Desolation Center's genealogy of anti-commercial sound takes us to West Berlin, where Einstürzende Neubauten (translation: Collapsing New Buildings) create a new musical lexicon around the use of heavy machinery. It also gives us a glimpse of the New York No Wave scene, where groups like...

GRAMMIES - GREAT SOUNDING Album Review
Everything you need to know about GRAMMIES' new record GREAT SOUNDING can be found in its gloriously stupid title. The album constantly inverts itself, offering up increasingly next level instrumentation, song craft and emotional depth to an altar of self-sacrifice, producing a rare jazz gem that excels through humility rather than bombast. It's an unconventional combination of far out mid-70s avant jazz, one piece jumpsuit boogie grooves and budget bin New Age cassette tape ambiance that conjures magic from the hilarious excess of early '80s Adult Contemporary without stepping into joke band territory or leaning too much on whimsical nostalgia and irony. Essentially, we can take GRAMMIES seriously because they don't beg us to. But conceptual riffage aside, the most important thing about GREAT SOUNDING is that it reproduces the experience of watching the band blow out an untreated show space while giving their compositional skills and deeply psychedelic vibes space to glow.

Anthony Naples - Body Pill Album Review
A lot has been made of the importance of narrative to any kind of instrumental, or wordless, music. This may hold doubly true for electronic music, which speaks in its own vocabulary and operates in its own paradigm, with its own taboos every full electronic album needs to be some grand, convoluted concept album, like a journey through a body or a soundtrack for a race of amphibious extraterrestrials. Though fascinating, one might argue that this overlooks a producer's personal journey, as a compelling narrative.

 

Ruins, as a word, can mean two things: as a noun, it is a decrepit run-down structure, no longer inhabited. Ruins, as a verb, is to degrade something, to bring about its demise, to fall into ruin. This ambiguity of meaning reveals a hidden face in Grouper's new album, which is much concerned with uncertainty, in marginal spaces that don't necessarily add up or make sense. The word "maybe" occurs multiple times, alongside dream language and landscapes, of cycles and mountainous bodyscapes. Grouper - Ruins Album ReviewToo often, when we talk about music, we talk about it in declarative, categorical terms, as if we were ranking market positions and cataloging guitar solos. This way of thinking and talking about music completely negates the purpose of Grouper's music, and leads to a culture where only the brashest, hypiest, blaring-est musics get heard; the equivalent of everyone shouting to be heard at a dinner party. Instead, Liz Harris' music invites you to lean in and listen closer.

 

Brian Reitzell Retrospective Feature
Kraftwerk's 1974 album, Autobahn, was inspired by the feeling of traveling freely along the open German motorways it was named after. Forty years later, a different driving journey serves as a guiding force behind Brian Reitzell's debut album, Auto Music: Reitzell's commute to and from work in Los Angeles. Its motorik kinship with other Krautrock greats is keenly present on tracks like "Auto Music 1", echoing as it does Can's formative free-form instrumentation and the metronomic pulse of Neu!. In that sense, the song and album's influences feel expertly curated--which isn't surprising, given that Reitzell is the same man who is responsible for the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" playing over the closing scene in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation--as well as getting My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields to contribute to that film's soundtrack after a long spell out of the spotlight. As he explained recently in an interview with The New York Times Style Magazine, Brian Reitzell arrived at his current position of being a music supervisor and composer (or "music conceptualist", as he considers himself) by way of his previous stint serving as the drummer for long-running California rock band Redd Kross during the 1990s. It was during his time in the band that he met Sofia Coppola, who sought him out to help put together the soundtrack for her first full-length film, The Virgin Suicides. He ended up pulling double duty by working with Air to compose and perform the score for the film as well. Since then, he has been at the helm for the soundtracks to almost all of Coppola's films, among others, making a name for himself in very individualistic ways.

 

Sunbathing Animal, for everyone who went mental over Light Up Gold: it doesn't cohere as well as its predecessor, in which all the songs flowed naturally and felt of a piece. Parquet Courts have been touring endlessly, and Sunbathing Animal often gives off the feel that the band has made songwriting less of a priority, and/or they had more than a few also-rans from the Light Up Gold sessions. Their 2013 EP, Tally All the Things That You Broke, was a mixed bag as well, but it had two of the most memorable songs of their career: "You've Got Me Wonderin' Now" and "The More It Works." If they'd been patient and held off until Sunbathing Animal's release to show those tracks the light of day, we might have a stronger album. The rave-up songs, seemingly inspired by the punk energy of their live shows, don't have as much personality as Light Up Gold, and hearken back to the lack of definition on their debut LP, American Specialties. Of the fast songs, "Vienna II" shows the most promise, taut and swaggering like Pink Flag-era Wire. It's also only a blink-and-you'll-miss-it length, at 1:02. Similarly, the instrumental "Up All Night" posits an alternate-universe Parquet Courts that grew up on Love Tractor and mid-period Feelies instead of early Pavement and 1970s downtown touchstones.

Swans - To Be Kind Album Review (Young God Records)
2010 didn't offer up much to rejoice over, what with earthquakes, oil spills and other such tragedies dominating headlines and generally fucking over the world. Yet in the wake of those disasters the good Lord did deem it fit to bestow one blessing upon his faithful (or at least the record collecting nerds among them): the return of Swans. After a decade of understated twee folk, ascetically bland and nostalgic psyche rock, the general rise of "indie" rock to Grammy status and the dubstep um... dubstep, the aughts reanimated a band that absolutely never ever fucks around. That said, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky was a slightly disappointing, if handsome, first effort for the new version of the band; it favored tightly structured songs with reserved running times over the timeless drones of past albums. This won them a legion of new fans and cemented their elder statesmen of rad music status but left a lot of long-time fans like myself with a sense of, "Cool that they're back, but meh!"

Here is a quick summary of GOAT, and the story is meant to be taken with as many grains of salt as possible. GOAT originally hail from Korpilombo, Sweden, from a community that has a history of voodoo worship. At various times, the incarnation of GOAT has lived on for 30 or 40 years amongst members of this village, and now, the current incarnation of GOAT contains three members from Korpilombo, augmented by a few folks from Gothenburg. All bands need good stories, and GOAT’s is one of the better ones. A quick Google search of Korpilombo and voodoo yields nothing but GOAT-related results. Combine this wonky backstory with the fact that live, the members of GOAT all wear cloaks and masks and operate in a shroud of mystery, and it is enough to be almost too much of a schtick. But what makes the tradition of GOAT work is that the band doesn’t let this aura undermine the music.

Doomsquad - Kalaboogie Album Review
After the decline predicted and lamented by Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the 2000s, the Canadian band Doomsquad provide a ritualistic dance party for the new world. Doomsquad provide a new skin for the old ceremony in the form of technological shamanism, where shakers and bone rattles meet Moogs and psych-out guitars in a forest clearing. The main challenge confronting a band that combines multiple genres is that their music inherit the strengths and weaknesses of each, similar to crossbreeding in Nature. Doomsquad’s latest record, Kalaboogie, may be judged by the standards of modern day dance music as well psychedelic and epic indie rock, and they risk losing the listener at every turn. The good news is that, rather than succumbing to the weaknesses, like some poor, mangy rabid mutt, Doomsquad have contributed something to each genre they work in. Kalaboogie, may be made of pre-existing parts -- trance music, triumphant indie rock, industrialized dance music and doomy, decadent mid-tempo disco -- but it is its own beast, its own spirit, inhabiting its own world.