Judas Priest : Turbo 30(Remastered 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

I’m just going to come out and say it, Judas Priest’s Turbo was a damn good album. It was much maligned by the long-haired, leather-88875183271 Judas Priest Turbo 30 Vinyl Outer.inddwearing metal dudes that pumped fists to songs like “Breaking The Law”, “The Green Manalishi(with the two-pronged crown)”, “Livin’ After Midnight”, and “Electric Eye”, but that’s their problem, man. Turbo wasn’t the sell out album that all the heshers driving in souped-up Cutlass Supremes and Chevy Novas said it was. In fact Priest was doing what they always did, which was following the muse wherever she(or he) took them. Sure, it was this slick, futuristic Judas Priest that was playing heavily with the newfangled sounds of the 80s, mainly synth-ing up things a bit. But really, if there ever was a futuristic, forward-thinking metal band pushing boundaries and taking names wasn’t that band Judas freakin’ Priest? Turbo was following two standout albums like Screaming For Vengeance and Defenders Of The Faith, and feels like the next step. 30 years on even more so.

Turbo for me holds a special place in my heart. It’s the first Priest album I truly fell for. With nothing more than a dubbed copy from one of my dad’s friends from work and the highway-stained video for “Turbo Lover” I was hooked. I remember climbing up on my mom and dad’s roof, Walkman in tow, and listening to “Parental Guidance” with visions of destroying the PMRC ala Terminator-style. “Up yours, Tipper Gore! C’mon Halford, we’ve got some butts to kick!” I had an active imagination, guys. There was just this upbeat drive throughout the album. I had just begun to play guitar, so I’d also taken an interest in Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing’s impressive guitar work. They’d seemed to have jumped the fence from blues-based fretwork into something more progressive. Lot’s of wholly impressive guitar lines. “Rock You All Around The World” is a speed demon locomotive of a track with some of that previously mentioned impressive guitar work. My 12-year old brain was getting a workout.

As far as sing-a-long stadium anthems, Turbo had you covered. Like the aforementioned “Rock You All Around The World”, you had “Turbo Lover”, “Private Property”, “Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days”, and of course “Parental Guidance” that were stadium and coliseum ready. Fists pumping and scantily clad girls in cut-off t-shirts hiked up on the shoulders of The Decline Of Western Civilization: The Metal Years rejects. These songs are classic Judas Priest, just in shiny new packaging. Then you’ve got tracks like “Hot For Love” and “Reckless” that bring back some of that 70s menace from albums like Rocka Rolla, Sad Wings Of Destiny, and Sin After Sin. 

This is primo Judas Priest, folks. This is Priest for the Reagan years.

Someone else felt the same way as I did so Turbo has been reissued in a shiny new remastered form. There’s a deluxe version that includes a live show recorded at Kemper Arena in Kansas City back in May of 1986. It’s a quality live recording that hits up all their eras up to that point. It’s a solid window into just how powerful Judas Priest were as a live band. And as far as I can tell no overdubs on this one, guys.

So I don’t know what your opinions were of this album back in 1986(or if you even had any opinions), but I’m telling you to put the negative memories off to the side, put on your leather jacket(and chaps if that’s your thing), and give Turbo another spin. This one has aged well, like a fine wine.

Or a well-worn studded leather wrist band.

8.5 out of 10

 

 

Ty Segall : Ty Segall

You pretty much know what to expect when jumping into Ty Segall’s musical world. You should, as he creates these worlds on a prettytysegall_dc658_minikylethomas_sq-516f76bee04332f3252324d8d782a2aa0ee5c2be-s900-c85 steady basis. Whether it’s his own albums or with projects he started with pals like Mikal Cronin and Charlie Moothart, Segall is in constant creative cycles. A year ago Segall dropped Emotional Mugger, a flat out bonkers rock album that was filled with both his signature guitar growls and a steady stream of arty weirdness. With his newest endeavor titled simply Ty Segall, Ty leaves the weirdness at the studio door and just writes some clear-eyed rock and roll goodness. This is classic Ty Segall.

I’m going to start with the third song in as it’s the anomaly this album cycle. “Warm Hands(Freedom Returned)” is a balls out grenade of a song, shooting guitar jabs and metal riffs like shrapnel. It’s over ten minutes of cow bell, time signature changes, and almost progressive rock moves that makes good use of fuzz boxes and an almost Stooges vibe with some doom-y metal overtones. Midway through the song gets some wurlitzer organ thrown in that makes you feel like you just walked into a Doors recording session circa 1969. Not too many people can jump the tracks as well as Ty Segall. He’s made an art out of “going for it”. He goes for it here. Does he get it? That’s up to you(he gets it, man. he gets it.)

So back to the beginning, “Break A Guitar” is full on fuzzy garage rock. Think Detroit, 1968. Think bleeding eardrums and split fingertips. Think glitter bombs and Orange amps on fire. You get the picture. “Freedom” is groovy fuzz bass, tribal beats, and an undercurrent of psychedelic groove that gets you right in your gut. “Talkin'” is a twangy barroom slow dance number. Shuffle beat, piano crawl, and some sweetly strummed acoustic. This is as Stones-y as Segall has gotten. It’s a hat that fits him quite well, and one he should wear more often. Who’s “Mr. K”? I don’t know, but Segall thanks him on the pedal to the metal barn burner “Thank You Mr. K”. It’s classic Segall weirdness mixed with some heavy melody punk rock. “Orange Color Queen” is an acoustic-driven track that flows beautifully, like T.Rex guesting on a White Album track. “Papers” is an oddly catchy song, pushed along by piano and some great vocal melodies. It’s an endearingly odd song. Maybe some Emotional Mugger ideas that got the revamp for the new album’s vibe? Possibly.

Ty Segall isn’t a grand statement like Manipulator, or the melt-your-face masterpiece that was Twins. It is, however, Ty Segall in master songwriter mode. He seems to have taken the complexity of his last two albums and combined them into a tight shot of grand fuzzed-out garage/pop rock, with some newer shades of vulnerability thrown in. Ty Segall will get you where you need to go, and then some.

8.1 out of 10

 

The Puppet’s Dream

A few months back I sat on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, ate some tacos, and watched this little indie horror film called We Are Still Here. A good friend told me I should watch it, so I figured why not? It was Sunday, gloomy, and there were tacos to be eaten. Turns out the film was pretty damn good. A creepy ghost story that was surprisingly moving. A story about parents in the throes of grief and depression over the death of their adult son who move far away from their home to a quaint little town in the middle of nowhere to an old farmhouse they found incredibly cheap. Of course there was a reason it was cheap. I’ll spare you the details as you should really seek this one out and watch for yourself. What struck me about it was that it had nothing to do with teens or 20-somethings partying and doing things their parents wouldn’t be proud of getting slaughtered in the usual grotesque manner. It was written with some maturity in mind. There was build-up and nuance. It was subtle horror that ends up in a massive hallucinatory moment of violence and gore. The end sends a chill down your spine.

I’m telling you, watch the movie.

The score was done by a composer named Wojciech Golczewski. It was subtle and nuanced like the film. Not overbearing, it worked to build those moments of surprise, melancholy and dread. Golczewski has been doing movie scores for sometime now, and a couple months ago he released his debut solo album called Reality Check. Of course when Mondo announced they were releasing it I had to drop the money for it and grab it. It was a wise decision as it’s a stunning piece of sci fi-inspired music.

reality-checkThere’s not much I can say about the album that the album can’t say for itself, really. There’s all the great synthesizer work you come to expect from a futuristic sounding album that sort of plays out like mini themes for film scenes. Tracks like “The Puppets Dream”, “Sid Vortex”, and “Solitude” are dense pieces of synth-inspired electronic music that pull you in to their world. The album cover, complete with disintegrating astronaut floating in space, elicits the casually doomed vibe you get as you make your way through Reality Check. But never do you get the feeling that Golczewski is heavy-handed in his approach to composing. It’s not weird whizzing and buzzing for the sake of making futuristic noises or doomed drone. You can tell he’s worked in film for awhile as each piece has a purpose. “Find Me” is reminiscent of Le Matos’ work on the Turbo Kid S/T; there’s a vastness in the track that also has an undertone of, strangely enough, hope. To me it sounds like a modern take of Le Parc-era Tangerine Dream. A populist take on the heady sci-fi sounds of the 70s. “Being Human” carries the weight of the title. It feels like the robot attempting to understand the meaning of mortality…or something like that. There’s elements of so many great electronic composers here, yet Wojciech Golczewski puts them all through his own unique creativity and point of view that it becomes something wholly original. “Reality Check” is barely two minutes, but within it he creates this almost hallucinogenic feeling, as if you’re listening as a black hole is devouring you.

Here’s the description of Reality Check, courtesy of Golczewski’s Bandcamp page:

Reality Check is a concept album compiled of material composed and inspired by Wojciechs various work for the motion pictures. It can be described as a horror sci fi soundtrack with influences from his previous demoscene and chiptune heritage together with more recent synthwave and electronica.

But don’t just listen to my blubbering, you should head over and check the album out for yourself. It’s another stunning piece of synthesizer/electronic work from someone you’ll be hearing more of. At least from me for sure(working on an interview with Mr. Golczewski himself. Look for it in the next few weeks.) While you’re over at his Bandcamp page, you should check out “Tonight She Comes”. It’s a 7″ he did for another indie horror film. Two great synth pieces. Missed out on that 7″. It sold out pretty fast. But it’s alive and well in digital form. Check it!

So yet another incredible instrumental album I’ve picked up this year. If this sort of thing tickles your fancy pick it up. And if you haven’t yet seen it, watch We Are Still Here. Well worth your time, friends.

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Ridiculous Vinyl Purchases : Nostalgia Gets The Best Of Us All

I guess you could say I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately. On a trip to my local record store recently I was given access to leaf through an as-yet put out collection of records and see if anything tickled my fancy. Within this “like, totally” 80s dive I located some truly most excellent spins from my formative years and without even thinking of what I was doing I’d pulled these 80s metal wonders from the lot and said “I want.”

After John at Karma had given the records a good looking over and had arrived on a price for these albums I paid the man and brought them home. What records am I talking about here? Dokken’s Under Lock And Key, Cinderella’s Night Songs, and Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair. Yeah I know, they seem like random impulse buys. And really they sort of are, but they also hold some significance in my pre-teen/teen years.

FullSizeRender (94)Dokken’s Under Lock And Key was a no-brainer(I guess in more ways than one) for me. Over the last few months I’ve collected a couple of their records, Back For The Attack and their last and live record Unleashed In The East. For me, Dokken towed the line between metal and hard rock. They came up in the early 80s LA where bands like Ratt and Motley Crue mixed glam and metal. Dokken toned the glam down a notch and concentrated more on intricate songwriting. Don Dokken had a good mid-range voice that lent itself well to banshee wails and warm balladeering rather well. Mick Brown and Jeff Pilson were a solid rhythm section, albeit nothing showy, while the ever tan and shirtless George Lynch excelled at lightning fast runs and melodic wailing better than most at that time. I fell for their heavy and serious rock music in 1985 when I swiped a dubbed copy of their album Tooth And Nail from my older brother. That album was part of the reason I wanted to learn guitar. I couldn’t get over how good George Lynch was. Up to that point it was Eddie Van Halen and Warren Di Martini that impressed me. Lynch seemed to be on a whole other level.

I first owned Under Lock and Key in December of 1986. December 2nd to be exact. I’d received a copy on cassette for my 13th birthday. I’d heard “In My Dreams” and “It’s Not Love” pretty frequently on MTV, Friday Night Videos, and on the radio show Metal Shop late Friday nights on 95.3 WXKE out of Niles, Michigan. Having the album I could fixate on some of the other tunes. “Unchain The Night”, “The Hunter”, “Lightning Strikes Again”, and the ballad “Will The Sun Rise” were all solid songs that were pretty much ignored by everyone else. This was the time of the singles, where record labels pushed two or three tracks and left the rest to collect dust somewhere on the back end of the LP. When I bought an album I gave the whole album a shot. Sometimes there wasn’t much else besides the singles, but occasionally you’d stumble across some buried treasures. I found that to be the case with Dokken, actually.

I was a huge fan of the band till I was 14 or 15 years old. Eventually what killed them for me was their self-serious nature. At first them taking themselves seriously was a good thing to my ears. It made their music seem heavier and legitimate. But as the years went on and their albums became less heavy and more ballad-filled the serious nature made the songs seem all the more, well, lame. George Lynch left the band and it pretty much became Don Dokken’s time to turn the band into a ballad machine.

But still, spinning Under Lock And Key over the last week or so has been a nice nostalgia trip. I’m not looking to rekindle any hard rock relationships, but it’s nice to step into the time machine now and then. And yes, if I ever see a vinyl copy of Tooth And Nail for sale on the cheap I’m buying it.

FullSizeRender (93)About three weeks after my birthday, the first week of Christmas break in 1986 to be exact, I’d headed to Butterfly Records in downtown Warsaw and bought a copy of Cinderella’s Night Songs. I’d given in to the fun and catchy first single “Shake Me” and felt I’d needed to dig into that album a little deeper. It turned out that the rest of that album was pretty solid. Opening track “Night Songs” was pretty damn heavy, really. Ballad “Nobody’s Fool” was enough to get the girls excited while still retaining some metal-ish edge to it. “Hell On Wheels”, “Somebody Save Me”, and “Push Push” were also pretty solid tunes.

This album became a staple of my 7th grade year. I played it pretty much all the time till spring. Coming back to this one recently I was again reminded of how solid this album is. While not seeking future records of theirs on vinyl, I’m glad to have this one as it’s a reminder that not all those 80s glammy hard rock records were completely bogus. Plus, it pays to dig into the deep tracks. I still think Tom Keifer has a great hard rock voice.

FullSizeRender (95)So that leads us to Tears For Fears and Songs From The Big Chair. I was never a huge Tears For Fears fan. I liked the songs when they came on the radio, but I never owned any of their records. They were too pop and radio for my eccentric pret-teen tastes. But over the last few years songs from this album began to come back to me and reminded me of a certain road trip my family took in the summer 1985.

My parents rented a house in Englewood, Florida, for us to stay in on a week-long vacation in the sunshine state. We packed our bags and loaded into our 1984 Honda Accord and headed south. This was a long, long, long drive. It was filled with card games, naps, arguing, burger joint stops, and lots of radio. Tears For Fears’ “Shout” was huge that summer so we heard it A LOT on our way to and from Florida. So much so that it felt as if it had become a part of my DNA. I seem to remember hearing “Head Over Heels” as well quite a bit, though I may have just grafted those memories onto this vacation road trip. Either way, it was one of those situations where at the time I was thinking “Not this song again!”, but unbeknownst to me it had taken hold and had connected with my 11-year old brain. I’d never thought about it, but whenever I’d hear that song over the last 15 years or so it made me feel good. I wanted to hear it more. It was a pleasant surprise when it would come on some 80s radio station or 80s mix I might be listening to. That trip was the reason, I think. So when I saw Songs From The Big Chair in that stack of records I knew I needed to take that one home with me.

Spinning the record I was amazed by just how good of an album it is. It’s catchy, kind of quirky, and a completely different trip from what was coming out in 1985. The singles were massive, and as a whole the album was wonderfully produced and engineered. No wonder it became a permanent part of my DNA.

So there you have it. My walk down memory lane, or nostalgia avenue. There’s one more album I picked up in that lot, but I’ll save it for another post. Until then, go put on some of your or your significant other’s eye liner and throw on Night Songs or Under Lock And Key.

Or better yet, don’t.

Let The Bruise Blood Come Out

This is an interesting one for me.

You see, it seems I discovered the wonderful world of anxiety attacks the summer of 2014. I’m not sure why they started coming on.FullSizeRender (29) My wife had gotten a new job that had her traveling quite a bit. That might have been a part of it, with me being the only adult at home with three kids to make sure they were okay and not kidnapped by marauders or succumb to the pressures of peer pressure while I was at work. But really, I’ve never been one to fold under pressure when it comes to keeping everyone safe and sound, fed and clean, and generally warm with a roof over their heads. I pretty much handle the homebody duties and always have. Curse of the anal-retentive I suppose.

So, even though the wife was going to be gone for four days I felt I had a handle on things. She left on a Sunday and that Monday morning I went to work as usual, no big deal. But sitting at my desk I suddenly had this feeling the world was folding in on me. It was like tunnel vision, with everything narrowing in front of me and I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling of fear come crushing down on me. I got up from my desk and just walked around the dock like a madman trying to walk it off. I went outside and thought maybe some fresh air would help me, but about 2 minutes into my meandering I thought how horrible it would be for me to just fall over dead at work outside, which then caused more fear to bubble up.

Eventually the feeling subsided and I just felt incredibly wore out and like I was getting a cold. I only had to go to work for one more day that week as I took the rest of the week off in order to take my two youngest clothes shopping(yeah, in hindsight that was a really stupid idea.) So Tuesday went okay, then Wednesday morning came and after we dropped my oldest off to band camp the two youngest and I headed to Fort Wayne for some school shopping. Traffic was dreadful as half way to the Fort road crews were working on the highway which caused about a 25 minute crawl(totally not good for the impatient.) We finally made it to Fort Wayne and of course the mall isn’t open yet. Figuring out what to do for an hour, we decided to head over to Target. They have clothes…they have school supplies. We made our way in and as we walked up to the boys clothing dept that feeling came back. The tunnel vision, the darkening edges, and the overbearing fear. Except this time I was an hour from home with my then 9 year old and 11 year old. I quickly just grabbed a couple pair of jeans and some shirts for my son to try on. We made our way back to the dressing rooms and he went in as my daughter and I sat on a bench outside the dressing room. A phone kept ringing in the area somewhere which was driving me nuts. I just kept talking to my daugther in order to keep my head from spinning off my body into the blackness of space(or retail.) The feeling subsided and we left empty handed(who the hell knows what sizes of clothes I grabbed for my son…poor guy.)

It was pretty clear that we weren’t going to be successful in school clothes shopping, so I decided we’d go look at books and hit up Neat Neat Neat Records downtown. I’d told my oldest we’d look for some books for her and I didn’t want to come home empty handed after she’d been outside sweating, marching in formation all day. I’d also asked Morrison at NNN to hold a couple first pressing Cure records, Wish and Faith. Couldn’t not grab those.  Afterwards we snag some lunch before heading back home.

We made our way to S. Calhoun St and parked. As we walked up to NNN we noticed a hand written sign that basically said “I forgot my laptop. Be right back.” So we meandered in front of the store for 10 minutes or so, then Morrison rolled up and happily let us in to the store. The kids know the rules when we head into a record store, which are as follows: 1. Touch nothing 2. No running 3. I said don’t touch anything, dammit! So by now they’re pros at entertaining themselves as daddy gets lost in the stacks of vinyl. It was a great grounding experience going in there after the morning’s anxiety. It felt good to talk to Morrison, about anything. We talked retail, vinyl, bands, Public Radio stations, and of course The Cure. I was super excited to get Wish and I had recently started falling for Faith, one of the most underrated Cure albums in my opinion(next to The Top, maybe.) Morrison is one of those guys that knows music. Not in a smarmy “I’m better than you” sort of way. But in a way that he can recommend something to me that I didn’t know about previously that I will actually like. That doesn’t happen much for me anymore(yeah, that sounded kind of smarmy, didn’t it?) What I’m trying to say is that Morrison is a dude that knows music, inside and out. He’s a year younger than me so we can relate to the middle-aged guy thing pretty well, and he’s working on making an album that’s very much influenced by Tangerine Dream’s Rubycon. He’s a cool dude.

While the kids sat on the couch in the hi-fi room, Morrison told me about a huge collection he’d gotten from the Public Radio station. He said he hadn’t even gone through it yet, but that I was welcome to go through it and see if there was anything I was interested in. Of course I can’t pass that up, so I started rummaging through it when I came across New Sounds In Electronic Music. I like electronic music, and new sounds are always inviting so I stopped looking at that point and pulled this one out of the pile. I knew with those Cure albums I’d hit my monetary limit so one more record was icing on the cake. Or the cherry on top of the sundae. Something like that. Morrison threw me a number for the album and I happily agreed. I gathered up the spins and the kids and we headed out.

Once we were home for good with the oldest in tow(happy at the books she had waiting for her) and pizza to chow down on, we settled in for the night and I threw the album on the turntable. Reich’s “Come Out” was a social commentary piece he’d done in the 60s as a statement towards Civil Rights and the treatment of peaceful black protesters by thuggish cops. It’s also Reich’s early works in musical experimentation regarding phasing. Starting two tape decks out at the same time, then letting them start to phase out of time. To some I’m sure it’s annoying to listen to, but to me it’s absolutely mesmerizing to get lost in. The Richard Maxfield piece “Night Music” is analog bleeps and chirps. Maxfield was one of the pioneers of avante garde electronic music, and his piece shows that. It’s not something you’d put on at parties(maybe you would, just don’t invite me to that party unless some Xanax is involved.) Pauline Oliveros’ “I Of IV” is rather spellbinding. Once again not for everyone, but when I listen to the entire 20 minute span of this piece I can get lost in its depths quite easily. I do listen to it on headphones as I know the family doesn’t share my enthusiasm. Oliveros is another pioneer of electronic music. I even hipped White Hills to this track, as it reminded me of some of their more expansive, spacey instrumental pieces.

The album itself was appealing to me for the fact that Steve Reich was on it. I’d really gotten into Reich over the previous winter, so that was a plus. I’d never heard of Richard Maxfield or Pauline Oliveros, but with song titles like “Night Music” and “I Of IV” I knew I couldn’t go wrong. But more than anything; more than the music or the mind-expanding sounds in those grooves, the most important thing about this record was just the find. It was the feeling of being anchored back to earth while searching through that box. This record could’ve been some classical work, or an old Thelonious Monk Riverside LP. What it was didn’t matter as much as just me finding something. It deflated the earlier panic and let me get back to feeling normal(or as normal as I get.) That’s what is so great about this LP. It’s an added bonus that I really dug the music and the composers.

Since then I’ve gotten control of the panic, no prescription meds required. I’m just trying to not get overwhelmed. I’m pushing some of those homebody responsibilities onto those kids of mine who are now old enough to do those kinds of things. Exercise helps in alleviating some of that stress, too. And beer.

I just had to let some of the bruise blood come out.

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Afterthought Part Three : White Hill’s ‘Walks For Motorists’

One of the albums that unfortunately fell through the cracks with me in 2015 was White Hills’ Walks For Motorists. It was one of those records I was extremely excited about as White Hills has been one of my favorite bands ever since I first discovered them courtesy of Joe over at 1537. I’ve even had the honor of interviewing Dave W and Ego Sensation twice, first back in 2013 about their then new album So You Are…So You’ll Be, then again last year about Walks For Motorists. Even with all that excitement the album sort of got left behind this year. I think it came out in April, but the vinyl was delayed for like a month or something. I don’t know. All I know is when it finally arrived we were in the midst of some painting project at home and the house was in disarray. I listened to the album a couple of times, as well as the bonus 12″ that came with the deluxe copy, and that was pretty much it. Vacations, wife gone on work trips, kids go back to school, other albums hit my ears, and the seasons change,…turn, turn, turn. So December comes, albums are re-visited, a list is made, posts are posted, and next thing you know it’s freaking January.

Goodbye 2015. Hello 2016.

IMG_0639So here I am on the Monday after the New Years holiday and I’m listening to Walks For Motorists at my desk and wondering why this didn’t stick better with me? It’s pretty phenomenal. Their 2013 album So You Are…So You’ll Be hit me right away. As I listen to songs like “No Will”, “Wanderlust”, and the epic space jam “Lead The Way” I’m convinced once again of Dave W and Ego Sensation’s innate ability to pull the listener from their drab, pedestrian surroundings and place them in some psychedelic wormhole and come out the other side into this R. Crumb-like hallucinogenic state. I think that’s what grabbed me in the first place in regards to White Hills. They’re not about being flashy(though they can flash with the best of ’em) and they’re not about being as heavy as possible(though they can be heavy as Black Sabbath under dense metallic gravity). They’re all about this incredible musical journey. Walks For Motorists continues that musical journey quite beautifully, with a much sharper, crisper musical palate than ever before. The dense layers of molten fuzz that encrusted previous White Hills joints has been replaced with a studio sheen and focused lower end. This record is a drum and bass smorgasbord. The Gibson Les Paul has been set off to the side in place of highlighting Ego Sensation’s monolithic fuzzy bass tones and emphasis on dark, groove-laden  rhythms. Dave W has put the synthesizer front and center this time around, with the Les Paul filling in the cracks and crevices when needed. Producer David Wrench sounds like a perfect fit for White Hills. It still very much sounds like Dave W and Ms. Sensation, but interpreted through new ears.

IMG_0640Also, with previous White Hills records, there were usually a couple instrumental pieces that would fill the voids with atmospheric lushness. “I, Nomad” does that in spades, feeling like floating through some technicolor tear in time. The last and title track “Walks For Motorists” is sort of an instrumental, with the sound of a voice in conversation underneath the long-ish groove-heavy tune. There’s also some classic guitar heavy psych in the form “We Are What You Are”. “Automated City” is part android techno and part space rock noir.

The album as a whole has a noir-ish feel to it. Glamorous, dark, seedy, and dystopian. This is definitely a dance record. It also feels like one step closer to White Hills making that Siouxie Sioux/Bauhaus/Echo and the Bunnymen-inspired 80s alternative record. I very much look forward to hearing something like that. 4AD-meets-endless space rock jams? Yeah, I could go for that. Until then, I’ve got Walks For Motorists to enjoy.

Editor’s Note: I must also note that with previous White Hills releases, this one came with a bonus 12″ called Drives For Pedestrians. It’s 30 minutes of extra music, which in this case is trippy, atmospheric, spacey jams. These extra albums are such a great surprise. They may not have fit on the overall LP, but they’re definitely not table craps. Check out their tour-only EP Stolen Stars Left For No One for proof. That’s as good as half the actual LPs released nowadays. Thanks White Hills. I won’t forget you next time. 

Oneohtrix Point Never : Garden of Delete

It’s not often that I can’t think of the words to describe an album. I can usually scrounge up enough vernacular to create a pretty good idea of what’s in between theoneohtrix grooves. But with Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, and his newest album Garden of Delete, it can be quite perplexing to paint a clear picture of what he’s doing this time around. Going back to the first OPN records, it was a lot of drone and space-y ambient textures. Betrayed In The Octagon, Russian Mind, and Zones Without People had the vibe of early Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, but with a darker view of the outside world. Replica made brilliant use of loops which made for a whole new vibe, while R Plus Seven felt haunted and alone. A soundtrack to a content dream that turns into a nightmare, only to head back into the light towards the end.

Oneohtrix Point Never toured with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden last year, which prompted Daniel Lopatin to change the scope of his music. He wanted to create something more modern; something more rock-influenced. The result is Garden of Delete, a mix of distorted vocals, dancier beats, and industrial muscle that is both the weirdest album by OPN, and one of the best.

So there was a story about how this album was a result of the influence of an extraterrestrial named Ezra that came into contact with Lopatin. The album does indeed have somewhat of a story regarding this tale, and there’s even a song called “Ezra”, but I’m not going to get into that. I’m just going to talk about the songs themselves. “Intro” is a distorted voice(presumably the alien in question) which leads into “Ezra”, a loop-filled track that feels like snippets of memories sewn together with Lopatin’s musical storytelling. The song picks up in the middle section like some manic techno freakout before the bottom drops out. “Sticky Drama” feels like OPNs attempt at a pop hit. It contains big bombastic swaths of synth you might hear on some big radio hit, as well as heavily effected vocals that could be some pop diva disguised as a robot. Pretty soon though the song descends into some hellish, industrial explosion, like Skinny Puppy devouring Aphex Twin in an attempt to digest its essence. There may be moments of modern pop extravagance here, but make no mistake this is an Oneohtrix Point Never record.

“SDFK” is a quiet interlude that reminds one of earlier OPN records, and it takes us into the album’s centerpiece “Mutant Standard”. An eight minute ride into deep space and some dark subconscious, the NIN influence is noticeable but it never feels like Lopatin is aping Mr. Reznor. Elements of ambient soundscapes and driving techno, the song is carried along by a percussive center that allows for strange aural delights to come in and out of the mix, racing from left to right. “Mutant Standard” feels very much alive and relevant. All of those artists attempting to do what Daniel Lopatin does need to sit down and listen to this song and go back to the drawing board. “Child of Rage” is another track that showcases the elegance Lopatin brings to electronic and synth music that may sometimes gets lost in the weird. It’s like Weather Report and Cluster were enveloped into an old IBM motherboard. “I Bite Through It” sounds like Nitzer Ebb and New Order through metal shavings and bad dreams, while Stanley Jordan plays over the mania. “Freaky Eyes”, “Lift”, and “No Good” take the album to it’s eventual end, with “No Good” being the reserved, quiet piece this album needs to end on.

Garden of Delete never wavers from the journey it starts at the beginning. It seems Daniel Lopatin isn’t resting on his laurels by sticking to the same formula. What this album proves is that he is as ever-changing and as vital as the music he creates as Oneohtrix Point Never. Not sure how he can top this album, but I’m happy to listen and see if he can.

8.8 out of 10