Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Drug Honkey - "Ghost In The Fire" CD

Chicago underground noise leviathan Drug Honkey have been away for a few years, but "Ghost In The Fire" reinstates their place among the finest, darkest, and heaviest acts around. Combining the dirtiest aspects of grindcore, sludgy doom metal, noise, and hints of dub, Drug Honkey's music is the soundtrack to a horrible drug trip, or a walk through a back alley littered with junkies, spent needles, foul odors, and possibly a corpse (or aborted fetus) or two. This is decidedly NOT "feel-good" music.

Right off the bat, "Order Of The Solar Temple" opens with nary a flicker of hope. It's a monolithic attack of sizzlingly shrill feedback, plodding, thick drumming, and agonized, gutteral growls from Honkey Head (aka Paul Gillis). "Dead Days (Heroin III)" is another slow-burn cruncher, while "Five Years Up" is an ominous slow lurker, with tripped-out psychedelic vocal effects alongside dub reverberations and sludgy guitar. "Out Of My Mind" could be "Cop"-era SWANS on a bad heroin trip.

A faithful cover of Scorn's "Twitcher" appears later in the disc, and shows a deeper dark dub & bass vibe, while "Saturate/Annihilate" ends it all with a chaotic clot of vomited vocals and layered noise/grind . As with previous Drug Honkey releases, this one stunned me and had me addicted immediately. Amazing! (Diabolical Conquest Recordings)

Craft beer from New Belgium/The Lost Abbey, Victory, and Schlenkerla!

Craft beer is all can now be found in just about every mainstream grocery store, as well as specialty shops, and even fine restaurants. Here are some of my more recent findings, with reviews ranging from 1(awful) to 5 (awesome). Anything rated a 3 or better is a solid, worthy brew that should be tried by anyone with a passing interest in the craft brewing scene. You never know when you just might find your new favorite taste!


Brett is short for Brettanomyces, a type of yeast that's cherished in some European-styled ales, and tends to create odd and fruity (sometimes sour) characteristics in beer. This collaboration between craft beer innovators New Belgium and San Marcos specialty microbrewers The Lost Abbey is (not surprisingly), a Belgian-inspired saison ale.

It appears cloudy yellow-opaque upon pouring, with a thick and attractive head of fine, white carbonation. Lovely loopy chain-link style lacing. Nose is fruity and funky. I get both wild berries and citrus tones. Quite enticing! Taste is nicely fruity up front, even hinting at some pineapple. Body is heavy, though, and the Soriachi hops add to the tangy quality. I quite liked this one.

Always been a big fan of Victory (of Downington, PA)'s beers, and this Oktoberfest-styled ale is another good one.

Pours a nice, rich amber, with a thick and attractive off-white head. I didn't get any lace, though... Nose is grainy and malty. I get caramel/toffee, with a tinge of fruitiness. Points for complexity with aroma! Flavor is rich and malty, with a hint of toasty grain malts and a light, fruity hop finish. This is a subtle, well-crafted, and complex, but easy-drinking beer. Impressive!

Ah, these special little bottles from Bamberg, Germany are a treat, and have no peers, from either side of the Atlantic. There are American-made "smoke beers", but nothing compares to this brewery's legendary works. I see bottles of Schlenkerla for anywhere from $4.29 to $5.29 in shops in my Midwestern area, but they're distributed into most states, so look around, ya dingus!

Dark caramel-brown in color, with a thick head of off-white bubbles. Alas, the only lace is a thin line above the ring. Nose is spectacular! Deeply woody, like a campfire embers and cured meat. Some say bacon, and that's not too far off. Taste is definitely woody-smoky, with a tinge of sweet malts underneath, just enough around the edges to add some balance. This is a tasty, drinkable, and positively a unique experience that any serious beer advocate needs to try.

"Tight" DVD (director: Shaun Donnelly)

This faux-documentary highlights a "band" (called Tight) formed entirely by current and former porn stars. Managed by Charlie Sheen "goddess" Bree Olson (who, by the way, is one of the worst actresses here), these 4 girls strike out as rockers, and this reality-TV-style documentary presents their tour of mostly small bars and back alley dives.

Along the way, we get to see sexy backstage antics (sometimes with male fans taking part), onstage music (not likely to get these girls a recording contract anytime soon), plenty of catty interviews, and in-band fighting. It's all very voyeuristic, staged, and...somehow, oddly alluring. Perhaps this is the epitome of "trash cinema", and although I can't endorse anything here as essential or truly worthwhile, I found it all a good bit of guilty pleasure. (Wild Eye Releasing / MVD Visual)

Dogfish Head & Miles Davis "Bitches Brew" - The Experience

Note that this is a vintage 2010 bottle, aged approximately 2 years! Cheers and prost to Sir Greg O'Leary for kindly picking up this cherished bottle for Goatsden!

Pours a pitch-black, with a thick head of fine dark tan carbonation. Lace is ornate, with a lovely, spider web/lattice design.

Nose consists mostly of dark fruit -- I get figs, raisins, and some bittersweet chocolate.

Taste is sweet at front of palate -- perhaps the honey infusion? What follows is a smooth mix of roasty malts and dark fruit, with a hint of chocolate, as inferred by the aroma.

The finish pulls up slightly sweet, again. This is a delicious brew, with a surprisingly sessionable character, despite the heavy alcohol presence. Nice!

While I sipped on this exquisite beer, I soaked in the audio experience. Miles Davis' original "Bitches Brew" double-album, released originally in 1970, is a renowned and heralded masterpiece of jazz-rock fusion. But stretching the boundaries of what was considered "jazz" was nothing new for the iconoclastic Davis, who risked all releasing this unclassifiable extended set.  

Perhaps one of Davis' best-loved recordings, this album marks a point where Davis moves well beyond his jazz background and embraces sounds as disparate as funk, rock, and out-there world musics. The 27-minute title track throws down some seriously psychedelic grooves! "Spanish Key" rolls with a metronomic Krautrock-styled tempo, referencing legendary German experimenters Can. Or did they reference Miles Davis?

"BItches Brew", the album, is a landmark piece of work from a visionary artist unafraid to experiment. "Bitches Brew", the beer, is a delicious work from a brewery equally as unafraid to experiment and fuse genres and cultures. Kudos to both for a job well-done!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Northcore - "Desatero" CD

The premiere full-length from this UK-based duo opens with the atmospheric and mysterious "Looking Glass", which combines a whimsical electronic melody with the sparse spoken words of members Jana Tillotson and Carl Gibbons. From there, the upbeat prog-synth "Jupiter" recalls the German sequencer melodies of Tangerine Dream. "Nocturne" uses Middle Eastern vocals to good effect alongside dubby electro textures. "Green Fridge" is icy ambient electronica ala Biosphere before erupting into a clubby techno beast, while the closer, "Min Ros" is a traditional Swedish song with lovely vocals by Maja Eriksson and a misty ambient backdrop.

"Desatero" isn't an ambient album, nor is it a techno album. It does, however, mix up those styles with elements of ethnic music, classic sequencer sounds, and plenty of unusual found sources. It's a stylishly confounding and surprising mix that works well. (Spotted Peccary)