Graham Dunning Tentation LP

Hey, cool spam alert! I’ve come out of record label retirement to offer the first full-length LP from London experimentalist Graham Dunning. On Tentation, he goes deep with two long-form excursions into psychedelic dub techno. It’s all performed live using his ingenious “mechanical techno machine”, which I implore you to watch here:

I’m really psyched on this record, and think you will be too. Limited to 300 copies, printed sleeves, download code, all the normal trimmings. Feel free to check out an excerpt from the record here, and if you dig it, go buy it here! If you wanna support YGR, this is a fine way to do it.

Reviews – September 2018

Avola Zone LP (Nadine / Sleeping Giant Glossolalia)
There’s certainly a zone being explored on Vern Avola’s newest record, but I’m not sure it’s one of our earthly dimension. Rather, this record reminds me of the sonic areas explored by Wolf Eyes and their fellow psych-noise travelers shortly after the turn of the century. Avola uses a variety of synths (in most press photos, she’s hunched over one) to create these bristly, finicky musical organisms, and while she’s not the first to have this idea (many of the ideas explored through Zone can be traced back to Throbbing Gristle and beyond), she works it well. At times, things get out of control in a Nautical Almanac or Cotton Museum sorta way, but usually Avola lets her tones linger in the stratosphere, as if she’s trying to lure the Silver Surfer back to Earth by emitting a particularly dazzling selection of colors into outer space. Listening to Zone takes me back to the days of not knowing who or what was responsible for the random few American Tapes I was able to acquire, but loving them dearly all the same.

Bad Breeding Abandonment 12″ (One Little Indian)
I’m telling you, the breeding has gone from bad to worse, and we’re all the better for it. This new four-song 12″ EP comes on the Flux Of Pink Indians-related One Little Indian label, and Bad Breeding are the perfect band to carry Flux’s flag, as they are also unrefined, abrasive, insanely good, and verifiably British. These songs are a little longer than I’m used to hearing from Bad Breeding, but it works in their favor, allowing these menacing, feral punk tunes to unfold naturally. I’m thinking if Impalers opted for a heavier post-punk influence (picture Crisis or Wire given a molten hardcore enhancement), it might tumble to the floor much like Abandonment does, right through to the mind-melting crescendo that terminates “Complicit”, the last song on here. The sound quality is pretty much perfect for what they’re trying to accomplish, too – it’s thick and heavy, but brittle on the edges, as if the recording is on the verge of catching fire, be it magnetic tape or hard drive. If the only thing keeping you from ordering a copy is not knowing whether or not it comes with a big gnarly collage that features chain-link fences and the words “war”, “torture” and “control” prominently displayed, well, spoiler alert: it does!

Harlan T. Bobo A History Of Violence LP (Goner)
Straight up: the name “Harlan T. Bobo” befits an Aerosmith-themed circus clown, so I always politely avoided his music in the past. There are just too many people out there making music for me to lend my ear to someone with a name like that, you know? Anyway, I relented and peeped this new one, and I have to say, it’s undeniably great, a finely crafted album of mature n’ depressed rock music. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this guy – did all of you avoid him because of the name, too? Anyway, Bobo stacks up against vice-laden white-guy greats like Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen here, calmly enunciating his whiskey-worn voice through exquisite tales of sorrow and redemption. He works sullen, contemplative ballads as expertly as he grinds out garage-y grooves – clearly any standard delivery method of rock n’ roll is grist for Bobo’s mill. It’s only a matter of time before one of the more plaintive, moody numbers here end up soundtracking one of the many Netflix true-crime documentaries, if it hasn’t already happened. The songs are polished and sharp, but it’s Bobo’s confident, experienced voice that really makes A History Of Violence a notable entry into today’s garage-rock league of elder-statesmen. I love it, but I’m still not sure I’m ready to wear a t-shirt that says “Harlan T. Bobo” on it. We’ll see.

Brandy Laugh Track LP (Monofonus Press)
I’d been wondering what the Moesha star had been up to lately (I loved that show), but unfortunately this album isn’t going to help me out with that. Nope, this is a new noise-punk trio out of Brooklyn featuring personnel from Pampers and Running, and their music is as knowingly rude as the smirks the band members wear on the back cover. Their closest sonic relative is without a doubt Mayyors – both groups share a massive wall of midrange fuzz and stomp it out all over the place, with the vocalist’s nasal sneer echoing off every flat surface in proximity. Whereas Mayyors were content to bash the listener’s skull repeatedly and without constraint, though, Brandy vary their approach a bit on their debut. Expect high-octane moshers that would delight any half-wasted Oh Sees fan to buffer rigid scuffles that recall Lamps at their most inflamed throughout Laugh Track, with nods to classic punk buried deep within the scuzz. Much like Lamps and Mayyors, it’s hard to decipher if Brandy is laughing with us or directly at us, as they seem to coat their disgust (or delight?) in a thick layer of dry wit. They’ve even got funny song titles that aren’t the normal sort of “funny song titles”, but rather ones like “Two Titles With A Slash Pt. I”, “Two Titles With A Slash Pt. II”, and “Blandy”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they find a way to somehow make fun of me for writing this review, even though it was entirely positive!

The Coltranes White Hag LP (SPHC)
There are more sub-genres and aesthetic options for punk and hardcore bands than ever before, and with White Hag, The Coltranes pull at a few directions at once. The cover is a violent, Mike Diana-esque sketch of various evil creatures and gimp-masked beings dragging the Pope to his torturous demise, of which the album title seems to bear no direct relation, and it comes with a short story of the same title in booklet form, presented by something called “House Of Alternative Production” (is this a Uranium Club influence?). I’m not sure what sense is being made here, but thankfully the music of The Coltranes is much more direct. Much of this album borrows strongly from early ’80s Black Flag (lots of My War and Slip It In style riffing) with a vocalist who snarls like an exaggerated Ross from Ceremony. That’s a musical combination that will almost always work well, and it certainly works here. At times, all the mid-tempo riffing can grow monotonous (and not in a good way), particularly as it’s a fairly long album by modern hardcore-punk standards, but just when I’m getting bored I’ll notice that the singer is ranting about how Wednesday is his favorite day of the week, so I’ll let it ride. A confusing album, but maybe it makes perfect sense to them.

DJ Quest / Go Like This Double Homicide 2 12″ & 7″ flexi (Alimentary Music)
True West Bay dank-core is immortal, confirmed by this split between DJ Quest and Go Like This. Simply seeing their logos in that same Plutocracy-style lettering on the cover makes me smile, and the music within operates on that same level. DJ Quest is a San Franciscan turntablist who offers up some thick bounce on his tracks here. Touches of acid add color to his booty-bass alongside various samples, not to mention a cut-up track of Go Like This samples that are just waiting to be co-opted by KMFDM or Ministry. Go Like This feature members of Agents Of Satan (one of the all-time greats) and Plutocracy (one of the other all-time greats), and they play in the manner you might expect from such a pedigree: quick-changing thrash-metal / grindcore with multiple vocalists, ridiculously hard samples and a strong predilection for the devil’s lettuce. The 12″ comes with a red-vinyl flexi with more material from DJ Quest alongside DJ Stinkweed, as well as a hand-burnt insert, in case you didn’t already notice the intense level of care that was put into the making of Double Homicide 2. Rest assured that in some smoked-out basement, Tony Molina is currently moshing to this record, so why not try it out for yourself?

Donato Dozzy Filo Loves The Acid 2xLP (Tresor)
For Tresor’s three hundred and third release, they decided to release Donato Dozzy’s Filo Loves The Acid, an album seemingly in tribute of the Roland 303 and its world-famously acidic properties. Get it? Now, we all love Donato Dozzy (I certainly do), and he continues to pump out new records at a healthy clip (I didn’t get a chance to review his recent Mindless Fullness EP and it’s top-notch), but I’m starting to think that simply hearing about this album would be as necessary as hearing it. Dozzy is a born innovator, but Filo Loves The Acid is a traditional run through the same paths acid-techno has taken over the past 3+ decades. It’s a respectable and trusty entry in the genre, one that abides by all the standard rules and pounds out club-ready thumps alongside squiggly acid worms, but there’s nothing remotely new at play here. If you’ve never heard the genre before, it’s a fine introduction (presuming a record from 2018 is an acceptable way to learn about the genre – could a person first learn about punk via a punk record from 2018?), but Donato Dozzy is at his best when operating solely by his own set of rules, not that of a fully-defined (and done to death) genre. I’d rather hear what he would come up with using only an autoharp, a contact mic and a sampler, and if his track record is any indication, a record that weird is probably forthcoming.

Fåglar I Bur Platt / Öppen Inbjudan 7″ (I Dischi Del Barone)
Ahh, I certainly enjoy my share of I Dischi 7″ singles, but this one, this is the one to get! Fåglar I Bur are new to me, and probably new to everyone, seeing as this is their only public recording, but this 7″ single is marvelous and I’m spinning it to pieces. The quickest way to describe them would be to proffer the question “what if Young Marble Giants played industrial music?”, and trust me, Fåglar I Bur live up to such a lofty fantasy. “Platt” features a pissed-off drum machine with some underlying electronic distress as vocalist Felicia Lindgren talks smack in her native Swedish tongue. “Öppen Inbjudan” sounds like a smoothed-out dub of Neutral, another Swedish industrial-esque duo that shares a number of attributes with Fåglar I Bur, although Fåglar I Bur seem far more reserved and minimal, and less prone to feedback and violent outburst. Both tracks make their point succinctly, and while it’s clearly of a certain industrial tradition, this duo is on their own unique trip and I’m already desperate for more.

FRKSE Denigration Rapture 7″ (Iron Lung)
Cool to see Massachusetts-based noise-jammers FRKSE link up with the Iron Lung fellas. It’s not a combo I saw coming, but one that makes sense: FRKSE always seemed to be winking toward some aspect of gnarly underground guitar music, and Iron Lung has no shortage of ugly mutated noise blasts in its back catalog. This 7″ is a fine introduction if you’re not familiar with FRKSE, and if you do happen to like it, there’s a massive discography awaiting your perusal. A collage of samples sandwiched into some churning rhythmic aspects is what you get with opener “Burn First Then An Affront”, not unlike a basement-industrial Demdike Stare. Same goes for “Lions To Poach”, not entirely removed from other currently-active industrial loop-based creeps like Hogg or SabaSaba, but FRKSE have been at it long enough to have honed into their specific little corner of the genre. There’s a tension and mystery within FRKSE’s murky tracks, similar to Leda perhaps, but with a vaguely Middle-Eastern feel at times, due to the stringed instruments and percussion that sometimes shine through the deep patina of the samples. The best part is, if you accidentally leave this record in your car on a hot day and it badly warps, it’ll only sound better!

Gad Whip Post Internet Blues LP (X-Mist)
Gad Whip are an attractive proposition for various mindsets and aesthetics, as demonstrated by their first record on the New York-based avant-rock label Ever/Never and this follow-up on German punk/hardcore label X-Mist. On Post Internet Blues, they sound like some sort of lonely strain of ’90s alt-rock mixed with the sour tongue of Crass… wait, isn’t that the exact formula for Chumbawumba? Maybe I need to review my findings. I’m serious though, the music here recalls early Radiohead, maybe Filter or even Incubus (soaring, sorta-artsy bass lines; chugging grooves; a willingness to get funky), whereas the vocalist continues to ignore the music almost entirely, ranting and raving about various specific miseries in a manner very similar to Sleaford Mods, or when less aggressive, Wat Tyler. Most of the references are beyond me: I got the one about Twitter, and the album title makes sense, but I have no idea what “Goat Bag” is about, even though he repeats it dozens of times. I’m not mad, though – I love when artists focus in on the details of their lives and center that in their art, even if it leaves me a little lost. At least it’s honest, right? There’s a lot of sharp honesty to be found within Post Internet Blues, even if the music sounds like Tool covering Pink Floyd. God bless these weirdos.

Half Human Positive Image LP (Specious Arts)
There once was a sound and style that I associated with Brooklyn’s indie-punk scene, but that’s become a thing of the past. Nowadays, when I hear a new band from Brooklyn, they’re either precisely copying some other more popular band, or off in some sort of bizarre stylistic netherworld, put together seemingly at random. Half Human exist in the second camp, and Positive Image is their somewhat confusing first album. They seem unable to stay in one place for too long, both stylistically and musically. A plunging New Order bass-line will guide a gothic post-punk jam, only to be followed by a rickety, brittle no-wave spasm. Not to mention the track “Territory In Exchange”, which feels like Liars on a heavy kick of Rush, and it weirdly starts as the last song on the a-side, only to continue as the first song on the b-side (at least I think it’s the same song?). And just when it seems like the prog-rock influence has taken over and Half Human are on some “King Crimson meets Drab Majesty” tip, the last song artfully drones across nearly seven minutes like Slint dueling Pittsburgh noise-rockers Microwaves at midnight. A whole lot of ideas here, and Half Human will stick them just about anywhere, like a big computer monitor covered in post-it notes. You might not like all of it, but you’ll probably enjoy some of it!

Haus Arafna Blut – Trilogie Des Blutes | Nachblutung 2xLP (Galakthorrö)
The last Haus Arafna album to receive deluxe vinyl treatment is their debut, Blut. Initially a CD-only release from 1995, it now exists as a gatefold double LP on opaque blood-red vinyl, complete with the Nachblutung tracks that previously only existed as a bonus to the 2006 CD remaster. I’m as big a Haus Arafna fan as they come (they’re like the brooding gothic parents I never had), so this was a nice addition to my collection, and of course it’s put together in fine Galakthorrö fashion, to their always exacting standards. As far as the album itself goes, one can certainly tell that this is Haus Arafna at their earliest and rawest – brutal rhythmic pulses, guttural screams, electric shock treatment and dramatic analog synths are all poised to strike, and strike they do. It’s a stunning declaration, one that fuses the beautiful decay of classic industrial and gothic melodrama with the harsh vigor of early power-electronics, and it still sounds exciting all these years later. That said, I think Haus Arafna have only gotten better through the years, finding new ways to present similar underlying themes, and mastering the use of “VCO, VCF and VCA” – hell, even writing catchy songs within this imposing and aggressive style. Now that all previous ghosts have been properly reissued, let’s hope there’s a new album shortly on the way.

ISS ISS LP (Drunken Sailor)
First thing’s first, I love ISS, the North Carolina-based post-punk duo that utilize classic and obscure punk samples to create their rickety lo-fi scrums. That said, did we really need a vinyl reissue of their debut 2015 cassette, following last year’s Endless Pussyfooting album and a 7″ EP earlier this year? Speaking as a fan of the group, I’m not sure I needed it, and I have to wonder who the audience is that has the amount of money necessary to buy all this stuff, all while presumably purchasing records by other bands they enjoy. As a concept and as songwriters, ISS have only gotten sharper over the years, so while these early tracks offer a nice glimpse into their formative days, both musically (samples buffer their drum-and-bass-led punk rock rather than seamlessly integrate) and punk-pun related (you get “(Dis)charge It To The Game” and “(I Want A) Amphetamine Prescription” here), it’s simply not as good as their other two records. Which is a good thing, because it means they keep getting better, but it also makes this record somewhat extraneous in the process, contributing to a vinyl-overloaded malaise wherein a thoughtful punk shopper just backs away empty-handed, crippled by the endless choices, rather than picking up the one great record by one great band on the “new arrivals” list. I realize I’m stretching here, but honestly am I really stretching that much?

Patricia Kokett Diabel 12″ (Knekelhuis)
The hits just keep on coming from Dutch mostly-techno label Knekelhuis. I hadn’t heard of Patricia Kokett before, but I took a chance, and I’m glad I did, as these four songs are great. Kokett plays an unhurried form of EBM techno, music that coasts on a longboard past industrial and trance for sunnier pastures. A track like “Mmuo” is practically krautrock in the fully electronic sense of the term, but without any retro throwback feel… it pulses with a neon beat and smooth transitions, and in true nonsensical krautrock fashion, is punctuated by an elephant’s roar. Some of Diabel is so warm and inviting, it almost feels like a hidden soundtrack to Mario 64, but it comes without any of vaporwave’s cloying nostalgia. I still play the Job Sifre 12″ on Knekelhuis all the time, and Diabel feels like the optimistic corollary to Job Sifre’s gloomy doom, almost reaching Avalon Emerson levels of jubilant optimism. Patricia Kokett is clearly a raver at heart, but approaches things with a tender humanity that piles of neon strobe-lit pills can sometimes miss. Of course, pills might go well with Diabel, but I’ll leave that to the more adventurous listeners.

Limbs Bin One Happy World LP (Torn Light)
Limbs Bin continue their singular-minded approach to noise (and grind?) with One Happy World, the artist’s first full-length vinyl LP following numerous cassettes. Much like the flexi that came through these pages a couple years ago, the Limbs Bin style remains the same: harsh noise blasts (a drum machine turned up to 1,000 BPM, maybe?) over screamed sentences or phrases. These blasts tend to last as long as the average sentence (I wanna say between three and five seconds?), and there are plenty of them to go around here. Occasionally the vocals will be shouted in some sort of rhythmic pattern, but for the most part it’s grind-speed power-electronics and screamed vocals, with feedback filling in for the vocals whenever Josh Landes (it’s his solo project) needs to take a breath. Both sides end with extended silence tracks, and I’m not sure if that was a mastering goof-up or some intentional artistic statement, but either way it adds a starkness to Limbs Bin’s extreme noise content. I’m not sure exactly how long a person can continue a project that sticks to such a rigid and fixed formula as this, but I appreciate that Limbs Bin shows no signs of fatigue. Maybe I should go ask Vomir!

Lolina The Smoke LP (no label)
The first time I listened to this new album by Inga Copeland’s Lolina alias, it reminded me of To Live And Shave In LA, in the manner that it bludgeoned me with its sheer ridiculous audacity. The Smoke sounded great on that first listen, but I’ve spun it countless times since then, and songs have emerged from the big pile of question marks that first hit my ears. Let’s call it “experimental synth-pop”, although I don’t think Copeland is particularly experimenting with anything besides just being herself. The beats here are sad and weird, somewhere between Tin Man’s Acid Test series and Lil Yachty, and Copeland sings and rants over them with the ease and comfort usually reserved for covering Ramones songs. Her voice is particularly great, and weird – from what I can gather, she’s Russian-born but has been living in London for a number of years, but her voice sounds neither Russian nor British… more like some new digitally-enhanced species of human being? But there aren’t crazy effects added to her voice, it’s just her voice. Her manner of production and vocals are enough to delight, even if they were delivered in random jumbles, but these songs really are perversely catchy, or actually just regular-catchy. One of the finest albums of the year, I’d say!

The Mighty Jabronis Heart Punch My Heart / Put ‘Em In A Headlock 7″ (Uh Huh)
Not trying to brag, but I feel uniquely qualified to critique a pro-wrestling-themed punk band, so let’s get to it. The Mighty Jabronis are proudly such, named after one of The Rock’s most popular insults and dedicated to goofball wrestling worship via classic upbeat punk rock. “Heart Punch My Heart” and “Put ‘Em In A Headlock” are sonically akin to collector-scum punk like The Child Molesters and The Shit Dogs, or perhaps more directly The Turnbuckles and their Super Destroyer Mark II single, and while that’s perfectly A-OK, The Mighty Jabronis merely tread the genre’s water. The a-side is based on Roman Reigns’ finishing move, which would be like writing a punksploitation song that pays homage to Green Day’s American Idiot. You know, painfully poseurish, even for a subculture that is inherently uncool. If wrestling is a funny joke to you, and you just like the stuff on cable TV, you’ll probably get a couple hoots from this single, but I have to wonder what Antiseen or Rancid Vat would think. They probably keep a steel chair handy for situations just like this.

Mosquitoes Drip Water Hollow Out Stone 12″ (Ever/Never)
That’s not just a cool poetic title to Mosquitoes’ five-song EP, it’s also the five song titles strung together. This London-based group delighted me with their first self-released 7″, and it’s nice that Ever/Never brought their goods to an American audience, as that’s where I live, and this is my kinda thing. They still remind me of Sightings here, which is a rare and admirable quality, but they’re like Sightings without the feedback or squelch. Their form of avant-rock seems to tiptoe across the marble floor, delicately tickling your ribs rather than blasting you out of your chair. The bass dances around just like Sightings’ did, but the drums here are carefully measured, wherein the tuning of the drums is just as important as the impact of their hits. The vocals are quietly muttered – I can’t confirm they’re even in English, but they convey plenty of confusion and disarray regardless of the lyrics or total lack thereof – and the guitar takes the band name to heart, buzzing like a winged insect that should’ve gone extinct eons ago but instead continues to thrive. Probably the freshest and coolest no-wave-derived music I’ve heard in a while!

Mountain Movers New Jam 12″ (C/Site Recordings)
Mountain Movers might not have been moving actual mountains, but they’ve been working nearly as hard, touring around the Northeast and beyond while releasing a steady stream of vinyl and tapes. This new one moves away from their normal song construction in search of headier territory, one that I certainly appreciate a bit more than their average indie-rock nugget. The title here tells no lies: you get two “new jams” on this comfortably-lengthy 12″ single and one titled track, all seeking higher levels of sonic elevation. “New Jam 5” and “New Jam 3” work essentially the same bass-line, but don’t worry, it’s a sweet one, with drums locked into the pattern like musical crochet as the guitar explores the deepest reaches of whatever psychedelic effects pedal is closest by. I’m feeling like Bardo Pond, Can and Brainticket may have provided some inspiration here, and if you’re looking to play instrumental rock music, it’s hard to go wrong with those forefathers gazing down upon you. “Clearview Hwy.” is the other track here, and it’s a little looser than the jams; it’s a loose improvisation that sounds like a half-asleep Laddio Bolocko, which is nearly as good as wide-awake Laddio Bolocko, and it works as an enjoyably hazy respite from the cunning bassline of both “New Jam” tracks. More of a mountain chiller than a mountain mover, but it suits them well.

No Love Choke On It LP (Sorry State)
Has anyone else noticed that a specifically North Carolinian hardcore-punk sound has developed over the past few years? It’s been brewing for a decade or so, probably fostered by the great support system of label / distro Sorry State, but it feels firmly in place at this point. The generalized NC style streamlines garage-rock riffs into cascading hardcore punk tempos, with minimal breaks, few dirges, only the occasional d-beat and a level of musicianship and recording quality that notably surpasses poor or lo-fi. I’m thinking of Brain F≠ and the associated Joint D≠, as well as Davidians to some degree, and of course No Love, with their debut LP Choke On It. It fits my earlier description head-on, complete with shouted-yet-discernible vocals, tasteful guitar-work and even a cover of their buddies ISS. I’m also reminded of White Lung before they decided to “go for it”, in the way that these fiery tunes songs ceaselessly blur into each other due to a fairly homogeneous tempo and sound. I could go for less technical perfection from No Love and more personality and attitude – there isn’t one memorable chorus here, but it feels like most songs are streams of parts rather than distinct verses/choruses anyway. They seem like a likeable group though, and No Love clearly have worked hard at Choke On It, so if they’re happy with it, I’m happy for them.

Thee Open Sex White Horses LP (Sophomore Lounge)
You never know what you’re going to get from Sophomore Lounge, except for maybe that the artist probably hails from a non-major city and there’s a good chance an amplified guitar will be involved. Both are true for Bloomington’s Thee Open Sex, a project that revolves around guitarist John Dawson and his various serious-musician friends, but serious in a good way – these folks aren’t trying to become rich stars, they’re simply trying to reach new pinnacles of sound. White Horses is my first time hearing Thee Open Sex and it’s a highly enjoyable excursion into deep krautrock territory. The track “White Horses” takes up both sides in two parts, and it takes shape via extended snare roll, cyclical guitar melody and the slow-build of some cosmic keyboards. Very Neu!, very Manuel Göttsching, and not entirely removed from Faust & Tony Conrad… maybe if “Bitchin’ Bajas & Tony Conrad” ever existed, it’d be similar? It’s an old and well-worn concept, an infinite spiral of two notes aiming up to the heavens, but it’s a trusty one… White Horses is a suitable key for unlocking one’s third eye.

Pious Faults Old Thread LP (Feel It)
Holy moly, I’m just calling it right now: this is my favorite hardcore-punk album of the year! I’ve never heard of Brisbane’s Pious Faults before, but I’m already obsessed. Allow me to try to explain their deal: they come correct with the unpredictable frenzy of Cult Ritual at their peak (sans all the distortion and heaviness), the manic post-punk sneer of Seems Twice and S.Y.P.H., and the general sound of classic hardcore/punk somewhere between, say, The State’s No Illusions EP and Feederz’s Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss? album. It’s a unique cocktail, and Pious Faults seem to be operating purely under their own authority, rewriting hardcore without losing its inherent visceral impact or lack of pretense. These songs are all wildly different, from tuneless bashing that recalls the first Hospitals album to intricate off-kilter grooves (I’m going to once again invoke the great name of Seems Twice), or even frantic inexplicable punk ragers that sound like Saccharine Trust attempting no-wave. I’ve thrown out a lot of big names here, but I’m telling you, Pious Faults could stomp around with the best of ’em. And would you look at that, they’re touring the States right now!

Protomartyr & Spray Paint Irony Prompts A Party Rat 7″ (Monofonus Press)
Goddamn, I love a good anagram, and the title of this EP (combining both band names) is startlingly well-suited and poetic. Somehow, these two bands decided not to do a split, but combine together to write and record these two songs. I’m fascinated as to how that works (did the guitar players flip a coin?), not to mention how awkward it must be to present a new riff not just to your bandmates but another entire band as well, but these guys made it happen. That alone is enough to earn my respect, but these two tracks are worth hearing, too – somehow, this record isn’t a novelty afterthought. “Corinthian Leather” is moody and crude, like Protomartyr After Dark or something, whereas “Bags & Cans” rides a chiming, upbeat pogo into some sort of Interpol speedzone with someone other than Protomartyr’s Joe Casey on vocals. Cool tunes for sure, but if they really want to impress me they should add another group to the mix. Can you imagine all the great possible anagrams from Protomartyr & Spray Paint & Clap Your Hands Say Yeah?

Raime Am I Using Content Or Is Content Using Me? 12″ (Different Circles)
The title of this new Raime EP is so corny in that Black Mirror sort of way that it has to be intentional, right? Raime are fan of elegantly long titles, but never before so direct, and their music is so consistently smart and forward-thinking that I can only assume they are as people, too. Title aside, this new four-song EP is another change-up from Raime, albeit one that fits in with their general MO of minimalist reduction. They’ve sucked the marrow out of dubstep, drone and industrial techno in the past, and this time it’s more of a take on future-bass or grime instrumentals. I’m reminded of Fatima Al Qadiri, or perhaps Kode9, just with the actual drums and bassline removed. Rather, Raime work exclusively with the sounds that normally would be placed on top of the beat, resulting in nimble dance movements with plenty of open air. The sounds they utilize are cool (synthetic animal roars, digi-flutes, crowd noises and artificially-rendered shakers), and distributed in slowly-emerging patterns. Not sure if I’m using Raime or if they’re using me when I listen to these tracks, but I’m happy either way.

Scumputer / L.O.T.I.O.N. Campaign For Digital Destruction LP (540)
After releasing one of my favorite albums of 2015, L.O.T.I.O.N. took it kind of easy, so I was thrilled to see that this new split LP with Scumputer (a solo project by Chaos UK guitarist Gabba) was ready to go. Scumputer are up first, and while I was hoping for the music to live up to the name and cover art, Scumputer isn’t nearly as harsh or extreme as I had hoped. The electronic drums are programmed to fast punk beats, often overloaded with tinny guitars and various samples (including a more-or-less remix of RUN-DMC’s “My Adidas” at one point), but instead of sounding like some brutal mix of gabber-techno and Chaos UK, I’m reminded of the more aggressive Atom & His Package songs with different vocals. Sorry! I guess Scumputer’s tracks are fun and ultimately harmless, but I have no intention of returning to them anytime soon, especially since L.O.T.I.O.N. is on the other side, and their contribution is fantastic. Their side opens with the sound of a chopper and distorted emergency sirens before kicking into some unholy sonic union of M Ax Noi Mach, Psalm 69 and the second track on G.I.S.M.’s SoniCRIME TheRapy. It’s mostly a mid-paced affair, perfect as the soundtrack to a robotic horde of mutant punks marching toward a city hall engulfed in flames, and entirely appropriate for the Lärm-referencing title. Cool lyrics too, relaying modern-day horror without being typical or generic. Hoping the next L.O.T.I.O.N. release arrives before we’re all huddled around the Amazon-Google water-tanks, awaiting our weekly rations.

The Skygreen Leopards The Jingling World Of The Skygreen Leopwards LP (Soft Abuse)
Let’s take a trip back to 2002, a time when you could tell your friends you just printed up a CD-r release and they’d respond with “cool!” instead of “huh?”, a time when dropping out of life with psychedelic imagery in hand was alluring and even sensible. That’s when Glenn Donaldson’s group The Skygreen Leopards recorded the material on The Jingling World Of, which compiles two early CD-r releases and some other random tracks of that era. It fits in well with other weird folksters of the time, like Devendra Banhart, Six Organs Of Admittance or Espers, but Skygreen Leopards was always a bit more reserved and less distinctively retro-minded than some of their more popular peers. These songs borrow from the sad and hazy tones of Sarah Records as much as the folksy strum of Pentangle or Fairport Convention, with just a light swab of Beachwood Sparks for good measure. It’s pretty pleasant music, although it passes by shyly, just as content to be forgotten as beloved. Personally, I could take or leave their Jingling World, but I’m here right now, and it’s nice.

Spiritual Cramp Police State 7″ (Deranged)
San Francisco’s Spiritual Cramp have been opening popular hardcore fests for a little bit now, and while that’s a fun place to be (I for one wish I enjoyed their close proximity to Cold World), I can’t help but think that less moshy pastures await them. That’s the impression I get while listening to their new Police State EP, at least. On stage, they’re a raucous jean-jacket punk band, complete with tambourine player (I wonder how many people they auditioned for the job?) and swiftly down-picked guitars, but they display a greater range throughout these four tracks, dare I say a more “mature” punk sound. The opener “Spiritual Cramp” is the straight-ahead anthem (as any band-name-titled song should be), but the rest of the EP takes aim at older punk styles that haven’t been overly mined in recent times. I’m hearing plenty of Clash, Subway Sect and maybe even a little Ian Dury on these tracks – it’s very upbeat and two-tone/mod inspired, with crooned vocals one might expect to find in lively conversation with Debbie Harry and David Johansen at some Manhattan dive circa 1978, all trying to avoid Cheetah Chrome. These songs are surprisingly tender, and while they’re mostly written in a basic verse/chorus/repeat/end formula, I think they’re onto something special – perhaps it’s album time?

Tanz Ohne Musik Night 7″ (Galakthorrö)
Tanz Ohne Musik are one of the rare Galakthorrö artists with a significant discography prior to joining up with the label, but don’t let that mislead you into thinking they are musically distant from the rest of the crew. Nope, Tanz Ohne Musik sound exactly as one would expect a Galakthorrö artist to sound: gloomy, overtly-gothic industrial synth-wave with morbid themes and troubled vocals sung in Romanian-accented English. It’s comforting, knowing exactly what Night is going to sound like before actually hearing it, and Tanz Ohne Musik deliver on that inherent promise. These four songs are lovely, falling more on the softly-dour side of the spectrum (expect moody synth tension ala November Növelet, not scalding furnace blasts ala Haus Arafna), but still bone-chilling and seductive. The fact that Tanz Ohne Musik are Romanian only enhances their vampiric qualities, which is exactly what I want from music like this, the sense that it was composed and written by a dying Nosferatu who refused to drink the blood of his true love. Immortality never seemed so desirable!

Teakup Miscellanea I 12″ (Is/Was)
A lot of European techno gets discussed in these pages, but I’m an ugly American through and through, so I decided to check out this new EP from Ohio’s Teakup on the Pittsburgh-based Is/Was label. They’re only doing vinyl (they sell the records through Bandcamp with no sound samples – you’ve gotta admire that audacity!), and I sure like vinyl, so I’m glad to have made their acquaintance. Miscellanea I lives up to its title in the varied sounds and styles explored through its four cuts, but in a highly enjoyable way. Opener “Lose My Mind” sounds like peak-time Audion or Jon Convex… elastic and energetic tech-house with cool vocal effects. It’s followed by the rough n’ ready Detroit-style techno of “Shimmer” and “Darkcore 2020”, which seems to reference its intense drum n’ bass style in the title, not unlike a lost Peverelist remix. The EP wraps with “I Don’t Fkn Kno”, another punchy tech-house sizzler in the classic style of Perlon. Nothing groundbreaking, but all four tracks are catchy little winners… plus, this was made somewhere in Ohio, one of the hardest places in the developed world to successfully rave. Credit where credit is due to Teakup.

Upsammy Words R Inert 12″ (Die Orakel)
Within four seconds of “Dancing Faries”, the first cut on this 12″ EP, you know whether you’re in or you’re out – Upsammy gets into her turbo-boosted electro right out of the gate. It’s great! Imagine Dopplereffekt at their most caffeinated, practically levitating across the dance-floor with a massive, twitchy beat. That would be enough for me, but Upsammy throws some viscous synths over top, running over the edges of the groove like too much syrup on pancakes. It’s simple but perfect, in the same manner that Avalon Emerson’s “The Frontier” is. “Wednesday Morning” is nearly as exceptional. It’s far less hectic but more demented, the sort of thing I’d expect to hear while grocery shopping in the year 2078. Music for light industry of the future, no doubt. The title track commands the b-side and it’s the slowest by far, pulsing like some sort of bioluminescent sea creature outside of Drexciya’s Atlantean home. These tracks are familiar in the way that pulse-pounding electro beats can’t help but be, but vastly alien due to the manner in which Upsammy approaches them, thanks to her uniquely tuned ear for unexpected melodic patterns. Top pick!

Bugge Wesseltoft & Prins Thomas Bugge Wesseltoft & Prins Thomas 2xLP (Smalltown Supersound)
So, you want your child to achieve greatness someday? Allow me to recommend that you name them “Bugge Wesseltoft”. It’s the name of the Norwegian pianist and jazz musician who teamed up with Prins Thomas for this sumptuous long-playing affair. I realize that “chill ambient jazz and instrumental hip-hop for studying and relaxing” is a disgustingly powerful new genre care of Spotify and the various other passive-listening phone apps that modern society seems to love so much, but let me tell you, I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of this album and I don’t care who knows it. They go deep on their grooves here, with multiple tracks around fifteen minutes or so, and it really pays off. Skittering percussion will lead to some featherweight house music, a jazzy groove will open into some passive ambient bliss, and it all shifts gracefully, like one of those plants that folds up its leaves at night. Prins Thomas seems to leave his trademark space-disco behind in favor of airy live instrumentation and exploratory coffeehouse melodies, and the result is a small piece of magic. I can’t say there’s any particular moment on here that’s must-hear, or any track or aspect that is liable to blow minds, but I’ve probably listened to this album more than anything else in the past two weeks, so there must be some explanation to be found somewhere. Maybe I’m just old now?

Yu Su Preparations For Departure 12″ (Arcane)
As the lines of techno, jazz and ambient continue to dissolve upon each other, more and more cool records are popping up in those blurred areas, such as this five-track EP from Yu Su. Preparations For Departure is a lush record, one that finishes smooth after floating by like a particularly appealing cloud formation. Expect clarinet and live bass among chiming chords and potent synths, resulting in something akin to Keith Jarrett remixed by Newworldaquarium. You know I love me some horn-based techno, but this EP doesn’t hit any dance-floors… instead, it aims for the back of your skull as you slowly relax all muscles and give in to Yu Su’s soothing ebb and flow. if this record were a massage, it’d be pure Alexander technique. I get the sense from the postcard memorial that comes tucked inside the sleeve, as well as the title itself, that Yu Su was thinking about the afterlife when she put this record together, so if death is even half as soothingly serene as this music, I’m no longer frightened by my eventual tomb ride.