Mabel Suen and Joe Hess are major engines of activity in St. Louis’s weird-rock underground, and the debut 7-inch from Skin Tags (hers) and Hardbody (his) documents what they’ve been slinging most recently. Skin Tags burns through six tracks of skronky hardcore punk, none of which clear two minutes and all of which smolder with STL scrappiness. “No Face” and “The Grid,” in particular, tear through the speakers with the concision and disorderly finesse of the Minutemen. As for Hardbody, AdHoc regulars may recall their song “Cash For God,” which was included on Cryptic Carousel’s Semiotic Recipes VHS compilation last October. Along with the calculated avalanche of companion tune “Time Sink,” the trio submits two tracks of well-calculated, loose-limbed math rock, propelled by Hess’s combustible drumming.
The Skin Tags/Hardbody Split 7” is available now via the Skin Tags and Hardbody Bandcamp sites.
Free jazz saxophonist Paul Flaherty has kept the homefires of The Hated Music burning in his home state of Connecticut for the past twenty years, collaborating with darn near every improviser of note in the process. He's also kept long counsel with younger players, the most recent of which (on record, anyway) is his New Haven encounter with Tiger Hatchery, Live In New Haven. Recorded in 2013 while the Chicago skronksters were touring the East Coast, it's an ecstatic meeting. On album opener "Morning Light," Flaherty plays a lyrical duet with reedsman Mike Forbes as Andrew Scott Young's bass strings skitter under his bow and Ben Billington massages his snare drum with a contact mic. After feeling out the space, the quartet spars with increasing ferocity, until all at last are slain in the spirit of fire music's Holy Ghost, Albert Ayler, turning "Morning Light" into a midsummer blaze.
Co La’s Matt Papich grounds his off-the-wall sampling sensibility on a foundation of Bmore breaks, building his blueprint on the energies of Charm City. It’s unsurprising, then, that his upcoming LP No No lifts a middle finger to the media vortex that fell on Baltimore this spring. Lead track “Suffering (Tuesday)” embodies the exhaustion of an entire city, worn down by the hyperextended stimulation of 24-hour news streams. Created by Denver artist MMCIII, the video revolves (quite literally) around black and white tiles flanking a rectangular mirror, reflecting the names of both album and artist like an Escher painting. Icons of urban distress show up with every revolution-- cigarette butts, a butane lighter-- until the final rotation, when the mirror pulses with the red and blue flashes of police lights, a squad car siren rising from Co La’s discomforted sound collage.
Taso is a California-based Teklife affiliate who boasts several releases on the same UK labels that first took footwork international. His most recent mixtape, Teklife Till Tha Next Life Vol 2, chops up the sounds of London and LA with the familiar templates of West Chicago. Half solo tracks and half collaborations with DJ Manny, DJ Spinn, and the late DJ Rashad, Taso augments footwork’s relentlessly-fileted rhythmic palette with amen breaks and ravey piano progressions, most overtly on the Rashad/Spinn collab “Royal House VIP” and his own "SaxXx." Elsewhere, he layers classic G-funk synths and lowrider-slow basslines over unhinged drum programming, most effectively on the raw Ice Cube rework “Today Was A Good Day VIP.” While it’s bittersweet to know these are some of the last unheard Rashad tracks left, Taso cross-pollinating productions keep extending the Teklife footprint.
Teklife Till Tha Next Life Vol. 2 is out now on Taso’s Bandcamp page.
Having laid low since releasing their Live With The Britten Sinfonietta LP in 2013, the polygeneric jazz ensemble Jaga Jazzist is gearing up for the June release of their next Ninja Tune album, Starfire, by parceling out a few previews. The most recent is a remix of the track “Oban” made by house producer (and fellow Norseman) Todd Terje, who reworks the freewheeling original into his own equally eclectic edit. Grounding the entire track on JBs-worthy drums and a taut funk bassline, Terje’s version unfolds like an unreleased collaboration between Giorgio Moroder and a more Detroit-oriented MF Doom. Over the course of ten commanding minutes, he integrates giallo-worthy arpeggios, Sinocentric string swells and interstellar bursts of pure electricity into the groove, turning Jaga Jazzist into the background band for a 30th-century star lounge.
Five years after Cameron Stallones' and M. Geddes Gengras’ pilgrimage to the St. Catherine’s compound of roots godfathers The Congos, their visionary dancehall imprint, Duppy Gun Productions, has become the most significant reggae intervention since Adrian Sherwood met Creation Rebel. Following on last fall’s Multiply Vol. 1 compilation, Visual Version Excursion collages footage from the two weeks Stallones and Gengras spent working on outer-space riddims with I Jahbar, Lukan-I and other Portmore MCs. Blending verité moments of tracking vocals and rolling spliffs with rolling infomercial text and fried-VHS interludes, it reproduces the “visual dub” style of Icon Eye, the film that accompanied the Sun Araw/Congos collab album, Icon Give Thank.
Visual Version Excursion is available now from Duppy Gun and Stones Throw Records.
For In Stereo, Cleveland producer Tim Thornton culled the best outcomes of two years'-worth of improvisations for a double-cassette release under his Tiger Village moniker. Recorded straight to stereo with no edits or overdubs, the release's 180 minutes of synthesizer and drum machine jamming affirms Thornton’s reputation as a deft selector. In standout “8-18-13” nothing stays the same for long. Synth arpeggios and punchy drum machine patterns undulate like the jellyfish that grace the sleeve, riding a current over the radical colors of a reef. Thankfully, Thornton’s clear comfort with his equipment keeps the transitions clear, his minute adjustments making sure the piece never shipwrecks.
After a three-year hiatus from the power electronics/harsh noise moniker that made him micro-famous, Dominick Fernow is reviving Prurient for a double LP on Profound Lore. Spanning sixteen tracks and ninety minutes, Frozen Niagara Falls steps back from the Masonic-Jesuit-Reptilian techno of Vatican Shadow of recent years, hewing closer to the mournful synthscape of Bermuda Drain’s “Palm Tree Corpse.” The Angelo Badalamenti chords and forlorn footage of nature in winter on the two-minute album trailer look like leaked footage from the new Twin Peaks production. And with track titles that allude to prior residences, past relationships, and freezing-ass weather, it looks like Fernow is keeping things cold over in L.A.
Frozen Niagra Falls is out May 12 on Profound Lore.
Danish dronemaker Jannick Schou is well-regarded for his ambient work, so it’s intriguing to hear him explore another side of the hypnotic with the slowed-down funeral techno of “Fabrik.” Built around motorik drum programming and meticulously backmasked samples, Schou washes his synths out with filters that wouldn’t sound out of place in the Basic Channel back catalogue, flanked by desiccated handclaps and metallic triplet scuffs. A gothic synth and a forlorn chanter carry the melody, getting chopped up and delayed with slow motion precision. What follows are sibilant drones before leftover sounds of industry draw the party to a close.