Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Shopping For Records: Ulver's ATGCLVLSSCAP

The new album coming in early 2016 from Ulver is in fact titled, ATGCLVLSSCAP, which is apparently an acronym for every sign of the zodiac.  Without having heard a single note of this release, the points of influence noted in the information below, which was provided by Rarely Unable PR, feature Kraftwerk, Neu!, Amon Duul II, John Carpenter and Bernard Herrmann.  It sounds like it's going to be ominous, propulsive and generally unsettling. 

I unfortunately have no tracks to share at this point, but I'll be sure to post any that surface over the next few months.  ATGCLVLSSCAP is to be released via House of Mythology on January 22nd, 2016.  As mentioned, all info was provided by Rarely Unable. 


House of Mythology proudly presents the new Ulver gatefold double album vinyl (also available on CD), with over 80 minutes worth of material. This album consists of multitracked and studio-enhanced live, mostly improvisational, rock and electronic soundscapes, 2/3 of which has never been heard before.

In Newton’s basic laws of motion – those which lie at the heart of modern physics – the paradox stands that constant velocity is essentially as natural as being at rest. True to form, in the now twenty-two-year-old life of Ulver, only one constant has remained, that being a forward-driving spirit that has moved this mercurial Norwegian-based collective forever through challenges and adventure anew, irrespective of reductive genre pigeonholing. Moreover, their latest voyage into the unknown is no different, marking another new chapter for an outfit characterised by wild and inspiring unpredictability, along with a fresh triumph for one of modern music’s most iconoclastic forces.

The basis for ATGCLVLSSCAP – which the band has been working with under the moniker ‘12’ – arrives from recordings made at twelve different live shows that Ulver performed in February 2014, in which band the band vaulted into the deep end of an improvisatory approach to their performance. As Kristoffer Rygg, the prime mover of the band since its inception puts it wryly, “The tour was to be an experiment, kind of loose and scary for a band as ‘set in their ways’ as us.”

Although the line-up for these shows remained similar to that on 2012’s psychedelic covers album Childhood’s End, and the band had taken succour from the sounds and headspace they explored on that record, this was another break into new territory, using their live energy and spontaneity as the fuel for aural explorations that would surprise even the band themselves. “At the end of any album process, I can’t wait to do something else,” comments Rygg. ”So yeah, it is partly borne out of that feeling, being a bit bored with the circumstances. It was quite liberating to do something more in the moment. One night a jam could be five minutes, and the next it could be fifteen. We couldn’t have captured these songs in a studio environment.”

Once the tour was over, it was down to his bandmate Daniel O’Sullivan to take charge of these multitrack recordings, sculpting and editing hours of material in his North London enclave, formerly owned by charismatic artist and Coil associate, the sadly departed Ian Johnstone – as O’Sullivan noted, “The hungry ghosts of the now empty house appear to be burrowing into this record.” Anders Møller, Kristoffer Rygg and Tore Ylwizaker got involved a bit later, honing things from their end in Subsonic Society and Oak Hill Studios, Oslo, before the vinyl cutting process took place at THD Vinyl Mastering, also in Oslo, in which the band was fully involved in the crucial initial cut of the 14” lacquer. What resulted is the widescreen sweep and atmospheric splendour of ATGCLVLSSCAP, ultimately a piece of work that exists above and beyond any conventional live recording, rather a hallucinatory travelogue as potent an experience to bear witness to as it was to construct.

As always in the world of Ulver, influences are disparate and diverse, yet as Rygg notes, “It’s quite tributary in a way, there are clear nods to sounds from the past.” Many of these dwell in progressive, electronic and krautrock realms, heralding a lifelong love within the band for the music of the 70s – the fiery mantras of ‘Om Hanumate Namah’ and the motorik drive of ‘Cromagnosis’ draw an astral trajectory between the propulsion of Kraftwerk/Neu! and the ritualistic intensity of prime Amon Düül II, whilst the spirits of both Klaus Schulze and John Carpenter are audible in the electronic soundscapes of ‘Desert/Dawn’, not to mention the Bernard Herrmann touch in the closing ‘Solaris’. Even when the band revisits an earlier gem from 2000’s Perdition City album, as on ‘Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)’, its reinvigorated by their expansive and emotionally charged approach.

“We always feel like, independently of what kind of instrumentation we use, we’re still playing the same nocturnal stuff,” laughs Rygg. “There are a few motifs that keep recurring all the time in what we do, and if it’s in a rock form or an electronic form, it’s always there.” Yet as true as this may be, by shaking up their creative process, the band have summoned up a unique testimony to the creative power of a mighty force who remain blissfully free of genre or convention, ATGCLVLSSCAP is progressive in the truest sense of the word, a record that may be this capricious band’s pièce-de-resistance. (words by Jimmy Martin)



Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What I Heard This Morning: Boston Not LA 4

In conjunction with I Heart Noise and Boston Becomes Eclectic, the Boston Not LA compilation series has released its fourth installment featuring some oddsound selections from performers like Anda Volley, Skyjelly and Clown.  And then a song like "College Radio" by The Prefab Messiahs provides some straight-forward garage sounds to balance out the sequence.

You can give it a listen here.  It's worth checking out.

Hearing this does make me think that there should be a Philly Not New York series out there, like the world would be a better place if such a platform were available for our often overlooked city and the myriad talents it's likely to hold.  Would there be any interest?

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

No Ripcord: Girl Band

Girl Band
Holding Hands With Jamie
Rough Trade
Released: 9.25.15

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Shopping For Records: Swans reissue White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life

Young Gods Records will be releasing two new Swans reissues on December 4th, White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life.  So, to anyone reading this, my 39th birthday is right before Christmas if you were looking for gift ideas. 

White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life were originally released in '91 and '92 respectively, likely buried beneath a greasy, sweaty wannabe-subculture driven by teen angst, flannel, alt-marketing and MTV.  I know these albums definitely slipped past my radar since I was as immersed in all the alt-mania as everyone else was at the time.  First runs of the albums will be issued as limited edition box sets with CD, vinyl and digital versions to follow once the sets have been bought up.  You can read more about the reissues below.  All info was provided by Howlin' Wuelf Media. 

You can also listen to both albums here:  

Swans continue their remastered reissues series on Young God Records in North America and Mute in other territories with the release of White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life on December 4, 2015. You can hear the music here:

The two albums will be initially released as a limited vinyl box set, presented in the original restored artwork, which includes paintings by Deryk Thomas. The 2500 micron black lined box - with original logo in silver foil block in black paper - will also include 2 rare posters, a CD of outtakes, rarities, contemporaneous live recordings and a download code for both albums.

In addition, White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life will be available as a 3xCD set (which will include the bonus disc), as well as individual albums on vinyl and digitally.

Preorders are available now from:Â
White Light from the Mouth of Infinity, Swans' seventh studio album originally released in 1991, is considered the starting point for the second section of Swans' inimitable history. Described as "...the glistening, glimmering sounds of the pensive countryside" by Stereogum, this will be the first time White Light from the Mouth of Infinity has been available on vinyl since its original release on Young God Records in 1991. The vinyl issue will include the track 'Blind', not included in the original release. 

Love of Life, the band's eighth studio album, followed soon after in 1992. According to Allmusic's Ned Ragget, "Love of Life continues the astounding creative roll Swans found themselves on ... yet another Swans masterpiece."  The vinyl version of this album has also been unavailable since its original release. 

Michael Gira recently announced that Swans are currently working on their last album in this "current incarnation". The basic tracks and vocals were completed last month at Sonic Ranch studio in Texas with John Congleton as engineer, with Michael Gira producing. Further work will continue in Seattle and Berlin and the new album is expected to be released on Young God Records in North America and Mute Records in other territories in late spring 2016. /

Letters From A Tapehead

Wand: "Sleepy Dog"

"Sleepy Dog" is a new single from Wand's recently released third album, 1,000 Days, which arrived mere months after their 2nd, the In The Red released Golem.  "Sleepy Dog" premiered via SPIN, a gently psych-influenced synth rock track, very melodic and almost camped up like the theremin-driven score from some antiquated science fiction soundtrack. 

Links, info and tour dates were provided by Mutante Inc. and Drag City.  No Philly dates, by the way.

1000 Days are upon you! With just a fortnight or so before their American tour unfurls in the name of all that is new and true, Wand have something ELSE for you to look at, too! For their soarching and scorching deep-album cut "Sleepy Dog," they've turned to Meghan Tryon and Garrett Davis for something to accompany their tune - a toon of its own, as it transpires. But def the kind of toon you only see in your mind's high, a technicolor black-and white extravaganza that tells the tale of the song-dog with the creeping humor that we'd expect from Python's 21st century flying circus, wherever it may be. This extraordinary video is a refined sensory explosion buzzing with life before and BETWEEN your eyes, flighting sparks to your optic nerves from all sides! "Sleepy Dog" (the video) revels in the hallucinatory synthetic animation of worlds unknown - and yet somewhat slightly familiar to our collective unconscious.

The turning paranoia, hi-fi noises, the visual supernova....does the nice dog exist, or does it represent something....BIGGER? A dreamlike broadcast for you to either celebrate or flee from, with your lives intact. Until the live dates begin in all their literal splendor, the Wand-world of
1000 Days is only in your mind, and only just begun! So come on, "Sleepy Dog"; dream tight and watch the video over on SPIN right now!

Wand's EPIC North American tour kicks off later this month, check out the dates below and follow the morning rainbow!


Weds 10/28/15 at The Echo in Los Angeles, CA
Thu 10/29/15 at Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco, CA

Fri 10/30/15 at The Know PDX in Portland, OR
Sat 10/31/15 at Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, British Columbia
Sun 11/1/15 at Narwhal in Seattle, WA
Tues 11/3/15 at The Real Lounge in Missoula, MT
Thu 11/5/15 at The Entry in Minneapolis, MN
Fri 11/6/15 at Witching Hour Festival in Iowa City, IA
Sat 11/7/15 at Empty Bottle in Chicago, IL
Tues 11/10/15 at Adelaide Hall in Toronto, Ontario
Wed 11/11/15 at Bar Le "Ritz" P.D.B. in Montreal, Quebec
Thu 11/12/15 at Middle East (upstairs) in Cambridge, MA
Fri 11/13/15 at Mercury Lounge in New York, NY
Sat 11/14/15 at Rough Trade NYC in Brooklyn, NY
Sun 11/15/15 at Black Cat in Washington, DC
Mon 11/16/15 at Tiger Mountain in Asheville, NC
Wed 11/18/15 at 529 in Atlanta, GA
Thu 11/19/15 at Hi Tone in Memphis, TN
Fri 11/20/15 at Siberia in New Orleans, LA
Sat 11/21/15 at Red 7 in Austin, TX
Sun 11/22/15 at Lowbrow Palace in El Paso, TX
Tue 11/24/15 at Solar Culture in Tucson, AZ
Wed 11/25/15 at Soda Bar in San Diego, CA

Wand Online:
Drag City-

Order Links:
Drag City-

Amazon Vinyl-

Amazon CD-

Amazon Digital-

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

(LOTS OF!) Amphetamine Reptile


So, the Amphetamine Records documentary, The Color of Noise, will be released on November 24th.  It's currently available for pre-order.  I've been aching to see this documentary since the trailer first became available, so I am very excited to give it a look.

Also exciting, though, is the onslaught of AmRep reissues planned, the first wave including a 3-LP set of the Dope-Guns-N-Fucking in the Streets compilation, Cunning Stunts by Cows, Music for Insect Minds by Halo of Flies and a soundtrack release for The Color of Noise, which will be issued on colored vinyl for RSD-Black Friday. 

All links and info was provided by MVD Entertainment Group.

Here's the trailer:

Amphetamine Reptile Records
"The Color Of Noise"
Coming on November 24th

Clip premiere now live at Brooklyn Vegan

Soundtrack to be released on limited edition 150 gram color vinyl for Record Store Day - November 27th

AmRep Re-Issues Coming November 24th

MVD Entertainment Group and the legendary Amphetamine Reptile Records have partnered with Robel Films to release the documentary The Color of Noise, a film that looks into the history of the label and its founder Tom "Haze" Hazelmyer. MVD and AmRep will also re-issue some of the best releases from the catalog on vinyl and CD starting in Dec 2015 and continuing into 2016 and beyond.

The initial round of releases includes the first vinyl edition of the legendary Halo of Flies'
Music for Insect Minds on double LP, the Cows' classic Cunning Stunts and a 3 LP set of the infamous Dope Guns 'n Fucking in the Streets compilations featuring Mudhoney, Helmet, Melvins, Tad, Tar, Superchunk and lots more. Also, the soundtrack to the The Color of Noise will be released on limited edition 150 gram color vinyl for Record Store Day on November 27th.

The Color of Noise is a full length documentary about the Artist Haze XXL (Tom Hazelmyer) and his notorious record label, Amphetamine Reptile Records. Throughout the 80's and 90's the label would achieve almost cult-like status for being adventurous and daring in the midst of a time where "safe" punk rock would rule the airwaves with a newly accepted style of music by the mainstream college goers, Grunge. Though with AmRep, not only a roster of the most outrageous performers would find a home, but also a legion of poster artists who broke all of the rules.

Armed with a computer and an aesthetic of bold imagery, an artist would emerge in Hazelmyer. This is an American mid-west story about a man who created his own path, far from the norm and how he brought along with him countless others who would achieve greatness by sheer proximity and participation. This is the true American underground.

Featuring over 50 interviews from across the globe, unearthed live footage of the bands and stunning visuals masterfully edited together resulting in one of the years' best music documentaries. Premiered at Jack White's Third Man Records and taken on a US tour shortly afterwards,
The Color of Noise has gained the reputation as one of the most important films about the Noise Rock era.



Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, October 09, 2015

Singles: The Greatest Hoax, Kowloon Walled City, Gnaw Their Tongues, Nicolas Jaar

The Greatest Hoax: "Opus No. 29" (via Terrorbird/Soundcloud)

Kowloon Walled City: "Grievances" (via Rarely Unable/Neurot Recordings/Soundcloud)

Gnaw Their Tongues: "Through Flesh" (via Earsplit PR/Crucial Blast/YouTube)

Nicolas Jaar: "Fight" (via Force Field PR/R & S Records/YouTube)

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Wrekmeister Harmonies

Up until now, I'd been oblivious to J.R. Robinson's Wrekmeister Harmonies, a metal/drone/vocal/rock project featuring a rather impressive roster of musicians.  This ensemble is releasing a third Wrekmeister Harmonies album called Night of Your Ascension on November 13th via Thrill Jockey Records and I've had a chance to sample some of the LP.  An excerpt of the second of its two tracks surfaced online yesterday via Revolver Magazine called "Run Priest Run."  It's about 12-plus minutes out of its almost 17, so it's a pretty generous offering.  You can check that out below:

Here's a trailer for the release:

All info and links were lovingly curated from the excellent people over at Earsplit PR.  Please check out the Revolver article as well.

Wrekmeister Harmonies set to release Night of Your Ascension on 13th Nov

Featuring The Body, Marissa Nadler, members of Einsturzende Neubauten, Corrections House, Bitchin Bajas and more

Nearly a year in the making and including a cast of 30 musicians, J.R. Robinson delivers his towering third album as Wrekmeister Harmonies entitled Night of Your Ascension. As with previous records, the ensemble is made up of an all-star cast of talented musicians which include Lee Buford and Chip King of The Body, Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten), Marissa Nadler, Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas), Mary Lattimore, Olivia Block, Eric Chaleff (Bloodiest), Dylan O’Toole and Ron DeFries of Indian, Bruce Lamont (Corrections House), Sanford Parker (Twilight), Mark Solotroff (Anatomy of Habit) and Chris Brokaw (Come, Pullman).

Robinson has long been fascinated with those whose habits or actions have set them beyond the reach of redemption. He continues to explore humanity’s darkest impulses and society’s response to them. The death of Father John Goeghan and the life of Don Carlo Gesualdo were starting points for the two epic compositions on Night of Your Ascension.

The title track, “Night of Your Ascension” featuring the haunting vocal talents of Marissa Nadler, was as much influenced by Don Carlo Gesualdo’s horrific act as it was by the extreme nature of his compositions. There are many that have been inspired by Gesualdo’s imaginative and complex works, from Werner Herzog to Igor Stravinsky. All were perhaps drawn to the unanswerable question whether or not the violence of his life was related to the violence of his music. Robinson, while intrigued by that question, focuses on evoking the extreme nature of Gesualdo’s act while using the man’s music as a vehicle. The resulting composition is compelling, and the hopes are that we ask why such horror is so captivating to the collective mindset.

“Run Priest Run” traces the death of Father John Geoghan, a priest convicted of child sex crimes who was violently executed by an inmate whilst in solitary confinement. The piece opens in a cold, dank space, evocative of the cell where the violent scene happened. As rumbling bass and brooding drums usher our killer into the frame (the hair raising shrieks of The Body’s Chip King), the track takes us into the depth of horror of that cell and the minds of those within it.

Robinson has long been pre-occupied with society’s unwanted, observing the horror of their acts while trying to identify with their conflict. Night of Your Ascension is a commentary on our own fascination with blood lust and our seemingly insatiable appetite for lurid depictions of depravity. The music on this record is as hauntingly beautiful as it is brutal, the questions it provokes are weighty.

Night of Your Ascension will be released on 13th November and available on CD / LP / DL. Pre-order via Thrill Jockey mail order:
"Brooding enactment of sonic theatre" - Rock-A-Rolla Magazine

"From lightness to dark, beauty to violence" - The Quietus

"Wrekmeister Harmonies excels at the cinematic approach to sound composition" - A Closer Listen

"A roiling blend of drone, funeral doom, and black metal that grows to Olympian heights" - Stereogum

Wrekmeister Harmonies - Night of Your Ascension
Out 13th November
Available on CD / LP / DL
Full album bio readable HERE

1. Night of Your Ascension
2. Run Priest Run (Extended)
Night of Your Ascension profile page:

Night of Your Ascension trailer:

You've Always Meant So Much to Me (Music Video):

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Tortoise: "Gesceap"

Coming up for 2016, the heavily revered post-rock act Tortoise will be releasing The Catastrophist on January 22nd via Thrill Jockey Records.  This is the band's long-awaited follow-up to their 2009 release, Beacons of Ancestorship.   "Gesceap" is the lead single and it's a worthwhile 7-and-change synth-driven instrumental, electro-fuzz pulse and textural pleasantry.  The album is currently available for pre-order.  You can check out the track below:

All information has been brought to you by the great people at Thrill Jockey Records.

Tortoise announce new album The Catastrophist out 22nd January

Tortoise release first single Gesceap

Full European tour in February announced

"Tortoise enabled the cross-pollination we take for granted today, drawing on dub, post-punk, weird folk, jazz-fusion, progressive rock and dance music to open a Pandora’s box of possibilities" - The Sunday Times 

"One of the most heralded names in modern American rock music" - Clash Music
"When Tortoise emerged from the American punk/lo-fi scene in 1993, they redefined the possibilities of rock" - The Guardian
Revered Chicago-based instrumental group Tortoise, comprised of Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Doug McCombs, John McEntire and Jeff Parker, have spent 25 years making music that defies description. While the quintet have nodded to dub, rock, jazz, electronica and minimalism throughout their acclaimed and influential six-album discography, the resulting sounds have always been distinctly their own.

It’s a fact that remains true on the hotly anticipated forthcoming new album The Catastrophist, due out 22nd January via Thrill Jockey and Tortoise’s first studio album in nearly seven years. They have conjured sounds that aren’t being purveyed anywhere else in music today. 

Recorded at McEntire’s famed Soma Studios, it’s an album where moody, synth-swept jams like the opening title track cosy up next to hypnotic, bass-and-beat missives like “Shake Hands With Danger” and a fantastic cover of David Essex’s 1973 hit song “Rock On” sung by U.S. Maple’s Todd Rittmann. Throughout, the songs on The Catastrophist transcend expectations as often as they delight the listen’s eardrums.

Rock On isn’t the only vocal moment on the album. Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley distinctive tones are on the bittersweet classic soul/R&B vibe ballad “Yonder Blue”. This also marks the first time a Tortoise album will feature a guest vocalist singing original lyrics.

“Gesceap”, the first track which you can hear from The Catastrophist, is a stunning seven-minute long, minimalist rhythmic piece, morphing from two gently intersecting synth lines into a pounding, frenzied full-band finish.
There’s a deeply intuitive interplay between the group that comes only from two decades of experimentation, revision and improvisation. At a time when our minds are constantly bombarded by myriad distractions, The Catastrophist reminds us that there’s something much greater out there. All we have to do is listen.

Tortoise announce first leg of European tour starting this February. Full list of dates can be viewed below, with more dates planned throughout the rest of 2016.

The Catastrophist will be released on 22nd January and available on CD / LP / DL.

Pre-order from Thrill Jockey Mailorder now including an exclusive opaque turquoise coloured vinyl and t-shirt designed by Tortoise's own John Herndon:

Letters From A Tapehead 

Monday, October 05, 2015

Shopping For Records: Thee Oh Sees, Purling Hiss, Locrian/Mamiffer, The Cramps, Big Black

Thee Oh Sees/Purling Hiss gig, 9.12 

Thee Oh Sees
In The Red
Released: 4.28.09 

Purling Hiss
Drag City
Released: 9.23.14

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of seeing Purling Hiss and Thee Oh Sees perform at the Underground Arts in Philadelphia.  While the experience of seeing both bands perform for a very rowdy and obnoxious crowd of intoxicated rock fans was enough to top off an excellent Saturday evening, the opportunity to add a couple releases to my library was an added bonus.  So, thickening my collection of Thee Oh Sees releases by one, I grabbed a copy of the 2009 LP, Help.  I also picked up Weirdon by Purling Hiss, which I reviewed for No Ripcord in 2014.  You can find that review here.

Locrian/Sannhet gig, 9.11

Locrian & Mamiffer
Bless Them That Curse You
Released: 2.21.12

Locrian, whom I've waxed on and on about pretty consistently over the years, were the opener for the post-metal act, Sannhet, at the Boot & Saddle.  It was great to finally get to see Locrian perform.  I hit the merch booth pretty hard as I was leaving the venue, excited to find copy of Bless Them That Curse You, the Locrian/Mamiffer collaboration I reviewed a couple years ago.  It's a second pressing white vinyl three-sided double-LP. 

Long in the Tooth, Philadelphia, PA

The Cramps
Hot Club Philadelphia Nov. '77
(no label)
Released: ?

I walked into Long in the Tooth one Sunday afternoon, one of my favorite record stores in the Philadelphia area, content to simply browse and spend no money.  But, then I saw a live recording by The Cramps called Hot Club Philadelphia Nov. '77 and decided that I would in fact be spending money.  With no official record label noted, I thought it would be a nice little oddity to add to my library.  Plus, it was only $20 and regional tie didn't hurt.    

Touch & Go Records

Big Black
Touch and Go Records
Originally released: 1986 (Homestead Records)
Reissued: 9.25.15

First off, let me state that the digital download included with this reissue of Big Black's Atomizer LP sounds much better than the CD version found on the The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape compilation.  Second, the cover art alone is reason enough to pick up this reissue, if not for the music itself which sounds great pumping through a stereo.  Lots of automated muscle and abrasive rock sound from a pioneering alt-rock presence. 

Letters From A Tapehead

The Mon: "Doppelleben"

Acting somewhat contrary to his normal work with the doom metal colossus Ufomammut , vocalist/bassist Urlo performs as The Mon , whose new...