Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ʄ≜uxmuℭica - HiFi ♮ SciFi ♮

 ʄ≜uxmuℭica - or the more pronounceable "fauxmusica" - goes by a veritable slue of pseudonyms that only enhance the inaccessibility of his persona, and by extension, his music. You may find him under the name Yorba Zergot, Bobby Briggs, glamour4love, and about a dozen other aliases that serve to distance his net-projection from "real life".

Yet the reality of 27-year-old Zane Michael O'Brien's existence and music is a truly bizarre combination of rustic, basic, level-headed and completely normal upbringing meets pseudo-spiritual-enlightenment via. intravenous force-feeding of the Occult and Magickal realm into his brain.  Exposure to the modern Fucked Up World, partly through travel, but largely through the internet with its plethora of conspiracy theories and otherworldly ideas, have formed a very confused and complicated ego that churns out some of the strangest music you will ever hear.

I have a brief yet intense history with the man behind one of the 21st Century's most perplexing solo projects. It's hard to describe the music without also describing this person. I have spoken to him through Skype once, and a million times through little interactions on Facebook. When confronted with a video image of an unshaven man, about my age, scraping hash resin from a bowl in the dark basement of his father's house in Wisconsin whilst we talked about deep and fascinating subject matter, I could easily see both where he finds the time to be online almost 24/7, and why his music is so completely Caved In. There are no two better words to describe ʄ≜uxmuℭica. The music closes in on you from all sides and from the first note makes you want to just immediately hit stop and put the whole thing in the trash.

But there are two qualities I possess that have led me to a higher appreciation of many things that others would never listen to again: I like to be challenged musically, and I often find that what I have a knee-jerk reaction to hate, I grow to love.

In this way I would say, for me, the most comparable sound to ʄ≜uxmuℭica is Cradle of Filth's early material. Like the promising symphonic black metal albums of "Cruelty and the Beast" ilk, "HiFi ♮ SciFi ♮" feels like the beginning of something, something extraordinary.

At least, not-ordinary.

Despite his music clearly defying pigeonholing, Zane is a lover of tags; he labels his own music as "crunkgaze", "ghost-step", "post-whatever", "triangle-core" and many other delightfully unique yet utterly weightless terms. However, there is one tag that demands immediate attention in relation to ʄ≜uxmuℭica, and that is "witch-house".

Witch-house is a phenomenon that has grown from humble and genuine beginnings - of including Qabbalistic Symbology, Occult references, and Magick in musical creations - but that has now exploded into a disgusting "scene", whereby the coolness of your music is determined by how many uni-code symbols you can squeeze into a title.

Zane is as sick of this scene as I am, and I notice he no longer tags his own stuff as "witch-house". He has alienated himself from the scene, and looks down on the posers who have hopped on the bandwagon hoping to find success and glory. Yet he still uses symbols instead of letters wherever he can. Why?

Now we get to the nitty gritty, the true essence of what "fauxmusica" means. It's fake music. Everything from the timbre of the synth sounds he uses, the structure and melody of the songs, and ultimately the project's position in the "witch-house scene" - is fake. In that Skype conversation he was talking about how he felt like a "Spiritual Airport", not possessing any personality or ideas of his own, but merely acting as an air-traffic-controller for the terabytes of data that float in and out of our brains every day.

In this way, Zane holds a DarkMirror up to the world. What you hear when you listen to ʄ≜uxmuℭica is a reflection of modern media. It's as simple as that. In a stroke of genius he picked up the dead carcass of the witch-house scene and threw it back in the faces of those that created this sub-pop-culture bullshit, and we lapped it up.

I have listened to HiFi ♮ SciFi ♮ maybe 4 times now and only about half an hour ago did I manage to make it to the end. It's truly terrifying and horrible to listen to, but as a landmark in recent history it stands tall and proud as A Work of Something. It's not outrageous enough to be Art, not experimental enough to be avant-garde, and not musical enough to be, well, music. Tag it with weightless words and spam it on Facebook. Whatever the fuck it is, it Works.

Works, a term often used to describe a Magickal Happening... Magick is one of the greatest revelations a human can come across. It is not for everyone, a surety that can be illustrated by this very paragraph: some of you will simply stop reading once I start talking about Magick, others will "get it", and most inspiringly, others will be confused yet plough on in the hopes of learning something.

Magick is not for everyone and this album is not for everyone, yet in its Qabbalistic, spiritual alignment it stirs something within the air your speakers vibrate when you play this stuff, and performs Works. It doesn't need describing to the initiated, and it doesn't bother pandering to the disbeliever. It is also probably too inaccessible for the merely curious, save the bravest of them.

Above all, the highest of compliments I can attach to this album is to reiterate its absolute weightlessness, both in the treble-heavy, vacant synth lines' tone, and in its complete lack of emotion.

It is therefore a Work that truly reflects. It reflects how you feel at the moment. It reflects your agitation. It reflects your disdain for pain and anxiety and synths that sound like fingernails on a chalkboard.

It reflects your soul, for it is a DarkMirror.

Out now for FREE... I don't recommend this album, but you're going to listen to it to see why.

See what he did there?

HiFi ♮ SciFi ♮ <------ Direct Link to instant, free Mediafire download.

ʄ≜uxmuℭica Is part of the escc9 net-label, a Yorba Zergot initiative.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Terry Springford - Pretty Girls

Listening to "The Damage Done" you could swear it's a cover of "The Sandringham Line" by The Lucksmiths, but you would never hear the famous Melbourne band's frontman Tali White singing "Fuck a stranger at the monster's ball" with such quiet intensity as Terry does. Drawing influences from such fellow Melbourne acts as The Lucksmiths, and by extrapolation, The Smiths, as well as the general oeuvre of bands that have "that sound" like Suede and Pulp, this gentle album at first sounds like a lovely Sunny Sunday Afternoon Pub Album, yet delving into the lyrics one finds there is a sinister edge to the upbeat melodies. For example the lyric "Pretty girls are ugly inside" can be easily missed if you are merely paying attention to the lilting, carefree tone of Springford's voice and the soft, warm acoustic guitar.

The drumming on this album is exemplary and is part of what gives the entire timbre of the songs that "pop-y", upbeat sound, that is so delightfully deconstructed by the dark lyrical moments. To compliment this, the truly uplifting sentiments such as the track "With Love" shine like a lighthouse in their sporadic unexpectedness. Terry says he spent "Nearly 6 months recording and mixing in my mountain forest home studio", and it certainly shows in the gorgeous production that includes piano, organs and string sections. Yet it his wistful voice that encapsulates you, and makes his message, should you choose to listen, a powerful one that is truthful to the bone. "How can I make change? With poison in my blood. Waiting for change. It will free me. Waiting for change. It will come".

This delicate collection of deeply poetic and moving pieces is available for only 10 dollars at http://terryspringford.bandcamp.com/album/pretty-girls and I highly recommend it for anyone with a soul.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pendulum - Immersion

It's extremely hard to listen to Immersion and not compare it to Pendulum's epic Hold Your Colour, the world's best selling Drum n Bass album of all time. Not because long-time fans and newcomers alike were dying to hear how Pendulum have developed their sound in 2010, but because the similarities between the two are manifold.

I had to listen to this album about 5 times before I really got into it, and after that I couldn't stop listening to it. The similarities abound, from an intro that has almost the exact same feel to their debut's, to an opening track that could very well be a remix / combination of Slam and Fasten Your Seatbelt, easily the two best tracks on Pendulum's 2005 album – everything from the tone of the lead synth to the key structure and breakdown immediately scream these two tracks at you. But as you progress further into the album it is exactly this aspect of the music – basically lifting things from Colour and updating them - that makes this release so tantalisingly good.

5 years have passed between the two albums, and what that has done is basically turn Immersion into a re-imagining of Hold Your Colour, as if the boys from Perth simply pushed their first album out of their minds completely and, in laying down some new tracks completely ignored any notion that they may be re-hashing old material. The album stands tall and proud as a poetic statement as if it were Pendulum's first unveiling upon the world. This gives it a very fresh, exciting and “shiny new” feel. This time 'round, armed with a noticeably more powerful arsenal of breaks and grooves, the re-imagining ends up being rock solid by simply taking what has been done before and improving on it.

This is what a large part of music is all about. Without Howlin' Wolf there would be no Rolling Stones, and without With The Beatles there would be no Abbey Road. Emulation and building on solid foundations are what make great albums great, and this album is great. Cliched loops, overuse of the amen break and floating vocals were all there on Pendulum's first album; Immersion merely extrapolates these, adding a few flairs like Dubstep and Tech-House ramblings to the familiar bass-lines, synth melodies and drums that are unmistakably “The Sound Of Pendulum”, whilst constantly keeping you intensely engaged with intriguing side-steps, breakdowns and sharp corners.

Simply put, Hold Your Colour is a 5 star, outstanding album, but if I were on a desert island and had to choose between it and Immersion, it would be the latter without question.

Available from CD stores, iTunes, etc. through Warner.

Friday, August 6, 2010

emorej - General Electronica

This album is kindly available from the illustrious emorej as, to quote directly from Bandcamp, a "Pay what you want or download for FREE. your choice" download.

I decided this album was worth exactly 7 dollars and 77 cents. It's not just because it's great music that I decided to pay a higher price than what I normally would for pay-as-you-wish downloads (in fact most of the time I accept the "free" option), but also that the mystical, often haunting sounds I heard whilst listening on the player aligned my aural mechanics with the movements of the planets, or something, and made me decide that three lucky 7's were the go.

It's kind of hard to put into words, but before you listen to emorej's stuff, and afterwards, you are a different person. I am currently the sort of person that imagines giving him $7.77 for the privilege of owning his album will have some profound and positive karmic resonances with the man behind the music and, like a butterfly flapping its wings in The Amazon, will ripple its way through the cosmos to create peace and harmony on Romulus. Or something.

Like I say, it's hard to put into words, but from the first note I heard of this guy I just thought "Fuck yea, this is what music is." He is unmistakably a genius, and I am hardly surprised that this album, "General Electronica", so humbly named yet gloriously sculpted, amazes me at every turn. I now own all of the albums he has put on Bandcamp and am damn proud to have them in my music collection, not only standing next to, but shining brighter than, more everyday names like Infected Mushroom and Boards of Canada.

The electronic flavourings of emorej are somewhere between the extremes of mind-bending psytrance eg. the above mentioned Infected Mushroom, and chilled vibes from those Canadian Board Guys, yet it is distinctly original. It is so, so, so easy for "electronica" to sound unoriginal, detached, and, well, like it was made on a computer. Yet in every emorej album I have heard so far I feel nothing but original, complex, scintillating, organic, evolving, and completely enveloping music that deserves a better tag than "electronica".

So, I am hereby labeling it, despite all my disdain for tags and out of a necessity for succinct descriptions, especially since I just joined Twitter: "Fantasgamazinga".

If you want to hear these Fantasgamazing sounds simply head on over to The album's page on Bandcamp and grab your FREE copy, or whatever price you put on it.

For me it's "Seven Dollars And Seventy-Seven Cents For A Five Star Album That Stimulates The Senses"


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Last Nights Vice - The Perfect Little Noise

This album is like a joint made only with tobacco with a small patch of weed in the middle. Such little of the good stuff stuff that it's easily completely overlooked, perhaps mistaken for a simple cigarette and stubbed out, and certainly not bringing the high to the party. Sure there's one guy who got that hit and is zoning out but that's it - and that one hit, to also elude to the word's other meaning, is track 11, "At Sunset She Strips". This has the potential to climb many a chart with its rockout-ness. Yet the rest of the songs are pure fodder. When Brandon Flowers sung "It's Indie Rock and Roll for me", I don't think he meant this sort of music. I hope he didn't. Naff, unoriginal, derivative, melodically detached, yet superbly produced.

I cringe to have written that last sentence for they seem like really really nice guys, and I want so much to like their music, but it's hard to like. I applaud their enthusiasm and honest hearts, though. Not only are they actively involved in many charity events, but they strive to be the best that they can and their music is truly about pleasing the fans. Unfortunately the fans that migrate to this sort of music tend to care more about things like haircuts and guitar stances than tension and resolution in chord changes. This is their profile picture on Last.FM:

Hmmm… To quote from their bio, "The guys pride themselves on their do-it-yourself mentality, taking charge of their own recordings, websites, videos, promotions and show-bookings", and from a sound-engineer's point of view I couldn't commend them more for the quality of their recordings. The whole thing is a professional package from the polished sound to the pimped-out homepage and attention to hairstyles, yet unfortunately when you open the box it is mostly styrofoam.

If they release "At Sunset She Strips" as a single they're bound to lure some fans in, and for a rock band brimming with enthusiasm and positive vibes they sound like a live show would be a fun night out. No memorable experience to cherish forever, any more than a listening of the album is, yet they ooze a confidence and energy that would translate well to live shows. This energy shows in the recordings where songwriting skill doesn't, and earns the boys 5 stars for effort.

To the guys from Last Nights Vice: don't let any crappy reviewer's words sway you from your course, you're doing good things and you've just started. There's plenty of room for growth here and I look forward to more engaging releases in the future.

Album available to listen to at the band's website, with "The Perfect Little Noise" set to release on iTunes and other such stores on 31st August.

5 stars because the effort speaks reams more than the music. Rock on.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ralph Buckley - The Art of Magick

I love and have a great interest in art and I live for and am constantly surprised by the concept of Magick, so I was naturally drawn to this latest release by Ralph Buckley. The album's evocative title immediately forms connections with listeners who haven't even downloaded it yet.

With such a powerful title I expected something completely different to what I found my ears wrapped around, yet therein lies one of the secrets of magick: that paths open up before you that you never knew were there, and lead you to amazing places.

From the very first conga tap of the opening track a vibe is set, of luscious valleys of soft vocals, strong undercurrents of molten guitar lines, and gorgeously shaped bass clouds, all set to the grandfather clock tick of the simple yet outstanding percussion. One only needs to close their eyes and drift on the vibe and this album performs its Magick.

Journeying into frantic hunts through the forest side-by-side with howling wolves, taking hot air balloon rides over velvet seas of emotions, caressing the heavens at some points and pounding at the earth at others, this amazing release that talks of The End, of The Tree of Life and of Awakening will strike a chord deep within that few musicians can evoke, but that Ralph Buckley manages to pull off with both outstanding finesse and a deep respect for and understanding of the nature of the Universe.

Transcendental. Download it now, FREE.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hox Vox - Mjöllnir

Structureless chaos that is yet coherent and comprehensive.

Hox Vox is an artist whose roots are in DaDa-ism, yet consistently pumps out the antithesis of DaDa: The Concept Album. He is a strange one to pin down and describe, not least because his music is absolutely and completely, irrevocably, inaccessible. Yet he doesn't care. With an intellect rarely found he composes vast works of epic proportions that are meticulously sculpted to instil the most severe sense of unease in the listener. And yet, it is thoroughly enjoyable.

In this latest instalment of the bizarre series of works that is Hox's discography, we journey through several intriguing portraits of Norse Gods, and eventually find ourselves on the battlefields of Ragnarök. Having been dealt an onslaught of arpeggiated midi notes, barrages of drum fills, ever shifting keys, innumerable time changes and mind-boggling blitzkriegs of unintelligible sounds, we arrive at the end and say “What the fuck just happened?”

A work with such power is a diamond in the rough.

Mjöllnir comes with a .pdf booklet, a gorgeous treasure with breathtaking artwork and liner notes with information about each track. For a concept album without lyrics this is a convenient way of portraying the portraits and storyline. Had I have been listening without reading this booklet I would be lost amidst the swirling notes and complete lack of consistency in tonal and modal qualities. As I said, it is inaccessible. Yet it is the combination of the booklet and the music that creates coherence, and makes for a compelling, engaging experience. This is not surprising from an artist who is also an extremely competent video producer. His whole schtick is multi-media in the true sense of the word “multi”. His art aims to immerse as many of the listener's senses as possible in imagery to convey his message.

But what is his message? Well here we get back to his DaDa roots. DaDa was the art that defied art, and I have always felt whilst listening to Hox Vox's music that it is a product of entropy - a breaking down of preconceptions of what art should be, whilst at the same time raising the stakes of what is expected of a listener and their engagement with the work. I say entropy because in the end we have two polar opposites – breaking down perceptions and building up imagery – that meet comfortably in the middle, at a point of stasis. Whilst the sounds coming from this album are like a tornado, the eye at its centre is the solid, unwavering conclusion of “lofty ideal meets pragmatic delivery”.

In case you can't tell, this music gives me a lot to think about. I have often thought as I listen to Hox Vox's albums that they are dissecting me more than I am them. If you want to know what the fuck I'm talking about, download this album, completely free, from Jamendo. It can also be legally bit-torrented, which is a fantastic way of getting the music out there (yes people are seeding it, I got it in 30 minutes).