Review: Sultan Hagavik – 8 Przepięknych Melodii (Sangoplasmo, 2012)

Remember that time, dear Reader, when you used to listen to your favorite cassettes in your childhood (I’m assuming the age of the average reader of Weed Temple is somewhere around early to mid twenties) and your player would just go insane (or suddenly become an asshole) and just eat up and mangle your tape in some horrific-yet-hilarious way? The sound of the Wrocław duo Sultan Hagavik is exactly this sound, except multiplied tenfold. And then multiplied again.

If you sometimes have this craving, that drug-addict-style craving for some fantastically, frenetically fucked up anti-music, releases like this come to the rescue and give you a fix of warped sounds that pose a risk of turning your brain inside out. Wait, did I write “rescue”? “Very poor choice of words”, Dark Knight’s Joker would say. The dudes from Sultan Hagavik are pretty much Jokers, they are having a fucking ball while everyone around just try to run from their creations in terror.

Nothing is sacred for them, starting with classical symphonies (the opening and closing pieces) slowing up and down with no remorse, pierced with dadaistic soundbites played at various speeds, continuing with pop pieces warped and bastardized beyond recognition, samples from movies, speech slowed down or sped up according to the authors’ whim, bloodcurdling screams repeating and suddenly cut, Arabic music laced with glitches and noises, compositions with barely any skeleton or structure filled with crackles and tape hiss.

“8 Przepięknych Melodii” (roughly translated as “8 Super-beautiful Melodies”) is a half-hour ride through relentless mutations of sound with a lot of abstract, twisted humor hidden in this haze and maze of distorted sonic madness. The album title is hilarious in itself, considering there is hardly any melody to be found here, not to mention anything beautiful. The titles of the tracks (in Polish) are also very funny, even though most of the humor is lost to foreign listeners, with names like “Uródź Budyń” (“Give birth to pudding”), “Zwłaszcza Grzegorz” (“Especially Grzegorz”), “Biedny Spektral” (“Poor Spectral”) or “Fantastyczna Muzyka Arabska” (“Fantastic Arabic Music”). Hell, even the album’s artwork is some incredible parody – they just took a stock photo of a walrus and ACTUALLY, PURPOSEFULLY left the “depositphoto” watermark ALL OVER the tape’s artwork – not only on the front, there’s actually the watermark creating a pattern on the whole j-card, even merging with the track titles on the back.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=1380561077/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/


A Place of Owls – The Oceanic Tomes

Shrouded in mystery and darkness, this album by the Minneapolis project A Place of Owls recalls the more brooding moments of Brian Eno and the ambient side of the post-rock and post-metal giants. “The Oceanic Tomes” is a series of vast, sweeping soundscapes based on myths and legends of ancient submerged cities around the world. In the author’s words:

The Oceanic Tomes is a soundscape album inspired by the world wide myths and legends that tell of great cities disappearing into the sea.

These myths seem to find a hint of credibility on the ocean’s floor where hundreds of ancient monuments and ruins can be found at rest. Some of them have been there so long they oppose the conventional historical timeline. As well as raise questions about what our origins really are.

“The Tomes” are written to reflect, not only the the eerie depths where the these lost cities sleep, but the wonderment of the knowledge that there is more then what we know. So please, break out your best set of headphones and immerse yourself in The Oceanic Tomes.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=435129583/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/


Loathes – Loathes

 

Just like the cover depicts a foggy sea shore with a steely, cloudy sky above, the sounds on the debut EP by the Cleveland’s duo of Colin Fien and Stephen Mlinarcik sound like the sounds of chillwave once the summer is over and the holiday resorts get empty again. Few remaining guests take strolls along the beach, washed with waves now too cold to swim in and most shops, restaurants and other summer atractions are now closed down. Sweeping ambient textures mix perfectly with distant, cut-up smokey jazz samples still containing the warm glow of the summer bygone, yet with a cold breath of the incoming winter. Recommended.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=2192578477/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/


Dinosaur On Fire – Sleep Moon Voyage

Super-euphoric glowing progressive techno soundscapes from Philadelphia’s Tech Honors. Like a wide-eyed trip in time into your childhood’s favorite video games and cheesy computer graphics of early 90’s TV commercials. Except with all the dust swept away and replaced with crystal-clear, LCD quality instead. If you enjoy Giant Claw, this shit right here will be right up your alley. Fire up the lazer beamzzz.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=1971891529/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/


Review: BNNT – _ _ (Qulturap, 2012)

I wasn’t aware of the existence of the Poznań noise rock (with more noise than rock, definitely) unit BNNT (previously known as Brown Note) until I read a review of their “_ _” album on Polish music webzine Niezal Codzienny (for which I also happen to occasionally write). Taking both the traditions of noise rock duos and guerilla gigs, BNNT suddenly made a lot of noise (both literally and in the blogosphere) during this year’s OFF Festival in Katowice, Poland, after making sudden performances from a battered van touring the city, appearing in balaclavas and drowning the spectators in waves of brutal, bassy noise.

BNNT themselves are more of an art group than a music one, even the instrument played by group co-founder Konrad Smoleński is called “baritone missile”, which literally looks like a missile with strings. Fucking brutal. This brutality is reflected perfectly on their debut studio album, with relentless bass slapping and amphetamine madness on the drums. The songs have little, if any structure, often straying from the main “theme” after a short time into a wall of feedback and random strumming in the vein of Dead C or Harry Pussy, except addled with much more drugs and even more amplified than their forefathers. There are occasional spoken word pieces and vocal samples thrown into the mix and an inexplicable angelic drone will sometimes find its way into the harsh reality (see what I did there?) of this black hole of an album.

The duo come are afiliated with the Poznań label Pink Punk, famous in its home country for their rebellious and forward-thinking take on outsider rock genres, with a special focus on noise rock. BNNT are one of the most extraordinary bands to come from the whole Pink Punk thinktank, both in the image – because you never know what they’re gonna do or when you’re gonna end up in the middle of their gig, it’s so exciting) and the blackened wall of nihilistic guitar sounds ornamented with sound bites from such weirdo movies as Harmony Korine’s “Trash Humpers”. And if you know Harmony Korine because of “Gummo” – believe me, “Gummo” is a Hollywood blockbuster compared to “Trash Humpers”. BNNT ARE the trash humpers.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=1068424341/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/


Review: Planets Around the Sun – Ram of Heart and the Earthen Chariot (Sloow Tapes, 2012)

If you haven’t been brainwashed by the trend-setting, hype-creating “cool” webzines into thinking that New Weird America, of “freak folk” (oh for fuck’s sake!) died out suddenly somewhere at the end of the previous decade, being replaced by neo-prog analog whiz kids and chillwave, you are very well aware that the spirit of freewheeling psychedelic folk is alive and kicking – and it’s providing some mighty kicks, based on this mindblowing cassette by American collective Planets Around the Sun.

At head spinning 75 minutes, “Ram of Heart and the Earthen Chariot” (the somewhat paganish title bringing to mind the occultist experimentalisms of Stunned Records), brings out the best from this bunch of lovely weirdos recording wherever possible – in bedrooms, in barns, on boats and ye gods know where else. It also reminds us how important it is to have a competent, yet loosely knit bunch of lysergic players around in order to provide an exhausting and exhilarating musical experience. These fuckers follow the footsteps of the best, and the most far out – Sunburned Hand of the Man, Silvester Anfang, Jackie-O Motherfucker, NNCK and any of the Jooklo collective’s million guises.

The opening “Sundross” sets the pace with an exotic, kalimba-driven reverbed jam that bounces off the walls and back into your ears, amplified with each bounce, waving a disorienting aural hall of mirrors. From that starting point, the Maine outsiders launch in all directions all at once, providing hypnotizing dead man’s blues ballads, slowly rolling, ominous ritualistic music and off-kilter ramblings that seem to go nowhere.

There is a sense of good communal fun in the tracks, with no intention of being overtly “deep” or “religious”. What you hear on the cassette is a group of dudes who are having a ball just by jamming together and gluing together some truly well working jams. This album manages to be immersive and light-hearted at the same time, painting an intense, heavily textured psychedelic work of art in sometimes heavy-handed guitar strokes or primitive drumming. The quality of music varies greatly from track to track, with the opening track having a crystal-clear, studio-like quality, and with many other track steeped in lo-fi hiss. But it just adds so much more to the authenticity and the band’s DIY approach it makes “Ram of Heart and the Earthen Chariot” one of the most satisfying psych folk albums out there. Highly recommended, grab the tape from Sloow Tapes immediately.


High Aura’d – Mooncusser

High Aura’d is the solo vehicle of Boston music-maker John Kolodij. Starting with 2010 release “Third Life”, Kolodij started paving his way in the ambient underground with his heavily layered and emotionally intense compositions. “Mooncusser” is divided into two tracks, which reach new heights of guitar-based head music. Very heavy at times, bordering on drone doom/noise, but never straying from the incredible emotional impact to be made on the listener. Occasional quiet moments allow for a reflection. Highly recommended!

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=310808379/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/