Sunday, January 4, 2009
2008 Year End List: Drone/Ambient/Noise Pt.2
Pocahaunted "Chains" LP (Teenage Teardrops), "Mirror Mics" LP (Weird Forest), "Peyote Road" LP (Woodsist), and "Island Diamonds" LP and CD (Arbor/Not Not Fun)
Pocahaunted, the crush worthy female duo from LA, switched things up quite a bit this year. Though their release on Woodsist saw them traversing the same mantric and mournful drone of the past, the rest of the year's releases saw the ladies add a new drummer and some deep and dark dubby riddims. Island Diamonds, in particular, was the most successful in this new excursion. Featuring the same plodding guitar drones and those distinct wordless vocals, the added dub element expands their sound into an exciting new direction. Can't wait to hear what ghosts they stir up next.
"Ghetto Ballet" taken from Island Diamonds
Download Mirror Mics here. (via Soundweave)
Download Island Diamonds here. (via Soundweave)
Download Peyote Road here. (via Sunflower Chakra Milk)
Download Chains here. (via Sunflower Chakra Milk)
Burning Star Core "Challenger" LP (Hospital) and "Burning Star Core+Hototogisu" LP (Yik Yak)
Though not nearly as prolific as in past years, the quality in C. Spencer Yeh's long-running Burning Star Core project has made great leaps in the last few years. Most impressive this year was his full length on Hospital Productions, Challenger, which is a compositional work rather than the his usual improvised material. Field recordings, organ drone-outs, warbled keys, discordant and ringing guitars, oddball vocal cut-ups, and a mess of electronics weave in and about each other, usually resulting in a spine-tingling crescendo. Challenger stands out in an already impressive body of work.
Burning Star Core's collaboration with Hototogisu is another amazing achievement under the belt for Yeh. This time around he's joined by Trevor Tremaine on drums (Hair Police) and Robert Beatty on electronics (also of Hair Police), and, of course, the duo of Marcia Bassett (GHQ, Double Leopards) and Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Sunroof!). This is pretty much a continuation of the work achieved on last year's Operator Dead...Post Abandoned, and features, along with a flurry of harsh electronics and Yeh's violent electric violin, the amazing drumming of Trevor Tremaine. To me, Tremaine is the guiding force in the super group, and helps to forge a path through the mire of noise. Depsite it's harshness, this is actually a very, ummm, listenable album, at least as far as harsh noise goes.
"Mysteries of the Organ" taken from Challenger
Download Challenger here.
Treetops "Permission/When I Was Younger" LP (Arbor)
Treetops is the drone project of Mike Pollard, who also runs the continuously amazing Arbor label. He has had a flurry of releases this year (23!), many of them in ridiculously short runs that were usually on cassette, but his full length LP on his own label is the stand out release. Warbly spindles of synth and howling and distorted vocals whir against each other, creating a whole new buzzing vibration. Very reminiscent of the monolithic drones of Robedoor. Big things popping up next year for Pollard, including an LP release on Troubleman Unlimited and a split cassette with Dolphins on the Not Not Fun label. Catch him while you can.
Download Permission/When I Was Younger here. (via Redneck Fistula)
Eleh "Floating Frequencies/Intuitive Synthesis Vol. 3" LP (Important), "Eleh/Pauline Oliveros" split LP (Important), "Homage To The Squarewave" LP (Important), and "Eleh/Sun Circle" split LP (Important)
Eleh continues his deep drone exploration with Homage to the Square Wave, a split with drone guru Pauline Oliveros, the third release in his Floating Frequencies/Intuitive Synthesis series, and a split with Sun Circle. As far as I can tell, all of his releases have only been put out on vinyl and are meant to be played at high volumes, revealing details hidden deep within the drones. So far his albums have been pressed in editions of 500 and are usually gone within a week or two of release. Time to sign up for that Important newsletter, folks.
If you must listen to an mp3 sample off of Floating Frequencies Vol. 3 go here, though I would hold out for a vinyl copy if I were you. A cruddy mp3 will never do these works justice.
This Californian duo continued their domination in the dark drone category with several great LP releases on labels like Woodsist, Music Fellowship, and Olde English Spelling Bee. Style points go out to Altvinyl, who released an 8" lathe cut in their continuing series of this oddshaped format.
Download Endlessly Blazing here. (via Bolachas Gratis)
Download Shrine to the Possessor here. (via New Noise Net)
Download Shapeshifter Slave here. (via No Not Fun Not No)
Download Faded Crusade here. (via Cassette Tape Superstar)
SunnO))) "Domkirke Live" 2xLP (Southern Lord)
Domkirke Live was the only release from the relatively quiet doom drone duo, and though it was a live release, it still managed to reveal a new direction for the group. Ominous pipe organ and the sinister crooning vocals of Attila Csihar (ex-Mayhem), which were all recorded in a Norwegian Cathedral, help push the band away from their early days of Earth worship and into a league all their own. Of course this was magnificently packaged by the vinyl-lovers at Southern Lord; thick laminated gatefold sleeve with laminated innersleeves. Copies still available at the Southern Lord shop.
Download Domkirke Live here. (via Southern Kataklysm)
Caboladies "Earth Canal" CDR (Students Of Decay) and "Waterslide Mines" Cassette (Arbor)
This young trio from Kentucky create bubbling synth based explorations for those late night cruises through the mind's eye. Future releases include an 8" lathe (me see's a trend!) on Peasant Magik, an LP on Digitalis, and a CD on Students of Decay. 2009 should be the breakthrough year for these cosmonauts of the inner ear.
"Specular Tea" taken from Earth Canal
Download "Earth Canal" here. (via me!)
Emeralds "Solar Bridge" CD (Hanson). Steve Hauschildt "Rapt For Liquid Minister" Cassette and Mark McGuire "Amethyst Waves" Cassette (Wagon)
Speaking of midwestern synth bands, this year was a relatively quiet year for Emeralds as a group, though it happened to be the year everyone noticed their release on Hanson, Solar Bridge. While the rest of the world was catching up with Emeralds (and paying crazy money for older cassettes and CDr's on ebay), two of the trio did a nice job on pursuing their solo endeavours. Releases by both Steve Haushcildt and Mark McGuire kept the synth drone geeks, waiting patiently for the next Emeralds release, quite happy. Hauschildt's cassette, which is being released on LP next year by Digitalis, was the standout release. Here's what I wrote about it earlier this year (scroll down near the bottom).
Download Solar Bridge here. (via Sunflower Chakra Milk)
Coupla' Mark McGuire releases here. (via We Are Up For Sale)
Check out "Cybernetic Inevitable" from Hauschildt's Rapt For Liquid Minister here. (via The Submersible Dirigible)
A few other artists and albums that fit the category which I just don't have the energy or time to write thouroughly about... the weighty and monolithic drones of Acre...being blown back by the wailing guitar walls of the "Chinese Keiji Haino", Li Jianhong...the relentless space-skronk of the many Uneven Universe cassettes offered in '08... dub bliss in the form of Peaking Lights...the submerged basement psych of Aswara and Blank Realm...Pink Luminous Invocation's dark driftings...and the ambient takeover of Changeling.
Thanks to all the blogs out there carefully cataloging these micro releases and to all the readers who've made it this far. The '08 psych/garage/whatever-punk list is coming up next