Saturday, July 25, 2009

Views of Locrian

(Courtesy of the band - Click to enlarge)

Locrian "Drenched Lands" View 1

Locrian "Drenched Lands" View 2

Money in the Park

I went to see Helen Money at the Pritzker Pavillion in Millenium Park. It was well worth the early start to the day, as she played a noon show. I made it to the fugly Gehry bandshell just in time, with a few folks in tow. Alison played a great 45-minute set. Some full-on doomier stuff and some more (almost) uplifting pieces. Capped it off with a tasty lunch at Cafecito and a browse through The Art Institute. They have some nice Bellmer drawings hanging on the first floor, right now...

Cassette Porn (Nightmares)

Nightmares - Cassette (Edition of 100)
(Click image to enlarge)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Detective Locrian

The Gumshoe Grove discusses both formats of Locrian's "Drenched Lands"

I shouldn't be listening to this right now. It's 7 a.m. and I've barely managed to scratch myself, much less take in a harrowing doom-drone from one of Chicago's most inhospitable bands, Locrian.

But that is just what I must do (don't ask questions, just accept that I have to review this before my baby daughter wakes up). Truth be told, I've been trying to take the journey with Locrian nigh a few weeks now and I've never managed to sit through the entirety of Drenched Lands, their official full-length debut on Small Doses Records (buy it HERE or get the vinyl+3"-CD version, from Bloodlust Records, HERE or, if you're overseas, buy HERE).

Maybe it's because the thing is 64-odd minutes of wading panic with a 30-plus-minutes "bonus" track tacked on; maybe it's because I listen to a lot of music while driving, which is a horrible environment for Locrian; or maybe it's because I've unconsciously avoided taking on this lumbering beast.

Now that I'm strapped into my seat and forcefeeding myself this hovering behemoth, I realize why people are rushing to snatch up the remaining LPs out of 200 made: Because Locrian fill a highly specific niche in the world of metal, doom, drone, hardcore and noise.

Most of the "tunes" start innocently enough, usually with clean guitar strumming/picking, church bells, or the ol' standby, synths. If you're looking for a quick cash-in, get ready to take a deep breathe because you're gonna have to hurry-up-and-wait for at least a few minutes before the deluge slaps you upside the skull.

The deluge I speak of often consists of a strangely trebly -- but no less effective -- barbed-wire tangle of feedback, scratchy black-metal screaming, digital dissonance, and other such noise that will hover over your stereo like a satanic cirrus cloud until Drenched Lands is through bombarding your speakers with acid rain.

The entire five-song cycle rewards patience, but "Greyfield Shrines", at a 30:10 running time, takes even more restraint, and yet it will furnish you with an even bigger payoff if you stick with it. The only catch is you can't try to accomplish anything while imbibing; as I mentioned, don't try to drive, skate or even walk while listening to this jagged shard of dark, lest your ears get sliced and diced.

It's much better to sit back with bass-heavy headphones and let the static energy run through you. Especially sick are the whirring puddles of bass fluid dripped onto "Greyfield Shrines," along with a looped effect snippet and a general outline of white noise.

I could go on and on about this, using adjectives like "dark," "dank" and "demonic" (not to mention Locrian's forbearers like SunnO))) and peers like Pussygutt and Rakhim, both on the great 20 Buck Spin label) ...

But I won't. Listening to Drenched Lands for yourselves will do a lot more good for you -- and the underground music world.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Status - 7/23

- I did a Post Office run this afternoon and all outstanding paid orders are in the mail

- Along with the metal/drone titles listed on Monday, I have been doing a deep dive into the recently issued Siouxsie and the Banshees at the BBC 3CD+DVD set

- Those in Chicago might want to stop by the open studio of photographer extraordinaire,
Ben Syverson -- who has taken many excellent photographs of BLOODYMINDED (here and here) and of me performing solo -- tomorrow (Thursday July 23) from 7:00 - 10:00 PM at Feather Loft (Studio 303, 355 N Laflin Street, Chicago, IL 60607 ). Another 15 or so artists will also be opening their studios to the public


From The Ear-Conditioned Nightmare

Here's a disc I got a ways back but never got around to for whatever reason (i.e. general chaos) but that surely deserves some words. Sent to me by the group, this one is another fine example of the Bloodlust! imprint doing what they do best: long and languid affairs that tend toward the doom and gloom but always offer more in the way of general depth. Think Locrian, Prurient, Bloodyminded, etc. Well this one's no different, if even a bit more toward the light end of the spectrum, offering a nice sparkling drone work that's as well constructed as it is immersive.

"Double Gyres" opens the disc on a shimmering note, offering some real cross-current glides with some heavy electronic atmospherics thrown in for good measure. Every line is treated with real care here, always moving if ultimately stagnent. Rather than just laying all the cards down and letting them get oggled though, the duo really constructs some fine and careful stuff. Steve Fors and Chris Miller really dabble on the edges of so many mediums with this piece alone, gliding along on a chasm, the darkness below and the sun above, and a hilltop meadow right beside.

The whole disc is this good though, as the unit uses cheapo keyboards, synths, guitar (even lap steel), etc to create a sound that draws on hi and low fidelity. The Casio burnout opening "The Awful Rowing Toward God" turns into a total scorcher before charring itself out while "Klonopin" looms along some electric wire ariel currents. "We'll Wield Fire," another scorcher, sits on the crackling drones of cheapo keyboards while ultra crisp stutterings pulse ahead--the mix, recorded as well as it is here, really works to fill out the entire sound, allowing it to avoid the trappings of both aesthetics while pulling on each strength. This one really cooks too, occupying some Indiana Jones trudge ahead, grind your teeth and deal heroism. Following that with "Ondine" makes sense too, as it expands way out in a real lofty, halo fuzz that serves as a nice come down before the closing "A Vision" fades in only to scrape itself down some flood pipe with electric razors as handles. Beautiful, but a hell of a way to go out. Just sharp all around, real top notch stuff, and it looks to have been produced in some real numbers. Killer. And how bout that entangled sheep adorning the cover?

- Henry Smith

Rock-A Rolla on TDS OGF

From Rock-A Rolla Issue 21

Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck – Champagne & Biological Women 7” (BloodLust!)
These guys are giving a further ugly face-the-music facelift to the sound of rootless industrial. Despite feeling like a nastily themed four-tracker, it sounds cleaner/clearer then their preceding works. The metal on metal tool work is more prescribed and purposeful, the vocals just as threatening. Two sides of the methodical torching of your cities slums soundtracked by steady-handed power electronics.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Locrian at Avant-Garde Metal

Locrian "Drenched Lands" reviewed on the site:

When Night
Is Mirrored in Oil on a
Parking Lot Surface
Leaving Behind a Trail
Transferred to the Ground

Sacrificed Upon the Altar
Karst Sterile
Civilization Crawls
Over the Country
Salting the Fields
Where Myth & Causeway Collide

Ghosts are wailing and winds are howling. White noise hissing through the air waves interrupted by automated transmissions calling out to no-one. A mid-west city ravaged by flood, dried up now, emptied of human presence, left to decompose and crumble.
A wretched creature, stumbling on an empty highway, who was human just a few years ago screaming his lungs out at night to the ghosts of those who are gone now. They never answer. No-one left to hear. The complete horror of the emptiness.
Slow melodies drift by like scattered grey clouds, evolving from nothing into nothing, the few keys and chiming bells appearing almost mockingly in the sparse, ghastly humanity, beckoning spectres and mirages. Like a nightmarish early KRAFTWERK. Jarring screeching guitar feedback, soothing drones. The desolate angst of XASTHUR and EARTH corroded and shrunk into a distant, almost abstract echo. Black metal and drone drained of every human aspect. Everything is distant, desolate, empty, post-apocalyptic. Read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" and imagine a soundtrack; "The Drenched Lands" is not far away.
The centre-piece of the information pamphlet I received quite illuminates this LP. LOCRIAN's equipment set up symmetrically - almost ritually, as if by some sentient worshipper not knowing their functions - on an empty parking lot overgrown with weeds. Three amplifiers, three guitars, three keyboards, a semicircle of pedals, abandoned and left behind in front of a crumbling shopping mall, overthrown by nature's unavoidable and unforgiving entropy. Sad, spectral, sequestered, beautiful; LOCRIAN's "The Drenched Lands" is a delightful urban nightmare caught after the ravening.


Decider on Locrian

From: Decider (an Onion publication)

The best local music of ’09—so far

Locrian - Drenched Lands

Ambient experimental duo Locrian patiently established its presence in Chicago's noise and metal scenes by issuing preview CD-Rs at shows before its official full-length, Drenched Lands, dropped earlier this year. If nothing else, Locrian knows the value of patience—the kind that horror-movie directors use to milk tension and dread out of every possible moment on screen.

Lands starts off with detuned guitars playing sorrowful, suspended guitar chords, but they're eventually engulfed by buzzing, encroaching synth-noise. From there, pieces like “Ghost Repeater” slowly feed on instruments so drenched in distortion and delay that they sound like the air-raid sirens of Armageddon. If that sounds like a frightening listening proposition, well, no argument.

But because there’s no percussion on Drenched Lands, and the tempos don’t rise above a sepulchral crawl, there’s something strangely soothing about it—even when the band is screaming black-metal bloody murder over minor-key organs. Additionally, the desolate serenity of even the most chaotic of tracks sees that melody shines through (“Epicedium”). For the most part, though, Drenched Lands is unholy calm after the post-apocalyptic storm. Grade: A


From: The One True Dead Angel

Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck -- "Champagne and Biological Women" 7" single [BloodLust!]

Punishment time has arrived again, with four more short bursts of audio hate across one seven-inch single. With an aesthetic that combines harsh electronics, intermittent and unexpected shifts in volume, and a depraved sense of humor, TDSOGF is consistently responsible for some of the most genuinely obnoxious and harrowing noise around today, and this single is no exception. There are some surprises this time around, though; after the initial screech-driven attack of "covered in shit," the second track -- "down in the dirt" -- consists of squealing electronics over an analog-synth rhythm that could have been lifted straight from a doom metal record, forming a unique and interesting mind-meld of two wildly disparate genres. On the b-side, "still erect (... and definitely not leaving)" opens with scratchy noises and more of the brooding analog synth rhythms before exploding into grating white noise and sounds like concrete blocks being hurled through plate glass windows, while the amusingly-titled "mark solotroff built my hotrod" (a not-so-subtle nod to the Bloodust! label head) combines a groaning subsonic rumble with ear-raping feedback and ends with a droll sample about the perils of success over a static loop of monochromatic ugliness. As usual, the only bad part is how fast it all goes by -- the entire single takes less than ten minutes to play out, including the time it takes to flip the vinyl. Mastered by James Plotkin (who's everywhere these days, it seems) and limited to 200 copies in a rude full-color sleeve.

Post-Sabbath Metal and Drone

Asphyx "Death...The Brutal Way"
Embrace of Thorns "Atonement Ritual"
Gog "Mist from the Random More"
Headdress "Lunes"
Teeth of the Sea "Orphaned by the Ocean"
Voivod "Infini"
Yob "The Great Cessation"

Scumearth in Peepland

Alonso/Scumearth - Live at Zarata Fest - Bilbao, Spain - 2009
Scumearth - Live at Zarata Fest - Bilbao, Spain - 2009 -

(Courtesy of

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pharmakon + Wierd in Fader

From Fader's Freak Scene column:

Freak Scene #40

In this edition of Freak Scene, a still China-living Jamie Johns runs down what she’s missing in New York, highlights noisemaker Pharmakon and gets us an exclusive mix from Xeno and Oaklander.

Summer is probably the worst time to be out of New York City, as there seems to be nothing but great shows, fests, barbecues and the like happening every week. While it feels like 106 degrees outside here in Shanghai and I am still suffering from jet lag, which means I have seen Martian Child and To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday three to five times each on HBO Asia, I will be doing a complete rundown of Chinese Freak Scene happenings in the near future. I will soon be hitting Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing, so except a rundown shortly. Until then, here’s a taste of what I am missing back west.

The first missed fest was the Woodsist/Captured Tracks 2-day Fourth of July blow out. The FADER team had it covered, which you can check out here.

The second missed fest was the New York Eye and Ear Festival. A number of groups I have written about over the past few months performed: Axolotl, John Wiese, Liturgy, Telecult Powers, Drunkdriver, Total Abuse, Magik Markers, Led Er Est and Martial Canterel. Besides a great lineup, there was also a record fair and a program of female filmmakers, which included Sarah Lipstate from Noveller and Liz Wendelbo from Xeno and Oaklander. In honor of the NY Eye and Ear Fest, I asked Xeno and Oaklander, who mesmerized me at No Fun, to create a playlist for the column. Besides the presentation of Liz Wendelbo’s films, X&O member Sean McBride’s solo outfit, Martial Canterel, performed. Jam on their playlist below:

Xeno and Oaklander Mix for Freak Scene
Cleaners from Venus - This Rainy Decade
Jon St. James - Trans-Atlantic
Epee Du Bois - Misery
Lister - The Boogabe
Ann Summer - Ann Summer III
Xeno and Oaklander - Celeste
Twilight Ritual - Somewhere in My Heart
Resistance - The Gash
Led Er Est - Unkept Area
Nagamatzu - Magic
Automelodi - Schema Corporel
Sleep Museum - Unknown Song
Glenn Winter - Herrens Svar
Martial Canterel - Shrapnelle
Staccato Du Mal - Addiction
Magic de Spell - And the Burned Puppet

Perhaps the performance/fest I am the most bummed to miss is the Burning Fleshtival at Red Light District in Far Rockaway, Brooklyn. It’s happening July 24th and 25th and tickets are $8 a night. Sure, it’s a decent journey, but you can get there via the subway and it is by the beach. I would be at this thing all day and all night if I was in New York, so you have no excuse to miss such a brutal lineup. Highlights include Halflings, Sickness, Sewer Goddess, Reviver, Body Collector and Pharmakon, plus a few acts which I, admittedly, have yet to hear, which makes me all the more bummed to miss this. Halfings is two-thirds of my favorite group, Yellow Tears. Sickness needs no introduction—one of the most complex and merciless noise acts around! The internet says there will be events during the day as well. This is definitely not to be missed.

I have been meaning to write about Pharmakon for quite some time after watching the footage from her performance at the weekly Wierd party a few months ago, but I was waiting for a release to be in print. Although her earliest releases are long sold out, BloodLust! has reissued three crucial tracks and an unreleased song on a new CD EP. The best one is called Xia Xinfeng, which takes its name from a Chinese woman who killed her lover with rat poison delivered through a kiss. Pharmakon is Margaret Chardiet and the material is ferocious and cruel. It’s Chardiet’s vocals that really make the material unforgettable.I have been waiting to hear something completely and utterly deranged from an active female noise, not just experimental, artist and this is it. Plus, the cover art of the new EP reminds me of Babes in Toyland’s Fontanelle. Compare this and this. [ed. note: Cindy Sherman art on Babes in Toyland changed my life] I do not joke around about Babes in Toyland, so this release gets automatic bonus points.

Find out more about Burning Fleshtival here and buy the self-titled Pharmakon EP from BloodLust.

Send your tapes/LPs/7”s/lathes/CDs /zines etc… to:
Jamie Johns
5407 2nd Ave Apt. 3B
Brooklyn, NY 11220
Email me:
(Please note that due to my trip to China, there will be a delay in listening to the goodies but I promise they will be treated with love and affection.)

Third AoH Show Confirmed

Wednesday August 19, 2009

North Avenue
Chicago, IL
60647 773.278.6600

Doors: 9:00 PM

Show: 9:30 PM
Cost: $8.00

(Members of Sterling, Yakuza, Follows, 90 Day Men, Lustre King, Abeline)

Five Body Blade
(Auburn, WA)

Anatomy of Habit event link:

Sabbath's End

The 1990s were pretty rough. Just as I remembered, I ultimately preferred the oft-maligned (as I recall) "Dehumanizer." The four '90s albums just seem out-of-sync with both metal and hard rock, but they have their moments, I suppose. Not many, though. I just put on the live "Reunion" CD, to return to Ozzy's voice and a classic set-list, but I do not think that I will revisit the older live discs... I have a massive stack of goodies from the past week to get to, the top priority of which is a new (to me) Spykes LP, "Citizens Dream of a City" (Sergent Massacre).


The Hammer Smashed Jazz weblog complimented The Golden Sores CD over the weekend: "I recently received The Golden Sores disc, A Peaceable Kingdom, and decided to give it a spin. Well,I'm now a few spins in, and I really love this disc. Nice drone with a palpable sense of weight about it, like a slumbering beast about to wake at any moment. Fans of bands like Locrian will definitely find something to get into. Great stuff."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Black '80s

I just finished the 1980's Black Sabbath albums as I tinkered on eBay. This remains a difficult era for me to listen to -- and not just for Black Sabbath, but for major label hard rock, in general. The 1990s only includes four studio LPs and I remember enjoying "Tyr" at the time that it was released. I will dive into these last albums after a cool run...


- I am trying to finish up work on reconstructing this weblog. I will not do too much tinkering with archived posts but I am getting the layout and the links sorted out ASAP...