Thursday, April 18, 2019

Notes From The Record Room: Coming Up For Air / Off Pause / Ipecac / #RSD2019

60, 65, 55, 67…

If you want to know why I've been silent for some of March and most of April, those are the number of hours I've had to work for past few weeks, my laptop open till midnight most nights and my weekends justifiably left to tend to dad/husband/homeowner things. I've been spread a tad thin, not too reliable on the home front or available for anything social while ever ready to take on whatever day job-related task handed to me. With that said, writing hasn't been a priority lately. Which sucks because I've still been listening to so much good shit that I want to write about. 

My hope is that I'll be able to spare an hour here or there to catch up on what I've been hearing for the remaining weeks. The avalanche of work requests and deadlines to meet have thankfully subsided for the time being, so I'd like there to be some activity in the weeks ahead.

Though, I'll be honest, with the increased popularity of vlogs and podcasts, I think the self-qualified online music scribes like myself are becoming less relevant. But, for what it's worth, I'm still going. Even if I'm quiet on the blog, you can always visit me on Twitter or Instagram. I try to promote what I can via social media, even if I can't provide an in-depth analysis. 

A couple things:

1). I attempted to pull together a small tribute to the recent 20th anniversary celebrated by Ipecac Recordings on April 1st, but couldn't due to some annoying circumstance likely tied to work or exhaustion. As a longtime appreciator/devoted fanboy of Mike Patton and his myriad creative outlets from Faith No More to Tomahawk, from Mr. Bungle to Fantômas and beyond, my immediate appraisal of any album or artist represented by Ipecac Recordings that I approach typically rates anywhere from positive to elated. Even in the instance when I haven't been completely sold on an Ipecac project, and it should be noted that the label's intent to provide a platform for esoteric and at times abrasively experimental work leaves those opportunities wide open, I've found something redeemable about it or at least worth revisiting. The label is synonymous with quality and I've been loyal to it for most of its existence, beginning in 2001 with Tomahawk's s/t debut up to last year's excellent comeback record from Daughters: You Won't Get What You Want. 

I still need to pick up a physical copy of that LP. Digital don't cut it.

2). I did wind up participating in Record Store Day this year, but as a casual shopper as opposed to a fully-invested, sloppily salivating hunter focused on limited-runs. I visited Siren Records around noon or so, long after the lengthy queues had depleted and the initial wave of philistines and eBay/Discogs flippers had gathered their wants and made their purchases.

There were some decent records left, the couple things that I'd wanted still up for grabs. I picked up the brand new Sunn O))) album, Life Metal, which wasn't inexpensive but worth the money for how beautiful the package looks. I'm curious as to how Steve Albini's "hands-off" approach to recording and producing records will come across for this release, especially since his trademark sonics are normally apparent through the snare sound, a thing that Sunn O))) records typically don't have. I still haven't sat and listened to it yet, so I guess I have some plans for the weekend.

The other album I picked up is High On Fire's Bat Salad EP, which is one solid instrumental and two covers: "Into the Crypts of Rays" by Celtic Frost and "Don't Bother Me" by Bad Brains. It's a clear variant 45RPM vinyl with black and green spatter. I was happy to find it.

For my daughter, I bought a copy of the new Billie Eilish record, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? She's enjoying it quite a bit.

I'm heading back to the store on Saturday to see if I can pick up any other stragglers, mostly the few Dub releases that I wanted but couldn't afford: Lee "Scratch" Perry's Rootz Reggae Dub, the Studio One Showcase box set or the Roots From The Yard box set, and Dillinger's CB 200. I'll blame the warming temperatures for this wish list. I'm hoping to add at least one these releases to my collection.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, March 15, 2019

No Ripcord (Quick Takes: February 2019): Barnett+Coloccia & Bellrope

Hit the link for reviews of Barnett+Coloccia's VLF, out now via SIGE Records and the new Bellrope LP, You Must Relax, which is available from Exile On Mainstream.

SIGE Records
Released: 2.25.19

Purchase the digital album here:


You Must Relax
Exile on Mainstream
Released: 2.22.19

Purchase the album (digital, LP, CD) here:

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, March 07, 2019

What's (Re)New — Black Dots by Bad Brains

When Black Dots was issued by Caroline Records in 1996, my then 19-going-on-20 year-old self happened up a copy at THE WALL over at Montgomery Mall. I didn't really know what this CD was at the time, (the very young band members featured on the back cover confirmed that this wasn't new music), but the Bad Brains' name was attached to it so I happily nabbed an overpriced copy, took it home, and threw it on and proceeded to hit "REPEAT" for a few weeks. 

Black Dots is a collection of Bad Brains' first recorded material, tracks like "Pay to Cum," "Don't Need It," "Regulator," and "Attitude" debuting prior to the ultra-aggro treatment these songs would get for the essential ROIR Sessions. Don Zientara, the man who engineered every necessary recording from Dischord's roster — Minor Threat, Government Issue, Rites of Spring, Fugazi, and Jawbox to name a few — was responsible for the Black Dots sessions. The band recorded this material at Inner Ear Studio in Arlington, Virginia on June of 1979, and the results might seem rather muted next to the ROIR versions. 

With that said, even at their earliest stages Bad Brains exudes force and precision, their progressive chops applied to annihilative sonic extremes all the while positioning themselves as harbingers of "PMA." Black Dots captures the band as a live onslaught and it's being reissued by Wax Audio Group, a limited 1500 white vinyl pressing to be followed by the black vinyl pressing. I hope ROIR Sessions follows. 

Info and pre-order links provided by the excellent people at Force Field PR.

Bad Brains' first recordings from 1979, Black Dots to be reissued on vinyl for the first time in over 20 years

Pre-Order here
Photo courtesy of Force Field PR

Black Dots is the first official studio recording for the seminal punk rock artists known as the Bad Brains. It was recorded in 1979 at Inner Ear Studios.

This is the first official vinyl pressing in over 20 years, presented by Wax Audio Group and Think Indie via Universal Music Group Special Markets. Cut for vinyl by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Mastering, Print and Packaging from Pirates Press. Pressed at RTI. One time pressing of 1500 units on WHITE VINYL available on or about March 29th 2019. A black vinyl pressing will follow in April 2019.

Guarantee your copy by pre-ordering here

"Surfacing out of nowhere in 1996, Black Dots turned out to be an archival release of the best kind, something truly rare and unheard that also captured a band at its best. The liner notes explain the origins of the release: In 1979, fellow DC locals the Slickee Boys heard an even earlier rehearsal tape from the Brains and suggested hooking up with now-legendary DC producer Don Zientara, who had recently opened his Inner Ear Studios in his house. The group duly booked time, set up in the fledging venue and put on a commanding performance. Nearly all the legendary early hits are here, including 'Pay to Cum,' 'Don't Need It,' 'Regulator,' 'Banned in D.C.,' 'How Low Can a Punk Get?' and 'Attitude,' while a number of otherwise unheard or never-recorded elsewhere numbers make Black Dots easily the equal of the ROIR cassette. Some of the changes and quirks are really fun -- H.R.'s mock-cockney sneer throughout a number of songs is one of the last things probably anybody expected to hear. Aside from "new" oldie "The Man Won't Annoy Ya," the reggae side of the band went largely by the boards this time around, aside from the reedy inflections HR throws in from time to time. Instead it's all monster-rock power -- Dr. Know plays like a man possessed, Darryl Aaron Jenifer does it low and loud, while Earl Hudson overcomes for the slightly hollow drum sound with sheer manic smashes and just enough control. Absolutely necessary for Brains fans or anyone who appreciates the power of live, loud electric music." -Allmusic


Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Tropical Fuck Storm: "The Planet of Straw Men" 7"

"All paths lead to nowhere; and it all adds up nothing..." 

Yes, there's a new Tropical Fuck Storm single out. And, yes, you should listen to it.

The splintery observation punk of Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Lauren Hammel, and Erica Dunn has produced a new single called "The Planet of Straw Men." Joyful Noise is releasing the single on May 3rd as a limited-edition neon orange variant and black vinyl. A Tropical Fuck Storm interpretation of Missy Elliott's "Can't Stop" will grace the b-side.

The single is currently available for pre-order via Joyful Noise.

Tropical Fuck Storm's excellent 2018 release Laughing Death in Meatspace was reviewed for No Ripcord. If "The Planet of Straw Men" does anything for you, the band's debut LP should be an immediate acquisition. You can find that here.

All info has been provided by Speakeasy PR. 


March 5, 2019, Melbourne, Australia – In advance of Tropical Fuck Storm's European tour, the band has shared a new song (and accompanying video): "The Planet of Straw Men." The song, which is an early preview of a planned late 2019 full-length album, is available as a limited edition 7-inch via Joyful Noise (b-side features a cover of Missy Elliott's "Can't Stop"):

"In a world where dissident writers are drawn and quartered, communists wear Rolexes, and Trump drives around with a fridge-full of blood; our new single is testament to the jester's duty," offered the band.

Tropical Fuck Storm features ex-The DronesGareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin with Lauren Hammel (High Tension) and Erica Dunn (Harmony/Mod Con). The band released
A Laughing Death in Meatspace ( in October. The band celebrated the North American release of the album with a coast-to-coast tour, supporting Modest Mouse, as well as a stop Paste’s New York studio for an acoustic session, including a pared down version of “You Let My Tyres Down” (

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, March 04, 2019

New Selections — Living Hour, Art Trip and the Static Sound, Russian Baths, Imperial Wax, Ioanna Gika, Mint Field, Arellano, Waste of Space Orchestra

Welcome to the working week. Here's a batch of singles to check out:

Living Hour: "Hallboy"
(via Force Field PR / Kanine Records / Stereogum / YouTube)

Via Force Field PR:

Today, Winnipeg’s Living Hour shares "Hallboy," the third single from their upcoming album, Softer Faces. Stereogum has the premiere and described the track as "immaculate." The band is in the middle of a winter / spring tour that includes a stop at SXSW and ends with a west coast run in late March. See full dates below.

Everything about Winnipeg’s Living Hour has been expanding since their humble basement beginnings in 2015. What started with dreamy love songs inspired by the cinematic sky of their hometown has transformed into even more sprawling and expansive expressions on their latest effort,
Softer Faces due March 1, 2019.

What started as a quartet is now a quintet, though still led by the smoky, ethereal lead vocals of Sam Sarty (vocals, trombone, keyboard), who started singing in choirs at a young age. With her strong vocal backbone, musicians Gil Carroll (guitar), Adam Soloway (guitar, vocals), Alex Chochinov (drums, trumpet, organelle), and Brett Ticzon (bass, vocals) are able to shine. Three voices, guitar, trombone, brushed percussion, and boundless effects sees Living Hour pulling from many genres to create their own sonically diverse and unique vibe.

Due out March 1 via Kanine Records,
Softer Faces follows up to their highly-praised 2016 S/T debut, featuring haunting, ethereal vocals accompanied by lush, expansive instrumentation.

Softer Faces was produced by Kurt Feldman (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Chairlift, DIIV, Dum Dum Girls) in Living Hour’s hometown and mixed by Jarvis Taveniere (Real Estate, Woods, Blouse, Widowspeak) at Thump Studios in Brooklyn.

Known for their mesmerizing and deeply-moving live show, Living Hour has toured Europe, the UK and North America. Their performance captures the dreamy, emotional power of the band’s recordings, creating a mesmerizing, unforgettable, cathartic, and deeply moving live music experience. Sarty finds that,
"Sometimes people are a little turned off and not living in the now or being present. I find that when you perform, it's one of the most present moments that you can be in. You're living in the hour."

03/01 - Minneapolis, MN - The Fallout
03/02 - Chicago, IL - The Hideout
03/03 - Bloomington, IN - The Bishop
03/04 - Cincinnati, OH - MOTR
03/05 - Washington DC - Songbyrd
03/06 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
03/07 - New York, NY - Pianos
03/08 - Roanoke, VA - Billy's Barn
03/09 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Stopover
03/10 - Athens, GA - World Famous
03/12 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Melted Magazine Showcase 8:30pm
03/13 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Flitch Fest 5pm
03/14 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Bungalow Break Out West 3pm
03/15 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Lazarus Brew Co - Noon
03/16 - Salado, TX - Barrow
03/18 - Phoenix, AZ - Lunchbox
03/22 - Los Angeles, CA - The Factory
03/23 - Las Vegas, NV - Starboard Tack
03/25 - Billings, MT - Kirks Grocery




Art Trip and the Static Sound: "Iron Lung"
(via mutante-inc. / Fiasco Recordings/ Bandcamp)

Via mutante-inc:

Art Trip & The Static Sound - 'Iron Lung' (A Single)
Released 5th April 2019 - Fiasco Recordings - Fiasco 20
Formats – CD & DL – Distributed by State 51 and Bandcamp

Art Trip & The Static Sound’s new single Iron Lung taken from their second LP
A Week Of Kindness. Recorded with Luis Felber and Andy Ramsey (Stereolab) and mixed by Simon Holliday.

This aggravated ditty sees Art Trip on breathless pop form delivered with their customary Acid Punk punch and which kicked its way onto 6Music’s headphone moment late last year.

Art Trip have been compared to this bunch and do wonder if it’s true? Polly Harvey, Hawkwind, Wire, Lydia Lunch, The Damned, Plankton Now, Half Japanese, Hole, La Dusseldorf and X Ray Spex! A pretty wild bunch we’d say.


Russian Baths"Slenderman"
(via Good Eye Records / Under the Radar / YouTube)

Via Good Eye Records:

Intertwining feedback and harmony with equal significance, Russian Baths paint in searing strokes finding beauty in towering, looming, incendiary noise-rock. Comprised of Luke Koz (guitar, vox), Jess Rees (guitar, keys, vox) and joined by Evan Gill Smith (bass) and Jeff Widner (drums), the band has been honing their craft and chemistry since initially storming listeners with their split single, “Ambulance / Ghost.”

Earlier this year, Russian Baths released their debut EP,
Penance, signing to Brooklyn-based label Good Eye Records.

Incorporating dissonance into traditional song structures, Penance’s aesthetic recalls Big Black's caustic fits, '70s space rock, Chapel Hill's noise pop, Big Muff driven grunge, and the angular arrangements of British post-punk. The breadth of Russian Bath’s scope in sound is marked by the distance and cohesion between singles in the furious, driving “Slenderman” and the elegant thunderstorm that is “Poolhouse.” 

Russian Baths links:
Facebook // Instagram

Penance tracklist:
01: Slenderman
02: What’s Your Basement
03: Poolhouse
04: Black Cross

Imperial Wax"No Man's Land"
(via Rarely Unable / Saustex Records / Bandcamp)

Via Rarely Unable:



Imperial Wax are pleased to present their debut album Gastwerk Saboteurs, delivering twelve memorable songs showcasing their distinctly vital and infectious blend of post-punk, rock 'n’ roll and garage rock. “Imperial Wax are noise rock & garage brawlers unafraid of a psych workout or a rockabilly dust-up.” (Nick Hutchings, Velvet Sheep)

The album shall be released via Saustex Records - recommended by friend of the band Jeff Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) - on 17th May, preceded by the first single "No Man's Land" which is officially released today and is streaming above. An accompanying video has premiered on The Quietus today also.

The four-piece comprising frontman Sam Curran and Keiron Melling, Dave Spurr and Pete Greenway - three 11 year veterans in the longest serving and last line up of The Fall - shall be touring in support of their debut, check out the dates and details below.

Thursday 30th May Huddersfield, The Parish
Friday 31st May Manchester, Night People
Sunday 2nd June Brighton, Prince Albert
Monday 3rd June - Bristol, Rough Trade
Thursday 6 June London, The Islington
Friday 7th June Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
Thursday 13th June Glasgow, Broadcast
Friday 14th June Newcastle, Think Tank? Underground

Official tour poster here

The album was produced by Mat Arnold (Noisettes, The Coral, Peter Gabriel, The Fall) Ex in-house engineer at Real World Studios. Mastered by award winning mastering engineer Andy Pearce who has remastered works for (Elvis Presley, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Frank Sinatra, Lou Reed, Bo Diddley, X-Ray Specs, The Kinks).

Pete Greenway - Guitar/Stylophone
Keiron Melling - Drums/piano/percussion/harmonica/Bv’s
Dave Spurr - Bass/piano/bv’s
Sam Curran - vocals/guitar/Hammond

Recommended especially if you like:
Royal Trux, Big Black, Minutemen, Birthday Party, Beefheart, The Stooges, Can, Love, Velvet Underground, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Old Doo-Wop, Afrobeat, Motorhead, Cows, Hepa.Titus, Black Sabbath, Black Flag, Mudhoney, James Brown, Howlin' Wolf...


Ioanna Gika: "Out of Focus"
(via Stereo Sanctity / Sargent House / YouTube)

Via Stereo Sanctity:

Ioanna Gika is set to release her debut solo album Thalassa on April 5th via Sargent House. Thalassa takes its name from the primeval spirit of the sea, a nod to the singer's Greek heritage and a thematic touchstone for the self-produced 10 song set.

The album announcement is accompanied by a self-directed music video for new album track “Out Of Focus,” featuring world surf champion Jake Caster as the Greek god Pan, cutting waves in a surreal indoor wave barrel as Gika performs the song beside him.

Written in Greece during a period of familial grief and romantic dissolution,
Thalassa documents an unanchored soul facing nature at its most unforgiving. Gika's unique voice is laid bare, a beacon above the black water of dense, looming production that lies beneath. Her lyrics (recently quoted by Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy in her best-selling book The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness) sung in Greek as well as English, chart a path through her own mourning while luring the ear like a siren’s call.

A series of deaths drew me home to Greece. The city of childhood memories was in disrepair. I drove past painted swastikas towards burial sites. I said goodbyes and grieved for those I didn’t get to say goodbye to. Thalassa is about going through change that is unwanted yet unstoppable. It is a document of the dread, the adrenaline, and the surrender in the moments when you realise the only way to survive the wave, is to brace yourself and go through."

The theme of change is represented not only in the album's lyrics, but also in Gika's production: from expansive opener “Roseate,” shared online late last year, to the stark loneliness of album closer “Drifting,” she channels the helplessness of being plunged into the depths of
Thalassa's great waves, along with the adrenaline of not knowing if she will come up for air.

Gika, who formerly toured the world as a member of IO Echo, recently completed a US run of live dates supporting Deafheaven and DIIV. She also wrote and performed the song “Estrange” with Tokimonsta on the latter’s Grammy nominated album
Lune Rouge. She will support Garbage across the US in May as part of a Spring tour around the release of Thalassa. European dates to follow soon.

Thalassa is available to pre-order here:



Mint Field: "Jardin de la Paz"
(via Stereo Sanctity / Innovative Leisure / Soundcloud) 

Via Stereo Sanctity:

Tijuana-based psych trio Mint Field return with new EP Mientras Esperas, set for release March 1st via Innovative Leisure. The first single from the record "Jardin de la Paz" is streaming online now.

In the words of the band themselves, "The 'Mientras Esperas' EP comes from a connection between what's happening in the modern world and how that reflects and affects our minds. "Jardín de la Paz" is about taking a deep breath amidst all of this, it's about acquiring peace of mind."

Watch Mint Field perform "Jardin de la Paz" live here.

With their 2018 debut ‘Pasar de la Luces’, released on Innovative Leisure Records, Mint Field made an album that couldn’t come from anywhere other than Mexico. It’s a unique combination of psych rock, dream-pop, shoegaze and krautrock, dreamt up and shaped by Amor Amezcua and Estrella del Sol Sánchez under the skies of Playas de Tijuana. Organic, spacious and inhabited, their music was driven by furious drums, dramatic basslines and distorted guitars. One year later, and the band has played more than 80 shows across Mexico, USA and Europe. They’ve played festivals such as Desert Daze, Pitchfork Music Festival Paris, Ceremonia, SXSW, toured with Ulrika Spacek and have opened for the likes of Courtney Barnett and Franz Ferdinand. Their music was also been chosen by Dior to illustrate its collaboration with the eight Mexican photographers who captured a collection inspired by escaramuzas, Mexican female riders who compete in the male-dominated rodeos.

Mint Field has since become a trio, with bass player Sebastian Neyra joining the band for the ‘Pasar de la Luces’tour. Written on the road and recorded in a couple of days during a stop-off in Los Angeles, Mint Field’s new EP ‘Mientras Esperas’ is more dry, more distorted and more powerful. It captures the essence and the intensity of their live sound and energy. This EP is a reflection of the band’s feelings towards the modern world: the lack of care for nature and what surrounds us, our selfishness towards it and our thoughtlessness of what we are about to loose. It’s about questioning your role, carving your own path and acquiring peace of mind throughout it all.mind through all of this.

Pre-order EP here

Arellano: "On Time"
(via Robert Arellano / YouTube)

Via Robert Arellano:

There are no words for shamanic ego death, and there is no schedule for what is called dying to the self.

After a decade spent honing my vocals, writing, and arranging while raising my daughter, the foundations began to crumble. My strange motivations for music, which had been fed by flattery heaped upon me when I was young, collapsed. Unable to pick up my beloved acoustic six-string, I experienced first-hand the desert of creative emptiness.

Portuguese Christian hymns and the indigenous healing songs of the Peruvian Amazon filled the void I felt and reoriented my life and career. It was about as far removed from the American music scene as I could imagine.

“On Time” is the first testament of my renewal. I wrote this song for my daughter. It seems to channel the tenderness that I feel towards her. Listen to it now through SoundCloud or Spotify. You can also watch the accompanying music video on YouTube.

Cameron Greider (Chris Cornell, PM Dawn, Sean Lennon, Natalie Merchant) produced “On Time,” with mixing help from Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Evan Dando, Spacehog, Swans) and recording by Glenn Ianaro. We did the basic tracks live-to-tape, and the chemistry in the room was powerful. Cameron and Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley, St. Vincent) wrote their parts in real time – that’s how good they are.

I hope listening to “On Time” makes you feel better - calmer, gentler, more at ease. It’s not so much that I was trying to tell any particular story with it, as I was simply channelling an immense feeling of love and gratitude.


Robert Arellano


Waste of Space Orchestra: "Seeker's Reflection"
(via Earsplit PR / Svart Records / YouTube) 

Via Earsplit PR:

The mention of either cosmic black metal alchemists Oranssi Pazuzu or ritualist doom metal conjurors Dark Buddha Rising - as separate entities - is enough to get excited at the mention of new music, so when their forces combine into WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA, we know all too well what kind of a treat we're in for.

This distinctive "X factor" is exactly why they were prime candidates to be the first to grip the baton for Roadburn's commissioned pieces series which started in 2018. The ensemble toiled away in secret, in Finland, for months; what would eventually manifest as WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA was shrouded in mystery. When this particular behemoth lumbered into view on the 013 Main Stage that year, it was truly breathtaking. For seventy magical minutes an audience was enraptured by what unfolded. A mere two hours into the festival, and with jaws eventually scraped off the floor, many heralded it the set of the weekend - a claim that plenty stood by four days later. The psychedelic darkness divined during this particular set resonated long after the festival detritus was swept away and the Tilburg streets were empty once again.

Luckily, plans were afoot to commit this unholy, progressive maelstrom to tape;
Syntheosis will be released on April 5th via Svart Records. Syntheosis is not a live recording but a carefully prepared studio interpretation on which the ten musicians worked over the spring and summer of 2018. The offering was recorded and mixed by Julius Mauranen, who also worked on Oranssi Pazuzu's Värähtelijä. The album can be digested as a challenging, engaging psych metal record or as a dimension-spanning, one-hour performance consisting of nine parts. The work recounts a story of three beings and their deep search for knowledge:

The Shaman (Vesa Ajomo) is seeing oppressing visions from the bleak future of mankind.
The Seeker (Juho Vanhanen) is searching for the truth from unknown dimensions with secret methods.
The Possessor (Marko Neuman) corrupts the other individuals, manipulating them into his own sinister plan.

In advance of its release, WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA has unveiled the official visual accompaniment to "Seeker's Reflection." The clip was shot, directed, and edited by Kalle-Erik Kosonen. Offers Ajamo,
"After seeing through the Shaman's eyes, The Seeker begins his journey from altered states of reality. The Syntheosis is like a black hole; once The Seeker is within the gravitational pull, there is no return."

View WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA's "Seeker's Reflection" video at THIS LOCATION.

Svart Records will release Syntheosis worldwide on CD, double LP, and digital formats on April 5th. For preorders, go to

Vesa Ajomo - voice of the shaman, guitar
Toni Hietamäki - bass guitar
Niko Lehdontie - guitar, effects
Ville Leppilahti - keyboards, effects
Marko Neuman - voice of the possessor
Jukka Rämänen - drums
Petri Rämänen - deep bass guitar
Jussi Saarivuori - electronics
Jarkko Salo - drums
Juho Vanhanen - voice of the seeker, guitar

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, February 15, 2019

New Selections — Spotlights, Alice Phoebe Lou, Daniel Thorne, spoony bard, Noisem, Francie Moon, Wand, Inter Arma

No more silence! Behold! 

Spotlights: "The Age of Decay"
(via Rarely Unable / Ipecac Recordings / YouTube)

Via Rarely Unable:

Spotlights, the Brooklyn-based band whose music finds “that perfect balance between crushing heaviness and dreamier melodies” (WFPK), release Love & Decay on April 26 via Ipecac Recordings. Spotlights' music is iron tone in a velvet glove. They strike with full force, perfectly balancing the weight and sound spectrum of each instrument. And yet it's a weight that's also sublime in its beauty, with dream-like vocals encased in the mix of subharmonics. A rich and unctuous vibration that melts in your ears, nourishes your brain, and engulfs you with their warmth, like the gravity of a small planet.

"The Age of Decay encapsulates everything we do on this record,” explains guitar player/singer Mario Quintero. “Musically, it has some of the heaviest moments as well as the most dynamic and melodic. It shows little bits of what we get into throughout the entire album in one track. Lyrically, it reflects on personal points in my and Sarah’s relationship, how things grew from when we met, moving around the country and chasing this thing together. The juxtaposition about love against this backdrop of a world that can be hard to deal with.” Mario continues “It’s intangible, It’s intense. It’s beautiful. There’s an impending darkness underneath everything and a sense of unease, but it’s also honest and vulnerable. It’s just really important to us. Regardless of why anyone might react, that’s why we do it.”

Mario handled the production work on the eight-track offering, which was recorded in he and bass player/singer Sarah Quintero’s basement. The new album also finds the band officially grow to a trio, with touring drummer Chris Enriquez becoming a full-time member.

Spotlights' story happens void of spectacle, show, or tableau. However, in this day and age, that might be why their story feels so serendipitous and strange, if not utterly surprising. This story also instantly appealed to some rather influential peers who lent an early endorsement. Two musicians—husband-and-wife duo Mario [guitar, synths, vocals] and Sarah Quintero [bass, guitar, vocals]—simply pick up their instruments and mainline dense distortion, spacey soundscapes, and unnervingly serene vocal transmissions directly from the heart. This unpredictable, yet unassuming sound quietly heralded their arrival in 2016 on the D.I.Y. debut LP,
Tidals. Brooklyn Vegan stumbled upon the project and streamed “Walls.” The song eventually entranced musician and producer Aaron Harris (ISIS/Palms) who shared it with his Palms singer and Deftones frontman Chino Moreno. An invite to open the Deftones summer tour followed as the band would go on to share the stage with everyone from Melvins, Quicksand, Hum, and Glassjaw to Pelican and Pallbearer. Ipecac Recordings co-founders Mike Patton and Greg Werckman fell under the band’s spell and signed them. Spotlights’ Ipecac debut, Seismic, arrived in in the Autumn of 2017. During the subsequent tours, Spotlights recorded an Audiotree session. The band also released an EP, Hanging By Faith, in June 2018.

Alice Phoebe Lou: "Galaxies"
(via One in a Million Media / YouTube)

Via One in a Million Media:

(New York, NY) Having been ensconced in the studio working on her forthcoming album, Paper Castles, Alice Phoebe Lou is pleased to release the new single, "Galaxies."

South African singer-songwriter, Alice has just announced a series of live shows in Europe, as well as North America, having sold out two Cape Town shows in February, which pre-empts her forthcoming album due 8th March. Overseen by Grammy winning producer Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom), "Galaxies" follows previous track, "Skin Crawl," described by The FADER as ‘powerful and stunning,’ and is once again accompanied by visuals that portray Lou’s charm and elegant fragility.

The track, as Alice herself explains,
“Happened on a rainy moody day in Berlin, my friend Harry Charles & I wrote this song while lying on the carpet of my room. Space had become such a theme in my life & music, not in a scientific way but more in a metaphorical sense; drawing parallels between a planet in the expansive universe & the way that one's tiny & seemingly insignificant existence interacts with the world. This song is about being nothing & everything. About being overwhelmed by the weight of existence while simultaneously being in awe & wonder of it all. 'Galaxies' came to life the first time we played in the Planetarium in Berlin; we've played 13 shows there now & every time I see the visuals come to life & the audience being swept away by the combination of the song with the projections of flying through the galaxies, the song makes so much sense”.

The accompanying music video features Alice in a surreal dreamlike landscape coupled with animated design by Hagen Schönfeld. The video is directed by Chloë Lewer and Andrea Ariel, they say, “‘Galaxies’ is the tale of a fallen star, who has ended up living a regular life on earth. There’s no denying that out-of-this-world themes and galactic dreams are intrinsic within Alice and her music. We think of our dear friend as a star, in all forms of the word. So in this video we wanted to portray the high and lows of such journey. The music video was shot with a loving micro crew over two days in between a ‘space’ in Berlin and an ex-military Soviet training ground just out of the city."

The forthcoming Paper Castles tour in the Northern hemisphere includes a series of dates starting this March in North America and Europe.


The Paper Castles 2019 Tour

North America

March 3 - Toronto, CAN - The Garrison
March 4 - Montreal, CAN - Bar Le Ritz PDB
March 5 - Boston, MA - Cafe 939
March 7 - Vienna, VA - Jammin’ Java
March 8 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
March 10 - Durham, NC - Motorco Music Hall
March 11 - Atlanta, GA - Vinyl AT Center Stage
March 13 - 17 - Austin, TX - SXSW
March 20 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah
March 21 - Los Angeles, CA - The Moroccan Lounge
March 23 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill
March 24 - Portland, OR - The Old Church Concert Hall
March 25 - Seattle, WA - Barboz


April 5 & 6 – Istanbul, TR – Salon IKSV
April 10 - Leipzig, DE - UT Connewitz
April 11 - Dresden, DE - Polimagie Festival
April 13 - Hannover, DE - Faust
April 15 - Bristol, UK - Thekla
April 16 - Manchester, UK - Deaf Institute
April 17 - London, UK - Earth
April 18 - Nottingham, UK - Bodega
April 20 - Utrecht, ND - Tivoli
April 21 - Amsterdam, ND - Zonnehuis
April 23 - Aachen, DE - Kulturbunker
April 24 - Brussels, BE - Botanique
April 26 - Vienna, AT - Flex
April 28 - Prague, CZ - Futrum
April 29 - Erlangen, DE - E-Werk
May 1 - Friberg, DE - Jazzhaus
May 2 - Munich, DE - Ampere
May 3 - Zurich, CH - Bogen F
May 4 - Stuttgart, DE - Im Wizemann
May 6 - Cologne, DE - Kulturkirche
May 7 - Mainz, DE - Kuz
May 8 -Kiel, DE - Pumpe
May 9 - Copenhagen, DK - Vega
May 11 - Berlin, DE - Columbiahalle


Daniel Thorne"Fear of Floating"
(via Julian T. Schoen / Erased Tapes / YouTube)

Via Julian T. Schoen:

Saxophonist and Immix Ensemble founder Daniel Thorne is prepping his Lines Of Sight LP due out March 15 on Erased Tapes. Today, he shares the second single, "Fear Of Floating", putting the spotlight squarely on his saxophone.

The Australian-born, Liverpool-based composer and saxophonist may find fans in those who enjoy Colin Stetson.

Daniel had this to say, "Thematically, this music was inspired by birds-eye aerial images and the idea of perspective - how something incredibly complex like a river or the surface of the ocean is reduced to a simple line or shape when viewed from the heavens. The line between natural and man-made becomes increasingly blurred.

"I've long been a fan of studio-based composition, but have always found the infinite possibilities on offer daunting and, often, a stumbling block. To get around this I set myself a challenge of limiting myself to the physical instruments in my possession - a few different saxophones and a bass synth, with no more than four tracks to record them."

Lines of Sight follows Thorne's work as artistic director of the acclaimed, collaboration-focussed group Immix Ensemble. Together with experimental electronic artist Vessel, he co-wrote Transition released on Erased Tapes in 2016. More recently, he worked with acclaimed modular synth wizard Luke Abbott, to create a four-part suite, which was premiered live in June 2017. Immix Ensemble have also performed special live commissions with Kelly Lee Owens, Dialect, Jane Weaver and Bill Ryder-Jones, among others.

As the first track under Thorne's own name, "Iroise" was recorded for the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary release 1+1=X, alongside works by Nils Frahm, Penguin Cafe, A Winged Victory For The Sullen and Rival Consoles. He also recently remixed Manu Delago, known as the live percussionist for Björk and Ólafur Arnalds.


spoony bard"Ego Trippin' Part 99"
(via Us-Them Group / spoony bard music / Bandcamp)

Via Us-Them Group:

"I'm trying to blur the line between rap's grandiosity and De La Soul's parody of it." -- David Nord, Talkhouse

"A dizzying, sometimes disorienting sound that will garner comparisons to Dälek, Flying Lotus, Aphex Twin and others. Ceaseless in its sonic exploration, restless in its vision and tireless in its sense of invention." -- PopMatters

NYC producer and musician spoony bard shares the first single today from his forthcoming sophomore album
Old Friends via The Talkhouse. The track, "Ego Trippin' Part 99" is inspired by De La Soul's classic "Ego Trippin' Pt. 2" but infused with spoony bard's unique collision of influences. Hear the track and the musician's revealing explanation of its origins via Talkhouse.

Like the video game garbled insult of its namesake, spoony bard is the result of a cultural collision as well as an honest and self-deprecating exploration of life. The hybrid of L.A. beat scene, electronic, jazz and avant-garde takes a fresh approach to musical soul-bearing with compelling sonic textures and introspective lyrics. spoony bard combines hints of Flying Lotus, Dalek, DJ Premier, Herbie Hancock, Aphex Twin and more.

spoony bard is the alter-ego of musician David Nord. Originally a jazz composer/guitarist, Nord's equal interest in hip-hop and electronic sounds brought about an evolution in his work, leading him to merge these styles and explore the possibilities of an alternate musical vocabulary.
Old Friends follows Nord's 2017 debut Dweeb, which was featured by Bandcamp Weekly and received considerable press praise. For this album, Nord took a turn backward.

"It's titled Old Friends because on a lot of these songs I had old friends in mind," Nord says. "Old friends also means my old musical friends - guitar playing, some melodies I wrote a long time ago. This album has a lot more live instrumentation on it. There's still plenty of synths, but I did a lot more playing and less sampling."

The album opens with a cascade of notes from electric piano, guitar and what sounds like a droning sitar on "Ego Trippin' Part 99." It sounds almost like a lost Mahavishnu Orchestra track until sampled voices, syncopated percussion and Nord's rhymes take over the proceedings. His style of rapping is so conversational and intimate, it almost sounds like it's a man's unguarded thoughts being telegraphed to the listener. "Levitate Me Later" is a glitch-funk blast, while "Areia" takes a smoothed-out approach with gliding sung vocals and Giorgio Moroder freakout synth soloing. "Extralewd 1" echoes Aphex Twin's best sliced'n'diced grooves. Throughout, it's a delightfully unhinged and explorative album that's impossibly laid back and frenzied at the same time.

Old Friends will be available for download on April 5th via Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, etc.


Noisem: "Filth and Style"
(via Earsplit PR / 20 Buck Spin / Bandcamp)

Via Earsplit PR:

20 Buck Spin has released the searing new "Filth And Stye" single from Baltimore, Maryland's crossover trio NOISEM. The track is an advance warning shot from the band's impending third LP, Cease To Exist, set for release in mid-March.

Cease To Exist was recorded at Developing Nations by Kevin Bernsten (Integrity, Full Of Hell, Magrudergrind), mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright (Obituary, Integrity, Black Breath), and completed with artwork by Ethan McCarthy/Cool Ghoul Ltd. (Primitive Man).

The shortest track on Cease To Exist, "Filth And Stye" is a pure shredder, the track landing like a bombing run and devastating everything in earshot in under a minute. The band offers of the song,
"Trudging through the endless squalor and ceaseless suffering, masses starved, and bastards crowned. Is this world worth saving? Who will stand firm and who will stand and watch it burn?"

Cease To Exist will see release March 15th on LP, CD, cassette, and digital formats through new label home 20 Buck Spin. Find preorders at the label webshop HERE and Bandcamp where prior single "Eyes Pried Open" is streaming HERE. Watch for additional audio and video samples to be issued in the weeks ahead.

NOISEM will tour the East Coast in direct conjunction with the album's release. The Cease To Exist Tour kicks off in the band's hometown of Baltimore on March 15th the day the LP strikes, followed by shows in Brooklyn, Montclair, Providence, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Richmond, before ending in Raleigh March 21st. NOISEM's cohorts in Washington, DC-based No/Más will provide additional hellfire to the entire tour, with Oxalate, Genocide Pact, Bandit, Painbody, and other top-tier locals will be joining in on the action.

NOISEM Cease To Exist Tour w/ No/Más:
3/15/2019 Sidebar - Baltimore, MD
3/16/2019 Saint Vitus Bar - Brooklyn, NY (matinee) w/ Oxalate, Stinger, High Cost, Concussion [info]
3/16/2019 The Meatlocker - Montclair, NJ
3/17/2019 Al Dios No Conocido - Providence, RI
3/18/2019 Gooski's - Pittsburgh, PA
3/19/2019 The Barbary - Philadelphia, PA w/ Genocide Pact, Bandit, Painbody [info]
3/20/2019 McCormack's Irish Pub - Richmond, VA
3/21/2019 The Wicked Witch - Raleigh, NC w/ Old Painless, Cammo, Culling At Wicked Witch [info]

NOISEM returns from the dead with Cease To Exist; leaner, meaner, with a new label and new life. After heavy momentum with their second LP, Blossoming Decay, and subsequent touring including the 2015 Decibel Magazine tour supporting Carcass, Gorguts, and The Black Dahlia Murder, the band seemingly disappeared. However, 2018 saw them return in new form, ready to resume their place among the most promising young bands in metal. This was met with a late-2018 non-album single, "Sin Rash," released through the Adult Swim singles series.

Keeping with the tradition of the most classic grindcore albums, Cease To Exist is an immediately aggressive attack of confrontational energy, pushing the pace with a withering ten tracks over twenty-two minutes. An eruption of grinding blastbeats, unceasing death-thrash riffs, and an acidic vocal snarl to rival prime Jeff Walker, Cease To Exist quells any notion that NOISEM would ease up with time. If nothing else, the band's third LP is their most seething, vicious, and inwardly dark album yet. Cease To Exist displays a cacophony of grind, death, thrash, punk, and hardcore, seamlessly blended, blistered, and set ablaze. With Cease To Exist, NOISEM makes a full circle statement of intent; a savage declaration in the face of an ever more bleak future. Fans of early Carcass, Repulsion, Napalm Death, Exhumed, Nasum, Terrorizer, Mammoth Grinder, Black Breath should get on board.

Francie Moon: "Present Tense"
(via Michael Mehalick / Keeper Records / Soundcloud) 

Via Michael Mehalick:
Singer-songwriter Francie Moon is exactly what you might think of when you hear “free spirit.” Always traveling in her well worn van, Moon has gigged in every nook and cranny, bar and coffee shop in the continental U.S. With a prolific amount of releases to her credit since adopting the moniker in 2013, Francie Moon (real name Melissa Lucciola) is set to follow-up on her celebrated, American Songwriter-backed self-titled EP released in September 2016.

The track premiered via The Vinyl District where Francie Moon detailed;
"I wrote 'Present Tense' while living in Easton, PA in my friend Josh’s jam room above a nail salon in the heart of the city. There was a huge wall of amps and endless musical toys, lights, art supplies, and freedom. Easton is a weird little city that I love with a lot of jazz, art, and sketchiness. I became very inspired one week by this wild combination and wrote many songs and this was one of them. I believe this song is a message about the journey of finding yourself and also being patient and loving with yourself when you’re getting back on track with who you are. A lot of people get caught up in the past and in the future, but this is about forgetting all that and just letting yourself be yourself, happy and free in the moment. I think when you finally let yourself feel that peace and freedom of being here now, fear and uncertainty usually wash away and sometimes doors even start to open for the future you were really dreaming of anyway. It’s so good and important to feel good and feel ourselves, and I think we can do that by not judging ourselves harshly, packing light when it comes to what we hold on to inside and by paying attention to and following the call of what we really love. Easier said than done sometimes, but at least we’re all figuring life out together, all on the same sea, just different boats."

Francie Moon links:
Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram


Wand: "Scarecrow"
(via Drag City / YouTube)

Via Drag City

A little less than two years on from 2017's Plum, Californian scrap polymorphs Wand are prepared to announce their newest, and fifth long playing record, Laughing Matter. By now, Wand is the shifting but unmistakable collaboration between Sofia Arreguin (keys, vocals), Cory Hanson (guitar, vocals), Robert Cody (guitar), Lee Landey (bass) and Evan Burrows (drums). 

Laughing Matter is marked by the confidence and fervor of a band that has lived, feuded, thrived and grown together through years of dedicated jamming, touring and recording, across continents and mind-sets. The music of Laughing Matter is distilled and sculpted from an ash heap of collected improvisations, riven with audio-verite; the methods and instrumentation are traditional handmade rock 'n' roll. Yet the unorthodox arrangements and exuberant songwriting of the first single "Scarecrow", push Wand into new territory aimed toward at the future sound of the band!

Laughing Matter is a record about love in a time of terror; it calls you down from panic room labyrinths, to work the deep tissue of unraveling trauma we all carry so dear. The 15 songs on this record face their energy outward, to take with you through a common world that can't suffer its human abusers much longer. Laughing Matter encourages you to shake hands with your old demons, to lay your pathologies to rest, to hold your spirit close, and let your body do what's next. Listen, watch and take in the new single "Scarecrow" (check out Cory's interview over at Beats1 here as well), Laughing Matter comes on April 19.

Mar.11 in Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
Mar.13 in Austin, Texas @ SXSW
Mar.14 in Austin, Texas @ SXSW
Mar.15 in Austin, Texas @ SXSW
Mar.16 in Austin, Texas @ SXSW
Mar.16 in Dallas, TX @ NSFW
Mar.18 in Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
Mar.19 in San Deigo, CA @ Soda Bar
Apr.19 in Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
May.2 in San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
May 3 in Arcata, CA @ Richard's Goat
May 6 in Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
May 9 in Portland, OR @ Mississippi
May 25 in London, UK @ Electric Brixton
May 27 in Brussels, BE @ Botanique @ Orangerie
May 30 in Berlin, DE @ Privatclub

WAND Online: 


Inter Arma: "Citadel"
(via Relapse Records / Soundcloud) 

Via Relapse Records:

Richmond's INTER ARMA, reigning masters of the slow build, continue to trace a distinctly ambitious trajectory through modern metal. Today, the band announces their 4th full-length offering Sulphur English, coming April 12th, 2019, and share the first single entitled “Citadel”.

Vocalist Mike Paparo comments:

"The lyrics to "Citadel" were written as a sort of clarion call to myself about overcoming depression and the demons that manifest with it. It, like most of the lyrical content on the record, is deeply personal to me.

For the band as a whole, Sulphur English is an ill-tempered, unrepentant act of defiance towards stagnation and complacency. We create this music on our own terms and we refuse to compromise our collective vision, for better or worse."

Sulphur English is due out April 12th on CD/2xLP/Digital. Physical packages are available for pre-order via HERE. Digital Downloads / Streaming Services are available HERE.

Additionally, INTER ARMA have been announced for Decibel’s Metal & Beer Fest Pre-Fest and celebrate the release of Sulphur English with labelmates Integrity, Full of Hell & Devil Master

INTER ARMA’s impulses tend toward the epic, but never bloat; they meld several styles — doom, sludge, and hard psych — without coming off like dilettantes. This newest full-length, Sulphur English, finds them mining deeper in the proggy organic doom fields that made both Paradise Gallows and Sky Burial so thrilling while expanding further the on the psych-folk strain that made those albums' peaks seem so lofty.

Few metal bands have ever made such effective use of acoustic instruments in truly heavy environments as INTER ARMA do; the acoustic guitar that stitches "Stillness" together is as effective as any overdriven bass; a two-minute gloomy piano-and-feedback piece titled "Observances of the Path" rolls out the carpet for "The Atavist's Meridian," an album highlight that rides a gigantic, roomy drum sound into realms akin to a murkier Paradise Lost, a more aggressive Om, and a dreamier, more stoned Kylesa all playing together at once. Few bands make music as engrossing as INTER ARMA; their lengthy, almost meditative songs rumble patiently forward until you're ready to get thrown off a bridge — and then they throw you, with great force.

- Words by John Darnielle

Inter Arma on Facebook
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Inter Arma on Bandcamp

Letters From A Tapehead

Notes From The Record Room: Coming Up For Air / Off Pause / Ipecac / #RSD2019

60, 65, 55, 67… If you want to know why I've been silent for some of March and most of April, those are the number of hours I've...