Anz OTMI001 12″ (OTMI)
Had a recent realization that I need more fresh electronic dance music in my life… been feeling malnourished in that department. Good thing there’s Anz then, coming through with this highly satisfying two-track EP. “Unravel In The Designated Zone” is the a-side, and it’s the hit for sure, a smooth-yet-bouncy cut that you’ll want to call back immediately. Try to imagine if Drexciya were from the West Coast and linked up with Too $hort’s Dangerous Crew in a heady beat-making session – I swear this cut sounds as fabulous as the hypothetical I just laid out. When that leading synth hook hits, it feel as good as a swished three-pointer, and it hits frequently! Reminds me a bit of those Silkie 12″s I loved like ten years ago too, back when he was trying to call his genre of music “purple”, a move I still support. “Morphing Into Brighter” is the flip, and it blends funky drum breaks with a supple 808 kick, an intrepid mix of ’90s rave and ’90s electro updated and rebooted for our immediate future. Good driving music, and excellent dancing music, though I can’t imagine any situation that wouldn’t be enhanced by the inclusion of “Unravel”‘s impeccable synth-work. A+ for Anz!

Sofie Birch & Johan Carøe Repair Techniques LP (Stroom)
There are two things I love, record covers with pictures of people underwater (from Nevermind to Batteaux’s self-titled album) and new-agey techno bliss, and this new record on Stroom offers both. Apparently Sofie Birch and Johan Carøe had a significant pile of Moog and Roland equipment at their disposal during a residency at Sweden’s Andersabo last summer, and they made good use of it with these cozy and inviting tracks. Much of it shares the warmly-melancholy feeling I’d associate with the Giegling label, but Repair Techniques mostly avoids beats; it has the feel of techno without any sort of powerful kick or rhythmic propulsion. This of course allows their swooping chords, chiming leads and soft ambient drones to flutter and expand in all directions, like rich drops of watercolor paint on cotton paper. Interestingly, instruments like cello, pump organ, clarinet and chimes are also credited, but even at its most acoustic Repair Techniques resembles ambient electronic music more than anything organic in nature. Like much of the Stroom catalog, many of these sounds could successfully soundtrack early ’90s Lifetime movies, but it never feels like a throwback so much as a tastefully modern interpretation of emotionally-poignant instrumental mood setting. The most hygge record of the month, no doubt!

Tim Bruniges, Julian Day & Matt McGuigan Very Fast & Very Far 12″ (Hospital Hill)
How many sound artists does it take to tweak big wooshing noises out of a synth? The answer here is “three” apparently, care of this new 12″ on Sydney, Australia’s Hospital Hill label. With the accompanying text from Julian Day, Very Fast & Very Far can feel more like someone’s post-grad thesis than a 12″ single meant for public enjoyment, but I suppose there’s always going to be a sanitized whiff of academia on records like this. Which is to say, this is a record of little more than widescreen synth drones, which come in a variety of shapes and colors. It can sound like Thanos clutching the Infinity Stones for the first time, or air leaking out of a punctured tire, or the Northern Lights if they could speak; very much in the spirit of twentieth-century electronic composers and the GRM. Kinda crazy to think that major labels once funded this sort of heady electronic sound exploration, which is now about as well-funded as meme research. There will forever be an interest in pushing high-powered synths to their highest heights and lowest lows, however, and though I cannot account for specifically whose thumbs and forefingers did the majority of the knob twiddling recorded here, Bruniges, Day and McGuigan offer another fine glimpse into the limitless electronic void.

Claypipe Sky Wells LP (C/Site Recordings)
I recently read a comment from C/Site head honcho Stefan Christensen that he took great inspiration from Twisted Village, specifically the way in which the label fostered a local scene while peppering in some international communiques as well. Twisted Village looked to New Zealand on occasion, with artists like A Handful Of Dust and The Garbage And The Flowers, and now C/Site has its own inscrutable New Zealand lo-fi unit with Claypipe. I hadn’t heard of them before, but like any home-recording duo from that charming island, they have a handful of cassettes, CD-rs and lathes under their belts, delivered sporadically and without the slightest hint of professional aspirations. Sky Wells certainly sounds how you might expect it to sound after reading all that: acoustic guitars playing nothing in particular; the airy hiss of the rooms that these songs were recorded in; an inexplicable piercing tone that wanders in for a full song; murmured vocals that border on useless. Maybe I haven’t been in the right mood whenever I’ve put this one on, but rather than being charmed by the sound of errant strings being stretched while the motor of a car recedes down the block, I find myself kind of listless and wondering why the spark of magic that makes Maxine Funke or Gate so special is lacking in what I’m hearing from Claypipe. Maybe you just have to be really, really into hermetic New Zealand DIY pastoral noise-folk to fully appreciate this one, whereas I’m not quite on that evangelical level.

Cold Cave Fate In Seven Lessons LP (Heartworm Press)
Cold Cave has shifted its shape throughout the years, though always firmly ensconced in black leather, opaque sunglasses and a shadowy heart. Now with Fate In Seven Lessons, it seems bandleader Wes Eisold has entered the domesticated-and-in-love phase of his life, and following so many years of beautiful despondence and poetic misery, it’s a shift that suits Cold Cave well! What better time for a goth king to be happy than the most depressing era most of us have ever known. These songs are poppy and befitting the cover’s alluring bouquet, with dark synths lines bouncing in the glaring spirit of Depeche Mode and New Order (see “Night Light” and of course the cover art) and bass-guitar recalling a cowboy-hatted Sisters Of Mercy lost in the desert on their way to Vegas. Very classically goth stuff here, far removed from the cold-wave noise of Cold Cave’s early years and pretty distant from the bombastic maximalist emo-goth of Cherish The Light Years, which the group recently performed in its entirety. These songs seem to be written for goth fest headlining slots, to be one of the few traditional synth-pop goth bands to get their name in a decent-sized font that didn’t release their first record before 1990. Who better than Cold Cave?

Deck In The Pit In A Lane 10″ (Tropical Cancer Rort)
Curious name, Deck In The Pit, but it makes sense (in a way) once you learn that it was a short-lived project from one of Brisbane’s most interesting punks, Glen Schenau. Apparently Deck In The Pit came about after Per Purpose but before his current solo career, and it certainly fits right in, a power-trio of angular circuitry, guitar skronk and early no-wave moves. I’m reminded of artists as distant as Captain Beefheart and DNA and as close as The Pink Noise, the way in which these songs cycle through their wonky riffs… they roll onward, but with the curvature of an egg or a football. Lotta twang on the guitar, as is Schenau’s consistent style, and he rants and raves at seemingly random intervals over these songs, as if Television were panicking inside a stalled elevator. On paper, it’s right up my alley, and in practice I like it even better, as Deck In The Pit are excessively charming for a musical style that generally clears at least some substantial portion of the audience out of the room. Will there be a more satisfying post-punk ten-inch to be released this year?

Exek Good Thing They Ripped Up The Carpet LP (Lulus Sonic Disc Club)
“Reliable” might not be the trait most post-punk bands look to achieve, but I’ll be damned if that doesn’t suit Melbourne’s Exek. Four albums in six years, all solid, all sticking to the same basic template with just enough wiggle room to keep things interesting. If you’re not familiar, their sound is a narcoleptic sort of dub-centric post-punk. No agitation, no angularity, but rather a devotion to deep melodic bass and hazy guitars and a drum set that sounds soaking wet, so precise is its reverb-laden recording. Still reminds me of that great first Anika album, though at this point Exek have earned the right to claim this sound as their own. For such a simple execution, things move around nicely here, with melodies and progressions that defy standard one-two one-two post-punk without feeling pretentious or overly complicated… the band has clearly grown into, rather than grown out of, their established aesthetic. Which is why the extended dual guitar leads of “The Plot” work so well in a musical context that would generally find itself unwelcoming to such musical feats.

Fake Nudes Post Cinnamon World 7″ (Chunklet Industries)
Seems like everybody loves Honey Radar, a band I should spend more time with myself, and now I’ve learned that there’s also Fake Nudes, featuring Armen Knox of Honey Radar (and Nina Scotto of another Philly indie band, Queen Of Jeans). Much like Honey Radar’s scattered discography of small runs and limited editions, this 7″ is one of those Chunklet lathe cuts limited to a scant fifty copies, but MP3s are free and everywhere, so it’s not like you can’t hear it if you really want to. Anyway, about Fake Nudes: they’ve got a low-budget, pop-centric garage sound, reminding me of the recording quality of the first Purling Hiss records and the songwriting of the studio-recorded Purling Hiss albums. Or maybe Dinosaur Jr. as translated through one of those static-laced live Velvet Underground bootlegs that populate the finer Philadelphia record shops? Post Cinnamon World sounds kind of anonymous, or at least lots of bands are doing this same sort of thing in probably a very similar block radius even, but that doesn’t mean the unkempt guitar soloing of “Better Billy Joel” doesn’t bring a smile to my face whenever I hear it. If they don’t have a tape on Petty Bunco by the end of next spring I’ll eat my hat!

Flowertown Time Trials LP (Paisley Shirt)
New San Franciscan duo Flowertown named their vinyl debut Time Trials, but don’t expect any speedy strum or structural brevity from these two. If anything, this record seems to go as slowly as possible; it’s easy to picture Flowertown as two kids who intentionally walked the mile in gym class, unconcerned with obtaining the Presidential Fitness award. (Am I dating myself here? Does gym class still exist?) They consist of a member of Cindy (Karina Gill) and a member of Tony Jay (Mike Ramos) and Flowertown exists along that same musical spectrum, though perhaps quieter, softer and more intimate. At times, I’m reminded of the earliest Dum Dum Girls bedroom recordings, Floating Di Morel, Crystal Stilts with tears in their eyes, Sandra Bell through a boombox down the hall or any other roundabout way of describing this understated brand of lo-fi Velvets-inspired primitive jangle-pop. This music feels precarious and lightweight, as if the slightest change in the wind’s direction could knock over their amps and send Flowertown home for the day. It might be a little too soft in that regard for my finnicky tastes, particularly as they seem to favor mood and aesthetic over more traditional pop attributes (audible lyrics, earworm hooks or melodies, etc.), but there seems to be a big audience these days for lonely-in-the-city-on-a-rainy-day DIY indie-pop such as this and I’m certain that Flowertown will find it.

Full Of Hell Garden Of Burning Apparitions LP (Relapse)
I love grindcore, but I’ve shied away from much of the current generation – the kids have kind of gotten too good at it, which dampens my experience listening to it, you know? All those pro ‘tudes and Olympic feats of musical dexterity can kill the heart and soul, if you ask me. After that Insect Warfare album dropped in 2007, it almost felt like there was nowhere else for grindcore to go, so righteous and extreme was that album. I hadn’t heard Full Of Hell before, a band I understand that plays big metal festivals and whose t-shirts sell really well, two qualities I don’t look for in my grind. But I’m checking them out now, and I dunno, for as precise and overloaded as these songs are, there’s really no denying the powerful and wretched sounds they’ve got going on here. I’m imagining modern Pig Destroyer collaborating with Sickness or Bloodyminded, as Full Of Hell twist from pummeling metallic grind to impenetrable walls of junk-noise with ease. They’re far from the first act to meld grind and noise, but they mix the styles expertly, allowing the songs to blast with the furious technicality of Devourment while the noise interludes gargle blacktop and defecate broken glass with the quality and craftsmanship of The Rita. Even though a slickness persists in spite of all the harsh and heavy sonics, I don’t find myself minding it… either I’m loosening up, or Full Of Hell are too sick to deny.

Goldblum Of Feathers And Bones LP ((K-RAA-K)³)
No, not Jeff, wiseguy! This Goldblum is comprised of Michiel Klein of Lewsberg and Marijn Verbiesen (aka Red Brut), so if you’re thinking this might be an oddly-catchy form of experimental sound-collage, you hit the nail on the head! It’s certainly got me smiling, as this vinyl debut is often charming, occasionally harsh and always entertaining. Most tracks comprise of some sort of loop, and “A Face Appeared” might be my favorite of those, sporting a heat-warped soft-rock loop ala early Daughn Gibson. A few tracks later, “Fata Morgana” moves from wheezing harmonicas to full-on tape destruction not unlike the master Aaron Dilloway, and that’s followed by another richly down-pitched loop, the self-explanatory “Alpha & The Omega”. Of Feathers And Bones shares partial sonic fingerprints with artists like Neutral, Dirty Beaches, O$VMV$M, Severed Heads, Monokultur and Glands Of External Secretion, which is the sort of fantasy playlist that might finally lure me to Spotify if I knew they were offering it over there. Goldblum have graced us with another twisted exploration of old music made new and new noise that sounds old, and it’s a stellar specimen at that.

Gotou Gotou LP (Inu Wan Wan)
Hot post-punk alert! Or perhaps extremely cold post-punk alert is more appropriate, as I can practically see my breath indoors while spinning Gotou’s debut. They’re a trio from Sapporo, Japan, and their sound is both very cool and very cold, but not because of any aesthetically goth signaling so much as the tone, shape and delivery of their songs. Bass usually grounds any rock group, but here’s it’s often the only thing you can hang onto, which works well through their bluntly hypnotic melodies, often little more than a short slide up or down the neck. The drums are rigid and sinewy, the guitar scrapes like a skeleton’s hand across a window, and the vocals are appropriately disaffected and urgent – sung mostly in their native Japanese, I may not understand a word but I certainly feel what they’re trying to communicate. The label references Mania D and Malaria! as bearers of similar sounds, and while I agree with that assessment, I’m also reminded of The Xx (it’s that spacial distance between guitar and bass used to create the groove) and the early ’80s Japanese no-wave / experimental punk scene. Gotou certainly would’ve fit in amongst RNA Organism, Mad Tea Party and Salariedman Club on the Awa 沫 Foam compilation, which is not to say that they sound like a retro act so much as that their spindly post-punk sounds as fresh today as those luminary post-punk artists still do. Great stuff!

Jean-Luc Guionnet & Will Guthrie Electric Rag LP (Ali Buh Baeh / Editions Memoire)
Yikes! That was my first reaction to the opening moments of Electric Rag by improvisers Jean-Luc Guionnet and Will Guthrie, and incredibly, that sentiment has sustained itself throughout the entirety of this record. This is absolutely magnificent percussion/noise improv, a scalding bath of atonal abrasion and rhythmic dexterity. I truly love it! I’m reminded at times of Aufgehoben’s use of jazzy time signatures deployed via in-the-red explosions, Sightings playing at Orthrelm speed, or Bill Nace if he were attempting to claw his way out of a psychotic grid. Guthrie is the “drummer” and he locks into dazzling patterns of raw and cantankerous percussion, what sounds like crusty bells and shopping carts ramming into each other more than any traditional trap kit. Guionnet plays organs, electronics and saxophone, which is incredible since it often sounds like Hijokaidan’s guitars or walkie-talkie transmissions from the inside of a jet engine. For as harsh and intense as these tracks are, they’re equally as intricate and fascinating and distinctive. An easy year-end top-tenner for me, no doubt about it.

Iris Speah LP (Tax Free)
Gonna air my pet peeve on this one first: I have had it with records that are completely devoid of information on the cover! White-label dubplates aside, if you’re printing a cover, do you just expect it to never be sold in an actual physical record store when you neglect to legibly share the band name, album name, label name or literally anything at all on the cover? I blame Ulla for being the most popular underground artist committing this crime today. Anyway, this one comes from Iris, a project of presumably European origin that I know nothing about, but as far as the music is concerned, it’s a deeply satisfying trip. This group (or person?) goes in a deeply bent, organic krautrock improv mode and the resulting series of tracks are tickling my eardrums nicely. I’m hearing plenty of Mike Cooper’s exotica-ambient (there are a variety of acoustic-sounding guitars here), the freak-folk outer-zone of artists like Jackie O Motherfucker and No Neck Blues Band, and the most uncommercial Conny Plank endeavors (there are enough weird synthetic bubbles popping to conjure images of Moebius and Plank giggling behind a massive mixing board). Can-like rhythms pop up from time to time as well, though I feel like, for better or worse, Speah answers the question of “what if there was an instrumental Animal Collective record that was really really good?”. I’m simply full of gripes, yet Speah continues to choogle my blues away.

King Woman Celestial Blues LP (Relapse)
It’s a striking image on the cover of Celestial Blues: King Woman bandleader Kristina Esfandiari alone in a black void with long fetish gloves, a lit cigarette and bloody wounds from the presumed removal of her angel wings. If you told me in 2001 that this was a new rival character to be introduced in the next season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I would believe you, which I dig! However, that sort of over-the-top camp doesn’t extend to the music of Celestial Blues, which sticks pretty close to the understood intersection of doom-metal and shoegaze. Picture Metallica’s “The Unforgiven” as performed by Asunder, coat it in the brooding emotional murk of heavy shoegaze and voila. It’s a trusty aesthetic with lots of eager fans, no doubt. The personality of the cover shot offers a splash of colorful camp to what is otherwise kind of a monotonous sound, no matter if the band is rolling through an aggressive denouement or slowly strumming an acoustic guitar as the smoke clears – the mood remains static throughout. If it seemed like King Woman truly believed vampires and angels and demogorgons existed, and they wrote their music accordingly, I’d probably find myself fully committed, but for now they’re just alright.

J. Lansdowne J. Lansdowne LP (AD)
Y’all like stoner rock? If so, I can’t imagine you’ll have any problems with J. Lansdowne’s debut; in fact, I think you might find it to be a suitable trip through the storied land of weed smoke and blues riffs. This is highly simplistic and highly satisfying music, strongly reminiscent of Nebula’s slower material, Purling Hiss at their most Black Sabbath-on-Vertigo sounding, and Flower Travellin’ Band lying down on the couch. Lansdowne and pals (he’s got a drummer and an occasional second guitarist as he handles guitar, bass and vocals) laid this one down on a Tascam 388 and it sounds positively crispy. Each instrument thuds along with the factory grime of Crushed Butler, and the guitar solos are extended, plentiful and never too out of control… there are moments where it feels like Lansdowne may have contemplated rocketing into High Rise’s orbit but it never reaches that level of wanton speaker assault. Honestly, these riffs must’ve been played a million times by a million people by now, but I’ll be damned if they don’t sound exceptionally good, right here right now, played by little ol’ J. Lansdowne down there in Atlanta.

Low Hey What LP (Sub Pop)
Seems like everyone and their mother loves Low these days, doesn’t it? I haven’t peeped these “slow-core” legends since the early ’00s or so; I was kinda turned off by the whole Christian thing (let’s face it, Low would be notably cooler as a Satanic band), but I could no longer deny the praise heaped upon them and peeped Hey What. Turns out everyone wasn’t wrong – this is a cool album! Definitely a weird one, too… the guitars are massive, and edited in such interesting and weird ways, big throbs of guitar looped or reversed or chopped up in brutalist fashion, heavy and melodic and an unusually appropriate base for Low’s gospel-esque vocal harmonizing. So much post-rock feels rote and ho-hum, but Hey What strikes me as an album that truly fits the genre tag, as Low’s music transcends genre tropes into highly original territory without the expense of becoming inscrutably experimental or unlistenable. If you played me a snippet of this album back in 2001 and told me this is what radio rock was going to sound like twenty years in the future, I would’ve believed you, as this album is both accessible and artistic, like the best possible result one might get from searching “interesting new music” on Totally appreciate what they’re doing, even if I can’t help but think they’d sound so much sicker if they switched out their church-like vocals for some gnarly Layne Staley impersonator instead. Maybe their next record? Maybe I am he?

Roadhouse Supernatural XS LP (Sophomore Lounge)
A-ha! I figured out that Roadhouse is none other than Sophomore Lounge head honcho Ryan Davis, which explains why this is the second Roadhouse album on the label in as many months to cross my desk. More labels should sign record deals with themselves! Anyway, the first Roadhouse album was more of a beat-driven affair, albeit one clearly crafted in the woodshed out back, and Supernatural XS follows with even less dedication to what anyone could rightfully call “dance music”. This plays out more like a curious romp through Davis’s hearty selection of gear, moving from synthesized beats to sample-collages and straight-up freaky keyboard plinking – “Nude Descending A Fire Escape” sounds like something that’d soundtrack a crude Looney Tunes short, for instance. I prefer the tracks that seem to have taken a little more effort, as Roadhouse displays a knack for folding loops on top of each other like a tasty submarine sandwich, each layer complimenting the other. The eventual acid squiggle that appears in “Bangin’ With The Ancients”, for example, has me imagining Jamal Moss writing music for release on Load Records. Who knows what next month’s Roadhouse LP will be like!

Tara Clerkin Trio In Spring 12″ (World Of Echo)
In Spring is such a classic jazz album title, one that fits this sprightly four-song EP of Bristol’s finest avant-jazz-pop purveyors. Their 2019 debut was a sweet revelation of art-pop composition through today’s post-everything lens, and these four songs follow nicely, piano-led minimalist groves of sound. Understated looping locks “Done Before” into motion; low-temp cello and unfurling woodwinds are reminiscent of both Steve Reich and Arthur Russell without feeling out of place next to The Raincoats or fellow younger-generation Wire magazine darlings Still House Plants as well. Very talented players at work here, as clearly evidenced by the inventive piano lines, trip-hop beats and dubbed vocals of “Night Steps”, which feels like a collision of Portishead and This Heat onto a pile of pillows. It has the same dreary British feel found in Burial and Young Echo, but sunlight is bursting through these cracks, mostly in the form of Clerkin’s soft and floaty vocals. They seem to really push their music forward, experimental in the sense of “strikingly interesting new musical combinations delivered by skillful musicians” rather than “crazy weirdness for crazy weirdness’s sake”. Recommended!

Terminal Bliss Brute Err/ata 12″ (Relapse)
In case you were wondering what the guys in Page 99 and City Of Caterpillar were up to, I’m sure some of them are craft-beer-loving dads on the couch at this point, but not all of them! Four of them comprise Richmond’s Terminal Bliss, who debut on Relapse with Brute Err/ata, sounding very much like a spastic hardcore band who knows what the hell they’re doing. It’s a frantic maelstrom of riffs, breakdowns, feedback-y interludes and throaty screams, as wild and fast-moving as Failures and Repos at their most energetic. I’d imagine there’s plenty here to be enjoyed by fans of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Converge as well, not because Terminal Bliss particularly resemble those other groups musically (they’re definitely dirtier/punker) but because they deliver their songs in a similar fashion: the moment you think you can slap your thigh along to a hardcore gallop, they’ve dropped to a quarter-time doom dirge, and before you can fully extend your arms in riff appreciation, they crack into a three second chaotic breakdown before the song is over. Pretty cool that these guys are almost certainly in their 40s, but playing crazier hardcore than they did in their 20s. Let this be a lesson to us all – there is a path to old age in underground music that doesn’t involve buying synths!

Vains You May Not Believe In Vains But You Cannot Deny Terror 7″ (Dirty Knobby)
At first, I thought the fine folks at Dirty Knobby were making up for the fact that they missed my birthday this year and sent me an original copy of the Vains 7″, a Seattle Killed By Death classic. Sadly not, but they did reissue the sucker in true-to-form fashion, a move as normalized in this era as releasing new punk records. Not a bad choice though, I’ll say that: Vains were snotty teenage punks to the max, and they deliver their frustrated delinquency with panache – if you are into local-level first-wave punk, this sole Vains single should either be on your want list or your shelf. Plus, it’s cool that guitarist/vocalist Criss Crass went on to drum for The Muffs, and dare-I-say cooler that the bassist was none other than Duff McKagan, who famously went on to play bass for The Fartz a year later. Then he apparently wrote a memoir, but how much is there to really say about The Fartz? Guess I’ll steal it from Barnes and Noble and find out… it’s what Vains would have wanted.

Variát I Can See Everything From Here LP (Prostir)
Perfect for the autumnal season, here comes the Ukrainian artist Dmytro Fedorenko and his Variát project. It’s kinda like dungeon-synth without the synth, if that makes sense? In place of any obvious keyboards comes bass guitar in an extremely heavyweight form, often bristling at the edges with digital distortion and speakers vibrating beyond their capacity. They’re not riffs so much as sustained brutal notes, somewhat in the school of Swans, though I’m also reminded of Leda’s avant heavy metal repetition and the rich depths of sonic sludge that Black Mayonnaise liked to trawl through. I think there’s also some sort of occult vibe happening with I Can See Everything From Here – that sure is one scary eyeball on the cover – but I’m generally kind of oblivious to the mystical dark arts or black magic or whatever. In a horror movie, I’d probably be the first one to go, that random non-believer who disappears before things barely get started. When it comes the deep ominous drift and poisonous klang of Variát, however, I’m happy to stay put for the full duration.

Warmer Milks Soft Walks 2xLP (Sophomore Lounge)
It’s a trip, being around for both the initial and subsequent-reissue phase of certain bands and scenes, such as this, Warmer Milk’s sprawling 2008 Soft Walks now on double LP with an attractive gatefold sleeve. Warmer Milks were an outlier among outliers, operating loosely in the noise scene but certainly not sounding like Mouthus or Double Leopards or Mammal, whose Animal Disguise label first released Soft Walks on compact disc. They were undoubtedly doing their own thing at the time, a thing that has only gotten progressively trendier since 2008, one where indie-rockers take their time through extended Americana jams with nods to The Grateful Dead and The Burrito Brothers instead of Pavement and Guided By Voices. One could easily point toward Neil Young or Will Oldham in Warmer Milks’ sound here, but unlike so many of the one-guy-in-a-cowboy-hat bands that have followed them, Warmer Milks seem to be deep in a world of their own discovery, as opposed to rehashing classic Crazy Horse moves for the appreciation of younger generations. They’ll throw a stately rock groove up against a swirly sitar experiment (or the eventual manic computer noise that arrives halfway through “The Turth” (sic)), and not because a good portion of their audience was also buying Prurient records but because that’s simply how they felt like doing it in the fertile valleys of Kentucky.

Z.B. Aids Gestalt LP (Bruit Direct Disques)
Yup, “Z.B. Aids”… your guess is as good as mine with that! This artist has multiple other aliases, some human sounding and others clearly not, but the one thing I’ve been able to confirm is that they used to be in Minitel, a French deconstructed noise-rock group who released a 7” on Bruit Direct what seems like a lifetime ago. (I loved that record!) So chalk this one up to French synth solo-project weirdness, presumably working with one of those inscrutable live tabletop setups of tiny fancy synths, rudimentary boxes of electronics and a guitar that stays unplugged for basically the whole duration. Patterns emerge in Gestalt, but rarely in any sort of organized formula… a warbling chase-scene arpeggio might drown out a ring-tone, only to have some other warped transmission butt up to the front of the speakers, and then, what do you know, the whole thing devolves/evolves into a fairly rudimentary acid-house track, if only for a few minutes. This sort of electronics-derived techno-noise has been filling my record shelves for years now, and while I continue to enjoy it, the standouts have become fewer and further between, as things usually tend to go. I’m perfectly content listening to Z.B. Aids’s aimless, semi-psychotic experimental electronic music this very night, but I’m not certain I’ll recall it in the morning.