Monday, August 31, 2009

absu - absu (2009)

I'll be upfront- this is the first and only album I've heard by Absu, a Texan death-metal band that was formed in the late 80's/early 90's. So I can't really consider this album from the perspective of their back catalog, or tell you how they've grown as a band. I can say, however, that this is a great, complex, thrash-y blackened death metal album with occult, Lovecraftian & Sumerian/Mesopotamian themes. Make sense? No, not really to me, neither. When I first heard this album I wasn't quite sure how to categorize it- I was under the impression it was a black metal record, and it does sometimes veer close to the thrash-y black metal made by Darkthrone and other more stripped-down black metal acts. But despite some black metal flourishes, this is actually progressive death metal, filled with hook-y riffs, odd tempos, and intricate song structures. The band uses a variety of sounds, in addition to the shredding guitars and relentless drums: synthesizers, ceremonial Tibetan horn, "brake disc" (?), Greek horn, and vibraslap are all present as well. In a sense, Absu reminds me of Dødheimsgard, in that both bands are releasing confidently complex-yet-accessible albums, late into their respective careers. While the songs on "Absu" take abrupt turns, sometimes winding around at breakneck speeds only to suddenly morph into an over-the-top synthesizer solo, it never feels half-assed. I certainly never had the impression that the band didn't know exactly what they were doing, or being unnecessarily intricate for the sake of intricacy itself. Don't get me wrong, this is proggy as hell. But it's also immediately approachable. Proscriptor McGovern, the drummer/lyricist/vocalist, has put in time with like-minded Middle-Eastern-influenced death metal outfit Melechesh, and has ties as well to The Firstborn, so if you've heard either of those bands, it might give you an idea what Absu are about. But even if you haven't heard those other bands, as long as you enjoy varied, well-written and interesting death metal, you're likely to enjoy this. Definitely one of the best metal albums I've heard this year- I'm interested too in checking out their last album, "Tara", which came out in 2001.

Absu - Between the Absu of Eridu and Erech
Absu - Amy

Thursday, August 27, 2009

the 70's: 1975-1979, take 2

once again an excellent list from Destroy the Scene. So as not to double up on his list, I won't be including:

television - marquee moon
captain beefheart and the magic band - shiny beast
gang of four - entertainment!
joy division - unknown pleasures

but there are still a number of great albums left unmentioned! SO....

brian eno - another green world (1975)
my favorite eno album, the incredible robert fripp guitar solo in "st elmo's fire"

read the rest!

eroc - eroc (1975)

harmonia - deluxe (1975)

cluster - sowiesoso (1976)

selda - selda (1976)
worth it for yaz gazeteci yaz alone

thin lizzy - jailbreak (1976)
you know what it is

beach boys - love you (1977)
oh MAN this album is so good and simultaneously such a disaster! I'm definitely reviewing it in full soon!

dennis wilson - pacific ocean blue (1977)
totally heartbreaking!

fela kuti & afrika 70 - zombie (1977)
fela kuti lived an insane life and was also a great musician!

fleetwood mac - rumours (1977)
since "tusk" was already taken

goblin - zombi ost (1979)
funky and creepy!

the slits - cut (1979)
dunno how this didn't make Sean's list

this heat - this heat (1979)
good! not as good as their next album, but that came out in the 80's

wire - 154 (1979)
totally underrated! "a touching display" is heavy as HELL

Monday, August 24, 2009

the 70's: 1970-1974, take 2

alright, Mr. DTS has some flat-out classics on his list, which I will omit from mine... like!

Flower Travellin' Band - Satori
Dust - Hard Attack
David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
King Crimson - Red

and some picks from bands that you will see on my list, although I just decided to roll with a different release from them. BUT I think you will find some GLARING omissions from Mr. DTS's (possibly racist) early 70's list. SUCH AS:

amon düül II - yeti (1970)
crazy hippies, prog folk, the drum break on "arcangel's thunderbird"

read the rest!

bruce haack - the electric lucifer (1970)
christian proto-electronic music?

lucifer's friend - lucifer's friend (1970)
killer hard rock

neil young - after the gold rush (1970)
this goofy canuck

can - tago mago (1971)
groovy krautrock jams

comus - first utterance (1971)
"freak folk"

david crosby - if only I could remember my name (1971)
I was surprised by how much I like this

karen dalton - in my own time (1971)
"something on your mind" ruins me

black sabbath - vol. 4 (1972)
one of the best albums ever!!

yes - fragile (1972)
yes are so bad asssss

iggy & the stooges - raw power (1973)
for a long time I thought this was the first stooges album, lol

red rhodes - velvet hammer in a cowboy band (1973)
virtually unknown + super chill psychedelic steel guitar playing

robert fripp & brian eno - (no pussyfooting) (1973)
two wankers wanking each other

kraftwerk - autobahn (1974)
Germany was apparantly a very cool place in the 70's

moolah - woe ye demons possessed (1974)
ambient/experimental/psychedelic, NWW list, me pretending to know more about music than I really do

tangerine dream - phaedra (1974)
analog synthesizers = best stoner music?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

little teeth - child bearing man (2008)

"Child Bearing Man", the debut from San Francisco group Little Teeth, was one of the better indie rock releases I heard last year- a few years ago, it would have been called "freak folk", before that term died its well-deserved death. The sound, overall, could be described as upbeat indie, which normally I hate. But I give San Francisco bands some extra leeway, and besides, this album is pretty weird for what it is- and weird is always good in my book. In addition to being intriguingly strange, Little Teeth employ a wide range of instruments and sounds to craft their pop music, making for a sonically diverse album. At times the vocal melodies remind me of Polyphonic Spree or Animal Collective, but lead singer Dannie Murrie's voice is unhinged and raspy, and she alternates between singing and shrieking, adding some ugliness to the sweetness of the melodies. I can imagine that this quality would make this band a love-it-or-hate-it type band; for me, the aggressively weird vocal style is what saves this band from being a more run-of-the-mill indie group. But I could imagine that others might find the same style obnoxious, or perhaps forced. I had heard at the beginning of the year, from a friend of the band, that they had broken up- but I see on their myspace page that they have a pretty substantial tour lined up. I also see that, apart from Dannie Murrie, the current line-up is different from the line-up that recorded "Child Bearing Man", so it will be interesting to see how that effects the band- especially since each member has such a strong individual presence on this album.

Little Teeth - Between My Ears
Little Teeth - Japanese Candy

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hudson Mohawke EPs & Singles (2009)

I've been listening to a lot of dubstep recently, and have been trying to get a handle on what exactly "funky" and "wonky" are. And during my efforts to learn more about "wonky", this guy came across my path. My first impression on hearing the name "Hudson Mohawke" was, "If this lousy pun represents the level of creativity this guy operates on, this is gonna suck". And then I heard claims of his being Glasgow's answer to Flying Lotus, and my eyes rolled so hard I temporarily went on a journey to the center of my mind. "Yeah right" I thought, "like Glasgow could possible have anyone like Flying Lotus. I'm pretty sure hip-hop doesn't even exist in that corner of the world". BUT!!! This completely blew me away, no exaggeration. The last time I remember being initially so impressed about a hip-hop/electronic music hybrid is probably the first time I heard One Word Extinguisher, six years ago. Maybe I'm just in a good mood today, though. The album pictured above- Polyfolk Dance- is Hudson Mohawke's (sometimes known as Hudson Mo or Hud Mo) debut EP for Warp, and his most recent release. The overall sound is dense and hazy, glitchy, very multilayered, and brings to mind not just Prefuse 73, but also Four Tet, Daedelus and yeah, Flying Lotus. The omnipresent vinyl crackle that Flying Lotus and J Dilla put to such good work is here, but so too are an array of synths and other inorganic sounds. But the combination never feels strained or forced. I think so far this year, this is the most exciting hip-hop-related release I've heard.

Hudson Mohawke - Polkadot Blues
This is an older release of his, and I think his first proper release, the "Ooops! EP". It's his only release so far that features actual rapping on it, although as far as I know, all of these songs are remixes of older songs- the titular track is a remix of an R'n'B song from 2002 (about masturbation! daaaaaang). I generally prefer rap to instrumental hip-hop, so I'd love to hear Hudson Mohawke make more work like this or even produce some original beats for a rapper. Short, but great. And "Jelly 'n' Jam" makes me miss hyphy.

Hudson Mohawke - Jelly 'n' Jam
This is another older release, the "6x7" single. It's a little more downtempo and stoned than his other releases. I especially like the last track, "Star Crackout", which has a very pretty melody, and kind of makes me think of some of Aphex Twin's older and more melodic work, or Savath & Savalas.

Hudson Mohawke - Star Crackout