A concept album about a place known only as Unit 731666, this is a lushly produced album that balances itself chaotically between horrorcore, left-field hip-hop, ambient darkwave and noise music. As each track proceeds, the tension builds as new musical clues about the Satanic nature of the demonic enterprise consuming aforementioned unit. Throughout, repetition and crescendoing classical leitmotifs contribute to the sense of foreboding in a strange but subtly recognizable place. Challenging but not difficult, the result is curiously listenable and sometimes surprises with its use of digital effects and sound bites from other ages. By the time Lucifer’s Apostles (M-Acculate, Rez and Uncle Bungle) get to defining the unnerving underworld wherein this narrative takes place (track 9, “2 Versions of Hell), listeners have been taken on a trip that is as percussive as it is penetrating.
Carrier WavesCarrier Waves(Self-released)
Carrier Waves features a local hero known as Marty Crandall as well as super rockers Sean McCullough, Sam Nesbitt and Josh Williams. As readers might recall, Crandall was once a member of The Shins, which is now a thing that James Mercer does all by his lonesome. That’s okay and maybe a good thing too; this album absolutely rocks. It starts off gloriously frantic, echoey and gooey with jangling goodness on the crunchy as funk opening track “Broken Rhyme.” The vocals here seem to emanate from some trance state, from another world. That gritty gorgeousness continues on track two, “Basement Dreams, where the guitar is just about out of control but beautifully, beatifically so, with more faraway vocals shimmering just beneath. The whole work is like that, all shiny and fresh with no sign of derivation and every sign of rock’s fragile holiness dripping out everywhere.
I’ll admit that I picked this one for its title. What sort of surrealist can resist titles such as “Moon Sailing” and “Cactus Waffles,” after all? That said, this is a deeply introspective, darkly delightful recording that throws minor key compositions at hyperactive hi-hats and oblique horns to create something that is by turns consuming and perplexing. The first track sizzles so slowly and methodically, you might not notice that your brain is being cooked as it proceeds through grandiose harmonics and sullen starkness simultaneously. Track two, “Cactus Waffles,” imagines bluegrass as a cosmic, even alien event while an electronic marching band and a processed snare keep track of lost time. The final track, “Jorobada,” rises from the ocean as night falls. For real, odd but totally awesome, you better add this one to your collection, kids.