Tuesday, 24 November 2015

2015 RAP

Houston's Beatking and Atlanta's Young Thug have just released another quality album each. For me right now there are four rappers who stand out from the pack Young Thug, Kevin Gates, Future and of course Beatking. I love me Lils too ie. Boosie, Duke, Durk & Herb. HBK, MPA and Sauce people are real good too. It's hard to leave out the perennially underrated Starlito. Then there's Gangsta Boo, Youngs Dolph & Scooter, Zuse, RJ, Choice and a bunch of others. One thing I'm way not getting is the Awful Records roster. Every artist on this label seems to get a great critical response with every album they issue and yet I couldn't name you one that I thought was any good and I've listened to at least half of Awful's catalogue. Some things are for other people I guess, people not like me.

Those 4 aforementioned rappers are just several notches higher than the rest at the moment. Kevin Gates usually has the best quality control of these four but he's only released one short mixtape this year Murder For Hire that was a bit hard to handle as the djs were a bit overbearing, smothering Kev's idiosyncratic tunes. So really apart from those 7 tracks so far we've only got 4 tunes that are slowly trickling out of i-tunes from his LP Islah which now has a release date for 2016. What's goin on Kev? We were getting two quality albums/mixtapes for the last three years running and that was an unsurpassed winning streak for recent rap. Perhaps I should give Murder For Hire another chance. So 2015 has been a tad disappointing for Gates fans after those previous three years. I don't read gossip columns so maybe I'm missing something like record company troubles, parole violations, legal issues, personal problems - possibly all of the above. Of the remaining 3 it's hard to say who's on top. Thugga and Beatking have released 3 albums/mixtapes each in 2015. Young Thug can be a bit erratic while Beatking is very consistent but can be a bit samey so it's a toss up between those two. Future's released 3 albums/mixtapes as well this year but he has the edge I reckon because he did that collaboration with Drake What A Time To Be Alive which is surprisingly good. Anyway it's not football so we can enjoy everyone's season and I'm pretty sure before the year is out Young Thug and Future could have at least one more release left in them each. As Gates says these four guys 'don't get tired.'

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Big Black & Stuff

I used to think this was a top tune/racket, still pretty good innit?. Those Big Black records were good as I recall. The Rapeman album and the first three Shellac 7"s I thought were classics back then, sure I haven't listened to them in years but old Steve had a bit of talent. I couldn't get fully into Shellac's debut album At Action Park so I didn't really follow his work after that. Dog And Pony Show is the outstanding tune I remember from that LP. He did a great job recording, producing, engineering (whatever he used to bloody call it) particularly on that first Breeders LP, Pod and of course Surfer Rosa from The Pixies. He recorded a million bands, most of which are probably not worth listening to. Steve produced some non angry men like Labradford and Low. He even produced a couple of good Australian bands ie. Crow and Dirty Three. One aspect of Albini's personality that really endeared me to him was that he was a huge Wildlife Documentary fan. Rock people didn't say shit like that in the 80s/90s. I thought that was pretty bloody punk or was it anti-punk? It certainly was not cool or in any way fashionable. I also liked Albini's writing. He might have been the reason I first got turned on to Slint's Spiderland as he wrote a review of it in the pages of Melody Maker, I'm pretty sure. He also produced their inferior debut Tweez. Come to think of it I'm pretty sure I read an article that Steve wrote where he went through a bunch of records he'd recorded and he slagged off Surfer Rosa. He was was just being honest, many thought he was a c***. You used to be able to just write what you thought back then and it was ok. Now all these sensitive little kittens would call him a bully or a troll, wankers! I think I'd rather be a c*** than a troll. Trolls just remind me of those stupid little dolls with pink hair.

Anyway enough words have been spilled onto pages about Albini and I'm not trying to get a job at Mojo so the reason he's being discussed here is because there's a recent podcast with a conversation between Albini and Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat and Fugazi. I was having a depressing Sunday and trying to take a nap so I thought 'Why the hell not? This might lull me into sleep'. Funnily enough the only time I ever saw Shellac was when they were supporting Fugazi at The Collingwood Town Hall in Melbourne, perhaps in 93 or 94. Shellac were an incredibly impressive live unit, Fugazi were alright but I think I may have left during their set in search of a pub (no booze at these shows, god even the Puritans loved their booze). This podcast chat is a couple of old geezers reminiscing about the good ole days. One thing I didn't know was that MacKaye had done a project with Al Jourgensen, he of Ministry and immense drug taking fame. So that must have been weird because wasn't MacKaye straight edge? How on earth did they get along? Anyway I've never heard that record by Pailhead....I might check it out....nah I doubt it. Ian and Steve discuss recording, the UK, crashing at people's houses, Chicago, Touch & Go, Wax Trax, a mutual love of Adrian Sherwood, boring shit and there's plenty of arse kissing despite them being occasionally critical of one another. It wasn't as boring as I thought it might have been. I must admit I did nod off towards the end, hey it was long, they are musicians ie. they sometimes make good music but that doesn't mean they're dazzling conversationalists and geez...guess what? It's only part 1 apparently.

Anyway this goes out to Ant, my first blog member who loved his Fugazi back in the day and followed Shellac long after I did. Let me know what part 2 is like as I don't think I'll be downloading that one.

I loved this cover of Supernaut when it came on the radio in 91 but I don't even think I knew it was a Black Sabbath tune at the time. All I'd heard of Sabbath back in 91 was the Paranoid album which I had on a cruddy tape and on the other side was Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates of Dawn. That's a strange combo but I guess they both became beloved by my rock brain. I can't say I was a Ministry fan, like my mates were but this is Jourgensen and co along with Trent Reznor on vocals. Now, I did not know that he was singing on this until yesterday. Is it true? and who really cares? I still like it despite being aware of the Black Sabbath version for like 20 years now. Steve Albini would hate it.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Young Thug - Quarterback

I don't think I posted this before but it's a toss up between this and the previously posted Best Friend for best tune of the year for me I think. Young Thug should do a whole album of tunes with the vibe of those two tracks, that'd be the best LP of the 2010s don't ya reckon? Barter 6, Slime Season 1 & 2 have 53 tracks. I've made a mixtape featuring the best 29 songs from those three releases called 2015 THUG, if he'd released that it would have been an all time classic. Then there's all his features including 5 on Gucci's Brick Factory 3 and that Metro Thuggin mixtape bootleg and so many more I didn't include. You could probably make another classic mixtape of the best of all those, I'm sure I've missed a bunch too. Does anything recorded go unreleased? Beatking on his closing monologue from 3 Weeks calls it 'the mixtape grind'. I kinda don't get it. Do the rap guys feel they have to keep pumping out so much stuff just to remain constantly visible? Anyway over 29 top choonz in a year is pretty bloody impressive. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Tales From The Black Tangle - Howlround

Good old Robin The Fog is back under the Howlround moniker with a terrific new record Tales From The Black Tangle. This one is definitely heading further into the darkness. This LP is engulfed in fog. Foggy drones, foggy playgrounds, foggy cities, foggy horns, foggy radios, foggy sirens, foggy trains in foggy shipyards and foggy miscellaneous sounds all add to the foggy magnificence of this eerie little, shall we say, foggy gem. The foggiest record of the year. Thanks to Foggy Robin and his foggy friend. In a word Foggy.

I didn't think the video was dark or foggy enough, so i turned down the brightness to its lowest, changed the picture quality to its worst and slowed the music by half, fuck that was cool.

Abundance Of Stuff

Well it's been quite a couple of weeks for new releases, a bit like the old days when you didn't know which releases to get because there were so many that you wanted to hear. Now though the ones you don't buy you can just download, I suppose, plus many are free downloads anyway. Beatking and Young Thug releasing new albums/mixtapes in the same week is a good week which ever way you look at it. God I'm still getting my head around Thugga's Barter 6 and the first volume of Slime Season and now we've got Slime Season 2. His new mixtape Slime Season 2 (after only a couple of listens) is quite possibly up there with his two classics Black Portland & 1017 Thug. Young Thug also has a collaboration mixtape with Migos about to drop at any moment plus another official solo LP. He's the new James Brown ie. the hardest working man in show business. Beatking's 3 Weeks is his third album of the year as well and his quality control is usually the highest in the rap game only rivalled by Kev Gates. Beatking has signed with Sony and he made an LP for them in 3 weeks. It's not as dementedly bangin as something like Gangster Stripper Music 2 from last year but he's still funny, profane, non PC and hey it wouldn't be a Beatking release without a version of Kiesha, surely this is the 17th time this tune has turned up, I expect a version on all his albums till he retires now. Is earnestness starting to sneak in to his array of aesthetics though? He may be stupid but Beatking's not dumb so naming this album 3 Weeks feels to me like a disclaimer as it's probably the lesser of his three releases this year. He's letting you know this was chucked together very quickly. Hopefully I'll have some further thoughts on this stuff once my mind has processed it all. Boosie Badazz (some of this sounds outstanding, after one initial listen), Zuse and Amber London have released worthy new material in the rap zones too in the last week or so. Recently Gangsta Boo, Skipper, Ty Dolla Sign and Lil Herb have put out mixtapes worth listening to as well and I reckon I've probably missed a few too.

In electronic zones Rustie creator of possibly the best record of the 2010s (well at least one of the top 9), Glass Swords, has a new album called EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE and it sounds really bloody good compared to last year's disappointing Green Language so that's exciting news as I was ready to write him off. Arca and Mark McGuire have new LPs plus I just discovered Steve Moore's synth soundtrack The Guest that was released earlier this year. That Visionist album Safe still has me transfixed and slightly perplexed as I can't quite pinpoint why I like it so much. Then there's the archival box from Harmonia which I guess is really only of interest as it includes the previously unreleased Documents 1975. I believe this is getting its own separate release which I can't wait for, in fact I'm gonna have to download that right this second I think.

Then I discovered That Bret Easton Ellis does podcasts. I've checked out the episodes with Kim Gordon, Ariel Pink and Doors drummer John Densmore, which are all worth listening to. This guy can talk and then talk some more. Sometimes I wonder if he needs guests at all. His epic intros are gloriously verbose. It's all about Bret and it's fascinating as is his obsession with LA.

Finders Keepers Radio did an excellent Halloween special although their shameless self promotion is starting to wear thin. These guys are obviously massive music fans but business and marketing are starting to cloud their vision slightly.

Last but not least I've discovered the dudes from the legendary but now dead sharity blog Mutant Sounds have started doing podcasts as well. They've done two episodes so far of Mutant Sounds Radio. If you loved the Mutant Sounds blog you'll know what you're getting here ie. Seminal music from subterranean fringe dwellers brought to public consciousness by counter obscurism.

Oh and one last thing......I was going to post this tune last week as I've been getting into the 2003 Ricardo Villalobos LP Alcachofa and then I noticed this has been issued on a 12" recently which is weird. Anyway me love this tune a lot.

This is on the other side of the 12" and is the opening track from Alcachofa and it might even be more awesome than Dexter. Legendary.

Oh then there is more stuff..... this time in Hauntological zones......maybe next time......

Monday, 2 November 2015

Lunatic Asylum Mix

I don't think I've posted this before maybe some blog I frequent has, I dunno, but I only converted this to mp3 today and geez I like. The first half in particular is gloomtastic and the second half is good too in gabbalerous/hard trancemania style. It's all hardcore. All trax are from Dr Macabre aka Renegade Legion aka Lunatic Asylum aka many other monikers. This is rave music for the Apocalypse. When he gives it a bit of kick early on in the set the bass drum is so fucking thick it's awesome. If you're happy when it rains this doomcore will have you in gloomy euphoria. Bring on the end.

This 3 cd set on Megarave Records from 1999 should be in every gloomcore freak's household. It has tunes from all his aforementioned aliases plus a few others like French Connection, Slut Burger, Negative Burn, Micibri and guests Rotterdam Terror Corps. This would be in my top ten single artist compilations of all time, he being Guillaume Leroux a French bloke.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Patrick Cowley - Muscle Up

I was very pleased to see this new release of old stuff. Patrick Cowley's 2013 archival record School Daze was terrific and this one is even better. This is more archival material from the 70s and early 80s. Some of these tunes were used in porn films. How lucky were these film makers who got to use Cowley's compositions in their pornos? I'm pretty sure if Cowley had lived beyond 1982 he would have become a renowned soundtrack composer. Cats Eye opens Muscle Up by setting a strange futuristic tribal atmosphere with haunting piano and very big and ominously slow drums. The Jungle Dream is an incredibly expansive and humid piece of ambience. It comes complete with jungle sounds and a faintly menacing vibe that something is occurring off in the distance. Conjuring thoughts of danger as there maybe some kind of sacrifice ritual taking place behind that next set of trees. Deep Inside You could be a Michael Rother/Neu outtake with its damn fine treated guitar and krautrock pulsations. Somebody To Love Tonight is neon lit night time synth dub for seedy city streets. Pigfoot is a glorious synth jam with classic funky guitar licks. 5th of Funk is some more mental synth funk/cosmic disco action. Don't Ask is a restrained cop show stakeout tune set in a future urban metropolis perhaps what Cowley imagined San Francisco might have been like in 2017, I mean he died over 30 years ago so... By the time we get to Uhura he's getting really out there into the cosmos. Timelink is Berlin School electronics with a didgeridoo which places the outback amongst the infinite stars, incredible stuff. Mockingbird Dream is a sprawling hallucinatory journey that slowly goofs off behind some unknown planet. Best archival release of 2015.

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Horror The Gloom The Doom

Halloween isn't really a thing here in Australia, despite many attempts by consumerist architects to make it so. I hate it when it gets referred to as an American custom as it quite clearly emanated from Celtic tradition and probably has Pagan roots. Anyway it's a good excuse to get out some frightening and gloomy tunes. I could have posted a hundred or more of these doomcore/gloomcore gems but here's just a handful. 

This one from Marc Acardipane is from 2002 but I only discovered yesterday. One World No Future came out after the 90s heyday of doomcore techno but it's damn fine. There's probably still a bunch of artists creating replicas of the genre and trying to keep the faith today, like there are still drum n bass people etc. 

Frozen is an alias for Miro. I think Frozen only did the one EP, Soul Saver, from 1997 where both of these tracks come from. Miro had a bunch of other pseudonyms Stickhead, Reign, Jack Lucifer, Evidence, Hypnotizer and the list goes on. He made many fine records and continues to this day doing minimal, sometimes quite dark, techno under his name Miro Pajic.

This is another 90s bewdy from Miro Pajic under the alias Evidence. This was on his 1999 compilation Hardcore Made In Frankfurt, probably released a few years earlier on 12".

Monday, 19 October 2015

On The Hi Fi - Recent Synth Soundtrax

Loving this. This is Steve Moore from Zombi, the synth-prog group who brought us the top faux electronic soundtrack albums Surface To Air and Spirit Animal in the 00s. If you know those records you'll know what you're getting here. This recording is an actual score to a film though. Cub is a retro-synth soundtrack that's so good it doesn't need to pretend it's anything new. This score is the sound of a man and his synthesiser creating fabulous minimal and spooky analogue sounds not unlike John Carpenter whereas Zombi were more like your full on horror prog rock group along the lines of Tangerine Dream or Goblin. Best soundtrack of 2015?

I missed this one when it came out so if you like your synth horror soundtracks, like the above, this is for you. I have come across two excellent Jeff Grace soundtracks previously 2011's The Innkeepers and The House Of The Devil from 2009. I knew this was more synthy than those aforementioned two scores which were a lot more symphonic but Cold In July while tipping its hat to John Carpenter moves beyond mere cloning of ones influences. Jeff Grace feels like a real contender for the electronic score crown. Cold In July is undeniably a post millennial classic synth soundtrack that makes the terrific and very enjoyable music of Umberto, Zombi, Salisbury & Barrow feel like mere fanboys playing at wanting to be their heroes Moroder, GoblinTangerine Dream etc. Grace was once an assistant to modern soundtrack legend Howard Shore, hinting at what you're getting here (Carpenter meets Shore meets some mysterious new ingredients) and that something more intellectual might be happening here. Grace has made a synthesiser soundtrack his own like no one has really done since the early 80s. Achieving that is no mean feat and should put into perspective his talent and potential. Somehow he puts new textures into the atmospheres of these tracks and adds a new level of sophistication to synth scoring. I hope Grace continues doing electronic soundtracks as I feel he is on the verge of something great within this field. Cold In July is up there with the best recent soundtracks and gives Mica Levi's brilliant Under The Skin from last year a run for its money. This is some serious synth biz and then some.

This slab of synth candy is from 2010 but wasn't released until 2014. Beyond The Black Rainbow is highly rated amongst synthesiser soundtrack aficionados and it doesn't disappoint. Caves is a member of the psych-prog rock group Black Mountain and apparently has another cosmic synth gem under his belt with 2002's The Enchanter Persuaded. Having quite enjoyed what I had heard of Black Mountain on the radio, many years ago, I didn't really know what to expect from this Caves soundtrack but geez it's a real delight. After Umberto released the fantastic Prophesy Of The Black Widow 5 years ago at the height of Not Not Fun's great run of releases, I thought there may not have been any life left in this kind of retro synth gear, how wrong I was. On Beyond The Black Rainbow Caves piles on the tension and cosmic grandiosity. VHS memoradelia and dread fuelled dark ambient are the order of the day here. Eerie intergalactic vistas are intertwined with sprawling cosmic prog workouts to great affect, rejuvenating the spooky sci-fi soundtrack genre. Another bewdy.

This one came out a few months back and passed me by so I'm glad to be catching up with it now. I'm not really sure who Maiovvi is but I know he released an album on Not Not Fun last year and recorded a soundtrack for the 2012 short film Yellow. I totally dig Umberto's four albums of faux horror/sci-fi soundtracks From The Grave, Prophesy Of The Black Widow, Night Has A Thousand Screams and Confrontations. It's been a couple of years since Confrontations so I've been wondering where the hell Umberto have been. Law Unit delves into much darker territory than Umberto's previous Goblin/Carpenter-esque synth confections. Some of it heads into industrial/EBM/dark ambient type zones making it a bit different from past Umberto releases. Still getting my head around this new, harsher direction for Umberto but I guess I have to start looking at it as a collaborative tangent rather than a wholly new look Umberto. Having said that, it's not bad though.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Fragments Of Time Part 2

In the comments box of that last post Simon Reynolds asks 'What do you think of gqom?'

Gqom is a genre originating from Durban, South Africa which is stripped down and rhythmic music designed for the dancefloor that's springy, minimal, raw and funky with elements of tribal house, kwaito, hip hop and broken beat. What I had heard of gqom (a Zulu word meaning drum or hit, I believe) up until today I thought was alright. Then I discovered Rudeboyz and they've got some great trax. In particular I love the below Get Down which is like a Basic Channel tune stuck in a pinball machine but trying to break free, I like a lot. The other great trak is Mitsubishi Song by Rudeboyz member Menchess (3rd tune below). This one's got fabulous tumbling rhythms that bounce around amongst the dark minimalism. The other two tracks are bloody good too. All of these tunes have their own mechanical internal logic that becomes mesmerising, v nice.

The Rudeboyz EP is released on a British label called Goon Club Allstars and is one of the first international releases of this regional style that has barely made it outside of Durban. So far gqom has been an mp3 game and here's a bunch of tunes that Rudeboyz have uploaded for your listening pleasure.