MAGAS Heads Plus (MIDWICH); MOON POOL & DEAD BAND "MEQ" (MIDWICH); VIANDS Temporal Relic (MIDWICH); MICK TRAVIS Face Disappears After Interrogation (MIDWICH)
A favorite new label is Chicago-based Midwich Productions, who debuted in 2015 by releasing four records, all of them superb. One of them was by label CEO Jim Magas, a 12" EP called Heads Plus, one of his very best records in a long underground career, forward-looking post-techno style-melting electronic psychotronic headtrip party music all the way. Bonus points for the cover painting by Mark Salwowski, which was used for a 1985 paperback edition of Brian Aldiss's infamous 1969 psychedelic sci-fi novel about the Acid Head Wars, Barefoot in the Head; I initially and confusedly thought it was maybe a commissioned portrait of Magas himself; it all gets tied together in the Barefoot-inspired video for Heads Plus track "Machete King." (All of the Midwich releases thus far have been graced by amazing Salwowski cover paintings.) Speaking of underground, Moon Pool & Dead Band's Midwich release MEQ takes a great 2010 track from the Detroit duo of David Shettler and Nate "Wolf Eyes" Young, adds seven "deep, dystopian techno-funk" remixes of it by various co-conspirators, and then spreads it all across 4 sides of vinyl. These first two releases are the most dancefloor-friendly on the label, while the Viands record is the least traditional in that sense. It also features Shettler, though in a much different initial setting, playing in an ostensibly softer keyboard/synth duo, doing two improvisational side-long pieces, but their Temporal Relic is a very deeply heavy album that grows and grows as it goes. It's not a 'techno-funk' album like the other Midwich titles can pass as, but not merely a 'side-long jams' experimental/psych/synth album either, thanks to a rarefied light touch, highly musical approach, and a particularly enticing and subtle sense of rhythm. I honestly feel like its correct genre is, get ready, krautrock. Like, this is an actual krautrock album from 1973, even though it was recorded in 2014 by two guys from Michigan. Mick Travis is another guy from (I think) Michigan, who has a release on Aaron Dilloway's Hanson Records, collaborated with him in The Nevari Butchers, and has his own label Medusa. His record is a 12" EP that really throws the hammer down, not only musically, but with the incredible sci-fi title Face Disappears After Interrogation (a title like that paired with another mind-blowing Mark Salwowski cover painting, featuring a drowned man in an underwater car and a young boy on a bike under irradiated skies, is really just too much). It might be the most traditionally heavy of the four Midwich releases (although none of them are slouches in the department), almost like some weird personal filtration of the gabber sound, except that the Side A track "Multiple Roles" might end up the most submerged-sounding thing in the catalog. Great shit, all four records are very worthwhile, and more is coming from Midwich in 2016.