Friday, February 16, 2018

Music Review:
Noose Rot
"The Creeping Unknown"
(Sentient Ruin)

I will be the first to admit that I haven't listened to a lot of music that has been along the lines of metal because I enjoyed it at one point in time and then it seemed like every band that was making so-called metal would have to add in these little melodies and singing parts to please some unknown audience.   It became difficult for me to find that straight up metal sound and, you know, there are a lot of bands out there that do exist on labels and they seem to be straight forward in their metal delivery (no emo added in) but they tend to all blend together for me.

With metal guitar notes and deep singing, almost growling, Noose Rot has this pace that is grinding.   It becomes faster at times but for the most part it maintains this brooding pace about it.    It has certain breakdowns that any true metal fans will love and even at times can remind me of old school Pantera.    It's just pounding and cannot be imitated in terms of what this sounds like.

Somewhere between Dead to Fall (that era of Victory Records) and other bands like Unearth, Noose Rot has the sound that I wish more metal bands would embrace.   It's a heavier version of Monolord in a lot of ways and I love that about it.    What I think of most when listening to these songs though is that this isn't that bullet to the head sound a lot of bands want to force upon you.   This is more of- in a visual sense- tortuing someone, inflicting that slow and painful death upon them.    Though, in no way is listening to these songs a form of suffering because I enjoy every second of it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Music Review: Japan Suicide "Santa Sangre" (Unknown Pleasures Records)

I can tell I've been listening to this Japan Suicide album for a while because of two reasons: for one thing, I've found myself singing along with these songs, which is not something that would come easy because this isn't really pop.   But another thing is that my notes still say that this has a sound where I would enjoy seeing them perform live on New Year's Eve, so I've obviously been listening to this since late last year. 

The sounds of Japan Suicide could be placed into a number of different genres, but what it is important is not what those individual genres are but what happens when they all combine at their various levels.   There is a psychedelic quality to these songs and I think it's because the fuzzy distortion seems to paint this cloud around the music-- I imagine them performing live in a cloud of fog for some reason.

At the same time, there are pieces of a band like The Cure in here but in a more modern take as well.  I'd assume that goes into something sort of -gaze category, perhaps shoegaze but perhaps a subgenre of it as well.   Maybe dreamgaze, psychgaze or darkgaze (or all three?) depending upon if those are real or not and what they mean.

In addition to that there is a metal feel to this.   Sometimes it can remind me of A Perfect CIrcle and other times it can remind me of Far.    It's not something where if you don't like metal though ("That music is too loud for me!") you'll be turned off by this because that seems to be one of the smaller influences in these songs.

What you have to realize- the amazing part of "Santa Sangre"- is that these different genres don't change from song to song.   It's like "Oh yeah, this is their heavy song and then this one is their really trippy song".   These elements are blended together and come out in all of their songs. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Music Review:
Sharon Gal "Delicious Fish"
(Fractal Meat Cuts)

"Delicious Fish" begins with a sort of chorus of vocals.   As it begins, within the first few moments, all you will hear are harmonies made by vocals.   This type of concept has always been interesting to me.   I'm not the biggest fan of a band who wants to sing all of the instruments parts (The Bobs are real! Google them) but if it can have a more subtle approach to it, such as Sharon Gal displays here, then I'm all in.   There is this almost drone tone to it, but again, it is being made entirely with the human voice and as such I think it just stands out from everything else out there.   It grows a little alien-like and that dark ohm tone can be heard in the background as well.

The vocals turn into these "who" type of sounds which fall somewhere between an ape and an owl.   (I'm writing a book now called "An Ape And An Owl"-- I've got dibs!)   This turns into a deep, hollow type of feel of drone which is no longer being made by a human voice.    It sounds like it could be coming from a cave somehow.    Perhaps that could make this a little "Planet of the Apes"-like.     The sound grows lighter, a bit more towards the glass side as the ringing increases as well.    As the piece continues it feels more and more like we are being taken into an abyss. 

The voices briefly return- though perhaps it is just one voice- before I believe the first song on Side A comes to an end.    Through whirrs and howls come sounds like crying, not sobbing because you're sad but more like a pained animal-- my mind for some reason pictures a wolf caught in one of those traps that starts as a circle and then snaps in half and closes.     Heavy breathing is also in the background of this all which just leaves me confused more than anything.     Somewhere between a pained cry and the humming of a bird, perhaps some other note, this side comes to a close leaving me wondering how there can seemingly be so many different forms of drone.

Ringing guitar (I believe guitar) notes start things off on Side B for the third and final movement.     I can hear the distortion but definitely feel it to be more of a drone guitar piece as it has that Hendrix fuzz which can be more recently related to an artist such as BBJr.    While this can change to come out in waves it mostly just sounds like one long sweet, sweet layer of feedback.     I begin to question at times whether or not all these sounds are still being made by a guitar, but it is only because I had heard the guitar earlier I believe that they still are.

As this song goes on it does get a bit darker.    It can feel relaxing but at the same haunted.    Before it reaches the end it turns from something which can generate a feeling within you into something which can mostly focus on creating images in your mind.   I'm not sure how to describe what happens with the sound exactly other than to think of it as a car racing faster and faster.   Perhaps you can even think of it as someone hitting that button to send them into hyperdrive.   It seems fitting as well because that particular sound trails off at the very end.

What Sharon Gal does on "Delicious Fish" is push.    For the first two pieces your ideas of how drone sounds and should sound will come into question.   Not only will you marvel at what Sharon Gal has created here, you will wonder why no one has really thought of this before.    At the same time, on the third and final piece, your mind will be taken to a place where it feels like it is listening to a guitar (and not just because the title is "Guitar Music") and you will begin to question that and everything you know about guitars. 

Music Review: Aaron Martin "A Room Now Empty" (Preserved Sound)

For what was the first time today in years I took the bus.  I actually debated several times whether or not I wanted to go to this "job fair".   My anxieties got the better of me when it was cold and bright out and I hid under my blankets.   But I knew I needed to do this and when I checked the time and it was only 8:45 am I said let's roll, got up, showered and caught the 10:15 bus. 

It amazes me that my bus pass hadn't been used in years but was still valid.   I went down streets that were filled with everything and nothing at the same time.   The "job fair" was mostly me filling out an application, handing it to someone and them saying they'd get back to me in seven to ten days if they were interested, no promised on the spot interviews unless that counted as an interview in which case it was rather lacking.

The whole time I was on the bus and then walking to where I needed to go by foot, I was listening to "A Room Now Empty".    When I'm out walking I try to listen to jazz or hip hop to keep me motivated but this was a different sound.   Yet somehow it worked though because what I saw out there was different than before.  Plazas where stores once were are now empty, more spaces for lease than ever before.   I remember this road as being such a hotspot in my youth and now it is so desolate. 

From dark violins to even darker cellos, the music Aaron Martin crafts is not quite for the apocalypse but somewhere close to it.   It isn't that the world has come to an end, but it is very close to end times and, well, some could say that is where we are right now anyway.   I know walking through what used to be flourishing areas and now seeing them literally dying is one of the best ways for me to describe these sounds that are symphonic, cinematic.   Somehow, it just worked out all too perfectly that this would be the soundtrack I selected for this particular journey.

Music Review:
Marina Stewart
"Dawn Raised With A Gesture Of Submission"
(attenuation circuit)

This begins rather quietly, a sort of sound of papers being shuffled around and I'm listening to it through earbuds because I had a feeling that was going to be the best way to experience this one.   A sort of drone tone comes out for a moment but then disappears.   The tone returns and while there are still other sounds in the background, the glowing sound of it becomes the entire portion of this piece.   A sort of fluttering comes into the background now. 

It gets a bit more solemn and then does this jumping thing which would sound great on cassette.   Glass tones become louder now with just the hum of bass behind them, all other sound is gone.  It's uplifting, as if one is rising up to Heaven.     This continues to glow and it just has an empowering way about it.   It is peaceful, soothing and just overall feels like something you'd experience with a lot of light.   In many ways, this has the sound of light which is odd to type because light doesn't really seem to make noise.

The sounds trail out as if the song is over but then as we approach the eleven minute mark bass comes out.  Vocals- which are spoken word but seem distorted, as if manipulated to sound deeper than perhaps they actually are- also come in as there is this ringing in the background with the bass notes here and there.   I quite enjoy how it turns from a fairly set in stone version of an ambient drone piece but turns into something much different, yet still equally as compelling.

Static like a record player and lighter, more cheerful tones like a musical toy for a baby make what could be considered the third movement in this piece and that is how it ends. 

Music Review:
Marriage + Cancer
"Marriage + Cancer"
(Self Sabotage Records)

To begin this review, I am going to be 100% completely honest and vulnerable with you.   By my saying this, I am opening up this contract of trust between us and so I hope this is something which you do not abuse in the future.    Confession: If a press person sends me a song or album and says that it sounds like "In Utero era Nirvana" I will, 100% of the time, listen to it.   This might be because I often times find myself referencing said album in reviews, but I think it's also just because I enjoy that album so much if I could find something else resembling it I'm immediately in.

Some time ago (it feels like months) I was submitted a single for "God Is Tan" via SoundCloud and I immediately fell in love with Marriage + Cancer.    They have what does sound like "In Utero" era Nirvana but they also have this "Attack On Memory" (Cloud Nothings) sound and even could be compared to a slowed down version of one of my favorite bands who never seems to get talked about much: Garrison.
The music on this album is slow yet fast at the same time.   Screams (but you can still make out the words) come through layers of distortion and it just has this overall powerful feel to it.   If you think of punk rock as being like a machine gun because it is fast paced, then Marriage + Cancer would undoubtedly be a blowtorch.   Nothing here really comes out in notes or bit and pieces; this is sheets of noise that most people will likely tell you is "too loud". 

This is not the only self-titled album by Marriage + Cancer.   Surprisingly, they have another one on a different label and, well, I don't know how to tell them apart when writing or talking about them other than with the labels they were released on, but I guess part of that is also what makes Marriage + Cancer so great (Aside from their name and overall sound of course).   I hear pieces of "In Utero" era Nirvana in artists, but perhaps never this much.   I really just wish there was an entire movement, a genre of music if you will, which sounded like Marriage + Cancer but until that time comes I will stick with this band.

Music Review:
(Hair Del.)

One thing I will always be a fan of when it comes to cassettes are those who choose to use the medium to be creative.    I've had this long running idea which never actually happened for a label called Collage Cassettes and you would have a series of, say, 9 cassettes and when you put them together 3x3 they would create this picture- like a puzzle- and then when pulled apart it would still look interesting but not be whole.  It was a nice idea of everyone who had a cassette being connected in some way and, I mean, honestly, someone needs to do this (but it won't be me, sadly)

For this self-titled Davko cassette there are fifteen different handmade covers and I mean when you have an edition of 15 and the time to do so, why not?  It makes each cassette feel special, even though it should also be about the music on it, but if you were going to do an edition of 100, yeah, mass produce that artwork.  But even on 25 maybe you could manage individual artwork and I appreciate that sort of thing when it comes to cassettes-- that personal touch.   I think that's why I love cassettes so much too: they feel so personal.  You couldn't make someone a mix on a record and even when people make mixes and put them on CD or just a digital playlist they still call them "mixtapes" (Though it annoys me to no end when an artist releases a mixtape and it's digital only.  That's a playlist!)

Davko starts things off with the sounds of soft, glass tones and a saxophone.   In the distance on the third song I can hear a cell phone ringing.    Definitely some glass work which recall glass bottles ala Jay Peele and then the jazz flute comes in.   And then percussion like bongos joins and even the sax comes back into the background.   Though there are experimental elements to this, overall I would put it under some sort of jazz banner.   But it's under that free jazz/noise jazz/weird jazz type of focus which I enjoy the most lately.

At the times the bass can be grinding while the pianos keep things moving faster.   It's got a smooth flow to it now but by the end of "Military Police" it begins to sound heavy, almost approaching what could be considered metal.      And there is another reason why I like this cassette so much: it takes what you know and what you think you know about music, specifically jazz, and isn't afraid to mix it up and let you hear something infused you might not have before.   I don't know what I expected going into this cassette- I knew nothing about it- but it is great in ways which I never could have imagined.