[ Psi Lab Tapes, 2015 ]
Every now and then, I keep wondering on why the term “free rock” isn’t used more widely and more liberally. Sure, fans and music critics alike love to use terms like free jazz, free improvisation or even free folk, but “free rock” still seems as something abstract, or even worse, absurd. But there are bands which fit the bill perfectly – including the American unit Burnt Hills, who are some of the most faithfull followers of the tradition of improvised, wandering six-string music which ofen still falls under the umbrella term of psychedelic rock. Is it psychedelic? Not that much, actually. Its power lies rather in the length and the varied structure than relying on otherworldly effects supposed to imitate the effects of psychedelic drugs. Pipe Dream is more like a generative algorithm turned into a rock song, a set of badass riffs and occasional soloing and noodling which turns into this huge, mapless swamp of amplified rock sound. Lovely album to get lost in. Recommended!
[ Gneiss Things, 2011 ]
This release isn’t new, but it’s definitely something worth writing about, especially since Le Révélateur decided to upload it to his Bandcamp. Before Roger Tellier-Craig decided to go for the hyperactive sonic pointillism on last year’s Extreme Events, he was a Berlin school acolyte, going for lenghty, droney pieces revolving around lovely psychedelic arpeggios and analog ambience. Fictions is a highlight of that earlier era, a peak of hiss retro-futurism from 2011. Side A’s “Receiving Mirages” takes the cake here, gradually unfolding all its beatific synthesized glory in a series of cascading textures and melodies, adding each element to the sequence of sounds with each minute. A truly magical and deep record, now available for streaming. Highly recommended!
[ Where To Now?, 2015 ]
Whoah! What is even going on here!? New York City’s Beat Detectives are some sly motherfuckers, escaping any attempts at pinpointing their sound with each release. While Climate Change (also released this year) was a lo-fi club adventure, 100% SILK style; their cassette Boogie Chillen / The Hills of Cypress feels like a completely insane take on both plunderphonics and West Coast hip-hop genres (hence the title, bringing Cypress Hill to mind immediately). Some 100 minutes of mutated beats are divided into four almost 25-minute long tracks with more or less warped lo-fi structures that constantly melt and dissolve into each other – with a lot of weird spoken word / sung samples which linger in the background like resin on a glass pipe. Utterly strange and highly recommended!
[ Beer on the Rug, 2015 ]
Do you have ADHD? No? Then Angel 1‘s newest album Rex must be like ADHD in the aural form for those not suffering from the disorder. While all Angel 1 releases are frantic Internet Musique Concrete collages, Rex must be the most frantic and tightly packed to date. Always jumping all over the map, never settling on a single idea, it’s the perfect representation of the hyper-acceleration of the modern networks, it’s often overhwelming and downright tiring, but just like with many popular websites you just keep listening (browsing) despite the fact you’re morbidly tired. Autotune, glitches, weird samples, MIDI tunes, you name it – Rex is like a musical equivalent of Internet chum, yet it’s still very compelling, even addictive, to keep listening and absorbing. You’re trapped in a machine. There is no escape. Just blend in. Everything will be fine.
[ DUNNO Recordings, 2015 ]
After recording a number of albums under his own name, Piotr Kurek decides to take a little detour into a bit more chaotic zones as Heroiny. He describes Ahh-Ohh as “Jandek house”, fusing his passion for sample-rich rhythm-heavy songs with dissonant guitar strums in the vein of Mr. Sterling Smith. While it might feel terrible in text, the effect is surprisingly pleasant: the fusion of precise house-y beats with guitar which sounds like playing by itself simply works. The album is also incredibly enjoyable for the sheer fact of how unpretentious it is: there is some strange charm in its simple title and effortless album cover and its strange descriptions, like “gay funk”, but it all feels refreshing and simply fun. Despite bringing up the name of Jandek there are no tortured emotions here, the album feels like an elaborate construction built of Legos which has some flaws, which only make the whole stronger. Recommended!
[ Transatlantyk, 2015 ]
Lubomir Grzelak, Polish experimenalist-turned-DJ always liked collecting samples. But whereas his workshop evolved from rugged musique concrete to throbbing, thumping house & techno aesthetics (the staple of the Transatlantyk label, also responsible for this year’s stellar Przelot by Ptaki). Mondo Hehe takes samples to another level, operating between perfect dancefloor bangers (like the titular track) and mellower zones trapped somewhere in between of techno and IDM music (“Til Tomorro”, “Cold Water”) which slide in between the propelling beats like sly beasts, plotting to bring back the groove to the vinyl records the samples were originally taken from. If you’re planning a little rave at your house for the New Year’s Eve, Mondo Hehe might be the choice. Recommended!
[ Northern Spy, 2015 ]
The basement. That dark, dank, often scummy part of the house or a building forever sheltered from the sunlight, hidden underground. Created with a noble idea of providing a space for keeping food or water heater, the basement got mugslinged in popular culture in recent decades for being a place of choice for murderers to kill and murder people or a place for residence for anti-social Internet-addicted outcasts also known as “basement dwellers”. But, in the world of music, the basement might be just an important as the recording itself – Bob Dylan even named one of his albums The Basement Tapes.
The basement was also the recording space for PC Worship, one of New York’s more notorious noise rock units. On the newest album (EP?) they explore a space between the melodic catchiness of alternative rock with sludgy, distorted malignant noise rock with some excursion into stoner metal zones (like the magnificently slow “My Lens”), while always staying in the thick soup of amplification and guitar filth. If Basement Hysteria is anything like a cabin fever, then things are going to get bloody.