Cultural manifestations with a close-knit relationship with the independent and experimental arts, specially in the music realm, the people who inspire us and the extended analogue and digital worlds that support them.
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A new collection of strong atmospheric black metal hymns for that crisp February dusk stroll.
Containing tracks from three albums in my top 20 of 2023, from Odz Manouk, Thantifaxath and Panopticon. Now Odz Manouk is an extraordinary surprise this year, sitting pretty much in between the introspective atmosphere of late Deathspell Omega and the ferocity of Craft. Odz Manouk is a one-man black metal project formed in 2005 by a guy called Yagian who hails from warm Long Beach, California.
01/05/2020
In light of the circumstances, I finally found the necessary time over the course of the first few months of Covid-19, to focus on the right design and format of this website.
After many many years of boasting about building an online journal that would keep a sort of anthology of my favourite music, movies, books and whatever else that are dearest to me, countless efforts to re-imagine a web design formula and sacrificing hours on end towards mutating code, I have finally conceded it was time to post and not roast. I got through the basics of wordpress and managed just enough to make this possible. On my own.
This idea had many iterations, just like a piece of software that is out but continuously tested and changed, many web domains were registered and loaded with content, and news that were news for 1 week until they weren’t while I was playing with the design side and foregoing the publish button. Living in London for nearly 20 years always served as inspiration for this website, engaging with so many like-minded people, getting to know so much about the inner circle of the fashion and art we inhabited. And a blog to document it all was always the idea but the music always took prevalence.
First came Blogger and Livejournal in 1999, and by the time WordPress CSM was developed in 2003 I was already working on my own website on the ever fluid html. WordPress was used to create blogs but it was sufficiently flexible that it could be used to create and design any sort of website, so my first website was born. It was called todayistheday.co.uk. And a page from it can be seen to the left of this article.
The website’s name was in honor of the Nashville, Tennessee experimental noise/metal band Today is the Day, fronted by the mercurial Steve Austin, such was the impact the 1997 release ‘Temple of The Morning Start’ had in me.
This mix was originally put together in December 2001, together with mix EP 1 – Top 20 Albums of the 80’s (UK), while experimenting with Audacity for a few weeks.
My opinion on the subjects of these foundational Top20’s haven’t changed. These are still the bands and the albums that I consider to be the most significant during these forming years. Most of them are among the very first records I ever owned. They all relate to special moments during my growing pains, the unique 80’s, the parties and gigs, the girls, wanting to form a band, to influence others.
Growing Up in the 80’s
I was born in the 1970’s and spent my teen years in the 80’s, which I regard as the most revolutionary decade in music.
Living through the 80’s is very different to learning about the 80’s. Early on I was exposed to a clear divide consisting of three very different stylistic factions: those who were into the past and weren’t adventurous at all; the scene supporting UK’s punk/post-punk and NYC’s no-wave; and those who preferred progressive rock and US radio rock/hard-rock/glam.
I would give them all a chance, on the back of my youngest uncle Manuel’s love for 60’s spirited rock which influenced my early music taste. In the early 80’s, in Portugal… still oblivious to what was going on in the UK, I was delving in his records and discovering The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, The Beatles and David Bowie… and then, clear as today, I listened to The Velvet Underground’s ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ and my world changed.
My preferences manifested from listening to these revolutionary 6 minutes of music: I was instantly attracted to a darker and more experimental side of music and I didn’t know yet but my first contact with Joy Division, a significant turning point in my life, was just around the corner.
Back in 1985 I changed schools and met a bunch of kids that were in bands and had all these new records from bands I never knew existed. By the time I first listened to Sex Pistols, Joy Division and Bauhaus – the holy trinity of my new music baptism – all of them had disbanded. Sid Vicious was dead. Ian Curtis was dead.
It was very strange… what was effectively new and exciting for me was either dead or had transformed into something else so quickly that it was difficult to grasp at the newness when so much of the ‘old’ was still so fresh and relevant for teens growing up in rural northern Portugal, of all places.
Discovering new bands and tape trading became my drug. I would spend entire nights recording my favourite tracks to tape on my father’s trusty Pioneer hi-fi separates. I remember selling my ZX Spectrum console to buy records (I was never into games), a friend of mine crashed my Yamaha trial bike into a ditch and I channeled the money my parents gave me for the repair onto records, booze and drugs.
My big issue then was to get enough new music to be worthy of consideration when trading with the other guys. Whoever got the best tapes playing on a Friday night party was the coolest, and back then you were cool for casually dressing down, having an attitude and good taste in music, not for sporting the latest iphone and dressing Balenciaga.
Looking back, this flourishing of the punk and post-punk movement, with its extraordinary influence on everything from fashion to politics had no parallel in the decades that followed and no subsequent, stubborn revivals of this phenomenon barely touched its true significance to those who lived it, then and there.
Already in my late teens I attend my first concert at the Tivoli in Porto, in December 1988. It’s Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Another magic moment in my life. I don’t remember the set list but a quick search online informs that the first song was ‘From Her to Eternity’ and the last was ‘Saint Huck’, my favourite songs from Nick at the time together with ‘The Carny’ from 1986 ‘Your Funeral… My Trial’ which they didn’t play. I have vivid memories of that day. It was July but it was raining, the small stage, Nick and Blixa antics during the show and the excitement of the crowd.
This gig was also fresh on the heels of the movie ‘Wings of Desire’ directed by German director Wim Wenders. The monochrome movie had been released early that year and had garnered cult status, no less because it shows the band playing two songs in a Berlin’s music venue basement (The Carny and From Her to Eternity). The band also makes a cameo appearance. It all aligned in a fantastic way that night. I was living the scene, ‘Wings of Desire’ style…, Nick’s slender figure, dishevelled black hair and black and white attire a reminder of how to look cool. Nick was the coolest guy in music those days (not Rick Astley) and even almost 40 years after that day, Nick still gets the love from his crowds as I witnessed a couple of years ago at the Primavera Porto festival.
Some of the most celebrated bands of the time would come to play in Portugal in the years that followed and I was lucky to experience unique performances from The Cure, P.I.L, The Sisters of Mercy, Echo & The Bunnymen and Killing Joke (opening for Pixies!) to name a few.
Public Image Limited was a highlight, as I was very much into their sound around the release of Album in 1986 and it’s a memorable moment to see a legend like John Lydon live innit?
It’s obvious that early on I was a sucker for the darker side in a flagrant contrast to the garage rock sound of the Buzzcocks, The Clash, and the like. As already mentioned, It took me a while to absorb all this new music and as I progressed with getting to know and listen to more bands my taste had already fall victim to everything that would resemble Joy Division and The Cure.
I preferred English bands but not of the immediate punk-rock type, I always admired the histrionics of post-punk and (some) goth bands for their fashion and theatricals, avant-garde sensibilities and non-rock influences. Being attracted to the Nouvelle Vague of French Cinema has had a great influence on that early path. Monochromatic cinema, a gloomy tapestry of emotional outbursts of misrepresented youth. It all had to align perfectly, image was everything.
I’ll admit Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys and The Cramps only make this list because they were inside the first 10 albums I ever owned so their impact is of paramount importance (there was also some partying and beer guzzling not only moody, pensive strides in foggy forests). For the sake of coherence I would never mix punk-ish with Bauhaus or Cocteau Twins but this mix serves a different purpose.
On the theme of first ever purchases, there is this undeniable special character to these releases. I kind of learned to love these albums then because they were mine, I chose to buy them and I dissected every single track, the music, the lyrics, the themes behind the lyrics, then the inlay cards, the thanks list, the subliminal, often coded messages. All of this has now disappeared. It doesn’t make any sense to my kids. It is a shame.
By 1988-89 the music landscape had changed tremendously. I was pretty much done with post-punk, the scene was full of wannabes with bauhaus t’s and copycat bands still going were delivering terrible music. Production values had changed and a new crop of bands were experimenting, crossing over the boundaries of genre and delivering albums that are still seen as classics today. Some of the highlights come from bands such as the Stone Roses, Pale Saints, Spacemen 3, Coil, The Legendary Pink Dots… I was still fully committed to music coming from the UK but it was impossible to look away from what was coming from the US.
This collection of tracks was originally put together in December 2001, together with mix #2 – Top 20 Albums of the 80’s (USA), while experimenting with Audacity for a few weeks.
My opinion on the subjects of these foundational Top20’s haven’t changed. These are still the bands and the albums that I consider to be the most significant during these forming years. They are among the very first records I ever owned and became imprinting musical experiences in their own right. They relate to special moments during my growing pains in the 80’s, the parties, gigs, girls, wanting to form a band, to influence others.
I’ve been around for half a century. This is a mix with music I feel like listening to these days. Cinematic and often arresting, sound sketches for use in my homemade videos, revisiting childhood corn fields at dusk or foggy winter mountain tops. No cars in sight, no brutalism. Just nature, light and sound. It works just as fine when using them as interludes between longer instrumental post-rock songs, in keeping with the quiet/loud dynamics.
I remember being intrigued with The (Fallen) Black Deer’s Latitutes release when it came out, so now for a major reveal: Josh Graham and Greg Burns, who were on tour with their band Red Sparrowes, entered London’s Southern Studios in October 2006 and with no preparation recorded their own version of a soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick’s classic ‘The Shining’, particularly concentrating on the last half of the film – where the unforgettable Jack Torrance slowly disintegrates into a psycho and the inevitable and infamous conclusion draws in. This is the result, a contemporary take on a possible soundtrack for one of my favourite American movies ever.
Russian Circles is one of my favourite bands, producing album after album of instrumental music that reinvents the band every time. This mix pairs them with bands of similar ilk, but most of them are no longer active, like  Capricorns who rocked my world back in 2005 with their debut ‘Ruder Forms Survive’ – a release who promised a band capable of spectacular instrumental post-metal, whom I placed up there in a podium consisting of Isis and Cult of Luna…,  and 5ive – a Boston based band that when they were known as 5ive’s Continuum Research Project were pretty darn exhilarating but in this Hesperus release, their swan song, sound like a bland version of RC. Still, this track rocks and deserves its place in this mix.
The experimental noise band Monno start one of the heaviest mixes I have ever put together. Vocalist Gilles Aubry, is an artist and musician with a varied output and holds an MA in Sound Art from the Berlin University of the Arts (UDK) and a PhD in social anthropology from the Bern University. Not your typical metal band then. Surprisingly this mini album has become one of my favourite noise/doom records of the last 10 years. Next, a mysterious entity called Halo from Australia maintains that obliterating mood… they sound like if Bastard Noise had a jam with Godflesh, the result is a very ugly offspring. Got to love that bass tone.
These days it seems I want to feature The Body all the time – a band that is amongst the most adventurous names in Avant/Experimental music, in any genre, today – and I wouldn’t mind including more from one of my favourite dark noise doom combos and a band I miss enormously, Indian, if they were still at it (RIP Bill Bumgardner). Bloody Panda, another short lived band who surfaced around the popular 2005-2010 blackest ever doom doom fad, had serious potential – and the looks – but chose to desist.
It’s a bold and brave statement but a very personal one, one from experience: the best produced and most ground breaking releases that are filed under Second Wave of Black Metal and/or Scandinavian Black Metal happened in the period of 1995 to 1997.
Sure there are a handful of classic releases before – and they are classics for me too, specially by Bathory and Darkthrone – but these 2-3 years will be remembered as the quintessential period marking the sensational rise of the bands featured in this mix, and in most cases considered by many to be coincident with the release of their magnum opus.
Another collection of cinematic and downright miserable songs, tested to be good for a hypnagogia experience. Amber Asylum’s The Natural Philosophy of Love is very close to my heart as it helped me cope with loss, for the first time in my life. The whole album is beautiful and testament to the underrated musician that is S. Francisco native Kris Force. As a big fan of Liz Harris, I never waste an opportunity to add some Grouper, when the mood is right.
French occult rock takes the honours, courtesy of the unique Aluk Todolo mixed with the slow and ominous doom of the highest order from Hjarnidaudi. Five tracks, 1 hour. Boris says it well, its all ‘Huge’ and it takes time.
Black Metal 2nd Wave – The Origins
By the late 80’s I was done with UK post-punk and was looking towards US bands for inspiration.
Sonic Youth and Pixies were a mighty reference but also The Jesus Lizard, Fugazi, Buthole Surfers or Faith No More, to name a few. Then, in some house party somebody played a truly screamer of a track. It was from The Young God’s 1989 album ‘L’Eau Rouge’ and I was floored. I felt like the first time I listened to Sex gang Children or Swans, it was exhilarating and the most exciting sound I had heard for a long time. Little did I know that would be my gateway to Metal.
But first, enter Ministry. Till then I was oblivious to Metal, I despised hard rock and glam and wouldn’t go anywhere near Iron Maiden or Judas Priest but listening to Ministry’s 1989 album ‘The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste’ open the floodgates to a new sound that I wanted to investigate. Through subsequent releases by Ministry, Swans, Godflesh, Fudge Tunel or Prong, I dug deeper into their industrial and trash influences and through a little bit of Metallica I got myself straight into Death and Doom-Metal.
Early education from Paradise Lost, Slayer and Sepultura gave way to more extreme acts such as Morbid Angel, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death. This happens between 1990-92 and the whole Grunge phenomenon (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains…) and Rap-Metal abuse (Rage against The Machine, Red Hot Chilly Peppers…) is starting to really blow in Europe. I am paying attention. Reading an article about Nirvana on some zine ahead of the release of ‘Nevermind’ I decide to place an oder for the record in my local record store. Three weeks later my mother gets the call. I was the first guy with a copy in my town. I lend it to the local live music venue, kids go nuts. It is a good record but my mind is already somewhere else.
It’s sometime in 1993. Another lazy Saturday afternoon at a friend’s house. Somebody plays a very unique record. It’s Bathory’s 1988 ‘Blood Fire Death’.
I had listened to inspired intros, from classical to Vangelis, but ‘Oden Ride over Nordland’ coupled with the cover of the album sent chills down my spine. The front cover comes from ‘The Wild Hunt of Odin’, a painting dated from 1872 by Peter Nicolai Arbo. The Wild Hunt motif is taken from Viking era folklore, an image that has since become popular with a number of the Second Wave of Black Metal bands, particularly from Scandinavia.
The first track blends into ‘A Fine day to Die’. The acoustic part turns into the first ever pagan/black metal track I have ever listened to.
This is unlike anything Metal I had experienced before. It’s cold but beautiful. It’s production is raw but you can hear everything. Again, the acoustic guitar and choir chants come in to soothe things, tempo and mood changing. The guitar work/solo that follows is absolutely on point, screaming atmosphere and intent, and I DON’T like solos.
The highlight of the album though is the title track ‘Blood Fire Death’, which is still my favorite 10 minute metal track ever in my book.
There’s no words to describe the intensity and emotion radiating from this track. This is a special record, not the first or highest ranked by Bathory but acknowledged as quintessential and a mandatory listen for any serious extreme metal fan.It is important to note that at the time of its recording Bathory was essentially a solo project, with its founder Quorthon arranging every bit of music, writing every lyric, singing all vocals, and playing every instrument. Bathory may never get the recognition it deserves, but considering Quorthon’s incredibly influential body of work, most of which he did on his own from this album on, it would be fair to call him one of contemporary music’s truly underappreciated geniuses.
RIP Quorthon (1966-2004). Gone too soon.
Fearless circuit bending / source manipulations by a bunch of inspired experimental artists exploring the fringes of electronics and noise. One of my favourite bands of the last 10 years, The Body, expand on their shape shifting beat of a sound by collaborating with Vampillia, one of Japan’s most underrated acts, who have impressed me with another collaboration, 2016’s ‘The Sea is Never Full’ with Dakota Suite.
By now, in Norway another music revolution is taking place. Enter the Second Wave of Black Metal, or True Norwegian Black Metal as you prefer.
It is known as Second Wave because there had been a First wave, emerging in the early 80’s and headed by bands such as Venom, Hellhammer, Mercyful Fate and Celtic Frost, but I didn’t pay attention then and even after revisiting key releases for context I was not hooked. I read about it, I understand the influence those bands left in that scene but I didn’t belong and I don’t really do well with music catch up.
Much has been written about the origins and rise of the scene, but let’s just say that a band called Mayhem played the biggest role in the development of that second wave, influencing bands through their live shows all over Europe and with their EP “Deathcrush”, which became one of the most legendary and sought after records in the metal underground.
There are pivotal moments in music such as the first known Kraftwerk live performance in Berlin in 1970, or the Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976, that transformed the English music scene forever and this is another of those moments. If Bathory were an undeniable influence of the second coming of Black Metal, Mayhem were the instigators of the scene that would follow, through their sound – a blend of early Morbid Angel, Entombed, Slayer and Bathory resulting in the most extreme music being played at the time – and their cathartic presence and image.
What followed is a phenomenon. On the heels of Mayhem, the Norwegian scene rapidly spawns bands such as Burzum, Darkthrone, Emperor, Gorgoroth and Immortal whose members were only but a bunch of teens and already they showed touches of genius.
I am not putting this forward lightly. These Swedish and Norwegian kids have recorded some seriously original and influential music. It’s not by chance.
The amount of impact these bands have had was felt almost immediately, as outside Norway bands like Impaled Nazarene, Marduk, Beherit, Dissection and Cradle Of Filth soon released records in the similar style.
Splits and albums are being released at a relentless pace between 1992-94 with the most notorious bands honing their skills and showing promise. This is more than just a fad! The bands can play and the scene is attracting a lot of attention.
By 1995 the True Norwegian Black Metal institution rules. The godfathers of the movement are well known: Emperor, Immortal, Satyricon, Gorgoroth and Dimmu Borgir, but bands are forming everywhere from Chile to Japan spreading like a virus.
Its 1994. Enter a very special Open Air Festival. In a rather small town East of Porto called Penafiel some guy is organising the 4th edition of the ‘Ultrabrutal Festival Penafiel’. The lineup consists of Hipocrisy, Grave, Gorefest and… Cradle of Filth.
This is COF’s first appearance in Portugal and one of their first gigs supporting the release of their debut ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’. I wanted to see the band live. The setting is not favourable: its July and temperatures reach 34 degrees. They’re playing sometime around 4pm and the blackest of blacks looks like a lame grey under the sun and your typical corpse paint just look silly (it still does).
The band play flawlessly, the sound is huge and they win the crowd. I mean, they sounded absolutely unique.
Credit to the PA and sound guys, the sound really is massive and crushing, its tons heavier than the somewhat thin production of the debut. As a drummer myself I can’t but stare in awe at Nick Barker’s performance on drums. He is a beast and would justify all the hype (once named the fastest drummer on Earth) and his prolific career as a session and live drummer with many other bands (as of 2022 he plays with Shining).
A stream of new releases happen in the coming years. Producers take rounds in stints with the up and coming bands and some masterful works are released.
A recent companion to mixes #1 and #2 made some 20 years ago. These mixes are not the result of research, they’re part of my ‘Foundation’ series for a reason. I don’t listen to 21st century post-punk or darkwave, my tastes in music moved on and most of it it’s too cringe to listen to anyway – even if the sub-genre continues to contribute a much needed alternative voice of social and political criticism for a failing world, with a much more visible and diverse output today – emotionally, artistically and intellectually.
This is a collection of 20 tracks by 20 bands that marked my own 80’s, first person experience. Just a couple of American bands featured here…  the bands then were was just a tad harder, they just didn’t fit with the nature of the atmosphere going on here. And fact is there was more than enough to keep us entertained in the fruitful London-Berlin axis. I was a kid then with little to no access to new music and an overdose on The Cure, Bauhaus/Love & Rockets and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds became the standard against what everything else was judged on – for sound and aesthetic. Outside the portentous sphere of English bands, I will forever be in awe of that Clan Of Xymox synth and six stringer sound… a definitive moment in Darkwave, never to be repeated and The Young Gods dazzling industrial attack that would open the door to an uglier and more sinister 90’s.
I remember the first time I listened to ‘Dallas Belt’, the track that introduced me to the sound of Chat Pile, a band with a funny name and a brutal death metal logo. I played it again just for the drums alone. I Became immediately floored and thought this is the best noise this side of Jesus Lizard. This was at the start of the pandemic around March 2020. Much has happened for the band since, a few more EP’s and a competent debut last year. Been a fan since. Another highly addictive band is NYC’s Couch Slut, whom I have been tracking for a while now and are ready to explode.
A collection of fave tracks by bands that haven’t been that busy lately (apart from Ulver and Helen…) or just disappeared in the last 10 years. This is pretty much the experimental rock sound of the 10’s that matters to me. It’s the sound of S. Francisco’s The Flenser (Planning for Burial, Wreck and Reference, Have a Nice Life…) and Denton, Texas Rich Loren Balling’s sonic tapestries released on his own labels Angel Coven, Small Doses and Handmade Birds Records.
R. Loren deserves a lot of praise as a truly unique force capable of putting together an all-star cast of amazing musicians and contributors every time his nettled psyche produces music ideas. For Sailors With Wax Wings these included: Ted Parsons (Swans/Godflesh/Prong), Colin Marston (Krallice/Behold…The Arctopus), Aidan Baker (Nadja), Simon Scott (Slowdive), Dominick Fernow (Prurient/Cold Cave), Vern Rumsey (Unwound) – RIP – , Hildur Gudnadottir (Múm/Throbbing Gristle/The Knife), Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Marissa Nadler, J. Leah, James Blackshaw, (and artwork by) David Tibet (Current 93) and Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer/Pyramids). In fact, R. Loren would say that his labels, specially Handmade was a way for him to “collaborate with artists that I love, acting as a vehicle for that energy, whilst fostering a level of appreciation for art and music in my household that I feel will be healthy for my two daughters to grow up around.” Within the first year, Handmade Birds put out almost 40 releases. In May 2012, the label released the debut album of Texas natives Pinkish Black also featured in this mix.
There’s more weight in some of these tracks than the ugliest sludge. Favourite highlights include the unforgettable cover of The Cure’s 1980 track A Forest by Alva Noto, released  on April 8. 2020, exactly Forty years from its release in the UK. I am always in awe of GAS intoxicatingly sinister work which has propelled album after album around a sound ranging somewhere between Schönberg and Kraftwerk, between bugle and bass drum, surely one of the most addictive sounds I know in Electronic music. The mix finishes with a beautiful track from Jóhann Jóhannsson’s classic IBM album, another great contemporary composer who sadly left us too god damn early.
Mention UNIQUE in contemporary Black Metal and you have to include a number of French bands, like Spektr, a mysterious entity with an irregular music output that always manages to surprise me, or Aosoth, who have recently decided to call it quits, but have left behind a potent body of work.
This is a mix of heightened energy and sustained engagement, including some some of my most played songs of this ilk, by two all-time fave bands: DsO and Krallice.
Is 2008 the Post-Metal heyday? the genre defining albums were released during the 00’s and 2008 was truly special with a string of releases that are just unforgettable: what to say about the ferocious brilliance of The Ocean’s Precambrian and lest not forget Intronaut’s Prehistorisicm, these two albums – quite similar in concept – built on all the best elements of Mastodon and Meshuggah and redefined the post-metal template.
And somewhere in between I still manage to shamelessly muscle in a bit of Mindrot’s 1995 Dawning, a criminally overlooked record, and a very personal album for me. Personal in every aspect. I listened to this album before I knew there was a band called Neurosis, but already here I had summoned the kind of emotions one feels when listening to the Californian band. The atmosphere and sound in this album is as if Neurosis had a jam section with no others than The Fields of the Nephilim.
RIP Matt Fisher.
Disconcerting and operating at the fringes of drone, ambient and minimal electronic offerings, this is a compilation of music that is darkly magical and deeply atmospheric, underpinned by very unique and individual sound signatures placing these artists in a territory of ‘new music’ that is devoid of genre and interpretation. Surrealism, realism. Who cares.
‘Pluto (The Gatekeeper) Part I: Exodus though the Frozen Wastes’… is a stunning ambient piece taken from ‘Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine’, a collaborative album by Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore, exploring the often overwhelming sonic output of cosmic black metal. In this album released in 2020 it is easy to dismiss ambient tracks, but this is not an interlude, its a 11’29” opus. I keep my interest in MMMD’s music well alive. The Greek duo may well be the kings of electronically generated low end, a digital answer to Sunn o)))’s stacks of amp heads and exquisite pedal boards. This is one of their finest from their 2019 album ‘Egoismo’.
Last but not least, the intriguing ‘Something for the Mrs.’ by Old Man Gloom, proof that Aaron Turner is a mind wanderer as well as a cathartic noise genius. It features a cryptic passage of a poem by Ernest Hemingway, the excerpt taken from the ‘Second Poem to Mary’ published by the Atlantic in 1965.
“In the next war we shall bury the dead in cellophane The Host shall come packaged in every K ration Every man shall be provided with a small but perfect Archbishop Spellman, which shall be self-inflatable (courtesy of Air Reduction – open close previous open close) You don’t need to repeat this. There is not any ceremony any more Everyone is gone and you say this out loud to yourself You are alone at the time and the time now is always. Always was a word you used in promises. It is valueless. All officers, warrant officers and enlisted men will be provided with a copy of their own true loves that they will never see again and all these copies will be returnable through the proper channels…”
Part of my Foundation series, featuring the bands and albums of the 90’s that influenced my music taste today. A bunch of alt-rock, noise and punk-hardcore gems from 1989-1999. Look out for more mixes featuring noise oriented bands that left a mark.
Discordant delivery from old classics and new contenders – separated by nearly 3 decades – collide in this new instalment of atmospheric black metal. Starting with Bathory, arguably the band that influenced the second wave of black metal the most, a mystical band with a legacy which is difficult to exaggerate, and Strid, although with a meagre and transient output, for those who know it’s considered to be the the purveyor of the DBM sound (ok, after Burzum era Filosofem). Both Quorton (Bathory) and Storm (Strid) gone too soon.
A soundtrack for a deserted wasteland ruled by a frozen sun… slow, foreboding doom, period 2004-2019.  Hissing are becoming a constant in my drone mixes, much like Hjarnidaudi, a little known project from Norwegian guitar player Vidar Ermesjø – of whom I am happy to feature every single track they have ever released (seven tracks on two albums, clocking at exactly 83′ 41”).
Drone when done right is like watching the sea in early Autumn. It’s liberating and expansive. Love the way Rafael Anton Irisarri depicts his 2015 album ‘A Fragile Geography’ featured here: “The record bares the marks of difficult terrains – personal, political, social and cultural. It tips its hat to the complex and unpredictable dynamics of the contemporary world, correlating concerns both macro and micro. Compositionally the music mirrors the tensions of contemporary America, contrasting passages of great beauty and calm with harrowing waves of density and pressure.”
A collection of boundary pushing sonic adventures delivered by a disparate group of musicians playing with exquisite sampling, live circuits and power electronics, bringing a new dimension to experimental music, laced in doom and gloom, with a post-everything attitude to contemporary noise.
A new instalment of post-hardcore and post-metal classics mixed with some newness from Old Man Gloom and my fave track by Curl up and Die, a band that promised quite a lot but went dormant for too many years until recent news surfaced that they got back together for some shows and will be working on some new material.
A selection of classic tracks I love from some of the most visceral and unforgettable albums of the 90’s.  Incantation gets a double bill (incidentally from two of John McEntee’s least loved albums – nevertheless, ‘Mortal Throne..’ is my all time favourite) and there are a couple of releases from 2000 but they were recorded in 1999. Incantation’s Mortal Throne of Nazarene and Cannibal Corpse’s The Bleeding, both released in 1994 are my favourite Death Metal albums ever, two straight 10/10, in which there are no fillers, with all tracks fitting together perfectly as a puzzle.
Noise, drone, guitars, synths, modular synths, hard to say, couldn’t care less. I don’t even know how to categorise some of the songs in this mix, so let’s go for experimental. I do listen to 90% experimental music. Pretty floored with Ural Umbo, Peterlicker and Franck Vigroux every time, at maximum volume… try it.
An Infinite mixtape of my favourite Godspeed You! Black Emperor songs. They’re known to take their time between releases (10 years passed between the release of ‘Yanqui U.X.O.’ from 2002 and ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!’ in 2012) so it can take some time to update. Relax, it’s a labor of love. It just takes time and it’s fine. I like to be lost in any of the bands records, but sometimes I just want to get 2 hours + of the best GYBE. Just close my eyes and script a long movie, or a series of shorts, mostly while attempting to come to terms with something huge, sometimes bigger than me.
This is the perfect retrospective for me, being GYBE one of the most important bands in my life. I can’t imagine the person I am without this band in my life for more than 25 years. I used to say, I could never properly understand or be understood by someone who never listened to GYBE… This is golden, vintage nectar to my ears and soul, delivered with astounding craftsmanship and honesty, around thoughtful instrumental pieces, spoken word monologues, field recordings, tape loops and other experimentations that defined an era and paved the way forward to a “sound” many came to love. The tracks selected here will be found in several of my mixes and playlists in themes of experimental to avant rock, and usually tagged as inspirational and introspective.
Some favourite tracks that can be considered to be Post-Rock or close relatives. Post-Rock for me was always measured against two bands: Godspeed You Black Emperor! (yeah, thats the first incarnation) and Mogwai. Both bands are supreme in their own very own style and craft. 90% of the other Post-rock bands pale in comparison. More recently I consider Ambient/Electronic musicians to be much closer to post-rock than that of bands going at it for the last 10 years.
The sophomore album of Beyond Dawn, finally remastered and reissued on vinyl, for the first time. On Revelry, the band moved further away from their metal past, expanding their sound into vaster territories. 50+ minutes of dark, melancholic alternative rock.
What a collection of absolute belters in here! Some of my favourite Black Metal tracks are contained here. Ulver and Satyricon were the first black metal bands I listened to right after my baptism of fire through Bathory. This also features Keep of Kalessin’s EP, considered by many as the best EP in Black Metal, featuring the god of growl, the one and only Attila Csihar (Mayhem, Sunn o))) ) and 1349’s glorious era, they never sounded like this again.
A mix full of collaborative work. A collection of organic sounds colliding with harsh electronics. Full of Hell, The Body, Merzbow, Sutekh Hexen and the genius of Andrew Liles are some of the most collaborative artists in the experimental/noise/metal scenes today.
Chaos Echoes gets the opening honours. A great band, put out some great albums, specially 2015’s concept album ‘Transient’, and then sometime in May 2021 they decided to fold. I was a confessed fan, probably my favourite French black metal band since Aosoth and to have another hard working and thoroughly eclectic and inventive band call it quits hurt a little so I emailed the band through their bandcamp and sure enough they confirmed: Chaos Echoes was no more, but some of the members will be working on a new project soon.
I started this mix with Chaos Echoes relentless pounding and then started adding tracks with similar tempo and production style. I am a sucker for frenetic blast beats and that special snare sound and you’ll find some of that here, specially from Endstille and Behemoth.
A mix of mostly Neoclassical Dark wave going back nearly 35 years to DCD’s magnificent opus “Within The Realm of a Dying Sun” released on the highly influential label 4AD.  The album refers to 19th century Paris with a reference to the poem “N’importe Ou Hors du Monde” by Charles Baudelaire (from his book ‘Le Spleen de Paris’ published in 1869) which the band translates as ‘Anywhere Out of the World’, the opening track of the album and of this mix.
The artwork (which I framed a little differently) is one of my all time favourites. It’s a photo taken in the Parisian cemetery Père-Lachaise – which I visited a few times – the resting place of many a writer, war veteran and scientist as well as notable art luminaries – from Marcel Proust to Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf to Jim Morrison… its just a beautiful poignant spot to spend a few hours admiring its remarkable monuments which tell intriguing stories of the deceased.
Other notable acts in this realm of Dark Ambient/Neoclassical include Arcana and Raison D’Être, who have consistently released some beautiful music for the last 20 years but I also punctuate the mix with a choice of contemporaries worth noting, such as Demen and Anna Von Hausswolff, both Swedish ladies from whom I expect great things in the coming years.
I made this mix in memory of Jack Rose – Dr. Ragtime. Jack passed away in December 2009 at the age of 38, apparently from a heart attack. I start this mix with a track from the ‘I Do Play Rock and Roll’ EP, originally released by Three Lobed Recordings in 2008 and re-issued in 2016 with a bunch of others. Make sure to check this release and this other as well. Between some of his contemporaries and a couple of odd numbers from outside the scope of the “genre”, this is a mix reaffirming the sheer talent, extraordinary skill and technical ability of all the performers here.
‘After gaining recognition in the early ‘90s as part of the Virginia-based drone/roots band Pelt, his solo career accelerated so quickly that his potential to advance instrumental acoustic guitar music seemed limitless. What Rose achieved as a solo guitarist is daunting: nine excellent albums in eight years (including the posthumous Luck in the Valley) as well as a handful of intriguing collaborations (especially with the Black Twig Pickers, the old-timey Appalachian offshoot of Pelt). Now six new Rose reissues (half on VHF and half on ThreeLobed) offer a chance to hear the wide range of music he created.’- Great bc piece.
‘Jack Rose was a larger than life man with a hearty spirit – a no-bullshit gentleman -and his death continues to reverberate among the community of musicians and music people he called friends. This spirit, as evidenced within his recorded output, has proven to be indomitable and continually vital.’ – Scott McDowell, May 2016.
As I prepare a tribute to the great John Fahey, it is only fitting that I end this collection of fine acoustic songs with a few amazing tracks from Fahey’s immensely inspirational ‘The Dance of Death and other Plantation Favourites’, released back in 1965, for sure a major influence on Jack – and many others in this mix.
Glorious decade for Black Metal, 1997-2007, if you like it avant-garde and progressive. By 1997 the main labels (Avantgarde, Century Media, Nuclear Blast…) were in a quest to make black metal the next big thing in metal and they succeeded by enlisting the best producers and studios. It was hard times for death metal (and nu-metal was just around the corner…) as indeed black metal became bigger and better. I was done with raw 4-track cassette sounding recordings. Darkthrone and Burzum had produced their magnum opus by now (and arguably the genre’s best ever) in both the unapologetic raw/harsh and atmospheric/depressive kinds. It wasn’t my intention but save for Abigor and Dornenreich (Austrian) every band featured in this mix is Norwegian. This would be a dominant characteristic well until around 2007, but it would soon change with the arrival of the US and French hordes, and what a change that meant to the current establishment.
This shows I haven’t been onto much electronic music lately. Not much newness to talk about so I decided to create a very different and disparate mix of electronic based tracks. I don’t know all the genres nor do I care, but I would say I managed to get some minimal techno (Emptyset), straight forward dance stuff (Ital Tek, Distel), IDM and Breakcore (Venetian Snares, Wylie Cable) and some weird shit no respectable dj would use (Dubrovnik, Wolf Eyes). Anyway its fun, and I am now dissecting cool samples out of some of these for later use.
Starting with a favourite of late, MSC is not the known cruises house band, but the result of new sonic adventures by 2 guys behind avant-rock Braveyoung (previously GIANT) out of North Carolina. Their debut, which is comprised of two EPs recorded in early 2018 is well worth a spin if you’re into drone/ambient. My ambient mixes are not really ambient, more like cinematic soundscapes, with a lot of OST tracks, you know from cinema ouevres that I like. In most cases you don’t have to see the movies to appreciate the music.
   
When Capricorns folded, I placed my hopes in fellow countryman Latitudes, who put out a very promising debut in 2009 but their sound became too progressive and that just didn’t work for me. Enter Palehorse the flag bearers for inventive (2 basses), modern noise tainted post-metal with their blend of Isis meets Old man Gloom (!). it didn’t last and that is a shame because post-metal needs a fair share of interesting bands.
   
A collection of older tracks that really sound old school. No fun and no much technical supremacy (there’s still blast beats), just intense and introspective melodies. One of my all time top 10 black metal tracks is here. Which one? It’s not the one from BAN. Track 4 is not Ancient, they sound a lot like Ancient era ‘The Cainian Chronicle’ but its actually Darkestrah, a very old school but talented band from Kyrgyzstan!
Black Metal for the veterans. I am tired of low production, raw, one man band black metal in the same way I had enough of Black Flag or Nirvana, it was good when it happened, the world moved on. We’re in 2022 so after listening to extreme metal for over 30 years it is only natural that I praise those musicians and bands pushing the envelope and committing to the future, call it progressive, post, whatever…  for us the veterans, some formulas are fatal to the brain, I’ve been there with the Alcests and Deafheavens of this world, and almost gave up on Black Metal but bands such as Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord managed to stick around and influence a whole new breed of fantastic bands from around the time of 2012. tbc.
Doom, mighty doom. The first track by Wolvserpent is taken from ‘Blood Seed’, a 2010 release initially only available as vinyl through 20 Buck Spin. The first side of the album, featured here but edited in length, is titled ‘Wolv’ and starts off with the soft warm blur of a synthesizer drifting through a black expanse, very dark, dreamy, and cosmic, slowly joined by the sound of a violin playing a melancholy minor key melody that drifts over the soft swirling hum of the keys. It is something resembling atmospheric, funereal chamber music, like an extremely depressed and despondent Amber Asylum.
Starting with “ATGCLVLSSCAP”, the tenth studio album by perennial favourite Norwegian band Ulver, released on HOM. This is amongst my top 2016 albums. It is a masterpiece, it is Ulver’s domain, inventing new sounds and exploring new ways to propose them with every new release. The music in the album was culled from multitrack recordings made at twelve different improvisatory “free rock” live shows the band performed in February 2014, and later edited and enhanced in the studio by long time contributor Daniel O’Sullivan. The album has been described as “Ultimately a piece of work that exists above and beyond any conventional live recording, rather a hallucinatory travelogue as potent an experience to bear witness to as it was to construct.”
It’s Christmas soon, I felt like preparing a playlist with no nasties. For once the melodies are beat driven and not one dissonant riff or harsh vocal can be heard. Spanning almost 20 years of some of the most electronic beat and bass driven cuts in my collection which I cherish with all of you in this festive times.
“With the memories of a borrowed death, the guilty tide Filth pig, filth pig He sleeps with both eyes open Filth pig, filth pig He sleeps all right because he’s a Filth pig”