ROTW: Mana!

This debut full-length release from intriguingly familiar-yet-fresh metallers Idle Hands (after an EP last year) has been eagerly anticipated 'round here... definitely ROTW material and maybe for some, AOTY. Heck, if you listen to Allan's Gimme Radio show By This Wax I Rule! (which he hopes you do, along with Andee's show Battleflutes And Sideways Skulls) then you already know how excited Allan is about this band.

Indeed, he probably hasn't been so stoked on a new metal band since epic metalpunk outfit Iron Dogs (now the one-man Ice War) emerged from the frozen tundra of Canada a few years back (for whatever that's worth), but while that band stayed firmly underground, he suspects that Idle Hands just might be the next big thing, seriously. The band is possessed of a certain self-assured style and swagger that's pretty convincing, their power further proven by the material on Mana.

Signed to Holland's Eisenwald, a label best known to us for black metal fare, Idle Hands aren't black metal at all. And, they're from Portland, Oregon, USA. Formed by ex-members of the now defunct trad metal band Spellcaster (a break-up that spawned another cool band as well, Silver Talon), Idle Hands are also very inspired by the '80s – but while retro in a sense, the melodic, melancholic material they play amounts to an original amalgamation of '80s heavy metal (verging on hair metal) and '80s goth/death rock as well.

Maybe not the best comparison, but we like to describe Idle Hands as sounding something like a cross between The Cure and Celtic Frost circa the latter's controversial 'glam' excursion Cold Lake (an album unfairly maligned in our opinion, it's really pretty cool!), in large part due to the style of the melodic vocals, deep and mopey, punctuated with the occasional 'unnnhh!', an interjection that's become a trademark tic of the band, even more effective/amusing in the live setting, as Allan can attest. He saw 'em perform a couple months ago (on tour with Haunt) and they were utterly fantastic... and the gig he attended was only their third live show ever apparently! But they were clearly ready for some high-profile festival gigs to come their way, as they have.

Their nostalgic but still unique sound might well appeal to fans of the likes of Sweden's Ghost, or at the very least quite possibly to fans of Haunt and High Spirits. Here, check out this MTV-worthy (circa 1989!) video for one of the songs from their earlier EP Don't Waste Your Time, giving off heavy Metal Church Badlands vibes visually:

In the US, Mana is available on cd and vinyl via mailorder from Eisenwald's new US webstore.


ROTW: Dusk To Dusk / City Girls!

Berlin-based (by way of Sweden) act Maggot Heart put out the Dusk To Dusk LP of nocturnal, hard rocking death rock last year, and a debut 4-song cassette called City Girls the year before that, and now the Caligari label has just taken it upon themselves to put both excellent releases out on one compact disc (and, separately, Dusk To Dusk on cassette now also), giving us the opportunity to make 'em collectively our Record Of The Week for this week! Better late than never, right?

Maggot Heart's guitarist/vocalist/main songwriter Linnea Olsson has been involved in some fave bands of ours: Beastmilk, Grave Pleasures, and The Oath. She's aided by two ex-In Solitude guys including the drummer, who was responsible for a previous ROTW on this blog via one of his other bands, Black Salvation. In fact, Maggot Heart's addictive sound kind of blends that of Black Salvation and another ROTW we had here last year, from the band Bat Fangs.

Melancholic and melodic, the dangerous, dark post-punky vibe conjured by Olsson & co. makes for songs as hypnotically moody as they are headbangably catchy. So... if any of the bands bolded above fall into your 'cool' category, give this a spin and we expect you too will be bewitched.


ROTW: Metaprogramação!

Hey, happy Record Store Day, people! Of course, there's no way that either of us is going anywhere near a record store today due to our RSD-PTSD. But at least we can post a new Record Of The Week, one we've been meaning to highlight here ever since it came out last month on the Ides of March: the percussive and primal protest music of Metaprogramação! by Brazil's DEAFKIDS.

Ask yourself, how do some echoing, heavy, rhythmic, industrial Brazilian Hawkwind-y noise punk tribal jams sound to you? We say, um, yeah!!!

Makes sense this third album of theirs came out via Neurot Recordings, as heavy tribal drum circle shit is part of Neurosis's own repertoire (in a good way!). And DEAFKIDS deliver on the rhythm and the noise. You could almost say that they kind of sound like Gnod meets Roots-era Sepultura. It's raw psychedelic dubby punk that could be a sonic fever dream spawned from a collision of, like, R.D.P. and the Boredoms.

Ideal for fans of the ‘chaotic hypnotic’!


ROTW: Haze County!

Hailing from the land of moving sidewalks and thirteenth floor elevators, Texas trio Crypt Trip definitely live up to the druggy part of their band name, while not being nearly as occultic or doomy as the "Crypt" bit might suggest. That’s fine though, real fine, as they stand out from the crowded field of retro-proto-metal mongers these days by being way more retro & proto than most, while being metal not nearly so much. Maybe they play retro-proto-proto-metal?

Their big influence/inspiration clearly lies with the melodic hard rock/heavy psych of such vintage ‘60s and ‘70s power trios as the James Gang and Cream. Especially Cream. But a wee less bluesy, instead proggier and mathier.

Crypt Trip’s own version of Ginger Baker, their drummer Cameron Martin, is the clincher (especially if you get a chance to see ‘em live), really putting on a show, exuberant and phenomenally skilled. The kind of drummer that actually makes you not want the drum solo to end soon, or ever. And he's definitely propulsive to the proginess mentioned. But it's a gentle prog touch, think T2, Saga (Sweden), Tucky Buzzard... Rural-tinged as well, which brings us back to the James Gang (see the album cover above, yep).

This, Crypt Trip's third album, came out just last Friday on an Italian label that really doesn't want anyone to have any misconceptions about the kind of music they release, Heavy Psych Sounds. They released Crypt Trip's equally excellent Rootstock last year, and have a lot of other great throwback-y bands on their roster. Look out for the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest USA that's gonna be happenin' in various venues in California and Texas in May, btw.


ROTW: Minecxio Emanations 1993​-​2018!

Wowzers. The 10.000 Chickens Symphony Drone label 7". The infamous (but lovely) Blank Tapes cd on Trente Oiseaux. Such conceptual faves, along with gobs of shambolic, shamanistic 'rock' music spread across many, many DIY tapes and cd-r's and other formats since 1993, constitute the bizarre legacy of one of the most unusual and eccentric sound-making units of our era, Reynols.

Thus, this release is something that both Andee and Allan instantly pre-ordered for themselves weeks ago, as soon as we first heard about it. Now it's just been released, so it's definitely a solid Record Of The Week choice for this blog of ours. Or should we make that, a 6xCD + 1xDVD Box Set Of The Freaking Week?

Yes, you heard that right. A "Record Of The Week" that could actually take weeks to listen to and fully absorb – and probably an eternity to truly comprehend! But, if you're already familiar (hopefully so) with the Argentinian noise/drone/improv WTF? trio of Miguel, Anla, and Roberto, then you know you probably want this too. Especially since this box set consists of mostly previously unreleased material – and the rest of it is quite rare. Check out more specific details of the contents here.

The 52 tracks on the six cds provide plenty of distorted drones and harsh guitar noise slashings mixed with meandering, moaning lo-fi echo-effected crooner-y chaos, all delivered with Reynols' own peculiar panache. An entire disc is devoted to their more conceptual compositions, including an unreleased outtake from the aforementioned 10.000 Chickens Symphony, as well as performances at NASA in Houston and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Another disc is devoted to various collaborations, such as their sublime meeting with Pauline Oliveros (another previously unreleased outtake), and there is also a nearly ten-minute team-up with Acid Mothers Temple among collabs with other, more obscure folks as well.

Ten years ago, Norwegian noisenik Lasse Marhaug's Pica Disk brought us a massive 10xCD box set from Japan's Incapacitants, Box Is Stupid. More recently Pica Disk has been responsible for a couple other great archival box sets from Omit and Witcyst. Now Pica Disk has outdone itself with this Reynols collection, apparently six years in the making. We've only heard the audio so far, but based on the quality of those other boxes, we are certain the physical package will be very nicely done – can't wait to delve into the two booklets of art and liner notes... Oh, and then the 90-minute DVD, which we expect to blow our minds completely.

About the only thing that could be cooler and weirder and even more legit outsidery would be a Japor box set.


ROTW: Michael O'Shea!

Our Record Of The Week this week is a reissue of a 1982 album, originally released on Bruce Gilbert & Graham Lewis of Wire’s Dome label, from a world-wandering, eccentric Irish busker named Michael O'Shea (1947-1991).

It was the only album he ever made, and it's a unique masterpiece. On it he conjures gorgeous experimental drone-folk from a homemade, hybrid electric dulcimer-zelochord-sitar of his own design (it had 17 strings, played with chopsticks).

Celtic, North African and Asian folk musics (and more) are filtered through O'Shea's special DIY improv/electronic instrumental aesthetic... just lovely! Worth the price of admission for the first side's fifteen minute "No Journeys End" alone, a hypnotizing track of gentle but percussive melody, wreathed in echo.

It's certainly cause for celebration that this has just been remastered and reissued on vinyl for the first time by Dublin record shop/label All City, via their Allchival sub-label.

Although, if you can find the out-of-print Michael O'Shea collection put out on cd by WMO in 2001, it includes a few extra tracks not on the original (or reissued) vinyl. It's a bit pricey on Discogs, however (twice what this LP will cost ya).


ROTW: Guts Magnet Sea!

So, been a bit remiss with the Records Of The Week lately, but hey, here's one! Chik White's Guts Magnet Sea combines a bunch of things we like into something unique. Some of the sounds on this recent Kraak label cd release are environmental field recordings – and some are just what sounds like environmental field recordings, but are actually the environment affecting the recording medium.

Also, this features jaw harp! Gotta love jaw harp. OK, Makigami Koichi and Anton Bruhin's Electric Eel album on Tzadik from twenty years ago might be the only other crazy jaw harp release we can think of [edit: how could we forget Daniel Higgs' Magic Alphabet?], but that means there's always room for one more and that's this.

Many, many aQ reviews over the years, most often those written by Andee, have featured descriptions of music as sounding like the tapes had been soaked in tar and then left out in the desert, or buried in the earth and then excavated years later, concepts like that. Well, Nova Scotian experimental musician and accidental jaw harp collector Darcy Spidle, who records under the name Chik White for some reason, has literally done something just that in making Guts Magnet Sea, as explained by the label thusly:
"The main core was captured during walks to an islet close to Spidle’s home. He taped environmental sounds and himself playing the harp aloud. Then, the tapes were thrown into the ocean, becoming co-author for his micro-compositions. The salt disintegrated the magnetic tape and added burbling and grunting noises to the original recordings."
It sure did... Also, we like how they say the tapes were "thrown" into the ocean... not merely lowered or dipped or submerged, but thrown, as if there was a chance they might not come back to shore. Thankfully, though, they did.

Corroded and decayed by this process, the not-quite-human 'voice' of the jaw harp vibrates in a mysterious watery realm, the dozen tracks here sounding kind of like a very damaged, abstract version of one of Hans Reichel's daxophone operettas being played underwater. Gurgling gentle noisescapes for curious ears.

The disc includes an essay & interview with Spidle, getting into the arty/academic notions and conceptual dichotomies that this work may or may not illuminate. Personally, I'm not sure such musings are necessary, it's enough that this sounds as strange and wonderful as it does without thinking too hard about it, eh?