Well, it’s happened again; I’m so excited about an album that I’m reviewing it on the same day it came out. But Mire is so awesome that it’d be an injustice not to attempt to bring it to the attention of as many people as possible. It’s the debut full-length from the U. K. band Conjurer, and though they released an EP back in 2016 it’s the first thing I’ve heard from them. Needless to say, I was blown away. Though elements of various metal subgenres and the anthemic passion of post-hardcore can be found amidst Mire, the final sound is surprisingly unique, forging a new path through this range of styles that touches on each but remains distinct. The riffs are sometimes catchy and other times angular, always bolstered by thick, meaty production that gives everything its own weight in the mix. With emotional vocals shifting between guttural growls and invigorating screams, drums that go from pummeling blast beats to spacious doom hits, and a crushing heaviness that presides over every song, Mire is a crazy trip that I want to experience again and again.
Aside from the main reason I love Holy Grinder – the fact that they have probably one of the best band names I’ve ever encountered – they pretty much have everything I look for in grind nowadays. Cult of Extermination, their newest independently released album, encapsulates this perfect storm in thirteen brutal minutes. The vocals rip through the invigoratingly heavy mix just the right amount, the instrumentals are tight but never sound too polished, and the whole thing is shrouded in noise and grime yet every hit shakes me right to the bone. Holy Grinder have also somehow accomplished something that many of their contemporaries have not; they don’t take themselves too seriously, which is always a plus in any area of music, but they also take themselves seriously enough not to discredit their music as purely for shock value or awful humor. It’s not usually my modus operandi to talk about a band’s, for lack of a better word, “image” on equal footing with their music, because I usually don’t see it as being nearly as important, but it’s just so refreshing to encounter stuff in this genre without track names like “Fornicating in Pulverized Feces” or an album cover that depicts a similarly disgusting scene. That being said, Cult of Extermination is so pulverizingly awesome that I could probably look past all of that, but thankfully I don’t have to.
Grant Evans is a ridiculously prolific artist, releasing an inordinate amount of music over the last ten or so years under his own name, various aliases, and as a part of collaborations. Recently, most of his output has been focused on the Adversary Electronics imprint, which Evans founded with his wife Rachel – also a musician, who goes by the name Motion Sickness of Time Travel – in 2015. Despite the label’s catalog consisting only of both artists’ solo work and their duo project Quiet Evenings, they’ve released over fifteen tapes. Ergot Dogs is one of three Adversary releases in a new 2018 cycle, and is among Evans’ most ambitious material. Immersive field recording collages and rough electronics dominate the thirteen short tracks, soft and jagged textures continuously clashing to amazing effect. I’m never quite sure whether to feel comforted or scared; I suppose it’s a testament to Ergot Dogs‘ uniqueness that I end up experiencing both at the same time. Despite never having been anywhere in rural Georgia, the tape instantly transports me there. I sit in the dilapidated old house depicted on the cover, as the wind howls and the forest groans and sighs around me, wondering where all those voices are coming from; then the sun shines on my face through an open window and somehow everything is beautiful again.
I have a strange relationship with hip-hop. I certainly listen to a decent amount of it, and many of my all-time favorite albums could be classified as hip-hop, but it differs from many of the other genres I enjoy in that, aside from a few exceptions, I am much pickier about what I consider to be “good.” This was made painfully apparent throughout most of last year, during which I only really enjoyed one release (lojii & Swarvy’s excellent collaboration Due Rent). 2018 has unfortunately been the same; that is, until I discovered Shit Don’t Rhyme No More.
It’s usually a good sign when an interesting/odd sample is used right off the bat. In this case, the woozy collage of leading track “Swazi” is built on Björk’s “Pleasure Is All Mine,” also the first song from its respective album. On my first listen, the inclusion felt bizarre and forced, but it’s since grown on me substantially. “Swazi” is one of all but two of the ten tracks that were produced by E L U C I D himself, and is far from the only one constructed around a strange sample/homage; the beat “Rick Ross Moonwalk” bears a strong similarity to “Machine Gun” by Portishead, and on “All of a Sudden We Were in a Vampire Bar,” the EP’s closing track, the iconic vocoder of Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” emerges. Normally, I’d be annoyed by so much transparent sampling, but each one actually feels at home amidst the other production choices, forming abstract instrumentals that shift and contort under E L U C I D’s cryptic verses and surprisingly catchy hooks. I’m so excited to once again fall in love with a new hip-hop album, and I’m hoping we get a full-length from this promising new artist soon.
This is the brief yet very intriguing description of Care Work on Soft Error’s Bandcamp page. Even though, in my opinion, music can never be supported entirely by its concept, this one really piqued my interest. Thankfully, the album is every bit as engaging as its premise would imply, the odd sonic palette creating a truly unique atmosphere. Leonard the robot’s presence is always identifiable, the sounds of its movement and other unknown activities emerging from lethargic clouds of circuit drones and effects. Everything sounds very soft, almost organic; a surprise considering almost every element is electronic. Bloor also plays the Cocoquantus, a bizarre custom instrument that I’ve only ever seen used by Toshiji Mikawa in an incredibly loud noise set, so I have no idea what sound it’s making here. All this uncertainty, however, only adds to the experience. Care Work is mysterious, haunting, and oddly lonely; like I’m alone in a house, but it’s not mine, and there are things moving around just out of my line of sight that are neither malicious nor benevolent. A fascinating release to be sure, and if you’re skeptical because of my vague abstract descriptions, don’t take my word for it.
Side note: I accidentally discovered that this works well as a soundtrack to Brakhage’s Dog Star Man.
1. Asterisk* – “Dromology” from Dogma I: Death of a Dromologist (31G, 2000)
2. Last of England – “Virgin & Juice” from Noisecore Tape (NNNCo, 2012)
3. Gowl – “McKenzie Grimes” from BuzzBox (self-released, 2013)
4. SOUNDING – “Jesus Junkies” from Trepanation (Dark Trail, 2017)
5. You’re Wrong – “Inbreeding of Garbage Culture” through “Barren Womb” from Discography 2016 (self-released, 2018)
6. The Gerogerigegege – excerpt from Instruments Disorder (Mediacapsule, 1994)
7. Sete Star Sept – “Disposal of the Dead” from Revision of Noise (Fuck Yoga, 2010)
8. World – Why Who What (Meaningless Sounds, 1995)
9. Senseless Apocalypse – “Slough” from Setsuna (Conspiracy Evolve, 1997)
10. Sissy Spacek – “Behest” from Disfathom (Helicopter, 2016)
11. Jazkamer – “Art Is Magic Delivered From the Lie of Being Truth” from Art Breaker (Smalltown Superjazz, 2008)
12. Penis Geyser – untitled side of split with Sete Star Sept (SPHC, 2014)
13. Arsedestroyer – “Teenass Revolt 15” from Teenass Revolt (Devour, 2001)
14. Fear of God – “Fools Prayer” from Pneumatic Slaughter (Atrocious, 1992)
15. The Locust – “Moth-Eaten Deer Head” from Peel Sessions LP (Radio Surgery, 2010)
16. TheDownGoing – “hurtnone” from Untitled EP (self released, 2011)
17. Brigada do Odio – “Brasil” from Botas, Fuzis, Capacetes / Brigada do Ódio (New Face, 1985)
18. Sore Throat – “Filth Chain” from Abraham’s Ear (Ecocentric, 1992)
19. Kusari Gama Kill – “Questionable Content” from Chaos Surge (self-released, 2010)
20. Parlamentarisk Sodomi – tracks 1-42 from split with Gynekologene (Snack Ohm Tapes, 2017)
21. Insect Warfare – tracks 1-27 from Noise Grind Power Death (625 Thrashcore, 2009)
22. Holy Grinder – “Tomb of Disgust” from Cult of Extermination (self-released, 2018)
23. Teknokrater – Noise Against Racism and Homophobia (self-released, 2014)
Listen to a recording of the show here:
It’s a special thing when an album makes you feel like a little kid again. This profound effect could arise from nostalgia or something even less tangible, a beautiful sense of innocence and carefree wonder that most (including me) sadly seem to have lost. With The Honeybear, Warren Hampshire and Greg Foat seem to have uncovered a relic of childhood daydreams, of imaginative adventures in a sun-drenched forest; it’s a record that perfectly captures a freedom that we may never again experience. Described as a musical representation of a nonexistent children’s book, The Honeybear is comprised of exquisite chamber folk arrangements, neo-medieval melodies, and gorgeous ambient sections. Interspersed throughout the “chapters” are subtle inclusions of field recordings collected around the Isle of Wight, introducing a pleasingly natural atmosphere. Though the record is entirely instrumental, even the least melodic elements seem to be more expressive than words ever could be. Whether you follow along with the story or are content to simply lose yourself amidst the undeniable warmth, The Honeybear is something very special.