Bardo Pond – Peace on Venus: Bardo Pond is the progression of Prog Rock. In the midst of uninspired pop music and cookie-cutter rock n’ roll, this band is producing music that is truly innovative, a sort of jazz-inspired deluge of noise with only vague roots in the rock of old. The instrumentation is simple, but the sounds bursting forth from your speakers are anything but. Like some demonic slave-driver, the drummer relentlessly leads the band on its death march, symbols crashing like the crack of a whip, over and over and over. The bass curdles through the air in a torrent of droning distortion like a far off growl from some beast. Then the guitar comes crashing down on you from above like an ocean wave, battering your body against the rocks until you’re reduced to miniscule grains of sand. The destruction never stops because the drums won’t allow it. The fluttering vocals are your wretched soul as it rises from the wreckage and gets sucked down into the pit of hell. Sometimes you can hear a flute wafting through the chaos like the last dying dove in heaven. Perhaps there’s peace on Venus, but on Earth paradise has been lost, consumed by the serpent. This album was recorded as a full band in live takes at Bardo Pond’s home studio the Lemur House. It’s more psychedelic than I made it seem. Think of it as Jethro Tull being swallowed up by Motörhead (I bet you didn’t know Lemmy used to be in a space rock band called Hawkwind). SHILL
PS: This recording is nowhere to be found for download, not for free that is. However, it is on Spotify so I highly recommend that you stream it there.
Recommended Tracks: 1. “Kali Yuga Blues”, 3. “Fir”, 4. “Chance”
RIYL: Crystal Antlers, Kraan, Spacemen 3
SOVIET SOVIET – Fate: These hip Italians have a distinct songwriting formula; they’ve got the sensual doom and gloom ofDisintegration-era Cure (the bass line on ‘Gone Fast’ sounds like an up-tempo ‘Pictures of You’), the post-punk energy and introspection of Joy Division, and an impassioned sensibility not unlike that of the Smiths on speed. The bass tone on this record doesn’t appear without chorus effect, and locks right into drum beats that are full of compressed snares and 16th note hi-hat patterns. Trebly and reverb-y guitar leads glimmer over Giometti’s voice, which sits nicely in the mix between the guitars and rhythm section. Speaking of his voice, one of the first things I noticed is the uncanny resemblance between Andrea Giometti’s voice and Interpols’ Paul Banks. The wavering baritone is impossible to miss, and considering the stylistic similarities as well, one might easily mistake Fate for a Banks side project. The listening duration could use a little more dynamic/breathing room—every song doesn’t necessarily sound identical, however it wouldn’t be easy to differentiate each track after a first listen. Nevertheless, it doesn’t cease to be emotionally dense and intellectually intriguing. The guitar and bass melodies are very well thought out, they use effects tastefully, and most importantly they succeed in creating a mood that is definitively nostalgic. It’s a bit depressing but also kind of soothing; a bittersweet dosage of reality, blurring the line between a haunting existentialism and unrequited bliss. James
Recommended Tracks: 2, 7, 8
RYIL: New Order, The Cure, The Horrors
Danny Brown – Old: Yeah okay, this came out a few months ago but we’re adding it now ya’ll! The Adderall Admiral has returned with an album dissimilar to the splendid “XXX” since homie is just at a different place in his life. The album is divided into 2 sections: Side A and Side B, exploring the dichotomy of his fame. Side A is deep and emotional with Danny rapping about his truly fucked up childhood and Side B is the “party” side, something you will hear wub-wubbing from the nearest lowrider. He parties, dips, fucks, and boozes to rid his conscience of the things he’s done in his past. Danny is at the climax of his musical innovation. “Old” is not referring to his age, but rather digs at everyone’s frustrations in asking for the “Old Danny Brown.” Featured producers and artists include Paul White, Skywlkr, Darq E Freaker, Schoolboy Q, A$AP Rocky, and Ab-Soul. Also, I must mention that “The Return” is an ode to Outkast’s “Return of the G,” which is DOPEEE. I’m not elevating Danny Brown to Andre 3000 level… but this album is great. In my personal experience, it’s one that grows on you.
Om Unit – Threads: Another week, another blast of dance music that likes to push the needle above 140 BPM. UK producer Jim Coles has severed ties with his hip-hop moniker DJ 2tall and rebranded himself as Om Unit. Fans of the recent Machinedrum and DJ Rashad adds should find plenty to marvel over on Threads (especially on the back half). High-intensity footwork patterns provide a grid to which bright synth motifs and rumbling sub-bass cling; the roiling attack of “Governor’s Bay” feels like a companion piece to “Gunshotta” from Vapor City. None of this is to say that Coles is derivative, since he switches things up enough to distinguish his personal aesthetic from contemporaries. Although I was primed to expect a one-note slab of JUNGLE REVIVAL throughout, color me surprised to find the ghost of DJ 2tall still lurking in this material. Opener “Folding Shadows” and the overcast “Healing Rain” lope along to Dilla-esque backbeats, allowing Coles’ pristine sound design to breathe in a way it can’t when batted around by unrelenting drum breaks. Clocking in at 61 minutes, the album feels a little overstuffed with half-baked guest vocalists (2, 4, 9, 15), but many of these tracks are among the finest of the year in this genre. ZN
Recommended Tracks: “Jaguar”, “Healing Rain”, “Wall of Light”