Jan St. Werner - Miscontinuum Album Review
Miscontinuum is a surreal, subjective sound opera; an abstract tone poem; a stream-of-consciousness dream monologue on the nature of time and memory.
"Every memory is just a loop. Returning again to places I once was, before, things are never as I remember them. Every home is also a burning house. Loop... and if one could draw this loop differently, then what? Different lengths? Four different lengths? Changes history's courses - places, people, and events; all of them never were. Could they be made anew with this loop? I doubt it. Is this really happening?" - Intro to Miscontinuum
Miscontinuum, from Mouse On Mars member Jan St. Werner, is the third installment in his Fiepblatter Catalogue series, was originally conceived as an operatic performance and radio play, with a very surreal, stream-of-consciousness libretti written by Oval's Marcus Popp, and recited, wonderfully, by Earth's Dylan Carlson, in his reedy voice. The text revolves around the misconceptions of time and memory, inspired by unique acoustic phenomena derived through digital phasing and musical time-stretching techniques, which is punctuated with St. Werner's tapestry of hypnotic electrical pulsing. Imagine, if you will, if Philip Glass had written an opera based on a text by Haruki Murakami, rather than illustrating Einstein standing on a beach; with Terry Riley on the keys, if it had been recorded thirty years later, and you're getting close to imagining Miscontinuum's minimalist electronics.

 

Album Covers of the Year 2014
In contrast to modern patterns in music consumption comes our annual Album Covers of the Year feature, where, instead of forgetting album artwork even exists, we hyperextend ourselves to assert that it is an artform that is vitally connected to the spirit of the music. This feature, which is divided at times into thematic elements and at times into artistic medium, incorporates interviews with not only musicians, but also artists involved throughout the artistic process. We pride this list in being diverse and multi-faceted, as well as philosophically exploratory. See all of our entries from previous years or get started by choosing a category below. Happy travels through the artistic universe we've crafted for you.

Ensemble Pearl Ensemble Pearl Drag City (2013 February) Comprised of drone merchant Stephen O'Malley (Sunn O)))); psychedelic guitar wizard Michio Kurihara (Ghost/Boris); white-gloved drummer Atsuo, (also Boris); and William Herzog (Jesse Sykes And The Sweet Hereafter) on bass, Ensemble Pearl is comprised of some of the brightest gems the drone metal underground has had to offer over the last decade. Many of them have worked together already, so it is an electrifying thrill to have them all gathered on wax, in the same place at the same time. For this self-titled release, the ensemble's press release expresses influence from: "Cosmic heavy rock sounds in an area between Link Wray (one of the songs is titled ‘Wray'), Earth "Hex", and early Tangerine Dream. Inspired by 50s-70s rock and contemporary music productions." The Drag City website speaks of "amplified rock drops and ripples, auras radiate and fade away into cloudforms, through which lightning bolts." The discerning listener can tell, before even dropping the needle, that what you are about to experience will not likely kowtow to pop conventions like hooks, melodies, lyrics. Before even taking off, you know that you are in for a journey – probably a vision quest.

 

In our 2012 Album Covers of the Year feature, we once again get our hands on everyone we can. Through interviews with designers, musicians, labels, and plenty of others, we take a close look at just how many hands are in the pot when it comes to the album artwork process. Inside this feature are 98 album covers spanning a wide array of sonic and visual styles, each selected for its own unique contribution to the world. They are not ranked; instead, they are broken down into sections based on conceptual underpinnings or artistic mediums, and then are displayed on spectrums. Get started by navigating into any of these six sections: Geometric & Pattern-Based Classically-Influenced Narrative & Symbolic Photography & Manipulations Painting & Illustration Collage, Sculpture & Mixed Media You can also see last year's at 2011 Year-End Respect For Album Cover Art
 

MADNESS! is a recurring series of audio WTFs and head-twitching, spine-tingling experimental or chaotic fun (k-k+st-s-t+l)icks.

Fontanelle

Ever-trustworthy metal tastemakers Southern Lord Records are releasing the latest from Portland rock experimentalists Fontanelle! Their last three releases were escapades in ambient jazz-rock weirdness released on Kranky Records in the early aughts. Vitamin F, to be released on October 23rd, is a record for music nerds who love to be lost in the sounds of horns, guitars, and drums interfacing with one another in unpredictable ways. The massive lineup includes musicians such as Rex Ritter, Andy Brown, Mat Morgan, Borg Norm, Brian Foote and Paul Dickow, as well as the following guests: Gentry Densley (Eagle Twin), Steve Moore (Earth, sunn 0))), Hans Teuber, Eric Walton (Skerik), Jef Brown (Jackie O Motherfucker) and Dave Carter. This is a record for music nerds, no doubt. Spin Magazine calls the record "it may be the most metal record to feature no actual metal on it whatsoever", and that may actually be the most accurate possible description. You can stream "When the Fire Hits the Forest" from Vitamin F via Spin.
Says the press relase:
For this brand new recording, FONTANELLE has been trying to transport themselves back in time to 1973 into Patrick Gleeson’s Different Fur Trading Company Studio. Through the studio expertise of Randall Dunn (sunn 0))), Black Mountain, Wolves in the Throne Room), it sounds like they made it! Rex Ritter’s tour of duty with sunn 0))) during FONTANELLE’s hiatus seems to have irreparably changed his DNA, as well as the entire band’s. Adding an amazing array of horn players, many of whom were heard on the most recent sunn 0))) LP Monoliths & Dimensions, FONTANELLE have fortified their jazz vocabulary and have conjured a burly fusion approach that has been dubbed “White Magus” – a sound sure to appeal to fans of Miles Davis (circa 1969-74), Toritse and Mahavishnu Orchestra.

 

Quite fittingly, EARTH's record release show for the quite fantastic Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light: I was at Seattle's Tractor Tavern -- a venue known for swilling whiskey and boot-stomping folk/bluegrass sounds that usually tear through town in a tornado of good will and...

"Learning to hear differently is part of the progression. Your hearing evolves and the perception [becomes] more musical." -- Stephen O'Malley...