Monthly Archives: March 2009

The Black Dog – Radio Scarecrow


There’s retro and then there’s frozen in time.

There’s a revivalist techno thing going on with labels like Dust Science and Soma, and specifically the resurgence of B12 and these guys.

A bit of history – back in the day, The Black Dog was the two dudes from Plaid (before they were Plaid) and Ken Downie. The two dudes left to go do their Plaid thing and Ken kinda fucked around for a while before hitting a new stride in the mid-00s. Beyond all the reissues there was some new material.

Now, if you did the whole “desert island discs” thing becuase you’re old enough to remember when such a postulation was a fun parlour game for music nerds, I would have put 1995’s Spanners album on that list. Very high on that list, in fact, as it is the essential IDM-sounding release. Warp Records + mid-90s + these guys = classic. It’s held up quite well as one long, flowing piece. Neither techno nor braindance, it can cut a rug but it’s a bit more meaty than beaty. And it just sounds so lush, so…like a hair care commercial talking about the wonders of thick, shiny hair, but with sounds that hit your ears. Continue reading

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Dreadfully Obvious Classics #2 – Selected Ambient Works Volume 2

saw2A few years back I wrote an email to a friend who had asked for an Aphex Twin recommendation. For whatever reason I closed my email to her with the following line:

Burroughs was the Venetian Snares of magickal sodomy. SAW2 wears a rubber glove.”

Now, that doesn’t make a damn bit of sense whatsoever. The first half – maybe? I can see the argument if you’re fresh out of some of the mid-70s work, all done up with wire hangers and metaphors and executions. The second half is totally pointless and I’m really sorry, A., because that wasn’t even remotely helpful.

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Bardo Pond – Dilate

bardo2001 was a year that could be described as psychomimetic, if not genuinely psychedelic*; at the very least it was a psychoactive hallucinogenic launchpad for all sorts of horrendous bullshit.

I don’t belive I listened to this album that year; I was neck deep in NYC’s tiny IDM scene and related hijinks, like watching people I care about slowly go insane. I do know I had heard Dilate by the time On The Eclipse came out, but like most of their work nothing has really stuck as truly and as well as Dilate. Continue reading

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I Have A Divination: The New Mastodon Sucks

Are they serious?

The song is pretty bad; it picks up on the prog landscape where Blood Mountain left off, and is not my cup of tea. But the video? Really?

Clarification: The advent of Metalocalypse changed the game. It’s not enough to be ridiculous, ambiguously.


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Burial – Untrue

burialuntrueUntrue is a parade of simple, stilted beats and R&B vocal samples pitched about while drowning in reverb. It’s poorly mixed and almost ugly. It evokes a nearly universal reaction of what the hell from everyone.

But despite sounding like poo, it’s very engaging. The mood is, however, entirely that of feeling like the dude(s) who made it wore nothing but grey hooded sweatshirts.


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Antony & The Johnsons – The Crying Light

the-crying-lightAntony has a tear-strained voice that will forever overwhelm anything the rest of his ensemble may do. That’s the nature of vocal-driven music. Even the minor instrumental patters here and there on The Crying Light never actually go beyond setting the stage for the next reappearance of his pained, absurdist melodrama.

Some might complain this is smoother and far more poppy than I Am A Bird Now, but isn’t that the point of personality-driven cabaret music? It’s about setting the scene for a voice and for words, so people can make their own private movies in their heads and be subsumed by that collaborative narrative.

I hope one day they’re really huge, like Leonard Cohen huge. Mr. Cohen is a neat vocalist (with terrible taste in arrangements) but $250 tickets is absolutely absurd. That kind of absurd success would be a tidy ironic fit for this increasingly pop, gender-falutin’ post-cabaret conspiracy.


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Genghis Tron – Board Up The House

genghis_tron-board_up_the_houseThis was another memorable record of 2008. Great big ole spasms right at the intersection of late 90s IDM and grindcore, with a taste for epic flourishes. It’s a bit more “mature” than Dead Mountain Mouth, in that there’s a slightly wider spread of styles, a handful of slowdowns before the big speed-ups. At its heart, however, Board Up The House is a jerky drum machine stutter, screaming about some kind of alienation, and lovely synth washes.

A highly-recommended Boards of Agoraphobic Canada.

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Burning Witch – Crippled Lucifer

bwitchThis reissue was one of my favorites of 2008. The name of the band is kinda dumb. References to Lucifer are generally to be avoided. It’s got that dude from Sunn O))) in it, and it’s a decade old.

But damn, I love it. I love it so much. There’s this part in “Sacred Predictions” where it starts up and the dude is just plain yelling about having all of his “pills and things” and this allows him to take a jaundiced eye of everyone’s view of his business. Then it rips into a phasey 70s chorus that sounds like the end of some weird British sci-fi show. Then he’s all yelling and shrieking again. And it works.

My other hard favorite is “History of Hell (Crippled Lucifer)” because it makes the 70s Brit-sci-fi vocals go sit in a toilet stall while the shouty guy voice is having his way with…stuff.

So yeah, Crippled Lucifer – so good it doesn’t matter it sounds like everything related to the project was named by a 7th grade math class.


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Drone On You Lazy Diamonds (Nadja & Asva)


Band recommendations, like deaths, are rumored to come in threes. Obviously that’s just selection bias, like a lot of what we’d call “folk wisdom” or “making shit up”. Oral traditions are a tangled web, and say what the Zerzanites and the back to the land types will, but I’m all for indexed Google searches and WYSIWYG interfaces. And antibiotics. Continue reading

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