Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Week: Day 5, Soundtracks

I used to date a girl who would say, 'I could probably watch horror movies, if it weren't for the music,'. Got my wheels spinning on the importance of music and sound-design in horror and thriller movies. Atonal strings, to build the tension, to alert you to the fact that someone is probably about to bite it. Heavy breathing and first person POV, to let you know (or at least think) that a psycho is watching the character, who is probably about to bite it.
Truth of the matter is horror movie soundtracks have a lot of qualities that i like in any ol' music, which is to say it is dark, demented, and generally fucked up. And they can get away with being totally unrestrained and over the top, which is something many, say Metal, bands just can't pull off, without being cheesy as fuck. So its nice to sometimes lay the atmospherics on thick, to know, "i am listening to horror music," and that is okay.
So i've pulled together some odds and ends, certainly not definitive, but most of which is damn fine. Hopefully, if yr anything like me, you don't just pull these goodies out a week out of the year, cuz yr not gonna get through this list in the next two days. Unless yr a real freak, in which case, i like you.
Included here, you will find yr standard, 'creepy music, interspersed with dialog from the movie,' as well as straight orchestral scores. You will find creeky haunted house tunes, vintage '80s synthesizer blasts, as well as a some vintage bloopy sci-fi, just to cover all the bases. I think you will find that all the examples i have provided stand up on their own, whether you've seen the movie or not, and are not pure schlock novelty.
Of the batch, probably my favorite is The House of the Devil OST, which has more eerie atmospheric piano pieces than you can shake an inverted crucifix at, with a second runner up going to the Phantasm OST, which is surprisingly listenable. Noteworthy also is the classic Goblin soundtrack to Romero's 1978 Dawn of the Dead, and i am also including the music that got used in the worldwide distribution, which i've not heard yet, but will probably rule.
I hope yr having a good Halloween week, and enjoying the treats i've been putting up here.


Fri the 13th part 1

Phantasm OST

House of the Devil OST

Goblin version
Incidental Music (unreleased)

The Terminator (definitive edition)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Forbidden Planet

The Wicker Man

Carnival of Souls

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Week: Day 3, Concerts

One of my ultimate favorite Halloween traditions is to go out and see live music. Seems to really embrace the ritualistic nature of the day, for me, harness it with the collective will of hundreds or thousands of fellow participants. A kind of mass ritual. With the trimmings and trappings of phantasmagoric costumes, the frequent presence of drugs and sex, (for those that are into that kind of thing,) and the volume and SWEAT that accompanies rock'n'roll/rave/wherever you happen to be, its no wonder that this is like my Pagan Christmas/New Years. The ultimate Release.
Not to mention the fact that most musical acts are moved by the ambience that hangs in the air, and a lot of the time, you get shows that are DARK and HEAVY as hell. My favorite.
Halloween is also a significant anniversary in my life, had a number of life altering events occuring on and around these days. So it tends to call up a lot of memories, along with the typical childhood nostalgia aspect, all of which makes for a heady brew that can be channeled into a magickal snowball and flung at whatever. Probably the most significant, as in life-altering, event of my life was when i got married in Las Vegas on 10.31.98, coming up on 12 years ago. The marriage itself didn't go well, but the wedding was a fucking blast. Seeing Phish play at the Thomas and Mack Arena was my honeymoon.
Almost as influential as my rapidfire descent into poverty and adulthood, and eventual divorce and all the other craziness that was to follow, was this was the auspicious day when i was to become a Velvet Underground devotee, the band wearing VU's 'Loaded' as their musical costume that night. I was blown away by the druggy/poppy atmosphere of the record, mixed with the dark magick of the night and the sensory overload of being in Las Vegas, hooked me immediately and left me a drooling, slavering convert, of which i remain to this day.
So my secret alterior motive for this post, which is one i've been harboring in my heart for a while, is to contend the fact that PHISH IS A GOOD BAND. A fucking great one, as a matter of fact. I will probably not win any converts on this contention, but i want this to be the kind of place that really embraces contradiction and paradox, that shuns posing and posturing and the popular opinion. I really and truly love a lot of fucking hippy music. They are great fucking musicians (though not perfect, and prone to excess and lack of discretion or self-editing or restraint.)
My years following and listening to Phish have probably been the most influential on my listening habits and musical taste, to date. One way or another, i ended up getting into, because of this band: Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead, My Bloody Valentine, Pavement, Tom Waits, and the universe of improvised music, such as jazz.
So today, i am posting all of Phish's musical costumes, over the years. The White Album, Quadrophenia, Remain in Light, Loaded, and Exile on Main Street. I think every one of these shows is utterly amazing, and well worth checking out. I was gonna post some other bands playing on Halloween, but i ran out of time.
A bit of a long shot, but if anyone reading this happens to have a copy of Spiritualized playing at the Metro in Chicago on 10.31.01 and cared to share, you would have my eternal gratitude. I do believe there are copies floating around, somewhere, and that was one of the most magickal Halloweens i've experienced so far.
This year, unfortunately, i don't think i'm getting into anything too wild and crazy. I'm pretty introspective, at the moment, and there's nothing too mind-blowing going on, and i've got some financial considerations to take care of, so it may be a contemplative one for me, this year.

Part 1
Part 2

Part 1
Part 2

Part 1
Part 2

Part 1
Part 2

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Week: Day 2, This One's for the Spooky Kids

Here's something a little more, whimsical, after yesterday's harrowing horror-fest.
When i was a kid, i wanted to listen to records like these all year long. I requested this haunted house record in June, last day of school, and was looked at like i'm insane. Those records are only for one day a year, heralded with black and orange crepe paper. I beg to disagree, citing a well-known Ministry anthem whose name i will not speak.

The Chilling, Thrilling Sounds... sets the mold for a particular type of novelty record; one side of spooky, campfire tales, one side of foley sound effects, for yr own insidious purposes. It is pretty much the pinnacle of the form, but i am also including a number of emulators, sold out of the back of Monster magazines in the early '60s.

The other style featured here are straight up spooky tales, a number of classics from Masters like Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allen Poe, one even narrated by the virtuoso of horrific voice-over, Vincent Price. I am happy to report that a number of these stand up on their own, even outside of the calendar date, featuring, well, good writing! Ambrose Bierce's An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge is classic haunted Americana, even if it seems hackneyed in retrospect, having been cited and ripped off so often. It was also a real pleasure to re-discover The Fall of the House of Usher, which i probably haven't read since early adolescence. The reading by Richard Taylor is highly effective, with some sweet atmospheric music that i would probably listen to on its own.

One of the real treasures of this post is an album called Drop Dead! An Exercise of Horror by Arch Oboler, who was a long time actor and producer of a radio program called Lights Out!, which is also excellent and may show up here at some point, especially if y'all are interested, and this particular artifact is quite frankly, fucked up, especially considering the year of its origin. Its only real stumble is the last track, the morality play of The Laughing Man, but it was typical of the day to use science-fiction to point out that we're blowing ourselves up and poisoning ourselves.

I've had a blast listening to these all day. Pull out yr flashlights and stick 'em under yr chin. Sit in a circle, with only a candle for illumination. Shun the years of cynicism, and let the adrenaline rush of creaking doors and chains thrill yr senses!

oh ps... you should check this Folktellers record, its an excellent collection of American ghost tales.

Photobucket Drop Dead! back Drop Dead! An Exercise in Horror

Fright! Fright!

Terror! Terror!

Horror! Horror!

Nightmare Nightmare

The Haunting The Haunting

Thrillers and Chillers Thrillers and Chillers

a coven of witches A Coven of Witches' Tales

Tales of Horror and Suspense Tales of Horror and Suspense

The Folktellers The Folktellers - Chillers

Chilling thrilling sounds Thrilling Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House

oh pps.. you should really check those ray taylor poe readings! Utterly psychotropic, and the nearly free-jazz freakout guitar of The Pit and the Pendulum sounds like it could've been played by Derek Bailey, and must be heard to be believed!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Week: Day 1, Helloween Holocausts

So were are reaching the culmination of my favorite time of year, when the Autumn is romantic and reminiscent, kind but still spooky, before it grows icy claws and devours all its young. Obviously, Halloween is the peak of this season, and its my favorite day of the year, sort of like Christmas and New Year's Eve and my Birthday all rolled into one. So, this week, i will be commemorating the occasion, posting many goodies to soundtrack yr haunted houses, bobbing for apples, getting dressed up for bacchanalia, and generally celebrating the pagan gods.
So for starters, i bring you 4 slabs of quality Wolf Eyes, their Helloween Holocausts series, released on the American Tapes label. Full of scrapes, squeaks, and rumbles, ominous synth and macabre piano, maniacal laughter and incomprehensible whispering; this is truly TERRIFYING music as only the Wolf Eyes crew can do it. Its like being stalked by an unstoppable killing machine, at night. Its like holing up over night at the Evil Dead cabin. Its the sudden, depressing revelation that human life is fragile and insignificant.
Utterly badass, for those that like this kind of thing.

4 discs, 2.7 hours of terror. Enjoy.

Helloween Holocausts 1

Helloween Holocausts 2
Helloween Holocausts 3 & 4

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Songs from the Road

Greetings, all. I am happy to report that i have returned, safe and happy (albeit missing a couple of teeth), from my pilgrimage to Zion National Park, outside of Springdale, UT, pictured at left, and YES, it actually does look like that! Very ruminative and reflective, staring out the window at primordial views, daydreaming Stegosaurus stomping 'cross mesas, drilled down in my headphones; thinking, planning, remembering.
I made a special point to take a copy of J Spaceman's Guitar Loops. Released in 2005, i procured a copy from the much lamented Oink!, and was loaded on my very first iPod, received in the mail 2 hours before i fucked off and abandoned my life, heading off to Northern California to embrace uncertainty and live as a nomadic hippie. I was a bonafide noisenik then, falling down the dark craggy crevices of psych-folk, power-noise, blissed-out shoegaze. This stuff had recently become much more accessible, and all the names i had seen in print danced to life between my ears, really truly a dream come true.
I first heard Guitar Loops careening through Colorado on an amtrak, shell-shocked, staring out the window, silent and heart-broken, soul-sick and looking for some answers. I was going to the ocean. I was trying to start over.
4 years down the line, and in some ways, i am much less broken, much more optimistic, but in other ways i am still very much fucked up, full of self-doubt. Remembering the shattered shell i was when last i heard this record provided some contrast, and set me on fire to continue to spread my wings, and surpass my dark past.
Guitar Loops is 35 minutes of guitar noise, recorded in one take in 2005. Impressive in the scope of sounds Mr Pearce can draw from the six-string beast, the closest resemblance i can find is of gamelan music, a majority of the disc dedicated to springy tintinnabulation, eventually giving way to motorik drones, great mechanical beasts dancing. Powerful tones that massage yr synapses, fuzzy warm and human. Bursts of glitch switch things up, keep things moving, not static, always keeps you on yr toes. The best thing i can say for this disc is i truly don't know how he manages to get these sounds from a guitar. Its a mystery. In a day and age when it seems like you've seen it all, done it all, along comes a master manipulator of sound, to show you you haven't seen ANYTHING YET. Highly recommended.
But the ultimate winner for this trip was the self-titled from The Donkeys, a band from San Diego that plays a sprawling mixture of country-rock, doomed folk, and straight-up indie rock. Faded and comfortable as worn denim, this band seems to embody the wide-open possibilities of desert landscape, while also getting at its dark underbelly. Alternately reminiscent of the ghost of Gram Parsons, singing down a telephone-line, classic Rolling Stones (Come on Virginia), Matt Elliot (Paisley Patterns), and classic guitar indie-rock like Pavement, old, good Death Cab for Cutie, or early My Morning Jacket (Lower The Heavens). Melting-pot Americana that beautifully illustrates the amazing contradictions but underlying cohesiveness of this country and its music, and makes it fulfilling for a number of moods. You can listen to this album over and over, and find new and thrilling revelations every time. I tend to skip over my record collection like a smooth stone over a still pond, and i've been listening to this album over and over, totally loving it. That's the highest possible recommendation i can give.

I've been having a great time writing reviews and getting this site running again, so please let me know what you think, leave requests, make comments, and continue to spread amazing music. Y'all rule!

Guitar Loops

The Donkeys

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birchville Cat Motel - Cranes are Sleeping

As requested, here's Cranes are Sleeping, released in 2000 on LP via Thurston Moore's exquisite Ecstatic Peace label. First time i've heard this, but seems to be more focused on squealing feedback, tension and release than on six string rumblings, verging on power-noise oscillator fondling. Possibly along the lines of a very restrained Merzbow or Kevin Drumm.
The opener, Airlike Metal Web, is almost unbearably tense, like a Bernard Hermann string crescendo drawn out nigh on 9 minutes long, only to unleash An Emperor's Second Ascent, which sounds like a swarm of robotic bats swooping down to pick out yr eyeballs. No respite there. Sex Layer Cake sounds like a cyborg mammoth emerging from a tarpit; hypnotic, chugging, powerful, distraught. Some vintage power-squealing going on here. So far, this is the most Power-Electronics record i've heard Campbell Kneale do yet, who tends to focus on syrupy codeine-infused guitar washes. Sort of cool to see him get down, and who doesn't like to make a power noise record, now and again? One interesting thing, is without the entire bass-frequency range spoken for with viscous ooze, there's more room for subliminal rattlings and shakings, giving the impression of live electro-improv jams going on in his fabled shed, after the fam's gone to bed.
The title track seems a bit more organic, with some seemingly string manipulation going on, and is more mournful than the rest. Gives the sensation of a chorus of sirens crying out warning, beating, phasing and distorting in the early morning ear, occasionally interspersed with garbled loudspeaker admonitions. The final track, Love, Lies, Bleeding, is short and sweet, a mere 2 and a half minutes, and sounds like a nursery rhyme, if you were lying in a kiddy pool full of jello. Serene and sort of creepy. Overall, this record is more concise than other BCM albums, 5 tracks most around 8 to ten minutes long. No 40 minute long burners here. This is definitely a unique addition to Campbell Kneale's staggeringly huge ouevre, and shows that he's no one-trick pony. So one final note, is that i will be on the road the next couple of days, going to explore the mighty prehistoric landscapes of Utah's Zion National Park, but i've got several items queued up to explore on the road. So, in the meantime, explore some of the back catalog here, have a nice work week, and i'll see you this weekend!

Birchville Cat Motel - Cranes are Sleeping

Monday, October 18, 2010

Birchville Cat Motel

i've been listening to New Zealand's Birchville Cat Motel, one of the solo projects of one Campbell Kneale, for about 4 hours now, putting off food and other physical necessities, which is sadly not all that unusual for me, resulting in a form of hypnagogic hyper-lucidity, slightly weak but nerves a-blaze, susceptible to the low-end mantras, pyrochastic-flow guitar, ritualistic percussion and harmonium, and elevating found-sounds. A real drift. Astral travel behind closed eyes.
At first, the pummeling repetition of listening to a noise/drone artist's catalog for extended periods of time can seem grating, boring and repetitive, shrill, piercing, drilling. But once i've settled in, and accepted the sounds as part of the audio environment, it seems perfect, immutable, and i feel BCM's music is best experienced as an immersive experience, a portable temple, slipped into at will. Its like stepping into the inner-world of someone who lives on the other side of the world, and is endlessly badass, in this writer's opinion.
Lately, with the changing of the seasons, and subtle tectonic rumblings going on in my psyche, i've rediscovered my blood-thirsty devotion to ritualistic drone and ambient music, playing records for hours on end as i read or sleep. I'm also psyching myself up to begin releasing solo guitar excursions of my own, so i have been seeking inspiration and guidance. And i'm always struck with extreme gratitude; discovering BCM, Skullflower, Yellow Swans, the list goes on, from the very first moment this music seemed perfect, and something i stumbled upon arbitrarily. It still seems special and holy.
The 3 discs are comprised of a variety of live performances, from all over the globe. A decent microcosm of the Birchville style, and often impressive that they are able to reproduce this cacophany live. Soothing and meditative, at times, but in a sensory overload kind of way. Like bathing in a blood-warm bath of corn syrup, an amniotic sensation that is typical of this type of BLISSdrone. There seems to be a sense of optimism, hopefulness, humanity, imbued in this music, that is one of the things that i really appreciate, and oftentimes go to rather than the more dystopian, bleak/suicidal tone of more of the power-noise/experimental industrial types. Like a ray of light, streaking through smoke. Utterly psychedelic, and there's some destructive tendencies, SURE, we will not turn our faces from the darkness, but we will not fail to see the light, either. Rituals for resurrecting a bruised spirit, for calling up winged godforms from our own subconsciousness, to heal all wounds, to grace limbs and minds and tongues with fire. Music for the struggle. Music for the march.
In short, good shit, that i think more people should hear, and thats why i do this thing.

Birchville Cat Motel - Second Curved Surface Destroy
disc 1
disc 2
disc 3

Friday, October 15, 2010


In the spirit of the season, i present Knive by Svarte Greiner, aka Erik K. Skodvin, half of Nordic duo Deaf Center. A glorious rumble-and-scrape of a record, warm vinyl pops and clicks interspersed with microphone manipulations, field recordings, and acoustic instruments. Self-described as 'Acoustic Doom', the instruments, squeak, squeal, and whine, as disembodied divas moan heartbreakingly while carrion birds wheel and call out overhead. With track names like 'Easy on the Bones,' 'An Ordinary Hike,' and 'The Black Dress', this is real witchy ambient music, for the dead of night, when hope seems hours away.
It is encouraging to hear the marriage of modern minimalism, the type championed by Type records, on which this was released, with honest-to-goodness electro-acoustic works, that provides some grit, some tangibility, in a style that is oftentimes hyper-clean and overtly clinical. Its greatest strength is a sense of miniature dramas, the behind-closed-eyes cinematic quality that is often promised but rarely delivered upon. Or maybe its just i wouldn't want to watch those movies. So fans of Bohren and Der Club of Gore, Deaf Center, heart-wrenching b movies, and all afficianados of menace and gloom, give this one a spin. It will provide candy for your imagination.

Knive @ 320 kbps

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

bonfires on the heath

tues. morning. raining again. i seem to be inspired to write when it rains. i am trying to jump-start productivity. disturbing dreams of disapproving family members.
i thoroughly enjoy The Clientele's Bonfires of the Heath. For a while, i lost patience/interest, finding them over-produced and over-blown, and at that time, i had no interest in '70s lite-rock. But i felt this album was a return to the strengths they had cultivated on their first couple of albums, where i well and truly loved this band, thought they were something really special. I was disappointed when i heard murmurings that they were gonna call it quits after Bonfires. Apparently, these vicious rumours have not proven to be true, as they have a new one primed to drop, Minotaur.
IThis is perfect Oct. music, with dripping, leaden skies and technicolor leaves, crisp cedar-smoke air, gentle breezes, alternately warm and eerie. Time for reflection, when memories resurface with a vengeance. A time to walk around, smoke, think, listen to music. A last hurrah before the indoors introversion of winter.
The Clientele are all about memory. Long lost AM radio memories, before cynicism sets in. This music can dissolve decades of callousness, if you let it. Its heartfelt and gentle, full of gorgeous imagery and melodies. The guitar playing is sharp and tasty, and the horn stabs are a tasteful addition, not overdone. This is a band playing to their strengths, not trying to reinvent the wheel. Doing what they do best; beautiful, mellow heart-felt melodies. Far-away, dreamy, introverted, thoughtful. Reminscent. The title track, Bonfires on the Heath, is a classic and worth the price of admission.
I give you... (have a nice tuesday)...

The Clientele - Bonfires on the Heath

Sunday, October 10, 2010

unexpected. . .

Good things come from weathering stormy seas, or the power of positive thinking...
So this space here has been sadly sleeping for a while. I trust you've all had a good summer? There are a number of pertinent reasons for this:
1. i was having a good summer myself, actually MAKING music, which is why i began this rampage in the first place.
2. For the life of me, i could not upload a single thing, leaving me to gather others' crumbs, like a sneaky ninja mouse.

I wanted to do something unique and personal here, to help expose others to music they may not have encountered, and to share some of my views on life et al. I DO NOT want this project to be another "look at my excellent record collection and adulate me" (although at times i do succumb to that temptation.)
My laptop died a couple of weeks ago. I was forcibly expelled into a wonderful Colorado autumn, forced to rediscover friends, live music, inspiring landscapes. To stop living in abstraction, to take a stand and DO something, in this world. Rediscovering the joy of reading books, and subsequently back to the thrill of spilling language. Not just another daydream, kids, the only life we get.
It is a rainy Sun. night, and the music is chosen almost arbitrarily, a fresh upload to test the connection, Times of Hayfield by Andrew Chalk. I've been grooving on this guys' somnobelent vibes for a couple of years now, something otherworldly, seemingly eternal, but with a more humanistic, dare i say emotional thread, than many new New Age dronesters. This one's full of lulling melodies, 8 tracks of heavenly drift. At times sounding like a warm cat, asleep on the bass keys, at times sounding like a snowy aspen forest; good music for imagination, for quiet conversation. An antidote for hyper-text hyper-speed Modern Information Age.
Slow down, and smell the cedar smoke. Its good to be back.

Time of Hayfield