tad - god's balls

.:: Led by ex-butcher Tad Doyle on vocals and guitar, Tad was formed in early 1988 by Doyle and bassist Kurt Danielson, who met at a Christian potluck dinner. A true anomaly in late 80's: No spandex. No pointy guitars. No pretty boy frontman. Instead, you had a frontman who weighed the same amount as three or four members of Warrant spliced together, and a flannel shirt-wearing band with hairspray-free long hair that played punk rock slowed down to a powerful Sabbath-like pace.

They previously played together when Danielson's band Bundle of Hiss played with Doyle's previous band (in which he played drums) H-Hour. Doyle had also earlier played in a Gang of Four cover band called Red Set. They recruited drummer Steve Wied (formerly of Skin Yard and Death and Taxes) and guitarist Gary Thorstensen to complete the original lineup.

Tad was among the first bands to be signed to Sub Pop Records and was possibly the first pioneer of what was to be later called grunge rock. In 1987, Doyle released the Daisy/Ritual Device Single on Sub Pop, produced by seminal Seattle producer Jack Endino, in which he wrote and performed all music. Their debut album God's Balls appeared in early 1989 and was also produced by Jack Endino.

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embrace - embrace

.:: One of the several reasons behind Minor Threat's demise was that Ian McKaye was sickened by the hardcore scene he'd helped to create. By 1983 it had become insufferably conformist. Even worse, it had also grown to be intensely violent. Even though in many ways the motivation was positive, the release of energy at hardcore shows often resulted in kids getting physically hurt. Ian felt extremely guilty and saddened over it.

When bemoaning this to HR of the Bad Brains, HR told him, "You started it." This is why Ian did Embrace. It was his attempt to undo the damage he perceived himself being responsible for. While Embrace didn't last long and crumbled an entire year before they released this album, Ian carried on his same sense of purpose in Fugazi in 1987, and he continues to this day.

.:: Faith and Minor Threat broke up within months of each other in 1983. During 1983/84 there was a general malaise in the Washington DC hardcore scene which saw a lot of the founding bands and scene makers move to the sidelines as shows became increasingly violent and the attitude became increasingly mainstream.

In the summer of '85 there was renewed spirit in DC, often referred to as "Revolution Summer," This "Revolution Summer" included a handful of bands who preferred smaller more intimate venues and focused on a more personal and introspective interpretation of punk rock. Embrace was part of this renewal.

They were formed by ex-Minor Threat member Ian MacKaye and three of the former members of Faith. The band played shows from the summer of 85 until the Spring of 1986. This album was origionally released on LP in 1987 and on CD/Cassette around 1990.

download: embrace - embrace

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david thomas broughton - the complete guide to insufficiency

.:: Coming from the same city as the Kaiser Chiefs, David Thomas Broughton couldn't provide a more distinct juxtaposition of styles with the Leeds winkle-pickers if he tried. Where they revel in crass Britpop sloganeering, Broughton is all about the slow-burn; coaxing melodies and oddly gorgeous vocals from a shuffling music box of acoustic guitars, looping pedals and bargain-bin drum machines. The result is (predictably) tooth-achingly gorgeous.

Recorded in a single take at Wrangthorn Church (Hyde Park, Leeds), Broughton has been unceremoniously dumped into the 'freak-folk' enclosure and in doing so shows up the meagre offerings traditionally proffered under this soft-centered appellation.…

download: david thomas broughton - the complete guide to insufficiency

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the octopus project - one ten hundred thousand million


.:: This instrumental space-dance quartet won a spot on the bill at the upcoming Coachella festival after a fan entered the group in a MySpace contest, unbeknownst to the band. The Octopus Project's set was a preview of how they'll light up the California desert: sci-fi-flick synthesizer squeals, power-riff guitars, hellbent drumming. In one song, Yvonne Lambert coaxed playful squiggles and dying sighs from the antennae-like extension of a theremin, waving her hands in the air like code as guitars rang like church bells around her -- as if it were an outtake of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" with Mogwai as the studio band…

read on

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ben folds five - whatever & ever amen


.:: Ben Folds' Five's Whatever and Ever Amen is a fantastic collection of songs from a band beginning to believe in itself as something more than a novelty act. Having excised much of their regrettable tendency to flippancy with their first album, the three members of Ben Folds Five delivered a classic follow-up: the single "The Battle of Who Could Care Less" is a witheringly witty character study of middle-class wasters that could be thought of as an American companion piece to Pulp's "Common People". Angry and articulate, Whatever and Ever Amen is a rewarding exploration of the hitherto virgin territory between Elvis Costello and Jerry Lee Lewis… read on

download: ben folds five - whatever & ever amen
alt download

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andreas meland / lasse marhaug - brakhage


.:: Beyond Grandpeople’s seductively psychedelic and explosively colorful cover art Brakhage is a split release by two emerging artists come together to pay homage to filmmaker Stan Brakhage. And with sass and brass these two men re-style this recording, originally performed live back in ’03.

The results permeate the listening space into an experience in instant solitude, as Andreas Meland wrangles through the six-part "Dog Star Man." It’s like sipping ether through a swirly straw, just bloating your head with an slow-churned eruption of blisteringly shaped white noise that tightly wraps itself over and over like an endless spool of twine. This is not sheer noise, its cultivated sound-art noise, with blowing whistles and a vibrant presence.

read on

download: andreas meland / lasse marhaug - brakhage

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the kilimanjaro darkjazz ensemble - the kilimanjaro darkjazz ensemble


.:: The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble’s form of mutant jazz, slithers and slides...delicately painful. Each song, a little story of heartache, hope and perseverance, seemlessly fusing analogue and digital.
Soundtracks to non-existing movies, inspired by the worlds of The Quay Brothers, Hieronymus Bosch, Picasso, Goya, Murnau and Lang.
The self titled debut released on Planet Mu in April 2006.

Jason Kohnen and Gideon Kiers started TKDE around the turn of the century, creating new soundtracks to existing silent movies such as Murnau’s Nosferatu and Lang’s Metropolis. Both graduates of the School of Arts and majoring in audiovisuals and multimedia, the audio/visual concept developped into creating ‘visual’ music supported by existing film fragments to intensify the audio.

The Quay Brothers became a big inspiration for their debut album, their surreal world combined many weird and wonderful aspects to strengthen TKDE’s sound. Hilary Jeffery on trombone joined in 2004, a master in trombone improvisation, and a breathing shadow of TKDE.
Nina Hitz on cello and Eelco Bosman on guitar and Charlotte Lica on vocal improvs form the TKDE live quintet or sextet, with Kiers providing drums, sequencing and visuals and Kohnen the bass, synths and sequencing.

Dark cinematic jazz alert here people, so if you like The Cinematic Orchestra (TCO), The Broadway Project or Amon Tobin, please read on…

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the united states of america - the united states of america


.:: Fueled by the avant-garde sonic ammo of keyboardist/composer Joe Byrd and the haunting vocals of Dorothy Moskowitz, the United States Of America found a way to permanently hard-wire space-age electronic music to the heart of rock and roll on their highly desirable, self-titled 1968 debut.

read on

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sleepytime gorilla museum - grand opening and closing

||| One of my favorite bands of all time |||

.:: S.G.M. are Kihlstedt on electric violin, percussion guitar, autoharp, pump organ and voice; Nils Frykdahl on guitars, Tibetan bells, autoharp and voice; Moe! Staiano on percussion, metal, pressure-cap marimba, spring, spring-nail guitar, popping turtle, food containers and tympani; Dan Rathbun on bass, slide-piano log, pedal-action wiggler, thing, autoharp, and voice; and David Shamrock on drums and piano (he has since left the band)…

read on

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sean lennon - friendly fire

.:: Being the progeny of a famous, if not the most famous, rock star and an avant garde artist must be a double edged sword. It certainly opens doors which would be otherwise closed but at the same time it leads to comparisons with the parents and expectations which cannot possibly be met.

On the other hand, nowadays, no one anywhere is expecting the Beatles progeny to produce material approaching the greatness of their pops. This means they can finally relax and just make some music, which would seem to suit the younger Lennon boy just fine. Fire is a piano- and guitar-driven collection of likeable, melancholic, Elliott Smith-y, Rufus Wainwright-ish pop music.

The brief, sing-songy, Clapton-by-numbers guitar solos are a bit of a puzzler, but it's not like they're bad by any means. The guest appearances are a strange lot. His mother's here, longtime collaborator Yuka Honda as well, and Beastie Boy DJ Money Mark, too (which makes sense as Sean used to be on Grand Royal and the whole album has a mid '90s vibe to it). All these sleazy Hollywood types creep in here, too: Vincent Gallo, Lindsay Lohan, "superstar" DJ Steve Aoki.

Thankfully, it sounds a lot better than any MisShapes party. Lennon sings "Let's hide the diamonds and cocaine for another day/But don't forget to pray," so maybe the dude isn't the best lyricist around. But Friendly Fire is really very good throughout. It's easily the finest music made by a Lennon since, well, you know.

download: sean lennon - friendly fire

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mi and l'au - mi and l'au

.:: The duo's back-story seems apocryphal in an old-world fairytale sense: Finnish model Mi meets French musician L'au in Paris; the two fall in love and forsake everything to retreat to a remote cabin in the woods of Finland to write and record their music in isolation. Whatever they did in that hermitage spawned an album's worth of songs spare and elegant, definitely removed from that of their acoustic-based neo-folk contemporaries, but never alienating.

Despite the fact that these songs were written in the cold north, and that it includes its share of minor keys, tagging it as "dark folk" is misleading. Calling it "folk" in the traditional sense is just a little less misleading. Although lush and delicate acoustic guitar, strings, flute, and piano (played by Mi and L'au as well as contributors from Akron/Family, Antony and the Johnsons and others) constitute the album's instrumentation, some tunes still might sound a little jarring in their spartan-ness at first listen. But, from a form-follows-content approach, the instrumental simplicity of tracks like "Older" and "Nude" reflects their brief lyrical sketches on character and setting.

The opening "They Marry” incorporates a swirling carnival/music box melody and piano flourishes. Mi's whispery delivery is intimate throughout, to the point where she might well be an inch from the listener's ear, breathy sibilance and all. She even clears her throat at the end of "Andy," a later tune also augmented by a meandering toy piano. L'au takes the lead vocal on "I've Been Watching You,” which swings with a strange anti-blues quality. He's a singer in the Bacharach (as a vocalist, not as a composer) mold – wavering, vulnerable in an endearing way.

When coupled with the shimmering instrumental ambience of "World in your Belly,” or the bare plucked acoustic guitar of "New Born Child,” L'au's voice cuts a striking contrast. "Study" closes the album with solemn contemplation, to the sound of bubbling water, a wheezing accordion and strings that swell ominously behind a fingerpicked guitar figure.
Adam MacGregor

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muzak - escenas en círculo…

.:: Muzak is a interesting band from Barcelona, Spain. Blending krautrock, folk, rock and jazz with improvisation and sonic landscapes ala Mogwai, they creat a very unique sound.

download: muzak - escenas en círculo…

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pit er pat - pyramids

||| REPOSTED |||

.:: Pit er Pat is the Chicago-based trio of keyboardist Fay Davis-Jeffers, drummer Butchy Fuego and bassist Rob Doran. When approaching a title for the new album, the follow up to 2005’s Shakey, each member of Pit er Pat remembers coming across pyramids in various forms: in random images they encountered, in the course of personal reading, and even in their own drawings. Pyramids were everywhere it seemed, and the strength and symbolism of that shape clicked for the band with the themes of the new album and their nature as a three-piece.

Powerful rhythms provide the solid floor for ethereal melodies and layers of textural samples on Pyramids. Contemporaries describe Pit er Pat’s sound as distinctively modern and fresh… rean on

download: pit er pat - pyramids

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tom waits - one from the heart (ost)


.:: Apocalypse Now is widely considered director Francis Ford Coppola's Waterloo, an ambitious personal vision that nearly wrecked his fabled career, health, and sanity. In fact, it was the director's equally Quixotic 1982 Vegas-themed musical One From the Heart that forever cast a pall over his Hollywood future, sounding a death knell for his once-promising American Zoetrope studios in the bargain. Hindsight being 20/20, it's now easy to see Heart's visual conceits as the glorious cinematic antecedent to Moulin Rouge, its smart, lounge-savvy score by musical odd couple Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle easily 15+ years ahead of the retro-hipster revival it preceded--and outclassed at every turn.

Rean on

download: tom waits - one from the heart (ost)

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sonic youth - syr 1 anagrama

.:: Having completed construction on their Manhattan studios in 1996, Sonic Youth suddenly found themselves in a position to create unadulterated by the tyranny of time and space. As a result of their natural writing process, whereby collective improvisation congeals over time into song structures, they began to amass a small mountain of tape, most of it containing raw, wild, spontaneous music they reckoned wouldn't be "commercial" enough for Geffen to release.

Owning their own studio gave them the freedom to experiment as they were recording, since they no longer had to pay rental fees. To inaugurate their new studio, they set out to record a series of experimental instrumental EPs with engineer Wharton Tiers, all of which would be released on the quartet's own label.

With its winding, elliptical improvised instrumentals, SYR 1 set the tone for the entire series. Musically, the EP isn't far removed from the instrumental sections on Sister or Daydream Nation, but this music isn't merely waves of feedback -- it's considered, detailed, and bizarrely accessible. Like the epic "The Diamond Sea," the four songs have shifting sonic colors, as simple riffs build and intertwine, crossing over each other before finding a new path.

It's closer to avant-garde than rock, but the music isn't purely cerebral, either. Recognizable statements float in and out of the mix, providing something of a touchstone for the free-form explorations. SYR 1 also has brevity on its side. The EP lasts 25 minutes -- which is just enough time to provide an exciting blueprint for a new era of Sonic Youth.

Chose language: French

download: sonic youth - syr 1 anagrama

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sonic youth - syr 2 slaapkamers met slagroom

.:: Number 2 in the self-released Sonic Youth series featuring 3 new tracks written in their NYC studio.

SYR 2 follows through on the promise of SYR 1 while exploring new territory. A noisier record than its predecessor, SYR 2 nevertheless shares the same modus operandi (namely, it's purely improvised music that gleefully wanders into uncharted territory).

Chose language: Dutch

download: sonic youth - syr 2 slaapkamers met slagroom

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sonic youth & jim o'rourke - syr 3 invito al cielo

.:: For SYR3, the band chose a collaborator, the noted Chicago producer/omnimusician Jim O'Rourke, and made Esparanto (once backed by the UN in a bid to become the "universal language") the featured tongue. Almost 50 minutes of sonic shenanigans make this release a scorcing bargain at a mid-line price.

Chose language: Esperanto

download: sonic youth & jim o'rourke - syr 3 invito al cielo

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sonic youth - syr4: goodbye 20th century

||| RESPOTED |||

.:: The fourth release on the SYR label was not designated to new material or studio improvisations, but instead a double-disc set of Sonic Youth's interpretations of various works by other composers. A truly ambitious project, it's one of their most diverse releases yet, featuring a selection of guest performers and some extremely interesting recordings -- from the seemingly random yet very calculated half-hour Cage piece "Four6" to Coco's shrill delivery of Yoko Ono's "Voice Piece For Soprano", from the torturous yet compelling "Pendulum Music" to the perplexing yet amusing 88-key destruction of "Piano Piece #13", the album offers a vast sample of Sonic Youth chasing us down musical paths we might not otherwise have ever visited.

.:: For information on the history and evolution of the record itself, look no further than head project co-ordinator William Winant's extensive notes reproduced below, originally published in Bananafish #13. To discuss the live history a bit, we need to go back to April 1st, 1999. It was a special show at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC, Sonic Youth's first attempt to perform the SYR4 material live.

To make this possible, SY brought Jim O'Rourke, William Winant, Takehisa Kosugi, and Wharton Tiers onstage to assist in the performance. The show was opened by three sonic solo events: the Thurston Moore/William Winant/Tom Surgal trio, the Kim Gordon/Ikue Mori/DJ Olive trio (who would go on to release SYR5), the Lee Ranaldo/Leah Singer duo, and UK noise terrorists Prick Decay. The set consisted of 5 pieces from the SYR4 record, including "Six For New Time" "+-" "Having Never Written a Note For Percussion" "Four6" & "Voice Piece For Soprano", the latter of which was sung by Kim (rather than Coco) in 3 parts, one scream between each piece.

A program with scores for the pieces performed that night was handed out before the show. Following this gig, only "Having Never Written a Note For Percussion" would reappear in a set list that year, at the June 13th NYC show. Less than a month later, all of the band's gear was stolen on a brief west coast tour -- but that incident is covered in the write-ups for "A Thousand Leaves" and "NYC Ghosts & Flowers".

Following the "NYC Ghosts" tours in 2000, Sonic Youth decided to take the SYR4 material on an exclusive tour in Europe in June 2001, finally getting a chance to premiere the pieces they had not yet performed live, including "Burdocks" "Six" "Treatise" and even "Piano Piece #13", which was performed 4 times and yes, that means 4 innocent pianos had to die.

The band also debuted some non-SYR4 material in the same vein as those compositions -- "Clapping Music" (another Steve Reich piece, comprised entirely of Steve and William Winant clapping their hands) and a one-time-only rendition of Konrad Boehmer's "Echelon", written specifically for Sonic Youth, and conducted live onstage by Konrad himself in Amsterdam. In addition to SYR4 material, "She Is Not Alone" "NYC Ghosts & Flowers" and "Side2Side" were performed at every show.

Two shows on the 10-date tour were "rock gigs" -- ie, standard SY set lists. They did one festival set in Barcelona, opening with a lengthy improvised version of "She is Not Alone", centering around the full half-hour performance of "Four6", and finishing with "Side2Side". At this point, Jim O'Rourke was already an official member of the band, and he performed at every show -- also along for the ride was William Winant, and the sextet was joined by various guests in every city along the way.

It was a truly unique, remarkable tour that unfortunately didn't extend to North America -- reportedly, some of the European crowds were less than enthused by what they were witnessing. Oh well... sonic youth

download: sonic youth - syr4: goodbye 20th century
rapidspread mirror

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king crimson - discipline

.:: Discipline showcases the revitalized King Crimson line-up of Robert Fripp, Andian Belew, Tony Levin and ex-Yes drummer Bill Bruford. The combination of Belew's futuristic guitar playing the textured guitar approach of Fripp works magically to create what many consider to be the band's best album since In The Court Of The Crimson King.

After spending the second half of the '70s on various solo projects, the irrepressible Robert Fripp decided to reinvent King Crimson. Instead of building on the group's '70s legacy, Fripp burned his bridges and started from scratch, even though KC drummer Bill Bruford returned to the fold for the '80s version of the band.

The new Crimson was influenced equally by funk, world music, Balinese Gamelan orchestras, minimalism and the new pan-cultural sounds being made by the likes of Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel (in retrospect, the former's Remain In Light, which featured future Crimson guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew, seems an undeniable influence).

download: king crimson - discipline

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krzysztof penderecki - jutrznia utrenja I & II

||| OUT OF THIS WORLD !!! |||

.:: Performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir with various soloists, and composed in 1969-1970, Jutrznia I (Utrenya I: The Entombment of Christ) is a magnificent contemporary oratorio in five parts for two mixed choirs, five solo voices and symphony orchestra is a spine-tingling evocation of deep religious and otherworldly experience; the text is taken from Old Church Slavic writings concerning the Russian Orthodox liturgy of Great Saturday and Vespers of Good Friday.

The elegant choral and orchestral material consists of tone clusters with major/minor chords embedded in them, wordless drones, chants in the rhythmically repeated chord style of the Russian Orthodox Church and ecstatic reaching for the highest notes in the soloists' range. Whispered speaking, percussive and brass punctuations, random rushing sounds, steely bow cymbal sustains, and more, take us into an inter-dimensional world of boundless interior and exterior.

The second part of the diptych (of which Utrenya I: The Entombment of Christ is the first part), Jutrznia II (Utrenya II: The Resurrection of Christ), composed during 1970-71, is for five vocal soloists, boys choir, two mixed choirs and symphony orchestra. In contrast to Utrenya I, this work is one of unrestrained joy and wonder, the spirit of a more earthy world of two thousand years ago projected onto a contemporary landscape of cosmic dimensions. A remarkable and moving set of works.

.:: Krzysztof Penderecki has been an exceptional phenomenon in the history of music, not only in that of Polish music, but of the history music in general. In twentieth-century music, no one has had a career quite like his. And no one shot to the top so quickly, either! The story of his career is perhaps only comparable to that of Igor Stravinsky. And like Stravinsky, there were twists and turns on the path of Krzysztof Penderecki's musical career.

He enjoyed success from the very start. When the results of the second Competition of Young Composers were decided in 1959, it turned out that Penderecki's compositions (submitted under different pseudonyms) had taken the first, second and third prizes, that the winner was Krzysztof Penderecki, an unknown 28-year-old assistant professor at the Composition Department of the State Musical Academy in Krakow.

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ahleuchatistas - even in the midst

.:: "...they're astonishingly together even on passages where it seems impossible to stay in sync." - Pitchfork

Third and best yet from this amazing instrumental, post-Beefheart, avant-technical, improv-core, math-metal, art-damage, punk-rock power trio from Asheville, NC. Using the simple and classic skeleton of guitar, bass and drums, these three make powerful music that is undeniably 'rock' but is also undeniably much wider in musical influences than what one would imagine in such rock-based work.

For example, the opening song is Remember Rumsfeld at Abu Ghraib; of course we all know what that title is in reference to, but, huge Charles Mingus fan that I am, I also immediately caught the reference to Charles' great work, Remember Rockefeller at Attica, which is not a reference I would expect from a rock band. But then, these guys are the most technically adept 'punk' band you will ever hear; they have chops growing on their chops, so surprises are to be expected! The playing from everyone is beyond powerful and while the term "Beefheartian" gets bandied about way too much, the complexity and directness of the playing here really does bear some comparisons.

Their music has been developed over playing tons of shows and the sound on the CD reflects this with a very well recorded, but not so "produced", live feeling sound. If they come to your town, go see them. Having said that, if you can't see them live, this CD comes with 3 short, nicely shot QuickTime movies which you can watch on your Mac or PC, so you can see just what you are missing.

This Asheville, North Carolina-based power trio's quirky cross between new music composition and raw punk energy will have the self-appointed genre limiters scratching their heads for the rest of the year. The rest of us can just enjoy it and hope there'll be more in the not-too-distant future." - New Music Box

download: ahleuchatistas - even in the midst

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broken links

||| please resport broken links: indieground@gmail.com |||

pedro the lion - stations (ep)

.:: Recorded while the band toured in support of Achilles' Heel, the iTunes Exclusive Stations EP features radio station versions of an assortment of Pedro The Lion hits.

Big Trucks off the band's watershed It's Hard to Find A Friend along with Of Minor Prophets and Their Prostitute Wives, and I Do were recorded as part of a live broadcast on WLUW-FM in Chicago on June 30th 2004.

CBC Radio recorded the remaining tracks live in Toronto at the Horseshoe Tavern on June 24, 2004. The entire show was broadcast a few weeks later as a part of the CBC Just Concerts Series

Tracks 1-3 recorded live at WLUW-FM in Chicago.
Tracks 4-6 recorded live in Toronto by CBC Radio.

download: pedro the lion - stations (ep)
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caldera - mist through your consciousness

.:: aldera had been around for a bit of time now, roaming around the Nancy musical scene, whetting their finest tunes and getting ready for the final attack. The time has come now, a time to unleash a roaring fury that has been kept tamed for too long. The band has signed their first album and recorded it with the talented Serge Morratel at the Rec Studio in Geneva, Switzerland, obviously a long time commitment for Atropine and Radar Swarm always marked with success (through Year of no light, Tantrum, Metronome Charisma among others).

You could describe Caldera as being a metal jam band pretty accurately. The tracks, in true post-metal style, are fairly winding and journeylike in tone, with little in the way of repetition or traditional song structures. The lack of vocals accentuates this even more, preventing any one instrument from 'leading the way'; drums, guitars, and bass are all generally doing very different things.

Music is structured around peaks and valleys, but unlike a band such as Isis, the climaxes of Caldera's music don't necessarily indicate an end or progression; Caldera's songs are more like fragments of endless processions of melody and rhythm. It's perhaps even less 'songy' music than Pelican in that they aren't easy musical units ready for consumption. Caldera's music is a more challenging listen than most, but it's equally rewarding in that difficulty: it demands from the listener and gives you more than most.

download: caldera - mist through your consciousness

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tori amos - boys for pele

.:: Boys for Pele, the title of Tori Amos's epic third album, is as awkward and confusing as the music inside. Though it sounds like a recruitment slogan for Little League soccer, the name actually refers to the lost temples of feminine divinity. Pele, you see, is the Hawaiian volcano goddess; the boys, well, they're the sacrifices that quell the rumbling lady's rage.

Attempting to regain fires stolen long ago, Pele rewrites the crucifixion to star a girl Jesus and in doing so conjures a forgotten matriarchal mythology. While Amos's characters--Jupiter, Muhammad, Lucifer--are male by name, the aural landscape into which they're thrown is as symbolically and expressionistically female as Georgia O'Keeffe's skull-and-roses paintings.

Pele is a complex and formless--and often impenetrable--work of gothic-pop chamber music, both beautiful and ghostly in its nearly complete reliance on Amos's rolling Bosendorfer grand piano, chilling harpsichord (which she bangs like a courtly punk rocker), and acrobatic voice (as earthy as Joni Mitchell's and as otherworldly as Bjork's).

Unfortunately, she takes us only halfway: her songs engage and challenge us to understand, but the imagery offers few clues to help us crack their frustrating opacity. Pele ends up as much a pretentious and self-indulgent trip as it is a synthesis of talent, imagination, and skewed vision. Still, there's reason to celebrate that an album as formalistically and thematically alien to pop audiences as Pele would win such quick success upon its original release.

.:: All of the Boys For Pele album tracks were written by Tori, and for the first time, Tori produced the album herself. The tracks were recorded by Mark Hawley and Marcel Van Limbeek. Another addition to this album was Tori's use of some new keyboard varieties: a harpsichord, a harmonium organ, and a clavichord.

Boys For Pele also included church bells, horns, strings, a gospel choir and bagpipes. Steve Caton handled the guitars and would join Tori on the road for the Dew Drop Inn '96 Tour. Principal recording was done in a church in County Wicklow, Ireland; a rented house in County Cork, Ireland; with the remainder in New Orleans, LA USA. Future pressings of Boys For Pele would replace the original version of Talula with Talula (The Tornado Mix).

"Well, Pele is the volcano goddess and I thought of like, um, sacrificing some of the boys in my life to her but then I decided that that wasn't really a very good idea. And, the album is sort of about the way I've stolen fire from the men in my life. And I got tired of doing that 'cause I have my own. But I couldn't see that for a very long time. And now I can respect them without needing to suck their blood."
-- Tori; BBC Interview

download: tori amos - boys for pele

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russian circles - enter

.:: Chicago seems to be a sort of hot bed for instrumental acts now-a-days... Russian Circles sound is much less pretentious then many of the other instrumental bands... with songs never getting tedious or tiring.

Enter is a record over which the post-rock (now, i'm hating this word: "post-rock". I guess i'll never use it again in this blog !!!) pioneers will drool, but fans of more traditional heavy rock bands will also find their appetites whetted by a selection of truly phenomenal riffs. For every crystalline chime there’s a cymbal crash to awaken the dead; for every plucked string there’s a fret-shredding monster chord sequence to rival anything today’s metal royalty can muster. It is, in short, a wonderfully balanced album, full of surprises and satisfying climaxes, albeit one that may have benefited from better sequencing.

.:: Russian Circles have it. That's really what it all boils down to in the end, after all the promotion, the interviews, the advertisements, the one-sheets, the haranguing from publicists: Does this band have it -- that impossible-to-define something that you can't explain, but instantly recognize? It's what makes a band indelibly memorable and sends people scurrying to the merch table after their set.

Up until recently, Russian Circles didn't have much to sell those people besides a self-released four-song demo. That's because the band only formed in late 2004, after the break-up of Dakota/Dakota, the math-rock band in which guitarist Mike Sullivan and bassist Colin DeKuiper played. When drummer Dave Turncrantz moved to Chicago after he quit his old band, Riddle Of Steel, Russian Circles cohered into something formidable.

Instrumental bands have to compensate for the presence a vocalist would bring, but with Russian Circles, vocals seem extraneous. Who needs some dude's caterwauling when you have Sullivan's richly textured playing? It's got enough technical flair to make guitarists in the audience reconsider taking lessons, but it flows naturally, never resorting to wanky theatrics. DeKuiper's thick, growling bass lines provide the punch in the low end. Drummer Turncrantz's propulsive, polyrhythmic beats make him the "Jesse's Girl" of the indie scene, leaving band dudes everywhere wondering, "Where can I find a drummer like that?" -- flameshovel.com

download: russian circles - enter

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keiji haino, greg cohen, joey baron - an unclear trial: more than this

.:: Keiji Haino is a Japanese guitarist of awesome reputation in the arena of blasting electric freeform psychedelic improvisation. Here he turns down the levels and joins ace downtown rhythm section Greg Cohen and Joey Baron in a more introspective set.

The hierarchy of lead instrument and accompaniment is obliterated as guitar, bass and percussion embark on an intimate three-way conversation. And do they ever have a lot to say, at first tentatively feeling one another out until they fairly (but quietly) swing on the last two numbers. Central to the success of this disc is the half-hour long third track, "Never Did I Imagine That There Exists an Eight Layered Handicap".

Haino, Cohen and Baron circle around one another searchingly, finding common ground and inhabiting it for a while, before slowly extracting themselves from it, looking off in different directions while keeping close watch on each other, before reuniting in yet another groove. An album of supple improvisational skill. Partisans say we may never hear Haino like this again, so take advantage of the opportunity.

.:: Haino Keiji, enigmatic noise troubadour from Tokyo, has exploded on the American/European scene, enthralling both experimental enthusiasts and alternative rock fans. He has performed with artists including John Zorn, Thurston Moore, Gate, and Loren Mazzacane as well as his own group, Fushitsusha. Haino has been cited as a favorite guitarist by peers ranging from Thurston Moore to Fred Frith. -- tzadik.com

download: keiji haino, greg cohen, joey baron - an unclear trial: more than this
alt download

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blackfield - live in new york city

.:: Blackfield is the side project of Porcupine Tree frontman Steve Wilson and Israeli pop star Aviv Geffen. The two struck up a friendship back in 2000 when Geffen invited Porcupine Tree to play some shows in Israel, and they have continued to work together ever since. In 2004, they released the results of these collaborations in the form of an extraordinary new album called Blackfield.

Over the course of the last five years Porcupine Tree have steadily climbed to the top of my favorite band list. During this period they released three remarkable albums, a terrific concert DVD, and performed three of the most exhilarating concerts I have ever witnessed. So I started to get a little worried when Wilson began focusing most of his attention on this new band of his, instead of where it really belonged - with Porcupine Tree.

But have no fear PT fans. Steve Wilson has plenty of talent and creativity to go around. Not only did he follow the debut Blackfield album with one of Porcupine Tree's finest albums and tours to date, Fear Of A Blank Planet, but in early 2007 he also released the follow-up Blackfield II album, which was even better than the first.

On the heals of some overwhelming critical and fan acclaim for both Blackfield albums, the band embarked on a short European and U.S. tour to show off the goods. Blackfield Live In New York City was recorded during the Blackfield II tour, on March 16th, 2007, at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. The touring version of the band features three talented Israeli musicians, Eran Mitelman (keyboards), Seffy Efrati (bass), and Tomer Z (drums), joining Geffen and Wilson onstage.

download: blackfield - live in new york city

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botch - an anthology of dead ends [EP]

.:: How does one measure the influence and impact of a band on music? Sure, you could look at album sales, which in the case of The Beatles is a corollary that works, but then you could see how many albums a band like Godsmack or someone like Kenny Chesney has sold and just throw that idea out the window.

Truly, the best way to gauge a band's importance in music is to take a look at the world of music before and after their existence? There are artists like Black Sabbath, The Ramones, and Black Flag, among others, that completely flipped the music world upside-down when they unleashed their sound on the unsuspecting masses. Then again, the first guy to “create” electronica music did the same. Nevertheless, this is how we should find Botch's place in music, something that would have been a hell of a lot harder to do so while the band was still alive and breathing.

Though, I'm sure someone was listening to the first Ramones recording and screaming, “This is going to change everything,” Oh, and before someone flips out and thinks I'm comparing the impact of The Ramones and Botch, I'm not. I am, however, putting into perspective how Botch changed music, the micro-niche that they called home - hardcore. Botch wasn't the first group to mess with song structures, but they were one of the first bands within hardcore to infuse these circus-like maneuvers on their instruments - fellow cohorts included Coalesce, Deadguy, and Converge.

Over the years, as the band matured and it's members became more experimental with their instruments, the band's sound began to reach beyond reasonable logic and became something that was awe-inspiring.

An Anthology of Dead End is a departure from previous work, featuring subdued vocals, piano and overdubbed spoken word segments. Released on Hydra Head Records in October 2002, it was the band's final studio recording, and was released after they disbanded.

download: botch - an anthology of dead ends [EP]

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guapo - elixirs

.:: Three years have passed since “Black Oni”. Four years since “Five Suns”(Cuneiform Records). The new album by Guapo is finally here and thus concludes the recondite triptych they set out to accomplish. Flux is not uncommon here, every record taking on new musical hues and offering disparate ideas and perspectives. However an upheaval in the line-up, which of recent years has been anchored by the trio of Daniel O’Sullivan, Matthew Thompson and David Smith, triggered a change in course when Thompson left the band just prior to the release of Black Oni in 2005.

The house of the idealist is teeming with the most unlikely of treasures. Fairies, jewelled turtles, lindworms and moon worshipping plants are but a few residents. But in these fragments contain a cognitive universe propelled by an unspoken and unheard pantheon. Guapo give voice to this realm, where the mystical philosophies of Huysmans, Kircher, Conan Doyle, Hyltén-Cavallius and many others are used as facilitators and indeed, guardians for the music conceived on “Elixirs”.

As a result, Elixirs transcends any musical antecedents that Guapo have been acknowledged for in the past. Instead, the music here explores the outer-most regions of psychedelic composition. Flickers of Popol Vuh, This Heat, Magma, Third Ear Band, Moondog and early 70’s Miles Davis are present here as over-arching themes are morphed and mined through serpentine asymmetrical structures. Chiming rounds and canons swim through a sapphirine ocean of polyrhythmic mantra. All sullenly overcast with compositions so mercurial, the paths you can take are infinite.

The dense orchestration and finespun virtuosity (seamlessly captured by engineer / producer Antti Uusimaki) create a richness previously hinted at but never fully realized until now. On “Elixirs” Guapo have opened a secret vault of treasures where jewels of sulphurous green and ashen blue blossom dwell. Where springs of fire feverishly burst through a vista of golden chrysoberyls. Let the ceremony commence.

download: guapo - elixirs

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phat - la grande peste

.:: PHAT is an french energic Free-Jazz/Free-Rock/Noise "power trio" founded in october 2006. It reinvents and re adapts the mixture of the styles with an extreme joy for the most curious and fondest ears of delicacies about "out-of-limits" sound experiments .

Guilty parts:
Fabien Duscombs: drums, percussions
Marc Perrenoud: bass & electric doublebass
Heddy Boubaker: alto & bass saxophones

download: phat - la grande peste

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matt sweeney & bonnie 'prince' billy - superwolf

.:: When word spread through indie gossip sites that Bonnie Prince Billy AKA Will Oldham AKA Palace was set to team with Matt Sweeney of Chavez, Zwan and Man ‘Zine fame, unless you were a dedicated fan of elaborate facial hair, it seemed hard to be very intrigued. But the Superwolf collaboration between the two is frayed, fuzzy and undeniably excellent.

It’s hard not to get hooked from the first song, which declares "I am under your spell/ And you will have me I reckon," a near six-minute epic that goes from moody sparse organ bit to absolutely choogling guitar part, the words shouted like some Southern anthem or ancient sea shanty until it ends with an elongated coda that sounds a lot like a Jerry Garcia solo album. It sounds a bit like Neil Young ca. Tonight’s the Night covering British folk singer Nic Jones’ Penguin Eggs album.

Sweeney and Oldham play most of the instruments and though the vocals are mostly by Oldham, they do harmonize well. It’s remarkable how Oldham continues to reinvent and reinvigorate his mystic mountain man persona The truly surprising thing is that the rest of the album is just as ridiculously good.

Soft and subtle, Superwolf is the kind of record that unwinds slowly, and is best enjoyed over multiple listens and, unsurprisingly, many glasses of wine. Oldham and Sweeney mew coquettishly, stroking their guitars, cawing bizarre stories about love, death, and body parts: theirs is a rancid and beautiful landscape.

download: matt sweeney & bonnie 'prince' billy - superwolf

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omar rodriguez-lopez - calibration

.:: Just a few short weeks after the release of The Mars Volta's "The Bedlam in Goliath", Volta songwriter Omar Rodriguez Lopez is out to prove that he is a force to be reckoned with in 2008 with his latest solo release "Calibration."

Although "Calibration" is a solo piece, Lopez does have plenty of guests come by to assist in his work. With appearances by Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante and Mars Volta singer Cedric Bixler Zavala to name a few, "Calibration" is in no short supply of star power. However, the question lies not in who is on the album, but what it sounds like.

What sets "Calibration" apart from other rock albums is the variety of sounds created. While Lopez could rely entirely on his guitar playing ability to carry the album, the addition of violin, various woodwinds and a heavy presence of a wide variety of synthesizers make "Calibration" sound unlike anything else.

The instrument that is the most pleasantly surprising in "Calibration" is the violin. While a lot of "Calibration" has a jam feel to it, the use of violins in tracks "El Monte T'Ai", and "Grey (Cancion Para El)" adds in a melancholic feel that takes the album to a whole other level.

In "Calibration," Lopez embraces his Hispanic culture, which adds to his already diverse sound. The song "El Monte T'Ai" has fully Spanish lyrics. Lopez also fuses in a Mexican vibe to various songs.

One song that is a perfect example of how Lopez uses his Hispanic culture to enhance is "Cortar El Cuello". The song features only guitars, and despite the lack of lyrics feels like it is telling a story of desolation and solitude. While one guitar part is slow and has a Mexican feel to it, an additional wailing guitar is also present. The fusion of the two makes for a very amazing sound.

The most memorable track off "Calibration" is the opening track "Mexico." The track starts off sounding like a soothing lullaby. Tina Rodriguez's beautiful voice is accompanied by a delicate Mexican harp to make a sound that is undeniably calm and relaxed. Then synthesizers, funky slap bass, a delightfully random guitar riff, and drumming that can be described as nothing short of an absolute shredding all enter to create an orgy of sound that will get anyone to tap their feet along to the beat.

Of course, no Omar Rodriguez Lopez album would be complete without some sick guitar licks, and "Calibration" is no means in short supply. Lopez, already one of the premier guitarists of our time, flaunts his versatility throughout this album.

Some of the guitar that is present is similar to the work Lopez has done with the Mars Volta. The title track sounds like something straight out of a Volta album. Volta front man Cedric Bixler Zavala comes by on vocals to make for a very familiar sound. The track is saturated with up tempo, psychedelic guitar solos that will leave listeners begging for more.

Overall, "Calibration" is definitely a worthwhile pick up for a fan of Omar Rodriguez Lopez's work. It is impressive to see that Lopez has released a combined 11 solo and Mars Volta albums since 2004, and still manages to come out with solid releases.

download: omar rodriguez-lopez - calibration

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fall of efrafa - elil


.:: With each year that passes and each new band that marches in under the banner of atmospheric doom-sludge-post-metal comes and goes, the excitement and flare of metal’s artistic side seems to have gotten a bit stale. Fortunately, Britain’s Fall of Efrafa are here to prove that their special breed of hardcore “crust-punk” can be just as epic and creative without succumbing to ambient pseudo-doom shenanigans. Keep your labels at home—this isn’t post-rock, post-metal, post-hardcore, or even progressive metal. It is a grandiose tale of mankind’s most pitiful disease, told through tormenting sounds of raw intensity and aggression.

Elil is the second installment of a trilogy called “The Warren of Snares,” which is highly influenced by the novel Watership Down by Richard Adams. Accordingly the album’s lyrical content deals mostly with the rejection of religion (specifically Christianity) and all of its destructive forces. Structurally, the most striking feature of the album is the length of its songs—three tracks summing up to an over 60-minute album—incredibly long for a style which is known by definition for its brevity. Despite the length of the tracks, the band still maintains a relatively clean-cut hardcore style. As a result, there is unfortunately an overabundance of slow build-ups in between the exciting segments that often overstay their welcome. For many, this issue will most likely come down to a matter of taste, but personally I could have done without a 6-minute single-melody intro to the first track.

Shortcomings aside, the band deserves due praise for approaching the ever-popular style of epic song structure without turning into another faceless Neur-Isis clone. In staying true to their hardcore punk roots in Elil, Fall of Efrafa have chosen to join the next generation of extreme music with a style all their own.

.:: We can’t demand that every band comes up with a unique or innovative sound. It’s simply preposterous. Plus, let’s face it; about 80% of experimentations are not even worth hearing. So we should embrace bands that concentrate in songwriting and shall not always put them down simply because they tread on the blues based rock of AC/DC, the intricate jazz metal guitar patterns of Atheist, the humongous suckiness levels of Kiss, the ties of The Hives or the mustache from that Converge dude. That said, UK’s Fall of Efrafa sound a hell of a lot like Neurosis, except….except nothing. But Elil is awesome all the same. Much like the best material from the San Francisco leaders Fall of Efrafa’s crusty post rock takes its time to get stirred. Unlike Neurosis though, once these young lads get going there ain’t no stopping.

Elil is comprised of three cuts; all long, expansive and seemingly themselves comprised by several movements. The first one “Beyond the Veil” goes from dead quiet, to heavy, to faster heavy only to slowly bring down the speed (which is not that fast any way), give way to an acoustic passage that lays flat and works as a breather before the tune gets heavy again. The riffs are simple, two to three notes, open and breathing freely for over twenty minutes.

Elil is the second part (following the first part Owsla) in the band’s The Warren of Snares trilogy. Like all trilogies, there must be concordant ideas flowing here. Elil, for instance, means predator and this record as a whole deals with the evils of predatory religious institutions, ‘Ignorant belief systems that sway the minds of a large proportion of humanity on this planet, blinding us as we pollute and rape the earth’. So you get the idea. Fall of Efrafa, like Neurosis is not out here simply to rock out, but also to wake you up and then inform. But beyond all the concepts and ideas, Elil is solid and simple too. At least musically, more blunt, direct and uncomplicated than the band’s objectives.

When second cut “Dominion Theology” kicks in, it’s clear this quintet doesn’t complicate itself; the riff is grand, but because of its own constitution it sticks itself in the brain, the vocals of Alex are growled but legible, easy to understand. Elil was produced by Peter Miles, who has worked with a lot of English bands, but expect to hear more stuff produced by this guy. Elil sounds great, Miles could have gone for a rougher angle, but has instead dished out a very natural sounding record with great acoustics. The package is also gorgeous, a collaborative work of Germany’s Alerta Antifascista, England’s Sound devastation and Milwaukee’s Halo of Flies.

download: fall of efrafa - elil

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jonny greenwood - there will be blood

.:: The first hint that Jonny Greenwood might make a gifted composer came in 1997, when, bored with the syrupy, provincial strings that dominated the tail-end of Britpop, he channeled Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki for the arrangement on OK Computer's "Climbing Up The Walls". Essentially a wall of quarter notes played against each other, that noisy squall stood out in dramatic opposition to the "Bittersweet Symphony"s of the world. Where the traditional rock approach had always been to use strings to amplify melody and opulence, Greenwood was using them to create discord and ambience; in other words, he was playing orchestras like he played his guitar.

While his interest in what he's since referred to in interviews as a "wrong" string sound manifested in later Radiohead highlights like "How to Disappear Completely" and "Pyramid Song", his compositional talents didn't become readily apparent until his imaginative score for 2003's sweeping documentary Bodysong. A lush mixture of strings, pianos, percussions, electronics, and otherwise unrecognizable textures, Bodysong's sprawling fourteen tracks allowed Greenwood to indulge in a level of experimentation and free-jazz complexity that wouldn't have otherwise fit on a Radiohead record.

Since then, Greenwood's graduation to mainstream film work has been pretty much inevitable, but even still, he'd probably be the first to admit that a Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love) project represents a pretty plum debut. Regardless of how you feel about Anderson as a director, few of his contemporaries manage to weave original music into the fabric of their films quite as devotedly. To score an Anderson project is to have a starring role in it; that this particular film-- a loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair's Oil!-- is set in a desolate California town circa 1920 only makes the task that much bigger.

After his initial contact with Anderson, Greenwood apparently wrote hours and hours of music for the film; in the end, the duo pared the score back to a very tidy 33 minutes, a small portion of which was lifted from Greenwood’s 2005 BBC-commissioned suite Popcorn Superhet Receiver. Nonetheless, this is all new ground for Greenwood. If the fidgety Bodysong was proof that he isn't ever likely to be short of ideas, There Will Be Blood feels tighter, more disciplined, and lonelier than anything he's done before.

Piano, percussion, and Greenwood's beloved Ondes-Martenot all feature, but it's the strings that take center stage here. While Greenwood has always been vocal about the originators and inspirations behind a lot of his techniques (Penderecki, Gorecki, and Messiaen come up often), There Will Be Blood's string arrangements nonetheless sound vanguard and exploratory in the context of Hollywood film scores. From the goosebump-inducing glissandos on opener "Wide Open Spaces" to the spiralling staccatos on "Future Markets" to the creeping dissonance in "Henry Plainview" (there's that "wrong" sound again), Greenwood's alien, experimental sensibilities lurk around each corner. - Mark Pytlik

download: jonny greenwood - there will be blood

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