Friday, July 3, 2015

TWINGIANT “Devil Down”
(Medusa Crush Recordings)

I used to watch Headbanger’s Ball when I was growing up – it was my heavy alternative to, ahem, Alternative Nation and 120 Minutes, which also populated the MTV-waves. The golden age of Riki Rachtman (what a metal spelling!) was upon us then, and we sat helpless as he spun video after video of gnarly, rambunctious, rebellious, delicious (mmm…) metal. It was a lot of fun, I’ll tell you.

You see where I’m going with this – Twingiant would have been perfect for a Headbanger’s Ball showcase. The Phoenix, Arizona, quartet rumbles through their second album like they were meant for Ozzfest ’05 (at least the second stage), and perhaps even cracking the initial main-stage lineup in 1996. (Alas, the golden age of the Ball ended in 1995.) Yeah, that’s right – Twingiant is straight-up metal, double devil horns, \m/ \m/, and they sound like they’re having a heck of a time doing it. (Aw, it’s metal – it’s a helluva time.)

It’s hard to even provide qualifiers for these dudes – you could append “sludge” or “stoner” in front of their brand of metal, but it would be mainly pointless. You just have to dive straight in to Devil Down. Yeah, the band is punchy and shouty, but hey, they’re also super melodic and pretty inventive within their compositions. The guitar runs are flashy but easy to swallow, and the vocals aren’t terribly over the top in their growliness. And they’re not too speedy for the likes of the average consumer – don’t you know it, Twingiant is for everybody!

If you want some touchstones, think early Mastodon, leavened with the more metally tendencies of Melvins. Or maybe Soundgarden with 1995-era Neil Fallon on vocals. And the instrumentals – there are three! – are spot on, not even needing a human voice to lend them a hand. One’s even a Zeppelin-esque acoustic-led meditation, “Under a Blood Moon.”

So what the heck, Twingiant, are you 20 years too late? Do you belong squarely in a scene that has long past? I say, no way, Jose! Twingiant’s right on time, and I’m diggin’ what they’re slingin’. Cue Riki, grab a cold one, and get ready to bang your head.

--Ryan Masteller

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ZACK CHRIST “[Tom Ramme]” C30 (Husoptagelser)

Whenever I listen to a new tape, I keep a kind of epi-pen handy, just in case I run into something that even remotely rhymes with the word ‘techno’, so this tape, on my first run through (sans headphones), had me wheezing and sweating at moments. Luckily, on the second go (with headphones) I found the continuous exploration between eraticaly shifting electronic timbres (not just one, but two independently shifting layers!) sometimes reminded me of my highschool best friend’s playing me ‘the best band ever’ (autechre), but much less repetitive (my ultimate beef with hechno), changing it up on nearly every next measure (instead of every 32), so I began to relax and let what ended up being a cross-genre journey take me from middle-eastern grooves to death metalish stompings to light-hearted movie-scapes of lovers doing what’er I guess they do when not in the bedroom.

I usually pass anything hechno related to friends who enjoy it way more, but I’ve a feeling I’ll be keeping and painting along with this release in the background a few times before considering giving it up, as the dream-like transitions are non-stop and engaging and the EQ was pretty fucking stellar all across the board.

The link below apparently isn’t the exact same as the tape I just listened to for some reason, though the covers are identical.


- - Jacob An Kittenplan

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

KILL WEST “Smoke Beach” (Dismal Niche Tapes)

Holy shit. Just holy shit. I obviously do not poses a vocabulary strong enough to articulate how I feel about the heavy psychedelic freakout music on this tape any other way. These 5 Argentinians who make up Kill West clearly know their stuff regarding the past of psychedelic music but don’t let it stop them from being innovative in their compositions. Taking the heaviest riffs, the reverb, the organ, and then seamlessly lairing it together with a drone, a synth, and excellent production that results in sonic bliss.
Don’t be a fool. Get a copy of this. Just do it.

- - Jacob An Kittenplan

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

ORRA “Into the Wind” C40 (Inner Islands)

We sit with our backs to the trunk of the broad oak and breakfast quickly in the twilight, before night falls and we must move again. “The Fog Has a White Tongue” (side A) and we feel it begin to obscure us from prying eyes in the near distance. We two are alone, and we have been for almost a month now. It’s difficult to tell – determining time has become a dismal art at best, and the sun and moon start and stop in the sky seemingly at random. We don’t know why the world has started to shift its relationship to us; we only know that we may be the only ones of our kind left, and as such may be the only ones that can stop it.

And we’re being followed. We don’t know by what.

The forests hide us in the day, and we sleep when we can. As soon as it is dark, the path beckons, and we douse our small fire and remove any sign of our passing. The combination of the fog and the gathering dusk allows us greater freedom of travel, but we must take care not to veer from the path. We numbered three once, but we no longer do – we lost a companion on the wild steppe before we came to the forest; he simply disappeared in the night without a sound. We dare not stray now – we have come too far. The path continues on.

And then the river meets us. It is wide – we can’t see the other side, but the fog obscures anything more than ten feet in front of us. A dinghy is moored to a small dock, and we must risk it – we don’t know how wide the river is, and we may not be able to ford it or cross it in any other way. An oil lantern hangs next to it, and surprisingly ignites on the first try. We throw our packs in the boat and cast off, rowing slowly and carefully in the evening silence. “The Water Is Black That Licks the Boat” (side B). Perhaps this crossing will throw our pursuer off our scent. Likely not, though – it has followed us across greater obstacles than this.

As my companion rows, I drift into uneasy sleep. I do not dream, my rest will be short. Indeed, I’m awakened by thunder in the distance – it’s miles away, perhaps behind a mountain. But we still can’t see, and the night has deepened. The fog persists. The river is wide. We cannot know when the shore will approach. We must be watchful.

(Pro-dubbed cassettes come in clear cases with full-color 3-panel J-cards. Orra is Jennifer Williams and Sean Conrad. “The long untold night between scenes of folklore, and the breath and ridged back of elements unseen.”)

--Ryan Masteller

Monday, June 29, 2015

“Hooky” (King Pizza Records)

I try to never judge a tape by its cover. However, when I saw the cop walking by an overflowing sewer towards a guy in an embroidered Jacques Le Coque jacket concealing a joint that spelled out the album name on the front of the j-card, I knew I was in for a fun listen. Turns out I was absolutely right. The music on this tape sounds like the smell of cheap beer acquired with a fake id for a gathering of young oddball types in somebody’s parent’s basement that has no air conditioning and is taking place on a Friday night while the rest of the school is at the big football game. This isn’t music for jocks and the kids at the ‘popular table’. The vocals can be a little whiny, the guitars are soaked in reverb, and songs are dominated by themes of angst and fun mostly had while intoxicated. Like most fuzzy garage pop, it’s best enjoyed at a loud volume and a light heart.  Tap into your juvenile side and give it a listen.

-- Roy Blumenfeld