Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

avant-garde

Electric Masada – At The Mountains Of Madness (2005)

The concept of “Grails” is probably overused in this record collecting renaissance age (or should I say over-memed?). This Electric Masada album however, was a grail of sorts for me. It has always remained tantalisingly out of reach; a mysterious Zorn-led experimental jazz supergroup consisting of a who’s who of the avant-garde elite which I could not ever hear. I refused to pay £25/£30 for a Tzadik import, it wasn’t available on streaming services, and my piece of shit Chromebook could not run the seeker of souls. What do then? Long story short, I have now had the pleasure of finally being able to digest this album in its entirety, and boy was it worth the wait. I’m not sure how interesting my story is (not at all, I would suspect) but the anticipation I had for this thing before pressing play for the first time was absolutely unreal. I can happily confirm it’s up there with Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, Mr. Bungle’s Disco Volante, fuck even Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Big Fun, Jack Johnson… what I’m saying is that I rate this slab of impenetrable jazz goodness. Every last fucking second of it. It’s probably best, in this absolutely fucking pointless review, if I let the music do the talking, as truly it is beyond words – at least, words that I have the brainpower to adequately conjure.

Khanate – Clean Hands Go Foul (2009)

Ugh, what a nasty mess! In what barely constitutes music in parts due to how sparse and desperate it is, this disturbing full length release by Khanate is highly recommended for those fans of the sick and twisted and / or the slow and tortured. The vocals are savage and raw, barely holding together the shambling backdrop of glacial sludge. Clean Hands Go Foul is worth checking out for the 32 minute closing track alone, “Every God Damn Thing”, which really pushes the boundary of the whole Khanate sound.

Curta’n Wall – Siege Ubsessed (2023)

After a series of splits and EPs, the bizarre Curta’n Wall drops a full length album. I was a tad concerned that something so whacky would translate into a full length format, but for the most part it seems to fare quite well. Every time I feel like things are about to get a little stale, Curta’n Wall switches things up, or transitions into a new song / section / instrument that immediately renews my interest. Speaking of instruments, this thing is loaded to the gills with all sorts of crazy medieval sounds. If you too are Siege Ubsessed (lol), then this record will serve you well, my liege. Some things I will say however is that a few of the tracks contain what I can only describe as guest vocals from Elvya, whose dulcet tones I don’t quite think match the freak show that is Curta’n Wall. Also, I’m no scholar of this project but there’s a number of tracks here I notice as being rerecorded, some with what feels like new instrumentation, and in every single case I have preferred the originals. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if I just summarised by saying that this an interesting album but not something that is going to appeal to everyone.

Devin Townsend – Ocean Machine: Biomech (1997)

Historically, I’ve had a hot / cold relationship with the solo albums of Devin Townsend. Much to my surprise then, when going back to the very first one from 1997, I found that I truly enjoyed this album. Devin’s “wall of sound” production is in its infancy but still mostly present; sheets of guitars and synths are the backdrop for this collection of compositions, setting the stage for the growing levels of bombast that would unfold on future records. As it stands alone, Ocean Machine is a record comparable as much to shoegaze as it is to prog or even metal. Favourite track: “Bastard”.

Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)

Rain Dogs comes in the middle of a trio of absolutely classic releases from Tom Waits. The man was, truly, on a roll with these studio albums. There’s something so magical and unique about these songs and the feelings that they conjure up. Rain Dogs is also a rare album where its remaster has caused me to appreciate it more, at least in regards to listening digitally.  Such a brilliant album.

Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel – Nail (1985)

I’m probably not qualified to talk about this in all that much detail, but what I can say is that Nail is a bizarre collection of sounds, sitting somewhere between Holy Money era Swans, Big Black, Test Dept., Mr. Bungle, The Cramps and Nine Inch Nails, whilst also having the honour of predating most of the bands in that list. It is an album that’s taken me multiple attempts to digest, not because I find it difficult, but because of how much is going on I’m unsure of what the message or intended vibe is. Either way, this is fucking great, and one hell of a sonic journey.

Jarboe – Mahakali (2008)

I first bought the Mahakali album in 2010 or 2011 and despite being massively into Swans and even some of the guest players here (Atilla for example), the album didn’t really resonate with me. I found it slow, frustrating and directionless. I’m not sure what has changed, but coming back to it thirteen years later and I am immediately blown away by this thing. I listened to the whole thing through for the first time in one sitting and I loved every second of it; in fact I didn’t want it to end. Mahakali is a dark record, and whilst it is – for the most part anyway – devoid of structured songs with involved lyrics, it is full of incredible passages of sinister atmosphere and creeping danger. It feels like a soundtrack to the end of the world, and Jarboe feels like the voice that mocks us for our poor life choices as we descend to what could be described as hell. Tribal drums and deep, droning electric guitar are used frequently, as are of course synthesisers and other unusual instruments. There are some songs where a bass guitar tuned to some unfathomable low rumble and it’s left to just ring out and create an earth shattering racket. Beautiful.

Muslimgauze – Iran (1988)

Muslimgauze – Iran (1988)

This is like the Muslimgauze version of Scorn’s Deliverance. The whole thing is just folded over on itself over and over and over and reworked into different sounds (at least, that’s how it feels). It’s easy to lose yourself in this half hour of sheer atmosphere, which is really quite sinister.

Beherit – Electric Doom Synthesis (1996)

Beherit – Electric Doom Synthesis (1996)

Pardon me for being tride in offering the plain fact that this is just more or less H418ov21.C Part II. There are slight differences, for example Holocaust’s production skill has come along a little bit and it therefore isn’t as spare perhaps as it’s predecessor, but for the most part, if you like sparse, ambient electronics with a slightly spooky cyber feel, you’ll be right at home here.

Vangelis – See You Later (1980)

Vangelis – See You Later (1980)

An interesting effort from the legendary Vangelis, with the trademark dreamy atmosphere. Here the tones are a lot lighter and airy, giving the whole record a nonchalant feel. I couldn’t resist the album at only £3 for the 12″ vinyl, but after owning this for about a decade I have only played it a handful of times. The end of side A and the side B track “Suffocation” are probably my favourite. Unfortunately, my copy is scratched as the record transitions into the title track, but what are you gonna do.

The Death’s Head Quartet – The Death’s Head Quartet (2001)

The Death’s Head Quartet – The Death’s Head Quartet (2001)

You can take one look at the staffing for this record and know immediately what kind of aural carnage you can expect. That being said, DHQ does have some sense of experimental maturity to it that I would not expect from something involving Seth Putnam. Anyway, if low, rumbling, post-apocalyptic sounds are your thing, then check out this improvised record.

DNA – A Taste of DNA (1981)

DNA – A Taste of DNA (1981)

All over the shop, ants in your pants, frenetic punk music with art house leanings. I guess this is an early precursor to the no-wave scene? Not my area of expertise so apologies if that’s not right (edit: RYM has it down as No Wave music). This is fuckin’ carnage, kinda reminds me of Half Japanese or even early Locust stuff. Was really cool to find out Ikue Mori drummed on this thing too.

H.N.A.S. – Im Schatten der Möhre (1987)

H.N.A.S. – Im Schatten der Möhre (1987)

An interesting collection of sound collages and other seemingly-randomised occurrences or little tangents of sound. Do I understand what’s going on here? Fuck no, but that doesn’t really matter to me. All of the different textures comply to an overarching ambience of unsettling mystery, of an uncanny atmosphere that can only come from an inability to put a finger on what exactly was the purpose of the work. I can’t remember how I came across this, and I have no idea what the other prolific works of HNAS are like, but in isolation this was a very interesting experience.

Ensemble Kluster – Klopfzeichen (1970)

Ensemble Kluster – Klopfzeichen (1970)

Spooky, plinky-plonky noises fed through tape loops and other analogue methods of shaking you to your very core. Nowhere near as good as later Cluster and I appreciate the name change. Nevertheless, Klopfzeichen is very unsettling background noise and would work perfectly as the soundtrack to some sort of sci-fi / horror movie. As for active, engaging music – this is not it, but if you’re awake at 3am and want to feel something other than boredom give this one a go.

PainKiller – Execution Ground (1994)

PainKiller – Execution Ground (1994)

This is the third Pain Killer full length album to date (although its kinda weird to call the first two full lengths such, because they aren’t all that long). Execution Ground breaks the mould, entering far, far spacier territory. You can really feel the influences that Mick was experimenting with at the time; dub, ambient etc. (let’s not forget Laswell has albums in this territory too). The album is a far cry from the jazz-grind carnage of the first two, instead being a much more longform beast. Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments and pure explosions of insane sound and energy, but there are also extended passages of dub-like grooves where the music just keeps folding over on itself. Execution is probably my favourite Pain Killer record, but it is markedly different from anything else that they have done in the past, and different from what they are known for doing.

Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q. (2019)

Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q. (2019)

Holy shit this is one of the most insane things I have ever heard. Incredible, explosive, volatile yet so delicate – honestly, words are escaping me right now as I start to try and solidify my thoughts on this thing into one digestible soundbite. It is worth mentioning that I am familiar with Liturgy’s earlier works, specifically Aesthethica, but its been a long, long time since I checked in on this project. My initial reaction to the insane explosions of sound that grace this album is that the band are composing something akin to a more black metal influenced take on what Swans were doing between 2010 and 2016. But then, shit starts glitching out too, and you get all these other electronic and percussion elements thrown in as well, which are almost incomprehensible at first. It’s like somebody threw a vinyl copy of To Be Kind into a cement mixer along with a copy of Sunbather, a SNES console, a bunch of strange unidentified religious texts and a child’s plastic recorder instrument. Sonically overwhelming and entirely fulfilling, HAQQ demands all of your attention and rewards you for giving it. The fact that this record has escaped me until 2023 is incredible.

Endon – Through The Mirror (2017)

Endon – Through The Mirror (2017)

This was sold to me by Bandcamp as grindcore, and – impressively – the album which brought Hydra Head back from the dead. Endon’s music here is far from grindcore, in my opinion. Yes, there are intense passages of absolute carnage, which I suppose could come close to something like Cloud Rat, but Through The Mirror dreams far, far bigger than such a restricting genre tag. Endon is more or less post- everything and everywhere. The opening tracks reminds me of Godspeed and Swans, which enormous sheets of cascading sounds; equally terrifying and enlightening. Throughout the ensuing carnage one can detect hints of everything from Converge to Merzbow. All in all this is a hectic experience, but there are moments of calm too. An overwhelming record in every sense of the word.

Luc Ferrari ‎– Und So Weiter / Music Promenade (1969)

Luc Ferrari ‎– Und So Weiter / Music Promenade (1969)

So there’s a little story to this. At the end of “Gravedancer” on Pig Destroyer’s epic Terrifyer record, there is a minute or so of bizarre, troubling dialogue between what seems to be several people. The main core of the audio is of a man and a woman arguing. The argument seems to get quite heated, and the woman screams out several times, as if being attacked or thrown about. They also seem to both be drunk, and talking as if they are part of a Shakespearean play, with the way they use language. Today I found out, after decades of wondering, that this is actually a sample lifted directly from Luc Ferrari’s “Music Promenande” piece. Immediately I hunted it down online and pressed play. And then opened the world of Luc Ferrari. So this is a view from a complete outsider. The argument I mention above is but a small fraction what is going on in this thing. There’s all sorts of sounds and collages mashed together, I guess this is musique concrete or whatever it’s called – its basically just field recordings assembled into a strange sequence of aural experiences. At times it sounds grandiose, with horns and drums, and other times it loses all form and structure, like in the argument mentioned above. Side A, which hosts “Und So Weiter”, is a bit more musical, if I could be so bold as to use the term, and reminds me of a John Zorn-grade piano breakdown. The poor piano here is taking a battering. This is firmly in the art / avant garde realms and I do not claim to understand anything that I have heard here, but I’m glad I finally found out the source of that really strange sample.

William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops (2002)

William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops (2002)

When you wake up in a empty house and the weather outside stops you from going anywhere, and you’re trapped staring at the dull light of your work-issued laptop… its time for a listen of something as heavy and as involving as William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops. Or in this case, part 1 of the 4 part series. Getting stuck into this is a massive undertaking, but not as massive as say, The Caretaker and his ambient expose on dementia. The Disintegration Loops were created when William discovered that old analogue tapes he had recorded on in the 90s had deteriorated. Instead of stopping them from playing, he instead recorded the ever-disintegrating tapes as they played back. The result, is a haunting and somewhat repetitive piece of ambient music that invokes deep thought as much as it allows your mind to wander. The album was finished on the morning of 11th September, 2001. The album sleeve is a photo taken from the roof of Basinski’s apartment, where he spent the whole day with friends watching the spectacle unfold. The project is dedicated to the victims of the Sept 11th terror attacks. I look forward to hearing the following three parts.

Psychic TV – Cathedral Engine (1994)

Psychic TV – Cathedral Engine (1994)

I’ve listened to this many times over the years where instead perhaps I should have branched out a bit more into other Psychic TV stuff (there’s so much of it!). This is a fantastic piece of work, though; a very thorough exercise in sinister and brooding atmospheric music. Not quite on the knife-edge of noise, Cathedral Engine definitely uses a “less is more” approach compared to some of the other projects by those involved, but it’s restraint (and creepy organs sounds – what is that!?) really allows it to pay off in the long run.

Current 93 – Thunder Perfect Mind (1992)

Current 93 – Thunder Perfect Mind (1992)

I did a lot of digging into Death In June’s politics recently and a lot of people pointed me at Current 93’s “Hitler As Kalki”, which is on this album. It contains a lot of wishy washy references to Kalki and places Hitler in there as the one who will come to destroy the world (or whatever), but for the most part this stuff is so esoteric and dare I say rambling I see no coherent point to this nor would I ever have considered Current 93 to be a fascist project. Colour me naive perhaps, but this sits worlds apart from some of the dodgier acts that Di6 can act as a gateway to. Musically, Thunder Perfect Mind is a million miles away from the other C93 stuff that I’ve heard, and despite its floaty artsyness (lol) I did enjoy the compositions and the production immensely. I will say towards the end I started to lose interest, and at some point, particular due to Tibet’s interesting approach to narration, some songs started to blend into one. I enjoyed, but I don’t think I would listen to it again.

The Locust – New Erections (2007)

The Locust – New Erections (2007)

In 2007 locust released what would be their final studio album to date. It’s actually incredible how much time has passed since this final studio album and it still even now feels kinda weird to be talking about the band in the past tense. Even from the first few notes, you can tell that New Erections is a different beast to what has come before. The record is full of the bleeping blooping batshit crazy synthesizer madness that we know and love, but the overall tone is different. To say that the pace is slower would be incorrect I think, but the more spacious passages on Safety Second Body Last indeed were portents of what was to come with New Erections. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still under 25 minutes long, which is a bit cheeky for a full length, but this is still grindcore in some capacity so it gets a pass. I remember New Erections getting a bit of stick at the time of release, I was heavily involved in the MySpace cyber grind scene and there was a lot of chatter about how the songs on New Erections were too long or, New Erections wasn’t as crazy as the older stuff. All of which is complete nonsense, if you give this album a few minutes of your time you’ll soon realise it’s just as boundary pushing as anything else the band ever did, but is just a slightly different flavour.

Death In June – Heilige! (2000)

Death In June – Heilige! (2000)

This is probably the best live album I’ve heard from this project so far. It seems to offer something interesting aside from the usual 1 man acoustic renditions of all the hits. The recently deceased Albin Julius is a part of the live show, providing a layer of electronic sounds. This live document was taken around the Operation Hummingbird era, so that makes sense. But yeah, a lot of classics from various eras of Di6’s career are re-imagined in the sound collage style of the Take Care And Control / Operation Hummingbird era. Which is cool. There’s a ton of good percussion here too, and the recording quality is great. The only thing that’s a bit shabby is the record sleeve, but even that works in its own kind of way.

Clown Core – Toilet (2018)

Clown Core – Toilet (2018)

What an absolute beauty of an EP. I first marked this down for LIW’ing in 2020, so it was a pleasure to come back and check it out for this review. I absolutely love the mix of jazz, noise and I suppose, even grindcore. There are muted electronic passages that invoke the realms of vaporwave and 80s nostalgia, before the madness comes back and smacks you upside the head. A topsy turvy listen, for sure.

Kamasi Washington – The Epic (2015)

Kamasi Washington – The Epic (2015)

I’ve approached The Epic multiple times since release and have struggled to find the words to do it justice. Therefore, I’ve decided after another recent listen through at the beginning of the year, to throw all pretense of “doing it justice” to the wolves and just commit this monster of an album to the site. Is it too overblown for me to state that The Epic is the Bitches Brew of our generation? Possibly. Bitches Brew is a record that defined an era of new heights in jazz experimentation (or at least represents it). The Epic has many callbacks to that kind of meandering madness; obtuse time signatures, lengthy songs and outstanding soloing from various members of the group. The Epic also however has roots in many genres outside of jazz – or at least, from outside of fusion and the avant garde. There’s a lot here that reminds me of big band music, soul and funk, and even show tunes. Regardless of what I say, The Epic is one of the most ambitious albums to be released in the last decade and its something I cannot recommend enough to any music fans.

Voices – Frightened (2018)

Voices – Frightened (2018)

I’m not sure why Voices’ output fell off the radar in the mid 2010s, after the quickfire one-two of albums in 2013 and 2014, but I’d have to assume that it had a lot to do with Akercocke becoming a functioning entity again. In a running theme with a lot of the posts that I have made here recently, I completely missed this record around the time of its release, finally catching up with it in 2020 and only now listening again to commit my thoughts here. Frightened continues the Voices journey. Sounding nothing like London or Forest (I’m sorry, I’m not typing all that out), yet drawing strong roots from both of them, Frightened sees Voices hone their fragile sound further once again. Dare I say that the metallic elements are dialled back further, if you discount Dave Gray’s sublime blastbeat attacks. I hear post-rock, such as elements used by bands like Anathema, I hear post-punk, such as riffs or motifs used by bands like Killing Joke. I hear even more instrumentation in the form of pianos and strings. I hear progress! Frightened is a great development in the band’s journey and sound. I look forward to hearing the next record, which I believe hasn’t long been released. How’s that for timing?

Sigh – Scorn Defeat (1993)

Sigh – Scorn Defeat (1993)

I am very much late to the party here. I saw Sigh in I think 2010 at a French music festival. Before that, my only real experience with the group was seeing their albums advertised inside my copy of Principle Of Evil Made Flesh (I think they may have been on the same label as Cradle Of Filth at one point). Anyways, I wasn’t blown away by the live show (particularly how they piped a whole orchestra’s worth of instruments through the PA), so I never really got around to listening to Sigh properly, despite my friend (and once LIW contributor) Gumpy insisting otherwise. Scorn Defeat is intense. There is a lot to unpack here, thankfully however this is a task that is almost fun thanks to the old school yet clear production; yes, headphones on, eyes closed, trying to make sense of everything that is being presented to me aurally. Truly, this is blackened thrash at its core, dare I use the term. I’m talking a backbone of Venom and Bathory and even a little bit of Possessed, but then comes the weird and kooky twists, and not to mention, the stunning, catch-you-off-guard keyboard parts and bizarre vocals.

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble (2006)

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble (2006)

I saw this ensemble live in Roadburn Festival, at either the 2011 or 2012 edition. The work they performed there was much more ambient, downtempo and minimal than this self-titled record. It is an album that reminds me of Ulver’s Perdition City, yet of course sounds nothing like Perdition City. The self-titled offering of Darkjazz here however is a cinematic, urban offering that flitters between traditional instrumentation and pulsing electronic passages; one works off the other and so on and so forth. Some of the tracks are pretty intense, whilst others are rather beautiful. Perfect Sunday listening, if I ever heard it.

Flux Information Sciences – Last Mixes (2013)

Flux Information Sciences – Last Mixes (2013)

Flux Information Sciences were admittedly a band I only ever heard of because they had an album out on Michael Gira’s Young God Records. The Last Mixes is a compilation of well, some of the last stuff the band ever did. Apparently. It’s not listed anywhere as an official release, and one of the band members has commented on the YouTube upload of this saying he doesn’t know where the hell the uploader got these tracks from, which just adds another layer to the strange nature of this one. Flux were a great band though, its a shame they are no more.

Chihuahua – Violent Architecture (2021)

Chihuahua – Violent Architecture (2021)

Chiwawawawa are from Manchester and play an interesting blend of noisy rock and a slightly more melodic vein of indie music. Without wanting to be derivative or to put these guys in a box, Violent Architecture has an awful lot of Black Midi vibes, and the final track has parts that sound as if they are lifted directly out of Swans’ “Bring The Sun”, but this is so blatant it simply must be some sort of tribute. All in all, this is a great record, but even for all the hay-wire craziness, its not very original.

Theatre Of Ice – A Cool Dark Place To Die (1985)

Theatre Of Ice – A Cool Dark Place To Die (1985)

We played this on a night shift last year, after reading online about how its one of the evilist things ever recorded, or some such overblown statement. A Cool Dark Place To Die is, frankly, comical in its concept and delivery. Coming across like a mix of shit dungeon synth and even shitter “death-rock” like Christian Death and the like, Theatre Of Ice ham it up in every way possible, and then obscure everything with a really bad recording. Its an age old trick from black metal’s book; it doesn’t work for most of those bands, and it certainly doesn’t work here. There is some merit in the genuinely bizarre approach this project has, and I respect anybody who decides to put something together like this. However, the finished product is awful.

w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま – O’Discordia (2021)

w i n t e r q u i l t 愛が止ま – O’Discordia (2021)

I was recommended this by @cassette_goblin and I can’t for the life of me put my finger on what the actual fuck is going on here. Is it black metal? Is it jazz? Shit, RYM has it listed as vaporwave, which is in an interesting intepretation. Honestly, do I like this?… Not really, no. But fuck if I’ve ever heard anything like this in my entire life, and for that, Winterquilt has my undying attention and respect. If you’re one of those people that is always looking for stuff that pushes the envelope, you need to get in on this.

Sunn O))) – Black One (2005)

Sunn O))) – Black One (2005)

Eternity! (It’s certainly taken me an eternity to review this album). Black One was the first Sunn record I ever bought. When I was 16 or 17 years old, I didn’t immediately ‘get’ this. I wanted big fat drones in my face, blowing me out of my chair. What I got were intense atmospheric compositions that went over my head initially. I think it took seeing Sunn live with Attila on vocals to truly understand, in pure unsettling volume and force, what was going on. Black One is, personally, best listened to on a set of overhead cans, where you can truly envelope yourself in the aural darkness which transpires forth. Its a lengthy trip, and one filled with horror. The two gargantuan closing tracks absolutely finish you off too, but in a good way! Haha!

Black Midi – Cavalcade (2021)

Black Midi – Cavalcade (2021)

Is it really time for another Black Midi album? Fuck, I’m old. The years, they fly! Anyways, the band have come a long way in a short space of time, shedding the rawness of Schlagenheim for a more refined, almost jazz approach to songwriting. Parallels to Disco Volante era Bungle are perhaps too easy to make, and also do this album somewhat of a disservice. Whilst it is no doubt complimentary to be compared to such an iconic record, it also no doubt helps pigeonhole the sound on display here. The long and short of it, is that you’ll just have to listen to this to get your head around it. Its quite a journey. Also, isn’t Cavalcade such a lovely word? I had it in the site’s title/description for about 5 years, until it was changed recently for LIW’s 10 year anniversary.

Robbie & Mona – EW (2021)

Robbie & Mona – EW (2021)

I found out about this Bristolian duo through the Instagram account @scvmrat. Turns out she had posed for this record cover and its voyeur / BDSM kinda vibe gave me industrial or power electronics vibes. I was even more curious when I found out the band played “dream pop”, and so added EW to my listen list. Dream pop is a pretty good way to describe this. The term generally makes me think of stuff like The Chromatics. But if The Chromatics are a pleasant dream, then Robbie & Mona’s debut record isn’t quite a nightmare, but one of those dreams that takes you on an inexplicable journey, one that twists and turns at every given moment. Good shit! A shame I missed the cassette drop, but that art would look pretty damn good on a 12″ sleeve anyways…

The Mars Volta – Amputechture (2006)

The Mars Volta – Amputechture (2006)

Fantastic record! What a shot in the arm (no pun intended regarding current worldwide climate) for my interest in The Mars Volta and their later work. It is easy to write this off as disappearing up its own arse, but this is spaced out, gloriously complex, Latin-influenced and drenched in saxophone and weird jazz movements. Add all of this to the band’s already interesting songwriting and you have an intense melting pot of gorgeous tracks. Everything sounds fantastic here.

The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 6 (2019)

The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 6 (2019)

And so ends the journey into the world of dementia, as led by The Caretaker. Part 6 is utter chaos and confusion (for the most part, at least), a fitting end to this harrowing project. How accurate is this? Who knows, especially for a story told entirely through the medium of sound. Either way, one must heavily commend The Caretaker on his monumental effort, and of course, for the light and focus that he has put towards dementia. This has been a fantastic journey and one that I’ve been glad to go on. Thank you so much, Mr. Caretaker.

Swans – Swans (1982)

Swans – Swans (1982)

Swans’ self-titled EP is a far cry from the punishing experimentation that the band would originally become renown for. Gira and his ever-revolving musician friends are no strangers to growth and change, but Swans’ self-titled is probably the only one time where they truly belonged to a scene or movement and didn’t stand out on their own. Loosely associated with many of the tropes of the no wave scene, Swans is an awkward record taking the lurching bass-driven beats and rhythms of the post-punk world and chopping it awkwardly with swathes of no wave weirdness. Top all that off of course with some of Michael’s vocal performances and some interesting saxophone additions and you have the first four Swans songs. But hey, I’m not complaining, its great (and not a million miles away from what Michael did with Circus Mort before starting Swans) and its a piece of history now too. Long live Swans!

Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu (2011)

Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu (2011)

Small town girlllllll! Haha! Now, I’m no stranger to weird and wonderful music, and of course one of the sad caveats that come with such worlds: music that is up its own arse, or collaborations that are just doomed to fail but float along on the artistic merit of those involved. I’m not want to shit on these worlds, but what Metallica and Lou Reed attempt to do with this “bold” and “challenging” record just takes a great big loose stool shower over pretty much all of that. I didn’t want to join the swathes of internet critics who simply proclaim that this sounds like a crazy old man rambling over some tired Metallica B-sides, but unfortunately, despite every bone in my body trying to ascertain any real meaning or feeling, I simply cannot and do not “get” this album. Therefore, I must also conclude that yes, Lulu is the sound of a crazy old man rambling over a series of bland Metallica B-Sides. Its like a bunch of metal dads jamming out after one bifter too many. All jokes aside, I appreciate what both parties tried to do here, but it just fucking sucks ass, so so badly.

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (1973)

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (1973)

Tubular Bells is a fucking mad one, if you stop and think about. Like, I don’t know why the first part of this very uplifting and experimental journey was used in the unsettling as fuck movie The Exorcist (I’m sure Oldfield’s record label wasn’t complaining, sales wise!), but there we go. The “famous five minutes” aside, Tubular Bells is a mammoth release, where variations on a theme are looped over and over as Mike experiments with different textures and instruments. It’s kind of like Swans but if all its members converged into sentience as a music teacher in 1970. There’s a bit where each instrument is announced before it comes into play, and I can’t tell if its brilliant or fucking corny as fuck. Either way, its genius.

Repulsion (1965)

Repulsion (1965)

Roman Polanski’s Repulsion has been on the to-do list for a very long time, even more so since I saw Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour. I’m not sure that I like Repulsion as much as Belle but she’s perfect for this role, regardless. Deneuve has a still, fragile beauty which betrays no flicker of the chaos unravelling in her character’s mind. Which is, of course, perfect for such an artsy black and white psychological thriller as this. A lot of the physical FX in the movie also reminded me of Eraserhead quite a lot. I wonder if Lynch took some inspiration from this.

Secret Chiefs 3 – First Grand Constitution And Bylaws (1996)

Secret Chiefs 3 – First Grand Constitution And Bylaws (1996)

I’ve probably opened a whole bunch of posts with this line now, but nowhere else is it more applicable than here: Secret Chiefs 3 are a trip! 1st Grand Constitution is a trip! With a line up featuring (of course) Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance, Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn and Bungle drummer Danny Heifetz, this Secret Chiefs record is the spirit animal of Bungle’s Disco Volante. Genres? What in the absolute fuck is a genre? Messy stuff, but absolute genius nonetheless.

Sunn O))) – 3: Flight Of The Behemoth (2002)

Sunn O))) – 3: Flight Of The Behemoth (2002)

Some lovely head-buzzing drones from the earlier portion of the Sunn O))) discography. “Mocking Solemnity” and “Death Becomes You” are excellent offerings, as is the uhhh, interesting take on Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, which is of course, completely and utterly unrecognisable. The biggest drawback with this album is the middle two collab tracks. I love Sunn O))), and I love Merzbow, but fuck if these works are not irritating as fuck. The second part, namely “O)))Bow 2” is probably a little more tolerable, but in general, these two tracks are a massive detraction from the excellence of the album.

Muslimgauze- Mullah Said (1998)

Muslimgauze- Mullah Said (1998)

Mullah Said is my first taste of the prolific and highly revered sound art of Muslimgauze. I find something about this deeply unsettling; dark, meandering soundscapes are the order of the day, steeped and drenched and plunged over and over into dense Eastern weavery and instrumentation. I shall be returning to this project, that is for sure.

Chrome Hoof – Beyond Zade (2006)

Chrome Hoof – Beyond Zade (2006)

Chrome Hoof have been on the to-do list for longer than I would ever care to admit. How blown away was I when I finally checked them out? Well, read on! LOL. Beyond Zade is one of those awkward releases that kinda sits somewhere between an EP and an album, but either way, that doesn’t really matter, what matters is the musical content, of which I can safely report is absolutely bonkers in all of the best possible ways. Coming on like a mix of Swans, early Goat and Frank Zappa, this gorgeous flow of experimental and challenging music was an absolute pleasure to imbibe from beginning to end. I will absolutely be searching for more from this excellent group.

Thought Gang – Thought Gang (2018)

Thought Gang – Thought Gang (2018)

The Thought Gang moniker has cropped up here or there on Twin Peaks soundtrack records (and the show itself, lets not forget). From the bizarre, softly spoken offerings on the FWWM OST, to the frenetic jazz given to The Return, it was awesome to finally listen to an album’s worth of material from this Lynch / Badalamenti collaberation project. As perhaps predicted, this is a mixed bag of tunes, more of a collection than a solid album, what with some of these tracks nearing 30 years old now. My favourite piece has to be the epic and seemingly endless “Frank 2000” (part of which was looped for the Twin Peaks S3 Blu Ray menu), with its e t h e r e a l w h o o s i n g in spades and spades, something which Lynch appreciators such as myself have heavily come to fall in love with. Perhaps predictably, a strange one.

Einstürzende Neubauten – 1/2 Mensch (1985)

Einstürzende Neubauten – 1/2 Mensch (1985)

Possibly a hallmark of the industrial genre? Do I even need to prefix that sentence with “possibly”? I read online that someone called this a “random tapestry of sound”. That particular review wasn’t a good one, but the phrase stuck with me. At first, 1/2 Mensch can no doubt seem random, but what this is is a carefully constructed monolith of industrial noise, encompassing all the atonal and rhythmic duality that comes with such a thing. Is it random sheets of percussive noise? Check. Is it danceable? Yes, I suppose it is.

The Residents – Not Available (1978)

The Residents – Not Available (1978)

What in the nine hells? I suppose I had to start somewhere with The Residents and this was a place as good as any to randomly jump in. I can’t quite put my finger on what is going on here. I feel either I’m missing the greater picture or that Not Available needs a few listens to truly unfurl itself. Its unsettling, a little weird, and a little catchy too. I look forward to hearing more.

Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo (2020)

Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo (2020)

I understand that one should expect the unexpected when it comes to Mr. Bungle, and I understand that this is a revisit to a pre-self titled world, but I did not expect this to be as metal as it is. Sure, the inclusion of Scott Ian on guitar and Dai Lombardo on drums probably goes a long way in facilitating this feel, but there is not a single saxophone, trumpet, jazzy interlude or glockenspiel to be heard. Does the super compressed world of modern metal work well for Mr. Bungle? Thankfully, on some monitors, Wrath Of The Easter Bunny breathes organically, despite the uniformed distorted crunch of the guitars. The tunes are massively entertaining, featuring a combination of songs from the original demo and a bunch of tracks that were written at the time but never used. It comes in last place as far as Mr. Bungle records go, but if you love Mike Patton’s batshit vocals you cannot go wrong with this new star studded incarnation of the Bungle.

Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018)

Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018)

I slept on this when it first came out in 2018. Like, totally under the radar she went. Sometimes I have this habit of zoning out for months, even years, at a time when it comes to music scenes, and then I find myself playing catchup. Thankfully, this fourth Deafheaven record was worth chasing after. The band push their shoegazy, black metal influenced noise further into more abstract and interesting directions. Can this even be considered black metal anymore? Who cares. It is brilliant.

< READY > The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 5 (2018)

The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 5 (2018)

Welcome to hell. Another series of 4 20-minute-plus slabs of terrifying ambient noise from The Caretaker marks the next step into the hell of dementia. Stage 5 is easily the most aggressive, opening with what is more or less harsh noise; the musical memories from earlier stages are now mangled into nightmarish visions that bear zero resemblance to their original form, instead present themselves as a collage of frightening… shit. It’s just noise, and its horrible. At over 80 minutes, Stage 5 is a challenge to sit down with headphones on and listen to all the way through, but it is worth it, if only to fully understand and appreciate the project that The Caretaker has set out on. I await, perhaps nervously, to get stuck into Stage 6.

Mushroomhead – Remix 2000 (2002)

Mushroomhead – Remix 2000 (2002)

I never realised how truly rare Remix 2000 was until recently. Fuck knows where my copy is, probably buried under some junk in the attic. Anyway, Remix 2000 builds on the original Remix CD that came out in 1997, and features – how did you guess? – remixes of Mushroomhead tracks from the first two records. There’s probably nothing of value here if you’re not a huge Mushroomhead fan, but its worth noting that the remix of the already disturbing “Mommy” turns the track into an unrecognisable and incredibly spooky dark house movement. The isolated keyboard lines to “The Wrist” are added to and expanded into a full piece on the excellent “Hand Of Solo” mix, and the closing track “Bwomp (Nord Mix)” is to me, the definitive version of “Bwomp”, with completely re-recorded vocals from J Mann and screeching, piercing synthesiser stabs which give the whole lurching epic a startling sense of urgency. No Waylon. No lazy-ass redneck metal. Straight up remixed avant-garde shit of old.

< READY > The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 4 (2018)

The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 4 (2018)

The fact that three of the four tracks on Stage 4 of this excellent examination of aural dementia are called “Post Awareness Confusions” should tell you a lot about where this project is going. I mean, I suppose we all know where this is going, its just we don’t know how its going to be interpreted into sound. This is one of the main things which has made this entire journey so exciting yet equally terrifying for me. Stage 4 is where Everywhere At The End Of Time gets very fucking real. Gone are the 3, 4, 5 minute songs, here instead we have 4 20-minute-plus slabs of meandering noise. The big band samples are still there, memories still from all the way back in Stage 1, only mangled, drawn out, and lost in some sort of ethereal fog, only to come plunging out again, if only momentarily. Scary shit.

Bogus Blimp – Chords.Wires (2000)

Bogus Blimp – Chords.Wires (2000)

Its not often I get to say this with much conviction, but this album is a bloody weird one. Bogus Blimp are strrraaange as fuck, with Cords.Wires taking you on a meandering trip through all sorts of vibes and audio collages. Its not all vignette-style aural wandering however, there does appear to be a smattering of fully-formed, more traditionally structured songs thrown in too, but for the most part, this is a bizarre journey. I have no idea how I ended up with this album on my to-do list, but what an enjoyable listen.

The Locust ‎– Plague Soundscapes (2003)

The Locust ‎– Plague Soundscapes (2003)

When I was a teenager this record used to make want to go out and punch cars. Nowadays, I just like to sit and bask in the sheer audacity of the audio mindfuckery on offer. Like, this * shouldn’t * work, but it is just perfect. The way the synths and guitars just feed off each other in some bonkers loop, before you even get to the drumming and the hydra-headed vocal attack. If you like challenging music, this is an absolute must. Insanely underrated.

Gorguts – Obscura (1998)

Gorguts – Obscura (1998)

From the opening chords I am always hooked into the perfectly orchestrated chaos of Gorguts’ world. Obscura is at first impossibly dense to comprehend,  but once you have aligned yourself to the distilled insanity that is on display here, then truly there is nothing like it. Perplexing technical death metal for the thinking gentleman or woman.

Swans – Omniscience (1992)

Swans – Omniscience (1992)

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t initially underwhelmed by Swans’ 90s output, especially coming in as a fan of the sonic destruction that was Filth, Cop, Greed etc. – Omniscience however, the live album I believe for the Love Of Life album, showcases those rigid and dark folk songs in the stretched out sprawling live incarnations one would expect from Swans. Even the morose electronic-laden and acoustic guitar driven rock melodies that the band were peddling through this time are turned into gigantic epics. The songs feel more organic, vital and alive, and I often say that Omniscience is one of the most overlooked releases in Swans’ back catalogue, if only for giving us this completely different angle on some of the 90s stuff. It doesn’t help that this is hideously out of print, but it can be easily found online if you are curious.

Mike Patton – Adult Themes For Voice (1996)

Mike Patton – Adult Themes For Voice (1996)

Oh shit fam, Mike Patton, that guy from Faith No More? Yeah, he’s done a suuuuuper weird record on the side! It sounds nothing like FNM LOL he’s bonkers! Adult Themes For Voice was recorded on tour by Patton in a series of hotels rooms or whatever, and is a record built entirely out of vocal samples. Yeah, it sounds like complete shit at first but yknow, maybe I’m growing my Covid19 hipster lockdown beard too much but fuck can you always count on this guy to push the boundaries of what is considered music – or even noise. Like, let’s just stop, take a deep breath, and focus entirely on what is going on here. What the fuck IS going on here? You’re guess is as good as mine, but I appreciate the effort involved.

< READY > The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 3 (2017)

The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 3 (2017)

Another year (or thereabouts), another stage in Caretaker’s magnum opus. Stage 3 is where the changes are not so subtle. At this point I’ve kinda figured that the old, jaunty 30s-style tunes from parts one and two are supposed to be memories, and as we descent through each stage, the memories become more and more fractured and broken. Stage 2 introduced minute differences; small fractures and unsettling off-colour compositional changes. Stage 3 is a bit more direct. Sometimes it feels like the record has slipped, but in such a way that the fabric of reality has slipped away with it. Now and then, tracks will just end with no reason or warning, like the series finale of The Sopranos (spoiler alert), leaving you wondering what you were doing that got you into this dead end; confused, alone, and in silence. Scary shit.

Midsommar (2019)

Midsommar (2019)

What in the sweet holy fuck did I just watch? I’m not a film writer so my language and terminology is not developed enough to really do this film justice, but Midsommar was a twisted, genuinely disturbing journey into the world of off-grid cults. I’m not entirely sure of every message that the creators were trying to convey, but its very interesting watching how things transpire, if not a little (a lot lol) terrifying doing so. Just be prepared for things to get very trippy and extremely violent. Florence Pugh is on fire in this.

Bill Laswell – Axiom Ambient: Lost In Translation (1994)

Bill Laswell – Axiom Ambient: Lost In Translation (1994)

This is probably the busiest and most involved ambient record that I’ve ever heard! Haha! I suppose its due to the sheer number of ambient producers who create a stunning custom patch and then just put a book on the lower end of the keyboard for 55 minutes and call the resulting dirge a new record. I’m being obtuse of course, but hopefully you get what I mean. Laswell has pulled together a small world here from his collaborators, some of which are named, others which I’m sure are confined to the obscurity of their source recordings. These are not just ambient sheets of sounds. These are microcosms of life and activity; sweeping movements of atmosphere conjured from world music and that hypnotic mood you get from trance music, but just before the beat kicks in. It’s a long one, but its well worth the journey.

Current 93 – Dogs Blood Rising (1984)

Current 93 – Dogs Blood Rising (1984)

Dogs Blood Rising was my first experience with the work of Current 93. The record threw me at first, as there are no songs per se, just large, meandering passages of sound collages. “Falling Back In Fields Of Rape” heavily scratched my de ja vu (turns out the Death In June song with the similar title / lyrical layout to this is a “cover” of this ginormous undertaking of a track). All in all, Dogs Blood Rising is disturbing, unsettling and weird. It comes across more like an art project than it does like music or even noise. I like what I hear though, and I will be exploring the project more in the future.

The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 2 (2017)

The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 2 (2017)

I feel like I’ve been here before, and I suppose that’s exactly the point. Stage 2 of the gargantuan Everywhere At The End Of Time series on dementia sees mostly a rehashing of the themes and tunes of Stage 1. But, if you’re listening carefully, now and then Stage 2’s compositions will throw you out of the loop. Every now and then, through the record crackle and swinging 30s numbers, The Caretaker works in a compositional anomaly; little blips that you wouldn’t necessarily notice if not listening actively. And that, I suppose, is how it really begins.

Årabrot – The Gospel (2016)

Årabrot – The Gospel (2016)

Årabrot play an interesting blend of rock and metal; from the noisy to the soothing, the chaotic to the serene. Their history is long and intriguing, but I start here today with The Gospel, which comes on a bit like Great Annihilator-era Swans through a twisted, modernised and European lens. That trite description of course does them no justice, but I thoroughly enjoyed the record and look forward to listening to more.

Tom Waits – The Black Rider (1993)

Tom Waits – The Black Rider (1993)

There are many elements to Tom Waits’ records that are odd or abstract, but The Black Rider seems to take this formula one step further. As far as aural textures go, tonally it is not a million miles away from Real Gone. The difference in this particular little pudding is the songwriting; the tracks are almost vignettes, little insights into bizarre microcosms that are weaved for our aural enjoyment.

The Caretaker- Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 1 (2016)

The Caretaker- Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 1 (2016)

The whole concept of Caretaker’s Everywhere At The End Of Time series was something I found incredibly interesting. The six parts of this series are supposed to document the mind’s decline into the unknowing hell and fear of being consumed by dementia. Stage 1 here, gets things off to an eery but jaunty start; swinging tunes that I’m led to believe are original compositions of The Caretaker himself, but easily sound pre-WW2. Things loop around a bit, but the overall theme is that of a long-reaching nostalgia. I’m beyond excited, and a little terrified, of where this series goes from here.

Mushroomhead – XX (2001)

Mushroomhead – XX (2001)

XX was the record that began my love affair with the bizarre world of Mushroomhead. It may be a re-issue of older material, which is presented here in various forms of remixed, remastered and completely re-recorded states, but to most if not all Mushroomhead fans outside of the USA, this was the first encounter. My favourite band was Slipknot, so when I was 12 years old, surely you can understand why I gravitated towards bands such as Mushroomhead, Mudvayne and Motograter (the curse of the Ms!). What I was not prepared for though was the unique and bizarre density to Mushroomhead’s music. The lead single, “Solitaire / Unraveling” wasn’t “heavy” in the way that I was used to. Sure, it’s a chugging monstrosity, but the tracks are lead by haunting keys and synths, and a dual vocalist attack. Its easy to write Mushroomhead off as a nu-metal version of Faith No More, especially considering they formed in 1993 and had perfected their keyboard-manic tracks on their self-titled from 1995. But, tracks such as “Bwomp”, “Never Let It Go”, “The Wrist”, “The New Cult King” and “Born Of Desire” really highlight the talent involved and the sheer songwriting chops of the earlier lineups. This is why I get so angry and neckbeardy about later Mushroomhead – this melting pot of a band, with all these weird vibes and ideas, still somehow had this mainstream sensibility and accessibility to it. I thank them eternally for showing me different textures and moods (and for embedding a love of Twin Peaks in me subconsciously with all those samples). So when they would go on to record some of the most flaccid and uninspiring albums I have ever heard, it really felt to me like wasted potential. On a positive note, this record defined the early 2000s for me and probably in a large part defines my music tastes and a lot of the more experimental directions I would later take when exploring, and for that I will always be thankful.

God – Possession (1992)

God – Possession (1992)

God is a fucking mad trip, mate. Kevin Martin (The Bug), JK Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu) team up with a whole host of other musicians (I’m sorry for not listing them all!) to create an absolute mindfuck of a record. Possession was my first brush with God (what a sentence), after meaning to check them out for donkey’s years. On first impressions it comes across like a blend of earlier, dubbed-out industrial Scorn records and something altogether more John Zorn (don’t you dare say “well isn’t that just Painkiller??”) There is a lot to unpack here, and to be honest I’m not sure what I make of it all; it’s not bad at all, I’m just confused. Possession is the ultimate melting pot of bizarre 90s music, and despite being rather chaotic is actually a pretty chilled and relaxing listening experience. 

Swans – Deliquescence (2017)

Swans – Deliquescence (2017)

I caught Swans on their final tour and was very disappointed to find that they had run out of copies of this hand made gem before the date I attended. Since then, I have been slowly but surely telling myself “one day, one day” but lets be honest, I’m never going to pay Discogs collectors prices to silly pricks who are just tryna scalp me. So, I’m afraid, I have gone against Gira’ wishes and have found a YouTube rip of this, which in all fairness, sounds absolutely fucking gorgeous. Deliquescence rivals The Glowing Man. Real talk. It’s worth checking out this 2hr 35min album (yes!) for the 45min long opener “The Knot”, which is basically an album in its own right – words cannot adequately describe the journey that the track takes you on. The other exclusive tracks for this release pale a bit in comparison, “Deliquescing” is actually stunning in its own way, but I’m unsure if this just becomes part of one of the “Clouds…” tracks on the main record (I’ll have to check). “The Man Who Refused To be Unhappy” is a more restrained romp. Closing the deal is the whole “Bring The Sun” into “Glowing Man” 36min epic which closes the record of the same name (“Finally, Peace” aside), but this time you’ve got Paul Wallfisch on the organ, giving it an even more epic feel. Its a shame they never recorded a studio album with Wallfisch during this time.

Tzusing – 東方不敗 (2017)

Tzusing – 東方不敗 (2017)

My first taste of Tzusing began with 東方不敗 (Invincible East in English). At first I wasn’t sure if this was for me, but a few tracks in, and the true unique style of production has completely unwoven around me. Yes, it’s techno – dark, heavy techno – with eastern influences and sounds, but don’t write this off like some cheap psytrance bullshit. The tracks here are meticulously designed, and are a refreshing ride. 

Scorn – Evanescence (1994)

Scorn – Evanescence (1994)

Evanescence is probably the most popular and well received of the early Scorn records. It featured James Plotkin on guitar duties, and was to be the last album to feature Nicholas Bullen on bass and vocals. From the opener you’ll notice a few things are different here. Hip hop or drum n bass style beats are now starting to trickle into the band’s full lengths, but be fooled not; Evanescence is still a dark, moody, haunt of a record. “Days Passed” is as poppy as Scorn would ever get. The tempo is surprisingly quick for a record wallowing in dub, and “Automata” is probably one of my favourite songs of all time. That beat is so fucking sick. “Dreamspace” is a definitive Scorn track, and closers “The End” and “Slumber” are mesmerising, dark and dense. I feel like I’m repeating myself, so I’d just say listen to it, instead of reading me ramble! 

Scorn – Colossus (1993)

Scorn – Colossus (1993)

Colossus is a trip. In only a year since their debut, this record showcases the sheer progression that Scorn was making as a project. It would perhaps be lazy of me to say that Colossus continues in the vien of the moody, dubby second half of Vae Solis, but truly it is something much more sparse, harrowing and desperate. The songs are length trips, spaced-out and drums are drenched often in reverb. The feel is dense and paranoid, even though the songs are rather minimal. What is worth noting however is where the future releases would go further into beatwork from drum n bass or even hip hop styles, Colossus stays in rather rigid terrority in regards to its framework, despite the sprawling and experimental nature of the songs in general. There are also a smattering of crushing noisy ambient passages here, that are like Harris’ other project Lull, but on a bad acid trip. I’ve often over-looked Colossus in the Scorn catalog, but I’m glad I took the time to come back to it and give it a going through once more.

Dead Raven Choir – Wine, Women and Wolves (2003)

Dead Raven Choir – Wine, Women and Wolves (2003)

Beautiful, glorious, dreadfully obtuse acoustic guitar strummery, wallowing in the depths of the avant-garde and the straight-up pretentious. But hey, its okay, because you surely must know that going in to this record or you wouldn’t be here in the first place. This record offers 13 rituals of dark, atmospheric musings using the acoustic guitar partly as a conjurer of atmosphere, and secondly as a weapon. For fans of the strange and the occult, I cannot recommend this enough.

Mayhem – A Grand Declaration Of War (2018)

Mayhem – A Grand Declaration Of War (2018)

Well, I absolutely snoozed on this, that much I can tell you. Imagine my shock then, when chucking this on and thinking “oh, cracking, a remaster should even out the rougher, more heavily compressed edges of A Grand Declaration…” – the difference here is staggering. It sounds as if the record has been completely re-recorded. I half expected Attila to crop up and do some throat-singing. The immediate notice is the absence of the overblown drum triggers. The sound is warmer and more organic and natural, and I suppose you could also say this – to lesser degrees – about the vocals and guitars too. Maniac’s insane ramblings are much less dense and aren’t dripping with reverb or effects. Perhaps the most welcomed change of all is that Necrobutcher’s bass is now audible, and drenched in a lovely fuzz. Dare I actually say it, but A Grand Declaration actually sounds like a proper black metal record here. The trouble is, is that it is kind of crap. Its absolutely lifeless. It has that warm, treble heavy, treated and loud production that almost every metal record has these days, and whilst I absolutely agree that the sound on the original release of this album was polarizing, this remaster has completely and utterly missed the point of the original record. Gone are the cold, barren, punishing industrial-tinged mechanical hellscapes that puzzled us so. The electronic passages are almost completely removed, which is just poppycock. Poppycock I say! A Grand Declaration Of War might have been weird, obtuse, or even, truly, up its own arse, but I think it was light years ahead of its time and its probably my favourite Mayhem record. As interesting as it is for the first couple of tracks, this complete overhaul and reworking to fit the band’s current sound and aesthetic was absolutely unnecessary.

Sutcliffe Jügend – Blue Rabbit (2012)

Sutcliffe Jügend – Blue Rabbit (2012)

Sometimes power electronics can be a little try hard,  especially when try to capture the impact of the older days.  Blue Rabbit however is genuinely terrifying; a brooding, disturbing entry from a great of the genre. All of the narratives are pretty macabre, but the title track itself is particularly harrowing. Musically, it is a little bit dialed back compared to some of their peers, instead of blasting your face with noise, the band let the creepy atmospheres unfold. Front and centre is the terrifying narratives. Definitely not for those of a weak disposition! 

Tool – Lateralus (2003)

Tool – Lateralus (2003)

In my younger days I always had a large respect for what Tool was doing, but in the constant lust for what was fast more brutal, or even more offensive, albums like Lateralus fell to the wayside for me. Thankfully, now in my wizened old age I can return to such records and see the beauty in them. Lateralus is like watching the mechanism of a very expensive Swiss watch in slow motion; all the layers come together beautifully, and the intricacy forms something greater than the sum of its parts. A simpler whole, if you’d allow me to say so.

Lingua Ignota – Caligula (2019)

Lingua Ignota – Caligula (2019)

There’s a lot of buzz and hype around this woman right now, so I was afraid of being disappointed. I can happily (is that the right word?) confirm however, that this is a dark and disturbing listen. I’m getting heavy Gnaw Their Tongues vibes off this, but the blend of dark atmospheric noise and classical music, along with multilayered vocals, it’s pretty unique. My one complaint is that the album is top heavy, and trails off towards the end. Hype train or no, this is a solid and raw entry into a genre that lurks mostly in the shadows, and I can only hope that the level of exposure this artist is getting for her intense performances (she was in Kerrang! magazine for fuck sake) brings a lot of new fans to the noise and power electronics underworlds. TLDR: imagine Jarboe and Pharmakon having a fight in a mine shaft.

Sunn O))) – Pyroclasts (2019)

Sunn O))) – Pyroclasts (2019)

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that Pyroclasts blew my mind. It’s the group’s second record in a fairly short period of time, so I wasn’t expecting the world when going in to this, but Pyroclasts showcases enormous slabs of drone rituals, each one as massive and totem-like as the last. The tones are stunning; avalanches of folding sounds and gargantuan waves of distortion.

Painkiller – Guts Of A Virgin (1991)

Painkiller – Guts Of A Virgin (1991)

Painkiller is not a million miles away from the early Naked City stuff, if not a little more streamlined – if that is even the right word! Guts Of A Virgin, as you may be able to guess by the title, is a much more brutal affair. The controversy surrounding the album’s censorship aside, this is a disturbing and batshit insane mishmash where the lines between jazz and grindcore are completely blurred.

Björk – Vespertine (2001)

Björk – Vespertine (2001)

Vespertine is another classic in the original run of stunning Björk albums, and a welcome return to form after the miss that was Selmasongs (unsure if that counts as canon, being a soundtrack album). Vespertine is looser, much more abstract and flowing than Homogenic that came before it, and I suppose you could say that initially it suffers, lacking direction, however this formula turns out to really work well for Björk, and many of the records that followed would employ this method of songwriting. Vespertine is considered a must by many Björk fans, but I’m not super hot on it myself. Its great, but its not incredible. What a terrible thing! 

Merzbow / Genesis P-Orridge – A Perfect Pain (1999)

Merzbow / Genesis P-Orridge – A Perfect Pain (1999)

Considering the weight that both of these names bring in the noise, industrial and power electronics world, this collaboration record is unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag. The noise is brooding and atmospheric, with the odd ear piercing flourish. Genesis’ “vocals” however, massively take me out of the whole thing. I get it, it’s noise. It’s not uncommon to have vocals distorted. But when the pace is so slow and deliberate, as with most of the tracks here, and the tracks are spoken word passages rather than conventional lyrics, you’d expect to be able to hear at least half of what is going on. It reminds me of listening to longwave radio: kinda cool, but also kinda fucking pointless.

Swans – Greed (1986)

Swans – Greed (1986)

It’s hollow, menacing, ethereal and brutal. Yes, of course, it’s early Swans. I often hear of Jarboe’s presence in Swans described as a “thawing” of their sound. Sometimes that doesn’t really sit right with me, considering how punishing the records continued to be up until, and maybe even including, Children Of God. Jarboe’s presence perhaps, is a “thawing” of the jagged edges which were present on Filth or Cop; the band are simply choosing a different way in which to express their tortured core, and that is wholly evident on the masterful slab of misery that is Greed. 

Moondog – Moondog (1969)

Moondog – Moondog (1969)

The cool class of rhythm, blues and I suppose Latin American style percussion meets the pomp and bombast of more traditional classical movements. Moondog has always been an interesting project by a very interesting man, and this self titled offering is a testament to that fact. Highly enjoyable.

Sunn O))) – The Grimmrobe Demos (2000)

Sunn O))) – The Grimmrobe Demos (2000)

There is something relaxing about the incredible weight of Sunn’s music. The Grimmrobe Demos is the band’s first release, where they brought their Earth worshipping drone to the masses.  There is even a track titled “Dylan Carlson”, which is loosely based on an early Earth recording. Recorded live, there’s not much in the way of the variation or experimentation which permeates the band’s later drones, this is pure, grimm as fukk drone music. <a href=”http://sunn.bandcamp.com/album/the-grimmrobe-demos”>The Grimmrobe Demos by SUNN O)))</a>

Om – God Is Good (2009)

Om – God Is Good (2009)

I don’t know if God is Good (maybe if God is truly yourself?) but Om’s magical, hypnotising music truly is… good? Fuck that, it is outstanding. For all the experimental or religious music out there, there really is nothing else like Om in this world, and God is Good is as good (lol) a place as any to start with their discography.

John Zorn – The Hermetic Organ Vol. 6 – For Edgar Allan Poe (2019)

John Zorn – The Hermetic Organ Vol. 6 – For Edgar Allan Poe (2019)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear John Zorn completely spazz out on a church organ? No, me neither, but now thanks to an ongoing series of recordings, we – the unsuspecting public – have been given the opportunity. The Hermetic Organ Vol. 6 – For Edgar Allan Poe (I don’t give a bloody fuck who it is for, mate!) is a little bit up its own arse, but sometimes the best things are. It is a little repetitive, considering the mind-altering dirges you could get from one of these instruments, but there’s another whole bunch of these where that dream may be more thoroughly realised. 

Swans – Leaving Meaning (2019)

Swans – Leaving Meaning (2019)

How can Swans follow up on “the trilogy”? The increasingly transcendent musical journeys that the full band put out before folding in 2017 are on that pedestal for me, up on high with the musical greats of all time. It is perhaps a bit easy then, to be underwhelmed with Leaving Meaning on first impressions. The lush, dense soundscape formula is very similar, although the tracks here are much less demanding, sonically at least (is that a word?). The tracks are notably much shorter, although the album itself still clocks in around the 90 minute mark. There are some beautiful ideas here (“I have a beautiful idea!!!!” – Gira, sometime in 1987). The lyrics and vocals are much more back in the centre stage, which is a welcome return. In the Swans body of work, Leaving Meaning is still an incredibly solid effort, I just feel that I really have little to say in comparison to the mind-bending greats that came before it. I’ve listened to this countless times since it dropped, but maybe I just need more time to process it all.

Swans – The Glowing Man (2016)

Swans – The Glowing Man (2016)

I’m a glowing man I am! Rounding out the trilogy is one thing, but topping or even equaling To Be Kind and The Seer is no easy task. However, in retrospect it’s easy to see how the reformed Swans’ sound became less punishing and more ethereal as the trilogy unfolded. Glowing Man is, and I apologise for repeating words found elsewhere online, absolutely transcendent. I really can’t think of an easier way to describe this absolute mammoth of a record. Truly, there is nothing else like this on earth. A stunning, stunning record, and if Swans ended here, I’d have been contented.

John Zorn / Quatuor Molinari – Cat O’Nine Tails, The Dead Man, Memento Mori, Kol Nidre (2019)

John Zorn / Quatuor Molinari – Cat O’Nine Tails, The Dead Man, Memento Mori, Kol Nidre (2019)

Canada’s Quatuor Molinari perform some challenging John Zorn compositions, bringing the terrifying hand that penned such musical atrocities as Naked City’s Torture Garden into the classical world. The menacing soundscapes of freeform jazz translate incredibly well onto the stringed instruments, resulting in a performance that is at times mournful and restrained, and at others, purely fucking unholy in every sense of the word.

Mr. Bungle – Mr. Bungle (1991)

Mr. Bungle – Mr. Bungle (1991)

This record was my first foray into the crazy world of Mr. Bungle. While the true craziness and musical tomfoolery would mostly came later on, this self titled offering is a slightly disturbing trek through ska-meets-metal, with a cheeky undercurrent. I’d love to know what inspired the guys in Mr. Bungle to come together and make music like this. Truly, there is no band like Mr. Bungle, not even with other experimental / avant-garde jazzy types.