Awwww damn. Look at those sexycore tapes.

Dave Wren of Des Moines is moulttrigger and “Birds” is his latest opus, built entirely from bird samples, via the National Geographic Guide to Bird Sounds, manipulated and mangled and arranged every which way into various emotional messes. Loopy, droney, noisy, featuring a healthy dose of big low-end rumbles and packed with audio treats for both headphone and speaker listening.

Give it a listen courtesy of the moulttrigger Bandcamp:

Then swing on over to my shiny new Storenvy page to pick up one of these tapes.

Visit my store on Storenvy

Speaking of things Sara “mascara” Goodman has been doing lately:

Well, for starters, Stream is a collaborative project of Sara Mascara and Consciousness Sam — an Internets meeting of minds that previously resulted in the mascara/Consciousness Prism split tape available from us right here — they’ve came up with this very cool album Poem for my Human Lover

“Poem for My Human Lover” is about an android named “2095”, a beautiful combination of both male and female. Each track is a stanza of the poem that 2095 is reading to its human lover. “Poem for My Human Lover” takes the listener on an emotional and highly visceral journey through the mind of a tender and vulnerable android. Through 2095’s poetry we become acquainted with an otherworldly/futuristic landscape as well as the rich inner landscape of the fluid and intricate mind.

Free download from the mýrdal netlabel!

Something else due out on Centipede Farm soon: a split tape by Ghosts Of Dead Tables and Bonehole. Here, have a taste of what they do:

Mahler Haze is the ambient/kosmiche stylings of this really cool cat from Belgium. Here’s an embed of his soundcloud. Listen to all of it if you can, there’s a ton. Dude is prolific and all of it rules.

Keep an eye on the Centipede Farm (right here, duh) for the Mahler Haze C-60 Lupus Dei coming Real Soon Now. No shit. It’s going to be great.

Recently my laptop pretty much died — well, the display went out, it mostly “runs” otherwise; I can connect to it on the network — it was getting mighty old anyway and I found a suitable replacement. As I got my files and settings moved in to the new machine, I decided to take the opportunity to organize some of my files a bit better and delete some things I didn’t really need so as to make some space. In the process, I somehow confused the “iTunes” folder on my Seagate GoFlex network drive, where I kept all my music files (not including lossless files or Audacity projects for my own stuff or Centipede Farm releases, that is), for the usually useless “iTunes” folder that I usually have in my home directory on the hard drive of my computer, and, in my trigger-happiness, deleted. the. entire. thing.

I have since been working to rebuild as much of my iTunes library as I could from what I could pull off my iPod Classic using an app called Music Rescue, and of course there’s all the stuff I have on CD that I can rip again anytime, but I’m sure there’s still a lot of stuff I’ve lost — but I realized that a lot of it I couldn’t remember anyway. And what does eventually spring to mind, I can probably manage to download at some point, and might have on vinyl or cassette anyway. Still, that realization, and coming to the grips of the mental overhead of managing my maddeningly large library of downloaded music turned out to be an opportunity to gain some perspective. Apparently, I have a problem. My relationship with music is obsessive bordering on addictive.

It’s not something that’s ruining my life or anything, but I could stand to stop worrying so much about whether I’m missing out on something cool. There’s probably more music being recorded in a single day in the world than I can listen to in my life. But these days, I too rarely listen to something twice, let alone enough to build a real relationship with it.

One effect of this is that my backlog of “stuff I’d like to write reviews of for the website” is about to be mostly purged. My attempt to check out and evaluate all the big important albums I heard about in 2011 is already nine months into 2012 after all, and there’s a bunch of stuff I’ve barely gotten to. I could probably delete it and not even miss it. It’s just downloads, and unpaid-for ones at that. If I cared about these albums, I’d buy them. Because that’s what I already do with music I really like anyway, unless of course I haven’t heard of it yet, and then what’s the big deal?

I like reviewing music but I need to be less hard on myself. I’m probably not going to write as much on this site about music I wasn’t involved in making, from now on. If you send me something and specifically ask me to write about it, I will try my best. I seem to have no trouble keeping up with that. But no point in volunteering myself to write about stuff nobody asked me to.

Anyway The Centipede Farm is obviously becoming more of a “label” than a “music blog” these days anyway and I’m really into that. I have opportunities to put together little cassette releases by a whole lot of really excellent artists. I should probably be placing the focus of this website more on them. I am still open to contributing reviews for other sites, though, so if you have one and you’d like me to write some stuff for it, by all means get in touch and I’ll try to fit something in. And if you’re interested in just keeping up with what I’m discovering online lately, I post mad links to the Facebook page, so you should follow that. And comment a lot, because one-sided conversations are boring.

Anyway here’s a couple things I still wanted to get a few words in about:

The Big Drum in the Sky Religion: Ithyfallacy: A Tribute to Rudimentary Peni – I must admit to not being familiar with Rudimentary Peni, but have seen their name come up here and there in experimental/outsider/oddball music circles. It’s ostensibly a British punk rock band, but supposedly headed up by a rather eccentric fellow with some pretty far-out ideas and lyrics. You don’t need to be familiar with R.P. to get into this “tribute”, however. The booklet deceptively contains a long list of hilarious song titles, but the disc actually contains a single 79-and-a-half minute track, not entirely different in intent and form from Vive la Revelación that I wrote of the other day. The foundation of it is a loop of furious rolling toms and a buzzy bassline that falls in and out of sync with it. Over this, a few things come and go, including some quite nice noise-guitar jamming, some of that upright piano from Vive, and I’m pretty sure I heard a jaw harp in there somewhere. The strong rhythmic drive of the piece, courtesy the toms, makes it nicely conducive to shamanic states of mind, or at least I suspect so, it definitely got me spaced out and grooving along despite being once again a piece of insane length and hypnotic repetition. The artwork, black-and-white drawings, is also pretty stellar, reminiscent of the great Food Fortunata.

The Mighty Accelerator: Back From the Dead EP – Four more tunes from Ottumwa’s sleazemeisters. Mixed by Andy the guitarist, this has a notably rawer sound than Soccer Mom — I could have used a bit more vocals, finding it difficult to understand some of the lyrics without the benefit of headphones, the focus is more on the catchy rhythm guitar riffs which is fine too. The lyrical concepts of songs like “Lesbian Date Rape” and “Werewoofs and Fast Cars” are deliciously goofy. “This Hand Needs A Job” hits all the double entendres you expect but it’s unclear how intentionally, so you’re actually left with a quite sincere lament on small-town blue-collar employment troubles, that builds nicely through and an uptempo multi-part bridge section and some fist-raising whoa-oh backup vocals. “Truck Stop Lovin’” has a similar epic structure and build section. Money lyric: “she’s not much to look at, but she’s out of sight.” The download is free and the CD-R edition available from the band contains all of Soccer Mom as bonus tracks.

Wreck and Reference – Youth – With Black Cassette, Wreck and Reference set about showing to a new generation of metal kids what some crusty old Skinny Puppy fans already knew, that electronics can be heavy. The sampler-and-drums duo have taken an intentionally cleaner production approach with Youth and continue to evolve a sound that evades easy categorization yet carries wide appeal for all lovers of the unpleasant, drawing on a palette of influences miles wide and maybe just as deep but that appropriately draws out references to doom, black metal, industrial, noise, and Swans-y apocalyptic folk. The song structures tend toward the linear, and even in those moments where the sampler is employed making guitar-like sounds the effect is something otherworldly and quite other than you’d hear if it were a live guitarist. Vocal approaches and rhythms are as wide-ranging as the literally infinite palette of sounds from which the hugest and are so tastefully chosen. You can name-your-price for a download but the vinyl edition from The Flenser is gorgeous to behold and totally worth getting, especially the green-and-black vinyl which you should act fast if you want. This album and this band are really fresh and special and you should definitely give them a chance.

Samuel Locke-Ward: Double Nightmare – There is more that I could say about Samuel Locke-Ward and his latest opus (a two-hour, 40-song digital album!) than I have the energy to type here. You should get everything he makes, and give him all your money besides, because he is amazing and beyond explanation.

Mekigah – The Necessary Evil – Australian gothy black/doom project’s second album loses the flimsy storyline and high-school drama-kid vibe that might have marred The Serpent’s Kiss for some, but without sacrificing any of the grandeur of their deliberately-paced metal songs swimming in cavernous concert-hall reverb and symphony-in-a-box keyboards. I hesitate to reference Type O Negative just because I never much cared for that band, but it’s a fitting comparison (especially with respect to the vocals), and I’d even say there’s a little bit of a Candlemass vibe going on at times. On “Bloodlust” the vocals get so low that I’m pretty sure he’s doing that Tuvan throat-singing or whatever it’s called. But Mekigah also do harsh well here, both vocally and musically, resulting in actually quite a fresh synthesis of doomy and “blackened” elements. If the album gets at all maudlin at any point it would be on “Touching a Ghost,” which I would liken to a sort of pop-DSBM version of The Shangri-La’s “Leader Of The Pack” what with the sound-effects bridge to advance the story line. There are some pretty cool noisy ambient interstitial tracks, which help to tie it together as more of a rock album, as opposed to the ambitious opera/concept thing they went for on the previous album, and I think it’s a welcome change.

Orchid Capricorn Like a lot of retro metal or trad doom or “stoner” metal (I wish we get a better name for it one of these days — my own personal appreciation for it didn’t really take off until I could no longer be credibly referenced by that word), Orchid are borrowing pretty heavily from Black Sabbath here, enough that the references are occasionally in danger of getting too blatant, but then again, Sabbath weren’t the only band in the old days doing this kind of stuff, they were just the most well-known. There’s still an excitement for and vitality to this sort of music even after so many decades. I myself am more than glad to listen to heavy riffy rock tunes like this any time. I don’t know what it is about it, but these familiar elements, in the right hands, just never seem to get old, and Orchid seems to have that touch. I also like how their singer can pull off both Ozzy-ish and Dio-ish moments, his own sound hitting a nice territory somewhere between the two. And the title song on this album, “Capricorn”, is just too good to miss out on.

Marax Funeral Liturgy Marax (Eric Crowe) put out an astounding amount of material in 2011, even for a noise or drone artist (of which he is both, and you might as well throw in dark ambient and death industrial and all that into the mix too). This is one of several download-only ambient drone releases put out by Marax right around the same time and feels very much of a piece with them in style. This one is among my favorites, however, perhaps due to its not being or having any 20+ minute tracks, though I do realize that’s not a great bias to have on my part. The title track starts it out as a low, almost inaudible drone that fades in pretty quickly with a thick sepulchral atmosphere. Each of the five tracks, themed around funerals, and one of them even featuring a slowed-down sample of a funeral sermon (possibly backwards? It’s hard to make out the actual words), is a different setting of waves of dark and heavy but also very pure sound flowing in and out of each other. Very meditative and ominous.

Marax/Coma Centauri Coerced to Pull the Trigger The liner notes spell out the concept of this release, and it’s a concept that extends to a lot of Marax’s work that of suicide. According to these notes, Eric and Brandon wanted to explore it as a theme not so much in terms of the “desolate and depressive” modes as it is usually approached, or even the tranquility of a romanticized escape from pain; rather they wanted to explore the mindset of a person leading up to the act, the frustrations and anxiety and trapped feelings that drive one there. That idea is translated by these two artists each through their styles of frantic, nervous harsh noise on their respective sides of this tape.

Marax’s side narrates a suicide by gunshot, the first 13 minutes depicting the emotional states preceding it, then the planning of the event, then the last moments holding the gun just before firing, culminating in the sound of the gunshot and a brief silence; the state of death itself makes up the remaining 17 minutes in the form of a ghostly drone with some amazingly haunting vocal sounds. Marax’s ability to compellingly navigate both harsh and ambient sounds and unite them thematically is unique, and it’s represented especially well here.

Coma Centauri’s side sticks more specifically to the harsh discomfort, and joins this emotional state with third-person perspectives in the form of sparse sampling of news reports about suicides. Overall it’s less of a narrative approach, instead a set of pieces examining different facets of the subject of suicide, its causes and the social issues relating to it.

I greatly respect how these two noisicians approached this release with a concept and an idea of how they wanted to approach it. Noise music as pure abstract and/or physical sound is plenty fun and can even be awe-inspiring, but Marax and Coma Centauri set out here to make a noise album presenting a very honest perspective on a subject, a deeply emotional one at that, and the result succeeds on both viscreal and intellectual levels. Order from Worthless Recordings if they have any left.

Midnight Satanic Royalty — One of the coolest things about classic heavy metal is that in the days before metal got all complicated, it was really just rock and roll amped up on horror, sex, and aggression. Midnight keep this spirit and sound alive and fiery as they delight in evil and depravity. Songs like “Necromania” and “Lust, Filth, and Sleaze” are snarled out fast and furious with simple headbanging riffs, and sound a bit like a cross between Venom and Mötorhead with a dash Social Distortion guitar melodicism. Yes, it kicks ass.

Well now here’s something provocative. Samples from porn became at some point a clichéd element in industrial and electronic dance music. Travis Johnson, honcho of the Ilse netlabel, quotes himself as having once declared that he would never release music with porn samples; then announces the release of Histrionics by Lezet: an album constructed entirely from porn samples. After reading the description, I had to hear this, mainly because the concept is so good, but also because truth be told, at heart I can be a little bit of a perv. Here’s the relevant text from the Ilse site:

“This is a tribute to the adult industry which emotionally crippled many a heterosexual male (myself included) and distorted the very notion of what physical love should be and how liberating it is. Each featured performer is treated as an audio artist of proven vocal prowess and mildly hazardous stage antics. Hearing Zorn speak of our contemporary culture being ‘predominantly visual’ got me thinking – how pleasant or aesthetically appealing might the organized sounds of a staged intercourse be when bereft of their visual accompaniment?”

It’s an interesting idea, but I was only really able to mentally remove the sounds from the idea of their source context, which I think is what Lezet is trying to get at, at a few of the album’s best and most enjoyable moments. For me, these were when things got rhythmic in a musical way; tracks 7 and 14 resemble chanting. Through much of the album though, I just couldn’t help thinking this guy must have some weird porn in his collection. Or hell, maybe porn is weirder these days, I probably haven’t seen much that’s recent. There’s plenty of the usual heavy breathing, moaning and groaning, body parts slapping and farting against each other, giggling, kissing, and spitting; but then there’s other stuff like the weird watery gurgling noise that starts track 11: it sounds like someone sticking their face partway in water and vocalizing into it like you might have done in the bathtub as a kid for fun. Hell, maybe it’s a bong. At a couple of points there are mechanical noises, one probably a vibrator, but another sounding more like some sort of wind-up toy. There is also some definite gibberish or scatting, which seems like a weird thing for someone to do in a porn video. The worst, however, are the gross throat noises prominent on several tracks that sometimes sound like vomiting. All in all, I found it pretty hard to listen to, even moreso than most “difficult” music.

If you want a more fun, lighthearted use of porn samples to contruct music, might I suggest some of the contents of BOOGIE by Albert Tross, Leader Of The Demons:

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something even more difficult made from awkward human noises, might I direct you to the Public Eyesore label and its CD release Babanço Total by Philip Gayle. I’m not familiar with Philip Gayle otherwise, but I hear he’s more well known as an experimental guitarist, and that this album is another sort of experiment entirely, to work entirely with sounds he could make with his body alone. Bryan sent me this a while ago but I have still yet to make it past about track 4 — not that it’s bad, it isn’t really, it’s just really unsettling and kinda gross. The reviews quoted on its page on the Public Eyesore website, and there are a lot of them, sum it up pretty well.

Recent times have seen a surge in “tablehooter” music — a terminology I heard from Hal McGee, and which I’ve embraced for its non-brand-specific superiority over “casio” — that being music made on cheap consumer-level electronic keyboards. I think the boundaries of exactly what models of keyboards qualify as tablehooter or casio might not be clear. Maybe it’s more of an aesthetic. Anyway here’s some good stuff for getting your keyboard vibe:

“Cheap and Plastic” compilation — A newly released huge (49 tracks!) download compilation instigated and compiled by the incomparable Hal McGee and dedicated to tablehooter music. Des Moines is well-represented on it, by the way, as it sports tracks by yours truly, Moulttrigger (Dave Wren), and Brian Noring. This has probably some of the noisiest and most experimental approaches to tablehooters you’re likely to hear, with many of the artists going beyond just overdubbing or adding effects to actually circuit-bending the devices, that is, modifying the devices themselves with custom homemade hacks to their circuitry.

Larry “The Wizard” Sievers “Wizard in a Trancedelic Dream” — Folks not from around Iowa City may not be familiar with Larry, but he’s definitely deserving of wider recognition in the homemade music scene, so here’s the dirt: he’s a 60-something fellow who sorta looks kinda like J Mascis with a mustache, has a devoted love of metal music, and composes these really cool instrumentals on his keyboard. Here is an article about him from the University of Iowa’s newspaper The Daily Iowan. A fair amount of his music has been recorded and come out for public consumption, but fuck knows how much more he has written or locked up in his head. I picked this tape up at Record Collector in Iowa City and it seems to have been put out by one Adam Luksetich (a member of Bongrider and probably active in some other capacities as well), the only contact info being his email address, that being his name all together as one word at gmail. Otherwise you can listen and download at Larry’s bandcamp. It’s a lot of fun, both for reveling in the kitchy keyboard sound and the way that the simple pre-programmed drum parts fall off beat when Larry goes into meters like 5/4 on occasion, and for the triumphant, epic melodic style of the pieces, which are all about cool stuff like wizards, dragons, vampires, you get the idea — good stuff to put on to get yourself pumped up and in the mood to go out and conquer the world.

New Future Wanderer “Palace In My Room” — So Leah and I have been house-shopping lately now that we’re able to qualify for mortgages again. A while ago we hit an open house up in Urbandale. The house was total late-80’s Suburban Playset, built in 1987, and touring it was honestly like walking into a 1987 time warp with its weirdly bland style. Pretty much everything in it was original — the beige paint, blotchy-patterned carpeting, the popcorn ceilings, the beige touch-tone telephone on the wall with the extra long receiver cord, the appliances with that goofy cursive lettering on them, the showers all having those massage-piks with the big clunky head on them that you can rotate the collar to switch it between like 12 different spray patterns. The whole thing flipped this weird late-’80s switch in my head that keeps getting jammed now. I was overtaken with a longing to buy this house and recreate 1987 in it just to hide in. Find an old used Fisher component system, set up my Apple IIe again, take up a Tae Kwon Do class. I felt like the world was just better when I was 12 and it shouldn’t have changed. Lately though, I begin to think it hasn’t actually changed that much.

Had I gone through with this nutty plan, I would right away begin seeking out more music like New Future Wanderer to play in my new place. The artist trading card says that Jeff Roman hails from the “overwhelmingly underwhelming suburbs of central New Jersey,” and from that phrase I get a mental picture of his neighborhood being full of houses like that one.

Despite the name, it’s really on old future that New Future Wanderer conjures up, sounding like a 1980s bedroom-recorded shot at sci-fi synth-pop. Sure, ’80s nostalgia and retrofuturism are probably passé to a lot of you now, but I really love the way Roman does it here. Everything is blown out and distorted, making for some really noisy moments that might seem more modern, but this patina just adds to the effect since it sounds like an amateurish cassette recording like on some underground tape release back in the day. It also makes it hard to make out much of the lyrics apart from a few phrases like “I’m a future man” and stuff about feelin’ good on a spaceship, but the lyrics are secondary; what I think keeps me coming back to this tape is the atmosphere and all the little catchy four-note keyboard melodies.

I was going to stick the bandcamp widget of it here, but Lava Church seems to have taken the album down from their account. The tape is still available on their store, currently on sale for $3.50.

Lovebrrd — speaking of the Lava Church label, it’s run by Patrick McBratney who is also totally owns the casio vibe as Lovebrrd. Lovebrrd recordings sound very homemade, a real basement/boombox vibe, and the keyboards sound kind of blown-out like he’s playing them through the overdrive channel of a guitar amp (he probably is). The keyboard melodies and deadpan vocals, always sung through enough effects that you pretty much give up on trying to decipher the lyrics, have a definite gothy darkwave streak to them. Pat has since applied the Lovebrrd name to a wider variety of sounds and sonic experiments, so it remains to be seen whether he comes back to this tablehooter vibe but he was ahead of the curve on it in the beginning and did it nicely.

It’s not hard to understand why Greg Ginn took a liking to Saint Vitus early on. While he was bringing pre-thrash metal influences to play in Black Flag at that time, Saint Vitus were, and still are in their own unique way, among the punkest of metal bands. Not in the sense that they sound anything like the conventions of punk rock, but more in their raw, doggedly individualist, keep-it-simple approach. They’re a bit like a metal Flipper really. The usual facts cited about the Saint Vitus sound are the trudging tempos and Dave Chandler’s use of a guitar tone that seems to be an attempt to strip away as much high frequencies as possible, leaving a sickly murk. Ginn, of course, was interested in anyone making unusual sounds with the electric guitar, but even that aside, like much of the best old-school punk rock, Chandler’s riffs and the structures of Saint Vitus’s songs are either bonehead simple or brutally concise, depending on how you choose to look at it. Even Chandler’s solos usually forego technical flash or shred in favor of an often atonal assault that’s more about intensity or shock. One of his most shocking yet arrives just under two minutes into Lillie: F-65‘s opening track, “Let Them Fall”, a song seeming to express the frustration of God at the wickedness of humankind and His final abandonment of us to a fate we’ve brought upon ourselves. Fucking shit, that solo — I swear he has that thing going through a ring modulator or something, it’s just so insanely dissonant. He returns to this expressionistic splatter approach frequently on Lillie — many of his solos on the record consist almost entirely of feedback.

As if to give us a respite following one of these that arrives in the (relatively) fast ending to the environmental destruction tune “The Bleeding Ground”, Wino takes a turn at the guitar for the instrumental interlude “Vertigo” so that we can be treated to some of his haunting 12-string fingerpicking, accompanied with some tasteful ebow from Chandler. Otherwise though, Wino sticks to singing, and in that role Wino is of course Wino, as perfectly suited a frontman to the low-frills creative vision of this band as one could imagine, again all meat and message and honesty, delivered straight to the gut. Relative newcomer Henry Vazquez’s drumming is very true to the sound and groove established by the dearly departed Armando Acosta, if a bit less loose around the seams, and he’s particularly in his element on “Blessed Night” which I think was the first new song written after his joining the band.

By the time you finish the apocalyptic “The Waste Of Time” you’ve heard pretty much what you expect for a pretty decent Saint Vitus album. Then “Dependence” hits.

“Dependence” is an addiction drama so gritty and harrowing it makes “Hand Of Doom” sound almost silly. It’s a particularly epic-scoped number for Saint Vitus in terms of the number of parts and changes in it (and at that, still economical), and it’s a song that sounds as though they especially poured their hearts into it, even Mark Adams of the usually unassuming bass sounds specially inspired. “Dependence” begins with a mournful intro of acoustic guitar and synthesizer noises before Chandler introduces a main riff that perfectly expresses being unable to pick yourself up off the floor. After two intense verses and another noisy guitar solo, the band drops away leaving Chandler all alone bending one long note of groaning feedback off into the abyss over some scary whispering, the words of which I can’t make out but I’m sure it’s nothing good. Do not listen under influence of hallucinogenics. The main riff returns even more lethargic than before and after a final verse ending with an anguished cry from Wino we are right away hit with “Withdrawal,” basically a reprise of that fucked up feedback bridge that builds in more layers of noise that then gradually die off. Sure it’s just three minutes of feedback through pedals, something a lot of folks would pass off as filler, but for this noise-head, taken as a coda to “Dependence,” damned if it doesn’t get the point across in just the sort of way “L.A. Blues” does.

At 33 minutes Lillie: F-65 is crazy short for a doom album, and coming 17 years after their last new studio material one might expect to be disappointed in such a paucity of material, but there’s not a moment wasted on it. If they don’t make any more Saint Vitus albums, this will be a much better final one than they gave the world before. Either way, it’s cool as hell having them back with this kind of energy.

Ira’s Drug Arts venture has been kicking out some cool jams these days, especially if you like rhythmic space out while you dance electronic industrial stuff. There are newfangled subsubgenres for this kind of thing but I’m fuzzy on them (“drag”?). Black Rabbit is Christopher Padula, who you might otherwise know from his awesome hazy shoegazey lo-fi dream-pop outfit Thunder Bunny. Where Thunder Bunny is all blurry guitars and ethereal melodies, however, Black Rabbit is more about hypnotic instrumentals of scrunchy synthesizers and hard edges with wild panning tricks and rhythms deliberately allowed to fall just a hair out of sync just to mess with your head. Copy on the bandcamp page for Shadow Puppet describes it as “like a woozy non-vocal cousin to Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, if Iggy’s backing band was Coil” and that’s pretty well right on, I don’t know if I can improve on it. Download for $3 or a little more if you feel generous.