Album Review: Vulpine Smile vs James Bondage “Angelscrapings”

1285309282-1Label: D Minor Records

One of the most creative musical trends bouncing around today is the art of combining mismatched genres in a beaker, incinerating the beaker then sit back and revel at the astounding hybrid that comes out. Many of these chemistry experiments exist but some are much more daring than others. This collaboration by US based Vulpine Smile and Portugal/UK based James Bondage mixes elements of Big Beat, Industrial, Krautrock, Ambient and Noise with experimental smatterings stylized by an avant-garde flair. Atmospheric rhythms rattle inside your brain leaking out of the holes in your head. Harmonious onslaughts of factory noise and distorted electronic beats dart back and forth, raining fuzz and sparks in a gorgeous display.

This elixir is a widely influenced and extensively sampled composition. Different sounds from various parts of the spectrum weave in and out of each other, coming to fluid halts as they progress with the poundings of the beat counting the passing of time. Lines from numerous films pop up in randomly places that always match the current mood, whether it’s a high energy sonic mayhem or transcending psychedelic space.

The name of this album conjures up images of an angelic vibration that has had a tiny part of its essence scraped off to be used for divination. In this case the divination is an aural experiment and this metaphysical addition gives an ambient aura radiating a delighted sense of chaotic bliss. All the spliced sounds starting and stopping at first seem disjointed and out of place, but if you concentrate on the overall heavenly vibration you can find order in everything you hear.

Angelscrapings is a merge between the past and present. Its unique blend of old and new is a continuation of the present and an homage to the past. If H.N.A.S. ever made it to the electronic age they would have been making music like this. Analog atmospherics and early electronic noises hauntingly emerge from their graves and return us to a forgotten perception few have heard before. Twisting into the vortex with new sounds has generated a more enlightened insanity for the eardrums. A psychic round of applause for these two daring artists willing to push our sensory boundaries a little bit further and helping us gain a new perspective on music.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Standout tracks: “Subterranean”, “Malingerators, Fudgerators and Drudge-Dodgers”, “Tune In, Turn On, Fuck Off”, “No Need to Panic It’s Only a Nervous Breakdown”

http://dminorrecords.bandcamp.com/

http://soundcloud.com/d-minor-records/sets/vulpine-smile-vs-james-bondage/

SML023 w.x – . – The Best of w.x

FREE DOWNLOAD ON THE INTERNET ARCHIVE

. is a 3 part series featuring the best material from w.x. Since 2007, Ian Witzel has been releasing music covering a varied selection of genres under the name w.x. He has since decided to retire that name and expand the horizons of his music. After 5 years and over 20 releases the time has come to lay w.x to rest. This compilation features an assortment of different styles and textures ranging from harsh experimental noise to the more ethereal ambient and drone.

You can now get the entire 3 part compilation showcasing the best of w.x in 1 free download. Altogether this series has 40 songs and clocks in at almost 4 hours. That’s 3 full discs’ worth of experimental ambient, drone and electronic soundscapes from a prolific yet reclusive artist. Throughout his career he has touched on many genres and taken lots of risks, blazing new paths in the electronic jungle. He has assured fans that even though his moniker is being retired he will continue to make music. Stay tuned in the future for new music and good times ahead. Thank you for listening.

SML023C w.x – . – The Best of w.x, Part III

FREE DOWNLOAD FROM:
Bandcamp

. is a 3 part series featuring the best material from w.x. Since 2007 Ian Witzel has been releasing music covering a varied selection of genres under the name w.x. He has since decided to retire that name and expand the horizons of his music. After 5 years and over 20 releases the time has come to lay w.x to rest. This compilation features an assortment of different styles and textures ranging from harsh experimental noise to the more ethereal ambient and drone.

Part III showcases the end result from years of experimentation. Unlike the harsh noise and disjointed electronics of the past, this release leans more toward the sublime and transcending ambient. Deep drones murmur underneath slowly dreaming melodies as a soundscape emerges, sending the listener to a driftless plateau where one can see all the beauty of the world. Most of these songs capture the meditative bloom of our minds and make us all glad we possess the power of hearing. Songs like “Far Away From the World” and “Orpheus” have a dazzling charm that opens up our eyes to beautiful sights never perceived before. There is also the flip side of the coin, with songs like “Frozen Kaleidoscope” and “Erosion Decay” presenting the darker aspects of life that still need to be embraced. This release also includes 3 never before released remixes all remixed by the artist.

This is final part of a 3 part series featuring the best music from w.x. The time has come to retire the name and move on to bigger and better things. Thank you all for listening and keep in touch for new sounds in the future.

Track 8 “Above the Horizon” contains samples from Overtone Drones by Mystified.

Track Listing:
1. Certain Species (5:56)
2. Dead Sea Depression (4:27)
3. Frozen Kaleidoscope (4:21)
4. Far Away From the World (7:36)
5. Erosion Decay (4:01)
6. The Space Between Galaxies (6:16)
7. Whirlwind (4:17)
8. Above the Horizon (5:47)
9. Organism (9:29)
10. Orpheus (4:45)
11. Solstice (4:54)
12. Grace Mutilation (Brochial Remix) (6:57)
13. Odyssey Scream (Slow Motion Warfare Remix) (4:24)
14. Borealis (Celestial Endorphin Remix) (6:33)

Album Review: Steven R. Hess / mise_en_scene – Non-Distinction

Label: Los Discos Enfantasmes
Catalog No: LDE 030

We all thought the days of cassette tapes were over but like vinyl it’s trying to make an artistic comeback. The economic world has no use for this obsolete medium; it doesn’t make enough money. Creative people who care about the essence and art of things rather than their dollar amount can still find a sense of joy in such outdated material. It brings back a whim of nostalgia, a distinct smell that only tape conveying past metallic heads can make. This vintage sensation creates a unique experience for the music featured on the tape. It is a transatlantic collaboration featuring Chicago drummer Steven R. Hess and Israeli minimalist mise_en_scene. The project was recorded and edited on tape with some sounds added later. The textures and deep vibrating motions circle and hover around, asphyxiating the listener with extended drones. A translucent cocoon is sonically woven around the body. Heavy rumblings sneak through the membrane and gradually make their presence known, filling the chamber like a soothing vapor.

These distinct artists have forged a delicate intertwining of industrial and organic noise, melding into one uniform whole. Waves of oceanic distortion crash into silvery drones, ringing beautifully for an eternity. The hums of machinery constantly whirr behind the subterranean growls protruding from the purgatorial underworld. All life suspended in mid air while an aural tapestry unravels a minimalist arrangement. Harmony resonating from the convergence point of two different worlds. A new perspective is presented as another chemistry experiment is performed. From halfway around the world a sensory collision fused this impressive display of sound. The density from such cavernous thunder weighs deep into the body; it absorbs it like some therapeutic balm. This intense release is a reassurance that there are still people out there willing to take great risks in music.

Rating: 4 Stars
Standout Track: E.g_3

http://losdiscosenfantasmes.blogspot.com/2012/03/sten-r-hess-miseenscene-non-distinction.html

SML023A . – The Best of w.x, Part I

. is a 3 part series featuring the best material from w.x. Since 2007 Ian Witzel has been releasing music covering a varied selection of genres under the name w.x. He has since decided to retire that name and expand the horizons of his music. After 5 years and over 20 releases the time has come to lay w.x to rest. This compilation features an assortment of different styles and textures ranging from harsh experimental noise to the more ethereal ambient and drone.

Part I focuses more on the noisier aspects but still includes drone pieces. It starts off with the very first w.x track, “Instant Replay Sequence”, originally found on the Vines for the Electric Pant Leg EP. It continues to cover sounds across the entire spectrum of the w.x catalog, including 2 songs from the last release, Hailstone. Dark sprawling epics coincide with noisy smashes of electronic distortion. Even though these songs were created years apart from each other they are able to coexist beautifully and help display some of the best this artist has to offer.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series. Stay tuned in the next couple weeks for the releases of parts 2 and 3 of this compilation. Thank you for listening.

http://wxsound.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-of-w-x-part-i

Album Review: JTrux – Death On the Seventh Day

Day 1: The bustling murmur of a busy downtown street. Glinting highlights of passing conversations sail past as the electronic hums rise formidably into an abrupt silence. Rounding the corner, you enter a sanctuary free from prying eyes of security cameras and chic pedestrians. The echoing sounds of the sun cascade over skyscrapers, enhancing the industrial squeaks and bangs from a nearby factory. The further you walk the darker it gets and the rhythms of the city continuously bounce of buildings before descending upon your ears. To escape the clamor you enter an abandoned warehouse whose long forgotten operations still secrete a haunting reverie of past noise. A broken window overlooks a never-ending forest and the setting sun in the distance. As the beats and high pitched whirs slowly quiet with the oncoming darkness, you lay your head down on the dusty floor to sleep.

Day 2: Hissing and buzzing of strange insects inside the forest. You take the first important step into the green depths. A somber elegy flows past with crackling rumbles and a saintly plucking of strings. The trees gradually come alive, releasing fast growing vines and blooming flowers that spring into existence before your eyes. Beauty is effortlessly born around you, only to die a few minutes later. Plants and animals begin playing a concerto as an overwhelming sense of loneliness drapes over you. You feel like the only human left on Earth and this natural concert has been specifically composed just for you. The swan song of insects darting in between leaf-covered branches scratching against each other, the quiet swirls of ambient photosynthesis. You can actually hear the forest growing. The night begins crawling in as only tiny shafts of light can break through the thick layer of leaves. Climbing a tree just in time to see the sunset, the music below slowly dwindles into a fantasy as the metallic sun rays force your eyes closed.

Day 3: Back on solid ground an exciting sense of danger prevails as you suddenly realize you are being followed. Everything you have ever run away from in your life is chasing after you at breakneck speed and its too much to handle. So you begin to run as fast as you can through the brush and undergrowth of the woods. The impending doom slows down behind you and a cautious relief sweeps over. Lost in the sprawling forest, a tense quiet is accented by the faraway drones of a factory somewhere on the edge of the forest. A soft watery flow is heard and dances around, confusing your senses. Ears filled with an imaginary substance clouds your hearing and there is nothing left to do but stagger through until you find whatever it is you are looking for. In the distance a glowing beam of light appears. It’s milk-white florescence illuminates the lazily darkening woods. Your ears become clear from the psychosomatic blockage and the crackle of a fire can be heard. Closer to the beam of light you see it is a giant freshwater pearl, floating in midair and emitting docile tones. They kindly suffocate your synapses and you drop to your knees in languid bliss, dreaming of floating orbs in the forest.

Day 4: Hours passed. The sun grazes past your closed eyes and you awake to a fiery world of iron and lava. Skeletons of former travelers sharpen swords on large decaying anvils. A rushing sound inside your ears grows ever more abusive before cresting and falling back to a sprawling spectacle of distant echoes. These echoes possess a strangled ethereal strand of hope, like a caged angel singing an imprisoned song. The siren’s call draws you away from the hellish awakening to a strange door amongst the trees. It opens to a world of bright white light and angelic drones so beautiful in their resonance that the all the darkness of the world fades away. Some unseen force lifts you off the ground and you begin to float, weightless, an amoeba lazily floating in a still pond. Years of grief and anguish are melted away from your sullen face and your eyes return to the wondrous luster they possessed as a child, before you lost your way. You are reborn, falling back to the Earth while the fires of Hell can be heard dying in the distance.

Day 5: Now an enlightened wanderer of the forest, you see everything the way it should be seen. Colors are more vibrant, the details of the forest ever more prominent. Bird songs ring like bells high up in the towers of the trees. A peaceful unity with the natural order of the world. But there is still a minute problem, something still scratching away at your psyche. You can hear it crackling away somewhere inside you while the rain drizzles and the sun sets. Orchestral waves of nature’s music crash around you as you sail through the forest, searching for meaning now that you have achieved total understanding. The drones continue to oscillate and the concerto continues to play.

Day 6: The slowly encroaching realization that you have been drugged. The enlightened feelings experienced the day before were nothing but tricks played by the forest. Something inside you is still lamenting, aching to be set free. Dark undertones slowly sweep in as you come to understand what this journey was about. It wasn’t an escape or a spiritual journey to find understanding. It was your body coming to terms with the fact that it’s dying. Your mind has continually set up roadblocks to prevent this inevitable. Your body struggles to run away from the soldiers of death and keep out of sight. Your soul has played beautiful music to give you comfort during this transition. The heart sits back and listens to its requiem, content on its demise. Realizing that it is better to accept it than fight it, you lay down amongst a twisted jumble of tree roots and close your eyes, letting the somber harmony of the piano take you away.

JTrux has given us an example of death. How the mind and body struggle with this eventuality and how the heart and soul make us realize that the experience is necessary and beautiful. Death On the Seventh Day is an inspired look on a subject we will all experience but few want to think about. JTrux’s meditative drones and grim noises exhibit a range of emotions providing comfort and peace no matter how scared we are. He has given us a piece of his soul so that our own souls can feel safer during that scary process when we close our eyes for the last time.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Standout track: Dusk III

http://jtrux.bandcamp.com/

http://www.thesirenssound.com/2012/08/23/jtrux-death-on-the-seventh-day/

Album Review: Swans – The Seer

Label: Young God
Catalog No: YG45

Okay, I’ve been dwelling on this review for the past few days now, trying to come up with the best way to describe this album. After sleepless nights listening to its entirety and a harrowing encounter with a possessed grizzly bear, I am finally forcing myself to commit my experience into words. No one said it would be an easy process but when an album burrows deep inside you and begins distilling intensely fermented sensations from your memory, a floodgate needs to be opened.

The resurrection of Swans has been a complete cellular rebirth, fusing sonic particles together into a powerful aural structure. The Seer is their latest foray into unexplored terrain, an expedition ripe with danger and torment. It is a reflection on the past 30 years and what has happened to our world, our society and our music. Most of us organisms have done some form of evolving in that time, progressing from a protective womb to a menacing iron cage. Our minds and souls may have a sense of matured freedom but our bodies are still imprisoned in the dog pound we call modern society, banging our heads against cosmetic counters and drive-thru windows. Michael Gira has given us another raw escape from materialistic woe, locking us in the panic room until we reach the ultimate revelation.

This 2 hour opus commences with Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low contributing to “Lunacy”, a sullen fervor that commands your brain cells into action. The cells awaken from their menial tasks and go over to the window to see the first stirrings of a synaptic revolution. This slides into “Mother of the World”, a piercing amber alert for our Mother Nature who has been missing in action lately while her planet gets destroyed. The stage is now set for a primal cleansing of the spirit.

Meanwhile, apocalyptic drumming descends into an onslaught of percussive abuse, howls of primal noise drone in tune with crashing guitars as the title track explodes on the horizon. This track is a half hour long droning jam, an ever-changing assault of noise and atmosphere. This culminates with Gira mumbling “I’ve seen it all” constantly throughout the song. You get the feeling that he has invaded your subconscious and has begun telling you the secrets of the world. All you can do is listen, wide-eyed and frightened, as you swim in the fluid tank buried under a layer of smoldering earth. The secrets bestowed upon you are not for your earthly body’s knowledge; the truth can be too hard to understand sometimes.

The initial dismay lessens as “The Seer Returns”, whose slow orchestral tremblings leave you drowning in misery. All the pent up emotions that brimmed to the surface during “The Seer” become art supplies for Gira. He paints our raw fallacies all over your body, exposing all your negative disgraces for the world to see. Overwhelmed by shame and disgust, you start to emerge from your protective synthetic cocoon that was woven from fake silk sold on clearance during Bargain Days. The real you finally begins to show itself and Gira acknowledges it, telling you that “you have arrived”.

What can best be described as the intermission is broken down into two parts. The first is a freeform battle of noise and echoes of murmuring voices. They keep you suspended in a desperate state but can’t harm you. They may still invoke fear but the level of intense hopelessness is nothing you can’t handle this far into your journey. The second part is in a slow and dark folk style. It is reminiscent of older Swans and is a nice break from the earth shattering intensities you recently experienced. This is merely the end of disc 1.

Disc 2 starts out softly. Karen O lends her sultry voice to the beautiful Ambient ballad “Song for a Warrior”. It is a very uplifting song meant to restore our positive energies. At the very end we are told to “use your sword, use your voice, and destroy”. This stirs up a mild twinge of outrage as we realize the decrepitude of our world. It shows us that we are each a warrior and need to fight for what we believe in. This gives us preparation for the despairs that lie ahead. “Avatar” is a portrayal of our enemy. The figurehead puppet master who secretly controls us behind a misleading facade. The song is like a march into a battlefield, bayonet in hand, waiting for your nemesis to appear. The whole time he is staring down at you throwing conceited statements of ownership in your face. A fierce battle ensues with epic guitar drones and a downpour of mechanical noise explosions.

You persevere through all hardship and prove victorious. Standing alone in a docile rainshower staring down at your slain adversary, a swan song begins to flicker. “A Piece of the Sky” is a transcending beam of light lifting you out of the darkness and onto a cliff overlooking a cloudy sunrise. More and more light slowly emerges from the horizon, washing away the pain and anguish. Every trying event has been a stone step in the murky swamp, leading a path towards the clearing. The edge of the swamp comes into view. Sunlight graciously pours over your face and provides a revitalizing warmth. The sky itself seems to sing. Bells echo from the distant hills. Serenity flows through every pore. The path leads around a glistening pond and twists around through the hills.

Past the hills you encounter “The Apostate”. A daunting visage of twisted mirror images reverberating back and forth for all eternity. It is the ultimate punishment for his crime. You sit down and have a drink with him. A traumatic story unfolds as this traitor expels his deeds and misgivings. The saga of sedition lasted hours and many drinks were consumed. After a while, the man seated before you morphs into the distinct face of your former nemesis. A delirium takes hold and you begin to question reality, wondering if you ever did find a way out of the swamp. Drums pounding, guitars screaming from all directions. The man across the table is most definitely the ultimate enemy. But how can you be sure? You start screaming “You’re not in my mind, get out”. He keeps taunting you and a heated exchange of words gets tossed about until you finally exterminate him from your mind. You become blessed. The horrors of the past can no longer harm you. All tests have been passed. It all fades away in a massacre of damp drums and a faint scream. Never to harm you again.

For being one of the most hellish rollercoaster rides ever it is a sublime masterpiece. I have never heard such beautifully frightful music before. This is a truly unique recording and will no doubt strike different chords with different people. Some people don’t like to hear the truth and will run away upon hearing such a compelling display of it. Only those who are strong enough to understand the way things really are can fully appreciate The Seer. Michael Gira is a modern day sage giving us a window into other dimensions. He has once again been our trusted guide through the depths of our catastrophic existence.

Rating: 5 Stars
Standout Track: A Piece of the Sky

http://younggodrecords.com/home/658457004524-the-seer-cd

Review: Palancar – The Tender Hand of the Unseen

Label: Buddhist on Fire
Catalog No: BOF-016

The soft waves of the open sea glide onto the beach, casting a molecular drone ashore. This serves as the foundation for an orchestrated ceremony saturated with dark looping textures and elaborate echoes. Overlooking a cliff that stares into the ocean, the sounds collide with nature in a repetitive cycle and showcases the beauty and suffering of this existence.

Palancar is the man behind the Ambient netlabel Earth Mantra which has tantalized our ears with sweet sounds from other worlds. On this release Palancar puts our feet on the ground and drowns us in a harsh reality. These seven sweeping movements circle around the concept of pain and what it can teach us. The extreme suffering of our beings is something we never want to confront; we would much rather not think about it and be free from all pain. One thing we must learn is that we need to understand suffering before we can be free from it.

The solemn nature of these tracks does not inflict a pain many of us are used to. The mournful tones penetrate your skin and gives your soul something to weep about. You can feel your heart slowly melting away and the sounds murmur past you, dragging time into an infinity that’s constantly repeating itself. There is a desolate feeling, as if everything has been forsaken, leaving you to sink to the bottom of the sea. This album gives us understanding of the pain our souls feel every day. We must learn to care for them, heal their spiritual wounds so they can help guide us to wherever it is we are supposed to go.

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Standout Track: Bitter Potion

http://www.archive.org/details/bof016
http://buddhistonfire.com/2012/01/16-palancar—the-tender-hand-of-the-unseen/

Review: Morphine Bandit – Inside the Steel Dome

Label: Eg0cide Productions
Catalog No: Eg0_051

This full-on minimalist assault for the ears is well worth a listen. You are treated to dark textures crawling across the muddy ground, dragging electronic pulses and swells behind them as it all unfolds into a bleak landscape of sound. The sprawling drones feel like they could extend forever, touching the furthest reaches of our perception. All of the sounds blend into each other in a seamless connection, a conjoined bridge between life and death.

Drones and quivering shrieks echo around you in a stifling metallic fashion. They spin about and screech ever so slightly, like catching a radio signal in a metal bowl. This release is a morose enlightenment plunging you into a deep sensory deprivation. You see patterns of grey and dark emotions wash over, sweeping through the crevices in your brain. You feel ready to descend deep into the junkyards of the human wasteland, lost forever.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Standout Track: Across the Frozen Circles

http://www.archive.org/details/eg0_051

Review: Björk – Biophilia

It has been over 4 years since Björk has released a new album and over 7 since she released a good one. During this dormant period the love and adoration I had for my favorite artist of all time hibernated, buried in a crystal box under a layer of ice to be rediscovered when the metamorphosis of time melts the ice away.

Björk’s constantly evolving talent has always rekindled a deep respect and fascination with each new album. This was not the case with Volta. Though there were still amazing songs and unique sounds, the album as a whole did not revitalize the forces of the universe and usher in a new chapter of life. Biophilia has rewritten that chapter and illuminated the individual galaxies of our known universe with a heavenly voice dipped in silver ink, shining brightly inside our souls.

Ingenious compositions and concepts were employed to make this the ultimate organic experience. Specially made instruments show off the experimental cosmic side of her music but her reasons for using them tie her ideas to the earth. Every sound, every word, every variation of atmospheric pressure on this album is there for a specific reason and the concept would fail if it was omitted. This painstaking process makes it understandable why we have waited 4 years for new material although I must say it was worth it. Every second of waiting drifts into a fog once you hear the first chimes of “Moon”. The gaps of time are bridged and it doesn’t matter how much of that absurd time has passed.

Björk has once again made it known that she is going to do things her way. Which is totally fine by me. In 20 years she went from singer of pop songs to the most innovative artist of our time. She has flowed with the fluctuating waves of time and molded alongside them. She has given us many messages over the years but the one that resonates the most is this: Don’t get stuck in time. Always do something new and different. Every day is a new experience and a new chance to learn. Never stop learning.

Rating: 5 stars
Standout track: Virus

http://www.bjork.com
http://indian.co.uk/shop/bjork/biophila.html
http://www.nonesuch.com/albums/biophilia