Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wolves of Isle Royale

Let me tell you somethin': these brothers are PROLIFIC. Their website hosts 38 albums - 38 albums full of noise rock definitely more on the noise side. Dark, ominous and psychedelic, the music of Wolves of Isle Royale ranges from free-form guitar carnage improvs to brooding drones and industrial sound collages. The sound of what's to come after the bombs fall. For the fans of Skullflower, The Dead C, Gravitar, Mouthus, Burnt Hills, Aufgehoben, Nautical Almanac et caetera. Recommended!

What I'll post on this blog and what I will not.

Since I've started my blog in 2008, I've been getting e-mails from people who wanted to have their music featured here. In fact, most of the music downloads posted here come from the people who have written an e-mail to me and whose music got me interested enough to post. In fact, at this point, I am getting some 100-200 e-mails a week with people wanting me to post their music on Weed Temple. To somehow cope with the influx of e-mails asking for a feature for review, I've created a few rules I follow when viewing e-mails and posting albums on the blog:
  1. Albums in material formats (CD, cassette, vinyl) have far larger chances of being reviewed than digital ones. From all the reviews I've posted on WT some 5 are of digital albums. I might post a review of a digital album if I find the music interesting enough, but I tend to spend more time with the material format.
  2. If you've sent me a cassette or a CD some time ago and I still haven't posted a review, it doesn't necessarily mean the package was lost or your music doesn't interest me (although I admit, there are a few cases). Since I've started working at school as a teacher of English this September I'm busier than ever and sometimes it's challenging to even write a short note about an album download, yet alone write a full review. Sometimes the review of a cassette or a CD you've send me can apear on Weed Temple a month or two after receiving.
  3. I will not post single tracks, never. Whether it's a single song posted on SoundCloud or Bandcamp or a link to an mp3 download in an e-mail, or a single music video on YouTube or Vimeo, I usually don't even bother to listen/watch. Weed Temple is first and foremost a blog for full album downloads and it will not change. If I was to write about every bandwagon-jumping indie fart I receive in my mail I would've been on an Altered Zones payroll since the beginning (pretty hypocritical, considering the fact much of the music I post nowadays is also jumping the bandwagon, the retrofururistic, neo-kosmische, 80's/90's nostalgia one)
  4. I don't even bother to check mails which contain nothing (as in: no introduction or description whatsoever) except a link do a SoundCloud/Bandcamp page. If you don't give a fuck about promoting your music, why should I?
  5. I will not post links do Bandcamp pages containing albums which are not free for download. Whether the files are set to the "share only" mode or need to be paid for in order to be downloaded, they will not be posted on Weed Temple.
  6. I don't even check mp3 files attached to the e-mail. Cut it out.
  7. I'm usually extremely suspicious to any e-mails containing triangles, crosses or other weird symbols and there's a very slim chance I'll check them at all.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Love Cult - Nebulaes (Brave Mysteries, 2011)

Maybe the best review of this little cassette would be the words of my mother who said after hearing side A of the tape: “It would make a nice doorbell”. Of course, in the mouth of some sarcastic, cynical blogger this might be an insult but what my mother meant was clearly a compliment – by the “doorbell” sound my mother rather described something clear, easily recognizable, warm and welcoming. Love Cult’s Nebulaes is exactly that, at last side A.
The first track, entitled “Reflection”, which features a truly minimalist series of shimmering tones played on kantele, an instrument native to Karelia, among others (the historical area divided between Finland and Russia, where Love Cult also come from). The tones are sparse and played in a simple, descending manner. The simplicity of the track is where it takes its strength from: the seemingly endlessly sustained echoes put the listener in the state of deep trance. The kantele lead is then gradually, yet gently transformed: more layers stack upon one another, new waves of delay and reverb are added, deepening the meditational state. The track’s title, “Reflection”, might have a double meaning: both a reflection of the autumn/winter sun in the clear, cold water and a reflection upon a feeling or a simple meditation on the simplicity of beauty.
Side B’s “Absorption” gets a little more lo-fi and hazy than the minimalist side A, but it’s still deep in the melodic, melancholic territory. This quiet, introverted jam (it’s a bit weird to write words “quiet” and “jam” together) is based almost solely on acoustic guitar and moaning, wordless vocals. The music wanders through the raw nature soundscapes – birch forests, cold springs, reeds at the lake’s shore. “Absorption” is an exercise in loneliness and melancholy. Not a cold, detached calculation, not a distanced look: it’s Love Cult telling the story of times bygone, the story of lost love, from their own experience: even though there aren’t any lyrics, the distant, gentle guitar and the calm vocals make listening to “Absorption” an almost heartbreaking experience. Nebulaes is a folky version of M. Geddes Gengras’ Magical Writing (or maybe it’s the other way around?). Both artists displayed on those albums their personal and introverted take on melancholy, be it through outsider guitar sound paintings or synth-driven ambient introspection. In fact, this connection is not coincidental: Ged Gengras has mastered the Love Cult’s tape before it was released on Brave Mysteries.
Love Cult can serve as a doorbell sound in my house every day; each time the guests would be thrown in a state of calm, meditative state. Not a druggy, “faded” state – Love Cult might be described as psychedelic folk, but their music is psychedelic without the use of psychedelics. Rather it’s seeing and feeling more through leaving it all behind – the drugs, the Internet, the technology, the career. Love Cult want you to simply go to the nearest woods, sit down and listen.

Review: Super Minerals - Contacteer (Stunned Records, 2011)

American duo Super Minerals appears to have taken an idiosyncratic, exploratory approach to ambient, beginning with smeared, guitar-based drones (The Pelagics, The Vooh), dabbling with La Monte Youngian piano minimalism (Clusters) and hazy musique concrete (The Hoax). On their latest cassette, released on dearly departed label Stunned Records, they’ve taken the way of cryptic messages, bleeping their way from the distant future.
Contacteer generally follows the lo-fi, synth-based noodling path set by The Hoax, but this time it’s generally more “human”: sounds of bells and distant oriental drumming, sometimes reversed, are heard – sometimes the album turns to even more ethnic areas, with free-form, NNCK-ish tribal jamz coalesce with ominous, sustained guitar sounds known from the duo’s early albums. Each side of the cassette is divided into various, unrelated “movements” separated by short silent pauses. It seems like Super Minerals wanted to make up for the unnamed tracks of The Hoax, giving the tracks ridiculously long, post-rockish titles. If someone showed me track names like “Earth Acropolis Welcome Panacea Home: Man the Rod, Woman the Measure, and Metabolising All Their Poisons With Ease” and “Be Brave Children of the Monsoon And Rise Above the Deep Shield Like Buddah Burning Brightly on Mars”, I would have sworn these are the titles from the new Red Sparowes album. Or something by the Skaters: in fact, the Skaters comparison might be more apt both because of the medium (the cassette, that is), the somewhat lo-fi quality of the music of both bands and the genuine interest in creating sometimes extremely hazy, yet intricate sonic tapestries which gives you that “what the hell did they use to create this sound” feel.
Super Minerals rose to “fame” and made their name by creating guitar-based ambient. The Contacteer moves more towards a non-descript area somewhere between shapeless, mapless territories somewhere between a way more lo-fi Excepter and ritual psychedelicisms a’la Golden Jooklo Age. Despite the length of the cassette (it’s almost 60 minutes long), the tracks flow quickly and smoothly. There are no tiring “oh god when it’s gonna end” moments – none of the “movements” overstay their welcome and they have a perfect timing – the pieces last long enough to sink, yet not long enough to bore the listener and make them skip forward. Super Minerals also have the talent to make music with no fixed geographical “point” – unlike the FWY! album I’ve reviewed a few days ago, the music of Super Minerals gives the feeling that it could be recorded anywhere and anytime – they may be using a basic framework of ambient or psychedelic folk music, but unlike in most folk or ambient music, the sounds are not attached to a given point or feeling. Super Minerals can be listened to in almost any mood – and depending on the mood in a given moment they can be either depressing, uplifting, meditative, sometimes flat out terrifying and always fascinating.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vinyl Williams - Lemniscate

Vinyl Williams is the music-making moniker of visual artist Lionel Williams. His newest album, Lemniscate, was released in August 2011 on vinyl LP, and is also available for free in digital form. Williams blends the dreamy, druggy vocal styles of shoegaze and dream pop with the rhythmical, bassy punch of krautrock. 70's meet the 90's. Highly recommended. The link includes two unreleased tracks and links to all Hiyao Miyazaki films!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Adderall Canyonly - Asuuna

This album is going places. The tracks flow into each other almost seamlessly, yet each one creates a different microcosmos of sounds. Kosmische Musik and progressive electronic is an obvious point of reference here (wonderful "Vega Caves"), but there is much more: cavernous loner psychedelic folk ("The Damp"), mysterious drones ("Silent Deadly Drones") and even dark ambient ("Fed Back"). Worth checking out.

Review: M. Geddes Gengras - The Empty Space (Stunned Records, 2011)

Tireless synthesizer explorer M. Geddes Gengras offers his possible tour-de-force on his ultimate tape released by Stunned Records (a label that will be truly missed and very hard to replace in terms of sound and packaging quality). Despite naming his previous Stunned tape This Could Be the Last Time, Gengras proves that he still he has amassed quite a collection of ideas over the course of a few months and is ready to strike (or at least continue to strike) with The Empty Space.
One thing you gotta know about this tape: it is MASSIVE. Not in terms of physical size, or the packaging: in fact, the cassette itself is fairly unremarkable and the insert does not contain any information on the dates of recording, the tracklist or so. Everything that should be known is printed on the cassette. The Empty Space is massive in terms of sheer length: it contains 93 minutes of music. That means each side is a bit over 45 minutes long. Which is even more impressive considering it was all probably recorded in one take during a live performance in June 2011 (if the dedication “for those who were there” might be any indication). I’m a sucker for live electronics and people who manage to create intricate and multilayered structures in real time are pretty much my heroes.
The Empty Space sees Ged Gengras in a more experimental, harsher light, especially in comparison to his previous releases, like the stellar ambient float of Magical Writing (released on his own Peccant Tapes). The sparse, cold sound of the cassette might take quite a few takes to get into, but once it clicks, a world of new possibilities opens. The beginning of side A is deceptive – it makes one think it will be a massive drone jam, while it clearly isn’t – after some 8 minutes, it dissolves into a series of variously pitched extraterrestrial glitches and chirps. One might say, “how isn’t 8 minutes of drone a massive jam?”. Well, remember that each side is over 45 minutes long, so eight minutes is pretty much just a tiny fraction. Having 90 minutes, Ged Gengras has a lot of time to expand his ideas slowly and carefully – people used to standard c30’s might get annoyed by the seemingly monotonous sound which changes very slowly. But that’s the trick – Gengras gives the listener time to immerse into each “movement” and “choose” their personal favorite. The slow, somewhat “shy” sequences are separated by echoed, glitchy escapades into separate worlds of synth pad wizardry and abrasive, noisy textures.
While the side A was dominated almost entirely by the Glitch, side B is the domain of the Sequence. It begins with a bubbling glitchy madness that is paradoxical in the fact that it’s at the same time cold and cozy. 12 minutes later and a faster pattern kicks in, existing in a “virgin”, clear state for a short time, but soon getting attacked by the spores, which in turn deform and skew the sequence, gradually smothering it and reducing it to occasional distant bleeps. The whole process of deconstruction and replacing the crystal clear, needle-like sounds with mangled, abrasive textures is like the destruction of the polished, meditative gems of the Berlin school by the British industrial/noise iconoclasts like Whitehouse. The Teutonic sequence then gets up and fights with the warbling synth noise again – the second part of side B becomes a battlefield between the melodic and the chaotic; where brutal glitches and blasts of white noise clash with cosmic echoes and rhythmical kraut-isms. The end of the tape is a sort of consensus with cut-up sounds forming a rudimentary, skewed, yet strangely enjoyable melody in the style of Caboladies’ Renewable Destination.
M. Geddes Gengras’ The Empty Space is an interesting insight into the creative process, the ability to improvise during live performance and a document of Ged’s amazing work in the field of synthesizers and electronic music. It might also be an indicator of the “tape scene’s” directions for the future, where the marriage of 70’s and 80’s prog electronics and 90’s and 00’s glitch is inevitable.

Review: FWY! - CA 80's-90's (Brave Mysteries, 2011)

In the thoroughly motorized world the notion of “music for highways” comes up every now and then and is realized by many bands and musicians in many genres. Be it the original “highway music” album, namely Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, the rhythmic post-punk of the late 70’s to the seemingly endless stream of minimal and ambient techno releases in the 1990’s and 2000’s Germany, there is a constant need to create music best suited for driving lengthy spans of asphalt for a long time.
Whatever genre we’re talking about, in music for driving the rhythm is essential. A steady, unchanging rhythm that sets the pace to everything else – the rhythm rules, it is the Master, everything else is a slave to the Rhythm (unintentional Grace Jones reference, yo). On CA 80’s-90’s, a compilation created from FWY!’s (pronounced Freeway) previous EP’s, Californian Edmund Xavier presents his version of autobahn musik. Almost all of the titles are named after specific stretches of Californian highways (“99 FWY”, “The 65”, “The 51”, “HWY 101”), putting Edmund’s music in an almost conceptual, “site specific” territory. By listening to the differing moods on each track, one can almost make out the geography or the weather, or even the time of the day when the highways was driven, inspiring the musician to create a given piece.
I’ve already mentioned the importance of rhythm in any kind of driving music – but in FWY’s case the rhythm is not always the same. It changes from track to track, from the softened, shoegazey version of self to the hard, crisp and clear rhythms existing somewhere between minimal techno of German Kompakt label and Warp’s early 90’s IDM. The deceptively simple bass lines are accompanied by dreamy, somewhat melancholic guitar work, which stretches the pop hooks into an oneiric, lulling tapestry. Despite being disciplined and rhythmical, the album does not take command of the listener; instead the sound seeps out of the speakers/headphones like a relaxing, non-malevolent gas. And speaking of Gas, the last track of the album (“The 5”) may bring certain Wolfgang Voigt connotation, with the rhythmless outro  so similar to Voigt’s Zauberberg.
FWY!’s CA 80’s-90’s is a great driving album. One thing is important though – it is better not to listen to the album while driving and being tired. The ambientalized, reverbed bliss of the album might kick the listener into a sort of road trance, or, even worse, sleep. But then again, being tired, one shouldn’t be driving in the first place, should he?

Monday, September 19, 2011

PLAENS - Cabin

Long, freeform New Age-isms from Asheville's Joe Moresi. 40 minutes of healing Nat Geo drones that will either send you to a pleasant sleep or kick you into a deep, constructive meditation. Recommended! Coming soon in tape form on Sweat Lodge Guru.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Imagine a lengthy, bombast, emotional and atmospheric, yet somewhat repetitious post-rock jam. Now strip it down to the very basics: sparse guitar playing a skeletal melody, shy and distant ambience and drumming designed to barely keep pace, to deliver some vague semblance of a rhythm. This is pretty much what Velcro sounds like. A sort of ambientalized, introverted and quiet droning guitar jams in the vein of Roy Montgomery, except less spacey and more down-to-earth and a bit downer-y.

Bastian Void - Ported

Ultra-nostalgic and somewhat nerdy take on 70/80's synth revival. Remembering your first dial-up and connecting to AOL via Netscape in Windows 95 and hosting your first website on Geocities. Polished, old-school ferraroisms, except less pulp pop culture oriented and more into consciously kitschy, Oneohtrix-like mindscapes from a bygone age, the age of Web 1.0. Originally released as a cassette on Digitalis Limited.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mario Gonzalez

Chicago musician Mario Gonzalez jumps from one style to another with amazing ease, crafting harsh, abrasive ambient pop ballads, glitched and zonked out sampledelica and filthy, cut-up walls of sound set to deconstructed, out-of-context hip-hop/dubstep beatz. Already Dead Tapes record label describe Mario's sound as "young Aphex Twin, with angst and girl problems". I'd like to add he also sounds like Amon Tobin falling in love with British late 70's industrial scene and Japanoise (and the fetishistic imagery connected to it).

Sueisfine (buy the tape at Already Dead)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

John Micah Rapp - Catharsis

John Micah Rapp took an incredibly ambitious route to record one song a day over the course of six months. The double cassette Catharsis, released on Chicagoan label Already Dead Tapes & Records is a compilations of John's favorites from that time. 24 compositions, spanning a vast variety of genres, including quiet intimate folk, psychedelic drone, stoner rock, skewed dub, weird synth rock and an overall outsider bliss. For fanz of distorted guitars and electronic beatz.

Catharsis (Tape One / Tape Two)

William Bowers - Soundtracks #2

An ambiental trip from William Bowers. The first few tracks are incredibly dark and murky, floor-shaking bassy escapades into the world of the uncertain, arousing the fear of the unknown ("Drawing heavy influence from composers such as Basinski, David Lynch, Philip Glass, and Silas Ciarán"). The last tracks are more melodic and lighter, while still staying in the great lo-fi plain. A late night listening session for the seasoned droneheads. Released on Already Dead Tapes & Records.

Soundtracks #2 (Stream and buy from Bandcamp, too)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Piętnastka - Dalia (Sangoplasmo Records, 2011)

Once in a while, a release comes along that is so different, so hard to categorize that it’s just mindblowing. Dalia, the debut release by Piotr Kurek’s new project Piętnastka (“Fifteen” in English) contains some of the most well-composed and bitchin’ tunes of the year. A blend of whimsical, cinematic folktronica, IDM and some psychedelic guitar work, Dalia is probably the best thing released by Sangoplasmo Records to date.
In terms of sound and style Dalia is somewhat similar to another Sangoplasmo release, Pompa Funebris by Folja. But whereas Folja’s sound was more sparse, purely electronic and trying to appeal to the more 80’s revivalist (psych drone/chillwave/carpentercore etc.) crowd, Piętnastka’s Dalia is a dense, cluttered affair where minimal electronics set the tempo for all sorts of “live” and traditional instruments: accordion, drums, electric organ, guitar et caetera. The tracks are filled with a sense of child-like curiosity (without resorting to childishness) and mischeviousness, like restless schoolboys exploring the local abandoned factory ( “School Boy”) or a group of children playing paper chase in the woods (“Podchody”). One of the strongest points of the tape is the sense of rhythm – every track is pretty fast-paced with beats ranging from lethargic minimal techno (“Czterdzieści Cztery”) to thumping, almost tribal drums (“Salto”). Even though Kurek seems to be taking cues from Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden (the cassette sounds like a mid-point between Rounds and There Is Love In You), there are certain non-folktronic (a lot of you are probably foaming at the mouth at the very sound of the term “folktronica”) moments – like the blissful, minimalistic “Dice”, a condensed version of Terry Riley’s “A Rainbow in Curved Air”.
This is my first contact with the music of Piotr Kurek, who also plays in the band Ślepcy and releases music under his real name. Dalia is an exhaustingly beautiful and energetic cassette and it’s a shame that because of the format and the relatively low profile of the label releasing it the album might go unnoticed in the music world. Albums like Dalia recognize more recognition – perhaps one day Piętnastka will re-issue this album on vinyl?

Available at Sangoplasmo Records. Grab it now!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Various Artists - Fangs & Arrows Board Music II (Noise Not Music, 2011)

Board Music II, released on Irish label Noise Not Music is a cassette compilation of tracks created by the users and friends of the Internet experimental music community Fangs & Arrows. Those familiar with F&A will know what to expect: the board first and foremost deals with drone and ambient in all shapes and colors. So it’s no wonder the comp will contain all sorts of textures: the nightmarish, acerbic noise jams of Zonal Taste Wand (“Sleep Deprivation”) or Robe (“Serenade in Black”) provide a stark contrast to the vast and dreamy soundscapes of UUUUUU (wonderfully delayed and layered “Mirror Lies”) or Polymer Slug’s “Cloud 3” (wonderful guitar-synthesizer harmony). The musicians, often dealing with electronics often break the boundaries of what is considered “drone” or “analog drone scene” or whatever other name it has. For example, “Pancakes” by Coloured Jaw Chest stands much closer to the raw glitches of early Morton Subotnick or Keith Fullerton Whitman circa Disingenuity / Disingenuousness than Marble Sky and Boys of Summer’s “Rainbow Islands” appear to be taking cues for modern retrofuturists such as Panabrite or kosmische revivalists like La Revelateur and Jonas Reinhardt.
            Like on many great compilations there are almost unknown artists next to well-established names. These are either up-and-coming bands and musicians, paving their way to the drone/psych stardom or just obscure names who decided to submit a track here and there and will remain hidden and undiscovered in the future. One can hope it’s the first option here, because music by those obscure projects (whose play count usually revolves around a few dozen on Last.fm) is some of the best on the album – and the most detached from the usual “F&A = drone” association. “Pummel” by Maschalismos is a smokin’ scum rock jam in the style of Heavy Winged, Burnt Hills or Owl Pillage while the Poor Farm’s “Apples, Peaches, Plums, Pie” explore the more freak folk-ish areas with their suffocating, almost shamanistic atmosphere turning into a lo-fi swamp blues improvisation. But for me one of the best tracks on the compilation is “XVIII: The Moon” by Dreamers Awake, a soothing ambient lullaby constructed almost entirely of sparse guitar strumming recalling a less dark Knive by Svarte Greiner and a dubby psychedelic pop of Dark Marks, whose “Jembalaleah” appears to be influenced by latest Peaking Lights.
            Board Music II provides a satisfactory and exciting outlook on the condition of the tape scene today, especially of the artists centered around Fangs & Arrows board. It shows that many of them can step outside the limitations and reach out to other genres. Because one sometimes have to take a rest from all the droning drone.

Billiam Wutler Yea

Strange, crusty psych-electronix with a nice dosage of weird samples from Moscow, Russia. Sometimes droney, sometimes noisy, sometimes just plain funky - Billiam Wutler Yea is sure to bring you into a trancelike state. Another great from the so-called New Weird Russia scene!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nude Sunrise - Should Be

Up-and-coming (hopefully) band from Chicago, IL which cleverly wraps classic pop rock standards from the 1950's and 1960's in dense, repetitive psychedelic/kraut soundcapes creating an idiosyncratic style somewhere between Chrome, Pharaoh Overlord and Magic Lantern. SERIOUSLY, listen to the first track and tell me it doesn't sound like a discarded jam session for Sun Araw's On Duty or Magic Lantern's Platoon. Highly recommended.