Wraiths – ‘Edinburgh/Glasgow’ cassette
Edition Size: 100 Copies. I first heard of Wraiths in 2009, after they released their beautifully packages “The Grey Emperor” CD on At War With False Noise. It was amazing to hear the range of sounds on the recording give the fact that they only use found and restructured equipment, location acoustics, and human vocals to make their music. Apparently, during their live sets, Wraiths wear monastic robes and identity cloaking masks. According to them, all of their recordings are made live as well. This release is made up of two live sets: Edinburgh, and Glasgow. These recordings are disturbing, bleak, and hypnotic. This is improvised, experimental music made by masters of their craft. The dynamics in the release let the group lure the listener in just enough to Pierce You From Within (to quote the title of my favorite Suffocation album). This release is cold and murky. Wraiths are masters at their craft.
Number None – ‘Strategies Against Agriculture’ cassette
Edition Size: 100 Copies. Number None is a duo of Chris Miller and Noah Opponent. This group were some of Locrian’s early supporters and we were particularly inspired by their performances when they played regularly around Chicago. This recording was originally scheduled to be released on the now defunct American Grizzly label (in 2007/2008, I think). We were elated to find out that this amazing group had some material remaining in their vaults. Using many instruments (analog synthesizers, violin, harmonium, found sounds, and other sources) processed through myriad effects pedals and digital patches, the group created sounds that Scott McKeating, one of the music critics that we highly respect, described as “where even open-ended words like ‘free’ and ‘drone’ are limiting.” I will never forget walking into one of the Free Monday night shows at the Empty Bottle in Chicago in mid-2005 on a whim. I walked in and saw two guys with instruments and pedals sprawled over the stage making sounds that were mesmerizing. Some of these sounds much more punishing and interesting than any of the metal that I was listening to at the time. Watching Number None on this night was a musical turning point for me that helped to inspire the two of us to start Locrian and now, the Land of Decay label. For that reason, we can’t tell you how excited we are to release this tape. The title of the release pays a tongue-in-cheek homage to Einstürzende Neubauten’s Strategies Against Architecture and also points to the social inequalities and human caused environmental destruction that were brought about by the Neolithic Revolution, or when humans started growing our own food. [For more information on this, check out John Zerzan’s “Agriculture: Demon Engine of Civilization.] Although humans have lived as hunter-gatherers for most of our existence as a species, fewer and fewer people in the world are able to live this way. At the same time, there are more and more of us—7 billion and snowballing. [Get it? The population of hunter-gatherers tends to increase very slowly over time and the population of agricultural and industrial agricultural societies tends to increase rapidly over time.] Since the end of World War II, humans have used up more of the planet’s resources than all of humanity before that time! “Strategies Against Agriculture” is a testament to the limits of our civilization and the world that we live in. To me, this album is one of the most inspiring and thought provoking that we have released on our label. The problem of our time is a cultural problem and there is no simple solution. “Strategies Against Agriculture” helps to put the problem of our epoch into perspective, but it provides no solutions, and that’s what makes it so unsettling. You can pick up some of Number None’s older releases here.
Ithi – ‘Within’ cassette
Edition Size: 100 Copies. When I first heard that Luck Krnkr of Servile Sect and Joshua Convey, two of my favorite musicians around, had started the Ithi project last year, I tried not to expect anything from them. Certainly, I would be let down if I were to expect anything. Their album “The Persistence of Meaning” (Utech Records 2011) was one of the releases that I listened to most frequently. Demian Johnston called it a “huge chunk of grim, belligerent krautrock.” Sadly, this release didn’t get the attention that it deserved last year. Even since this first release, Ithi have moved on to really embody their voice. This album is really intense, but entirely listenable. The release is cold, dark, and distant. It’s definitely some of the strongest stuff that I’ve heard from these artists. The synths create loops that are harsh, yet soothing and Krnkr’s chanted vocals are distant, ethereal and drenched in reverb. Oh and the group covers “Roses in the Snow” from Nico’s “The Marble Index” album. How can you go wrong here? I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Ithi will be the band to watch in 2012/2013. Don’t miss this release!
The Fortieth Day/Sshe Sshe Retina Stimulants/Terence Hannum cassette
Edition Size: 100 Copies. Art& Design: Terence Hannum. This release marks the rare, one-time only, collaboration of The Fortieth Day, the Chicago duo of Mark Solotroff and Isidro Reyes (also of influential power-electronics group Bloodyminded), Sshe Sshe Retina Stimulants (the solo project of P.NG5361.B, or Paolo Bandera, a founding member of Sigillum S), and Terence Hannum. The recording took place during a late night session at WLUW on Loyola University’s campus for Phil von Zweck’s “Something Else” radio show on November 29th, 2009. The group created these six tracks live using guitar, bass, synthesizers, and vocals. The live recordings were then processed in Milan, Italy by P.NG5361.B. The group uses these instruments to create burned out industrial drones made up of looped feedback, percussion throbs and the sounds of machines dying. Hypnotizing repeating layers tactfully shift into blasts of angular high-pitched mechanical frenzy. There are implicit melodies in the chaos. Strong material from this unique collaboration. This release is sure to sell-out quickly so act fast.