Whitman – ‘Restoring Darkness’ CD/LP
Christopher Payne, who has performed as Whitman since 2002, specializes in the punctured and confrontational. Though his records specialize in noise-folk emotional polarity, live is when Whitman is his most vulnerable, alternating between unnerving quiet and unflinching hysteria. His newest album, Restoring Darkness, best captures this live anxiety through deflated instrumentation, stark guitar and desolate rooms. Whitman’s fourth full-length album, Restoring Darkness was recorded between 2011 and 2014, engineered and produced by Ryan Beal. Whitman explored similar solo starkness on 2010’s I’ll Be Waiting, but Restoring Darkness is the final piece of a trilogy of records heavy with collaboration, starting with 2008’s White Sunrise and following 2011’s Dog Rose Gall. The numerous contributors to Restoring Darkness include Corey Fogel (drums – EMA), Henry Barnes (electronics – Amps for Christ), Ezra Buchla (viola – Chelsea Wolfe, Gowns) and Sean Bonnette (vocals – Andrew Jackson Jihad), attaching greater appendages to the organism. All this accompaniment doesn’t result in much comforting lushness: the drums often contribute to bouts of cacophony and the strings flow in staccato march-step with Payne’s hard-strummed chord fists. The serenely- strung ballad “Dust” might be an exception, with Payne counting a few days of feeling fine between bouts of loneliness. Though the song ends with a hopeless couplet: “I’m probably gonna die in an empty room / wishing I was next to you”. The nostalgic “Golden Days” (the video for which premiered online in July) features bright string arpeggios behind recollections of ecstatic romantic flings that can never be recaptured. Longing is clearly among the record’s biggest motifs, one where Payne joins Bill Callahan’s starkness with Jandek’s social skills. “I guess I’ll never get tired / of your poorly-recorded laugh / on your answering machine” he admits on “Last Summer” between somber string plucks. “I’ll cling to that as long as I can / ‘til your number gets changed.” Less tranquil is “Portland”, a knowingly hateful airing of grievances toward someone once-trusted. “You can always call your mom / when you run out of pot”, he sings with soft malice into the chord shakes. Scattershot drums stoke frenzy as strings are smeared into a vengeful sunset, the chorus a chorale of the raw and wronged. “I wanna see this city get swallowed by a mass amount of flames,” coos the gang vocal swarm, “and I hope you’re the only one who dies in that blaze”. Restoring Darkness is an album of uncomfortable brevity. Most songs barely reach the two-minute mark, presenting a scene and an uncomfortable feeling over a handful of chords, ending without fanfare. The want for catharsis gets pushed all the way to the end, where closer “Dresden” awaits with creeping amplifier hum. The narrator reflects in a dark room about a painful absence, and relief finally arrives with distorted guitar, electronic squalls and shuddered drum shrapnel. Though Payne’s often lonesome acoustic guitar might prompt the genre tag, Restoring Darkness is not cherubic folk with natural splendor behind a beard. It’s awkwardly strummed distress and ill-wishes for former friends. Where other acoustic songwriters harness the heart or shoot for the moon under a single beam of complimentary stage light, Whitman scrapes rock bottom. Restoring Darkness is loss, de-tinseled and misshapen. Buying the wrong thing twice, unwanted reminders, indifferent walls. RIYL inconsolability. CD VERSION: These are pro-replicated, glass-mastered CD’s (not CD-R’s) and are a one time pressing of 100. CD comes in professionally printed digipak’s with artwork done by Carolynn Pennypacker Riggs. LP VERSION: The LP is a pressing of 500 records (300 on 180 gram black vinyl, 100 on opaque baby blue vinyl, and 100 on blue and pink starburst colored vinyl). Comes in a professionally printed jacket with UV spot printing with a printed inner sleeve, both with artwork by Carolynn Pennypacker Riggs. Includes a digital download card.
Whitman – ‘Against The Dust’ 3xCS box
This release collects the three essential Whitman albums, all for the first time on cassette. Though each album has it’s own unique sound, all of them were created while working with a slew of additional musicians. Ezra Buchla (Gowns), Carla Bozulich (Evangelista, Geraldine Fibbers), Henry Barnes (Amps for Christ), Corey Fogel, Sean Bonnette (Andrew Jackson Jihad), Erika Anderson (EMA, Gowns), and Anni Rossi, are but a few of the collaborators who have worked on these recordings, taking them into new and uncharted territory. Viewed as a trilogy of albums recorded with heavy collaboration, this set includes: White Sunrise (2008), Dog Rose Gall (2011), and Restoring Darkness (2014). Released on three pro-dubbed and imprinted cassettes, housed inside of a cassette audiobook with artwork done by Morgan Anderson.
Naomi Elizabeth – ‘The Topic Is Ass’ shirt + download
Naomi Elizabeth has been making her own brand of pop music for years, releasing singles that are often accompanied by a music video. Her live performances, which often take place at small underground venues, are awkwardly choreographed and often seem to alienate her audience. She has a tendency to play with performers who don’t compliment her sound or style, which is something all her own. She is a true performance artist and brilliantly takes on the challenge of confronting anyone within earshot with her humorous, out of place, but undeniably catchy pop songs. Like any other pop star, we felt she deserved to have a shirt with a large picture of her plastered to the front of it. But that’s not all, this shirt is accompanied by a download of her new single “The Topic is Ass”. The shirts are professionally printed on high-quality, 100% cotton, soft white shirts.
Human Behavior – ‘Bethphage’ LP
Human Behavior return with the second installment in a trilogy of albums. Bethphagefollows 2013’s Golgotha and probes deeper into the caverns which it explored. Bethphageis an epic journey, treading a stark yet unforgiving landscape. Released in a pressing of 300 records (200 on 180 Gram Black Vinyl and 100 on Mint Green Vinyl). Records come in professionally printed jackets with artwork by Morgan Anderson. Includes a screen printed insert and a digital download.
Night Auditor – ‘Heart of Grime’ 7″ lathe picture disc
Night Auditor is the new musical outing of Hilal Omar Al Jamal, formerly known as Brother Mitya. Drifting away from the acoustic guitar and embracing the range of his vocal chords,Heart of Grime explores a musical minefield of doo-op, blues, gospel and pop music. Released in a limited edition of 40 square, lathe-cut 7-inch picture disc’s with artwork by Christopher Payne. It includes a screen printed backing card and digital download.