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cover imageThe plain, unmarked white shell and clinical titling of break_fold's debut certainly adds a mysterious quality to this project.  There is no hint as to what to expect musically, and that alone always makes me curious.  That ambiguity carries onto the tape itself, in the form of complex and diverse beat heavy electronics that excels as much in mood and texture as it does in pleasant melodies and memorable rhythms.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 April 2017 19:28

Legendary Pink Dots, "Chemical Playschool 19 & 20"

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cover imageOver the last two decades or so, my Legendary Pink Dots fandom has gone through quite a few different phases, but my current self is most enamored with the Chemical Playschool series.  Each new installment always feels like a large and mysterious gift-wrapped box that unexpectedly shows up at my house, stuffed full of plenty of random things that I did not particularly want and a few revelatory surprises that absolutely knock me sideways (finding the latter is always the fun part, obviously).  This latest plunge into the band's unfettered experimental urges, quietly released for the band's fall 2016 tour, is an especially rich treasure trove: it does not so much feel like a meandering psychedelic fever dream of orphaned ideas and studio experiments so much as a rich tapestry of evocative and coherent themes expertly blurred together into a mesmerizing fantasia.  This is easily one of my favorite LPD albums in recent memory.

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 April 2017 19:41

Evan Caminiti, "Toxic City Music"

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cover imageThis latest album continues to explore the more electronic phase of Evan Caminiti's art, yet feels quite a bit different from his other recent work.  Inspired by the "psychic and physical toxicity of life in late capitalism," Toxic City Music is a corroded, crackling, and bleary miasma of processed guitar and industrial textures gleaned from Caminiti's surroundings in NYC.  While the prevailing aesthetic is a somewhat noirish ambient fantasia on urban decay and alienation, the smoggy gloom is artfully balanced out by some fine spectral dub-techno touches.   In fact, this record is most successful when viewed as a deeply experimental electronic dub album, as Caminiti is not so much appropriating a new influence as he is dipping it into the acid bath of his flickering and smoky dystopic vision, then presenting the barely recognizable remains.  Toxic City may be a diffuse, shadowy, and understated vision, but it is a very compelling and distinctive one as well.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 April 2017 06:43

Gnod, "Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing..."

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cover imageI had a very unfortunate false start with Gnod, as the first time I heard them, I mistakenly concluded that they were basically the UK version of White Hills rather than a deeply radical and experimental entity of Swans-like intensity.  With the benefit of hindsight, I have since embraced them as one of the single most exciting forces to emerge from the underground in recent years.  Thankfully, no one at all will be likely to repeat my mistake after hearing Just Say No, though it admittedly tones down the band’s more arty and indulgent tendencies quite a bit in service of visceral brute force (the album title provides a very unambiguous clue as to the band's current mindset).   Of course, as much as I enjoy raw power, punk energy, and hardcore fury on their own, the beauty of this album lies in how brilliantly Gnod manage to blend heavy music with their longstanding Krautrock and psych fascinations, enhancing the expected monster riffs with bulldozing no-frills repetition, seismic percussion grooves, Gang of Four-style minimalism, and a wonderful textural chaos of electronics and radio broadcasts.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 April 2017 06:38

Diamanda Galás, "All the Way" and "At Saint Thomas The Apostle Harlem"

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cover imageAfter nearly a decade-long recording hiatus, iconic force of nature Diamanda Galás has resurfaced with pair of themed albums of characteristically dark covers and interpretations.  Linked by two different versions of the traditional "O Death," the partially studio-recorded All The Way revisits the familiar territory of classic blues and country while the St. Thomas the Apostle live performance delves into the even more familiar subject of death.  Both albums have their moments of brilliance, but the St. Thomas performance is arguably more accessible, if only because Galás's demonic operatic flourishes  feel a bit more at home in her own arrangements of poems and texts than they do when all that firepower is directed at, say, a Johnny Paycheck song.  Also, it is quite a bit looser and more varied.  Accessibility is quite relative with an artist as simultaneously beloved and polarizing as Galás though, as even the sultriest, sexiest jazz standards can erupt into primal, window-rattling intensity with absolutely no warning.

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 April 2017 17:51

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