Reviews

Guardian Alien, “Spiritual Emergency”

April 21, 2014

Guardian Alien, “Spiritual Emergency” Thrill Jockey, 1/28/2014 In April, I found myself let go from a job I hated and re-hired at a job I love, a place that has many beautiful features, one of which is that the employees can play whatever music they want. This can be contentious in many ways, often divisive with the kind of crew we have,... 

ONO, “Diegesis”

April 18, 2014

ONO, “Diegesis” Moniker Records, 3/11/2014 If God is going to set this world on fire, that fire breeds mystical divinity and material scourge. Following The Word, standing against the forces of nature, society, and divinity, a lone person is inclined to feel this fire as judgement. Yet, there is a power of love that... 

Tapeheads, “Bricolage I & II”

April 14, 2014

Tapeheads, “Bricolage I & II” Jeunesse Cosmique/Acid Zebra Records, 2/7/2014 It is not surprising that such a master of tension-and-whimsy, rock-and-dance collage was born during 1997, one of my favorite formative years in pop music. Tapeheads‘ Thierry Larose channels the ambiguous pop of his birth year, straddling dramatic,... 

Golden Retriever, “Seer”

April 10, 2014

Golden Retriever, “Seer” Thrill Jockey, 3/24/2014 Golden Retriever’s 2012 record Occupied with the Unspoken opened with “Serene Velocity,” whose melancholic chord progression unfolded amid sequencers and layers of bleeps. While “Serene Velocity” itself is no straightforward pop song, it wears melody on its sleeve,... 

Steve Moore, “Pangaea Ultima”

April 7, 2014

Steve Moore, “Pangaea Ultima” Spectrum Spools, 11/25/2013 Steve Moore’s new LP, Pangaea Ultima, doesn’t look to the future in the way his previous solo work explored sci-fi themes and motifs; rather, this new record takes as its subject matter the supercontinent that is postulated to form in roughly 250 million years. Much... 

Mesektet, “Towards a Bleak Sun”

April 1, 2014

Mesektet, “Towards a Bleak Sun” Cold Spring Records, 2/17/2014 “Splendid is the Mesektet Boat, glorious its trappings, and its colours are of amethyst and emerald, jasper and turquoise, lazuli and the lustre of gold. At the Gap of Abydos waits a company of gods to prepare the Boat for the journey through the Duat, the land of night... 

Natural Child, “Dancin’ With Wolves”

March 27, 2014

Natural Child, “Dancin’ With Wolves” Burger Records, 2/25/2014 For too long I had myself convinced that rock and roll might be a stale, dated genre, only appealing to MOR listeners who didn’t really care about what they were listening to as long as it sounded good in the background. I comforted myself by listening to “serious” music... 

Thomas Carnacki/Vulcanus 68 Split LP

March 26, 2014

Thomas Carnacki/Vulcanus 68 Split LP Gigante Sound/Alethiometer Records, 1/31/2014 The Gigante Sound label has become a true Bay Area treasure, featuring the output of musicians, Jared Blum (Blanketship, Beaks Plinth, Jared Blum + Bill Gould, Vulcanus 68) and Dominic Cramp (Borful Tang, Qulfus, Dominic Cramp + Bruce Tovsky, Evangelista).... 

Sunn O))) & Ulver, “Terrestrials”

March 19, 2014

Sunn O))) & Ulver, “Terrestrials” Southern Lord, 2/3/2014 These two legendary groups have expanded their sound beyond the limits of genres they once pioneered. It’s only natural that a collaboration between the two would be just as categorically ambiguous as it is ambitious, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to anticipate... 

Have A Nice Life, “The Unnatural World”

March 14, 2014

Have A Nice Life, “The Unnatural World” Flenser Records/Enemies List Home Recordings, 1/27/2014 Have a Nice Life is a fist to the face of every ’90s revivalist band who are too busy gazing at their shoes to notice they all sound the same. If this trend mysteriously stopped tomorrow, the culprit would almost certainly be this album,... 

Birds of Passage, “This Kindly Slumber”

March 10, 2014

Birds of Passage, “This Kindly Slumber” Denovali, 1/24/2014 One of the most deeply immersive records I’ve heard in many years – comparable in my view to Pink Moon or The Boatman’s Call in its expression of a unique inner landscape and world of its own – the new Birds of Passage record finds Alicia Merz pushing her work to... 

Sam Shalabi and Stefan Christoff, “родина”

March 4, 2014

Sam Shalabi and Stefan Christoff, “родина” Howl! Arts Collective, 2013 The search for home and belonging in lands that have yet to reconcile with their own inherited past is a deeply personal sentiment, though it simultaneously requires engagement with its environment in order to produce understanding. This is what weighs heavily in the movements... 

Francisco Meirino, “Knowing More How Than Why”

February 26, 2014

Francisco Meirino, “Knowing More How Than Why” Impulsive Habitat, 1/23/2014 It would feel strange to describe an album of field recordings without mentioning its context, so let’s start there. Francisco Meirino, who lives in Switzerland and has been experimenting with sound for two decades, compiled Knowing More How than Why from recordings in... 

Tara Jane O’Neil, “Where Shine New Lights”

February 25, 2014

Tara Jane O’Neil, “Where Shine New Lights” Kranky, 1/19/2014 Restraint does not begin to describe Where Shine New Lines, Tara Jane O’Neil’s first LP on Kranky. From her transitions, to sweet, minimal hooks, and whispering, ethereal voice, her effort is a testimony to care, to mindfulness, to embodiment. Each specific detail feels painstakingly... 

Kevin Drumm, “Shut In”

February 24, 2014

Kevin Drumm, “Shut In” Editions Mego, 2/18/2014 Headphones on, volume level set to “cautious”; standard procedure for any first listening to a new Kevin Drumm release. I’ve been caught out before. From the panoptic precision of his self titled debut to the crushing, fractured noise of his vintage Mego yield... 

Jack Name, “Light Show”

February 21, 2014

Jack Name, “Light Show” GOD? Records, 1/21/2014 The haters can say what they want. One of the best things about Ty Segall‘s ascent to “fame” is the subsequent emptying of Segall’s rolodex into vinyl pressing plants. On his God? imprint with Drag City, Segall uses his muscle to deliver a “who’s... 

Hubble, “Hubble Eagle”

February 20, 2014

Hubble, “Hubble Eagle” NNA Tapes, 10/29/2013 Never in the history of the entire world has there been a more adaptable and malleable instrumental sound than that of the guitar string being plucked. Even electronically generated tones from things like synthesizers — with their knobs, which are many and can all be contorted... 

Kid606, “Happiness”

February 17, 2014

Kid606, “Happiness” Tigerbeat6, 10/21/2013 My introduction to Kid606 (aka Miguel De Pedro) came about totally at random… a long, long time ago. I was tooling around Chicago one day in the summer of 2000 and one of the local college radio stations played the song “Kidrush” from his album Down With the Scene. The... 

Daniel Wyche, “The Fire in the Lacquer House”

February 6, 2014

Daniel Wyche, “The Fire in the Lacquer House” Pretty All Right Records, 1/21/2014 Upon climbing to the highest point in town, a lone siren sounds up from below. A warning, or test: other sirens slowly join in. Oscillating together, and separating at various points, these sirens produce a singular drone for the distant spectator. It is only from... 

Decimus, “Jyestha”

February 5, 2014

Decimus, “Jyestha” House of Alchemy, December 2013 Since 1992, the diviners of brain-melting, glossolalia-inducing sound constructs known as the No-Neck Blues Band (NNCK for short) have issued missive after freaky missive from their Harlem loft space. The size of their catalogue is immense, with most releases sailing... 
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