SEWERS OF MARS #10

Music Features
SEWERS OF MARS #10
By
Mar 19, 2008, 01:07

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Greetings, mouth breathers and celibate wonders. There's a slew of killer new stuff to tackle this month, so let's get on with it.

Gazheart was a short-lived duo featuring artist Rita Ackermann of Angelblood and Dave Nuss of No Neck Blues Band, Angelblood, etc, and this posthumous self-titled LP on Locust features recordings made in Budapest in 2004. The music on this one-sider (side two features an original etching by Ackermann) is more reminiscent of Rita's terrific solo LP (also one-sided) for Ecstatic Peace a few years back than No Neck's tribal clatter, though the faux indigenous sounds and seamless stylistic transitions certainly reflect that band's shape shifting tendencies. The too-brief album starts out sounding like a more whimsical Muslimgauze, before a quick sojourn into minimal techno played on buckets and coke bottles. The side ends with a carefree tune sung by Nuss and Ackerman's young daughter, who provides an “After Hours” worthy closer. Ideal Sunday morning listening.

Monotonix are a rock trio from the unlikely rock mecca of Tel Aviv, and their debut EP on Drag City is a knockout. Body Language starts with nearly 30-seconds of one insistent chord, backed by a snare, sounding alternately like Suicide and a skipping CD, before it busts into a riff worthy of Van Halen. The title track is the clear ‘single' though with it's propulsive riff splitting the difference between Krautrock and boogie rock. The ironically titled “No Metal” (which features a Hammond organ, one of few overdubs on the EP) is the most “metal” sounding track, the band conjuring no less a horned juggernaut than Pantera in pure aggro ferocity. Monotonix are already notorious for their Dionysian live shows, which apparently involve all sorts of show-bizzy rock hedonism, but it would be a shame if this reputation relegates the band to novelty status. With an EP of this caliber, such antics seem more than unnecessary. -AMAZON

Nothing People continue their prolific run of singles with “Army of Ideal” b/w “What a Waste” (HoZac) and if it's not quite as great as their last one, it still towers head and shoulders over most of the crapola masquerading as punk these days. “Army of Ideal” is unfortunately pretty stock, but the fuzzed out guitar and energy Nothing People bring to the track make up for a lack of a hook and lyrics that sound like they were written on the spot. The B-side “What a Waste” (sadly, not a Sonic Youth cover) is better, a slow, dirge-y track with dubbed-out effects and ominous vocals. This track shows yet another side of this promising band, confirms that along with their glam, punk and new wave influences, they probably have a stack of PLO singles and The New Wave Complex compilations lining the walls of the practice space as well. Â

Chriss Sutherland is probably best known as a charter member of Portland, Maine's Fire on Fire, the band featuring ex-members of the severely underrated Cerberus Shoal, who just released an excellent EP on Young God, but his debut solo CD Me in a “Field” (Digitalis) is as good an introduction to Sutherland's heartfelt, unpretentious music as any. Lyrically, Chriss has a gift for simple, poignant writing (the album begins with the lines “What is a life without family or friends?”) that is at once idiosyncratic and universal. Time spent in Spain has equipped Chriss with the strumming patterns and vocal cadence common to that country's folk music, and he uses each to great effect. These are simple songs by a gifted songwriter, and some of the most honest music you will hear this year.

Kurt Weisman - Spiritual Sci-Fi

While I'm shamelessly going on and on about friends of mine, I may as well also tell you about Kurt Weisman. Kurt played in Feathers and is currently the guitarist in Witch. Spiritual Sci Fi (Important) is his debut full length (full disclosure: I released his debut 7” on my label, Mad Monk), and perfectly encapsulates Kurt's unique brand of experimental pop music. Ten years in the making, the album is a densely layered, fearless journey into Weisman's cracked psyche, all cartoon voices, dramatic pitch shifts, and deconstruction / destruction of the song form. Imagine someone on the Mego roster remixing McCartney's “Junk,” and you're starting to get it. But Kurt is the kind of artist who stymies ineloquent scribes such as myself—as lazy as it is to describe any music as unclassifiable, it is a fitting description for Spiritual Sci-Fi. Nothing about the album sounds forced, Weisman's eccentricities always seem natural, and his relative proficiency, along with his ability to convey ‘strangeness' free of bogus Dadaist aspirations, is refreshing. You kinda get the feeling Kurt doesn't really think his music is very weird at all. And that, my friends, is some real deal weird. -AMAZON

Mortiis - Some Kind of Heroin

Mortiis's Some Kind Of Heroin: The Grudge Remixes (Earache) delivers on its title's promise and features reinterpretations and re-workings of Mortiis material from his last studio album. It's generally acknowledged by even the most open-minded metalhead that Mortiis's best days are far behind him, and his befuddling fascination with darkwave-style industrial music has only grown more tedious over time. Can't he just speak Elvish and praise Odin like everyone else? Though Implant's “Twist the Knife: The Gibbering Mix” is close enough to the depresso-drone Mortiis of yore, other tracks such as Gothinister's remix of the title track sounds depressingly like Pop Will Eat Itself. Some Kind Of Heroin at least gets points for variety—there's a lot of ground covered here, especially if you're the type of person who can't discern between Strawberry Switchblade and Switchblade Symphony. Maybe I'm not as up on the whole Cleopatra / goth scene as I ought to be, but, frankly, it's astounding how much of this sounds exactly like Nine Inch Nails. Hard to believe this dude was a founding member of Emperor. Peter, why the hell did you send me this? -AMAZON

Destroyer - Trouble In Dreams

Destroyer, aka Dan Bejar,continues to impress with his latest, Trouble in Dreams (Merge). The title's reference to Nico makes sense—Dan Bejar shares the tragic chanteuse's oblique coldness, to say nothing for her flair for drama. But Bejar's more inscrutable tendencies shine throughout, and quoting his often brilliant lyrical barbs seems redundant out of context. The previous Destroyer album, Destroyer's Rubies, will likely remain Bejar's masterpiece, as Trouble in Dreams often sounds like a muted version of that landmark album, The Mirage to Rubies' Tusk, but fans of Bejar's annotated bibliography-worthy lyrics, prog-friendly arrangements and peculiar grandiosity will rejoice.   -AMAZON

Portal - Outre

It takes a lot to frighten me. When I was barely old enough to talk, instead of encouraging me to take part in sports, my father would challenge me to watch his favorite horror films. I vividly remember having nightmares about the twins from The Shining for years. A little later, during my full-blown adolescence-long obsession with metal, my pals and I would drop acid and listen to King Diamond in the dark. So I know scary, okay? But Outre, the new album (on Profound Lore) by Australian band Portal, is one of the downright scariest metal albums I've ever heard. Online footage reveals the band to be a sort of metal Caroliner, all costumes and giant floppy hats, truly ominous in their what-the-fuckness. No goofy corpse paint here, just dudes that actually look like they could very well sneak into your house under the cloak of night and murder you with dull daggers and ropes. As for the music itself, this is atmospheric death metal of the highest caliber. Like Wold, Portal render things like riffs (played on 7 string guitars) and vocals into one large blur, crafting a vociferous assault on the senses. The guttural, almost whispered vocals are high in the mix, and a glance at the lyric sheet reveals lines like “Souse in ichor / the clique transfuse / volute the swarth / trawl betwixt phonotic.” What? Every song is top-notch, and the booklet—a gatefold digipak which holds a mock-leather booklet featuring lyrics and more scary photos—is gorgeous. Pick of the month. -AMAZON

Lastly, I think Your Flesh is a fitting place to briefly honor the memory of William F. Buckley, who passed away earlier this month. Why here? Well, you see, Buckley was a notorious hater of pop music (seek out his diatribes against the Beatles for a chuckle) and sworn enemy of the secular counterculture at large, of which I am a lifelong participant. But since the Constellation label infamously spent hard earned money to take out a print ad in this very magazine a few years ago in reaction to some review I had written, derisively referring to me as the ‘William F. Buckley of Punk,” I thought this passing was worth mentioning here. The frostbacks over at Constellation may never know how flattered I was and am to have been compared to a man of such remarkable eloquence, fierce integrity, and style. R.I.P 1925-2008.

Next month, another terrific Goslings album, an essential reissue by Tommy Jay, and I'll reveal which NASCAR superstar was recently spotted buying up rare Shadow Ring LPs. See you then, blockhead.

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