Single Mothers – Indian Pussy

A deformed, mutant take on stoner metal from Los Ang eles. Using slow, droning (often crushingly heavy) riffs as a basis, the guys from Single Mothers subvert the stoner rock/metal stereotypes in playful and mischevious ways, often locking into bass-driven grooves, creating a tapestry of cut-up samples, weird vocals, aggressive growls or jangly, dissonant guitars. Sludge gone dada.

Aquatic Lifeforms – Aquatic Lifeforms

Looks like the spirit of German Kosmische Musik (or maybe rather: Autobahn Musik) can infect any part of the world. In this case it’s Aquatic Lifeforms, a psychedelic collective from Brisbane, Australia. Their take on kraut is highly dynamic, filled with driving motorik beats and at the same time infused with a serious shoegazey haze. Think Belong’s Common Era, but more improvised, freewheeling and less melancholic. Good jams! Recommended.

Aquatic Lifeforms – Aquatic Lifeforms

Review: Koi Pond – So Higher (Sonic Meditations, 2012)

New York City based trio Koi Pond has a short history of throbbing, underground psychedelic jams and the fact, that its individual members are more known than their own little musical enterprise itself – drummer Dave Aron on drums, Pete Vogl wielding both synthesizer and electric guitar, and Arik “Moonhawk” Roper himself (the guy who did most artwork for {among many others} Sleep, especially Dopmesmoker and its awesome 2012 reissue on Souther Lord) on bass guitar, providing a driving, low-end funky pulsations which are like concrete foundations upon which Vogl constructs his brain-frying guitar/synth solos.

Their debut album was a 2008 cassette Volcano, released by the ever-glowing Night People Records. It made a few minor ripples in the deep underground, mostly due to the awesome, now-defunct Sunflower Chakra Milk blog, which at the time (08-09) pretty much defined and shaped my music taste. But the important factor as to why the album, filled with creative, badass take on psychedelic rock, didn’t sell. It was because of its extremely lo-fi production – the synths and the drums were barely recognizable under the wall of tape hiss, and the bass guitar pounding away in the narcotic fog was the only thing that could be heard right away.

But here’s hoping that the same fate will not apply to the newest vinyl offering from Justin Wright’s (aka Expo ‘70) label Sonic Meditations. The production here is much cleared and more hi-fi, which doesn’t mean the bass guitar and Aron’s krauty, thunderous drumming don’t pack a serious punch. Don’t be misleaded by the gentle, droning opening of side A’s behemoth “Odysseia”. Once Roper’s bass kicks in and sets for a groove, you should know you’re in for a fucking trip. Roper and Aron synchronize to create a propelling caveman drone-psych, while Vogl sets free cascades after cascades of synthesizer improvisations, flooding the rolling plain with a rain of soft, crystal sounds. Listening to Koi Pond’s new vinyl is like rolling in a newly restored 1960’s muscle car with all the original and new parts, both for the purely American, stoner feel and the fact that So Higher feels like a piece of art, a musical sculpture worth promoting and preserving. The whole sound of slowly rolling, hypnotic jam of “Odysseia” feels like an even more minimal version of Pharaoh Overlord.

Side B is more concise and conists of shorter, more energetic tracks. The short, cut-up intro slowly evolves into the absolutely acidic, vile and distorted “X Minus One” Koi Pond ever conceived. Vogt exchanges the synthesizer for the electric guitar and for 6 burning minutes he spews out solo after solo in a series of lysergic, multi-level explosions of fuzz. There is a lot of playing around with studio effects on So Higher, and with dubby basslines and delayful, delayed drumming it almost feels like an intensified experimental dub record filtered through the Expo-ish prism of New Age escapism. There are references to science fiction novels and films in the track titles, like “Valis”, “Alpha Centauri Blueshift” or the Can-like title “Ancient Future”. Koi Pond are certainly far out in their inspirations and they are even more far out in their own work – a work of epic proportions, heavy and wobbling with incredible power of bass and intense trippertronics.

Koi Pond are without a doubt one of the most interesting offerings, along with Moon Unit, Pharaoh Overlord, The Psychic Paramount and Eternal Tapestry, in the modern psychedelic rock scene. The three guys follow the shining path of glowing avant rock bands from NYC, reflecting the most talented and forward-thinking explosions of creativity in the Big Apple.

Buy the vinyl or the tape from Sonic Meditations!

Review: The Rainbow Body – Metatron’s Cube (Rainbow Body Sound Lab, 2012)

Matt Kattman sculpts brutal, immediate “power ambient” structures, that are filled with the shoegazey, rough-edged feel of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s Love is a Stream. Like many hazy, foggy ambient records, this cassette was recorded in a short period of time with the usage of heavily processed guitar. But what is of note is the fact that the album was mastered by Mr. James Plotkin himself. Which made me intrigued to hear the tape: if Plotkin is mastering something, it can’t be half bad, eh? And I was right.

Metatron’s Cube employs a somewhat unorthodox listening policy of placing the identical 38 minutes and 37 seconds of music (described as “program” on the cassette) on both sides of the tape so that it can be listened seemingly “endlessly” with just a brief break for flipping the tape, so the bliss can begin all over again. The “program” is divided into 8 untitled tracks (on the j-card they are described as only their lengths), each touching a slightly different mood and sculpting a different thick and palpable texture, which rumbles the subwoofer and obliterates all other sound into a drifting blur.

The heavy, radiant and super-syrupy drones are laced (or rather: constantly under attack) by ear-drilling glitches, passages of improvised guitar noise elevated to the point of deconstructed, screeching electronic madness that punctures the sea of pulses. Sometimes, however, the noise settles and gives way for more “cultured”, progressive electronic connotations, filling the droning, analog night with glowing sequences, arpeggios and microscoping bleeps and bloops, propelled forward and fuelled by the primeval droning background. Sometimes the seemingly all-mechanic, humanless sounds will bring Keith Fullerton’s Whitmans sweet, warm algorhythms to mind (Generator series, anyone?). But despite that, there is less space here for mathematic experimentalism, and much more space for almost unlimited expression of the love of ambience and long, drawn-out soundscapes. Matt Kattman celebrates ambient and drone music by letting it go freely, by erasing all kinds of limits, the drones can grow to overwhelming heights. Kattman studies how big can a drone grow in its natural environment.

Review: Voder Deth Squad – II (SicSic, 2012)

II, as the name suggests, is the second release by the drone (super)duo of M. Geddes Gengras and Jeremy Kelly. The first cassette, entitled simply I, was released by Stunned Records and (as pretty much all releases by Stunned) was sold out in a heartbeat. The second cassette picks up on the same ideas that put Voder Deth Squad into existence and develops them in order to completely envelop the listener and provide sonic nirvana hidden among the dark, rolling synthesizer sounds.

While many people might associate LA’s Ged Gegras with cold, experimentalist approach to synthesizers and electronic music in general, remembering his lengthy sound collages and nearly lifeless bleeps, bloops and massive drones, he’s also actually ableto create heart-wreckingly beautiful pieces of ambient music, like on his Magical Writing tape. On II, the fresh offering from SicSic Tapes, is a truly immersive journey, where the beatufiul, tape-treated ambience is deepened and a added a darker, more mysterious edge. While MGG’s Magical Writing was almost folk-like in its closeness of Earth and basic emotions, II by the collab with J. Kelly is way closer to the endless coldness of the outer space.

As before, the music on II consists of two side-long, untitled tracks. Side A is built around distantly pulsing, ominous sequence, emerging from the tape hiss like some enormous pillars emerging from the fog in an endlessly huge cosmic structure hidden somewhere on a remote, dark planet. Single synth notes float among the pillars, exchanging signals and tiny scraps of improvised melodies. Waves of sounds rise into echoing clusters bouncing constatly against the huge, background pillar-like sequence. The sound is non-invasive, it is bassy, but in a fear-inducing way, it just envelops the listener and develops gently along the way without much stylisting change. It is the ideal sleeping jam, for those altered nights.

Side B at first might sound like a copy of the previous track, but it soon gets more power and fills the cold vacuum with swirling synthesizer solos, ascending and echoing like there’s no tomorrow. This is the music for the dream stage, when the brain creates non-existent worlds at an incredible pace, adding more surreal details to the whole. II is the simulation, the document of the thought processes happening in the brain during the sleep or in the altered states of consiousness.

Buy the tape from SicSic Tapes!

Review: Is/Is – III (Guilt Ridden Pop, 2012)

The name Is/Is might be a bit too similar to the name of another guitar band, namely¬†Isis. But the only thing connecting the post-metal monsters from Isis and the noisy shoegaze of the grrls from Is/Is is the penchant for both to create eerily atmospheric, somewhat dusted music, where the sounds blend into the background noise or are heavily distorted. However, Is/Is goes for more punky, straightforward sound with a rebellious edge, which is apparent even on the band’s press photo – the all-female unit shows certain leanings into punk, maybe crust even with their torn denim jackets and the apparent “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. Because the guitar textures present all over the jet-black vinyl (the centers of which are adorned with truly witch-house triangles). By the way, on their Bandcamp, the band calls their genre “witchgaze”, which is a pretty neat and catchy term, to be honest.

The hazy and downtuned style of the band can be compared to their Texas contemporaries from True Widow, but whereas True Widow are often going for a more depressive, melancholic take on shoegaze, which is actually closer to slowcore (in the most classical, Low-related sense of the genre), the girls from Is/Is play a no frills, faster-paced garagey version of shoegaze, where the ambient interludes mingle with rockin’ numbers filled with recognizable hooks and deeply moving basslines. This is the strongest part of this record: it is immensely and relentlessly catchy. The lighter, more poppy tracks are followed by darker, more brooding pieces, accented by low-tuned bass and at the same time obscured by dizzy guitar workouts.

III is a collection of everyday anthems for doing whatever the fuck you want; III is the music for breaking laws and rules with style and grace. There is a lingering sense of outlaw badassery within Is/Is’ rock, but there is also a sense of romanticised, idealized way of bandit living. It is not the pointless violence and causing suffering, rather, it is the state of endless freedom, an ultimate outsider dream, the kind that was pictured in Terrence Malick’s 1973 masterpiece Bandlands. I have a feeling the members of Is/Is watched that film a lot and it was a major influence within their work. There is a little bit of an outlaw within every one of us, and¬†III by Is/Is is a reminder of that.

Lunar Miasma – Impermanent Nature

Originally released in February 2012 in an edition of 135 tapes from the KILLER label SicSic Tapes (I think the spirit of Stunned Records travelled all the way across the globe and settled in this German imprint, coming back to the sourceof the kosmische power), this tape by Greece’s whiz kid Panos Alexiadis is a touching display of Panos’ knack for creating eternally blissful and suspended prog electronic structures. Despite their delightful delicacy and fragile, impermanent nature, the sounds beneath are adamant and powerful, bringing scraps of melodies under the wall of shimmering drone. Available for free download from Bandcamp, get it immediately!