Review: The Lickets, “Raise the Red Lamp”

By Diego Aguilar-Canabal

The Lickets are back!

It’s a rare treat to see the Berkeley ambient-folk duo release a new album less than two years before the previous one, but Raise the Red Lamp offers as many new directions for the storied outfit as they do songs. Whereas 2015’s Dolls in Color saw the Lickets venture into dark-ambient and musique-concrete territory, and Offering to Magnetic Mountain saw a return to classical and Americana vibes, Red Lamp splinters into different territories that suggest this is the group’s long-awaited—dare I say it—dance record.

It’s hard to believe this is the same group that made the lush, eternal dream-drone of Song of the Clouds, now churning out succinct, rhythmic folk meditations that I’d be tempted to pair with minimal techno club tracks, but here we are. In late 2010, as a college freshman, I ventured out in pajamas to see the Lickets perform their unique blend of ambient folk in a secluded grassy glade, at a tent that doubled as a promotion for a study abroad program in Germany. (The latter was an abject failure; the Lickets had more of an audience than the free beer and pretzels.) In the waning days of a misfit adolescence that was giving way to a brooding, ruminative and curious young adulthood, the Lickets proved a perfect gateway to an early 20s spent engrossed as much in Schopenhauer and Eliane Radigue as in Tim & Eric and Tinariwen.

The lilting synth and organ overtones on “Driven from Home” harken back to some of the more whimsical moments on the group’s first proper LP, Here (on Earth), but it’s the darker tracks like “Marvels of Modern Science” or “The Country of the Blind” that evince the group’s more exciting experiments with rhythm. On the other hand, “A Season Ending” brings back the, uh, classic Lickets method of a mellow, baroque ostinato swirling over a gradually complicating morass of ambient noise. It feels awkward to suggest a back-to-the-roots approach in any Lickets output, since there’s always progression, but all the same I can’t deny the continuity.

Perhaps the other significant development here, aside from the throbbing rhythmic pulses, is the poignant Terry Riley-esque organ floating through the record. The timbre feels as stately and archaic as a church organ while still mastering the late ‘60s psychedelic vibes that defined early ambient music. Really, though, every instrument seems to be finding new room to breathe through the rhythmic experiments. For once, the delicate nylon-string guitars embark on strummed galloping journeys, while the occasional glockenspiel, too, takes on an added role as ordinary percussion. I can’t think of a better way to describe “Modern Science” than a club remix of “A Rainbow in Curved Air” as envisioned by classical guitar students who skipped class to check out a generator rave.

Perhaps the best way I can understand the Lickets is through a duality of playfulness and gravitas. There’s either the crushing burden of seriousness, funeral dirges and spiritual dread, or the forbidden, frolicking fun of a lighthearted romp. Either way, one permeates the other. So even the haunting harmonica on “Country of the Blind” feels a bit mischievous, as though the sounds were winking at you. And so, too, do the plaintive guitar pluckings throughout the album flicker with just a hint of whimsy.

It’s the first Lickets album to be offered completely for free, but it’s certainly not the first that will free you. As always, it’s a process of freedom, retreat, reexamination, and constant transition.

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DECAYCAST Reviews: DAHB “VISIONS FROM AN ASTRAL CORE” (2018)

DECAYCAST Reviews: DAHB “VISIONS FROM AN ASTRAL CORE”

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Dahb hails from Philadelphia and plays mid-tempo, angular, rhythmically complex,  thrashing metal/metal core. At times operating more in the black metal style before quickly and swiftly switching the riffs and focus for a more angular, choppy melodic  style. The vocals are typical of the genre, somewhere between yelling and anguished screams, they sit atop the drums and shredding guitar perfectly. A standout aspect of “Visions from an Astral Core” is the complex rhythmic relationships between the drums and guitars, both firing in oppositional machine gun like rhythms, with dissonant, archaic strums atop the chopping riffs and blasting, rapid fire drums.  The track slowly turns into an abstract, atmospheric improvisation but Dahb never loses its poise or complex style. The improvised tail provides a nice crescendo to the track showcasing both their technical prowess as well as their ear to listen. Dahb’s strength lies within this compositionally and rhythmically complicated dynamic, giving them a heavy, unique sound all their own for fans of both technically proficient and chaotically charged heavy metal .

– Maniere Zappone

DECAYCAST Reviews: BUCK YOUNG “Proud Trash Sound” LP (No Rent Records / Rent Hike, 2018)

BUCK YOUNG “Proud Trash Sound” LP (No Rent Records / Rent Hike , 2018)

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BUCK YOUNG “Proud Trash Sound” is one of the most unique, albeit one of the only fusions of contemporary harsh experimental music and western fever dream Americana that I have come across, and what a discovery this has been. From the twisted. hand drawn, scrawly, but beautifully executed artwork to it’s strange, and twisted blending of seemingly unrelated styles and techniques,  “Proud Trash Sound”  subverts much of what we have come to expect from “harsh noise” or experimental music in general, and turns it’s on it’s ten gallon hat as our brains leak out in a red mess on the floor trying to articulate what this “Proud Trash Sound” is just all about, ya hear?!

Fuzzed out,  westernized twangy acoustic guitars and nasily, heartbroken, yodeling  vocals skate and twirl along, rising atop the bent capo as Whisky drips down the neck of the guitar, often and angrily interrupted by dense, belches of harsh cut up noise that Crumer has articulated as his own over the years, but “Proud Trash Sound” doesn’t stop there; it escapes the one trick pony of ironic “comedy” record and belts forth an honest and complicated, yet aurally and conceptually pleasing synthesis of styles that are traditionally considered “unrelated”.  In the cacophonous slab of post modern beauty that is “Proud Trash Sound”,  there is truly something for everyone on this record, from morose, sad, heartfelt paino works such as “Murdoch” which blends heavy, heartfelt piano arpeggiations with a lonely buzzing from the farm’s distance to minimalistic, muffled blendings of bending guitars, field recordings of explosions, horses, farm animals, and just about everything else left after the show down, BUCK YOUNG slickly avoids categorization throughout this LP. Are these some sort of twisted cover songs, or is Buck Young simply pulling on nostalgia strings through this deep and unnerving sonic tale of a time where the cobblestone streets ran red which archaic blood of those on the wrong side of the gun and the bottom of the barrel. Other tracks like the more upbeat “Harper Valley PTSD” offer a higher pitched twang, blended with cut up tape loop destruction and a thick warm analog haze of sonic confusion; this is a good thing btw.

The  album’s standout track for me “Hey Linda!” is a chaotic, multi layered, fumbling, bumbling, beer soaked love ballad sped up, bled dry sounding like Can 1968 loops accelerated through a mangled, ash-covered  tape machine feeding back through CB radio. Blending 60’s psychedelia with futuristic sounding harsh noise, a cowboy belt buckle stash spot of mind bending, leather hide rank sounds into a hooch barrel of = truly unique and all encompassing American experimental music, BUCK YOUNG offers us nothing short of a dark take on a murky past. Buck Young is a truly indescribable sound, you must only hear it for yourself to believe.  Pick this up from No Rent Records before it’s sold out, or it might already be?!

“Until now… 

It has been 74 long years, so steal a few tall cans of beer, pull up an old crate or a worn out tire and start a bonfire with your roommates’ crap. Add a reasonably functional cassette player and this is the new American concert hall. “

 

Decaycast Reviews: CONSCIOUS SUMMARY “EXHAUSTIONS” (SKIN TRADE RECORDINGS, 2O18)

Decaycast Reviews: CONSCIOUS SUMMARY “EXHAUSTIONS” (SKIN TRADE  RECORDINGS, 2O18)

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The newest work from LA’s CONSCIOUS SUMMARY carves a sharp and distinct  lineage from their previous works to this newest release from California based SKIN TRADE RECORDINGS. “Exhaustions”  encapsulates the delicacy and intimacy in which Samur  Khouja, the person behind Conscious Summary handles his sounds.  The first side, “Commitment To An Extinction” begins with a low, bubbly rumble just below a present volume and continues to undulate at a stasis-like pacing of a slow churning dark, gurgling sounds interjected with sharp and poignant shards of violent sorcery. The aggressively present scraping eventually gives way to a more subtle, peaceful tone poem of pulsating drones. We  are left in a contemplative, peaceful place, but not for long, a new dawn is on the horizon, one we did not plan for. The peaceful poem turns into a dynamic battle for space and form; shivering blades of sonic chaos, accented through monstrous  spurts of distorted, harsh, frequency battles, which slowly and effortlessly take control as background synthesizers pulse, hum, and vibrate with ascending tones while the chaos ensues.  After a brief but present harsh section the listener is once again placed into a new identity, which gently, calming efforts of swelling sine waves, which are so delicate and nuanced they almost weep to the listener in a morose, subtle, nuanced phrase.

The B side offers more voice forward pieces with stretched voices and textured, articulated synth happenings  work in a high tension psychedelic harmony similar to the oncomings of a long, desert experienced LSD trip, but this psychedelia is sonic, and not  chemical based. Through masterfully mixed and layered synth and voice sections, Khouja creates  high tension electronic happenings,  with choked and  eviscerated voice offerings thumped by a sub bass drone/beat that will take the listener unto the next plane of  existence, an unknown place  with spatial distortions unknown to our  current mind.

The sounds of “Exhaustions” pull from harsh noise, drone, ambient, and new age strategies in the best way possible, referencing these historic practices while simultaneously shattering the expectations of what any of these could and should be. Khouja masterfully blends these styles in a hypnotic, meditative tour de  force of minimalist contemporary electronic music. “Exhaustions” is not worlds away from the work of say Pauline Olaveros or Terry Riley however it offers its own dynamic breath of sonic interpretation. “Exhaustions” is poised, patent, and all around a profound minimalist interpretation of space, form, tension, and experience. Highly recommended, there is also a special edition encased in a  wooden box which looks beautifully crafted, and a perfect enclosure for this cavernous work of  experimental electronics and voice.

DECAYCAST Reviews: Jeff Carey “Zero Player Game” (Ehse Records, 2018)

DECAYCAST Reviews: Jeff Carey “Zero Player Game” (Ehse Records, 2018)

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Jeff Carey‘s  2018 “Zero Player Game” which is actually out today synthesizes noise, cyberpunk concepts, and  abstract composition and  chance into a dark, heavy stew of experimental music. Carey’s sound on “Zero Player Game” is raw, fast moving, and uncompromising, at  times, sounding like a glitch-heavy classically inspired contemporary experimental music composition and other times bypassing the  dynamic and sharp ebbs and troughs for the all out sonic approach of mayhem. Carey’s sound oscillates between distinct and sonically intentional strategies. The sheer amount of  sonic spaces occupied throughout “Zero Player Game” is astonishing to say the least; sounds vary from thickly wet, pulsing pillars of square wave madness, short, quick, bubbly flesh being torn from bone accentuated by a cavernous thud, longstanding ambient background drones which create the architecture for Carey’s joystick of chaos to oscillate between endless synth and sample parameters in mere seconds. Whatever the compositional idea throughout, Carey has clearly mastered it. Carey’s sounds are deep, alive, and present, and despite their customized instrument/presentation being grounded in the  digital realm, sounds so life-like and present one can feel a slithery long arm reaching out of the speaker and  gently stroking your spine with a poisoned feather tip is the overall vibe of the sound. VISCERAL and R E A L, containing all what so many lack, ‘Zero Player Game” pulls no punches that operate outside of it’s own chaotic, but idiosyncratic structure and form and is in solid control of its own sonic destiny.

“Zero Player Game” is comprised mostly of intense, sharp and dangerous, cut-up music with an organic, live and honest feel, something not easily achieved. The press release states,  “Jeff Carey’s fourth CD release is is electro-instrumental music performed with custom software controlled by a joystick and gamer keypad. Zero Player Game is an intensely artificial sound world where beats and bass lines are replaced with an elastic structure of synthetic texture, feedback and bit crushed noise blasts” which offers a deeper explanation into how exactly this  style was developed and we wonder for this release specifically? However “Zero Player Game” was created compositionally, it at no point leaves the listener in a static, boring place, for every sonic action is a new adventurous wormhole for the ear to slither down into as the brain begins to break attempting to decipher these cosmically deep and  adventurous soundscapes.  Highly recommended for fans of noise, harsh noise, and electro-acoustic cut-up. Angrily blistering yet peacefully blissful music for the curious ear. Jeff is also on tour  supporting this release so check the dates and his website below!

NOVEMBER 6, Bushwick, NY @ H010 Gallery

7, Providence, RI @ Machines with Magnets

8, Ithaca, NY @ The Chanticleer

9, Columbus, OH @ Fuse Factory

10, Louisville, KY @ Kaiju

11, St Louis, MO @ The Juice

12, Dayton, OH @ Skeleton Dust Records

13, Chicago, IL @ TriTriangle

15, Pittsburgh, PA @ 3577 Studios

16, Nyack, NY @ Nyack Village Theatre Boutique

17, Philadelphia, PA @ Vox Populi

DECEMBER 2, DC @ Rhizome

3, Johnson City, TN @ The Hideaway

4, Gainesville, FL @ The Limin Room

5, Miami, FL @ Churchills

6, Orlando, FL @ Wills Pub

7, St Petersburg, FL @ Paper Crane

8, New Orleans, LA @ Mudlark

9, Birmingham, AL @ Firehouse

10, Asheville, NC @ Static Age

DECAYCAST Interviews: ROSTOV’S HATCHET: AN INTERVIEW WITH JAY PAUL WATSON of Dental Work / Placenta Recordings

ROSTOV’S HATCHET : AN INTERVIEW WITH JAY PAUL WATSON of Dental Work / Placenta Recordings.

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I’ve been following the work of Michigan based surrealist artist, label head, musician, and all around intellectually deep and philosophically and visually  rewarding stalwart of the noise scene Jay Watson for over ten years. I first met him in the flesh after trading tapes online at a show i put on at our old house in Oakland, The Razorwire Compound, and we instantly became great friends and collaborators. It’s been great to see Jay’s projects evolve over the years including his main recording project, Dental Work expand into a three piece entourage and his label, Placenta Recordings slowly inch it’s way toward its  500th release. After many years, we finally pinned him down for a short penning of the strategies and philosophies of his past and current practice, enjoy!

Dr. Decaycast: Please introduce yourself, and introduce your various projects?

Jay Watson: Hola! Thanks for having me. My name is Jay Watson, I am the leader of an international collective/record label called Placenta Recordings. I also participate in a number of musical/non-musical endeavors but my main squeeze is my project Dental Work.

Can you talk  first a little bit about Placenta Recordigs? When and why you started the label, and how has it changed over time?

Sure! The concept of Placenta Recordings came to my head in 2005. I was making really weird music, and I was looking for a way to release it. I was 18 years old and I saw an actual placenta for the first time when a litter of kittens was born at my apartment. Disgusted and intrigued, I asked my roommates what it was. The told me about it, and that we all had one, it’s vital to life, helping us with nutrients. Apparently some have even grown hair and teeth! I knew then that this would be a fitting name for my new label. The first actual releases were in 2006 and 2007, when I switched from one project “Jehova Wrinkle” to “Dental Work”. I really didn’t even know what Noise was, I was listening to stuff like Agoraphobic Nosebleed, discovered Merzbow, and wanted to make something a bit heavier, and that’s when Dental Work was born. The first releases I put out were on handmade and distributed CD-R, probably around 50 copies of each of the first EP releases. I never intended on releasing other people’s music, but that quickly changed. What started as a bedroom “noise” label has evolved into an entire international family of artists, over 700 projects deep.

We surpassed our own expectations to the point that we actually released our heroes and idols including Agoraphobic Nosebleed AND Merzbow. Now we are releasing everything from Detroit Rap artists like Menacide, Esham The Unholy and Team Eastside to Doom Metal legends like Black Mayonnaise, Canadian Gorenoise, Norwegian Black Metal, the list goes on. If you would have told 18 year old me this, I would say “ha, right”…Now our aim is mainly to document and archive extreme pockets of diverse music from all over the world, in a variety of formats. We also organize and host shows, run a distribution for underground artists, do printing and manufacturing work, release films, have a dedicated team of alternative models who represent us, graphic design, charity work, you name it.

How has Placenta Recordings became so diverse in the genres represented, it seemed to start as mostly a noise label, but now you’re releasing  everything from hip hop to gorenoise to black metal, can you talk a bit about how that progression took place?

I have always been into all kinds of music. I started collecting tapes at 5 years old, I would save up quarters I earned for stacking firewood and buy cassettes from the liquor store down the street. My first tape ever was something called “Rap The Beat”…My 2nd was some Metal mix that I can’t recall. This was around 1991. My obsession continued to grow, I started buying CDs and digging through my relatives vinyl collections, picking up whatever I could get my hands on. My Dad was into psychedelic music and Jazz, my Grandma was into classical, so I absorbed plenty of that, and continued to soak up as much music as possible, which definitely reflects. Magazines and the internet definitely helped later on.

With the label I realized that there weren’t too many labels releasing more than just one kind of music. I wanted to share diversity with people in such a narrow minded world. Just because you listen to 80’s Hardcore doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Rap, Techno, Noise, or whatever you find to get into! Pretty much as long as your music isn’t racist, it deserves to be hear somewhere by someone!

Interesting, yeah it boggles  my mind how many labels stick to a very formulaic presentation through the  artists and genres they work with. Was this a conscious decision or did it happen more naturally?

I would say it started to begin naturally, and over time I really started to zero in on this being a certain code to live by!

You also have a very longstaning recording project, Dental Work, can you talk a  little bit about this, it’s philosophy, and how it has evolved over time?

For sure! I got bored with the confinement of my previous project Jehova Wrinkle, which was a quirky Industrial/Trip Hop mutant offspring thing, and wanted to create something with less rules, and something to reflect some of my own internal struggles. I have always loved aggressive music since I discovered it, Death Metal, Horrorcore, Grind, Hardcore, and stuff so I definitely draw inspiration from all of that, Horror movies, etc. – anyway I’m rambling on. I was heavily influenced specifically by Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s “PCP Torpedo” which came with this remix disc that blew my fucking mind. Still does. So yeah I wanted to push the limits making really fast, untraditional, loud, almost Punk but not…You feel me? That’s when I cranked out the first DW release, “Mike Vick Raped By Pit bulls” EP, self released on CD-R via Placenta Recordings, which was my version of a revenge fantasy scenario against Micheal Vick, who was a football player who was involved in dog fighting rings. I am firmly against all forms of animal abuse and cruelty. So yeah it was a total platform to get out all of my aggression, weird, uncomfortable thoughts, anything.

Over time i developed multiple split personalities within the project, becoming some sort of bizarre anti-hero out for all of the underdogs…I ended up adding 2 full time members after a variety of live collaborations and ghost members, and since around 2014 we have been performing and releasing albums as a trio, merging Noise, discomfort, BDSM, Comedy, and a trash attitude with plenty of sarcasm, inside jokes, political unrest, anti-society ethics, and general distaste. We like to leave our fans, family, friends, and haters wondering “what the fuck just happened?” LolZ

Is Dental Work more of a live based performance project or are the recordings more important, less important, or incomparable?

It started with recordings. The first DW EP was released in 2007, I believe there were about 6-7 more releases before the first live set in 2008. Both have been evolution. When I first started doing live shows I was wearing normal clothes during the sets. After a few years performing in the Midwest and8fee5225-22ee-4918-82ec-21de4f73ab00 east coast, I did my first west coast tour and saw what people in California were doing, so I took all of that in, and decided to craft my own aesthetic, which I have been building upon, manipulating, morphing, and upsetting people with since. Now I even have other people joining me and ordering raincoats from China to collaborate with us…It’s crazy. So yeah I think that you really need both the albums and to catch a few performances to complete the puzzle, to understand some of the humor, inside jokes, sarcasm, and love that is put into it all.

Would you ever allow a Dental Work performance to happen without you for any reason?

Actually, yes. It’s already happened twice. Once around 2012, when I couldn’t make it to one of my shows in Chicago I had my friend Billy Sides perform as Dental Work, he wore a hoodie and bandana and only a few people noticed. The other time was literally last week, I couldn’t make it to one of my shows, ironically because I just had oral surgery…So I asked if Justin and Sean could pull it off without me. They did, and it was fine. The project will die with me though.

Talk to me about the connection between your art and food, because between track titles, cover art, and photographs that my pop up online, it seems to permeate your artistic practice. What role does food play in your practice, and if none talk about some of your favorite foods.

Food is crucial. Food is life. Food is death, and death is important. I love food. I grew up eating food. I’m not vegetarian, but I respect every creature that feeds me. Man has been eating meat since the dawn of time. I am totally against unfair treatment of animals in any way, like fuck Tyson. You would definitely catch me at a Halal butcher shop though. I started working at 14 in restaurants. I did prep cook and line cook for years. I’ve always been into writing my own recipes, and the last 10 or so years I’ve been working on a cookbook of all original recipes with my own photography included. It won’t be available another 5 years I would imagine, but I will be publishing it. I’ve also always had a dream of running my own food truck. I come from a diverse background, I am part Lebanese and learned a ton of middle eastern recipes and skills from my Dad and Aunt…I worked in Mexican restaurants so I have a huge background there, and I grew up in Michigan so I have a ton of BBQ knowledge and a growing obsession for Canadian favorites like Poutine. My favorite foods besides what I just mentioned would be Pizza, Chorizo, Tacos, Shawarma, Indian food (hotter the better), Pakistani cuisine…Coney Island (Detroit or Flint), Gyros, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, even recently got turned onto Portuguese. Fucking A I love food, dude.

Can you talk about any up and coming acts that are inspiring, or new music or art that you’ve heard or seen which has made an impact on you as an artist?

I’m inspired in some way by everything I come in contact with…I am always peeping what cats in Oakland are up to, some great stuff seems to be coming out of Toronto lately, definitely digging a lot of Gorenoise, basically Goregrind but even more liquified…lots of wild mutations always seeping out of Japan, but I can’t name any specific acts.

As far as shout outs, totally. I have so many people I want to thank, but I’m gonna keep it pretty simple for the interview. Definitely number one to my parents, my cats, my girl, the entire Placenta Recordings Family, Ratskin Records, Grindcore Karaoke, Jay Randall, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Patrick Doyle, Trashfuck Records, Morgan Feger, Will Olter, Justin Lee Smith, Sean Barry, Krysti Mathz, Doc Colony, Nice, Clee, Billy Sides, James Lee Jones, Dan Bale, Menacide, Bad Mind, Esham, Jon Pilbeam, Nerfbau, Styrofoam Sanchez, Coral Remains, Tommy “2 Blades” Kittendorf, Bobby Waters, Hex, Project Born, Bonus Beast, Ben Durham, Craniophagus Parasiticus Records, Lexie, Luke, Nirma, Todd, Caleb, Aaron, Vincent Trotto, Watabou, Cock ESP, Evan Glicker, McCarthy’s Pub, Lob, NorCal Noisefest, Caroliner, Denver Noise Fest, WZRD FM, and R.I.P. Heidi Johnson. Dental Work is forever dedicated to YOU, and everyone who ever gave us a chance…R.I.P. Jsun, R.I.P. Uncle Charlie, love and miss y’all.

 

DECAYCAST Mixes: Farm to Tape: Episode 6 (Mix)

On September 25th, Bandcamp donated 100% of their profits to the Voting Rights Project. Subsequently, Ratskin Records curated a list of 100+ black & brown artists with music available on the platform; this is a sampling from that list and related albums acquired on that day.

1. Senyawan – Tanggalkan Di Dunia (Undo The World)
2. Galurrwuy Yunupingu – Gurindji Blues
3. Black Spirituals – Container
4. Biipiigwan – Naamindizo
5. Volahn – Halhi K’ohba
6. Ahpuc Oztoc – Quetzalpiltlahtoani
7. Gyibaaw – Nalaxyuubm Wil Waal Wilduu
8. Harry Williams & the Country Outcasts – Streets of Old Fitzroy
9. Akvan – خون زال
10. Ehecatl – Decaying before the Event Horizon
11. Raven Chacon – The Totem of the Total Siren
12. White Boy Scream – For Voice and Feedback
13. TAHNZZ – Hacheta
14. Purpura – Ixtab