One of the most prominent figures behind Secret Chiefs 3 (and side-projects), Eyvind Kang's music combines the best of eastern-influenced music with modern classical arrangements. In this album (like he will later in Athlantis as well) we also can hear Mike Patton's vocals spicing up the peaceful arrangements that characterize all of Kang's works. My second favorite of his releases, second only to The Story of Iceland.
Formed by one of the guys that will later be part of Pombagira for a while, Among The Missing is fast, raw sludge with a nice noise rock touch, closer sometimes to hardcore punk. This band maybe disbanded way too early, since a good deal of this album might be among the best I've heard in the genre.Truly recommended to the fans of heavy sludge with a badass attitude, similar to Fistula and Thou (if they were faster). I have their split with Blood Island Raiders, so I'll probably upload that in the future too.
A document of how early Can used to be, more focused on psychedelic proto-krautrock (not too different from Amon Düül II) with an emphasis on flutes. Released in 2009 (but recorded during the 70's), the "Can sound" isn't quite there yet, this one sounds more alike to british psychedelic rock being composed around the same time, but it's still one of the best to date. The Inner Space supposedly did a soundtrack for a softcore porn movie called Kamasutra, again working on the same grounds as this album (though there's an obvious eastern music approach).
Featuring a series of guest musicians for the first time in the career of The Human Quena Orchestra, this album takes the unsettling vibe of the band to a live setting, making it seem louder and weirder than it usually is. Audio nihilism, this is for those who want to hear a band deconstructing itself in the form of sparse, heavy compositions painting nothing but desolated landscapes. Ryan Unks (Creation Is Crucifixion, Fate of Icarus) is the main musician behind this.
Masonna's noise rock band, Acid Eater only calls for badassery. Awesome rock tunes, showing a side of Masonna that's closer to regular music than his other works. Certainly one of this year's highlights of the genre.
My third favorite split of this year (first would be Lose / Lose / Lose, and second Dirtpill / Заводь / Zuboroth), this 4-way split delivers the best of occult-influenced bands I've heard so far. Saturnalia Temple's song (To Know) manages to sound even dirtier and obscure than their previous albums (specially UR), but enough to be a perfect mood-setter for this interesting release. Admittedly I'm not a fan of what they do, but at least I can say it might be of interest to those into the occult vibe of some recent doom metal bands (Moss and Dark Buddha Rising come to mind, for instance). Next we have Nightbringer (To Will), band already well-known in the orthodox black metal scene, with a song that I wouldn't really consider their best of their career, but at least goes along nicely with the concept. It does drag a bit, but this is normal with Nightbringer.
Next song would be To Dare by Nihil Nocturne, a german black metal band with a long career, with this song being one of the main highlights of this split. The prize goes, however, to Aluk Todolo with To Keep Silent, one of their longest songs, in which the mood set by Saturnalia Temple earlier in the album is improved by the syncopathed drumming and the heavy feedback that characterizes this band. It sounds as if it was recorded live, seeing as the production is not as good compared to their previous albums, although it doesn't affect at all their quality. Top quality release, as it's usual with Ajna Offensive.
The mastermind behind Thy Catafalque's only solo album so far, it's a less metal, more soft version of the latter, still retaining most of the atmosphere present in that project. Lot of samples perhaps following a story (which unfortunately goes above my head seeing as I don't know hungarian), and minimal synth arrangements reminiscent of kosmische in some aspects, make this album a very enjoyable listen. Recommended for Thy Catafalque and ambient fans in general.
Included on the same special box where the two first Shipwreck Radio sessions were, this album follows the same structure, dividing every section with the same jingle used in the sessions. This album, however, expands over a smaller, more focused concept: island sounds. The only information regarding the reason behind this album is in the linear notes, The first 250 copies included the "Gulls Just Wanna Have Fun" CD ("Various Broadcasts and Audio Debris"), leading to believe these are mostly leftovers of Shipwreck Radio. Still quite interesting for being part of the same series.
Slow, emotional music, straight out of Miranda Lehman's sensual poetry. Music for the soul, with some hints of eroticism, this is perfect for peaceful evenings. I'm a big fan of her music, and as far as I'm aware there's a new album on the works, so check Sleepwalker out before the new one gets released. Highly recommended.
An album that would work nicely together with any Bloody Panda album, the broody vocals and the unsettling ritualistic atmosphere are very alike these band's releases, except that in this case we have Stephen Kasner (head of Utech Records and main designer of all their artwork) handling the guitar duties, to create a heavily atmospheric album, perfect to listen in the dark with just a few lit candles around. Yoshiko O'Hara vocals, mystical as an ancient geisha, float in the air like untamed ghosts. Among the best Utech has released.
For fans of ritual ambient, drone music, and eccentric vocals in general.
The uniqueness of This Heat, the way only John Peel would've recorded it. Can't say much of the difference between this one and the previous 1977 release, but I can assure you This Heat never sounded this heavy. Every song in this live sesssion sounds as if they were being churned up by a big, merciless crawling machine, crushing everything on its way, breathing every 20 seconds before assaulting the listener over and over again. No other album is able to mix that violent delivery with softer, almost self-mocking melodies that change the mood minute after minute. Special mention goes for Makeshift Swahili, this version of the song is easily better than both the s/t and Deceit. Meant for extended, high volume listenings.
First Alexander Tucker's Latitudes session, it's also slightly different to his other albums (like Portal, for instance). The Decomposed Orchestra spiced up his psychedelic guitar with a nice dose of jazz, making it sound like a ritual experience. His vocals haven't changed a bit, they're still warm and mellow, pairing nicely with the overall vibe of the album. 25min, 3 songs, and a sonic journey.
One of her most focused works to date (and also her most accessible), Zeena Parkins delivers violent, yet beautiful compositions in Between The Whiles. In this opportunity she created a mix of sounds that weren't present in her previous works, such as sound samples and heavy, layered harsh noise underneath her improvisations. Less tracks than usual (balanced by their length), this album is for sure a good competition alone against releases like Sailor With Wax Wings, which is considered by many to be one of the most interesting collaborations of the year. Hopefully we'll see Parkins involved in something similar in the near future, considering the great display of quality this album is.
Short but fast and straight to the point, Gong Lake presents the listener with a mechanical, layered mix of industrial sounds reminiscent of This Heat in so many ways (a band I'm a fan of), giving post-punk a whole different dimension while mixing it with krautrock and electronic music. Heavy album, it deserves to be listened loud, to allow all its hidden layers to be unfold easier. Like I mentioned before, this is for fans of the chaotic, post-apocalyptic sound of This Heat, in some ways irreplicable but at least a few come close, such is the case of Neptune.
Weirdly enough, their previous albums aren't like this one, they're closer to free improvisation.
One of the most under-appreciated bands that came out of the Zeitgeist Music collective, Woburn House delivers excellent metal music for those open minded enough to appreciate it. In this case, three members of the collective (Christian Kolf, Florian Toyka and Fabian Fabian) composed this excellent album with interesting spoken word interludes (in a political vein, similar to their first album) and atmospheric passages that contrast with much heavier sections, in which we can hear how technically skilled they actually are. I've listened to this album several times without getting tired of it, it has a very refreshing sound, similar to Slint in mood (even though it's unrelated to their genre), although in Woburn House, the vocals make it seem much more melancholic.
Big favorite, back in 2009.
10min of pure slow, mourning jazz, is what Mitley Lady is about. Without straying much out of their usual style, Bohren & Der Club of Gore created a beautiful composition resembling the mood and atmosphere of a rainy evening in a busy city, the smell of coffee and humid air, and old rusty bars during a Friday night.
Works nicely for looped listening sessions.
A Neu! half reunion, Michael Rother joined forces with Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth's drummer) and Aaron Mullan (from Tall Firs) for a series of live shows recreating the music of Neu!, releasing a series of original compositions resembling their first albums (which is rather evident by the name of the trio). This single contains two new songs, interesting new material that may lead in the near future to a full length.
The big krautrock veterans and the experimental collective by definition joined forces in one of the best collaborations the genre has seen. Disconnected resembles the best of Faust's debut with the unpredictability of Nurse With Wound, making them even more bizarre than what they normally are. Six tracks, one of them a live session, in which both projects explore unlikely sounds in a way few would. Essential material for krautrock fans.
Stereolab's krautrock influences and Nurse With Wound's sound collages and manipulation find a common ground in this underappreciated collaboration called Simple Headphone Mind. At Stereolab's motorik beats, Stapleton & Co. added warped vocals (Sadier's) and all sorts of crazy noises, along with a heavy load of bass, turning what originally was an upbeat song into a rumbling, unpredictable composition full of layers that weren't even present in the original arrangement. The motorik-fueled beat that serves as a base for this collab is actually an instrumental Stereolab song called The Long Hair of Death, which is later featured in the 2xCD compilation called Aluminum Tunes. Simply unique.
Very rarely I get obsessed with a particular artist or band's discography. Usually I download an album in specific and explore it here and there if I end up liking it (I'm not the kind of person that just gets one album and stays there, critically acclaimed albums shouldn't be considered the only relevant material of a band), but in rare cases I end up liking them so much that I get their whole back catalog, and listen to it for weeks nonstop. This is the case with 'O'Rang, a side-project of Lee Harris and Paul Webb of Talk Talk (which released albums at the same time, even), in which the new wave, jazzy post-rock vibe of the latter is almost completely lost or unheard, instead replaced with tribal drumming, field recordings, african melodies and warm vocals, delivering a nice atmosphere full of rich sounds, never repeating itself, and constantly bringing the listener into a world of weird sensations. An unregrettable experience, recommended to those looking for something radically different to what they're used to.
There's no available copies on the original label they originally came from (Echo).
Justin Broadrick is one of the most prolific and somewhat eclectic musicians of the underground experimental scene, surpassed only by individuals such as Campbell Kneale in Australia, with tons of projects with unlimited releases. Broadrick is similar in that aspect, his works firmly rooted in industrial and drone/noise music have a cult following by now, and in this case the interested is rewarded. White Noise Demon (which is another one of his solo works pseudonyms) and in particular Apparitions, is a feedback menace, screeching and squealing like a living entity, almost not letting the listener feel the space between layer and layer of noise.
Compilation of one of the german bands that earned a cult following after their release with Henry Cow and later merge. Dagmar Krause's vocals, a trademark of their sound, shines like the previous chanson performer she used to be before the band and even after, when she released her solo works. This compilation gathers the most brilliant moments of their career and is, therefore, a must-have for the followers of the genre and its roots.
Josh Graham (from Neurosis, A Storm of Light and associated acts) and Greg Burns joined forces together for this Latitudes release, in which they used their creativity and skill for what they consider to be an "alternative soundtrack for The Shining". Dark ambient tracks with hints of menacing post-rock are the main elements that comprise this 25min album, in which you can almost feel the aura of uneasiness that characterizes the famous horror movie.Quiet at times, it delivers a lush of emotions on the next minutes, retaining the listener's attention for as long as the album lasts. Perhaps the only flaw is how short it is, and how it falls flat compared to their associated acts, but seeing as its focus is to be an entirely ambient album, it serves its purpose.
I stumbled upon this album on Soulseek a few weeks ago, while looking for songs related precisely to stars. I was baffled when I discovered that the band behind the music, a belgian collective whose recordings go back to the 70's, was signed to EE Tapes, in which Bene Gesserit (a favorite of mine) is signed as well. This little fact caught my attention, and I'm glad I explored it further: the music in this album is amazing. Inspired in the 70's german krautrock, the psychedelic rock present in this album makes you drift away with every song, with the most blissful tunes I've heard for an album of this nature. It reminds me at times of Hash Jar Tempo, except that in The Song of The Stars is less layered, focusing more in dynamics than anything else. There's indeed a spacey feeling, typical of krautrock, but used in a different way.
While this was released on 2002, it actually forms part of a series of recordings made between 1971 and 1974.
It's no surprise that the Latitudes release of Master Musicians of Bukkake also happens to be the weirdest so far (in the opposite sense) for the band. This album, pushing forward the already present (yet subtle) style in Totem Two, composed a traditional drone/psych folk album which lots of eastern influences (and reminiscent of 70's krautrock bands), and then a full blown krautrock song, which features lyrics for the first time. A big favorite of this year, Elogia de La Sombra is a great album featuring the best psych folk of this decade.
Composed completely with acoustic indian instruments, Remeindre is an atypical piece of art made by one of the most famous experimental musicians of the time, Stephen O'Malley. Surrounded by the tambura drone and the peaceful plucked guitar, O'Malley creates a timeless aura not unlike many other indian classical albums, but applying the subtle heaviness that characterizes his other works. Aided by Alexander Tucker (in some instrumentation and cover art), this Ginnungagap release is radically different in approach to any of his other works (even including other releases within the project), so this is a must-have for those who are interested in knowing about an unheard of side of this musician.
Now this is a very weird Nurse With Wound collab, and while that might sound strange considering it's Stapleton the one I'm talking about here after all, this is, for the most part, a post-rock release, thanks to Larsen (post-rock band from Italy, which has a long career and some other collabs floating around). It starts out the same way one would expect of a NWW release, a noisy intro followed by an electronic krautrock sound reminiscent of Amon Düül at times, focusing a lot on Fritz Muller's vocals, then it switches to an ambient track, courtesy of both Larsen and Nurse With Wound and which sounds similar to Salt Marie Celeste at some points. Then a somewhat dark post-rock section breaks out and that's where the strangeness begins: the whole album shifts mood and seamlessly turns into a peaceful, uplifting post-rock album. Post-rock fans might find this interesting, though it probably won't be up to the expectations of a regular Nurse With Wound fan, seeing as it doesn't have the same amount of manipulation one would assume from a collab of this nature. Still is a great release and I believe it deserves special attention.
Storytelling in music, in the best way german blackmetallers can achieve it, The Ruins of Beverast is just another gem within the vast BM genre, in which war, decayed citadels and cries of forgotten armies manifest themselves in this album as the sound of ghosts from centuries ago. Few bands of this nature manage to achieve this sort of feeling, and it's no surprise Alexander Von Meilenwald's solo project has gotten so much attention during the last decade, almost even more than the other bands he has been involved with. Percussion, naturally, receive an obvious emphasis in this album, grabbing the attention most of the time, going from slow-paced to furious, war-like blasting.
Formed by members of The Observatory (a singaporean pop/downtempo band), Arcn Templ is an ambient, psychedelic album which doesn't resemble in almost anything to what The Observatory usually performs. It's completely instrumental, guitar-driven, closer to minor melodies than anything else, and perfect for a quiet listen.
Psychedelic noise-rock, with a big emphasis in noise, is what Aural Fit is about. This japanese trio, like many of their contemporaries, created a highly dissonant album full of noise and dark atmospheres in which psychedelics is the main purpose. Definitely not for the faint, this album will surely please fans of the genre.
Li and Vavavond, a chinese guitar/laptop duo formed in 2006, created this highly psychedelic album full of layers in which they looked to explore the mysteries of the Lo P'an compass, a chinese instrument which is used for energy flow readings in feng shui. The purpose is as mystical as its sound, entrancing, harsh noise that takes the listener to another realm. Truly recommended.
The chaotic riffing of Fas, the motif structure of both Kénôse and Chaining the Katechon and the interludes of Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice, that's how the final chapter of the trilogy, Paracletus, sounds like, with an added complexity result of the natural evolution of a band that has remained in almost complete secrecy since their inception. Words alone can't explain how good this album is. The Holy Ghost, the explicit reference on the album's title, is evoked in the album cover as a deformed black beast with thousand of tentacles and born from the above fire, Deathspell Omega exposes this true nature in a lyrical and musical frenzy, taking aback the listener in this revealing journey through chaos. The summarizing of their enlightning message comes with the final words of this album:
You were seeking strength, justice, splendour! You were seeking love!
Here is the pit, here is your pit! Its name is SILENCE…
A small sample of the Norwegian experimental scene in this short split, two bands: the heavy noise-rockers of Noxagt paired with the bizarre free-jazz of Ultralyd (also part of the Rune Grammofon roster) deliver an atypical display of what we're used to from both bands. Noxagt's music in this split is noisier, less focused on rock standards, while Ultralyd's music becomes more abstract and random, similar to their most electic albums (Conditions for a Piece of Music comes to mind). All in all an interesting release that should please the expectations of its audience.
The italian black metal underground, often unappreciated, has some hidden gems left undiscovered for a long time, and this is the case with Fides Inversa. Firmly rooted in the somewhat recent Orthodox Black Metal scene, this band composed a fast, warlike interpretation of that vision, which shouldn't come as a surprise seeing as a lot of the bands within the scene have a predisposition to cherish and tribute their Roman heritage through music. Four long tracks, and a single message: subversion of the name of God through the enlightenment of the Word. For fans of Deathspell Omega and Watain.
Easily the weirdest, most interesting release of this sludge band from Providence, Rhode Island. In here we can finally hear the Magma influence they claim to have (and which is evident by some band photos) with the inclusion of operatic female vocals, whose chants (in the same mysterious vein the french zeuhl band wrote 40, 30 years ago) carry most of the melodies present in the album, while the pummeled heavy riffs and thumping drumming (as hardcore as ever) lead the way. Album of the year material right here, and composed by two guys that could easily be mistaken by southern hunters carrying shotguns wherever they go. Don't you dare miss this release!
The quintessential Nurse With Wound album, this is what Stapleton considered as the "first real NWW album", and that it'd later become their trademark sound. Frightening like few, this album is complex and bizarre like the darkest horror flick never made. Hard to describe, like usual; this is a sonic experience that needs to be heard.
As a curious fact, some of the samples used for this album come from a Geinoh Yamashirogumi album called Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai, in which explores what it seems to be a traditional japanese folk ritual. Originally released on United Diaries, this is the 2007 reissue on Jnana Records, retaining the same quality.
Rawer than A Scream That Tore The Sky, after 5 years we get this fine release, in which this tech/avantgarde death metal band from Australia incorporates vocals and a faster, more structured sound than how it used to be. It was certainly a surprise to me how good it sounded from the very first song, at first I feared the bass wasn't going to be as prominent as their previous full length, but luckily I was wrong; the bass assaults you from the second and third song onwards and truly breaks through the compositions, turning into a main highlight.
You cannot miss this, only from time to time one gets excellent releases like this one. It makes up for the lack of Gorguts this year, I can assure you.
The follow-up of The Other Side of The Island (which can be found here), this David J Smith and Daniel O'Sullivan project displays a very creative of his music that wasn't explored before on any of their other projects (Mothlite and Ginnungagap get close to it, though, both being O'Sullivan works), in which field recordings and sound manipulation craft an evolving, earthly soundscape in the mind of the listener, never letting it drift away for too long and instead focus on the ever-evolving, shifting tectonic layers of sound. This album features his vocals, unlike the Aurora Borealis release, but in change we get a shorter album length. In spite of that, this is another quality Utech release that deserves to be heard.
Almost 15 years after Homotopy to Marie, Nurse With Wound releases a very similar album, almost starting from scratch. This album features a lot of recognizable brass elements, along with some severely frightening segments that can be likened (or even surpassed) to Homotopy to Marie, making it too inaccessible for continuous listens. A true box of secrets, it's harsh, scary and layered, like few of the same vein. It's difficult to tell the motifs behind this album, specially if we take the cover into consideration. It sort of reminds me of Albert Camus... But maybe that's just me. One of my 2009 favorites, that's for sure.
Heavy & Experimental Music in general, Movies, Upcoming Shows, personal stuff, and anything I find interesting will be posted here. Taking requests too (comment box down below).
The name of the blog comes from the Nurse With Wound album's subtitle, Shipwreck Radio Vol 1 and 2 (Seven Sonic Structures of Utvær and Eight Enigmatic Structures of Utvær), it's also a small inhabited Norwegian island located to the northwest of the country, in the municipality of Solund.
In most cases I'll provide the best as possible quality I can get, along with a link to order the album(s). Always remember to support the music you enjoy.