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Press Play: Sharlyn Evertsz’s Dirty Hellos

I have no clue if Sharlyn Evertsz is fan of Royal Trux. There’s a solid chance she’s too young to be tuned into the bad-ass jams Neil and Jennifer unleashed in the late ’80s and ’90s. Despite the possible generational divide, the Miami underground lurker has produced over the last few years a clutch of recordings riffing on the group’s early-years philosophy: soaking DIY weird-aktion and gutter electronics in rock-and-roll attitude. Like Trux, she excels at being rock even when the music she makes isn’t rock in a formal sense. I touched on this point in 2013, when I raved about Sharlyn’s “Get Outta Nowhere Fast” / “Revalued” cassingle for my buds over at Decoder.

It’s a point also true of “Dirty Hellos,” a song Sharlyn recently posted to her always active SoundCloud. Though significantly farther along than her cassingle (less scum/industrial, more lipstick/club), it’s equally wicked: the physicality of power electronics, the automated seduction of techno and the nervousness of noise-pop all glued together with that same will to rock, to fuck shit up, to be distantly cool and in-your-face feral simultaneously. Best of all, “Dirty Hellos” isn’t dreamy and polished. Take all the lame electro-pop out there and chuck it in the indie dumpster. Blast this delicious beast instead.

i_like_dog_face: Twisting Signals of Light

DogFace777I first encountered Sarah Viviana Valdez’s i_like_dog_face project at this year’s Savage Weekend (here in North Carolina). In my festival review for Resident Advisor, I described the multi-media artist’s potent set as madness-techno with lysergic lighting. Over an undulating rhythm shot through with cruddy distortion and shrill squeals, Valdez mesmerized heads with incantatory whispers and cries shrouded in cavernous reverb. She sounded like a 7-year-old girl who spends her days hidden in the family attic, exploring strange dances and concocting near-gibberish nursery rhymes from the myriad nuances of her thin, highly pitched voice.

This description also applies to her Cephia’s Treat-released cassette Twisting Signals of Light (a title apparently referencing an experimental mode of data transmission). At the same time, the C40 is significantly less frenetic and extroverted than was her live performance. Rather, it’s more rooted in isolation, space and distance.

Consisting of three pieces that more or less bleed together, Side A opens with what sounds like decayed radio waves (“To Activate the Broadcast”) before Valdez’s voice, cloaked in echo, blossoms into a mangled chorus of chirps and whines (“Over the Screen”). She sounds innocent enough, yet there also lurks a twinge of menace, as if she’s playing the role of sweet, little ragamuffin who just so happens to entertain daydreams of drowning her baby sister in a scalding bubble bath. The side closes-out with “Transmit Light.” Over some kind of repetitive squelching weirdness, Valdez chants “Transmit light, out of sight” until her voice turns shrill — then silent.

Side B, a single piece titled “Hearing the Void,” is significantly more groove-driven than anything found on the flip. It’s a phased-out, electro-tribal lurch pierced by toy-synth wheeze and rudimentary melody. Over this, Valdez chants “move your head,” as well as several unintelligible abstractions. The track’s balance of hypno-surrealism and child-like primitivism falls somewhere between the noise-exotica of early Gang Gang Dance (Revival of the Shittest era) and ’70s Yoko Ono. In fact, towards song’s end, Valdez lets rips a reptilian ululation that would sound right at home on Ono’s masterpiece Fly.

Despite the fact that Twisting Signals of Light sounds as though it could have been been made using twee contraptions like Mr. Microphone, Speak & Spell and Yorx’s tiniest boom box, Valdez wisely gives the music a big, crusty sound that most of us generally associate with far more blown-out and/or cacophonous fare. This approach further enhances the tension between innocence and menace, the magical and macabre, that underpins Valdez’s work. It also means the tape is most excellent at high volume.

One more thing: extra points for the glow-in-the-dark cover art.

Top Albums and 12-Inches of 2012

ProfligateNo wordy introduction required. Though I must explain: 2012 was such an exceptional year that it made the compiling of this list rather difficult. Any one of the titles comprising my top 10 (or so) albums could have easily snagged the no. 1 slot. This is particularly true of the Spectrum Spools-released epic Motion Sickness Of Time Travel (no. 2), a once-in-a-generation work that feels like one of the very few modern synth/ambient records that can be placed alongside the classics of the ’70s in regards to vision, execution, composition, scope, etc.

Having said that, it was Profligate’s Come Follow Me (co-released by More Records and Hot Releases) that I ultimately deigned the album of the year. Ever since my earliest exposure to Six Finger Satellite in the mid ’90s I’ve been utterly obsessed with artists and bands that can manage to straddle post-industrial groove exploration, dark art-rock vibes and true D.I.Y. ingenuity, and this is what Noah Anthony’s Profligate project is all about. What’s more, the Philadelphia-based  musician dropped two additional titles in 2012 that blew me away: the Burning’ Fast cassette released under his older Night Burger moniker (no. 21) and the Videotape 12-inch on Not Not Fun Records (no. 23).

Lastly, there exist a handful of records from 2012 that I have yet to really dig into, namely Sigha’s Living With Ghosts, Shed’s The Killer, Silent Servant’s Negative Fascination, Bee Mask’s When We Were Eating Unripe Pears, Emeralds’ Just To Feel Anything and Three Legged Race’s Persuasive Barrier. Excluding Negative Fascination and The Killer, all of these appeared in the final two months of the year, a truly hectic stretch that also saw the emergence of Container’s second full-length for Spectrum Spools (no. 10) and Lazy Magnet’s Acts Without Error on Bathetic Records (no. 12). Further gobbling up my attention in this time were several musicians whom I unexpectedly stumbled across. The most notable being Lauren Pakradooni and her work under the alias PAK. I gripped the Cast Shadows cassette (no. 35) in early December, and I’ve been playing it over and over ever since.

So yeah, early 2013 is going to be a time of playing catch up!

And now on to my lists…

ALBUMS

  1. Profligate – Come Follow Me [More Records / Hot Releases]
  2. Motion Sickness Of Time Travel – Motion Sickness Of Time Travel [Spectrum Spools]
  3. Prostitutes – Psychedelic Black [stabUdown]
  4. FORMA –  OFF / ON [Spectrum Spools]
  5. Decimus – Decimus #11 [Digitalis Recordings]
  6. Shackleton – Music For The Quiet Hour / The Drawbar Organ EPs [Woe To The Septic Heart!]
  7. Shifted – Crossed Paths [Mote-Evolver]
  8. Marshstepper – Marshstepper [Chondritic Sound]
  9. Forward Strategy Group – Labour Division [Perc Trax]
  10. ContainerLP [Spectrum Spools]
  11. Aaron Dilloway – Modern Jester [Hanson Records]
  12. Lazy Magnet – Acts Without Error [Bathetic Records]
  13. Christian Cosmos – Enthronement By God As The First-Born Of The Dead [Hospital Productions]
  14. Upperground Orchestra – The Eupen Takes [Morphine Records]
  15. Afterlife – Celestial Habitat [Hooker Vision]
  16. Lightning Bolt – Oblivion Hunter [Load Records]
  17. Cut Hands – Black Mamba [Very Friendly / Susan Lawly]
  18. Vatican Shadow – Ornamented Walls [Modern Love]
  19. Housefire – Sonic Pressure [Headway Recordings]
  20. Craow – C-Bank [Nostilevo]
  21. Night Burger – Burnin’ Fast [Not Not Fun Records]
  22. Panabrite – Soft Terminal [Digitalis Recordings]
  23. Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Fetch [Honest Jon’s Records]
  24. Scott Walker – Bish Bosch [4AD]
  25. Villages – Theories Of Ageing [Bathetic Records]
  26. Various Artists – Fake Sound Routine – Volume Two [I Just Live Here]
  27. Innercity – A Lion Baptism [Further Records]
  28. High Aura’d – Sanguine Futures [Bathetic Records]
  29. Juju & Jordash – Techno Primitivism [Dekmantel]
  30. Sawf – Flaws [Perc Trax]
  31. Aaron Dilloway / Jason Lescalleet – Grapes And Snakes [Pan]
  32. Drainolith – Fighting! [Spectrum Spools]
  33. Andy Stott – Luxury Problems [Modern Problems]
  34. Silent Harbour – Silent Harbour [Echocord]
  35. PAK – Cast Shadows [Dungeon Taxis]
  36. Pure Ground – Daylight [Chondritic Sound]
  37. Various Artists – Total Fucking Depression [Animal Disguise]
  38. Nick Edwards – Plekzationz [Editions Mego]
  39. Trepaneringsritualen – Deathward, To The Womb [Black Horizons / Merz Tapes]
  40. Russell Haswell – 5″ Vinyl Series LP [Downwards]
  41. Frak – Muzika Electronic [Digitalis Recordings]
  42. Petar Dundov – Ideas From The Pond [Music Man Records]
  43. Aloonaluna – Diadem Or Halo? [Hooker Vision]
  44. San Proper – Animal [Rush Hour Recordings]
  45. Jason Lescalleet – Songs About Nothing [Erstwhile Records]
  46. Vatican Shadow – Ghosts Of Chechnya [Hospital Productions]
  47. Liable – Funeral Of The Beautiful Italian Bullfighter [Chondritic Sound]
  48. Moth Cock – Moth Cock [Tusco/Embassy]
  49. The Compass Rose – The Simulation District [Ekhein]
  50. D’Marc Cantu – A New World [M>O>S Recordings]

12-INCHES (SINGLES/EPS)

  1. Milton Bradley – Reality Is Wrong [Prologue]
  2. Theo Parrish – Hand Made [Running Back]
  3. Metasplice – Topographical Interference EP [Morphine Records]
  4. Shifted – Sickness By Means Of Clairvoyance [Our Circula Sound]
  5. Powell – Body Music [Diagonal]
  6. Emptyset – Collapsed [Raster-Noton]
  7. Go Hiyama – Arc One [Token]
  8. Three Legged Race – Wrong Element [Acoustic Division]
  9. Bronze Age – Antiquated Futurism [Bed Of Nails]
  10. Meager Sunlight / Skeleton Warrior – Seasons Of Nudity [More Records / Hot Releases / Good God Energy Chronicles / Roofless Records]
  11. Vatican Shadow – Iraqi Praetorian Guard [Blackest Ever Black]
  12. Morphosis – The TEPCO Report [Morphine Records]
  13. Mark Ernestus Presents Jeri-Jeri With Mbene Diatta Seck – Xale [Ndagga]
  14. Skudge / San Proper ‎– Dekmantel Anniversary Series Part 4 [Dekmantel]
  15. Mark Ernestus Presents Jeri-Jeri With Mbene Diatta Seck – Mbeuguel Dafa Nekh [Ndagga]
  16. Samantha Vacation (Sam V) / Beeman Glow – Samantha’s Vacation / Dblorowa [Webern Arts + Industries]
  17. Aardvark – Indo E.P. [Skudge Presents]
  18. Vatican Shadow – September Cell [Bed Of Nails]
  19. Pete Swanson – Pro Style [Type]
  20. Skudge – Haste / Wonder Stories [Skudge Records]
  21. Russell Haswell – Remixed [Downwards]
  22. Heatsick – Déviation EP [Pan]
  23. Profligate – Videotape [Not Not Fun Records]
  24. Christian Cosmos – The Sharp Lines That Delineate His Robes [Bed Of Nails]
  25. Ø [Phase] – Binary Opposition Reprocessed Part 1 [Token]
  26. Lakker – Arc E.P. [Blueprint]
  27. Regis – Ital [Downwards]
  28. Opuswerk – Wired Connections EP [Plak Records]
  29. Alfabet – Hell Of Samba [Rush Hour Recordings]
  30. Walker & Kennedy – 3 Stacked Layers, From Macro To Meta [Inner Surface Music]

Perc: Antifunk / Purple

R-2604300-1297113966.jpegOn the other two Perc titles I’m currently dry-humping — the hellish/thick Monad V, released via the Stroboscopic Artefacts label, and Vertigo One, a collection of remixes, including a pair from Milton Bradley, who himself is a beast — Perc is in construction mode. The producer erects industrial grooves as dense, mammoth and rumbling as mining machinery. He’s a lot like Ancient Methods in that respect.

On the “Antifunk” / “Purple” twelve-inch, however, Perc opts for deconstruction. Instead of blowing-out the basic components of 1980s dancefloor industrial (battering-ram drum machines, dystopian robo-synths and the clanging cacophony of grease-stained men whacking archaic plumbing with massive monkey wrenches), he grinds them into severely minimal abstractions. The low-end murk that’s so much a part of Monad V and Vertigo One is nowhere to be heard. This allows the concentrated power embedded in these components to emerge. The beats are still humongous, of course, but their taught and rather wiry, too.

“Antifunk” is anything but — at least to those of us who find funk in such exquisitely inhuman music. The kickdrum bounces hard; the hi-hats, meanwhile, spit barbed static at intervals that are tightly regulated. What’s cool is just how traditional this track is in terms of honoring the industrial form. At first blush, Perc’s radical manipulations are the first qualities I latched on to — modern music, modern times. Yet he very cleverly keeps “Antifunk” tethered to its industrial history, specifically the Portion Control / Krupps / Fad Gadget zone circa ’85. The most overtly industrial touches are the hammer-to-anvil percussion and the clipped human breaths, both of which pass through a faint dubby ether on occasion.

“Purple” is the funkier of the two, actually. It’s also more engaging. Where “Antifunk” follows a fairly basic narrative (build > breakdown > build again), its flipside is a tug-of-war, one that never resolves itself, between turmoil and an eerie tranquility. The two extremes just kind of stalk each other in precarious stalemate. The cowbells, big, of course, stutter uneasily; they also seem to multiply vertically as the track progresses. The kickdrum, while powerful and surefooted, isn’t without its flagrant lapses in duty. Concurrently, waves of gothic synths, an uncanny tonic I suppose, float like wraiths over the near-chaos underneath them. At midway point, all action dissolves, this just long enough for a compacted orgy of human breaths and moans to emerge. They wind up hanging around ’til party’s end.

It’s funny. Whenever I finish pulverizing myself with this 12″ I sit back and with ears ringing, begin waxing philosophic on the nebulous nature of genre classification, something Perc brutally dismisses with these two more-than-sturdy tracks, both of which possess the fundamentals of techno and industrial. Very cool.