Monday, July 31, 2017

Music Pounding In My Head: Taiwan Housing Project

Taiwan Housing Project
Veblen Death Mask
Kill Rock Stars
Released: 5.7.17

I’ll admit that I was bombarded by an internalized slew of questions, all of which I had no answer for, that seemed to transpire all at once while I was listening to Taiwan Housing Project’s Veblen Death Mask. My brain, which was responding interestingly to much of what I was hearing, started off with, “What happened to the Butthole Surfers?” And it wasn’t asked as “Where did they go? Are they still alive?” It was more of a “ponder the void they’ve left and pity the generation now celebrating the 10 years since so-and-so bestowed upon us that forgettable soft rock/crying folk record that did little more than encourage beard growth: why are we content to have celebrated indie rock’s demise?”

We live in a strange time. And this isn’t an opportunity to inject political commentary and/or punditry into a record review, but instead offer a light assessment of what our current landscape looks like: our very public story of us is replete with celebrity worship, blind trust in non-experts who dispense their opinions from the armchair of every home located in Everywhere, USA, immediate distrust of every expert who speaks from any official building or laboratory in Everywhere, USA, and the abandonment of human decency because being an anonymous prick online is way too much fun. “Look at the lights! Looks at the cameras! Everything is an extravaganza!” vocalist Kilynn Lunsford exclaims as the faded folk and wiry free jazz of “d’Arc Eruptions” mutates with Velvet Underground ambition, her comment noted as confirmation of all this absurdity.

So, in the face of all that’s fit to mock, parody, and examine, what happened to the Butthole Surfers? Why don’t we seem to have that ridiculous subset of the independent rock avant-garde, especially in a time when rock music is considered dead to the mainstream and the youth of today seem okay with that?

I listened to Veblen Death Mask and I felt these feelings. And while I know that somewhere, perhaps everywhere, there are voices needing to be heard that revel in the alienation of it all, voices I’ve not yet heard or been made aware of, (an exception off the top of my head being Big Black Cloud and even the art rock mutations of Parlor Walls), right now I’m focused on what Taiwan Housing Project has to offer. Because it’s a sound I’ve missed. It’s a sound that’s violent and special. It’s a sound as genuinely fucked as a lot of us probably feel. In the song “Subterranean Pedigree,” the line “A right to life, but no life quality” stands out as relevant observation strangled by the anxiety-riddled and seasick grip of the music beneath, howling brass accents emphasizing the wavering highs and lows. Just the weight of the track says a lot on its own, its lyrics almost unnecessary or excessive.

Taiwan Housing Project is based in Philadelphia and comprised of former members of Little Claw, Harry Pussy, Tyvek, Rounding Squares—a collection of creatively kindred souls married together for this project, a shared love of noise, No Wave, and Pigfuck informing Veblen Death Mask’s lack of aural consideration. The music is frantic, abrasive, and strange. But rock and good sense are both dead, so there’s no real excuse to keep the art form relegated to nostalgia. Nor is there any excuse to settle for less than what this album has to offer.

The shouted and sinister air of “Salt Sugar Fire” provides a loose introduction to the album, but “Authentic Art Perfume” puts everything in motion, a perpetual shriek of dissonance running beneath what sounds like a bastardized take on “Switchblade,” sax honks peppering this excellent mess of rock energy and feedback. The aforementioned “d’Arc Eruptions” is followed by the more reserved “Multidemsional Spectrum,” an anthemic, singalong hook almost akin to X-Ray Spex leading into the dragging, psychedelic stride of “What It’s All About (Inadvertent Ode to the Mind of Hellion).” The immediate pit-inciting “Ideal Body Alignment” sets up the Captain Beefheart-meets-Lydia Lunch weirdness of “Eat to be Eat.,” Lunsford’s vocal slurred and desperate.

With the spoken-word “Luminous Oblong Blur,” free form brass and strings generate a discordant array of phrases that gather as Lunsford’s words fight for prominence. The droning “Subterranean Pedigree” is followed by the title track, a welcome and aggressive ending to the album with both speed and volume conspiring to tell so-called indie rock that it can go fuck itself.  At least, that's what I heard.  

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monolord: "Rust"

It's under the guise of sanctified ritual that Monolord's "Rust" begins with what sounds like a church organ belting out a variation of the track's key melody, (apparently a contribution from Mondo Drag's John Gamino), before being overridden by an onslaught of buzz and groove.  While the clean vocal melody from Thomas Jäger certainly demands listener attention, it is the crawling utterances of his guitar and the corrosive, rhythmic fluidity generated by drummer Esben Willems and bassist Mika Häkki that give "Rust" a sound worthy of the track's title.  As announcement of the band's upcoming release, Rust, the Swedish doom-trio Monolord shouldn't need to go any further than this single to incentivize interest, the band's reverent nods to Pentagram, Goatsnake, and Sabbath reason enough to garner want (maybe even need) of this album.  

Rust is being released by RidingEasy Records, scheduled to hit the physical shelves and/or virtual marketplace on September 29th.  You can pre-order the album at RidingEasy with options for specialized vinyl variants.  As of this writing, test pressings are no longer available for pre-order.

All info on the release, pre-order links, and the single were provided by the excellent people at Us-Them Group.  

Monolord shares title track from forthcoming album Rust
Swedish "Nirvana of doom" returns Sept 29th
Gothenburg, Sweden trio Monolord share the title track and details on their highly anticipated third album Rust today. The song features John Gamino (Mondo Drag) on keyboards and Trevor Church (Beastmaker) playing a guitar solo at the end of the tune. Hear and share "Rust" via YouTube and Bandcamp.

Monolord is a rare breed: A band both encompassing and transcending genre; a vortex of heavy rock density that consumes all others. Their thunderous, tuneful heft has built a rabid international fanbase in short order since their 2014 debut. But Rust, the band's third full length, truly exemplifies why some refer to them as the Nirvana of doom.

Monolord's enveloping, syrupy sludge is a vibe, it's a state of mind. Not riffs for riffs sake, but a collective buzzing, rattling and rumbling that's more total environment than collection of songs. Together, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, drummer Esben Willems and bassist Mika Häkki create a massive, dynamic sound with ultra-low frequencies serving as its fourth member.

"We've always been inspired by great band musicians - as opposed to technical solo peacocks," Willems says. "Because that force of a band really playing together as one single unit is incomparable. At its best, it's just unstoppable." And, Monolord is truly unstoppable, on record and on stage. "A heavy groove that contains both bombastic overkill and a lot of dynamics is what we always aim for in Monolord; in playing, in song writing and arranging, in recording," Willems says.

Album opener "Where Death Meets the Sea" perfectly exemplifies their mastery of dynamics and hooks with a driving, infectious buzzsaw riff that lesser bands would ride off into the sunset, but Monolord uses subtly to spur the song's skull rattling rhythmic core ever onward. Jäger's watery vocals glide over ominously building verses that erupt with the song's insistent refrain. Being such a tight rhythmic unit, it sounds almost like an early ZZ Top record played at half speed. "Dear Lucifer" squeals and hums with slow deliberation as Willems summons Dale Crover pummel with chasm like low-tuned toms and syncopated cymbal crashes. The album's title track is also its centerpiece, opening with a dramatic, shimmering Hammond organ intro as Jäger sings,
"you are the reason that I lied/ You are the reason that I cried/ Please don't wait until tomorrow/ There's only pain, hate, grief and sorrow." Suddenly, the band kicks in with a bellowing line downtuned to B that nosedives down the guitar neck as the drums hammer down for the kill. Elsewhere, tastefully understated guitar harmonies elevate the behemoth churn of "Wormland" and apocalyptic album closer "At Niceae" simmers in a slow build of rumbling guitars and rolling drum triplets.

Monolord formed in 2013, quickly recording their 2xLP debut
Empress Rising, which RidingEasy Records released in April 1st, 2014. The second album, Vænir, followed April 28th, 2015. The 2-song Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP was issued in late 2016 amid the band's relentless touring schedule in order to tide fans over until the next full length. Vænir landed on countless Album of the Year lists in 2015, and Rust is poised to open an entirely new range of possibilities for Monolord.

Rust will be available on LP, CD and download on September 29th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records. Pre-orders are available at RidingEasy and Bandcamp.

Artist: Monolord
Album: Rust
Label: RidingEasy Records

Release Date: September 29th, 2017

01. Where Death Meets The Sea
02. Dear Lucifer
03. Rust
04. Wormland
05.Forgotten Lands
06. At Niceae

On The Web:

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, July 06, 2017

TRAX! — Low Sun, DEAFKIDS, The Convalescence, Labyrinth Lounge, Raveen, Plax, ZGTO

Low Sun: "Into Sun" (via Art of the Uncarved Block/New Noise Magazine/Soundcloud)

"Into Sun" is to be featured as part of a split release made with labelmates Humanities called, Human Sun.  The release will be out via Art of the Uncarved Block on July 13th, but you can pre-order it here.

DEAFKIDS: "Pés Atados" (via Neurot Recordings/Earsplit PR/YouTube)

This track is taken from Configuração Do Lamento, which will be released October 6th via Neurot Recordings.

The Convalescence: "This is Hell" (via Unique Leader Records/Earsplit PR/Bandcamp)

"This is Hell" is the title track to the band's upcoming LP to be released at Unique Leader Records on September 1st.  Digital copies are currently available for pre-order.

Labyrinth Lounge: "Trouble Won't Last" (via Rufftone Records/Shameless Promotion/Soundcloud)

"Trouble Won't Last" is the first single from Labyrinth Lounge's upcoming LP, Porgy, which is scheduled to release August 25th from Rufftone Records.

Raveen: "Always" (So Sorry Records/Bandcamp)

"Always" is the title track to Raveen's upcoming new album on So Sorry Records, which will release July 28th on vinyl, CD and digital formats. You can pre-order the album here.

Plax: "Boring Story"  (Super Secret Records/Us-Them Group/YouTube)

"Boring Story" is featured in Plax's upcoming release, Clean Feeling, which will be available to download or purchase on vinyl or CD on August 11th from Super Secret Records.

ZGTO: "Off Dat" (via Ghostly International/Terrorbird Media/Passion of the Weiss/YouTube)

From Terrorbird Media:  "Over a two-year period, ZelooperZ and Shigeto would collaborate and experiment, honing their sound without any preconceived notions of its final form or an eventual release. Eventually and inevitably though, a full length record transpired. A Piece Of the Geto is out August 4th on Ghostly International, with a limited edition vinyl pressing by Third Man Records."

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

What's (Re)New?: The Word As Law by Neurosis

As has been the case for a few years now, the members of Neurosis continue to keep the band's early records in print while bolstering its already robust discography with new music.  Announced today, the band's label, Neurot Recordings, will be pulling The Word As Law out of obscurity on August 25th.

Originally released in 1990 via Lookout! Records, The Word As Law is the second Neurosis LP, their sound at this point based more in hardcore punk rock than the doom-laden and heavily percussive brand of post-metal music they would come to perfect and pioneer. Like Black Flag, Bl'ast, D.R.I. and other legacy hardcore acts who were looking to evolve within their genre, Neurosis also managed to devise some means of elaborating on the otherwise simplistic but effective bastions of angry, loud, n' fast, composing a viable creative stepping stone that makes no compromises on intensity or pace. Keeping in mind how Neurosis's sound grew with subsequent albums like Souls At Zero and Enemy of the Sun, The Word As Law does provide some early examples of how this development took place, especially with a song like "To What End?" which itself boasts a framework consistent with those later releases.

As mentioned, The Word As Law is scheduled to release on August 25th through Neurot Recordings. A pre-order link, concert dates, and further info on the reissue can be found below courtesy of Earsplit PR

NEUROSIS To Reissue Out-Of-Print Second Album The Word As Law In August

NEUROSIS will reissue the band's second LP, The Word As Law, in August, the album having remained out-of-print since the 1990s.

While listening to NEUROSIS' discography in chronological order, their sound gradually shifts in a very steady and somewhat seamless progression with each record, though their first few albums are undoubtedly cut from their 80s punk influences and surroundings.
The Word As Law was initially released on vinyl only in 1990 through Lookout! Records, alongside the likes of Operation Ivy, Green Day, Screeching Weasel, and other Bay Area punk acts of the time. Upbeat rhythms and enraged vocals fuel The Word As Law, the record picking up where their Pain Of Mind debut's ripping punk sound left off, while the band simultaneously began experimenting with more dissonant, melancholic, and demoralizing tones that would carve the foundation for their next few albums and their signature sound.

NEUROSIS had yet to infuse keyboards or synthesizers into the mix when
The Word As Law was recorded by Mark Lemaire at Sound & Vision in San Francisco of December 1989. The blend of vocals delivered by guitarist Scott Kelly, bassist Dave Edwardson, and new inductee on this album, guitarist Steve Von Till, driven by the powerful rhythms of drummer Jason Roeder, coalesce to formulate an eerie and original sound on The Word As Law, which results in the album's cult status as an incredibly groundbreaking album for countless crust punk, hardcore, and experimental metal artists worldwide.

While prior reissues of the album featured several re-recorded bonus tracks from the band's prior singles and releases, the 2017 Neurot reissue of
The Word As Law will bear the album's initial eight tracks, all completely remastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering. Additionally, the album's cover artwork has been reworked and modernized by NEUROSIS' former live visual architect Josh Graham to match the label's previously-reissued Souls At Zero, Enemy Of The Sun, and other titles.

NEUROSIS' own Neurot Recordings will reissue
The Word As Law on CD, LP, and digital formats on August 25th, directly following their US tour with Converge and Amenra and their performance at Psycho Las Vegas. See all confirmed tour dates below and find preorder links for The Word As Law at THIS LOCATION.

The Word As Law Track Listing:
1. Double Edged Sword
2. The Choice
3. Obsequious Obsolescence
4. To What End?
5. Tomorrow's Reality
6. Common Inconsistencies
7. Insensitivity
8. Blisters

I still remember the first time I heard
The Word As Law, shortly after it was released in 1990. From the first chords of "Double-Edged Sword" I was hooked - the sounds seemed to send some sort of powerful electrical current coursing through my body - and by the time the feedback faded out at the end of "Blisters" I was emotionally spent. I had never heard anything like it: The Word As Law completely changed my understanding of three different musical genres - punk, hardcore, and metal.

The record blends elements of all three. There is the raw moodiness of punk. The ferocity and anger of hardcore. The musicianship and dynamics of metal. But
The Word As Law transcends all those labels, in the process creating something utterly unique.

It hit me on so many levels. It spoke to the anger I had as a young punk, my sense that I was trapped in a dog-eat-dog world of relentless capitalist competition, my alienation from the broader society. But it also resonated on a deeper level. My father killed himself when I was a teenager, leaving me mourning, feeling as if I were surrounded by a thick fog of despair.
The Word As Law is not happy collection of songs, but it played this incredibly positive and cathartic role in my life. Listening to it over and over, gave me an odd sense of comfort. I realized that I wasn't the only person struggling with deep emotional turmoil and found myself slowly working through the anger and grief that had enveloped me.

More than twenty-five years later they are still my favorite band. And I still try to attend every NEUROSIS show I can.

The Word As Law was a massive influence on an entire generation of bands including my own, Econochrist. It's the bridge to what NEUROSIS would become in later years. So, put it back on your turntable. Step to the front the falling is today. -- Ben Sizemore/Econochrist

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/01/2017 Roskilde Festival - Roskilde, DK
7/02/2017 Kraken - Stockholm, SE w/ Wolfbrigade & Author & Punisher
7/03/2017 Pustervik - Gothenburg, SE w/ Author & Punisher
7/04/2017 Tavastia - Helsinki, FI w/ Dark Buddha Rising
7/05/2017 Eistnaflug - Neskaupstadur, IS
7/27/2017 Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL w/ Amenra [tickets]
7/28/2017 Thalia Hall - Chicago, IL w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
7/29/2017 St Andrews - Detroit, MI w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
7/30/2017 Rex Theatre - Pittsburgh, PA w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
8/01/2017 Metropolis - Montreal, QC w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
8/02/2017 Danforth Music Hall - Toronto, ON w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
8/03/2017 College St. Music Hall - New Haven, CT w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
8/04/2017 Warsaw - Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra [SOLD OUT]
8/05/2017 Warsaw - Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
8/06/2017 Royale - Boston, MA w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
8/07/2017 Union Transfer - Philadelphia, PA w/ Converge, Amenra [tickets]
8/18-20/2017 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas [tickets]
10/28-29/2017 Ram's Head Live - Baltimore Maryland @ Days Of Darkness [tickets]
12/08/2017 Clash Club - São Paulo, BR w/ Deafkids
12/09/2017 Teatro Vorterix - Buenos Aires, AR
12/10/2017 Club Blondie - Santiago, CL

Letters From A Tapehead

New Selections — BARNETT+COLOCCIA, Dave Harrington Group, The Coathangers, Mörglbl, Dylan Henner, Good Fuck, Black Taffy

The first full week of 2019 is at a close, so please enjoy this first batch of sounds.  BARNETT+COLOCCIA : "Copperworks" (vi...