Thursday, November 12, 2009

Harvestman - "In A Dark Tongue" CD

Having heard a number of avante-metal band Neurosis' releases and side projects, I thought I'd had these guys pegged. Then I get this new release from (Neurosis frontman) Steve Von Till, and my preconceptions are blown. And in a wickedly good way. It turns out that this is Von Till's second release as Harvestman, and "In A Dark Tongue" is a trippy, oozing miasma of dark, psychedelic space rock with a healthy dose of krautrock dipped onto the blotter. But before you think I'm describing some kind of retro prog-rock silliness, let it be known that Harvestman's wide-open psilocybin-scapes are positively mind-altering on their own. The lengthy drones and overloaded effects on the 13-minute "By Wind And Sun" become a mantra of epic proportions, enveloping listeners in gauzy noise and guitars like a lava lamp set to "destroy". "Music Of The Dark Torrent" is a stark, layered guitar piece that encircles itself peacefully until a series of disorienting digital tones take over the mix. Weird and otherworldly. "The Hawk Of Achill" brings in Al Cisneros of Sleep/Om fame for a trance-inducing percussive assault that reminds of Amon Duul II-meets-Neu!-gone-evil. Amazing. The journey ends with the ambient electronics of "Centre Of The World", tempering the fires that burned so intensely on this wondrous and truly hallucinogenic rock album. (Neurot Recordings)


Steve Von Till's site

Monday, November 9, 2009

Aetherius Obscuritas - "Fekete Orvossag - Black Medicine" CD

Hungarian pagan black metal from a duo (though one it seems is considered a "session drummer") who've been active in the scene for around 7 years now, Aetherius Obscuritas fall pretty squarely within their genre's established parameters. They seem to be an outlet for "classic" black metal ala Burzum, and this stripped-down, unapologetic, no-frills approach equates to a windfall of hissed vocals, blurry gale storm guitars and sputtering drums. "Fagyos Oleles (Freezing Embrace)" shows a predilection for mid-tempo and melodic metal structures, but other cuts, like "Circinus Nebulae" are so traditionally black metal, they become cartoon stereotypes. The "bonus" track, a cover of Marduk's "Black Demon" is a fun closing cuts, but overall "Fekete Orvossag" is just not memorable or unique enough to warrant repeat listens. (Paragon Records)



Systems Officer - "Underslept" CD

From the prolific mind and hands of Pinback/Three Mile Pilot mastermind Armistead Burwell Smith IV, this entirely-solo project is full of well-written indie pop/rock songs, catchy, sometimes quirky, and sometimes a little sad. Right off the bat, the album's opener, "Pacer", is a hook-filled slice of upbeat drone pop, and probably my favorite piece here. "East" is a little more introspective, with an effectively sad piano accent. Other favorites include "Shape Shifter", which rollicks along ala Modest Mouse, or the breezy yet fatalistic "Sand II". Solid, well-played tunes here are the order of the day, and Smith's adeptness at all instruments is more than evident here. Exceptional and tuneful, "Underslept" is a fine album well worth multiple listens. (Temporary Residence)