They’re courting equal parts dissonance and repetition in much of their music, using noise to chisel and forcibly remove songs from the ether. This sordid sonic penetration is born of post punk and industrial grind while the groove can be construed as mechanistic, there is something more organic at play. A bit of motorik spliced with a wry nod to the groaning ambivalence to a world without promise of a future.
Sometimes I’m late to the party. Most of the time. Actually. The river is deep and the valley is low in music. The internet, for music, is the cool older brother most music dorks wish they’d had.
Mi compadre and No Bad Songs alum, Eddie Tesla, turned me on to the exquisite dark wave beauty for Pac North Westers Nightmare Fortress who released their debut The Wanting earlier this summer on translucent vinyl, no less. I impulse bought the LP without considering I might want the t-shirt too. Fuck. It was a steal. That and the Mr. Tube and the Flying objects record today. I’m almost glad I inadvertently forgot about the release of Chelsea Wolfe’s Abyss record (nice write up in the latest issue of High Times for the Wolfe).
Nightmare Fortress exists in that Dark Wave realm but it’s really just Goth/new wave revisited. They could easily share a bill with Cold Cave or Chelsea Wolfe. Sweet spot between Siouxsie and the Banshees Join Hands and Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration, two perennial favorites in the No Bad Songs oeuvre – plus I’m partial to the nostalgia b&w weirdness of the “A Question of Time” music video, having danced the smurf shuffle to the tune at Ground Zero in Boulder in the long-time-agos.
So. The party started and I was there when I got the invitation but I was distracted by something else, some other pretty thing in the hallowed screen, and missed the introduction to Nightmare Fortresses when I got the link to the KEXP performance…But, timing man, it has a funny way of penetrating the noise. Like when a song hits you and you’re like, “How the fuck haven’t I always heard this song – looking at you Ryan Adams “Give Me Something Good” and QOTSA “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.” Is there a theme here?
No Exit is a play by Jean Paul Sartre about three souls in the waiting room in hell attended by a functionary. They suffer in mediocrity. Banality. Bored by one another’s company. Unable to feel pleasure. Unable to escape the stupidity of themselves or their companions or their confinement. Perceived confinement.
“No Exit” by Nightmare Fortress is a song about possession. Control. A struggle between everything and nothing and reconciling those experiences. Existential ennui. Of course. A dysmorphic reaction to the externality of the self. This KEXP performance is pretty spot on to the recording. No fidelity loss and the studio version is note for note except for a pop of breath on the mic windscreen.
The LP is great. Got a purple trans version on the way. Gonna do the smurf-toe dance late at night and dream about clove cigarettes and crunchy energy drinks.
Chicago band, Disappears have been sculpting moody and paranoid sonic compositions, altering the notion of structure on each subsequent release since forming in 2008. On the band’s latest, Irreal, they manage to ratchet up the tension with a minimalism that is calculating and precise. I appreciate their sonic aesthetic even more, now that the band seem to be moving toward the type of music they made on the 2013 12″, Kone. They’re delving into the IN BETWEEN space, creating music in an era where you can easily spend 90 minutes in a isolation chamber. Not to be confused with cold or isolating but fluid and viscous.
Some writer with more time and a better grasp of metaphor likened them to David Lynch.
Sure, Disappears make Lynchian-post kraut rock. Now it’s dark…
Disappears are accessing something unique. Getting farther and farther out. The use of repetition, recursive riffs and motifs paired with Brian Case’s monotone vocal delivery of haiku-like lyrics that often end in ellipses rather than declarative cliche, escape the velocity of rock pastiche.
They’re playing at the Casbah on April 3, 2015. The night after TV On the Radio plays the Observatory in North Park.
Another important distinction, Brian Case has an affinity for Taylor Swift, which I share so he and his band get top marks in my estimation.
“Sleep is an uncompromising interruption of the theft of time from us by capitalism.”Jonathan Crary
Anxiety abounds in this tense and compressed new track from Bristol UK shoe-wave band, Spectres.
They made NME’s album of the week and it’s about time to commend the lads for their diligent and provocative sound. For a band that has been anchored to an island, hopefully, the extra attention will garner a tour. Maybe, if the black supermoon aligns, a tour US will follow and they can anoint us all with layers of fuzz, suburban ennui and melancholy for an atrophied diaspora of guitar-centric music.
For a full list of favorite Wrongstring tracks, check the Spotify playlist at the end.
That D’Angelo album is incredible. Get the Vinyl. Expand your sonic landscape. So funky.
Memoryhouse by Max Ricther is probably my favorite record of the year. It was a surprise in that it’s classical, not my usual choice. Something about the way I heard it and when I guess. Being that we’re all fans of music, that little bit of magic is what makes it all worth it, keeps us looking for those diamonds in the rough.
Another surprise for me was Run the Jewels 2 (download). Hearing it, as I did, in context with the Michael Brown grand jury verdict amplified the frustration and anger for a situation in American history that makes me want to scream. Especially the track “Close Your Eyes (and count to Fuck).” Its the riot soundtrack in my mind each time I think about Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and the kids in Ayotzinapa.
Viet Cong “Cassette” EP is incredible. The production. Guitar work. Songs. The aesthetic of the band and sonic richness of the record is inspiring. Just like the Women “Public Strain” album, this one is a new classic (if you haven’t heard Women yet, check them out, for fans of Joy Division, Velvet Underground and Television).
A new “Old” discovery was Tim Maia’s Luaka Bop compilation, Nobody Can Live Forever. Funky and soulful. It was released in 2012.
“Que Beleza” is a standout.
One of the strongest contenders for bleakest and catchiest albums of the year came from Detroit in the form of Protomartyr Under Color of Official Right. That’s right, bleak as a smog filled skyline in a city on the eternal decline. Abandoned music.
The funk apocalypse will be scored by the genius soul purveyors of The Budos Band. Their Burnt Offering transmuted power and groove.
The Twilight Sad Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave is a career best for the Scottish post punk band. There’s significantly more guitar on this album. It is bigger sounding.
Below is a spotify playlist to some of my favorite tracks of the year.
After the tragic and untimely death of Christopher Reimer (isn’t death always untimely?), ex-Women members, bassist/vocalist Matt Flegel drummer Mike Wallace formed Vietcong in 2012 with guitarists Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen. Is it difficult to outrun the shadow of your former selves? Maybe the best solution is merely to stand a few feet ahead of the shadow, one eye on the future/present and a toe in the past. On Cassette, Vietcong manage to escape the velocity of their previous band, Women while remaining in geosynchronous orbit of their criminally overlooked underappreciated former band.
Cassette maintains a meticulous attention to dissonance, noise and abrasiveness coupled with a healthy respect for post-punk standard bearers like Chairs Missing-era Wire and the more experimental songs of Joy Division; “Atrocity Exhibition” and “Decades” pop up on the simil-o-meter. Rather than derivation, the band comfortably iterates on previously chartered themes.
On “Oxygen Feed” traces of Velvet Underground DNA weave throughout the song’s chorus.
The final track, “Select Your Drone” is a trip into a Wendy Carlos-inspired ocean of synth. A staccato heartbeat drives the song forward in half-time, accompanied by biting angular guitar stabs (fuck that description in it’s music journalist butthole). This is one of the more interesting tracks on the record as it recalls at times the more somber work of long time David Lynch collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti
If you think a Vantablack pair of 511’s would fit well in your wardrobe and may or may not have at one time owned a vintage type writer you used to punch out DMT-fueled prose, then this album would be a nice compliment to your expanding collection of sonic ephemera. If you like Velvet Underground, Joy Division and the occasional dalliance with Burroughs’ epic Western Lands trilogy, pick up a copy to soundtrack your silent existential crisis at your local record store.
Celebrate the second most superfluous hallmark holiday today (St. Pat’s is number 1) with this creepy new Voodoo Priestess/purple fire/raise the dead on the four beat track, “Klapp Klapp” from synth noir geniuses, Little Dragon.
Your god damn summer ear worm, in the form of Nabuma Rubberband, the fourth LP from the disgustingly good looking band, will be released via Loma Vista 5/13.