Holy Balm – ‘It’s You’ LP $12
Last year’s LA Vampires club-cruise across Australia unearthed a multitude of uplifting experiences (Cairns hippie aerialists, Newcastle hardcore, Melbourne acid sangria, etc), but chief among them was the live actualization of Sydney post-power trio Holy Balm, who slyly gene-splice strands of mutant new wave, freeform house, digital trashcan tribalism, and minimalist pop into something playful, primitive, and splatterpaint-party perfect. After a few micro-limited split tapes and a single 7”, the band finally enlisted the help of Jon Hunter at Magnetic Recording Council Studios to record and mix their debut full-length, resulting in the whacked-out hypercolor majesty of It’s You. Comprised of live classics (“Take It,” “Holy Balm Theme,” “Town Called Hope”) as well as some wild, extended studio experiments (“Phone Song,” “One & Only”), plus a Y Pants cover, the album captures HB’s wobbly electronic freak-funk and paradise garage grooves gloriously. September finds them embarking on their first ever U.S. tour/voyage so now’s the time to Balm up. Released in Australia via esteemed pan-genre punkers R.I.P. Society. Funky cactus cover artwork and layout by Sydney conceptual painter Mitch Cairns. Edition of 915.
Afterhours – ‘Sleepwalker’ 12″ $11
If NYC is the city that never sleeps, then LA’s the one that never wakes. Deep dawn drives through Los Angeles’ fringier fiber optic thoroughfares reveal a nocturnal wonderland of ghosts, bums, lurkers, vampires, and thugs – every stripe of sleepwalker. Which is an all too apt title for Afterhours’ vinyl debut, after a calendar year of altered state incubation via their live weekly radio transmission, “Field Recordings Of The Afterhours,” broadcast from KCHUNG’s Chinatown basement headquarters. Inspired equally by Mo’ Wax obscurities, sound poetry, “Moments In Love,” anime depictions of neo-futurist Tokyo, and Endtroducing, the EP’s four instrumentals slow-zoom like a surveillance camera through shimmering tunnels, glowing skylines, and empty streets, rich with headphone harmonics and the grey romance of isolation. Ain’t it funny how the night moves, when you don’t seem to have as much to lose? Recent recordings have seen Afterhours’ shadow government diversifying into abstracted trip-hop, graphic design, art-world provocations, and Café Del Mar-esque house, so their Sleepwalking ethos is clearly going places. Recorded in Highland Park, CA; additional mixing assistance by Octo Octa. Clear vinyl 12 inches in neon metropolis jackets designed by the group. Edition of 400.
Moonpool & Dead Band – ‘Human Fly’ 12″ $11
Detroit deviants Moonpool & Dead Band hardwire their gutter disco waveforms with all the slime lab atmospherics and sci-fi circuitry scuzz that you might expect (and hope for) from a duo comprised of veteran garage-punk drummer Dave Shettler and Wolf Eye noise lifer Nate Young. Utilizing a swap meet’s worth of crusty synths, sequencers, drum machines, and outmoded FX units, and adhering to a purist’s regimen of “all live + improvised, no overdubs,” MP & DB’s rogue wizard approach to basement beat music has birthed some refreshingly unclassifiable tunnel-rat techno (see their self-titled 12” on Agitated for proof), but Human Fly feels like their unambiguous highlight to date. Motoring on a busted industrial-funk rhythm, “Human Fly” grinds and grooves through a maze of modular synth sparks, acid ooze, and fried smoke before stopping suddenly to reveal a Cramps sample (hence the song title) sputtering tinnily under all the noise; then, with almost a comic sense of timing, they re-bury it in the pumping pulse of duct-taped electronics. The B Side pieces, “Jagged Orbit” and “Cyber Rebels,” float and flow and ebb with a lighter touch, weird looped percussion, jazzy house leads, and synthesizer shrapnel echoing across the stereo field like soft comets, the beats finally fading away in soothing waves of deep space hiss. An unusual synthesis of vibes and ideas, and an ideal addition to the canon of inexplicable American EBM originators. Cut at Dubplates in Berlin. Artwork by prolific 80’s fantasy paperback illustrator Mark Salwowski. Edition of 470.