MORE OR LES - "Nerd Love"

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More or Les - “Nerd Love”

(Hand’ Solo Records)

Rapper More or Les releases Nerd Love, a hip hop album that speaks to the nerd in all of us. This release is an engaging listen full of killer beats and intricate narratives featuring sci-fi, comic book, and role-playing references, and some poignant moments that bear a closer listen.

The title track of Nerd Love is the thesis of this geeky ode, stating the importance of standing beside the things you love, even when others disparage those things as ‘nerdy.’ More or Les wants to create a safe space within the album where the listener can be themselves. He then skillfully weaves together a brilliant commentary of nerdy things that spills over into the rest of the album.

Whatever your nerd tendencies, More or Les has got your jam, including Roll the Dice, a song about playing Dungeons and Dragons, Picard Maneuver and Klingon Neighbors, two tracks that tackle the Star Trek franchise, and 22 Pages, which celebrates comic book culture. Each one of these selections is impressive, not only in the production and performance quality, but in the level of detail that is packed into every minute, displaying a true knowledge and respect of the material, making this a fun album to return to again and again.

Despite all the fun on this album, the standout track is Hidden in Plain Sight, which takes a break from the revelry of all things nerdy and geeky to address the important issue of under-representation of people of color in the entertainment industry. Far from a preachy social justice speech, Hidden in Plain Sight is a poignant and heartfelt essay that fits directly into the larger entertainment narrative of the album. By first expressing a love for a broad field of entertainment franchises, and then to bring to attention the less-than-progressive practices of the media companies that produce and profit from those franchises, More or Les is able to bring this issue to the listener in a directly accessible way.

Production on this release is fantastic, with clean low-on-sample hip hop grooves, and smooth beats. More or Les also unleashes a small army of guest artists, including Wordburglar, Nilla, Touch, MikeAll, Jesse Dangerously, MegaRan, int eighty, Mikal KHill, Timbuktu, and even a snazzy version of Fly Me to the Moon sung by Alezandria Coldevin.

Overall, I found myself repeat listening to Nerd Love. There are a lot of artfully loaded references to fandom culture that play over some brilliant producing. Nerd Love is available on digital, compact disc, and ‘futuristic USB’ from Hand’Solo records.

Gray Lee

https://handsolorecords.bandcamp.com/album/nerd-love

JENNIFER DOLL - "With Everything"

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Jennifer Doll - "With Everything"

(Weatnu Records) 

Electronic artist and songwriter Jennifer Doll blends clear, genuine vocals with pleasing pop instrumentation for this fresh-sounding EP, With Everything. As a release it really does have a bit of everything.

Each track is built up with layers of sequenced instruments that form a dense musical foundation upon which Jennifer Doll's bright voice dances across. From shimmering pools of synth backed with electro-pop drums in Siren Song, to fuzz powered bass stacked with idm beats and reverb-tinged backup vocals in Secrets of the Dance Floor, to the electric string backed ballad, Heavy, Jennifer Doll packs this EP with musical variety.

"Can anybody hear it? All the broken truths, And hollow lies?,"

she sings, in Secrets of the Dance Floor, a song about combating normalcy of living in a dishonest society. A bonus track, Glitter Tits, explores a youthful party where glitter ends up everywhere. 

In this release, Jennifer Doll delivers some open, heartfelt songwriting - while wielding multiple musical styles with layered track-building.  Recommended for your autumn playlists, or early evening twilit upstairs shoegazing.

Gray Lee

 https://jenniferdollweatnurecords.bandcamp.com

 

OUTER 神殿 & BOB GENGIS KHAN - "Cɾ∪ƨhəᑯ Conversionƨ 2"

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Outer 神殿 & Bob Gengis Khan - "Cɾ∪ƨhəᑯ Conversionƨ 2"

(Bogus Collective) 

Hazy spirals of classic-tinged vaporwave open this release, as Outer 神殿 takes center stage on side A. Good interferences and stereo bounce can be found behind clever titles like "Martial Arts Emulator" and "Lagoon Punch (On the 5th Floor.) What begins as a casual vapor release transmutates into something else entirely, as the phacade crumbles and falls away - piece by piece - revealing the tumultuous energy clouds within. Each successive track is more and more beleaguered with layers of hectic disarray. 

Bob Gengis Kahn carries the torch on side B, letting loose an even more disintegrated selection of works. Fragments of scattered transmissions are flung at the lstener with increasing abandon until total annihilation is reached. Tracks such as "ßit(coin) b00ty" are so destroyed that they barely occupy our dimension at all, as if we are examining the residue of a musical creation within the package that once held it, trying to imagine what it must have sounded like.

In the end, Crushed Conversions 2 is aptly titled. It is a empty casket filled with completely derailed shadows that only exist as unsolved equations.   

Gray Lee

 https://boguscollective.bandcamp.com/album/c-h-conversion-2

 

P A T H S パス - "Vaporwave 2 - 謎の宮殿 "

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P A T H S パス - "Vaporwave 2 - 謎の宮殿"

(Power_Lunch Corporation) 

P A T H S パス leads us down a dark, shimmering tunnel into an afterlife filled with knee-deep glimmering water. Moonlight streams through an open manhole cover, and somewhere in the distance the he-beast calls out in the musty chambers of the night.

This is a release entitled " Vaporwave 2 - 謎の宮殿" and it certainly feels like we are beyond vaporwave at this point. It's a darkly echoed affair in the shadowy passages of a mysterious palace on another plane of existence, after everything that once was, is no longer.

Throatless voices call out un-hearable words as a pounding heartbeat reverberates off the slimy bricks of eternity's drainage system. All the while, the fragments of a forgotten melody rattle around on dusty ledges. There is fire and anguish in the pit below, and the din of it reaches to the upper halls where mechanical jackals of war restlessly dream.

Gray Lee

 https://powerlunch.bandcamp.com/album/--3

 

VOODOOHOP - "Entropia Coletiva II"

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Voodoohop - "Entropia Coletiva II"

(Voodoohop)

Groovy downtempo electronica with a strong world vibe bursts out of this release like the flagrantly adorned cover art that represents it. This compilation from Brazil-based collective Voodoohop travels through many music zones, but stays close to the cool, ambient shadows, where smooth rhythms and hypnotic musical compositions dance in the psychedelic night.

The track opener, Spine Tingles by Peter Power, is well worth the price of admission, with cooled-down beats and nearby found sounds that play with the senses in a pleasing way. The following track, Noon, feels like anything but noon, following in the opening track’s shadowy footprints. Other highlights include M. RUX and Thomash’s infectious and upbeat Tukuna Hering, that induces dancing on contact, and the absolute burner, Glassminazed, a ten minute journey from Supercombo Los Caviares, with lightweight droning and percussive glassware, creating a transcendent, meditative experience that is tethered to Earth by physical sounds.

Entropia Coletiva II is a brilliantly executed exploration of mood, that defies the variety of artists presented by being fiercely congruous. If you are looking to zone out, or zoom in, trance up, or cool down, this release is waiting there for you, beneath the haunted starlight of an endless sky.

Gray Lee

https://voodoohop.bandcamp.com/album/voodoohop-entropia-coletiva-ii

JAMIE AWAKSHIDAR - "There is More Beauty in Corruption"

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Jamie Awakshidar - "There is More Beauty in Corruption"

(Asura Revolver) 

This densely packed dark ambient album personifies its title, showing the deep beauty in damaged, disconnected things. The concept is quite strong, and plays out across the release in a dramatic way.  

The opening track Skyhack Rising is a transcendent, powerful surge of uplifiting synth tones, a meditative icon of beauty and peace. As soon as the triumphantly titled Sic Transit Gloria Mundi begins, strains of corruption can already be felt. The track is drenched in a self-feeding reverb that washes the track over its brim in waves of chaos. As the album continues, the sounds and moods continue to shift toward shadowy, darker zones.

In dramatic contrast to peace, stillness, and calm, as the release nears its core we can sense the radiating undulations of malice and entopy. The audio becomes an overwhelming, swirling malestrom of disfigured audio and crossing frequencies that feels like it's trapped between the walls, in a frenzied focus on complex movements in the dark.

It is in these startling moments, that Jamie Awakshidar displays a true artistry, reveling in the mighty power and detail found in the broken, misty passageways between worlds. As far as this release goes, There is More Beauty in Corruption.

Gray Lee

 https://asurarevolver.bandcamp.com/album/there-is-more-beauty-in-corruption

 

 

NIGHT BEACH - "Bed"

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Night Beach - "Bed"

Bed, the latest release from Atlanta GA. based artist, Night Beach, is the perfect example of bedroom pop. I'm not saying that because the title is Bed, although that probably helps. 

Bed is an upbeat and catchy album that combines the intimate, casual feel of bedroom pop with slicker, more polished production methods that are usually less present in the genre. You could call this mid-fi bedroom pop. 

The selections on this release range from thoughtful, introspective lullabies like Good Night Sleepy Dragon, to the yawning and distorted rock riffs of tracks like Hair. Each memorable tune here is a brief wisp of powerful pop that simultaneously calms down and perks up your bedroom pop playlist, crafted from curly electric guitar work, gentle bass lines, and lighthearted vocals.

Gray Lee

https://nightbeach.bandcamp.com/album/bed

HAUNTED GAUNTLET - "OM3G4 G3N3SIS"

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Haunted Gauntlet - "OM3G4 G3N3SIS"

(Cudighi Records)

Lo-fi instrumental hip-hop meets warbling oddball audio in OM3G4 G3N3SIS, a new release on Cudighi Records by Omaha, Nebraska heartbreaker, beat-maker, and soul-taker Haunted Gauntlet. 

First of all, let’s put our anger aside that Haunted Gauntlet came up with an artist name that’s just head and shoulders above the rest of us - he’s our cousin now, and he’s making this bizarro avant-garde hip hop that I’ve been jamming in the car for weeks.

Armed with a small army of cousins, who guest rap on the album, Gauntlet takes us through a beat-infused landscape of weirdly woven samples and oddly modulated sounds. It’s a concoction that defies direct categorization and makes it difficult for amateurs like me to explain properly. That’s why you need to be listening to this mess. I certainly appreciate the punctuative use of the Sonic the Hedgehog ring acquisition sound throughout this release. Much better than at the gas station when people redeem lottery tickets, that ring sound actually belongs in this weirdo collage of crunching beats, varied rap styles and grab bag sound effects.

It’s hard to choose a standout track. I prefer listening to the whole thing on repeat. Dusk ft. Sleep Sinatra is a great slow groove with sick rhymes and great sampling. Most Wanted ft. Keii brings us a laid back jam with a great chorus and some nicely disintegrated synth lines as a backdrop. There’s even a nice bit in Essence Pooling where the track closes with a fun sampling from a certain well-known water level. Thumbs up, Haunted.

Every track has a different, distinctive flavor - while adhering to the killer Haunted Gauntlet aesthetic that the listener will be able to pick up on right away. There is a satisfying amount of ‘wobble’ in here, an antiquated post-everything sound, like digging music up out of the rubble of a failed world and trying to figure out what it means. The rhyming voices here are powerful and energetic, lending to the living, breathing feel of each composition.

OM3G4 G3N3SIS is available in digital and cassette format, from Cudighi Records.

Gray Lee

https://hauntedgauntlet.bandcamp.com/album/om3g4-g3n3sis

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Yeah. Just look at that.

KOSMOGYR - "Eviternity"

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Kosmogyr - “Eviternity”

Eviternity is a full-length black metal album from collaborative duo Kosmogyr.

Kosmogyr is Xander Cheng of Shanghai and Ivan Belcic of Prague. Xander provides the ferocious guitar and bass work, while Ivan provides programmed drums, and pulls off some amazing vocals.

There is some good balance in here between dramatic, orchestrated pieces of instrumental storyline, and ear-splitting metal passages of violent action, creating a black metal experience that is filled with all the deep and dark anger, aggression, and hatred you're looking for, sweetened by emotive symphonic interludes.

The title track of the release is a standout hit, with Xander raging out on an easily accessible doubled riff that plays across a pulsating rhythm. The chorus comes in with a satisfyingly heavy thrash before locking back into the main drag. Ivan is a monster whose demonic howls and far-from-clean vocals capture the raw, tortured entropy that makes genuine black metal so compelling. Tracks such as Sui Generis and Refulgence bring orchestral and acoustic styles into the mix that balance the album, and provide further contrast when the big waves of metal come crashing down.

Eviternity is certainly a hell of an album, and if you were looking off the beaten path for hidden gems, you will find one here with Kosmogyr.

Gray Lee

https://kosmogyr.bandcamp.com/album/eviternity-digital-version

USED CONDO - "Kiosk"

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Used Condo - "Kiosk"

(Bumpy)

The Bumpy label presents this strange concoction of synth and sound by unusual artist Used Condo, an alias for legendarily strange Minnesota music denizen, Larry Wish. Kiosk is a videogame soundtrack for a non-existent game, (at least it doesn’t currently occupy our reality.)

The game is a psycological thriller where a character makes his way through an abandoned mall that is being haunted by a pile of monsters and ghosts, (like most abandoned malls.) As one would expect, the release is full of eerie audio and time shifting lines of electro-babble. The opening track, Receipt of Payment has a no-longer-human voice explain what the game is all about. Then the first level begins with Everybody is People with Clothing like Me. Is the main character seeing ghostly figures and identifying with them, or are they just mannequins in the shadows?

Each track seems to be a different area of the game, with varying degrees of danger and horror. For example, the track Humin Bozos is filled with creepy loops of ghostly wails and oddly swirling sounds that spiral into an abyss at the end. The Tan of Tens of Boppy Booths is a rapidly looping percussive cycle. with ragged clips from a newscast and trippy stereo spirits. The release ends with Highly Trained Agent, who is hopefully someone who is there to rescue the protaganist from the haunted mall.

Kiosk is a psychotropic ride through a hyperactively spiritual environment that had me searching for the game, only to find that it isn’t available in our dimension.

Gray Lee

https://bumpy.bandcamp.com/album/kiosk

KENNY MILLIONS & KRESTEN OSGOOD - "Copenhagen Bluez"

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Kenny Millions & Kresten Osgood - “Copenhagen Bluez”

(MuteAnt Sounds)

The wooly and wild duo of Kenny Millions and Kresten Osgood crank out a mean free jazz thrash of a dirty blues, psyched-out rock, and untethered off-kilter yelling.

A jumbled and careening drum kit falls down a flight of stairs as a fuzzy electric guitar is fed into a wood chipper. Kenny Millions flings greasy clumps of partially chewed up lyrics at the microphone just before a halloween organ bursts onto the scene, belching rubber spiders.

A frightened saxaphone cries into the ambivalent night, searching for one of it's brass parents. Nothing but angular shadows cover the uneven ground. A drunken miscreant sleeping it off overnight screams unintelligible nightmares from his cell.

Kenny Millions is on a rampage. Not even the gentle gospel of the jazz organ can cool him for long. At last he stands bare naked in the creul spotlight, howling every conjugation of expletive his frantic mind can muster.

That's Copenhagen Bluez

Gray Lee

https://muteantsoundsnetlabel.bandcamp.com/album/copenhagen-bluez

HESSIAN - "Mercenary Retrograde"

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Hessian - “Mercenary Retrograde”

(Urtod Void)

Get ready for an old-fashioned thrashin’ with this powerful anachronism from rock and roll soldiers, Hessian. Fueled by a great love an reverence for the early black metal of ‘The Old Ones,’ this four-piece of hard rock mercenaries who hail the city-state of Portland, Maine, are here to fight in '“the war against the jive.”

Heavy guitars, propelled by dusty, cobweb-covered amps from the 70s surge across this release like war pigs, gathered in their masses. Anthemic choruses and blistering guitar solos soar like angels of death across a black velvet sky. Throbbing basslines thud at the bottom of the track as furious percussion keeps the pace for the marching warriors.

“We are the rock and roll soldiers!

Rock and Roll will keep you alive!”

- So howls lead singer and ringleader Angus McFarland, who hurls electrified bolts of pure distilled rock and roll in each note, as his troops behind him wage war with their amplified weapons of music. From the opening execution drums of “I Wish I Was Dead” to the closing death throes of “Manos, The Hands of Fate,” Hessian delivers a rich, robust draught of rock and roll in is primal form, steeped in decades within casks filled with ancient death metal spirits.

While emulating the music of old certainly is their selling point, Hessian has got a lot to offer. Look past the obvious things, like the retro riffs and album art - and you’ll hear an album that has real heart. These people love what they are doing, and they are having the time of their lives doing it really well. The over-the-top song titles and lyrics are genuinely a lot of fun, and the music stands up to repeat listens. I think Hessian ultimately isn’t trying to get you to accept this record as an item for the past you somehow missed - but to instead wants you to find a new appreciation for the artistry and style of the music they hold dear. Maybe it’s time to dig up your old collection and give your favorite records another spin.

So all that’s left in the world is to ask yourself a question. Are you a rock and roll soldier? Then get your marching orders - from Hessian!

Gray Lee

https://urtodvoid.bandcamp.com/album/hessian-mercenary-retrograde

NYLON SMILE - "Angel of Doubt"

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Nylon Smile - "Angel of Doubt"

(Citrus City Records)

This short and sweet pop rock EP from Los Angeles based musician Nylon Smile is a fine collection of 3 minute indie radio ditties. Each selection is built from gauzy electric guitar fills, low fi drums, and harmonized vocals. 

On tracks such as Rise and Release, driving bass lines and reverb heavy guitars form a sonic crater that the voice of Nikolas Seolter settles to the bottom of - creating undulations of dreamy, shoegaze mood that washes across the mix like a puddle of warm rain water filled with dead leaves. 

On the closing track, Younger, Nylon Smile mixes things up with warbling piano and pitch shifted lead vocals and an ominous bass line for a deep, contemplative dip into indie buzz & fuzz. 

The operative word here is mood. Nylon Smile takes melancholy, after-school joyrides and endless ripples of casually emotive mood and wraps them up in a cassette-sized package.

Gray Lee

https://citruscityrecords.bandcamp.com/album/angel-of-doubt

FULL ECLIPSE - "Former Selves"

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Full Eclipse - "Former Selves"

(30th Floor Records) 

Former Selves is the latest release by Full Eclipse on racy Cardiff, UK label, 30th Floor Records. This album is a long, cool, drink of smooth synth, hot beats, and vintage sounds, topped off with vocals and lyrics that don't get bogged down in the intentions of the aesthetic. 

There are a lot of terms that could go into the aesthetic of Former Selves, synthwave, retrowave, synth pop - but it all amounts to distilling the best elements of 80s and 90s pop music into modern productions, and that's exactly what Full Eclipse excels at doing here. Listeners can expect soaring guitars, reverb soaked drums and the energetic notes of synth that remind us of a golden time in music, and of a retro future that we have yet to experience. In the track, Are We All, a warm synth layers over a driving soft rock drum kit, as a sizzling, yet smooth guitar solo dominates the track. Another standout track is Clocktowers, that creates a brilliant climb with a white hot synth solo that plateaus into a steamy outro for the back third of the track. 

Despite the enjoyable 80s throwbacks, it is with word and voice that Full Eclipse is able to reach beyond a simple execution of a style. Lead vocalist, Full Eclipse, lends a deep baritone rendering of heartfelt lyrics that defy the bubblegum stereotype that the stylized music seemingly demands. In the opening track, Lebenfallen, he delivers such lines as:

 

"Do you remember all the times gone by?/ 

The world turned as we burned up the youthful enthusiasm/ 

We had long assumed that we could never die."

 

The vocals, which clearly evoke styles from two or three decades ago, manage to remain fresh in content and delivery. This juxtaposition of modern and classic elements delivers a blend that makes Former Selves an engaging listen, both as an enjoyable synthwave piece, and a standalone expression of the artist - blissful and melancholic reverie of love and heartbreak, slick hair, shiny jackets and sunglasses at night. 

Gray Lee

https://30thfloor.uk/album/former-selves

[Album of the Month] BOYCALLEDCROW - "Hyperlight"

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Boycalledcrow - "Hyperlight"

(HairsABlazin)

As the steep icy mountain is climbed, arctic winds dance about, and strange glowing lights illuminate the darkly clouded sky. At the broken summit of this ragged peak, frozen forever ago, is an ancient monument. At the center of this ageless edifice floats an unearthly stone from another reality. A strange energy emanates from it as one apporaches. Where could this have come from? Our only clue is the music we can hear coming from the heart of the mystic stone. This timeless energy from the distant future imparts warmth and power known as - Hyperlight.

Hyperlight is a new electronic release on Hairs A Blazin by Chester, UK artist Boycalledcrow. This is computer-generated music with real heart, more glow than glisten, more organic than mechanical. The opening and closing tracks, Cloudhead parts one and two, are perfect bookends for the energetically cool compositions in between.

A lush variety of environments and textures abound in tracks such as Forest and March. Each selection takes the listener to a new place with fresh detail and intrigue. Suitable for recreational listening or for your concentration playlist, Hyperlight is the electronic release you've been waiting for. Available in digitized or magnetized formats at Hairs A Blazin.

Gray Lee

 

https://hairsablazin.bandcamp.com/album/hyperlight

YVES MALONE - "The Most Of What You Need Is All You'll Ever Have"

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Yves Malone - "The Most Of What You Need Is All You'll Ever Have"

(Third Kind Records)

Prolific synthwave/darkwave/anywave artist Yves Malone transmits yet another tasty morsel of electro-tastic note bounce in this Third Kind Records release, The Most of What You Need is All You'll Ever Have. That title is certainly a mouthful, and, just like the fancy toy horses on the cover, this release is raring to go, right out of the gate.

This album, coming to us straight out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yves Malone's home planet, kicks off with the ear-grabbing track Too Dark to Feel, a nearly eight-minute burner that pumps clear, unadulterated synth right into your brain space. Expertly mixed and mastered computer tones surge through this release without all the trippy distractions that lesser artists are tempted to gimmick us with. Don't mistake - this jam is trippy all right - but everything in here is a clean, pure note. I cannot imagine how Yves Malone even does this. I take that back - I can imagine Yves Malone doing this - what I cannot imagine is how Yves Malone does anything else. If I made a piece of music this intricate and pleasing, I would emerge from the glowing, whirring room filled with blinky computer lights with red eyes and skin ailments, forming a tin foil hat for myself and then falling face-first into the neighbor's swimming pool.

Yves knows how to keep this ripper going with massive tension and release, such as in the rockin' 80s vibed track Savings and Bone - (get it?)  I don't really even understand what that little play on words means? Banks will kill you? I believe it! My favorite track on here is Crimson Rain Swept it Away - which has this great tempo change about halfway through. What a ride! If you dig synth of the highest order, washing over you in fast-paced, labyrinthine melodies and punchy polyrhythms - you need to quit reading this review and get over to Third Kind Records right now!

Gray Lee

https://thirdkindrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-most-of-what-you-need-is-all-youll-ever-have

BUCK YOUNG - "Proud Trash Sound"

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Buck Young - "Proud Trash Sound"

(No Rent Records)

Yee Haw! Rope yourself to something solid, partner! We are about to embark on a journey through the rip roarin' world of Proud Trash Sound, a bizarre artifact of significant uniqueness indeed. 

What can be heard on this record is a spectacle of found sounds, scratched up recordings, sudden noise explosions, and dismembered saloon ballads. The opening number, Trash Sound, which treats us to mixed and scraped hog-call recordings, speckled with snatches of over-driven guitar, provides a good indication of what to expect on the rest of this release. A meld is formed between jumbled field recordings of vaguely western origin, gunfights on horseback where each shot is replaced with outbursts of harsh noise, or seedy country songs that have been disfigured in some butcher's dusty back room.

The completed work is reminiscant of the old viewing galleries, where one would wander from one diorama to the next, peering through dirty glass lenses at musty old curiosities that have not been well-maintained. There is a great amount of detail, variety and humor in each audio assembly - from the twangy voice demanding the whereabouts of a certain lady in Where's Linda, to distorted piano-looped tribute to a mysterious figure known as Murdoch, the amusement park ride through the demented reality of Proud Trash Sound continues until it screeches to a halt at I'm Gettin Better, a jolting track of bouncing noise freakouts and sliced and diced audio. 

This divine example of psycho cowboy electronics kicks harder than a swig of moonshine, and now is being re-released in LP format so that it can bloom to its full rusted glory. Revel in the nuance of every squeal and sqwawk, each deep fried vocal and roadkill music aesthetic. Brought to us courtesy of No Rent Records. 

Gray Lee

https://norentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/proud-trash-sound-renthike02-nrr64

[Album of the Month] BENJAMIN SHAW - "Megadead"

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Benjamin Shaw - "Megadead"

(Audio Antihero)

"Ive' got things to talk about/ I've got hell to pay" - Benjamin Shaw

Megadead may be the name  of the latest release from lo-fi indie pop artist Benjamin Shaw, but don't let the morbid name fool you. There is a lot of vulnerable, depressing shoegaze to behold here, but there is also a lot of light and hope. This is certainly one of those occasions where the cover art perfectly fits the content. Sure, there's a skeleton - but look at all that glorious daylight streaming through the window!

The production of this album blends found sounds, field recordings, and carefully executed lo-fi, indie pop songwriting to create a varied listening experience propelled by interest and sustained by detail. Much of the release feels instrumental and ambient, a sound collage of answering machine tapes, and clips of old radio broadcasts, synth compositions, and occasional inward-looking, lonely lyrics delivered by Shaw.  

Benjamin Shaw is a poignant songwriter, who favors a straight-forward exploration of personal feelings over storytelling, or metaphorical meanderings. I have recently decribed his past works as "depression rock," which was said partly in jest - but it actually fits those works pretty well. In this release, however, we see Benjamin flexing his artistic muscle, with heartfelt writings that address homesickness, boredom, weariness, loneliness and a variety of other very human feelings, all with a lightly morose and sometimes humorous air. 

Overall the subtleties and depth of Megadead superseded my expectations of what it was going to be, and I recommend you take a listen when you get a chance. It's definitely Benjamin Shaw's best release to date.  

Gray Lee

https://bnjmnshw.bandcamp.com/album/megadead

ANDRULIAN - "Irresistible Forces"

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Andrulian - "Irresistible Forces"

(Submarine Broadcasting Company) 

Experimental electronic artist Andrulian adds another powerful ambient work to his prolific catalog with Irresistible Forces, a dark journey through a shadowy underworld – a dimension that mimics our own, but is forever shrouded in darkness and confusion. The laws of physics do not entirely apply here, and nothing is as it should be.

Waves of hazy energy wash overhead as deep tones well up from underfoot. This is an unstable place full of horrors and nightmares. Sounds in the distance may be natural, or may be some hidden danger. There is no way to know. All the while you are searching for a way out – but much like a fish swimming under the ice of a frozen over lake, there may not be a way to cross back over. This purgatory may be your new home.

What was that? Some kind of roar? You are not alone here. There are creatures in the dark that hunt you. Retreating further into the shadows, you discover an abandoned science station. The desolate structure is ragged but sturdy. Computers still scan the vast inky blackness of this dimension. It's too bad the science team that was sent here is missing, or dead. Was that a voice? Is this place haunted? Even if you find the answer, you won't be able to tell anyone. You are up against Irresistible Forces.

Gray Lee

 https://submarinebroadcastingco.bandcamp.com/album/irresistible-forces

REGENERON VERTEX - "Geneworks"

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Regeneron Vertex - "Geneworks"

(Asura Revolver)

Mysterious musical artist Regeneron Vertex brings us this strange electronic work filled with nature sounds and unusual electronic compositions. According to Asura Revolver, this release has a somewhat mysterious origin - having been sent to the label by some unknown party, who then did not respond to any of the correspondence from the label.

Fortunately, that didn't stop Asura from sharing this music with us. Geneworks is an engaging release that soothes the listener with natural sounds while presenting puzzling compositions that, at times, seem to pose darker questions. 

Rushing water, bird calls, and other field recordings populate Geneworks. Occasionally, ambient electronica, or well timed beats arrive to compliment or contrast the environs that Regeneron conjures. As the compositions ebb and flow, dark undertones creep in, never overshadowing the vision of the overall work, but tinting the outcome to a less joyful shade. 

What Regeneron appears to present to the listener is a audio tapestry of a peaceful utopia that perhaps is embroidered with sorrow. Will we see more from this elusive artist? Will our questions about this work ever be answered? It may be possible that the mystery only adds another level of interest to this polished, evocative piece.

Gray Lee

https://asurarevolver.bandcamp.com/album/geneworks