If you ever want to see a lunatic in action, armed with fake blood and music equipment then see Baptizer. I saw and performed with Baptizer in late 2012. This guy made me want to give up my day job, become a roadie for him, and worship his ass. Seriously. Not many people have a firm grip on entertainment in heavy music nor know how to keep a small-ish audience intrigued, but Baptizer does. I saw him play at the seminal underground experimental venue, Amma House, and while I had heard a few whispers of what to expect, I wasn’t fully prepared. In stepped a maniac, gripping a microphone in his teeth, drenching himself and others in fake blood via a found chalice, and pummeling our ear drums and body cavities with a sick assault of noise-addled destruction. Jim, as he’s pleasantly known, hails from North Carolina, has a normal life, a family, and a day job, but you would never guess that once he sheds his shirt and begins to destroy your ear drums. “Signs ov Apocalypse” is a noisy amalgam of a variety of styles mashed into one bludgeoning of sound. His music is pseudo socio-political with an undercurrent of religiousness – but don’t let that stop you. I almost guarantee that if you didn’t read that and just experienced his music, you wouldn’t disagree with him on anything. The fact that people have in the past discredited his musical offerings because of his views, one way or the other, is disheartening and shows a complete lack of respect for what an experimental genre and its sister scenes are supposed to be all about. “Order of Wolves” by thee Grey Wolves was remixed and sound especially incredible. The track that stands out more than the rest is “Denial as a Defense Mechanism” with its artful craft mixture of noise and vocals, stirring up chaos and decrying apathy all at once. Stunning, incredible, and a must-have for anyone who wants to think that they have heard it all.
Industrial super-gods Leaether Strip released “Coming Up for Air” to ready the world for its enigmatic and highly sought-after and anticipated follow-up soundtrack to a fictional film “Serenade for the Dead II” album set for release here soon in March 2013. The Danish industrial tag team of Claus and Kurt once again polish off another gem of electro-industrial magic. For fans of Spahn Ranch, :wumpscut:, and most anything off of Metropolis Records these days.
Daniel Euphrat is the mastermind behind the eclectic Timmy Sells His Soul outfit. Each song is so uniquely distinct and different from the last it’s like listening to a more pop version of Mr. Bungle though without the busy backdrop. Dripping wet with indie-pop incredibleness, “Name and Form” jumps from genre to genre but always boasting a terrific array of textures. His off-key vocals range from somewhat spoken yet muffled to melodic crooning. A huge array of electro influences are smashed up behind his voice. “Seeds” finds Rachel Springer Dunbar lending vocals amid a chaotic stew of IDM and melodic indie pop harmonies. “Knife and Bowl” evoke a kind of melancholy – something this album doesn’t seem to lack in – but with an industrial-pop edge ever so slightly creeping upwards. I couldn’t begin to tell you who he may be influenced by because so many things happen throughout the listen which is a good thing; I highly doubt it’s easy to pigeonhole someone like Timmy Sells His Soul. “Vicious” sounds like something you’d hear off of Metropolis Records while “We are Surplus” could be easily heard at your local coffeehouse with its low-key indie-pop flavors. Rangy and yet authoritative in what he’s trying to deliver and accomplish, “Name and Form (Black)” is a dark beauty but one that demands your utmost attention. Highly recommended.
Full disclosure – I really don’t know a whole lot about the power electronics or harsh noise wall scene. That said, I definitely can appreciate many of the artists that perform it or some variation. Japanese Torture Comedy Hour is one such outfit. Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Anal Cunt, and other metal offspring has been a member, but J. Randall is the mastermind behind “Dolphin Meat“. This hour-long distorted absurdity just crushed your cranium with harsh noises that were manipulated live with no computer(s), samples, guitars, or instruments just a bunch of crazy pedals chained together amid a fevered tenacity to blow one’s mind. The textures are dense for sure despite the lack of post-production editing and while it’s decidedly lo-fi in nature (recorded live onto VHS cassette). Looping effects pedals together in a feedback loop, J. Randall has crafted a simple sounding yet unorthodox concept into an unearthly creation that simultaneously stuns, eviscerates, and evokes raw emotive states. I can only imagine the melted brains in the live studio audience that got to witness this. Not for the weak willed or closed minded.
Bob has been writing and performing under the moniker Bob Villain for some time now; and while I have yet to see him play live from what I’ve been told it’s truly a sight to be seen as he apparently shredded it up nicely at the Velvet Lounge in DC some time ago. This release was put out on the Seven1878 Imprint label based in Strasburg, VA. His singer/songwriter style evokes visions of one of his main influences in Evan Dando (Lemonheads) but on “Dark Side of the Room” he reaches out for a more experimental and abstract path. Often his lyrics evoke a range of emotions but always convey a certain raw quality which so many of the slickly produced pop sensation crap lacks in earnest. The recording quality is definitely above the standard bearers one expects from the apartment / basement scenes which is a great change of pace. His voice traverses from an edgy howl to a gruff melodic style throughout the album. He adds elements of harmonica to his rhythm guitar. What’s perhaps most compelling is that unlike so many singer/songwriters who pepper their album with a handful of punts, all of the songs on this quick listen are tight, well-written, and seem rather like a natural fit for his style – nothing’s forced at all. The honest approach is evident throughout and the album also features a collaboration with labelmate Christopher Feltner. Well done and I’m looking forward to a live show and a follow-up. Hit him up on his facebook and peep his bandcamp now.
Toronto-born Scott Lanaway decided to take everything he loved about music, melt it down, and create his own silver bullet. “Mergers & Acquisitions” is the fruit of this labor. Granted this is sophomore release, it still feels like a birth. The songs and sounds contained are so well thought-out, planned, and composed that it feels like it was the work of a debut simply because the majority of songwriter’s best songs are created as their first body of work rather than their second or later efforts. “Oprah, God Wants You to Have a Private Jet” shows Lanaway doesn’t need to be cornered amid the subject matter of his songs that are often mind-wandering noodles and thoughts of love, death, time, the mind, and everything in between. His textures are sprinkled with electronica and acoustic vibes that are just unbelievable and uninhibited. He bares his soul, unafraid to let anyone in to peer in curiosity at what this creature is thinking and doing. Beautiful, please pick it up and tell him I sent you.
Phil Western and Mark Spybey together again! Well at least for two tracks that is. Dead Voices on Air, one of Spybey’s many projects, once again takes us to new and exotic locations. Amid their album photography on the digipak we’re whisked to far-off Argentina amid the beautiful landscape of Patagonia taken by Argentinean artist Marco Roberti. In addition to his collaboration with Western, Spybey enlists American-Serbian singer Ivana Salipur to assist on the title track, a track that is inspired by the Serbian poet Desanka Maksimovic, a poet perhaps most famous for poems regarding the atrocities committed by German soldiers during World War II. The album is Dead Voice on Air’s 14th and their 2nd collection released on seminal Lens Records. Songs range from ethnic world ambience to experimental to pure relaxing ambient. I’m constantly amazed at how Spybey and likeminded audiences are able to create such intense ambient pieces that just ooze attention-grabbing passion. Yet another notch on the proverbial belt of essential for DVOA.
Pop-punk rockers The Early Strike armed with their female and male vocal assault are here with a catchy new album called “Ten Outta Ten”. While only their sophomore release, it’s surprisingly well-written and entertaining. “Ten Outta Ten” brings back lots of memories of past pop-punk bands from the turn of the century – gosh that makes it sound old even though we’re talking ten or so years huh? Sugary sweet melodies and entertaining lyrics, producer David J. Holman (Bush, No Doubt) was able to help The Early Strike have flecks of New Found Glory, The Ataris, Saves the Day, and Something Corporate.