I have no idea how Sissy Rich (The First Gay Rapper™) and his street team acquired my email address, but it’s not the first time that something completely unexpected has dropped into my inbox and left me asking pointless rhetorical questions.
Sissy Rich, who has presciently trademarked the above phrase, has quite the street team. Enthusiastic and somewhat disturbing which, if you’re fronting for the first* gay rapper, is probably considered a plus.
*This claim is very likely untrue, but all that matters now is Sissy Rich has legal possession of this phrase.
The street team hands out all sorts of assurances and deflections in hopes that those on the receiving end of this untargeted campaign won’t succumb to their usual homophobic tendencies. (Or something — there’s a strong hint of jubilant paranoia to the missive, the sort of thing that calls to mind the forced cheerfulness of salespeople practicing the fine art of mandatory upselling.)
Hey i have doubts you won’t receive this but over all, i’m here to put you on SISSY RICH cause he goes’ HARDDDDD, first off he’s a gay rapper close to mainstream and don’t be ALARMED although i said he’s GAY he dosen’t rap about the VULGAR things that may come to mind when you hear gay rapper, and he has a very big growing fan base! He has over 220K followers on twitter, over 1.4 million views on youtube and etc it wouldn’t hurt to LISTEN!!!
While I am pleased that Sissy Rich won’t be solely rapping about such VULGAR subjects as (presumably) gays, gay sex, gay relationships, gay problems, gay street life, gay imported sports cars, gay drug dealing, gay bitches and gay bling, I am also somewhat disappointed that all the gay is being pushed aside to make way for the Gay™. Not that I’m expecting every track to go all Maxwell and become nothing more than a camp string of anal innuendo, but if you’re going to drop your mp3s off at the nearest critic’s inbox clothed in little more than a sexual preference, it’s kind of a letdown when the lyrical content is nearly indistinguishable from hundreds of other rap artists.
Sissy Rich seems a little vague on his intentions as well:
“People like the fact i rap, but the things i rap about they wouldn’t expect a GAY RAPPER to express, my music is way beyond me dating men, it’s barely talked about. I just feel my story is just important as everyone’s else, for example who can tell me what’s RAP and what’s not when i have 100,000+ supporters who feel different?”
Now, I can appreciate Rich’s attempt to change perceptions about WHAT a gay rapper would rap about (see my list above) and change this into something along the lines of a “rapper who just happens to be gay” and subsequently blow minds in that fashion. But any shot at true subversiveness is completely undercut by his branding effort. It’s GAY™ first, RAP second, which seems to run in opposition to his stated aims.
While I applaud him for taking on perhaps the most homophobic genre in the music biz, I can’t help but feel that I’m supposed to like this (or like it more) simply because of that fact. Unfortunately, I tend not to like music preloaded with the artist’s suppositions. If I did, I’d be a Consolidated fan. (ZING!) (Also: Rage Against the Machine.)
If you’re curious, here’s a link to Sissy Rich’s Youtube page, where pretty much everything he’s released is available, along with a few interviews.
I know that this blog, being representative of my music tastes, tends towards the “dark” and “noisy” ends of the musical spectrum, often serving up both at the same time. I APOLOGIZE FOR NOTHING. This is what interests me now and considering my age*, is probably NOT a “phase.”
*Quite possibly older than you think, but I skew younger thanks to my boyish good looks and childlike fascination with swearing.
But that’s not ALL I am. I’m not always searching out the darkest corners armed with a flashlight with a beam made of out feedback and faulty electronics. I’m also a fan of ear-pleasing noises, which aren’t, in fact, noisy at all, but rather suitable for all ages (possible exceptions: 7 and 43.) I can be just as suckered in by poplike art as the next childlike post-teen with a potty mouth. I like stuff I can hum. I like stuff that I can’t get out of my head. (Caveat: I have to be the one putting it there, not some Top 40 DJ pretending to be local while broadcasting from ClearChannel’s bomb shelter in the cold, steely heart of Industryville.)
Case in point: Leann Grimes. I’ve gushed in an almost embarrassing fashion about his music before. Having placed his debut album squarely at the top of a severely truncated Best of 2K11 list, I attempted to share my (manly, no doubt) crush on LG’s beautifully spun samples-and-beats with the world, or at least as much of the word that Yet Another WordPress Blog will reach.
Long story short: here’s another shortish story. This showed up in my (e)mailbox at the tail end of a soul-crushing day. You know those days where everything seems like the only way the dial’s going to budge from “bad” is when it heads to “worse,” and the most promising thing on the horizon is bedtime? One of those days. Even if you don’t know those days, play along.
Shane Conerty (Leann Grimes) graced me with an inadvertent care package just when I needed it. A brand new Leann Grimes album. If you’ve read my previous review, you’ll know why this is the best thing that could have happened at this moment. No one, I mean absolutely NO ONE, makes albums so full of sprightly tunes and pure celebratory joy as Leann Grimes. It was pure, ridiculous fate, like someone tapping you on your slumped shoulder and saying, “You look beat, brother. Life can be that way. It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.”
LG celebrates the bliss of discovering new music you love and, like his last album, returns the favor to all the artists he (now) loves and the blogs that pointed him in these new directions, by crafting brisk, radio-ready (if radio didn’t suck ALL OF THE ASS EVER), bouncy, effervescent, drunk-on-life tracks that grab your ears with the enthusiasm of orally pleasured female approaching orgasm. (Seriously: we are hiring for the position of Metaphor Writer, citing specifically complaints from artists that they “can’t show these reviews to their mom.”)
I’ll post a few here and I motherfucking dare you to be unmoved. To sit there without a toe tapping or finger drumming or party ensuing. Because if you can’t move to this, you might need to have you soul removed and given to the nearest vampire-esque teen scowling away miserably, because chances are it might do them some good and shatter their face with unexpected smiling. Tell them it’s available for download on Friday the 13th and that will be all the excuse they’ll need to get up earlier than nightfall.
[How can you resist this? It features something that sounds like the only calliope ever that has never been tainted by clown proximity and it fucks around with your groove by shifting the tempo this way and that, much like Pepepiano’s famous “disconcertos.” And stay tuned for the sample near the end, which briefly resurrects 60s girl pop in Conerty’s own particular idiom, which means that it’s familiar but twisted.]
[This one samples an artist called “Gringo Starr,” whom I’m not familiar with but beginning to regret that fact with each re-reading of the name. At times this track resembles what would happen to 70s-era AOR (Steve Miller comes to mind) if someone made off with the master tapes and diced them all into tiny pieces and reassembled them later with the help of a Dirty Beatniks 12″ and none of the Original Manufacturer’s Instructions.]
[If you’re going to kick off an album, you could do a fuck-ton(ne) worse than Yeah, We Up, which kicks down the door, drags your groggy ass out of bed and heads to the hills, which presumably contain a speedy vehicle waiting to transport you to the Nearest Club of Your Choosing for a night of dancing, drinking and possible arrest, all in 2-1/2 minutes.]
You can stream it now to pre-get-your-groove-on. And as God is my witness, I wrote this entire “review” sitting outside like one of those cheerful, bongloaded hippies with a hardon for mother nature and sans natural aversion to sunlight. Like the sort of person I mentally punch in the face because of their obvious satisfaction in just doing nothing and getting high on life after getting high on everything else. I, for an undetermined amount of time, was THAT person, and you know what? LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM. It will make you more cheerful than should reasonably be expected under the circumstances. GO.
To answer your unasked but presumptuous question: NO. NO I HAVE FUCKING NOT LISTENED TO THEM. YET. I’m still running through the back catalog which, may I remind you, is not a completely insignificant effort, thxverymuch, and the difficulty curve only seems to be getting steeper because for some maddening reason, the order of the albums RANDOMLY REARRANGES ITSELF.
Not that I don’t want to hear the NEW STUFF, it’s just that there’s so much old stuff that’s still new to me and once I say I’m going to do something, I usually find every reason in the world to NOT follow through and believe me, whatever algorithmic device is in charge of keeping the albums lined up in roughly the same arrangement I saw last time has apparently decided that the internet just doesn’t fuck with self-imposed OCDists/completists ENOUGH and has rectified the situation by shuffling the deck at odd intervals. If I shut the speakers off, I swear to Jesus Harrison Christ that I can hear mocking electronic laughter and I CANNOT be 100% SURE that it isn’t just my own leaking sanity reflecting off the 21″ LCD.
To the music. Apologies in advance for factual errors, random misspellings, odd tangents, Unicode translations issues, abuse of the word “atmospheric,” abuse of the word “dark,” abuse of the word “rad” and for anyone whose albums might have been overlooked in the shuffle. Keep in mind this is not the last volume of Aural Sects: Netlabel As Wormhole.
[I was wrong. It’s four (4) albums: VS//YOUTHCLUB – WAVES. This is being said with about 80% certainty. It could be more, but there’s no way to sort by “ALREADY LISTENED TO.”]
Many people regard the Midwest is the ne plus ultra of normality WHERE NOTHING EVER HAPPENS and if anything strange does happen, it’s usually something outrageously fucked up, like serial killing brought on by an overly-tight Bible Belt. In all honesty, the Midwest harbors a much worse sort of banality: stasis. Things are the same forever because that’s the way things have always been. Consequently, many of the denizens operate on a zombie-esque level of existence, not quite alive but not dead enough to auction off the various vehicles decorating the yard and the stamp collection full of mid-70s commons.
But. The best thing about the Midwest is that NOBODY expects weird shit to pop up musically. It happens, more frequently than anyone would suspect [see also: Umberto] and yet, it’s always a bit of pleasant surprise. Darkwave duo Spell Hound call Kansas City, MO home and put together the sort of VNV Nation-via-EPROM (the chip, not the musician [although maybe…]) that NO ONE expects to come winding its way down I-70, which is exactly why so many people end up victimized by serial killers. Trust in the same old continuing to be the same old. No alarms and no surprises.
Circling rolls in on a bassline that splits the difference between the Killing Joke and early Cure, while the vocals split the difference between Curve and Siouxie Sioux. Julia Holter’s electronica picks up the tip and everyone heads back to the house to spin records long into the night, quite possibly from the artists listed above.
Texture, much like pretty much everyone on the AS roster, can’t be limited to one album. Instead, he has doubled up. Of the two, I prefer Thrown Room (see below), but they both have their moments. SigilKids, from which Rohrschach is taken, is a handful of mushrooms and the damage done. Leaning more towards slowly unwinding electro-psychedelia, SigilKids is the kind of head trip that has just enough dark moments to make you reconsider spending every moment of downtime under the influence but still pleasant enough to make you reconsider your earlier reconsideration and consequently, spend the next several hours under the influence of hallucinogenics and whatever’s on Cartoon Network.
Rohrschach itself gradually fades into view like a Mad Professor vs. session, sending echoing drum beats and cascading synth tones tumbling down a long aural stairwell. It’s not until the 6-minute mark that Texture drops in the darkness, replacing aimless buzzing with slamming-home-the-deadbolt paranoia.
Based Goth (translated for the Unicode-impaired and lazy typists like myself) shows just how much damage a handful of pitch-shifted and mutated loops can do in the right hands. There’s nothing overtly violent about the track, but it still exudes the sort of just-under-the-surface tension that gives the relentless swirl of loops a sonic texture not unlike rabbit-punching SALEM’s frontman several times in mid-rap, thus slowing his speech permanently. A severe pitch up arrives towards the end, turning a snippet of effed-with vocals into the derisive sound of misanthropic angels.
Somewhat unexpectedly, considering the raw assemblage of throttled-and-beaten noises in between the opening track and this one, The Breeze is a rather beautiful cover of Sonic Youth’s Cross the Breeze. Texture shows some great range with this track, playing up the lighter tones that Sonic Youth hastily shed in their original, while also pinning it down with some impeccable drum programming.
This is sort of a cheat here, as I’m posting the entire EP. Pray 4 Luv is a small collection of previously unreleased tracks, which isn’t a sign of someone being out of ideas. Far from it. If you head to Trash’s Bandcamp page, you’ll see he’s got plenty more to choose from. And that doesn’t include contributions to other compilations and labels.
But I feel compelled to post the whole EP, not just because each track is so solid, but because I’ve been a fan for a long time and really haven’t given Party Trash his dues. My first (and so far, only) piece dealing with one of his tracks appeared way the hell back near the beginning of 2011, featuring his work with Raw Moans — a delightful piece of slightly-off blisspop titled Drunk Dial. When not exercising his screwhop-informed malevolence under the Party Trash name, he also makes gorgeous slabs of sighing white noise as Police Academy 6, as unlikely a name to grace something worth listening to since the Revolting Cocks. In the music business, this is know as ambidexterity.*
*Ed.: This is simply not true at all. More likely it’s known as “having range” or “multi-talented,” or over-exuberantly, “a Renaissance man.”
While Crazy is a stuttering slipstream of rising electronics and unholy choir arrangements, Die gives you all you need to know in the three-letter title. From spiritual life (Crazy) into crushed-by-atmospheric-pressure death, but metaphorically, Die is the sound of dying on the outside from dying on the inside. This is the sort of track you play when you know you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed and you want to do nothing more than either a.) go the fuck back to bed or b.) get wrecked and look for trouble. It’s like Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing with the lyrics aborted and the emphasis strongly on the last two syllables.
And Pray 4 Luv, god bless its twisted little heart, is diva dance as threnody. The vocals aim to soar while the music aims to demolish everything in its path. Some early synth tones might give you the idea that this diva wants only the best for you, but the foreboding bass thump and following doom synths let you know what’s really going down. Pray 4 Luv, sure, but you’d also had better pray 4 more life. Fucker.
Combine the words “DJ” and “Deathray” and you’re halfway there. Club-ready beats combined with an alien sonic weapon. The 4/4 is geared for the dancefloor, but the kickdrums distort and the accompanying tones warp around the wreckage like light around a black hole. DJ Deathray is the heavy rotation of the Cool Kids of Death. The bass rattles like shitty-subs-in-a-trunk, giving the track the breezy outdoor feeling of drivebys on the main drag and designer drug kiddies riding shotgun with psychedelic warlords. DJ Deathray sounds like the visual shorthand for “bad trip,” blurred lines in slo-mo, neon squiggles stuck in a perpetual jumpcut.
Witchboy hits a particular sweet spot with me. His cocksure industrial strut reminds me of music I discovered during my musical formative years, the point where I realized, thanks to music passed to me by others ahead of the curve, that the radio WAS NOT my friend.
Top 40 radio was suddenly annoyingly lightweight. Rock radio was only slightly heftier, but prone to focusing on hits at the expense of albums and next-big-thing repetition. Radio was dead to me. In its place were several new bands, none of which sounded remotely like the crass populism of the airwaves.
In particular, Witchboy sounds like my first brushes with industrial music, specifically Wax Trax! brand of industrial music, miles away from the clinical joylessness of a million German producers. Wax Trax! industrial had swagger. An infinite amount of cool. A willingness to explore genre boundaries and a disarming sense of fun. The Thrill Kill Kult. Ministry. RevCo. Laibach. Witchboy is mainly the first one, with his vocals reaching the same half-sneering, half-leering pitch of TKK frontman Groovie Mann.
Taking the mantra of “sex, drugs and rock and roll” to its illogical and illicit extremes and then selling off the last part to purchase more sex and drugs, TKK and other roster artists acted like industrial music’s own red light district, pushing a new brand of rock and roll, rephrased as “sex, drugs and Satan.”
Like the Thrill Kill Kult (and countless other artists), Witchboy has an obsession with Hollywood. And why not. Hollywood’s draw has always been its portrayal of itself as a mythmaker and creator of cultural icons, but underneath the thin veneer of glamour lies a decades-thick sludge-like layer of sleaze. Casting couches. Arranged marriages. Racism. Sexism. Gay leading men married to lesbian leading ladies. Blowjobs for bit parts. Greyhound buses full of Midwestern teens swiftly having their dreams of stardom converted into starring roles for local pimps. And despite years and years of this, Hollywood still attracts.
Making Movies is about the biz, but don’t go casting about for profundities. Just enjoy the crashing hi-hats, the down-the-fuck-low “making movies” vocal sample, the bleeping, incongruous “melody” line, and the backsass-as-frontmouth back-and-forth of the vocals.
Seriously, just go pick up the entire album. (Link below.) And check out his latest release, mentioned about 1,700 words ago, but linked again right here: Le Universe Perverse.
Man, nothing gets my blood flowing like the words “remix compilation.” This is not me being facetious. I love remixes. People with tiny minds spout big words about “originality” and “creativity” and endlessly besmirch remixers and mashup artists as “copycats” and “button-pushers” with no talent of their own. As a gas-huffing sociopath with kidnapping on his rap sheet and some serious mommy issues once said in regards to imported beer: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.
A great remix is its own thing, one that grows and lives and breathes as an entity both within and without the original. Take Armand Van Helden’s storming remix/remake of Tori Amos’ Professional Widow, which converted a damaged pianist with a headful of bad living into a peak time house diva. Check out Alan Braxe and Fred Falke’s remix of the Test Icicles’ What’s Your Damage?, which recasts the Icicle’s masculine rawk as perhaps the best track to never make the Miami Vice soundtrack. I’ve got a million of them. Fatboy Slim’s devastation of Mike and Charlie’s I Get Live, which saw Underworld’s blistering Born Slippy racket and said “I raise you a million (bpm).”
Fuck, for that matter, check out the remix package for Pictureplane’s Thee Physical. The remixes for the track Body Mod acknowledge Pictureplane’s lifting of some vox from Dub Be Good to Me by Beats International (an early Norman Cook [aka Fatboy Slim] project) by throwing in their “own” two cents worth — Extreme Animals throws in some of the Twin Peaks soundtrack along with Moby’s Go and Teams tosses in a complete nod-and-wink by bringing in samples from one of Fatboy Slim’s most famous remixes, Renegade Master by Wildchild. Everyone stealing. Everyone building. To quote Jim Jarmusch:
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination… Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.
This is all a very long-winded way of saying I love remixes and that those with high-minded ideals about originality are welcome to GTFO and erase this URL from their internet history.
As for this remix package, it goes all over the place, taking Marie Dior’s ADULT.-at-a-rave-with-Add-N-to-(X)-DJing original and doing nasty, but presumably pleasurable (and consensual) things to it. As heard above, the previously-raved-about Witchboy adds his own gutter-thump to it, adding filthy lyrics and a full-throttle pump, taking the track over the top, erecting a ladder, climbing up to the “DO NOT USE” step and hurling the whole works over the new “top.” Sometimes subtlety is a virtue. Other times it’s as much fun as a designated driver who needs to be home by 9:30 pm. This is one of the latter.
The Aparition remix, on the other hand, takes Fast Legs on a tense stroll through his own particularly worrisome neighborhood. The beat doesn’t do much propulsion, seeing as it tends to get waylaid by cantankerous buzzing noises of ill repute and for some reason, the whole ‘hood is darkened, dead-end alleyways all the way down. (If this sounds like your cup of abrasive tea, be sure to check out Aparition’s full-length album as well as his Bandcamp page.) Elements of the original remain, but I’m pretty sure they’re making panicked phone calls to the outside while Aparition hastily cuts all the outbound lines.
I had no idea Facebook pages could receive messages and yet, here we are discussing the result of just such a thing. Normally, I’m not much for unsolicited recommendations, especially from bands pimping their own stuff. This has nothing to do with any sort of elitism on my own part (although there is a bit of that, I’m sure). This has more to do with the fact that I don’t have a never-ending supply of shits to give and all the time in the world to give them. As much as the always-on internet world lacks reliable filters, sometimes you’ve got to be your own and just ignore everything that piles up in the inbox.
But this I didn’t ignore (or the other self-promo message — you can check them out on Soundcloud and perhaps you’ll find yourself more impressed with their output than I was). I did the Good Thing that Responsible Music Bloggers are supposed to do and actually clicked through, read the description and pressed Play. And… heard something I liked.
Mockbirth, a pair of Greek artists, bill themselves as “downtempo trip-hop,” something I really haven’t been in the mood for for years, after following Tricky’s career path down the path titled “The Law of Diminishing Returns.” So, over a half-decade minimum and that’s counting Portishead’s unlikely resurrection. But, I gave the top track a chance simply because I was hoping the list of influences (Radiohead, Massive Attack, Tom Waits, Nick Cave) would bring something to the presumably heavily-blunted party.
And what I heard sounded nothing like trip and/or hop and it certainly wasn’t downtempo. And while I didn’t hear the listed influences reflected, I did hear something that sounded quite a bit like Death in Vegas’ high points, a track that combined DiV’s krautrocking synths with DiV’s smoking hot propulsion system and judicious guitar loops. Which is to say that it sounds like Lüger.
All in all, very enjoyable, even if the answers they listed under “Influences” didn’t match up with mine. On the other hand, there’s a great deal of Radioheadness on other tracks, so points back on the board for that.
Around sounds like a lost b-side from the sessions between The Bends and OK Computer, which is pretty good company to be in, especially if you know any easily-duped Radiohead completists. Both of Mockbirth’s EPs are available for download, either at Bandcamp or at their Soundcloud page.
Not a goddamn thing! (Beside a few vowels…) But why does everything have to have something to do with everything else? Can we not just enjoy something on its own merits? Does EVERYTHING need a pithy title and the come-hither leer of SEO keywords? I humbly submit to you that IT DOES NOT.
That being said, this will be a rather brief post (comparatively). While there are larger projects in the works (like listening to an entire internet’s worth of netlabel output), I’d still like to take a moment now and then to aim you in the direction of stuff I’m listening to when I’m not up to my ears in netlabel .rars and suggestions to check out even more netlabels, etc. until the list of “THINGS TO DO” has become sentient and walks around drumming its fingers impatiently on the desk and tapping its foot in a look-we’re-all-just-waiting-on-you way.
For anyone who ever felt dismayed, irritated, blood in their ears, or just plain “left out” by Dinosaur Jr’s permaflux wall-of-sound guitar attack can now rejoice/chill/medicate/be part of the “in-crowd.” With this enticing (and self-explanatory) album, Dinosaur J (Mascis) has gone toward mellower ground, recasting his tracks as charming synthrock. Oddly, his distinctive voice, which seemed would never work outside the confines of roaring guitar distortion, fits in perfectly with the new backdrop.
Feel the Pain has always been one of my favorites (because I’m such a populist) and this version doesn’t do a thing to detract from that status. Close your eyes and it almost sounds like Mascis is readying himself for a cover of New Order’s Temptation. (Which would be cool.)
As for Raisans, this version is catchier than sexually-transmitted-bubonic-plague. If you don’t find yourself humming this Jan Hammer-esque track over the next few days, then you’ve probably got something wrong with you on a fundamental level, and should probably have that checked via a blood test. (Can’t hurt. SAFETY FIRST.)
I’ve been listening to this EP again. I first came across it nearly two years ago while tag-surfing at Bandcamp. Filed under “witch house” (which was the style at the time…), SPIDER▲WEBS Dusk House EP sounded only very lightly (wrong term, probably) like witch house and more like someone using a sampler for ostensibly evil purposes but undercut constantly by their knack for producing solid, enjoyable tunes. Sure, it’s dark and all, but it’s got a bit of unexpected buoyancy to it considering the tags below the album.
According to the band info, Do the Psycho was assembled from samples of “daft punk, house music and old movie trailers.” Hey, whatever drowns out all the screaming. (Nearly.) It’s an eerie fairground of a tune, slightly off-kilter, like a calliope in denial. It fiercely projects lurching “cheerfulness” in an attempt to ignore the unpleasantness just offscreen.
Kids, have fun on the midway! Play some games! Ride some rides! And try not to wonder why there seem to be fewer and fewer of you milling about. It’s just an illusion. A trick of the lights. And most definitely not some unspeakable horror lurking somewhere in the darkened outskirts.
This one takes sort of New Romantic angle, which is completely wrong, if I’m reading the notes right. Inspired by The Knife’s Silent Shout and sampling the Cocteau Twins, and yeah, I can hear The Knife twisting away in there, jabbing listeners with the pointy end of its synth, but I can also hear something akin to The Human League building to a concise and cutting critique of Western civilization, only we’ve arrived to early and we’re still in the slow building intro.
One more. Samples New Order and tweets away on ye old rave whistle now and again without becoming either a.) an actual rave track or b.) tedious and/or precious. Still hides in the shadows. Still wears a bit of a helpless grin. Good good shit.
Here’s another band I ran into a couple of years back and I had pretty much figured they had grown too weird for this world and had decided the hell with music and gone on to do other things — normal things — like become postal service workers or mechanics or teach 9th grade history or whatever. But holy shit(!), they are back!
Their first album (Available here [right-click to Save As…]), from which Eating Babies is taken, was a blown-out psychotic masterpiece crafted from unholy amounts of static and ultra-distortion. Beyond lo-fi. Beyond no-fi. And beneath all the aural rubble, memorable melodies still lived, occasionally clawing their way to the surface, like in the memorably-named track above.
Their new album, titled spectacularly Gothdammit, has been out for a few months now, and would have gone completely unnoticed if it weren’t for a good friend of mine who always has his ear to the ground (among other places). And it’s a good one. The EP is a bit more accessible than their early work, but still retains the wrecked speaker sound design of their debut, along with the impeccable tunesmithery which anchors the tracks and keeps them from just devolving into noise BECAUSE.
This new track is the best Joy Division track released in years, which is not a back-handed compliment. There are worse things to be compared to and JD had a way with traversing the fine line between accessible and antagonistic and the Grave Babies have that tightrope walk nailed the fuck down.
The sound frays at the edges, but just as the intro has you nearly convinced that Fuck Off is some sort of ragged tone poem, the drums kick in and it’s 1977 all over again and the skinheads are throwing bottles at the stage and the sky is always grey and the mood is always black and the night is always ours.
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I’ve spoken about netlabel Aural Sects before, both in regards to the sheer volume of music available as well as highlighting one specific over-productive member of the roster. By my latest estimate, Aural Sects has nearly 70,000 hours of music uploaded, spread across more releases than The Fall and Psychic TV combined. This is a very rough estimate and it’s probably better for all involved if no actual maths are used to verify my claims. Just trust me — there is an entire digital semi-trailer full of music contained on the other end of the link above and god help you if you decide you’re going to be a completist and listen to the entire catalog.
That being said, I am actually trying to be that person that god will hopefully help and have begun digging into the catalog, starting from the top. This is being done in reverse-chronological order to ensure that by the time I reach the bottom of the list, everything I have to say about those albums will be rendered instantly irrelevant six months ago. (Yes. That is a mixture of tenses but [again] trust me, a Sisyphean task like this has that sort of effect on a person. But we don’t really have time to waste discussing this. The past awaits… in the future!)
So, here it is: the inaugural edition of The Super-Sectsy Sounds of the Aural Sects Netlabel*, to be followed periodically and sporadically by other “Greatest Hit” volumes in the near-to-distant future. The best part about this is that most of this music can easily be had for less than the price of a pack of stolen smokes. Additional fun fact: if you lined up all of Aural Sects’ releases end-to-end, you’re probably tripping balls.
*Name VERY likely to change in the near future. Send suggestions to the Comment section below.
ian curtis wishlist describes his music as “loud dreamy electronic” and as far as pithy descriptions go, this one is very accurate. flutters is definitely “loud” (your personal speaker setting may vary), opening with a metallic-edged breakbeat not too far removed from Tronik Youth’s productions. It settles into something more befitting the title though, and heads for the “dreamy” end of the spectrum (but without completely ditching the concussive percussion), comparing very favorably to one of my favorite albums of 2K10, Helsinki Forever by Cyan Tablets. (Obscure, yes. But I’ll embed something below.)
emma’s house, however, is pure “dreamy.” You could say something about the Cocteau Twins, but we’ve all used that comparison too often already (yes, The Music Press in General, I mean you). Instead, let’s just say this: emma’s house positively shimmers, sounding improbably like something ancient and angelic breaking the surface of the ocean and rising into the sky, refracting light and exuding an aura of spectacular power tempered by immeasurable love.
The next four tracks are taken from another massive compilation, this one running 49 tracks in length and dedicated to in equal parts to video game culture and scene figurehead Blam Lord, curator of Blam Blam Fever.
Label co-creator Spf5Ø and compilation namesake Blam Lord go at it over the nearly-dead body of boy hero Link (like maybe 1/2 a heart left at this point) and his mostly-submerged canned bleeps. Darker than a power outage in a basement apartment and at least as claustrophobic.
The mysterious DVCKDVCK also takes the darker road less traveled (but still somehow littered with corpses… ???), going to his (her?) unhappy place and finding solace with fellow travelers like Gatekeeper and Zombie Zombie. Reminds one (the royal “one,” meaning me) of The Thing soundtrack, which is high praise indeed considering at one point in my past, I shelled out over 4,400 words gushing about that film. Insistent, dark electronica, which for my money is the best kind of electronica.
If you had asked me at any point in the past whether I would ever consider listening to a track based on Donkey Kong 64 and produced by an odd pairing of a Dutch woman named Cornelia and a bottle of Coppertone who had apparently set their default font to Wingdings, I would have replied with: “What? Are you high?” And you would have said, in something approaching a paranoid whisper, “Why? Is someone here?” And I would have said, “No, but I do need the rent by the 5th.” And you would have made some non-committal noise and retired to your darkened, smoky bedroom. And while I truly felt that you were a pretty cool dude underneath it all and yes, the fucking drug war is a complete sham, that still doesn’t help me find $300 extra by the time rent is due.
Years later, we’d look back on this and laugh, what with us both being grown-ass adults with high-speed internet connections. And then you’d ask me again, and I’d say, “Funny you should mention that. I just heard something EXACTLY along those lines.”
Cornelia Van Rijswijk, part of art collective Post-Religion, and very possibly not even Dutch but something more exotic, joins Spf5Ø for this enjoyable and disturbing take on an old classic. The hoots and howls of digital apes are reshaped into something approximating a modem with a speech impediment. Behind all the ill-ly communicating electronics runs a minimal but effective buzz-and-minor-chord backdrop, turning the whole piece into every moral panicker’s wet dream. Video games, even ones with monkeys*, are evil.
Jowie Schulner, an actual Dutch person, turns in a piece that wouldn’t sound out of place in the Chariots of Fire soundtrack, I completely shit you not. It would be prime running-on-the-beach music if it weren’t so retro-futuristic. If you’re running on the beach listening to this, it’s probably night and something unstoppable is probably chasing you. Or you’re running from yourself in that metaphoric way that people in montages do with alarming frequency. But one way or another, this is propulsive music, loaded with atmospheric touches but never bulky, overstuffed or anything less than streamlined tonal muscle.
Fifty Grand’s Kafka-esque cover art and his her methadone shuffle beats are not for those who like their listening “easy” or their cover art “roach-free,” but since I don’t personally know anybody like that, I’m going to assume that the rest of you don’t either and so, fuck ’em, let’s all take a listen to this while gazing up at that.
To be completely honest, I about turned this track off. The beat was heading dangerously close to “bog downtempo” along with the few tones that could be picked up. Fortunately for me (and the rest of you), I was otherwise occupied (minds back up out of the gutter — I was cleaning the kitchen). But with about 2:40 left in the track, that… noise… kicked in. And the beat stopped. The tones changed. The beat picked back up along with a new set of tones, at once brighter but also more haunting. And it kept getting better. By the two-thirds of the way through it, I was sure I was listening to a lost track from the Twin Peaks soundtrack, especially during the last minute or so. And now I’m hooked.
High Park and zxz hit your eardrums like something being played at the last rave on earth, a for-the-hardcore hymn delivered via blown speakers and the constant hum of generators devouring millions of years of decomposition with each passing minute. Smoke belches from malfunctioning equipment and it’s only a matter of time before the crowd resorts to cannibalism.
There are hoover synths, busted-ass beats and diva vocals, none of which arrive with clarity or subtlety, but in this metaphoric day and age, subtlety’s a luxury and spending a few hours out of your radiation-flayed mind and your corpse-except-for-the-breathing body via a pummeling rush of soundwaves is the only high you can still afford.
A bit less pounding than Bondage (and what isn’t, lol etc… oh, wait, that’s the SM side, joke retracted), Space instead aims more for your mind’s eye, swirling synths around and affecting something approaching bounce before chucking it all for a moment and just letting the sludge rise to the surface. It’s only momentary but it colors the remainder of the track, turning it from skygaze into nogaze, the dead-eyed shuffle of the blind leading the damned. Still dark. Still good. Still in the running for the post-apocalyptic edition of Jock Jams 2xx9, The Year It All Went Sentient.
Have you ever asked yourself “What would a marching band sound like if someone with some taste wrote the sheet music?” Of course not. Who the fuck would wander around asking themselves questions like that. It’s ridiculous. First of all, we’ve all heard Tusk and, frankly, it’s not the horns so much as it is the drums, so you could toss the brass and keep the drum corp and still be 400-500x as awesome as your average marching band, who at this very minute are attempting to provide the definitive marching band cover of Louie, Louie and failing. Fuck them. And fuck that song.
But you can do kickass things with horns and, CONCEIVABLY, an entire marching band. And if you’re going to upend the scholastic system and its rigid adherence to old, boring standards, then you might as well go all the way and pick some guy with numbers in his name to do it. Because shit almighty, if you’re going to blaze new trails, burn new bridges and fuck the homecoming crowd right in the goddamn ear, you’re going to want THIS converted to sheet music and handed out to the pep band along with some amyl nitrate and blacker-than-their-sleepless-eyes uniforms and tell them to GET OUT and PLAY THE FUCK OUT OF THIS.
Sucker them in with the low-key funereal procession of a New Orleans funeral procession (wordplay is fun!) and get the drums rolling a bit and the snares kicking it on the high end, playing off the low-end thump. Then let it unwind like a coiled serpent and leave the crowd stunned momentarily but then seconds later, on its feet, either roaring its approval or baying for your blood. WIN-FUCKING-WIN.
Revolving Door Records, home of the incomparable Cult of Mr. Light, have just (and by “just,”I mean it’s been a couple of weeks now, but IN THE WHOLE SCHEME OF THINGS) released a mind-bogglingly large compilation (53 tracks, 500 mb approx.) of multi-genre electronic noisemakers.
Ostensibly an offshoot of Der WitchHaus (along with netlabel Aural Sects and Baku Shad-do), the restless denizens of The Internet have moved far beyond the clicks, drones and nodded-off-on-the-Korg limitations of the genre into arenas as-of-yet mostly unexplored. There are new genres to made, named and discarded at the first hint of a Village Voice profile! Time waits for no man, woman or ambisexual set of Unicode characters! Where we’re going, we won’t need genres!
Granted, a half-gig of music, even at today’s prices ($000) is quite a haul, so rather than attempt to break everything down into specifics, I’m just going to give you a brief overview of my favorite tracks from the comp. On your own time (and your own dime), you can click over and download the entire set. I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff that needs a half-dozen listens before clicking in and others that will beg to be replayed over and over after being subjected to, well, subjectivity.
Spacey, off-center hip hop, lying somewhere between El-P and Kool Keith, especially their more ethereal moments (although without the latter’s occasional scatological fixations). Lyrically rolls out a red carpet that leads straight to your medicine cabinet, namechecking Adderall (among others) and circling back to a chorus of “Dextromethamphetamine/For your black heart,” most memorably after this bit of rhyme-slinging:
Frolicking in different dimensions dementia found in synapse pressure the doctors couldn’t measure Maxine’s last breath was that of an ordinary type ledger bloody journal page 7 explained ideals on heaven and in the margarine was doodled spacecraft to take her away fast forged pills with mama’s scribbles just feel better a little Maxine’s worst was asking for time off from this earth
Given my affinity for their debut album, it’s little surprise that the CoML have turned in another brutally strong track. Comes howling at you like the Jesus and Mary Chain covering a Stooges dirge in an underpass a few hundred yards away. The vocals are tortured to maximum effect by a variety of effects, distorted and submerged into near unrecognizability. The instrumentation doesn’t fare much better, pitting a domineering bass against tones approaching the Chain’s omnipresent feedback-as-lead-guitar wind tunnel blast.
Pops out of the speakers covered in only the latest, brightest tones, like a bilingual Erasure, complete with mandatory superfluous drum machine breakdown with about 1:30 left in the track, which instantly confers upon I Want U the right to be referred to as the “12-inch Mix” at any point in the future.
Revolving Door man ƸC†OPL∆SM joins forces with Matt “Supa” Solley for a bit of spaghetti hip hop with Sortahuman delivering the hotboxed goods over some Morricone-esque instrumentation. Moves along at a pace that could be described as “mosey” provided a.) you use a barely-disguised Italian accent and b.) have “smoked to this” for long enough that any pace above “mosey” sounds damn near impossible/hilarious.
Namechecks one of Moroder’s most epic tracks and provides one of the better approximations of the Moroder experience I’ve heard in awhile, which is good, seeing as he’s off rapping on Daft Punk albums now. Contains the classic electro-drum tones that let you know they’re not afraid of telling you just how fake they are and some vicious keytar strumming. (Or not. I’m really not much of a technical expert. I’m just telling you what it sounds like, and what it sounds like is the picture directly above this.)
Speaking of approximations, Girl Posse garf (Words with Friends informs me that this is NOT an actual word, so I have deleted the app from my phone… assholes) up something approximating a glitching NES cartridge*, one that works just well enough to get you through the opening “cinematic” (OH HO & a bit of a LOL at the technological limitations of an 8-bit system) but no further before locking up and requiring the player to perform the Cartridge Resurrection Ritual which, much like the Libido Resurrection Ritual, involves a whole lot of blowing.
*Or more accurately, a Gameboy cartridge, as Girl Posse’s (ab)uses a Gameboy as his glitchy chiptune-crafting weapon of choice. (Words with Friends informs me that half the words in the previous sentence are “not in the REAL dictionary, you nerdish fuckwit.” I have responded with a resounding “Unsubscribe to all updates.”)
mrL1ght is all of 17 years old. Thanks for making my 37–27-23-year-old ass feel underproductive and late to the game. I’m really not sure what “ayro” means but the internet has coughed up this definition (and has conveniently cited no sources [like a slated-for-deletion Wikipedia entry]): “Something or someone that is awesome, incredible, impressive, etc.” If this track title is meant to be a shout-out to ƸC†OPL∆SM, then I am completely cool with that.
You will be, too (cool, that is) as mrLight leads you to somewhere refreshingly summery and blissful. The tones may have a slightly disconcerting vibe to them, but as the track pushes and builds, it becomes something that exudes both innocence and joy in a way that focus group-crafted pop rarely can, but artists with a deft touch and a true love for their work find to be almost second nature. (See also: Leann Grimes.)
Turn this one up loud enough and you’ll probably wake up trapped in limbo with your doppleganger on the loose. We in the music writing biz call this sort of thing a “soundscape” and believe you me, it is wall-to-wall stocked with fucking sound.
A beast made of tangled wires and blown speakers roars incessantly, baying for blood in a language only the denizens of the underworld can understand. (Or David Lynch.) They get their blood, too, as the samples clearly attest. It doesn’t matter where we’re headed. Only one of us is coming back. The sound of remorseless violence, jammed right into your skull with malicious intent and a practiced precision.
Well, if the art above doesn’t give you some idea where this track is headed, PERHAPS I CAN BE OF SOME ASSISTANCE. Yes, it’s the eighties all over again except this time Perturbator is driving the Delorean/time machine/drug mule. Nothing laidback about this track. A pumping 4/4 that was deemed “2Future4U” by cuties wearing nothing but neon, chrome and feathered hair kicks the door wide open, allowing the rushing electronics to plow right over your imported white carpet and begin making themselves overly complicated drinks while admiring your Nagel prints and precarious haircut.
There’s a few well-timed pauses here and there, but what really sells it is the cascading glockensynths and faker-than-a-spray-on-tan cowbell highlights. (The tastefully-sampled moans of underclad sexytime women doesn’t hurt.)
Oh, fuuuuuck. This shit right here is the shit. Tommy gives you no idea where he’s headed with this one. The intro is a head fake built on a murky near-breakbeat and a dentist’s drill of a buzzing drone (the latter of which immediately reminded me of Joey Jupiter.)
Once you’ve sensibly arrived at the conclusion that Tommy’s going to bust out some sort of UNKLE-esque groove, the buzz hits the top of the scale and suddenly, we’re in synth heaven, surrounded by Daft Punk’s better decisions and Jan Hammer’s brighter moments.
It’s a good place to be. Tommy’s not just going to rest on his laurels, no matter how impeccable and impossibly cool they are. Instead, he treats us to unexpected bits of angular noise periodically and an escalating melody that says, “If I had a ridiculously powered cigarette boat and was tearing up and down the coast, THIS is what I would be listening to if I thought I had any chance of hearing it over the 450-hp engine.”
After hearing this track, I have come to the conclusiong that I’M NOT LISTENING TO ENOUGH TR££B£∆RD. It’s got a Dub Narcotic Soundsystem feel, what with all the dubby bits and the murky bits and kling-klanging, ping-ponging noises. But it’s definitely its own thing as well. TR££B£∆RD knows how to build a track that has plenty going on but never seems busy just being busy.
Drums catch, hang and stutter like shitty operating system. A vocal sample that you know will never coalesce weaves in and out of the smoky ether, completely devoid of clarity-providing treble and chopped into unrecognizable bits. Everything vibrates and echoes. A few times the whole thing threatens to fall apart, but miraculously holds together like a high school senior’s ’73 Dodge Challenger, all primer, rust and dents. File under: Shambolic.