Every record is an island. An artist's statements shouldn't always be judged on trends, the label they're on, or what other people are doing. Perhaps they shouldn't even be judged against that artist's own work. It's all too common in the current state of music journalism or criticism to hear, "This isn't as good as their old stuff," or as whatever the landmark release is in that genre. Just look at how every shoegaze record has been measured again My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Still, when a label releases two records on the same day, it's hard not to read into it, or at least wonder if there's some grand vision at work. Especially when that label is Sacred Bones, who are known for collecting skinny post-punk, black tie new wave, tar-dipped goth rock, excoriating noise, and many, many shades of psychedelia under their eye-catching triangle in the circle marker. On November 11th, Sacred Bones released two widely dissimilar records: the motorik futurism of Dream Police's Hypnotized, and the apocalyptic folk goth opera Final Days, from the mysterious Cult Of Youth.

Dream Police - Hypnotized

Dream Police

Cult of Youth - Final Days

Cult of Youth

Camp Counselors Huntress Lefse RecordsListening to the vocals on Huntress, the latest release from Kyle J Reigle (who also records as Cemeteries), is like listening to the white puffs of breath that escape blue lips in the depths of winter. It's a plaintive sound: one that knows it'll only hang on the air until the next icy gust of wind blows it away. And, in fact, most of Reigle's lyrics are gone before you can quite grasp what they're saying. Using wintry language to talk about Reigle's music is fitting, as he's a native of Buffalo, New York—no stranger to the occasional blizzard. That might be why it's tempting to draw comparisons between Camp Counselors and those others denizens of the north, Iceland's Sigur Ròs. Both artists imbue their compositions with spare, fuzzed out electronic storms of sound that evoke empty snow-filled fields under starless skies. But where some Sigur Ròs' tracks verge into the rock realm, Reigle's work never gets as hard-edged as his Icelandic brethrens'. In fact the guitars he used on Wilderness, his previous effort as Cemeteries, is absent here, which removes pretty much all rock leanings and leaves behind an all-electronic soundscape that grooves, but is never in danger of shattering any ice.

The bathroom is cramped at the Star Theater, and it's very hard to find a decent space to snort ketamine properly. I have to put my foot in front of the door because you can't lock it. Managing to get a pinky or two up there, my experiment has begun. KMFDM, on ketamine. Their laser light show helped lull me into the warm disconnect of the substance immediately, and coming up, it was easier to enjoy the show. Separations occurred within the walls of distortion; I could begin to make out the synths, pre-programmed sequenced data filling all the nooks and crannies. It pulsed and distorted in tandem with fist after fist pumping into the air. The refracting laser lights bouncing off all the heads, creating cathedrals of hair dye. KMFDM does not stand for Kill Motherfucking Depeche Mode. I’m not going to tell you what it does stand for; it’s in German and you have Google. As a part of the first Chicago Wax Trax! industrial bands that included Front 242, Ministry, My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult, KMFDM have a place in electronic music history. They have been a band for nearly 30 years, always touring the states heavily. They have great militant imagery based on the artwork of Aidan Hughes. Their sound is classic. Like Van Halen. March 8th, 2013 @ Star Theatre - Portland, Oregon

 

SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS A recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body. This installment is a particularly intense one, reserved for those who understand that noise can be a hypnotic mechanism. Here are intensely aggressive sounds from The Silent Moon, minimal techno from Silent Servant, and offerings and remixes from ERAAS.
SEE ALSO: FULL POST + ALL SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS POSTS + ALL COLUMNS

The Soft Moon

Somehow, Luis Vasquez of The Soft Moon (and Lumerians) can release tracks like "Die Life" and embrace gothic dance vibes without coming off as annoyingly trite. Zeroes, his latest album to be released via Captured Tracks, doesn't seem like the cheeriest of records, as it seems to not only wallow but actively embrace all things doom and apocalypse. You can also here "Insides" on Captured Tracks' Soundcloud. The press release gives a summary of the album's tracks as follows:
Zeros opens with "It Ends," a rumbling eerie epic that explodes and then fades. The slowing breath and pulse at the finish signify our break with reality as consciousness drifts deeper into Vasquez' world. Welcoming us into "Machines," a demon utters unclear incantations over snapping drums and flange-warped tones, while the titular song gives us a beat to dance to as a strange voice gushes lascivious "aahhhs" from a cloud of swirling synths. Songs like "Insides" and "Crush" feel utterly inward-looking-a loner's cry buried in soil and metal shavings-but "Remember the Future" bounces like a twisted John Carpenter score, and "Die Life" lashes out at everything within reach. Listen closely and you'll hear the sounds of the creatures and people that survived whatever catastrophe created this space: chirping insects, bawling whales, strained howls, jungle percussion, tribal chanting.
I've not heard the album in its entirety yet, but it comes out the day before Halloween, and if "Die Life" is any indicator, it will serve as the perfect soundtrack to that pagan holiday. Tracklisting and tour dates in the full post.

 

I've always been fascinated with music that feels removed, purposefully or not, form the time period in which it is being created. Some records feel dated in a disparaging sense, but the new album from Water Borders sounds like a beautifully scripted scene from a...

I was initially inclined to hate this record, but I found myself humming along by the second track. Seriously. Make no mistake that there's an audience for a band like The Birthday Massacre and their fourth album, Pins and Needles.  Less on the heavy rock...

At a little over five feet tall and barely over legal drinking age, the woman behind Zola Jesus, Nika Roza Danilova, wields surprising power. The release of her latest EP, Stridulum, has placed her in a strange position; she now finds herself opening for indie rock powerhouses like The xx, Wolf Parade, and Fever Ray, on tour dates throughout the world. The growth has been rapid, and Danilova has accumulated a diverse array of fans along the way. Those who are drawn to her beauty-meets-darkness, pop-meets-brutality style acknowledge readily that she has a presence. Even on a virtual front, she seems like an intimidating, powerful figure; her public-facing self is meticulously honed to a degree that makes her seem difficult to approach, but this image is very much an extension of the complexity of her as a person. Such complexity is what makes the music and aesthetic of Zola Jesus so fascinating.
Ostensibly, for instance, Zola Jesus may seem largely defined by gothic and industrial music and fashion. The music videos for "Night" and "Clay Bodies" feature, respectively, whopping doses of black nail polish and buildings with vaulted Gothic ceilings. But it is not simply a blind adherence to that aesthetic style that shapes the musical project; just as important -- if not more so -- are factors such as Danilova's schooling. She is double-majoring in French and Philosophy, and philosophical ideas lie very much at the core of Zola Jesus.

"Philosophy and any scholarly pursuits have a sort of osmotic influence on my music," she explains. "When I'm songwriting, I'm not pulling from anything specific other than my own person, impacted by all these forces collectively."

Listen to "Night" - DOWNLOAD MP3

Combining what could be grainy archival footage (it isn't) with disintegrating, ornamental backdrops, this video for "Clay Bodies" is a haunting mixture of HD-quality shots with 16mm. Directed by Jacqueline Castel. ...