Like a team of highly skiller guerilla fighters, the technical math rock unit Mother Night attacks suddenly and quits suddenly, parts of aggressive, mathematically precise hardcore punk mix with electronic weirdness and psychedelic rock trippiness into a truly explosive mix of refreshing rock ideas. Heavy shit, man. Recommended. And availbale for free download!
German sound skullptor (see what I did there?) Thomas Gerendás gracefully smears the borders between the original samples and recontextualizes them for the new, mapless territories of sound. Hailing from Cologne, the breeding ground of forward thinkers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen or Can, Gerendás uses the rich tradition of electronic experimentation for his own means, to mold some sort of musique concrete for the 21st century.
Kicking off from the foggy start, Skullorian gives us a fertile package – out of five compositions four range from 14 to 20 minutes, and the shortest one is nearly 9 minutes long. Which means we’re in for a deep trip. Because for those who aren’t already familiar with the German shaman, the mass of seemingly sourceless and shapeless sounds might appear a bit pretty overwhelming – but after a few repeated listens a sense of order and actual compositions is starting to emerge, accenting changes in rhythm, or the change of hazily convoluted “movement” – or anything that comes at least slightly close to be called an actual movement. For example, the opening self-titled track gradually uncovers a funky, bouncing beat, slightly Lynchian, like Amon Tobin quoting Angelo Badalamenti on Tobin’s trademark album Permutation, emerging from the sea of heavy, sinister cosmic drones.
The jazzy and funky elements hidden under ominous, thick cloud work as strangely relaxing elements that seems to exist for the sole fact of reminding the listener that they’re still listening to something made by an actual human. Or maybe rather, elements of old human transmission accidentally caught up in a non-human chaos of accidental, hostile sounds. The vintage samples sounds like the mere tools in the hands of a far more powerful, unknown power which crushes those human sounds and proves how the “normal” music is fragile and vulnerable to the crushing power of this otherworldly mess. Without any drugs, Gerendás replicates the hazy, murky effects of powerful psychedelics, creating an atmosphere of dense immersion filled with sourceless sounds that might be coming from anywhere at once. But with Skullorian’s music, the druggy effects are directed more towards the “bad trip” areas.
More sweatly dancefloor goodness from Chicago’s Ryan McRyhew, a.k.a. Thug Entrancer. This fresh sound sculptor offers the third album from his project, a remixed, old-school and remixed batch of cyberpunk bliss and juke scene worship. The summer is getting close, time to organize a nice party. Thug Entrancer is a good choice. Available for free from Bandcamp.
The fact that the post-everything trippertronic shaman Zac Nelson hasn’t made it into stardom of the drone-based experimental scene is one of the great mysteries of modern music. Well, maybe that’s a slight overstatement, but this cassette from the neo-kosmisch Portland label Field Hymns is a little nice taped gem, piercing its way through the sea of synth mediocrity. Whean nearly everything analog-synth related is tagged as “experimental”, on Last.fm, Zac Nelson breaks through as one of the very few who truly deserve to be called experimental.
His music is some of the most advanced trippertronics one might have encountered over the years of their search for the weird. Other terms apply, too: “hypertronic”, “hyperdelic” (just like that Daniel Smith’s fluorescent drone label) or just “new weird everything”. Just to reflect on the overall sparkling weirdness of the entire cassette, it kicks of with a hallucinatory anthem “Glassy”, recalling the spirits of Astral Social Club with a bit of wide-eyed, space age pop vocalizations. The drone rises and falls in ecstatic swells, while the underlying beat changes kaleidoscopically between a bassy IDM-ish futurism and the kitschy carnival celebration. The foggy, moaning vocals are further carried out in the following “Labendolla”, where the fractured, frying, pulsing synth drones serve as a background for narcoleptic, shoegazy narrative.
The rest of the tracks are less or more a deconstruction of the stereotypes of drone music (maybe with the exception of the 2-minute “Human Strength Giving Itself Up Has Inspired That Cry”, which sounds pretty much exactly like Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Describing Bodies”), where the general, basic drone is modified and sprinkled with nice, little details. For example, the beatific, piano minimalism of “Borne By Tropical Waves Within Their Foamy Bosoms” sounds like the lo-fi emanation of Super Minerals and the 16-minute relaxing suite of “Scooch Over Presence” is a toned-down, inner-gazing New Age worship of the highest order, taking cues from the tropical meditations of Dolphins Into the Future, but adoring it with more little bleeps and bloops, adding more layers and creating a generally more “busy” and less “malaise” sound than the Belgian explorer.
Zac Nelson proves that it is possible to come from the land of drone and go so much further while using the source sound as inspiration and a basis for expanding the ideas without falling for the trappings of this genre. Zac Nelson is truly a rising power.
One day, I received the first batch of tapes from a mysterious new cassette label named Cosmic Winnetou. It turned out that the German ambientalist and a 1/2 of Navel, namely Guenter Schlienz, has started his own label. And despite its humble beginning (each of the four tapes is limited to 25 copies only), I can feel that there is a lot of good stuff still to come.
Live at Bühl by the post-kraut unit e Jugend failed to grab my attention at first. It seemed to quiet, too slowly unfolding and slightly lo-fi to become any sort of rewarding, psychedelic listen. I largely ignored it (or rather: didn’t give it much of a chance) until one night, when I wanted to listen to some tapes when falling asleep. I decided to pop this in my walkman, and holy shit, it clicked. Hard. And this is where the interesting stuff starts: according to the liner notes, the material on the cassette was recorded during the exhibition “Things Could Be Different, But They’re Not” by German artist Jyrgen Ueberschär in… 1986. Which is impossible, because after a bit of research I found out Ueberschär was born in 1978, so he would be 8 years old in 1986. Such an exhibition indeed took place, but in 2010. I can only wonder whether the false date in the liner notes was just an error, or a clever “test” to see whether journalists and bloggers will actually put effort into researching their facts or just blindly copy the information just as it’s written. In fact, the album’s description is filled with dubious information reminding me of disorienting techniques used by many bands who want to stay as mysterious as possible, such as declining a 21 thousand pound advertisement offer from a real estate company or their devotion to exercise children’s football skills.
While the material may (or may not) have been recorded in 2010, the sound of Live at Bühl is very 80’s-like indeed. Both sides go with endlessly delayed, reverbed silky guitar improvisations that unfold at a glacial pace, in a manner similar to the most ambientalized, drifting moments of Spacemen 3 (think Dreamweapon), building slight waves of cosmic ambience using guitars and little more than various effects. While the first side of the cassette sounds like an actual ambient/psychedelic compositions, channeling the spirits of Ash Ra Tempel’s “Traummaschine” in a series of gently droning, deeply trippy guitar strums and delicate chords, the other side is much more “polluted”, being closer to an experimental sound installation filled with people chatting and laughing on top of ethereal guitar ambience. But even this faint ambience is cut short later, being replaced by what appears to be an art-related lecture in German (still in the same performance space) ended with enthusiastic applause, which seems to be directed both at the artists and the musicians who performed during the exhibition.
Out of nowhere came one of my favorite tapes, with beatific, rolling guitar ambience from two “nobodies”, who prefer to refer to themselves simply as “No. 5” and “No 9”. At least according to the Cosmic Winnetou blurb. But can you trust them?