Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice IX Compilation

Presenting Ferrari Naptime's first seasonal compilation! This is a roundup of tracks from each of the artists featured on this blog from the previous season.  At my current rate of output, The vernal equinox compilation will be an EP.

For the uninitiated, simply click on the album title above the tracklisting, choose "free user," wait the required 95 seconds, and then click "download." Unzip and feel free to lambaste my musical tastes!

Winter Solstice IX
01 - Guillaume Dufay - J'ay Mis Mon Cuer
02 - Soil & Pimp Sessions - Crush!
03 - Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Rise Up With Fists
04 - Grace Jones - Private Life
05 - Needle Sharing - Yellow Pages [task force mix]
06 - Old Crow Medicine Show - James River Blues
07 - Meg Lee Chin - Heavy Scene
08 - Kaki King - Close Your Eyes And You'll Burst Into Flames
09 - Trollfest - Der Jegermeister
10 - Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Little Demon
11 - Maruosa - Death Stretch
12 - Error - Nothing's Working
13 - Cubanate - Vortech I
14 - Carpathian Forest - Start Up The Incinerator (Here Comes Another Useless Fool)
15 - Blind Lemon Jefferson - Matchbox Blues
16 - Gridlock - Cramp
17 - The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - Munchen

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gridlock – Further [1999]

As the nineties drew to a close, a lot of electro-industrial acts headed for the greener pastures of IDM. This would eventually contribute to a glut of middling rhythmic noise projects, but a few gems were created in the flux of bands who remembered their Skinny Puppy roots while reaching for the erudition of Autechre. Of these gems, Gridlock’s Further might be the crown jewel. Some of the songs consist only of wintry synth washes that evoke a tone of desolation, while other tracks are obliterated by blasted, broken beats of sculpted white noise. Gridlock’s later work would emphasize this ambient aspect while using a more conventional midtempo rhythmic structure, but here the beats are ugly and extravagant.

It’s hard to believe this was released ten years ago. Unfortunately, the intervening years have seen Gridlock’s ambient/noisy duality contribute to the dumb powernoise cliché of alternating soft and loud tracks on an album. Parties guilty of following that trope should take another listen to this album and hear how it's done.

Gridlock – Further [1999]
01 - From Zero
02 - Ash
03 - [Untitled]
04 - Sever
05 - [Untitled]
06 - Cramp
07 - Without
08 - [Untitled]
09 - Here
10 - Further
11 - Egeszeges
12 - Scrape
13 - Under
14 - Ash [KSP remix]
15 - Enzyme [Dryft remix]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blind Lemon Jefferson – King of the Country Blues [1990] (Compilation of songs from the late 1920s)

In the first few decades of this century, most commercial blues singers were women – Bessie Smith and Ma Rainy are two well-known examples.  Noted for his intricate guitar technique, Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the first men to find success in the style, and served as inspiration several other noted Texas bluesmen, including personal favorites Leadbelly and Lightnin' Hopkins.  While other musicians have adopted similar playing techniques, few choose to imitate his high, almost ghostly singing.  That’s a shame, as that lonely-sounding timbre is an appropriate fit for his mournful subject matter.
This compilation was released by Yazoo records, who at the time refused to filter the 78 RPM sources in order to minimize the hiss and pop of the records.  This means that each song emanates from beneath a light haze of noise, but in my opinion it only adds to the character of the songs.

[YouTube] Blind Lemon Jefferson – See That My Grave is Kept Clean

Blind Lemon Jefferson – King of the Country Blues
01 - That Crawlin' Baby Blues
02 - Bad Luck Blues
03 - Matchbox Blues
04 - Hot Dogs
05 - One Dime Blues
06 - Shuckin' Sugar
07 - Rabbit Foot Blues
08 - Corrina Blues
09 - See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
10 - Easy Rider Blues
11 - Broke And Hungry
12 - Black Horse Blues
13 - Lonesome House Blues
14 - Oil Well Blues
15 - He Arose From the Dead
16 - Beggin' Back
17 - Prison Cell Blues
18 - Rambler Blues
19 - Gone Dead On You Blues
20 - Wartime Blues
21 - Booger Rooger Blues
22 - Right of Way Blues
23 - Big Night Blues

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Soil & "Pimp" Sessions - Pimp of the Year [2006]

I've got a terrible, dirty secret....  I don't like jazz.  As far as western music is concerned, it's the only major genre that I haven't yet "cracked."  For some reason, I never found the band or artist that I could listen to long enough to temper my ear, to give me the ability to read other jazz artists.

That may have changed.  Soil & "Pimp" Sessions (I don't know what that means either) is a group of Japanese kids who play fast and tight, using considerable melodic and harmonic dissonance without losing a sense of tunefulness.  I wish I could provide a more apt description, but as I said, Jazz is a new world to me.  All I know is that this is a badass album.

01 - Memai
02 - Summer Goddess
03 - Worldwide
04 - Crush!
05 - Sabotage
06 - Scoop Out
07 - Sahara
08 - Ha Hen (Splinter)
09 - The Black Widow Blues
10 - The White Widow
11 - I-Rony
12 - Last Long
13 - Satsuriku New Wave

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cubanate – Barbarossa [1996]

Marc Heal and Phil Barry, the duo that make up Cubanate, marry high speed techno to industrial-influenced metal, and makes a glorious racket in the process.   Guitar riffs, played both on real electric instruments and by synthesized pads (though it can be difficult to tell one from another), are cranked up to a punk rock tempo and underpinned by a furious dram machine assault.  It's notable that, at a time when most of Cubanate's coldwave peers were programming drum machines to a simple and speedy rock or dance beat, the duo were creating some brutal but complex and refined techno.

[YouTube] Cubanate – Barbarossa

Cubanate - Barbarossa
01 - Vortech I
02 - Barbarossa
03 - Joy
04 - Why Are You Here
05 - Exultation
06 - The Musclemen
07 - Come Alive
08 - Vortech II
09 - Lord of the Flies

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kaki King – Everybody Loves You (2003)

My introduction to Kaki King was a performance on Conan in 2003 or 2004.  It began inauspiciously; one young girl with her head down, hair hiding her face from the camera, slouched over an acoustic guitar held flat in her lap.  Without a word of introduction she began to play, and the sound was something I hadn’t heard before.  The song was from this, her debut album, on which every track but the last features only her solo acoustic guitar.  King often plays percussively, making liberal use of slapping and striking.  She also favors harmonic runs over traditionally strummed chords, lending the denser pieces a fragile ornamentation.  Critics have cited the lack of conventional melody as a weakness of this piece, but that seems unfair – this type of playing is more about texture and timbre than melody, though it is much more akin to folk than twelve tone music.  Those who characterize the acoustic guitar as an intimate or tender instrument may have trouble adjusting to the heady contents of this album.
I’d lost track of Kaki King in the last several years, and in doing a bit of research for this post, I found that she tours with a full band these days, and has played with the likes of the Foo Fighters and Tegan & Sara.  I’ll have to check out her latest sometime.

[YouTube] Kaki King – Close Your Eyes and You’ll Burst into Flames

Kaki King – Everybody Loves You
01 - Kewpie Station
02 - Steamed Little Juicy Bun
03 - Carmine St.
04 - Night after Sidewalk
05 - Happy As a Dead Pig In The Sunshine
06 - The Exhibition
07 - Close Your Eyes and You'll Burst Into Flames
08 - Joi
09 - Everybody Loves You
10 - Fortuna

Carpathian Forest – Fuck You All!!! Caput Tuum In Ano Est [2006]

Time for some fucking metal!  Carpathian Forest built their reputation on keeping black metal stripped down and primitive, the Great Black Hope for kvlt kids who scoffed as their once-favorite band had the temerity to grow and evolve.  However, Fuck You All!!! is punky, chunky, rock n’ roll oriented black metal that keeps riffs short and makes blastbeats a tool instead of the whole trade.  Those same kids were probably pissed upon hearing it, and with a latin subtitle that translates roughly to “Your head is up your ass,” it’s pretty obvious that the band didn’t care. 

01 - Vi Apner Porten Til Helvete
02 - The Frostbitten Woodlands of Norway
03 - Start Up the Incinerator (Here Comes Another Useless Fool)
04 - Submit to Satan!!!
05 - Diabolism (The Seed and the Sower)
06 - Dypfryst Dette Er Mit Helvete
07 - Everyday I Must Suffer
08 - The First Cut is The Deepest
09 - Evil Egocentrical Existentialism
10 - Shut Up, There No Excuse to Live

Monday, October 19, 2009

Guillaume Dufay – Chansons [Performed by Ensemble Unicorn, 1996]

Guillaume Dufay was a fifteenth century composer who worked for most of his life in northern France.  Regarded even in his lifetime as that era's premiere composer, Dufay’s oeuvre contains elements of both the high Medieval and early Renaissance, managing the difficult balancing act of innovating while staying rooted in tradition, and getting contemporaries to appreciate it.
The songs presented on this album are secular, and consequently are more forward-looking.  The track list alternates between instrumental and vocal performances, though it must be said that the vocal pieces best display the rich and tuneful polyphony for which Dufay is known.  The instrumental tracks muddy the interplay of voices (at least to my uncouth modern ear), but the use of period instruments is still a treat.

01 - J'ay Mis Mon Cue
02 - Par Droit Je Puis Bien Complaindre
03 - Quel Fronte Signorille - La Dolce Vista
04 - Puisque Vous Estez Campieur
05 - Belle, Que Vous Ay Je Mesfait
06 - Vergene Bella
07 - Se La Face Ay Pale
08 - Donnes L'assault À Ia Fortresse
09 - Par Le Regard De Vos Beaux Yeux
10 - Resvelons Nous
11 - Ce Jour De L'an
12 - Mon Chier Amy
13 - Pour L'amour De Ma Doulce Amye
14 - Helas Mon Dueil
15 - Bon Jour, Bon Mois
16 - Resvelliés Vous Et Faites Chiere Lye
17 - Adieu Ces Bons Vins De Lannoys

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat [2005]

Critics will tell you that Jenny Lewis has a voice that is too sweet for an alt-country chanteuse.  They’re not wrong – Lewis does have a sweet voice, but don’t get that confused with weak.  I like the pack-a-day drawl of some of country’s underground matriarchs, but the intimate atmosphere of this record is engendered in no small part by keeping the drama in the lyrics, not in her voice.  For all of the darkness in the libretto – autobiographical tales of broken families, grappling with apostasy – it is never grim.  That’s a  tough trick to pull off.

 01 - Run Devil Run
02 - The Big Guns
03 - Rise Up With Fists
04 - Happy
05 - The Charging Sky
06 - Melt Your Heart
07 - You Are What You Love
08 - Rabbit Fur Coat
09 - Handle With Care
10 - Born Secular
11 - It Wasn't Me
12 - Happy (Reprise)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Error [2004]

Error is a studio project helmed by Atticus Ross of 12 Rounds and NIN, his brother Leo, and Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion and founder of Epitaph records.  What’s more, they managed to entice Greg Puciato from Dillinger Escape Plan to undertake vocal duties.  What I love about this EP is that each artist adds what I like best about him to each track.  Each song contains a memorable hook thanks to Mr. Brett’s songwriting, which is then sliced and diced into a digital cacophony of cutup guitar riffs and urgent jungle-influenced beats by the Ross brothers.  The vocals are wisely left unprocessed, giving a sense of cohesiveness and melodic contour to songs that might have been too hard to decipher for the punks who don’t typically listen to digital hardcore flavored aggro.  Not to mention, it’s Greg Puciato!  Why would you fuck with his voice?
It’s a damn shame that Error left us with only this five track EP and little hope for future releases.  Still, considering NIN’s imminent hiatus, there is a slim possibility that there may be some life left in this project yet.  Yeah, right after the third 12 Rounds album drops.

[YouTube] Burn in Hell and Jack the Ripper
01 - Nothing's Working
02 – Homicide (999 cover)
03 - Burn In Hell
04 - Jack The Ripper
05 - Brains Out

Trollfest – Villanden [2009]

As you can see from the album cover above, Trollfest is not a band that takes itself too seriously.  The lyrics, which are a combination of two languages I don’t know and one that’s made up, are purportedly about drinking, trolls, and drinking too much.  I like all three of those things, so I can’t help but dig this album.  Unlike Finntroll, to whom Trollfest is often compared, there are no synthesized sounds (at least that I can discern) on this album.  Instead, the horns, accordion, and acoustic strings are all the real deal.  For some reason, this goes down easier than Finntroll’s arguably more catchy tunes.  The only drawback in my mind is the unrelenting death metal vocals which can dampen much of the melodic content of the songs, as they are always foremost in the mix and rarely silent.
01 - Wo Bin Ich Jetz Aufgewacht
02 - Der Jegermeister
03 - Uraltes Elemente
04 - Villanden
05 - Per, Pål Og Brakebeins Abenteuer
06 - Das Uhr Ist Skandaløst Schändlich
07 - God Fart
08 - Festival
09 - En Ny Erfaring
10 - Trinkenvisen
11 - Die Kirche Undt Der Mache

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Mutations EP [2009]

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble’s first self-titled LP on Ad Noiseam sounds like what you would expect from a jazz band on a dark electro label – plaintive horns atop subterranean drones and subdued violins, underpinned with percussion that weaves between quiet brush strokes and clicky IDM.  It’s good stuff, but I wasn’t terribly excited by the band until I heard this year’s Mutations EP.  
Mutations sheds much of the jazz trappings from the first album favor of languorous tones, acoustic and electric, draped over minimal electronic percussion.  I can’t disagree with anyone who would call this a collection of ambient music – on paper it certainly sounds like it - but ambient to me has always equated to “low impact” and this is anything but.  Lush sweeps of sound slide slowly atop each other like cirrus clouds, evoking candlelight and shadow and humid summer nights.  Each song is impelled by the largely unobtrusive percussion that nevertheless manages to help build the tracks to a climax that is subtle and so long in coming that when the harmonic or melodic tension is resolved, it comes as a surprise to the listener just how invested he or she had become in the buildup.
TKDE have a new album, Here be Dragons, coming out in October, for which this EP is intended to be a bridge.  Download this, and then preorder that when you find out how great this is.

01 - Caos Calmo
02 - München
03 - Serpents
04 - Twisted Horizons
05 - Shadows
06 - Symmetry of 6's
07 - Horns of King David
08 - Avian Lung

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Cow Fingers and Mosquito Pie [1991; compilation of songs from the 1950s]

Jay Hawkins is oftentimes regarded as the first ‘shock rocker’ and there may be something to the claim. He’s remembered as much for his voodoo-themed stage shows, which opened with Hawkins rising from a coffin and brandishing a staff mounted with a smoking skull named Henry (and when I say smoking, I mean a cigarette), as he is for his musical output. There’s nothing particularly special about the R&B and early rock n’ roll that forms the foundation for each tune on this album, but what has made Hawkins enduring as well as endearing is his outlandish vocal delivery, which ranges from a melodramatic vibrato to howls and guttural grunts. It’s shtick, pure and simple, but the lightheartedness and sense of joy in each song is irresistible. Even though the minor hit, Constipation Blues doesn’t appear on in this collection, the disc is still guaranteed to cure a shitty day.

01 - Little Demon
02 - You Ain't Foolin' Me
03 - I Put A Spell On You
04 - You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)
05 - Yellow Coat
06 - Hong Kong
07 - There's Something Wrong With You
08 - I Love Paris
09 - Orange Colored Sky
10 - Alligator Wine
11 - Darling, Please Forgive Me
12 - Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle
13 - Temptation
14 - Frenzy
15 - Person To Person
16 - Little Demon (Alternate Take)
17 - I Put Spell On You (Alternate Take)
18 - There's Something Wrong With You (Alternate Take)
19 - Alligator Wine (Alternate Take)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Meg Lee Chin – Piece and Love [1999]

Contrary to popular opinion, Invisible Records has hosted some amazing bands over the years (though I don’t really consider Pigface to be one). One of my favorites is solo artist Meg Lee Chin, who has unfortunately released only one full-length LP of original material. This is 1999’s Piece and Love, a short but sweet ride through prime nineties techno-industrial rock. The album sidesteps coldwave territory by keeping guitars spare and largely in the background. The focus of most songs are on the percussion (no surprise on a Martin Atkins-produced disc) and on Meg’s voice, which admittedly isn’t special, but can deliver the pop hooks that really make this album stand out from the pack. I don’t really think this is the best album to come from the Invisible roster, but it certainly is one that best balances accessibility, songcraft, and some very crisp production values.

02 - Heavy Scene
03 - Nutopia
04 - Sweat
05 - Swallowing You
06 - Sweet Thing
07 - Bottle
08 - London
09 - Deeper
10 - Swallowing You [Subgenius Mix]

Needle Sharing – My Kind Came First [2001]

Roland Danielzig, the man behind Needle Sharing, is a friend of Panacea’s Mathias Mootz, and it’s not difficult to see why. Both projects feature heavily distorted drum ‘n bass beats over spacey and discordant samples. My Kind Came First has even been accused of being Low Profile Darkness Jr. four years too late, but the accusation is unfair. Needle Sharing’s disc trims away a lot of the late 90s/early 00s dnb trappings – you won’t find the squiggly subbass or hoover sweeps that date Panacea’s records of the same era. Instead, the beats are monolithic, the melody minimal, and bass clipped. My Kind Came First gained a lot of traction with the powernoise crowd, though for some reason I don’t hear it talked about much today. Hopefully that just means I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd, because this album sounds just as fresh today as it did 8 years ago.
Note: If the tracklisting comes across as homophobic, take comfort in the knowledge that the titles are ironic; Danielzig has verified on several occasions that he is in fact a “huge queer.”

[YouTube] Needle Sharing - Yellow Pages

Needle Sharing – My Kind Came First [2001]

01 - Kick Start
02 - Yellow Pages (Task-Force-Mix)
03 - Overload
04 - Club Empty
05 - Gay Crisis
06 - Post Trauma
07 - Club Empty (Gay-Bashers United mix by Panacea)
08 - My Kind

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Grace Jones – Warm Leatherette [1980]

I listened to Grace Jones for the first time only a few weeks ago. I’ve long been aware of the significance that her first two albums of the 1980s had on the artists of that decade and beyond, but I assumed much of that influence was due to her androgenous stage persona, rather than the music itself. So it was from a sense of obligation that I downloaded the 1981 Nightclubbing LP, hoping only to fill in another gap in my musical background. What I found was a scintillating collection of dubby new wave pop tracks that immediately sunk their hooks in my ear. It’s a rarity that a pop song speaks to me that quickly, so I quickly downloaded 1980’s Warm Leatherette, widely regarded as Jones’ other masterpiece. Most reviews I’ve read assert that Nightclubbing is the better of the two albums, both produced by reggae hitmakers Sly and Robbie, but I disagree. It certainly is the more balanced and consistent of the two, confident in the icy electro-funk reggae sound that exists in a more primitive form on Warm Leatherette, but I’m a sucker for a heterogeneous albums that play fast and loose with diverse conventions, and that’s what WL is all about. The title track (a cover of the Suicide-esque song written the guy who founded Mute records) revolves around a hard rock guitar sting and bluesy piano that adds warmth to the original, but keeps the detached, emotionless vocals. “Love is the Drug,” another cover, marries an urgent dance beat to discordant guitar riffs. The best track, however, has got to be “My Private Life,” (yet another cover) which uses pitch-shifted vocals over clattery percussion, augmented by a rhythmic electronic squelch which I think is a guitar skank modulated beyond all recognition. The result is an alien dub gem that I have yet to hear topped
Unfortunately the version I have uploaded here is a rip of the CD version, which uses extended mixes of several songs, adding and extra minute or two to songs that are already teetering on the edge of overindulgence. Don’t let that deter you though; this is a great album.

01 - Warm Leatherette
02 - Private Life
03 - A Rolling Stone
04 - Love is the Drug
05 - The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game
06 - Bullshit
07 - Breakdown
08 - Paris

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Maruosa - Exercise and Hell [2007]

It's tough to be a breakcore fan when you’re as god-damned tired of the Amen break as I am. Not so many years ago, after slogging through another seven-inch deconstruction of the same shit that I’ve been listening to for over a decade, I wondered what it would take for me to love Amen again. It turns out that Japanese cybergrind producer Maruosa had the answer, which is to pulverize it almost beyond recognition and shove it into my ear at a bazillion BPM. The trick is making me like it.
2007’s “Exercise and Hell” walks a very thin line between break-based grind and lawless cutup noise. With a little less structure, the result would be a fairly dull mash of hyperedits, but with a bit more structure the music would lose that manic peak that pushes Maruosa beyond his peers. Beneath the boiling surface, each track is metered by a hardcore kick that on first listen seems nearly as spastic as the rest of the music, but acts to contour the din into a decipherable but constantly changing shape. Earmarked by the kick and to a certain extent by the rasping vocals, the tracks unfold, swinging between barely-contained chaos and utter chaos. It’s quite a ride, and has established – at least in my mind – Maruosa among the breakcore/grindcore elite. You gotta try this.

01 – Hell-O Everyone
02 - Death Stretch
03 - To Point Of Nausea
04 - Fatman (Feat. DISTEST)
05 - Spasm Spasm Spasm
06 - Slobber
07 - Muscle Spark
08 - Ants
09 - Lack of Oxygen
10 - Repute One's Reverse Cruciate Ligament
11 - Deep Respiration from Nethemost Hell
12 - Come Back From the Dead
13 - Shit Power in a Showdown
14 - Styx

Monday, August 17, 2009

Old Crow Medicine Show – Big Iron World [2006]

Old Crow Medicine Show is often labeled as alt-country, which I suppose is inevitable when an old-timey band has as many songs about cocaine as this one does. However, most of the songs on “Big Iron World” could have come decades or generations ago, when riverboats vied for supremacy with the railroads (as in “James River Blues”) or supporting the worker’s union was a good way to earn a new orifice (“Union Maid”). Maybe then, it’s not so surprising that OCMS were offered their big break by another artist who made his mark by updating traditional folk music – the famous flat-picker Doc Watson. Watson’s daughter was so impressed by the group, at the time busking in front of a drug store in Nashville, that she passed a demo to her famous father. He in turn offered the quintet a spot at Merlefest, his influential Americana music festival, and their star has been rising ever since.

[Youtube] Old Crow Medicine Show - Minglewood Blues


Old Crow Medicine Show - Big Iron World
01 - Down Home Girl
02 - Cocaine Habit
03 - Minglewood Blues
04 - My Good Gal
05 - James River Blues
06 - New Virginia Creeper
07 - Union Maid
08 - Let It Alone
09 - God's Got It
10 - I Hear Them All
11 - Don't Ride That Horse
12 - Bobcat Tracks

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Fancy New Blog

That's right, internet. I heard you crying into your pillow at night, pining for a pony, a candy store, and another self-indulgent music blog. Well, here I come to make one of those things a reality. Let's see how long this lasts before I forget my password and get locked out of the site completely.