Record Rip-offs & Wax Trax Dance Parties: AKA Your Mind Belongs To The State (The lost posts pt.1)

I’ve noticed a very alarming trend. Hopefully I am just having really bad luck, but of the last ten or so vinyl purchases I have made, all new, none used, only one of them came with a download certificate. It’s bad enough that I used to be able to purchase records for, oh I don’t know, certainly not what is being asked for them now, but now I am not to be given my rightful download for an album purchase as well? These guys are like drug dealers, telling you ‘hey, come buy this vinyl please, we’ll give you a digital copy with it, pleeease.’ Now that they’ve given everybody a taste, and for whatever reason, buying vinyl has amassed widespread appeal like it is a new thing or something, all the prices are going up in ridiculous increments as well as these pushers getting all Orwellian on us.

“Here’s the vinyl you must have. We have now decreased the price to $34.99 (previously $20 but all records have been committed to memory holes) for your pleasure.”

“…and the download?”

“There was never a download comrade.” (As he calls in your thoughtcrime.)

“Thank you INGSOC” (I’m already dead.)

Now I find myself shaking my head in disgust when I catch myself saying things like, “Hey, this is only $15. That’s cheap.” When compared with the preponderance of them going for well over $20 or even $30 for a single release, and it’s not unheard of for some of them to be as high as $50, a fifteen dollar album is cheap I suppose. Anyway, I will try to be happy despite the increasing prices, that due to the growing popularity of vinyl that now even old releases that were hard to come by or never saw a vinyl release at all, are becoming more widely available. Take for instance SlowdiveSouvlaki, I was very excited to find this recently, but to my dismay it was thirty-five dollars! This has gotten more than a little out of hand in my opinion. I reluctantly purchased it because, well, I really wanted it. After getting home with it and tearing into my purchase I found myself once again empty-handed where a download was concerned. Alex just laughed at me while retrieving the download certificates from her purchases. Thanks Alex.

Now that I have vented my spleen about something that I clearly paid for willingly, I can write about something hopefully less spiteful with the caveat that it is entirely possible that I will relapse into complaining. I have a predisposition toward seeing the world as an execrable heap. I just put on my happy face for you guys.


 

So, while on the same record store excursion that robbed and confounded me, I found some wonderful little gems in the new arrivals used bin. Apparently someone had dumped off some of their old DJ vinyl to my pleasure. Amidst the dust and crap records I found Meat Beat ManifestoStrap Down 12″ the sound defence[sic] policy remix (the original Sweatbox release from 1988.)

This is pretty cool since as far as I can tell it isn’t really on any of the proper releases that I have other than my old Wax Trax Storm The Studio double 33 12″ (which happens to still have the old mail order sheet listing all of the vinyl LPs for $8 and 12″ singles for $5! If only I could still order from it.) and in yet another incarnation on Armed Audio Warfare as Give Your Body Its Freedom.

Happily after listening to all of them again recently, they are all definitely different and I think I prefer the Sweatbox single version that I just got. Yay me!


 

Something else that I grabbed out of the bin, and this is funny because I just wrote about them in the Soap&Skin post, is Front 242Headhunter v1.0 b/w Welcome to Paradise v1.0.

“I’m looking for this man to sell him to other man”

Hahaha, you can’t beat that. Now if only I could find the Bigod 20 single for The Bog with Jean-Luc De Meyer of Front 242 lending his voice to the track. They’re almost a pair, they fit together so well. Both are dance-floor favorites that you are sure to hear if you ever find yourself in the darker recesses of the dance clubs of 1989. If you are confused as to how you should move to the music you can either do some ‘dodge the bats’ moves or, and this is more appropriate for both of these tracks, the militant stomping in place to the beat dance. Now that you are EBM ready, put on something black and let’s hit the floor! Just leave the cloves at home, I will not tolerate those things.


 

Another single, also from the late 80s, that I got was Severed HeadsHot With Fleas.

While not my favorite track by Mr. Ellard, I quite enjoy them and will always pick up a Severed Heads single when I happen upon one. (Apparently he is of the opinion that making electronic music has become far too easy, unlike when they started in the 70s, and is focusing most of his attention into making video games. I am inclined to agree with him.)

That video has absolutely nothing to do with the single that I purchased, but it is one of my favored Severed Heads songs. It’s from the 1994 album Gigapus, I think I was one of about five people who purchased the album. If you are interested there is a Sevcom bandcamp website with almost all of this stuff and Tom Ellard solo. Most of the albums can be yours for just $5 US and a few of them are ‘name your price.’ I am definitely going to be getting a few of them. I pretty much burned up my cassette copies of Come Visit The Big Bigot and Rotund For Success back when I could fill up my little red Geo Metro for six dollars and then drive all over the country avoiding life. I really miss that car. While I’m at it, I really miss gasoline for under a dollar too. The tracks Harold and Cindy Hospital, Legion, and Propellor/FM Stations Blow Up in particular were my jam. Check them out here:

You should go to the site and look around. I particularly enjoy Tom’s commentary on each of the albums.


 

 

I also picked up the Chris + Cosey – Obsession 12″ single (Play it again Sam Records.) The artwork is only mildly NSFW. I think you’ll be okay.

This is not an official video, there probably isn’t one. This is just some video that someone has added to the music track, but it is probably more entertaining than staring at an image of the album cover, that was the other option. Plus it’s very weird and kind of fitting, sort of misogynist, but fitting. It’s actually far more NSFW than the artwork. Oh well.

For anyone unaware of this, Chris + Cosey (Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti) were a couple of the somewhat lesser known members of Throbbing Gristle, of which other members went on to form Psychic TV (Genesis P’Orridge) and COIL (Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson.) I don’t have much from Chris + Cosey. I do have a Carter Tutti (basically the same thing with a different name) recording from a live radio show in 2004 that I think I enjoy more than any studio releases I’ve yet heard. This has no direct relation to the previous statement other than Cosey’s involvement but, Mrs. Tutti lends her vocals to one of the more haunting versions of Idumæa on Current 93 – Black Ships Ate The Sky, although you don’t get to the Idumæa portion of the song until around the nine minute mark. It’s very dark, I like it a lot.


 

I have really got to make a list of what I own to prevent any unnecessary duplications from such compulsive purchases as to which I alluded in the Severed Heads section above, and looking at all of these singles has me thinking about it. It has happened more than once that I got home to find that the vinyl I just got, I already owned. Although, if I might be allowed to complain a bit more, I used to intentionally make duplicate purchases back when people didn’t buy records like they do now. During this time frame I would occasionally go to shops like Starship Records, which appeared from the copious overstock to be the graveyard of vinyl deemed no longer useful and therefore culled from the ever evolving DJ stacks, to peruse the tombs. It was rare that I ever paid more than a dollar or two for any of it and if I would happen upon something that I already owned and knew to be good, I would most often purchase it since the prices were so low, for the purpose of handing it over to a well deserving friend or someone desirous of it and not having the fortune of coming across it as I had. I guess that that is not so much complaining as it is lamenting a past never again to be. (Damn kids. Back in my day… hahaha)

Oh, I didn’t mention this before, but it is relevant. I had to pay about five dollars for every one of those singles. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but considering I could have bought the same thing only a year or two ago and I know this for a fact because I did in fact purchase several very similar releases at the same location, for maybe a dollar or two at that time, it’s obvious that the logic that the stores are having to pay more for the new releases and therefore having then to pass that expense on to the consumer isn’t wholly true and they are very clearly taking advantage of the growing appeal of vinyl to demand more for items that aren’t costing them any more to acquire than before. Those were the cheap ones. There was a Revolting Cocks single that I wanted, but it was $9. I just couldn’t do it, not for an old 12″ single. (I eventually picked it up on a later trip. I just couldn’t help myself.) I have one or two other Revco singles, probably purchased at Starship, that I likely got for a dollar. Go figure. I think that in the past most sellers would almost just give it away just to get it out of the way, and very few people really wanted it, so they were only asking a dollar or so because it was better than just slapping ‘FREE’ on it while having nearly the same effect. I know that some particular items are slightly more valuable, but having seen the change I can clearly tell that there is definitely a blanket increase that is happening now not based on any research toward an item’s collector’s value.

Oh well, I have caviled enough about this. It’s just the going rate now.

Yes, I know that I basically just referred to my own complaint as trivial— It is. I’m happy that there is new life in the record store market that I thought was all but extinct only a short while ago. I do understand that the records now are of a higher quality than they used to be, most on 180 gram vinyl, as well as a lot of gatefolds and fancy deluxe packaging. That’s all cool, but forty and fifty dollars a piece for individual releases is a bit extravagant. What is likely to happen is that the prices might begin to soften a bit if they find that their audience, like me, doesn’t feel the marked increase is warranted, or simply begins buying much less than we did before. We do all still have other avenues for acquiring the music, it’s why the record stores started going down the tank in the first place. And as far as the downloads are concerned, they should be included period, there is no defensible excuse for that.

We could all take yet another step back and actually start using tapes again, this is the Cassette Club after all. I’m sure there are plenty of hipster d-bags out there that are doing it anyway for other reasons (I don’t think I can possibly be that cool though.) So if you are that cool (read: hipster d-bag), send me your blank tapes and Omnibot will make a mix for you, he’s good at that, he’s from the eighties it’s all he understands.

max-omnibot-headroom

But as for now this means that all of you are going to need to start sending money to me so that I can afford to continue buying the musics to type about to you here.

I will take monetary donations of any size, or records. Whatever works.

 

As always, buy the music when you can, but enjoy it either way, it’s why we have it.

 

— JS

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The psychedelic ghosts of black metal

I was totally full of lies last time, and for that I must apologize. I have neglected my blog duties for all of my five or six faithful followers.
Seriously though, I did get a new computer but I still don’t have internet access or the files from my dead computer. (update: I just retrieved the files from the old computer) Oh well, I will push on without it. I mean it this time.

Okay, so I picked up a copy of SUNNO))) & UlverTerrestrials on Southern Lord vinyl. I recommend getting it, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up of finding a vinyl copy unless you already have it, not cheaply anyway. Sorry. According to the little bit of info on the back cover (there are no interior liner notes) Terrestrials was conceived between 2008-2012, presumably in-between working on their individual releases and many side projects. Stephen O’Malley is involved in another release separate from SUNNO))) that I also acquired, I’ll get to it later. So that’s about it for the back cover other than a listing of names of those involved, a transcript of the few lyrics used on Eternal Return, and a short description of the cover image which is kind of cool. It is a portrait of the sun in the wavelength of hydrogen alpha light (656.3 nm in the deep red) taken on June 10, 2012.
Do not be confused, this is not metal of any sort, black or otherwise, despite being created in Norway and both bands being associated with that arena of sound. I use the word sound, because I think that the preponderance of people have a definition of music that fits only a portion of musical output, but I will refrain from getting off on a tangent about that as I am so prone to do in my, what some might sometimes call turgid, ramblings. (Nathan would probably say that the very use of the word turgid proves the point.) Black metal is an oft overlooked sub category too readily dismissed by most because of the corpse paint theatrics and associations to murders and church burnings previously carried out by just a few members of this small community and their sycophantic devotees. Which for most of them being overlooked is just fine. People want to become a part of a subculture for a reason, and it certainly is not to fit in with the rest of society. I would like to stress that in areas such as this genre of metal that there are many musicians that have felt too confined by it’s murky and far too shallow depths. These artists have forged onward into new sonic landscapes, Ulver is one of those bands. We have a need to categorize things in our attempts to understand them and draw connections, and in most cases this is fine and even preferable. But the unavoidable drawback of this process is that evolving sounds suffer the fate of being lumped in with a group simply because a category does not exist for which they are truly suited and those lines of connections end up being chains. So you can clearly understand why someone would not want to be permanently yoked to a moniker with such negative connotations which only functions to their detriment. (like “punk” music – I apologize to all of you that enjoy punk music, but it is to me unlistenable crap. I will not be swayed.) Until some new category can be established, accepted, and put into wide usage, (like the term post-punk) some of these guys are stuck with that albatross, black metal. So we’ve fully established that this isn’t black metal. Good, now we can move along.

I assume that anyone bothering to read this has probably expanded their musical palette enough that I won’t need to go into great detail about the music, nor will they be totally offended if I just say it’s good, only to then listen to it and have their ears bleed in response because they are only acclimated to listening to Bieber all day. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to listen to Bieber all day that is your choice, it’s just not mine.

The sound of this release is more akin to Ulver than SUNNO))) if you are familiar with both of them. It is more orchestral and atmospheric with just a few brief moments of that warbling low end crush humming through the horns of Let There Be Light, but without the oppressiveness of The Grimmrobe Demos, and far more melodic. The atmospheric quality of it along with the very minor use of vocals, imbues it with a sort of soundtrack feel. As I am listening to it right now, it is reminding me somewhat of the more drone laden portions of GYBE! F# A# Infinity. I’m sure that that is a reference to which most people can relate.

While I am on the subject of soundtracks, kind of, the other Stephen O’Malley related album that I picked up is Ambarchi O’Malley DunnShade Theme From Kairos. Stephen O’Malley as I have already mentioned, is a member of SUNNO))), Oren Ambarchi while not a member, is a regular collaborator and is often involved in live performances with SUNNO))). Randall Dunn is a producer and sound engineer that has worked with many musicians including SUNNO))) and fellow noise makers Earth and Boris. As a musician he is a founding member of the group Master Musicians of Bukkake, a truly horrible name, I know.

http://alexisds.com/

The story behind this release is that the music was created for raw footage of Alexis Destoop’s film Kairos. Now whether intentional or not, Destoop’s take is that this allows for “a blurring of the line between diegetic and non-diegetic sound and a questioning of the intricate relationship between music and the creation of a fictitious universe.” This really sounds to me like it might just be some of the art school bs that they teach you to spout off when asked the rationale behind something that you’ve done that in reality had no predetermined reasoning behind it. Considering that the film’s premise is that an apocalyptic event called the Great Temporal Catastrophe has brought an end to linear time, it seems more than apropriate to, after the fact, attach meaning to something that in all probability was done out of sheer necessity based on the time constraints of the parties involved rather than actual artistic purposes. Either way, it’s an intriguing concept and maybe it’s a really good film or it could just be another Koyaanisqatsi. I’m not saying that Koyaanisqatsi is a bad film, it’s just one of those things that you can’t really enjoy for an hour and a half unless you are really high or have convinced yourself that it is high art and deserves to be patiently and reverently viewed to accumulate your pretentious points. I would personally much rather waste my time on Fulci’s City of the Living Dead (aka Gates of Hell) or The Beyond (aka Seven Doors of Death) to accumulate points for my horror fan merit badges. Although it has long been a dream of mine to be able to create an intelligent artistic horror film. I’ll just keep dreaming I suppose, but in the meantime, somebody seriously needs to take the cameras away from all of the vapid Korn listening morons that seem to be the only ones dedicated to making horror films anymore. Either that or someone needs to put a bullet in the head of whichever dolt it is at Lionsgate that keeps distributing all of this crap. It used to be that you could kind of have a sense of what you were going to be subjected to based on the distributor and possibly the artwork, but that is long since a thing of the past. Now the artwork has been homogenized into a lackluster mess of David Carson grunge style Photoshopped nonsense, but even that is giving it too much credit; David Carson was original in his time and these idiots wouldn’t even be on par with his worst work on their very best day. And since it is all the same jokers making the artwork for all of this stuff, even the really good films (a rarity these days I’ll admit) are camouflaged with this same sad cover art making it impossible to discern a straight to video release shot on someone’s handheld in their backyard from a top-notch French film like Room of Death (La Chambre des Morts.) At least Room of Death is a Canal+ and IFC film, which to me still holds some clout unlike the aforementioned Lionsgate, so that beyond the stupid cover art I was able to look at the back and see that it might be at least watchable before I picked it up.

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Look at that crappy US cover versus the one of the French versions. Why would you do that?

Well, I’ve gotten way off the point. I told you I’m prone to doing that especially if you get me on the subject of movies. I just watched two films that perfectly encapsulate the exact problem that I have been writing about here, maybe I will do another post and expound on that since I don’t feel I have to be exclusive to music here.
Back on point, Shade Themes from Kairos is probably my favorite of the two albums although I still really enjoy Terrestrials. You can get the vinyl of Shade Theme from Drag City for a somewhat modest $25 for a gatefold double LP and I believe Terrestrials is still available from Southern Lord in an mp3 or CD format. You might get lucky and find a vinyl copy at your local record shop though if you hurry. I know the one I got mine from still had a copy the last time I was there although I informed the person that I was shopping with that they should buy it, and they did. So don’t ask me where I got it because you won’t find it there anymore. Oh, there is also a bandcamp site from which to buy the SUNNO))) & Ulver album, that’s from where the above link came.

Yay! Bandcamp!

http://sunnulversl.bandcamp.com/

Since, we are on a somewhat similar topic, there is yet another Nordvargr release that everyone needs. I’m sorry if it seems like I am constantly inundating you guys with Nordvargr stuff, but I really like it. In addition, this is an EP of unreleased and re-worked material from For the Blood is the Life which is one of my absolute favorite Nordvargr releases. Go get it.

Later

— JS