EARTHEATER “Metalepsis” (Hausu Mountain)

Hey, I know everybody’s talking about “IRISIRI” and whatnot these days, and why wouldn’t you, but let’s slip in our time machine and set the dial for February 24, 2015, the release date of “Metalepsis,” and think about that one for a minute, shall we? It’s the one that started it all, the relationship between Alexandra Drewchin and HausMo, the golden time of strange heavenly alchemy. That time is over, as “IRISIRI” is on PAN, but still! Eartheater + Hausu Mountain = radiant delight.

Don’t be a dumbass ass donkey; get yourself a copy of “Metalepsis” and remember your roots! Mine are German, mostly, with some Hungarian and French thrown in there. I’m a mutt.


Hausu Mountain


"More Piles "
(State Champion Records)

Is it 1992 or 2018? Decoration is riffin' hard on this musicassette somewhere in between Gumball, Barlow-Core, Watt-core and Fugazi.  Is this sound now classic rock?  The other day I heard someone accused Dinosaur Jr of being dad rock, which judging by his and others' tone, has a negative connotation.  How can Dino be dad rock, when the young State Champ bands (which the accuser held in high regard) are reppin' the same sounds?  Either way, to each his own.   I can hear Jon Solomon spinning this tape at WPRB around '92 (before he entered fatherhood) and hopefully in 2018 (after the birth of his child).  Recorded by Phil Connor at In The West Studio, New Brunswick, NJ and it sounds great.

-- T Penn

RAIC “Symbiosis vol. 1” C47 (Lurker Bias)

“Symbiosis vol. 1” by the Richmond Avant Improv Collective (RAIC) is really a feat. Now, before I get into it, full disclosure: I am a huge fan of what RAIC does. So I’m not exactly an unbiased party coming into this. But this release speaks for itself and really displays a sort of musical branching out for RAIC that I’m very happy to hear.

The material for this release came about after a day-long recording session back in December of 2017. RAIC went into the studio with Ceremonial Scissors, a Richmond-based “avant trash” band to record a single improvisational piece. The idea was to record something to send to a few percussionists in Italy who they were planning on collaborating with. However, what was supposed to be a quick studio session turned into a day-long affair and, in addition to the track for Italian percussionists Paolo Sanna and Giancomo Salis, the group wound up with about 90 minutes of recorded material that was just too good not to use. Much of that material will be released as 2 different upcoming albums, and the rest of it composes Symbiosis (which will have a second volume coming out via Lurker Bias in the near future).

Now, I usually don’t like to write or read track-by-track reviews, but I feel like I need to talk about individual tracks for this one because there is so much range on this album. The opening track, “Reciprocal Altruism,” is a sometimes eerie, sometimes contemplative journey. Laden with washed out guitar, miscellaneous percussion, piano, and amplified twiddlings of unknown origin, this track really carries the listener through a range of worlds, all while still maintaining a low key, meditative aura. Though less melodic than much of RAIC’s improvising, this track showcases just how well this ensemble listens to one another, the most crucial aspect of good improvisation.

The second track, “Endosymbiosis,” comes in with swirling and pulsing electronics that last the duration of the song, accompanied here and there by oddball piano, sometimes manipulated. This track showcases the noisier side of RAIC. In fact, according to RAIC member Sam Goff, Symbiosis is the closest to a noise album that RAIC will get. If you’re at all familiar with this group, you’ll know that their music runs an enormous gamut of styles. From jazz to ambient to post-rock to noise to electroacoustic and everything in between, RAIC is definitely not afraid to dip their toes into new musical water. (In fact, I have it on good authority that some of their upcoming material will feature straight-up country and funk pieces.)

“Ectosymbiosis” follows, continuing the electronic atmosphere from the previous track for a while before shifting to a percussion-heavy mix, complete with sparse but high-energy vocals. My favorite track on this release though is the closer, “Antagonistic Symbiosis.” This is an epic, 17-minute long ride through a throbbing sound soup. Electronics that ebb and flow, tom-heavy driving percussion, the blathering of a lone bugle, it’s all here. RAIC tends to gravitate toward longer pieces anyway, so they are right at home with this marathon of a track.

If you’re a fan of any sort of vaguely experimental music, or jazz, or ambient, or post-rock, or any other style you can think of really, so long as it’s carried out in a roughly improvisational manner, you need to check out RAIC. Samuel Goff, Abdul Hakim-Bilal, Erik Schroeder, Zoe Olivia-Kinney and Laura Marina are all extremely talented musicians, as are the folks in Ceremonial Scissors (which Laura is also a part of, along with Brendan Ginsburg and Zoe Brzezinski). True masters of their craft, these are artists who can really transport the listener/audience in ways I have seldom seen before. And all without overt gimmicks or political/social messages. They revel in sound and are adept at using it as a tool.

--James Searfoss

"We Will Play For Spirits” 2xC45
(SDZ Records/Crudités Tapes)

Part modular ambient/industrial/noise-loops soundtrack, part spoken-word socio-political critique, part esoteric conspiratorial psycho-drama, “We Will Play For Spirits” delivers like an abandoned warehouse filled to the brim with the very same greasy, hollow orbs one might find in a drainage ditch just outside a McDonald’s; i.e. it is a fucking mess. But, when taken in, in the right mindset, it is revelatory. And messy. Really, really fucking messy.

Imagine McGuyver deftly crafting a transistor radio out of two Ouija boards, a demonically possessed Teddy Ruxpin (who just so happens to be excessively invested in e-stalking* Dwayne Goettel), three stolen 9V batteries, and a rather rusty bouquet of contact mics. The very same experimental mood could conceivably be achieved from this FrankenBeaRadio, but CIA Debutante’s arrangements here are nothing short of premeditated and calculated, boasting an obvious labor of love over the expert tailoring of vocals-and-noise interplay that feed and amplify and feed, loop, feed, and amplify off one another, over and over again, this all creating an ever-evolving beast of a tale to blurrily chase.

So. What might this relatively sound like that has been done before? Not fucking much. Maybe think early Skinny Puppy’s synth-heavy instrumental vignettes, but with vocals added by a fuzzy/static/blown out, forced-baritone vocal-fry’d robot proposing some pretty-party-poetic far-the-fuck-out-there shit. &when there aren’t words meandering about, there’s an equally chaotic texture of modular synth and/or doctor’d guitar freakoutery snaking its way through this constantly shifting in-and-out-in-and-out-of-key confusion.

With or without headphones, these tapes just keeps getting better &better with each listen. Too bad the physical release is already sold out. Look for more CIAD in the future and/or download from bandcamp!

*as in e-ternally

 --Jacob An Kittenplan

MOLD // SHOTO "Split” C18 (Already Dead)

This is a pretty rad split. Both bands are/were from Kalamazoo, MI and absolute fucking shred on their instruments. Both are exemplary genre-benders, but not so outside the box that I can’t help but wonder why the fuck they aren’t more well known. Is Kalamazoo really THAT far off the beaten path?

Mold’s side of this painfully too short split is one behemoth, nine minute sprawl of heavy, bluesy prog-rock, with w/ flamenco & noise flourishes throughout, to keep the listener on their ears’ toes. Seriously, without being derivative at all, this track sounds like the heaviest of heavy moments in a Jeff Buckley live recording, but, like, pretty much all the goddamn time. Also, they have song titles like “Drunk Cowboy Can’t Help That He’s So Good at Shooting Guns”, and “I’m So Hot in This Goddamn Leather Jacket”, so you really can’t help but smile and hope that, since their internet presence seems to have stopped a few years back, they’re either just on a long haitus or have gone off grid to conjure up another masterpiece in some abandoned factory up there along the outskirts of Kalamazoo.

Shoto’s side is even heavier, veering into swampy stoner rock territory (a la Iron Monkey), with some breakneck grind riffage thrown in for greater rhythmic dynamism; and all of this atop some novel, engaging guitar and bass tone pairing. Both these songs are creative, masterful, and worthy of serious, LOUD listening!

 --Jacob An Kittenplan

“The Curse of the Crystal Teeth” C17
(Gubbey Records)

Coastal California, early ‘90s.
Surfy skate-punk & tamer thrash
a ubiquity throughout A-circle’d
mixtape collections.

Louisville, KY, right fucking now.
Three young lads standing along the
Ohio River, rabidly flossing their chompers
with the magnetic strips of these mixtapes,
ingesting* through bloody gums
just miles and miles of
Kyuss, Dead Kennedys,
Offspring & the likes.

 --Jacob An Kittenplan

* Which is to say that this hefty, full-on sprint of a six song EP plays must like a pretty sweet skater’s compilation album, with modestly varying punk/metal guitar disciplines mastered & meshing together, & with such a diverse array of vocal styles varying from song to song that there doesn’t seem to be a specific “voice” to the overall outfit, aside from passionate and energetic.

KING GBEE “Paradism” C45 (Cuchabata Records)

if dancing is really all you
wanna do, all day, for

here is a bedroom-discotheque-
of-ONE, self-recorded,
RAW as any fledgling
Scandinavian Second-
Wave Black Metal outfit
Ever done did.

&You will dance!
The Dark Lord
commands it!

 --Jacob An Kittenplan

NICK STEVENS "The New Age" (Galtta Media)

Not gonna lie here, I loveeeeeee sophistipop. Be it Scritti or Tears for Fear or Prefab Sprout. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Knight seemingly has a license to print sophisti-pop gold and this new Galtta Media release by Nick Stevens is noooooo exception. Steven's hypnotizingly deep voice lends to the intricate songsmithing and unique arrangements but this is really pressing on something deeper and more realized than much of what I've heard in a while from pop music in general.

Reliablely steering clear of 80s pastiche, there is a unique smoothness, especially in David Lackner's saxophone solos and the crisp drum machine accented by hand percussion. Knight's keyboard playing is unbelievable and hard to define in its uniqueness and the chord changes are jazzy, sweeping, and unpredictable throughout.

"Inviting You (Into My Life)" is a truly remarkable track. At almost seven minutes long, it borders on Steely Dan grooves, Paul McCartney melodies, Beach Boys harmonies, and Yellow Magic Orchestra timbres. There are lots of exciting harmonic jazz jumps in the chord progressions on this album. Every song has finally tuned keyboard and guitar hooks. "(Beyond)The Law" is a smoove grooving instrumental with almost a tinge of the Residents in Alice Cohen's airy background vocals.

"Colors of the Sunset" could draw comparisons to "I'm Your Man"-era Leonard Cohen not only in the baritone vocal delivery but the deep hues of lyrical content. "All Night Messiah" is a serious take on pop with a convincingly deceptive melody and funky bassline. The title track is another standout with its strikingly complex counterpoint and icy synth parts. The final track, "Motorcycle" is almost suitably Abba-esque in its grace and mesmerizing pop-disco drum & bass groove.

All and all, every Galtta Media release I've heard thus far strikes me as fantastic (especially Knight's solo album "On The Prowl Again" and Blue Jazz TV featuring Billy G. Robinson's two releases on the label). If you like pop, old or new, this is for you!!

--"Jamband" Josh Brown

WOODPAINTING "Self Titled” C28 (Pretty Purgatory)

Before listening to (and researching) this tape, I did not know that “Wood Painting” was the name of a play Ingmar Bergman used for the basis of his masterpiece “The Seventh Seal” & as one might suppose, from track titles like “A Hot Gust of Wind” and “Danse Macabre”, the entirety of lyrical themes are based on, if not d-i-r-e-c-t-l-y quoted from, this cult classic. If you’re an old movie buff, or simply a lover of IB’s films, this half-hour of theatrical indie-folk should be right up your alley. Other notable mentions/enticements include some seriously on-point drumming, a STRONG likeness to Julie Doiron’s guitar-work (and singing, for that matter), as well as some undeniable Silver Jews-ish anti-melody in the lead singer’s vocal delivery.

I’m not sure if the physical tape will ever really see the light of day, due to it being unlikely that Woodpainting (the band, not the play) will be able to afford rights to lift so many direct quotes/themes from such a famous film, but you can certainly have a listen on SoundCloud for free via the link below.

 --Jacob An Kittenplan

TETON "Candy Spelling” C25 (Pretty Purgatory)

Celebrating recording artists who supplant pop-hooks with engaging, academic counterpoint seems to be the MO of Pretty Purgatory (Portland, ME), and PDX’s Teton sure as shit fit the bill. The drummer, for starters, plays in Wei Zhongle, and, though markedly more consistent and restrained here, he still manages to fill in so, so, so many nooks & crannies surrounding the polyrhythmic webs of minimalist synth-phrases and off-time-but-on-fucking-point contralto cast by said honey-voiced e-ivory tickler. &to sweeten the pot, the bass player is incredibly tasteful AND creative in deftly jumping back and forth between lending rhythmic support and carving out powerful, contrapuntal flourishes. The result is a proggy avant-rocker that’ll deliver, over and over, inspiring the spine to tremble in anticipation for these inarticulable syncopations long before the ears & brain can even begin to map them.

 --Jacob An Kittenplan

"The Matt Sheffer Songbook, Vol. 1” C40 (Pretty Purgatory)

Friend Roulette is a fairly gorgeous chamber-pop quartet that transforms the outsider-folksongs of Matt Sheffer into ever softer and sweeter numbers that, otherwise, wouldn’t have had much of a chance to see the light of day. Excepting the last track, these songs were crafted around eschewing standard chord progressions and predictable melodies, focusing instead on more classical movement and contrapuntal interplay between instrumentation and vocals. Which is to say, the album isn’t catchy so much as complex and beautiful.

Side A is FR’s take on these songs and Side B is the original singer-songwriter’s solo jams, which bear notable resemblance to some seriously great Rufus Wainwright material.

 --Jacob An Kittenplan

"Betwixt” C44
(Dark Circles Records)

Kevin and Hell, like any jazz musician/band, has existed in many forms, from solo guitar (& backing tracks) to multi-horned output (or “Zorchestra”, which is how they play live, presently). This recording, however, save some rad drumming and the opening track’s shredding saxomophone duet, is without any instrumentation at all other than K&H’s guitar, sporadic vocals, and oodles & oodles of pitch-shifty synthesizer arrangements, these layers and layers of keyboard licks oft-times mimicking traditional instrumentation, while others utilizing some pretty novel timbres that lend a cosmic vibe to the mix. The singing is kinda punk in its nasally, nonchalant delivery of nonconventional lyrical themes, and, again, the chemistry of the drummer with K&H (or IS he the H?) is seriously dialed in and exemplary.

I’m not a big fan of jazz music in general (I know, I’m an asshole), but I definitely appreciated the richly arranged pass-the-baton synth riffs that break from their counterpoint into a surprising harmony, and then back again, throughout the album. If you like old-timey/swingy jazz, with an extra dose of weird thrown in, this album ought to satisfy you.

 --Jacob An Kittenplan

PRIMADONAHUE “Loosh” (Stucco)

Phil Donahue is THE Primadonahue.

Haha, no, it’s Michael. Michael, Phil, it’s Michael! Why don’t you call?

Minneapolis is cold in the winter Phil. I hope you’re OK in the winter.

I like Devo and They Might Be Giants, and other ones too. Ween I guess. Sure.

Phil, voodoo pickpockets have stolen my penis. I’m serious. Mom needs you, because I can’t be there for her so much anymore. Not after the voodoo pickpockets have stolen my penis. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Seriously, Phil, I do “Make Your Own Kind of Music” so much better than Mama Cass. Desmond on “Lost” should’ve listened to my version.

Stupid TV producers. You know what I’m talking about.


“The Place of Dead Roads” C30

This is how we’re going to do this. 

We’re gonna strap in. We’re gonna get ready. Because The Electric Nature is back, it’s in the air if you can feel it, in that muggy, awful Athens, Georgia, summertime atmosphere. The. Electric. Nature. Lightning shooting through distant clouds. It is moving toward us.

“The Place of Dead Roads” seems formless, a great remote mass. The trio – Michael Pierce, Michael Potter, Thom Strickland – makes an ever-intensifying racket, building to hurricane strength as their performance progresses, live and unaltered. The hair on your arms is sharp as tacks, erect and rigid as the power flows through you.

Believe in the power, in the sheer zen of utter obliteration. It’s so much bigger than anything, this cleansing destruction.

The Electric Nature



(Choam Charity)

Here’s a list of why Phteven Universe, aka Pilleater, and I are probably best friends.

1. He lives in Philadelphia. I love the Phillies. Plus I’m a former Pennsylvanian.

2. He cut his teeth learning Joy Division tunes in Temple University’s music lab. I’ve met Ronnie Martin and Cloud. Ronnie gave me some gum. Cloud has sent me emails.

3. “おさかなといっしょ” is named after the secret aquarium level on “Super Mario 64.” I’m not well versed in that one, but I did get the Mario 64 suit in “Super Mario Odyssey.” Plus, anything Mario-related rules.

4. He’s made videos using clips from “The Hobbit” animated film. If it is Tolkien-based, I’m all over it.

5. His own record label, Choam Charity, is a “Dune” reference. Nice one.

6. He makes electronic music with synthesizers and drum machines, and he figured out vaporwave before he kind of knew what he was doing. I’m … into that stuff.

7. “おさかなといっしょ” is like a huge hodgepodge of all the styles Pilleater’s experimented with in the past few years. There’s a lot to sift through, and it’s all pretty fun. Have at it.

BFFs for life!

Choam Charity