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Forced Exposure New Releases for 10/27/2014

It's a massive music release week with new stuff due from Grouper, Black Cracker, Tindersticks, Mark Rogers and Mary Byrne, Tarwater, and Oren Ambarchi, and old music due from Bruce Lacey, Tav Falco, and The Poison Girls.

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Wrekmeister Harmonies, "Then It All Came Down"

cover imageI was completely floored by last year's blackened drone/doom metal epic You've Always Meant So Much To Me, so I was very eager to hear how J.R. Robinson could possibly follow such an out-of-nowhere tour de force. As it turns out, he chose to follow it by essentially doing much the same thing…again. I was initially a bit disappointed by that, as Then It All Came Down is not as immediately striking as its predecessor, nor did it ambush me with any real unexpected twists. Once I listened to it enough for everything to fully sink in, however, it gradually dawned on me that this latest effort is just as spectacular in its own right: Robinson may have revisited his previous formula, but he also found several new and crushingly heavy ways to improve upon it.

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Burial Hex, "The Hierophant"

cover imageAs the final full length release to be released by Clay Ruby under his Burial Hex moniker, The Hierophant is an appropriately dramatic tombstone for the enigmatic project.  Esoteric shades of noise and blackened metal color the middle portions of the record, bookended by two gloriously perverse, almost pop songs that standout as both baffling and utterly compelling.

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Locust, "After the Rain"

cover imageLocust's latest album is a definite anomaly, as Mark van Hoen and Louis Sherman depart from van Hoen's usual distinctive and production-heavy strain of hallucinatory electro-pop to ostensibly pay homage to '70s electronic music (sort of).  The result is an array of atypically loose and sketch-like soundscapes that retain Mark's love of processed female vocals, but veer away from the (imaginary) dancefloor and into more abstract and cinematic territory.  It is certainly a pleasant listen, recalling at times Piano Magic, an alternate soundtrack to Donnie Darko, and some of Vangelis & Jean Michel Jarre's better work, but it is ultimately a bit less substantial and satisfying than some of Mark's other recent efforts.

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Brute Force

cover imageEvery once in a while, a record comes along in which the title perfectly encapsulates the music contained within.  As a bass/guitar/drum trio, this Norweigian group approaches their instruments with the intensity that noise artists do with their massive batteries of guitar pedals.  While I can actually hear the instruments these guys are using, it is assembled so roughly that it might as well be a noise record, and a glorious one at that.

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Legendary Pink Dots, "Chemical Playschool Volumes 16 & 18"

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I am not sure which is more amazing: that the Dots are now up to 18 (sort of) of these weird, free-wheeling, catch-all releases or that they are still occasionally both excellent and surprising.  In any case, this double release is quite a fine and rather substantial effort.  Like most (if not) all Chemical Playschool entries, this is not the place to come for hooks and tight editing, but Ka-Spel and company's abstract psychedelia nevertheless blossoms into some very beautiful, strange, and haunting interludes.  Anyone looking to completely detach from mundane reality for 90 minutes without the aid of pharmaceuticals would be hard-pressed to find a better option than this one.

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Scott Walker & Sunn O))), "Soused"

cover imageI am not an especially devout Scott Walker fan, as I tend to admire his vision and fearlessness far more than I actually enjoy listening to his albums, but I was definitely very curious to hear how this completely unexpected collaboration would turn out: such a union seemed certain to be both unpredictable and unique at the very least.  Upon finally hearing Soused, however, I am a bit surprised by the early wave of stellar reviews it has received thus far, as it seems like Sunn O)))'s presence is often unnecessary or squandered (or both).  Walker, for his part, certainly provides more of the quavering, deranged catharsis that I have grown to expect from him, but the underlying music is sometimes less than compelling.  Although not a failure by any means (it gets much better near the end), much of this effort feels like less than the sum of its parts (though it is still an absolute monster by non-"Scott Walker" standards).

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Luciernaga/La Mancha Del Pecado, "Tile"

cover imageChilean by way of Brooklyn artist Joao Da Silva has been quietly building an impressive discography of droning guitar electronics that can vacillate significantly between dark terrors and bright, shimmering expanses of sound.  These two new limited tapes (one a split release with La Mancha Del Pecado) provide an exceptional overview of his widely varying, yet consistently excellent music.

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Gnawed, "Feign and Cloak"

cover imageMinnesota's Grant Richardson may be a relatively new player in the American harsh electronics scene, but his expanding discography of tapes and low-run releases have honed his ability and skill at making ugly noise.  With Gnawed taking cues equally from the European Cold Meat Industries sound and the contemporary US noise scene, Feign and Cloak is a heavy, yet diverse record that certainly brings power and force, but a lot more as well.

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Marble Sky

cover imageAlthough Jeff Witscher is best known these days for his work as Rene Hell, he has actually been on the scene for quite a long time and has cycled through a number of both guises and styles.  One of his more beloved early projects was this one, which was reserved for his ambient drone work.  Unfortunately, most of Marble Sky's releases were only available as limited-run cassettes, so this collection of that rare material is quite a useful and timely one.  While there is probably nothing here that anyone will find stylistically revelatory in 2014, Witscher's execution is quite superb, striking the perfect balance between dreamy bliss and frayed, static-gnawed edges.

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