1998

In a time long ago and a galaxy not so far away… the year 1998:

January: Nepalese police intercept a shipment of 272 human skulls in Kathmandu

February:  Iraqi President Saddam Hussein negotiates a deal with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, allowing weapons inspectors to return to Baghdad, preventing military action by the United States and Britain.

March: Data sent from the Galileo probe indicates that Jupiter’s moon Europa has a liquid ocean under a thick crust of ice.

April: Pakistan tests medium-range missiles capable of hitting India.

May: The Galaxy IV communications satellite fails, leaving 80–90% of the world’s pagers without service.

June: The CIH virus is discovered in Taiwan.

July: Japan launches a probe to Mars, joining the United States and Russia as an outer space-exploring nation.

August: The first RFID human implantation is tested in the United Kingdom.

September: Google, Inc. is founded in Menlo Park, California, by Stanford University PhD candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

October: Hurricane Mitch makes landfall in Central America, killing an estimated 18,000 people.

November: A Russian Proton rocket is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying the first segment of the International Space Station, the 21 ton Zarya Module.

December: U.S. President Bill Clinton orders airstrikes on Iraq. UNSCOM withdraws all weapons inspectors from Iraq.

The year Phil Hartman died is to me one of an escalating and evolving culture, mimicking continued technological advancements and new levels of just about everything… Looking back at what music albums were released in ’98, it is a bit mindboggling, as there are envelope pushing albums in just about every genre.

This year was the first year I was really able to keep up with most new music, as I had been living in Chicago for a bit at this point, and knew where virtually all the record stores were. It was also the time where I lived in 3 completely different places: downtown Chicago, Davenport, IA (my only brief stay outside living in IL), and uptown, Chicago. (I’d end up staying in uptown for quite a long time).

Massive Attack – ‘Mezzanine’

It’s hard to pick just one song from this album, so I’ll link the whole damn thing. ‘Mezzanine’ raised the bar on production in 1998 and branched out into music composition fusing new technology in computer music with lush studio values and wonderfully recorded vocal performances. So many great songs on here, yet “Teardrop”, “Dissolved Girl”, “Man Next Door”, “Black Milk” all are quite memorable for me, as well as the pair of “Exchange” and “(Exchange)”.

It’s one of the biggest albums of the 90s and gets somewhat overlooked in the best album of the 90s conversation. Massive Attack’s entire third album was available on their website for download many months before the physical release was even announced. Also, ‘Mezzanine’ was one of the first major releases in the MP3 format.

Amon Tobin – ‘Permutation’

Here is “People Like Frank”, which blew my mind the first indeterminable # of plays. Suffice it to say, I listened to this album a ton. And it’s one of my favorite albums of all time. Not really much filler here, all killer. One of the more memorable albums I bought in college, by far. Amon Tobin remains a highly innovative visionary in computer music, djing, and new forms of music in general. Am very influenced by his style along with…

Autechre – lp5

Another in a series of very influential albums, Autechre’s LP5 was my introduction to the band… between this and ‘Permutation’ I was convinced of the need to work on experimental electronic music more often, having already dabbled in it for a couple years. This album is strong start to finish, in my view starting a new sound that would culminate years later with the devilishly titled ‘Untilted’.

Part of my main focus in college being sound and production, many of us would bring up Autechre and the new sounds of computer processing and other unconventional methodologies that they displayed. Perhaps my favorite electronic music group, another key song to check out from this opus is “Arch Carrier“.

Tortoise – ‘tnt’

Here’s another example of an album that I ended up liking but did not at first. Perhaps I was too excited about living in a new city, or had not matured yet music taste-wise (let’s see, I was  22 back then, probably not), but I couldn’t believe how much people liked Tortoise. Years later, I can appreciate the nuances of this mostly laidback Chicago band, who threw all types of music into a blender and somehow made it very reasonably presentable. Enough of my rambling, ‘TNT’ is one of the most influential albums to be released in the late 90s… fitting the continuing theme of big albums from 1998. Countless bands have emulated this sound to some extent, and helped spawn the term post-rock for better or worse. For me, it is a great changeup from much of my intense music collection which incorporates and reconstitutes genres more obvious like electronic music, jazz and world music, and more subtly manipulates other genres into its plodding, pleasant path.

Boredoms – ‘Super Ae’

This release is the first of the Boredoms sort of unexpected, psychedelic/tribal (more organic) rock direction. Almost sounding like a completely new band, but retaining the studio tricks and other antics in general, ‘Super Are’ reaches new heights. Layered rhythmic drumming, slowly building compositions, and an overall bright new sound was an interesting change for the band that probably won them over some new followers (and may have baffled a few old school fans of the more noise oriented version). Great album from beginning to end, it is also one of the more positive sounding statements in my entire music collection!

Don Caballero – ‘What Burns Never Returns’

One of three Don Caballero albums that still get a lot of playing time in my collection (other two are ‘II’ and ‘Singles Breaking Up’). ‘What Burns Never Returns’ is a favorite among musicians (especially drummers and guitarists amazed by Damon Che and Ian Williams). This song in particular that is linked is an example of all eras of Don Cab, it incorporates most of their moves into one song. This album is also very important to a lot of music geeks… for me it is working on both levels as a musician fascinated by what these guys are doing and as a music nerd blown away by the creativity and next level shit. To many others, Don Caballero is an overrated music noodle storm, but I have a feeling their brains are overwhelmed and their ears are unaccustomed to cool sounds.

Gorguts – ‘Obscura’

Speaking of next level shit, this next album on the list definitely qualifies. To many that would hear this probably accidentally, it would sound like a nightmarish and disturbing musical hell… but the kicker is that that’s exactly what it is. The first time I heard this was at a time when I was going back and discovering heavy metal that I had somehow missed, so I was as prepared for it as I was ever going to be.

Challenging, experimental, groundbreaking, nervewracking, and just plain dumbfounding are a few ways to describe ‘Obscura’ (which obviously spawned a band naming itself after it!). It is its own universe, one of painful cries, monstrously creaking and scraping guitars, and maniacally evil drumming (well, if evil drumming is possible, this is probably a good example). Once one figures this beast out, it is a very rewarding listen and grows more interesting over time… there is so much detail and mood to go along with the aforementioned adjectives leading off this paragraph.

And omg, it absolutely slays live.

Few albums in the entire history of heavy metal can match the ferocity, ingenuity, precision, and creativity on display here. One of the greatest heavy albums of all time, completely devastating on every level. Sadly enough, most of the band involved in this album are now deceased, but one of the survivors has resurrected the group for what is to be in all likelihood one of the best metal releases of 2012. Completely wild yet extremely precise, ‘Obscura’ is my favorite metal album of 1998 if I had to choose. (also, RIP to Steve Hurdle who passed away earlier this year).

Meshuggah – ‘Chaosphere’

…And more groundbreaking metal, probably even more imitated than Gorguts’ masterpiece, is something called ‘Chaosphere’. This is where Meshuggah figured out what they’d be doing for years to come. I don’t find myself listening to this album much anymore, but I do figure it deserves a historical footnote here in xenochrony.com. I know when it came out it floored me and I actually heard it that year. And it is insanely  influential. I now prefer some of the later albums and maybe one of the ones before this to ‘Chaosphere’, but it certainly did make waves (it all just kinda sounds like the same song).

Clutch – ‘Elephant Riders’

The first album I bought by Clutch. Still one of my favorites by them… at the time I had difficulty finding people who were into it, but in the aughts I found some cool friends and saw Clutch many times (only have seen the melvins more often). They are an incredibly fun and good live band, and much of their discography is pretty much flawless (not as into the latter years albums that are a little less heavy and more like traditional hard rock or blues, but they are still pretty good too).

Standout tracks besides “The Dragonfly” are “The Soapmakers”, “Muchas Veces”, and “The Yeti”. Awh, I feel all nostalgic now after hearing these songs. So good. I’d link to ‘em but the youtube upload quality for these are pretty bad, plus you should just go right ahead and buy ‘em and help these boys out. They are a hardworkin’ band that probably is still scrapin’ by a bit even after all these years.

Queens of the Stone Age – self titled debut

Not long after getting this it was already one of the coolest rock n’ roll albums around… it did not take long to get into, and it just made you want to hear it more. To top off being a top notch debut, it also introduced me indirectly to Kyuss, one of my favorite bands. But anyway, ‘qotsa’ is chock full of perfect rock riffs and robotic rock beats. Josh Homme brings a rock steady drummer from the later incarnation of Kyuss with him, the excellent Alfredo Hernandez. Josh plays all the rest, but later recruits old pal Nick Oliveri; and rock history is made.

Since I especially like the sound on the re-release and the inclusion of “The Bronze” and “These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For”, that’s the version of the album linked above. Off the original release, this is perhaps my favorite song… or this. Another favorite album of mine, making 1998 another year that is quite ridiculously stacked in albums (see also 1992).

All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors – ‘Turning Into Small’

ANOTHER album that I consider one of my favorites in music history is this, part of America’s answer to shoegaze/My Bloody Valentine (albeit, by a bunch of teenage dudes from New Jersey and a few years late to the shoegazing party). They are to me an extremely underrated psychedelic/experimental/noise pop band, although I find that it is hard to find people who like ‘Turning Into Small’ as much as I do. A hidden gem of an album since the late 90′s were not really known for this type of music, it still sounds fresh to me at this point. Think Stereolab with the noise and distortion of My Bloody Valentine.

Beastie Boys – ‘Hello Nasty’

Going back to nostalgia… I listened to this album perhaps more than any other album in 1998. The infectious sounds of ‘Hello Nasty’ still stand out as some of the Beastie Boys most adventuresome. Tons of diversity in material, echoing the Boys’ past (hardcore, rap, hiphop, pop, punk, rock, etc). Introducing some dub into the mix was the best move they could have done at the time. The most nostalgic memory is listening to this on a greyhound to Florida drinking Dr. Peppers and rum and having a grand old late 90′s time. Also remembering playing tracks off this at a dive bar I used to frequent, frequently.

Gang Starr – ‘Moment of Truth’

Another full length album on youtube with many great songs, making it difficult to choose… Premier’s innovative yet traditional hiphop production full of hooks and of course the best beats matched with Guru’s unparalleled style using a strange mix of focus, observation, and surety that ran the gamut from intensity to empathy, is displayed at its zenith on “Moment of Truth”. To me this album is all about the first half, especially “You Know My Steez”, “Robbin Hood Theory”, “Work”, and “Above the Clouds”; and towards the end “Betrayal” (featuring Scarface). I usually like to listen to the ‘Full Clip’ compilation, but the first half of ‘Moment of Truth’ stands up well with just about any side of any album.

DJ Spooky - ‘Riddim Warfare’

This reminds me of going to a bunch of crowded, smoky drum n’ bass parties in Chicago in the late 90′s. I love the panning effects used here, and of course the guest appearance of the inimitable Kool Keith. “Rhymes come in cycles”.

DJ Krush – ‘Kakusei’

DJ Spooky tends to cram as many beats as possible into his tracks (especially on ‘Riddim Warfare’) but Japan’s DJ Krush goes the other route of minimalism in his dj opus ‘Kakusei’. This is another nostalgic album for me, practically had it on repeat for much of ’98 in uptown Chicago. Probably overrating it at the time as it is not quite as highly rated by critics these days, I think it is an important example from this time period, as dj’s and turntablism was in its heyday.

Squarepusher – ‘Music Is Rotted One Note’

This would be another song that would be on a soundtrack for my college years in Chicago. Was not super into this at the time, but this album has grown on me. Today it is considered one of the best albums of the late 90′s by many. Certainly groundbreaking, experimental, and in its own little universe, ‘Music Is Rotted One Note’ is to be heard by anyone into electronic music in my opinion. Maybe not the best Squarepusher album, it is certainly a turning point for his sound.

1998 was a pretty turbulent time, but I suppose it has been ever since. Not that it wasn’t before, it just seems to me that things have been extremely hectic ever since then. This is where I ramble randomly about things in general in ’98. Before I cause too much drama, yes I know that Neutral Milk Hotel – ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ came out that year, and no I do not much care for that album. I suppose I’ve lost all credibility now, but it is what it is (a boring album). But at least that is just another critically acclaimed album to be released in the extravagant year of 1998.

Some good bands disbanded in ’98: Faith No More, Helmet, Chrome.

Honorable mentions: Unwound – ‘Challenge For a Civilized Society’, Morbid Angel – ‘Formulas Fatal To The Flesh’, Sonic Youth – ‘A Thousand Leaves’, godspeed you black emperor – ‘F#A#infinity’ (when I first got into them!), Death – ‘Sound of Perseverance’, and Rush’s wonderful sounding double disc live album ‘Different Stages’.

Film corner: yes, I am going to try and throw a few references to movies in here. It is not just about music here (although the film corner is a very small corner).

American History X: I must admit, I haven’t seen this movie for over a decade. I remember it being slightly disturbing. It’s funny to think that only a few years after this came out I would hear people talking about racism being “over” in America. Could not be further from the truth. The sad specter of racism continues to plague the USA. Which is pretty fucking odd considering it is the melting pot of the world and every culture is represented here. Get over yourselves, racists. Please.

The Big Lebowski: here is a complete 180. One of the most entertaining and re-watchable movies of all time, I still remember seeing this in the theater the first time, as well as the second. Still in my top 5 movies of all time. A comedy like no other.

Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas: Even after seeing the LOTR movies, I still think this is the most accurate book-to-movie conversion of all time. Spot on. While Big Lebowski is my favorite movie of 1998, this is a close second. One of Johnny Depp’s best performances. That said Benicio del Toro almost steals the show. And it has Terry Gilliam! Excellent.

Happiness: Another movie I need to re-watch as I have not seen it since the late 90′s. I remember it being very controversial yet I love black comedy, and I think that’s largely what it was going for. I’ve actually been thinking about watching this lately, time to find a copy.

Pi: Was this my introduction to arthouse cinema? I don’t know really, but it sure seems like it was. Perhaps the most stereotypical of the genre. I remember liking it the first time but upon the second time through, I was sort of shaking my head at it a little. That said, Aronofsky is a damn fine director even though he veers off into slightly over the top cheesy territory sometimes (mainly thinking The Fountain… oh my).

Run Lola Run: To me this is rather exemplary of the flashy 90′s futurism that was at hand during the time. Need to see this one again too, to see how it has held up to time and my getting older and more cynical and critical.

Well, there ya have it… I now have a few movies to re-watch (along with Total Recall… would rather see the original again than watch the remake). Also I feel a bit enlightened in discovering how many of my favorite albums were released in ’98. It seems from here on out I will need to spend more time on these, as more and more releases are made possible by advances in technology. Here we go!

Posted in 1998, 90's, All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors, alt rock, alternametal, Amon Tobin, art school, Autechre, avant garde, Beastie Boys, Big Lebowski, Bill Clinton, Boredoms, Chicago, Clutch, Coen Bros., college, college parties, comedy, dark humor, Darren Aronofsky, death, death metal, DJ Krush, DJ Spooky, Don Caballero, doom, downtempo, drum n bass, electronic music, experimental, Faith No More, film, future, Gang Starr, godspeed you black emperor!, google, Gorguts, groove metal, heavy metal, helmet, hiphop, Hunter S Thompson, Hurricane Mitch, idm, International Space Station, Japan, Josh Homme, live, Massive Attack, math rock, Meshuggah, movies, mp3, noise rock, Phil Hartman, post-rock, psychedelic, Queens of the Stone Age, radical, rock, Rush, social commentary, Sonic Youth, Squarepusher, summer, technical death metal, thrash, Tortoise, Unwound | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

1997

On March 4th of 1997, Bill Clinton banned federal funding of research into human cloning. In other news, HAL9000 is activated in the ’2001′ universe on January 17th, 1997. In the Terminator milieu, Skynet is goin’ live on August 29th. Even ‘Escape From New York’ is set in good ol’ 1997. On a more real note, it was also the year that John Denver crashed into the ocean as sole pilot of this neat little plane.

Speaking of music, there were ten pretty great albums released in 1997. It was a big year for me as I moved away from my rural surroundings into the strange sprawling cacophony that is Chicago. I’ve compiled a top 10 or something like that. I’ll start with one of those 90′s albums that are just classic (and there are a few of them this year):

While my Radiohead fandom is waning, I will still have a certain nostalgia for ‘OK Computer’ for probably most of my life (‘Kid A’ is also great fwiw; anyone ever notice there’s a Rush song called “Analog Kid”). It just can take you back to that time, if for no other reason I heard it a billion times in the late 90′s and in 1997. One of the few things people could agree on at college (well for the most part) and my old high school buddies too. I was “lucky” to be able to move to Chicago, since things all fell into place at the right time and I didn’t get into any trouble before I moved.

Up until ‘The Mollusk’, I just couldn’t get into Ween. Too goofy for my serious 21 year old self. But the arrangements got more developed and there was a definite prog rock undertone or something like it to the album that sold it for me. What’s more, it just might be their most consistent album from beginning to end.

So between ‘OK Computer’ and ‘The Mollusk’, 1997 is a very very “album-y” year. What’s next…. oh yeah, this qualifies.

Not only is this another perfect or near perfect album, it is the answer to the departure of music giants Eddie Glass and Ruben Romano. To top it all off, it also has one of my favorite drummers of all time Brant Bjork (ex-Kyuss) on it! In my opinion, pretty much the height of Fu Manchu’s powers… after this album they kinda lost it. ‘The Action Is Go’ has so many classic rock tunes like “Evil Eye”, “Urethane”, “Trackside Hoax”, “Unknown World”,  “Hogwash”, “Strolling Astronomer”, and “Saturn III” making it one of the most rifftastic albums you’ll ever hear.

Another album I still love a ton is Subarachnoid Space – ‘Almost Invisible’, a drony masterpiece of mythic proportions. It has that mystical otherworldly vibe that you want to hear on this kind of album. I remember being turned onto lots and lots of new music in my first year in Chicago, and this was kinda what I had to share since no one else had this. It is both a good album to throw on and have conversations with friends and a great thing to hear as you drift off into slumber.

My art school buds really enjoyed Flying Saucer Attack. An at times very unique and at others utterly repetitive band. To sum up, for the most part in college the band was a bit too on the docile end of listening to music (yes despite the cool distortion). But in retrospect I find most of Flying Saucer Attack to be a rewarding and interesting listening experience.

I did get to see Brutal Truth one really drunken night at The Fireside Bowl during this tour. One of the reasons I’m still a big heavy metal fan, this show. Just pure rock fury in every direction. Crazy cowboy hats, grinding, Lilker, just pure madness. Brutal Truth, one of those bands who didn’t get lame and boring with time. imo…

Another classic throwback metal album was released in ’97… freakin ‘Frequencies From Planet Ten’ by Orange Goblin. Not only do they rock more than most bands, they also can throw down some tasty psychedelic garage rock blues. Go see them live next time they are in town. You’ll be glad you did (if they roll through).

The best way to absorb this next portion of this voyage through time, is to hear the whole album of Portishead that was released in 1997.

1. Cowboys 2. All Mine 3. Undenied 4. Half Day Closing 5. Over 6. Humming 7. Mourning Air 8. Seven Months 9. Only You 10. Elysium 11. Western Eyes

Perhaps one of my favorite albums of all time was released in ’97: Thingy’s ‘Songs About Angels, Evil, and Running Around on Fire’. “Already Ivy” is one of the most melodic math rock songs ever created. Also present is Thingy’s/Rob Crow’s ever present comedic factor:’

“Cutest Baby” is one of the funniest songs ever.

Cheer Accident’s ‘Enduring the American Dream’ … what more can I say, other than that this prog rock band is the greatest band to ever sprout from the very fertile musical fields of Chicago, IL. There are unfortunately not too many pre-twenty first century Cheer Accident youtube uploads, but there is this updated version of one of the best songs on the album:

Best duo album? Anyway, these dakota guys are just way ahead of their time:

Bonus:

this was also released in 1997 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3kUY5UijyE

P.S. Best movie of ’97? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvevTI2GgAg&feature=mv_sr at least I saw that one that year… later on I think I like Princess Monoke or Gattaca a little better.

Posted in 1997, 90's, alt rock, alternametal, art school, Bill Clinton, Brutal Truth, Cheer Accident, Chicago, college, college parties, drone, duo, fantasy, future, grindcore, heavy metal, movies, Nebula, noise rock, Orange Goblin, Portishead, psychedelic, radiohead, rock, Rush, sci-fi, Subarachnoid Space, Thingy, Ween | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Beats February picks

Streaming Mix on 8tracks.com

Here are my 20 picks from February, the songs that I thought all sounded on some next level creativity. After two months, it seems that this is going to be quite a sonic journey throughout 2012.

Dataline – “Elsewhere

Near perfect example of a track that can take you on a voyage. It is very listenable containing some gorgeous melodies and nice, rubbery bass tones. The use of panning is tasteful and effective. Pretty much a fully realized idea and concise track without being a short song.

Seagull Chainsaw – “Discuss Disgust”

A really great memorable track with a really odd beginning and ending containing some almost piano-like slightly plucked string sound. Those parts are interested, but my favorite section are the really excellent beats and the ambient, sort of flute-like strings (the main melody is rather contagious). The emotional feel of the track also matches up pretty well with the track title.

Fullautostop – “Holds Cold”

Some of the more experimental beats you’ll hear at weeklybeats.com. I really enjoyed the uniqueness of this track, and how it builds up. Very futuristic vibe to be heard here.

Dominga – “At Sea”

I almost included another Dominga song in addition to this one, but anyway, this song is really good. It pretty much sounds like nothing else at the site, and really brings some variety to the table. Sort of has a 90′s drum and bass vibe, but extra lo-fi without actually sounding lo-fi. It’s hard to describe the piece, but it has cool vocals on it which sound pretty unique (maybe a little bit Tv On The Radio-ish).

Capt. Heroin – “The President of Finland Evening”

Username of Fredrik. This particular track has a really cool sound, again sort of on the lo-fi end, but not really. I really like the sound and textures, but it is also arranged very effectively. Another one that is a bit of a sonic voyage, it doesn’t drag much at all even though it is well over 6 minutes long.

Godinpants – “Jyungal”

Interesting and unique jungle track with a hopeful yet downtempo melodic synth line, coupled with frantic jungle beats. It’s all nice and loud, and then a wonderful brass sounding melody brings a new dimension to the table. The beats know when to take a quick break, the bassline is swell too. Kinda breaths some life into the genre.

NWSPR – “Anthem”

Perhaps the most fun sounding track from February. Party track with vocals AND some nice song transitions. The beat is very catchy, and mixed really well. Nice melodies too, just a really great track. Has sort of an industrial meets chip tune sound, but with 80′s pop sensibilities (thinking devo, the cars).

Protman – “180wb5″

One of the most consistently good weeklybeats artists. Will most likely have at least 1 song each month here! lol. The beat is really quite kickass, and the sound is very unique and a little bit odd to say the least. Not so much melodic as robotic.

OK Ikumi – “Kindergarten”

More experimental sounds… I like everything about this song, from the simple beat, the synth bass filling in the rest of the rhythm and some melody. The sort of ghostly vibe, even the repetitiveness which usually I’m annoyed by. The subtleties of this track are probably its most endearing quality.

Dynamik – “Drifter”

aka Paul Wright. Builds on a very solid sounding bassline, the guitar parts actually take over the song. A steady beat rocks throughout the song, and the melody seems to evolve without sounding arbitrary. Soundtrack to a lost 80s action movie, or video game adventure setting.

Phil Harmonic – “Faith Driver”

Another one that has a soundtrack vibe. Also compositionally pretty excellent. When I hear this track I always have pretty instant recognition with the main melody. It reminds me of a lot of things, really. Plus, Phil Harmonic is a great pun/play on words as a moniker. Well done!

Ryan – “A Close Call”

Eerie sounding, mostly textural piece. Weird beats, weird ethereal synths, and lots of backwards sounding drones. The piece is a little unsettling but oddly listenable… I really enjoy hearing the ambient bass synth too. Just an interesting song idea really.

Botanimal – “Fuji Blues”

It seems a little weird including my own track again, but this one brought me a lot of good vibes and positive reinforcement. Also, if I heard it at a friend’s house I’d probably go hey what the hell is that? I think the best part is when the beats modulate the bass line and then go into a new section with transitory ease.

Saturnascends – “Air Is Poison Poison Is Life”

A fully realized track using a lot of different sounding instruments. The variety is presented cohesively with a steady buildup. The guitar chord changes bring some life to the middle section of the song, and it alternates more sparse sections with some busier notation. But it is all downtempo and chill.

tIB – “Inspectorated”

Displaced atmosphere for nearly 13 minutes is disorienting… but it is actually a pleasant form of disorienting. So being that it is that unique and it is an interesting idea, I decided to throw it into the mix. I can’t really think of anything it sounds like, but maybe a really lengthy and more subdued version of something off of Squarepusher’s ‘Budokan Mindphone’.

Slunchy – “Cheated (Out of Headbobs)”

A great job of programming and nice n crunchy sonic textures. Entirely synthetic and computerized. The stuttering beats complement the other sounds instead of taking center stage.

Zebra – “Moving Upward”

One of the best tracks from a week packed with great songs. A rather open sounding and understated track. I also really enjoyed the programming on this one. In the middle of the track, it stops and shifts gears and at first becomes even more ambient and slower. Another really memorable one.

Dataline – “Little Hope”

The first one of these I wrote, for January, I stated a rule that I’d only pick 1 track per artist. Welp, I’ve broke that rule already. Up to TWO tracks per artist! Also that matches 8tracks rules for mixes. Anyway, this is yet another great song from Dataline. PS, now I really want one of these.

Seagull Chainsaw – “Sixty Six String Wing Sing a Long Napoleon”

Thought this was a really neat piece with some smooth psychedelic guitars. I especially like the second half of the song… it has a lot of character. It also sounds a bit different than everything else on the site.

Fullautostop – “Koro”

Another one of my favorite artists from February is fullautostop. Koro is a really kickass track. Another meticulously programmed piece that is kind of amazing in that it was just created in a week. I’m really liking the fact that we get to hear brand new electronic music every week!

Posted in 2012, alt rock, atari, downtempo, electronic music, experimental, future, idm, industrial, internet, mellow, Nintendo, noise, Progressive, psychedelic, sci-fi, soundtrack, synth, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1996

All kinds of notable events occurred in 1996, like when a blizzard hit the east coast region with a brutal 2 and a half feet of snowfall early in the year… which was followed up by the North Cape oil spill. Or in the spring of ’96, when the Unabomber is arrested in his cabin in Montana…

But, this article is not about those important events. What this is… is that there were so many albums that came out in 1996 that became some of the most heartfelt albums in my collection or memory… without further adieu:

Sepultura – ‘Roots’

‘Roots’ is probably the best thing to come out of the nu-metal craze by far, causing Sepultura to slightly alter their sound into a slower, thicker beast. At the album’s faster moments, the sound is almost like a sandstorm somehow attacking a jungle, the distortion being extremely grainy and visceral. The album contains much variety, and is less cohesive than say, ‘Arise’. What’s cool is that it is the band flexing its creative muscles, and stretching boundaries within the death metal and thrash genres. Here is Sepultura tearing it up at a hotel:

Many of these albums acted as the soundtrack to my 5 year college career, which was split between Black Hawk College and The School of The Art Institute of Chicago (or SAIC). The year 1996 was my last year at community college, living with my father. At this point I had upgraded from my incredibly crappy running ’77 Mercury Comet to a slightly better running vehicle, the ’88 Pontiac Grand-Am. Compared to the Mercury, it was almost like a Formula One car. Also it was the last car I owned, although I did get the chance to drive my parents’ 4×4 Toyota fairly often. At the end of 1996, I ended up selling my car and haven’t owned one since.

the melvins – ‘Stag’

Stag is perhaps an underrated Melvins album, sometimes written off as the tail end of their  major label tenure. But I’d argue it is one of their best experimental studio outputs. Similar to their previous album, the melvins continued to push the limits of the high end studios at their disposal. The album touches upon classic melvins material such as the much-covered “The Bit”, pop styled offerings, live instrument noise/drone pieces, and much much more.

Ministry – ‘Filthpig’

To me, Filthpig is like Ministry trying to be more like The Melvins. Which may sound like an uncreative idea, but it is quite the opposite. The results are amazing, and easily Ministry’s most underrated album. The title track is the most obvious nod in the melvins direction, and it only gets better after that track. Well, except for the absolutely brilliant opening track, (although generically titled) “Reload” (without a doubt one of my favorite Ministry songs). My guess is that this album is not as well received because it is really damn noisy. It’s also perhaps their most metal album, but it really is just a continuation of the ‘Psalm 69′ mentality. I genuinely like every track on this album, but here is another favorite song (the youtube compression takes most of the life out of this one though):

Neurosis – ‘Through Silver in Blood’

Nothing really sounded quite like this album in the mid-90′s, so it really stands out in music history in my opinion. There were a few other bands stretching the sound of heavy metal, but none quite accomplished the crushing atmosphere of TSIB and its multiple levels of sonic layering. There were definitely other hardcore punk bands doing the slower sludge noise rock thing, but Neurosis enveloped this sound in a wall of effects, obscured samples and sound sources, tribal drumming, and even a live visual artist. (while on the topic of Neurosis, I must add one of the best live shows I’ve seen was them at the Fireside Bowl in ’97 I think it was)

rage against the machine – ‘Evil Empire’

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Evil Empire, since it was played in my car very frequently in the mid 90s. Even remember it as a good soundtrack to driving to Florida… Another reason to include is that it is just as good as its classic predecessor (their debut) and sooooo much better than the 2 albums following it (which to me sound so overproduced that I can hardly listen to them anymore). Which brings me to their main appeal: their live energy.  Here is a live video or two from ’96:

Meat Beat Manifesto – ‘Subliminal Sandwich’

Shifting gears a bit, and looking ahead into future listening, I first heard some MBM back in 1996, and after a few listens at a friend’s house I had to go out and buy the double cd album, which is part of a small trend of double cd albums from the late 90′s to the early aughts. Another really great live show, this group is mostly electronic and mainly just one guy (Jack Dangers). Here the band goes for more of a space/lounge/funk/jazz vibe and expands the sound into some new kind of fusion that really isn’t touched upon too often (an industrial group creating an ambient rave while imitating Bitches Brew?)…

Aphex Twin – ‘Richard D James Album’

This might just be (historically speaking) the big album of 1996. It is one of my favorite albums of all time by any musician, and one of Aphex Twin’s best. It’s also one of two full lengths since it was released (albeit, the other one was a double album) by the guy that is sometimes known as “the Mozart of our times“.

Stereolab – ‘Emperor Tomato Ketchup’

Perhaps the quintessential college art student album, it stands up well both among the band’s other albums and in general. It is poppy enough that a wide spectrum of people can enjoy it, and interesting enough to keep many people listening to the album for years to come. One of the most beautiful sounding albums of the 90′s… it would be very difficult not to like a band that sounds like this:

Carcass – ‘Swansong’

Another one of the 90′s most underrated albums, Swansong is a much more clever and classic-riff filled album than many would give it credit for. From one of the greatest extreme metal bands of all time, this one turns it down half a notch and is therefore at times labeled not as good. (or perhaps it is because of bad puns?) On the contrary, it’s a near-perfect metal classic full of cutting social commentary and super thick, catchy riffage that is evident in “Tomorrow Belongs to Nobody”. The most straight-up metal album by Carcass, but who cares? It’s great.

Unwound – ‘Repetition’

The year after 1996, ’97, was my first year as a Chicagoan. Sometime later in that year I began expanding my rock music tastes away from the usual metal and industrial bands. Some of my college friends were big Unwound fans, so I’d end up hearing them pretty often at their apartment. Eventually got to see them live at The Fireside Bowl, another insanely good show from that era. Unwound ended up becoming one of my favorite bands, and ‘Repetition’ is one of their greatest releases. Here is their college radio “hit” song… if it was I’m not really sure, but it certainly has the hooks. Another for your entertainment:

Dr Octagon – ‘Dr Octagonecologyst’

Both great for headphone listening or partying blasted out of some speakers, Dr Octagon was along with Stereolab and Aphex Twin what people were listening to at art college in the late 90s on a regular basis. The whole album is a classic and even the skits are great.

Fu Manchu – ‘In Search Of’

Speaking of art school parties, I first heard this at one. Super catchy, hugely fuzzed out guitars and 70′s style rock riffs played with 90′s gusto. It even has a millennium falcon reference. I once won tickets to see this band live at The Metro, and have seen them a couple other times, and I can say they are even better live than on the albums.

Tipsy – ‘Trip Tease’

Just got into this album recently and it is a really impressive collection of laidback lounge and exotica presented with a meticulously arranged collection of samples. Sort of like a seamless sonic collage of cool sounds both vintage and fresh-sounding.

honorable mentions: EHG, Polvo

*final note, I included a 1995 performance of a song from Tool’s ‘Aenima’ album, which actually was released in 1996 in the last post

Posted in 1996, 70s, 90's, alt rock, alternametal, Aphex Twin, art school, Carcass, cars, cassette, college, college parties, dark humor, death, doom, drone, electronic music, film, funk, future, groove metal, heavy metal, hiphop, idm, industrial, jazz, kraut rock, live, melvins, Mike Patton, Ministry, noise, noise rock, politics, punk, radical, rock, sci-fi, Sepultura, social commentary, star wars, Stereolab, synth, technology, The Empire Strikes Back, thrash, Tipsy, tool, tribal, Unabomber, Unwound | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weeklybeats.com January 2012 picks

Weekly Beats is a website challenging the musician, sound artist, or electronic music composer to create a new track every week for the year of 2012. As a participant I have had a lot of fun during the first month, both creating new music and listening to the plethora of new sounds. All music derived through this site is creative commons material, so it is free. But any use of the material needs to be attributed to the artist. Here is a compilation of my favorite tracks from the first month… just click on the link for a download of the mp3 file for each song:

Dataline – The Beginning

This song is a joy to listen to… every time it pops up on random it is a happy occurrence. The pacing is just right, it has a fun, memorable melody; and the panning of the glitched out hihats is a nice touch, given the listener a ping-pong effect for the ears. The way the rhythm builds works very well, and the subtle changes the song goes through are a welcome experience. The ending of the song is succinct yet a nice wind-down. A great introduction to weeklybeats.

Fullautostop – Straws With Holes In

An interesting, very processed and rhythmic song. To me it sounds like a less alien-sounding Autechre. Sounds and samples are pulled apart revealing textures in each beat that would not be heard otherwise. Very intricate hihats jump around the sound field while a cycling loop of technological beats form a surprisingly catchy track. There is virtually no melody, but that’s fine since the song is great as it is.

Lomz – Kazi

Epic strings are the main focus here. The song wastes no time and jumps straight into a purposeful loop that does not change until halfway into the song. At that point the listener is treated with a great transition including a cool sounding but simple synth bassline, and changes in the overall rythmic structure. The song is downtempo overall, but is pretty atypical for a downtempo track. 3/4 of the way through, the song mutates again with another change in the rhythm… but it does not sacrifice the natural flow of the track.

Thursdaybloom – Polaroid

Combining a somewhat detached piano line with a field recording at a cafe, the track’s intro does not give much clue as to what the song is like. Which brings an air of mystery to the beginning. When the song actually kicks in, the listener is treated with a great synth bass, some ambient strings, and ever changing glitched out beats. It’s very hard to get bored of the track with so much rhythmic variance and a nice palette of sounds.

Starpause – scrt plcs

A short and sweet 2 minute track that is another example of a great first week of weeklybeats.com. Featuring a phased out, smooth keyboard line, a weird buzzing robo-synth, and a more human sounding brighter lead synth, the song is deceptively simple… in that it actually has a lot going on in it. Tight beats as well. Shows how much can be done with just 2 minutes!

Ryan – Concerto For Exhaust Fan, Movement 1

From week 2, I selected only 4 pieces. The first one is my favorite from week 2… a piece featuring recorded sounds arranged as sound art. Composed with chance elements, samples from a fan and pieces of paper, a choir, and something called a nanokey. Whatever this piece is, the sound of it is really interesting.

sunsawer – What You

This piece is from my sunsawer project: an attempt to get the sounds of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’, as well as to make something similar to shoegaze music in general. I really liked how this piece turned out… incorporating buzzed out Korg Poly 800 synths, fuzzy guitars, and an old drum machine chopped into some weird loop rhythms.

tIB – Oestrus

Sort of a subdued piece, with stuttering rhythms, little ground, and alien sound. There is a subtle ambiance about this piece that I really like. Disembodied, cold melodies, a minimal bassline, and some plinking outer space sounds. A difficult to explain piece since it is pretty abstract… but it’s good.

Saskrotch – Kawaii 5.0

One of the quicker tempos that I liked. Jungle beats meet silly melodic leads. Halfway the song shifts gears and gets even faster. Not too familiar with the genre, but the middle section has a happy hardcore feel, or at least my impression of what that is. The piece ends with some dubstep elements that are much faster than what I’ve heard in that genre. Nice variety here.

Spry – One Note of Zen

(Week 3) A collaborative piece that I worked with Spry on. His idea was to use a type of mysticism to spur an idea for a piece. I chose a zen koan as an inspiration for two pieces: the Spry interpretation of one note of zen, and my interpretation. Our two pieces sounded quite a bit different, to say the least. Spry ended up creating a very intense lo-tech sounding electronic song with shifting tempos, icy sounds, and lots of chopped up bits.

mattnida – Automaton

This is a really advanced sounding composition. A downtempo, textured song with pleasing melodies and interesting beats and programming. Great stuff, hard to choose just one song.

OK Ikumi – Fog

I really think this piece lives up to its name. The sounds have an obscured quality to them. It sounds sort of lo-fi, but not exactly… Anyway, the song is well over 2 and a half minutes but is captivating enough that it seems just over half that time length. Not an easy to describe track, as it is certainly quite foggy.

Pulsn – Love Bitterness

A pretty song with a lo-fi minimal beat, gorgeous bassy and slightly distorted synth tones, over a wash of ambiance. Another track that seems much shorter than its running length of 4 and a half minutes. To me, this means the listener gets lost in the song, which is a great thing. It also lives up to its name, and has an emotional quality that sometimes can be difficult to achieve.

Tiasu – Agathokakological

Lovely melodies, catchy beats, something that sounds like a shaker, smooth organ sounds, nice gliding notes, mature compositionally… This is really good. The ending features something that sounds like guitar strings being rubbed the wrong way. A both familiar and strange sounding track.

Zamise – Walk With Me

This piece has a bit more straightforward beat than many of the selections, and a much more eastern sound to it. An adventuresome song from a very strong week 3 that conjures up the imagination. “Walk With Me” has a balanced flow to it, and a pleasing spectrum of sonic material.

Drumurboy – As Time Ticks Away

My favorite of the singer/songwriter or pop pieces. This song has a classic feel to it, and it makes me want to hear what an album of this type of music would sound like. It’s hard to believe this was recorded on a webcam mic. Perhaps this lends a mystical quality to the song, which touches upon themes of time and memory. The mix was done quite well, obviously, to make up for the limitations of the recording. I especially like it when the reversed guitar section comes in and takes the song out.

Vinpous – The First Time In Years, and It’s Five to Five

(Week 4) I really like how unique this piece is, with the crazy amount of different bass sounds, the washes of bell sounds flitting about both speakers, the weird computer tones. There are even subdued cowbell-like sounds. Just doesn’t really sound like anything else, which is almost always a good thing in my opinion.

Protman – 115wb4

I probably could have included any of Protman’s 4 tracks in January, but I think we all agreed this one was really, really good. The piece goes all over the place with its rubbery electronic sounds, great transitions, catchy rhythms, and temporal distortions. I’ve done a show or two with Protman at a gallery with my Sitari project, and it was always cool to see him perform live. One of Chicago’s most interesting electronic music artists.

Trash80 – Vicious

I really like how this piece builds at the beginning, drawing the listener in. It also has a cool melody, starts and stops effectively, and has some rich timbres. Nice headphone music with logical progressions. A dark sound with bright spots.

little-scale – My Neighbor is a Serial Killer

A track composed using only recorded cowbell samples, but does not contain any moments where they actually sound like cowbells. The power of technology! Besides the novelty factor, the song is really composed well, and is sort of an imagined soundtrack for a non-existent horror movie.

So that was my top 20 songs for the first month of weeklybeats.com! One rule I imposed here was that only 1 track per person. I listened to everything that has been submitted and was really impressed by the quality of all the tracks. I’ll try and do this each month.

Posted in electronic music, future, idm, internet | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1995

’95 was kicked off by the World Trade Organization replacing the General Agreement on Tarriffs and Trade. It had the usual large earthquakes, avalances, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Hackers hacked some of the US’s most secure computer systems. The Dow closes above 4,000 for the first time. The Unabomber bombs a lobbyist. The latest movie delivery vehicle, the DVD, is announced. OJ Simpson is found not guilty. The Metra slams into a school bus. The Dow Jones breaks the record again by going over 5,000, surpassing 2 millennium marks in one year. Galileo probes Jupiter.

But anyway, it was another superb year for music. Let’s go back in time, on a musical voyage, shall we?

Tool – ‘Aenima’ is what I’ll remember most nostalgically. Not only was it listened to many times in 1995, it also served as soundtrack for a couple years after that during my community college years, which were crazy on all kinds of different levels (still living at home, working a lot, full time college, lots of partying, and much more). I suppose that’s what Aenima does, too. It sure sounds like a Tool album, but it is still their most varied album to date. And arguably their best album (although I do like Lateralus and Undertow quite a bit).

Here is one of my favorite songs on the album. The enigmatic title of ‘H’ is to be interpreted as half empty or half full (and is also Maynard’s son’s middle initial).

That was then, this is now. Having evolved into a music devouring freak of nature, or musician, Don Cab’s archetypal album ‘II’ is what I would choose as my favorite album now. I keep going back to it, and can never hear it too many times.

Don Caballero – ‘II’ is an absolute beast of music… it is already a cult classic, but I’m sure it will be musically analyzed for years. I do not know exactly what to say about it, because no one has done anything quite like this album, which incorporates nearly all styles of music while still sounding like a distinctive statement all its own. It strikes me as being very avant garde for an indie rock album (I hesitate what to call it, but I suppose that’s what it is in the general sense) yet is catchy enough to keep you coming back. It’s heavy, but it’s not heavy metal. ‘II’ creates specific moods, but they are very abstract.

The band (which will be remembered primarily as Damon Che and Ian Williams’ band, unfortunately) are masters of tension, timing, and nuance, as well as bombastic over-indulgence. When top notch musicianship actually creates something this interesting and profound, it is a very rare occasion and should be celebrated and absorbed as often as possible. Interlocking patterns weave musical textures, with Damon Che (being one of the drumming greats of my generation) leading the charge, while guitarists Ian Williams & Mike Banfield, and whatever bassist they had at the time (Matt Jencik) intuitively create living tapestries of stringed brilliance. If you haven’t heard it, here it is:

But back to the nostalgia… If instrumental music is not your cup of tea, the only album that (imho) is maybe better than ‘II’ is Mr. Bungle’s – ‘Disco Volante’, which was released upon the unsuspecting world in 1995. An artistic realm that no one has come close to touching upon to this day… I’m not sure how I can stress just how weird it sounded at the time, other than this:

And that just barely scrapes the surface of the madness that is ‘Disco Volante’. It is one of the first “soundtracky” kinds of albums I really enjoyed. At the time I was really not into anything like soundtracks, or even Pink Floyd. This album was musically captivating enough to really pique my interest, and weird enough to be utterly unique. It was the album that got me into jazz, oddly enough. At the time there was a lot of great heavy metal coming out, and that played a big part in my musical tastes, so my jazz appreciation was smuggled in by Mr. Bungle – ‘Disco Volante’.

This album basically had everything: soundtrack, jazz, metal, experimental, theater of the absurd, rock… writing about it, I feel compelled to listen to it again; there’s a lot there. Even platypus. (One last thing: the synth on “Desert Search For Techno Allah” was literally the coolest thing I’d ever heard at the time.)

Tricky – ‘Maxinquaye’ … I really was not into this album at first, but eventually when your friends are listening to it almost every day, you follow suit. Especially when it is a great album, and it features the seductive Martina Topley-Bird’s vocals. The collection of songs is chock full of strange textures, obtuse lyrical observations, abstract meanderings in a triphop format. It is by far Tricky’s best album, a debut that would be rather difficult to top, to say the least. The production is both crisp and abstract in sound, analog and digital.

But anyway, this song is just as good as any Massive Attack song (high praise indeed):

I especially like the beats and simple melodies on “Overcome”. Great intro/album opener. Really the album works great as a whole, which is perhaps why it is so good. The compositions are really tight as well, and did I mention Martina Topley-Bird? Oh yeah, I did.

Down – ‘NOLA’ Another band with an amazing debut they would never come close to topping. NOLA to me is a classic metal album with great songwriting, memorable riffs, and to top it all off, it’s one of the few supergroups that were able to do something cool. It’s a must have album for anyone into the mid to slower tempo metal grooves that Black Sabbath spawned. Also, this is back when Down was basically half of Crowbar plus COC mainman Pepper Keenan leading guitar duties. Phil Anselmo is actually in top form here, and the band is killing it:

Unwound – ‘The Future of What?’ arrived in ’95. I didn’t get into these guys until a few years later, but Unwound was one of the greatest bands around in the 90′s. Here’s “Natural Disasters”:

Wonder if Unwound will ever do a reunion show/tour/album? Something? They’re one band that I’m sort of surprised haven’t done it yet, especially after seeing Polvo reunite. My hunch is that they won’t do a reunion tour though. If they did, I’d be one of the first to get tickets, because the time I did see them at the Fireside Bowl they were freaking amazing. Masters of feedback and nihilistic guitar noise mayhem, they even have a female drummer that is actually really good. That might sound sexist, but let’s face it, there are not many good female drummers. Yikes, Meg White!

Heavy Vegetable – ‘Frisbie’ Another really great rock album of 1995… I found out about Rob Crow by hearing the band Thingy on epitonic.com probably around 2000, and not soon after that I heard this album. In my mind, ‘Frisbie’ features some of the most fun and playful as well as skillfully created music I’ve heard. There are many changes, interesting rhythms, and expert use of dynamics and fuzz. Add to that a super tight band with great riffs, smoothly blended female backing vocals, Rob Crow’s golden voice, and amazing distortion tones and a fine recording, it sums up to a special album.

Songs about Wesley Willis, Jackie Chan, and old Star Wars bring some camp into the fold.

Was also into 1995′s ‘Exit Planet Dust’ by Chemical Brothers, which was pretty much my introduction to electronic music. I don’t know whether to call this a guilty pleasure, since I haven’t heard it in a long time. But I just about wore out my cassette copy of it. Ah, to party like it’s 1995! Wow, it’s been a while 90s.

Posted in 1995, 90's, alt rock, alternametal, cassette, Don Caballero, future, groove metal, heavy metal, Jackie Chan, live, lucrative, Mike Patton, Mr. Bungle, natural disasters, noise rock, punk, radical, Rob Crow, rock, sci-fi, star wars, summer, synth, technology, tool, Unwound, Wesley Willis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1994

“What is the internet, anyway?”

Bryant Gumbel not only does not know what the internet is, he doesn’t know what an @ is. This video was quite a hilarious find… even if it is off camera. Gumbel seems to think it could be a troublesome new development (back in 1994).

But internet connections are not what 1994 will be remembered by. Besides lots of great music and movies, the one event that many will refer to is the suicide of Kurt Cobain. I certainly remember the moment, and one of my co-workers called my house and let me know (since I was pretty out of touch without cable or internet for most of the year in the boondocks). I remember my reaction being rather dreadful and filled with disbelief. The similarity of the feeling was not unlike finding out about 9/11. It certainly left its mark on a generation.

Having graduated high school in 1994, I must say it was a great time to be a teenager. Many classic albums of the 90′s were from ’94… Portishead’s ‘Dummy’ is obviously one of them. Here is a live performance of “Wandering Star” in ’94:

Chris Farley certainly qualified as a “wandering star”:

At the time most of Farley’s humor and antics seemed pretty funny, but looking back at his herky jerky motions and uncomfortable behavior explain Conan’s worried reactions in this clip. Farley went out of this earth on a mammoth multi-day binge that was another top story in 1994. A toxic cocktail few could comprehend or even imagine was his demise. The sad case of Chris Farley (I still sort of have some animosity towards David Spade, who seemed to be his best friend).

Another archetypal 90′s album is ‘The Downward Spiral’. The way this album sounds is both disturbing and primal as well as progressive and futuristic; it even has the illustrious Adrian Belew on it. An entire blog post could be written about this album, but suffice it to say it had a unique and cohesive vision (carried over even into the live performance with film projections). Many aspects of lo-fi can be heard, but ultimately it is a high end studio production. There’s even someone dedicated to programming and continuity.

Another important industrial/metal album arrived in ’94, but ‘Selfless’ is both more metal and not as self-absorbed as Reznor’s vision (but unfortunately, nowhere near as popular). Justin K. Broadrick is just about the opposite type of rock star… one who shuns the spotlight and who has a much different personality. Think perhaps, more wise and enlightened. Godflesh simply is not as catchy or going for the same effect as NIN. It is even more primal, yet a more controlled sound. (noise and chaos meet structure).

Still one of the heaviest albums I’ve ever heard. That guitar sound is like Prong’s ‘Cleansing’ (also 1994) on growth hormones. Also no one knows how to make a drum machine sound so good. If you are not familiar with J.K. Broadrick’s work, and are open minded about heavy music, I suggest getting ‘Selfless’ ASAP.

Helmet are a band pretty similar to Godflesh in some ways (catchy, machine like riffs and rhythms) but for whatever reason became much more popular. Instead of an industrial/isolationist angle, they had more of a music school background. They too had a singular creative force in Page Hamilton, but you could tell it was more about the band as a whole with Helmet (also why I don’t like the newer stuff much). Citing jazz as well as punk and metal as an influence, they were in full swing by 1994 with ‘Betty’. Not to mention, it is funny to remember a John Stewart show that had little to no political satire.

Yet another classic 90s album released in ’94: ‘For Your Own Special Sweetheart’:

Still one of my favorite albums overall, and each song sounds a lot different (while still being obviously a Jawbox song). One of the traits of a great band… also this album is Jawbox’s masterpiece. This album is a soundtrack for the mid 90′s in my own subjective viewpoint, driving around the QC area.

My favorite album from 1994 is ‘Welcome to Sky Valley’ by Kyuss. While I can’t claim to have been into Kyuss when I was at community college, this is still one of my top albums of all time. Rock and roll that is immense, dense and crushing with masterful songwriting and a unique voice. Sometimes I wish Homme hadn’t left and they put out another album or 3.

Also, Acid Bath released ‘When the Kite String Pops’ in ’94. One of the catchiest AND heaviest albums in many a heavy metal collection.

I highly suggest this album to anyone remotely interested in heavy metal or dark, absurd humor and twisted observations. One of the more unique and talented heavy metal bands, Acid Bath are oddly overlooked, even with increased popularity among metalheads and Dax Riggs’ Deadboy and the Elephantmen and solo material featuring a lot more acoustic sounds.

There are lots of great albums from 1994. This is the first year I have blogged about where I get the feeling that I could go on for days rambling about great albums. But I’ll conclude with Failure, who I have more recently been getting into. All 3 of their albums are very good examples of a mix of catchy and heavy.

Also, I’ve failed to make this a regular blog which was my intent. Doing the year long posts is pretty time consuming, however (and, summer!). Now that summer is gone, and once these are done (only 1995 through 2012 to finish!), Xenochrony will be delivered on a more regular basis, one review or perhaps an editorial, at a time.

 

Posted in 1994, 90's, Acid Bath, Adrian Belew, alt rock, alternametal, Brant Bjork, comedy, dark humor, death, failure, Godflesh, groove metal, grunge, heavy metal, industrial, internet, Josh Homme, Justin K. Broadrick, Kyuss, NIN, Nirvana, noise rock, Portishead, punk, radical, rock, summer, thrash | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment