Though it may be poor form, I'm going to start this review with my one unrelenting frustration with Martin Gore's new solo album MG: every song is just too damn short. Seriously, these tracks are incredible, and they just beg you to get lost in them, but every time I...

After their Earth Tour of 45 countries in 90 days, you might think the members of Horse the Band would loathe each other to the point of disbanding. After such a frenetic pace of travel, the close quarters of their interactions, and the meager financial compensation paid to them, what incentive is there to endure? To enact the Kauffman-esque humiliation upon their audience they are known for: that is the incentive. And now here in 2013, absent record label and foregoing a new album since 2009, Horse gladly take on bonus levels for touring outside of the US. It has become increasingly clear: American audiences no longer excite Horse, and our incessant need for retro gaming nostalgia is exactly what drove them to other shores. We could have been a bit more appreciative that they didn't always write lyrics about video games, and from our folly, Europe has capitalized. Along for this particular tour is UK band Rolo Tomassi, past tourmates of Horse who also call themselves admirers of the band. When asked about watching Horse address the audience on tour, keyboardist James Spence sums it up in a very apt description, joking that they are "a mixture of entertaining and terrifying." "Having spent a fair amount of time around them offstage," he continues, "it starts to make way more sense. I appreciate their honesty and that they're unafraid to be themselves at all times." The tour's Berlin date meant a brief homecoming before departing to Russia for Horse's Lord Gold (Erik Engstrom), who now calls Berlin home base. It would also be the end of the road for Rolo Tomassi, whose upcoming tour schedule has them visiting Japan and Australia this fall. Between the matched amount of enthusiasm for animated keyboard playing between both bands and Horse's outlandish hilarity, the show at Berlin's Magnet made evident that Horse's fun on tour is exponentially higher when not playing at home.
August 12th, 2013 @ Magnet in Berlin, Germany PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOSH CONNOLLY (ROLO TOMASSI) AND MATT CARTER (HORSE THE BAND)

 

Well, it's now past the supposedly prophesized Mayan apocalypse, and of course no obvious signs of eschatological judgment have been wrought down upon us, which was much to be expected. There is something else we need to address though, before we can just write this shit off for good. If you were paying any attention to what those of the neo-spiritualist ilk were saying for the last decade or so, the conversation always involved a shift in consciousness rather than a rogue asteroid raining fiery death from above. Nobody said it'd be instantaneous.
 
Prophecies regarding a sudden massive shift in the perceptual limitations of our species always struck me as being beyond improbable. Whereas I'd be the first to admit that more of us these days are getting turned on to the higher cosmic functionalities of our brains, I'd also point out that it's probably little more than a numbers game. There are more people, period. I'd wager that for every turned on occult-dabbling tripster, there are two new closed-minded evangelical sex repression nutsos. Occultist super freaks just don't proselytize, and they probably blew their money on drugs and albums rather than bribing politicians, so there's that. Our society still revolves around boring after all and will for some time to come. What the fuck are you going to do? But it's not like all hope for a revolution is lost, the times -- they are a-changin', after all. Terence McKenna foretold a spike in novelty leading up to 2012, and it's not like novelty hasn't been spiking. The great singularity might have to wait, but technology has opened up consciousness to a new array of bizarre potentialities, the implications of which we can only barely conceive of at this point. At the heart of all shamanistic extra-dimensional informational summoning rituals lies the evolution of language from spoken word to projected internal telepathic metaphor, the language of our dreams. Meaningful scenarios projected from mind-to-mind, manifesting as direct experience. It's where we're headed with all these interconnected smart phones, tablets, and such. A picture is worth thousand words and now we can send each other videos instantaneously with our shiny new synthetic telepathy. Videogames continue to increase in complexity replicating alternate reality scenarios in our heads ad infinitum. Think of how rapidly our lives have changed in comparison to our parents' and even our grandparents' generations. Your everyday world can now be filled with an increasing array of deliciously magickal shenanigans. Marijuana has now been legalized in two states, one of which just so happens to be my home state for the last 11 years: Washington. This is the biggest victory in the war of consciousness I've seen in my lifetime, and something I never saw coming as a cynical 18-year-old stoner. What no one's saying about this matter is that one of the fundamental tenets of Western occultism involves a focused practice of weed-based sex magick, which is now totally legal. People are going to figure it out eventually. Combine that with a wide array of art-summoning gadgets, and you're well on your way to re-programming yourself into the next age psychic stratosphere. In the next fifty years or so I'm sure we'll debate whether or not 2012 was the beginning of a widespread shift toward a higher order of knowing. Again, these things take time. People have been fighting for pot and gay rights forever, and the defenses have finally started to crack. LSD in next. More importantly, the fact that we're finally starting to recognize the environmental nightmare brought forth by our materialistic insanity is more than a good omen. I know what's been shown to me. We've dug ourselves a hole that we can only fly out of through a psychedelic mindgasm portal. It's where we're headed. The environment's going to force our hand on this one. The UFOs aren't going to just stop lighting up the skies, the storms aren't going to stop hitting and then where the fuck are you going to turn? Sorcery, that's where.
Say what you will about 2012, but since consciousness is comprised of linguistic information, the idea of a coming apocalypse in itself propagated some rather delicious undercurrents of sound rippling through the Akashic record this year. I've never written more than a top five list in my life, but when I was thinking back on the insane amount of mind-bending albums that dropped in the last 12 months, I was kind of in shock. Most of this stuff's fairly obvious, at least in my world. Was it people like Terence McKenna and his mechanized Timewave Zero prophesies, inspiring people like Grant Morrison to write the great Invisibles hypersigil, that summoned this record deluge of psychoactive soundscapes into motion? I have no idea. Did the Mayans get in every band's head and subconsciously encourage them to bring their A game in 2012 as it might be their final chance? Whatever happened, it appears a software update embedded itself into our collective psyche and we went berzerk. An aspiring mystic could use any one of these mind-warping albums to put a hex on their internal mind tunnel and help elevate our collective superstructure heavenward. One might now use these recorded sound patterns in conjunction with the aforementioned pot based sex tantra quite legally in a hip music town like Seattle if one were so inclined. I've been told by the gods that it's a very "time safe activity". Reach for the stars true believers, or to quote Seattle's THEESatisfaction: "Let the musicians, be your physicians."
 
AURAL DEVASTATION Because sometimes all we need is our ear drums shattered by the weight of music, the force of distortion, and the insanity of noise.

Baroness

Savannah, Georgia is known for a lot of things - most of it related to its historic charm - but on the modern front, it is the city of metal in the United States. Amongst the bands being churned out of the city, arguably no one has made more of a critical impact than the quartet Baroness. On the band's latest, the immensely grand and bold double album Yellow & Green, Baroness find themselves becoming a prog-rock band with metal tendencies. As you follow their catalog, the progression makes sense, and a very insightful interview with NPR adds all the backstory required. This is one of the best albums of the year, and probably one of the more important metal albums to come out in a long time. Editor's Note: Amazing artwork, as always, from Baroness vocalist John Dyer Baizley. See HERE for our interview with him about his work with Gillian Welch on The Harrow & The Harvest, or click on the cover to see it in hi-res.
MADNESS! is a recurring series of audio WTFs and head-twitching, spine-tingling experimental or chaotic fun (k-k+st-s)icks.

Starring

"Kraut-punk, you say?" my ears perking up. "Whatever could that madness be?" That madness is Starring. And at the risk of being lazy, I'm going to go ahead and copy and paste a clip from SPIN, as it is actually quite the creative and accurate summary of the Brooklyn band: "Within the first frenetic minute of 'The Best,' Starring fold a delay bubble into a Farfisa freak-out into a Neu!-ish buildup and shove everything inside a tiny room that's vibrating with processed drums and tattoo-gun percussion. Then, wait - was that a jazz flute solo? Like the alphabet-soup title of the full-length album it appears on, 'The Best' packs a sundry spoonful of familiar sounds and sweet surprises into a restive five-minutes and change." - SPIN Their new album, ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ, comes out June 12th on Northern Spy Records, a six-track album recorded in a church. This track, "The Best," is a helluva intro to their work. You can see why they play shows with bands as diverse as Chain and The Gang, Magik Markers, and Dustin Wong -- they're all over the place, in the best of fucking ways! Full tour dates and tracklisting at the bottom of this post. Album art courtesy of Alex Ness. STARRING TOUR DATES ^ w/ Guardian Alien 06/14/12 Brooklyn, NY - Public Assembly (Strange Victory Touring / Northside Fest Showcase) * 07/07/12 Brooklyn, NY - 285 Kent Ave. (Spy Music Festival) % Aug 8th Floristree Space Baltimore, MD ^ Aug 9th The Pilot Light Knoxville, TN ^ Aug 10th 529 Atlanta, GA ^ Aug 11th The Basement Nashville, TN ^ Aug 12th Siberia New Orleans, LA ^ Aug 13th Walter’s on Washington Houston, TX ^ Aug 14th Mohawk Austin, TX ^ Aug 15th Record Bar Kansas City, MO ^ Aug 16th The Firebird St. Louis, MO ^ Aug 18th The Hideout Chicago, IL ^ Aug 19th The Mill Iowa City, IA ^ Aug 20th Cactus Club Madison, WI ^ Aug 22nd Happy Dog Cleveland, OH ^ Aug 23rd Double Double Land Toronto, ON ^

 

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

Eric Copeland

Does it sound like Black Dice? It sure does. That's because it is Black Dice -- or, at least, it's a core member of Black Dice gone solo without sacrificing the madness. Eric Copeland's album single for Limbo, "Louie, Louie, Louie" is like a more restrained but just as chaotic and visually-evocative counterpart to any Black Dice Song, and the album cover alone speaks volumes about the tendecy of this music. It's a burst of pattern, certainly not lacking in energy and intricacy, but lacking a wee bit o' color (I'm still comparing it to Black Dice, though, not to Coldplay). Limbo comes out June 5th on Underwater Peoples. Tracklisting for Limbo below, where you can also stream the entirety of his previous album, Waco Taco Combo! LIMBO TRACKLISTING 1. Double Reverse Psychology 2. Louie, Louie, Louie 3. Muckaluk 4. Fiesta Muerta 5. Tarzan and the Dizzy Devils 6. Lemons

 

UK musicians Amplifier are offering an insane limited edition treatment for their album, The Octopus, complete with silver cover made of KEVLAR, an animation, and a three-disc box set. Limited to 750 copies, below is a sampling of some associated graphics, created by artist Goni Montes. Watch as a male character gets swallowed up in a burst, an infinity symbol, and an octopus -- which, as a spirit animal, traditionally symbolizes the infinite. Incredible!

 

Says Goni of the project: "Sel [Balamir of Amplifier’s plan was to create a sequence of paintings inspired by fractal imagery. The process was exciting as Sel gave me this one solid starting point then urged me to run with any possible inspiration that came of it. Like walking a dog to the park and taking the leash off, I went crazy." Below, the full fractal sequence, followed by initial sketches and links where you can purchase the epic collection (for a fairly reasonable price, all things considered).

 

Oh, Zechs Marquise, purveyors of fine progressive instrumental music. The music of Zechs Marquise specializes in taking listeners on multi-instrumental journeys laden with unpredictable twists and turns, and this video does just that as well. Viewers are invited to participate in a trip to the "Everlasting Beacon Of Light" --...

Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography + 6 Deluxe Packaging + 10 Fashion, Sculpture, Installation _____________________________    91 Album Covers For 2011 Best Of 2011 Album Cover Art

Adventure - Lesser Known
Using a purely spontaneous creative process that begins with nothing more than a general interest, Elena Johnston created an album cover for Adventure that musically and thematically captures the band's dynamic spirit.
QUOTES FROM: ELENA JOHNSTON, DESIGNER THEMES & CONCEPTS "I had been working with the idea of framing compelling found images with other found images to play with texture and spacial relations. I was also really into water imagery and space imagery at the time, so I played with how these two ideas visually and conceptually play with each other." THE EXTRAS "I hand-drew the typography, and it was eventually printed in glossy ink onto the matte finish of the image, so it stands out more." Record Label Carpark Records The Artists Design - Elena Johnston Booklet Design - Benny Boeldt Mediums & Materials Collage, Digital
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Adventure "Rio" by Carpark Records