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.

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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.

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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…?

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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.

Endalok – “Englaryk” Cassette (2016)

endalokenglarykIt seems that the older I get, the more frequently I have weeks that feel both impossibly long but yet seem to pass by in no time at all.  The cycle of commute, work, commute, eat, and sleep can turn you into a five-day automaton, a zombie who, unlike those portrayed in the movies, is going a hundred miles per hour non-stop.  That’s why I sometimes like to get up early on the weekend and enjoy a nice cup of coffee while listening to some music, a slowed down part of the day before the world wakes up and daily responsibilities take hold.

This morning I decided that the recent snowpocalypse we’ve been dealing with here in Seattle, which is now in that “everything is melting and there are huge piles of ever-dirtier slush piled everywhere” phase, warrants some atmospheric black metal.  I picked up this cassette copy (numbered edition of 100) of Englaryk on eBay the other day for less than ten bucks.  I tend to prefer my black metal more on the chiller side, and Endalok fit the bill.  At times moodily ambient, at others orchestrally metallic, the band has found the black metal sweet spot (and if Black Metal Sweet Spot isn’t a great album name, I don’t know what is).  Tortuously dark with electric edges that crackle like ball lightning, Englaryk is equally effective at both low and high volumes, more somber when turned down, more electric when cranked to 11.

You can listen to Englaryk on Bandcamp HERE, though it appears the cassettes are sold out.

Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson – “OK Computer Music” (2019)

We don’t get a lot of snow in Seattle.  Some winters it doesn’t snow at all, and when it does we typically only get an inch or two.  Those paltry inches, however, are enough to shut down half the city for a day as we simply don’t have the infrastructure to handle it.

Last Sunday it started snowing in the afternoon, and by the time I got up on Monday morning there were five inches of the white stuff on my car with more still falling.  I think we topped out at around six inches at my house.  While the roads weren’t great, by Tuesday it was at least possible to get around.  But then came the news that we’d be getting more of it on Friday – four to eight inches worth.  That prompted the usual jokes in Seattle.  “Well I guess that means we’ll have somewhere between zero and 100 inches then”.  The weather here is notoriously difficult to predict, and we never let the forecasters forget it.

It showed for a bit yesterday but seemed to fade out in the evening.  I still wasn’t surprised, however, to wake up to find about six more inches of powder covering everything, a sheet of white outside my living room window, the tall pines with their branches hanging low under the weight of it.  Thankfully it’s Saturday so we have nowhere we need to be.  And since we have power that means I can make coffee, turn on the icicle Christmas lights we still have hanging in the living room, and bask in the quietness while I listen to OK Computer Music on low volume so as to not disturb the hibernating Mrs. Life in the Vinyl Lane.

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I just got my copy of OK Computer Music in the mail from Sigmarsson, a CD in a limited edition of 100 copies.  Last year I wrote about his works The Found Tapes (2016) and Abstract Art Automat (2018), as well as some of his work as part of Stilluppsteypa including last year’s Beach Jolanda.  The man is nothing if not prolific, both individually and as a collaborator.

OK Computer Music is composed as a single 47 minute track.  Within that composition are different segments that can be differentiated from one another.  Calling those segments songs seems like a bit of a misnomer, as they don’t adhere to any structural format or follow any set rules, at least not from an outside perspective.  The quieter passages are particularly enjoyable, painting a mood that seems to cover this dimly lit room in a gossamer layer of somberness, the occasional vocal sounds subdued like quiet chorus making its way to you from the other side of an old stone cathedral, electronic music that somehow also feels old.

Sigmarsson’s music certainly has abstract and experimental elements to it, and OK Computer Music is no exception.  Personally I find his work quite musical – it’s only in the way the various elements interact that things fall outside of the norm.  I suspect that for albums like this the listener’s personal experiences have just as strong if not stronger influence over their perceptions than do Sigmarsson’s own intentions.  Parts of OK Computer Music slide into the background as I listen, while others seem to leap out of the speakers and compel me to turn and look, as if somehow seeing the speakers will explain what is causing these sensations in my mind and body.  And I’d be willing to bet the passages that don’t capture me have the totally opposite effect on others, hence the sense that this is music that allows the listener to connect with it in their own way.  And that, my friends, is OK Computer Music‘s beautiful secret.

Kuldaboli – “Ég elska þig eilífa stríð” (2018)

kuldaboliegelskaI’m starting to wonder if Kuldaboli is actively trying to avoid having his releases appear in my year-end Top 5 list.  For the second time in three years he dropped something in mid-to-late December, ensuring that I wouldn’t hear it in time for it to be considered.  In 2016 it was the brilliant CD Vafasamur Lífsstíll 2015-2016, and last year (all of about six weeks ago…) it was the five-song 12″ Ég elska þig eilífa stríð.  Having met him once in person, I feel comfortable this isn’t true – it’s not like he took a swing at me or told me my taste sucks or kicked my dog.  But damn, these late-in-the-year releases are killer.  Maybe I just need to start doing Google searches for “Kuldaboli” starting on December 1 every year, and keep searching every day until I post my year-end lists.  It’s the only chance I have.

Ég elska þig eilífa stríð sees Kuldaboli at his electro-creepy best, with sinister beats, eerily high synths, and heavily modulated vocals.  Most of it is dance floor ready, though “Leyndarmál” spins out a religious-gothic-horror vibe that would be the perfect soundtrack to an exorcism.  You can listen to all five tracks on Soundcloud HERE, at least for the time being.  I particularly recommend the aforementioned “Leyndarmál” and the opening cut “Trúðu þínum eigin augum”.