Posts by Jeff Conklin
There’s prolific, and then there’s Justin Marc Lloyd. The Baltimorean, who operates the always reliable Rainbow Bridge label, has released six new cassettes since you started reading this. Lloyd records and performs noise with an array of monikers, each displaying slight, yet perceptible differences in approach. False Flag is his most explosive project, concerning “government sponsored, false flag terrorism.” This conceptual underpinning is not new to extreme electronic music, and it’s more effective for Lloyd’s focus than listener edification. But at least you have some idea of what’s pissing him off. Yeah, “fuck THE MAN.” Lloyd’s tactical, expert deployment of power electronics-- extreme volume, samples, instrument abuse and primal vocals-- is in brutal flower on "Eligible Members of State", a track from a new split CS with Divine Shell. At times it's oppressive, spacious, and downright scary, this track is a fantastically detailed work in a genre largely without nuance.
Stream "Eligible Members of State" below, then head here to grab a copy of the tape.
The sounds of industry have become foreign to the ears of most Americans. A generation or two removed from the clang and grind of the assembly line, NYC’s Medved use the sound of first-wave industrial groups, rather than the factory, as a blueprint for their rhythmic assaults. Medved is composed of noise scene regulars with hearty resumes: Ceci Moss plays bass in Weasel Walter’s No Wave unit Cellular Chaos and hosts an experimental-music show, Radio Heart, on East Village Radio, while Paul Haney operates micro-label Obsolete Units and performs harsh noise as Rust Worship. Together, the duo churn out hard-hat obliterating beats and layers of throat-closing synth and electronics. A new project, Medved have just self-released two cassettes of edited jam sessions simply titled Archives I and II, both of which can be downloaded on a pay-what-you-want basis at Bandcamp. Stream or download "Veneration" from Archives II below.
B.C., a new, search engine-defying black metal unit from Brooklyn, have released one of the USBM scene’s most promising demos with Manifest. Recorded by Malkuth’s Pat Murano (known outside of the darkness as the man behind Decimus and co-founder of No Neck Blues Band) and self-released on cassette, Manifest’s five tracks add up to 15 minutes of nightmare-ish intros, full-bodied riffs, rib-sticking drum work, and throat-shredding vocals. B.C.’s first recorded outing won’t be earning the quartet the “progressive” tag from metal nerds, but it will sate the ghoulish appetites of those who prefer their black metal un-produced, and drenched in a queasy atmosphere that reeks of sweat and blood.
Stream Manifest below via B.C.’s Bandcamp, then head to Prison Tatt to score a physical copy.
Green Records celebrates five years of handcrafted existence this year. Begun by Michigan native Knox Mitchell when he was just 14, the label has put out more than 200 releases-- most of which feature Mitchell abusing assorted electronics at terrifying volumes under such aliases as Lidless Eye, Hollow Carving, Baskery Cave and numerous others. Mitchell is part of the new generation of basement jammers lurching out of the Midwest using copy machines, tape decks and anything that can buzz, whirr, or oscillate to create a sound and build a community low on commercial appeal but high on inventiveness.
Green’s most recent emission is a self-titled cassette by Black Lace Drag, an industrial project by Mitchell along with Redrot’s Ryan Opperman. Recorded live, the tape finds the duo wrenching analog, occasionally rhythmic fury from modified shortwave radios and other electric junk. Check out one of the tape’s seven untitled pieces below and head here to grip a physical copy.
Facts concerning the ambient project Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement are few, but the following creation myth seems plausible: a man investigating the disappearance of a number of missionaries, some of them musicians, in Papua New Guinea in the ‘80s discovered a box of cassettes at a market in Port Moresby. He was told these were the only remains of the group, who often sojourned into the wilderness for weeks on end before returning to tinker on machines in a rented shack. The tapes began to circulate among a small circle of enthusiasts. Rumors swirl that these recordings-- containing long-form, dread-heavy compositions for minimal synthesizer and field recordings-- reflect those lost Christ-bringers’ descent into heresy, with their hearts and minds being consumed by jungle spirits. LA label Hospital Productions have obtained the tapes and have begun to issue them.
Listen to "Homes Built Over the Sea" from the Black Magic Cannot Cross Water tape, below.
Ulaan Markhor is the latest step in Steven R. Smith’s journey through the ecstatic possibilities of the electric guitar. Descended in spirit and name from his Ulaan Khol project, Smith’s first LP under this new moniker finds the West Coast six-string slinger adding a more explicit rhythmic underpinning to the sky-bound fretwork. Rather than weigh things down, the addition of uncomplicated percussion and sturdy, grooving bass lines give Smith’s instrumental compositions a furious urgency and accessibility unheard in much of his previous work. These concessions to structure allow Smith’s melodic gifts to ring with greater clarity and make the impact of the self-titled record’s 10 tracks all the more forceful. Ulaan Markhor’s directness might even reach past avant-heads, grab jam-band burnouts and fans of the more organic strains of krautrock by the throat, and take them to new worlds with its blissful, economic psychedelia.
Ulaan Markhor’s self-titled debut is out now on Soft Abuse. Stream the album track, Half Ricochet, below.
Copenhagen’s F.E. Denning can’t exactly recall the ingredients that went into the making of his newest tape, Descent into Darkness. He’s sure the base of the electric gumbo is manipulated records and field-recordings, thinks a piano and guitar may have been abused in the process, but other than that, your guess is as good as his. The 25-year-old’s latest offering of bleak ambience and howling noise-gusts transcend its nebulous origins. Following an impressive debut-- 2011’s Echoes of Sumeria for Posh Isolation-- Descent into Darkness and its dim-lit plunderphonics don’t need to be understood, just felt. Denning creates a heavily textured, post-industrial forest of gut-rattling low-end and spooked mid-range that no map or trail of crumbs can lead you out of. It’s the sound of consumption, only you are the one being devoured.
Descent into Darkness’ first cassette pressing is sold out, but you can purchase it digitally via Bandcamp.
Grindcore’s ferociousness really is best served up on a seven-inch and Sissy Spacek know this; Contretemps is the band’s 28th single. A 10-year-old concern, the West Coast unit featuring noise titan John Wiese on bass, Charlie Mumma on drums, Jesse Jackson on guitar, and Corydon Ronnau on vocals have released full-lengths, but the band’s bloodying, makes-hardcore-seem-like-easy-listening assault is most effective in bite-size portions. Recorded at Smegma studios in Portland, OR and featuring cover art by Los Angeles Free Music Society founder Ace Farren Ford, Contretemps crams 10 tracks of off-the-rails tempos, buzzing bass and caustic, note-less guitar spray into four and a half minutes. Each song on Contretemps launches fully formed, pummeling for anywhere between nine and 56 seconds. Submit yourself to Sissy Spacek’s not-so-random acts of violence and see if you really know how to take a punch.
Contretemps will be released on May 22nd via Dean Spunt of No Age’s label, PPM.
Leather noise practitioner Hive Mind (a.k.a. Greh Holger) follows up last year’s masterful exploration of decay, Elemental Disgrace, with a new tape on his Chondritic Sound label. Where that release focused on the deterioration of man’s surroundings, the energy on They Made Me The Keeper Of The Vineyards is internal. Holger uses his arsenal of analog synths to show the psychic drain of life in the post-industrial world. Side A is a cerebral, horror-film-worthy fever dream, the sound of electronic locusts massing above a skeletal ruin of rhythm. Things intensify on the tape’s second side as a droning pulse is shot through with deathly tones that mutate, distort and constrict until a martial beat decimates whatever space is left. There is no shimmer or melodic redemption on They Made Me The Keeper Of The Vineyards-- just another celebration of the darkness around (and in) us. And that’s what Hive Mind does best.
You can grab Hive Mind's They Made Me The Keeper Of The Vineyards from Bandcamp.
Few modern musicians can match the unbridled creativity of guitarist Geoff Mullen, whose work ranges from gentle acoustic ramblings to full-blown amplifier-melt and everything in between. Continually bringing fresh spirit into guitar-based experimental music, Mullen’s habit of never repeating himself makes any investigation into his discography thrilling. Just released via the Gift Tapes sub-label DRAFT, Tropical Contact High / Live @ Casa finds the Providence artist at his most indirect-- building an ambient labyrinth from prepared guitar, field recordings, and synthesizer. The result of tape-manipulation of those sources, "Tropical Contact High" breezes by with alien tones that stretch, bubble, and contract as a serene coastline ebbs and flows.
Tropical Contact High / Live @ Casa is limited to 125 copies and can be purchased via DRAFT.