Microforms #3: March 13, 2023

Imagery by Jacob McKeating

Third go round, and some further selections from artists either stumbled across or eagerly watched out for.

Filmmaker Artillery Material (Opal Tapes)

Determinedly relentless Industrial techno with a bounce to it, this latest from the prolific Filmmaker keeps up his high-quality streak. Summoning something of the glory days of the ‘industrial meets electronic’ remix when the groove of a simple nasty bassline, some morgue temperature synths, and a selection of Skynet track titles saw buzzcuts and Psychic TV tattoos flicker in angry strobe light. This fits right in.

With a swinging pummeling sound, the highlight of the EP “Ultraviolet Catastrophe” sounds like it was smelted in a blast furnace of neon and darkened dancefloor. Electro streamlined but bumpy enough to weigh in as concrete basement juddering EBM Hunt scene music.

Anemic Cinema Iconoclasts (Ramble Records)

Beefy jazz metal that’s very low on your typical ecstatic freeform bits, Anemic Cinema’s Iconoclasts covers most of the different combinations that you can make with the interlocking of both genres. At the one end, there’s muscular near-sludge that keeps on trucking through “Oneirophrenia,” and at the other, there’s the acoustic spider-leg mellow of “108”. 

It’s refreshing to hear something that’s hybridized these two worlds and takes the time to separately still dip its thumbs into prog and more introspective sounds without sounding like a lab experiment. Not to make a big deal of it, but it’s good to hear jazz/metal/jazz that doesn’t do blowouts – I’m all skronked out.

Rovellasca The Practice of Everyday Life (Invisible City Records)

So strong and ideally matched are their sound and visual identity that I instantly think grayscale and granular when I think Rovellasca or ICR. On this limited disc, now available on a digital offering, there are two substantial drone cuts to steal your time without leaving a sense of something solid.

A manipulated half-barren field recording, “I” gives off the impression of being mired in lowkey unkindness. It’s hopefully not, but it feels like a slow-motion recording of someone being dragged behind a truck. Muffled bumps and real-world sounds (is that a car horn?) blipping in and out of aural vision, a spinning top drone coming in and out of the smashed windscreen focus. 

“II” s bleaker, less substantial, and much more detached from reality. A fog arrives early on, drifts through, and covers everything in a whiteout. When it’s gone, you’re left with the sense that something was there and that something did happen, but whatever it was – it’s gone now. Then again, maybe it wasn’t there.

HIRS Collective “XOXOXOXOXOX” (ft. Melt Banana) (Get Better Records)

Queer grind punk, now with added Melt Banana mania. Truth to power that locks together the fingers of affirmation, self-love, and anger into a row of middle fingers and fists. Continuing their thread of heavy collaborations with like-minded allies, here Yasuko Onuki’s nailguns lyrics alongside Jenna pup’s howls and more melodic vocal lines. Still managing to sound like they’re on the edge of just downing tools and smashing the whole thing to fuck, HIRS still combines more riffs than the rest of your grind tapes combined. 

The soundtrack to powerlifting THE MAN and hurling him out through the window like Ozymandias did the Comedian.

Dean Garcia The Lighthouse Jams (Self-Released)

Four tracks of loping breaks, moody bass, and misty post rock undercurrent, Dean Garcia offers up excursions into the Endtroducing zone. Recorded as jams, the instrumentation recorded and layered by Garcia piece by piece, the air here is murky but not smoky. Encouraging rocking motions as an over 13-minute head nodder, “Lighthouse Jam 11” sinks the listener into a thick and briny epic. 

While the vibe is generally post poorly handled gunfight (smoke in air, blood on the ground, general bad vibes), there are interesting variations on the music’s emotional themes. While “Lighthouse Jam 8” rhythmically leans a little more coldly electronic and future-leaning, the closing “Lighthouse Jam 10” gives it some old school Disintegration gravitas.

Beccy Owen The Amplified Sanctum / Hush Club Live at Sage Gateshead (Patreon)

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Currently only available through her Patreon, this version of her recent new live metamorphosing outing under the Amplified Sanctum/Hush Club project/exploration is well worth the subscription.

This live set is the first still-wet concrete steps of her shift from a more personal narrative songwriting style to a mixture of abstraction, shifting song forms, found sound, and vocal play experiments.

A work in progress in both content and concept (in short, you could say it’s possibly “rest as medication”), and one that’s not even solidified enough to actually be out there as a release, and a mixture of both incongruous and expected elements, this is designed as active listening music for rest rather than background sound. Not ambient music but a travelogue for sitting still.

Me Lost Me “Eye Witness” (Upset The Rhythm)

The latest in a series of honey drip thread of releases, “Eye Witness” is the first to be identified as part of Me Lost Me’s forthcoming third long player.

A wheezy oompah groove somewhere between late Tom Waits and early Tricky, and led by a nodding clarinet melody, lyrically “Eye Witness” recalls an unending event. Attempting an austere telling, the song is punctured by liquid shards of attention snagging digital (it’s possibly life support bleep, warning tones, sirens, or alerts), the song simultaneously stamping and swaying as her tale replays and whorls out through time. This is a march that plows a furrow that we all need to take a handful of soil to help fill in.

APX APX98′ Vol. 1 (Self-Released)

A sideways burrow into a hardware and software treasure chest of outtakes and experiments, Apaixonar creates a mix of electric experiments that hold up smartly as a taster of his possible worlds. 

Better known as Brandon Hill, drummer in grind trio Cloud Rat, this is (I think) his first outing for the APX moniker. Following the wires of electronic polymaths like AFX and Alec Empire, with nods to Jungle, Ambient, Acid, and beyond, these eleven pieces encourage a deeper discography dive.

APX has cabled all this stuff together into a 20-minute tour of one of his hard drives, and there’s nothing here that I wouldn’t be grateful to hear at greater length. Like with any mix, some of these slivers are frustratingly short. Perhaps they were only ever slivers in the first place, and it’s this or nothing. But hey, he said it was only Vol. 1, so fingers crossed, eh? 

No pressure.

Hurry up. 

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