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):