Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Dad is Dead - Chopping Down the Family Tree

1991; 12 tracks

My Dad is Dead is the recording project of American musician Mark Edwards (of the Cleveland-based band Riot Architecture), and since 1985 has released 11 full-length albums.

Chopping Down the Family Tree is Edwards' 7th album, and fully awe-inspiring. Its opening track, "Cool Rain," which is steeped in a heavier indie/punk sound, sets a very gritty and dark tone for the album. After the first half of the album, however, the tracks become increasingly cheerful (and increasingly enjoyable). The instrumentation of Chopping Down the Family Tree is astounding - bright guitars, exciting vocal harmonies and a great sense of variation and movement throughout. When you listen you will be surprised at the variety of music styles Edwards employs to convey his thoughts. Amazing tracks that transcend perfection: "Without a Doubt," "Cool Rain," and "Chopping Down the Family Tree."

"My Dad Is Dead, most of whose songs were indeed inspired by the loss of Edwards' father, makes music whose appeal lies largely in its matter-of-fact handling of trauma. Growing steadily in fluency and confidence, Edwards, who writes, plays and sings with instrumental and vocal help from a floating gene pool of Cleveland musicians (Prisonshake's Chris Burgess has also produced the bulk of his recordings), makes records that are as comforting as they are harrowing.

Chopping Down the Family Tree boasts its fair share of Edwards' familiar lyrics and dense, metallic instrumentation, but the fog hovering over his head has lifted a little further."

The strength of the family can be an illusion when built on control and based on collusion.

Download / Buy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hammock - Raising Your Voice... Trying to Stop an Echo

2006; 18 tracks

This is an utterly gorgeous and perfect album.
Hammock create beautiful, flowing post-rock ambience. 18 songs and not one moment of filler - not many can pull that off.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Simply Saucer - Cyborgs Revisited

2003 (original - 1989); 18 tracks

This is an incredible "posthostumous" album of psychedelic proto-punk (a sort of precursor to punk rock) released 10 years after the band split up.
Simply Saucer was a rock band from Canada active in the '70s that relased one "7 in their time together. Cyborgs Revisited was a compilation of a lost recording session from 1974 and a June 28, 1975 concert performance on the roof of Jackson Square, and was re-released in 2003 with 9 bonus tracks (including the original 1978 single). These tracks really are a different brand of rock music. An early punk-sound seems to influence much of the the riffs and lyrics, and the psychedelic (sometimes bordering on surf-rock, others electronic and spacey) elements are audible as well, and very complementary to the fun, upbeat music. With these dissimilarities from the more popular rock-and-roll acts of the '70s, Simply Saucer's sound is still as accessible as anything, if not more inventive and engaging. Edgar Breau's vocals are one of the greatest aspect of Simply Saucer - never overdone, and not nearly as annoying and screechy as many rock bands of that era. I, for one, and am extremely grateful for the non-irritating vocals here. A thoroughly enjoyable trip. My personal favorite tracks are "Nazi Apocalypse" (this sounds exactly like Michael Gira!) and "I Can Change My Mind."

I'm cyanide over you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Chameleons - What Does Anything Mean? Basically

1985; 12 tracks

Here is the second album (preceded by the stunning Script of the Bridge) by English post-punk/new wave group
The Chameleons. I never thought I'd say this, but... I might like this more than Script. I mean, I can't really put my finger on it (can anyone?), but this album is one of the most surreal and encompassing albums you will ever hear. It is quite literally impossible to describe it in words, but put simply - I think The Chameleons, on this record, have become even more vague in every way, and in that, more incredible. Who can tell the exact meaning of music like this? Who could ever divine an answer to the frantic, ecstatic rush of The Chameleons? I'm not sure anyone could, apart from the band members themselves, but there is hardly anything worth more of a listen than this. Listening to this album made me feel as if I were living in a Camus novel, like The Stranger. Wavy lines, a complete world of grey, an absence of time.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Modified Toy Orchestra - Toygopop

2006; 12 tracks

Perfect description by

Rare beastie. Electronica album sans midi, sampling, synthesisers, and laptops. Point of fact: no conventional instruments whatsoever.

Five years in the making - two years stripping, tweaking, rebuilding and learning to play kids' toys; three years unearthing sound collages and musical phrases. Brian Duffy, Modified Toy Orchestra mainman, sees the process as "collaborating with the third mind of the machine." Whether viewed as exploring the hidden potential and surplus value latent inside redundant technology or more straightforwardly as pissing about with car boot sale cast off tech-toys (think Speak and Spell - danke Kraftwerk - Happy Farm Chorus, Play School Saxophone and the Melotone Electronic Jazz Drum), prepare for an accessible, sometimes funny, sometimes moving, sometimes dark and disturbing listen.

Eschewing novelty despite being obviously novel. Play away.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Collection of Current 93 + Jhonn Balance

I was originally going to post just the Current 93 tracks in which Jhonn Balance personally performed/participated, or was somehow associated with - but I figured you'd want to hear the entire album, too, so I collected all the albums with Balance's help here. Of course, every Current 93 release has quite an assortment of people contributing in every way possible, and their presence is very much appreciated.

Nature Unveiled

1984; 2 tracks

This was Current 93's first album, and was reissued in 1986.

Qvis est iste qvi venit
Hee comes! Soone you shall see!

He is near...
...At the door


Live at Bar Maldoror

1990; 4 tracks

Original pressing of Live at Bar Maldoror, released in 1990.

Tracks 1 & 2 originally released on Mi-Mort Records release Live At Bar Maldoror in 1986. Tracks 3 & 4 originally released on NER compilation From Torture To Conscience in 1984. Performers include David Tibet, Steven Stapleton, John Murphy, Jhonn Balance, and John Fothergill.

Artwork by David Tibet.



Earth Covers Earth

1992; 12 tracks

Information on individual track histories: Tracks 1-6 originally released on LP in 1988. Track 7 is an alternate version of Track 1. Tracks 9-10 were originally released on a Shock 7" and reissued with the adition of track 11 on the sampler "The Portable Altamont." Along with track 8, these 4 songs, recorded in Tokyo, were to have been on a Japanese Current 93 album; the album was never finished. Track 12 was recorded in 1985 as part of the "Killy Kill Killy" piece that was released on the Nightmare Culture mini-LP.

More info/pictures here.



Crooked Crosses For A Nodding God

1992; 17 tracks

This CD is a remixed, re-structured, and re-recorded version of the Swastikas For Noddy LP, which was released on L.A.Y.L.A.H. Anti Records in 1992.


Swastikas For Goddy

1993; 17 tracks

Re-issue of the original CD (1988), remastered in 1993. In this release, however, all instances of 'Noddy' have been changed to 'Goddy'. Swastikas for Goddy can be described as the first full-length folk-style release by Current 93. It was referred to as "the pop album" when it came out.

"When all vegetation is covered by the flood there are now eyebrows on the face of the Waterworld."
- James Joyce, Finnegans Wake.

Artwork is "Bluebirds In The Spring" by Babs Santini.


Emblems: The Menstrual Years

1993; 28 tracks

Compilation made by David Tibet and Steven Stapleton of what they consider the best of the work of Current 93 between 1982 and 1992 - truly these were the menstrual years.

Disc I: Great Black Time
Tracks 1 and 11 - Dawn (CD) (DT, SS, DP, RM, JB)
Track 2 - Dogs Blood Rising (DT, SS, RW, NR, SI, I)
Track 3 - Live At Bar Maldoror (DT, SS, NR)
Track 4 - Nature Unveiled (DT, SS, M, Y, AA)
Track 5 - In Menstrual Night (DT, SS, DR, JB, RW, RM, HÖH, B, JB)
Track 6 - The Red Face Of God (DT, SS, RM, Dp, TW)
Tracks 7 and 8 - Imperium (DT)
Track 9 - Horsey
Track 10 - Christ And The Pale Queens Mighty In Sorrow (DT, SS, DP, RM, TW)
Track 12 - Dawn (LP) (DT, SS, RM, DP, JB)
Track 13 - Dawn (Single) (DT, SS, DP, RM, B).

Disc II: Mighty In Sorrow
Track 1 - Swastikas For Noddy (DT)
Tracks 2, 3, 9, 10, 13 and 14 - Unreleased songs / unused mixes from Thunder Perfect Mind (DT, DP, RM, SS, MC, JW, JM; NS plays guitar on 9; JML plays harp on 2 and 9; JB sings on 3)
Track 4 - Unreleased single by Michael Cashmore's Nature And Organisation (MC, DT)
Track 5 - Crooked Crosses For The Nodding God (DT, DP, SS, TW, RM)
Track 6 - Death In June and Current 93 split LP, 1888 (DT, DP, RM, TW)
Track 7 - Previously released as a free 7" single with Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine, and was recorded by DT with Magick Lantern Cycle during the recording of Horsey
Track 8 - Earth Covers Earth (RW, TW, RM)
Track 11 - Island by Current 93 / HÖH (DT, HÖH, CRL)
Track 12 - Thunder Perfect Mind (see above for line-up)
Track 15 - The Sadness of Things (album by Steven Stapleton and David Tibet) (SS, DT, JW).

Disc I
Disc II

Hitler as Kalki

1993; 5 tracks

This is comprised of five tracks performed live by Current 93 in 1992 and 1993. Tracks 1 and 4 were recorded at the Chuch of St. Germain, Amiens, France on Halloween Night, 1992. Tracks 2 and 3 were recorded at the Walthamstow Royal Standard, London on July 30, 1992. Track 5 was recorded at the Passage de Nord-Ouest, Paris on January 5, 1993.

"Why then, Christ is everywhere, like the snow", he replied.

"Yes, everywhere we see the ice crystal's form. This immaculate pure ice world is a heavenly domain of Jesus. His Eye is the sparkled body of each lovely flake. His lush snow world is the white pastured field. The snow, the snow: lovely, lovely and cruel, cruel. Christ as the Comforter, Christ as the Spurner. Christ Ecstatic - and Christ Desolate."

"Why then, there are two Christs of which you speak. We cannot take the one without the other, I see. Thank you. I shall take both..."
- Extract from The Broken Heart Of Man.

Front cover design by Hildegard of Bingen.

"Since this New Year of 1993 I have been reflecting on questions people have asked me concerning the song Hitler As Kalki (SDM) and my views on Hitler. I am in no doubt: Hitler was Antichrist; Jesus killed Hitler - eventually... We can hope that it should have been much sooner, but for whatever reasons it was not to be. Unfortunately since Hitler's death, all around his cruel spirit lives and multiplies, and many antichrists now surround us. In the dark corners of the nightworld he and his followers wait, emerging once more and more into the day. I remember my father telling me of his experience as a member of the first British troops to enter the extermination camp of Belsen, and the hell on earth he found there. So then, perhaps this earth is hell, but it rests to us to ensure that we defend our own hearts against the call from the abyss. May all be happy; may all be aware. The Little Shining Man approaches. Terrify not Man, lest God terrify you."

David Tibet, London, January 10, 1993.

"Now I know that any human face, however vile, becomes the face of Christ when it is struck."
- Michel Tournier, The Erl-King.


Lucifer Over London

1994; 3 tracks

"Sad Go Round" is a cover of a song by a band called the Groundhogs from the album Solid. The third track is meant to be the sequel to Coil's introduction to Horse Rotorvator.

"The biggest danger, that of losing oneself, can pass off in a world as quietly as if it were nothing; every loss, an arm, a leg, five dollar, a wife, etc., is bound to be noticed."
Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death.



In Menstrual Night

1994; 3 tracks

In Menstrual Night was recorded in 1985.

"KillyKillKilly (A Fire Sermon)" represented the Current 93 side of the Nightmare Culture mini-album, shared with Coil under the name of Sickness of Snakes.

Six are the seats of living breath
The rest are as sharp sickles or the thorns of death


Cats Drunk on Copper

2001; 18 tracks

Live at the Union Chapel, London 1997. Uncredited performers include David Tibet, Jhonn Balance, Joolie Wood, Karl Blake, Michael Cashmore, and Rose McDowall.



2002; 4 tracks

Dawn was originally released in 1987 as an LP on Maldoror (MAL 093). When it was re-issued as one of the first Current 93 CDs by Durtro in 1989, an alternate version of 'Great Black Time' to that featured on the vinyl was mistakenly used. The master tape for the original song used on the vinyl has long since been lost. Consequently, it has been necessary for it to be transferred from a vinyl copy. Track 1 represents the CD version, track 3 the vinyl version. The version of "Maldoror Est Mort" was first released on the Mi-Mort cassette jointly shared by Current 93 and Nurse With Wound, and represented the earliest recording of that track. "A Day In Dogland" originally appeared on the L.A.Y.L.A.H. compilation album, The Fight Is On and was recorded shortly after Dogs Blood Rising. "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" was recorded during the Nature Unveiled sessions.

Current 93 at that time were composed of the following individuals: David Tibet, Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill, Annie Anxiety, Jhonn Balance (!!!), Douglas P., Rose McDowall, John Murphy, Roger Smith, Nick Rogers. They may or may not be present on these recordings.


How He Loved The Moon (Moonsongs For Jhonn Balance)

2005; 4 tracks

"Dedicated to the Great Heart and Great Soul of our dearest friend Jhonn Balance
16 February 1962 to 13 November 2004
With burning sadness and with burning sorrow we remember You as:
kindest of men, funniest of men, most intuitive of men, most incisive of men, most generous of men
a great artist, a great voice, a great visionary, a great Soul and a great Heart
Finally you were overwhelmed by it all: by all the beauty and by all the pain
You perhaps never knew how much you were loved
Till we meet again as we know we will, our dearest friend, with love always to you dearest Geff, John, Jhonn
shape-shifter and joker, in angelic form now, playing with stars in the love of God."
- David Tibet and Steven Stapleton

All material remixed by Steven Stapleton from the In Menstrual Night LP/CD at Colin Potter's ICR Studios in Lancashire. Current 93 were, for the original Moonsongs: David Tibet, Steven Stapleton, Ruby Tabatha Wallis, Diana Rogerson, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, John Balance, Keiko Yoshido, Rose McDowall and Bee.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sickness of Snakes / Current 93 - Nightmare Culture

1985; 4 tracks

Split between
Current 93 and Sickness Of Snakes (aka Coil collaborating with Boyd Rice). The Current 93 track (track 1) was later appended to the CD reissue of In Menstrual Night and is dedicated to James Low.


"Brékkek Kékkek kékkek Kékkek! Koáx Koáx Koáx! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh!"


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kittens - Tiger Comet

1995; 12 tracks

Kittens was a three-piece noise rock group from Canada that produced some very high quality output from 1992-1998. Tiger Comet is the band's sixth album, and I absolutely fell in love with it upon the first listen. It one of the most satisfactory noise rock albums I have ever heard - the vocals, every riff, and the non-stop energy are all purposeful and completely amazing-sounding. It reminds me a lot of Cherubs, The Melvins (but maybe 100% more psychotic), and Slint (vocal-wise). Just PLEASE give this a try, it is a noisy, upbeat gift from above.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Zeni Geva - Total Castration

1991; 8 tracks

Just another enjoyable noise rock album? Perhaps... but with the blistering first track, "I Want You," I was admittedly hooked.
Zeni Geva is a Japanese noise/post-hardcore band, led by singer and guitarist KK Null.

"Zeni Geva [has an] ability to mangle a metal riff into submission, and choke out their listeners with a claustrophobic vitriol rarely seen this side of Osaka. You got all that right?
So, there's no point in mentioning that this was recorded in Chicago with Steve Albini? You got that too huh?
And, I would be repeating myself to mention that K.K. Null's lyrics seem destined to hurt your feelings, wouldn't I?
And far be it from me to remind you of the scathing death/hardcore/industrial scraping you're about to embark on. That'd be a waste of time right?


Monday, April 11, 2011

Bodychoke - Cold River Songs

2009 (re-issue); 9 tracks

Bodychoke's final album is such, such an incredible work. I'm no good at writing right now, here are some thoughts that echoed my own:

"These sinister, spacious efforts create the perfect union between gothic atmospheres and tastefully grating, pulsing noise rock. The bulk of the compositions center around throbbing basslines and crisp drumming alongside short, simple vocal lines that are delivered through everything from hushed whispers to intense shouts/shrieks – accented by surprisingly frequent (and efficient) appearances of cello, while the guitars tend much more towards noisy textures and waves as opposed to tangible riffs. This re-issue also includes three outstanding bonus tracks taken from the odds and ends collection CD-R Completion that the band released posthumously, which I believe were recorded around the same time as the sessions for the album, thus making for about an hour's worth of music across nine songs total."

As a more fully-realized and sophisticated industrial/noise album (think Swans' Children of God), Cold River Songs is the epitome of Bodychoke's talent and also a fitting end...


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fairy World II

2005; 17 tracks

Here is the second in a collection of compilation records by French label
Prikosnovénie. The subtitle is an understatement of what you can find on this, "a collection of delicate & spiritual music." Each track is special and a nice introduction to the label. It's a fine compilation of beautiful songs, so check it ouuuut.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Naphini - Get Your Pretense On

2006; 15 tracks

Ahhh, Naphini. This album was one of the first that I downloaded completely off of, when I was like 14. Listening to it again brings back all these memories of me dancing to the BEST ALBUM ELECTRONIC ALBUM I'VE EVER HEARD.

Naphini is "an artist based in Minneapolis that writes, performs, engineers, produces, and masters his own music which generally fits into some subgenre of electronic." Yes, it is definitely electronic. But it's a little something more than that, I think. This music is just intelligent, and engages you like nothing else can. Purely mathematical, and layered with classical, idm, techno, and trip-hop, Get Your Pretense On is always pulsing with midnight energy. I mean, could you ever in a million years find a better song in the universe than "Bohemian Poetry"? Or "Drip Dance"? No. This is a true work of electronic genius.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ludwig van Beethoven - Complete 32 Piano Sonatas

Volume I

Piano Sonatas 1-3, 16 tracks


Volume II

Piano Sonatas 4-6, 10 tracks


Volume III

Piano Sonatas 7-10, 13 tracks


Volume IV

Piano Sonatas 11-14, 15 tracks


Volume V

Piano Sonatas 15-17, 10 tracks


Volume VI

Piano Sonatas 18-22, 13 tracks


Volume VII

Piano Sonatas 23-27, 12 tracks


Volume VIII

Piano Sonatas 28-29, 7 tracks


Volume IX

Piano Sonatas 30-32, 9 tracks


Maria Grinberg's legendary recordings of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas, recorded between 1964-1967, were the first done by a Russian pianist. Click here for scans of the inserts.

"We encountered a protean outstanding interpreter of Beethoven's sonatas, Maria Grinberg (USSR). The great art of this pianist is happily combined with penetrative spirituality and mature realization of form. Her rendering of music is clear, transparent, full of passionate temper and virile force, but sometimes it is tender, lyrical, contemplative, evoking moods, which touch hearts of the audience."
- Alfred Tipe, Dresden, 1963

As we all know, Ludwig van Beethoven was a titanic composer of Romantic music and a pioneer in the expansion of the piano's potential sound. The liner notes found in the set (written by Samuel Feinberg) provide more information:

"In piano works of Beethoven, first of all, in his remarkable cycle of 32 piano sonatas, there is something important, central for his whole legacy. They are linked to all his other musical compositions in many different ways. A multi-part sonata formm, which has been designed for implementation of dramatic contents, with its manifold powerful devices fit to development of contrasting themes, became for Beethoven a main area for realization of his artistic concepts. Besides piano, violin and cello sonatas the composer wrote in this form all his symphonies, quartets, trios, all his concertos, in a word, almost all of his best output."

I have never really liked Beethoven, just out of personal preference, but these sonatas are enough to really sweep you away. I believe Maria Grinberg does a fine job, although her sound can get a little heavy at times... Being obsessed with the Soviet Union I just find it interesting to listen to the music of one of the most famous composers ever interpreted by a classically trained Soviet pianist (and a WOMAN, omg).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Michel Legrand - Une femme est une femme

1961; 24 tracks

Here is the soundtrack to Jean-Luc Godard's new-wave film Une femme est une femme, a very charming movie that I saw MOST of, but not the whole thing. I will have to change that.

Michel Legrand is a renowned Franco-Armenian composer of film scores, as well as a conductor and pianist. Despite his extensive career and countless works, Legrand's soundtrack to Une femme est une femme is far from a long, cohesive piece of music one might expect. It consists of, instead, small bursts of dialogue, big band, jazz, musicals, and other variations of 60s French music. The work is is certainly interesting to listen to, if only for the sake of immersion in a lost time.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Isis - Celestial + SGNL>05

2000; 11 tracks

2001; 5 tracks

I am firmly convinced that there is a hardly more adept band (at least of this genre) than
Isis when it comes to an essential part of music - story-telling. Listening to these 16 tracks in succession, however, is a slightly different experience than gathering around a fire to hear ancient tales be told. No, this is a journey, through deserts of blistering heat and jungles of abandoned construction equipment. A sea of wires and ends that will never meet, Celestial, along with SGNL>05, combine the basest of emotions stripped bare and the rawest forms of post-metal in such a way that it is, frankly, haunting. They are both brutally poetic, at times, but thoroughly beautiful... see "Celestial (Fills the Void)" from the EP (remixed by Justin Broadrick, whose influence is clear throughout much of Isis' music).

I love the entire discography of Isis. They are a truly gifted band and albums like Oceanic and Panopticon (and Wavering Radiant) are just... breathtaking. With these two releases, however, some of the band's early heavy sound can be heard. Celestial is the band's first full-length album, and SGNL>05 is an extension of the album released as an EP less than a year later. I love love love listening to these together - Isis is a band from whom I can never turn myself away.

In the words of one review (it's a great one, here):

"God, it’s beautiful to come across a group that is as driven by the desire to level as they are by the desire to create an interesting, layered, lasting piece of art that appeals to so many different senses and faculties. Listening to Celestial is an all-consuming experience, one that satisfies every part of the animal brain."

Do you ever get that feeling that you're sinking?
I do.

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