Saturday, October 15, 2005

Aquarius New Releases

Here are some releases from Aquarius that have caught my eye. My comments are in italics/bold.

Leviathan aren't your normal underground metal - more noise/wierdness quotient to them...

album cover LEVIATHAN Howl Mockery (Moribund Cult) cd 14.98
Everyone wants a glimpse into the blackened Leviathan vaults, containing the legendary 20 or so cd-r's and cassettes recorded and released during the years 2000-2002, early demos that played more like full-on proper albums, hell they WERE full-on albums, highlights of which were released as the two disc Verrater (soon to be repressed!) on tUMULt a few years back. But Wrest from Leviathan has made it clear that those were then, and averaging a new release every few months, including full lengths and splits, is now. Well, that is, except for this. Probably your only chance, outside Verrater, to hear where it all began. Howl Mockery At The Cross is an essential shard of the mysterious obscured blackened history of Leviathan, and while sonically a bit rougher than the more recent records, it's still a dark and twisting, buzzing and howling serpentine trip through the black, bleak and brutal sonic world of Wrest and Leviathan. Some of these tracks were actually first choices to be included on Verrater, but at the time Wrest had planned on re-recording them. But with each new record, and after a few aborted attempts, the idea of going back to old songs seemed less and less appealing. So this is now the only place to hear those amazing tracks. Lots of that blackened buzz we love so much, but as with all Leviathan records, there are plenty of distinctly un-BM parts all over the place: dense mathrockisms, blissed out droning breakdowns, sludgy doom, bizarre times signatures, impossibly complex drumming, mournful minor key melodies, that immediately recognizable heavily affected demonic howl, all twisted into a gorgeously dark and demented, moody and murky blackened squall. Even includes a Death In June cover, properly drenched in buzz and blackness, so much so that it sounds like it could have been penned by Wrest himself. Striking metallic silver cover with the Leviathan upside down cross and dripping moon logo.
MPEG Stream: "Lycanthropus Rex"
MPEG Stream: "The Axis And Maw Of Inferno, Mine"

My stomach rarely agrees with a lot of the Pitchfork/Stereogum/Fluxblog crap-hype (even if it's not always record industrie hype) but Dungen's "Panda" is among my fave cuts of this past summer (and Ta Det ain't no slouch overall) so I'll probably take a swing at this reissue of their 2nd release even if it seems a bit TOO retro - and probably this and their first release is where they got that tag - Ta Det in my mind is NOT retro but a whole new beast.

Not to take away business from Aquarius but CD Universe has a much better price for Dungen if you aren't feeling too philantropic towards the best music store in San Francisco.

album cover DUNGEN Stadsvandringar ( Astralwerks) cd 15.98
Huzzah! This is not only finally available again, but it is now also a much more economically priced domestic release! We used to stock the Swedish import, back before Dungen got popular enough to have US releases, but it went out of print pretty much exactly just before most people over here realized they wanted one. For all of you who have been digging Dungen's much-hyped third album Ta Det Lugnt or the recent cd reissue/expansion of their self-titled debut, but haven't yet had the opportunity to delve into the psych-pop wonders found on Dungen's second album Stadsvandringar, well here it is at long last!! It's probably our favorite Dungen release, at least as good or better than those other records. Here's what we said about it back in 2003 when we first listed it as an import:
Dungen's Stadsvandringar is Allan's new favorite cd (favorite new cd?). After a couple listens, he was well and truly hooked. Dungen is a Swedish band and what they play is Swedish retro psych-pop. Really really good Swedish retro psych-pop! This disc is, apparently, Dungen's second album after a vinyl-only effort that started a buzz. It looks and sounds perfectly '60s (or early '70s) with a front cover photo-collage in which wunderkind bandleader/singer/guitarist/songwriter Gustav Ejstes could be a dead ringer for a long-haired Owen Wilson. Musically, it sure casts a spell that that's definitely not-of-our-era... with sugary vocal refrains, wild fuzz guitars, Hammond B-3 organ riffing, lush arrangements, and some quite lovely flute bits (gettin' a bit proggy there, nothing wrong with that). Hints of trad Swedish folk music show up as well, not unlike that Arbete Och Fritid, one of Dungen's Svenska psych-prog-folk forefathers. The vocals are all in Swedish, and are sorta nasal, but good. Overall, this disc is just magical, convincingly retro yet standing on its own songwriting-wise. Melodically it's just as irresistable as the latest from Dungen's pal Bjorn Olsson, also reviewed here recently, but of course Dungen is more of a psychedelic rock thing. Imagine, maybe, if you can, something somewhere between the Kinks and Caravan, circa '69, with Swedish singing... Or just take Allan's word for it, this is great!
MPEG Stream: "Stadsvandringar"
MPEG Stream: "Solen Stiger Upp Del 1 & Del 2"

album cover MONO / PELICAN split (Temporary Residence) lp 11.98
As some of you already probably know, this limited 12" is a split release on both NYC based post rock label Temprorary Residence, and now-L.A. based thinking man's metal label Hydra Head. Accordingly there are about 7 or 8 different versions, some on Hydra Head, some on TRL, some with different colored labels, but you know what? That's just tough. We have to draw the line somewhere, and it's now right here. We have about 30 copies of the Temporary Residence version, which is already out of print. When we run out of these, we might get some of the HH version(s). Not sure which ones. This collectable vinyl business is beginning to obscure the whole reason we all buy records, because we love music, and we love to hear amazing music, and this record is absolutely fantastic. So try to stop worrying about the color of the vinyl or the number pressed or any of that stuff and just pick this up because it's so damn beautiful. Pelican deliver a massive slice of gorgeously grandiose post rock, sweeping and emotional, melancholy and but weirdly hopeful with its minor key arrangement. Not a trace of 'metal' to be found here. Which is fine by us. Imagine a slightly heavier version of the song that plays during the final scene at the end of the movie, after the boy has gotten the girl and we finally realize everything is going to be okay. It sounds a little like that. Really beautiful. The second track makes up for it though, as James Plotkin (Khanate, Joy of Disease) takes Pelican at their dirgiest / sludgiest and adds tons of extra grind and grit and grrr and effects and crumbling distortion and malfunctioning electronics. Like your favorite Pelican song dipped in blood and rolled in the dirt. Wow.

Mono, who are often touted as being metal, stick closer to their mighty epic post rock sound with a sidelong track that is as Godspeed You Black Emperor as a non-Godspeed band is likely to get. Brooding and melancholy, building to a huge explosive coda, before drifting back into a creeping maudlin dirge, that sort of drifts and fades into the dark. So nice. And as we mentioned before, far too limited.

album cover BELIEVER October 2005 (McSweeney's) magazine 8.00
Latest issue of what is quickly becoming one of our favorite magazines (for all things political, musical and all the other stuff we like to read about). This time around: the eerie similarities between the '20's horror masterpiece Nosferatu and the Bush administration, Mamet examines three unlikely geneologies of bastard idioms, some popular 'meat writing', the story of John T. Smith's legendary biography and his quest for vengeance, interviews with Bob Mould, David Sedaris, Peter Fitzpatrick, Lorrie Moore, Nick Hornby reads Voltaire, how to build a golem and so much more!

album cover FALL, THE The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004 (Castle / Sanctuary) 6cd 67.00
Besides the Sun City Girls, Guided by Voices (in the nineties) and Elton John (in the early seventies) few artists have been as prolific as The Fall. Legendary radio man/music enthusiast/art supporter John Peel once mused that the only thing he feared about death, was that he would miss the newest Fall release. Point blank: HE LOVED THE FALL. And since his BBC weekly radio show always featured a live recording by a band of his choice, he showed his love by featuring The Fall more than any other band EVER. For over 25 years he had The Fall on his show more than the Undertones, more than T-Rex (and everything Marc Bolan), more than any other band. And what's so interesting about The Fall, is that there are so many different versions of the band within that quarter century, shifts in lineup, sound, outlook, but always remaining obviously and distinctly The Fall: the early years, the Brix years, the post Brix "disco" years, the return to form yearsÓ and yet, with every era, Peel was able to capture a rawness and immediacy that, in a way, defined the band better than any of their recordings. Thus, this relatively inexpensive six CD set with 47 page booklet is a true treasure. Not all the hits are re-recorded here, but each and every version of the band is represented and the sessions scream off of each cd with a freshness that will certainly and permanently convert any non-Fall enthusiast and cause any and all Fall enthusiasts to stay indoors listening for the next month or two. Beware...some of the versions of your favorite Fall songs are blissfully extended and completely twisted and there just may be some songs you have not heard elsewhere. This box set is a must-have item (right up there with the Stooges' Funhouse Box).


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