By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Michael Atherton: Ankh: The Sound of Ancient Egypt (Celestial Harmonies) Mr. Atherton makes music deduced from visual representations of the instruments and of players holding them. Lutes, harps, lyres, bassoonlike reeds, tablalike things, booming membranophones, rattles. Of course we'll never know if it sounded like this, but it may as well have, and even if not, Atherton has meantime invented his very own kind of music. Beguiling, spiritual, sunny, serene.
Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra: Futuremuzik (Scamp) Back when men dared to be suave ('60s-'70s), Herr Thomas was an earthmover supreme, throwing down the bossest of swinger mo-teefs. Yes, he damn near invented 'em all: A classically trained composer, Thomas wisely claimed his fame writing music that extended his own goofy personality in a series of scores for spy-outer space-horror etc. cult flicks. It was a time of melody and harmony over rhythm flogging, and arranging instruments audaciously. Exceptionally groovy combos of idioms and sitars and twangy guitars, bossa beats and rinkydink synths, plush Hammond organs and vocal femme fatales, pumped on by the heavy German jazz cats of the day. It all swangs real good, and you get some actually lovely orchestral themes a la Paul Mauriat or Richard Clayderman. It's the color, man, we're hungry for it.
Robert Williams: Date With the Devil's Daughter (Tone Casualties) Former Beefheart monster drummer is also a nifty arranger, fiddling about with drum 'n' bass-inspired orgies of nervous-breakdown MIDI sound. The opening cut has guest "Wild Man" Fischer leaving voice-overs on Robert's answering machine (glad he doesn't know my number). The disc is a cool, intelligent and funkily cerebral stew of speedy polymeters, info-overload samples and crosswires, and guests like Mark Mothersbaugh giving vent to their urban fears. Exhilarating, but 'round the time of "John Liar," when Robert calls Lydon a "pussy little has-been," and later on complains about his noisy neighbors, you'll realize how much he is a master rhythmist, though not a lyricist.
Vainio/Vaisanen/Vega: Endless (Mute/Blast First) Coupla Finnish Suicide fans had a dream of recording with their hero, Alan Vega, and got him to do his shticky Vega psych-out routine over their massive electronic hellfire. Vega - the peaking-tweaking Elvis - is in classic form, and this is the best Suicide album in a coon's age. Bulbous, electro-rolfing meta-sound and lots of vintage Vega urban paranoia: Talk to Jesus! Cheese it, the cops! Wuhh!
Voivod: Phobos (SlipDisc) and Slayer: Diabolus in Musica (Sony) Behold, the sea is silent, yet metal bands refuse to be. Voivod: Canadian heavy hairy boys operate within their own universe and parameters, somewhat like Canada itself. This is "ominous" music laced with special effects and reminiscent of the snarly moods of Blue Oyster Cult (true, everything reminds me of BOC). We know you need demon voices; well here they are, as well as spongy drums and cornpone Metallica riffs; the band's insularity also bequeathed them their bent for odd melodic turns; they do ugly time signatures too, and cover "21st Century Schizoid Man," averagely. You know, it's all in the compression, like everything Slayer does. Slayer probably sounds like total shit in a rehearsal room, but take that slop and squeeze it real tight - well, take this new album: not a fucken thing you haven't heard before - so what? Their particular compressed stereo guitar sludge and puking howl way efficiently teach young Wilmette people how to get loaded and rebel. "Stain of Mind" does onslaught with a sphincter-clenching fire. "Death's Head" is pretty radical, but then so is "Screaming From the Sky" - it's a war protest; "Overt Enemy" has unnatural guitar harmonies and lyrically clutches American Justice to its heaving bosom: Kill that which oppresses your personal freedoms. Now flush your brain down the fucken drain with this evil rock up the fucken YANG-YANG, if you catch my drift. Long may they beat the brazen gong.
Will Oldham: Black/Rich Music (Drag City) A.k.a. Palace Music: He seems inbred, entombed in his own head, yet he mocks you. I don't actually crow at daybreak since hearing his Amurican folk/old-time relijun get its post-post run-through, making the temples bulge. His cracked warble may have straightened out a tad, but it's still as if witnessing another's collapse, his doomed distress. Will's terrible joylessness aspires to Flannery O'Connor's, and he must strum a guitar lethargically, or pump a wheezing organ. Behind his tiresome Midwestern irony are simple songs not entirely dismissable because of his real perversity. Your own emotional life not gnarled up enough? Will can help with his grim reflections and dire predictions (if he feels anything at all). His whole fatalistic trip is like finding an 80-year-old photograph of yourself in grandma's attic! Bad dream time.
Zoviet France: Digilogue (Soleilmoon)These guys have been around the English experimental scene since the dawn of time, and here's a collection of some of their pieces circa early-mid-'90s. It's instrumental, loopy, magnetic-tape, retro-progressive in its Echoplexes and furry sound. Hovering guitar (horns?) and scratchy electric interference undulate into each other, in eight cuts, none violent, all inquiring, not objecting. Their balance of cold inquiry and warm sonorities sounds like a great Eurock disc from '71 that hasn't dated. Structurally, it isn't so new - slowly evolving plains of sound, "events" instead of movements or choruses - but it's a special kind of harmonic distortion that's inviting to the ears, and only possible with analog equipment. You cannot improve on this music.