Monday, August 30, 2010

Black Dice - Repo (2009)

It's still a stretch to talk about Black Dice as a formalist collective, but the Brooklyn band's migration from loose noise to something more structured counts as one of the most intriguing narratives in the art-rock underground. In the beginning, around the turn of 2000, Black Dice became notorious for playing antagonistic post-hardcore punk shows in dramatically darkened rooms. It was a badge of honor to have gotten hurt, or at least certifiably scared, during one of their lashing affairs, which rated as physical ordeals as much as aural experiences.

Then, starting with their 2002 DFA album Beaches and Canyons, Black Dice repositioned themselves as an unusually gritty kind of ambient band. They took to standing stock-still behind tables of sequencers and effects, with occasional drumming the only thing to count as even remotely gestural. The change to stand-around gear happened around the same time as that of their compatriots in Animal Collective, but Black Dice's shift signified something different: hermetic, internal systems-like ideas, as opposed to Animal Collective's more external, ecstatic musings.

Four albums and lots of heady grinding later, Repo draws on that same analytical zeal while also expanding a sound that's increasingly more realized and strategic. With its steady forward movement and messy pointillist pillars thrown up where concise beats might be, the opening "Nite Crème" marks Black Dice's slow, lurching move towards something like techno. It wouldn't tear up any Berlin warehouse, to be sure, but thinking about techno proves useful to Repo: Where lots of techno artists have moved away from austere formalism toward more liberated outbursts of noise (see Ricardo Villalobos, Audion, any producer who treats where beats fall as a means more than an end), Black Dice, as a band, have effectively moved in the opposite direction, toward a richly murky meeting ground somewhere in the middle.

Much of Repo makes good on that same sort of bottom-up drift toward cohesion, whether rhythmic or not. "Glazin" plays similar sleight-of-hand with the calm pulse of reggae: As a sampled guitar clip gets infested with all kinds of anxiously granulated textures and whirs, a warm bass-line starts to roll contentedly beneath it. In "Earnings Plus Interest", a sampled drum break that could be sourced from 1980s hip-hop or 90s big-beat starts out splashy but then turns stoic, as clutches of noise crash all around it.

Those patented Black Dice clutches of noise sound more specifically placed on Repo than they did on 2007's Load Blown, an album that seemed to prioritize textural smear more than simple rhythm or spacing. Repo is still abstract in a similar and smeary way, but it sounds like Black Dice have gotten a better handle on their gear-- as if, having learned how to make more and more different noises on more and more different machines, part of their project has turned more toward what exactly to do with those noises. In those terms, highlights like "La Cucaracha" and "Lazy TV"-- with coolly stuttering use of a delay-glitch as quasi-African guitar and lots of warped DJ Screw drama, respectively-- qualify as compositions, however decomposed they prove. *Pitchfork


Friday, August 27, 2010

iIyas Ahmed - Live At On Land 2009 (root strata 2010)

A stellar document of this trio's slow burn set from last years On Land festival. Ahmed on guitar & vocals is accompanied by Honey Owens (Valet/Miracles Club) on guitar and Jed Bindeman (Heavy Winged / Eternal Tapestry) on drums. Each cover is a unique collage by Ahmed with hand painted text on the back. No two are the same. These are not lathe cut records, and not lacquer dub plates, but a very small run of 10" vinyl records. All proceeds go to funding this year's On Land festival, and these are only available directly from us. Please drop us an email if you would like to order one. $100 each, does not include shipping! Edition of 25. root strata

Listen to side a / buy

Monday, August 23, 2010

Christina Carter / Islaja - Tsuki No Seika 7" (root strata 2010)

Limited edition of 100 copies split 7”, only officially available direct from the label. Christina’s side is one of her weirdest tracks, a ‘protest’ song scored for multiple overdubbed voices that move from catatonic Jandek-isms through haunted choral styles. Islaja contributes a spare, intimate vocal piece with a twisted folk melody illuminated by smears of backing vocals. volcanic tongue

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Head Of Wantastiquet - Unrock Series (unsound 2010)

Edition of 120 copies cdr documenting a live performance from Paul Labrecque (Sunburned Hand Of The Man/Trees Chants And Hollers/The Other Method et al). Labrecque’s string work makes reference to the lonesome sound of Sandy Bull and John Fahey while connecting with the experiments in contemporary American Primitive drone of Paul Metzger and Matthew Valentine. Quietly psychedelic and spellbindingly intimate. In full colour gatefold card sleeve. volcanic tongue

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The Anastenaria is a traditional fire-walking ritual performed in some villages in NorthernGreece and Southern Bulgaria. The communities which celebrate this ritual are descended from refugees who entered Greece from EasternThrace following the Balkan Wars of 1911-12 and the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1923.

The Anastenaria are Orthodox Christians, however – in addition to the church rituals – they observe a unique annual ritual cycle, which begins on October 26 and ends on August 15 every year. The central figures of the tradition are Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, but all the significant days in this cycle coincide with important days in the Greek Orthodox calendar and are related to various Christian saints. The two major events in this cycle are two big festivals, one in January and particularly one in May, dedicated to these two saints. Each of the festivals lasts for 3 days and involves various processions, music and dancing, and an animal sacrifice. The festival culminates with a firewalking ritual, where the participants, carrying the icons of saints Constantine and Helen, dance ecstatically for hours before entering the fire and walking barefoot over the glowing-red coals, unharmed by the fire.

Each community of the Anastenaria has a special shrine known as the konaki, where their holy icons are placed, as well as the “signs” of the saints (‘’semadia’’), votive offerings and red kerchiefs attached to the icons. Here, on the Eve of the saints’ day, May 20 Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, they gather to dance to the music of the Thracian lyre and drum. After some time they believe that they may be "seized" by Saint Constantine and enter a trance. On the morning of the Saints' day, May 21, the gather at the konaki and proceed to a well to be blessed with holy water, and sacrifice animals. The rules about the nature of the beasts to be slain are precise, but differ from village to village. In the evening a fire is lit in an open space, and after dancing for some time in the konaki, the "anastenarides" go to it carrying their ikons. After dancing around it in a circle, individual anastenarides dance over the hot coals as the saint moves them. The ritual is also performed in January, during the festival of Saint Athanasius, and fire-walking is done indoors. *taken from wikipedia.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Troum - Darv Esh 10"

Troum is a duo located in Bremen, Germany, established in early 1997. The two members "Glit[S]ch" and "Baraka[H]" were active before in the influental ambient industrial group Maeror Tri which existed from 1988 to 1996.
Troum is the old german word for "dream". The dream seen as a central manifestation of the unconscious symbolizes the aim of Troum to lead the listener into a hypnotizing dream-state of mind, a pre-verbal and primal consciousness sphere. A thanks goes to Tzomborgha for knowing my sick appetite for endless war loops.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Topaz Rags - The Crown Center 7" (not not fun 2010)

West Coast ghost squad Topaz Rags stalk back into the deadlights, ...recorded in the heart of winter in a room with one blue light bulb, “The Crown Center” is pure nightprowler music: quaking bass, grime-jazz keys, dusty drums, witch choirs floating through the smog and into sleeping homes with the power lines cut. The sound of crime to come. The flip (“You Go On”) slips deeper into the psych-psycho psyche, a bleached-brain riff-rhythm grinding away endlessly while voices and electric piano stabs arc across the stereo field, raining ash. A grimmer twist on the Topaz formula, the dreamer’s dream turned dark. not not fun