Sand – Golem

Sand’s 1974 debut album Golem is an excellent oddity in the Krautrock canon. The album eschews the normal reliance on chugging rhythms to provide the backbone of their sound. Instead they use space and more importantly headspace to create their psychedelic platform. The album was recorded by Klaus Schulze in a format described as “Artificial Head Stereo Sound” (which sounds like a psych band in its own right). Immediately plunging into opener “Helicopter,” the band creates a cavern of sound that was made for headphones. It was an attempt at surround sound before there was a market, improving on Quadrophonic and dunking the listener head first into the band’s creeping psychedlics.

Golem is as uncharacteristic of Krautrock as it is of the rest of Sand’s catalog, which would largely become more proto-industrial, roping in factory field recordings and ambient noise to their sound. Here they incorporate picked acoustics that roll into menacing cradles of tone, enveloping the listener in anxious waves, curling and uncurling their grip on the throat. Then they completely break out for a wistful romp on “On The Corner.” Its atypical of its peers but it stands as an important rung on the ladder connecting the audio tissue between Ash Ra Temple, Pink Floyd, Träd, Gräs och Stenar, and naturally their mentor Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. There have been several reissues but Rotorelief’s 2013 version (still available) is probably the most deluxe and well presented. If you have a soft spot for 70’s excess and German Progressive rock, then this one is a must have.



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Laraaji & Sun Araw

Before some of the fragmented free jazz seeped into Cameron Stallones’ work, Sun Araw was an odds on guarantee to be the perfect pairing with summer. He’d nailed a certain element of humid listlessness that felt oppressive and glittering and like the air around you was vibrating at a frequency just a few decimal points off from your own. After taking to the road with experimental zither master Laaraji, he’s back in the zone; dripping sound from the stalagmite imagination of pudding melted landscapes and feeling every bit the time shifted master of slow motion psych drift. The record is comprised of four pieces that are part pre-written and part improvisation and the artists play off of one another in a way that feels sublimely intertwined.

The tracks float and quiver, find rhythm at the river and then seep out in disjointed dance with Laaraji calling spirituals over the top. In the hands of lesser folks it could be a total mess, but they bounce ideas back and forth with liquid ease. The record marks the first installment of Superior Viaducts new imprint W.25TH, their first offerings that aren’t reissues. Seems that, much like RVNG’s FRKWYS series, its focused on collaborations and this is a great tip off to what’s to come.



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Hintermass

As with all things Ghost Box, this one is worth its price for Julian House’s artwork alone. His signature style is always lush and dreamy, a perfect compliment to the brand of soft focus nostalgia that the label trades in. Every record that comes out of that house seems to be a bit like nodding off on the hottest day in early June while a junior high film strip slowly melts in front of your flickering eyelids. The latest project to grace those halls is definitely falling into form, though its a bit breezier than some in the stable. This may well have to do with Jon Brooks’s involvement. Brooks is better known around most parts as The Advisory Circle, a project with its own special brand of pastoral dreamwave. Brooks’s last album under the moniker, From Out Here was one of RSTB’s favorites of 2014 and he steps up to similar expectations as Hintermass.

The project graduates from a short form release for the label’s 7″ Study Series and makes good on the full length expansion, taking full advantage of the room to stretch out. Aside from the discernible talents of Brooks the other half of Hintermass is comprised of Seeland and Ex-Broadcast member Tim Felton, who adds his dream-stung vocals to the mix and gives the album much of its autumnal shading. The record winds its way unhurriedly, interspersing vocal tracks with the gentle burble of Kosmiche interludes, bringing the record into a realm that splits the divide between the most emotionally bare moments of Super Furry Animals, the psych folk patter of Roy Harper and the progressive whims of Popul Vuh or Witthüser + Westrupp. Its hard to go wrong with anything stamped with the Ghost Box insignia and this is another example of just how true that is.


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Acid Mothers Temple & Melting Paraiso U.F.O. – “Nebulous Hyper Meditation”

Why is it I’m somehow both surprised and not surprised that there’s never any clatter about a new AMT on the horizon? The long running (21 years!) Japanese psych lords are reaching a new chapter with the exit of longtime rhythm unit Shimura Koji and Tsuyama Atsushi, and with the addition of some youngblood players, Makoto Kawabata seems to be invigorated on this latest cut. It creeps in on sweeping synths, swirling and illusory as quasars, while Kawabata locks in his guitar to euphoric bliss. It seems that we’re never too far from one Acid Mother’s release or another, but that’s no reason to go taking ozone burners like this for granted. Someday there won’t be any more Acid Mother’s Temple, and on that day I assume there will be a collective funeral from the heads of the world, the band lifted off in a Sky Burial/Viking Funeral type situation that turns supernova overhead. But for now, cherish the gifts that come down the mountain.



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Clever

Brisbane’s Clever aren’t pulling any punches on their debut for Homeless. Kewdi Udi is a brutal and battered serving of noise rock that knocks itself all over the back lot in the dead of night. The riffs come quick and crusted, double time and barely stopping to wonder if you’re keeping up. There might be some hooks buried in there, but something tells me that Clever aren’t interested if your head is bobbing so much as they’re hoping that its slamming directly into an object with equal and opposite force. The din grows thicker as the tracks go on, building up concrete dust and bile in the back of the throat. Eight tracks – in, out, bleed, done. Its as simple as that. The band doesn’t go for any fancy aesthetics or play up trends. The guitars cut like a garrote, the drums pound like a panic attack and the vocals tear at the mind. There’s nothing soothing, no respite and no reason for either. Kewdi Udi is a pummel that beats the listener into the shape they need. Its a fight to the end.



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Frankie and The Witch Fingers – “6,000 Horns”

L.A. via Bloomington garage-psych slingers Frankie and The Witch Fingers are back and touting a fuller sound that’s buoyed by sun-streaked harmonies and a driving guitar wail that shows their 60’s allegiances but nods a head to their current garage trappings. The chorus is huge and swaying, the organ is wobblin’ and swellin’, the rhythm section makes it apparent that they have no intention of stopping for breath. It’s practically euphoric in its crest of the hill and by the time it all breaks down for a finish, everyone’s sweaty and ready for more. Lookin’ out for their longplayer, Heavy Roller, landing in July from Permanent.



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Elon Katz

Its been a while since Katz rolled around these parts, and he’s made huge strides since 2010’s Pylori Program cassette. Front and center on The Human Pet are vocals, which had not graced the washes of kosmiche synth that marked his earlier works. He moves away from the serene textures of the past and into a much more frantic, neon, fractured world. Futuristic to its core, the album flashes IDM teeth and bites them deep into a dark strain of synth-pop, though underneath it all is the pulse and poison of 90’s industrial and its bleak heat visions. On the album Katz blends those signifiers better than most hands these days, pushing him into a new echelon.

Katz first came to most people’s attention as part of White Car, and this record actually hews a little closer to that project than his previous solo incursions. He’s called it “critic pop” and I suppose that’s not too far off base here, its a deep record that’s beating a pop heart, swathed in clipped and fragmented beats that pump like glass shards through your veins. So, you know, catnip for nerds of all stripes. There’s plenty of noise slashing its way across every hook, and for that its certainly going to fall outside of the average person’s pop wheelhouse; unless you’re the type that’s packing playlists full of Minimal Wave cuts and the heatsick dance breaks of Fielded next to your early Prince funk, AFX instrumentals and NIN singles. And, why not, that sounds like a damn good time, and on The Humant Pet, it is. This is a big step forward for Katz and everytime I put it on, the well just gets deeper.



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Timmy’s Organism – “Back In The Dungeon”

Ah bless Third Man for bankrolling the insanity of Timmy’s Organism. Those who have experienced the band in the live setting know that theatricality is so ingrained in Tim Lampinen’s DNA that giving him a budget can only lead to psychotic episodes and, in this case, a D&D breakdown fueled by cosmic VHS tapes. The track, from last year’s killer LP Heartless Heathen, is still a stomper, and its only given a gothic goose with the addition of the Organism’s Game-of-Thrones-on-a-Halloween-pop-up shop-budget visual accompaniment. You don’t own Heartless Heathen you say? Why the hell not? This should be reason enough.


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Miss Destiny – “Law and Order”

Following up on a single for Hozac last fall, Melbourne punx Miss Destiny are ramping up for a long player on the venerable R.I.P. Society in June. The first taste of the album is a bail jumping, octane burnt slice of rock that’s barrelling towards your ears on the gnarled strength of Harriett Hudson’s gravel and glam vocals. The track barely takes a breath, pounding at the pavement harder than a jackhammer and somehow evoking Shannon Shaw at her most accusatory (think Hunx’s “You Think You’re Tuff”) and The Donna’s at their most acerbic. That actually sounds like a pretty perfect combination to me, so all the more reason to be excited for the rest of this one.



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OBN IIIs – “Rich Old White Men”

Some things can be counted on in life. Austin’s OBN III’s bringing a dose of rock that shakes the rafters and tears a whole in the floorboards is one of those certainties. Their last album was a road tar thick mash of clear cutters that huffed their way into my heart. The band extends the burn with a new single for 12xU. Teaming with producer Mike McCarthy again, the band sticks a finger in the socket of 2016’s highly charged political year. The themes on “Rock Old White Men” and “On The Verge of Collapse” seem pretty clearly defined based on titles alone and act as some fist raised anthems perfect to shout along to. Its a pumped up double shot that should get you through the day.
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