Friday, May 20, 2011

"Cold Storage" (director: Tony Elwood)

A surprisingly fun and disturbing indie horror here from 2006, with good acting and scripting. With obvious references to "Deliverance" and "The Hills Have Eyes", this is another backwoods hillbilly horror, but with a neat and morbid twist.

Starring Nick Searcy (now of TV's superb "Justified") as gross-out simpleton Clive, "Cold Storage" spins the tale of woman who is tragically killed in an auto accident in a small, out-of-the-way town. Her body is discovered by the freaky Clive, who does his best to make her feel "welcome" in his isolated mountain shack. Well, Clive is convinced that the inanimate woman is the love of his life, and he, in his own twisted rationale, keeps his "Rosalie" clean and tended to, even as she begins to decay. There's a good dose of dark humor as Clive takes his love out for a leisurely ride through town, and the townsfolk notice his "ladyfriend", even as she sits (e)motionless in the passenger's seat of Clive's aging jalopy.

The deceased's sister, played by Joelle Carter (also now of "Justified", oddly), goes on a search for her sister's whereabouts, only to learn the ghastly truth. Searcy is superb in his role as backwoods weirdo, as he protects his lady love from other jealous freaks and nosy neighbors. His character isn't so much a villain, as would be assumed. His care and altruistic attitude for his deceased "friend" is almost touching, in a weird way. Sure, she's dead (and beginning to smell), but his tireless care shows that he has a heart, however twisted.

There are some really wild splattery sick moments, but this isn't a splatter film by any means. There's a lot more going on here than the obvious. Give this one a's a well-done little gem for the genre.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pan Sonic & Keiji Haino - "In The Studio" 2xLP

This unexpected meeting of the extreme music minds works out very well, with Finnish avante-electronic noisemongers Pan Sonic meeting up with Japanese psyche-guitar conceptualist Keiji Haino in a Berlin studio back in 2007. The resultant sound was captured and pressed up on this deluxe double vinyl, for you and me to enjoy and ponder. And "In The Studio" is a sheer joy to behold.

The brief "If I Could Incarnate This Feeling..." is little more than a minute of gutteral Haino shrieking, but "Imperious Doppelganger..." is a cavernous and percussive jazz-noise beast, with scattered beats, microphone distortions, and waves of sizzling electronics around the edges. Effective and disorienting. The primal and jarring "As Far As The Left Goes.." sees Haino's strained vocal madness and bowed guitar noodles accompanied by Pan Sonic's shrill, ear-splitting frequencies. "In The Hollow Between The Eyebrows..." is an ominous ambient hellscape, recalling early Lustmord. "Perhaps There Is No Need To Return" is a darkly introspective piece of psychedelic guitars and dark soundscape. "Preparation Is Unnecessary..." closes it out with a moody and organic drone.

Overall, a masterful work from some proven sound artists, with plenty of atmospheric & experimental flair. Top marks! (Blast First Petite)

Pan Sonic site

Pan Sonicspace

Keiji Haino site

"Anywhere USA" DVD (director: Chusy)

This is an odd little indie that features a cast of mostly non-actors from small towns. As a distinctly American portrait, this one is packed with backwoods rednecks, trailer-park denizens, shaggy stoners, racists, and damaged children. But that's not to say that director Chusy is judgmental. On the contrary, "Anywhere USA" cuts through the stereotypes and shows all the fragility, naivete, and tragic figures that exemplify the American landscape, whether we're proud of it or not.

The film consists of 3 short tales, all unrelated aside from looking at the underbelly of mainstream society. It's a well-shot, well-directed set of vignettes with heart and humanity (and definitely a sense of humor) And with a hip indie rock soundtrack (including Devendra Banhart), this one was surprisingly endearing. Worthy. (MVD Visual)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

KMFDM - "WTF?!" album

As a fan of KMFDM pre-2000 (when former members En Esch and Gunter Schulz were the band's "wild cards"), it's been a shame to see KMFDM lapse into sameness in recent years. Stalwart band leader (and frontman) Sascha Konietzko has kept the band going, with a steady stream of releases featuring wife Lucia and the former backing band for sometime-collaborator Pig.

The band's 17th album, "WTF?!" kicks things off with the anthemic electro-rock single, "Krank", which further recycles familiar KMFDM motifs and lyrics. It's a well-produced slammer, but nothing outstanding from this band. "Lynchmob" is an unusually fearsome metallic attack, with an amped-up tempo and killer fretwork. "Take It Like A Man" is a disco-style showcase for guest vocalist Free Dominguez (from Kidneythieves), whereas "Dystopia" and "Amnesia" utilize Lucia Cifarelli's more commanding "rock" voice in a dance-metal fashion. This is perhaps KMFDM's best work in some time. Enjoyable and hard-hitting, and a welcome return to form. (Metropolis)

KMFDM site

"Zenith" DVD (director: Anonymous)

An intelligent and provocative indie cyberpunk sci-fi with superb performances by leads Peter Scanavino and Jason Robards III, "Zenith" operates on a couple of layers. It follows the lives of father and son, presented parallel, as they intersect and attempt to interpret a not-too-distant future where conspiracy theory (and controlling secret interests) are the truth and reality.

This is a stylish and conceptual film, and one I can easily see being a cult favorite in the years to come, given the right promotion and attention. Definitely worth a look or fans of gritty future noir. (MVD Visual)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"A.I.M.S. Gala - Live At The Royal Albert Hall" DVD

Documenting an all-star rock benefit from way back in 1988, this show was curated and organized by Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, and this pro-shot DVD features some unexpected on-stage jams by some major names.

Opening the show, we get 3 songs by Elvis Costello and Chrissie Hynde -- all fine work, and including their cover of "There's A Place". Then comes Chris Rea, who adds 4 tracks of bluesy soft-rock. The "All-Star Band" is the true highlight, featuring 7 songs and contributions from Wyman and fellow Stone Ronnie Wood, Phil Collins (thankfully on drums, rather than vocals), Costello and Hynde, Ian Dury, Eddy Grant (remember "Electric Avenue"?), and even flash-in-the-pan Terence Trent D'Arby. Hah!

Anyway, this is a well-done look at a one-time superstar rock show, with plenty of greats jamming for a good cause (the show benefit both aspiring artists as well as a hospital in London). (MVD Visual)

Seidr - "For Winter Fire" album

Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, this is the full-length debut from the duo of Austin Lunn (of extreme metal act Panopticon) and Wesley Crow. Equally befitting for fans of Mayhem or Mogwai,"For Winter Fire" contains 7 extended-length tracks of forward-thinking post-metal. Mixing sinister, distorted black/doom with more expansive textural instrumentation, "For Winter Fire" is a brilliant and far-reaching collection of sounds, simultaneously haunting and gentle in spots before unleashing a maelstrom of scalding grind. For example, the spacious and beautiful "A Vision From Hllidskjalf", reminds me of Ennio Morricone meets Explosions In The Sky at first, before exploding into a triumphant doom metal beast.

"On The Shoulders Of Gods" invokes Skin Chamber almost, with its aura of impenetrable lurch-and-grind. "Sweltering" brings in the sounds of a casual thunderstorm amidst Mono-style guitar swirl. "In The Ashes" is a solemn hymn, evoking images of a religious ceremony, while "A Gaze At The Stars" is a slow, churning Swans/Neurosis attack. The final cut, "Stream Keeper" begins akin to Icelandic atmospheric band Stafraenn Hakon (a good thing), before erupting into another slow-burn char-broiled doom metal monsterpiece. Seidr have created a rock-solid piece of work that transcends genre. Bravo. Perhaps I will be fortunate enough to see these lads live? (The Flenser)