"Oil Wars" C40
(Can Abyss Records)

With already one (gorgeously marbled) LP released a few years back, the mysterious Philiac start 2019 off with a spacier, more experimental set of alternative/psychedelic/stoner rock jams to nod along to. “Oil Wars” is agreeable enough to be pop-radio-accessible, but far heavier & grizzlier than your average bear.

Click on the youtube link below to have a listen for yourself.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

PAINTED FACES “Hermit of Bushwick” C40 (Already Dead)

There’s been an awful lot of talk around here about getting wisdom teeth out, and I’ve been there. I’ve had the painkillers. I know how much of a drag the whole experience can be, but also how weird your outlook gets during it too. Jacob Watkins wrote back in 2016 how he wished he would’ve made something like “Hermit of Bushwick” while on those wisdom teeth painkillers, but what he ended up doing turned out pretty bad. Painted Faces though? Painted Faces nailed the vibe.

David Drucker plies the lo-fi psychedelic trade with lots of flange and reverb, and the result is a hazy song cycle of half-remembered reveries and bizarre experiments. One minute he’s tweaking synth knobs and crooning over an antihistamine cloud. Next minute he’s strangling an acoustic guitar. He also may just drift through space, depending on his mood, like on “Time Bong.” By the way, there’s a track on here called “Time Bong.” I don’t feel the need to write anymore about “Hermit of Bushwick” now that I have that piece of knowledge.


GERMAN ARMY “MOVE9” C50 (Fort Evil Fruit)

Get fucking restless. “MOVE9” “refers to members of the Philadelphia black liberation group MOVE who were controversially convicted for the murder of a police officer killed during a raid on their residence in 1978. Six of the seven surviving members remain imprisoned.” This is the German Army MO. This is always the German Army MO. Forever shedding light on the casualties of capitalism and calling out the perpetrators, GeAr rip through another tape of destroyed dub and industrial mayhem. As always, I feel angered and empowered in the wake of it.

What are you/I gonna do then? There is rhythm in my bones, and does it get me off the couch where I am comfortable and consuming or is it powerless to stop the tide of world markets? Well, I guess it is actually pretty powerless as the GDP of all the nations of the world wash over me and consume me and spit me out and don’t think twice about it. Money doesn’t have feelings anyway. That’s why we’re faced with situations like that of MOVE. Agitators get dealt with.

GeAr never gets old. GeAr never dulls. GeAr is a voice that must be heard, like underground broadcasts infiltrating the mainstream, but repressed in a totalitarian state. We’ll see where this goes. Till then, “MOVE9” remains another stellar entry in the German Army catalog.


NELEGAT “Intolerance” C40 (Amek Collective)

Nelegat’s take on deconstructed techno serves as a reminder to duck your head when being bombarded by digital shrapnel. That’s right, “Intolerance” is a granular study of electronic overload, the minute details piling on top of one another until they’ve overwhelmed you completely. It only takes a spark to ignite the mechanism, then BOOM! All that metallic debris just comes flying right at your face. Again, it’d behoove you to duck.

Or you could listen up when Nelegat’s commanding the room. The noise gets under your skin, eats away at your mind, riding strange waves of rhythm. It’s like a sick trance, one that’s not really going to put you to sleep but instead will make you suggestible to nefarious deeds. Nelegat is raising an army apparently, an army to clandestinely perform his dirty work for him. The trance is overwhelming, and I think I’m getting some ideas pumped into my cortex. What could it all mean?


CHECK! "Blue Twenty-Seven" (Blue Tapes)

From this point on when I’m referencing sparse, low-fi electronica, I’ll retrieve this tape as my example. I don’t know that a group has ever made such a collection work like this bunch does
For example, the opener, “2 da RDG” is nothing more than seqencers playing off one another-yet it’s engrossing and captivating from start to finish. But does a half an hour of this hold up? Let’s see…

Track two on the first side is ”innocent lie.”Knifeblade timekeeping segues into a wash of dense swirling which calms itself to find a more straight-ahead bass, synth and drums approach. If you’re inclined toward synth-pop, you’ll find comfort in this song. I can imagine Lauren Mayberry singing a vocal over this without much effort. The track ending the side again begins with some synth funny business before settling into, well, actually never settling in at all. The track concludes, the side is over.

As the side opens with “ENTER SONG” I’ll give you a slice of history about this band. Apparently the label owners guest curated the SUPERNORMAL festival and one of the acts that came from Japan was Check!! The band broke up before the label could get an album out of them but Cherry, their producer, managed to sift through the archives and assemble a tape which, to bring the story home, is this one I’m reviewing.

Meanwhile back in my headphones, side two continues down the ramshackle low-fi trail that the first side did, but never repeating itself. The lack of repitition, for me, is the glue that holds such a sparse undertaking in place. Without it, I’d surely never have made it through the first couple entries.

Generally, this type of approach isn’t successful in winning me over, but this bunch really pull it off. Too bad they broke up….

-- Robert Richmond

CREEPING PINK “______” (self-released)

The damage was done so long ago. Creeping Pink just dusted off the reasons and laid them out there for all of us to observe, whether we like it or not. This is a barely titled cassette. What is it, “______”? That’s essentially nothing. I typed six underscores. I don’t know if I got the number right. But it doesn’t matter, these “numerous vignettes of American life” are six underscores toward understanding that we’re hanging by six underscores, ready to plunge into an abyss of our own making.

The damage was done so long ago, but Creeping Pink said “FUCK IT LET’S GO” and ripped a bunch of tunes out of the still-beating heart of America’s soon-to-be corpse. They sprinkled these tunes over several releases, but “______” is the most recent, and it’s a dooz. It’s like half-cocked Pavement noodles run through a Kinks ringer, and that’s before we even account for the synthesizer squirts. No, this is a band, a quartet, but don’t ignore the earnest quirk or the short tracks. Each piece is part of the equation, and melody is what ties it all together. This is hard to turn off, honestly. The nothing blooms into pagan ritual, and the sun rises on everybody. The sun always rises on everybody. Showing us off to ourselves and to everybody else. Then we live the vignettes.

Apple pie, baby. Apple pie.


PERSONAL BANDANA “[sic]” (Hibernator Gigs)

As you all know, [sic] implies that an error in something you’re quoting was there to begin with, and you had nothing to do with it. You just reprinted it as you found it, but you don’t want anybody to think you’re stupid. Not an incomprehensible reaction – I don’t want anybody to think I’m stupid either, and I use [sic] all the time. Nobody ever has to use [sic] when they’re quoting me.

Personal Bandana, the Casio-wielding duo of Dave Gibson and Travis Thatcher, doesn’t make any errors. Armed with only their keyboards of choice, Gibson and Thatcher whip up righteous synth-prog epics with a seeming ease totally in sync with one of them wearing a Soft Machine shirt in their press photo. In fact, that press photo may be telling – Personal Bandana looks like a couple of me’s (apostrophe intentional for ease of reading, no [sic] needed!), me being just a bespectacled chowderhead who loves computer music and science fiction. Personal Bandana and I would get along swimmingly.

Circuits bent in all the proper 1980s fantasy film ways, flange applied appropriately, and crates full of Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder records in their practice space, Gibson and Thatcher add to the canon, injecting some much-needed energy and imagination into the genre. Actually, wait – does the genre need that kind of injecting? Maybe it’s doing OK after all – there’s some good stuff coming out of Holodeck and Terry Tapes and stuff like that. Personal Bandana just fits right in, period, no typos or fukcups.