jankyswans is a great vaporwave/chiptune artist that I have been in communication with for a few months while working on my own musick in a similar style as ☆彡DragonCentury99. They sent me a code last month, but I've been way over-busy as always. Thankfully, as things get back to normal for a time (don't count as this lasting), I finally got a chance to listen to their August EP titled myystischmatiist today, and it is a really great experience.

The cover art shows a man in a forest. Is he juggling? Is he viewing some spirits, will 'o wisps, that may be friends or tricksters? The framing of the image by the thin trees and the distant brighter background leave the viewer drawn into the image. The musick will take us there.

The first track is titled after the EP and shows the richer sound clearly. I big, splashy drum crashes bring a lot of  emotion to the song. "arboreal mollusc" sounds like the theme to Snowdin Town from Undertale. I really like this track.with its wobbly bass, bright melodies, frosty tints, and weird countermeasures. "rêÐ §hðµlÐêr ßµg§" is a little hard to spell, and it's kind of dissonant while still being melodic. I think that the big chords are kind of loud, but it's still a pretty good song. "cconstrructt" has a great bass sound. This one is almost a ballad, but still sounds like something from the game The Messenger. There's a very autumnal sound to this one with more splashy drums, chimes, and subtle windiness as we head into fall in North America.

"the//break" begins the second half of myystischmatiist. It continues the melodic, layered, vapory chiptune sound that's gone through the album. The song begins with with militaristic drums that contribute to a sound of survival, a feel of having strength to endure. "oathbreakers" has a great combination of sirens and square melodies that combine with a beautiful harmony, intertwining. "αƒтεятнσυgнт" ends the EP with chirpy piano, layers of percussion, and a great, hidden, bassline.

myystischmatiist is a great continuation of jankyswans work. I will be sure to listen to this EP along with the last one, antennae, if I am feeling down. There's a very determined spirit deep in the core of this strange wood that will refill a person's heart with a strong will once more.

myystischmatiist receives a Good.

Remember that if you are reading on September 4th, 2020, it is Bandcamp Friday, a day where Bandcamp waves their fees to give all of the money paid to the artists. Bandcamp Friday continues every first Friday of each month in 2020. Check out releases by ☆彡DragonCentury99 and jankyswans on Bandcamp today, tomorrow, or some other time. Thanks for listening.

Five days ago, when I was in the midst of finishing my second vaporwave/mallwave album, I got an email from a new fan about a picture I had posted of a paprika plant in my garden. Writing that their own musick was inspired by plants and animals around them, this individual described their interest in my new release and decided to buy the first album I had put out as 彡DragonCentury99. I ended up listening to their musick, and really liked the EP they put out today. In case you don't know, today, July 3rd, 2020, is a special day where Bandcamp is waving all of their own fees for purchases on the website. Be sure to check out some albums by yr favorite artists to help them out today! It's pretty late, but there is still time left (until 3am EST)!

The cover artwork for antennae reminds me of an old-school computer RPG. Showing a humanoid and a huge insect on the cover, it's a bit of a portrait, which I don't love. I do like that there is some ambiguity here. Are the characters allied? Is the humanoid about to fight the insect? The background looks a bit different than the characters, but I do like the gradient of grey miasma. I assume that this eerie fog cloaks the world of this EP as it starts.


The EP begins with steady beat and a bouncy but rigid bassline before melodic bells come in accompanied by harmonics from some kind of stringed instrument for the title track. This is a great start to this release: it's concise and continuously exciting. Dramatic synths bring out tension and mystery as we delve further into a beautiful fadeout. Further in, there is water, more rigid bass, and a water-y synth leading the way. This track is called "l e v e l s e l e c c", and it does very much remind me of a Mario hubworld or the like. The track fades out with some retrogame sounds that accompany jumping, warping, or collecting coins. When the artist messaged me, they told me that the next track, "ᗩ Gᖇᗩᑎᗪ ᗩᑎOᒪE" was inspired by reptiles seen enjoying the sunshine. It's another mysterious-sounding track of dueling rhythm and lead and simple drums. It makes me think of going on some kind of journey. "mday" closes out what I think of as the first side. An "ending song", "mday" is a wistful tune lead by chirpy tones and a calm flute.

Heading back into the dark, "lofft" kind of sounds like something from The Terminator mixed with New Age/vaporwave echoes and the classic chiptune melodies. It's very cinematic and layered, much more than the dramatic ambiance it might seem at first glance. I don't find "moon ❀ regent" as inspiring as the earlier tracks, at least at first. The first half doesn't really hook me, but once the Mega Man style kicks in, it's all good. I really enjoy how this track builds up to something huge. Afterwards, this is the ending theme, "npc bacchanalia". A happy little song with a relaxed, comical feel and rising tones that inspire hope, this track lets the listener know that everything turns out okay in the end. I hope that's true for yr story too.

I am very happy that I got to hear antennae by jankyswans. A chance encounter via an image of a paprika plant turned into a discovery of new musick. The internet can annoy me a lot of the time, but this is a way that it can help us discover new ideas, new musick, and new and inspiring artists. Sometimes it all works out. If you like chiptunes or vapory stuff, this is a great chance to hear a combination of the two together.

antennae receives a Good.

Check out both releases by ☆彡DragonCentury99 and jankyswans on Bandcamp today, tomorrow, or some other time. Thanks for listening.

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about musick. Surprisingly, I haven't been writing about it at all. My girlfriend and I moved across town at the end of the summer, and we're still unpacking and making repairs. We had to put our band and other creative endeavors on hold for the moment. I'm just getting back into the swing of things after months, and I actually started recording a new noise album for a label that asked me to do a release. I've started to ponder what I want out of noise musick, what I can bring to it that I haven't already, and what people are interested in. I felt kind of lost.

Around when we were still in a seriously chaotic mess of moving, Mirkwood Recordings asked me to review Side Stepping The Abyss by Düne Kankel. The review really got lost in the chaos even though I really wanted to do it. I tried a few times and was put off by the album's leading track being over nine minutes. When I recorded some noise stuff earlier this week, using only my guitar and some effects due to my gear being scattered around our house and storage unit, I felt lost, out of touch. Maybe listening to a similar album could help me, so I decided to listen to Side Stepping The Abyss in full.


The cover art to Side Stepping The Abyss is a painting of mountains at night. Bats or birds fly over the snow-covered peaks. The art has a rough outsider feel to it, which, along with the subject matter, foreshadows the musick inside.

"And the Void Sings to Me" is the first track on the album, opening with a whirring rumble that goes into something that sounds akin to an out of tune merry-go-round in a Krautrock band. The song goes a number of times around this ride with some more dramatic variations. Every time, I can hear more of the sounds in the distance layered through mud and fog. Some solo-ish things appear like creatures struggling out of the mud, but nothing feels particularly focused. The production is very rough around the edges. A deathly voice calls out from the fog towards the end as various tones ring out. Unfortunately, I found this somewhat cheesy. It might be cool to you, though. "Ceremonial Dirge", the second song, plays out much quicker and, in my opinion, better. The song is what sounds like a tape, a slice of ambient air warblings, interrupted by bell chimes. It's eerie and effective. The production is much cleaner as well. "Creative Suffering" is a very loud song that reminds me of something I did on my album The UFO Cults of Satyr/Elfheim ("Sanat Kumara"). Both songs are not well produced and utilize loops of guitar loudness as an instrument. On "Creative Suffering", the guitar is a fuzz cannon with other flares of feedback noise appearing in other areas. The song plods along without many changes to the main riff. The guitar does drop out a bit and switch sides in the second half, and then it flanges into white noise before returning. The final moments combine shoegaze and black metal into a not-so-loud experience.

"Intrusive Thought" starts the second half of the album with more extreme loudness, ambiance, and wind torpedoes. There are some cool pulsations on this track, science-fiction machines from another planet. "Neurogeneric" is another looped-guitar experience. I like the song here, almost Tibetan and dancing about out of sync. There are some really cool layers here too. Unfortunately, the track is spoiled by the extreme volume and the thin distortion applied to the guitar after the first half. "Recovering Lost Soul Fragments" does some similar things as "Neurogeneric", though the guitar here is more rhythmic. Again, it reminds me of myself and various poor production jobs I have done over the years.The guitar sounds pretty cool, but I wish there was more than just the deep, darkness of bass reflections in a well. "Relapse, Relapse, Repeat" concludes the album with chilly spirit sounds that remind me of some of Kendra Smith's interludes. "Relapse, Relapse, Repeat" is brief, perhaps too brief, but it's a decent end to an unfortunately underwhelming release.

I did not enjoy Side Stepping The Abyss. I was initially intimidated by the song lengths on this release, and my listening experience followed suit, in a sense. The droning of "Creative Suffering" and "And the Void Sings to Me" rattle on and on for far too long. If these tracks were not excruciatingly loud, rough, and rumbling, they might work, but the production here is bare-bones and ragged. Side Stepping The Abyss is physically painful for me to listen to, at least with headphones. The tracks are way too far into the red for me to really experience in any capacity. I believe that this is the first album I've reviewed that I've ever skipped through some of the songs after a few minutes. As for the shorter songs, they're fine. Most seem more curated and carefully produced. The instruments and the way they interact are much more interesting on songs like "Neurogeneric" than on the longer pieces. Even the shorter tracks are extremely loud, though. Surprisingly, Side Stepping The Abyss has a listed producer, so this isn't just someone in their basement blasting a giant cabinet as I foolishly did when I was younger. I really wish that someone had taken a step back and thought about the usage of space and the element of composition during this creation. Without these things, there are some serious problems.

To get back to the beginning, these problems are, for me, problems with the noise genre itself. They at least make the genre uninteresting as a whole to me. In a live setting, this kind of stuff doesn't really come into play, and loudness can make for some excitement as long as you have, like, earplugs. I still think that composition or clever improvisation is important and, personally, I need some kind of space in a soundscape. For fans of black metal and harsh noise, you probably don't care about these things, and this album, and others like it, may appeal to you. It doesn't work for me at all.

Side Stepping The Abyss receives a Bad.

Continuing from last time, I proceeded with my search for truth in regards to the mysterious Atlanta-based Victory Hands. I did find the original email exchange where I agreed to review the three records I received, so it wasn't all some covert conspiracy. Last time we looked at BERNSTEIN and ANDERSON, two short releases named for journalistic enemies of Richard Nixon that feature lyrics constructed from Nixon dialogues. Today, I have the LP, BISHOP, to review.

BISHOP is the third Victory Hands release. It's named for Jim Bishop, a journalist who wrote a column for King Features. I can't find any particular noteworthy incident that brought Bishop to Nixon's list of media enemies, but his column included many articles criticizing the President's mediaphobia. Though BISHOP is a full-size LP, it's not so much that in terms of the amount of musick here. The total time isn't even 26 minutes.

BISHOP continues the trend of fantastic packaging. The vinyl is transparent, and the album artwork contains many of the lyrics, shown by blacking out excluded portions from the transcription of Nixon's speech that ended up sung on the album. Text and images are printed stark black on white except for "This Kitchen", which is printed with metallic gold. One image shows a Presidential meeting. The cover art shows a man hugging a chimpanzee. I'm not sure what it means, though there is a surreal cuteness and a calmness to it. It's kind of absurd but adorable. We must continue, though, and pop the clear vinyl onto the table.

The first side begins. "Top Brass" starts with droning guitars rebounding off of an angle. The vocals are all drama, voices about morale and struggle taken from remarks Nixon made to the Department of Defense on January 31st, 1969, the inherent doom of the Vietnam War. "Dressed to the Tease" recalls "Undressed To The Tease" from BERNSTEIN, a song that utilized words between Kissinger and Nixon about Ronald Reagan. It has a cool, acidic, and hollow guitar sound. "Face These Facts" is a short and poppy rocker that reminds me of The Wedding Present. It could be the ending song to a television show.

The second side continues. "This Kitchen" has emotional depth and anxiety. "What we want to do is make life easy." Sometimes I really wonder about this. 'Are you still angry?" Yes, basically, sort of. To respond to a later section, I don't want to fight, but I am upset with the nature of the world. "I want to be unwavering." The song is built from words taken from Nixon's so-called "Kitchen Debate" with Nikita Khrushchev in a model house built to show the power of capitalism. I can't say that that power still exists today except for the few. "Tonight He Stands" is very dissonant. Someone's standing, presumably Nixon at the Republican National Convention, but it gives me vertigo. Words about children, courage, and danger accompany tension-filled riffage. "All In The Family" is all riffage. Then it's all over.

BISHOP officially releases physically on September 27th, 2019 - two days from now! Pre-order a copy today!

BISHOP receives a Good.

I moved at the end of July through the beginning of August. Amidst the chaos of box cities shifting too and fro, trucks delivering another round of citizens to their new vistas, I found a strange package at my new address: a flat box about a foot tall with a sticker of Richard Nixon on the front and the name "Victory Hands". Seemingly there was a record (or records) inside, but I didn't have time to open it during all of the procedures at the time. Did I agree to review something? I couldn't remember.

When I finally did open the box, I found an assortment of interesting items. The band was Victory Hands, and they are from Atlanta, Georgia. The package contained three of their releases inside of increasing size: 7 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches of vinyl disc. All of the records were transparent vinyl, all had stark black-and-white covers, all had elaborate fold-out packaging with Richard Nixon transcriptions, and all were named after self-declared media enemies of Richard Nixon.
The first was ANDERSON, a 10" single. The cover is creepy, though I don't really know why. It looks like a mob going after someone, perhaps a killing by stoning. the grin, the wall, the moon are all strange features. I can't get over the woman and child on the right, a grotesque morphing of traditional imagery. As for the title, Anderson was a journalist who investigated the Iran-Contra Affair, fleeing Nazis hiding out in South America, and various cases with Richard Nixon. The administration plotted to assassinate Anderson, but this was destroyed after the Watergate affair. This record remains a transparent relic of such a time.

"The Guy We Can Kick" is a lurching, vertigo unbalanced mid-range drone rocker cut from early 90s Sonic Youth and Gang of Four. "If They Give Him The Shaft" is a metallic, melodic rocker with an eerie undercurrent in the left channel. The vocals give the song the feel of a worn hero, a portrait from a different angle of our tarnished 37th president. It's somewhat poignant, do we attribute too many problems with the modern world to people of the past? The people of the present, of the future, can always make different choices than their ancestors.

ANDERSON receives a Good.


The second release is a 7" EP, BERNSTEIN. The cover shows Nixon's dog, Checkers, a black-and-white cocker spaniel. Less innocently, Carl Bernstein was one of the main reporters about the Watergate scandal, going on to write All the President's Men with his partner, Bob Woodward. He later wrote about Pope John Paul II, the relation between the CIA and the American media, and the increasing trend of sensationalism in American journalism. Let's ditch that trend.

"Nixon Is My Copilot" is the first track. With rumbling bass and melodic, almost naive, guitars, the song shifts between happy and nervous. It increasingly drones, all instrumental, as it goes on with a whining fade-out. "Nixon Is My Copilot" is a nice, short, snappy, poppy piece. "Lady of the Lake" is a Sir Walter Scott poem turned into musick by James Sanderson; it's "Hail to the Chief". The song has been replicated here in slow-mo, slightly sludgish, a rock replica of 1990s-isms. "September 23rd, 1952" references Nixon's "Checkers Speech" about modest living with his dog Checkers as a metaphor. The song sounds like something from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon like The Flintstones or The Jetsons. I think it mostly reminds me of the cover of the title track from the latter by The Urinals, though this is less frantic. "Undressed To The Tease" takes words from a conversation between Nixon and Henry Kissinger on November 17th, 1971 about Ronald Reagan. The pair basically underestimated the actor-politician. The song is the hardest on this EP, pushing ahead with Nixon's angry words, "doesn't he know these battles we fight and fight and fight?" I don't think I know these battles myself; their self-created, a framework of neurotics, globalism, control, and economic starvation.

BERNSTEIN receives a Good.

Victory Hands has certainly made its mark in my book. I enjoyed all of these tracks and found the paranoia, juxtapositions, and double-meanings very interesting. The high-contrast images and transparent vinyl display what I see as the meaning of all of this: the need for transparency in our current American government and the relation of that need, and lack of such a transparency, going back decades. The war on journalism is not just a recent trend. Nevertheless, we're not to the destination yet, in government or in Victory Hands discography. Do we have Bernsteins and Andersons of today? I don't know; perhaps citizens are more informed in a sense through the internet but still lacking in a heroic figurehead to push forward. Victory Hands themselves have one more record we're going to take a look at, though I expect there will be more in the future.

Avoidance is a good name for an album that I was asked to review half a year ago in late February/early March that originally came out in May 2018. Losing my job, looking for a new one, dealing with floods and construction, and finally moving to a new house really made me avoid reviewing this. It was so intimidating: dark and over 40 minutes of what appeared to be noise music. Finally, since I've now been able to find a new job and start organizing things in my house into the start of a semblance of order, I've been able to take the descent into Laver's 2018 album Avoidance.


I wasn't sure what to make of the album starting off with the cover and the title. Everything is so minimal, and the cover is so dark. I like the deep red of, what I assume is, a snake-ish rug. There seems to be a glitch arc going on the left side, and I'm not sure what to make of its placement. I prefer to see the natural rhythm of the room. For me, nothing has of yet been resolved.


Avoidance starts with "Dymphna", the name of a Christian saint, the patron of mental disorders, depression, anxiety, and runaways. This track is composed of minimal guitar(?) loops transisting through the grit of a glitch. The combination of cleaner, echo'd lines combined with a deep boom reminds me of some of my own work as Satyr/Elfheim. The next track is "Messier 42", another name for the Orion Nebula and a possible source for a Mayan myth. A pulse, a lost symphony codes into this world through a rough sieve. This song is distant and alien but also near and familiar, the sound of dreaming while awake at night in a living room lit by lightbulb to a warmth of dull yellow. It's not a bad place, and it is one that conjures all sorts of things; perhaps it is not an ideal situation though, beyond these nighttime hours. The third track is "hunu", perhaps referring to the word for the sun or a sun ray in different languages. It could also be the number 1,000,000. I hear the sound of the subway of a dream world like that first area in Silent Hill 4: The Room. It's a static curtain through which several voices peek into this room. This song gives me more historical content too; the static reminds me of rushing water, a faucet, that reminded me that a parent who scared me sometimes was home. Sometimes I hid in my room. The song heads into a tunnel, Tunnel Music, as I've played before. Footsteps of insects (and bigger) in the damp humidity echo as the room opens up with chimes of charming water falling.

Two more tracks follow quietly. "Choi Da Bin" is a single that is presented here and the name of a South Korean figure skater. The song has a chilly feel of synth warps and crispy textures. It would perhaps be a good track for a horror game or film due to the high-pitched tones that rise every so often. It's not a bad piece, but I found this track to be the least interesting one so far. "rip vladik" perhaps refers to Vladik Shibanov, an actor from Ukraine who some believe to have been killed by the CIA or faked his death. He was only 18 when he died and had been involved with some kind of softcore, naturist child porn when he was a kid. I don't know anything about this, so I have no comment to give. The track starts with clinking glasses and a windy synth. The song continues into nature sounds of birds and water along with calm and spacey synth sounds. Along with "Choi Da Bin" before it, "rip vladik" is more ambient and epic. Compared with the first half, these are less to my tastes, but maybe you will find something hiding here in the windswept heaths.

Avoidance fits the title sonically. The tracks follow the theme, the name, and the cover art with insular topics one might read about alone, become engrossed in tales of outside people and places in juxtapose the inner-focused life of the hikikomori. I really liked the first half of Avoidance, rough textures of dreams, more than the later half of long winding drones. It's an interesting item for sure.

Avoidance receives a Good.

Grow Rich is a band from Jakarta, Indonesia that combines elements of My Bloody Valentine, Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, and the Jesus and Mary Chain to a fresh, new noisy shoegaze sound. It recalls that time of the late 90s, waiting up at night to greet the dawn in a sweat of confusion and excitement. I heard about Grow Rich from the Warehouse of Strangers Facebook group, and I'm glad I did. This is their new release, Frantic Semantic EP.


The cover art is a cat in purple. The background weave waves the viewer along into the stoically mounted text that sits in the sweep of the Space Age. It's a great cover.

"Bounce Back" is a great song like the Jesus and Mary Chain on Psychocandy. The guitars make a sound of the title - they sound bouncy. "Kawan Lama" is all in another language, but the tuneage is good, solid Dinosaur Jr. warble-skronk. That glitchy breakdown in the end is solid too.

"Tenderfoot" starts the second side with a Confusion Is Sex minimalist dread that flies into a tunnel of lost voices. It's a short tunnel, and then we're into the last track, "Cat Flag". "Cat Flag" starts with an opening narrative before hammering into cosmic guitar slices. This song is the melodramatic truth of mental ruin. "Borderline slowly drove you insane". That's brilliant.

Frantic Semantic EP is a short, solid hit. There's nothing that drags, nothing that snags; it's that blue light of the undergrowth, a neon god from past future hopes. Melodies travel through space from there to here, from me to you. I'll have to check out more by Grow Rich, and I hope you will too.

Frantic Semantic EP receives a Good.

On June 21st, Kaiti dragged me to see a show at Cafe D'Amore. I was getting second thoughts, feeling anxious, and all of that silliness. I almost didn't go. I'm glad that Kaiti is so excited to go out and see music because this show was great!

I had never been to Cafe D'Amore before, but it's just up the street from our house. It's a cozy spot that has coffee and small snacks. Large sculptures adorned the walls of the room where the musicians were to perform; I think these pieces were made of paper. I also appreciated the various elements of the store that promoted environmental care. When we got to the store, I had to do a U-turn to grab money from an ATM.


When I got back, our friend Ky Vöss had started their set. Ky Vöss is an electronic artist who lives here in Pittsburgh. They've been getting pretty popular lately, and I can see why. Ky's musick is exciting and spacey with tuneful vocals and the cool air of synthesizers. It's vocal-driven synthpop that reminds me of early Madonna or Japanese city pop. Kaiti says Ky is a like a gothic Purity Ring or Grimes I'm sure that hardcore fans of this kind of stuff have some better points of comparison. My partner and I really like the song about being an astronaut.


Philadelphia's Son Step is also electronic, going for an indie rock/ambient/funk sound circa 2008. Geometric patterns cavorted behind the pair as they projected their bright sounds upon the audience. There were some really great bits of soft, white noise, but it's sort of a pastoral sound overall. Son Step reminded me of a Pittsburgh band from years back, Sundog Peacehouse, though it's not a one-for-one sound.


Sneeze Awfull was a more experimental version of Son Step. Eric Weidenhof played cello, and Jay Eff Winkelins channeled found sounds and keyboard creations. The songs were wobbly, ghostly VHS-vocalled, micro-symphonies part mystery and part comedy. This, again, reminded me of Sundog Peacehouse and the Fantastic Voyagers event that happened a few times. Those were some of my earliest show experiences in Pittsburgh, so I felt nostalgic.

It was good to see this show and be reminded of the creative things I saw around years ago before, during, and for some time after the Roup House days. Neither then or now is perfect, but there are interesting things all around all of the time somewhere. You just have to look around you.

MARI themes

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