Thursday 20 December 2012

A Self Promoting Plea For Attention From Uncle Masala

Hey guys and gals, sorry about my absence over the last month of the year! There is lots of great music that deserves a spotlight - and I will endeavour to do so in at least bite-size chunk at the beginning of 2013 - but Im floating around Europe so my internet access is minimal at best. So Im basically lumping this at your feet - a self-aggrandising "PLEASE VOTE FOR ME" pitch that, if won, will allow me more opportunities to work this blog, and push the bands that I believe deserve it. The competition is for Expedia as they search to broaden their musical horizons, and the other nominees are ballaches (the scientific term Im sure), so I hope you can click the below link and help Sonic Masala out.

Unfortunately you know what I look like now - looks like Ill have to lose the beard and garner a healthy heroin addiction just to stay incognito...

 There will be a couple more posts before the bells toll on 2012, but not before Xmas, so...merry Xmas! And vote below - that is enough of a present for me!


Monday 26 November 2012

Dreaming For The Sun

It is certainly no secret that I am a massive fan of local psychers Dreamtime. I have waxed lyrical about them on numerous occasions. And whilst the release of their 2nd LP Sun is cause for celebration, I have already prepared a splurge earlier – here is a little from my review of the album for another publication: “Opening with “single” 'Centre Of Mind', a song that could have been found on the cutting-room floor of a Black Angels session (minus the ethereal female backing vocals), Sun lays it on thick and refuses to veer from the chosen path. The droning beauty that is 'Baphomet' benefits from vocalist Zac Anderson’s vocal depth, skittish percussion and squalling guitar augmented by throat music-inspired mantras before the feverish dirge breaks through.”

So yeah, Sun is fucking amazing. I go on and on, like I'm wont to do, but you can read the whole thing on the band’s website here. The trio go from strength to strength, and if you don’t believe me, then whose name is that on the bill for next year’s illustrious Austin Psych Fest, sitting pretty at the bottom next to the Holydrug Couple? Hell Yeah! Totally deserved. So if you are in the US next April, go to Austin and see these guys. They will be touring Stateside too – more on that very soon.

And you can get Sun here – which, of course, you really really should…

Dreamtime - Baphomet

Mere Mortals Withstand The Purple Fire

I have mentioned on a few occasions my admiration of Shawn Foree, more commonly known to us mere mortals as Digital Leather. But now, alongside his wife Rachel, he has stepped down from his sulphur-caked synth and garage blast pedestal and joined our ranks. Purple Fire is the first outing for new band Mere Mortals, and regardless of what you may think, ‘B12’ is one of the best songs that Foree has committed to tape, and thus is one of the best songs of 2012. Bass that batters your pelvic floor, a groove that eats into the soles of your feet like walking on electrified water, and vamped vocals that wooze along with forlorn despair, all the while with some of the best synth I’ve heard for some time (maybe it’s the simplicity of the languid hook, that makes you grin and grimace, a cloying coyness, all at once?). The whole album is warped bass brutality, and Foree is in gleefully manic form. As the man himself intimates, “Think metallic mock pop with a post-heroin aftertaste.” Hmmm…chalky copper and decaying calcium…

Grab Purple Fire here. The duo don’t have a label yet – but then again, this is the kind of addictiveness that governments want to ban. Don’t be surprised if their faces adorn a faceless pack of Australian cigarettes at your local 7-Eleven before the year’s out.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Guided By Voices Make A Lunch Out Of Bears (And Everything Else)

So Guided By Voices have another record, The Bears At Lunch, coming out tomorrow. Surprise surprise. I haven’t heard it, yet as always I am curious. Will it be brilliance from start to finish, will it hold curveballs, will it be top heavy and die away at the end, will I have to mine deep for the gems? Because there ARE gems in every GBV and Pollard-related release – he is incapable of not crafting at least one gold riff or stellar throwaway line. Which is nothing to take away from Sprout and Mitchell either… But 2012 has been unseasonably good – their previous two albums Let’s Go Eat The Factory and Class Clown Spots A UFO were a resurgence to form, Pollard’s two solo records were solid to good, and you can’t knock a Boston Spaceships Best Of ever. ‘She Lives In An Airport’ will be on The Bears At Lunch, and it is pretty damn good. Not brilliant, but if this is a reasonable indicator of what is to come, then we could have something special on our hands. It refuses to fit the pop mould – there isn’t even a chorus! Yet it is addictive as hell.

Preorder The Bears At Lunch here. Or, grab one of the special limited edition series of 7" singles that Fire Records commissioned (or all three as a bundle), all of which features a track from the album as well as previously unreleased, brand new b-sides spanning the band's varied writing styles. "Hangover Child" includes non-LP b-side "Urchin Promise" written by Tobin Sprout; "Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere" includes non-LP b-side "The World's Getting Smaller" written by Mitch Mitchell; and "White Flag" includes non-LP b-sides "Casino Model" & "Zebra Film Negative" written by Robert Pollard.

Keep Your Girlfriends Away From The Coo Coo Birds

Here is a small San Fran band that – you guessed it – play gritty garage rock and roll. And – you guessed it – they are really good. Coo Coo Birds released Don’t Bring Your Boyfriends back in July, and the breakneck squall that ensues is a mess of electric proportions. They haven’t even been together for twelve months, yet the eleven tracks here are indicative of a band well in control of their powers. I love bands unabashed to call songs ‘Rock n Roll Animal’, ‘Convent Girl’ and ‘Peach Bottom Girl’ – and aren’t fucking shit. Seriously, so many “rock and roll” bands that love their long hair, leather jackets and their basic chord progressions swagger around and state that sleazy old school rock is the best – but can’t even play it. They may as well as be wearing white joggers with their acid wash jeans, they are so out of touch. Not Coo Coo Birds though – Don’t Bring Your Boyfriends bristles with bluster, boils with sleazy leers and overflows with sexual abandon. You can download it for free here.

That said, they haven’t really toured the record, instead diving back into the studio to record a further TWO albums. Which kinda defeats the purpose of having that sleazy garage psych rock authenticity, because they should be tearing up dives and tearing off nubile teens’ tops with a riff and a cocked eyebrow. When these two albums are done, they will have an arsenal of killers though, and the world may never be the same.

Coo Coo Birds – Rock and Roll Animal
Coo Coo Birds - I've Got A Feeling

Saturday 10 November 2012

Menacing Beach Dreams

If you know you're early 90s NES (that's Nintendo Entertainment System for those kids where Super Mario Bros. 2 is not cool retro enough for you) you might have heard of, or even played, the platformer Menace Beach. It was fairly bad - you were a skateboarder who had to save your girlfriends by beating up and avoiding ninjas, clowns and the like, all the while your girlfriend is chained up and her clothes are rotting away...really! THAT was the drawcard right there. As a kid it was up there with the "finish Super Metroid in under three hours and you get to see Samus in her briefs" level of prepubescent awesomeness. Or maybe you are familiar with Sunday Funday, which is exactly the same game except you are fighting off bullies, fish and businessmen to get to Sunday school (yes, a Christian computer game, yay). Then there is Miss Peach World, which has Princess from the Mario universe on the cover but doesn’t feature her anywhere, yet the tied up girlfriend’s clothes disappear all together…

Then again, it’s best to leave that in the annals of video game direness and focus instead on UK’s Menace Beach, a four-piece with members from the likes of Sky Larking and Hookworms whose abrupt Dream Out EP is pretty damn killer. Four tracks that each struggle to bother two minutes, Dream Out develops as a pill of jagged punk with angular frission and the occasional dalliance with pop, imbuing it all with enough intrigue that these songs feel like a Frank Miller 3D drawing without the glasses – it’s rad and exciting, yet not centred where you think it should be. That is the point though – as with the bizarre contradictions of the various versions of the video game, Menace Beach eschew convention, so even as you jump and dance you do so with an inescapable sense of unease. Discordant pop for the more switched on slackers, who like cerebral stimulants with their Coco Pops.

Listen to Dream Out below. It comes out in the next week or so, but be warned - only 50 (!?) of these cassettes have been made, so watch the band's website religiously to get one of these aural hotcakes.

Wild Movements On The Arabian Beach

A quick catch up post about a little Brooklyn band called Beach Arabs. They are prepping their Wild Movement release and it’s the kind of discordant post-punk that doesn’t take itself very seriously – so the punch and jaggedness is tempered by a grin and a hug. Imagine if Kim Deal fronted Screaming Females, or a sped up, sun blessed Life Without Buildings (although there is no ‘New Town’ here).

Wild Movement has been sitting on the shelf for a few months now – we here in Australia would love it to come out, just so it can soundtrack our summer. Especially for those gearing up for a carefree, care less, loose and easy summer that is all about casual impromptu parties, hook ups and skinny dips.

Friday 9 November 2012

Glowing Wake For A Wild Moth

I’m finishing off today with a 7” that came out a few months ago but is getting some serious replay value around these parts. San Francisco post-punk subverters Wild Moth have crafted four tracks of angular angst on Mourning Glow, glossed over with some effervescent melodies. Whilst much further afield from Fugazi, there is something inherent in Wild Moth’s harmonies and warm sonics that evokes the titular band in the title track, whilst ‘Patience’ wouldn’t be amiss on a mid-2000s Trail of Dead record. The connection to Conrad Keely et al is also evident on the B-sides, which are just as delectable, especially in the screeched backing vocals on ‘Prison’*. Overall though, this is such a quality 7” that it feels much more substantial – you can see why they are opening for the likes of A Place To Bury Strangers – and the new album cannot come quick enough.

Mourning Glow is out through Asian Man Records - get it here.

Wild Moth – Mourning Glow
Wild Moth – Patience

*Sorry about the lazy reference points (although in my weary mind they do exist) – I'm finished work after a stupidly long week and I can only focus on booze and the cricket, and this 7” on the record player, followed by Murder City Devils’ back catalogue. You can understand why I'm rushing this through to get to that point, no? Have a good weekend kids!

Yells Have Woken The Trees

I received this video clip in the inbox last week from Danish label Pad & Pen Records (responsible for the Beardy Durfs who I posted about a few months ago). It’s by a band called The Woken Trees. I know very little about them other than they are a six-piece from Copenhagen. Now Copenhagen are killing it at the moment, so that piqued the interest straight off the bat. Then I watched the video for ‘Yells’ - and it’s disturbingly brilliant. I felt like I was listening to a darker, more visceral version of Ben Wheatley’s stellar 2011 film Kill List, but in song form. The clip itself – which includes bleeding, bondage, drownings, hooded men and a pig’s head roasted over ritual fire – complements such a paganistic abomination perfectly. Then the fact that ‘Yells’ was written in half an hour, start to finish, is the final piece of the mystical puzzle – there are dark arts at play here.

‘Yells’ is on a 7” with B-side ‘Holy Water’ soon. The Woken Trees won’t have an album ready until January next year. Get your sacrificial altars ready…

Four Girls & Their Woollen Kits

I really like Woollen Kits. I hope I'm not being rude or patronising here, but I really like Woollen Kits because they are easy on the ears. That is often the kind of reason your mother gives you for listening to Il Divo or Kenny G. What I mean is that the Melbourne trio have a way with their slapdash jangly garage punk pop that seems so casual, so relaxed. It is that little bit far removed from the likes of doyens of slacker pop Twerps and Dick Diver, what with their feet firmly rooted in the Sixties era of the Troggs, but still retains that loose sunny ethos that makes it so endearing. I bought a mate their Maths 7”, knowing that it is usually at the opposite end of the noise-avant-garde-experimental spectrum that he enjoys, but not surprised when he fell in love with it.

Four Girls is their sophomore record, coming out in a couple weeks on RIP Society (co-released by Chicago’s Trouble In Mind). The four girls – Shelley, Sandra, Cheryl and Susannah – are the focal points of four tracks on an album that has been cleaned up considerably since their smaller releases a couple years ago, and even shows a marked growth since their debut only in January this year (yes, 2012 has flown…). I can’t think of a better record, or band, to bring in the weekend - it will get you into the beergarden/park/backyard/verandah drinking mood.

Woollen Kits – Susannah
Woollen Kits - Be You

Hangar Lands - Lofly Is Back!

Whilst it may seem that local label/promoters Lofly (Nova Scotia, Tape/Off, Do The Robot) have been dormant of late, it’s all a ruse – they have been regrouping, growing, strength in numbers and all that. Since the loss of converted tyre factory The Hangar last year, Lofly has struggled to find a foothold in the local scene to reignite those passionate nights of music, flowing booze and massive fun times that many people harbour close to their hearts. A minor stint at the Beetle Bar didn’t work out. But now we (note that pronoun? Yes, this is a little self-aggrandising, for I am now part of the Lofly collective) have transplanted The Hangar to the Waiting Room, where the first Lofly show in ages (discounting the great double bill that was part of this year’s Brisbane Festival) will be taking place this Saturday. We aim to be bringing back the excitement that fuelled those Hangar shows of yore, with a program that strives to bring together a new local act, an established local act and an interstate act once a month for your pleasure.

This Saturday sees meteoric “institution” Tiny Spiders (well they certainly play hard and fast enough, and are the raddest people to boot), Adelaide storm-starters Sparkspitter (I have heard nothing but great things about these guys, and it’s a “hometown” show as such as it’s their first Australian show on the back of an Asian tour) and new kids with Scandinavian leanings (but are decidedly from the Sunshine State), Denmark.

$10, kicking off at 8. To get all walks of life excited, this will be an all ages event, so the boozy element may have to be done at the Melbourne (or any of the far better options West End has to offer).

Thursday 8 November 2012

Warped Imaginings From An El G

I started writing about In Coro, the cassette LP that France’s èlg put out in June. Even a brief conversation with Toni from NO=FI Recordings had me reinvigorated for it – then I simply forgot. Sorry to you both. In Coro is some seriously warped stuff – a mix of French pop, drones and cut-up, psych folk and dreamy experimental sounds. A mind-bending cross between Pink Floyd’s The Wall on a cassette left out in the sun, and an even more sinister audio recording of In The Night Garden.

I'm not sure if there is any of these cassettes left – only 100 were made up – but try here. Sample it below. t isn’t for everyone – it actually gave me a headache the second time I listened to it, like skeletal fingers digging through my skull and pulping my brain – but if you are adventurous, there is so much to be gleaned from this. A cracked delight.

Track listing:

good service
gens vue ouïe
melted mall


des mirages
hattthof de pierran
melted mall
sharks into the present
l'art du sommeil

Triple Trip To The Moon

I need to whip this up quick, because I have to get to a cassette listening party, so here are the past three releases from San Fran cosmic sorcerers Moon Duo.

Two are through Sacred Bones, and we’ll start with the duo’s new LP Circles, which centres around philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson’s studies of circles within society and their function – really. Which kinda makes sense, seeing as Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada essentially deal in repetitive rhythmic patterns, stretched to a certain point before they furl back in on themselves. In the main, I found myself a little disappointed with Circles, which is a shame seeing as Johnson can just about do no wrong in my eyes. Yamada’s synth is more at the forefront, and strangely this is the best and worst element – what she does is incredible, but the songs seem to suffer because of it. It may be a direction that they need to work on, thus their next releases are pregnant with anticipation. That said, there are some killer tunes on there, especially the title track, ‘Sleepwalker’ and the thudding, seven-plus minute finale, ‘Rolling Out’.

Moon Duo – Circles
Moon Duo – Rolling Out

Preceding this was a 7” split with another great psych band, Psychic Ills. Their contribution is the six minute ‘Zoned’, which is more befitting of the warbling mind-bending kosmiche experiments that Moon Duo have delved in since its inception. This was left on the Circles sessions’ cutting room floor – thank God it found its place in the world though, because in my opinion, this almost betters every track on that album. ‘Take Me With You’, the Psychic Ills contribution, is also excellent, a folky trance that is more straight up than you might expect from them – the perfect counterpoint. In fact, this is one of my favourite splits of the year.

Moon Duo - Zoned

Finally there is the mammoth ‘High Over Blue’ that Sleeperhold Publications saw fit to put out (that should tell you enough about this release...). Twenty two minutes of fragmented, stretched mind-altering magic. Nuff said.

Moon Duo – High Over Blue

You can get ‘Zoned’ and ‘High Over Blue’ as a bonus CD if you purchase the CD version of Circles, which is nice. Get these releases here (for Sacred Bones’ releases) and here (for High Over Blue).

Field Vacation By Nite

Brisbane sonic diviners Nite Fields have only been on this mortal coil for just over a year, but the inroads made into their quest for aural evolution have been bountiful.

The next step across their causeway of lysergic discovery comes in the form of new 7” Vacation-Hell/Happy (out through Lost Race Records). Mining the depths of Joy Division post-punk atmospherics, shoegaze washes and Snowman baroque gloom and suspense, the dour drone that the insidious bassline and all-pervading synth creates for Danny Venzin’s purposeful vocals to finally shine through is easily the best sounding platform the quartet have put to tape yet. Two snapshots of an ever-expanding act, one that should be making an indelible impact on the local scene in 2013.

Nite Fields are playing at the Lost Race festival at Coorparoo Bowls Club on Saturday November 17, where they will be launching the 7” alongside Blank Realm, Secret Birds, Do The Robot, Cobwebbs, Dreamtime and so many more – It'll be great, make sure you're there (all for $20 and 1976 beer prices). If you can’t make it, you can pre-order the 7” (there are only 150 available) here.

Seeing Swans For The First Time

New York’s brooding soothsayers of annihilation Swans have gone through a multitude of sonic metamorphoses over the years. Starting out in the 1980s as a viscous, nihilistic counterpoint to everything ever considered ‘rock’, their agonizing brutality and despair gave way to something almost resembling mainstream music, albeit with blunt trauma embedded in frontman Michael Gira’s acrid lyricism. Then Swans dissolved away whilst Gira explored the darker realms of desert Americana with his band Angels of Light. It seemed that Swans had run its course, that there was only so much gnashing of teeth before one needed to claw upwards towards the light.

Then, after fifteen years’ absence, they returned with one of 2010’s greatest records, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky. Overtly sidestepping the money-grabbing rehashes of reunions all around them, Swans created an album that rivalled the dire brilliance of Children Of God. It seemed that Gira and co. were serious when they said they weren’t here to recreate the past. Yet on latest album The Seer, there are touches of every sordid phase that Gira has ever spat upon. Don’t be deceived however – The Seer isn’t a “Greatest Hits By Proxy” – it’s so, so much more.

Opening with 'Lunacy', it could be expected that things are going to be sedate, at least by Swans standards. A choral chant-like vocal with backing choir has us in an apocryphal daze, an accompanying accordion in the background. But as the chant focuses on the title, things coalesce into a vibrating, cacophonous vacuum, sucking everything into it. The musical palette is vast, incorporating dulcimer, clarinet, violin, various shades of shit-kicking distorted guitar – yet all is focused on torturing the sound, forcing things to combustible realms and beyond. Gira’s metronomic panting alongside a menacing guitar line at the beginning of 'Mother Of The World'; the gravelly march through blasted plains of 'The Seer Returns'; the squalling, screeching dissonance of '93 Ave Blues'; even the rustic opening of 'The Daughter Brings The Water' holds a blackened undercurrent of desolation and despair.

Gira surprisingly states that his quest is to “spread light and joy though the world.” Other than the majesty of Karen-O led 'Song For A Warrior', it’s hard to see on surface level how this could be. Yet scratch around the edges and there are joyous threads throughout – tinkling bells here, angelic choir there. The industrial metal grind of the title track, all thirty-two minutes of it, hints at what he means most of all – often the beauty of something isn’t realised until it’s torn asunder. Brutal, dissonant, apocalyptic – The Seer is easily the best thing Swans have ever done.

You can get The Seer through Young God Records right here - you still might be able to pick up a Gira-signed copy if you are quick!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Can't Hear The Wire For The Wood - 10 Releases

New Weird Australia is an Australian institution that champions this continent’s more left of field experimental artists, branching out from a mere radio program on Sydney’s FBi station to become a beacon of ambition and exploration. This year they have opened up into a record label too, albeit a digital one, called Wood & Wire. They have close to ten releases out already, and with another due out this month I thought it best to do a small feature on these albums – because there are some amazing gems here.

The first four releases were released simultaneously back in June. Inter Alia was the first, and the third from drumming maelstrom Peon. Fusing jazz improv (which may be a catalyst of The Necks’ Lloyd Swanton joining the duo) and almost subliminal electronic manipulations with ritualistic rhythmic patterns, Peon create a sinuous sojourn through the echoing halls of psych mantra.

Peon - Io

Chocolate Syrup is the debut of Sydney’s Emily Grantham. Playing with form within the electronic genre (Grantham studies composition), Chocolate Syrup is an experiment in chopped up waves of metallic sheen, soaring from ear to ear like an electric shock, whilst her almost-childlike vocals shifts in and out of the robotic dissonance. Its equal parts the future-pop, and the stuff of nightmares. Monster’s rave.

Emily Grantham – Coconut Flesh

Bok Darklord is like an industrial obsessed Doctor Who whose only weapons are sonic awareness and common sense. Aiming to eradicate Metallica and Lou Reed’s abomination Lulu, the same-titled record here is skewered on a bilious fist of liquid dominance – it hurts, sure, but this cavity search is the enema that the whole world needed.

BOK Darklord – The View

Another debut, this time the self-titled Machine Death LP. Penned by its creators as New Wave Sludgecore, Machine Death is fairly brutal, with the whisper of melody trying vainly to smash through a static wall of distorted viscera. Fuck Buttons would be proud.

Machine Death – Carried On A Wave

Solid opening, no? The next two releases are just as good. WW #5 is しSD, the self-titled debut EP from 19 year old Canberra-based Felix Idle (しSD is pronounced Shisd, which is how I will refer to him as from now on…or maybe the tech-core Prince…) Juggling hip-hop rhythmic aesthetics with undulating musical arrangements, and collaborator Cape North’s vocals wafting in and out of the mix, adding and subtracting harmony and texture like the turns of the tide. This kid sounds like he knows what he’s doing – but he is learning as he goes. The power of these songs is dulled only by the knowledge that his next foray into sonic manipulation promises so much more.

Shisd – Canyon
Shisd – Bay Wash

Stacey Wilson isn’t a stranger – her work with Terrible Truths and especially her own Rites Wild moniker have made ripples across the globe. Regional Curse sees Wilson donning the solo guise in the form of a cowl made of tar, and third LP Natural Living has noise oozing from every pore. Since starting out making cassettes of her explorations, she has utilised home-made electronic drums and a malfunctioning looper pedal. Refracted through pervasive themes of ascension and natural progression, Regional Curse marks itself as an arbiter of isolation and vice, hidden away in the scum-soaked hovels of paranoiac mind. Desolation reigns here – yet it never has sounded this sleek.

Regional Curse – Best Believe

Onto the next two Wood & Wire releases. Sydney’s Joshua Gibbs offers a vibrant experimental EP in I’ll Be Good under the guise of Setec. Whisking away into a rustic parallel world of refracted lights and cascading gamma rays, woollen jackets and snow blindness, the looping and graceful percussive interlay on display, along with Gibbs’ great vocals, evokes likeminded sonic slicers such as Cornelius (especially on the title track, and is a comparison that is likely to be made quite often I reckon) and the Avalanches (see ‘Vowel of Owl’ – hey, we may as well ask for someone to take the mantle that the Avalanches are unable to fill). A magical ride that ends too soon – keep your eye on this lad.

Setec – I’ll Be Good
Setec – Vowel Of Owl

From Perth comes Laura Jane Lowther and her electronic project Kučka. This self-titled EP is intent on eschewing normal notions of electro pop, instead trying to colour the furtive outer regions, neither aggressive nor reticent; neither glossy nor gritty. These arrangements expand and contract like a psychotropic headswell; Alice In Wonderland in cyberpunk sound-byte form. Tying it all together is Lowther’s plinking vocals, somewhere between Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki and Alison Goldfrapp, a skittish yet ominous mist, a dark seduction threatening to swallow you whole.

Kučka – i

The final two releases are from Sydney based producer fm and Melbourne’s Automating. fm’s EP Buttons uses analog, digital & video game equipment to create an amalgamation of artificial electronic pop that is unsettling in its apparent lack of human emotion. This feels like computer music, made by a computer, when coming home to seduce another computer, which as an end product is weirdly alluring.

fm - Maise

In some ways Automating’s effort Somnambulist is the most ambitious of this incredibly ambitious brace of releases. Comprised of 18 tracks that investigate the stasis and psyche of sleep-states, hypnagogia and hypnopompia via field recordings, found sound, tape manipulation, noise and effects units, the end result of Somnambulist is the interior score to a technologically-obsessed paranoiac (there’s that word again…). I honestly found myself going a little crazy whilst listening to it, it invades the skull so completely. This, combined with vivid imagery due to the inventive use of the field recordings, paints a garish vista of modern societal nightmares akin to Todd Haynes’ Safe or Darren Aronofsky’s Pi. Even Lost Highway plagued my mind. Now I love these films, but I don’t want them fusing with my mind – God, I can see the Mystery Man’s eyes upon me! Seriously, this is an incredible trip. I'm not sure I’d recommend taking drugs whilst watching this one…

Automating – Rosetta Stone
Automating – Synaptic Transmission

There are two more on their way – expect to hear more soon. Until then, head over here to divulge in some exciting otherworldly delights – it’s a brave new world.

A Dripping Sex Pile

Wow. Talk about an Internet-baiting headline...

There are moments when you discover bands that are good from the first note, and after living wit the music for a few days, or even hours, it becomes ingrained in your sonic psyche for forever more. Then there are bands that are insidious, their pull imperceptible, worming its way into your central core until your dreamscapes and nightmares are scored by their apocryphal affectations.

But occasionally there comes a song or album that blows you away so unexpectedly that everything changes. We all have at least one of these transcendental moments in our lives, where a song, a voice, a riff, a roll, a drone, a scream, smashes its imprint on your soul, and you spend the rest of your life reliving that moment. It would certainly be rash to put a small band from Boston into my list, but Pile's 3rd record Dripping blindsided me so completely that I had gravel rash underneath my chin AND my tongue. It’s probably futile to describe this album, but I’ll briefly try.

From the raw energy of opener ‘Baby Boy’, this record never lets up, incorporating the indie rock of the 90s (when it truly was independent) with a crunchier, heavier edge and hair-on-your-chest yowls from frontman Rick Maguire that evokes a simpler, grungier Modest Mouse who are most definitely still on the self-flagellation and sauce downward spiral.

Dripping comes from recording the album in Philadelphia in the middle of summer, and the heat, sweat, anguish and ephemeral base emotions comes bleeding out of these tracks. Even when things slow down (‘Prom Song’, ‘Bubblegum’) there is a feverish itch that pervades, albeit one that has you grinning maniacally. And when they kick it into an addictive rhythmic gear as they do with ‘Bump A Grape’, ‘The Jones’ and the acidic ‘Grunt Like A Pig’, it takes all your might to stop from tearing your own face off with glee. This may sound all perfunctory and stupid, but that is the power of these songs over me. I struggle to comprehend the power that these guitar lines, insistent bass and rumbling drums have over me. And that wail…

When you wake from a dream where your band was playing these songs, and they killed – thus its your subconsciousness telling you that your band will never make songs as good as these in real life – then you know you have something pretty great on your hands.

There have been quite a few bands that have stirred me in this fashion this year – Spook Houses, Tiny Spiders, Dikes of Holland, Grass Cannons, Plateaus, Iowa, Looks Like Miaou, Invisible Things, PAWS, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, Post Teens, Sleepies, and I'm leaving a few out – and it’s these moments, just as much as when a feverishly anticipated release like GY!BE, Ty Segall or Swans slays mightily, that keeps the faith burning bright.

A glowing review? Sure. Dripping isn’t perfect by any means – but that makes it even better, because the next album could be bullshit good, and that’s worth living for.

Pile’s Dripping can be gleaned via Exploding In Sound Records here.

Taking Quiet Steps With Dying Livers

Ex-local band Quiet Steps have moved to Melbourne, but are still quite active. They have releases Dying Livers, which follows the spectacular about-turn of last release Secular, which sees them shying further away from their more aggressive roots to a much more melodic, post-punk realm, full of texture and meticulousness that still manages to find space to breathe, offering a suite of songs that are relentless yet refined in pace and intent. Yes – “refined” – because what the Perkins brothers and Josh Strange bring to the table on these six songs is the ability to find light within the discordant darkness. If you liked Secular, then this LP is a fluid continuation of this line of music.
Dying Livers is out now through Tenzenmen Records – grab it on spattered vinyl here. Quiet Steps are returning to Brisbane along with another local act that haven’t played often in the Sunshine State this year (unless you count the million times they played in July), Nikko, accompanied by The Rational Academy. Three great acts to be sure, the ace night kicks off at The Zoo Saturday November 24 - tix here.

Quiet Steps - Dying Livers

Roku Music - 1 Cassette, 1 Party, 1 Love (ON THURSDAY!!!)

This is on tomorrow. It’s a cassette listening party at the Waiting Room. I don’t know if I’ve ever BEEN to a cassette listening party. I know I used to listen to cassettes of songs I taped off Rage, straight off the TV, with my sister – but that’s about it. The crazy kids responsible for said cassette listening party are Donnie Miller and Innez Tulloch, here for the first time as Roku Music.

Starting as an idea for a university project exploring recording techniques and tones, Roku Music is the best of both of their aural worlds – the dark throbbing tensions and feedback squalls that bleed through is a distant relative to Miller’s No Anchor affiliations, whilst the static pop aesthetics that ebb and flow like a reticent tide can be as lightweight as a Feather(s) or a hazy dream from a Tiny Spider(s). I really like it. There are elements of washed out dirge that, when married to Tulloch’s soft vocals reminds me of True Widow (see ‘Everything’s Alright’ for an example); at other times a darker, beefed up theredsunband (especially on ‘Primitive’); but mostly it sounds just plain rad. Even if it’s on a damned cassette…

The cassette listening party is tomorrow night at The Waiting Room – and its free! Come have some bevvies and listen to a cassette, at a party.

Monday 5 November 2012

Sweltering In The Dusty Heat

New Orleans based band Heat Dust throw a lot of shit into the industrial mixer – noise rock, punk snot, fuzzed rot, rhythmic flot(sam) – all while ring-a-ring-a-rosying around a maypole devoted to J Mascis and Robert Pollard. The five tracks on their self-titled cassette EP are fizzing with hooks embalmed in 90s sepia-tinged euphoria, a pertinent dynamic in 2012. Strident hooks and melodies are rife, culminating in tracks that are impossible to ignore nor dislike. Having jumped on board San Antonio based Texas Is Funny Records (home to SM faves God Townes and Grasshopper Lies Heavy), Heat Dust are red hot.

Heat Dust – Sleeping Call
Heat Dust – Thick Distance

Come On Down To Expo 70, And Have Yourself A Time

It’s never long before Missouri drone tech god Justin Wright AKA Expo 70 has a new release out – and if you hide under a rock for a few months you end up drowning in them. So it seems here at Sonic Masala, as there are THREE releases of the last half of the year that have come out, all of them varying degrees of awesome.

Let’s start with the album, Beguiled Entropy (out through Blackest Rainbow). My pick of the bunch, these five track perfectly encapsulating the different sonic currents Wright tends to traverse, extrapolate and wrap in on itself, and as such is a true genre definer. From the aqueous drift and bleeps of ‘Mark of the Rising Mantis’, the soaring space spectre of ‘Luminous Traveler’ and the apocryphal drone of ‘Sunseekers (Out Of Diminished Light)' to the flipside and the warped odyssey of ‘Backmasking Deeper Than Darkness’ coming on like an aural 70s mindfuck film score – headphone orgasm alert – and the throbbing crawler ‘Pulsing Rings Of Ice’. It’s always hard to properly describe a good analogue drone record from the repetitive or the dreck – the line is infinitesimal, its all in the nuance of the atmospherics – yet Wright nary puts a foot wrong here.

Expo 70 – Luminous Traveller

Then there is this split LP the Missouri multi-instrumentalist did with NY avant-savant Ancient Ocean (AKA John Bohannon of Electric Temple Records) through Sound of Cobra (in collaboration with NO=FI Records). Expo 70’s contribution is the 21 minute ‘Waves In Caverns of Air’, which eschews the guitar for more effects driven glacial Moog drone. The planet Hoth reimagined by Stanley Kubrick. (Ancient Ocean’s track is damned rad too).

Expo 70 – Waves In Caverns Of Air

Finally there is this enormous four way split double LP put out through Immune Recordings that sees Expo 70 sparring with Portland’s cosmic synth paean Pulse Emitter, Oakland’s hazy space provocateurs Date Palms and Peaking Lights' Aaron Coyes' sunblissed offshoot Faceplant. Here Wright goes into more of a stoner riff mantra, and it proves to be a fun killer counterpoint. Wright is joined with a rhythm section which he has been touring with for the majority of this year, and it’s a dark yet electric combination. Seeing as I'm a real sucker for these kind of jams, I love this direction almost as much as Beguiled Entropy.

Expo 70 - Closet Full Of Candles

Grab these titles stat - Wright can do no wrong.