søndag den 2. december 2018


Merzbow part I. 

Written by Kristian Robert Carter



As a long-term Merzbow fan and avid collector, I'm often asked what are my favourite albums of his, or what I'd recommend as an entry point to his vast catalogue of work. To understand Merzbow and to begin to analyse his output it is best to divide the material up into 4 sections.

Firstly his initial Musique Concrete experiments from the early '80s, then the Japanese noise period of the nineties, the laptop era in the first decade of the new century and his more recent return to analogue since around 2010. With 40 years of music and close to 500 releases it is a gargantuan task to leap into his discography.

I was asked to name my ten favourite albums by Merzbow but I found that too daunting so what I've done is choose my top three from each of the four separate distinct phases in his artistic Career.
Firstly I will deal with his early experimental works, or his Musique Concrete years from the 1980s.

These were Masami's first forays into recording and much of it is very lo-fi and sparse compared to his later slabs of obliterating sound. Owing a debt to Nurse With Wound & The New Blockaders as well as free jazz practitioners much of this early work was on limited cassettes and is extremely hard to track down.

Luckily a lot of it has been released in a restored form on the Merzbox ( heavily edited ) and more recently as full releases by Italian label Menstrual Recordings.

So here I chose my three personal favourites from the early years.




1) " I'm Proud By The Rank Of The Workers- Live In The USSR "

Limited vinyl album released by ZSF in 1988, documenting two live shows in the Soviet Union. Side one is a beautiful chunk of concrete abrasion whilst side two is more ' melodic ' and has Masami on drums. An almost jazz-like freeform jam. Sheffield Jazz core abusers Aufghoben obviously drew heavily on this release for inspiration for their nightmarish jazz pummellings. The tale is that Soviet authorities were not happy with the noisier experimental sounds of the first night and told Merzbow to make it more musical on the following performance the night after. Hence the quite disparate sides of vinyl.


2) " 抜刀隊 With Memorial Gadgets " 


A staple choice with most long-term Merz fans. Originally released in 1986 as a double vinyl album this album has it all. Scrapes, clatter, clutter, junk metal abuse, dada-inspired randomness, tape manipulation, splicing and a general sense of absurdist mayhem. This album manages to be threatening, ridiculous, humorous and queasy all at once. Which makes it at once pretty gruelling and at the same time also rather inviting. Merzbow is often portrayed as Mr Poker Face but this album is maybe his most absurdist humorous adventure. Still sounds fresh and challenging today.


3) " Lowest Music "

One of the earliest Merzbow tapes. Released in 1982. Recently reissued as a vinyl by Italian label Urashima. A stomach-churning grind and scrape of junk electronics, found sounds, tape loops and analogue audio garbage. At times it sounds like a jazz band whose instruments have been replaced with claw hammers and band saws. 


Next post. The Japanese noise period.

søndag den 18. november 2018

Paradroid



Just suffering from a minor writers-block. Maybe I have done too many music reviews lately? Busy at work? New baby-member in my family? Less time listening to music?... Add all those things and you´ll eventually end having writers-block. Since being nostalgic at times, and still spending my free-time playing computer-games (When I have free time that is!) I might as well go around and review one of my all-time retro-classic favorites called Paradroid.

This game was made back in 1985 and was made available on most of the home-computer platforms (C64, ZX, Amiga etc).


So what is Paradroid all about then?. You are a robot with a task. Enemy forces (Aliens or humans?) have somehow high-jacked/hacked the robotic working-forces on several spaceships, turning these metallic mechanoids against the living humans. Your job as the so-called Paradroid is too infiltrate these spaceships and stop the human-killing droids. The way to do this is... rather interesting and rather unique. You start off as a tiny (maybe-flying) droid, equipped with a tiny laser-cannon and a kind of hardware which allows you to hack into the other androids. If you success in hacking into the mainframe of a certain droid, you will then get total control over this droid. You´ll start off with taking control over the smaller droids (since they are easier at hacking), and you´ll end up hacking the huge and very dangerous combat droids!. When you are overtaking these combat droids, you´ll also get access to their awesome firepower! 



For a game soo old it was a pretty heavy-deal with a game-plot like that! More or less a predecessor for such popular titles like System-shock. Still worth the time!

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onsdag den 31. oktober 2018

Kleistwahr - Acceptance Is Not Respect written by Kristian Robert Carter


" We had to draw a line " Kleistwahr is Gary Mundy and Gary has been extremely busy as of late. What began as a side project to Ramleh in the mid-eighties has assumed a fully fledged existence of its own. There has been a slew of Kleistwahr albums over the last few years all released by Fourth Dimension records. Every album lovingly reproducing the aesthetically striking imagery that Broken Flag records were renowned for. Musically Kleistwahr explores differing territory than Gary Mundy does in Ramleh. Kleistwahr feels a lot more personal than Ramleh. A focused introspection rather than the explosive reaction of Ramleh. 

Acceptance is not respect is an album cloaked in regret, of disillusionment, sadness, and shattered dreams. There is a sense of melancholy and despair that hangs over the whole album. However, there is also a glimmer of redemption, rebirth, and beauty that flickers across the darkness like light cascading across the surface of a vast subterranean lake. 

The album is split into two parts, the first entitled " Revolution of defiance ". It's a lengthy piece of work that builds up slowly utilizing guitar and processed sounds swollen by a huge organ that sounds as if it's chords are emanating from a desolate cavernous church. The vocals are a disembodied howl of anguish that echoes through the rising crescendo of sound before the whole edifice begins to fall In upon itself. 


The second part Three Martyrs again uses the same organ sound as the bedrock but this time rather than pure melancholic introspection there is a multitude of emotional and sonic expression. Ranging from transcendence, brutality, and resurrection. The Stoning section is a frenzied assault of feedback and jarring audio overload. Perhaps the closest the album comes to the genre of power electronics. In fact, this album is very difficult to pigeonhole as it sounds as if Gary Mundy has taken both the rock and noise sides of Ramleh and taken a massive sidestep into unknown waters.

There comes a point in all our lives. A point of utter clarity. Where our past finally catches up with us and we can feel it's tangible form towering behind our shoulders. A huge tidal wave of regret, sadness, and realization that what we have done in our past is what shaped us and guided us to the precipice we are now balanced upon. It's at this moment that you have two choices. Turn to face your past and hope it doesn't crush you beneath its weight or to take a step into the void. Let go and fall from that precipice that you were balanced precariously upon. This album is the sound of that step into the void and the inevitable descent downwards.


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mandag den 29. oktober 2018

Fåntratt  Kommer Upp I Tö



Springtime is over and winter is almost here, for those who dare not to go outside I can reveal to you that it is autumn. Leaves are falling down from skeletal trees, cold rain, freezing windy, moldy and carved-out pumpkin heads and people... inside their cosey houses searching endlessly for decent horror flicks on Netflix... This review for one of my favorite acts within the dungeon-synth realm just popped up in my mailbox the other day, and it was released back last spring (22´st of May 2018). The release itself acts out as being a tribute for the season... flowers blooming, the sound of humming bees, birds returning etc (you know the drill!). The album contains 2 tracks, each being an over 17 minutes long. So let´s get to it!.

The first sound of springtime you´ll probably notice (In Scandinavia that is) would be the sound of dripping water from melting ice/snow. The other sensation would be that certain feeling that the very air has changed... the humidity, smell... even the sound! All this is happening at the same time/day, is a very spiritual (and nostalgic) positive feeling/sensation to the human mind and body. Still not sure what I am talking about, then I would suggest giving this first track a listen. We´re are talking about springtime in a Scandinavian forest. The sensual smell of pine-trees... love it. Anyways, the whole track is a very typical (and good) folksy improvised Fåntratt piece except for certain elements on it which almost has a Jarre´ish Oxygen´ish feel to it with extra drone layers. That kind of universal, epic but gentle feel. Great!. Let me just quote one of my very  favorite author (Kenneth Grahame) to put this piece in a nutshell : 

´Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing´


Last/second track on the album called Tjoflöjt Pollenstolle has a darker theme to it. Compared to the first track, this track starts with a kind of... warning for something which is going to happen. I am not sure what the title means (tried Google translate), but I have a feeling that it might have psychedelic themes attached to it?. The consumption of certain mushrooms which only grows in the springtime. That kind of ... ´Oh no, I have just eaten the wrong mushroom feeling... maybe it would just be best if I laid down a bit´. Tiny elements of paranoia creep in, and the comfort from the warm springtime sun isn´t helping much. A slow and crawling sleepy melancholic piece, which might have been an autumn-themed track (if you ask me), fits the scenery perfect if I take a look out of my window right now. Interesting live and instrumental recorded laid-back drums waltzes in... sounds like someone being a creepy crawler. A sound of a vibrating haunted-house synth goes along with the drums. Psychedelic guitars also kick in, almost a 60s vibe/feel to this. Think a slower 13th Floor Elevators doing a soundtrack for an Astrid Lindgren movie. VERY unique stuff here, nice to hear that dungeon synth can evolve into different styles and make it work!

A fantastic and unique treat for the senses, which can be enjoyed in all the seasons!. Headhunt the sold-out tape or get the digital version on Fåntratt´s Bandcamp site!.


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onsdag den 24. oktober 2018

Zoloft Evra - Wounds of No Return



Back again with suicidal drones and moaning misery, the third full-length album by Zoloft Evra is out now on Liquid Death Records. A cool and blackened glossy digipack (Ltd 300 copies), showing the autopsy room. An autopsy table, two windows, two walls, floor and ceiling with the band logo right above the cold windows. Almost looks like a creepy face... if you look at it with the "right" kind of eyes. The albums contain 6 tracks with a collab with another (and well-known) death-industrial act called Kadaver, also featuring vocal parts done by a Samantha Viola (also done vocals for Funeralis and Black Scorpio Underground). The album has been masterfully been mastered by John Stillings! (Steel Hook Prosthesis). Seems promising right?.

First track called Hooks Through Your Flesh (Hellraiser?) opens the album with a sense coldness, which only can be experienced inside a huge meat-locker. The sensation of feeling how hooks have strung you up, and how the icy and cold air caresses the first layer of your almost numb skin. Under such conditions, sounds are getting... stranger. The machinery running the meat-locker sounds like flesh-grinding guitar drones, rumblings sound from outside sounds like thumbing ritual drums, and the sensation of pain turns into it into a monotone and distorted echoed guitar-tune?... It REALLY doesn't sound nice, does it?! But the thing here is, that it actually sounds very beautiful. It has been made in a very decent and professional way while maintaining that... human-like edge. A LOVELY way to start the album without a doubt!


Second track Last Injection Kiss feat the vocals done by Samantha Viola. Breathtaking and melancholic ice-synth repeats a human-voice-like melody, fantastic realistic sounding metallic and ritualistic percussions, haunting spoken/whispering/moaning vocals parts. Could you ever imagine how Norwegian Aghast wound sound if they did a live-session inside Twin Peak´s Black Lodge?. This track could give you a clue or two. Third offering Wrapped and Killed clearly illustrates that this ticket ... is a one-way ticket with no going back. A lovely retrospective Cold Meat Industry kind of track. Megaptera and Archon Satani fans anyone??. Creepy sampled spoken-words/interview with some not so pleasant fellow. The fourth piece called Wounds of No Return (Like the album title) feels like being alive on the operating table, just waiting for that final incision to deliberate you from your tormented body. A slow and crawling heavy-ambiance treat to the senses. Life Ending Razor (being the fifth installment on the disc) lets the ambient-submerged listener fall into a deep-void... that goes on and on. Something floating away, the very life-essence floating away. Multi-layered and grinding guitar-drones, infernal MZ 412´ish ritual drummings, whispering creepy spoken-word parts. A very epic (in a minimal way) and heavenly blackened atmosphere piece, VERY good! Last track Death Trance Ritual almost has a melancholic and foggy funeral feel to it. Shimmering ice-like bells, mystical synth-tunes, heavily distorted and demonic spoken-vocals and those warped post-rock´ish guitar drones. A great way to end a great album!

Not really something bad about this album, it´s good in every way. A perfect chilling treat for those who need a good Halloween scare over black candles with the cold wind blowing outside. I will recommend headphone listening while taking a walk in the nighttime, a very serious good album from Zoloft Evra... might be their best!

  

tirsdag den 16. oktober 2018

Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010

Written by Mads Heilskov


Beyond the Black Rainbow is the debut of director and writer Panos Cosmatos, and what a strange one it is: think the cosmic, psychedelic parts of Twin Peaks, but colder and darker. The loose, almost inexistent storyline is set at a psychiatric research facility called The Arboria Institute during the 1960s and 1980s. 

Here you follow a young heavily medicated girl, Elena, trying to escape the strange and somewhat menacing Dr Barry Nyle. From that base, the movie descends into a realm of madness, delusion and paranoia. The Arborea Institute is a cold and dark place where everything is kind of off. Throughout the movie, we are met with scrambled timelines and weird stuff happening. Everything is set in hazy red and black colours make it hard to follow what is actually happening on-screen. In that sense, we see things from the perspective of the captive girl, whose sense of reality is blurred due to her treatment and general mental state as well as that of Dr Nyle, who seems to be completely out of touch with any conventional reality throughout the entire movie. 


Beyond the Black rainbow only features sparse dialogue and most of the time strange things are taking place in front of your eyes to a dark whooshing ambient score. When words are incidentally spoken, they barely make any sense, just emphasising that what goes on at the Arborea Institute has a deep impact on the sense of the reality of all who participate. As the plot unravels, it opens up a little bit and you get little snippets of the institute’s history and hints as to what kind of research is going on. Without revealing too much, the research at the Arborea Institute is linked with the psychedelic experimentation and interest in the cosmic and the occult in the 1960s. We are never really sure if the whole thing is simply a lasting bad trip instigated by heavy drug use or if the doctors and patients really have had their third eye opened and are able to experience a fearful reality beyond the ordinary. What remains is that Beyond the Black Rainbow is a paranoia-inducing and disturbing psychedelic trip into the dark side of the human mind, hinting at something larger and more frightening. It is not for everyone, but if you enjoy watching beautiful images of deep paranoia happening inside hyper-modernist rooms shot in hazy colours or if you simply find the entanglement of psychedelic drugs, science and the occult interesting, you should give this a shot and enter a strange dimension beyond the black rainbow.


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søndag den 14. oktober 2018

Kraaiengebroed - S/T



The physical cassette already being sold out from his highly obscure and experimental dark-ambient / noise-drone act called Kraaiengebroed. An act having one sole member, who is also known and work as Gnaw Their Tounges, Aderlating, Mowlawner, and Slavenij. This one is the fourth album and it had been released on Ominous Recordings, as of now the digital album version being the only version available... maybe we can hope for a cassette re-release? While we all are having our fingers crossed, let us all then dive into this mouldy thing of utter darkness and see (and hear) what it is all about. 

The first thing you´ll notice would be the GREAT (and scary) cover-art. A kind of hooded figure with a bird´s skeletal visage, looking straight at you. Surroundings being a dense and dark forest. You press play on your cassette deck and the first track The Sound of Moss begins, actually surrounding your very senses in a thick and syrup-like ghost-fog. You might as well just... give in because you are not going to get out of this. Blackened and angelic heavy ambience glues the listener to the very ground, frost-cold your limps. We are actually talking about a VERY spiritual experience here, almost religiously (like inside a huge cathedral). The sounds of eerie vocals of the dead...almost trying to break into the recordings. Mysterious telephone-like tone-drones (and string-like), rattling ghost-cains stirring things up while heavenly voices from deep below (and above) floating through your body. The Sound Of Moss? A scary and interesting sound indeed! 


Next piece called Brought Down Haunted (love the title!), brings you straight to a bottomless pit of sound. Crackling cellar/tomb-noises, terrifying and subversive evocative demonic-voices, echoed and haunting sounds from below rushes up to torment the listener. There is also raw metallic bangings going on a percussive ritualistic string being tapped in a very mesmerizing and minimalistic way. Kind of sounds like a dark-ambient version of early In Slaughter Natives! (not bad eh?). A VERY haunting piece.

Third offering Night Whispers continues into the night with ritualistic and tribal-like drums, infernal radio-chatter voices moaning, disturbing strings and spine-tickling sounds playing backwards. Really otherworldly and supernatural material going on in here... could convince the sceptics regarding the existence of a parallel universe filled with spirits with only ill intent! 

The fourth track on this challenging smörgasbord-of-horror gives you a track called Lost, being ONLY 27 minutes and 24 seconds. A primal and lo-fi ambient-treat for people who are trying to record the dead through esoteric radio-equipment. The entire track contains worlds... and other dimensions. Try reading British horror-author Ramsey Campbells The Plain of Sound. and you´ll know what I mean!.

Last track on the album called Machine leaves you alone... with the Machine. What kind of machine? An abandoned and rusty thing in a closed-up factory? A subterranean and haunted machine in the cellar of some ancient hospital?. We really don't know. The noisiest and harsh piece on the album, which I am sure must have been recorded in complete darkness. With microphones, amplifiers, metal-junk. A punishing and doomy piece to end your miserable night! I can almost imagine killer-Bob from Twin Peaks moving at you, in complete slow-motion while listening to this. 


And now for a break... Have to catch my breath here! A truly wonderous journey into pure human fear, the sort of fear that basically can (and will) manifest into a thousand forms. The fear of the unknown being the strongest of these, as our beloved Lovecraft once said. Yup, this is my favorite Halloween treat for the year 2018. Give it a listen in the late hours after you´ve tried contacting the dead?. Great one I say, a really great release!


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