. Every track is a stunner and if as one reviewer described it, this album with leave you "wanting a bad break up".

Monday, November 5, 2007

Epic Soundtracks - Good Things

Epic Soundtracks - Good Things
"The album is chock full of stripped down, reverb heavy, pop songs. Led by Epic’s gentle and often sad piano playing and backed by thin sounding acoustic guitars and minimal backing vocals for the most part, the album delivers a low key musical feast"

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Dillinger Escape Plan - Calculating Infinity

The Dillinger Escape Plan - Calculating Infinity

With the release of "Ire Works" soon to come to pass, it is important to look where a once great band came from. "Calculating Infinity" is one of the coldest albums ever, there is hardly any emotion in this entire 11 track masterpiece. Everything is technical, over the top, and pissed off in a stoic manner. Beautifully arranged with softer instrumentals casually giving breaks from the insanity of the rest of the album, this is a record that clearly helped generate an entire new type of music. "Ire Works" sucks by the way.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Idaho - Hearts of Palm

Idaho - Hearts of Palm
"Hearts of Palm might not be as bleak as the Idaho of old, but there's still that undeniable sense of melancholy that's guaranteed with the sound of Martin's voice. Even when he seems genuinely happy in "Alta Dena," there's still a sense of pain and tension. Idaho might never be in a hurry, but there's enough going on to warrant your attention. Don't miss the stunning instrumental closer, filled with lovely Durutti Column-like guitar wriggles and mournful, echoed piano." Thanks to Chance for the heads up.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Charles Mingus - Blues & Roots

Charles Mignus - Blues & Roots

"This record is unusual—it presents only one part of my musical world, the blues. A year ago, Nesuhi Ertegün suggested that I record an entire blues album in the style of Haitian Fight Song (in Atlantic LP 1260), because some people, particularly critics, were saying I didn't swing enough. He wanted to give them a barrage of soul music: churchy, blues, swinging, earthy. I thought it over. I was born swinging and clapped my hands in church as a little boy, but I've grown up and I like to do things other than just swing. But blues can do more than just swing. So I agreed." - Charles Mingus

Moaning is fuckin' baddddd.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Armchairpolitician - Seven Segment Decoder

Armchairpolitician - Seven Segment Decoder

Intense blend of Thrice and Refused flavored post-hardcore with the spacey feel of At the Drive-in and The Mars Volta. Screams are obviously influenced by a blend of "true emo" groups but the music is way to dynamic and riffy to fully exploit that label. This is basically just a really progressive hardcore record and reminds me kind of the Cave In of the post-hardcore world instead of metalcore. Definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

roawr posts.

archive of my posts on rar:

suicide file ep:
suicide file "twilight":
hardcore in the vein of mliw. very thrashy. very good.

meet me in st. louis ep:
meet me in st. louis "variations on swing":
math rock plus pop-punk. minus the bear plus don cab.

modern life is war "midnight in america":
modern life is war "witness":
melodic hardcore with some of the best lyrics, ever written.

pygmy lush "bitter river":
indescribable blend of folk, screamo, and noise.

celeste "pessimiste(s)":
fast as fuck and honest.

Oink.CD FIasco

We at Last Train to Cool express our sadness due to the recent removal of the torrent searcher, Oink. We fully respect that archive due to its vast amount of OOP and foreign records that are otherwise near impossible to find. It is also with regrets that we say goodbye to our fellow blog ROAWR! which has also decided to pull the plugs as not to be involved with the recent file sharing fiasco. Last Train to Cool will remain up for an unforeseeable future as we are devoted to providing users with a way to expand their intellect through a guise of various musical resources. As stated if any artist has an issue with their work being up on this website, I will gladly remove if I am only informed. I am not interested in stealing profits from artists and urge that everyone help support the music they love, but I will also not remove my website because a few bureaucrats can't deal with the explosion of freely available art.

On a lighter note if anyone has anything they wish to be uploaded (or re-upped) feel free to post it as a comment on this post.

Art is dead, let's liberate our everyday life.
-jared dillon-

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sam Rivers - Contours

Sam Rivers - Contours

Sam Rivers. Herbie Hancock. Freddie Hubbard. Ron Carter. Joe Chambers. If you know anything about '60s jazz you know that is one hell of a line-up. This record is a often overlooked jazz classic of the '60s and if you aren't familiar with the avant garde bop scene, a great place to start exploring.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Shugo Tokumaru - Exit

Shugo Tokumaru - Exit

""Exit" is Shugo Tokumaru's first album since switching from a tiny indie label to the larger P-Vine Records, but the move hasn't been accompanied by any compromise of the bedroom-music aesthetic that made his previous albums "L.S.T." and "Night Piece" so beguiling."

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Shape of Broad Minds - Craft of the Lost Art

The Shape of Broad Minds - Craft of the Lost Art
"So, the question I keep asking myself is: “can Craft of the Lost Art be the best rap album of 2007?” Absolutely, but it is still August, so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. It is an incredibly solid and interesting record that though clocking in at over an hour, never seems like it’s dragging on thanks to the myriad of styles Jarel explores throughout. He is a free spirit experimenting with his tools at hand, and the album very much excels because of it. Craft very much should establish Jarel as an act to watch, and my guess is that future collaborations are imminent"

Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today

Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today

"Electric Wizard is one of the few bands who show that musical borders are often in a state of flux, especially the Black Sabbath-inspired Stoner Rock genre.What at first seemed to be a very x-rayed version of Stoner Rock later turned out to be a real Old School Doom monster.Check out songs like Funerapolis to get swallowed by the thrashy distorted riffs, just to be released into a dark and psychotic world of paranoia.Its not comparable with other Stoner Rock bands because there is no relaxed fun with drugs, no nostalgic lightning on the 70's, nothing positive."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boris - Flood

Boris - Flood

I went and saw the Boris, Michio Kurihara and Damon & Naomi tour last night in Los Angeles. It was a fantastic show and one of the loudest I have ever been to so in honor of that here is one of my favorite releases from Boris. Flood is a slow moving, rock epic in the vein of nothing I've really heard before. The minimalism of post-rock is in this record but the whole feeling of it doesn't evoke one large crescendo, rather a steady drone of simple ideas. Not drone metal, but great. Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

EAQuartett - Electroacoustiquarett

EAQuartett - Electroacoustiquarett described as “the perfect meeting point for the experimental and explorative tensions of different musicians, whose background range from classical music to contemporary, from jazz to the extreme boundaries of rock” EAQuartett fall in the realm of Supersilent with an obvious appreciation towards the kraut and free jazz scenes of the late ‘60s and ‘70s. A fellow RYMer described this album along the lines of being the perfect exploration of the lucid nature of the static space in Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way which is an excellent description. This is certainly orchestrated music but a resilient attitude of free form is always dipping itself into the mixing pot of this quartet. Electroacoustiquarett is a unique experience that dots the minimal and spontaneous with a sense of complete and heavily complex composition.

John Frusciante - Smile From The Streets You Hold

John Frusciante - Smile From The Streets You Hold

Few albums will ever strike the same emotional chord, “Smile From The Streets You Hold” do with me. It basically was responsible for me surviving my first year out of high school, so it’ll always resonate in me deeply. Emotional performances like this are truly rare and only come along once every decade. The tragedy of this recording is perhaps its greatest strength and the way Frusciante was so accurately able to describe his feelings in sound make it one of my favorites. I can’t in good faith recommend the album to everyone just because of its extremely abrasive nature, but in terms of people interested in the avant-garde this is a truly spectacular album. One of my favorite albums of all time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shugo Tokumaru - L.S.T.

Shugo Tokumaru - L.S.T.
"This is pop, but pop pushed into a non-mainstream place of such diversity and experimentation that it’s barely recognisable. You have one track that features a whistle, a piano, and a singing saw; another that gets underway with the sound of scissors and peeping baby chickens and goes on to showcase a koto; and a third like a musical joke that seems to be about to dump us in the trane trekker boredom that is enka until the singer opens her mouth—and lo and behold, it’s the singing saw again."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chico Hamilton - The Dealer

Chico Hamilton - The Dealer

"One of Chico's classic recordings for Impulse, and a weird batch of tracks that have an off-beat sound to them that's hard to categorize. The group includes Ernie Hayes on organ, Arnie Lawrence on alto, Larry Coryell on guitar, and a guest appearance by Archie Shepp on piano. Tracks include "For Mods Only", "A Trip", "Baby, You Know", and "Larry Of Arabia". Very groovy, and with a wonderful array of offbeat influences running through the groove!"

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Drones - Gala Mill

The Drones - Gala Mill
"The most interesting thing about Gala Mill has to be the rawness in which it's presented. The vibe of a group of drunken underground musicians and mates recording in a quiet little hole is so present. With the sounds of birds, crickets and the band members themselves often tacked on before and after several tracks.

"The Gala Mill" is never going to be Shakespeare - it's never going to be Justin Timberlake - it's never going to be You Am I. It's the Drones - and you will love it or hate it."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Behold... The Arctopus - Skullgrid

Behold.. The Arctopus - Skullgrid
"According to "prog-metal climber dude" Joel Israel: "Insanely convoluted, technical, original, and just plain weird, this album is worth checking out."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Time of Orchids - Namesake Caution

Time of Orchids - Namesake Caution
"Toss away all of your preconceptions regarding conventional song structure elements such as time, melody, rhythm and key. This collection of chaotic compositions is extraordinarily compelling. The often contradictory blend of dissonance and harmony creates an unsettling soundscape that sometimes leaves you with a feeling of wonderment. When you think you understand how a song may progress, it takes a mind-boggling twist, and then contorts again into a knot before you have time to comprehend what transpired. Brilliant."

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Flying Lotus - Reset EP

Flying Lotus - Reset EP
Flying Lotus' "1983" was one of my favorite releases of 2006. With Reset he builds on the same type of sound scapes he was working with on that album only now he adds a much more prominent bass and drum workout into every song. It is an interesting take on his previous sound and it makes the longevity of my interest in him stretch a little longer. This is excellent instrumental hip hop up there with the greats like Shadow, Madlib, and PB Wolf. Check it out.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

El-P - Fantastic Damage

" Describing everything contained in Fantastic Damage is practically impossible. Suffice to say, it’s one of the most engrossing and innovative hip hop albums I’ve ever heard, and it gets better with every listen. Its one weakness is “Dr. Hellno and the Praying Mantis,” which fails to astound on the production (repetitive) or the lyrical content (volleys of misogyny from Vast Aire, El-P, and another rapper). But this hardly detracts from the stunning post-apocalyptic world of the rest of the album. El-P is a true visionary: this may be the Kid A of hip hop."

Monday, August 20, 2007

L - Holy Letters

"Holy Letters is a barely-circulated masterpiece of deeply felt self-expression. Recorded in 1989/1990 by Hiroyuki Usui, Holy Letters beautifully captures the spirit and substance of a half-dozen of the key sub-underground pillars of sound. Working with guitar, vocals, vibes, harmonium, bass, drums, cello, field recordings, digeridoo, and more, Usui-san blends delicate folk, psychedelia, and experimental sounds into a mostly subdued but undeniably glowing suite. The layered but careful instrumentation on tracks like the epic "Holy Letters" and "Troll" backs the alternately plain-spoken and crooning vocals perfectly. Odd touches like snatches of throat singing and bowed vibraphone leap out of the mix at just the right time. There are overt references to the blues (the first track is an oblique cover of "Cold Was The Ground") - but other than the occassional slide guitar touch, the connection is overwhelmingly in the timeless feeling and atmosphere. I can hardly think of anything else like "Holy Letters," but suffice to say if you like Richard Youngs, Popol Vuh, Six Organs of Admittance, Tim Buckley, acid-folk, japanese underground - anything like that - this is an essential purchase. Really, I'm not doing it justice."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Ghastly City Sleep - Ghastly City Sleep

Ghastly City Sleep - Ghastly City Sleep
"While two pieces nearly reach the six-minute mark and the other two eclipse nine, the whole offering flows with a smooth liquidity, creating one solidified, captivating body of work. The four young men involved in GHASTLY CITY SLEEP don't stick to one instrument long, as the entire collective can be found playing everything from guitars, keys, various percussion and just about everything in between. The multitude of layers involved here are accompanied by a warm yet haunting array of vocals, all helping to produce this simply epic debut." In terms of this record you should really, really try and buy it because the members of this band have had so many issues trying to release it. It features members of Kayo Dot, City of Caterpillar, and Gregor Samsa so.. you know it has to at least be worth ten bucks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Angel Eyes - Something To Do With Death

Angel Eyes - Something To Do With Death
Cold and brutal post-metal that is equally as charged in black metal and hardcore. Obviously indebted to Godspeed, Angel Eyes debut LP is a lumbering and tranquil experiment in the ideas of layering and repetition. Sure, bands like Isis and Neurosis have been playing this sound for years now but Angel Eyes is able to combine the tonal noises of black metal and emo into something that is not completely singular but certainly a highlight in a very similar genre. Obviously the other sound this band evokes is a western approach which is clearly evident in their name, album title, and love of Ennio.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Michio Kurihara - Sunset Notes

Michio Kurihara - Sunset Notes

"After lending his considerable guitar prowess to various Japanese psych acts, Michio Kurihara finally released his debut solo record in 2007 on Ba Da Bing. A song cycle centered on nine different sunsets, SUNSET NOTES is not only a modern psych guitar tour de force but also a mesmerizing reflection on nature's dazzling daily showstopper. Some are brilliant and fiery, as evidenced in the blazing fretwork of "Twilight Mystery of A Russian Cowboy"; some are wistful, like the garage nugget "Do Deep Sea Fish Dream of Electric Moles"; and some are gentle and mournful like the female-voiced "Wind Waltzes" and "The Wind's Twelve Quarters." Like the title subject matter, SUNSET NOTES is epic and essential.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tiny Hawks - Fingers Become Bridges

Tiny Hawks - Fingers Become Bridges
I guess Tiny Hawks TECHNICALLY is a math rock band. They’re angular guitar playing and over the top drumming certainly pigeon hole them into that genre. But, they seem to draw subtly from two other realms; the Midwest emo scene mostly in the form of the praised Kinsella projects and also the post-hardcore scene that seemed to spring up after Slint’s demise. The band is cheerfully noisy and their vocals sometimes range from Kinsella cute yelps to Maximillian Colby like shout. Tiny Hawks originated from the Providence warehouse scene that has taken the world by storm in the form of Lightning Bolt, so obviously they do love their noise as well. Essentially, I guess they are an art rock group but with only two members (guitar and drums) they certainly have a lot of room to fill. And oh how they fill it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Shels - Sea of the Dying Dhow

Shels - Sea of the Dying Dhow

So, what is Shels exactly? In my opinion it is one of the finest attempts to incorporate metalcore aesthetics into a progressive rock setting. Basically, they succeed where other bands have failed. They are able to be progressive without being overtly cheesy (like, say, Between the Buried and Me's "Alaska"), and they are able to be progressive without entering realms of unnecessary pretension (like the middle of Pax Cecilia's "Blessed are the Bonds"). Sure, I could throw out a list of comparisons to groups like Kayo Dot or Isis in hopes that some of their fans might streamline through this review and check them out, but Shels really doesn't embrace the arty atmosphere of either band. Everything on this album is meticulously arranged, but is also grounded in a solid base genre of metalcore. Essentially, I guess it is the best of both worlds; complete originality and full blown clichés. Whatever is the key to Shels successful formula, it works and "Sea of the Dying Dhow" effortlessly proves that.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Have Eaten The City - Feral Geography

I Have Eaten The City - Feral Geography

"Look at this band's influences: "Alice Coltrane, Supersilent, Pharoah Sanders, Faust, Morton Feldman, This Heat, Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage, balinese & javanese gamelan, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Sarah Peebles, Autechre, Electric Miles Davis, Don Cherry, Nilan Perera, Polwechsel, Krakatau, Squarepusher, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Derek Bailey, Nels Cline, Peter Brotzmann, Fennesz, LaConnor, Barnyard Drama, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Jackie-O Motherfucker, Mephista, Black Dice, Arthur Russell, The Silt, Iannis Xenakis, Shalabi Effect, Boredoms, Deep Dark United, Kayo Dot, Sonny Sharrock, Brian Eno, Laura Barrett, Evan Parker Electroacoustic Ensemble, Terry Riley, Paul Bley & Annette Peacock, Can, Eric Dolphy, Last Exit, Awesome, Paul Schutze, Brian Ruryk."

In all honesty, how could this band not be great?"

Not to mention the Toby Driver association.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kayo Dot - Live WMBR

An early performance of the MA collective featuring two violinists and most of the members that were found on the recording of Choirs of the Eye. The performance starts off with a beautifully layered arrangement of The Antique followed by a monologue lacking Marathon and finally closes with an almost perfect Wayfarer. A great recording and an interesting perspective on one of my favorite bands.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice

Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice
A continuation of the sound Minus the Bear has been perfecting for the last two albums. The amount of variety on this album is excellent as well as the talent that is found in every members technical skill. This is a fun, pop album that is sophisticated and emotionally eccentric. All around just a great listen.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Infidel? / Castro! - Infidelicacy

Infidel? / Castro! - Infidelicacy
"I love this CD because it defies categorization. There is a lot going on in their overtracked world from the aggressive ambient textures of David Torn to the angular but catchy riffs of Trey Gunn to the dark world of gothic dance music. It is mostly instrumental, all dark, all very avant garde, and very impressive from a bunch of guys who couldn't even legally buy a beer." Not as drastic as their later records but certainly nothing "normal."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Melt Banana - Bambi's Dilemma

Melt Banana - Bambi's Dilemma
In honor of my going to see Melt Banana tomorrow evening I decided to put up their new LP. It is kind of a poppy less abrasive MB but it still retains some excellent guitar work and bizarre soundscapes. A solid noise rock album from one of the best in the genre.