Thursday, March 27, 2008

Azure Skies: Azure Skies (5/5)

Year: 2001
Label: Ant-Zen
Genre: Rhythmic Industrial Noise
TRT: 62:26

Azure Skies is the one-off collaboration of the artists behind Sanctum and Mental Destruction (who consequently also run the Northern Lights record label, home of the legendary Extol and Lengsel). And while you can see influences and styles from both, this transcends either in my mind. I've never heard anything else quite like it. There's something here that just envelopes you and washes you away, whether violently or subtly (sometimes both simultaneously). This is yet another album essential to the formation of my musical and artistic development.

It was released with four different covers, and it's damn near impossible to find a copy of any of them.

01 Crater
02 Deniability
03 Hydrazine
04 Collapse
05 In Eclipse
06 Bring Back Nothing
07 Still
08 Forward Contamination
09 Water, Tree, Stone

Ulver: Kveldssanger (4.5/5)

Year: 1996
Label: Head Not Found
Genre: Norwegian Acoustic Folk
TRT: 35:24

Previous to this album, Ulver had released a very raw black metal album, with just a hint of what was to be found on Kveldssanger. Simply put, this album is Breathtakingly beautiful. With gorgeous acoustic guitars and rich male choral sections. Listening to it is likened to floating through a dream that, while dark and a little frightening, holds nothing but wonderment and joy.

01 Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
02 Ord
03 Høyfjeldsbilde
04 Nattleite
05 Kveldssang
06 Naturmystikk
07 A Cappella (Sielens sang)
08 Hiertets vee
09 Kledt i nattens farger
10 Halling
11 Utreise
12 Søfu-ør på allfers lund
13 Ulvsblakk

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Voice of Eye: Transmigration (4/5)

Year: 1995
Label: Cyclotron Industries
Genre: Ritual Dark Ambient
TRT: 67:28

Brooding and moody, meandering through hallways of silence and corridors of activity, Transmigration can be a bit ponderous to take in. But it's certainly worth the investment. With massive soundscapes that slowly creep under your skin and chill your veins, you might not want to listen to this one alone in the dark.

But you should.

01 Transmigration (Bardo I)
02 Transcendence
03 Sirens (Bardo II)
04 Tempest
05 Garden of Earthly Delights
06 Oblivion (Bardo III)

I have no idea where to buy this from.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thee, Stranded Horse: Churning Strides (4/5)

Year: 2007
Label: Talitres
Genre: Atmospheric Folk
TRT: 42:22

Yann Tambour is a French folk musician. What sets him apart from the crowd is the instrument he plays, the kora, a 21-stringed instrument originating in West-Africa. And while some make the accusation that Tambour lifts his vocal stylings directly from the likes of Devendra Banhart, I strongly disagree. While it's true that the Banhart comparison leaped immediately to mind upon my first listen, never did I think "plagarism". Tambour has the same frail, fragile tone, but stops short of the "whimsical" quaver associated with Banhart. Thee, Stranded Horse seems, to me atleast, to be far more introspective and contemplative about things that actually matter in life, approching asceticism rather than riotous abandon.

01 So Goes the Pulse
02 Misty Mist (Tyrannosaurus Rex)
03 Le Sel
04 Swaying Eel
05 Churning Strides
06 Tainted Days
07 Sharpened Suede
08 Fiend Over Your Knees

Search for Thee, Stranded Horse

Monday, March 17, 2008

Telefon Tel Aviv: Fahrenheit Fair Enough (4.5/5)

Year: 2001
Label: Hefty
Genre: Electro Glitch IDM
TRT: 40:56

While not as "pure" as Autechre or Venetian Snares, Telefon Tel Aviv serves up some very good IDM with a healthy dose of glitch and electronic meanderings in 9 perfectly crafted songs. Glitch has to be one of my favorite things to listen to, whether it's paired with another style of music, or left on it's own. It's just so fresh and fun and interesting. In my opinion, it's the future of electronic music.

01 Farenheit Fair Enough
02 TTV
03 Lotus Above Water
04 John Thomas On The Inside Is Nothing But Foam
05 Life Is All About Taking Things In And Putting Things Out
06 Your Face Reminds Me Of When I Was Old
07 What's The Use Of Feet If You Haven't Got Legs?
08 Introductory Nomenclature
09 Fahrenheit Far Away

Search Amazon for Telefon Tel Aviv

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rackets & Drapes: Love Letters From Hell (4/5)

Year: 2003
Label: Self Released
Genre: Dark Synth Electro Goth
TRT: 53:18

Forget what you know about this band if you're familiar with Rackets & Drapes from their first few releases, which were nothing short of Gothic Shockrock from a Christian perspective. While I personally liked this angle back in the day, I realize that was a turn-off for many.

However, their 2003 (and final?) release, Love Letters From Hell, completely ditchs this kitsch. What you get here is a really sick and dirty synth-driven electrosextronic instead. All based on sex, prostitutes and the adult film industry.

01 Shock Therapy
02 Children of the Damned
03 Redlite Deadlite
04 Sex Doll
05 Valentine
06 Retail Slut
07 Halloween (Bring Out the Dead)
08 Distortion
09 She Devil
10 Stiletto 13
11 No Place Like Hell

Search Amazon for Rackets & Drapes

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sunn O))) & Boris: Altar (4.5/5)

Year: 2006
Label: Southern Lord
Genre: Atmospheric Drone
TRT: 53:43

I picked this album up on a complete whim because the packaging was so sleek and appealing. I'm a casual fan of both bands, but nothing could have prepared me for what was lying in wait.

This album completely shocked me, because it is almost nothing like what I would have expected either group involved to release. When I think of Sunn O))) I think of plodding, destroyingly loud static-filled wall-of-sound and Boris will forever be labeled as "drone" in my mind (however unfair that may be).

While Altar is definately a drone release, it's calming, seductive and absolutely, stunningly, beautiful. Again, nothing could have prepared me for something like this. I don't normally like to highlight certain tracks on an album, as I'd rather let you make up your own mind as to which songs are the best, but The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep) literally took my breath away. If you listene to nothing else of this record, listen to that one song.

Altar is by far my favorite release from either collaborator, and I long for more such releases. The sum truly is greater than its parts.

01 Etna
02 N.L.T.
03 The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)
04 Akuma No Kuma
05 Fried Eagle Mind
06 Blood Swamp

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wolf Eyes: Dead Hills (4.5/5)

Year: 2002
Label: Troubleman
Genre: Dark Ambient Noise
TRT: 23:26

Wolf Eyes was a gateway group for me. I had hear 3 seconds of a Merzbow track earlier that year, and immediately spurned the idea of listening to, literally, noise. Let alone aknowledging it as a genre. Well fast forward a few months to the annual MacRock festival at James Madison University. I saw Wolf Eyes on the bill, and was intrigued. I wondered how the hell "noise" could be pulled off live. I had no idea what was in store for me. Sitting there on the side of the stage I was mesmerized by the technique and precision used to make the unearthly sounds coming out of the speaker system. It was something like an out-of-body experience, I was just floating. That concert completely changed the way I listened to music, as well as my own thoughts and definitions of what exactly music is.

I picked up this EP and their full-length Burned Mind that day, and listened to this EP on the drive home. It's one of the most disturbing things I've heard. Completely enthralling, it creeps under your skin like tiny little scarabs, gnawing a way to your heart.

Search Amazon for Wolf Eyes

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Juliana Theory: Music From Another Room (5/5)

Year: 2001
Label: Tooth & Nail
Genre: Melodic Emotional Indie Rock
TRT: 27:31

While I rather enjoyed Emotion Is Dead, this short EP is what will forever define The Juliana Theory in my collection. Some of their best song-crafting (aside from the abominable Piano Song, which is last so thankfully I never have to listen to), most intelligent lyrics and over-all their most mature release period. Such a shame they followed up this little masterpiece with such an awful full-length (Love), and then just to prove they could do worse, Deadbeat Sweetheart. If this band had instead followed in the vein of what is found in Music From Another Room, they might well still be one of my favorite bands. Such a shame.

01 This Is the End of Your Life
02 Moments...
03 In A Fraction
04 Liability
05 Breathing By Wires
06 Piano Song

Search For The Juliana Theory on Amazon.

Undiscovered Moons of Saturn: Lost in Cosmos... (4.5/5)

Year: 2002
Label: NULLL
Genre: Dark Space Ambient
TRT: 53:16

UMOS create breathtaking compositions and dark textures that envelop you in the vastness of space. At once a soothing and unsettling journey. They were one of my first discoveries in the ambient genre, and remain one of my favorites.

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Jandek: Ready For the House (4.5/5)

Year: 1978
Label: Corwood Industries
Genre: Dark Folk
TRT: 42:43

Who is Jandek? Jandek is a maverick. Jandek is an outsider. Jandek is a musical nightmare. There is almost nothing aesthetically pleasing about anything this man has ever released in his career spanning 30 years and over 50 albums. With jangly out of tune guitars, tortured monotone vocal delivery and aimless meandering through sonically painful soundscapes.

There is really nothing at all for anyone to like about Jandek. No one should like Jandek. But yet for some reason, I love Jandek. When one is listening to songs such as Naked in the Afternoon or Know Thyself, it's almost as if the darkest parts, the most haunted parts of your own psyche are vociferating through the speakers. There's a connection there, as awful as it might sound.

This was the first Jandek album, originally released under the moniker The Units, which has never been used again for any other releases. It's Jandek's albums like this one that i liek the most, just him and a guitar and nothing else. On various later albums there's bass, drums and even the random guest vocalist, sometiems no vocals at all, sometimes nothing but vocals. And while those have there place, they're not what i go back to again and again.

For more information, visit the veritable Jandek bible over at

01 Naked in the Afternoon
02 First You Think Your Fortune's Lovely
03 What Can I Say, What Can I Sing
04 Show Me the Way, O Lord
05 Know Thy Self
06 They Told Me About You
07 Cave In On You
08 They Told Me I Was a Fool
09 European Jewel (Incomplete)

Order Jandek from Corwood Industries