ROTW: Music For Nine Postcards!

After the beautiful, but noisy, onslaught of Metallic OK by Bruce Russell last week, not to mention the noisiness and nastiness of our other recent picks from the likes of Brainbombs and Tetragrammacide, perhaps it's time for a Record Of The Week that you could, you know, take a nap to.

Well, okay, if you're like us you can happily fall asleep to lots of crazy stuff, but we're talking something that a normal person might actually agree was lovely and restful.

For that, we've selected the pure bliss of the 1982 debut Music For Nine Postcards from Japanese New Age/ambient musician Hiroshi Yoshimura (1940-2003). It's a record that's recently been reissued for the first time domestically by new label Empire Of Signs, run by Spencer Doran (of Visible Cloaks) and our old pal Maxwell Croy (of En and the Root Strata label). Thanks doods! Minimal, serene, tranquil studies home-recorded on electronic keyboard and Fender Rhodes, these are nine tracks to chillax with for sure. Exquisite.

Available on LP and compact disc via Light In The Attic (though, it seems that the vinyl is being repressed already, look for it again in February perhaps).


ROTW: Metallic OK!

The latest solo album from guitarist Bruce Russell of New Zealand's finest, The Dead C, was recently released by resuscitated UK underground out-pop label Glass, or rather, Glass Redux. Bearing a title that nods to Iggy & The Stooges for reasons doubtless cool but not entirely obvious, it's a sprawling double cd set consisting in large part of two of our most very favorite-est things: feedback and field recordings!

Sure, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between Bruce playing the guitar, and Bruce rummaging around in the shed; between Bruce playing the guitar, and Bruce mowing the lawn (perhaps – and it's quite possible he mows the lawn with his guitar), but it matters not. When given proper attention, the sounds here really draw you in, your ears curiously wondering just what's going on, and why and how it's all so noisily gorgeous.

And as Allan pointed out to Andee, well, we don't actually have to worry about selling any of them. So since we're both so psyched on it: ROTW, OK!


ROTW: Inferno!

Heck, a new Brainbombs LP on Skrammel just landed Stateside, so there's our ROTW right there. Another slab of misanthropic sub-Stooges-y squall from this long-running Swedish outfit, who believe they figured out a long time ago (circa 1989) what rock was really for (against?) and has been bludgeoning the rest of us with it ever since, bless their sick hearts.

Inferno, their eighth or so album, represents an impressive, continuing dedication to noise and nihilism. These eight new songs are typically plodding and distorted, and as always are kinda catchy too, with titles proclaiming such typically Brainsbombs-esque sentiments as: "They All Deserve To Die" and "Wanted To Kill You." Enjoy.

Midheaven has 'em.


ROTW: Sittandes I Sjön Med Vatten Över Huvudet!

Super duper in love with this, the lo-fi avantfolkmetal solo debut out on Nordvis from a Swedish guitarist named JoJöden (of outré black metallers Sorgeldom and Whirling).

In our estimation, Mr. J has composed, performed, and recorded a true, outsider-y masterpiece of “sensitive Viking” slash “forest troll” music here on this intimate and emotive album, much of it instrumental and often acoustic (at times also featuring electric organ and clattery drums).

While not without its harsh moments, ultimately this is just sooo very gorgeous and lovely, pastoral and melancholic – but also, equally, wonderfully woozy & off-kilter. Enough that it immediately made us think of the bizarre brilliance of Ved Buens Ende. One might also reference early Ulver and some Forgotten Woods, perhaps. We’re even hearing a smidgen of Bo Hansson.

Also, we'd be curious what fans of, say, Amps For Christ and Daniel Higgs might think about this – not that this sounds at all like either, but it could have some cross-genre appeal to those into wyrd folkster types...


ROTW: Nothing Valley!

For this Week's Record Of The, we've selected a slice of noisy, female-fronted indie pop that Andee thinks sounds a bit like The Swirlies if they were on Skin Graft. Kind of looks like a Skin Graft disc too, what with the comic strip cover art and all.

It's the first full-length, Nothing Valley, from Chicago's oddly/pleasantly named Melkbelly, which came out not quite a month ago on Wax Nine Records as that new label's premiere release.

Allan agrees with Andee's assessment, but if he had to provide his own 'band math' description, it would be that a lot of this makes him think of, like, The Breeders jamming with Lightning Bolt.

Solidly catchy and chaotic stuff, see (hear) for yourself...


ROTW: Primal Incinerators Of Moral Matrix!

Lately, in the realm of underground metal, it seems like Iron Bonehead Productions is kinda the current 'it' label. And their latest release is something we've certainly been eagerly anticipating – the debut full-length from Indian black/death/noise metallers Tetragrammacide. Totes ROTW material here, if ultra esoteric extreme WTF?-ery in both sound & concept makes for ROTW-ness, which it does.

The so-wrong-it's-right insane production strategery of this band's previous recordings is tempered somewhat here, but not to the detriment of the music; indeed the ante is upped regarding the levels of sheer crazed chaotic metal-kill proffered. Plus, the pseudo-scientific sanity-loss lyrical content is the sort of absurd occult poetry that would make for potential, completely cracked PhD thesis subject matter. Track titles include the likes of "Intra-Dimensional Vessel of Were-Robotics, N-Logics and Assorted Lattice Intelligences" and "The Prognosticators of Trans-Yuggothian Meta-Reasoning," reminding us a bit of the cryptic, abstruse, mythos-referencing work of Iranian writer Reza Negarestani or something. Mind-bending, neck-spraining, earhole-abusing stuff...

ROTW runner-up this week, if you're asking, would be another crucial title from Japan's defunct P.S.F. label, now brought back by the unbelievable Black Editions reissue campaign: the first Tokyo Flashback comp, now on vinyl for the very first time. Originally released on cd in 1991, it features exclusive tracks from such scene pillars as White Heaven, Fushitsusha, Ghost, and High Rise – representing out-rock stuff that served as an inspiration for over two decades worth of shades-sportin' heavy psych acts on that label.

And, also, if we'd been picking a "Sixteen Compact Disc Box Set Of The Week," Roland Kayn's A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound would have been a shoe-in for sure! A lovely, lengthy composition of droney electronic (or "cybernetic") music from this ex-member of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza.


Reggae Albums That Look Like Heavy Metal Albums Sorta Maybe

Um, so in no particular order, and for no particular reason, here are a dozen reggae/dub albums circa 1976-'84 that happen to have cover art that I think could almost work perfectly well on the sleeve of a heavy metal record from roughly the same era instead. Or at least, if they got filed in the wrong bin you might not instantly notice. The urge to research & compile this list was inspired by our very first example:

The Revolutionaries Top Ranking Dub Volume One (Duke Reid, 1978) ... The typeface used isn't especially 'metal' but the red-eyed ghoul in WWII Nazi helmet imagery sure is. Who knew Eddie liked dub? Decent enough album but it only gets top ranking on this list due to the cover art.

Phil Pratt Star Wars Dub (Burning Sounds, 1978) ... Darth Vader and lightning bolts are both hella metal, right? This is a pretty good dub album but it can't quite live up to the magnificent cover graphics, in my opinion. Still, someday when they make Vondur In Dub they can just use this cover.

Tappa Zukie Escape From Hell (Stars, 1978) ... Can't argue with skull, flames, and hell. Also, it's a great album.

Bunny Wailer Blackheart Man (Solomonic, 1976) ... Super dark, grim n' spooky cover art. Album title rendered in what's almost a black metal logo style. Artist's name printed in a font quite similar to the one used on Black Sabbath's debut (the exact identity of that font being the subject of some debate, as it happens). Yeah, definitely one that belongs way up on this here list.

The Royals Ten Years After (Ballistic Records, 1979) ... Take away that red-yellow-green border and maybe the dreads and you've got a cover that looks like it belongs on an early Judas Priest album for sure. Sad wings indeed.

Dennis Brown Words Of Wisdom (Laser Records, 1979) ... Meanwhile, this album has art that could do double duty on a proto-metal platter by some obscure, hypothetical Uriah Heep wannabe, whattya think?

Massive Dread s/t (Gorgon Records, 1979) ... Ok, so maybe this one doesn't really look like an actual heavy metal album cover. But, it's certainly rad, right? Furthermore, the brawny musculature and length of hair/beard of the fella on the front – and the size of the spliff he's smoking – would certainly qualify him to pose for some super-heavy stoner metal band's album cover, I think. A great freakin' album, sadly not reissued on cd as yet.

Yabby You & The Prophets Beware Dub (Grove Music, 1979) ... I dunno, this cover just says 'THRASH!' to me.

Lizzard Satta I (Trojan Records, 1976) ...  Color scheme aside, totally '70s proggy proto-metal lookin' cover art and logo style here, eh? The (sadly not on cd) reggae album is pretty cool but I'd love to hear the imaginary mystical metal record that would share this sleeve in an alternate universe. Maybe something a bit Thin Lizzy-ish? Or, a la Rainbow?

Revolutionaries Revival (Cha Cha Cha Music, 1982) ... These cats show up for a second time on this list with this militant album. It looks more like an action movie poster than a heavy metal album, ok, but the very first track is called "Black Sabbath!" (And another is titled "Death.")

Prince Alla Evil Forces (Calabash Records, 1984) ... Dude's face/expression isn't very metal, nor is the logo at the top, but I think the bloody font used for the album title qualifies this for inclusion here, as do the various examples of evil forces listed on the cover (which sadly aren't song titles). Plus, bats.

Scientist Heavy Metal Dub (Clocktower, 1980) ... Although it fails the truth-in-advertising test (there's nothing 'heavy metal' about the music) you can't argue with these Star Trek themed dub tracks. And thanks to the title & the sorta Pedro Bell style space operatic cover art this had to be on this list!

That's the dozen! I've thought of a few runners-up already but if anyone else has any further suggestions to add to this list, comments are welcome. Number 13 on the list would, of course, be the amazing album by Black Ark Oaken Saw, if only it wasn't just an April Fool's joke. (–Allan)