Archive for January, 2013

Split Personalities

Posted: January 14, 2013 in New Indie Music

Pagan Fire/Cumsock

Split CD

SkullFucking Metal Records, 2006

Review by Kent Manthie

This split CD by The Philippines’ Pagan Fire and Canada’s Cumsock is a whirligig of SPEED/death metal (they say there’s a difference but there really isn’t) – the first four cuts, which are by Pagan Fire, which are all about 5 minutes long and then there’s the more thrashing, cutting sound of Cumsock, which reminds me a little bit of the first days of Husker Du-when they were still searching for a direction and tended to be on this side of the fence of hardcore, a la their recorded-live debut, Land Speed Record, which is unlike anything they ever did after that (even though Everything Falls Apart and Metal Circus (sans “Diane”) were loud, fast and furious).  Cumsock’s songs are all really short, just like a lot of tunes by hardcore bands back in the early 80s:  FEAR, MDC, The Exploited, Subhumans, DRI and so on… (if you think I left out Black Flag you’re wrong, because a lot of Black Flag tunes were longer-not ‘Long’ long, but 4-5 minutes, with a lot of grungy, grating guitar solos by frontman, Greg Ginn.

So, what am I saying?  Well, just that the 1st four tunes are serious, no-holds-barred ominous uber-metal, whereas the remaining 19 Cumsock tunes range from the “as-fast-as-we-can” to the alcohol-tinged goof-offs, which have these loose finishes – endings that have these raving asides to epithet-filled messages, etc.

Although this was part of a package of CDs I got from SkullFucking Metal Records, it looks like there’s some kind of thing going on with another label, Sewer Records, but I’m not sure who’s on what here…

A few songs to sort of give you a feel of what the album’s all about:  Two out of the four Pagan Fire songs are “Terminator” and “To Haunt, To Kill, To Devour” – the other two are in Tagalog, the Filipino language and I’m not going to try to spell them out here, especially since I have no idea what they mean (not that it matters).  Then, when you get to the Cumsock part of this split CD, there are some interesting tunes by them too:  “No Religion” is a good one; it’s not a complex Nietzschean argument against the idea of religion, etc, but rather a good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll “fuck you”.  Songs #7 and 8 go together well:  No. 7 is titled “Ohhhh” and No. 8 is “Uhhhhh”.  But, I’d have to say that my favorites on the Cumsock part is “Screams of Pain” and “Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck”, subtle as a sledgehammer.

To tell you the truth, I really don’t know how these two bands got together in the first place, except that the label maybe put them together and decided to make a split CD on their own.   The thing is that Pagan Fire and Cumsock don’t seem very congruent.  The former is a rather humorless and combustible outfit; with possibly political overtones (they dedicate their part of the album to the victims of the tsunami in 2006).  Whereas Cumsock seem to have a more party animal style:  their music has a vibe that is a premeditated party of kegger proportions.

Cumsock has the kind of kick-back, slack attitude that one needs in order to ward off stress and anger, whereas Pagan Fire is a hellraising band that wants to march in the street and shout at oppressors.  Good intentions, but all anger and no levity makes Johnny a stroke-waiting-to-happen.    -KM

ENOUGH Said…

Posted: January 11, 2013 in New Indie Music

M-Pex & DJ Makrox
Volukta
M-Pex & Dj Makrox

Enough Records, 2012

Review by Kent Manthie

 

This new release by M-Pex & Makrox, Volukta is a really special treat.  Not only is it available for free via www.archive.org, but it’s a great listen.  It’s billed as “Electronic” but there’s more to it than that:  there’s some primo acoustic guitar noodling, sexy, swinging saxophone and what seems like real drums mixed in with drum machine.  Of course, there are plenty of synths, samples of voices, found sounds and the like.  But what makes it so entrancing is not that it’s just another pretty face, it has, mixed in, with hip beats and style, Indian-tinged raga sounds that fit in nicely with the rest of the potpourri of sounds in it.

The first song, “Aldehbaran”, sets the stage for the album:  instrumental, fluid, going from Eastern, almost Sufi- style, entrancing melodies, to modern-day House music, techno-avant-garde, etc.  From there it goes on and on, later bringing in an organ to back things up and instead of a fast, whirling dervish tempo, Volukta takes a slowed-down, mellower approach that isn’t too ambient or over-texturized, but that does keep the listener into the grooves it lays down.

Volukta is a collaboration between the Portuguese “band” M-Pex and DJ Makrox, who helps out with the samples and the seamlessness and fluidity of the music.   It’s DJ Makrox that brings the “electronic” label to the project, while M-Pex bring Portuguese guitar fused with a jazzy sound and solid beats that drive the whole thing, while Makrox fills in the gaps with some hip-hop appeal as well as the aforementioned sampling, atmospherics and audio tech.

Besides the first cut, “Aldehbaran”, a few other stand-out cuts include the somewhat humorous (with the funny voices Makrox samples) “Hezper”, the spacey “Kanopus” and “Kassiopeya” as well as “Mira Kaeli”, which really shows off the acoustic guitar talents that are mesmerizing in themselves, but even more so when mixed with DJ Makrox’s box of toys.

It’s hard to pick out any particular tune on here because they’re all so great and the album is just seamless, going from one tune to the next, so it’s one that deserves to be heard as a whole, in one listen.  The mix of traditional Portuguese music with some sitar and tablas in the background and some other Eastern sounds, really blends well, making this not just another “electronica” record, but a good example of what quality “world music” should sound like.

Whichever style of music you’re coming from – whether it be “world music”, electronica”, “trance” or European hip-hop, this is a perfect mix of all of that and more.  So, enjoy it, compliments of Enough Records.  Again, you can download this for free by visiting www.archive.org and typing in “M-Pex & Makrox” in their search box.  –KM.

Skulls…he muttered…

Posted: January 9, 2013 in New Indie Music

Audible War #2

Gruuthaagy/Bone Machine (Split CD)

Skull Fucking Metal, 2012

Review by Kent Manthie

 

This is an interesting disc.  Audible War #2 is a split CD by two similar bands that have transcended the speed/death metal genre as well as metal machine noise and have dove into experimental, esoteric “anti-music”.

I really dig the first track (the 1st 3 tracks are by Gruuthaagy and tracks 4-6 are by Bone Machine), which, because of the gothic script it’s written in on the back of the CD sleeve, makes it difficult to read, but it looks like it reads “Crne Zastave”, which looks like it could be a Slavic language of some sort – the kind where they use a lot of consonants and fewer vowels.  Anyway, this tune that starts off the album is about 12 minutes long and is just a slowed down repetition of a series of progressive guitar chords, with no other instruments backing it.  Even though it may have a somewhat redundancy and go on and on, there’s something quite hypnotic about it – it’s not headbangingly monstrous, a la Cannibal Corpse, but more reserved, relaxed, although at the same time, there is an ominous vibe to it – one, if you’ve never heard it before, will keep you guessing whether it’s going to suddenly explode into a bloody screaming murder scene, but, they don’t do that, they just, or rather, the guitar player, just stands there, trance-like, crunching those chords.  The second tune is even longer – “Robija” is a 15 minute jam, with the whole band chiming in – drums, bass, guitar – to a slowed down, horror show of dark matter.

When I first put this CD in, to listen to it for reviewing, I expected a really experimental, rip-roaring, Gothic machine-noise CD, but, boy was I surprised, when, instead of typical death-speed-metal fashion, they played their nonetheless scary anthems in a slowed down pace; one you’d never hear on a Slayer album, et al.

While only containing 6 tracks, it showcases two independent, underground metal bands:  Gruuthaagy and Bone Machine.  The former is a “one man band” that came on the scene in 1992 and was influenced by “total noise” bands, 7 Minutes of Nausea as well as ATTA.  Unlike the 2 aforementioned bands, Gruuthaagy were not about making “noise for noise sake”, instead they’ve evolved from the “noise” metal of their heroes to “no-fi”, home-made “audio terrorism”.  Throughout their first 10 years Gruuthaagy spanned the distance from “total noise pollution” to what they’re doing nowadays, which is a unique, experimental and sometimes esoteric “anti-music”.   Over that time they’ve released numerous demos, singles, they also peppered several compilations with their music.

In their second decade Gruuthaagy really developed even more occult-inspired darkness, using much digital soundscapes and uncompromising sonic intensity.  Their ingenious craft does not fit neatly into any “box”:  they run the gamut from speeding, aggro, Teutonic gigantism to avant-garde ambient metallic drones which often touch upon both mysticism as well as sarcastic blasts at the huge amount of hypocrisy in the world (so much to throw stones at, etc.)

Bone Machine is another great band who has the same style as Gruuthaagy does on this release.  The three tracks they contributed were also atmospheric, layered ascetic dark grooves.  Their second and third tracks, “Babiy Jar” and “Dark Matter”, respectively, both featured sampled voices, some just distorted, hard to understand rambling and on “Dark Matter”, there were samples of George Bush I giving a talk on TV, back in 1991 talking about the just-commenced “war” on Iraq, due to Saddam’s disobedience by invading our friendly, oil-rich pals in Kuwait, which turned Saddam from a friend to whom the US gave lots of arms and money in order to crush the hated Iran in the long, drawn out Iran-Iraq war that, basically, lasted throughout the 80s – from about 81 until 89.  But when Saddam crossed that line (literally) by invading Kuwait, he became Persona Non Grata per the US Govt. and GHW Bush sent the troops to Iraq to kick this former ally, now PNG, Saddam & his ragtag army out of the emirate of Kuwait – no bastion of democracy, itself, but a big repository of oil.  Anyway, Bone Machine deftly utilizes samples of Bush I’s speech and played it over there droning, aggressive cool music.

Needless to say, Audible War #2 is the type of CD that is such a pleasant surprise to find – 1st of all, you aren’t going to find it at your local independent record store (I think just about all the corporate, chain record stores (Tower, Sam Goody, Wherehouse) have all gone out of business – unless you consider Best Buy, which besides selling just about every type of electronic item – from computers to washing machines, also has a surprisingly decent selection of music at their stores; in fact, I don’t even know if you can find it on Amazon, which is such a great marketplace – it’s amazing what you can find there and how cheap some of the prices are for certain CDs, so, even though I haven’t actually checked Amazon.com, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were up there.  But for now, you can go to http://www.geocities.com/skullfuckingmetal to get this disc.  –KM.

Stirner

2012

Review by Kent Manthie

    Well, we just got a whole new batch of experimental “noise” CDs and it takes a really special breed to be able to stomach the brave new noise.

The first disc I pulled out of the package I received was an eponymous album by the magnate of mayhem, Stirner.  From the beginning, aka, cut one, it explodes right out of the gate for the first minute or so of the first song.  Then, on the next 3 songs, each a different “Talk Show” (#1, #2, #3…) it glides into more of an atmospheric icescape that is a lot more easy to stomach than the trashy talk shows on television!  The first is “Talk Show #1:  We the People”, wherein one has to use their imaginations to figure out the meaning of the title – my interpretation is a sardonic mirror held up to the American People who sit home, en masse and watch these obnoxious talk shows:  Jerry Springer, Maury, Montel Williams, and the like ( to tell the truth, it’s been so long since I’ve been forced to sit in front of someone’s TV who was watching this shit that I really don’t know any other talk show hosts (or shows) that are on currently, but I’m sure they’re just as atrocious and worthless as the ones from the not-too-distant past, like RIcki Lake, Sally Jessy Raphael (god, she was an annoying train wreck and I’m glad she’s gone:  good riddance!)   Anyway, this dissonance is the perfect way to portray the disgusting freak shows that they are.  “Talk Show #2:  Profit” is pretty self-evident:  it’s a big “fuck you” to the TV shows that put this garbage on the air.  Profit is a big motive, something that goes hand in glove with ratings.  So, if the “unwashed masses” in the tenements, trailer parks, TVs watched by idiot children home “sick” from school, etc. are watching this nonsense, then it’s only going to encourage them to keep airing the stuff.   Then, “Talk Show #3:  Gossip” is another self-evident name – Americans just LOVE gossip; they love to talk shit about their co-workers, so-called friends, schoolmates, etc.  They just can’t get enough.  It comes down to the maxim that we hate our friends who become successful – “it should’ve been ME” we say to ourselves, while, at the same time congratulating the person for his or her promotion, winning big at the casino or even – and especially! – winning the lottery!  There are two more “Talk Show” songs, but, in between the other ones there are a few other ditties slipped in.  One is a song that starts off with this ominous erratic noise behind which sounds like a knife being sharpened.  But, unlike a lot of previous Stirner creations, all of a sudden there’s a beat that pumps things up a little, bringing things to life.  “Talk Show #4:  Looking Back” has a discordant atmosphere that’s playing over what sounds like generic voices, ones whose words you can’t make out, but it’s obvious there’s a few people talking, sounding reminiscent of a talk show.  It’s too bad that the name “Looking Back” isn’t making a point that these ugly, freak shows are a thing of the past, since they are still part of the daytime television wasteland that exists on network television.  That is one reason I pretty much stay away from TV and if I do watch TV, I watch interesting stuff like C-SPAN but now that I’m not living alone anymore, I’ve been “introduced” to a couple of halfway decent TV shows like Law & Order:  Criminal Intent, which, unfortunately is over with, as a series – they wrapped up the series before it could get stale.  But, what’s cool is that they still air reruns of it on USA, the network that was airing the then-new episodes every Sunday.  But I digress…”Talk Show #5:  Tu Dinner” (?) (The script on the CD sleeve was somewhat hard to decipher, but I think that’s what it read…) was in the same vein as “Talk Show #4… – it had these disembodied voices, rambling on in indecipherable babble, not unlike the average talk show – where they parade out the dregs of humanity and have them make fools of themselves on nationally syndicated TV, while the audience (both in the studio and at home) laugh and laugh and laugh at these idiots’ so-called “problems”.

In between “Talk Show #4…” and “Talk Show #5…” exists “Soap Queen Society”, wherein a cacophony of voices and atmospheric noise exist in a symbiotic groove.

Anyway, what I like a lot about this Stirner CD is that it’s got more structure to it – it’s not just one long torture freak-out, even though there’s plenty of that too, but they add a few beats to it as well as sampled voices and even a kind of concept to it.

The last cut, “Chasing Spirits” starts off with a female voice that flatly goes on about something and then metallic sparks fly and there are also so many overdubbed sounds, synthetic ruminations and something more compelling as well as a good way to end the CD.

My take on Stirner is that it shows a growth and more intricate uses of “sounds” – found, manufactured or otherwise.  I’d hate for Stirner to ever mellow out and become “accessible” – that would be anathema to his raison d’etre.   -KM

Reality Sucks

Posted: January 5, 2013 in New Indie Music

Detaching Realities Vol 1Jared C. BaloghDetaching Realities Vol 2

Detaching Realities (Vols.1&2)

Altered State Reflections

Review by Kent Manthie

 

Where to begin?  These two albums are so hard to pin down, so hard to “put in a box” – uh, that’s a good thing, by the way.  The easiest way to describe it is with one word:  “Jazz”.  But it’s more than that.  Listening to them, I heard bits and pieces of all kinds of influences – I heard some Zappa, some Ornette Coleman, some 1970-era Miles Davis as well as more esoteric artists that most people have never heard of, including Godzik Pink and French avant-garde combo, Stabat Akish, big influences on Mr. Balogh.

Volume One of Detaching Realities starts off with some very avant-garde jazz stuff that meanders all over the place.  That would be the opener, “Jagged Softness, What the Fudge”.  Then, on the track “Somewhat Wacky, Somewhat Crazy” it starts off sounding Zappa-esque, what with the large variety of sounds and instruments.  But it soon takes off in another direction, without the insane, genius guitar creating heavy but intricate doodles.  Instead, it stays with a sort-of circus-like, light atmosphere, almost reminiscent (and this goes for the very next tune, into which it seamlessly goes, “The Somewhat Unlucky 13”) of some of the very underrated but nonetheless influential and genius composers of the early 20th century who were very much into breaking the molds of tradition just as much as their counterparts in the art world were (Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp, Andre Breton, et al).

While each song is very unique and a brilliant work in itself, the whole album is perfect for listening either while you’re sitting in your bed, staring at the ceiling, reading or doing work on the computer.  This stuff is so outré and original that it’s hard to come up with any legitimate criticisms – I’m sure some Rolling Stone pop music writer might say that it’s not accessible enough for the ears of the masses – but isn’t that the point?  Who’d want to make music that pleased anyone but themselves to begin with?  I mean, if you love the music you’re making, then it’s bound to be tirelessly worked on and because of that seeming perfectionism, it’s bound to find an audience somewhere, whether it’s in the millions or the thousands.  At least you have gotten your message out there.

Volume 2 of Detaching Realities picks up right where Volume 1 leaves off.  “Rage/Revenge/Recluse/Recovery” starts the disc off with a sound that recalls Fred Frith/Henry Cow as well as the orchestral arrangements of Zappa or even Penderecki in the background.  At times it’s quite “busy” and other times it slows to a meandering pause with xylophones, piccolos, and other little sounds until it picks up again with pulsating drums and a whole circus of sound.  Cut #2,”747 Intergalactic Boogaloo” is a little more sedated at least at first, but winds up and up in a concentric sort of way, building to one of those M.C. Escher staircases that end up going to nowhere – running into a brick wall because from there it goes into “She Got Issues Back From the War Wearing an Airline Stewardess Uniform”, a slowed down but intricate number which vibe continues into the next cut, “An Out of Tune Toon”, also minus the bombast and pomp, but, nevertheless, is complex and quick.

As far as the Zappa comparisons go, I don’t mean it sounds like the “popular” Zappa – meaning the cult-classic stuff like Overnite Sensation or Weasels Ripped My Flesh, but more like his more classical-and-jazz infused orchestral compositions or maybe even Hot Rats – on where, except for the Captain Beefheart-sung “Willie the Pimp” is an instrumental work of pure genius, but is mainly just guitar, violin played by Sugar Cane Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty, bass, drums as well as a few odds and ends.  The peak of Hot Rats comes along on “The Gumbo Variations”, on which Frank and Sugar Cane both go wild on wicked-crazy solos.  Anyway, besides the more erudite Zappa stuff is not the only thing it sounds like – Balogh’s big influence is the French sextet Stabat Akish, led by bandleader/bassist Maxime Delporte who starting off from an avant-garde jazz form, pushes the band from a pulsing space drone sound to an uptempo swinging rhythm and all sorts of atmospheric textures and sounds in between, with sax solos that recall John Zorn’s insane squeal.

What these albums offer are two discs worth of meandering jazz-cum neo classical avant-garde music to sit back and listen to and get lost in the music, which, before you know it, is over.  Also, there is really nothing else contemporary to which I can compare.  Beautiful and dissonant while never being discordant, Detached Realities, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2  are great albums that should be listened to in one sitting to drink in the whole of its grand theme – km.

PS – if you are interested in getting either one of these terrific albums for free, then follow these links:  for Volume One, go to:  http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Balogh/Detaching_Realities and for Volume Two click on http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Balogh/Detaching_Realities_Vol_2 

You’ll be rewarded with downloads of these two CDs, free for your listening pleasure.  Enjoy!!! (KM)

Cut-Up #1

Posted: January 1, 2013 in Cut-Ups and Other Prose

How Many Slaves Work for You?

We’ve long advocated for a Permanent Fix!

Two centuries after the French people beheaded Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood Republicans demanded Senate leaders go before volatile wealthy people saying “It looks awful”.  But that progress was overshadowed by gamesmanship:  Students were invited to Human Trafficking Day, lured here with the promise of a job but with the result of endless work in a kitchen.  An individual was recorded to have rescued a severed head from the chaos.

A dried, hollowed squash is adorned with portraits of revolutionary heroes:  Max, Henri, Philippe, Charlie and a Catholic fanatic.

“How many slaves work for you?”  … Upon completion, a number is revealed: I discovered that 60 slaves work for me — cutting the tropical wood for my furniture, harvesting cotton for my shirts and mining precious African metals used in my electronics.  “One can say that there is absolutely no doubt anymore.”  The head was indeed Henri’s.

The Republican leader, later assassinated at the age of 57 by a volatile, fanatic abolitionist made an emergency call to the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation; “I think we’re going over a cliff, the bitter truth is that I’m unable to pay off a debt to The Man.

Meet the Press. 

3D scanning and X-rays

We have to act!

On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of President Fitter Tweed after his decapitation.

The White House sent the president’s chief mummified head to the Capitol to meet with another gruesome artefact:  Teenage girls, beaten and forced to walk the streets.  “Any deal must include personal freedom and rights for all individuals.”

In the United States, thousands are held against their will; minors, especially, are the victims of ruthless exploitation. While other countries are worse offenders, the United States, according to State Department reports, serves as both a source and a destination for the trafficking of children. In a speech delivered in September, President Tweed declared Jan. 11 as Slavery Footprint Day.  Republicans were the loudest in protesting Bush-era tax cuts and Slavery smartphone apps.

The revolution in which Mitch McConnell and a man named Thornton lost their heads in public executions also saw mobs ransack the Biologia Evolutiva in Barcelona — hauling ancient monarchs like Henri from their tombs and mutilating the remains which they tossed into pits.

Taken together with weeks of negotiations it would be “extremely surprising” if the African-Americans used the executions to call for a renewed commitment to civil rights in America.

“It looks awful,” “It looks awful,” “It looks awful,” “It looks awful,” “It looks awful,” said Carles Lalueza Fox, “Talk to Joe and Fred”.  The white man is waiting over the inheritances above $3.5 million at 45 percent.

All persons held as slaves allow consumers to identify items made by South Carolina firms, but it was not clear that would even get a vote.