Tag Archives: Aural Sects

The Endlessly Scrolling Wall of Sound: Aural Sects Recommendations Vol. 2

Diving back into the breach in a foolhardy attempt to catch up with netlabel Aural Sects‘ breakneck pace. Since Vol. 1 (in what now seems will be an interminable series), Aural Sects has released no fewer than three (3) new albums. (Witchboy – Le Universe Perverse, Flexdragon – U Thirsty Bro?, Astral Goth – Drowning the Colossus)

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.”]

Spell Hound – Circling.mp3

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.

Spell Hound – Spell Hound

Texture – Rohrschach.mp3

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.

Texture – SigilKids

On the second album, SigilKids II – Thrown Room, Texture mines an uglier vein, taking you places you’d rather be completely straight before entering and completely fucked up the moment you escape.

Texture – B▲53D G؆Ħ.mp3

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.

Texture – The Breeze (Sonic Youth Cover).mp3

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 BreezeTexture 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.

Texture – SigilKids II – Thrown Room

Party Trash – Crazy.mp3

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.”

Party Trash – Die.mp3

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.

Party Trash – Pray 4 Luv.mp3

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.

Party Trash – Pray 4 Luv

DJ Deathray – Bombs On It.mp3

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.

DJ Deathray – Neus

Witchboy – Venusville.mp3

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.”

Witchboy – Making Movies.mp3

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.

Witchboy – Hollymode

Marie Dior – FAST LEGS (HIGH HEELS) (❚W❙IT❚C❙H❘B❚O❙Y❘ VOGUE BITCH remixXx).mp3

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.

Marie Dior – FAST LEGS (HIGH HEELS) (Aparition Remix).mp3

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.

Marie Dior and Various Artists – Fast Legs (High Heels)

Volume 2 Complete. Achievement Unlocked: INTERNET OUROBOUROS.

Until next time…

/s/CLT

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Electronica, Hip Hop, Remixes

A Thoroughly Inadequate Attempt to Get a Handle on Aural Sects

Or, Just Hold My Ears Until I Get the Hang of It

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 – flutters.mp3

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.)

ian curtis wishlist – emma’s house.mp3

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.

ian curtis wishlist – receiver

[For comparison’s sake, here’s Cyan Tablets.]

Cyan Tablets – Amaretto.mp3

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.

Spf5Ø & Alt Link (aka Blam Lord) – ▲ll Bl▲ck †riforces (The Legend of Zelda).mp3

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.

DVCKDVCK – SHADOWRUN.mp3

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.

Cornelia Van Rijswijk ▼ sp5Ø – sooOOo §†rong (Donkey Kong 64).mp3

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.

*Apes, actually.

Jowie Schulner – Overlord a.k.a. Supermacy.mp3

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.

Blam Lord’s Quest

Fifty Grand – First Lucid Dream.mp3

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.

Fifty Grand – Fifty Grand

High Park & zxz – Bondage.mp3

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.

High Park & zxz – Space.mp3

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.

High Park & zxz – High Park & zxz

MADD3N – The Mill and the Cross.mp3

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.

MADD3N – M4DDN3SS

[That is it for this volume. Vol. 1 as they say. Stay tuned for more. (And I have more, but the words, there’s so many of them already.)]

/s/CLT

3 Comments

Filed under Electronica, Remixes

Recommended: FREEDOM – A Revolving Door Records Compilation

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.

To the list:

DISC I

Cauzndefx – Pills (Prod. by ƸC†OPL∆SM).mp3

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 

More Cauzndefx at Bandcamp.

Cult of Mr. Light – Incomplete.mp3

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.

The Cult of Mr. Light on Soundcloud.

DISCOLETTE – I Want U.mp3

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.

DISCOLETTE on Soundcloud.

ƸC†OPL∆SM & Sortahuman – Smoke to This.mp3

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.

Sortahuman on Soundcloud.

Flash Arnold – The Final Chase.mp3

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.)

More Flash Arnold here.

DISC 2

Girl Posse – Garf Vom (Bad Boy Cat).mp3

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.”)

Follow the Girl Posse here.

mrL1ght – Ayro Ecto, Ayro Ecto.mp3

mrL1ght is all of 17 years old. Thanks for making my 3727-23-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.)

Brighten up with mrLight here.

(O)THERS – Last Swim.mp3

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.

Blow your brains out your ears with (O)THERS.

DISC 3

Perturbator – Disco Girls.mp3

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.)

More Perturbations available here.

Tommy – Overdrive.mp3

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.”

Tommy: Quite Possibly the New Kavinsky. (Related: page contains a Kavinsky remix.)

[THE INTERNET HAS FAILED. Here is the Joey Jupiter track I was hoping to simply link to.]

Joey Jupiter – Fructose.mp3

TR££B£∆RD – Traphouse Ghosts.mp3

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.

EVIL TREE? More info available here.

/s/CLT

2 Comments

Filed under Electronica, Remixes

Recommended: Ron Hardly – The House Sound of Chicago

If this man ever stops cranking out music, I’ll have to assume that he’s either
a.) dead
b.) lost several limbs
c.) dead of blood loss related to removal of several limbs
d.) nearing triple-digits in age and taking a well-deserved sabbatical.

Introducing Ron Hardly, whom several of you already know as Nattymari. Paying homage both in name and in primal, hammering house track(s) to Chicago house DJ, Ron Hardy, The House Sound of Chicago is 5 tracks(x) worth of old fashioned, bare bones, strobelit, straight-up house.

Briefly, Ron Hardy was one the founding fathers of house music, taking over The Warehouse after Frankie Knuckles left in 1982(!). (Just to give you some idea how far back house goes… Back far enough that Hardy made his own reel-to-reel edits and then, you know, played them back on a reel-to-reel as part of the mix. He also was one of the first DJs to seriously fuck with the EQs when DJing, bottoming out the bass to drown the high end or dropping the low end to ride the treble. And he devised his own method of playing records backwards, which involved rotating the needle upside down and dropping the wax on a cylinder that allowed the record to rest on the needle. So, shove that in yer noise-hole, everybody who’s ever said “DJs just play other peoples’ records. I don’t see what the big deal is.”)

To set the scene for Ron HardLy’s work, here’s the original Ron Hardly behind the decks (including the inverted one) and reel-to-reel working his magic. (The reversal happens at the 3:20 mark).


And here’s one more, which leads off with the mechanized, minimal banging that we’ll see tribute being paid to below:


Back to Ron “Nattymari/CurtCrackrach/NetNanny4.0/theaGitator/toomanytolist” Hardly.

The title says it all. Hardly gives off the same sweat-pouring-down-the-walls vibe that Hardy exuded during his sets, relying on a mixture of deep, soulful house and brutal, simplistic beats, the latter of which is sometimes dismissed by critics as “track-y.” As in, more a “DJ tool” than an actual “song.”

The pioneers of house, however, had their hands full producing even simplistic, “track-y” shit. Early drum machines were anything but precise, requiring the operator’s full attention to crank out anything resembling an unwavering 4/4 beat. Cobbling together a rudimentary drum track often meant several hours of dicking with presets and hoping nothing would wobble out of alignment.

Case in point: DJ Sneak’s anecdote about the genesis of his classic house track You Can’t Hide from Your Bud:

“One day in 1997, Sneak promised his friend and fellow Chicago DJ Derrick Carter a new 12-inch for Carter’s label Classic, then spent hours fruitlessly laboring over a basic, bustling four-four beat. Finally, Sneak gave in and smoked the J he’d had stashed for later in the day. When he came back inside, he carelessly dropped the needle onto a Teddy Pendergrass LP, heard the word “Well . . . ,” and realized, “That’s the sample, right there.” He threaded Pendergrass’s 20-year-old disco hit “You Can’t Hide From Yourself” through a low-pass filter to give it the effect of going in and out of aural focus, creating one of the definitive Chicago house singles. “An hour later,” he says, “I called Derrick and played it over the phone: ‘I’ve got your track.'”

Nattymari/Ron Hardly has never been shy about his preference for music to work out “wrong,” so despite today’s handy toolboxes and their metronome-like precision, he’s paying homage to the “basic, bustling four-four beats,” the track-y result of dozens of man-hours.  And track-y or not, it makes the house move:


While the whole EP is worth a listen, the standouts are tracks 2-4, each one of them a simultaneous throwdown/throwback, enjoyable on their own terms, but even more so with a little history behind them. For an artist best know for destruction and distension of other peoples’ beats, it’s a bit of a blast to hear him deploy something at full speed.

Check out the full EP at Aural Sects. While you’re there, admire the fully stocked digital shelves and pick up something for the kids. (I recommend the Thoed Myndez, the Nattymari:Obliterated and the Aparition. This is not to disparage the other artists on the roster, but for every album I listen to on the back nine, another release [or two] has been uploaded to take its place. [OK, here’s a couple more: DJ Deathray and the mammoth, 61-track Icepunk compilation.]

/s/CLT

5 Comments

Filed under Electronica

Recommended: The Cult of Mr. Light – For a New Conception of Time

I was given a copy of this album a few hours before its release by Revolving Door Records label head ƸC†OPL∆SM. It seems odd to say “given” considering the album is freely available at Bandcamp, with the emphasis on FREEly, but nonetheless I was given a few hours’ head start with the tunes. Of course, life being life, I was unable to take advantage of the advance copy, but here’s where I pay back that favor, but not before I head off on a bit of tangent.

There are a lot of netlabels and a lot of artists on those netlabels, all of whom seem to be generating hundreds of hours of music per year. At this point, my Facebook feed resembles a firehose of multicolored, symbol-laden, provocatively dressed avatars, each cranking out link after link to their stuff, their labelmates’ stuff, the stuff they listen to when not making music, the stuff they’re intending to remix/rap on/obliterate, etc. Just between ƸC†OPL∆SM (Sam Hatzaras), Nattymari (Dafydd McKaharay), Joe Royster ( Co-founder – Aural Sects netlabel; spf5Ø), Mike TXTBK, Matt Supa Solley (Sortahuman), Party Trash, Mikey Shad-do (Baku Shad-do netlabel) and the Amdiscs label, there’s more music being foisted upon the public than any one human being could reasonably be expected to listen to.

You know that old complaint about how piracy has taken away the incentive to create because nobody can make money with music anymore? Well, that’s obviously complete bullshit. This may mean those who were used to getting paid (back in the day) have lost the will, but sweet goddamn christ, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anyone who’s been creating without the expectation of getting paid. If anything, this whole internet thing has turned them into some sort of compulsive creators and we, the people on the receiving end, are the beneficiaries of a leveled playing field, even if that means that we’ll constantly be swimming upstream against a torrent (or with torrents – piracy joke lol) of incoming music, knowing we’ll always be at least a foot under metaphoric water.

Go, just go and click this link for an example of what I’m talking about. This is the Aural Sects netlabel. Click on that link. I’m not even asking. DO IT. Click and gaze in wonderment at the almost-literal wall of album covers. Each of those represents, at the very least, two tracks to listen to. Many of those are full albums. Some are the internet equivalent of double albums. By the time you’ve finished gazing at that and reading this sentence, Royster and his conspirators will likely have uploaded another 15-track compilation and a couple of EPs and is, even as we “speak,” dumping the links into my Facebook firehose. (Abbreviated hereafter in this set of parentheses only as “FaceHose” for maximum comic effect.)

I wish all these guys (and girls) the best. Holy shit. They’re amazing. The counterargument (often delivered by the same people that think no one will create without incentives) is that if it’s for free and there’s that much of it, it must be about 90% shit. It’s a terrible argument, based more on leftover physical label elitism than on any, you know, research. Not only that, but this “counterargument” fails to take into account a little thing called “subjectivity.” One person’s 90% shit is another person’s 90% gold. Even if it is 90% shit (and it definitely isn’t), at the prices they’re charging, you can afford to bin 9 out 10 songs. You’re not going to be out of much, if anything, other than time.

That’s where I hit the wall: time. There’s no way to keep up with it all. I’ve downloaded several albums, dumped them into the mp3 player and am now making my way through them at my own pace, which is roughly 1/100th of the speed that it’s being generated. There’s some amazing stuff, some merely good stuff, a lot of average stuff and a few absolute clunkers. But all that statement means is that it’s exactly like any other genre distributed in any other fashion. Just because there’s no limited edition vinyl and radio airplay and etc. does not mean the quality of the music is any more or any less than anything else out there. The ratio of bad-to-good is no different with these netlabels as it is with other, more “acceptable” labes, whether it’s Fat Possum or Sub Pop or 4AD or Sony.

So, you have this constant onslaught of NEW STUFF.  And if you’re going to deal with it, you going to need some filters. I’m one. Other blogs are. I’m a clogged filter though, time having filled most of the holes with two jobs, a house and a family to take care of. Consequently, there’s a backlog of dozens (quite possibly hundreds) of songs I want to write about and even more albums that I’d like to review, all trapped in my filter, unable to make it further in my position as your filter. If I could limit myself to 30 words and a something-out-of-5 rating system, I might be making some progress. But when I like something, I want people to know why I like it. And if that’s not enough, I want people to understand the how of why I like it, if that makes sense, which takes even more time, because there will be pictures and links and digressions and inside jokes.

This is how I do it. “Be a music writer. It’ll be easy. You like music, right? The shit practically writes itself and there’s plenty of music out there. Easy. LOLOLOLOL. [Laughter trails off leaving only an uncomfortably manic gleam in my eye as it watches my FB wall fill up YET AGAIN.]”

But, getting back to the recommended album at hand. I was specifically given this to listen to. I had some time free up and I listened. And I was blown away.

I’m not sure why I expected less. Maybe it’s the numbing effect of running into a scrolling wall of creative effort every time I log into the Feeb. Maybe it’s the fact that between Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Youtube, these artists I’m in contact with are adding to their CVs pretty much around the clock and while they’re keeping the hose going, I can only dip in periodically and hope to come up with a winner. Maybe it’s the feeling that, while I expected it to be a good listen based on the pedigree (thus making it full of Things I Like), I didn’t expect it to be as great as it is.

Keep in mind: without Hatzaras singling me out, it would have been caught up in the firehose/loop that I’m praising/complaining about at great length. It would have scrolled by and fallen off the radar, ending up far away from my ears. Which would have been a real shame, because it’s a solid, inventive album that goes far beyond the scene that surrounds it.

The Cult of Mr. Light (Alexein P Oris and Phelyx Lambert) have crafted a stellar album and you don’t have to be tuned in to witch house, drag, icepunk, seapunk, juke, or any of a million other microgenres (each one full of unstoppable creative bastards, all attaching their own feed lines to my INCOMING FB scroll) to enjoy it. You just have to like music.

It’s essentially genre-less. Electronica, except with huge doses of acoustic guitar. Ambient, except with moments of tense propulsion. Industrial, except more prone to borrow from Italo-horror soundtracks and late-70s sci-fi-obsessed disco. It’s hardly everything to all people but it is definitely not for genre divisionists or electronica acolytes only.

Firing it up, I was hit with the first of many unexpectations: acoustic guitar. The reptilian brain recoils slightly, wondering a bit about whether this album might just be someone’s pretensions masquerading as music. (The “reptilian brain” is borrowed from someone, but I can’t remember who. P.J. O’Rourke? David Foster Wallace? Help me out here. [Use the comment thread.]) “I didn’t sign on for THIS.” I tuned down my internal dialogue and went browsing elsewhere as the track unfolded pleasantly before veering down a very dark alleyway in which lurked David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, waiting to beat me up for my drug money and abuse me with violent sexual imagery. The reptile brain subsides.

And then thrills. Track 2, Phone Calls from God is straight up electronics, a 2-1/2 minute ominous set of oscillations, leading into another surprise left turn with Space Fanfare (see above), which finds the complementary tones of Italo-horror soundtracks and retro-futuristic space disco (Goblin vs. Gianni Rossi, basically).

Many, many more highlights follow. Neon Island is the sound of a waking dream. And not a good one. Hallucinogenic and eerie without having to resort to the cliché of doom-laden chords from the “heavy” end of the keyboard. Tribute to Glauber Rocha brings back the acoustic guitar, resulting in something almost pretty enough to play in mixed company, but still spiked with surface tension. Assassins is Middle Eastern pop falling apart on a faulty reel-to-reel, menaced by various electronic devices.

Then there’s Interzone, which really deserves a post of its own. Electronica-space-rock that scorches the earth while heading for the stars, sounding like Hawkwind with a headful of steam and a welcome sense of focus. Without resorting to a guitar-heavy sound, The Cult of Mr. Light manage to erect something that could very possibly kick out the jams, motherfuckers, if given a little shove. Or less profanely, the ultra-tight retrolectro sound of Giorgio Moroder producing Palermo Disko Machine under the influence of a fistful of amphetamines. I’ve played this one repeatedly and respectfully suggest you do the same.

The final track is an extended coda, surpassing the 10-minute mark without requiring you to a.) zone out or b.) muscle through it. There’s an underlying theme that never goes away, but does get fucked about with in a rather amiable fashion. It unwinds and recoils reflexively, circling itself and unveiling new twists every few minutes.

In summation: a fucking brilliant album and one that makes me wonder just how much other truly great shit I’m missing by being unable to keep up with my FB feed. Probably lots, if I’m honest. Which is my loss, and consequently, yours as well. But I’m trying. To everyone I pointed out way, way back in the introductory paragraphs, I’ll get to you. Really, I will. It may not be timely, but it will be… eventual… I guess. Go and download For A New Conception of Time. You won’t regret it.

/s/CLT

2 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Electronica