Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best Documentaries of 2013

1. The Cheshire Murders
This is a haunting and truly nightmarish film. It's a fascinating look at perceptions of justice after a extraordinarily brutal crime, the details of which I still shudder to think. The police incompetence on display here is shocking. After last years Aunt Diane, HBO continues to make some of the best non fiction films.

2. My Trip to Al-Qaeda
Based on his book The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright's one man play about the middle east and the birth of radical Salafist Islam is pretty much required viewing/reading for anyone interested in geopolitics, violence, religion or the state of the world in general. These are some of the deepest, well articulated insights into world conflict I've come across in some time. Also check out Wright's new book on Scientology, Going Clear, that just came out- it's fascinating stuff.

3. Blackfish
A massive expose on Sea World and their hate-filled practices. The "trainers" interviewed here make excuses for their behavior throughout the film but are totally culpable - they were profiting from animal torture regardless of what they say now. 

4. On Death Row
Werner Herzog does true crime. Enchanting explorations of the sociopathic mind. Not sure if this counts as a documentary as it aired on TV but it's worth mentioning since this is probably the best television ever made. His short film about texting and driving, From One Second To The Next is contemporary, surreal, powerful Herzog as well.

5. Dirty Wars
An important overview of Jeremy Scahill's recent work on the murderous US force JSOC, the Al-Awlaki killings and the CIA's activities in Mogadishu. The film is adequately made but Scahill is one of the most important journalists working today rendering this essential viewing.

6. The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer's follow up to 2003's The Globalization Tapes is a long look at retired executioners in Indonesia. It touches on nationalism, propaganda, genocide, and psychopathology while delivering tragically surreal recreations of violent acts with the perpetrators.

7. Valentine Road
Another excellent HBO doc, this time about a recent hate crime in California and the bigotry it revealed in the community. A angry Nazi afflicted teenager murders a flamboyant 14 year old and the town rallies to support the killer instead of the victim. Incredibly, one of his lawyers even tattoos "Save Brandon" on her arm... sickening.

8. Mea Maxima Culpa Silence in the House of God
A revelatory yet unsettling film about worlds largest pedophile cult. Unfortunately Alex Gibney followed this with a despicable hit piece on Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange that made me lose almost all respect for him.

9. The Crash Reel
What begins as a snowboard documentary evolves into an emotional look at life with Traumatic Brain Injury.

10. A Death in St. Augustine 
It was another great year for Frontline. This hour long film about corrupt police covering up a murder by one of their own is the best of the bunch. The final scene is so demented and wrong it is hard to fathom. You can watch it online here.

It didn't see After Tiller or God Loves Uganda but I hear they are great.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Records in 2013


Alberich - Machine Gun Nest Cassette Works Volume 0

Authentic modern industrial delivered with an intensity rarely captured in music. Two of the tracks already appeared on his Psychology of Love LP but they are two of the best tunes ever released on Hospital Productions. Absolutely essential. Play loud. "Album of the year" by a long shot.

Georgia - Asemic Club

Georgia ASEMIC CLUB: Needle Teaser from Georgia on Vimeo.

An (other)worldly collection of instrumentals presented as a well conceptualized LP on one piece of vinyl. (There were too many unwarranted double LPs this year so it's nice to have a record to put on and not have to get up every ten minutes). There's a healthy variety of sound sources here; guitars, drums, rhodes, odd field recordings- the closest comparison I can come up with is later period Sun City Girls. For me, this is an essential companion to all the heavy recordings mentioned elsewhere in this piece. Comes with an amazing B&W newspaper poster.

Felix K - Flowers Of Destruction

Drum&Bass reinvented for 2013. A record full of properly psychedelic atmospherics and nasty dubbed out rhythms. Buy this 3x12" from his label Hidden Hawaii while you still can.

FFH - Make Them Understand

Raw savagery from FFH. Extreme noise mixed with poetic lyrics about bad things. If you like power electronics or angry musics of any sort find this and play it as loud as you can. They only made 114 copies but as of this writing there's a few for relatively cheap online.

Alexander Lewis - A Luminous Veil

Another amazing year for Blackest Ever Black. I didn't have enough money to buy everything they released though I did mange to acquire a few and this is my favorite of the bunch. There is a spontaneity to the arpeggiated synth blasts of noise that I find very listenable and each subsequent listen proves more rewarding. And, of course, the Cuts Hands stuff on BEB and Downwards is essential listening. The Gnod tape was great too.

Other LPs worth mentioning:

Nurse With Wound - Xerography
Nurse With Wound - Silver Bromide
Virile Games - Wounded Laurel
Vakula - You've Never Been To Konotop
Pharaohs - Replicant Moods
Factory Floor - Factory Floor


Paula Temple - Colonized

My favorite track of the year. Exciting, engaging, relevant techno. Temple is taking the form and doing something new with it. The Perc remix is a bit boring but the other two songs are mind blowing. The live sets she uploads to Soundcloud were my soundtrack to driving around Los Angeles this year.

Joe Claussell - Project Residue Part 1: Eno (Melodic Dub)

We are two releases deep into Joe's new series and they are both outstanding. The Melodic dub of Eno is the most techno track I've heard him make in a long time and the second 12", Underground Battle in Babylon, is an epic 16 min piano soundscape. You can get both these stamped 12s dirt cheap direct from his label. Timeless music.

Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement - Refuges From Black Magic 

This mix of rainforest recordings and dark ambient sounds was the perfect warm up to every set I DJed this year. It's also really great home listening. This was by far the best RSE release this year, the sound quality is much higher than the two Hospital LPs. The Bed of Nails 12" is nice but not quite as nuanced as this. It's probably the best thing Dominick Fernow made this year, though Prurient's near total conversion to dance music, Through the Window, was interesting as well. Also, When You Are Crawling by Vatican Shadow is the the best stuff from that alias since his classic debut on Bed of Nails.

Aquarian Foundation - Mystery Track from Silent Teaching EP

Great year for Brian Not Brian's Going Good label out of Brixton. All three releases thus far have been solid. The record pictured is by the Vancouver, Canada group Aquarian Foundation- the 12" on their own Mood Hut records is excellent too. The newest Going Good record is equally as strong- Anom Virus's lengthy EP is all acid squelching and lush pad work.

Gorgon Sound - 2x12"

Bristols' Young Echo collective put out a lot of strong material this year, my favorite was probably this: Kahn & Neek's grime influenced dub project Gorgon Sound. Four monstrous dubs that sound incredible on a proper sound system. The Dubkasm mixes are dope too. Along a similar line, the annual Kang Super Sound 7" on Sex Tag Amfibia is worth looking into as well.

Rrose - Waterfall (Birth)

Crazy tripped out techno with amazing tension. A very serious track on a proper system.

Jay Daniel - No Love Lost
Oake - Nihnin Ned Bargund
Objekt #3
Joey Anderson - Above The Cherry Moon and Sky's Blessings
Valentina - Wolves
Romanonthy - Ministry of Love (Andre Crom Rework)
Dusky - Nobody Else
White Material - Problems
Zsou vs The Velvet Season & the Hearts of Gold - Wild Honeyz

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kim Ki-Duk's Moebius

Since the mid 90's, South Korean master Kim Ki-Duk has been making incredible films that range from unfathomably weird to unutterably beautiful. From his classic phantasmic golf saga 3-Iron to his majestic meditation on time Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... And Spring, they (mostly) all share a ruminant madness that defies categorization. As does his latest film Moebius. This low budget, dialog free, Buddhist penectomy-heavy familial gender study is uniquely transgressive and totally unprecedented in the history of cinema. Ki-Duk has really outdone himself here. On its most basic level it's about one kid's journey to inner-peace through the most dysfunctional family ever committed to celluloid. It is also a complex, involved portrait of sexuality and family. The film's take on pleasure & pain / love & violence / maternity & paternity is one that demands contemplation. Throughout, there's a thread of solemn religious overtones that somewhat perplexingly reshapes the thematic narrative.  It's also very funny at times. For the most part I found it disturbingly fascinating but the audience I saw it with laughed a lot. The actor that plays the teenager, Young Ju Seo, deserves an Oscar for his work. The close up shots of the crazy mother are particularly amazing. The most similar film of his to this is probably 2000's The Isle as that also dealt with some of the more taboo subjects he tackles along with a few similar themes. If you're easily offended you may want to avoid this film as it contains gang rape, incest, murder, mutilation and severed penises. If you're familiar with Ki-Duk's work or into weird stuff, you will probably love this hardcore piece of poetic insanity. Highly recommended & essential artistry.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thoughts on PJ Harvey's White Chalk

I had never heard PJ's music before this record as I had always associated her with guitar heavy indie rock music. But a friend that works in the industry gave me a lovely 45RPM pressing of White Chalk when it was released in 2007. I find myself continually coming back to this unutterably exquisite exploration of pain. There are no guitars here, mostly piano and autoharp along with some restrained drumming by the Dirty Three's Jim White. Bass, banjo, zither, fiddle and organ all appear here and there as well. Producing legend Flood and long time Harvey collaborator John Parish made the record with her and they're skills are obviously indispensable. It has some of the most beautiful vocal arrangement work ever put to tape, her voice is astounding stop-you-in-your-tracks powerful. When the back-ups drop on Silence it chills me to the bone every time. It is a short, concise, powerful record capable of stirring up serious emotion to those paying attention. The subject matter seems to be the dissolution of family, specifically abuse, and certain acts are strikingly recounted throughout the album- indeed, some songs are near transgressive in their vividness. Truly haunting. The album echos of another time or another world, its baroque feel and tonal longing are unlike anything I have heard before or since. So, yeah, I highly recommend this LP if you like heavy duty music- and it gets better with each listen even after 5 years. I am usually hesitant to recommend this kind of highly personal, emotive music but I think this LP cuts across a lot of boundaries. Also, I do not suggest listening one song at a time online, just buy the LP and play it loud at home in the dark to hear it's full potential. It's cheap on discogs. Her follow up- the war torn Let England Shake is amazing too but slightly more normal sounding than her ethereal and singular masterwork White Chalk.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rinpoche - Degradation 12"

The second release on Tears of Joy Records is a record made by myself and Thomas Klepper, resident and co-founder of Los Angeles' long running (but now defunct) underground warehouse party space Music For Dancers. He also runs a cassette label called Association of Masks. We made the 12" in an edition of 252 copies with stamped sleeves and an insert. The tracks were written and recorded at Thomas' studio at his warehouse in the fashion district, downtown Los Angeles, earlier this year. Working without the assistance of a computer, we used various old synth and drum machines and mixed through a Tascam board to 1/4" tape which proved to be a rewarding way to track music. The A side is a deep bassline-led Chicago influenced tune suited for the early morning hours while the B side is an acid house workout featuring a demented vocal sample from the Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps. You can buy a copy cheap at the Tears of Joy website or it will be in the shops early November.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Peter Sotos - Victims

An unsettling piece from underground author Peter Sotos' Buyers Market album from 1992.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Genius - Waiting (Corrupted Cru Remix)

I recently ripped some of my UKGarage vinyl for a friend so I figured I share one of the tracks here. I scored this at the mighty DnR Vinyl in East Croyden, UK. Check them out, they are without a doubt the finest Garage shop on earth. The track is by Genius (Capone, Shawn T & Trimmer) on Kronik Records from 1998.

Genius - Waiting (Corrupted Cru Remix)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Paula Temple at Berghain

I heard Paula Temple DJ an amazing live set at Berghain in Berlin this past Sunday morning. To hear proper techno of this caliber on that clubs system was mind blowing. Below is a downloadable recording of the 3rd and final hour (7 - 8am) of her set. Coincidentally, the mix starts with the Surgeon track I posted earlier this month. Also, definitely check out her critical and forward thinking Colonized 12" on R&S.

Pere Ubu - Breath

Pere Ubu perform Breath (Let's Not Talk About Tomorrow) in 1989. From the Cloudland LP.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sugeon - Radiance

One of the better electronic music albums I have heard in some time is Surgeon's 2011 LP Breaking the Frame. Unlike the punishing intricacies of his earlier records that defined the "Birminghmam techno" sound he is known for, this release is experimental and psychedelic in nature. You can download one of the more mental tracks below.

Surgeon - Radiance

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Love And Money - Walk the Last Mile

A beautiful track from the Scottish band Love And Money from their 1988 LP Strange Kind of Love.

Download here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Films of Fabrice Du Welz

Calvaire or The Ordeal is a largely overlooked 2004 Belgium art house horror film by the underrated writer/director Fabrice Du Welz. The story is classic: A city boy, in this case a singer, is lost in the country and abducted by demented freaks- only this film is done so artfully that at times it seems like Gaspar Noe is directing it. Alas, the cinematographer on both of Du Welz's films is the mighty Benoit Dedie. There is all sorts of incredible camera work going on all over the place: long sweeping overheads, maniacal circular shots, weird close-ups. Content-wise it's pretty heavy- bestiality, rape and death are all explored in a hyper-stylized yet realistic way. This is definitely one of the most unique and well constructed “horror” films out there. Highly recommended.

Du Welz’s follow up is another must see. Vinyan is about a couple searching deep in the Burmese jungle for their missing child they lost during the 2004 tsunami. The underlying mystery is whether their kid is alive or if he's already dead- and the parents are merely grasping at straws as they grieve. But on the surface the film deals with kidnapping, the underage sex trade, and our culture of child reverence. There are kids a plenty in this film and it's not a pretty picture. It is worth watching for the locations alone- most of it is shot amongst ancient dilapidated structures deep in Laos. The epic long take in the abandoned temple in the final third is one of the cooler shots I can recall seeing. And the Lord-of-the-Flies-esque final scene of this film will stay with you for a long time- I guarantee that.

These are the two films Fabrice Du Welz has made thus far- both 4 years apart- with Vinyan released way back in 2008. Apparently there is something that he directed that is in post production called Colt45. And Wiki says he is working on a film titled For Your Entertainment with the excellent Brady Corbet, though that project may have been abandoned. His Twitter feed says he is writing Calvaire 2.

Anyway, find his movies, look out for his name and watch his stuff on the big screen when it does come out. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Dignity of Labour Part 1

A lovely piece of electronic music from 1979. Apparently made entirely with a Roland System 100. Ripped from the 12" on Fast records.

The Human League - The Dignity of Labour Part 1

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Private Realm

We just released an experimental techno record I made with Olivia Arthur called An Omen From No Man's Land under the name A Private Realm. You can buy it at Juno or in various Japanese shops. The vinyl is an edition of 164 with silk screened cover art depicting Vienna Actionist Gunter Brus performing ANA in 1964. There is also a DVD in an edition of 100 we did with Tim Hicks with accompanying visuals dealing with the subject matter at hand: Child Brides, Endless War and the Horrors of Psychedelia. You can get that at Tim's website and you can check out the first piece below.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Zbigniew Karkowski

     Out of the thousands of performances I have seen over the years, it is one by Polish electronic musician Zbigniew Karkowski’s that has made the most impact.  

     The scene: Recombinant Media Labs Compound, Hunters Point, South San Francisco, circa 2003/2004. The Compound was a space located on a desolate abandoned Navy ship yard. The land lay in the shadow of Candlestick Park that had been deemed uninhabitable due to a high toxicity in the soil that the Navy had left. We were instructed not to drink the water when there. Inside the one unaccompanied dilapidated building on the site was a tiny studio/control room overlooking a bigger space equipped with a 16.8 surround sound system with a performance area in the middle of the room. The speakers were arranged in a circle, 8 above and 8 below. RML was run by a character named Naut Humon (pronounced "Not Human") who apparently re-christened himself after a particularly heavy LSD trip in the 70s. Humon had used the space for decades as a research lab for his industrial music project Rhythm & Noise. RML and its record label, Asphodel, was generally the hub of all things weird in experimental music in San Francisco at the time. Most of the artists that played at the Compound used software my friend Peter had designed for the space that enabled one to spatialize the sound, meaning to bounce sound from speaker to speaker around the room: horizontally, vertically and diagonally; a technique first developed by Karlheinz Stockhausen. While rare to find such a system to play on, especially in 2003, Karkowski would forgo it to take his own approach on this particular night.

Those that knew had packed the room to hear the Polish visionary and were standing in a circle surrounding him. Karkowski had existing on the fringes of extreme new music for some time. After studying composition, sonology and computer music at various institutions he settled in Tokyo in 1994. He had composed for orchestra, chamber and opera but was largely concerned with the raw energy and power unleashed by sound at high volumes. Karkowski always worked entirely experimentally and experientially. I was standing behind him. The way I remember it, the music was basically one huge electronic tone emanating from his computer that got louder and louder and louder as it went on until it totally engulfed every part of your brain and body. Think about the deepest bass you’ve heard at a dance club, concert or rocket launch and multiply it by 16 and have it coming at you from every angle non-stop. This was beyond music and into the realm of pure sound, pure vibrational energy, a shamanic force being conjured from deep within the void. He was using a very old, beat up Macintosh that had code cascading down the left side of the screen and a mysterious black box on the right side. I don’t know if he was running Supercollider or MaxMSP but it was some kind of code he had written himself. This was, without a doubt, purely electronic music. The computer screen kept blacking out - I’m not sure if that was because it was old or because he was maxing out the processing power, he had to continually, violently, slap it to get it function, trippy colors would shoot across the screen when he did. As the music got denser he kept smacking the Mac and yelling at the engineers “louder, louder!” It was earth-shatteringly loud already but he was getting authentically upset that they wouldn’t turn it up. Over the sound Peter would try to gesture to him that he would blow the speakers if he turned it up more but Karkowski wouldn’t listen. He continued to intensely stare straight into the screen or scream for more volume. The engineers refused and it got so intense at one point I thought a fight would break out. All of this while 100 or so people are shoved into this tiny room perched on a forgotten wasteland while the heaviest sound ever was blasting away. I have no idea how long this went on, not long. The energy in the room surpassed any hardcore rock or punk show, was more transcendental than any rave, more enlightening than any new music masterwork and ultimately more exciting – and beautiful -– than anything I had seen before or since. Eventually Karkowski got mad enough he slammed his computer shut, stopping the music, and stormed out of the building. All I could think was “wow”.  I had never heard of the guy before but I came away from that performance with a new hero.

    Zbigniew went on to collaborate with RML in the following years but he Compound closed shortly after that. RML now occasionally takes its show on the road doing a version of the old system, with more video incorporated, called CinechamberNo recording ever will reproduce a Karkowski live experience but he has some amazing releases nonetheless.  For extreme noise there is the “ALBUM” release with Peter Rehberg under the name POP (Product Of Power). In 2005 he released a sweeping 40 minute epic titled One and Many. You can buy that along with his new piece for cello and computer called nervecell_0 at Sub Rosa. He takes a subdued, heavy approach on the LP Choice Points for the Application of Force. There is also an amazing set of releases with Tetsuo Furudate called World as Will, of which you can hear the piece Mix White below. It’s a Karkowski composition from World as Will 3 performed by the Zeikratzer orchestra in Switzerland in 2004. If you know of any music that sounds more apocalyptic than this please let me know.  Finally, if you want to dive into the man’s mind here is an essay he wrote titled The Method Is Science the Aim Is Religion.

     UPDATE: Karkowski died December 12, 2013 after being diagnosed with cancer 10 weeks earlier. Apparently in his final days he took a canoe up the Amazon in search of shamanic healing and "his final wish, if the treatment failed, was to be left in the jungle to be eaten. No ceremony, no grave."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


One of my favorite books is James Shelby Downard's The Carnivals of Life and Death, his memoir of growing up in the deep south at the turn of the century battling the KKK and Freemasons. He believes Masonic elites run the world through a series of ritualistic psychodramatic charades- a twisted form of sorcery obsessed with sex and death i.e. the skullduggery of the Cryptocracy. I highly recommend the book, its pretty much batshit crazy but entirely informative. One of these rituals was the Killing of the King a.ka. the assassination of John F Kennedy. Easily the most far out JFK conspiracy- it basically postulates that Kennedy had to die because of occult rituals put in to motion in ancient Scotland that also included the alchemy of the atomic bomb and mystical toponomy of the American southwest. He and Michael Hoffman mapped it all out in King Kill 33, a crazy masterpiece of unorthodox thinking. You can read the whole thing online, its fascinating stuff. Or if you prefer or a more tactile reading experience you can buy the research edition (pictured) from Hoffman's website Revisionist History. Hoffman also digs deep into the Cosmic Cryptogram ("The Revelation of the Method") in his classic book Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare. Recommended. Downard died in 1998 while writing the second half of his memoir.

Side notes:

Interesting talk by Hoffman about NPR's use of propaganda and another eloquent one about Israel's abuse of sympathy to wage war.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Esplendor Geom├ętrico ‎– El Acero Del Partido I

Mind melting Spanish modular synth music from 1982. Every song on this LP is amazing but I ripped the one that really grabs you on first listen. Play loud.

download here

Doug Stanhope

I'd like to a take a moment and make sure the readers of this website are familiar with comedian Doug Stanhope. Not only is Stanhope the funniest man alive but I seriously think he is our country's premier social critic. When I first heard Stanhope’s material I couldn’t believe what I was hearing- it was like finding a friend, or at least a voice of reason in an insanely idiotic world. All his stand-up specials are indispensable but No Refunds is especially essential viewing. If you're anything like me this will be the best hour you spend all year. Deadbeat HeroFrom Across The Street and Word Of Mouth are amazing too and you can buy them direct from Doug. There are a couple videos on Netflix or they're all available via Torrents (Doug encourages file sharing). Below is an audio clip (there is video too if you find the DVD) from his most recent release Before Turning The Gun on Himself where he rips apart "rehab" through the lens of the fraud that is Dr. Drew Pinsky. Enjoy.