DECAYCAST Reviews: SHARKIFACE “Climax In A Process” (No Part Of It, 2023)
Bay area “static witch”Sharkiface aka Angela Edwards shocks the underworld with her stunning new full length album “Climax In A Process”on the once Chicago- based No Part Of It imprint. Through many collaborative projects such as Pigs In The Ground, Tarantism, Crack W.A.R., DemonFace, Secretarial Pool amongst many others. Much like her live performances, “Climan In A Process” is dark, haunting, ethereal and throbbing saences. These works hold sharp, nuanced pillars of tension, like tightroping along razor blades into the foggy night, just outside the casting eye of a killer. Sharkiface employs an unknown array of unique, handmade, customized loopers, synths and samplers which sew webs of haunting vocals, human voice modulations and distortions, slow throbbing synthesizers, and distant strings and percussion.
Hell bells, back masking, throbbing pulses of invisible shards of glass slice your feet and ears as you glide backwards into a terrifying and unknown world. Shrieks of ritualized chaos peak and flow throughout a barren, cold psychological architecture. Pulling from Pauline Oleveros, Meredith Monk, Diamanda Galas, Throbbing Gristle, Italian Horror, Russolo and Mario Bava excavations, On “Climax In A Process” Edwards has crafted and refined a sonic world all her own in all it’s bloodsoaked, chaotic, tense walls of whispers, an absolutely terrifying sonic form and space. Absolutely essential listening.
So, before I go ahead and take jle this album,I need you to take some time, occupy a nice, quiet room, sit in a nice, comfortable chair with some warm tea or a bottle of water, put on some of your best headphones, turn your headset down just a teensy bit,fire it up, and…
WHO LIKES GABBER MUSIC?!?!
Straight from Deathbomb Arc, whose label has not only tackled GABBER as a genre before (search “gabbertree”), but also willfully tackled bands who have courted controversy from JPEGMAFIA to a band named Child Pornography (don’t ask), is a producer/member of anarchist collective THX1312. Their kind of music not only delivers some of the most humorous use of samples and the most overwhelming curbstomping bass drums known to man (compare it to that of CX KiDTRONiK), but has a very specific and consistent concept to the music: to inspire confidence in those harmed by the police and inspire fear in the same cop city men of the hour.
If you are into more industrial works or punk rock, them first single “Fire (what’s orange and looks good on cops)” should catch your attention with its video being a complete burn of the #BlueLivesMatter flag, but the whole album is a bonkers DJ set/plunderphonics mixtape dedicated to inspiring vitriolic action towards police. Some tracks are considered remixes of songs found on a future 7″. Amongst them the funk-heavy “Destroy it Yourself” and anxious sugar high track named “Take a Bite Via Crime”. If you found more feet-shuffling albums dedicated to the fantasy of executing law enforcement, you probably listened to their last project.
Before we dive into the album, let’s address this pesky comparison that Algiers have been getting lately: TV On the Radio. If you have been listening to music made by black people or if you are a black person who makes music that is stubbornly uncategorizable, receiving said comparisons will be inevitable. This is a comparison that the band savagely smirked at on their track “Can the Sub-Bass Speak?” But if you will, I can be able to help explain why the egregious comparison to such a band may not be as farfetched and random as it seems.
Like TVOTR, Algiers can kick out an electrifying jam when they need to, and when it happens, you can feel the passion through your body and soul. But they are not above also singing with a tired, angry world-weariness of negro spirituals long ago. And often when they sing, it is of anything they can use to either survive or battle the inevitable decline of our nation. They also gleefully mix genres when they sing tracks of despair, love, strength and hope. The difference between Algiers and TVOTR, remains this: neither Tunde Adebimpe or Kyp Malone can spit a smooth 16 like Fisher, tho.
On “73%”, Franklin Fisher spits as if he has been waiting for a long minute to shit talk the abyss and as he does it, he makes damn sure he isn’t alone. Zack de la Rocha gets his turn to grit his teeth on “Irreversible Damage” while the notoriously anonymous billy woods and horrorcore visionary Backxwash each trade red-eyes bars with Fisher on the first single “Bite Back” wrapping up the hell felt during the space between now and the 2020 protest/coronavirus plague. Throughout Algiers’ discography, it always sounded like the band wants more than justice, but a sense of revenge. It sounded like looking for resolve and not receiving one. Shook is the first album where Fisher no longer sounds alone.
If you are one of those who enjoyed the There is No Year bonus “Void”, you will be glad to know Fisher has not lost that wild fervor, as he spits bile towards clueless Caucasian people with supposed POC friends on the cover of “A Good Man”. But amidst the sneering at the world around him, Fisher also takes time to zero into his own world and heal his heart in the process. After going through a breakup, “I Can’t Stand It!” tackles his depression after the breakup with the assistance of Future Islands’ frontman Samuel T. Herring. Where past songs tackle the desolate scene that began with an Atlanta train station announcement (“Everybody Shatter” with Southern poet Big Rube), “Momentary” is that glimpse of light ending the album with a poem/meditation on death with Lee Bains III (of Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires) at the podium.
I neglected to mention the continued genre-agnostic attitude on this record, but all that needs to be said is that the album takes genres ranging from dub to jazz to garage rock to electronica to hip hop to gospel and soul and manages to weave them all in the project without sounding any bit out of place. As a result, the album feels constructed with the ear of a musical auteur. It was created to sound less like just a disc with songs on it, and more like a soundtrack to a collection of feelings and moments at one time. It’s the sound of coming to grips with everything that has happened.
Calling Shook a record of community would feel reductive and too focused on the red herring, but if the artists didn’t also know what it is to kick against the gates of hell, and choose to help rage against it, too, there is no telling whether or not it would have worked. It’s easier to say that if you felt an energetic lull on There Is No Year, Shook will sooner put that worry to bed than it would that pesky comparison they have been receiving. – mynameisblueskye
The Elephant 6 collective: let’s discuss the legendary psychedelic pop collective for a minute. As the story goes, Elephant 6 is a group of artists and bands who come together to share their love of making music inspired by bands in the 1960s. Elephant 6 is filled with bands who have their own creative spin on the psychedelic pop genre. If i were to ask you which artist is the standout, which one would you say? of Montreal for the endlessly prolific Kevin Barnes tackling idea after idea, genre after genre on a yearly basis? Neutral Milk Hotel for releasing an album that is the most unanimously loved in the inside rock/lo-fi genre, In an Aeroplane Over the Sea? The Music Tapes for Julian Koster’s ramshackle and decidedly lo-fi compositions using instruments such as the banjo or the saw? Any answer will do, but my pick would be that of Robert Schneider.
Robert Schneider is a leader of the power-pop band Apples in Stereo who released an album named New Magnetic Wonder years ago. On said album, Robert Schneider introduced a new musical invention: music composed using the non-Pythagorean scale. To get a better explanation, I suggest searching “Non-Pythagorean Music Scale” where Schneider himself not only breaks down the music, but also demonstrates with a song named “Sun is Out”. (On the same channel, you will also see him composing music using prime time signatures, but I digress.) This year, Robert Schneider himself put together an album of music that uses said non-pythagorean music scale, and your enjoyment will depend upon your curiosity concerning the many things you can do with music. An curious and experimental ear, if you will.
Out of the gate, “Space Song of the Blue Sky” sounds exactly like music you would imagine if aliens were to have created the music, but is made with circuit bent synths. Largely, the music ranges from atonal ambient (“Composition No. 6”, the classical/synthwave fusion of the title track) to almost the dark end of new age (“Song for Whales”, the droning “Non-Pythagorean Prayer”, which sounds like a more tuneful version of when your ear rings in complete silence). A song like “Clouds on a Mountain” sounds like it would really soundtrack a suspenseful video game, if the opportunity presents itself with how dissonant it all feels and sounds. Oftentimes, such invention does yield bright and uplifting results, such as the luminous and calming “Song for Sea Vegetables”.
Every artist has a set aesthetic that adds to their art, and no one proves this better than rapper/producers. Whether you are the newscaster, the emo kid, the gangsta or anything, rap music has a tendency to have artists that box themselves in and make it hard to really allow complexities within that. Giovanni Marks is a different animal.
Those who hopped aboard the train either during the subtitle or Giovanni Marks phase, whether he was on Briefcase Rockers, Gold Standard Laboratories, or his own Get Crev Labs, will notice his aesthetic/role is of the cyberpunk, the scientist, the afrofuturist, the nerd with the Kid n’ Play haircut and Dracula cape. If hip hop is currently in its punk rock phase, Giovanni Marks is the New Wave/synthpunk with colored hair, jumpsuits and plenty of electronic instruments to hook up on stage. But while that aesthetic can give way to ideas of being introverted or reclusive, 2 Plaza 2 suggests that this spacey, futuristic aesthetic that Marks has been cultivating for years during his time as an MC is a universe that anybody can take part in.
2 Plaza 2 is a project that finds GIovanni Marks taking a backseat from rapping to assist friends like Juan Huevos and pink siifu with the avant-garde production he is known for. Take the opener, for example. A slow red siren rumble of synth bass giving way to an anonymous rewound sound all adding up to a sound that is as musically unsettling as it is fascinating. That is just “Alternative C”, which bears the subtitle of being the “nox-vox version”. While you are busy working out how the vox version would be delivered, singer Joseph Squire transforms a stomping noiresque beat into a seductive R&B track that leaves before you find yourself really falling into the groove.
Friends from art-rapper/multidisciplinary artist Koreatown Oddity, Pink Siifu and Mason Williams all come in to give color to Marks’ production from the rallying “Baby Teeth” to the intergalactic stream-of-consciousness delivery in “all night long” (which is delivered as both a regular track and a “space dub”) to the bounce of “Samuraid Hott” that will surely have trouble evading Shabazz Palaces vibes. They all may sound like fragments of ideas underneath a half-hour, but the shift from style to style is fascinating enough not only to keep your attention, but to likely leave you wanting to revisit such world all over again.
2 Plaza 2 can be described as a front row seat into Giovanni Marks’ world of spacey production, but what is different about this project, it’s that it insists that this electronic/avant-rap universe he has been building for years now isn’t only for him.
Mark Tester’s previous band Burnt Ones was unknown to me before hearing this tape, or any of the other projects he’s involved with now, Unifacitor a label I’ve heard about a lot but not gotten any physical releases until now. I like the uniform aesthetic of this batch of tapes very much, a series of brush stroke images.
Warm, limitless spaces with soft textures constantly receding into the background, great use of negative space and silence to create compositional intrigue and feel like live takes simultaneously. There is a balance of light and shadow on this tape that shines through the reverse four track elements lurking behind soft patches and occasionally slowly pacing drum beats.
Tester doesn’t shy from melody or other traditional forms while keeping the experiments, whether they be post production edits that push the material into psychedelic dub territories or phrasing interactions of the synthetic elements that begins to echo “Discrete Music” in some melodic passages from n the first side of the tape. Tester works with ambient melodic guitar(?) and synth processing that moves around too much too be considered ambient the way I think of it, but damn if there aren’t some beautiful moments of bliss on this slab of oxide as I listen to this tape for the second time after an 11 hour shift.
There’s some uniquely compelling textures in this tape that make it a repeat listener for me. It feels like an album over flowing with ideas, but executing the right amount of curatorial succinct approach that keeps the playing techniques moving in different directions.
Seamus Williams Worcester, Massachusetts is one of the most singular artists in the northeastern American experimental sound that I experienced while living there for five years. Detritus and negative space conspire to make odd jabs at your senses when engaged with one of his recordings as TVE. Audio diary and lo-fi are throwaway terms that I would hesitate to use, but the sounds themselves always pop up in unexpected ways. In much the same fashion, Seamus’ visual mixed media collages accomplish the exact aesthetic urge in a perfectly complementary format.
I had the pleasure of having Seamus’ visual work up at a visual gallery in Portland, Maine in 2019. We had a couple beers, I put on some Human League record, and we talked about his perspectives on his own processes and compulsions as an artist. – Jacob Deraadt
“Cats From Venus” is the newest full length offering from Bay Area stalwart and all around magical musical hybrid presence MAYA SONGBIRD, who between runnings her own label, Wired Weird Entertainment, The Magic Shop – a brick and mortar retail space in Oakland, CA as well as producing events, and meticulously handcrafting merch of a myraid of shapes and sizes, including a custom candle line which has garnered a cult following around the bay area, has found time to give us another stunning full length record of her signature style. “C F V has all the signature Maya Songbird musical stylings; retro, sexy synthesizers which create movement in the mind and body for even the most sour wallflower. “C F V” gives track after track of unmatched vocal performances over her queer and funky brand heavy electronic post punk / disco. A collection of ten soon to be favorites dance numbers which will last through your next three breakups.
“You let me know I’m not appreciated”
The songs on ” C F V…” are powerful, quirky femme anthems and demand their own space and time from each other and other works in the “genre” as a whole. “C F V” is a special and beautifully honest and unique album which only Maya Songbird can create. On “I Don’t Ever Have to Be Nice” the artist belts out the empowering, lines of self actualization over a heavy, hypnotic beat and stirs a pot of seductive sweets and spices for the perfect recipe of self empowerment.
“Cats From Venus” is Songbird’s most fully realized full length project to date. Released by Oakland, CA’s Psychic Eye Records “Cats From Venus” combines queer disco beats ala Patrick Cowley’s productions for Bay Area disco legend Sylvester, funky, sweaty, sensual, funky post-punk freaked out numbers topped with iconic vocal performances from Songbird on nearly every track. “Cats From Venus” is the queer party album packed with anthem after anthem lined up in a row for this fall 2022 which has left us in a world that’s both at once gifting beauty and breaking apart at the seems. We need Maya Songbird’s “Cats From Venus” now more than ever, but do we deserve it?
Via the artists website maysongbird.com, the artist states about “Cats from Venus” –
“This album I got a chance to really speak my truth and heal especially on human life/Live Again. I honestly can say when Live Again was recorded I was going through something tough. Promise me you will listen to every word I wrote on this song ok? Its really dope how Amelia the producer had driven up to oakland from la and we recorded I think “Live Again” and “You should be dancing” in my living room space.”
“Disco Bill” is one of the albums creative peaks, as it has the potential to move a room of thousands all the way down to driving a singular dance party at the end of an earbud. “Seduction”, another banger that’ll have you take over the steering wheel from the bus driver and crash the bus into a pond filled with LSD and neon pool noodles as you scatter away to the party, set a cop on fire to light the room just to make love on the dance floor.
This album is packaged with great intention and effect, complete with a chic track booklet (I actually handed these out in middle school at a mall once with a Christian youth group), fold out poster and liner notes inside a medium sized garbage bag with a picture of said opiate crazed canine displaying full doggo junkie madness. Excellent use of silence and quiet interruptions of the harsher bits. Synth, blasting harsh noise, fucked up tape loops and samples dancing around one another. Whispering maddening phrases in the apartment above you, while other parts are fillies with wanton bashing of scrap metal as screeching vocal loops disintegrate into violent thrashing feedback tones.
This album gets psychedelic with the tape editing and post production effects guiding the recorded sessions into interesting and unexpected directions. Lots of approaches and moods presented on both sides, some tortured vocals that sound like they were recorded in the ventilation system of an insane asylum shine through in rather awkward ways, whether it be one of the three members of the band or a sampled phrase. Side two gets into some demented surrealist darkness of slurping synth tones and acoustic sounds. But right back into piercing harsh noise squelching, the hound needs more and is coming back for more . A real highlight from this project. I expected marconympha worship and instead find this collective making an extremely music concrete album with elements of harsh noise and industrial synth and tape manipulation driving things into odd spaces of fragmented chaos this one come highly recommended for the weirdos. – Jacob DeRaadt
We’re brushing the cobwebs off to bring you a beautiful new video from Karl Vorndran in collaboration with artist/director Eucarya. The video has a folk and experimental feel combining raw, unmanipulated footage with bright, and resilient animation overlays. A blue-ish, purple-ish amorphous shape hovers and bleeds into a background of blue sky and trees as the soundtrack belts out pyroclastic walls of noise and transmission. The orb seems to blend and meld with the sky in an organic way that gels wonderfully with the sound. As the track crescendos, so does the imagery as these distant worlds slowly merge into one, and then in an instant, poof, we are back to our reality. The video is simple, elegant and impactful, just like the accompanying track. The visual efx are just enough to stimulate the narrative imagination, while still leaving room for interpretation while remaining grounded in “reality”.
The music video for “Re-Enter the Orthogonal Phase Shift” was made by Eucarya using footage shot in the woods of Akron, Ohio, computer generated 3D imagery and effects, and original artwork by Nathan Bowers of Tusco/Embassy created for the Cathartic Automation cassette. This masterful blending of video art/folk art technologies with the rawness and natural beauty of both the track and the environment the video was made in make for a wonderful and psychedelic synergy, but see for yourself below, and make sure to pick up the cassette as well!
“Re-Enter the Orthogonal Phase Shift” is a track from Karl Vorndran’s second solo cassette album Cathartic Automation, which was released in February 2022. Cathartic Automation consists of modular synthesizer patches that were recorded to tape in 2014 by Jeff ‘Fej’ France (Imperial Emporium) in Akron, Ohio and mastered by Chris Koltay at High Bias Recordings in Detroit, Michigan. The master tapes were lost for several years before being found and digitized for cassette release.