to eleven

Review: Kleefstra / Pruiksma / Kleefstra – Deislieper
January 9, 2012, 9:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Kleefstra / Pruiksma / Kleefstra: Deislieper album cover

By way of explanation, this project is a combination of experiential style guitar playing and spoken word in the Frisian language, which is a Germanic minority language spoken in the Netherlands and parts of Saxony. (I’m assuming this is West Frisian here.)

Review: Windhand – Windhand
January 2, 2012, 12:25 pm
Filed under: Metal, Review | Tags: , ,

Windhand album cover

Ah… this was out in September. I can’t really explain why I didn’t review it then. I apologize for that.

Ok, so fun fact about me: I hate trad doom. It’s not something I scream from the top of the mountains, mostly because I don’t want to razz the legions of trad doom fans out there, some of whom are pals. I think it’s because a lot of what I’ve heard, even some of the really admired stuff in the genre, skews more toward “doing my Ozzy impression” than “this is the stylistic basis of my approach to music.” It’s a focus on duplicating the sounds of a specific band at a specific moment in time, rather than the deeper level of the stuff that basically made doom, doom.

My point in even bringing all that up is that Windhand ain’t do any of that. They’re playing trad doom crafted in the tradition of their mightiest forebear(s), not auditioning for a Sabbath cover band. Yeah, the riffs are crushing and the vocals eerie, but this is managing to feel both fresh and familiar at the same time. This is one of those records that is so good it doesn’t need a masters thesis of a review. This slays.

Buy it from Forcefield Records. Do this now.

– Jayson

Review: Bleaklow – The Sunless Country
December 28, 2011, 9:42 am
Filed under: Post-rock, Review | Tags: , ,

Bleaklow The Sunless Country album cover

Oh man, here is some guilt. Got this two months ago. So apologies to Bleaklow. This is the catching up.

The Sunless Country, actually the title of a really good novel, falls into that vein of more rocking post-rock. This is that higher energy stuff, reminds me a lot of Pelican and Caspian a lot. As I listened to it, its one continuous track, although you can get it broken down into it’s shorter individual movements. It never meanders, but still you have to be the kinda person that enjoys sitting through a nearly 24 minute long track. I am, you may be better served with smaller doses.

Here is the basic deal with Bleaklow. To be honest, these guys aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they don’t have to. This is good stuff. They’re destroying it here. I am more lately in the mood for the higher energy post rock and this really hit the spot. A good band in this genre is like a pretty woman or an excellent meal, just the kind of thing I never tire of. I would buy this if it wasn’t given to me, and would certainly love to see them play should they ever find themselves touring the States.

Highly recommended for every post-rock fan out there.

Get it at their Bandcamp. 

– Jayson

Review: Aelter – Dusk Dawn & Follow You Beloved
December 27, 2011, 10:56 am
Filed under: Ambient, Review | Tags: , , , , ,

Aelter Dusk Dawn album cover

Aelter is a project from Wolvserpent guitarist Blake Green.

So after reading the promotional copy and listening to both of these albums, I am going to lead in by apologizing to Blake. I don’t read sinister out of these albums. That is just me, but I feel like I have to apologize anyway. Aelter doesn’t tread into territory that I want to stay away from. I will buy and use adjectives like “bleak” “dark” and “beautiful.” In terms of a space created by the sound, something about the way I’m wired makes me want to move into the sound, not away from it.

Dark I’ll buy though, completely. The layered, nuanced approach – quiet guitars, languid vocals (absent on the earlier Dusk Dawn) – give Aelter a processional, almost funereal feel. That and what I think Aelter is most evocative of is the winter light of your northern climes. When Bob Mould sang about seeing nothing but gray he nailed the description, but not the feeling. Aelter nails the feeling. Dead on. I guess that’s where the lack of perception of sinister comes from. The most on both Dusk Dawn & For You Beloved really seems post-discomfort and into a place where having accepted the bleak and the dark, you find yourself able to see the beauty in both. Make no mistake, this is beautiful music.

Available on Crucial Blast

– Jayson

Playing catch up and moving forward.
December 21, 2011, 11:21 am
Filed under: Interwebs | Tags: , , , ,

I hate when this happens. I hated it last year too. Ok, so now I am back in action but there is a backlog of stuff that is staring me in the face and demanding attention. I am tempted to do pellet reviews, but that is not fair to anyone who sent me their music in good faith that I’d take the time with it.

Here is a thing:

Heinali and Matt Finney covered a Loutallica song and basically completely redeemed the project. I kind have this pet hypothesis that some stuff only exists so it can be covered by someone else down the line. So yeah, Loutallica existed so these guys could come along and do this.

Also, there is such as a new Soul Khan video:

Some blog news:

We’re hoping to have Matt back writing with us sometime in Feb-March of 2012.

We’re also still looking for another contributor or contributors. We’re also going to totally destroy ourselves at some point too. At least that is what I think will probably happen. What the plan is, is to migrate from our current setup to a install. Price wise, it’ll work out better for us than paying WordPress for all the assorted bells & whistles. We’ll be able to go back to hosting audio and can make some much-needed tweaks to our theme. We may take a stab at making some money for ourselves off of the site here too, I figure we can do $4 a month easy. The move will probably screw some stuff up, but hopefully not too much or for too long. Target date for this is beginning in mid-Jan with hopefully a week or two at the most of  downtime. In the end though, we should be better than ever going into our 3rd year doing this.

– Jayson

Review: Red Orchid – Blood Vessels & Marshmallows
December 20, 2011, 10:27 am
Filed under: Review, Rock | Tags: , , , ,

Red Orchid - Blood Vessels & Marshmallows cover art

I miss the alternative rock. As a genre label there was a point in time where it was pretty valid and what I liked about it was that it communicated a broad and general sense of the prevailing trends in music rather than the hyperspecific genre descriptions that populate today’s musical discourse. The whole reason I bring this up is because Blood Vessels & Marshmallows makes me think of alternative rock in the best sense of the golden age thereof. Red Orchid is progressive rock though too. Progressive-alternative. And the strain of progressive that runs through it is a very true, classic style. Very King Crimson when it wants to be. All this leads up to one of the things I like most about Sanmeet Sidh’s take on the genres he’s fusing together in Red Orchid; the accessibility. Not that I mind, but a lot of the stuff I review personally is kind of “one step beyond” in terms of its experimental nature. Red Orchid is something I’d recommend to anyone, so I am. I’m recommending you check out this album, all of you.

Blood Vessels & Marshmallowsis available directly from the artist on CD with a 6 panel signed digipack accompanied with an immediate free download.

Also available as a download on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and Bandcamp. 

– Jayson


Top Best Albums of 2011

Out of the way. Quick & Dirty. Stuff I reviewed only. I think anyway. Order does not imply ranking. I didn’t want to re-review these here, if I had any additional thoughts, I’ve added them.

Full Lengths:

Batillus – Furnace

I spent the whole time from when the vocals where announced to when I got to listen to it worried that they’d screw it up. They didn’t. Not at all.

Matt Bauer – The Jessamine County Book of the Living

Emotionally devastating to listen to.

Letna – Adria

In this broad genre of ambient music, this was the brightest light in a year of fantastic stuff.

Wugazi – 13 Chambers

Mashups are art, 13 Chambers is proof.

We’ll Go Machete – Strong Drunk Hands

Noise rock is back, people.

naisian – Mammalian

Picking up where Isis left off.

Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage

Wolves’ Oceanic.

Harmondale – Spirit of 73

So one lady proves she understands country music with her first release better than any new artist I’ve heard this year.

SP-33 – Escape From Tha Carter

This is music from a real future that exists somewhere.

Mastodon – The Hunter

I was super hard on this, but honestly in the wake of a year of challenging releases, The Hunter is seriously my go to album to unwind with. Girlfriend/In the car metal for life!

Special Dispensation:

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Technically this came out in the USA, where I am in 2010, but we were actually contacted by the UK pr and reviewed the UK release of this album. I loved it, heartbreaking. I am cheating to put it in here, but I can do that.

Graf Orlock – Doombox

Yeah, the 10″ has new material, but it’s most about being a comp.


Soul Khan – Resolution

Soul Khan had an incredibly prolific year in 2011. Of all the stuff he did, Resolution is my favorite. Khan is now one of my top 5 living MCs, real talk. Also as a thing, this has Nine on it. Seriously any day I hear ‘Whutcha Want’ on the radio, I think it’ll be a good day.

Big’n – Spare the Horses

Noise rock is back. Seriously back.

Butterfly Trajectory – EP 2011

So looking forward to what this band does next.

Witch Mountain – South of Salem

I want to listen to this and make out with a girl that has slightly crooked teeth.

So anyway, musical year in review. I kinda came back to metal this year after near total burnout last. There was some good, enjoyable stuff out there and I was glad to listen to it. Noise rock coming back was the big thing. I don’t want to get into the ‘yeah, but has it musically progressed?’ argument. It’s being back is really enough for me. As you can see by the list, though, it didn’t quite dominate my listening. Nothing really did. I view that as a good thing. This is a pretty well rounded list of the kind of music I like to listen to and review. It was also really hard to pick the top out as it was a uniformly good year here. I don’t have any major disappointments either, because there was very little I had serious anticipation for. As I sit here writing this though, I am really at a loss to say anything other than 2011 musically was the year that was.

Review: Nekrasov – The Ever Present
November 30, 2011, 10:44 am
Filed under: Experimental, Review | Tags: , ,

I had a bad day once too.

On Crucial Blast. 

– Jayson

Review: Leonadro Rosado – Mute Words
November 29, 2011, 8:46 am
Filed under: Ambient, Review | Tags: , ,

Leondardo Rosado Mute Words

It’s a fair thing to say that a lot of music you could generally classify as some flavor of ambient is to some extent the audio projection of an inner landscape or landscapes created and/or inhabited by the artists making them. The best of this kind of music becomes an active partner with the listener in creating this imagined landscape. Mute Words is this kind of album. In a fair real sense, I feel like I’m journeying through Leonardo Rosado’s inner world, or at the very least the one he wants me to proceed through. This is a really well put together album, a realization that dawns on you as you find yourself picking out the melodies between the layer of drones. It’s that focus on soundcraft that really allows this to function so well. When it’s time for vocals, they’re superb, and while I tend to favor the vocal-less approach to this kind of music, I find no fault with them here at all. This album comes with a poetry book which explores the same themes as the music. I really like that kind of thing, the creation of an actual, physical artifact.

Available beginning December 2nd, limited to 50 copies. Get yours here.

– Jayson

Review: Black Face

So just in case you don’t know what the deal with this is: This is a 7″ with two songs Chuck Dukowski wrote in the day, meaning the Black Flag day and have sat around for 20 odd years. Eugene S. Robinson is singing. This at least seemed like kind of a big deal.

To start out with, I screwed up. I listened to “Monster” first because the sides aren’t labeled A & B, they’re Death & Monster. Pay your money, take your chances I guess. “I Want To Kill You” is the A side really. It sounds just like a Black Flag song, oddly enough. I know right? It’s just like… I don’t know why this didn’t make it onto an actual Flag Album. It’s like… maybe not quite the instant classic status of the stuff on the First Four Years comp, but it could pretty easily be one of the not quite as good songs on Damaged like Room 13 and Padded Cell.

“Monster” is actually roughly a ton better. It doesn’t sound anything like a Black Flag song. It’s got way more of a Stooges vibe. Where on the first song Robinson is pretty much going for the “shouting like I’m in Black Flag” on the second he’s more in Oxbow/Iggy Pop mode. I am not sure what this means about the state of who I have become as a person since such times as when I contemplated getting the Black Flag tattoo that everyone has, but yeah. Flag minus Flag sounds a ton better.

The only other thing that really stands out is how pretentious this whole deal is. Like this is kind of a cool little deal, a single that is guaranteed to sell with aging punks and weirdos. Done deal, I bought mine. It’s just stuff like the Death side, ooooooh the DEATH SIDE. That and the little thing on the back of the stickers:

Black Face: a selective collective take on music as riot and Dukoski-era Black Flag.

Seriously? You’re dudes recording some old tunes. I mean I am not going to be the guy that says music is not important, but at the same time what is this artist’s statement crap? What does music as riot even mean anyway? Neither the cops breaking up Flag shows in the day nor Eugene having his dick out at Oxbow shows really constitute a riot. It seems even more exceptionally pretentious in the year of the Arab Spring, the increasing brutality of the police reaction to the OWS protest and the actual serious for real rioting that burned whole chunks of London down. It’s just like… ‘music as riot’ says nothing greater to me than punk rock has a disproportionate sense of it’s own gravity & depth.

Still available on grey at the Hydrahead shop. 

– Jayson