Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gone Fishin'

I'm off duty for the next week. Why, you ask? I'll be basking in the white noise bath of My Bloody Valentine in San Francisco. Full report when I get back. Promise. Until then...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tall Dwarfs "3 EPs" (Flying Nun) 1994

I don't know how this group has escaped my grasp for so long. Perhaps it's because most of their output has remained out of print for the last ten years or so. Either way, they've been discovered, and if you are unfamiliar with this New Zealand duo, then this EP compilation is a great start. The earlier material (the group began in the early 80s) is incredibly lo-fi and was actually a huge influence on the lo-fi movement in the American underground of the late 80s and early 90s. By the time that movement was in full swing, however, the duo began to up the fidelity of their recordings considerably. This collection is culled from three EPs that were released from 1992 to 1993 and is exemplary in showing the great range that the duo were capable of. 3 EPs sways from warped psychedelia to Spacemen 3 downer blues to repetitive fuzz riffage to Beatles-inspired love songs. Their influence can be heard in the twee-psych of the Elephant 6 collective (particularly Elf Power, who once covered one of the their tracks), the demented pop of early Ween and the earnest lo-fi rock of Sebadoh. Anyone with even a passing interest in the above mentioned groups should do themselves a favour and check the Tall Dwarfs out. Don't sleep on this group like I did for so many years.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Sunny Day In Glasgow "Scribble Mural Comic Journal" 2008 (Ruined Potential) LP, Edition of 330



Sorry kids, this is not an upload of the vinyl edition of last year's amazing debut album by Philadelphia's A Sunny Day In Glasgow. Nope, this is strictly self promotion, well, ok, there is a lot promotion for ASDIG too. You see, after falling head over heels for their CD last year, I contacted the band to see if they had released it on vinyl or had any intention of doing so. They told me that Ruined Potential, a small label based out of Austin, Texas, was in the midst of getting the album put to wax. I contacted the label in the hopes that I could get some wholesale copies of the album. After six months of waiting, they put me down for five copies, all of which arrived on my doorstep this week. First off, Ruined Potential went all out on the packaging for this, and, after a bit of skepticism on my part, I can now see where my hard earned paypal dollars went. The sleeve is on black linen paper (kind of like a thick card stock) with an intricate criss cross pattern pressed into the paper. The whole package is held together by a letter pressed white band of the same material as the sleeve and is hand-numbered on the back. The whole thing unfolds to reveal two 180 gram LPs and a white insert with the critical info set at the bottom of one side. An absolutely stunning package for a more than deserving record. Want one? You can order one for $22.00 USD from the Ruined Potential site, plus $18.00 USD to ship one copy to Canada, or you can contact me and we'll work something out that will be much cheaper than $40 USD. One copy is reserved, the other is mine, which means I got three left. For the time being (possibly never) you won't find this in any of the local record shops. Let me know if you need to reserve one. Drop a message in the comments below or shoot me an email at

ASDIG's Myspace

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In the Pursuit of All Things Drone

My man Adrian (aka local drone-meister Empress) has officially entered the blogosphere. Looks like the focus there (as if the name Church of Drone didn't give it away) is gonna be strictly drone. As much as I profess to lovin' me some drone, Adrian has fully immersed himself in the genre and has become well schooled on the topic. Not only does he know his shit when it comes to drone, he actually revealed his debut drone project Empress earlier this year. Check this entry for the major deets. We have some copies over at Zulu and, after putting it in our experimental booth and blowing the minds of unsuspecting customers, have managed to sell quite a few. You might wanna head on down before this sucker is kaput. Or you can head down to his October 22nd gig at Fake Jazz and nab one of 'em personally.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Monthly Cassette Reviews: Debut Edition

This week, in between writing my first article for Color, I began work on my inaugural post of monthly cassette reviews. I have been sitting on dozens and dozens of cassettes from various labels across the globe that I've ordered from various online distributors and labels. Things were getting so cluttered and confused that I had to start writing about these things before I completely forgot why I ordered them in the first place. Some of them are cassettes from favorite labels (Not Not Fun, Arbor, Night People etc) and some just had such glowing reviews from distributors that I had to take the chance. So, in an effort to keep my cassette collection from getting out of hand, I'm starting this monthly column of cassette reviews. The reviews will be short and I'll try to capture the usually odd sounds as best as I can. Sorry, Sam, there will be many Byron Coley-isms down below. Beware.

Subterranean League "Untitled" (Night People) C15
First up is another gem from Iowa City's burgeoning noise scene. This release was put out by Night People, which is run by Shawn Reed of Wet Hair and Raccoo-oo-oon. Here we have two sides of high speed junk noise that are sped up into a warp drive of white noise. Harsh feedback weaves in and out of the melee creating a dizzying effect. Keep a barf bag on hand for this one.

On the other side of the Night People spectrum we have Evan Miller's s/t C16. The tape starts off with screechy feedback that soon gives way to cavernous, torchlit rumblings. Then, then, THEN it all subsides into Eno-like ambience that is backed by Evan's finger picked acoustic. A lovely raga ensues and is accompanied by his distinct, slow, throat wrenching vocals. A lovely ending for such a ominous beginning. The flip side is more of a straight-forward finger picking number that recalls the early, simpler days of Six Organs of Admittance. Found a link for a DOWNLOAD

Night People have been branching out and have recently released this split cassette by Cooper Jones and Cars, who reside in the London/Lyon and the UK respectively. The Cooper Jones half begins with a harsh metallic clanging that soon steps aside for methodically plucked geetar. Layers are heaped on and soon we have a beautiful cherry blossom blissfest which, of course, is disturbed by some discordant strumming. Sounds all live to these ears. The Cars side also sounds live. Table drumming, chains dragged across a baren floor and slave yard junk tossed about the room. Heavy!

Debut release from another Iowa City resident. Nimby is a die-hard for the local scene and even goes as far to document the weirder aspects and sound creations of his hometown. Check out his blog here. The first side of this C22 starts with several layers of wailing vocals that sounds like they are run through a childs mic, all while a gentle keyboard lullaby plays gently underneath. The vocals are then accompanied by a stuttery drum machine and blasts of static bass bounce . Soon everything comes to a slow lurch while some TG bass blasts in the background and a drum machine that quickly turns monolithic. The vocals clear up and the bass picks up tempo to near danceability. The whole ordeal makes for some uneasy listening. The second side has an almost hip-hop bassline, but is fuzzed out into a whitehaze. Now all we need are some weird midwest kids rapping over this thing. Awesome debut. Can't wait to hear what comes next.

Knyfe Hyts feature current members of Oneida, Ex Models and Pterodactyl, hail from the always hip Brooklyn, and this cassette, Sword of the Lord, is their second release for the Party Store label (and second release in general), which is run by Allison Busch of Awesome Color. The music within are juggernauts of blownout kraut rock run through a blend of epic metal, 80s style, of course. Some have said that the recordings here are too lo-fi and, if higher production values were added, they might have something going. I say keep it in the red for now, kiddies. It sounds great up here.

Now it's time to kick it local, and why not start with local noise-nut Seagull (aka Michael Piercey) who has been making a racket in Vancouver for quite some time with his Smoke Filled Casket imprint and Ketchup Cavern. "From Grass Und Earth" is two blasts of sheer white sonic dread. A relentless white crackle dominates both sides of the tape. I'll let Thee Cassette Gods take over here.

In other local noise recordings, I managed to nab one of very few copies of a Leviathans recording that dates back a year or two. For those who have seen the rarely spotted beast that is Leviathans (compromised of Josh on guitar (rundownsun, Sick Buildings etc), Justin on drums (Mutators, V. Vecker) Brady on drums (ex-Book Of Lists) and Laryssa on vocals (exP:ano, ex-Choir Practice and now known as Kellarissa), I'm sure they'll tell you that this is one of the more potent acts in the Vancouver improv scene. This recording is a little on the low-end and assaultive than their more recent methodical sludgery that has been live more recently. Screeching vocal oscillations, neanderthal drumming and duelling bass and guitar make up this multi-headed beast. Let's hope this little project, which have not played since the Vancouver Noise Fest back in the spring, has a little more juice left for another release and maybe a live show or 5. Beautiful lacquered case on this fucker.

Down the West Coast to the Southern California based Ekhein label, run by noise artist Privy Seals, who has unleashed a real monster in this Protein Den tape. The first side is fizzy, static drenched electric windstorm that envelopes the room. Metal is wrenched, feedback swirls uncontrollably and the listener can do nothing but stay locked in the cellar while the shitstorm wails above. By the second side, the cellar door has been ripped open and the sounds of shattered windows and dancing electrical lines dominate the mix. Metallic rattling is then combined with distorted, screaming vocals. Some seriously frightening shit here.

Keeping things West Coast, "Hopeless Transformation" is one of the many 2008 releases from LA's Robedoor and is also the inaugural release from the new and promising Goaty Tapes label based out of Connecticut. The first side is a typical clanging drone fest from the masters of dirge drone, while the second side reveals a slow, pondering side to this two-piece beast. It soon builds up to a melancholy lurch and is incredibly cinematic for the gang. The tape is well out of print but has been re-issued on a CDR
by House of Alchemy in an edition of 200. Grab it before it disappears.

Nasa are a 3 piece based outta Florida and this “Bummer Daze" cassette is their debut for Not Not Fun. Not much info to be found on the interweb about this sun-fried, Cape Canveral-dreaming trio but the proof is in the pudding on this one. Ultra-submerged and wild bass plucking are toppled by 2 clanging guitars that dual high above the murk.. The mess slowly clears up and turns into psycho-funk jam sesh, then regresses into a hyped-up, speaker shredding Blues Control-like joint. The flip is a continuation of the basement-dirge-blues, only the guitars have completely taken over the mix and are set to a grinding stun. One of the best cassettes this year from the kids at NNF.

Magic Lantern are a 5 piece from Long Beach, California, and “At The Mountains Of Madness” is their second cassette release for the Not Not Fun label. Magic Lantern and Cameron Stallone's Sun Araw side project have quickly become some of my favorite sub-underground release. The tape in question is a comet racing skree fest very similar in vein to those Veee Deee CDRs I posted a while back. Upcoming full length LP on NNF should prove to be a milemarker in the groups short career.

Sean Mcann has slowly been churning out his lo-fi bedroom haze for a few years now, this tape on Digitalis is the first that I have been able to get my greasy hands on. Encased within this hard shell is a warm, fuzzy shot of mantric mushroom incantations that revolve around Sean's guitar and the busted tape deck he used to create this. The tracks meld into another, swaying from lo-fi folk to dense guitar extrapolations. Very captivating stuff here. Beautiful silkscreen job on the J-Card as well. The Digitalis Limited stuff is always worth the hard earned cash.

Steve Hauschildt, also known as 1/3 of cult-droners Emeralds, drops a stunner on the always amazing Arbor label. This is a straight synth-driven kraut workout, very similar to Ash Ra Tempel's "New Age Of Earth", but more on the pink cloud side of things than the barren earth angle of "New Age." Steve's criss-crossing synths take the listener to aural heaven. Check his myspace, there seems to be a flurry of upcoming releases from the man, which, due to the increasing popularity of Emeralds, will become scarce soon after release.

The infamous Aaron Dilloway drops a super-short release. The A Side is busy with swirling, churning vacuum electronics that threaten to suck the listener in and shred 'em to bits. The B side features a cycling wet buzz that gently floats above a din of soft, white static. The static eventually wins out. Released on the Monorail label. After checking out their webpage, this little tape label is looking promising. Upcoming releases by Robedoor, Thurston Moore and Pedstrian Deposit. Awesome consistent aesthetic on these tapes. Keep up the good work, whoever the hell you are.

That's it for this month. Should be a whole whack of new reviews about this time next month. Anyone with suggestions on what I should call this monthly article? Drop some suggestions my way. Also, anyone with a hot tip on a burgeoning tape label oughtta let me know.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

I've been spending some serious downtime with a recently re-issued classic, Damon and Naomi's "More Sad Hits." This is the first post-Galaxie 500 release by the duo and (this may ruffle a few feathers) I have to state that I think it's better than any of the Galaxie 500 albums. Are you calm yet? Good. Let's move on.

Now, it's not quite fall yet, but after several spins of this under-appreciated album on the ol' deck, I'm more than prepared for the cool nights, brisk days, and falling brown and orange leaves of my second favorite season (summer be number one, natch). Another summer is gone and all we have from it are slowly fading memories. The lyrics and music within "More Sad Hits" bleed a certain melancholy that I tend to feel only during the onset of autumn, and listening to this record only compounds the feeling more so. In particular, the track "Information Age" has struck me as being incredibly poignant today, and I just had to post the lyrics and track so everyone else can steep in my melancholy.

Lyrics to Information Age

You'd think in an information age
It wouldn't be so hard
Just to know what you're feeling
But the moment passes on
And the nights are colder now
That it's daylight savings time
And when I said I love you
I was wrong

Cause you and me
Our eyes will never meet again
We're not the same
Guess we never were
And all the things we knew
Even I love you
Are not the same
They're just nostalgia

Computer crashing
All around us business fails
The times are hard--or so they say
But I don't believe the Times
And I don't believe the Globe
It's spinning free enough to choose
Your way to go

What a great song to help kiss the summer goodbye.

PS. The "all around us business fails" line is particularly striking right now.


Anyways, been working on a rather large post this week, so keep in touch.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yikes "Whoa Comas/Blood Bomb" (Kill Shaman) 2006

Got bit in the ass by this fucker first thing this morning. It practically blew the crust right out from eyes. Yikes were a San Francisco trio (they seem to be defunct now) and are also the first group that John Dwyer formed after leaving the Coachwhips in the dust, and it sure has his blown-out garage stamp all over it. Everything is puched into the red here, and by the time this 15 minute EP is over, you'll just have to go back for another beating. Yes, it's that good. It straddles the thin barrier between the assaultive noise rock of Dwyer's other group Pink and Brown and the overdriven garage of the Coachwhips, but with a serious twangy edge. A rollicking hybrid of garage, punk, noise and original rock and roll. Recommended for those into the shredding sounds of The Lamps, The Hunches and Coachwhips.



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I don't normally announce upcoming shows on this here blog but the next few days in the city are looking rather exceptional.

Wednesday: Make sure that you attend the second anniversary of Fake Jazz tomorrow night at the Cobalt. Twin Crystals headline and are preceded by Perelisk and a host of others.

Thursday: Old Time Relijun make a rare Vancouver appearance with Shearing Pinx at the Biltmore.

Friday: The second edition of the Fake Jazz offshoot, Fakesleep, will be at Vivo. I'm especially stoked to see Gabriel (ex-Yellow Swans) make is his first Vancouver live apperance since disbanding Yellow Swans and making the big move up north. Fibrialltion from Bangkok, Aerosol Constellations and Empty Love w/ Les Beyond all perform that night as well. Head down to the Biltmore afterwards to check out personal local faves No Horses open for Grand Archives

Saturday: Head back to Vivo for Kellarissa's Mint Records release show. Supported by Hello, Blue Roses and Les Beyond. I have spent much time with Kellarissa's newest release and it sincerely has to be one of my favorite listens so far this year. Mutli-layered bedroom that sits very well in the current wave of like-minded experimental psych-pop songstresses like Inca Ore, Pocahuanted and Grouper. Her live show is absolutely mesmerizing. Also, much thanks goes out to Larissa for letting me pen her Mint Records ad copy! The pleasure was all mine.

Sunday: RECORD SWAPMEET at the Croation Cultural Center. 11pm-5pm. $3!

See ya'll out there.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Casino Versus Japan MEGA POST

Casino Versus Japan is the moniker of one Eric Kowalski, who resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has been very slowly churning out some of the most sublime electronic music of the last ten years, well, the first 5 years of the last ten, as CVJ has not released a drop since 2004. Although he has garnered praise in his short career, he's somehow slipped by the ear or has been written off by some of the most discerning electronic music nerds I know, and has all but been forgotten in the last few years. In all honesty, I'm not even sure how I came across this wunderkind. Probably got a recommendation from someone in the early days of Soulseekin', nonetheless, I managed to grab a solid copy of Go Hawaii sometime around 2000 and I haven't looked back since. (Still lookin' for the vinyl of this sucker. Let me know if you know anyone who knows anything.)

Most of the reviews I have come across over the years tend to make an easy comparison to Boards Of Canada, which is more than fair, but it's not the whole story. In fact, Casino Versus Japan released his debut EP the same year that Music Has The Right To Children came out, 1998. Apparently he has been making music since childhood, and it's quite apparent that his childhood, much like Boards Of Canada's, has seeped deep within the music. Samples of children's voices, sunshine tinted synth lines, and an overall feel of nostalgia permeate the music, much as it does with Boards Of Canada. But, for the most part, Casino Versus Japan stick to the sunny side of refracted nostalgia, while Boards can veer towards towards the dark end of that spectrum.

Self-titled (1998) Star Records
I have never actually owned, much less, seen a copy of this debut, and unless I'm willing to cough up $125 for it's rare appearance on ebay, I may never own it. This is a high quality rip that I soulseeked many years ago, while everything else here is ripped from my own collection. The debut is CVJ at his most primitive and ambient. Many of the tracks are slowly churning waves of bliss that take those early Gas records, submerge 'em a bit more and add a few hits of sunshine.


Go Hawaii (1999) Wobblyhead Records
Outside of the Boards reference, Casino is directly influenced by Brian Eno's ambient period, particularly Music For Films and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks. To me, it actually sounds like a lot of the Go Hawaii album is based off of the space-aquarium track "Deep Blue Day" (most notably used in the underwater toilet scene in Trainspotting), which is the album highlight off of Apollo, not to mention, a highlight from Eno's storied career. Most of the tracks on Go Hawaii have a warped and drawn out synth and the occasional slide guitar that would have fit perfectly on Apollo, but is then teamed up with a warm, fuzzy beat. If yr only gonna check out one album, this should be it.


Whole Numbers Play The Basics (2002) Carpark
Whole Numbers Play The Basics was Casino Versus Japan exploring the realms of deep space, well, at least from the perspective of a young daydreamer imagining the kaleidoscope of color emanating from slow-motion super novas. The bass is a lot heavier this time around, almost hip-hop at times, but always incredibly deep and heady.


Hitori + Kaiso 1998-2001 (2004) Attack Nine
Hitori + Kaiso is a collection of unreleased material spun from his fertile period of 1998-2001. Collections like these tend to be only for die-hard fans of the artist but Hitori is much more than a gathering of scraps compiled for the benefit of few. Instead we have two amazing discs of dreamy melancholia that ooze from your headphones and burrow deep into the center of playful nostalgia that should affect the coldest of electronic music fans.



Split EP w/ Freescha (2004) Wobblyhead

Casino Versus Japan last release is also a split with the very like-minded Freescha, who comes from the same school of BoC warbled nostalgia. The two are working in such tandem that they are nearly indistinguishable from one another. Both have the same dreamy tones in the synth work but the beats have become a tad more abstract, taking on the cold stuttery clap of Chiastic Slide-era Autechre. A very effective combination and some of the best work by either artist.


Remix of Charles Atlas' "The Deadest Bar" (Right Click to download)

"Silver and Gold" 7" split with AM Boy (Right Click to download)

"Via Hotknives" 10" (Right Click to download)

It's now been 5 years since his last sizeable release and their has been quite a cult gathering around Eric Kowalski, as evidenced by inflated ebay prices and the amount of froth gathering at the mouths of the patient few waiting for a sign. Any sign! His webpage has been inactive for over a year (the last news update was May 2007) and there has been no new word from Carpark or Wobblyhead about an impending release. Though, if we are to believe his Wikipedia page, there will be a new release by the end of 2008 or early 2009. I wouldn't hold yr breath. Well, at least if you are unfamiliar with CVJ, you can check out his entire discography above, most of which is well out of print.

Illmatic Now The Subject of a Book

Despite my recent protests on the deifiaction of Nas' Illmatic, a full length book is currently being written on the album by one Michael Eric Dyson, who as also written books on Marvin Gaye and Tupac. I wonder if he's ever heard Showbiz and AG's Runaway Slave? Maybe I should just get started on that book...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Get In The Trench

I'm sure that everyone has read the Exclaim! article on the Vancouver "Weird-Punk" scene (really? Weird Punk? I tend to think Devo when I think weird punk, and Vancouver doesn't have anything remotely like that. How's about just plain ol' punk?), and I figured I would weigh in on the article.

There have been a few complaints about it within the scene but also some praise for it. I'm still on the fence. While it's great to see that the scene is finally getting some recognition, I still have a few problems with the article. My main issue is that it's written by one Josiah Hughes. Nice enough fellow, in fact, he was good friends with an ex-girlfriend of mine so I got to know him a little bit. Here's the problem: he lives in fucking Calgary. The first tip-off that the article was written by someone well out of the scene was when he mentioned pints of Guinness at the Cobalt. I only wish they served Guinness there. Surely Exclaim! could've hired a writer from Vancouver who had actually been to see some of the shows at Fake Jazz or the ER. The experience of seeing these shows live is what truly makes this current scene standout. There have been numerous releases from INW, Thankless, Rundownsun, Nominal etc carefully documenting the scene over the last few years, yet none of them compare to seeing these acts live. Watching Sick Buildings, Twin Crystals, Mutators or the myriad of other local and touring bands demolish the ER is an astonishing experience to behold. How can someone from another city write an honest article on a scene they haven't been involved with?

Here lies my second complaint: why didn't someone from Vancouver get off their ass and write the damn article them self instead of having an ex-pat from BC do the dirty work? Is this another symptom of the typical apathetic Vancouver attitude, or did we just want to keep this our little secret for as long as possible? I sincerely hope it's the latter.

Well, now that our little secret is out across Canada, what do we do about it and how do we keep it vital? One fellow blogger has a few tips that are definitely worth thinking about as the scene slowly gains more exposure.

Until the whole thing falls off the rails or all the bands move to Montreal, please go out and buy some of the many tapes, CDR, 7"s and LPs for sale at these local shows. Keep the scene movin' on up.