But today is actually Bandcamp Friday, when the platform waives its revenue fees, so the musicians and labels pocket all the cash. If you're new here, it's become a monthly holiday for fans stocking up on new music, but I also know more than a couple musicians who've been able to buy groceries or make rent as a result.
Here's the sixth guide to Bandcamp Friday on Viking's Choice. The idea's simple: I note the albums, EPs or long songs released on or around the first Friday of the month (Feb. 5, in this case) that square up my oblong tastes. I got cheeky this time around: the music is categorized by which music site or magazine that I love would most likely feature them (Aquarius Records, the dearly departed Tiny Mix Tapes, Aquarium Drunkard, The Wire). I was tempted to write the mini-reviews in their distinct voices, but y'all, I got a life, too.
Cara Neir, Phase Out (self-released): Black metal is for video game nerds, so might as well lean into it, right? I don't know when Cara Neir traded in its crusty post-black metal for high-concept, screamo-seared black and roll, but each track does feel like a new level to beat up some baddies, side-scroller style. There's a little chiptune here, some chopped-and-screwed crunk there, but also blackened surf-punk a la Man… Or Astro-man?
Bornwithhair, Someplace to Haunt (self-released): This is a weird one; coming from me, I suppose that says something! Imagine one of the more inscrutable Anacortes/Olympia indie-rock bands (D+, Old Time Relijun) got into Furze, the supremely deranged one-man black metal project, and that sorta paints a burned portrait of Bornwithhair. This music makes me want to eat grubs in the forest while covered in mud.
White Suns, the lower way (Decoherence): Somewhere between Khanate's excruciating doom and the anti-rock histrionics of Royal Trux's drug-addled fever dream Twin Infinitives lies the most intense noise record by White Suns so far. Absolute madness.
Revulsion, Revulsion (Transcending Obscurity): This Finnish death-metal band has been around long enough to have a Myspace page, but only just released its debut album. Can't rush the riffs, I guess! Suffocation fans will immediately love this savagely groovy and blast-ridden record, but there are enough weird surprises to keep you guessing.
Pan-Amerikan Native Front, Little Turtle's War (self-released): Indigenous, one-man raw black metal on a warrior quest to bring Native American military history to the headbanging hordes! Pan-Amerikan Native Front rages against colonialism with the aggressive language and sound of its oppressors.
Aaron Turner & Jon Mueller, In the Falls (SIGE): Shamanic doom and drone, but not doom-drone, you feel me? Embers of feedback, low-end synth and rolling drums suddenly wake as bells ring in a night terror. Would make a killer single-sided LP with jagged etching on the flip.
Lucy Liyou, Practice (Full Spectrum): I'm still wrapping my head around this vividly intimate portrait of family and grief. Dialogue is translated as text-to-speech messages as airplanes pan headphones, piano melodies drift in and out of focus, static glitches and slow-moving synths move through the motions.
Mukqs, My Most Personal Album to Date (self-released): Sprawling collage spray from Maxwell Allison (Goodwill Smith, Hausu Mountain). Every time I think I know where the music's going, I'm teleported to SNES fantasias, junked acoustic guitar splatter and glitched piano ballads.
The North Sea & hyacinth., Poppies (The Jewel Garden): More splits should be as polar opposite as this one. Brad Rose takes us into the doom-drone synth depths as The North Sea, while hyacinth. (f.k.a. qualchan.) rides chill-out vaporwaves into a neon sunset.
Celer, Being Below (self-released): Will Long makes so much ambient music as Celer that I can't keep up, but there's a restless movement here that I find both heartbreaking and touching. An exercise in impermanence that drifts off to sleep and wakes to possibility.
Cerca, Don't Lose Touch (self-released): The last Cerca album I featured on the newsletter was right in the Jeweled Antler drone-folk zone; this one goes for Frippertronics-style guitar loops with a meditative, but distracted energy.
Jusell, Prymek, Sage, Shiroishi, Setsubun (節分) (Cached Media): Fuubutsushi was one of last year's quiet surprises — an autumnal ambient-jazz album that never wore out its welcome, but offered new gifts on each listen. The follow-up retains an ECM palette, all recorded remotely, but set at midwinter when the wet-cold seeps into your bones. To warm our consciousness towards renewal, the quartet leans into folkloric melodies and Rhodes piano.
Sky Burrow Tales, Seafarin' & Backporchin' (Feathered Coyote): Primo psychedelic haze. If you've ever traded MV & EE bootlegs or hunted down rare Time-Lag vinyl, this slow-burn fuzz is exactly your speed. Speak of MV & EE…
MV & EE, Alpha Lyrae (self-released): This might be the most beautiful, most sumptuously recorded MV & EE record ever? Starts quiet as a cosmic country mouse, then burns down the barn in a psychedelic fervor. I might even like this more than my all-timer Country Stash!
Ryley Walker & Kikagaku Moyo, Deep Fried Grandeur (Husky Pants): Real talk: Kikagaku Moyo is the best live psych-rock act right now. No one comes close to the Japanese band's sense of groove, dynamic and adventurous improv. Since we can’t see live music right now, I will absolutely take this empyrean collab with Ryley Walker's band.
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band, Rare Dreams: Solar Live 2.27.18 (Algorithm Free): I’ve seen just about every configuration this band live, but never as a power trio! Sunwatchers’ rhythm section turns these jams into motorcycle-fried speed demons and highway hogs, including two Neil Young covers.
Michael Gregory Jackson, Frequency Equilibrium Koan (Golden): A date from 1977 featuring saxophonist Julius Hemphill, cellist Abdul Wadud and drummer Pheeroan aKLaff… the kind of lost recording from the Loft Jazz scene's peak that will have free-jazz folks freaking.
The Weather Station, Ignorance (Fat Possum): Talking Heads slink by way of middle-of-the-poster Lilith Fair (thanks for that one, Daoud). Tamara Lindeman's constant reinvention from fingerstyle folkie to rocker to studio enchantress has been a wonder to witness.
Chuck Johnson, The Cinder Grove (VDSQ): Chuck Johnson pulls amber tones from the pedal steel like honey dripping from a comb. What began with Basalms grows with Cinder Grove, as a small ensemble fleshes out these quieting compositions.
Clémentine March, Songs of Resilience (Lost Map): Came across this quarantine-recorded album by chance, so I don't know much about Clémentine March other than she's French and lives in London. But these slightly off-kilter, voice-and-acoustic-guitar songs recall Nick Drake, of Montreal and Gal Costa.
Roy Montgomery, Island of Lost Souls (Ba Da Bing / Grapefruit): Quietly haunting, deafeningly beautiful emanations of half-memories and forgotten landscapes. First of four albums to be released in 2021, commemorating 40 years of the one-of-a-kind New Zealand musician and composer.
Sturle Dagsland, Sturle Dagsland (self-released): You know that feeling when music has both thrilled and confounded you into a dizzy stupor? Sturle Dagsland's debut is a dream filled with beautiful terror and surreal majesty, as if Björk and Kate Bush cocooned inside Duma's metallic chaos and came out a darkly ethereal butterfly.
Jeremiah Cymerman / Charlie Looker, A Horizon Made of Canvas (Astral Spirits): Jeremiah Cymerman shows us the sublime on the regular, turning his electronics-enhanced clarinet into a flurry of knives. This duo with Charlie Looker is somehow creepier, with menacing music that moves like H.R. Giger's Alien jettisoned out the airlock, floating through space. I've talked about Cymerman's disturbingly dynamic intimacy before, but a couple of these pieces almost feel like a lost Jandek record from the early days, too dark even for the Representative from Corwood.
Tashi Dorji & Marshall Trammell, Duo Damage, Vol. I: Live in Portland (SIGE): Four-dimensional scrabble jazz by this two-man wrecking crew. Tashi's in a psychedelic shreddin' Sonny Sharrock mode as Marshall's dissonant, forceful drumming still breathes air into the fire.
J Dilla, Welcome to Detroit — The 20th Anniversary Edition (BBE): With instrumental and alternate versions — not to mention a cover by legendary Brazilian jazz unit Azymuth (!) — here's a more-than-generous edition of an album often overshadowed by J Dilla's genius Donuts.
George Lewis, The Recombinant Trilogy (New Focus): These ain't ghosts in the machine; they're replicants searching for souls. Flutist Claire Chase, cellist Seth Parker Woods, and bassoonist Dana Jessen take on George Lewis' latest electroacoustic challenge.
Florian T M Zeisig, Music for Parents (Métron): I was today years old when I first learned about the "vibroacoustic mattress," a therapeutic bed that apparently inspired this album of softly rumbling bass tones and airy melodies designed for fitful sleepers and stressed-out parents.
Luke Stewart, 1/17/2019 (Fire Over Heaven): Che Chen (75 Dollar Bill) has been slowly featuring recordings from his New York concert series, all proceeds to expanding the archive and commissioning new pieces. It's been years since I've seen Luke do his amplified upright bass set; this one communes with the quiet corners of feedback that slowly builds and recedes.
Voilaaa, Voiciii (Favorite): I'm in desperate need of a dance floor or at least a socially-distanced street party. Lyon producer Bruno Hovart looks to Afro-Disco to span a spectrum of dance tributes to Fela Kuti and Manu Dibango, but also put his own spin on Pan-African funk and highlife with African guest vocalists.