…..news letter #612 – darkness…..

While I enjoy that extra hour that daylight savings grants us, for that one morning, I sure hate going home from work in the dark everyday. However, the change of time and season couldn’t be more timely with the arrival of this week’s pick! It’d be hard to listen to this bad boy in the summer heat. As usual, due to last week’s massive list, this week is on the shorter side again, but only in size, never quality.

…..pick of the week…..


Natural Snow Buildings: Daughter of Darkness (Ba Da Bing) 8LP Box 
“Daughter of Darkness LP box set comes with 8 LPs held in redesigned, hand-painted LP jackets, a NSB sticker & insert drawn by Solange Gularte, one half of Natural Snow Buildings. Natural Snow Building’s Daughter of Darkness first appeared as a set of six cassettes limited to 150 copies, and a mind-blowing release like this deserves more widespread availability. Daughter of Darkness came out in early 2009 and delves deep into Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte’s music at its most grandiose. Most tracks breeze past the ten-minute mark, and some don’t slow down as they pass 20 minutes. Along the way, Natural Snow Buildings’ orchestrated soundscapes fully engulf the listener, with their droning guitars, tribal percussion, ritualistic singing and colliding woodwinds. Sit down for a full listen to this release, and one might find one’s self noticeably older when finished, albeit damned wiser. Primarily consisting of side-long compositions with the band’s signature layered instrumental reach towards sublimity, the project has the power and length to take up your whole afternoon and evening. Such a feat deserves celebration, and nothing affords the respect this achievement accords then creating vinyl and CD versions, so it can be heard more widely. This is music that becomes an ongoing part of your life, the sonic equivalent of a Russian novel or a season of The Wire. The power of the sounds and ingenious performances captured start existing outside of time, and a listening in its entirety yields countless rewards. Each Daughter Of Darkness box set is hand-painted and constructed with images inspired by Natural Snow Buildings‘ musical & visual aesthetic. We did all of the painting and packaging in the Ba Da Bing office over a period of many months, and each CD and vinyl box set is unique.” Not available in stores… except ours. 😉

File Under: Ambient, NSB, Drone, Psych, Boxsets
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…..new arrivals…..

agrimoniaAgrimonia: Rites of Separation (Southern Lord) LP
Agrimonia’s sound could be described as the bastard child of the epic, bittersweet sounds of bands like Counterblast and Neurosis, together with the simplicity and murk of bands as Bolt Thrower and Bathory. Thundering death and black metal soaked doom, with hints of crust, as well as atmospheric and epic darkness. The guitars range from devastating heaviness to gloomy acoustic sections, with piercing leads that flash through the darkness “Rites of Separation” was recorded at Studio Fredman in Sweden by Fredrik Nordstrom (At The Gates, Opeth, Arch Enemy) in the winter of 2012/2013. Agrimonia members also play in renowned Swedish bands: Martrydod, Skitsystem and At the Gates. -For fiends of: Neurosis, Opeth, Amebix, Tragedy

File Under: Metal, Death Metal, Doom
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autechreAutechre: L-Event (Warp) 12”/CDEP
Autechre’s new Warp Records EP L-Event follows Rob Brown and Sean Booth’s eleventh full-length recording, Exai (2013) and their 47-track collection EPs 1991-2002 which was issued in 2011. Featuring 4-tracks and a running time of 26-minutes and 2 seconds. The L-Event EP is presented on limited edition 12″ vinyl in a disco bag sleeve (similar to Exai inner sleeves) printed with yellow pantone inside and out. Cover image by The Designers Republic printed in black metallic pantone.

File Under: Electronic, Warp
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deadmeadowDead Meadow: s/t (Xemu) LP
Darlings of both the stoner rock and modern psychedelia worlds, Dead Meadow transcend both. The band formed in 1998 with Jason Simon on vocals and guitar, Steve Kille on bass, and Mark Laughlin on drums. The threesome initially met in the DC indie music scene in high school and a few years later began to combine ’70s hard rock and ’60s psychedelic rock with far out and sometimes mystically minded lyrical themes occasionally even hinting at the obscure genius H.P. Lovecraft and other far out writers of the bizarre and weird. The album that started it all, Dead Meadow’s self-titled debut, was recorded in the band’s practice space on Adat(!) and was released in 2000 on Tolotta Records, a basement label run by Fugazi bassist Joe Lally. The LP version was released by Planaria Records. The ahead of their time classic rock boogie tunes mixed with fresh envisioning would launch the beginning of 1970’s rediscovery. Dead Meadow is now back on vinyl for the first time since 2006 courtesy of Xemu Records and has been newly remixed and remastered with bonus materials including a hidden track.

File Under: Stoner, Psych, Reissue
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dcfcDeath Cab For Cutie: Transatlanticism (Barsuk) LP
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Death Cab For Cutie’s 2003 breakthrough album, Transatlanticism will be made available on vinyl once again after several years of being out of print courtesy of Barsuk Records. The high quality 180-gram double LP pressing comes in a nice gatefold sleeve, with full-color 12-page booklet. An accompanying MP3 download also included with the vinyl package will feature the original demos for each of the album’s 11 songs, none of which have ever been released before. The songs offer an intimate peek into the landmark album’s genesis, and many are drastically different from the beloved final studio versions.

File Under: Indie Rock
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forestswordsForest Swords: Engravings (Tri Angle) LP
Forest Swords, the project of the Merseyside, UK native Matthew Barnes crept into the underground consciousness in 2009 with the release of acclaimed EP Dagger Paths – a record so eerie and expansive that it touched on both Ennio Morricone and early Massive Attack, while still sounding resolutely unique. The release received critical acclaim, and – despite being just EP length – charted in numerous ‘Best Of’ lists that year. Subsequently battling hearing problems, Barnes was forced to take a break from his own music. Slowly but surely, Barnes started work back on his Forest Swords project with a clear vision and renewed passion. Unwilling to spend long amounts of time in a studio, he looked around his own environment for inspiration. Debut album Engravings is the sound of his home peninsula of the Wirral, a stone’s throw from Liverpool, a place imbued with spirit and history. Completed over the course of the year, Barnes mixed the entire record outdoors in the Wirral countryside on his laptop: as such, Engravings is a record that feels as exposed and organic as his immediate environment; beaches and bark, sand and soil. The result  is a rarity in electronic music – an emotionally resonant distillation of the past couple of years in Barnes’ life, and an unflinchingly powerful body of songs: both euphoric and bleak, triumphant and heavy.

File Under: Electronic, Dub, Experimental
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haloLaurel Halo:  Chance of Rain (Hyperdub) LP
In a few short years Laurel Halo has demonstrated an unnerving ability to question established idioms in electronic music. Throughout her body of work the Michigan-born producer has expressed musical representations of merged dualities; spirituality in the inorganic, space in the claustrophobic, hope in dread. As a result there’s something uncanny about Laurel Halo’s sound – the sonic templates may change, but the challenging of divides remains. Laurel Halo returns to LP format after two critically acclaimed EPs with the driving, meditative ‘Chance Of Rain’. Evolving from earlier works, it’s a cerebral exploration of the intersection between rhythmic and ambient music, drawing together moments of movement and stillness, psychedelia and presence of mind. On ‘Chance Of Rain’, rhythms melt with unpredictable structures, ambient drift and deep harmonic passages, while keyboard-based interludes reinforce both the far-out and contemplative aspects of the record as a whole. Drawing inspiration from the music of her home state’s music capital Detroit, in both harmonic and rhythmic palettes, the music showcases freedom within metric constructs, and skyward optimism in the face of decay. The album comes packaged with artwork created by her father, an NYC-born, Michigan-based visual artist whose work focuses on industrial landscapes of Michigan and the Rust Belt at large. The artwork here is an early work of his from the 1970s, reflecting the album’s twisted, hopeful tone.

File Under: Electronic, Techno
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Moonface: Julia with Blue Jeans On (Paper Bag) LP
Since January 2010, Spencer Krug has used Moonface as a venue for home-recorded instrumental and conceptual experimentation, expanding the ideas he developed collaboratively with Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, and Frog Eyes. Releases under this moniker have come quickly, each distinct from the other. The quietly stunning Julia with Blue Jeans On is the fourth Moonface release, bringing a degree of intimacy and self-reflection unlike anything Krug has produced to date. There are only two sonic elements on Julia: Spencer Krug’s voice and his piano. Richly recorded, they interact seamlessly with one another. After nearly a decade, across a number of guises, we are well-acquainted with Krug’s inimitable town-crier vocals; on Julia, we are introduced to a facet of his musical skill that feels conservatory-trained. This is Krug as singer-songwriter, moving beyond star poses to a vision that is at once more elegant and comfortable. 

File Under: Indie, CanCon, Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown
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northern hazeNorthern Haze: Sinnaktuq (Supreme Echo) LP
Hailing from the 69th parallel in the Arctic is a story unlike any other. Born on the land to Nomadic parents and later settled in the hamlet community of Igloolik, these childhood friends grew up learning to play on toy instruments until becoming accomplished musicians and forming a group in 1977. Their talent won success in the early ’80s with contests, press coverage, and tours of isolated Northern communities until in ’85 when CBC Radio invited them to travel 3000 km south to record an album. The result became the first Canadian Inuit Rock/Metal album ever made and first Indigenous language rock album in North America. Pressed in a tiny quantity of 500 copies for promotional use only, the LP quickly disappeared into the vortex of rare Canadiana. Over the 1990’s and into the millennium, Northern Haze endured great hardship yet 35+ years on they still prevail. In 2010, a new recording and a documentary film on the history of the group was produced on location in the Arctic. Complete with traditional ‘ayaya’ parts and sung entirely in Inuktitut, the end result is a heavy melodic rock/metal album played by veterans of the genre with a distinctly original character unlike anything heard before. For these men who live two lives, the old ways of the past meet with those of the present; ‘Sinnaktuq’ (their ‘dreams’) are truly embodied within the realization of this amazing deluxe collection of original material. 11 songs total: seven songs recorded 1985, one song recorded 2002, and three songs recorded 2010, ranging from tight and heavy NWOBHM to heavy melodic doom-rock – and entirely with that unique Inuit sound! Exclusive CBC license, 100% authorized, remastered, original cover art painstakingly restored, 12 page booklet packed with vintage photographs + art + detailed history. The true Rock Shamans of the North! Limited edition of only 657 copies.

File Under: CanCon, Metal, Inuit, Doom
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The_Poets_Of_Rhythm-AnthologyPoets of Rhythm: Anthology 1992-2012 (Daptone) LP/CD
Before Daptone, there was Desco. Before Desco, there were The Poets of Rhythm.  Back in the ‘90s, a time when most of our ears were filled with the alternating din of angsty grunge and synthesized pseudo-soul, a couple of German kids unearthed a raw sound from our own back yard that we hadn’t even remembered burying. Though for a time they reveled in the borrowed nostalgia of bell-bottoms and fur coats, their style was always in spite of fashion, not because of it. They drew from the sound of old funk records, not as a mold, but as inspiration, understanding that sound would always be an origin of their music, but unlike many ‘soul revivalists’ to follow, they never settled for it as a destination. As homage to the undeniably funky frontrunners of the modern soul movement, we are proud to present the definitive collection of Poets tunes, respectfully curated by Daptone staff and the band themselves.  It’s been twenty years since their first recording session, and this anthology celebrates their decade-long journey from the raw exuberant rebellion of ‘Funky Train’, to the moody hypnotic explorations of ‘Discern and Define’, and for the first time EVER on wax, the eerie, relaxed groover ‘Path of Life’ – A journey that truly earns them their name: The Poets of Rhythm.

File Under: Funk, Soul, Daptone
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red fangRed Fang: Whales & Leaches (Relapse) LP
Portland, OR’s ultimate hard-rockin’ party bringers emerge from two years of constant touring with their new full length album Whales And Leeches. There’s certainly no shortage of fun on their new record, but Whales And Leeches sees Red Fang further maturing into top notch songwriters and musicians. With the help of guests Mike Scheidt (Yob) and Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession), Whales And Leeches further propels Red Fang into the upper stratosphere of the hard rock and metal elite. Red Fang have always been true masters of the hard rock hook and with Whales And Leeches they deliver 11 killer, instantly classic anthems. Recommended for fans of Mastodon, Baroness, Graveyard, Black Sabbath, The Sword, Clutch and Kylesa.

File Under: Metal, Hard Rock
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russian circlesRussian Circles: Memorial (Sargent House) LP
Perhaps the most immediately apparent characteristic of the fifth Russian Circles album, Memorial is its wide range of emotion. Vacillating from somber-yet-soaring melodies on one track to pummeling metal heft on the next, Memorial sounds like an album with split personalities. Where one song showcases guitarist Mike Sullivan, drummer Dave Turncrantz and bassist/keyboardist Brian Cook’s mastery of lush melancholic melody, the next exhibits their most abrasive underground metal leaning sound, with washed-out 16th-note riffs and crushing rhythms. The band’s penchant for endless hooks remains a constant, but Memorial embodies their most dramatic ranges in tone. In search of a streamlined sound, the trio focused on each individual song having its own emotional and musical characteristics. As such, Memorial almost feels like stages of grief.

File Under: Post Rock, Instrumental
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Songs: Ohia: Magnolia Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian) LP
10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition featuring an Unreleased Song, Demos & Outtakes! The hallmark of Jason Molina’s career, Magnolia Electric Co., is both a confluence of all he would create and a line in the sand to mark a shift in his songwriting approach. It was the last statement under his iconic Songs: Ohia moniker, and the moment before he began making new legends as Magnolia Electric Co. for the next 10 years. Now – here at the end of that decade – with Molina gone, his work gathers more weight and meaning. This expanded 10-year anniversary edition of Magnolia Electric Co. features one never-before-released track plus many rarities. The full-band studio outtake of fan favorite “Whip Poor Will” is a sweet and spare version that ended up being played far differently on Magnolia Electric Co.’s final album Josephine (2009). 

File Under: Indie Rock, Country Rock, Jason Molina
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symmetry-the-messengerSymmtery: The Messenger (Italians Do It Better) LP
Italians Do It Better has reissued The Messenger, the 2011 debut release from Johnny Jewel’s instrumental project Symmetry. The Messenger originally only saw a very limited run of promo pressings, but following Symmetry’s increased notoriety thanks to Jewel’s involvement in the Drive soundtrack and the release of the mammoth Themes For An Imaginary Film, demand for the album warranted its reissue on clear vinyl. But once again, this is a fairly limited pressing, so you would be advised to buy yours now.

File Under: Synth, Ambient, Electronic
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yuckYuck: Glow & Behold (Fat Possum) LP
Produced by Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House, TV on the Radio), Glow & Behold is the next chapter fromYuck following the departure of frontman Daniel Blumberg whose lead vocal duties are taken up by Max Bloom here. Along with the gorgeous, swirling, melodic miasma of the aptly titled “Rebirth,“ the 11-song set includes the effervescent pop verve of “Middle Sea” which brings Bloom’s beautifully evocative vocals to the fore for a galvanizing alt-rock anthem like only Yuck know how to do. The ghosts of other indie giants like Superchunk and Yo La Tengo abound for sure, but with horns, driving guitars and deliciously infectious hooks, it is also entirely and defiantly its own beast, and yet another reason to get very excited indeed about sophomore set Glow & Behold, due on Fat Possum.

File Under: Indie Rock
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Alice in Chains: Dirt (Music on Vinyl) LP
Arcade Fire: Reflektor (Sonovox) LP/CD
Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (Merge) LP
Bent Wind: Sacred Cows (Ugly Pop) 7″
Bureaucrats: Feel the Pain (Ugly Pop) 7″
Darkthrone: A Blaze In The Northern Sky (Peaceville) LP
Dead Boys: Young, Snotty & Loud (Sire) LP
Deafheaven: Roads to Judah (Deathwish) LP
Do Make Say Think: s/t (Constellation) LP
Dr. Dre: The Cronic (Death Row) LP
John Fahey: Christmas Soli (Fantasy) CD
Bill Fay: s/t (Esoteric) CD
Bill Fay: Time of the Last Persecution (Esoteric) CD
Hot Nasties: Invasion of the Tribbles (Ugly Pop) 7″
King Khan & the Shrines: Idle No More (Merge) LP
Ennio Morricone: Crime & Dissonance (Ipecac) 2CD
New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies (Rhino) LP
Pointed Sticks: What Do You Want to Do? (Ugly Pop) 7″
Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (Tone Float) LP
Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldier (Thirdman) LP
Rock n Roll Bitches: Wild West (Ugly Pop) 7″
Teenanger: Singles Don’t Sell (Telephone Explosion) LP
Temple of the Dog: s/t (Music on Vinyl) 2LP
Unwound: Kid is Gone (Numero) 3LP Box
Volcano Choir: Repave (Jagjaguwar) LP
White Stripes: Elephant (Thirdman) LP

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