“Ram’s Head” C45
(Qiasum Music)

Moscow’s The Re-Stoned play heady riffs like a stoner-rock/psychy jam band…or are they more of a jammy, stoner/psych band? There’s a fine line here, and they hop-scotch it mercilessly, fluidly showcasing their ability to flit between loosey-goosey, cosmic airiness, marsh-moshy swing-stompage, and lock-step-thrashy, headbangable anthems.  &Further reaching for Valhalla, they sprinkle in some sweet, creative pedal-work, slide guitar, and long-form riffage that must make them a MUST SEE LIVE outfit!

Judging by their bandcamp output, The Re-Stoned have been around for over a decade, but this new album is easily their most dynamic and explorative, in terms of weight and groove. Check out a few of their earlier releases and compare them to this one to see if you're as excited as I am about their impending trajectory, hopefully to be mapped out on their* (?) label-in-the-works, Qiasum.

— Jacob An Kittenplan

*totally inferring/bullshitting here, but I’m pretty sure Qiasum will be releasing their next few gravity-rich releases, out of Moscow

VESTMENTS “V" C25 (Psychic Mule Records)

Throughout this EP, there is such a dominating drone presence built up and traded off between two keyboards, saxophone, and a violin, that Vestments will surely garner comparisons to the noisiest cuts of the Doors or the dirgiest tracks from records by the Velvet Underground (or Pleasure Forever, for that matter!)…but this new NYC quartet kicks the gothic darkness up a few notches by slowing the tempo down Even Further & throwing in a subtly unsettling dual harmony that comes off more like a sparse séance in its earnest solemnity than any duet I’ve ever heard!

Make no mistake, there is no playful whimsy here, just H-E-A-V-Y, ghostly melody, dark ambiance, and songs whose hooks aren’t riffs so much as moods, leaving their melancholic radiation behind to linger and permeate the subconscious. Pretty great stuff!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

WHIRLING HALL OF KNIVES “Knukke” C40 (Cruel Nature Records)

Like the Butthole Surfers song of the same name, Whirling Hall of Knives is dissonant, edgy, dangerous … a little bit fun? A lot fun. I had “a lot fun” listening to “Knukke” (god, I hope that’s not pronounced like “Nookie”), the latest tape from the devious Irish duo of “Magnetize” and “The Last Sound.” Four lengthy pieces make up “Knukke,” with the final one taking up the entirety of side B. Despite all that fun, the “dissonant, edgy, dangerous” part of the equation caused me to barely escape with my life. Here is my story.

It’s a boring one, so I won’t tell it. I will tell you that “Knukke” begins with drums trying to stay in sync with one another before dropping out into some heavily distorted sonics in the bass spectrum. Feedback ensues, glorious feedback, then techno … just like the prophecies foretold. Then more noise. Then lo-fi ambience. Back to “fun” again – the surprises just keep on coming, and WHOK keeps us on our toes.

Side B’s “Single-Use Earth” is a full-on psychotic psychedelic sludge feast, a noise-rock epic that drifts (somehow – yeah, “drifts”) into moody minor-key ambient, truly showcasing the Knives’ abilities and imagination. This should not be a surprise: the duo has honed their approach over the years, with releases reaching back as far as 2006, so an intense, however bizarre, unity of purpose wouldn’t be at all out of the ordinary. “Knukke” delivers the goods.


EMACS “Night Blooming Planet” C72 (Felix Onyx)

“Night Blooming Planet” was recorded in Norway during the dead of winter, and you know what that means: virtually no daytime, if any at all. So “Night Blooming Planet,” then, is a reflection of emacs, aka composer/producer Elise Macmillan, during those long hours of darkness. Holed up in whatever sort of shelter you hole up in in the midst of the harshest Scandinavian weather, emacs cranked out some epic digital magic, showcasing not only her ability to thrive in adverse conditions but also the surprising amount of life and energy found beneath and among the dense snowdrifts.

The first two tracks take up almost twenty minutes of tape, their glitchy yet melodic atmosphere as playful as a couple of sea otter pups wrestling and sliding over the ice. Polyrhythmic density accentuates the feeling of playfulness, as everything’s constantly in motion, as if to stave off freezing. Hard left turn to “A Cube a Shape,” where emacs’s haunting vocals and violin take center stage before the rhythms kick back in. It’s almost a nine-minute pop song, if “pop” meant sleepy Björk fronting a chamber orchestra. These elements reappear and combine with regularity, building upon themselves and forming fragile and delicate ice sculptures, except formed by sound instead of frozen water.

The crystalline and skeletal frameworks find their strength in the cold and the darkness, in the moments when no one is looking and they are free to grow and “bloom” at their own pace. They glow and shimmer under the full moon, paeans to the white night so lit with moonlight that you can see almost as well as you can in the daytime, which, again, isn’t all that dissimilar from nighttime in mid-January. What emacs sees under the stars is transmitted into and translated through her music, a glistening menagerie of fractal sound.


SCHWERPUNKT “Don’t Give Up You Can Do It”

From South London comes Schwerpunkt (George Raynor Law) with a two-track offering Ambient electronics masquerading (at least in title) as late-seventies self- help contributions. Like a previous release, which was titled  “How To Be Saved,” Law takes control of these free-form, improvised (as in “capture-the-moment”)  synth based pieces in such a  way that it’s difficult to believe he didn’t score this out beforehand.

The two sides are different, make no mistake but they share a simpleness that walks a dangerous line that can more often than not lead to boredom or in “tape talk”-fast forward. Alas, I find Law escapes my itchy finger and I sit through both sides and even play it again.

The pieces are not long-and Law knows when to cut a good thing off. In fact, I could of sat still for another fifteen minutes of his clever tinkering but it wasn’t to be. In a world where ambent, electronica and freeform are all too common, Schwerpunkt sits atop the heap. I like Law and I’ve never met him. This is a keeper.


- Robert Richmond

BANG! BROS. “Big BANG! Theory (Parts One and Two)” 2xC40 (Hausu Mountain)

I’ve had some intensely fierce debates on the merits of the television program “The Big Bang Theory,” which have mostly devolved into shouting matches with me on one side hollering about how stupid and annoying it is and my brother-in-law (with whom I mostly have these debates) hollering back about how he loves it because the characters in the show remind him of people he knows or has known.

I’ve got some advice: maybe find new friends? Because the “Big Bang Theory” characters suck.

Truth be told, I’ve only sat through about five minutes of an episode before heaving a chair through the television. But there’s some good news today for all of the objects in this room that are at hand, because I won’t be heaving any of them through my tape deck.

Mainly it’s because I can sit through more than five minutes of “Big BANG! Theory,” which is fortunate because I’ve got seventy-five minutes beyond that with this two-volume cassette. I hesitate to call it a double, although it sort of is, because parts one and two have distinct artwork and are actually sold separately from Hausu Mountain. Still, this is probably twice the Bang! Bros. action you were expecting today.

The duo of Arkm Foam and Mark Johnson is in fine form throughout, if by fine form you understand it to mean the sound equivalent of two grown men flailing around with their instruments and recording the chaos that ensues. Not something you don’t expect, necessarily, from Bang! Bros., but notable nonetheless. They’re joined throughout ex-Guerilla Toss-er Andy Allen on saxophone, and together the threesome invoke the onomatopoeic reference of the title in careening headfirst through brick walls of improvisational madness. Over the four lengthy sides, Bang! Bros.+ explore the outer reaches of their instrumentation (Foam and Johnson do live drum machines and electronics), venturing way outside of the comfort zone of the average jerk who subscribes to the half-baked, lowest-common-denominator jokes of Sheldon and co.

Seriously, “Big Bang Theory” fans would shit their pants listening to “Big BANG! Theory.” Take it from me, I almost did myself.

The violence imposed upon these instruments is tactile and immediate, and it holds up for a very long time, eighty minutes to be precise. I hope you have eighty minutes to devote to Bang! Bros. Just … don’t google them at work. I learned that the, ahem, hard way.

P.S.: That's the volume one cover up there, because I like it.


HUNTED CREATURES “Sleep Weed” C44 (White Reeves Productions)

They’re just wayward kids, tryna have a good time. But no. Serial killers are allergic to the sex and the fun and the teenagers in general and, when watching said fun at a distance through the slots of an old wooden fence or maybe from behind a gloriously unwashed third floor window, said maladjusted adults must feel a twinge of envy that said teenagers should carry on as such.

In so many slasher films, there is portrayed a stock F-U-N being had, but with the audience knowing full well that said F-U-N will be coming to an end. There is a light and airy playfulness specifically crafted by the director to just baaaaarely mask this atmospheric unease.

Enter Hunted Creatures’ album "Sleep Weed”, a Basinskian meditation into the (relatively) brighter bridges that link startled-awake consciousness and eerie anticipation. Three synthster-explorers (two of which who run WRP) each contribute decaying cycles, crumpled ghost-melodies, & warbled static, & wave after wave after wave of hypnotic agitations. The mood achieved camps just outside of creeptown, whilst still getting the hair follicles at the ready for an uprising. As usual, White Reeves Productions delivers!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

JEREMY YOUNG “Dizzy, Congested Musick” C40 (Neologist Productions)

Just as the list of decimals between zero and one are infinite, so too are the needle-and-groove’s expressions in relation to time and amplification levels. Jeremy Young knows this. He knows what a serious noggin’-scratchin’ that that shifting of revolutions can elicit. How disorienting it feels to witness an established reality rendered just beyond recollectable interpretation. To neuter melody and drag rhythm lurching and squealing onto another plane entirely.

“Dizzy, Congested Musick” is an other-wordly narrative sound collage, cobbled together by old LP plunderphonics/turntablism, vintage oscillators, field recordings, found tapes, & a pinch of electric guitar. It is as hummable and memorable as a recurring dream of alzheimer’s. It is the panic’d discombobulation of a dyslexic trapped under a tipped-over Guttenberg press. It is wily, discomfiting, spell-binding, and fan-fucking-tastic.

And to sweeten the experience, these captivating sounds are accompanied by an exemplary physical curation, too, of a gorgeous avocado green envelope filled with wild typography that's printed on fancy, marbled card stock. A pretty sweet head-fuckin’, for sure!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

LATHER SOMMER DUO “Lather Sommer Duo” (Sygil Records / Bob Heavens)

Adam Sommer (Sommer) and Ben Myers (Lather) duo it up with John Dawson on a smattering of instruments and duties, so is this maybe a duo-point-five? Let’s leave it and instead worry about what’s coming out of our speakers: an amazing racket. Well, a lot of the time. Thunderous tribal rhythms meet industrial blasts, whirled together in a sludge-punk slurry and spat out like wax prog freezing mid-loogie. Deep drifts of sustained noise blanket ear canals before bass becomes flesh and attacks. Bring it back, rewind. Death screech, diabolus in excelsis.

Lather/Sommer shine blacklit when heaving spasms of electric noise rock from contorted bodies, worms writhing with electricity like downed wires. Mutilated improv stretches across unforgiving terrain. Four tracks of terrifying nuclear riffage. Almost three years old now, aged well. Grind along, bang a gong, huff a bong, as if your life depends on scorching the earth and starting over.