Zeroh – Tinnitus

(Hit+Run, 2016)

The global live-screen-printing and musical collective Hit+Run has been putting out interesting stuff for many years, including names like Crimekillz, Kate Mo$$, Kutmah, Skrapez and Zackey Force Funk. The name has been to me synonymous with originality, creativity and DIY-mentality, and this album by the Los Angeles native Zeroh is certainly no different.

The music on this album ranges from Madlib-like beat-crafting to full on cacophony. Half of the songs don’t even have a beat, and dance somewhere between rhythmic Ambient and Noise (and Industrial Music if you will), and some have very traditional but minimalistic Hip Hop vibes to them. Always gritty, noisy, full of effects and experimental (playful) as hell, the production of this album often brings to my mind a mixture of Ka’s “Honor Killed The Samurai” and Gonjasufi’s “Callus”. Still, this stuff stands originally on its own, and shows the awesome skills of Zeroh as a producer.

The rapping gets the same treatment as the music, when it comes to heavy effects and experimental production. Besides that, Zeroh is one of those MCs who uses his voice like an instrument for jamming, and his verses are thoughtful and cool as fuck. He likes to play with his voice, changing style even many times in a sentence, wacky as shit, but still sounding totally in control. At times he sounds dark and serious, and at times he sounds cartoonish and comical. Which fits his style of writing lyrics perfectly. The symbiosis of the two put you in a concentrated yet psychedelic and sometimes even spiritual zone. The previous comparison with Gonjasufi often applies to the vocals as well, but there is so much more going on here. Zeroh is in a league of his own. The only two guests on this album, The Koreatown Oddity and Low Leaf, blend splendidly with the rest of the material.

This album is a treasure-chest of lyrical and vocal imaginativeness and hazy musical experimentality. Given the apparent skills of Zeroh as a producer of music (besides being an awesome rapper), I would have liked to hear a bit more variety on the beats (such as more drum-beats), but then again the stuff on this album works great as a whole, and does justice to the awesome cover-picture (or vice versa). If you are into experimental Hip Hop and interesting textures of sound, check this totally impressive album out. And while you’re at it, check out the collaboration-album between Zeroh and Jeremiah Jae, “Holy Smoke”, as well. Pure bliss.




Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – Sucht & Ordnung

(WKN, 2016)

At this point of his artistic career, Albin Julius probably is not that interested in answering questions about his musical past under the name Der Blutharsch. After the pretty much total audial transformation of the band (altho certain vibes and attitudes came along for the ride from the previous incarnation of course), the audiences of the group have now been accustomed to the Psychedelic Rock version of Albin’s musical visions, and there is no doubt he will continue to change and progress his musical identity in the future. But right now, we have this new album in our hands.

“Zucht und Ordnung” in German means “Discipline and Order”, a term associated with for example Christian or Fascist authority in society. “Sucht und Ordnung” however means “Addiction and Order”, and as an album stands for quite different mentalities, in its improvised and jamming ways. Recorded live at Pure Sound Studio (Vienna), this album features three songs and about 30 minutes of intense Psychedelic Rock the Der Blutharsch way we have become so familiar with in the recent years. Of course there is s certain discipline and order present in the song structures and performances of the recent material of the band, but nevertheless this is fucking psychedelia, which stands for total assimilation of control.

The album lifts off calmly with moody oriental melodies from the reverberated guitar, backed by ride-cymbals and the ever-expanding synth. But when the drums and basses kick off, I am surprised to hear a Surf Rock beat from the drums, together with an extremely heavy bass jamming sweet melodies with the already jamming distorted guitars. As the song progresses the synths change colour and texture like splashing various paints on a canvas, making me wanna be high as fuck on weed while listening to this song. After a break-like calm sequence the song ends in a sweet rocking beat and high guitar solos, which together with the organ-like synth makes me feel very classic seventies. This is the exact alchemical stuff the godlike albums of old were made from. This band gets it.

The second song starts off more heavy, not quite Doomy but nearly. Here were are introduced to the powerful majestic and almost preaching vocals of Marthynna. There has always been real dominance and sweetness at the same time in her voice, and this song is no different. However, if I was a bit surprised about the Surf Rock drumming in the first song, I am most definitely lifted off my chair when the song turns into a cool intense blast-beat and tremolo-riff driven Blackened kaleidoscope, before sinking again into slower currents. This was something I did quite not see coming from this band, not yet anyway.

The third song is a bit longer than the previous two, starting out really slow, before kicking off with a pretty minimalistic damping guitar riff and steady rocking drum-beat backed with a cool organ-sound and heavily phasing synths. Very classic Stoner (or just ancient Progressive) stuff here, staring at the night sky in the desert high on mushrooms. Marthynna’s chanting vocals fit the song again very well, as do the electrified howling effects taking the hypnotic riffing further into the mind’s eye. The song starts to fade towards the end only making an intense comeback, giving me spiralling chills down my spine. A very steady and well made song ending the album in extremely positive vibes.

In this age of music softwares one tends to forget the awesome power and magic of organic music. This album is a must for all fans of the previous albums of the band (especially after the musical “transformation”), and for all fans of hypnotic, psychedelic and hallucinatory jamming music in general. This album is my personal favourite among the band’s discography of the last five years.

Der Blutharsch




Gonjasufi – Callus

(Warp Records, 2016)

Gonjasufi came to my attention in 2010 with his Warp debut “A Sufi And A Killer”, and after 2012’s “MU.ZZ.LE” I’ve been very eager to hear more of the Sufi’s deeply personal and original, melancholic experimental psychedelia. It took about four years but now the next chapter of Gonjasufi is out, taking his music even into more darkly psychedelic and intimate directions.

The music of Gonjasufi has always been rooted in Hip Hop culture, the Sand Diego scene to be exact, and he has done collaborations with awesome artists such as Flying Lotus, The Gaslamp Killer and The Bug. The minimalist and low-fi atmospheres of his sampling and instrumentations, which are usually a blend of urban and almost shamanistic vibes, have been as individual as his voice, which is hard to compare to anyone else, and once familiar with it you will definitely recognise it.

When it comes to musical atmospheres and of course his voice, this album can be immediately identified as Gonjasufi, but there are a few new things he is trying out here. I’m getting almost Lynchian feelings of grey scenes of nightly California, intoxicating and hot under the silhouettes of waving palm trees, with flashing neon lights here and there telling of the liveliness of these grainy and strongly contrasted inner soundscapes. The term “noir” comes to my mind constantly. The heavy and slow very organic drumbeats mixed with distorted and reverberated guitars and basses often give an almost Doom-like feeling. On other times the classic Punk influences are very clear and function perfectly with the rest of the musical styles encapsulated on the album.

There are actually not many purely Electronic-sounding moments in these songs, and when they do appear, they are glitchy or vintage-sounding and delightfully noisy, which fits the overall atmosphere of the album nicely. Parts and samples of Ethnic music add to the psychedelic agenda of the album and the persona of the artist himself. The at the same time sensitive and strong vocals are again put through filters of strong reverbs and distortions, making them sound almost like samples of some weird movies, as the music is also highly cinematic in nature.

The whole experience is actually pretty 3D cartoon-like and very dreamy, with each of the 19 songs displaying a different scene strong in mental aesthetics.

If you are a fan of Experimental Hip Hop (with a strong emphasis on low-fi and DIY-mentalities), and especially of cinematic music, you should definitely check this album out. And if you are already familiar with Gonjasufi and liked his previous stuff, this album will not disappoint you. One of the best ones this year.

Warp Records



Street Sects – End Position

(The Flenser, 2016)

Street Sects (from Austin, Texas) was formed in 2013 by vocalist Leo Ashline and producer Shaun Ringsmuth, and released a few singles in 2014, before creating this their first full-length, a masterpiece which appeared unannounced to many from nowhere, sinking its sharpened claws into minds not disgusted by styles such as Electropunk, Industrial, Noise and Power Electronics.

I gotta admit I wasn’t that convinced about the genius of the band after having heard a couple of songs from this album, but couple of days later, after delving deeper into the violent and chaotic alluring world of the album as a whole, I became an adherent of this shit. This stuff is spiritual.

As already mentioned, what you get here is a fierce and quite original mixture of classic Industrial mentality (think of the more aggressive and faster pieces of older Skinny Puppy or Ministry), Punk Rock (or Electro-Punk if you will), and Noise, chemically (psychedelically) combined into an original and fresh end result.

Most of the music consists of samples which could have been gathered from a steel factory of some sorts, put together in an imaginative way. The clanks, thumps, rattles, fizzes, thuds, hisses, bangs, hums and slams are backed up by vicious electronic bass-lines and pounding snares and kicks, rhythms mostly not related to any certain musical style, except Industrial naturally. The grooves of the beats are sometimes childish even, yet working in an extremely convincing way with all the sample-based madness surrounding them.

There are not many clear melodies to be found on this album, as the music relies mostly on the insane cacophony brought by the various sounds and intense beats, but when you do hear them in the form of synth-lines (mostly), they sound beautiful and strong, yet you realize you wasn’t really missing them in the first place. Such is the power of this music.

The vocals are mostly screams through filters of heavy distortion, and they work perfectly with the music. But what gives this stuff a professional feel to it is the vocalists use of clear and melodic singing in the right places, nodding strongly to their influences, but maintaining the aggressive and original feel of the band.

Besides the distorted chaos and aggression, this album is packed with various emotions of sadness, melancholy, hopelessness, self-destruction, hate, disgust and other cool vibes. In fact, without having read the lyrics, I’m betting my head on them being descriptions of resentment, revenge and suicide, making the cover art (artist) a perfect pick for the album.

There are no weak parts on the album, making it a very solid and powerful totality. In this age, after having heard almost everything music has to offer (when it comes to ideas), it is always a pleasure to find someone taking classic pieces from here and some from there and combining them into something that is truly refreshing and moving. That is something we underground music lovers, grown apathetic after years of first being in love with and then disappointed by many powerful styles of music, are always secretly hoping for.

Give this album a chance, and if you get what I’m talking about above, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. This might very well be your favourite album of the year.

The Flenser



Flowdan – Disaster Piece

(Tru Thoughts, 2016)

After a musical career of about 20 years (as a founding member of the crew Roll Deep among other things), Flowdan stands still strong as one of the most recognisable voices in Grime. After the “Serious Business” Ep and a number of great collaborations with notable producers (such as The Bug) of recent years, the Big Flowdan finally finished work on his new full-length album this year.

The album features 12 songs of quite atmospheric high quality Grime, partly quite minimalistic (and even “safe”) and partly experimental production-wise, but always full of that guaranteed dark and deep Flowdan-feeling.

The production (by Cato, Masro, Swifta Beater, Dexplicit and others) of the riddims relies mostly on a mixture of modern Hip Hop and EDM vibes (mixed with even some Industrial elements) besides the classic Grime-logic when it comes to instrumentation of the synths and drum-beats, with each song consisting of pretty basic and straightforward musical themes (with some songs refreshingly going a bit more progressive than that). Epic orchestrations and percussions colour the etherial and electronic feel of most of the beats, and the overall production and soundscapes of the songs are of much quality and sound professional, altho I would have personally liked to hear a bit more gritty and hard sounds (such as those trademarks of the aforementioned The Bug), which fit Flowdan’s voice and style so well. On the other hand the quite straightforward and articulate feelings of the beats function as a solid whole.

The main emphasis of the album is nevertheless naturally on the voice and deliveries of the man himself, and his strong, deep and dark voice indeed keeps the whole atmosphere of the album intact and unified. The production lets Flowdan speak his mind without too many effects or other gimmicks, which tells of the trust in the abilities and skills of the man, acquired during his many years of involvement in the scene. Two songs also feature old-school friends Manga and Tinchy Stryder (while four songs feature female vox by Animai), but the spotlight is of course on Flowdan.

The lyrics deal mostly with personal and social themes the Grime-way, which are obviously more than familiar to the man due to his  experiences growing up. Flowdan’s lyrics have often been quite dark but very witty, atmospheric, and often straight to the point, fitting this kind of music perfectly. Needless to say, the technical abilities of the man are great as well, making his spitting always a powerful and pleasurable listening experience.

With no clear weak parts in the song-selection, this steady yet much imaginative and always entertaining album is an awesome and much recommended modern look into classic Grime. Honest, hard and simple if you will, but also often complex, emotional and deep. Just like the streets.




Tru Thoughts

Death Grips – Bottomless Pit

(Third World / Harvest, 2016)

In my case, with “Exmilitary” and “The Money Store”, Death Grips instantly became one of the most exciting new acts out there, blowing my mind with basically every delightfully minimalistic yet psychedelically complex and intense song on these albums. Coming from a background of extreme Punk and Metal as well as oldschool Hip Hop and various styles of Electronic music, the music this trio (consisting of Zach Hill’s percussions, Andy Morin’s electronics, and MC Ride’s vocals) was giving birth to clicked perfectly with my musical tastes. And altho many seemed to find Death Grips to be too “insane” for their membranes, I felt right at home when it came to the multifaceted twisted beats, sounds and rhymes the band was at this point known for.

While “No Love Deep Web” went more synthetic and even etherial in its approach and delivered perhaps a bit more catchy songs compared to the first two, “Government Plates” was a bit too artsy (and in this case boring) for my taste with its large yet kinda weak arsenal of electronic sounds, but then again the instrumental album “Fashion Week” hit my good spot while being mostly electronic in nature as well. In any case, the double album “The Powers That B” has been to many perhaps the pinnacle of the evolution and career of the band, gathering all their past experimentation and honest insanity in eighteen songs.

As the band is no stranger to controversial behaviour such as releasing albums for free online or cancelling tours (and even cancelling a breakup), it has often felt every new Death Grips release is a kind of a miracle to behold. Every time a new album is announced, two things usually come to mind: Is it really gonna happen and when, plus are they gonna top or overdo or reinvent themselves yet again?

With great pleasure I can say this album is not by any means a disappointment. All the deranged vocal fury, the often overwhelming yet controlled rhythmic chaos, all the right usage of weird minimalistic or massive psychedelic electronics at the right places still holds up to the standards of the band, going even further in many areas.

The album has many similarities with the previous album “Jenny Death” when it comes to repetitive lines and swirling intense soundscapes, but this album is not by any means as chaotic as the first song which became available, “Hot Head”, hinted. In fact most of the songs have a very certain personal atmosphere and quality to them, making this album perhaps for many a bit more pleasant listen music-wise when compared to some of the band’s previous releases.

Still, pleasant is not a word that first comes into most listeners minds when describing the atmospheres of this album, as it is again filled with very intense almost hallucinatory parts and scenes, reminiscent of bad psychedelic trips. Meaning the band will most likely not gain new fans with this release, but that has probably never been their main agenda anyway.

“Giving Bad People Good Ideas” takes a pretty comical spoken sample and turns it into a synth/instrument, industrializes a very Black Metallic riff and a blast-beat, throws in some weird electronics, and tops it with Ride’s furious shouting rhymes. What a great Death Gripping way to start the album. “Hot Head” switches between a section which could be the most chaotic and Breakcore-like shit ever heard on a Death Grips record, and a calmer slower more vocal-driven part, making it a very personal song as well.

“Spikes” is a very classic Death Grips sounding piece with glitchy fuzzy electronics and whipping beats. “Warping” takes likewise a very traditional approach (considering the band’s standards) consisting mainly of slow and groovy dizzy straightforward jamming, being still a total banger. “Eh” is a very airy yet energetic song with a classic IDM-mentality (in my opinion) and thin snapping beats, making me think of even Aphex Twin, while the vocals are clear and audible, full of cool little ideas of performance.

“Bubbles Buried In This Jungle” has some fuzzy noisy wobbly synths working together with a Trap-like beat and vocoder-parts, making it perhaps a very “current” (considering the trends of the music world) song. “Trash” has a fizzing and airy electronic feel to it in that “Get Got” and “Artificial Death In The West” kinda way, with the addition of massive noisy brasses. Cool.

“Houdini” again offers musically nothing new to the band’s repertuare, but sounds like metal wires moving and tightening and snapping in a very reverberated hall, functioning with its cool lyrics as a very cool atmospheric breather at this point in the album. “BB Poison” has rubbery, bubbling and zapping synth and drum sounds spiced with rocking organic guitar parts. Once more nothing too special but sound-wise very cool. “Three Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood” picks up the pace being a vigorous groovy piece full of cool details in all areas.

“Ring A Bell” brings back the heavy and phasing, flangy and twangy electric guitars sampled in various cool ways, familiar from previous songs like “On GP”, making it the most organic song on the album sound-wise.

“80808” is synth-sound driven ominous and eerie song full of calm fear and heavy aggression, before the title song “Bottomless Pit” finishes the album in style. The heavy noisy accelerating synths mixed with the steady energetic beat and tireless vocals make this song sound like an IndyCar speeding on the edges of a hurricane with Punk Rock blasting from its speakers.

In general, the soundscapes and mixing of the album is again pretty much along the same lines with the previous releases, with electronics ranging from heavy fuzziness to thin airiness, with pounding or snapping drum-sounds and various effects in the vocals, from multiple layers of well-managed chaos to stripped minimalism, perhaps this time around improving from past gritty rawness into a more thoughtful and better-produced whole.

While “The Powers That B” featured songs with some really personal lyrics from vocalist MC Ride, “Bottomless Pit” is possibly the most personal album lyric-wise the band has in their catalogue. All the mental delirious ranting rhyming insanity Ride spits and shouts is still here, only this time he often opens the door to his inners (and also to the band’s inners) more than before. Or at least that’s how it seems.

Altho personal-sounding, all the songs are pretty much equally good in my opinion, making it hard to pinpoint any favourites or clear highlights on the album, making this a steady release of high quality. While taking the organic freshness of “Jenny Death”, “Bottomless Pit” combines all the best elements of “The Money Store” and “No Love Deep Web” and adds a few new brilliant ideas, making this a solid, strong, familiar, high quality Death Grips album, and I’m bound to have many intimate and delirious moments with it. Loving it, as always.

Death Grips

Perturbator – The Uncanny Valley

(Blood Music, 2016)

Although the Paris-based Synthwave-artist James Kent has quite a number of releases in his discography (since 2012), Perturbator is a name that most likely started to spread more widely after the release of his previous album “Dangerous Days”. In this age of total retro-mentality, of hardcore vintage-worship, of complete copying of vibes of the past, it is no surprise numerous Electronic artists with a huge boner for the eighties (and its neon-lighted palm-tree-shadowed arcade-sounds) fill the underground, with names like Carpenter Brut being synonymous of THAT feeling.

Personally I enjoy (for example) the massive orchestral and symphonic soundscapes merged with the minimal vintage synth aesthetics Daft Punk gave us on the “Tron: Legacy” OST as opposed to the pure eighties-copying done by some 18 year old (which is way more common these days than the first mentioned approach), and luckily Perturbator gives us something a bit more experimental and diverse as well on this his latest effort.

The album has apparently been conceived during a two years period of intense music making, and is a concept album of sorts with a very well-thought narrative in the background (something we will not dive into in this review), and this can be heard in the variation of the songs and musical material. As is mentioned in Wikipedia, Kent has some background in playing guitar in Black Metal bands, and apparently for this reason this kind of hard-hitting Synthwave is quite popular among fans of more Extreme Metal-oriented tastes (as well), but I can’t personally find too much of Metal “influences” in this material, per se. The style is intense enough as it is.

While “Dangerous Days” was perhaps a more “traditional” album in the sense it offered the soundscapes which could have been heard in the eighties, Uncanny Valley (a term used describe the feeling of unease when a human being confronts an artificial intelligence or almost-realistic computer-generated surroundings, for example) is often far more intense and aggressive with its soundscapes. The synth sounds are often more threatening and intrusive than for example the bass-drums, giving the malicious technological rhythm and groove to many of the songs, and often letting only the snare to break their intense attack upon the ears.

Multiple layered melodies fill up the rainy neon-flashing nightly streets and glowing sky of the city which is this album. The varied and versatile melodies (or riffs if you will) usually work well together, and when there are moments where the song is taking a turn to an uninteresting, too-repetitive or dissonant direction, some sort of an interlude or a bridge takes our attention to the next part of the song, giving us a feeling of the good skills of the musician when it comes to arrangement.

While many of the songs have the action-packed intensity of a battle between two clashing cyberpunk gangs, there are many calm songs as well, in the true cinematic tradition (reminding often of course of works like the classic “Blade Runner” OST by Vangelis). Jazzy parts, female vocals and narration, and other atmospheric elements take our minds often to even philosophical realms in the true sci-fi tradition. This stuff would of course work perhaps the best in the background of some animated film or series, but the inner visions it gives on its own are strong enough to consider this album to be an “audial film” of great inner / personal qualities, depending on the listener.

The overall quality of the compositions, the soundscapes (the choosing and creation of the synth-sounds), and the general editing / arranging and mixing make this album of course (as undoubtedly expected by fans) one of the very best of the genre. Still, if you do not have that personal connection to the eighties, either via existing in that decade of childhood arcades and video game and film gems, or by pure retro-absorption, you most likely will be at very unease states here (as the name of the album implies). The rest of us who know the deal, will find this a very pleasant and cool experience, either as background music (in our daily personal films) or as a trip to something much more deeper and perhaps even more real.

Altho streaming for free online, with 13 songs (of lengths ranging between about 4 and 7 mins) this album has tremendous relistening value, making it a good purchase as a physical entity as well.



Blood Music