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"And Suddenly Everything, Absolutely Everything, Was There"

cover image Utech Records has, over the past decade, released critically acclaimed albums from established artists such as James Plotkin, Lasse Marhaug, and Justin Broadrick, as well as fostered the work of newer projects like Locrian, Nadja, and Horseback. Many of those artists appear on this digital compilation with exclusive or live material unavailable elsewhere. It is nearly four and a half hours of music, with all of the proceeds going to support the Utech family at this incredibly difficult time. In an era where so many crowd funding campaigns are simply a cash grab, this is one that will truly help a family in need.

The digital compilation is available at http://utechfamilybenefit.bandcamp.com

Kim Utech lost her battle against breast cancer on July 1, 2015. She leaves behind her husband Keith and their two children, 12-year-old son Jackson, and 9-year-old daughter, Piper. Keith's sister-in-law, Michelle Kubler Utech, created a GoFundMe page to raise funds to assist Keith with living expenses while he takes time off to be with their children and to help with the expenses incurred while Kim was receiving treatment.

This compilation, assembled by friends and supporters of Utech Records, contains forty-one tracks worth of exclusive material–some previously unreleased, some recorded live, some created specifically for this release–with a runtime of nearly 4 1/2 hours.

100% of the proceeds (after Bandcamp and PayPal take their cuts) will be donated to the Utech Family Fund.

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Forced Exposure New Releases for 8/3/2015

New music is due from Alvarius B, Alessandro Cortini, and Stephen O'Malley, while old music is due from Kaleidoscope, The Cramps, and John Fahey.

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Loop, "Array 1"

cover imageWhen Robert Hampson reactivated Loop and toured after a lengthy dormancy, I was rather surprised (as were many other fans).  When the recording of new material was announced, I was shocked.  As an artist who had gone so long intentionally avoiding his return to the guitar, it is not a move I expected.  Not necessarily surprising, but definitely reassuring, Array 1 sounds exactly like Loop should sound in 2015, and the natural expansion of the sound Hampson and company perfected during their first phase.

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Evan Caminiti, "Meridian"

cover imageAs much as I have enjoyed both Barn Owl and Evan Caminiti’s solo work in the past, his career has certainly been an unusual and chameleonic one, generally alternating between heady drone and his own particular strain of desert rock.  In theory, that history of creative restlessness should have prepared me for Meridian, but I truly did not see this monster of a synthesizer album coming.  The surprise is not that Caminiti’s guitar is nowhere to be heard or even that he made an entirely electronic album–it is that his first foray in this direction is such a mesmerizing tour de force that effortlessly transcends the rest of the synthesizer pack (and most of Evan's own previous discography).

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Flatliner, "Black Medicine"

cover imageAs much of a showcase for vintage synthesizers as it is an EP of dance beats, the duo of Flatliner have complied this showcase of their combined collection of prized gear, but work those instruments into strong and memorable songs, rather than just collections of classic noises.  Adam Fangsrud and Jesse Strait present four distinct pieces on Black Medicine that all have their own specific mood and identity, but also blend together thematically, resulting in a diverse yet cohesive release.

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Oiseaux-Tempête, "Ütopiya?"

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Back in 2013, Oiseaux-Tempête’s excellent debut established them as something akin to Europe’s answer to Godspeed You Black Emperor, which is not a bad niche to occupy at all.  For their follow-up, however, the band have changed things up a bit, significantly altering both their approach, their vision, and their line-up (they enlisted bass clarinetist Gareth Davies).  While they generally seem like good moves in theory, the aforementioned innovations have resulted in something of a confounding and (at best) lateral transformation, as Ütopiya? is generally a bit weaker and more bombastic than its predecessor.  There are unquestionably a handful of bright and inspired moments to be found, of course, but Ütopiya? mostly lies somewhere in the unfortunate no-man’s land between "misstep" and "transitional album."

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Black Love, "Unlust"

cover imageOstensibly a hard rock band, there is much more to Black Love lurking beneath the superficial.  Drummer Tony Cicero and Sergio Segovia’s bass (and electronics) may sound like a conventional arrangement, but David Cotner’s vocals and unconventional additions (a mule jawbone, for example), add an additional layer of depth.  Across these four songs there is more than a hint of broken romance bitterness, but with the right amount of sardonic and wry self-awareness to make it anything but trite.

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Swans, "Filth" (deluxe reissue)

cover imageEven with their reappearance in the past five years, the earliest days of Swans are the ones that are often cited as the most important and essential.  It almost is a perfect example of the hipster cliché of "Oh I only like their EARLY material (or pre-Jarboe)".  The fact is that Swans were amazing from their inception to today, and whatever stylistic shifts they made were brilliant, if sometimes drastic and unexpected.  Amidst their always-expanding touring and recording schedules, Michael Gira has initiated a reissue campaign, beginning with an expanded version of their debut, Filth.  A template for most heavy music that has followed, the originator is still peerless, and could be released today and be just as deserving of the accolades and admiration it has received since 1983.

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Maja S.K. Ratkje, Jon Wesseltoft, Camille Norment, Per Gisle Galåen, "Celadon"

cover imageI am not particularly familiar with any of the four artists involved in this unexpectedly audacious and unique album, but Celadon is definitely a kindred spirit to Important's previous iconoclastic, raga-influenced drone epics by Catherine Christer Hennix.  Charlemagne Palestine is yet another artist that unavoidably springs to mind, but favorably so: while this album is anything but derivative, Maja Ratkje and her collaborators share his willingness to take drone music into some very dissonant, uncategorizable, and cathartic territory.  Put more bluntly: Celadon is probably not for the average drone fan, as Ratkje's vocals gradually build to an almost demonic, window-rattling intensity, but it is nevertheless a bold, striking, and deceptively ferocious artistic statement that is like absolutely nothing else that I have heard.

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Heitor Alvelos, "Faith"

cover imageHeitor Alvelos is no stranger to the Touch label, having collaborated as a visual artist with the big names of the label such as Fennesz, BJ Nilsen, and Philip Jeck, as well as issuing sound work under a variety of pseudonyms on the associated labels.  Faith is a collection of processed sound recordings and "audio irregularities", and due to their more personal and autobiographical source, it is the first record released under his own name.  Essentially a single composition split into 12 segments, it is a sparse and murky record, steeped heavily in an analog sound.

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The Eye: Video of the Day

Ulrich Schnauss

YouTube Video


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Review of the Day

Coil, "Love's Secret Domain" (Anthony D'Amico)

When I first heard Skinny Puppy's chaotic and deranged Too Dark Park album in high school, it completely tore my head off.  Then, naturally, I immediately decided that I needed to find something even more uncompromising and unhinged.  The most promising possibilities at the time seemed to be Nurse With Wound and Coil, so I spent much of the early '90s in a comically doomed and wide-ranging scavenger hunt through northeastern record stores for albums like Thunder Perfect Mind, Love's Secret Domain, and the unreleased Hellraiser themes.  Love's Secret Domain wound up being the most elusive of them all (due to the collapse of Wax Trax!), but was probably also the most revelatory.


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