beyond the limits

Death Grips stick their cock in the eye of sony music, release their new album for free, let anyone make money with it, then change their mind about it

Many people wound up on this post through various sources (Death Grips Twitter account, Brooklyn Vegan, Tiny Mixtapes, CorruptFork…). If you’re into weird hip hop, you should also listen to the amazing band Clipping. They are not this week’s epicentre of the Hype, but they do mindblowing music.

Don’t let machiavelian PR schemes fool you, the bear is the actual album cover.

Last february, I was disappointed to learn that Death Grips, a wonderful trio making angry fractured hip hop (with The Magnificent Zach Hill on drums, Andy Morin on keyboards and Stefan Burnett on vocals), had signed a major label deal with Epic/Sony.

Ex-Military Mixtape, their first album, was released under a Creative Commons non commercial licence, allowing people to copy, distribute, display, and build derivative works based on their music, as long as it was for non-commercial purposes. Consequence ? Ex-Military was shared hundreds of thousands of times. It turned Death Grips into one of the most famous indie band taking a real alternative stance on the actual copyright system, acknowledging people’s right to share. AND it is an awesome record.

Download full version of Ex-Military Mixtape (or instrumentals + acapellas version).

Then they signed with a Major. Obviously, it wasn’t just a greedy move (anyone who knows the bands members will agree on this), but rather a “we’ll have big distribution and total control over creativity” blah blah thing. Death Grips stated they would release two albums this year via Epic: The Money Store (last april), and No Love Deep Web (planned this October).

When the Money Store came out, Epic/Sony predictably barred them from using a Creative Commons licence. The band then decided to act naughty: they leaked the album on Youtube anyway, allowed people to download a bunch of tracks, leaked the instrumentals after an incredible hide-and-seek game in the deep internet. Death Grips also are the most legally-downloaded band on BitTorrent in the first half of 2012 (oh my god, 34,151,432 downloads of weirdo hip hop noise music). The Money Store truly is an amazing piece of music, but the whole album wasn’t released under a Creative Commons licence, so legally people weren’t allowed to share all the tracks, remix it, etc.

However, it seems the honeymoon between Death Grips and Epic is officially over.
Death Grips tweeted today “The label wouldn’t confirm a release date for NO LOVE DEEP WEB ’till next year sometime. The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you”.

Ten hours later, they released their new album for free. Tons of websites have already reported it, but it seems only a few (i say “a few” because i’m polite, i actually read nothing about it – edit: Death Grips and others have spread the A&D post you’re reading, thanks to them, and Consequence of Sound wrote a piece about it) noticed they didn’t just “release it for free”: they allow anyone to make money with it.

According to the Archive.org download link they’ve posted themselves, this album is indeed released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence, a veeery open one. Of course, it lets people share and remix the music, but contrary to the previous licence they chose for Ex-Military, it also authorizes commercial uses without asking permission, as long as the music is still credited to the band. Yes, you can use Death Grips’ music in a TV ad (for an energy drink maybe?), or in a big commercial movie. You don’t have to wait for a physical release date, you can start a record label instead, press and sell 10,000 copies of this album without even asking the band NOR Epic/Sony if they are okay with that. Well, if you’re not an asshole, I hope you’ll send Death Grips some money.

Some people (Hi Sean!) are wondering if the whole operation is a PR stunt. But the licence chosen debunks such hypotheses because it implies that Epic/Sony don’t have exclusive commercial rights on Death Grips’ music anymore (while a Creative Commons Non Commercial licence would have allowed Epic/Sony to retain exclusive rights on commercial uses). There’s no way a major compagny would accept such a licence as part of a PR scheme. Actually I think it is the first time a band signed on a major label releases an album on a CC Attribution 3.0 licence.

Anyway, i wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Epic/Sony for pissing off Death Grips and pushing them back to the arms of Creative Commons. Sharing is Caring, blah blah blah, Amen.

EDIT 10.4.12: Death Grips have now changed the Creative Commons Attribution licence into an Attribution-Non Commercial one. It means you can share or remix the work, but NOT use it commercially without permission. Several explanations are possible:
- They didn’t know what kind of licence they took in the first place (I doubt it, as it wasn’t their first Creative Commons release and Death Grips themselves shared this A&D post via Twitter).
- They changed their mind.
- Epic/Sony made them change the licence, so the Major Company can still have exclusive commercial rights on Death Grips music. As the Major Company has paid for the recording of No Love Deep Web, this scenario is quite likely.

Death Grips website was down for a while. I thought it was collapsing because of too many visits, but serious prominent yet corrupt press talked to Zach Hill, and he confirmed Epic/Sony took the website down! And then Epic/Sony denied it! And then the website came back! Then it disappeared one more time! Then it is here again! Woo! (my guess is their web hosting company had a problem with the penis cover)

Thank God/Santa Claus/Richard Stallman, you can also download the full album via Archive.org or via Bayfiles or stream it via Soundcloud (who didn’t like the album cover either apparently).

Clipping – Our world is a ruin

 

I suppose you have noticed it, more and more blogs/webzines/old medias have developped the quite peculiar habit of getting carried away by bands that have recorded only one or two mp3s, and/or to write about records which won’t be released until several months.
These cultural phenomena have deep and multiple causes, although today we will briefly touch upon a few of them:

On the media side
If you want to get some attention among the thousands of billions of posts cracking everyday on the interweb, you have three options:
1) To be the first
2) To be interesting
3) To be funny

To be interesting is difficult and takes a lot of time without any certainty of any achievement. To be funny is a gift from the gods and, as an unfair but logical consequence, is not accessible to everyone. To be the first thus is the easiest. And writing about something months prior its release, or about someone still in his foetal state, is a good way to be the first.

On the band/producer side
The goal is to create artificial buzz with tiny bits of a piece of work. You can’t verify and judge by yourself, you have to believe the teaser. Without even acknowledging it, a lot of small indie labels use the same marketing methods as the movie and video game industries. Sometimes their teasers reach unexpected heights of vacuity : “Hey, a-band-you-don’t-care-about has just released the TRACKLIST of its new EP! Let’s all talk about it!”

On the “everyone” side
We’re all addicts to the Novelty Orgasm. We want to be connected to the Flux of Now, to listen to new music as soon as it has been recorded. As if music obeyed to a darwinian process, as if The New was, in itself, superior to The Old.

These are troublesome facts because they are largely scattered, almost systematic. When we’ll write the Tablets of Stone of A&D, we shall include these two commandments : Don’t write about a band until he has released at least one full album.
And Don’t write about it until you have actually listened to it.

But of course, a few bands would lead anyone to bend these rules. For instance, Clipping:

 

Clipping make hip-hop. They are a weird, noisy, radical hip hop trio. Two guys twiddle bleep bloop machines producing krrrrrrrr and ssshhhh and sometimes jkl<dy!!_*hfsd sounds, while a third one declaims demented lyrics in fast forward mode. We had some very good deviant hip hop recently (Death Grips, Shabazz Palaces), and one can expect the same kind of febrile excitation here.

At first (thanks to Brian Miller of Foot Village/Deathbomb Arc), I listened to this song, Loud:

 

It just drilled my ears. Actually I needed it to accompany me in the bus, at the supermarket,  or at the golf club. Clipping didn’t care about me and didn’t include a download button so I bravely ripped it from Soundcloud and listened to it 321 times. But it was only one song, so I had to curb my enthusiasm.

Then I saw this video:

 

 

Ok Gwendolyne, they seem to not suck live (I have a slight tendancy to speak to myself when i’m moved emotionnally). Their show at Enter The Interweb confirmed this assumption:

 

My expert detective skills a basic internet search coupled with a few questions to Brian Miller taught me more about the identities of Clipping’s members. One of them already is an undergound star : Jonathan Snipes of electro dance punk metal joyous pop hardcore band Captain Ahab. Jonathan makes all his music available digitally on a free donation basis (go listen to the last Captain Ahab album, The End of Irony).
Another Clipping dude has been involved for a long time in the let’s-release-crazy-experimental-modular-synth-music-limited-to-30-copies scene: William Hutson of Rale. He releases limited cassettes on numerous labels and runs Accidie Records.
And then there is Daveed Dibbs, rapper, actor, educator with a lot of messy hair and an insane flow. Dave released his first solo album for free last January (grab it here).

And now the time of the first Clipping release has come: A tape just came out on Deathbomb. It only is a three songs/ten minutes tape, but it will make a rain dance happen in your panties. At least, it finished to wow me and to get through all my ethical principles. Listen below to Face (an hysterical swoop), a studio freestyle, and Broke (dark, slow track). Hail Clipping.

 

we love LOAD records

And we love them so much we’ll have to write two articles about them. Load Records (based in Providence, Rhode Island) started in 1993 (surprisingly, their first record was a garage band, Boss Fuel) but like many others I discovered this label in 2001 with a life-changing album, Lightning Bolt’s Ride The Skies.

Lightning Bolt – Ride The Skies

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Since then, I’ve been following obsessively all their releases. Coherent but not monomaniac, Load likes it weird and noisy but swallows a variety of things, from punk to noise, from metal to rock. This two-people operation (Load is just Ben Mc Osker and his wife Laura, and they both have other jobs) gathers and helps to shape a significant part of today’s adventurous music. The next part of this feature will dwell on Load’s whole history, but first we wanted to focus on their recent past, as ALL the records they published in the past twelve months are fantastic.

 —

Sex Church – Growing Over (October 2011)
Written by Kimberly (Gilded Gutter, Upset the Rythm, manager of The Pheromoans…)

 Sex Church is a three piece grounded in Vancouver, Canada made up of Caleb Bouey (Guitar), Levon Olsen (Guitar) and Nick Groessl (Bass).  Some may already be familiar with these fellas from playing in Ladies Night, Vapid, Defectors, Modern Creatures and Catholic Boys – and with this solid trash-punk background it’s not entirely surprising they’ve done something entirely different.  Thus far in the Sex Church cannon the outfit have released a handful of singles and EPs for Hozac, Sweet Rot and Convulsive and after two years of recording have arrived at their full-length debut for Load, Growing Over.  The album explores an emancipation of inner turmoil channeled through a love of Wipers, Rocky Erickson and Cheater Slicks.  Sex Church employs elements of shoe gaze, noise and kraut in their introverted style of songwriting challenging the most, raw punk bands around today.

 “Growing Over” as the title may suggest, is a record cloaked in an ever-expanding cloud of haze emanating from layers of reverb and fuzz.   Cacophonous guitars, forthright beats and a panting bass cut through the fog creating eleven stormy numbers that swirl and scramble through frequencies of dejection.   This is aptly shown on track “Treading Water”, embodying high levels of hitting rock bottom through sounding out discordant guitars, incoherent vocals and unrelenting, pounding beats. Another stand out track on the album for me is “Beneath The Bottom”, a menacing, urgent piece that howls, barks and charges from the darkest dirges of Sex Church’s psyche and as a result curiously creates something totally mesmerizing.   The manner in which Sex Church liberate these tremors of internal anguish result in pure and savage swills of punk that are beautiful and beastly in equal measure.

Sex Church – Beneath The Bottom (right click/save as)

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Sex Church – Dull Light

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Skoal Kodial – Kryptonym Bodliak  (October 2011)
Written by Carter Mullin of Olive Music.

Considering technological evolution, musicians have found mastery in recording and producing more tangible than ever. This is evident when glancing at the abundance of electronic music present today, and one could assume much of it to have been made on a laptop within a day or so. The electronic variety has also sprouted a cornucopia of subgenres both applicable and ill-defined, but each of which carrying artists who have found their own niche audience to cater for. Achieving stature has never been simpler.

Enter Minnesota trio Skoal Kodiak, the antithesis embodying the struggle to grasp definition. Like Mindflayer and Neon Hunk before them, Skoal Kodiak are electronic music for the Load Records listenership– a spirit lost somewhere between dysfunctional punk tumult and cocaine-inspired grooves. Their second album Kryptonym Bodliak is a massive assemblage of aggressive psychedelic whimsy. Even when attributing the band to the minuscule subset of noise-informed dance they’re abidingly one in a million.

Skoal Kodiak concisely shell seven blusterous boogies across 35 minutes, equipped with bass, drums, and paramount knob-twiddling. Opener “Teapot” exploits a funky drum lilt punctuated by slippery gadgetry and electro-damaged vocal yowls, and its successor “Hollidazzle” applies this configuration to a tune perceivably from the vault of the late and great Mayyors. As much as Kryptonym Bodliak is inherent in peculiarity, “Tomah Triangle” raises eyebrows by its aberrant tunefulness of a haunting keyboard refrain and harmonic chorus.

Each of Kryptonym Bodliak‘s tracks deserves its own helping of appraisal. With unfaltering kinetic force Skoal Kodiak explore every avenue of their dynamic; an undertaking justified for an outfit six years active. Unlike their aforementioned predecessors, they array a more congenial employment of riotous circuitry, fulfilling their shortage of patience at album’s length. In challenging the merits of most debuts, the band showcases an unmistakable and elastic design to their complexion while bearing little to no foibles.

Skoal Kodiak – Teapot (right click/save as)

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Skoal Kodiak – Hollidazzle

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Skoal Kodiak – Tomah Triangle video

Fnu Ronnies – Saddle Up (February 2012)

Jonathan of Built On A Weak Spot already reviewed this album here.  The sound on this weirdo noise punk record “is a murky tunnel of punked out alien frequencies with dirty vibes and ideas last talked about at NASA around the time of the last faked moon landing“.

FNU Ronnies – Ant People (right click/save as)

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FNU Ronnies – You Don’t Look So Good

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Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Jazz Mind (March 2012)
Written by Kimberly (Gilded Gutter, Upset the Rythm, manager of The Pheromoans…)

Ed Schrader and Delvin Rice make up Baltimore rock duo Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.   In its inception Ed worked solo on the project touring songs comprised of a drum accompanied by vocals.   3 years ago Delvin was invited to play alongside Ed for one gig at a rave in their hometown, the pair forged an unexpected chemistry on stage and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat acquired a permanent bassist.  Since then, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s released a well-received debut single for Load ‘Sermon/Rats’ which primed music nerds, freaks and lovers for the savage minimalistic rock offered up on their first full length Jazz Mind.

Opener ‘Sermon’ features volatile vocals, a belching bass and tribal rhythms executed with the air punching attitude of punk touched with industrial experimentalism.  Slamming on the breaks ‘Gem Asylum’ follows with eventide synthesizers and a meditative bass apace with reverb heavy vocals.   “I can’t stop eating sugar, see what it does, feel what it does, but it’s always in my face, and it’s always been the cause Tyrannosaurus Rex and it’s good damn claws”, confesses Ed in “Sugar”.  It’s this focus on immediately identifiable objects that give access to Ed’s musings, these little touches of reality threaded through ‘Jazz Mind’ act as an anchor as the songs drift in and out of abstraction.  These eleven tracks play a tug of war as they fluctuate between pummeling and placid, from chest beaters like “Gas Station Attendant” you get the polar opposite – and one of my favourite tracks “My Mind Is Broken By The Sound”.  This album wonderfully captures human experience in a pure and unmatched way; daily humdrum, boredom, love, paranoia are explored through a rock sound that carves away the gristle leaving all the meat, a really great debut. Jazz Mind is available now in Europe through Upset the Rhythm, as volunteer for UTR I can attest that we all couldn’t be more excited about supporting this project and look forward to some shows later in the year from Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Sermon (right click/save as)

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Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – My Mind Is Broken By The Sound

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White Suns – Sinews (April 2012)
written by Jonathan of Built On A Weak Spot

Last years debut from Brooklyn’s White Suns was an eye opener, no doubt. An album that successfully channeled much of New York City’s rich past of punk, no-wave, and willingness to experiment. Often lumped into the noise-rock genre, it’s probably fair to say that the band often works more heavily with straight noise rather than the whole “rock” part. That was evident from the bands very beginnings among the string of cassette and CD-R EP’s that predated their first full-length. Now firmly entrenched among New York’s greatly growing noise-rock scene, White Suns have since moved on from Weasel Walter’s ugEXPLODE label to release Sinews on Load Records, who I imagine are a much better fit for the band.

With Sinews White Suns again return to the bleak cold city landscape of scraping metal and decay, at times coming full force with punches of punk-ish blasts of noise and the maniacal screams of singer Kevin Barry to tag along. These moments are skillfully introduced with the prolonged usage of droning feedback and the screeching shambles of structures crumbling to the ground. There is a level of claustrophobia induced with this practice and the result makes the whirlwind of noise to come all that much more effective and overwhelming. Simply put, Sinews is relentless. Not a moment to breath, not an ounce of light shining through on this one. One of the most aurally exhaustive listens I’ve managed to hear in awhile. While White Suns may be part of a larger group of bands making an effort to keep the noise alive in NY, they are one of the few pushing it forward to a noticeable extent. For those that were fans of the bands debut, then Sinews is an absolute must purchase.

White Suns – Footprints Filled (right click/save as)

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White Suns – Oath

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White Load - Wayne’s World III/ The Godfather IV (February 2012. Yes, we don’t respect chronological order but this review is so long it HAD to be the last one)
written by L’ami of Don’t Buy records mailorder

The first time I came across this band was in the review section of Maximum Rock ‘n Roll. That must have been a few years ago. I remember the review immediately grabbed my attention, because of the bands White Load got compared to. Those were Street Trash, whose self titled EP was an awesome hardcore release even my friends who outgrew hardcore consider a modern day classic, and the Grabbies, who have always been unlistenable to me, but that’s the whole point. Comparisons are often off, but my interest had been peaked. I needed to hear this band that apparently considered it funny to name themselves after the product of male ejaculation.

It wasn’t long after reading about White Load that I coincidentally met their guitar player on the internet through Soulseek. We used to talk, something the guy wasn’t too fond of as one of the band’s songs subtly points out, but I was able to work out distribution with him despite his aversion of communication. A few weeks after our digital rendezvous, I had White Load’s first vinyl release in my mailorder. The thing was called ‘Talk’. It was the first release on Leather Bar Records, a label secretly ran by one of White Load’s members. Leather Bar has had a consistent aesthetic and approach to its releases from the very start. All of them look the same; a thin piece of paper with black and white artwork stapled to the record sleeve, which makes it impossible to take the vinyl out without removing two staples. Inside the sleeve is always a one-sided 7”. The whole idea behind this is to keep the records cheap, but at the same time the ethic testifies of minimalism if not downright nihilism.

The ‘Talk’ 7” contains three songs in just over four minutes. A common wisdom among sound engineers is that if a band plays like shit, there’s no way you can make them sound decent. Now White Load sure as hell can’t play and not even the lord himself could have made this band sound decent, but the band didn’t even try and you got to love them for that. Instead of covering up mistakes, the recording seems to be focused on enlarging each and every flaw and shortcoming. The snare sound is way too loud, the singer’s lyrics are indecipherable except for the occasional ‘FUCK!’ and the guitar sounds ugly as fuck. The riffs are simple but effective as is the drumming. White Load’s singer is probably what I like about the band most though. He sounds vicious and mean and makes it all the more believable that we’re dealing with three anti-social outsiders here.

After their debut the band released two 7”s on Sweden’s Ken Rock Records and they supplied one song, ‘Nothing’s Funny’, for the groundlessly underrated ‘Fresh Cuts and Cigarette Butts’ Compilation EP on Criminal IQ Records. All of these releases are pretty much in the same vein as their earlier stuff. As more people got wind of White Load, the band got listed among many other bands. Some of which flattering such as the ones mentioned above and others insulting such as Cult Ritual, a band they hated. The best reference for White Load’s music however remains Solger, whom the guitarist once listed as an important influence. White Load is every bit as inept and malicious as those Seattle misfits, whose EP is as mandatory as early Flag and the Germs in my opinion. Especially White Load’s loud, abrasive and stomping guitar playing is very reminiscent of Solger. It should go without saying that White Load’s music of choice lends itself best for the 7” format. The debate whether a hardcore band ever pulled off a decent full-length will probably never come to an end and yet White Load didn’t back down from recording an actual LP this year. And what would have been more fitting than have Load Records from Providence, the very same town this band calls home, release it? In return for their recordings the label supposedly paid the band with a fuzz pedal. Who ever said there was nothing to be made in punk? White Load is definitely among the more direct and hardcore band on the label. What you see is what you get. There’s no novelty or weirdness here. Just fast, dirty and pissed off hardcore. This record is not exactly a full length though. Both sides of this LP are separate recordings. The A-side is called ‘Wayne’s World III’ and the flip is titled ‘The Godfather IV’. Get it? As Murray Barrels pointed out in July’s Maximum Rock ‘n Roll the Hunches already claimed this joke with their ‘Home Alone 5’ compilation on In The Red Records, but either White Load never even heard of that band – the Hunches’ seem too sophisticated an ensemble for the damaged ears of this bunch – or they simply didn’t care and took pride in the fact that telling the same joke twice is never funny, just like pretty much everything else in life isn’t as they eloquently pointed out on their afore mentioned compilation track, which is also included on both sides of the LP.

Supposedly one side of the record is a studio recording and the other is a live set, but fuck if I know which is which. You can tell the recording is different as you flip the thing over, but rest assured neither side sounds polished. I guess ‘The Godfather IV’ is the live set, because there’s some banter included and I think a few songs actually get ruined unintentionally, which is all part of the game of playing live, right? The recording is shittier than the one on the flip. Not that the A-side sounds like a lot of thought was put into the recording, but on ‘The Godfather IV’ side the drums are by far the loudest to the point that they drown the guitar a bit. Whereas I remember the snare sounding sharp and shrill on the band’s earlier material, the thing just brings out a flat and muffling thump here. The singer has a hard time overshouting the drums, but he doesn’t let the snare bury him without a fight. Neither side of this record is for those who like it clean, but hell if you consider production values important this band isn’t for you to begin with. I know people like to rag on live records/recordings but personally I’ve always liked to hear bands I enjoy in a live setting even if I’m not actually present at the performance. In this particular case I think White Load raises the bar for ugliness on their live recording and it looks good on them. When listening to this record I feel like shit is happening and that’s really all I want from a hardcore band, not going through the motions as I’ve seen so many bands do on stage. Life is already so boring. I want punk not to be. To me punk and hardcore should be about destroying boredom at all costs. If nothing’s happening, you make shit happen. If the crowd isn’t moving, you shoot fireworks into their faces. I love how the singer keeps telling the crowd ‘you’re welcome’ in that clip turning the obligatory ‘thank you’ after a song upside down. I’m not sure whether I would have considered this show cool if I went home with one eye less than I arrived with, but the good thing about the ‘Godfather IV’ is that you can experience White Load live without the chance of losing eyesight. I can’t guarantee your ears will be the same after listening to this stuff on high volume – the only right way to listen to this record – though.

Wayne’s World III/ The Godfather IV’ contains twenty-five songs in total some of which the seasoned White Load fan already knows, but in this case I don’t mind. The tunes hardly make for ‘songs’ anyway.Even the studio recordings could have been a live set. The songs are delivered at breakneck pace without stops. You put this record on and make it waltz over you. In that sense it reminds me of ‘Landspeed Record’ by Hüsker Dü. White Load obviously doesn’t share their sense of melody – no melody here, boys and girls – or some would argue their talent, but this record has the same urgency, the same ready-set-go-mentality. Play fast, play loud, pack your things and go home. Most of these songs clock in under a minute which makes for a record with a total playtime of less than half an hour.

All in all, White Load delivers an ear shattering and relentless record. Those who’ve heard previous releases by this band will not be disappointed. White Load make being inept a quality. They carry their lack of talent with pride. These guys are no musicians and they give it their all to make this clear to the listener. Their ineptitude should be a reminder that punk is about not giving a shit and playing for the hell of it. Let this record be a wake up call to those who’ve lost their way and think punk means getting as close to sounding as the Wipers as possible. This is what hardcore should sound like, fuckface! Listening to White Load’s songs is like being spit in the face and kicked in the groin at the same time. This music is shit. This music is worthless. This music is like life itself. Another great record on Load Records.

Endnote: After speaking to the band’s guitar player recently; I was told that neither side of the record actually is a live recording. The entire record was recorded in one and the same room. The sides are both different takes with the main difference being the degree of intoxication of the band members.

White Load – Less Life (right click/save as)

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White Load – Nothing is Funny

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White Load – Prostitute

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Dinosaurs, Norwegians and Epic Ensemble in the discotheque

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth – Jeans Shopping With Jesse (Made In Kansas)

More blown out fucked up fuzz from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Had been waiting to hear this one for a considerably long time once I knew it was coming out. Didn’t realize it was going to be as limited as it is though, apparently only 100 made of this mean piece of wax. And mean is most certainly the right way to put it. To anyone that felt the need to unleash the aural bleeding that came as a result of their previous release Peaced, then Jeans Shopping With Jesse (Made In Kansas) will undoubtedly be exactly the type of heaping trash that fills that need once again. Not as punishingly treble heavy as Peaced, but rather more so of a complete culmination of noise being thrown at the listener this time around. It’s hard to resist the comparisons to Rusted Shut, but this certainly fits the bill. No less filthy, that’s for sure, but maybe a bit less frightening. You get that these guys might actually have a sense of humor behind all that distorted crust…or maybe a big drinking problem. Who knows? Surprisingly though, Jeans Shopping for Jesse isn’t the type of monotonous trudge through noise that you might expect it to be. Some of the best moments here are the groups abilities to subtly let the tracks set in with a level of claustrophobic nature, eventually becoming an overwhelming amount of noise before either fading out or cutting off completely. That of which is often followed by brief tracks of full-frontal noise that approach the ferocity and pacing of noise-punk. Absolutely relentless and pretty jarring at that. Fans of the genre certainly should give this one a try.

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth – Jeans Shopping With Jesse (right click/save as)

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When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth - Jah Fingies

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+ their amazing previous record, Peaced, available for free download. In the bands own words: “This album was recorded in our practice space in the month of April 2010. We were very drunk, and very stoned. We’ve recorded quite a bit of stuff before, but this recording actually captures realistically what we do and how we do it. Cheap, loud, and drunk”.

You can buy last copies of these two Lps here.

Neon Blud – Discotheque Deathbed (Vinyl Rites)

The collective that just keeps on giving, that being the folks down south that have helped spawn projects like Cult Ritual, Merchandise, and so on. This LP comes from yet another outlet under the name Neon Blud. Those out there probably know them from their split with Diet Cokeheads or releases on Fan Death and Drugged Conscience that came out awhile back. Previously I had known them as more of a noisier pop group that had a very prominent early Sonic Youth thing going on, however things have changed up fairly dramatically with their new full-length Discotheque Deathbed. The label Vinyl Rites mentioned Live Skull in the description, which if you’re looking for my attention, that’s a fairly good way to get it. A track like “Tick” certainly channels this more than anything, but I’d be lying if I said this album greatly resembles the band. I certainly hear the connection though and I’m loving it. Neon Blud have more so driven their sound down the path of late 70’s/early 80’s goth heavy post-punk but spreading out amongst a far more abrasive landscape of feedback and atonal droning noise that seemingly cycles its way in out of this album in an unobtrusive and effective manner. This is a much darker and noisier band than I imagine people were prepared to hear, and more importantly its one that has stepped out from a more confined songwriting approach and really allowed themselves to take this in an interesting direction. Most of the tracks are rather lengthy, filling the spaces nicely with repetitive bass lines that develop the sort of “disco” beat that they are looking for. And generally on more than one occasion per song, things lead in and out of explosive waves of noise before dropping back into a locked groove. Vocals are present, but likely merely only for the added effect of the depressive and bleak mood the album seems to function on. Really cool stuff. Not sure if this is the last output that we’ll hear from the band or not, but if it does indeed happen to be, then this is a fine way to go out.

Neon Bud – Tick (right click/save as)

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Neon Bud - Temple

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This album is sold out, so you’ll have to look for it on Soulseek.

Staer – Staer (Gaffer Records)

Some pretty warped instrumental noise out of Norway from these three gentlemen known as Staer. Due to locale they are most commonly linked back to Noxagt, which actually fits quite well musically. Despite being a three piece, these tunes pack a thunderous amount of sludgy rumble. It’s hard to simply call these guys a “sludge” band though, despite these songs stomping along in a slow motion hulk like style. Things however tend to take on jazzy feel, but as if it were stuck in mud…slowly shifting from one atonal riff to another. Described as precise in execution, it’s much dirtier sounding than one would gather from reading that. It may be precise, but it certainly sounds the part of something that would be a destructive mess visually. Staer aren’t completely opposed to hitting a run of simple rhythm, as evidenced by a track like “Sex Varnish”, which basically focuses on one big bouncy riff throughout the song while surrounding it by free drumming and a multitude of guitar effects. That latter seems to be a recurring theme throughout this self-titled debut. The trio certainly have a good grasp of the fun things that they can do with their instruments and they make it very well known on this album by pushing sounds and effects that one would assume would require someone in the background twisting knobs and such. Maybe that’s the case and I just missed that somewhere, but no matter it certainly works for them. The songs are heavy and just about as wildly out of control/demented as a band that is said to be in control can be. Really nice debut from these guys.

Staer – Det Ar Nyar, Javlar (right click/save as)

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Staer – I Roll With Creflo

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This one is available through Gaffer label. Head on over there to grab yourself a copy.

V.Vecker Ensemble – In the Tower (Majorly Records)

 

V.Vecker Ensemble was spawned out member Keith Wecker’s idea to start the collective after spending time playing in Glenn Branca’s Symphony #13: Hallucination City and Anthony Braxton’s 2010 Sonic Genome Project. Having a fairly nice size of talent surrounding him already in the Vancouver underground, he enlisted the services of Brody McKnight and Andrea Lukic (Nu Sensae), Daniel Presnell (Von Bingen), Liam Butler (No Gold), David Rogers (Basketball), and Corey Woolger (Cowards). This LP is the first recorded output from the collective and features one long instrumental piece split on to both sides of the record. The first movement is a nice slow burn mix of psych and creeping noise. The use of sparse santur at the beginning of the track, as it slowly melds into a swirl of complementing sounds, gives the entire piece a bit of an exotic feel. This far less of the controlled chaos type of approach that I was kind of expecting with this, but rather it ends up being a wonderful tension building exercise of melody and subtle noise. The pieces eventually cools down, which provides the opportunity to flip the record to move on to the second piece of the composition. The second side continues a bit in the same way, but things get a bit more claustrophobic on it. The santur again provides a skeletal shaping of exterior sounds as a way to introduce the slow inclusion of guitars and bass, while both drummers keep things slightly nailed down with a steady beat. However, with this portion of the composition by the end of it the instruments all eventually reach the same atonal apex of noise to finish the piece off with a loud steady trance-like pound. Really dig this, look forward to more.

For those interested in picking up a copy of In the Tower can do so by hitting up Majorly Records.

Japanther reviews Creepy Teepee Festival

Incomplete festival review and contest. Kuma Hora, Czech Republic – july 13th, 2012. 
All the concert goers looked like the future people in Bill and Ted’s. One of them   floated up and shyly asked if I’d judge a contest of a few new bands playing the fest.  I took this request from the future very seriously and these reviews are the result.

Planety: Pět minut za městem
A dreamy crash-boom-bang traditional pop sound played with force. Heavily effected up beat lead guitars smells like Czech grunge. The lo-fi approach and flavor has me dancing around the room. It doesn’t even matter that I don’t understand a word, I instantly liked Planety’s simple approach.
LISTEN:

 

KRISTEN: An Accident!
Loopy intricate guitar & bass paired with sparse open drumming and repetitive vocals. Solemn interesting indie noise music. I believe the late Jean-Michel Basquiat would have loved this Polish trio. Aggressive jazzy dance jams with free form bits scattered all over the place. BRAVO!
LISTEN:

 

Piotr Kurek: Coda (Digitalis – sold out)
Insanely surreal video game sounds pushed together by analog keyboards. Like being trapped in a 8 bit haunted house while wearing a lead suit. I like that this Warsaw artist is working with dance companies and artist residencies. I’d love to see the results of those efforts someday.
LISTEN:

 

Aches: Fine Tongue EP on EXITAB label.
Colorful droning loops with nice organic feeling. Super creepy “stalker vibe” vocals and ultra slow drum machine beats. Painterly guitars that seem dream like over what sounds like screwed up jungle beats. This Brit relocated to eastern Europe and interesting results abound.
LISTEN:

 

Mile Me Deaf: Call Us Rats – Fettkakao Sampler – Fettkakao 2011 // fett022 
Sarcastic psychedelic pop music. Driven by a collective beauty and tight guitars. From Fettkakao, the same Vienna label that brought you PLAIDED and VORTEX REX, two additional pop groups with a very unique takes on the form. I recommend all three whole heartedly.  
LISTEN:

 

Rouilleux: Zugzwang
Hand made black and silver digipack. Slow sad wash of tortured guitar. Like a long folk song sung underwater. High smokey vocals sung under a curtain of effects. Rouilleux is very depression influenced but still the balance of noise and songwriting is pleasant and keeps the listener engaged.
LISTEN:

 

S ND Y P RL RS: DARK MATTER book + cdr, 22 pgs, Colpa Press
Nice warm German drone that lasts and lasts. The book would certainly enhance the experience of the piece, alas I didn’t get one. Still I enjoy the warm, slow building rumble this Berliner produces. Sounds like living in a jet engine or a steam ship. Just like any long trip, after about 40 minutes, S ND Y P RL RS slowly fades out and ends…
LISTEN:

Field Hymns Tape Trade

The history and function of tape trading is something we’re very interested in at Decoder Magazine. To that end, using the stock from our tape label Crash Symbols, we’ve been conducting a series of “guided trades” with other cassette imprints. Part of the advantage we perceive in this treatment is the ability to identify and talk clearly about a more structured notion of “eclecticism” – the idea that many beautiful things can work with and enhance one another so long as they are all beautiful. In the case of art objects or furnishings, they needn’t be made in the same style or by the same craftsman. The same can apply to albums. A record label’s catalog might draw more or less from one or more particular genres, but it need not of necessity. As curators, many label owners would sooner maker their catalogs a reflection of themselves. Considering that a fair number of these people are avid collectors of experience, information, and tapes or records, their imprints begin to share in the same academic and operational rigor that motivates their other passions, so it seems meaningful for us to talk about their catalogs comprehensively.

More importantly, trading tapes underscores a positive way to cultivate coherent and self-sufficient communities, independent of the kind of praise that we admittedly make every effort to lavish on labels in our recurring Tape Trade feature at Decoder. To some consumers, labels are a thing worth reaching out to, and for some label owners, an imprint is something to communicate with; this sometimes plays itself out in the common perception of imprints as too aloof, but also too friendly, depending on what angle you use to scrutinize “the scene”. The difficulty with really evaluating tapes and tape culture is the extent to which it has become a fundamentally voluntary and participatory culture. Paradoxically, many cassette labels have distinguished themselves through an honest and effective leveraging of support through social media.

So, that’s the big idea. This is our fifth tape trade – you can check out some earlier ones here and here) – but more than being your requisite 1,000+ words worth of random music reading today, we hope that this will inspire you to reach out to friends, bands you love, or labels you admire and offer to trade. If you hit us up at Crash Symbols, God knows we’d be psyched to arrange something.

Without further ado, Field Hymns of Portland, an imprint focused on experimental electronic music, with significant helpings of kosmische, prog-rock, and even a little bit of skwee (which I for one can always use is greater quantity than I’m getting).

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Extra Life – Dream Seeds

A third album for Extra Life, New York aesthete Charlie Looker’s band, and the first with a three-piece line-up. Their bass player left over a year ago, which resulted among other things in the significance of keyboards and 80s synth wave in the 2011 EP Ripped Heart. Extra Life had retained their medieval facet, but they also seemed to have softened.

Dream Seeds foreshadows something similar (but it will later prove to be a fallacy), with Charlie Looker’s focusing on vocals and keyboards, playing just a little acoustic guitar. Meanwhile violinist Caley Monahon-Ward gathers momentum as he deals all by himself with the electric guitar, the violin, electronic manipulation, and sometimes synths and backing vocals. His role in Extra Life has become essential and the band now appears as a perfect entity, a triangle with three equal sides – the extraordinary drummer Nick Podgurski is just as noteworthy –, an entity of which Charlie Looker is the base and the mastermind, the enlightened composer.

Dream Seeds starts out quietly with No Dreams Tonight. A wonderful ballad, medieval as can be and in keeping with the spirit of Ripped Heart. Actually Dream Seeds may sound more dreamy, and less rhythmic than the genius Made Flesh (2010) or Secular Works (2009).
Little One is also filled with delicacy, wonderful violin layers, and a soft piano which manages to spare us sentimentality and pompous conceit – a pure moment of grace and levitation. Even a track like First Song proves to maintain this enveloping and chilling softness despite the complex rhythmics. Extra Life is a special band, they are elsewhere.

Yet, Extra Life have sustained their ardour, except it is now channelled differently. Discipline For Edwin and Righteous Seed both reconnect with Extra Life’s two major features : the wonderful and lyrical tension on the one side, and the captivating, quasi-religious fervor on the other side. The splendid guitar backgrounds and the indecipherable but direct rhythmic patterns are still there, dominated by Charlie Looker’s out of season singing, and additional synths as support or counterpoint. The album ends with two bravura pieces : Blinded Beast followed by Ten Year Teardrop, both reaching a near quarter of an hour in length and representing Extra Life’s darkest, but also most lyric and stunning side. The whole musical range of the trio is brilliantly represented, reaching noise and madness – you have to hear Charlie Looker shouting « I Love You/I Love You/How I Miss You/I Buried You/We Buried You/We Buried You/I Love You », on Ten Year Teardrop. The band’s alchemical splendour is there, chiseled into its purest shape, at a level approaching magic.

Dream Seeds’ double themes (dream and childhood) are pregnant in Charlie Looker’s introspective and personal lyrics. In the booklet, a quote from Paracelsus, a rebel mind and Swiss Renaissance visionary, alchemist, astrologer and physician, sums up Dream Seeds’  demented and contagious content: « Blessed is he that is born during sleep ». Dream Seeds is already one of the most prodigious and bewitching album of this year.

Extra Life – First Song (right click/save as)

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Extra Life – Righteous Seed

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Dream Seeds was released on Africantape (Europe) and Northern Spy Records (US).

Chris Weisman – Songwriting as Pitch Noise

Texture, timbre, mood, vibe: today, music journalists and musicians alike tend to keep the bulk of their eggs in this well-padded basket of aesthetic signifiers. These amorphous musical elements don’t lend themselves very well to language, and so their privileged status in music writing is a little ironic. When the fascination with aesthetic categories swells to the point of eclipsing the more tangible tonal, structural and lyrical aspects of songwriting, writing ostensibly “about” a specific piece of music finds itself in the absurd position of holding the indescribable above the inscribable. Similarly, musicians captivated with aesthetics face some pretty limited prospects for developing novel material if the possibilities of musical novelty are relegated to an abstruse realm of effect and intention.

All this to say: what happens if, instead of resorting to “fifth-dimensional namecalling” by attempting to stabilize unstable aesthetic signifiers so that writing makes more sense, you hone in on the representable, repeatable, linguistically communicable content of a piece of music? What happens when there are no rules but structure still matters? What happens when there are no rules but a C# is still a C# except it’s arguably happening more like a Db right now, or you’re playing in a nonstandard tuning so it’s a C# on the fretboard but an A on the stroboscope?

What happens is this: you write some music infused with your engagement with the event of this language. I don’t care if C# is any more “real” than the “suburban vibe” of the new Real Estate record; I don’t care if you name and remember your chords or write down your melodies (I usually don’t). Sure, the premise that C# is any more ontologically stable than timbre is indefensible; both are theoretical as far as I’m concerned. The difference lies in the availability of pitch to the interactivity of language. As Socrates said to Theaetetus, “the notes, as every one would allow, are the elements or letters of music.” And as soon as you hit that C#-on-the-fret-but-A-in-pitch on the fretboard, you are dealing with a multivalent empirical phenomenon: that C# and that A are characters you get to respond to, favor, position, make speak, or deny, etc., all the infinite dramaturgical possibilities fostered by the God Position and the corollary Position Of Worship. Privileging tonality in music doesn’t mean presuming to answer the question of knowledge, of objective forms, etc.; instead, it opens up 1000s of ways to frame those questions.

Chris Weisman – Os Tonokos Token (from Bentonia on Blueberry Honey) (right click/save as)

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Chris Weisman: “Pitch Noise is the aesthetics of Noise — shock collages, maximum sensuality, letting the materials speak in their own tongues — but focusing on pitch relationships rather than timbre, texture, costume. What seems reactionary — but is radical by virtue of 1) being unpopular 2) requiring an education in theory and analysis — is the privileging of exactly the elements that were traditionally hierarchically higher in Western Classical music. For example Debussy believed timbral and decorative elements were awesome but must serve the higher powers of cadence, form, tonal drama; that the real music is what can be captured on the notated page. You know like you can read a poem aloud in all these different ways — and those ways make a difference — but the poem is really somewhere else; it can be real all these different ways but ultimately the poem is unreal, abstract, like geometry or math or a game. These are the star systems I try to encounter. When I bring them to earth I might try a pedal but the real work is already done.

American civil rights attorneys suing the state often worry about inducing “bad law,” i.e. when legally uncontroversial cases based on clear precedent are heard in districts spellbound by the unshakeable ideology of pro-government, anti-plaintiff cronyism. The danger is that a ruling will prove influential, either with respect to the merits of the particular case or by introducing concepts that constrain future litigants seeking redress for violations of their constitutional rights.

During the Tang dynasty, kung-an (公案) referred to something like the precedent resulting from a legal ruling. You know it now as koan. Lin Chi said, “If you want to get it, you’ve already got it — it’s not something that requires time.” Because the practice of writing songs is time-consuming and characterized by intense focus and deliberation, there is always the danger of creating a bad public precedent! Let me try to explain what I mean.

If you do not see what I do not see, then it is quite natural that it is not a thing. Why is it not your self?” When it is taken up in thought rather than lived, the concept “pitch noise” is a pedal, too, only available to be turned on after the work is done. The institutional many-face of music may ask, “do you want to play the changes or do you want to change playing?” But you don’t have to list your sources in citationless anthropology. Participant observation is the name of the game, and if you’re doing it right, the one you’re watching looks back, failing to see not having to try.

Chris Weisman – The Mask Is The Face (from Hi) (right click/save as)

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Sightings – The Art Of Noises

 

“Let us cross a great modern capital with our ears more alert than our eyes, and we will get enjoyment from distinguishing the eddying of water, air and gas in metal pipes, the grumbling of noises that breathe and pulse with indisputable animality, the palpitation of valves, the coming and going of pistons, the howl of mechanical saws, the jolting of a tram on its rails, the cracking of whips, the flapping of curtains and flags. We enjoy creating mental orchestrations of the crashing down of metal shop blinds, slamming doors, the hubbub and shuffling of crowds, the variety of din, from stations, railways, iron foundries, spinning wheels, printing works, electric power stations and underground railways.”

Luigi Russolo – The Art Of Noises (1913)

 

Noise, Noise Rock, Experimental Rock, Avant Rock, Industrial, No Wave, Avant Punk, Post Punk.
A trawl through the internet produces the above genres to describe Brooklyn based trio Sightings. They are all these and more. Let’s add some Minimal Techno, Electronic Music and even a touch of Funk to the mix and you’re getting close to the sound Mark Morgan (guitar/vocals), Richard Hoffman (bass) and Jonathan Lockie (drums/electronics) have been producing since their inception in 1997 (Hoffman joined in ’98). I’d prefer not to pigeonhole them at all as Sightings are a beast that stand alone amongst their contemporaries like every great band should. Ultimately they have, over the course of 15 years,  taken the traditional rock trio format and ran it through a future sound blender, consumed the contents, shat it out and made neo-glacier sized ice cubes from the stuff they couldn’t flush away. These modern shit cubes make the perfect addition to a glass of  sub-standard beer served up at their frequent boiler house shows in North Brooklyn.

I first came into contact with Sightings in 2003 when my group Volcano The Bear opened for them at their first ever European show in Nottingham, England. We really didn’t know what to make of them and found them a daunting and confusing prospect. To be honest we didn’t like the music at all. A few years later I moved to Brooklyn and became friends with them. They are now my favorite NYC band by far and I try to see them as often as possible.

 

To witness Sightings live is an incredible sonic experience. Although they are very different musical personalities they each combine to create a singular monster of industrial proportions and I’m talking ‘Industrial Revolution’ size proportions. They sound like the future portrayed in the film Blade Runner but paradoxically like a vast piece of agricultural machinery from the mid-19th century, ploughing the living hell out of the land to make way for the planting and harvesting of forked lightning. A recent Brooklyn show I attended started with Lockie’s electronic drum pads producing what sounded like the crackle and hum of a menagerie of electric geese – then CRASH! – tight as my shoes feel after a transatlantic flight – Lockie’s convulsive machine gun drums and Hoffman’s helicopter blade bass pound out a dyslexic rhythm that’s almost impossible to figure out. Morgan starts to weave a tapestry of guitar textures and loops with finger work like a patient tailor sewing a suit of steel for Robocop and begins to vocalise. A narcotic drawl leading to ferocious vomit barking and back again (at times Morgan’s singing is reminiscent of Nick Cave). It’s manic but at the same time strangely therapeutic. There’s something undeniably sexy about Sightings live. Lockie’s pounding rhythms set the heart beating faster, pulses racing. Morgan’s pole dance with the mic stand as he shoots bolts of electric bliss and piss from the guitar. His sultry voice leads you on, teasing, while Hoffman’s unique fluid as fuck bass lines and ejaculatory facial expressions tempt you further. It’s stunning that a sound so caustic, fractured and violent can also be so erotic and strangely camp (great examples of Sightings campy eroticism can be discovered via their cover version of the Walker Brothers ‘The Electrician‘ from the ‘Though The Panama‘ album and their sleeve for their debut album ‘Michigan Haters’ which features Lockie in full drag. Tight red sleeveless dress, white framed mirror shades, fright white afro wig and a cigarette hanging from his pouting lips. Contrary to that on the reverse of the sleeve Hoffman and Morgan stand together in black t-shirts, arms folded, serious as hell and as hard as nails. Perversely, if they were each sporting a leather biker cap they could be auditioning for a Village People video! A Sightings concert is like a soundtrack to some fucked up cyber sex party from an x-rated Star Trek episode. Don’t get me wrong on that one. It’s camp like Iggy Pop, Lux Interior or Nick Cave is camp. You definitely wouldn’t want to cross any of these boys in a dark alley and pet their poodles.

 

The depth of Sightings mission becomes much clearer on their albums. From the all out mud and punk noise assault of their early releases, recorded by the band themselves on a 4 track machine, to their more recent albums produced in the studio to thrilling effect. Their discography tells the story of a band in pursuit of a brand new way to play music. The first 2 self-produced albums, ‘Sightings‘ (Load Records) and ‘Michigan Haters‘ (Psych-O-Path / S-S Records) , both released in 2002 are completely raucous, distorted affairs. Incredibly noisy and energetic with both feet knee deep in a thrash punk field. Difficult listening but you can hear echoes of the group’s future sound on the tracks ‘ Chili Dog‘ from Michigan Haters and ‘Don West’ from the self-titled predecessor. ‘Absolutes‘ (Load Records / Riot Season) from 2003, self produced and recorded on 4 track again is a compositional step up from the first 2 albums. Part of the album still contains the riotous hardcore noise onslaught of the past but there’s a definite move to a more spacious industrial racket. The drums are different, more machine like. The guitars are more angular and controlled. It reminds me a little of early Chrome and despite it’s distorted nature it has a groove. I know the band are fans of minimal techno from labels like Kompact and Basic Channel and you can just start to hear that sound having an influence.

Sightings – Chili Dog (from Michigan Haters - Psych-O-Path / S-S Records – 2002) (right click + save as)

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Sightings – Reduction (from Absolutes‘ – Load Records / Riot Season – 2003) (right click + save as)

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By 2004′s ‘Arrived In Gold‘ (Load Records) that minimal techno influence is much more apparent. There’s a much more industrial feel about this album, in parts comparable to Einsturzende Neubauten’s more abstract work. Entering a studio for the first time and relinquishing some control (the engineer is Samara Lubelski who also contributes some violin) Sightings were at last able to hear what they could potentially sound like. It shows! ‘Arrived In Gold‘ is a fascinating record. Remarkably different from their previous albums in it’s minimalist approach. It’s such a spacious record and very bold and successful because of that. The distortion and full on chaos of previous albums is replaced with a calm, mannered almost polite division of sounds. This division gives an order to the drums, guitar and bass as they move in and around each other to create one unified cell, no longer a trio but a combined futuristic sound machine. Subtle as fuck and an album any budding (or old in the tooth) experimental musician/experimental music fan should hear. The same year saw the release of ‘Gardens Of War‘ (The Smack Shire). A collaborative album with Tom Smith (To Live And Shave In L.A.) using a lot of post production with strange edits and digital fuckery. The music is great and typical Sightings with Smith taking over vocal duties. His voice is an acquired taste, sleazy but filled with character. ‘GOW‘ is a successful album and worth tracking down.

Sightings – Internal Compass (from Arrived In Gold - Load Records – 2004) (right click + save as)

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Post ‘AIG‘ Sightings hit a difficult period of a personal nature with Morgan moving out of New York to his home state of Michigan for a while. This is reflected in their next album ‘End Times‘ (Fusetron) from 2006. Featuring 3 tracks from a limited EP (2005) on the En/Of label and filled out with new 4 track recordings. ‘End Times‘ is a deranged and raucous affair, much like a combination of all their previous albums but lacking the subtleties of ‘AIG’. It’s angry and obnoxious with a quality fuck you attitude. The production is rougher than ‘AIG‘ and it’s a long haul at 52 minutes though it definitely has it’s energetic moments. One of the highlights is the stoned monster ‘Carry On‘ which sounds like The Birthday Party slowed down to a nihilistic crawl. Another is the epic  Chrome-like ‘Only Below’.

Sightings – Carry On (from End Times - Fusetron – 2006) (right click + save as)

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The work ethic of Sightings is admirable. For most of their existence they have rehearsed 2 or 3 times a week. Constantly honing their sound and exploring their instruments and sonic ideas together. They are constantly composing and each time they play they always have new pieces to perform. They definitely don’t play the hits. This tireless approach to experimenting with their format reaped it’s rewards on their next 2 studio albums. In my opinion their finest works.

Through The Panama‘ (Load Records / Ecstatic Peace!) from 2007 was their most ambitious studio recording to date produced by long time friend and associate of the band Andrew WK. It’s a step up from the minimal ‘AIG‘ with much more electronics courtesy of Lockie’s electronic drums (he plays a mixed acoustic/electronic kit). The minimal techno feel is back and coupled with Hoffman’s bass they provide some serious grooves for Morgan’s searing guitar work. But the major difference with this album is Morgan’s vocals. At last they are at the front of the mix and surprise, surprise, he’s a great lead vocalist!  Up to this point all the previous releases had the vocals way down in the mix or were performed in such a way as to make them indecipherable. Now installed higher up and clearer in the mix the band is raised to new heights and the songs achieve greater depths and significance. The sounds on ‘TTP‘ are so clear and precise you can hear every nuance. The bass throbs like a WWII bomber plane while the crisp drums and electronics fire rapid machine gun crackle through the air raid guitar. Electric pterodactyls do battle with airsick helicopter techno typewriters as the disturbed vocals lure you like a siren to perish on those metal teeth the police use to burst the car tyres of villains on the run . Perfectly executed and sexy as an alien invasion surfing in to the sea shore on a tsunami wave. ‘TTP‘ is Sightings matured. The album means so much. I don’t know what it means but I believe it without doubt.

Sightings – A Rest (from Through The Panama – Load Records – 2007) (right click + save as)

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City Of Straw‘ (Brah Records) from 2010 is almost as good as it’s predecessor. Again it’s a studio recording. Recorded by Shahin Motia and Kid Millions from Oneida at their studio in Brooklyn. It’s in a similar vein to ‘TTP‘ but a little more dirty sounding. The drums are less powerful and precise in the mix but on tracks like ‘Tar And Pine‘ and ‘We All Amplify‘ Lockie’s electronic percussion add another level to the sonic interference. It’s still a superb album with some of Morgan’s best guitar work featured.  A claustrophobic album, very dense and humid in parts. Like being trapped in a steel room floating on a boiling lake. Through the small porthole window you can see the desolation of a post-apocalypse world outside.  

Sightings - Sky Above Mud Below (from City Of Straw – Brah Records -2010) (right click + save as)

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Sightings last album, 2011′s ‘Future Accidents‘ (Our Mouth Records) is a vinyl only release. A collection of tracks left over from the ‘City Of Straw‘ sessions. Side 1 is typical of later Sightings but with less electronic rhythms and more acoustic drum work. It’s not as immediate as the previous two albums but still excellent. Side 2 is a very different beast altogether. ‘Public Remains‘ at almost 20 minutes in length takes up the whole of the side. It’s quite unlike any Sightings track. It’s a very meditative piece, looping and droning. It could be an old Faust jam. It’s definitely got a krautrock vibe. Pat Murano (NNCK) guests on this track on keyboards (he’d played keyboards with the group on a couple of ‘COS’ tracks and has recently played with them live).
Like a lot of Sightings material the album is futuristic sounding and highly unique. A post-apocalyptic future. As an over populated world comes to terms with a perpetual energy crisis feeding environmental disasters and oil wars Sightings provide the soundtrack to our decaying industry and infrastructure. Luigi Russolo would have been proud.

Sightings - The Knotted House (from Future Accidents – Our Mouth Records -2011) (right click + save as)

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