Kicking against the pricks at the pressing plant since 1999.

CRAWL UNIT - Everyone Gets What They Deserve

Every time I think Joe Colley is unable to top himself, he blashes right by me and takes it to the hoop. When I heard "The Future In Reverse," I figured that must be his artistic pinnacle. Then I heard "Stop Listening," which smoothed out the stylistic jumpiness of the former, giving a long work that was more natural in its progression, though maybe a bit too serene. Then along came "Everybody Gets What They Deserve" (which I think predates "Stop Listening," but I heard ‘em in the opposite order, OK?), which left bower’d the previous two ace and queens, respectively (although the subsequent "Sound Until The World Ends" LP mostly enhanced "Everybody Gets"’s style in minor ways, I’m still holding out for the right bower to drop).

From new age to dark ambient, from guitar hover to communal nod, there are SO many ways to drone, you’d think our society had given up on punk rock altogether. Still, why are so few drones emotionally and (the kicker) cerebrally satisfying? Could it be that, as Tom Smith famously said, "duration without spectacle blows"? That’s my guess. It’s nice in theory that these four tones kind of hover around each other with minimal modulations for 74 minutes, but do I need more than two or three recordings of this phenomenon? For some, the answer may be yes. But as for me and my house, I publicly declare, "you’re gonna have to do better than that." "Everybody Gets" is not just a lush assemblage of clicks, pops, gushes, and cathedral-sized empty spaces, it’s almost a story. Well, not a story…this isn’t a concept album or anything, but the sense of tension from moment to moment, the drama that comes from unexpected editing, has a similar edge-of-your-seat viscera to the movie "The Conversation." There’s a constant feeling that this record is on to you, and is about to move in for the takedown at any moment. Granted, it seldom gets above a low roar, but the shifts from menace to peaceful are almost as upsetting as when the opposite occurs.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to drone music. I can listen to any ol’ grindcore or Indian classical album and be entertained, but if you’re going to occupy 60+ minutes of my time with yet another "symphony for vacuum cleaners," it had better slay. The output of Crawl Unit and Ashtray Navigations over the past seven years occupies the top 5% of all drone music I’ve heard, and few others look ready to topple their dominance. "Everybody Gets What They Deserve" and Ash Nav’s "Tristes Tropiques" are in the top 5% of that 5%. Just remember: the roar of the DroneOn list could be farts! Hold it in, you.

Joe Colley - Static: Anthem For Empty Life 3-inch CD

When Joe Colley started releasing things under his own name and abandoning his Crawl Unit moniker, it wasn’t to change sounds or style…he just got sick of the name. Thus, this is still a classic Crawl Unit album, pretty much a miniature version of his full-length, "Everybody Gets What They Deserve."

Starting in near silence, up to a Sukora-level rumble, then abruptly cut to total silence, even the lowest and seemingly innocuous moments are rendered very disorienting through editing. For an 18 minute disc, "Anthem" goes through an astonishing number of mood changes, mostly based around hovering and unplaceable drones (unplaceable in the sense that they don’t obviously come from a keyboard, computer or contact mic, but possibly some stew incorporating all three), cutting into a new direction just as you’re about to drift off and let it fade into the background. The last four minutes give it the gas, revving into a louder and more power electronics-y place, dropping back into a stuttering car engine sound that slowly goes cosmic, ascending higher and higher until one final edit cuts everything off abruptly.

Colley is as far from "eternal music" and endless drone style as you can get while still using the same materials. Vibracathedral/Sunroof! is a Steven Spielberg film, while Colley is the French New Wave…you never get to settle into a comfortable narrative and get swept along by the story. You’re almost pathologically reminded throughout that it’s always a movie…always a movie…always a movie. Props also to Blake for the happy go lucky little package, with a cover image that’s so fucking Crawl Unit (overcast/underdeveloped shot of a grassy hill with an old loudspeaker/bullhorn) it makes me weep with delight. Joins the very short list of "classic 3-inch CDs."


Joe Colley Crawl Unit: Untitled Piece for Chord Organ, Microphones and Electric Motors 3"CDR (Banned Productions)

Existing somewhere between the old and the new, this is a 3" credited to both Joe Colley AND Crawl Unit. Either there’s some time travel shit going on, or both names are given so people know what’s up. Regardless, this is a live disc from KDUS in Davis, CA from 2001. A trio this time, with James Dewey and Brad Hostetler on "microphones" and Joe on "Mixing." What’s being mic’d is probably obvious from the title, though not from the material. Starting with an unnaturally friendly burst of chord organ, the record initially sounds almost "new-age" like, except for the grinding metallic noises poking the speaker cones at odd intervals. It sounds like the organ might have been sounded once, and then played on long sustained chord through the length of the recording, as the individual tones boil down to a thick purple syrup, while the metallic scrapes and rings begin to resemble an swarm of electric razors, buzzing your head like picnic bees. Although the piece has been edited (so says the back cover), it sounds like one uninterrupted performance, and sadly lacks some of the delirious cuts that make other Crawl Unit releases more memorable. In the Crawl Unit pantheon, this resides somewhere around the top 2/3s, but not quite in the top 3/4ths. Depending on your taste for "difficult" packaging, you’ll either delight in trying to ease the paper flap out of the top so you can get the disc out (it’s glued on one side -- so much for the magic of origami), or you’ll do like I did and cut the fucker off. Good cover drawing, though.

Skozey Fetisch - Spectral Freight

The first record in ten years by this California staple. Man, that’s some phrase, eh? I know what I think of when I hear "the first album in ten years by…" about some long-buried group. A rush of emotions comes through all at once. Either you’re expecting an album that sounds like it was recorded 10 years ago, blithely trotted out like nobody had put out an album since then, or you hears an abandoning of all former ideas in favor of a sickeningly up-to-the-minute rehash of last week’s trends, usually from the point of view of an outsider (Suicide managed to do both in the ‘90s, starting with the samey "Y Be Blue" and moving into so-so collaborations with Pan Sonic, for instance). So imagine my surprise when I found that Skozey managed to avoid both fates by taking a bit from column A and a bit from column B!

"Spectral Freight" is an odd one, and it gets even odder the more you’ve listened to both ‘80s tape-trader industrial and ‘00s micro-glitch/laptop music. It’s like splicing the head of a duck onto the body of a leopard and producing a viable hybrid! There’s this constant oscillating "woop woop" sound that travels through the whole long (DOUBLE) album, but is interrupted by both analogue static and digital interference. I hear computers, I hear four-tracks, it feels like enemies shaking hands, like when the good wrestler and the bad wrestler form a temporary alliance against a REALLY bad wrestler, and everybody’s just so excited by the possibilities. It’s also a stern reminder of just how narrow our concept of musical freedom is these days, and how much of what is now considered a sort of despised genre (late-‘80s industrial, more in the sense of De Fabriek or Lustmord than Front Line Assembly) is still a mine of untapped potential. I guess it’s always been like this, but it seems like so much of the history of experimentation in music consists of one person fearlessly walking forward in their own direction, followed by fifteen people walking in a line, directly behind this pioneer, never looking to the left or the right, eyes forward, mimicing every step. Here’s to hoping that some of these footsoldiers glance to the left long enough to see "Spectral Freight" marching along with a quirky gait and at a rakish angle beside them. If even a few of them break rank as a result, just think of the possibilities!

Plus, it’s all extremely soothing in its weird way…who in their life hasn’t wanted to see a duck-headed leopard walking around their frontroom?

Snake Charm - Booji Throbber 3" CDR

Mr. Rob Ray, who you might know as that very nice fellow that greets you when you walk into Deadtech to see a show, shows off his laptoppery for about 15 minutes on this here little CDR in the CIP singles series (something about subscription singles is in the air! Dark Beloved Cloud, or DBC [Good Bog…another acronym label] has been doing one as well). This is pulsing digi-noise in the "tradition" (little early for terms like that, but who doesn’t love a good cliché after dinner) of the "POP" LP on Tochnit-Aleph. Melodious samples (most of them from members of the Dungeon Family collective [OutKast, Goodie Mob, Killer Mike], though the Theme From M*A*S*H gets put under the rotating blades as well) dot the landscape, but are generally less than three seconds long. Very, very, very teasing…there’s SOMETHING there. The noise, despite instrumentation, is more in the old style of pedal hopping. The rhythms are similar…you can imagine a guy over a row of pitch-shifters and loop pedals, holding each permutation for about 2.5 seconds before twisting a knob or bringing the palm of his hand down on a switch. None of this namby-pamby "gleep GLIP pop" stuff….it’s thick and juicy and appeals to hard-drinking depressives that like to dance like a spazz. More detail comes through with headphones, so sit down for at least one time through, it’s worth it. Track two sounds like a field recording of vacuuming, and is one of several tracks with great titles. It’s called "I’m going to swear in front of your kid if I want to." Track four is even more inspiring: "The cut-up is worth the cigarette butts on my floor."

I’d complain that the once-a-month thing has kind of fallen off track for the CIP Singles series, but if you’ll notice, this update was due on my site back on April 1…so, yeah.

GUNSHOP - '/nø
V/A - Bhreus Kormo
V.V./Vertonen - Split tour 7"
VERTONEN - Heat 7"
VERTONEN - The Women Men Leave Their Wives For 7"
Z'EV - An Uns Momento & Save What?