Thursday, May 17, 2012


On top of the pile we've got a brand new 7-inch EP by Tropical Trash, a Louisville, Kentucky band with members that have or do put in time with Blastitude favorite Sapat, and like that band, they play a strange cool take on underground rock. The EP is called Fear of Suffering, and it's got five tunes in all, one on the A and four quicker ones on the B. Press blurb mentions MX-80 Sound and that is indeed a good starting point. Weird, proggy, noise/experimental undertones, and, most importantly, heavy without resorting to mere distorto-bludgeon. I look forward to more material, and I'm excited that I'm not quite sure what to expect from it. I'm not even sure what to expect the next time I play this 7-inch. Editon of 200 on white from the Sophomore Lounge label.

Speaking of noise/experimental underground rock music, next on the pile is Sinews, the brand new LP by the White Suns on Load Records. White Suns are a three-piece from Brooklyn, two guitarists and a drummer, and they play what is basically screamy noise rock in a 90s aggro/emo style, with two of the band-members simultaneously working their own noise/electronics set-ups. That in and of itself might not sound 100 percent fresh, but let me tell you, not only does the band know how to play very well together, they also know how to compose and arrange. I seriously can't think of a single quote-unquote noise-rock band in the last decade who has used this much gradational dynamic range, space, and stasis in their compositions, without ever relinquishing a core clenched-teeth aggression, not even for a second. No matter how mad at the world your noise-rock band is, you can't be pummeling and bludgeoning and screaming all of the time. Sometimes life requires us to sit still, grit our teeth, and wait, and these moments are amply reflected here, as when, to name just one example, a torrential and viciously tight 90s aggro/emo tuned-snare outburst will drop into extended sub-bass noise-music solo-rumble minimalism. Also, the vocals are meted out carefully as to not shout the listener out of the room. It all reminds me that, yes, there were a few bands in that 90s aggro/emo style that were actually quite listenable, and White Suns are honestly up there with some of the very best, occupying a space that I will dare to shorthand as "Dazzling Killmen meets Gastr Del Sol." When the Load Records one-sheet begins, "The second full-length from Brooklyn's White Suns is a passage into the deeper recesses of contemporary psychic struggle," it is not one-sheet hyperbole at all.

Remember that Vwyrd Wurd label from a few blog-posts back, pronounced "weird word," and their debut edition-of-100 12-inch by a spooky tenuous weird non-singing noise-folk duo called Nocht The Only Ghouls? Well, now the label's brand new second release has just arrived on my desk, and it's honestly even more of a head-scratcher because it's something completely different, an album of dream-ambient synth-wash techno-pop soundtrack drama by an artist called . . . Daywand. The record is called Temporary Sanctuary. I've already listened to it three times trying to suss it out, and much of it sounds just plain wrong, like two late-night made-for-cable cop-show soundtracks are playing at the same time, or like a much shakier version of Ford & Lopatin, and yet I think this music is as compelling as any of the cop-show chillwave soundclouds I've streamed on Altered Zones, or, or whatever style/fashion blogs the kids are kickstarting these days. I'm not sure if I can explain why I like it better, but I'll try. One, it's on vinyl instead of mp3 or soundcloud or youtube. Two, it's from a hype-free scene (like Nocht the Only Ghouls and the Vwyrd Wurd label, Daywand is from the wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania). Three, I was already rooting for the label because I like their first release. Four, this is some really good Thai stick I'm smoking right now. (Just kidding about the last one. I don't even know what Thai stick is!) Mostly, it's because Daywand, like White Suns, but in a much different way, are "a passage into the deeper recesses." Keep an eye on these Vwyrd Wurd cats, okay?

And now for some new arrivals that aren't so new... I'm worried these are not just 2 months old, but like 2 years old. But hey, they're new to me and maybe new to you too. On top are two releases from The Spring Press label, first up one by Carlos Giffoni called Lift, in fact the first Giffoni solo thing I've listened to in something like 7 years. Haven't heard his No Fun Acid project at all, for example, although I did keep up with a couple '00s releases by his long-running (these days mostly not running) band Monotract, and those were great (seriously, peep 'em), but that's essentially rock music. Solo he plays harsh noise electronics that hammer their way into hardcore techno, and that's what we're getting with Lift, which sounds pretty "no fun acidy" to me, in a good way. The last song on the album is called "Society Is Born Again Just To Party," and it is indeed a slammin' acid wiggle that I, for one, can definitely party too. Someone pass the Thai stick! (Just kidding!)

One thing about that Giffoni record, and it would seem Spring Press in general, is that -- although the records look really nice -- you kind of have to hunt to find the album details, you know, like "Who is this by?" and "What is this called?" In fact, on this next Spring Press release, you have to hunt to find any text at all. The cover is a beautiful painting (The Lute Player by Caravaggio!), with no title or band name. There's no text on the back cover, either, and hey, guess what! NO TEXT ON THE LABELS EITHER. There's not even any text on the spine of the record sleeve. Call me old-fashioned but I guess I think a record should at least tell you who it's by, somewhere. I'm sure this record is by somebody, and probably even has a densely poetic title that is several words long. Either way, by the time I'm tilting the run-out groove into the bleak room light looking for any scrawled information, believe me, I'm a little fed up... ... and when I don't find any there either, it's a relief to finally trudge off to the internet to find out the title at, and there it is: Ambianxe by Marco Fusinato. He's from Australia, and his album is solo electric guitar noise, performed live in Japan. Most of side 2 is completely silent, but when his guitar is audible, it is refreshingly heavy and active. It's been awhile since I've heard relatively unprocessed solo electric guitar mangle, so this is hitting the spot.

Hey, here's another excellent record on Sophomore Lounge. This one's also a little older, from a little deeper in the pile, and it's an edition-of-200 split release between Geffika and Skimask. Geffika live in Chicago, and are a woman-and-man guitar-and-drums doom-sludge-type duo, and they do it with a lot of heart, like a Melvins without any of the "we're going to annoy you" tomfoolery and a smaller recording budget. Very heavy yet still fragile because of the yearning gutsy twin vocals. I'm going to have try to check out a Geffika show somewhere since they live in the same city that I do. Too bad they haven't updated their blog in almost a year! Skimask are from Boston and play low-end wind-tunnel electro-punk, also pretty good stuff though not as immediate as the Geffika. No relation to the solo artist Ski-Mask from Buffalo I reviewed somewhere on this page back in 2004 (it seemed possible, had to look it up).

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