Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Phoenix Cube Walking the Shore (Barl Fire)

This disc is worth the price of admission alone for the fantastic “Love Is An Anchor,” a catchy downcast lo-fi pop nugget that I could play for hours without ever getting tired of it. Simon Lewis aka The Phoenix Cube shares my love for hazy bedroom psychedelia and forested folk brought through an abstract drone filter such as on the lengthy opener “And Spirits Awake”. This eclectic piece wraps up what The Phoenix Cube is all about, a combination of windswept folk, field recordings, chimes, repetitious beats, spaced out drones, shamanic percussion and spoken word. I’ve enjoyed Lewis (who also is reviews editor for The Ptolemaic Terrascope online) previous outings as well but this one might very well be the best.

The Zanzibar Snails Introdewcing (Mayyrh)
IDI*amin B.C.E (Mayyrh)

Thank god for Texan underground music. The list of Texan musical discoveries that in one way or the other have changed the way I look upon music is very extensive. I wouldn’t say that the Zanzibar Snails’ Introdewcing album has that sort of effect but it’s still a really inspiring listening experience. The opening “On An Oblong Plane” is a 29 minutes long number that is a constantly evolving composition with some beautiful sax staggered alongside washes of guitar abstraction and crackling electronics. Its alienating, enveloping sound, seemingly devoid from any notion of sense, wanders freely like a drunk trying to cross a busy city street.

The unexpected use of saxophone gives the dark, unsettling noise/drone sculpture a slight free jazz touch but that’s just an additional flavor as what this is all about is to continue along that trajectory line towards bliss-out spectrum with a static electronic drone feast garnished with enough personal twists to make it stand out as something very unique, even in an abstract corner of the music universe.

IDI*amin shares some members with the Zanzibar Snails and given its sound I’d call them their slightly more rocking cousin that spends most of his time lying down staring at the Big Dipper. That means that we get squealing and drifting guitars going for the stars but this one doesn’t just follow the usual intergalactic track, as oscillator, keys and sax also are important components of the mix. In every crossing and in every bend these guys are loosing the most convenient track and are diving deep into bubbling hotpools filled with corroded noise destruction. The result is a damaged extended sound sculpture spread out over a dusted sonic plane suggestive of many a fine New Zealand free noise/rock/drone champions.

And as if all this wasn’t enough, both these gems come wrapped in outstandingly beautiful cardboard sleeves. You’ve been advised.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Sandoz Lab Technicians The Western Lands (Last Visible Dog)

I just wrote a glowing review of this disc for a Swedish on-line publication so I am not sure I’ll write one in English as well. But all you need to know is pretty much to grab this one asap as it very well might be my favorite recording of 2007. Essential stuff to say the least.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

After the goldrush #25

It’s time to check in for one of those all too sporadic After the goldrush columns. First out is Up Two Sticks Road (Last Visible Dog), a brand new outing from New Zealand improv rock super group The Idle Suite. We get dizzying clattery free rock driven forward by two amazing drummers (James Kirk and Greg Cairns) and lots of guitars and the occasional keyboard side trip. The structured dissonance at hand has that hard-to-describe New Zealand feel to it that from time to time makes it quite irresistible.

Sheffield’s Chora and Leeds’ Lanterns team up for an interesting split CD-R on Screetching Snowflake. It covers Chora’s loose acoustic improvisations and fractured folkscapes as well as Lanterns’ dark, guitar-based drone miniatures. Very nice.

I’ve praised New Zealand one-man band Pumice (AKA Stefan Neville) before and his new Pebbles album on Soft Abuse is no exception. It continues where the predecessors left off but somehow manages to take that Galbrathian outsider vibe to even more powerful territories. Skewed folk blends with Flying Nun-inspired pop concoctions and the overall feel is despite its melancholic vibe slightly less dark and more uplifting than some of his previous outings. Quite accessible and very sweet in an Xpressway meets Pip Proud kind of way.

It pains me to only write a few lines about Stone Baby’s Black Blossom Blues (House of Alchemy) as it’s such an impressive foray into the world of black drones garnished with shiploads of tape manipulation. Stone Baby creates a twisted noise sculpture, emitting at various times hum and drone-scapes, fractured string grinding, primitive oscillations, squashing guitars and so much more. The all to brief “Closed Door” offers a surprisingly straightforward close based around a simple melody embellished with a suggestive kind of brilliance and a great sense of melancholia. Whilst checking out the brilliant House of Alchemy label make sure to also place a order for Grant Capes (VxPxC, Thousands) solo project Sleepwalkers Local 242. His Dreamlands sounds a bit like the title suggests, shimmery guitar washes and massive drone clouds that do just about everything they can to re-unite with the horizon.

Last out, but by no means least, is a new album from The Spacious Mind, by far Sweden’s finest space/drone/psychedelia/krautrock/prog-rock explorers. The new Gentle Path Highway album on their own Goddamn I’m A Countryman imprint might not be my personal favorite (maybe due to its more evident prog tendencies) in their catalogue but it’s still such a fine listen. The group has an unequalled talent to glacially build up a mystical and powerful atmosphere that no matter chosen sound level strikes me as deeply spiritual and even mind-cleansing.