The name Babe, Terror masks Claudio Szyniker-- a Brazillian sound-sculptor with hypnotic prowess. Szyniker, who also functions as the label-head of Perdizes Dream, is out with a new EP, Knights. The 12" featuring the medieval etching shown above is available from Phantasy Sound and Because Music.
"Lifantastic I" opens Knights, swelling eerie harmonics over a sandy, shuffling beat. Ambient music this peaceable often avoids concrete rhythms other than synth pulses or grid-iron loops. But Babe, Terror achieves a zombie dancehall momentum while maintaining a positive ease. The track really flowers with ghostly voices near the end-- its spirit sounds not frightening, but as its title suggests, is fantastic. These are the kind of somber tunes heaving with oceanic patience that take a minute to fall into. But once you sink, it’s like a stone. The consistent sample-set and synth-voicing throughout Knights recalls a less frenetic Burial, dialing down the pulse of harrowing cityscapes and wrenching out a weird kind of joy in isolation.
Though a frequent dabbler in the visual arts-- from photo books to paintings to comics-- Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum has never released an official video. That changed today when Elverum let loose the somber, meandering clip for "The Place Lives." It's a lumbering cut from Clear Moon, his first of two 2012 LPs; the second, Ocean Roar, drops September 4 through the P.W. Elverum and Sun label.
If you cut your own hair on nature hikes then you'll find some common ground with Elverum in this clip as stalks up the hills of his Anacrotes, Washington home, trimming his peppery mane. He boils some water on a Sterno campstove and digs a hole. We seem to be witness to a ritual, an evocation of sorts, culminating in Elverum offering instant coffee and its china vessel to the earth. Hard to surmise if it's meant to energize the land or call our attention to an ever-present life force; perhaps it's just a metaphor about treating our environment with the same care and respect with which we treat ourselves.
I recently spoke with Elverum on his visual language, for a long-form interview that will appear in the first Ad Hoc zine, dropping this September.
Here we have the opening track from Enso, the debut full-length from Brooklyn's SoftSpot; the album's artwork, by Jonathan Campolo, is above. "Disciple Fix" builds deceptively, moving from melodramatic synth circles and unshakably clever guitar loops to bluesy shoegaze and lopsided-yet-driving beats. It's a strong opening statement from an album of strong statements: kaleidoscopic, slow-tempered art-rockers textured in the same clever, dark rhythm sections of late-'90s post-emo. On top, vocalist Sarah Kinlaw merges the lilting, trained poetic of Joanna Newsom or Zac Pennington into more jagged, Rainer Maria shouts. Never too bright, never too dark, "Disciple Fix" sets a female antagonist against a world of dark wonder and machination. The band says it's about "a cosmic apparition calling a misguided population to reason." And if it sounds like you're dropped into the middle of the tale, SoftSpot's obsession with loops here extends to the construction of the album as a whole: all of Enso fuses into one track, the end looping back to the beginning, literally infinitely listenable.
Enso drops via a self-release September 4. SoftSpot playsa sold-out show with Alt-J at Brooklyn's Glasslands on August 7.
Here's the new video for "Aphonia," from the Brooklyn post-prog sextet known as Starring. It's a pretty bare-bones little cut made while the band was on the road. Not much visual heft is needed when coupled with this slammin' track, though. Right off the bat, it's that addictive, odd-metered riff, bringing to mind the straight-ahead drive of "Plowed" by forgotten alt-rockers Sponge. Prog isn't a dress the '90s wore often, unless you were Tool, in which case only drumming nerds and subpar drug dealers understood what you were all about. But in 2012, as subgenre patchwork compliments in any pattern, it all fits just right after Starring hems it in. The verse takes a heavy sustain, warping a gang vocal through an astral megaphone. That unbalanced-to-balanced cut is a weird metal trope here painted in a different tone. After the stall, the hook feels better than ever when it revs to open throttle again; suddenly we're back in the riff’s 7/4 spin. A hiccup in the drums across the refrain makes “Aphonia” all the more convincing--the heroic closing fills prove this is not a stamina statement but one of glory, converging on Tera Melos and Gospel and The Anniversary and The Who all at once.
Sacramento, CA's fiercest cultural presence since... well, probably ever, Death Grips have released yet another a new video, this time for the skittering chilled-gamelan cut "Double Helix." The clip from The Money Store takes the ad hoc (ahem) vibe of their previous slate of videos, but scraps the VHS veneer for a new look with a strange narrative perspective. When you think about it, pointing out of the rear of a car is a pretty ridiculous position for a camera. God forbid you trouble yourself with a turn of the head.
Regardless, the unseen driver is anything but safe. MC Ride won't let this Scion back up no matter what. It's refreshing to see Death Grips still vibing out on their own stripped-down and open-source aesthetic, despite having signed with that unspeakable of unspeakables: a major label. Though even if the last time we saw the trio was at Market Hotel last summer-- having cancelled their recent tour to finish their second Epic LP of 2012, No Love-- we're down for it.
Sin Kitty first blipped on my radar months ago when Altered Zones posted the angel-dusted booty-call ballad "Addie." This newest track, "Vanity Daze," starts as a gauzy backbeat drift, picking up across a poppy, major bridge, then bowing back down to the borderline-drone. The centerpiece is Annie Eodice's spun-out, shot-to-the-heart vocal. A little difficult to distinguish, but only positives can be said of the tough translation. Once deciphered, Eodice's disruption of cheery youth is easy to identtify with-- the sound of ambivalence turned to action, personal realization turned to momentum. Asobi Seksu, Widowspeak, and Deerhunter all come to mind, but Sin Kitty asserts they're a surf band (in the same way Beehive and the Barricudas were, sure). But for a band as young as they, all the deliniations of shoegaze and psych-rock are too much for my conjecture to bear; Sin Kitty have taken a sound that so many bands fall flat in pursuing, and elevated it to the next level.