Archive for March, 2011

Rhythm is a funny thing.  For the avid music listener, then, I’d wager a fair sum that the way rhythms are internalized has a lot to deal with the way one experiences time.  And perhaps, even more so than a similar melody, or musical key, or instrumental timbre or anything else, it’s rhythm that can rightfully claim to be the preexisting undercurrent of raw musical material from which individual songs and artists only occasionally borrow, like drilling down through dry topsoil, through shale and limestone and dead rivers, only to hit, eventually – inevitably – on a current of time that speeds the whole world along with it.

That’s why, I suppose, these songs, which on their surface have nothing to do with one another, may actually be the same song in some meaningful sense.  At least, once you’ve caught that rhythm, you don’t hear it with your ears or see its sound waves with your mind’s eye – it works you from within, like your chest is a warm antenna pulling in signals from the center of the earth:

Gnarls Barkley, “Open Book”

Aphex Twin, “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball” (see especially the section from 3:04 onward)

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OvO, Cor Cordium (2011)

Lovely cover; less lovely contents

I’m as big a fan of avant-garde extreme music as the next guy, but this album is just not particularly good.  My review of the masked noise/rock/whatever-metal duo OvO’s latest album, the apparently Percy Bysshe Shelley-inspired Cor Cordium, is up now over at Metal Review.  Fans of intentionally annoying music, or perhaps just good old-fashioned masochists please step up.

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American Heritage, Sedentary (2011)

Blinded by fear, or something

Also up now at Metal Review is my review of the newest album from Chicago-based metal/hardcore botherers American Heritage, which is out now on Translation Loss Records.  It’s perfect for your latest stint of bail-jumping, tire-screeching, whiskey-drinking mayhem.

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Bloodiest, Descent (2011)

Is that, like, a fucking platypus or summat?

My review of the debut album from Chicago collective Bloodiest is up now over at Metal ReviewDescent is released today on Relapse, and is also tasty.  So, go taste it.

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Enslaved’s Below the Lights and Primordial’s The Gathering Wilderness are two of the absolute finest metal albums of this decade we’ve just watched fade into steam as our future-bound train pulls out of the station (shades of Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler…).  Very different albums, of course, but one striking similarity is the way that each album’s opening song sets the perfect tone for the remainder of the album.

Beyond that, the opening couplets of each song actually put me in a similar head-space:

“I close my eyes / As fire swept clean the earth.”

“One day, I stood / With my back to the wind / And the rain fell down.”

The sole, perhaps somewhat Nietzschean individual witnessing some great naturalistic cataclysm, right?  Anyway, all of this mystic bullshit is beside the point.  All I’m really trying to get at is, these songs are, on their face, almost entirely dissimilar.  Both spring from the loins of bands with black metal roots, but which, by this point in each band’s career, have been largely shaken off in favor of finer genre accoutrements.  So, answer me this question: Which song is the better opening track?  Keep in mind, of course, that this is an entirely separate question from which song is better.

Enslaved, “As Fire Swept Clean The Earth” (2003):

Primordial, “The Golden Spiral” (2005)


The danger of these songs is that they may just force one to spend a few hours listening to the entire albums for which they serve as midwives.  Still: Which is the better album opener?  What’s your favorite album opener?

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The open question: Are these two songs, separated by a good 20 years, in fact more or less the same song?  Have a listen and decide for yourself.

Tom Waits, “Step Right Up” (1976)

Radiohead, “Fitter Happier” (1997)

Each a caricature in its own way; which vision of the world is true?  Which is beautiful?

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SubRosa, No Help For The Mighty Ones (2011)

A perfectly earthly trance of artwork

My almost obscenely long-winded review of SubRosa’s magnificent new album for Profound Lore is up now over at Metal Review.  Truth be told, I probably could have kept going with it, but didn’t want to be found by the fire department, slumped over my desk, dead from having forgotten to eat.  In other news, since this is the first perfect 10 review I’ve ever given out, I kinda felt the need to wallow around in the words a bit, just to make sure the numbers seemed to fit the overwrought emotion.

Anyway, maybe you won’t love this album like I love this album, but you really ought to hear it, at least.  The power of James Joyce commands you!

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