PKCT “Арха́нгельск” (Do You Dream of Noise?)

Арха́нгельск is transliterated as Arkhangelsk, “Archangel,” and Арха́нгельск, is dedicated to the people who live there. Arkhangelsk is located on the White Sea in northwestern Russia. That is the extent of my knowledge of the locale.


And yet … Арха́нгельск is exactly as I expect it to be.


It’s not super warm up there, and PKCT doesn’t veer from that vibe at all, piping in a chilly ambient drone that’s as lonely as it is serene. Imagine the sea cloaked in fog, solitary vessels plying its waters on shipping or naval routes, quiet, calm, restrained. Imagine the weight of that solitude on the hardened mariners. Imagine the long night at the wheel.


When Арха́нгельск dissolves back and sound ceases, you’re left with the raw, exposed feelings surfaced during your time alone with it. PKCT crafts compositions like bodies of water, dense and immersive, full of mystery and wonder. It’s time to take a deep breath, hold it, and plunge into the waiting sea. Who knows what you’ll find out about yourself in there?



QUESTION MARK BAND* “The Ivory Era” (Radical Documents)

The Ivory Era asks us if our road movies are all there is. Like, perpetual motion, one stop to the next, never settling down, never gaining that base of operations. Never resting. You wake up somewhere new every day, your eyes are bleary, you take in a deep sigh, maybe three of four of them, and will yourself back behind the wheel.


The Ivory Era assumes that our road movies are our lives. The endless highway strip, American space. Question Mark Band punctuates those road movies with solitary piano, lonely, haunted, stark. It contrasts with the richness of the air, carrying with it the weight of not knowing what to do next and the uncertainty of being able to carry out whatever’s next anyway.


The Ivory Era hopes for escape but doesn’t expect it. It feels the breeze through the open window but isn’t refreshed by it. The sun glares through the windshield, and you have to peek around the lowered visor to see the road. Tears form behind your shades.


*Do not confuse with ? and the Mysterians.



BEATNIK PARTY “Heaps Lucky EP” C16 (Fuq Records)

Beatnik Party has plied its bass/drums/vocals approach for a long time. Heaps Lucky is a collection of five songs within that minimalist post-punk approach. Vocals are spoken-yelped, and for a band made up of percussion instruments, there’s not a lot of groove or steady rhythm or anything to even kind of cohere it. If this is your thing, if you are into it, I’ve posted a link below. Me? I’m going to pop in something by Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.

--Thumb Lasers

ZEBULARIN “Strangled Curiosity” C46 (Steep Gloss)

Zebularin is dangerous. It’s subversive. It’ll get under your skin and stay there, and then it’ll pipe thoughts into your mind that are not your own. You don’t know how Zebularin has infiltrated every part of your being – your physical person, your consciousness, your … uh, tummy? – and is now controlling your every perception. Your first instinct, like mine, is probably to fight it – what kind of alien entity is scrambling around inside of me? But listen: take it from me, you’re much better off just going with it and letting Zebularin do its thing. It might even leave you alone after a while.


The Stuttgart collective is adroit at the noisy end of the experimental spectrum, but they don’t shy away from pulling back into a minimalist approach here and there. Feedback and synthesizer mayhem rumble and squirt throughout the tracks, but stringed instruments definitely make their presence known at points throughout. Far from being a freeform freakout and letting walls upon walls of noise crush you, Strangled Curiosity is more intimate, as the title suggests, opting to toss you about like a cat does a mouse before finally making you its prey.


But as it progresses, the nature of it changes – it seems to become a little friendlier, even though there’s no way it’s going to let up on its control over you. And that’s all good – forms emerge from the sounds, and intention and process bloom. There’s beauty in the noise, in the composition – yes, composition (probably)! – as it becomes obvious this is really an ambient/noise/drone record played as jazz. And yet it’s really none of those things. Still, if you want to find kindred spirits nowadays, look no further than the excellent Bulgarian label Amek Collective. Zebularin and the Amek folks would get along just fine!


Oh, it says right here that the players are rooted in traditions as varied as “ambient, jazz, noise, classical music, postrock, or freeform electronics.” Well why did I even write any of that up there? I could have just quoted the Bandcamp page.



H A I R S A B Y S S “H A I R S A B Y S S” C25 (Steep Gloss)

It’s menacing, sure, right off the bat, the gurgling static, the sine waves, the fuzz. The spoken samples emerge from the murk, disappear back into it, reemerge. A doctor addressing a patient perhaps? Who knows, “ESP,” who knows, you first track, you – despite the grit and the disintegration, H A I R S A B Y S S know how to purposefully penetrate the minds of their subjects, jolting them at a low voltage to desensitize them, then knocking them out with a seismic burst. Their looped nightmares are immersive the noise churning, the patterns easily attainable. Almost rhythmic. Almost.


“Untitled” swings us along on some buried mariachi horns while pure electricity overwhelms it. And then pure electricity overwhelms “Gliding,” the electricity itself becoming the looped pattern. By the time they’re ready to close this out with “ESP Part IV,” they’ve proven that they’ve already hollowed out the mind, and in fact, have been doing ESP on you this whole time, regardless of track title. In fact, they’re in there, and the sound of “ESP Part IV” is the sound of your complete and total submission, already. You’re there on the operating table in the lab. You’re skull’s pried open, there are wires and electrodes all up in it. They’re connected to a computer, as are electrodes and wires connected to the open brain of H A I R S A B Y S S. Something’s going on here.



ALPHA MOUND “Building Kit” (Do You Dream of Noise?)

Sweden-based Joakim Westlund records under the Alpha Mound moniker, and if we’re going to get a steady trickle of the kind of thing that he’s recorded on Building Kit, then I say let climate change have at those glaciers! Metaphorically, of course – I sort of want whatever’s blocking the Alpha Mound deluge to melt, just so I can selfishly have more of it. I don’t really want glaciers to melt – that wouldn’t be good for anybody.


What I do want is more Alpha Mound, please – Building Kit, released on Do You Dream of Noise?, is the perfect all-terrain soundtrack, the sonic backdrop to whatever you happen to be doing. Part post-rock, part drifting trance, part ambient mood adjuster, part synth pad knockout, and ALL AWESOME, Building Kit is like a windswept kosmische evening carrying the chill of those aforementioned glaciers all the way to the middle of your living room (or wherever you happen to listen to tapes). Doesn’t matter if you’re in Fiji, doesn’t matter if you’re in Mozambique, that cool breeze will cover you. You’ll be powerless to resist its charms.


A perfect fit on DYDON?, Building Kit hits all the right notes for a gentle yet bracing experience. Its quiet and contemplative façade is underscored by pulsing rhythms and overwhelmed often with washes of melody. It’s restrained yet colorful, a refreshing burst of sound masquerading as light and liquid, a dream dissolving in constant clouds. I feel like I could eat it, but I probably shouldn’t. Still, I can’t wait till that flood of Swedish delight hits me – and it better be soon!



AMANDA R. HOWLAND “Meeting Dr. Ancient” (Unifactor)

Any Amanda R. Howland release should be braced for, and Meeting Dr. Ancient is no different. (Although I keep saying Meeting Dr. Evil in my head for some reason. Now it’s out here. On the internet.) The main attraction is the heavily distorted and manipulated vocals, sometimes over a backdrop of deep silence, at other blasted to smithereens by static or feedback. There’s a bit of the primal scream approach to Meeting Dr. Ancient, but it’s much deeper and richer than Howland simply, ahem, howling into the abyss. Here the abyss stares back. Here the abyss reflects your own head, your own thoughts back at you, except that you’re a mirror and you didn’t realize it, so the whole thing’s just an infinite mirror reflection until the Twilight Zone theme plays. Or something like that.


The voice buzzes in my head, and then the buzzing buzzes in my head also. I wonder if the exact thing happens to Amanda R. Howland, and the whole process of recording is the process to get it out the mind and into the air? There’s an unrelenting aspect to all this, in that Howland pushes the limits of our listening to several different breaking points, then continues past those points full on as if there was no danger and everything was just going to end exactly how Howland wants it to end. In that sense, then, we’re collateral damage on Amanda R. Howland’s way to the edge of whatever it is she’s barreling toward. Not sure if there’s any thought of coming back unscathed. In fact, I highly doubt that thought has crossed Howland’s mind at all.



WHISKER “Straight from the Bottle” C30 (Unifactor)

Andrew Scott Young and Ben Billington play upright bass and synthesizer on this inaugural foray as Whisker, one of the thousand or so projects each one is involved in. These two sides, called “Code Room Green” and “Tough Flux,” were performed live at the Empty Bottle in Chicago on January 28, 2020, a time when live performances thrived and COVID-19 was just a gleam in our collective eye. So we should probably consider ourselves lucky that Straight from the Bottle (I get it!) exists at all. Surely that planned live Quicksails album has been shelved till 2021 at the latest.*


As you might expect from these two improv nerds, Young and Billington approach their instruments like they’re tinkering in a chemistry lab with beakers and chemicals and tongs and things. They likely performed these numbers while wearing safety goggles (but not masks, because, you know, pre-COVID), and I’m sure a microscope or two made an appearance. What I mean is, the duo takes a rather scientific approach to eliciting sound from their instruments, experimenting, studying, and recording data to use in the next round of research. We’re just all privy to the process.


Young’s bass is all physical string, as each creak of the instrument is audible in the recording. Billington supplements the tactile performance with his own tangible approach, mixing in micro sonics so that the two instruments blend into unpredictable kinetic activity, scrabbling like two different insects spliced together so that they’re one new, unnatural being. But there’s nothing really unnatural about Whisker, just that they’re weird and scrabbly. As the minutes pass, the two sound sources separate and merge, each asserting its identity before combining with the other. I wish I could’ve been there to see what was going on – it was probably fascinating to watch the interplay.


* “Live Quicksails album, you say?” Naw, I’m just making that up.



NATE SCHEIBLE “Prions and Scrapie” (Unifactor)

Prions cause scrapie – well, probably, anyway. “Prions are misfolded proteins with the ability to transmit their misfolded shape onto normal variants of the same protein. They characterize several fatal and transmissible neurodegenerative diseases in humans and many other animals.” That’s from the internet – you can find it on there. Also on the internet is what “scrapie” is: “a disease of sheep involving the central nervous system, characterized by a lack of coordination causing affected animals to rub against trees and other objects for support, and thought to be caused by a virus-like agent such as a prion.”

I feel like I’ve learned so much today already!

But how to apply these ideas to Nate Scheible’s Prions and Scrapie tape on Unifactor? Scheible works within the idioms afforded him by tape loops and synthesizers, and we hear these loops disintegrate over a background of warm, ambient synth pads. If we consider the time we pass while listening as the same time it takes for prions to induce scrapie, then we can attach a sort of contemplative attitude toward the breakdown of a central nervous system. What happens in the head of an animal afflicted with scrapie? Are they attuned differently to aspects of nature? Do they ignore the breakdown occurring within them to focus on more philosophical matters?

Of course they don’t. They’re non-self-aware animals.

But if they were human? Sure. Nate Scheible is a human and so am I, and I empathize as a human with animals in distress, superimposing that distress to the human worldview (which, I realize, is pretty much the definition of empathy). So we’re given crystal lakes and vivid cloudscapes, sundrenched agriculture and brilliant prisms of light flaring through our optic nerves. All while the world – our bodies – break down around us. Talk about getting right into someone/thing else’s head!


ANURA “Deluge” (Already Dead)

Oh, this one isn’t black metal? OK, Brendan Landis, you got me. The Anura logo, the black hoodie, the long hair obscuring your face (look man, it’s OK to cut it off if you’re losing it, take it from me), all of that just screamed (bellowed? barked? shrieked?) black metal to me. But with the blurring of lines between shoegaze and slowcore and black metal these days, I guess it’s not super surprising that this is, indeed, more in line with shoegaze and slowcore than black metal. Kindred spirits find kindred atmospheres, and some of the aesthetics – in this case visual ones – cross over as a result.

The surprise was a nice one. Yes, I had braced myself (not too much – I certainly love me some black metal!), but I was totally fine with what resulted. As Anura, Brendan Landis, one-dude band (with some guests!), melancholies his way through a shimmery, dreamy album of wistful melodies and downtrodden tempos, falling somewhere between the American Analog Set and Galaxie 500, but with the twinkling lights of Mazzy Star. The Deluge is feelings, perhaps, an onrushing of acknowledgment that what’s dammed up inside can succinctly and artfully be hinted at, but there’s gotta be a breaking point somewhere. Right? Anura trades in these glimpses and glimmers, slowly building monuments to heartbreak and regret.

And while much of this is done in singular expressive guitar tones, by the time the title track rolls around, Anura’s also affirmed a capability of dabbling in electronic flourishes with success. From here come the big, drawn-out moments, the lengthy tracks you can try to hold your breath to but probably shouldn’t (unless you can hold your breath for a minimum of four minutes and twenty-two seconds – the side B minimum anyway). So even though Deluge doesn’t indulge in the histrionics of a primal scream, the intense whisper will do just as nicely.


ONE MORE FINAL I NEED YOU “We Loved Each Other and It Was Awful” (Already Dead)

I figured that forthcoming H. Jon Benjamin Sub Pop album was going to splice comedy and jazz together in such a way as to truly redefine each genre, but I was missing the real action. Turns out that improv trio One More Final I Need You’s We Loved Each Other and It Was Awful is where the real laughs are. Well, if we’re talking laughs like everybody’s so pathetic that it’s funny – think early Noah Baumbach, maybe – then we’ve nailed the comedy part of this equation. As I listen to Taylor Campbell, Bob Bucko Jr., and Landon Deaton mope through the title track that opens the album for almost ten minutes, I’m struck at a deep level just how appropriate the words “love” and “awful” go together, and how much that makes me laugh. Am I a sadistic bastard? Have I, a family man, lost touch with reality?


“Does Anyone Actually Ever Kill Themselves?” answers that question with another question, or maybe it doesn’t really answer it, only lurches through demonic swing while illustrating the highs and lows of whatever it is that’s actually being illustrated. This is where it goes – We Loved Each Other and It Was Awful is sweetness turned sickening, of rotting feelings and intentions wilting before our eyes and sometimes flung at us at high velocity. But Campbell, Bucko, and Deaton are game, ready to rip our festering hearts out and pepper them with shrapnel from horns and guitars and drums and whatnot. (Basically those three.) We feel good while we feel bad, and vice versa.


That’s a good trick for the music to play! Mostly I feel good though, and as I’ve mentioned with my chuckling above, it’s because of the naming conventions. How else are you going to approach “Erectional-Based Disasters” or “To Hell with Their Punishments!”? (To be fair, the second half of the titles aren’t quite as funny, and one is even uninventively called “Interlude.”) Plus, I’m not sure something like “Eggs in an Old Box” is even possible, unless they’re fresh eggs served, for some reason, in the titular box – otherwise they’d stink pretty bad over time. Whatever, I’m overthinking this. One More Final I Need You is always rapturously fascinating, and We Loved Each Other and It Was Awful is no exception. It’s probably even more rapturously fascinating given that title. Nice work, gents!



PALE SPRING “Dusk” (Doom Trip)


Dusk brings the night. Dusk is the night.


Emily Harper Scott emerges fully formed on the new Pale Spring tape, shaking Cygnus and jolting into the future. She poses among rocks on the tape’s cover, evoking power and action, a goddess in the true classical sense, ready to shape reality or mete justice as the situation demands. One listen to Dusk and you get the sensation that Harper Scott is commanding the molecules of her surroundings in such a way that they swirl around her still form, obeying her gravity, ready at a moment’s notice to form whatever she wants them to or rush like projectiles at enemies. You just never really know.


The gloomy, airy production that Harper Scott and her husband Drew Scott bring to Dusk sets us in a twilit environment – the light’s fading, and we’re ready for it. Coming off like an R&B/trip-hop incarnation of Julee Cruise or Liz Fraser, Harper Scott croons smoky hymns into the atmosphere, dense with possibility, dreams, desire. The songs weave in and out of each other like reveries, the enchantment unbroken as Pale Spring commands your complete attention. Charmed, you wander into the dark, ready to act at a moment’s notice on Harper Scott’s behalf. Dusk is in your ears and nostrils, and it subtly overpowers you until you’re fully under its spell.


You’re happy for it.



SILENCE AND THE UNWINKING MINDS “Ephemeral” (Do You Dream of Noise?)

New Zealander Derek Pearson suggests unflinching focus with his project Silence and the Unwinking Minds, a solo endeavor even though it sounds like a band name, one of those “Paul Revere and the Raiders” type dealies. In pure silence the mind centers itself, “unwinking,” solely attentive to the object or task on which it’s directed its concentration. Derek Pearson in the same way hones in on a distinctive mood with Ephemeral, arching his eyebrow and staring into the heart of the void in order to pierce the darkness within.


But of course, as it usually does in these kinds of circumstances, the void stares back, and Derek Pearson is forced to forge an uneasy truce with all that internal unknown and proceed as best he can. He proceeds well, as Ephemeral pieces together a collection of low-key instrumental meditations, all falling easily within the post-rock/electronic/ambient hybrid idiom and taking cues from modern classical. Basically, you could easily find Ephemeral nestled in the Erased Tapes catalog, or, uh, the Do You Dream of Noise? catalog, into which it actually nestles. So, really, it’s exactly where it belongs.


Ephemeral suggests the fleeting nature of everything and packages that disillusion and impermanence into bite-sized nuggets of emotional engagement, forcing a reckoning between oneself and the motions of existence. Sit up, stand back, take notice! What elements of life are relegated to the edges or corners that should be foregrounded instead? Silence and the Unwinking Minds suggests that the path forward is hidden within the subtleties, but in plain sight – just pay attention, that’s all. It’s easy to pay attention to Ephemeral, and equally easy allow that focus to burn right down to the center of what matters.



HUMAN ADULT BAND “Beyond the Time Barrier Travelers” (Already Dead)

Like a canker sore infesting the lip of society, Human Adult Band spread their unclean noisy destruction to the masses, causing society to poke its tongue around its lip to find the source of its pain and then push it around a little bit. Maybe it’ll burst, sending a plume of painful pus into the vacant space around it. Maybe it’ll resist and shoot sharp jolts into the lip nerves. Whatever the case, Human Adult Band is bound to cause some amount of discomfort to those in their general vicinity at any given time.


Imagine unearthing some live recordings from fifteen years ago and deeming them releasable. Imagine then unearthing some recordings from last year and also deeming them releasable. That’s the MO this time around from Human Adult band, who jam pack Beyond the Time Barrier Travelers (and who isn’t super jealous of that designation?!) with a heaving sea of discontent, and upon that sea is a lurching vessel leaking from its every seam, intent on going down and embracing its own destruction. That the sea is time itself and the vessel is Human Adult Band should be obvious. That the destruction is immediate, bracing, and electrifying should also be right in the wheelhouse of any noise rock fan interested in pummeling themselves to unconsciousness.


But let’s get back to the pus and the sores, shall we? Human Adult Band subscribe to the more skin-shredding variety of intense buzz, their guitars and bass shrieking maelstroms of metallic debris bound for your vicinity. They continue unrelentingly in this fashion until every part of you is raw and exposed, ever nerve frayed, every pore leaking blood. Go ahead, try to heal after a Human Adult Band show – you’ll just be subjected to it again next time, and the onslaught will begin anew. But it’s the kind of onslaught that you want to happen to you, because it’s, like, a rush or something.





TIGER VILLAGE “Amblyopiac” (Suite 309)

I am the opposite of an amblyopiac. I have such intense control over my eye muscles that I can move them independently of each other, like a chameleon does. Now, I understand that you’re probably like, “Ryan, is this one of your stupid review intros in which you make something up and then let it veer off into nothingness by the end?” But this is not the case. I can truly do this, and it freaks out everybody I show it to. If you meet me in real life, reference this review and I’ll do my thing.

Tiger Village’s Amblyopiac, the tenth gall-dang album under Tim Thornton’s Tiger Village moniker, if you can believe it, is an ode to the “kids in surgery,” a situation that amblyopia sometimes (but not always) leads to. Commonly referred to as “lazy eye,” amblyopia “is a disorder of sight in which the brain fails to process inputs from one eye and over time favors the other eye. It results in decreased vision in an eye that otherwise typically appears normal.” You know what someone with lazy eye looks like. It’s as if they’re not quite looking directly at you when they’re speaking to you, because you don’t know which eye to focus on. It can be unsettling, but that’s nothing compared to how the amblyopiac likely feels – let’s try a little empathy, ok guys?

Maybe Amblyopiac is an aural exploration of this phenomenon? Think of it this way: Tiger Village pummels you throughout the album with abstract rhythmic experiments and synth-pulse workouts, and it can be a challenge to hook onto a groove (not saying that’s a necessary thing or anything, but bear with me). If in the polyrhythmic onslaught the brain favors one rhythm over another, gradually allowing the other’s signals to weaken as it gets picked up, then the result would not be unlike the identity Amblyopiac registers. That everything comes off a bit … cockeyed? … is to Amblyopiac’s credit – there’s never less than full fascination or the demand of full attention throughout its eight tracks.

Or maybe this whole thing is an album-length meditation on the Silversun Pickups classic. Who am I to decide?


MORAST "Drawing Figures into Negative Space" (Baba Vanga)

The Baba Vanga label based in the Czech Republic is one of many offshoots that traces itself back to Easterndaze-a project dedicated to highlighting eclectic, electronic music from Eastern Europe to a western audience while simultaneously fostering artist cooperation. Releases off of Baba Vanga are slow yet steady, releasing only when they have found something “that catches its fancy”. Earlier this year, something did indeed catch their fancy, Moritz Morast’s glitchy techno noise frenzy, “Drawing Figures into Negative Spaces”.

Morast has a terrific approach to improvisational techno creation: take a pro data patch for jamming with, observe the irregularities the patch offers, and then deconstruct techno until it is rendered meaningless (it’s quite simple really)! The result is a demented crunchfest, with any strand of a traditional techno sound pushed to the periphery. Opener “Kathrinchen” is a splatter fest of industrial sounds, opening on the verge of a data collapse, before inkling ever close to the red. When you catch a techno drum beat or synth bloop in the track (turn the mega bass button on your tape deck of choice!), it is akin to unearthing a ghost in a machine, forever haunting these vicious noise flashes.

Always on the verge of spiraling out of control, but never quite doing so, Morast’s five compositions are building to something before completely rendering the sound obsolete. None of the tracks make an attempt to sugarcoat their intensity. “Drying up the marshes of self-exploitation” is mostly composed of a simple bass beat and synth beeps that build up before being completely kicked back down by unforgiving, vaporous drums. The title track contains a pervasive ticking rhythm that seems completely detached from the airy, gaseous noises and sirens of the rest of the track. Even when the closer “dancing upon ashes of previous visions” finally forces you to the dancefloor, it only takes a few minutes before any semblance of tribalesque techno drums becomes obsolete in the face of pulsing data collapse. The nature of these improvisations (even down to the cover art!) can only be best described as abstract, constructivist impulses.

“Drawing Figures…” is a strict lie-down album that reveals itself best in those midnight hours, when your body is on the verge of collapse and dissociation. Might it guide those peaceful dreams!

--Matty McPherson

CHANNELERS “Isles Beyond” C60 (Inner Islands)

Primarily acoustically composed with dulcimer and piano, Channelers’ most recent long-burner showcases riff after wholesome new-age riff of serene vibes and cosmic breezes to curl up and power nap inside of. It's seriously like listening to a warm cup of lightly-honeyed chamomile tea.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

PERMAFROST AC “Allt som inte händer” C27 (Do You Dream of Noise?)

First one off the top of the new Do You Dream of Noise? pile is Permafrost AC’s Allt som inte händer, which Google handily translates as “Everything that does not happen.” This is fitting. Permafrost AC is the ambient folk project of Krister Mörtsell, who has his hand in everything DYDON does – he runs the place after all. The Swedish artist guides the direction of the label, and he is also at its vanguard. His flag flies proudly.

As Permafrost AC, Mörtsell drapes his guitar in mood, surrounding it with field recordings, synthesizer, mandolin, melodica – sometimes he just plays piano too. Sometimes, you know, you just have to play piano to get out the truth of whatever you’ve got going on inside you. And so he sits and plays, and we hear his playing, and we are gradually overcome by the way his playing interacts with the other elements, the space around him. We can hear it quietly and blissfully merge, and we are haunted by it, reminded of the actions we did not take or the opposite choices that we made. Mörtsell’s ghostly tracks pipe in from a multiverse location that isn’t our own. They make us long for how we could have done it better.

I want to listen to Allt som inte händer 100 times in a row, to let it seep into my bones and affect me constantly. I want it to offer bittersweet reflection as I sit bundled in front of a fire. I want to sleep, I want to cry, I want to drive, I want to hug. I hear these songs that remind me of good and better times, and I hear their gentle admonition in the disappointment they convey of the present. I can only promise these songs that I’ll try my best, my own best, and that I’ll strive to make the better choices. Gotta start somewhere, right? Hey, now I hear hope and encouragement in them too!


BABY JESUS “S/T” (Ongakubaka Records)

Let’s address the elephant in the room…

Ongakubaka [Own-gah-koo-bah-kah]

1.noun Japanese origin, music fool/idiot.

2.noun Richmond, VA, USA origin, garage/psyche record label.

Baby Jesus has a dream every night. It’s the one at a party. Adam West, Burt Ward, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, and Julie Newmar are all in attendance. Don’t forget Sun Ra blasting on the keys as tangerine joker-smoke rises from the ginger-ale and sherbet punchbowl.

The Nuggets, the Pebbles, the Granules (?) are filtered through silvery sieves stacked gingerly like canisters of bygone celluloid in Metro Goldwyn (Russ)Meyer’s utility closet.

The days are dark because it’s eternally night. Indeed the freaks do come out at night, folks. Take a deep dive Back from the Grave.

But seriously, Sexy Sadie, these Swedes had their own transcendental awakening on a tour of India. On return they merged to form Baby Jesus, an unlikely spiritual direction, spiritual all the same.

Song of note: “Haven’t seen the light” a Velveteen tribute in that BJ count their blessings, spared the white light, white heat.

What has become of these Fuzztoned fellows you ask?

A. The singer/Farfisa player’s skullcap was sawed open, now magic mushrooms grow from his brain.

B. The drummer? Turned into a snail. His eyes pop out as antennae.

C. The guitarist and bassist joined a nudist colony and recline on silly putty blobs.

Recommended for listeners of’s Fool’s Paradise, Teenage Wasteland, Three Chord Monty, and Music to Spazz By.


--Adam Padavano








SITKA “Tape Cuts” C20 (Taping Policies)

Belgium's esoteric, non-profit “Taping Policies” has collaborated with Disintegration Loops-disciple, Sitka, to bring us a withered 20 minute document of what it might have sounded like if William Basinski had opted to string a series of drone-guitar vignettes together, instead of piano passages. The exact same decay-as-centerpiece worship is at the fore throughout, with the only other accompaniment (besides said self-eating guitar swells & chordal crumblings) being a few coastal field recordings towards the end of side B, equally obliterating, in real time (of the recording).

For fans of drone-glitch, this’ll scratch all the itches, but with an added element of quasi-shock, as the abrupt transitions* between these Tape Cuts will feel relatively jarring.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*aka N/A

RYOKO AKAMA / ANNE F - JACQUES “Evaporation” C45 (Notice Recordings)

“Evaporation" is two 20+ min live collaborations between Ryoko Akama and Anne F-Jacques, two merciless, nuance-worshipping, psycho/electro-acousticians/sonic-sadists that probably hold your cilia and mental well being in possibly maybe likely less than the highest regard. 

Through their homemade, contact mic’d devices*, RA/AFJ explore** the merits of inducing temporary tinnitus-led panic attacks and bump-in-the-night scurryings and carvings with such a mix of patience and furious battering that it’s very much not recommended to listen to this within 4 hours of (attempting of) going to sleep, as the nervous system is gonna be rendered S-H-O-T by the end of track 1’s trebly terrorizings. 

Luckily, side B is (relatively) lower in pitch, attack, beatings-per-minute, & shrill feedback… but, in its place is buried a labored breath rendered by lungless reverberations that is just as deceptively discomfiting as anything else you've ever never wanted to hear coming from a closet in the middle of the night.

In short, this’d make for one HELLUVA Halloween*** soundtrack, despite having not having “Horror" anywhere on the agenda.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*some appearing to have voltage added for extra oomph/brutality. Check the enclosed snapshots of a few of them to get an idear!

**with much chemistry

***or April Fool’s joke/revenge

XUAN YE / CHIK WHITE “Breath Fractals” C27 (Notice Recordings)

The barebones intimacy that must have been involved in capturing the acoustically wrought elements of this collaboration between Xuan Ye and Chik White is only NOT viscerally palpable due to how close it sounds to goth/blackmetal vocalists, isolated, laying down the tracks of their final death throes, in a semi-anechoic chamber, that strikingly alien feel of sharp echoes (post-recording) adding another gripping hook to the table! Now, add to this mix a hefty serving of aggressive JAW HARP riffage and texture, and it’s become obvious that “Breath Fractals” is somewhere between concerted/enthralling breakdown and an other-wordly series of incantations.

Delightfully freakish, listen to on headphones FAR the fuck away from any other stimuli and/or obligation: This’ll take a while to come back down from.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

SIR BOBBY JUKEBOX “Friendship Gift” (Already Dead)

Somebody once called Sir Bobby Jukebox “the mad scientist of indie pop,” and, with the exception of Sir Benjamin Gibbard, I’m inclined to agree. Given that we’re talking about royalty here (that’s what you are when you’re knighted, right?), we have to tread carefully with our formalism. You don’t want to tick off the people whose land you can’t hunt on (if I recall my European history correctly).

Just kidding about the knighting stuff, but Sir Bobby is an actual knight, having gone into battle with various troupes (No Monster Club, Ginnels, Paddy Hanna and Grand Pocket Orchestra) and slaying the dragons and marauding invaders of boredom and ennui. Wielding catchy songs like a magical sword plucked from a lake, Sir Bobby mows down everything and anything that comes at him with swift and true strokes – as long as whatever it is is worthy of a caustic barb or two.

Sir Bobby ranges through a kaleidoscopic pop countryside trod by such fun-loving luminaries as Larry Wish and Attic Ted and, dare I say, David Byrne, jigging and jagging along melodies and shuffling under psychedelic moods. Are the tracks whimsical? Almost always. Are they delightfully cheeky? You bet. There’s not much to turn up your nose at, even if you’re some kind of stuck-up royal knight or something. Oh wait, the knighthood! Eeesh … (does the Johnny Carson collar tug). Let’s just say, they only thing we’re going to get around to dubbing anytime soon is this tape.

… And by “we” and “dubbing,” I mean Already Dead and their official duplication team. I’m not making bootlegs, honest!


FUTURESLUM “Pretty Flowers in the Garden” C28 (Already Dead)

Pretty Flowers in the Garden my ASS!

Let me back up a second.

What comes to mind when you think of “pretty flowers in the garden”? Bucolic scenes of freshness and life, right? Color and sunlight, cultivated beauty? Yeah, me too – I think about that and I’m shot full of whatever the relaxation equivalent of endorphins is. Nothing like sitting out on the porch in the shade of a late spring afternoon, listening to the bees buzz and watching the clouds drift.

But that’s not what I’m getting here with Pretty Flowers in the Garden by Futureslum.

Maybe I should have seen it coming – something called “Futureslum” almost certainly wouldn’t have a sunny disposition if you think about it. Probably leans more toward the urban decay end of the spectrum (and “urban decay” is an almost exact synonym in this case). OK, I definitely should have seen it coming. Futureslum plays the beat tape thing into the ground, like literally crushing the genre with all Futureslum’s weight until the whole thing sounds like it was discovered by a forensics team sifting through the wreckage of a blown-up bank vault. Insert “CSI” joke here (I can’t think of a good one).

Even the beats get sandblasted away after a while, and the tone is just thick and strewn with rubble. The two sides track the pace of weathering and neglect, until all we’re left with is a stretch of cracked asphalt studded with new shoots growing out of it. This is going to keep going folks – it’ll keep happening until the plants have reclaimed the city. And then there’ll be pretty flowers in a brand new garden.


BENJAMIN HINZ “Deep” C22 (Philip K. Discs)

Benjamin Hinz has put out a wealth of experimental/electronic/psych stuff over the years, and, ever the explorer here, he’s churned out a solo scaffold, “DEEP”, which rides an unending mid-90s midwestern hXc pre-breakdown that’s bookended with Venusian*, clean/reverb electric guitar patience and fairly lovely feedback & blowouts.

It’s a short jaunt into rockin’ out territory, and you’ll probably find yourself filling in some spaces on your own by hollering** as personally seen fit.


—Jacob An Kittenplan

*aka, that space between Earth & Sunn o)))

**Small Brown Bike-style

GERMAN ARMY “Blending Landscapes” C50 (Soil)

I don’t think I’ve made it clear enough over time – German Army is here for us. Maybe now more than ever.

Because, you know – the pandemic. The racial injustice. The government. German Army is as fed up as we are. They always have been. Always will be.

So their release schedule is, shall we say, robust. And here is another in a long line, Blending Landscapes, which, if I’d have to venture a guess, was made with an ear toward interaction, inclusion, forgiveness. But not without a healthy dose of introspection and reconciliation. No Blending Landscapes without either of those.

That brings us to the “blending” itself – GeAr’s electro-smears are out in full force on Blending Landscapes, featuring darkwave pulsers, electro bangers, enveloping clouds of trance, and organic vaporwave, all feeding off each other, all bleeding through track limit distinctions in an inky river of curdled code. Or maybe it’s the black blood of our diseased culture. Either way, it’s gross, thick, liquid, and moving.

GeAr excels at finding the common denominator between people and cultures and highlighting and ridiculing the perceived differences, rendering them laughably ridiculous. Here they do us one better by peeling back the skin of our faces and revealing the bone-white skulls underneath. The common denominator is anatomy! We all have skulls.

And after all that, after all the written investigation, in the end it’s only proper to grab the nearest tape deck and zone out for a decently long time to this, letting Blending Landscapes infiltrate the pleasure centers of your brain. Also the thinking centers, and the empathy centers, and the disillusionment centers, and the dissatisfaction centers … you get the picture.