Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Sludgelord on Anatomy of Habit

Monday, 19 January 2015

Anatomy of Habit - Ciphers + Axioms (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 3/11/2014
Label: Relapse Records

‘Ciphers + Axioms’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1). ‘Radiate and Recede’
2). ‘Then Window’

Anatomy of Habit is:

Theo Katsaounis | Percussion
Will Lindsay | Guitar
John McEntire | Drums
Kenny Rasmussen| Bass
Mark Solotroff | Vocals


This album is a masterpiece of huge noise. Anatomy of Habit has produced a musical titan composed of two halves: the rolling ‘Radiate and Recede’ & the intense ‘Then Window’. Anatomy of Habit simply roll with unrestrained mass in their sound, using what sounds like a stadium to push wave after wave of fuzz and bass over the listener. The songs aren't short jaunts through ideas either, but winding 20+ minute paths that wind through poetic ideas. The band is basically a super group, using members from other notable acts: Mark Solotroff (Bloodyminded), John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, Gastr Del Sol), Will Lindsay (Indians, Wolves in the Throne Room), Theo Katsaounis (Joan of Arc), and Kenny Rasmussen (ex Radar Eyes). These talented individuals have brought you an album that is closer to art, than just simply heavy music. I have minced words too long, let’s dive in!

The first epic, ‘Radiate and Recede’, is pretty spot on. The entire song is basically following a tidal pattern of having the guitars and, I think, string accompaniment roll in at measured times, to flow over everything. It's like God slowly rolling up the volume of universal life to just drown out petty humanity. It's somewhat akin to white noise, the repeating chords and notes just seem to blank out whatever is inside your head, while Solotroff simply gives an odd beauty with his nearly chant-like vocals. It’s a weird combination, but one that sticks in the listeners head pretty nicely. He doesn't alter his cadence, using a monotone baritone to deliver his simple lines, but it winds well with the building wall of noise and doom rolling around you. The vocals do change in a couple of spots, where he gets some scream time in, but nothing as terrible as screamo or other style so terrible. It arrives in time with a huge change in tempo and attitude with the band, and peaks to break into the lulls it so commands. The song, when at its simplest, uses percussion and minimal guitar to just leave a resounding space for Solotroff's voice to echo into infinity, which has to just knock angels out of their clouds. The ending of ‘Radiate and Recede’ is really heady, as it becomes more plodding doom, with a subtle transition from the earlier parts. It gets all kinds of heavy.

‘Then Window’ is quite different from ‘Radiate and Recede’, it starts with some heavy feedback, which then just morphs into differing textures and patterns. After about a minute of that, they go right into a heavy marching pattern, with the stringed half playing quite percussively with the drums. It has a purpose, and it's not stopping for anything. The vocals are in the same vein as ‘Radiate and Recede’, following a specific pattern and still that odd chant singing. This is by far my favorite song, as it has a bit more energy than the first song, and also because of the change in the last 7+ minutes of the song. The first 13 are more traditional doom and rock styled, as you have intense grooves with extremely hard delivery. It almost sounds like they had to get this last one out of their strings, so they went for broke on some sections. It goes immediately from groove city to light sections with minimal playing and more vocals. The lighter sections aren't to leave you hanging, as they slowly ramp up from behind to deliver right back into heaviness. The change happens at the 9 minute mark, where the song just starts fading out from the vocals, like they were all just sneaking out to leave Solotroff alone with himself, but then he stops on the repeated line of "Ciphers, and Axioms", and the song takes a rolling, ambient feel. It's like watching the baby float through 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s just epic. It’s rolling noise with an underlying riff right below it, probably best on certain chemicals. 

Overall, ‘Ciphers + Axioms’ by Anatomy of Habit is one of the best albums from last year, perfect for the heavy aficionado who likes to mix it up with their collection.

Words by: Hunter Young

You can pick up a CD/LP copy here.

For more information:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

BloodLust! January 2015 Update

The BloodLust! January 2015 Update has been sent to the mailing list. You may access it here: http://eepurl.com/bbMXDX

Friday, January 16, 2015

Chicago Reader on Anatomy of Habit

Anatomy of Habit
Anatomy of Habit

Anatomy of Habit, the Paver, Burned or Buried 

When: Fri., Jan. 23, 9 p.m. Price: $10 
Superheavy posteverything locals Anatomy of Habit have seen some heavy hitters pass through their ranks over the past few years: ex-members include Plague Bringer guitarist Greg Ratajczak, Disappears and Electric Hawk drummer Noah Leger, and former Cheer-Accident bassist Dylan Posa. But on this fall’s Ciphers + Axioms, their debut for Relapse Records, they prove that their current lineup is their strongest and scariest yet. Menacing and morose Bloodyminded vocalist Mark Solotroff continues to helm this devastating quintet, now with bassist Kenny Rasmussen (No Funeral), guitarist Will Lindsay (Indian, Wolves in the Throne Room), drummer John McEntire (Tortoise), and scrap-metal percussionist Theo Katsaounis (Joan of Arc). The two doomy, glacially paced tracks on Ciphers + Axioms grow across their 20 minutes or so from creeping, deliberate, hushed tones and calmly enunciated vocals into massive, explosive episodes—at the climax of the A side, “Radiate and Recede,” the band lays into a bombastic, sludgy freak-out while Solotroff plants himself firmly out front to let loose a bloodcurdling scream. Nightmarish and powerful, Ciphers + Axioms will be hard for anyone to top in 2015. This is a release party. —Luca Cimarusti

Empty Bottle  1035 N. Western Ave.   773-276-3600  emptybottle.com


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Crucial Blast on BLOODYMINDED "Within The Walls"

Crucial Blast has always spent time writing thoughtful reviews of BloodLust! releases and here is a look at the BLOODYMINDED "Within The Walls" album that we had not previously seen:

Still one of the key shapers of American power electronics, Chicago PE mainstays Bloodyminded return with their first new album in seven years, and it's one of the most harrowing industrial/noise albums of their career. Within The Walls is some of the grimmest material I've ever heard from the band, steeped in clinical electronic drones and waves of deeply unsettling dark ambience that move through uneasy psychological spaces. The album wastes no time in its effort to creep you out as the opener "All The Cities Are Occupied" layers those eerie dissonant drones and cold wheezing electronics over sounds of creaking, scraping metal, like the sound of a pick-axe being dragged down the length of some long, dank culvert, surrounded by bleak synthesizer sounds that have been summoned by David Reed of Luasa Raelon / Envenomist. But then they'll follow that up that with something like the Whitehouse-worthy blast of squealing feedback abuse and pandemonic derangement of the title track, a disorienting din of crazed voices shrieking and raving over an assault of pestilent fluttering distortion and severe speaker-shredding noise. The album often surges into that level of extreme, assaultive sound, traveling swiftly out of the passages of cold dark ambience into these vicious onslaughts of deformed synth noise and sputtering oscillators, becoming a churning backdrop of diseased drone and insectile chaos that takes that classic Whitehouse-influenced style of power electronics and twists it into something even more monstrous.

    But the focal point of Bloodyminded's bleakly violent vision on Within The Walls is not the harsh, ear-rending electronics, but actually the myriad of voices that appear together throughout the album, a legion of voices that evokes the interior pandemonium of a schizophrenic, the screeching garbled horror of tracks like "Night Strikes" teeming with a barely controlled violence, the nihilist lyrics spilling out in streams of surrealist horror as the voices shift between English and Spanish, gouts of guttural bellowing and sneering hatefulness, a multitude of psychotic howling and gnashing teeth that ceaselessly pan back and forth over the screaming malignant squeal and chirping electronics. It's only at the very end, when the band slips into a reworking of the Locrian song "Inverted Ruins" that the album transforms, as the coldly ambivalent synth melody that Sanford Parker weaves around the skull-scraping feedback slowly blossoms into a kind of mesmeric, malignant darkwave; in that final moment, Bloodyminded's high-end violence somehow morphs into some akin to a more atmospheric Skinny Puppy, a striking and wholly unexpected climax to the otherwise blistering aural abuse that makes up Walls.   © CRUCIAL BLAST

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mail Order Status

All pending orders - including those via the BloodShop! (Big Cartel), Bandcamp and Discogs - were mailed out today. I got a bit behind schedule again and I apologize for the slower than usual service, brought on by the increased volume of orders following the release of the new Anatomy of Habit LP.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Pitchfork on Anatomy of Habit

Anatomy of Habit

Ciphers + Axioms

Relapse; 2014

By Grayson Haver Currin; December 11, 2014


For the noise musician Mark Solotroff, Ciphers + Axioms ends in very familiar territory. For eight minutes, amplifiers and instruments scream the sort of feedback, static, and clipped tones that are endemic both to his caterwauling power-electronics band Bloodyminded and his long-running extreme experimental imprint, Bloodlust! The sounds grow evermore dense, ultimately forming a thicket of prevailing hiss. But beneath and around the din, a repetitive guitar riff—just a few notes, really, folding into each other via delay and reverb—illuminate the abrasion, flickering like the light of a warm cabin spotted through a snowstorm. It’s not an accessibility concession that the wonderfully barbaric Bloodyminded would dare make.

Ciphers + Axioms is, instead, the intriguing second album from Solotroff’s Chicago supergroup Anatomy of Habit. The album's dual tracks each clock in around 20 minutes, as did the paired cuts from their self-titled 2011 debut; a subsequent EP split those times into a still not-quite-concise half. Despite the lengths, though, Anatomy of Habit is Solotroff’s relative pop band. He speaks and sings instead of screams, and he moves in lockstep time to guitars, drums and bass, all sharing intentions beyond aural obliteration. Each of these songs has at least one hook you’ll be able to hum, as Solotroff’s strange and droll monotone echoes in your head. During Within the Walls, Bloodyminded’s most recent LP, Solotroff yelled lines like, "mounds of bodies lying unburied" and "air so fouled by the pungent stench of millions of dead children." If you encounter temporary cognitive dissonance while singing along to songs about science and seasons with his Mark Mothersbaugh-meets-They Might Be Giants intonation, just trust that you’re not the only one.

Solotroff has long been a very busy and involved collaborator, but in recent years, his partnership has added unexpected elements to pre-existing projects. He supplied, for instance, essential blasts of abrasion to From All Purity, the latest and best record from Chicago metal act Indian. And there’s Wrekmeister Harmonies, the slow-moving and cinematic collective that works between poles of orchestral splendor and doom furor. Aside from founder J.R. Robinson, Solotroff is one of the project’s sole stable and necessary elements. Such integration is key to Ciphers + Axioms. Only Solotroff and Kenny Rasmussen return from Anatomy of Habit’s earlier iteration, but the new members are copacetic by any standard: Will Lindsay, whose brawny riffs lead the aforementioned Indian, commandeers guitar, while indispensable Tortoise and session drummer John McEntire takes the kit. Joan of Arc’s Theo Katsaounis accents the beats with auxiliary percussion. Chicago metal stalwart Sanford Parker engineered the sessions in McEntire’s Soma Electronic Music Studios. This is an enviable cast of contributors.

Together, they are excellent. In particular, the rhythm section of McEntire, Katsaounis, and Rasmussen’s burly and distorted bass works as one of the record’s great assets. During "Radiate and Recede", they power ahead like a seasoned but smart doom band. They pull back in the perfect places, allowing Lindsay’s gnarled riffs and Solotroff’s enigmatic words to cut through their rests. After introducing "Then Window" with an unstable shock of feedback, Lindsay cycles subtly through a series of strong-arm riffs and phantom countermelodies. Katsaounis and McEntire match him in the background, adding touches of bells and woodblocks to drums that suggest an incoming infantry.

The occasional nature of Anatomy of Habit—in particular, this first-time lineup—cuts both ways. There’s a sense of discovery to Ciphers + Axioms, as the members seem to be negotiating their way through domains of post-rock and doom, math rock and post punk collectively. By record’s end, you want them to keep navigating. During the album, though, the nebulous configuration can produce frustrating results. "Radiate and Recede" depends too much on its start-and-stop, quiet-loud-and-louder structure, as the band flips again and again between loaded metal lurch, eerie ambient crawl, and mid-paced art-rock shuffle. A veteran group might get much the same result with an editing overhaul. That symptom also coincides with how Solotroff sounds a touch uncomfortable, or at least not fluid, in his new role as an enunciating frontman. The speak-sing spans of "Radiate and Recede" are forced and stiff, as if he were trying to raise his voice without screaming. He is more at ease and more convincing when he’s actually singing, as when he repeats the title phrase near the middle of the smoldering "Then Window". He airs those words as if to himself, a writer contemplating his own elliptical poetry aloud. And then the band drops into that long, droning finale, its squall wired by Lindsay’s alluring guitar line. You’re left with the suggestion of future possibilities for this take on Anatomy of Habit.