Friday, February 26, 2010

Concern - Truth & Distance

Label: Digitalis Recordings
Released: 2009
Style: Drone, Experimental, Ambient

"Gordon Ashworth is Concern and this is his manifesto. "Truth & Distance" is a mini-epic, a minor masterpiece. Within these sonic walls lies a stunning landscape, adrift in golden tones and silver siren songs. Ashworth creates beautiful, shimmering music that defies categorization. It stands on its own, droning away into the furthest reaches of the night. Using only acoustic instrumentation, Ashworth conceives pieces of music in which resonance and timbre mutate and in the air and unfold naturally, organically.

Hints of piano glisten like night shadows whispering through the leaves. Strings are bowed and plucked into oblivion. Everything is turned into a pile of reverb. Everyone is a ghost. Concern will shine a light on it all. "Truth & Distance" indeed." - Label


1 Truth And Distance (16:51)
2 Young Birth (4:17)
3 Heartsink (8:45)

Bohren & Der Club Of Gore - Dolores

Label: Ipecac Recordings
Released: 2008
Style: Jazz, Ambient

"Everything, as David Lynch would say, is never quite what it seems. Bohren and Der Club of Gore are a real connoisseurs band, their intense blend of heaving doom reductions and late night Badalemanti style midnight jazz has bought them a fanatical following in both the Avant-Metal and Jazz communities. Their sound really can be best visualised with reference to the 'Bang Bang' Bar in twin peaks, all sleaze, unease and glamour in the archetypal Lynchian sense. The members of Bohren started out in various Hardcore outfits, but when the band formed in the early 90's they soon settled on a blend of Metal, Ambient and Jazz that confounded and confused most listeners. Almost two decades later and Bohren enjoy something akin to a secret members following, with the likes of Mike Patton being so into the band that they are now signed to his own Ipecac imprint in the states. 'Dolores' is their first album since 2005's 'Geisterfaust' and is their most beautifully realised album yet, oozing mystery and atmosphere with a more muted take on that super luxurious sound. Opening track 'Staub' unfolds with a solitary mournful organ, eventually coupled with that unmistakable, spine-tingling Fender Rhodes played so ably by Christoph Clöser. The track continues with spacious, staggered percussion and Vibraharp, whirling through 8 minutes of mystery and wonder. At the other end of the album 'Welten' closes off proceedings with a monkish drone most suitable to a Sunn 0)) opening, before once again those shimmering keys create that kind of immeasurably addictive confusion between darkness and light that could be said to be Bohren's calling card. 'Dolores' is a stunning, mesmerising 60 minute journey into that sh*t that lurks beneath the surface, confusing, confounding and oddly uplifting all at once. A wonderful album that comes to you with our highest possible recommendation = ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!" - Boomkat


1 Staub (7:51)
2 Karin (3:37)
3 Schwarze Biene (Black Maja) (8:11)
4 Unkerich (5:31)
5 Still Am Tresen (3:58)
6 Welk (6:18)
7 Von Schnäbeln (3:56)
8 Orgelblut (6:13)
9 Faul (5:56)
10 Welten (6:53)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Growing - The Soul Of The Rainbow And The Harmony Of Light

Label: Kranky
Released: 2004
Style: Drone, Minimal, Ambient

"Recorded by the band in Olympia, WA from 2003 to early 2004 and mixed with Rex Ritter (Jessamine, Fontanelle and SUNN) at Magnetic Park in Portland, OR in March and April 2004, The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light takes Growing's expansive palette, blurring and disguising instrumental points of origin to a point where sheer sound defines itself with authority. Now a duo with Kevin Doria on bass and guitar and Joe Denardo on guitar, Growing have pushed into the manipulation of feedback, hiss and static; wringing out waves of delay from their amps while retaining an earthbound mastery of crushing riffage. These grainy textures contrast with a clean, pulsing lushness that carries traces of bird song and touch on natural environs and the passing of time." - Label


1 Onement (18:32)
2 Anaheim II (7:21)
3 Epochal Reminiscence (17:49)
4 Primitive Associations / Great Mass Above (12:35)

Demdike Stare - Symbiosis

Label: Modern Love
Released: 2009
Style: Dub, Experimental, Minimal, Ambient

"Demdike Stare is a long-in-the-making hookup between two shady characters operating at the fringes of Manchester’s fragmented music scene: Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty. Miles has been a longtime affiliate of Modern Love as one half of Pendle Coven and under his own MLZ alias, while Canty is one of the city’s most recognisable vinyl collectors, carrying an obsession with everything from obscure Nordic Doom records to Anatolyan funk albums, fuelled by his dayjob helping out at the Finders Keepers label. The project is named after Pendle’s most famous witch: Elizabeth Southerns, aka Demdike. The tracks on ‘Symbiosis’ are drawn from elements of Turkish, Indian, Iranian, African and West Indian film soundtracks alongside Norwegian drone records, classic House templates, punctured dub, modified techno and the arctic noise perfected by Mika Vainio. Original sources and dense analogue experiments weave around eachother with little care for convention or stylistic expectation, instead throwing the pair’s extensive musical knowledge into a set of tracks that, quite brilliantly, defy categorisation. The album opens with ‘Suspicious Drone’, a dense 6 minute opening that chugs along like a malfunctioning mechanical beast, honing in on Lancashire’s dark industrial landscapes before moving onto more exotic, balmy territory. ‘Haxan Dub’ (named after the film narrated by william burroughs about witchcraft) deploys fragmented dub echoes infused with displaced horns and African signatures, taking its time with one of the jerkiest rhythms you’ll have the pleasure of hearing, before ‘Jannisary’ tangles in and out of an Iranian hook and a squashed Congolese rhythm that creates an asymmetric, geniusly constructed dancefloor killer. By the time the album comes to a close with ‘Ghostly Hardware’ an hour later, the cycle is complete with a return to icy tundras and chugging machinations steeped in the traditions of Scandinavian machine music and pure analogue frequencies, expertly handled by those masterful technicians over at Berlin’s Dubplates & Mastering." - Boomkat


1 Suspicious Drone (6:34)
2 Haxan Dub (5:14)
3 Regressor (5:04)
4 All Hallows Eve (3:54)
5 Jannisary (6:09)
6 Haxan (6:18)
7 Extwistle Hall (3:25)
8 Trapped Dervish (1:12)
9 Nothing But The Night (6:10)
10 Conjoined (4:07)
11 Ghostly Hardware (6:35)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Evan Caminiti - Digging The Void

Label: Students Of Decay
Released: 2009
Style: Acoustic, Drone, Experimental, Ambient

"We've been trying to get these in stock for a while now, solo record number two from Evan Caminiti, one half of psychedelic doom drone duo Barn Owl. The other Caminiti solo record, Psychic Mud Shrine, introduced us to a world not all that far removed from Barn Owl, or Elm, the solo project from Caminiti's partner in Barn Owl Jon Porras (who just so happens to work at aQ!), and Digging The Void does indeed delve even further into that same blissy druggy void.

Long, low, slow tones, throb, and pulse, layered tones emit subtle overtones, melodies are spidery and barely there, visible through the gauzy whir of the droning guitars, a series of spaced out otherworldly ragas, super minimal and intimate, but at the same time, sweeping and epic. Unlike Elm's, and to a lesser extent, Barn Owl's tendency to get HEAVY, and to dabble in some SUNNO)))-like density, Caminiti keeps it hushed and scaled back, these sonic rituals are not meant to conjure up the same sort of blackened mystery, instead they drift through soft clouds of hum and whir, fragments of Appalachian folk hover over deep rumbles, the sounds are ghostly, the arrangements spectral and ethereal, laced with twang, but just as likely to smooth all the notes and melodies into softened streaks of monochrome blur, and on at least one track, the drone is jettisoned, and an acoustic guitar unfurls long tendrils of steel string buzz and classic folky melody, a darkly mysterious coda, to an already haunting and murky songsuite. So gorgeous. " - Aquarius Records


1 II (6:35)
2 Weaving The Great Smoke Loom (12:33)
3 Glowing Corpse (9:24)
4 Ice Marj (3:01)
5 Midnight Naked Swim (4:57)
6 I (3:31)

Hush Arbors - Hush Arbors

Label: Digitalis Recordings
Released: 2006
Style: Folk Rock, Acoustic, Experimental

"Self released albums often get overlooked by most media outlets. This is a crime, especially considering that there is a lot of high quality stuff being put out by people with no money. You burn the CDs at home, you make the covers yourself, and you send out copies just hoping someone will listen. And I know from experience how discouraging it can be when seemingly no one pays attention. Hush Arbors, the solo vehicle of Keith Wood, is such a project that is plugging away in Northern Missouri. Despite attention from local admirers, you probably won't read much about Hush Arbors in many magazines across the globe. This is no indication of how good Wood's music is.

The Hush Arbors self-titled debut CD-R is 43 minutes of blissful forest folk with a heavy drone influence. Wood's vocals lie somewhere in between Jewelled Antler kingpin Glenn Donaldson and international man of mystery, Will Oldham. Musically, I am most reminded of the former's Birdtree project, but there are a range of influences audible all over this record. Those so endeared to the oragnic nature of many groups on the Jewelled Antler imprint will find much comfort in these warm and inviting tracks.

Wood opens the album with the haunting "Magic Wood." It's a slow, meandering piece that hums under the heat of the summer sun. His voice swims in ocean's of reverb, and his acoustic guitar sounds like it's being played in an underwater cave. This song makes me long for laying in the grass under a giant oak tree in an abandoned field. These songs have so much warmth flowing from them that the listener can't help but get drawn in. This is especially true with "Magic Wood." Each note seems carefully placed and each word chosen for a purpose. After one listen, I feel like I've been whisked away to a dream world. Wood's high-pitched voice meshed with the bright and roomy guitars gently lull your eyes shut as the music infects your entire body. "Magic Wood" sets the perfect mood for the rest of the album.

This album works so well because of it's combination of songs that are straight-forward and other tracks with heavy leanings in the drone area. The best example of this is on "The Same Tree Forever" which is followed by the short, innocent ballad "Wait for Awhile." "The Same Tree Forever" is a seven minute drone using some kind of bowed stringed instrument as the foundation. Hearing this, I feel like I'm in a cathedral and light is pouring through the brigthly-colored stained glass. As I am bathed in light, a choir of angels is barely audible through this thick musical haze. This is ethereal in every sense of the word. Just when it seems like he might let up, Wood builds the wall of sound higher; he doesn't let up. Spirituality is rarely expressed in such an empowering way.

Now, the real brilliance here is how "The Same Tree Forever" is followed up by the short, sweet, sun-kissed longing of "Wait for Awhile." Based around acid-folk guitars and bowed dulcimer (I think), Wood sings simple verses about the simple, beautiful things in life. "If we could find a place to wait for a while, to make sure there's a smile on your face," he croons. There is such longing in his voice that I can't help but be moved. This is a song that might not work in another context, but here it is perfect. It's sweet, and maybe even a little sappy, but every time I hear it, it's nothing short of beautiful.

Each track here is a winner, but my favorite is "I Took a Watch on the Sea Wall." By using a lot of bass when mixing the acoustic guitar track, Wood gives this song vague punk rock undertones. I know it sounds strange, but I feel a great deal of energy emanating from this piece. This song, like so many on here, is based around acoustic guitar and his voice. Under the surface flows a river of dense ambience. These atmospherics give the track an open-air feeling, like he is trying to embody the vast expanses of rural Missouri. On the chorus, Wood's voice is cathartic, and his reverb-laden background vocals are vaporous. The last chorus feels like one last breath of fresh air before the song descends into a minute of distorted electronic noise. "I Took a Watch on the Sea Wall" is a minor masterpiece.

Keith Wood is an immensely talented songwriter, and his ability to make his recordings feel raw and organic really sets him apart from likeminded artists. Perhaps I am most reminded of Ben Chasny and Six Organs of Admittance; there are definitely similarities, especially on the 11+ minute "Smoke Burn - Eyes So Sore." With its subtle Eastern influences and gentle guitar picking, Chasny and other Fahey followers would be proud. This is music that comes straight from the earth. It's a shame that this won't get the same attention as any of the recent recordings from Chasny, because this is just as good. 9/10 --" - Foxy Digitalis


1 Magic Wood (3:53)
2 The Same Tree Forever (6:48)
3 Wait For Awhile (2:27)
4 The Werewolf Om (4:18)
5 Red Horse (4:10)
6 I Took A Watch On The Sea Wall (6:19)
7 People Died Today (3:37)
8 Smoke Burn - Eyes So Sore (11:19)

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