Browsing Category New Albums

Donato Dozzy

Sometimes context is everything. In most contexts the mouth harp is a bygone piece of a quainter time, an ancient ritual or simply a toy that hasn’t passed a thought since childhood. Dozzy too picked up the inspiration from a childhood fascination with the instrument and revisited it as an extension of his own lean towards trance an an electronic outcropping. Here he finds the ties of ancient, ritual trance with those of newer artists seeking to open the same sonic chasm through hardwired drones and pulses. The mouth-harp is a more visceral experience, though simple in construction, it tends to throb through the player and add a layer of physicality to achieving trance through repetitious drone. Dozzy records the instrument in locales both indoors and out and drops the thrum into hallways of echo, expanses of calm and beds of analogous hum. As with his previous album Sintetizzatrice which used only voice laid into a context of dub experimentation, here he plays a bit of dub wizard to the instrument, letting the repetition of reverberation lull the listener into a cozy state of meditation. By the time the needle skids to a close its almost easy to forget that the bulk of the weight her is on the tines of the tiny instrument and not on much heavier means of drone deployment, and perhaps that trick is DD’s best. The old is new again and primed for open minds.

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Tarquin Manek

Coming late to F ingers release, but thoroughly enjoying it, makes one think I’d be more on the ball with tangential offshoots as well but this solo release by Tarquin Manek slipped a listen until recently. Its a tightly wound ball of tension and an amicable mash of dub overtones laid through valleys of broken bone techno, noise experiments and a hauntological hall of mirrors. The tone on most of Tarquin Magnet is of menace lost beneath the floorboards and pounding like something from a Poe tome scratching at your temples to get out. Sounds bubble up from under six tons of murk and sea water, beaming alien beacons hoping to reach home but pinging endlessly into the blackness. Hauling out whatever instrumentation, or simply sound source, could fit – clarinet, keyboard, Dictaphone, mobile phone – Manek succeeds in crafting an album that is wholly not of this world, and barely a blip on the idea of music as means of seeking out joy. If there was ever an artist that embodied the ideal of Blackest Ever Black, this is the one. Pulling the needle is like breaking through the surface for some much needed air, leaving the rest of the album to feel like swimming for the light while the heft of water drags you down and the burning in your lungs only grows.

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Mammatus

Long an RSTB favorite, Mammatus returns with an album that showcases their ability to swerve from tranquil space-outs to crushing guitar heft in the course of a song. Though in this case, those songs have plenty of space to work with, with all of Sparkling Waters edging past the fifteen minute mark per track, the band aren’t exactly churning out pop ditties. But what they are doing is stretching towards the horizon line with gentle cosmic thrust on the opener. Yawning like the seascape that adorns the cover, it opens into a mix of syths, flute and the far off rumble of percussion that whips into a tempest by the time the track closes. As the track builds they bend the formless eddies into craggy bits of Krautrock fed metal squall still underpinned with windswept keys but now churning like waterspout off the Bermuda coast. The take another turn through Kosmiche and crunch on Part 2 before they turn up the heat. The second LP brings more bite than the first, re-centering the band’s roots in heaviness and giving the guitar gluttons something to chew on, but they never give in to riff fully, bending and shaping both sides into movement based epics with an appreciation for Prog’s footprint. The album is an ambitious step forward for the band but it never turns into a sprawling excuse to just jam over four sides of wax, rather it winds up just the kind of album that gatefolds were made to hold, a space opera that glows and growls through four sides with a pure sense of ebb and flow.

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Woolen Men

Portland’s Woolen Men have already stung 2015 with a great LP released on Woodsist, but it seems they had more to give. Self-released as a cassette, Options gathers up six more cuts that lean on the band’s love of smashing 90’s grunge into propulsive post-punk. The tape is brief but from the outset the collection hits hard with the band finding a way to roll their sound in some gravel via opener, “Curtain,” then wiping down the speakers for a run through taut guitar territory. They cool for a bit on “Scarlet” before closing out the EP with a trio of muscular indie romps. The band is at home in the live setting, running through the Northwest’s DIY show scene in a regular rotation but with releases like this and the previous Temporary Monument they’re proving that their recorded output is just as enticing as the live experience.

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Cornered Yet Climbing feat. Kelly Jayne Jones

Whew, now comes that time of year when its time to scrabble through the missed connections on the review list and this one comes out pretty high near the top. A re-invigoration of Pascal Nichols and David McLean’s Cornered Yet Climbing collaboration, this time with the help of Nichols’ partner in Part Wild Horses Man on Both Sides. The output here is a broken daydream of free jazz, wandering from mournful howl to full bite in the space of mere minutes. Adding to the flashing fangs of McLean’s sax are Jones’ ephemeral field recordings and flute, which weave through the clattering sonic tapestry set down by her two collaborators expertly. Her flute especially treads between ceremonial tribalism and folk serenity without ever making either style feel worn. The expanded trio finds its footing easily and though the length of these pieces is pretty heavy, bordering on intensely lengthy, the whole record plays as such an engrossing backdrop that its hard not to get sucked into the players’ world rather than see it as a necessarily surmountable listen. The record is expertly anchored by Nichols’ craggy, fluid drumming and his skill at finding the inroads in these pieces to drive pace and add texture is fairly unmatched this year. This is one to beat in the noise/free category and along with that Heroin in Tahiti release, this is a good year for the edges.

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Sad Horse

Ah Mississippi, the avid archaeologists of our time, though they’re usually knee deep in gospel cassettes, African guitar debris or Dead Moon discographies, sometimes they’re also knocking a flashlight on the overlooked records of this current time as well. Swinging their gaze on their hometown’s own Sad Horse, they cobble together a collection of tracks from the band’s first couple of tapes and CD-rs for tiny labels like Eggy, Supermegacorporation and Water Wing. The retrospective bounces through a ton of material, but the relative length of a Sad Horse tune, combined with their intensity, makes it fly by pretty quick. The duo are no frills. As in none whatsoever. The songs are banged out in dry recorded spats that feel thick with the dust of warehouse floors and screamed from the Id. Complexity this ain’t and that’s a damn good thing, sometimes you need to bang the shit out of a kit, strangle the strings and lose control. The band have been a Portland secret for way to long and its a welcomed relief that Mississippi have chronicled their output.

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Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet

First things first, that’s a hell of a handle. You go and name yourselves something that indebted to the ethos of space jazz and you better damn well cut close to the veins Bitches Brew or have a standing ticket on the Arkestra’s spaceship. For the most part, IAHRQ seem to be chasing that same chrysalis down a rabbit hole of groove and syrupy psych-funk that informs the stretched minds of those 70’s experimenters. Mind you they’re following in some deep footsteps and while maybe not widening the ruts too much from where their forbears may tread, they know how to play to their strengths and take listeners on the journey. They inject a certain amount of African funk to the mix as well, though they dull the edge away from some of the more jagged sounds of the Sahara with a bubble of lysergic energy that just taps at the glass of that continent’s influence but never opens the cage wide. 2 dips out of a heavy groove on the opener, “Praise One,” to lay back into some mellow, almost strummy vibes on “Praise Two” They hit on Blacksploitation funk and soundtrack skronk before laying way back into the ether groove to close it out. This is patently not what I’d expect out of Trouble In Mind, but that’s becoming a good thing about the garage homestead. They’ve begun to follow their passions and though its no longer a cohesive sound coming from their ranks, they seem to know that the best labels take you where you need to go and you just have to trust that they’ve got ears big enough to find it all.

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Pega Monstro

Pretty hard not to love this one, it’s a simple setup, just guitars and drums, two sisters throwing energy back and forth in a chaotic mix of distortion, sticks and sweat. The Portuguese duo play straight from the gnarled heart of punk and though there’s a real shine of pop trying to peek its head out from the clouds of dust and debris, the fury in Alfarroba reigns supreme. There’s a kind of running through the streets in summer, unfettered smash of the pit, fists in the air energy to Pega Monstro and that feeling becomes palpable over the course of this record. You want to have fun because they’re having fun, and records that spread smiles like colds in a kindergarten are few and far between, so I say grab one when you hear it. The band revolves around their own DIY scene in Lisbon, borne out of the sisters’ own Cafetra Records, from which they borrow some help in the form of friend and producer Leonardo Bindilatti of Cafetra’s Putas Bebadas. Though London’s Upset The Rhythm heralds the release here, long since purveyors of good taste. All in all, I can think of very few reasons this one shouldn’t be hitting your turntable as soon as possible.

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Mystic Braves

Mystic Braves return with another album and though they’re branching out into trappings of their aesthetic (sitars and mellotron, oh my) they’re still very much in tune with their inner 60’s nerds and make no allusions otherwise. Days of Yesteryear as a title doesn’t pussyfoot, that’s pretty much exactly what they’re going for and succeed at channeling a heady mash of Byrds, 13th Floor Elevators and ? and the Mysterians that feels like looking at a well stocked record shelf through a kaleidoscope. What the band lacks in fresh perspective, they make up for in fun, fuzz solos and exuberant hooks. There are plenty these days who see fit to keep the Joshua Light Show in work and this one will fit nicely on the shelf next to the Allah-las, Shivas and Paperhead records in your collection.

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

King Gizz are keeping their two a year pace with a new full length to cap a pretty incredible year. Always ones to keep the audience wary and on their toes, they exit the jazz rock conceptual phase of Quarters and the dog-eared burnt psych of I’m In Your Mind Fuzz to take things down several notches… volume-wise, at least. The band self-imposed an “acoustic instruments only” policy on the record, roped together some sounds they’d previously never explored (clarinet, cello, double bass) and headed to a shipping container on Stu Mackenzie’s parents farm to record this sucker. The result is a pretty captivating and lilting collection of pop songs that embraces the pastoral background of its origins nicely. The darkness that’s billowed at the corners of their previous work is lifted somewhat and they get back to the weirdness and free spirit rambling of Oddments but still present some of their most easily accessible songs yet. The long winding jam is ever the band’s forte and while they may have turned the electricity off they haven’t exactly lost their ability to bend a song into a frantic bit of blues that explodes into 70’s tinged stadium-sized glory. The band was always meant for more ears and it seems this may be the final push they need. But, hell, who knows what comes from here, the fun seems to be in guessing where they’ll hop to next.

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