Freak Scene #3


Number Three in the Freak Scene era brings a Japanese psych-wave girl group and three American dudes going it alone on three very different records.





Sometimes things fall into place. For instance: the other day when Nick Barat dropped this heavy double gatefold Nisennenmondai LP on my desk. What do you know? All was right in the world. This release is a reissue of the first two albums from this all girl three piece from Japan, Tori and Neji. We can thank the Heartworm Press label for making this stuff available to us domestic-folk. While these are certainly psych records, they cop some serious post-punk and no wave moves that really separate them from the pack. Rather than foster some quasi-mystical Acid Mothers Temple ‘tude, these ladies title their songs the like of, “Sonic Youth” “Pop Group” and “This Heat”. Let me tell you, that makes my job here pretty easy. You can really hear the Pop Group influence on the dubbed out guitars of “Itkyokume” and that ain’t a bad thing at all. The band totally goes for it and takes it past any modest expectation. Definitely check this out for a healthy dose of recent Japa-groove of the Afrirampo, Boredoms variety.




I need to clear my head. When in need of such a service lately, I turn to the new Failing Lights The Spine of the World cassette on the Gods of Tundra label. Failing Lights is the solo work of Mike Connelly (Wolf Eyes, Hair Police) and its electronics all the way through. Failing Lights has consistently put out stellar releases but in my eyes it seems like its associated bands overshadow its glory at times. Its clear as day listening to this release that Connelly is a master at his craft without anyone’s help. This release is almost a “best of” in terms of moods/styles Failing Lights has shown us. We have dark storms of electronic static, strain, screeches, doom, infinity, vortex, awareness, overload, torture, respite and removal. The world is a dismal place sometimes and that’s the sound of Failing Lights. It’s in this recognition, an embrace of the other side that makes this work so powerful. The cover image of the dead house in black and white, the words barely legible in scrawl, its winter in Failing Lights world all of the time.




While things are still cold we have Prurient with Outside the World, which is an 8” square lathe on the Alt Vinyl label from the U.K. A lathe, in basic terms, is a homemade vinyl record. This particular record was cut by Peter King in New Zealand. King is known as one the finest in the world when it comes to lathes and the results are apparent. Musically this material is perhaps most similar to Prurient’s Cave Depression triple 7” box on the No Fun label in that there are no vocals whatsoever, just electronics. It’s the next level in the textured dark ambient noise that has been developing out of the dark basement that is the Hospital bunker where Prurient lurks. There’s a ceremony here, a pyre after its burned down to glowing coals in the twilight, a procession of dark figures moves slowly in the background. The church is no more and the clouds are gathering. Yeah, it’s that kind of record. Powerful stuff.



Daniel A.I.U. Higgs is best known for his work fronting long running post-punk stalwarts Lungfish, who if nothing else have the distinction of being the only band in history not from Washington D.C to record for the Dischord label. Lately Higgs has been doing the solo Jew's harp, banjo, raga thing. The results I’ve heard have been somewhat mixed. His cassette for the Open Mouth label was nothing short of a revelation in hypnotic string runs. It sits among my favorite releases of last year. However his full length LP on Holy Mountain that followed was just fucking terrible, despite what some would have you believe. So I go into Atomic Yggdrasil Tarot with meager expectations. Happily, this release is more what I’ve been looking for. At his best here, Higgs is a dynamic player who summons some deep middle-eastern gypsy vibes. The oddly cut up piano loops on “Spectral Hues” and the distorted fry of “Creation Moan” should appeal to the Sun City Girls fans in the audience, with its demented sheen while “Hems and Seams” is hip enough for the Animal Collective crowd to endorse. Shit, I can hear the DFA remix now! Thrill Jockey did a terrific job in the packaging here as the disc is housed in a hardbound art book featuring various Higgs paintings, some of which are fantastic.

-STEVE LOWENTHAL


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Freak Scene #3