Artykuły Rolne – Dobrze to już było

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

Last year’s album by the Polish noise rock unit Artykuły Rolne (which could be translated as “Agricultural Commodities”) is a shackled beast, which is struggling to free itself and sometimes spews scorching fire. The amount of energy and layers contained on this LP could be given to a few albums by a few bands, and the sheer, cosmic lysergic energy is conjured by heavily effect-laden walls of guitar noise and heavy, doomy drumming. When you name one of your tracks “Kosmos”, you gotta go huge. And goddamn, they do. This amount of heady, wide-eyed psychedelia is rarely to be seen. It’s almost like an anomaly. There should be more anomalies like this. Highly fucking recommended.


KURO – KURO

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[ Rocket Recordings, 2016 ]

A primordial fog rises above this genre-bending dark masterpiece by the Bristol based duo KURO. With its minimalistic artwork (and name) referring to the masterpieces of Japanese psychedelia and avant-garde, the thickly layered drones bring to mind the music of Tetragrammaton or Yoshi Wada (although not that minimalistic) with an occult twist. Referring to ancient cults and religions, KURO creates a dense, thick atmosphere that sounds like a preparation for a conjuring of a forgotten deity about to emerge from a trans-dimensional portal. This is a work of psychedelic beauty to get lost in. Recommended!


Rangers – Texas Rock Bottom

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[ Self-released, 2016 ]

A praise of very ordinary living: the newest album by Joe Knight a.k.a. Rangers makes you check all the info on the Bandcamp page twice while thinking: “Wait, is this the same guy who made Suburban Tours and Panama Stories, which shaped hypnagogic pop with its hazy, druggy aesthetics!?”. Yes, it is. At first, it might seem almost dull by comparison – the songs here sound a bit like something a small town rock band might record to be played on a local radio, but with each repeated listening the intriguing stylistic shifts and occasional breaks in almost pop rock song structures become more and more prominent. Turns out, there’s quite a lot of Meat Puppets love under the soft melodies and easy rhythms. It’s a kind of sly, secretive psychedelia that only emerges after a few listens or when one completely blends into the music. A bit underwhelming at first, but very rewarding after a while. Recommended!


Black Bananas – Spydr Brain

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[ OSR, 2016 ]

The Brooklyn based label OSR might be one of my favorite new finds with its colorful gallery of musical avant-weirdos with their crazy approach to music making and the creative process. One of the newest releases by this label is Spydr Brain EP by the neo-psych unit Black Bananas featuring Jennifer Herrema or the Royal Trux fame. Now if you think this sounds anything like, say, Twin Infinitives or Accelerator, you should chuck such thinking out of the window. Spydr Brain is a hyperkinetic, incredibly busy trippy electric jazz funk fusion, but with a sleazy, punky twist – like a drug addicted medium channeling Miles Davis. It’s wonderfully warped and meaty and the same time, the kind of freak funk Sunburned Hand of the Man would be proud of if they did amphetamines instead of shrooms and acid. Highly recommended!


Phern – Cool Coma

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[ Fixture Records, 2016 ]

Now this is hella refreshing: this wonderfully lopsided, warped stack of twangy, somewhat post-punky slack rock from the Montreal bunch Phern is some of the most carefree, not-giving-a-fuck and simply fun music I’ve heard in some time. The cover is possibly a hint at how they compose their music: imagine a bunch of bricklayers who suddenly go “aw fuck it, we don’t need any muck, let’s just fucking tape some bricks together so a house is standing made by bricks stuck together by tape”. Phern’s sound is the same – it sounds like it’s about to fall apart and turn into The Nihilist Spasm Band at any second, but still manages to keep that seedy 60’s lo-fi sound. Weird as heck!


Oulu Space Jam Collective – EP1

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[ Eggs in Aspic, 2016 ]

This must be the Guinness Book World Record for the lenghtiest EP in the world: This release by the Finnish psychrockers Oulu Space Jam Collective is named simply EP1 and is nearly 2 hours long, being housed on a 120 minute cassette. The first side is taken by the behemoth jam “Renegade Spaceman”, clocking nearly 60 minutes. While there might be nothing groundbreaking here, mainly because the Oulu Collective are some really chill dudes who just want to have fun and play some trippy space/psych rock for several hours in a row, but damn, they are good at it: hard not to get lost and at least a little bit intoxicated from listening to all that galactic amplifier worship. Turn on, tune in, drop out! Recommended!


Królestwo – Ćwiczenia repetytywne

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Music Is the Weapon, 2016 ]

Dreams of Power: The debut album by the Gdynia based free rock trio Królestwo (Polish for “Kingdom”) is a listen I find difficult to describe. The best way to describe this album would be simply “free rock”, but that’s a simplification. The compositions are really open-ended, usually built around some simple bassline or rhythm that morphs and changes forms over time, but almost always returning, like an endless repetition. The open structure might suggest some psychedelic rock or post-rock influences, but Ćwiczenia repetytywne has an uniquely dark, almost industrial air to it: you can almost feel the smog hovering above bleak urban landscapes. This album is a big, dark cloud that slowly sucks you in and puts you in a trance with its ominous power. Highly recommended!