Category Archives: Experimental

Skrapez – Sorcery

(Hit+Run, 2017)

Skrapez is an experimental musical duo (originally from San Diego), part of the artist-collective Hit+Run (with many totally cool artists releasing stuff), with a huge amount of releases in their disco. The two artists known as Tenshun and Psychopop have also released a lot of stuff under other aliases, but this is the project that has mostly caught my eye and ear.

Having just toured Europe with another awesome artist Gonjasufi, this release has been recorded in the California desert in conjunction with that tour. All the music of Skrapez which I have been exposed to so far, has been traditional beat-making (using sampling, scratching, and drum-pads) put through filters of heavy distortion and other violent effects, and the two songs on this release are not different in that sense.

Yet although as harsh and crushing as the music is, it manages to stay in audial harmony and balance when it comes to the different tracks on the songs, while being chaotically and almost disturbingly psychedelic and hypnotic at the same time. And that is no easy feat when it comes to stuff like this.

The two songs (both of which last exactly 09:59) on this release are basically made of different parts or chapters, something I have also heard on previous Skrapez-material, but this time around the parts are not too distinctly apart in content. Beats of harsh electronics, multilayered percussions, psychedelic synths and various samples and effects take total control of the atmosphere for the 20 mins, in a really DIY and low-fi yet creative way. The first song is a bit more beat-oriented, while the second one is more Ambient and experimental.

The music sounds like it has been made by human hands dripping with blood and sweat, rather than with some Ableton Live gimmicks. This stuff is perfect when taking the bus to your shitty job, or inspecting it more closely while high on some drug, or even as background music while working on your computer.

Highly recommended for all fans of harsh Electronic / Industrial sounds and traditional Hip Hop made with classic sampling techniques, especially if you already dig low-fi stuff like the before-mentioned Gonjasufi and similar mentalities.

Available as a tape through Hit+Run.

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Der Blutharsch – What Makes You Pray

(WKN, 2017)

Der Blutharsch – the already 20 years old lovechild of the psychedelic visionaire and an all around jolly fellow Albin Julius – continues on the same progressive road which has taken form on the groups latest releases. In the empire of Der Blutharsch, the roads have been lately paved with some trippy vibes indeed, and they all lead to inner worlds of cosmic and magickal proportions.

The first song starts with a hypnotic sampled clanking sound and some buzzing riffing from the stoned guitar, slowly adding some percussives and jamming leads. When the song has already cast it’s trance-inducing spell upon you, Marthynna’s eerie whispering and preaching vocals suddenly shake you a bit, while the song continues to jam away very slowly with a bit more eventful drumming and synth-effects.

The second song continues along the same lines as the first one, built on top of a cool retro-sounding synth-bass-line, adding a bit more rhythm and speed to the ritual, and a bit more melodic singing from Marthynna, ending in a weird awesome spoken sample.

The thrid song goes a bit more experimental with the synth-lines and riffing, being almost comical, but it gets you in a good mood for sure. However, the fourth song is the best one yet, with it’s epic synths , tribal percussions and moody guitar leads. The fifth song is again a bit more tongue-in-cheek and amusing deliverance of psychedelic Rock, and makes you realize how well the more dark and slower songs work great next to these more cheerful songs.

The sixth song is an awesome ambient piece while the seventh song is again a quite tribal-oriented, with a massive crushing bass. The eight song has an extremely beautiful and atmospheric piano-like melody coupled with buzzing guitars, basses  ambient synths and weird choir-like singing. Altho without any percussions, this song is definitely one of the highlights of the album.

The ninth song features a pretty weird heavily effectizied and almost disturbing percussive sample and organ-sounds, and the tenth song consists of a synth-sound so bassy, heavy and vibrating, I thought my speakers are going to explode. Definitely a powerful way to end this album with a bang.

The soundscapes of the album range from pretty murky and mysterious frequencies to clear outputs, keeping the two worlds in a good and atmospheric balance. Mastered by Thomas Tannenberg (of the Austrian experimental Black Metal band Abigor), the overall audial quality and mentality of the album is great for trippy stuff like this.

This release gives you the safe (?) and sound Der Blutharsch psychedelia we have grown to love in the last years, with no big surprises, but the trip is again high quality ritualistic stoner ambience and groovy jamming. Fans of the band will naturally get this release, and if you haven’t yet been exposed to the music of the band, this album is a splendid introduction.

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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.

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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.

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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

Unru – Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nicht

(Sentient Ruin / Monotonstudio Records / Supreme Chaos Records, 2016)

At the latest, after the success of bands such as Deafhaven and Altar Of Plagues, it sometimes feels like every hipster wanted to create a raw Black Metal band, often with Crusty or more artistic influences (which is fine by me since art should be free for all men and women to create), but while most of these bands end up sounding pretty similar and boring (unoriginal), one can occasionally come across something unique, when it comes to “Blackened Neo-Crust”, such as this young German band.

Without any info of the previous doings of the band members, I do know this is their first full-length release after a demo, a single and two splits. What makes the music fresh and original enough (to get my attention) is the way the band incorporates the more ferocious blastbeats and classic tremolo riffs with some for example more progressive rhythms or doomy elements (as well as small hints of other styles) usually unheard of in the more popular bands of this genre, as well as some truly twisted vocals and hypnotic song-structures / arrangements, just enough to stick out of the mass in a good way. The outcome is of the sort which keeps things interesting, thoughtful and very atmospheric throughout this release.

While the faster Black Metal parts – besides the obvious more monotonous nineties-worship – often reminds me of the intensity of newer bands like Katechon (or even the classic odd-bird of the early nineties, “Blood Must Be Shed”), a few more groovy and rhythmic parts here and there bring to my mind stuff like Industrial and even Tribal music. There is also a very Doomy and Deathly part to be found in one of the songs, spicing things up nicely. I only wish there would be even more of these varied parts in the music.

The arrangement of the songs as well as the melodic yet repetitive nature of the riffs usually lifts the music to truly epic and even transcendental heights, making this a release of much atmospheric value, which is unarguably the mission of the music style in question. The melancholic apathy towards mankind and the vanity and desperation of all things human can really be sensed thru this stuff.

One major thing that makes the sound of the band a bit more original are the beforementioned vocals, which are not your typical Black Metal screaming nor the average Crusty shouting, but fall somewhere in between the two, often turning into even quite clear vocals, resulting as something truly twisted, desperate and hateful, fitting the music perfectly.

The overall handling of the instruments is good (props for the basslines which are often played quite high, giving these parts also a bit more personal touch as well), and the production of the album is fine when it comes to the style in question, with maybe a bit too much reverb here and there, which on the other hand increases the deep atmospheres of the music.

This album offers about 35 mins of good quality, raw and organic, thoughtful, epic and artistic Crusty Black Metal with enough unique touches to make the band worthwhile a deeper look. Released by the extremely cool label Sentient Ruin, as well as Monotonstudio Records and Supreme Chaos, I definitely urge you to check out this (in all its apparent simplicity) genuinely fresh and original band!

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Natvre’s – Wrath

(Self-Released / Clean Head Productions, 2015)

Natvre’s from Thessaloniki (Greece) are a three-piece made of members not “publicly” familiar from earlier projects (at least according to Metal Archives), formed in 2014, this full-length being their first release. And what a strong first release it is.

As is the case with many of the more interesting newcomers, Natvre’s has decided to perform a style of Black Metal which takes a lot from the old-school vibes of the nineties, and fuse it with other (often a bit more interesting?) elements, such as good old Punk Rock and other more Avantgardish and Abstract styles of music. And the fusion works extremely well.

The album gets straight into business with the opening track “Lazarines”, introducing eerie tremolo and picking riffs reminding me of classic Thorns and Mayhem, mixed with more straightforward Rocking Punk riffs and vibes (and partly Darkthronish and Burzumish or even Aura Noirish attitudes if you will, besides the more Avantgarde atmospheres, as the album progresses). To the end of the song we get some blast-beats as well, reminding us of the Black backgrounds of the music in general. The vocals (with their heavy distortion) bring to my mind a more groovier version of Aldrahn in “Satanic Art”, with the same amount of passion and madness. The whole thing is put through filters of extreme weight (being heavy and hard-hitting as fuck) and razor-sharp Blackened violence.

The next seven songs offer the same stuff (with an exemption of a more obscure long instrumental guitar-driven song in the middle of the album), with more variation in the drum-beats and some vocal-parts, while the riffs stay pretty much the same. What makes this album so cool, is the right amount of new more “artistic” and just plain imaginative tricks up the sleeves of whoever has composed and arranged these songs, of new styles and ways to present this Art, while keeping the overall feeling of the album similar throughout the whole shredding journey.

Altho the basses and guitars, the drums, and the vocals are all recorded at three different studios, the main mixing has brought all the elements in prefect (dis)harmony. The bass-drums pound like fists, while the balance of warmth and heaviness, coldness and sharpness created by the basses and guitars merge splendidly with the insane yet Rocking Blackened vocals.

This release offers basically nothing new under any suns, but still manages to give about 45 mins of something genuinely fresh and cool to the intelligent and open-minded fan of different musical styles, with main emphasis of course in Black fucking Metal. This highly recommended album is released as a digipack by the band (with the help of Clean Head Productions).

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