Saturday, September 8, 2012

Review: Red Math, Innercity, and Further Records

"Obsolete Systems" by Red Math opens with a propulsive Kosmische push. Chirping synths and driving rhythms propel this one forward. The next track slows it down and brings, alternatively, haunting and menacing synthscapes, some quite abstract. As side one reveals itself, the sonic landscape diversifies immenseley, the common ground being daring and progressive synthesis. I love this for the same reasons I love Gift Tapes, Draft Tapes, and Spectrum Spools, all labels which share a vision of exploratory synth based sound art. From crackles and drones to loops and stuttering rhythms, Red Math take the listener on a heady ride from the grooves to the cosmos. Side one gets more and more abstract until it ends all too soon. Side two begins with a sonar-like pulse, which is slowly embellished with ancillary sounds and details, conjuring the ambience of an underwater submarine. After a murky swim through more deep, subterranean electronics, the pace picks up, wild screeches and whoops swirl hazily, and the ground shifts again. Very, very compelling stuff.

Another new release on Further, "A Lion's Baptism" by Innercity roars out the gate with a swirling starry haze of blissful electronics, dense, layered and absorbing. This gives way to robotic rhythms which create a slightly industrial mood, cold and entrancing.Finally, shuddering walls of noise surge from the speakers. Like Red Math, Innercity do not settle on a given mood or motif, but carry the listener Further.

Which brings us back to Further Records. I have, for some time now, been on a synth kick, exploring this resurgent area of sound art. But somehow I was unaware of this local label which is fearlessly exposing some fine works of this nature. And for once, everything works. I love the label name, the band names, the album titles, the cover art, the content.  Further sent me these test pressings for review when I told them I only review physical formats, and I am so enchanted by them I will be ordering official pressings with the full cover art forthwith. Further, as best I can tell, is a Kirkland based label run by Chloe Harris, who performs and records under the name Raica with Dick Chambers. Rejoice, Seattle!

Investigate Further here:

Innercity blog here:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: Holy Family "A Rising Tide Of Halos" cs (Sanity Muffin Limited Tapes)

     Having had the pleasure of finally seeing one of my musical heroes, Lawrence English, perform live at Seattle's recent Substrata 1.2 festival, I was thrilled to see that he had a tape release available at the merch table. Holy Family is a collaborative project between Lawrence and John Chantler. John describes the tape as " Fairly punishing synth action recorded mostly when I was down in Australia in 2010/11 after our tour there with Tujiko Noriko. Part of one track also recorded at Noriko’s place in Paris in April 2010." It is awesome that these guys still release "kult" tapes on small regional labels like the Oakland based Sanity Muffin. True integrity!
     A wavering drone slowly morphs into being as strange chirps fade in and out. The build develops quickly as a dark mood predominates. There is an almost breath-like back and forth to the intertwining sounds as they wrap around one another again and again until the piece abruptly ends. Track two starts even more aggressively, with a higher pitched drone quickly adorned by majestic swells of bass which enfold it. The whole of side A continues this bleak yet shining duet, and is completely absorbing.
     Side B explores similar territory, but investigates new strategies as it unfolds. We move into coal black electronics and a deepening sense of menace.  A truly industrial mood is created as electronic buzzings come and go across the field of drone, subtle changes making startling transformations. The background electronics shriek higher and higher, then drop out suddenly, leaving the droning center to slowly slowly thicken and decay.

John Chantler's work may be found here:

Lawrence English's wonderful Room 40 label may be found here:

Sanity Muffin Tapes are available here:

Review: Microscopic Suffering, Egregor, Blasphm, Dried Up Corpse At The Highline

     Thursday night at the Highline featured a lineup hosted by Threat.  Threat has spent years showcasing challenging and aggressive avant garde and industrial sounds in Seattle and is an incredible cultural resource. Tonights bill leaned heavily to the extreme and noisy side of things.
     Microscopic Suffering opened with their signature blend of gothic mood, industrial sturm und drang and churning tribalistic noise. Their tracks were meticulously composed and choreographed with heavy drum machine transitions. This is one of Seattle's best bands, and the precision and power of their performance is astounding. Egregor was sheer noise, but nuanced by constantly morphing forms and overlapping motifs. Very loud, very, very good! Blasphm is another project that constantly refines his craft. This project by Demian Johnston may exhibit some of his best work yet. Super heavy...Dried Up Corpse is the solo project of Stan Reed (Blue Sabbath Black Cheer and Broken Penis Orchestra) and is always overwhelming. As usual with DUC, we got a frighteningly savage and loud assault which was abbreviated in length and ceased abruptly, leaving one feeling like they had just been run over by a bus (but in a good way).
     This show also served as a release party for a split cassette by Egregor and Blasphm on the incredible Hanged Man label. A beautiful edition of "50 hand-numbered copies include unique, individual inserts, hand-stamped cassettes and are wrapped in vetiver scented jute twine. "  If you missed this show you can get it here (if you're fast on the trigger):

     The Highline is a great venue, playing host to many great metal/hardcore/doom and noise shows. Check it out if you haven't.

Egregor's scorched earth assault.

The Highline


Dried Up Corpse

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review: Midday Veil "Integratron" cs (Translinguistic Other Records cat: TLO10)

 Integratron starts with a mesmerizing track called "Antigravity". It begins with a subliminal drone that develops so slowly it provokes one to reach for the volume knob. This drone gradually grows, joined by a hypnotic tribal rhythm that slowly becomes more insistent.  Haunted sounds that could be vocals or synths tease at the corners, rising almost imperceptibly as the whole thing gathers steam.  The drums increase like an accelerating heartbeat as the piece escalates the tempo. Cymbals crash, toms rattle, and an undercurrent of menace ensues. The ritual reaches its peak as the percussion crescendos and gently fades. "Rejuvenation" follows logically from this arresting opener and continues to evoke pagan mysticism and motorik trance for the rest of side A. Drummer Chris Pollina shines on this side as he pummels away, leading a funeral march through a cyclone of whirling synthesis.
     Side B consists of a single 23 minute long track, "Time Travel." Opening with a chiaroscuro sound palette, our travel through time is an uncertain one, at best. Synthesizers chirp like evil sparrows which recede into the shadows. Clanks and rattles conjure some unseen activity of a possibly sinister nature. This is really great, atmospheric stuff that brings to mind comparisons with classic industrial underground stuff like Sterile Record's early tapes or Nekrophile Records act Zero Kama. The drones get deeper and faster as the time machine whirls, abstract drumming providing a silver filigree around its dark mass.  At the end of this journey we are set back down on terra firma, and released with a hushed fadeout.
     Midday Veil are at their best when they pursue more abstract strategies like this, and I count this as one of their finest releases in a so far dud free catalog. They are also at their best in the live setting so if you haven't seen them yet, do so. If you are not from Seattle, you may be in luck. MV will be touring the west coast in October, spreading their lysergic wings over our unsuspecting neighbors.

Get this tape HERE (while it lasts):

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Weekend Of Krautrock, Psychedelia And Dub

     Friday, 7.27.12. Incredible show hosted by the Rat and Raven and booked by Michelle "Mama Casserole" of Comet Tavern booking fame. This tribute to krautrock featured the talents of heavy hitters such as Blue Light Curtain, Midday Veil, Terminal Fuzz Terror, Jupe Jupe, DJ Veins and Explorateur, and a dude from the Low Hums (doing a cover of "It's a Rainy Day (Sunshine Girl)" to open the show).  Films were projected on the walls, depicting live concert footage by Can, Amon Duul, Faust, etc, and German themed specials rolled out of the kitchen all night long. Perhaps the height of the night was BLC's cover of "Trance Europe Express" by Kraftwerk, just stunning...
     An amazing night of undisputed talent should have drawn a much larger crowd. Heed my words, people, Michelle will be doing this again, and you should be sure not to miss the next installment.
     Saturday, 7.28.12,  the trip continued as Dull Knife and Peaking Lights took the stage at Barboza, beneath Neumoes. This was my first visit to this newish venue and I was favorably impressed. Small but not cramped, intimate and appropriately lit for a drone dub excursion into otherworldly states.
     Dull Knife played what may be the best set I have ever seen them do, trading deep, reverbed drones and hazed out ritualistic vocals, at times reminding me of Ain Soph. The set built layer upon layer of sounds, bass and treble struggling for hegemony, and slowly subsided after reaching peak trance mode.  Truly stunning sounds from these local treasures.
     Peaking Lights opened with a compelling, head nodding track that sounded like nothing so much as a mash-up of Throbbing Gristle and Lee Perry, dark, dubby, and irresistible. The quality dropped a little after this, and sound problems complicated things, but as much as I prefer their earlier, more drone oriented work, this was a pretty stellar performance from these cats.
Setting the tone...
Low Hums dude kills it with a one man band Faust cover.

Deep crates of heady vibes From Dave and Valerie.


Jupe Jupe. These Punks and skins nailed it.

More "Kraftwerk"

Not much light at Barboza, but Dull Knife seem comfortable in the dark...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: Monster Planet July 9 2012

     Monster Planet is an ongoing monthly event held on a Monday night at the Can Can in the Pike Street Market. It's conceptually simple, yet brilliant. Several improvisers at a time provide a live soundtrack to strange B movies shown on the wall. Synthesizers, field recordings, and other sound sources are employed. The live soundtrack is continuous and improvisers drop in and out as they please, producing an epic collage as the night (and films) unravel. The Can Can is an awesome place for this event, dark, cozy and conducive to sipping a cocktail while trippy psychedelic sights and sounds stimulate the imagination. I was hipped to this incredible night by my friend and musical partner in crime Skoi Sirius, who played the first one I attended.
Monster Planet sounds like this.

Joy Von Spain focuses on the film.
     The line up was top notch: Joy Von Spain, Noisepoetnobody, Mel Sky, Chris Hogan, and Gel-Sol. I think some other, unlisted, artists sat in as well (I know I saw the mighty Vance Galloway at the synths for a bit). Monster Planet 3:4 Rage Of Aquarius, was zombie themed, with Killing Frenzy providing the visual montage. Gilmoresque, blues/psych guitar intertwined with sparkling drones and shimmering sound waves from synthesizers. Gentle, abstract piano notes floated over beds of electronic reverberations. Voices whispered in and out of the mix. MP provides a brilliant context for free improvisation and the players get to really work out on long form ideas. This night is a blessing for Seattleites looking for challenging cultural moments in this city. If you Haven't gone yet, do!

Read more HERE:

Download their new mix (and donate) HERE:

Gel-Sol info HERE: (hey, Gel-Sol, follow this Blogspot page):

Joy Von Spain HERE:

Noisepoetnobody HERE:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

     Karnak Temples, Mood Organ and Geist and the Sacred Ensemble at the Rat & Raven 7.7.12

     Last night the Rat & Raven venue in the University District played host to a killer lineup. I missed Particle Being Trio as I had to leave early but I did pick up their new release on Debacle Records.  The Rat & Raven has been a real blessing for the Ave., hosting a variety of diverse shows, and last night's was one of their best yet.
     Karnak Temples took the stage first. This newish project by Adam Svenson of Dull Knife and Little Claw  is getting a lot of respectful attention from a lot of discerning ears. On solo electric guitar, Adam crafts whirling psychedelic storms of sound. Sitting in a chair, hunched over his guitar, Saucony clad feet rocking him back and forth in response to the immense physicality of his playing, he held the room spellbound with dazzling picking married to sheets of amorphous feedback and distortion. A lot of people mention Tom Carter in the same breath as Karnak Temples, and with good reason. 
     Mood Organ played next, sporting some sleek new gear. His 25 minute or so set was a compelling journey into the depths of sound synthesis. It started out minimal and clear, repetitive rhythmic motifs rising and falling .  Soon more layers emerged, filling out the piece with a dense, abstract collage of bleeps, drones and shrieks. At one point it sounded like a male voice screaming as the crescendos built and built. From head nodding rhythmic pulses to squalling Merzbowesque cacophony, this was a wide ranging and challenging set. Superb!  
     Geist and the Sacred Ensemble continue to hone their craft and their live sets get better and better. From free improv to tight, tribal breakdowns, their mixture of bass, electric and acoustic guitar and drums is almost religious in its hypnotic intensity, lending truth to their name. Comparable to none, and playing pretty often these days, Geist are a must see. Below are more fuzzy cell phone pics to dazzle your eyes...

Karnak Temples.

Mood Organ setting up.

Mood Organ.

Geist raise spirits...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

                  Cathartech & Noisepoetnobody "Split Cassette" Review

     This is a lovely edition. A high quality tape, metal screws and all, housed in a sleeve with vertiginous, hazy artwork that matches the haunting sounds contained within. There is no label name or catalogue number, so I'm not sure who is responsible for this release, or how many copies were made, but it is very much worth your time to find a copy if you love synth, drone, and classical industrial soundtracks.
     Starting with a faint, heartbeat-like pulse gradually encased in fuzzy layers of subterranean drone and crackle, Noisepoet evokes the menacing, paranoid atmosphere of some early Sterile Records releases. Appropriately titled "Nervous", this opening track fades into shimmering rays of suffocated light as the motorik pulse of "Popular" picks up the tempo but keeps the industrial atmosphere intact. A keening electrical hum limns the rhythmic background. Synths chirp and skitter like stones on the surface of a pond. Casey's compositional skills shine here, as he subtly layers sounds, putting minimal elements into relation with one another in a manner that delivers a cohesive narrative. "Negligent" closes the A side with an arrythmic mosaic of machine chirps and bass pulses that is completely absorbing and nervously meditative. Casey has a large body of work under his belt, so there is much to choose from. But this one is a must have for anyone who wants a solid showcase of his compositional strengths and textural strategies.
     Cathartech steps up for the B-side with a high lonesome drone of mournful electricity, sounding like a close miked circuit breaker. Behind this austere hum what sound like insects and birds offer a counterpoint to the technological sounds. The contrast creates a beautifully affective mood as more layers arrive. Over the course of this side, "The Electric Tuvan" captivates, like that moment when an alarm clock interrupts a dream, but extended into a long form timestretch. The layers and volume build and build, shaking the walls, as the piece rises to a dramatic conclusion, rich with emotion, and ends abruptly.
     Overall, a sophisticated and moving collaboration by two of Seattle's finest craftsmen. Go get this!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

              Cafe Racer Benefit at Rat and Raven 6.30.12 with Quasi Mojo

Last night Rat and Raven played host to a benefit for Cafe Racer. I arrived just as it began and walked in on a set by Danny The Street. I was intrigued that their name referenced a Grant Morrison comic and was happy to see what they were all about. They were all about good, guitar and Alesis driven 90's rock/postpunk, with a distinct Peter Murphy influence via the frontman. Nice!
     Next up was the group I was waiting for, Quasi Mojo, the curiously named trio of Mark Ostrowski, Bill Horist, and Wally Shoup. These names should need no introduction, as all three members have been mainstays of avant jazz/experimental music and improvisation in Seattle for years and years. Bill is a spectacular guitarist capable of almost any type of idiom or soundscape, and he was on fire last night coaxing wild feedback, sibilant drones and skronky chords from his guitar and effects set-up. Mark listened and answered with a percussive response that ranged from delicate cymbal filligree to bombastic bass waves. Amidst this controlled chaos, Wally roared and riffed like a volcano, reminding everyone in the room that the best saxophonist in Seattle was posing an immediate threat to their eardrums. This trio worked so well because all three members have very open ears, listening as hard as they played. A wonderful set for a very good cause. Kudos to all who organized and played this event!

Rat and Raven

Ostrowski: Force of nature

Danny The Street

Horist implodes and explodes.

Bill brings it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Racer Sessions June 24, 2012, with Ross Hammond

This last Sunday Racer Session was hosted at a space in Ballard by Ross Hammond. Ross is a guitarist from Sacramento who seems equally at home with Hendrix and Frith. His curator's description stated "Don’t think too much about the right notes or the right rhythms or the right textures.  Don’t think about the timbre of your instrument or exercises to play.  Don’t think about music at all.  Instead, take a minute to to think about those you love.  Those who have helped shape who you are today.  Once you have a few in mind who you’d like to focus on, take that feeling and play your ass off. " The improvisations reflected this, ranging widely in mood and dynamic.
If you haven't checked out a Racer Session yet, please do. Bringing amazing players like Ross to town is a great example of the good work these folks do. Some pics follow...

A picture of what I heard.

In the zone.

Neil Welch. Visceral. 

Bad Luck plus "ragin'" Ross H in this pic.

Luke guides the conversation.

Ivan weighs in.

In your face!

REALLY spacious set! Balatero and Swanson push the texture..!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Heady Vibes at the Rat and Raven

Friday night at the Rat and Raven brought some dark and heavy sounds to the north end of University Way. We arrived just as Blasphemous Organ were beginning. This project is a collaboration between Demian Johnston (Undertow, Playing Enemy, Hemingway, Great Falls, etc...) and Timm Mason (Mood Organ, Midday Veil, Eldridge Gravy and the Court Supreme). A dazzling improv on synths and guitar, these two shook the building with their spacious, rumbling dialogue. This project NEEDS to happen again. Next up was Addaura with a super charged black metal assault-I think they damaged my hearing despite my ear plugs-just amazing! King Dude slowed things down a bit with a candlelit set of doomy gothic folk that evoked Death In June and Darkwood and (A) Story Of Rats closed with their best set yet, a sonic wall of death pinned down by the jaw dropping drumming of Andrew Crawshaw. Another great night at this burgeoning, adventurous venue.

Demian kills it. 

Timm raises a wall of synth noise.

Mr. Johnston manipulating feedback. 

ASOR sounded a bit like this.

Thy candles...

Friday, June 22, 2012

An amazing night of sonic explorations last night at the Chapel in the Good Shepherd Center co-hosted by Gift/Draft Tapes, Debacle Records and the Wayward Music series. Jason, Sam and Steve have done wonders for the avant garde and experimental music scene in Seattle and nights like this demonstrate their curatorial acumen.
     Jason Anderson, playing as Spare Death Icon, wove an entrancing industrial soundscape out of heavy rhythms and textural synthesis. An amazing solo performance. Matt Carlson came off much more abstractly, chopping frantic bits of granular sound into tiny shreds and swirling it around the room. A heady and challenging set that ended too soon. Beautiful. Bee Mask closed with a great set of dark ambient, oceanic dream sounds. The piece ranged widely in mood, from menacing to radiant. Very emotional stuff. I hope to see more shows like this in Seattle, and with cultural producers like these guys doing their thing, I most certainly will. Thanks guys!
P.S. Megabats should have played this bill.

Gateway to dreamworlds...

Sam introduces Spare Death Icon.




Sounded like this looks...

Matt Carlson.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Welcome To Alterity 101!

Alterity 101 is a Label, Distro and Blog dedicated to underground experimental music. I, Kurt Delaney, operate this thing. You may know me from my ongoing concerns such as Soccer Mom Ebonics and Sparkle Girl (both with the mighty Jim Evans) or my other projects Added Value, Nyquil Chakra, Ponzi Cult and Sketch Legit. Keep your eyes tuned to this page for upcoming reviews, releases and info as I get this thing rolling.
For more on SME/Sparkle Girl:

For news and updates follow Alterity 101 on Twitter:!/alterity101