Press Play: Peter Hammill’s “Porton Down”

Peter Hammill’s discography, both solo and with Van der Graaf Generator, is littered with prescient forays into future-sound. “Porton Down,” from the 1979 album pH7, is one of the most radical. Underpinned by a nasty synth-groove, with David Jackson’s cyborg sax splattered all about, Hammill sounds absolutely crazed, railing against Porton Down, a military research facility in the United Kingdom that specialized in biological- and chemical-based weaponry. Not unlike Scott Walker, David Bowie and Brian Eno, Hammill is one of those arty cats from the ’70s who exerted a profound influence on punk, post-punk, synth-pop, etc.


To Live and Shave in L.A. Live, in Chapel Hill

tumblr_inline_npjvkshrjx1rg5ixa_500To Live and Shave in L.A.’s 25 anniversary tour recently passed through the Triangle. I reviewed the show for Indy Week’s music blog. The Shave unleashed some of the most cutting-edge and thrilling music I’ve heard in quite some time: 21st-century art rock built from scraps of power electronics, footwork and noise-punk intensity. TLASILA are ultra-modern purveyors of the dark futurism found in stuff like “Porton Down”-era Peter Hammill and Public Image Limited’s Metal Box. Read here.

(Photograph courtesy of Walter Wlodarczyk.)


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.


Dystopian Beats

PercI recently curated a playlist for Google’s music subscription service, Google Play Music, titled “Dystopian Beats.” Featuring 50 tracks, it spotlights modern producers exploring various fusions of techno, industrial music, noise, Goth and drone.  It contains a lot of heavy hitters, including Powell, Demdike Stare, Prostitutes, Container, Mincemeat or Tenspeed, Perc, Orphx, Profligate, AnD, Alberich and more. If a subscriber to Google Play Music, you can check out “Dystopian Beats” here.



Inside VVAQRT’s Immediate, Elusive Detainee, a Stunning Transmission From the Local Experimental Web

I profiled VVAQRT for Indy Week, the alternative weekly for the Durham-Chapel Hill-Raleigh region of North Carolina (where I live). I must admit: I don’t like that title. Too wordy, too rich. Plus, “elusive” isn’t how I’d describe their excellent music. This is the norm for me. I am a cantankerous freelancer who has cringed at nearly every title every editor has ever slapped on my work. The piece turned out pretty well, nevertheless.


I have spun the duo’s Detainee album regularly over the last few months, and I wanted to offer readers a taste of where they’re coming from as artists, as well as provide context for the local underground milieu to which they belong. That proved to be quite a lot to juggle. Someday, maybe I will post the raw Q&A I conducted with Mai Phili and Mildew Ethers. It’s a cool read in and of itself. They are thoughtful, smart and unique, and they supplied me with way more insight (intricate and abstruse) than a short feature for a general-interest publication could properly capture. Read here.


Lack: Expect Night Work

doser022-lackI reviewed Lack’s debut 12-inch, Expect Night Work, released via Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Records (also home to Metasplice, Charles Cohen and Beaini’s own Morphosis alias). Philip Maier is a vital component to the noise and underground-electronics scene here in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill zone of North Carolina. In addition to productions under the Lack moniker, he participates in collaborative projects VVAQRT and Sagan Youth Boys; he also is quite active in show promotion. Maier, a gearhead and craftsman, is adept at finely constructed decay. As I point-out in my review, “Behind all that thick, analog crud is a musician who’s deceptively fussy about sound design. After all, it takes a lot of hard work to make music this perfectly decayed.” Read the full review here, at Resident Advisor.


Prostitutes: Truncheon Cadence (Parts 1 and 2)

TruncheonCadenceAnother Prostitutes release, another review. Actually, Truncheon Cadence is two releases, a pair of separately packaged 10-inchers courtesy of Shifted and Ventress’ Mira imprint. I tend to align James Donadio’s project with the “technoise” thing. (I even included a track from the producer on Feral Grind, the technoise / industrial techno compilation I co-curated for Perc’s Submit label.) But while he certainly shares a few commonanlities with Profligate, Container, Unicorn Hard-On, etc., these two plates are proof that Donadio has developed a unique sound balancing punk energy and techno craftsmanship. Needless to say, Truncheon Cadence Parts 1 and 2 are outstanding. Read here.


Euglossine: Tristaria

euglossineEuglossine, the alias for Tristan Whitehill, just released the digital album Tristaria, and I reviewed it for Resident Advisor. The multi-instrumentalist hails from Gainesville, Florida, home to a really cool underground scene, one obsessed with psychedelic exploration and subtropical hedonism. Here’s a teaser from my piece: “Tristaria is pure fruity cuteness. If it were a cocktail, it’d be served in a hollowed-out coconut with a half-dozen pink parasols sticking out.” Read here.