Fante’s Dust-Seconds

fantesdust-secondsFante’s Dust, their name liberally taken from a combination of the Los Angeles author John Fante’s name and his most famous book “Ask the Dust”, are a noise rock band working out of Germany.

Their EP “Seconds” is a tightly packed little slab of noise
sounding like a combination of a modernized version of late era Black Flag and any band who ever recorded for the Am Rep label in the 90’s. The Ep is brutal and wry in nature and sonically complex in tone. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals synced up in a tight delivery.
The vocals are equal part cheeky and dead serious, as if Mike Muir joined up with Gorilla Biscuits or Murphy’s Law, who then decided to release the result on Am Rep. From wry wit to outright anger there’s not so much vocal range as much as range of emotion. Falling into spoken word then leaping out into an anguished howl this singer knows how to weave, dodge, and then cut across the mix. As good as the tone and feel of this record is it could almost have fallen into the mire of generic hardcore if not for the vocals. Witness the vocal acrobatics of “Get Closer.”
The bass when clean sounds very clear and punchy. When distorted it cuts thru everything with a distinct growl. Whatever distortion box he’s using it has to be unique, as I’ve never heard anything like it to this day and I’ve played with a lot of stomp box distortion pedals on bass in my 47 years. The closest I can think of in tone is a EH Big Muff, but it sounds modded to punch up the lower mids.
As a bassist myself who sometimes desperately wants to be a guitarist, I really like this guitar player. He gives a lot of space for low end to fill up and only doubles the bass when ultimately necessary to the song. Angular, squelching, and yet full. Check out “Memories of You” and “Countdown to Solitude” to understand what I mean.
The drummer is more than a metronome in this mix. Again in “Get Closer” check out the stick work this guy is doing under the vocals. So tasteful and unique. And then when the pummeling comes it’s served up with a drubbing so satisfying you’ll beg for more. Also check out the clock work like timing on “Careless”.
Over all the record is consistent. Mixed and mastered well, it’s not unnecessarily harsh on the ears nor overly loud or compressed. Well balanced, you can hear everything distinctly while still having the four-dudes-in-a-room feel. Buy this thing so they can record more. Seriously.
You can purchase it from CD Baby in multiple formats or check out their SoundCloud page.
Read More

Temple of Void-Of Terror and the Supernatural

r-6159702-1412554261-2426-jpeg

On first listen, one would think this was just another generic metal album. Personally I don’t tend to gravitate towards the cookie monster vocal set and I get really bored with paint by numbers metal acts. On this record all of the metal stereotypes are on display, but I think that’s the point, and dismissing it outright for being unapologetically metal is way too easy and really doesn’t get to the heart of this band.
Where this album shines most is in it’s juxtapositions. The first cut “The Embalmer’s Art” has the expected heavy riffing and growled gruff vocals but also has a real honest to gosh melody sandwiched in between the two. This totally elevates the album from the mundane into “capturing my interest” territory. This is done again during early parts of “Invocation of Demise”, where an organ was played as a melodic element. Not only did it  feel like it belonged, it would’ve worked well on it’s own as part of an extended ambient piece. By the songs end what would normally be a lead guitar part is replaced by a riff in the higher registers rather than blatant noodling. It feels right and less obnoxious than if it had been a guitar solo.
Another stand out track is “Rot in Solitude”. It begins with what sounds like on the surface as a standard metal riff. One you would expect to get picked up and catapulted in to a high octane frenzy. It never happens. The rhythm section steps in in cut-time and slowly stomps it into your ears (full disclosure- I’ve been in a band with Jason Pierce, the drummer, and I’ve always thought he was an amazing drummer. This just proves it. The man has taste). By songs end you’ve got gravel soaked vocals over a beautifully executed melodic guitar riff and it works.
The production on this record is good without being too good. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a fan of pop slickness and metal bands tend to want to strive for that polished hyper compressed sound. Sonically it feels like the band recorded in a decent studio with a lot of time spent making sure everything was done right with out crushing the humanity out of it. Tonally consistent through out with just enough bleed between instruments to make it feel like they played together thru most of the record. A look at the liner notes tells me the drums were recorded in a separate studio, but honestly, to my ears I couldn’t tell by simply listening to it. It feels like five dudes got sweaty and made a record and that’s the way it should be.
If you’re looking for something heavy and weird this is your record.
A-
You can purchase a digital download or CD from the bands BandCamp site. I purchased the CD.
Read More

Eye of the Inner Universe – Thelema brings you new Music !

I received an email this morning from the folks in Thelema. I for one am looking forward to hearing some new music from them. Here is the text from the press release:

Dear Listeners,
Autumn has arrived,
the days are getting shorter now.
This is the right time to slow down a bit.
Listen to these Soundscapes,
and go on a Journey…
mail-attachment
“Eye of the Inner Universe”
is available as download from:
all the best
bless
THELEMA
Read More

Buzz Rodeo – Sports

a2182925615_10Buzz Rodeo is an Art Punk/Noise Rock Trio from Germany whose latest release “Sports” could easily fit in well on the Touch and Go label. This three piece wears its influences on its sleeves. Very familiar without being obvious. Elements of Man or Astroman, Shellac, and Arcwelder abound on “Sports”, simultaneously pointing back toward the sound of “Entertainment” era Gang of Four and yet moving forward to add something new and vital.

Sonically speaking this is a really tight record. This is apparent right from the get go. On the opener “Arkansas” the drums sound like they were recorded in a nice sized room with a descent set of overheads and some well placed pzm’s to catch the hits as they reflected off the walls. Nice and open without losing any of the definition.

The bass has a nice tight midrange tone that compliments the lows. Not always easy to do with any kind of fuzz involved, but here it’s captured nicely. As if a buzzsaw is cutting through a hard wood, like maple or oak. Listen to the tracks “Sound of the Universe” and “The Gap” and tell me you don’t hear it. Seriously.

The guitars are suitably jagged and bright, falling right into place with the rhythm section when necessary and floating atop of it or stepping aside just as deftly when required. Witness this tightrope walking on songs like “Pop”, “Movie Star”, and “Station 41”.

The album as a whole clocks in at 30 minutes and the songs mostly hover around the 3 minute mark. Each song leaves you wanting more and when the album ended I felt as if there had to be one more track. Just one more taste, as it were. Each song has its own feel without drifting so far out that you would guess it was another band. There are no stand out tracks on Sports because there are no bad tracks.

Grade A

 

Can be purchased from their Bandcamp site.

Read More

Porkfist’s 2005 release “Plastic” has been remixed and mastered!

PICT0090I’m very proud to announce the re-release of Porkfist’s lone studio album “Plastic” in all its newly re-mixed and mastered digital glory! It’s taken almost a year from start to finish but like a good brandy, these things take time. Please enjoy responsibly.

Porkfist was the last live band I have played in to date. It feels like eons ago that I bought a brand new Ibanez Iceman and began writing what was to become Porkfist’s Plastic. At the time, I’d been trying to form a band with Geoff Dailey for a few years and nothing seemed to come together. The closest we got was with a band called The Let Downs, with Ryan Crane, that had a serious singer problem. We eventually did one gig but the last singer we had (in a long line of singers) was so hopped up on meth he couldn’t shut up between songs. I have video of the show somewhere, proof of how bad it was. Don’t ask me to digitize and upload it.

Regardless, we finally killed that band and Geoff and Ryan formed the mighty Shi-nei with Damian and Kohei. While they were beginning to gig around town I presented Geoff with the songs I’d started on the Iceman. He was ecstatic about the new direction and we started working on them immediately.

Soon we had five to six songs mostly fleshed out enough to go looking for other players. We put together a flyer and posted it at my friend Matt’s record store Underground Sounds. I honestly can’t remember who we got first, Santi or Glenn, but they ended up knowing each other from working at a local grocery store. The pieces fell into place and for a time it was awesome.

Santi’s vocals and writing perfectly matched the fury of those riffs. Glenn’s embellishments to my writing blossomed into a full on collaboration. It was magical and I really miss those days in Geoff’s basement hammering out songs. It was either Santi or Glenn who got us our first gig. It was at Nokamura, a cooperative house on U of M’s campus. We killed it that night.

Eventually all good things have to come to an end. Glenn was getting married to his long time girlfriend and she found a job in Seattle. They moved there, had two beautiful little girls, and made a life together. Santi wanted to explore his acoustic blues and folk side and moved to Portland, where he is now a freelance writer. He released two records on Bandcamp you should go get. They’re really good.

Fast forward to 2015. For those of you who’ve been paying attention you’ll know that we had a complete studio redesign here at Soiled Utilities Productions. To shake out some of the bugs I asked Randy Williams, (whose Tascam board the new studio is based around) to remix Plastic. With access to much better technology and far more patience and skill than I had at the time it was recorded, he took this meager recording and hammered in into the record it was meant to be all along. I personally remastered it (again, better tools, older/wiser, what have you). I believe the end result is much better than the original. I hope you all agree.

So with out further delay:

Read More

Kowloon Walled City – Grievances

R-7628626-1445469445-4042Kowloon Walled City’s “Grievances” is one I discovered through an NPR countdown of the 100 best metal records released in 2015 http://apps.npr.org/best-songs-2015/#. It was one of a handful on the list that grabbed my ear.  I admit that I’ve lost my patience with most of what passes for metal these days, but curiosity got the better of me. I”m glad it did simply for turning me onto this band.

In metal, a good riff needs to bury itself into your soul after passing through the brain, otherwise it becomes forgettable. A large swath of the songs I found in NPR’s metal picks fell into the technique trap and I haven’t really been impressed with the Yngwie Malmsteen approach to metal in a very long time. Kowloon Walled City’s riffs avoid going down that well traveled road, instead opting for a more thoughtfully designed chaos rather than military order.
Hailing from San Francisco, Kowloon Walled City’s third full length release and is an incredible record, one that could rest easily in the Touch & Go or Amphetamine Reptile catalogues just as much as it does on Neurot’s. Like the bastard son of The Unsane and Slint, this album tumbles and claws it’s way through a jagged edged world of modern hell on earth. A sudo study of the modern working stiff similar to Cop Shoot Cop’s “White Noise” with slightly less pointed solipsism.
Sonically, this record has a touch of professional polish to it that doesn’t over shadow the music, and instead enhances it. Much in the same way that Shellac’s “Live at Action Park” sounded like it was recorded at Abbey Road (because it was), this album sounds like it was recorded somewhere with either good treatment or a lot of hard work on mic placement and plenty of DI boxes. Clean without being obnoxious.
The bass has a certain lower mid range growl to it that sounds really tight when blended with the not-so-overly-compressed-and-distorted guitar used in most of metal. Once the guitars do open up, the bass still comes through and never seems to get lost in the mix. I’m a bass player primarily so this I’m always on the lookout for these things. Go with it.
I understand from some of my research that Scott Evans, the guitar player and singer in the band, engineered and produced this album. Having done that myself, I know how hard that can be, yet he pulls it off, it seems, with little effort. Guitarist Jon Howell, bassist Ian Miller, and drummer Jeff Fagundes all get ample space to breath on this record and overall the album is very well balanced.
My one complaint is that the album feels short to me. By the end of “The Grift”, which also happens to be the shortest song on the album at 3:47, I’m left with an overwhelming feeling of want. I needed more than this album was giving me and that’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to delving into their back catalogue (Bandcamp) and can’t wait to hear what they do next.
You can find them and their recordings at their website or their Bandcamp site.
Read More

Adventures in amp repair.

This past weekend I spent a great deal of time working on a few of the amps we have in the studio. Three of them have issues severe enough that I thought I’d have to take them in to Al’s Diner for proper repair, but after doing some reading I decided to at least attempt to simply clean them up. To do so, I purchased a can of DeoxIT and a can of compressed air.

The first amp on the bench was a Gallien-Krueger 800RB that has been in the basement for several years. It was essentially abandoned by it’s owner and has been sitting unused since the last repair I had done. It worked for about a week before becoming a noisy inconsistent wreck. Taking the top off was a breeze. Getting the front panel off and pulling the preamp, which had all the pots and jacks on it, was less fun.

Once I got it apart I blew out as much dust as I could including blowing out each pot individually. I then sprayed the DeoxIT into each pot and switch. I was afraid that three of the pots would need to be replaced because they were a bit loose, although none of the solder joints were cracked. I worked each pot and switch for a bit then left it over night to dry out.

The next morning I put it back together and plugged it in. The difference was amazing! No glitching, no static, no sudden bursts of volume; just gloriously even sounding solid state tone. With this first amp working I was emboldened to start on the next two: a Fender Deluxe 85 and a Peavey TKP 65.

The Fender was another amp that was given to me by Steve Toth. He told me at the time that it didn’t work and if I could fix it I could have it. I left it alone for quite awhile but got curious one day and plugged it in. The reverb pot was broken and it was somewhat scratchy sounding on about half the other pots, but it worked. Anthea has used it occasionally, but never really liked fussing with it tonally because of the static bursts from the EQ pots.

I ripped into this amp and cleaned it up in the same manner. This was much easier to work on. I found that the speaker was not secured in place. There were only two screws, both on the same side of the speaker from and they were about an 1/8 of an inch unscrewed. I moved one of the screws to the opposite side of the other screw and tightened them both down. Issue number one solved.

IMG_2098

Cleaning this amp up took quite some time. Steve’s a smoker and I had to scrape a bit of cigarette tar off the knobs and face plate. I also sprayed the pots three separate times to loosen them up. I found a spider nest under two of the input jacks as well.

I was going to put it back together and plug it on, but decided to look for the replacement pot for the reverb. It had been sheared off prior to my receiving it. I was able to find the parts list for the amp and ordered the pot and knob from Darren Riley’s Guitar & Amp Shop. Darren Riley was a blind Google search find, but was super awesome to work with and had exactly what I needed in stock. He even emailed me to let me know they shipped. On a Sunday. He was awesome and I highly recommend using him.

Since the parts were on order for the Fender I turned to the Peavey. I bought this from Eric Brown sometime in the 90’s and used it on stage a couple times, but mostly used it for occasional band practice since it was much smaller than my stage rig, which consists of a the second Fender Bassman 135 (Blackface) on top of a Fender Spectrum two 10″ by one 18″ cabinet that I bought in 1989 for my first Bassman head (Silverface). It’s been pretty good in the studio as well both direct and mic’d, but over the years it’s gotten more and more nasty sounding.

IMG_2105

I’ve pulled this amp apart a few times so no surprises here. I followed suit with the pots and jacks as I did before, but on this amp the attached power cable needed to be replaced. It was frayed at the plug and the amp. This was more difficult than I had wished for. There is a  protective clip that surrounds the power cable so the metal backing doesn’t cut into it. I ended up having to cut the cable off to figure out how to get it out. It’s a squeeze clip that cute into the cable a bit. This proved more difficult to get back in later than it was almost worth, but I got it on the end.

The parts for the Fender arrived on Thursday. I pulled the preamp board out with little difficulty and propped it up. Since I had no solder sucker I had to use braid to pull the old solder out. Not ideal but after some time and with a little patience I got the broken pot off. Putting the new one in wasn’t that difficult, but my soldering skills are a bit rusty. I’m hoping I didn’t do any damage.

IMG_2091

Once together the amp sounds much better but the reverb is still not working. I banged on the reverb pan and got it to make some sound but nothing being driven from the amp. It seems to need more work. For now I’ll leave it alone.

Read More

Slayer – Reign in Blood

R-367069-1328284299.jpegFor the record this is not going to be a review of the album. That’s been done to death. What I want to write about is the relationship I have with this album. First released in 1986 when I was in high school, Slayers “Reign In Blood” hit me like a dead body from a lacerated sky. Up to that point I had heard of Slayer, but my friends at the time pretty much dismissed them as juvenile devil worship music.
“Hell Awaits”, their previous record, was steeped in demonic imagery much more than any other metal record I knew of to date. By that time I liked my metal to be literate or at least have something less stupid to say. Motorhead, Maiden, and Metallica were the metal bands I started listening to as I abandoned hair metal all together. The S.O.D record that started the crossover scene even ridiculed Slayer (i.e. “Chromatic Death” and “Fist Bang Mania”), and I had read Anton Lavey’s “Satanic Bible” by then and found satanism to be simply humanism dressed in drag. So I dismissed them right along with everyone else.
Then comes “Reign in Blood”. By this point the Def Jam label was permeating certain parts of the trailer park I grew up in and I was only slightly interested in hip hop (except Luke Skywalker). So I was surprised when Scott Neff brought the cassette to me.  I put it on in the tape deck of my stereo in my bedroom and let it play.
Two things happened by the time it got to the part in “Altar Of Sacrifice” where Tom Araya bellows, “Enter to the realm of Satan”: 1) My mother the catholic came into the room crying begging me to turn it off and 2) I decided this album would be a constant in my life.
To be fair I loved my mother but at that time in my life we saw things the exact same way. She saw a loser who couldn’t do anything right and was likely going to wind up dead and  so did I. The difference was she cared and I didn’t. I honestly just wanted to be left alone to try and sort myself out.
Now this is where I’m going to blow your mind. It was this record that helped mend some of that disrepair in my relationship with my mom. You see, she was a jazz head. At some point Eric Brown and Steve Goossen started introducing me to hard-bop jazz. I fell in love with the avant-garde. The rampant use of the chromatic scale and the reckless abandon in which it was wielded were very reminiscent of “Reign In Blood” to my ears.
Think I’m wrong? Go listen to Albert Aylers “Ghosts”. Go listen to Grachan Moncur III’s “Evolution”. Go dive into Charlie Parker’s great body of work. Then go listen to this record and pay close attention to the solo’s. Tell me I’m not right. Slayer prepared me to accept jazz into my life.
This was great because my mothers taste in jazz was fairly straight although not square. Brubeck, Stanley Turrentine, George Shearing, Johnny Mathis; not entirely boring but not very “out there”. I got to turn my mom onto Mingus records she’d only heard of. I got to turn her on the Eric Dolphy.  For this I have Slayer to thank.
Getting back to the Def Jam label, this record also brought another great record into my life, Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”. I dare you to try and say this perfect hip hop record is also not a punk rock record. It is. Using the break down for “Angel Of Death” as the main riff in “She Watch Channel Zero” was incredible and far ahead of it’s time. Since then hip hop has been a constant in my life, and is ever expanding.
“Reign in Blood” is to this day one of those rare records that I just turn on and let go and never skip a song.
Read More

Thelema – Hearing the Light

7894C7D2-2B9E-47E9-9D13-B267FB4079C2Thelma’s “Hearing the Light” is one of several albums DJ Anomaly threw at me for Christmas. I knew nothing of the record or the artist going into it so I had no expectations short of it likely not sucking. He has impeccable taste.
Thelema have been making music since the mid 90’s in Austria and their name may have been taken from a philosophical law developed in the early 1900s by Aleister Crowley. The law of Thelema is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.” They make no claim to such, but getting a proper biography of the group was next to impossible.
On a first pass of this record evokes a very slowed down take on John Zorn’s Filmworks XVIII (The Treatment) with a slightly more extended range of instruments. Where that album clung to a trio and occasional quartet, sans drums, this album uses a much broader pallet, yet still has the same level of simple consistency that Zorn’s record does.
The opening track “Close your eyes and see” begins with flourishes of bowed strings run through massive delay and reverb. Slowly a very low organ tone begins a very methodical bassline. Eventually the higher registers of the organ are brought into play with very subtle brushed drumming. Equal parts avant-garde noise dancing across a very slow jazz like piece, this sets the tone for the rest of the album.
The next track “Ljos” introduces the use of vibraphones and our first vocal. Used mostly for effect rather than trying to tell a story it sounds like a slavic language run backwards. It’s very haunting and one of two tracks that make use of male vocals on the record. The rest of the vocals being female vocals all of which are used as another instrument rather than a force of language just as they are on this track.
One of the stand out tracks for me is the title track “Hearing the Light”. I’m a huge fan of vibraphones under any circumstance and a huge fan of organ when it’s applied correctly. This track makes great use of both, adding a loan violin to handle the melody.
Sonically the recording and mix is very well done. Case in point the guitar pass off on  “Heading Forward”.  Two distinct guitars come together, tonally different yet complimentary. The first guitar sets up the melody and the second doubles it in a higher register. Shortly after the first guitar drops out letting the other carry it on to the end.
This sets up my favorite track very nicely. “Grey Evening” would feel right at home on the Psychomania soundtrack or “A Fist Full of Dollars”. The organ and drums holding down the rhythm while electric guitar takes the melodic spotlight, occasionally dueling with itself to great effect.
The album as a whole is very cohesive and doesn’t stray to far from it’s base European soundtrack like formula. This is a good thing. A great thing actually. I find that I can listen to it in it’s entirety without feeling the need to skip anything. It’s also light enough that it works equally well as background music.
A-
Read More

New release from Edweird! “The Hunt for Blue Harvest” available now!

SU0013_lgCover_72dpiSoiled Utilities Productions is proud to present the first full length album by Edweird since 2011’s  Day Trip To The Insane Asylum.

The Hunt for Blue Harvest is a short story told in sweeping soundscapes about grand space exploration, cosmic battles, great escapes, and… awww who are we kidding. It’s a blatant homage to one of the greatest movies ever made. Minus the lens flares of course.

Recorded primarily live in the studio with very few overdubs during the fall of 2015 and mixed and mastered early winter this is a small taste of what we hope are grander things to come from Edweird.

You can listen to and purchase it from our BandCamp page in multiple formats including FLAC and MP3. Also included is a PDF copy of the liner notes and CD gatefold suitable for printing.

Read More