Coil – “Another Brown World / Baby Food” (2017)

coilbrownworldClearly the date of this release is not indicative of when the music was composed given that both members of Coil passed away years ago, John Balance in 2004 and Peter Christopherson in 2010.  Both of these 12+ minute tracks appeared previously contemporary to their creation, “Another Brown World” in 1989 and “Baby Food” in 1993. I’m not precisely sure why Sub Rosa Label chose these two to be part of this release, though I have to give them credit because the pair compliment one another well.  Both are chill electro goodness with a subtle undercurrent of darkness.  Not industrial per se, though still conveying a slight sense of potential danger without being anxiety-inducing – you can sit back with your eyes closed and let the slowly wash over you like a subtly advancing tide.

Both tracks can be heard HERE on the label’s Bandcamp page.  You can also buy the limited edition marbled vinyl, though I’m perfectly happy with my black version which was half the price and sounds clean as can be.

Psychoplasmics – “Psychoplasmics” (2018)

I’m floating on an inner tube on a languidly flowing river of codeine-infused cough syrup, thick and purple and with the consistency of used motor oil, the cliffs on either side made up of massive, slowly melting gum drops in a wide range of vivid colors.  The sky is bright green with wisps of neon-blue clouds and I’m being circled by a rather bored looking vulture.  Everything is thick and sticky, the air taking on an almost physical form wrapping itself over everything like a thin layer of cellophane.  And I just keep drifting, slowly, towards nothing in particular.

That’s what Psychoplasmics feels like.

psychoplasmics

The collaboration between Lord Pusswhip and Alfreð Drexler is at times like a house version of the typical Pusswhip fare, as much as any of his highness’ music can be called typical, with tracks like “De Pijp” and “Dolphin’s Delight” putting the listener into a full-on groove trance.  Samples feel distorted, either slowed down or sped up or somehow magically both at the same time, laid over the top of the beats like a heavy blanket, the kind of thing that makes you wonder if something’s wrong with your turntable (tip –> there’s not) or maybe even your brain (there might be).  A number of guests join Psychoplasmics on their sticky journey ensuring the rapping comes to us in a range of styles, from the intentional seeming indifference of TY on “Kriminelt” to Birnir’s smooth flow on “Gullhamrar”.  Killer stuff from start to finish.

The vinyl was initially pressed (♠) in a hyper-limited edition of 20 copies, but subsequently the guys had some additional copies produced which is how I was able to get my hands on one.  I messaged them on Facebook to buy my copy, so if you’re interested that’s probably your best bet at the moment.  But have no fear my friends, because you can chill out to all ten tracks on Soundcloud HERE.  Just don’t operate heavy machinery while under the influence of Psychoplasmics.  Use only as directed.

(♠)  Technically not pressed, as I believe these are individually lathe cut one at a time.

DJ Flugvél Og Geimskip – “Our Atlantis” (2019)

Steinunn Harðardóttir is an artist.  She makes music, she paints, and she is seemingly surrounded by a light golden aura of happiness that I swear I’ve seen regardless of whether she was on stage or in the crowd watching someone else perform.  Her music reflects this in the high, innocent pitch of her voice and the frequent appearances of cats and outer space in her lyrics.  In interviews she makes it clear that this happiness comes from viewing the world is absurd.  Which, of course, it is.  Most people are bummed out at a thought like that.  But not her.  That absurdity is a source of freedom.

djflugvelairwaves2014

DJ Flugvél Og Geimskip live at Iceland Airwaves, 2014
Copyright Life in the Vinyl Lane

Atlantis is a myth.  It was first mentioned in the works of Plato, written down almost 2,400 years ago.  There are those who believe Atlantis was more than simply a fictional utopia Plato used as a means of teaching his lesson, taking the position that the philosopher’s work is actually a piece of history and that Atlantis once existed back in the mists of time.  The theories believe the Atlantians to have been part of an advanced human pre-history or, in more recent years with the popularity of the UFO movement, space aliens.  Perhaps most importantly, though, the city serves as a source of inspiration for artists and unfortunately strip mall psychics, who for $20 will read your palm and tell you that you’re the reincarnation of a great Atlantian warrior.  I wonder if they had cats there…?

djflugvelouratlatis

Our Atlantis opens with “The Sphinx”, the early portions of the track transporting us to Egypt with Persian-influenced jazz, sitting in a dark bar that feels impossibly hot and humid, the scent of syrupy coffee and unfiltered cigarettes simply hanging just below the ceiling in bluish clouds before turning into mist that permeates everything.  Wait. That got strange quick.  Snap out of it, man.  As we progress the beats change, throwing off their warm deserty vibe and becoming cold and clinical, dance floor bangers, with Steinunn’s voice flying way overhead, like the clouds above the pulsing, roiling ocean.  The ocean that today covers Atlantis.  Or so the story goes.

Surprises are always waiting around the next corner whenever DJ Flugvél Og Geimskip is involved.  Like “Elsta lag í heimi”‘s highs and lows being invaded intermittently by a sic-fi midrange that pops in with the suddenness of the USS Enterprise dropping out of warp, only to disappear again just as quick.  Are these people who live in Atlantis aliens who arrived from space on a starship?  Or the scolding vocals on “Allt er bara bull” that rip you away from her soprano and drop you back into reality for a moment.  Am I in trouble?  Did I forget to take out the trash?  Did I forget to use the new cover sheet on my TPS report?  Oh, and I did I mention that the first song, the previously mentioned “The Sphinx”, was premiered by means of a video game that Steinunn made and posted for free on the internet?  You know the one.  The completely psychadelic bizarro-fest that finds you trying to find animals while fighting off enemies with your one means of a defense, a battle-axe made from a Pomeranian.  Wait, you haven’t played it yet??  Well, here you go.  And don’t say I didn’t warn you.  That Pomeranian can do some damage.

The second half of Our Atlantis is darker.  Is the city falling into decay, starting it’s slide to oblivion that will eventually find it at the bottom of the ocean?  “Atlantis” with it’s ever-changing and unpredictable flow makes us off-balanced, our footing not as solid as it was.  “Let’s Go!” kicks in and Steinunn is getting insistent – let’s go! – before dropping into a Metropolis-esque set of industrial beats, everything growing dark and dangerous, with lasers cutting through the air and leaving behind the scent of ozone, the complete anthesis of the aroma of that Egyptian bar we found ourselves in at the start of the album. But wait, what’s that I hear in the distance on “Our World Is Way Too Big”?  That Persian influence is back, not jazzy this time but more electric.  We close the side with “Apocalypse”.  Is that a harmonica I hear?  Of course it is.  I’m pretty sure one of the Four Horsemen (♠) plays the harmonica on his way to level your city and dump it under the Atlantic.

Experience tells me that DJ Flugvél Og Geimskip isn’t for everyone, but I can’t get enough of her music and live performances.  If you’re interested in giving her a chance, the vinyl is still available through the label HERE.  Who knows.  Maybe you’ll start to believe in Atlantis too…

(♠)  To clarify, I’m referring here to The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations.  This is not to be confused with The Four Horsemen of professional wrestling fame, Ric Flair’s personal hit squad.

LCD Soundsystem – “Electric Lady Sessions” (2019)

19075892161_JK001_PS_01_01_01.inddThe opening track of an album often sets the tone for what is to follow.  It’s the first impression the listener gets, and often might be the very first thing from the album they’re hearing.  So opening with a cover as LCD Soundsystem does on Electric Lady Sessions is a bold move.  Bolder still to do a post-punk-ish version of a new wave song “Seconds” by The Human League.  Originally released in 1981, “Seconds” was the B-side to The Human League’s #1 hit “Don’t You Want Me” and it’s a bit of a dark number, what it being about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and all.  Not a typical move.  But then again, LCD Soundsystem is anything but typical.

LCD Soundsystem is, of course, primarily a James Murphy project in the studio.  When on tour, however, it expands into a proper band, and that band needs to practice together before hitting the road.  On Electric Lady Sessions Murphy decided to record these sessions and put them out as a more-or-less live (in studio) album.  As near as I can tell, half of Electric Lady Sessions‘ dozen tracks are from LCD’s 2017 release American Dream.  There are also two more covers – Chic’s “I Want Your Love” (1978) and Heaven 17’s “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” (1981), the three tribute tracks clearly harkening back to Murphy’s musical roots.  The remaining tunes are from previous LCD albums.

I don’t have a lot of experience with LCD Soundsystem, so I have no basis for comparing Electric Lady Sessions to their prior studio albums.  What I do know, however, is that I like it – the instruments are given room to shine and the entire thing has a slightly unpolished feel that emphasizes the live-ness of it.  I’d love to catch these guys live someday, but it looks like if we want to do that, we’ll need to get on an airplane, because they never make it out to Seattle.

Cosey Fanni Tutti – “Tutti” (2019)

I’ve been on a Cosey Fanni Tutti kick since reading her autobiography Art Sex Music back in 2017.  I’m primarily interested in her post-Throbbing Gristle material, which is more structured and less industrial in character, so I was quite excited to hear she planned a new release in 2019.  And now that I’ve listened to it at least a half dozen times I know one thing for sure – I have my first early contender for Top 5 Albums of 2019.

tutti

The brief liner notes on the jacket reverse tell us that Tutti was initially conceived as the soundtrack to an autobiographical film about the artist, later updated and enhanced for release as an album.  Clearly that’s not a lot to go on without seeing the film, but it does offer some insight as to why the style morphs over the course of eight songs.  There’s a darker, more IDM feel to earlier tracks like “Drone” and “Moe”.  Do these correspond with the periods in Cosey’s life when she was involved with Throbbing Gristle and her time working in pornography (which, it should be noted, was also part of her art)?  I don’t know.  But I do get the sense of a story being told, something not easy to accomplish on a primarily instrumental/electronic album with minimal lyrics to point the way – it isn’t until the sixth track, “Heliy”, that we get some vocals, though these feel like they were added as much for their sonic qualities as for any kind of overt storytelling.

Reviewer Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian wasn’t a big fan, giving Tutti only two starts (out of five), noting it’s “moments of drudgery”.  Which just goes to show that different reviewers can come away with completely different perspectives.  As for me, Tutti has earned a spot on regular rotation at my house and I’ll definitely be putting it on my list of albums to come back to at the end of 2019.