Monday, July 18, 2011

Printed At Bismarck's Death – Via Lacrimosa LP

I never really realized how gothic the Christian Bible is until I heard this LP, the first full length from German darkwave/goth band Printed At Bismarck’s Death. These guys approached their music without any sense of irony, which is probably why the Bible has never seemed so bleak. They are not actually a Christian band (at least not that I know of), but they base almost every song on a Christian parable or traditional folk song (such as House of the Rising Sun), sing and chant in German and English, and wrap most songs in a thick blanket of electronics and atmosphere, traditional instruments and full orchestral sweeps, guitar effects and tribal drumming.
While not every song is a winner (the aforementioned House of the
Rising Sun does sound a bit silly, especially since most of us are more familiar with the Animals’ version of it; and a couple songs on side B veer into avant-jazz meanderings) most tracks are about as true to the gothic aesthetic as possible – earnest and layered with impenetrable darkness. And don’t be put off by the late release date - songs like the largely orchestra “Drapa”, the symphonic and experimental “Meet Moshe Dayan In A Russian Bunker”, and the simplistic but effective dark dance of “Pseudo Philon” make this an LP to seek out.

Printed At Bismarck's Death – Via Lacrimosa LP
1991, T 42 Records
A1 Prélude Morbide
A2 Premières Communions
A3 Meet Moshe Dayan In A Russian Bunker
A4 House Of The Rising Sun
A5 Le Juif Errant
A6 Pseudo-Philon
B1 Drapa
B2 The Cold Earth
B3 Three Victims Of Bloody March
B4 Jesus Goes Golgotha
B5 Embryo
B6 Tutuguri (Rite Of The Black Sun)

Caesarian Section : Incision 12”

My friend and I were in Athens on the last day of a recent vacation to Turkey and Greece and we decided to visit one last record store. That store turned out to be a goldmine compared to anywhere else we had visited – we each walked out with stacks of records after spending over 100 Euros apiece. My friend found this record and put it on the store’s turntable. The crackly intro fed into crashes of industrial percussion and a noisy mess of guitars and echoing, repetitive vocals.
“Whoa… this sounds like a fucked-up version of Danse Society”, exclaimed my friend.
He was right. It was slightly more industrial sounding, and noisier, as if Danse Society had a marathon listening session of Swans and Einsturzende Neubauten albums before recording.
New Rosary, the leading song on the EP, is a definite strong point. Voodoo Jazz repeats the formula on the previous track, but obscures the vocals, adds shrieks and yelps, and ups the ante on the psychotic percussion.
The B side is a bit less noisy, and slower-paced, but still quite good. Barb Wire Teddy is almost shoegaze in a Jesus and Mary Chain sort of noisy, effected way (but with more emphasis on atmosphere and percussion than on guitars). The final song, Fact Not Fiction, is virtually formless, with tinny percussion pushed to one side and occasional clangs of metal piercing the din of effects and delays and echoing vocals. It’s a great way to end the record, in a cocoon of completely unrefined noise. This is currently dirt cheap on discogs at the moment... I wonder if it will remain that way?

Caesarian Section: Incision 12”
1987, Incision Records
A1: New Rosary
A2: Voodoo Jazz
B1: Barb Wire Teddy
B2: Fact Not Fiction

Monday, July 4, 2011

Baby Buddha + David Javelosa: Everyone is My Age LP

I meant to post this in conjunction with the recent (and absolutely impeccable) Dark Entries BART compilation, but.... well, I didn't get to it. That record featured a selection from the final Los Microwaves 7". But in some ways this LP could actually be considered the last Los Microwaves release. It's ostensibly a collaboration between Baby Buddha (who released another LP on Posh Boy in 1982, which mainly featured synthpop covers a la Silicon Teens) and David Microwave from Los Microwaves. But Baby Buddha did not actually refer to a specific person; it was a Los Microwaves side project featuring Javelosa and guests. So, confusingly, this was David Javelosa’s side project on which he collaborated with… David Javelosa (as well as all members of Los Microwaves). It's possibly the most completely eccentric LP I've heard in a long time- it blends darkwave, psychedelic rock, minimal electronics, ambient, 60s garage rock, and even a little bit of country on the endearing "Selfish Heart". It almost sounds like it could be a compilation of 8 different bands rather than the output of 4 or 5 collaborating individuals. As a result of these disparate ingredients the record can be hit or miss. But it is never boring, and there are some great songs to be found.

This record was actually recorded around 1983-1984, but was finally self-released in 1987. David Javelosa went on to become a music composer and programmer at Sega. I had the good fortune of seeing him perform at a game programmers’ conference afterparty about 6 or 7 years ago. It was held at the now-defunct Drum Machine Museum in the heart of the tenderloin in San Francisco; he was opening for Freezepop. I don't know if he actually played any of these songs (I had not heard the LP yet) but I remember being quite amazed at the ease with which he changed styles from one song to another, like a musical chameleon. His ability and proficiency in so many genres is probably why he was successful as a music programmer, with the ability to create pieces that could suit any moment in a game.

I ripped the first two songs on each side together since they mix seamlessly with each other.

Baby Buddha & David Javelosa: Everyone is My Age LP

1987, Hyperspace Music

A1 Overture

A2 Think It’s You

A3 Big Generation

A4 Do I

A5 Selfish Heart

B1 Everyone is My Age

B2 Clear Eyes

B3 Emotion II

B4 Night

B5 My Age

B6 Chantilly Lace

Click here to listen!

The Drops: Fatal Fall 7”

Well, after a brief hiatus during which I travelled through Turkey and Greece (buying records along the way, of course) I still have a few records to share. I bought this gem in Greece and while I realized after ripping it that it has already been shared, it was only shared on a Greek music blog and deserves as much recognition as possible.
The Drops were from the port town of Piraeus, a little to the south of Athens. They formed in 1990 and released this in 1995. Their style of darkwave was very stripped down and minimal, sounding like In Trance 95 playing Cure songs. The B side, A Beautiful Night, is a particularly amazing midtempo track with an emphasis on a simple but solid drumbeat. I played it at the Weird party in New York a week ago and several people asked who it was – always a great way to gauge if a song is a keeper in one’s DJ arsenal. It’s amazing that a record this earnestly and authentically post-punk sounding came from 1995. Perhaps the 90s are the last vestige of unknown and blogworthy darkwave music?

The Drops: Fatal Fall 7”

1995, Wipe Out! Records

A1 Fatal Fall

B1 A Beautiful Night

Click here to listen to this record