Review

MARSHA FISHER - "Inverted"

Marsha Fisher - “Inverted”

(Bad Cake Records)

Lincoln, Nebraska sound artist Marsha Fisher brings us this thirty-six minute collection of analog manipulated recordings, for a sacred audio experience that simmers with regenerative audio sensations. Inverted resonates with the purity and warmth of softly imperfect tape loops, unburdened by modernity. Each of the six tracks included in this audio work is a lovingly crafted document of transcendent cassette glory, produced entirely outside of contemporary technological means, giving this release the magical energy of sounds being shaped as clay is shaped by hands to form a smooth, tactile sculpture.

Tracks such as …of the south sea, and Hyacinth buzz with high-temperature mechanical energy interwoven with rough canvases of undulating ambient detail. Other offerings on the record such as Darkness, Also Light offer a more diaphanous sound, swirling with vibrating light and gently drifting fields of meditative bliss, bringing to Inverted a careful balance of concentration and imagination, concept versus task.

Overall, Inverted is a satisfyingly tangible cassette, bristling with varied sounds laden with hidden and ancient powers, and a worthy addition to the collection of any adventurously experimental explorer of the ambient.

Gray Lee

https://marshafisher.bandcamp.com/album/inverted

[Slept On Alert] BIG DEBBIE - "AB RA CA DEB RA"

Big Debbie - “AB RA CA DEB RA”

(Ratskin Records)

Confession: I got this album a few months ago, listened to the first couple of tracks, said “Woah this is gonna be good.” to myself, and then promptly got involved in a bunch of other things and NEVER listened to the rest of it until just now.

This was a mistake.

Sure, we’re only human - and there is no way I can give every album the attention it deserves - but now that I’ve given this release several listens, I must say I am completely at fault for sleeping on this record.

AB RA CA DEB RA is a bit of an enigma. It’s got the “see what we did there” title, the mysterious cover art. Even the name of the band had me wondering what to expect. The first track is a mind-blowing tension build with pounding rhythms, wild synth, and mysterious chanting that already were impressive in their scope, patience and execution.

By the time the lead singer steps up to the mic and begins belting out a monotone drawl of seedy lyrics in the second track Headbanger’s Balls, AB RA CA DEB RA is in fill swing, a powerful dirge of threatening synthwave, full of non-innuendos and bawdy, backroom lyrics. This album sounds like an industrial Kraftwerk cover band taking a 3AM smoke break from their gig at an underground, invite-only BDSM club, only to break out their instruments and cover ‘The Lady in the Radiator song’ except with lusty, unforgivable lyrics and a lot of heaving and thrusting.

Every track on the record has a noticeable bulge of blistering drums, nasty electronics, and foreboding, bone breaking atmosphere. The whole record crunches with bloodcurdling, sadistic glee, and feels an awful lot like the blaring background music on the crime show when they cut to a shot of the mustachioed serial killer walking into the dive bar to look for his next kidnapping victim.

Highlight tracks include Mouth Wide Open (Your Eyes,) the insane opening track with unrelenting waves of psychotic drums and nefarious incantations, Sea Priestess, a lengthy psychotropic journey down a long sloping tunnel of echoing vocals and plinking organs, and Modern Pagan Dance Trance, which pairs what sounds like a prison song chorus with droning instrumentals and unstoppable drums.

Overall , AB RA CA DEB RA is a real, certified banger that is now easily one of my favorite albums. Looks like at time of publication, there are still copies of this available on vinyl, provided you have a record player sinister enough to play this sick record.

Gray Lee

WILLIAM LYON OF ROSYCROSS - "Alter in der Fülle"

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William Lyon of Rosycross - “Alter in der Fülle”

(Cudighi Records)

Mother and Father always wanted you to listen to sensible music when you grew up, and now here you are, looking up another weirdo album on a weirdo website. What brought you to this shameful point in your life? No, don’t bother turning back - it’s a done deal now. You might as well lean into it and enjoy yourself. A good way to start would be with this highly enjoyable piece of musical obscurity.


This guy. THIS guy just released an album that you can’t not know about.

This guy. THIS guy just released an album that you can’t not know about.

Alter in der Fülle is a new release from self-described “demi-crossdressing Christian goth synthpop artist,” William Lyon of Rosycross - and the album description alone is worth the visit to the page for the release. IN summary, William describes a musical work recorded over a long period of time under the duress of being an absolutely pathetic individual. After the over-the-top self deprecation from this artist, you may be suprised to learn that this release is an absolute banger. An essential listen from an unlikely place.

“But what does it sound like, Gray” I can hear you asking, “After all, that’s what I really want to know.”

This release sounds like fictional music created for a tragically uncool failed musician character in a British single-camera sitcom in the early 2000s utilizing musical styles that were out of style before they were even created. Out of his wacky bucket of quirky beats, Korg-heavy synth hooks, and bizarre lyrics delivered in a britcom accent, William Lyon manages to make some of the most entertaining and deviously catchy songs I have heard in a long time.

It’s all a careful balance between overcooking the character, loading the track with CDC-level infectious lines, and writing that is intentionally nonsensical lyrics and song concepts that are just too good. I’ve had a hard time trying to pick out highlights because the whole album is gold. Consider these priceless lines from I don’t Want a Woman WIth a Physical Body:

Now everybody’s saying that sex is fluid/

So I went to the forest and I asked my druid/

Why they never compare sex to the air?/

Crash and you burn when you fly up there/

Compare it to a fire, that the fire burns/

Hot to the touch and you’ll never learn/

In fact, I probably would have had this review written a lot sooner, but I just end up playing the hell out of this album and never writing anything about it. Curse you, William Lyon of Rosycross, for your ridiculous music that I cannot stop listening to! I want to go back to my old life, when I enjoyed respectable music - but NO! In the dead of night, I’m waking up singing Protestant Body and a Catholic Mind. Am I singing it out loud- or is it just being screamed in my head? I don’t even know anymore.

Overall, Alter in der Fülle is the most fun you can have in a puffy shirt. I highly recommend.

Gray Lee

https://williamlyonofrosycross.bandcamp.com/album/alter-in-der-f-lle


R∞ - "000"

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R∞ - "000"

It seems like a lot of difficult-to-categorize music falls under the vaporwave banner these days. Unique electronic artist R∞ brings us 000, which is just the sort of music I was referring to. In this work, R∞ is giving us everything and nothing all at once. Tantalizing us with intricately detailed cover art, but using the most minimal, numeric track titles as possible, R∞ is loading the release with expectations, realities, and the mystery in between.

000 is a rhythmic journey through a lush, untamed world with hypnotic synth loops, ambient fills, and perhaps an occasional referential audio sample. All of these things blend together to create a cocktail of heady, psychotropic entertainment, both compelling and peaceful, like lucid dream. What’s it all about? I have no idea. I’m not sure I care. Each movement of the work brings a new interest, while maintaining focus with repeated sounds and motifs that punctuate the forward motion of the experience.

Churning with natural sounds, swirling lines of electronica, and overgrown with mystique, 000 delivers a satisfying ride through the tangled, shadowy jungles of imagination - full of enigmatic ancient ruins and untold dangers.

Gray Lee

https://rrrxrrrxrrr.bandcamp.com/album/ooo

LUDWIG BERGER - "Cargo"

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Ludwig Berger - “Cargo”

(Canti Magnetici)

Poetic, detailed, and filled with intimate solitude, Cargo, the latest release from musique concrete magician, Ludwig Berger, bristles with satisfying hum and resonant air energy. Using the aural brushes of field recording, ambient drone work, and thoughtfully artistic editing, Berger paints portraits of everyday occurrences with vivid detail.

Water is not made of waves, but droplets. Children play in stereo around the listener. Jovial workers labor in bright sunlight. Birds call from trees. Occasionally a dramatic sweep of ambient power pushes the narrative forward, but often the listener drifts through each vignette, pausing for an undetermined time to discover the intricate secrets of each new scene.

At the close, Cargo could mean many things. Perhaps the ocean waves convey cargo in unseen ships, or the workers are loading cargo. Or maybe the sounds we are hearing are the cargo. Records of another place and time, preserved on a thin strip of magnetized tape.

Gray Lee

https://cantimagnetici.bandcamp.com/album/cargo

[Album of the Month] Sharkula & Mukqs - "Prune City"

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Sharkula & Mukqs - “Prune City”

(Hausu Mountain)

Most large urban landscapes share similarities - tall buildings, traffic, mass transit, and, of course - street characters - people whose very presence embody the cities that they inhabit. For Chicago, Illinois, Sharkula is that legendary figure - an underground hip hop artist who promotes his craft distributing flyers, selling his CDs on the street, participating heavily in the local scene, and meeting the public face to face.

Musical chaos technician Max Allison, who performs under the moniker of Mukqs, came across Sharkula in a local Chicago eatery and decided to approach him about a possible collaboration. "The real start of the collab happened at Burger King when I walked in and found him a booth, " Max explains, - "I told him i was gonna make him beats, and he was like 'cool.' We ate chicken sandwiches together"

The process of capturing the essence of the shark man on a Hausu Mountain tape began with a mad science session where Mukqs recorded some top-notch electronic pasta, all recorded live. "I wanted to make beats that have 16 bar intros, verses, choruses. So that was my goal. All of these beats were made using only my synths, drum machines, looper, and sampler. Like all my music as Mukqs, the beats were recorded live with no overdubs and without the use of software. This means that in the final takes that ended up being the beats, I'm triggering samples from my Roland 404 sampler as the means of performance. in this case, it was very much not an "improvised" process at all, but deliberately triggering beats after certain periods of time to sketch out the structures of the tracks" What Mukqs was able to accomplish in that session is a selection of some of the finest rhythmic synth, with a perfect blend of bouncing beats, floating clouds of ethereal energies, and spiraling tunnels of mad audio.

The instrumental portion of the album completed, it was time for Sharkula to sink his teeth into the project. During a three hour recording session, the mythical street flaneur spoke his free form raps into being over the thumping alien landscape of the new Mukqs recording. Thus was born Prune City, a bizarre concoction of electronic wizardry and organic urban poetry that strikes a strange balance between wildly original sounds and rap.

Sharkula's live recordings are completely unpredictable. At times bursting with bombastic bravado and street level toilet humor, Sharkula alternates between scattered blocks of free form raps, laughing his scratchy, good-natured laugh, tenderly apologizing for missing lines and complimenting the beats. He is an entirely unconventional performer who cannot be contained, bursting with pure energy and an infectious love of the moment, characterized by a cascading style where he leaps from one concept to another, sometimes only semantically tied, or appearing to utterly disjoint. It's a stream of consciousness from a larger-than-life character, spilled out over the pumping electronic psychopath jazz that hammers around in Mukqs' haunted machines.

Overall, Prune City is a highly listenable release that grows on the listener with each listen. It’s an artistic success that springs forth from originality, creative power, and mutual reverence - delivering a perfect blend of experimental audio spaghetti, squeezed into chunks of swirling hip hop, topped with the disconnected hyper-genius meanderings of the legendary bearded bard of Chicago streets.

Gray Lee

https://hausumountain.bandcamp.com/album/prune-city

PICKLE DARLING - "Bigness"

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Pickle Darling - “Bigness”

(Z Tapes)

Musician and producer Lukas Mayo returns with another release under his Pickle Darling moniker. Each of these ten tracks is a unique and tightly produced blend of electronic pop, and intimate singer-songwriter musings. These songs sound like they were written on guitar first and elevated with all the electronic goodness. There’s an earthiness and down-to-earth feel behind all the bright rhythms and beats.

A good example is the track Rinse Spin Cycle / Nicolas Cage. This six-minute track exudes the warm, buzzing energy, clean lines, and personal writing that exemplifies everything we love about Pickle Darling. “What if no one likes my music?” sings Pickle Darling. Not a problem, Lukas. We really dig this.

Standout tracks include: Soft Cars, an intimate ballad that begins with good guitar textures, and slowly introduces bass and drums to fill out the track, as the lyrics meander through a story in a string very casual, conversational lines, and Greta, which is built on a warm synth line and some curiously tune bent vocals.

Bigness represents to me a movement from the lo-fi beginnings of bedroom pop to a much more polished sound that still retains the innocence and personal connection that made bedroom pop so popular to begin with, and is a logical successor to the previous Pickle Darling album, which hit a lot of the same marks. This album is a realization of more, further, and higher.

https://pickledarling.bandcamp.com/album/bigness

Gray Lee

TRUE BLOSSOM - "Heater"

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True Blossom - “Heater”

(Citrus City Records)

Atlanta pop band True Blossom brings us this striking ode to traditional studio sounds, with lovely throwbacks to 70s grooves & rhythms, with warm, shimmering vocals that would melt the most frozen of hearts. This is Heater, the ten-track debut for the band, and a compelling listen throughout.

The opening track Baby, kicks off this release with a thumping, funky bassline, vibrant synths, and enough wiki wiki guitar licks to get your bell bottoms moving. Singer Sophie Cox smoothly tops the groovy concoction with soft, inviting lyrics and harmonies. The band’s fascination with studio technique shows in the cleverly layered mixing of this album, with a rich selection of finely tuned sounds - but underneath is a real nuts-and-bolts framework of songwriting and arrangement that really brings up the temperature.

The lyrics and content here are not out of place - Heater is proudly pop music. You’ll hear of heartbreak, love, sadness, and bliss. Mostly, it all turns to bliss. In the track We’ve All Been Here Before, there are themes of breakup and failed reunion, but with the hot synth hook, driving bass, and perky drums - you can’t help but feel good. The beautiful harmonies of Grave Robbers, and the tight groove of I Still Hate You bring depth to the album. The title track, Heater, really bumps with locked in bass and drums, thrilling vocal embellishments, and fun synths. You may hear a small sound inside yourself - that’s your icy heart melting with Heater.

https://citruscityrecords.bandcamp.com/album/heater

Gray Lee

TMBOY - "Steam"

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TMBOY - “Steam”

Normally, music categorized somewhere between “dance” and “pop” will have certain common elements, such as a driving 4/4 beat, and computerized voices singing empty platitudes about imaginary, idealistic infatuations. Such is not the case with this album. Electronic duo TMBOY releases Steam, a full length record that blends the high energy of electro-pop dance music with the subtlety, nuance, and vulnerability of singer-songwriting.

This music is charged with kinetic energy, surging with hard hitting EDM beats and buzzing with smooth lines of delicious synth - it's music that emerges from, speaks to, and urges movement. Each track draws the listener in from the opening notes, and holds that attention through to the end. Listening to the instrumentation on these tracks, produced by electronic composer Will Shore, would be enjoyable enough - but add the phenomenal vocal work by Sarah Aument, and this record skyrockets to new heights. Her effortless, charming, and powerful delivery leaps from each arrangement from smoky, intimate passages to full-voiced splendor that soars skyward. The brightness of her voice, and the raw beauty of the streamlined lyrics she sings, cast across the shadowy, atmospheric backdrop of synth bliss, makes Steam an emotional and urgent listen. Channeling beloved voices from the 90s,  Aument’s style brings to mind powerhouse voices such as Eddi Reader, Björk, Tracey Thorn, or Cocteau Twins - but never gets hung up on emulating the styles of others. She has a strong, confident presentation that is distinctly her own.

The combination of this duo’s powers is evident in tracks such as No One, where crucial timing and contrast between tender, reflective verses and bold, vibrant choruses create a dynamic feel. The title track, Steam, pairs a textured, exotic beat with singsong lyrics, precise harmonies, and a wide open chorus that hits hard with sweeping, anthemic power and resonant waves of synth energy.

Another highlight track, Zephyr, begins with a looping synth arpeggio with some exquisite falsettos, a supercharged pre-chorus that buzzes with tension, and a beautiful chorus backed by distant orchestral synths. “What if I am so small, I am nothing now?”  is the beautifully self-reflective line from the chorus - one of many such lines in the uniquely minimal and poetic lyrics found here. Each of these tracks is blessed with stylish, relatable, and intimate writing.

Overall, Steam is what we would classify as an essential release. There isn’t a note out of place. Every selection has its own identity, yet the release is a solid listen. Just like its namesake, Steam is full of rushing heat, immediate kinetic power, and the simplicity of combined elemental forces. The album is available in compact disc, LP, or digital. We highly recommend that you put this in your ears.

Gray Lee

https://tmboymusic.bandcamp.com/album/steam

 

Whettman Chelmets - Infant Eyes and Baby Steps

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Whettman Chelmets - “Infant Eyes and Baby Steps”

(Girly Girl Musik)

The indefatigable Whettman Chelmets drops his first release for 2019 in the form of a tight, little EP that communicates the travails and triumphs of raising a newborn but in a style that only Whettman can deliver.

The droning, ambient post-rock of the tracks certainly convey the surreal, sleep-deprived state that all parents have experienced. Indeed, track titles such as TFW it’s 400 am and you’ve been up 3 times already and MRW I Drop the Passie in the Dark express a verisimilitude of lived experience, and the field recordings of life in the Chelmetts’ household further amplify the authenticity.

Fans of Whettman’s previous work such as Annihilate your Masters and Alas The Sun is Shining and You are Still Alive will recognize the expansive soundscapes he can create with with reverb-drenched shoe-gaze guitar work and ambient synth. However, where Annihilate Your Masters stayed gritty and nihilistic, this latest EP goes to uplifting and hopeful places. Likewise, where Alas The Sun is Shining and You are Still Alive could be overly giddy, Infant Eyes and Baby Steps is touchingly heartfelt.

All in all, another solid release for the Whettman discography and the soundtrack for sleep-deprived new parents everywhere.

Theron Willis

https://girlygirlmusik.bandcamp.com/album/giant-eyes-infant-steps

IMP OF PERVERSE - "Imp In Reverse"

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Imp of Perverse - “Imp in Reverse”

(Under the Counter Tapes)

I make it a point not to read press releases that come packaged with music until after listening to said music. When it came to listening to Imp in Reverse, I had no idea what I was dealing with. I really dig this cover art. but I must admit the hypnotic background and slimeball cartoon splatters had me imagining some pretty damn weird music to go along with it.  My mind immediately went with odd instrumentation, maybe some creepy whispers, perhaps an uncomfortably chorused and phased tuneless voice belting out nonsensical lyrics - All of which would have been perfectly fine, because that’s exactly what I was expecting.

Instead, my ears were greeted with 83 minutes of psychedelic pop, with catchy, melodic guitar hooks, expertly managed percussion, and smooth, 90s styled rock and roll lyrics.

Imp of Perverse is the solo project of Sean Lochridge, drummer for the Austin, TX pysch pop band, Sherry.  This career-spanning release explores the evolution of The Imp, as a writer, creator and all around mad genius of off-the-wall rock musings. The catch here is that this litany of creative output is presented in reverse chronological order - allowing the listener the unique experience of starting at present day, and traveling backwards in one song increments as The Imp slowly grows younger, and wilder. 

Interested yet? You should be. The entire release is a solid musical odyssey full of hook-laden rock melodies, killer rhythms, and a quirky atmosphere of irreverent fun that keeps each new track fresh and engaging.  Imp in Reverse is divided neatly into four musical zones for the time-traveling listener to meander through:

Act 1 - Not Getting What You Want, One Step at a Time

The first four tracks of Imp in Reverse comprise this act. This music represents a seasoned Imp, using all the art rock skills he has developed to craft dream-like arrangements and catchy, melodic wordplay. Whether it’s the laid back acoustic vibe of misunderstanding, or the clean electric line, background organs, and breathy Lou Reed styled whispered lyrics of decisions, this chapter of the story could be considered the most ‘commercial,’ although that is a dangerous word to use in this context.

Act 2 - There's Everything

Tracks five through nine allow us to see the experimental side of The Imp, with selections that employ complex structures, off-the-wall writing and unpredictable, yet satisfying results. What we see here is a strong, confident Imp who is ready to challenge us. The thesis of this segment of the Imp’s progression can be found in the existential buzzing curves of the track, Pixelated Mindfuck in the Infinite Reality Corner, which blends tightly controlled psychedelic rock recording with chaotic-leaning dream passages. This act is also home to Gulliver’s Tail which is an objectively great track, built on a solid lead guitar riff, and a great bridge with punchy bass and the repeated motto of “Some people never change/ but over time they don’t seem the same.” Afterwards, a lengthy guitar amp buzz leads the track back into the main drag for some echoed final vocalizations.

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Act 3 - Togethercoloured Instant

This section of Imp in Reverse could be considered the calm before the storm. It is a beautiful three-track presentation featuring jangly guitar scrollwork, warmly looping synth arpeggios and gauzy arrangements of floating fuzz.

Act 4 - Who Knows

The end of this backwards story is the beginning. This nine-track entry in the Imp of Peverse saga is the debut of Sean Lochridge's solo efforts - and it is a mighty tome of psychedelic rock goodness, full of heavy, grunge-slinging guitars and gobs of furious percussion. The opening harsh drums and wailing guitar leads of steponthisflowerpedal lead the way for avant-garde art rock madness to spill over the track in broken chunks of pop rock laden with young lad lyrics and curling electric embellishment for punctuation. Each track in this act is a careening container of rhythms, hooks, thumping bass, and assorted psych elements - all pleasingly jumbled messes of young rock swagger.

Overall, Imp in Reverse may seem like a daunting release for an uninitiated listener to sink their teeth into, but don't be discouraged by the amount of material here. Finally, you get bang for your buck. Every track of this release is high-quality, and we found it perfectly suitable to experience this release in its entirety.  

Gray Lee

 


https://underthecountertapes.bandcamp.com/album/imp-in-reverse

[Album of the Month] VINYL DIAL - "Space Wizard"

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Vinyl Dial - “Space Wizard”

(Flamingo Vapor)

Space Wizard is a wide-angle, prog-synth explosion of complex compositions, bursts of anthemic power, and energetic futuristic fun. Built from layers of tightly managed electronic instrumentation, UK artisan,Vinyl Dial, wields a uniquely honed power to spin an upbeat, concept-driven architecture of driving rhythms, soaring melodic themes, and dense world-building atmospheres.

The album is engineered to continuously flow from one varied musical idea to the next, which can be felt right away as album opener, Into the Oversky, leads from cloudgazing wonderment, to ramping forward momentum that transitions into the tense technological interplay of Areonausea. The story hook is here - presenting the first set of problems for the protagonists. Spectral Universe is a spaced-out break in the action to admire the grandeur of it all. Sparse, computerized vocals add storyline to the action.

Fast-paced thriller, Solar Sands, gives us the first furious space battle, with plenty of intricate, sweeping note runs that are almost vaguely Celtic, while Anunnaki is a cooler, jazzier number, with flirty synth embellishments and fuzzy guitar fills.

The closing track, Bad Trip is a sidelong arrangement that defies comprehension. The compositional movements in this grand final chapter of the Space Wizard story are worth repeat explorations.

Space Wizard is an entertaining and engrossing oddysey of electronic prog rock that we highly recommend. It is an energetic exploration of theme with enough artfully managed intricacy to become a favorite repeat listening experience.

Gray Lee

 https://flamingovapor.bandcamp.com/album/space-wizard

 

GOBLINSMOKER - "Toad King"

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Goblinsmoker - "Toad King"

(The Sludgelord) 

Heavy sludge drips over every inch of this driving slice of stoner metal. The toad king is indeed alive and well, and he's got some dastardly deeds in store for the dwellers of murky, shadowy places.

Crunchy guitars of doom lockstepped with throbbing stabs of toxic bass and banging thuds of percussion dominate the track as an unholy minion of the underworld screeches out gargled incantations of filth in the opening title track of this terrifying triptich.

The second offering in this slimy ritual is a lenghty tome of unfortunate, and muddy profanity known as Take the Dead. We are not certain where the dead are being taken, but we do not care to argue with the growling creature that directs the dead to be taken. A slowly churning chord progression of psychedelic death echoes across the swampy pits of ruin that the Toad King inhabits, only ordered from chaos by clang and clamor of orc-hammered drums. A inhuman litany of unspeakable deeds is hurled from the witch-mouthed amphibian as the dissoving waves of sludge boil and swirl faster, sweeping up into a funnel of dark, dingy muck.

At last, a dank stone door is heaved aside, and in a rank cave filled with toadlings, a dark ceremony begins in the track Time to Ride. The hideous creatures gather their ill-begotten powers to mount a new offensive, screaming into the night sky that "The time has come." As the final driving pulse of rotten metal surges in intensity, the Toad King laughs manically and orders his murderous army to march upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of the earth.

Gray Lee

 https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/album/toad-king

MISTER DIZZY - "LoVape"

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Mister Dizzy - “LoVape”

(DMT Tapes)

Mister Dizzy spins us around with this sample-free vaporwave toke known as LoVape. Smokey tracks with plenty of buzzing VHS distortions abound in this release, blending a variety of musical styles to concoct a vibrant potion of delicious lo-fi jams.

Highlights include the gain heavy brightness of toga party or the Casio-rich keyboard ballad rainy window. The crunchy overdriven bass of groggy morning paints a vape-heavy backdrop for woozy synth melodies to slide across like Salvador Dali melting into a davenport after a night of absurdity. An award of 'best title' should be bestowed upon ninja sax party, although the track speaks for itself, sounding like a sleazy Saturday Night Live commercial break bumper that's been demagnetized.

The closer, credits music is crafted to slowly break the spell and return the listener to waking life. LoVape remains at our beckon, however, for the next time we need a good puff of the magic formula.

Gray Lee

https://dmttapes.bandcamp.com/album/lovape-dmt-611

MAI 麦 - "Arcadia 1"

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Mai 麦 - "Arcadia 1"

(Stolen Mirror) 

Shanghai, China-based artist, Mai麦, brings us this blissful collection of guitar arpeggios and multi-instrumental arrangements. Arcadia 1 is a sleek and stylish blend of ambient synth atmospheres, natural sounds, and acoustic guitar that creates a varied and textural experience for the listener. With a jangly, minimalist fingerstyle guitar embedded in a wide field of electronic sound, Mai 麦 ties together a rich tapestry of color and light that is as engaging as it is soothing.

The release opens with Iridescent, beginning with a simple plucked out chord progression that rises brightly above a mix of humming, crackling electronics that fades into nothingness. The longest piece on the record The Island, begins much in the same way, except with a richer, fuller mix on the guitar that really brings out the body, as a light and peaceful backdrop of tones filters in from the edges of periphery to augment each note. Waterwheel gleams with a natural approach crafted from sounds of gently moving water merging with shifting vibrations and a rhythmic composition. Album closer, Reflected Light, builds feom more ambient tone, finishing the aural experience with a dreamlike lullaby of diaphonus energies.

Overall, Arcadia 1 invites the listener into a tranquil, safe environment with thoughtfully presented selections that allow a meditative journey in a clear, light fashion. Highly recommended for times of relfection or relaxation either in blissful solitude, or in tandem with like-minded participants.

Gray Lee

http://www.stolenmirror.com/2018d01-arcadia-mai.html

 

SPARTAN JET-PLEX - "Godless Goddess"

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Spartan Jet-Plex - "Godless Goddess"

(Grimalkin Records) 

Richmond, Virginia-based Grimalkin Records' label boss, Nancy Kells, has a lot of irons in the fire. When she isn't dealing with label-running, performing in numerous other musical projects, or helping vulnerable & marginalized people in RVA and around the world, she creates her own personal music under the moniker of Spartan Jet-Plex. Her latest release, Godless Goddess is a varied collection of experimental, avant-garde neo folk, drone-tinged noise explorations, and intimately expressed acoustic offerings. 

The album opener, Stop, builds on a strong beat, and a looped set of horns and echoed vocalizations, across which Kells weaves an infectious melody with her clear and distinctive voice. Melted and disintegrated samples bookend the track and lead into Chronostasis Interlude, which features circling vocals from another member of the Grimalkin family, Berko Lover. 

 Fear is a beautifully minimal piece featuring a strummed acoustic guitar and a distant organ, lending a sacred air to this ballad. A short interlude, Baubo, blends some spacey synth with distorted laughter.

Everything, like Fear, is a stripped down acoustic track, blessed with haunting and tender vocals.  Entrance brings a blending of songwriting with experimental synth vibes, ending with a thick braid of twisting voices. 

Throughout the release Spartan Jet-Plex weilds the power of raw, unbridled self-expression augmented with electronic & ambient synth interludes, making Godless Goddess an album that walks the line between musical worlds, benefitting from each zone it passes through. 

Gray Lee

 https://grimalkinrecords.bandcamp.com/album/godless-goddess

 

ANDROSS 5225 - "Andross 5225"

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Andross 5225 - “Andross 5225”

(Seikomart)

With a warbling vintage electronic sound like the opening credits of an 80s classroom science class VHS about the wonders of space, Andross 5225 is a sweet slice of outer-space future retro. Set in a distant future where artificial intelligence guides travelers on their tour of the galaxy, each selection of Andross 2055 is teeming with fuzzy synths and satisfyingly crunchy rhythms. So, take your protein pills, and put your helmet on - this far out oddity will take you to the stars and back.

After the straightforward opening credits of 5225, strap in with Space Voyage, a track that has all the optimistic hope of unknown sights on the distant starry horizon. This is the kind of music that makes me truly believe that Pluto is really still a planet after all. (I’m not ready to part with My Very Excellent Mother Just Made Nine Pizzas.) The third track, Corrupted AI, introduces a dramatic problem. Up to this point your robotic pilot has taken care of everything and the journey has been smooth sailing - but now something is wrong. Probably a virus.

Incoming Transmission is a super funky track that lets us know that rescue is on the way. In fact, the transmission is SO funky and jams SO hard, that you’re not even worried about being stranded in space. Cue chair dance! After being picked up by the freaky funkadelic aliens, take a tour of their bizarre alien craft in the vaporious track - Inside. After some hijinx with the alien crew and the completion of our galactic tour, we finally learn some sort of heartfelt lesson about the meaning of true life being love, or some mess like that - in the track, Stardust. And with that, the journey is over.

Overall, Andross 5225 is a lighthearted and enjoyable bit of space-themed vaporwave that entertains without overstaying its welcome or overusing audio gimmicks. There is a good variety of styles contained in the movement of the release, and a narrative is successfully conveyed in a pleasant way.

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The cassette edition of Andross 5225 is sold out, but the digital is still available, meaning you can take your very own space journey right now.

Gray Lee

https://seikomart.bandcamp.com/album/andross-5225

ALOYSIUS SCRIMSHAW - Post-Music

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Aloysius Scrimshaw - “Post-Music”

(Pink Dolphin Music)

Just when you thought underground music couldn’t get any weirder, Aloysius Scrimshaw’s latest release burrows to even lower depths of strangeness and insanity.

With his previous album Kind Regards From Isaac, the Dead Musician imprinted his peculiar style on a folk aesthetic. However, on Post-Music Scrimshaw pivots to a more electronic sound.

Imagine a club of undead ravers hypnotically swaying to an unholy amalgamation of throbbing drum and bass layered with unsettling synth pads and accentuated by guitar and assorted sonic freakery.

Atop of the musical morass, Scrimshaw delivers Rorschach-esque narrations of the macabre and morbid.

The time has come for Post-Music. Pray that your ears are ready.

The time has come for Post-Music. Pray that your ears are ready.

Second Wakeup tells the tale of how claustrophobic and tedious environs pushes a submarine crewman to his absolute breaking point.

Wendigo Psychosis recounts grisly scenes of animalistic barbarity and Creature 432 paints an eerie setting of a house by the lake.

All in all, Post-Music is a solid entry in the Dead Musician’s discography and an interesting artifact in his musical quest for the offbeat and unusual.

Check out the link below to add this disturbing little gem to your collection.

Theron Willis

https://pinkdolphinmusic.com/album/post-music

Sing along with the Dead Musician: “Second wakeup for the shipmate, second wakeup for the shipmate…”

BAST - "Nanoångström"

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Bast - "Nanoångström"

UK trio Bast slaughters ears and conjures fears with Nanoångström, a concept-driven, megolithic ode to brooding metal forged in the cores of distant planets long since darkened from the view of our own galaxy. A smoky slow burning intro, Distant Suns, leads into an array of five lengthy movements made of adrenaline and fire. While each successive track has its own unique sound, their dynamic structure and scope are always complimentary to the broader picture, and thus move as one.

The power of narrative composition is what sets Nanoångström apart from other metal records. There is a degree of patience and control here, amid the crispy doom metal guitars and pounding rhythms. Long passages of music go by without any vocal commentary. Patterns ebb and flow, grow and change. Amid the dramatically-timed voice work are the aggressive growls and snarls we crave, but also there are surprising moments of harmonized singing that produce some nice chills.

Exploring themes of loneliness, rage, and anguish against a backdrop of science fiction fantasy, Bast elevates the art of metalmaking with longform compositions that blend raw energy with ancient, galactic lore and legend. Overall, the churning rock apocalypse of Nanoångström is outstripped by its own artistry of arrangement, making it an easy repeat listen for the thinking metalhead, with just as many sorrowful asides as chunky doom metal riffs. 

Gray Lee

https://bastmusic.bandcamp.com/album/nano-ngstr-m