SKiN GRAFT Records just turned 150 catalog numbers old and have marked the occasion with “Sounds To Make You Shudder!”, a collection of fifteen songs (by seventeen artists) that the label describes as a “Halloween Long Player that plays fast and loose any time of the year”.
The album brings together longtime associates such as The Flying Luttenbachers, Jim O’Rourke and Strangulated Beatoffs, current acts like Terms, Lovely Little Girls and Tijuana Hercules, new signees Cuntroaches and Pili Coit – and some totally unexpected collaborations.
“Sounds To Make You Shudder!” sees The Jesus Lizard’s David Yow morph into a horror host frontman for the dark, chaotic math rock of Yowie, while Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer performs sci-fi, micro-surgery on Psychic Graveyard.
On the eve of the album’s release, we caught up with many of the participants for a virtual round table on how “Sounds To Make You Shudder!” came to be.
What can you tell us about your contribution to this project? How did you get involved? Are there any details or insight that you can share?
MARK FISCHER (Owner, Founder of SKiN GRAFT Records): SKiN GRAFT evolved out of a hardcore punk comic-zine that I did back in the 80’s, and in the comic book world, anniversary issues were always very important and something to celebrate: issue 100, issue 250 and on and on… I knew that we were coming up on SKiN GRAFT Record number 150 – and I’d had something in mind – but it was becoming more and more clear that it was not going to be possible to have that particular project ready in time.
Meanwhile, a bunch of the bands I work with – Terms, Psychic Graveyard, Child Abuse and USA Nails – had all been invited to play at the No Coast noise rock festival happening in Texas at the end of October. On top of that, Cuntroaches had nearly finished this wild Halloween-themed video for a song they had been working on, but with the maddeningly-long turnaround times we’re seeing at the vinyl pressing plants currently, there was no way to get even a 7” single out in time for the holiday. It’s pretty cruel, bands finally have an opportunity to go out and play live again, but now there’s no guarantee their album will be out by the time they get in the van.
So late in the summer, with all of this swirling around in my head, I hit upon the idea of a Halloween album and started contacting some bands to see if it would be possible to put something together – – – – and it was!
To make it out by Halloween 2022, vinyl was obviously out of the question, so we went with CD / Tape / Digital so it could be turned around fast. Most of the songs were recorded within the last few months. I got lucky. There were a lot of really happy circumstances. Dazzling Killmen were the very first band SKiN GRAFT worked with and while the band is long gone now, all of the members have continued to make music. It just so happened that Nick, the singer and guitarist, had started a new band called Upright Forms and Dazzling Killmen’s drummer Blake had also just started performing with his new band Shatter On Impact. Both bands are making their debut here.
As all of the songs started to come in and I worked on the sequence, it broke down into three “acts” (in this case, five songs apiece) – a lot like “Camp SKiN GRAFT”, the compilation I’d put together as the label’s 50th release twenty years earlier. I hadn’t anticipated it, but I suppose this turned out to be a kind of spiritual successor to that.
I’m so humbled, proud and blown away by the work everyone put into this thing. This album came together in record time; it was a thrill hearing these songs come in, and I’m even more excited to see them go out.
YOWIE “The Spider’s Greeting” collaboration with David Yow
Shawn O’Connor aka The Defenestrator: Mark from SKiN GRAFT came to me with this idea and asked if Yowie was interested. For the younglings, some exposition may be required: The notion was that “Sounds That Make You Shudder!” would basically be an homage to those 1970s records made for kids’ Halloween parties, and Mark wanted to include some kind of Dracula-type narrator at the beginning, the kind of thing that is usually accompanied by lots of creaking doors and rattling chains and screaming. David Yow was on board to do an opening track wherein he would play a role not unlike the Cryptkeeeper (or that wonderful narrator from “Tales from the Darkside”) and Yowie was asked to do the incidental music.
My initial response was, “I don’t think we are the right band.” And that was very difficult to say, because I grew up on Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard and Pigface, so the idea of doing a track with David felt astoundingly good. And Halloween is the only holiday I actually enjoy, and consensually participate in, and so it seemed fun. But there was one problem – I don’t think Yowie is really much of an incidental music band. We tend to pull the listener’s full attention. And when I heard David’s track alone, I couldn’t help but think that the perfect sounds to accompany it would be something like creaking doors and distant creepy moans, rather than intricately arranged polyrhythmic rock music.
I should also point out that Yowie has consistently had a particular process in composition, wherein we allow parts to sort of independently develop and evolve over time… so the notion that we would be restricted to the parameters of interacting with a recorded vocal track, of all things, seemed pretty un-Yowie. Nonetheless it felt intriguing and very different, and so I talked a bit with people who were in or around Yowie, and it was decided that we would give it a go and see if we could do something that worked without becoming un-Yowie-like. I will leave it to the listeners to decide; I think we did a poor job of being “incidental” but instead made a composition that generally fits with a spooky theme, and is somewhat meticulously composed to David’s vocal lines. Does it work? Does it make sense? Is it a Yowie track? Is it something else entirely? You be the judge.
Martina / Claire / David hivemind: We wrote Borborygmus – a seven-minute long noise / metal / punk / post-punk mash-up – to score a music video idea we’d been toying with for some time. It’s named after the ominous sounds produced by gas and fluids in the intestines. The music video is about a hungry witch-slash-wizard abomination with an empty fridge who fails to summon food with her toilet brush wand. The only edible option for the witch is to eat her own dog (spoiler alert: it doesn’t go so well).
The aesthetic is inspired by the 80’s television series Tales From The Crypt and other B-movie horror classics, so the original plan was to release Borborygmus with two additional tracks on a special edition 7” with the Borborygmus music video on Halloween in 2021.
It was SKiN GRAFT who suggested expanding the 7” material into a full-length Cuntroaches album and we’re happy with this decision! The album is in the final stages of mixing, so the music video will launch independently on Halloween of this year to kick off SKiN GRAFT’s Sounds That Make You Shudder! compilation. We provided a shortened track of Borborygmus for the it, so conceptually this aligns with our initial idea of a combined speciality release.
TERMS “Mouthful of Moss”
Christopher Trull: Mark from SKiN GRAFT asked us to contribute to a Halloween themed release, and Danny & I both immediately thought of this particular unfinished (at the time) track. Work on ‘Mouthful of Moss’ began about a year and a half ago while we were putting together tracks for our next album, and it ended up not getting completed at that time. It didn’t quite fit the vibe of the rest of the record we were making, but it definitely has an ominous, creepy quality that seemed perfect for a Halloween album!
TIJUANA HERCULES “Dark Slide”
John Vernon Forbes: Joe Patt (Tijuana Hercules’ drummer) and I started fooling around with the riff. I hadn’t thought about what to do with it until Mark came up with the idea of a Halloween album. I thought the riff had a William Castle horror movie feel to it and I could envision Joan Crawford swinging an axe while the tune played. As the recording progressed, Doug Abram joined in with a baritone sax. For the percussion, Mike Young played a bowling pin and maracas. Since the song was intended to be played around Halloween, we asked our friend, Brian Buckman to join in. Brian is someone with a deep knowledge of the supernatural and occult practices. He gave us a recording of interstellar outer space that he ran through his synthesizers. It added a George Van Tassel feel.
THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS
Weasel Walter: I composed this piece for the New York lineup of the band some years ago, and we never got around to playing it, so I did it all myself (something I resort to from time to time). It’s an interesting milemarker for my transition out of New York and back to Chicago after 20 years absence. The current Flying Luttenbachers full lineup is currently playing sporadic shows and writing a new album.
LOVELY LITTLE GIRLS “Procreation (Of The Wicked)”
Gregory Jacobsen: Celtic Frost, specifically the Morbid Tales album, has always been a favorite. Of all the metal I listened to when I young, that album was just so weird. I had no reference point for what it was. There was no pose and the sound was dreary, malevolent, and aggressive in a way that all that other thrash shit I listened to didn’t even touch. And that guitar tone! I always wanted to do a cover of Procreation – there’s a certain idiosyncratic swing to it, and the structure is simple and wide open to do a lot of fun stuff with it, like a blank canvas. The challenge was convincing the rest of the band who are more prog-orientated. Too much repetition!
USA NAILS “Horror Show”
Gareth Thomas: After SKiN GRAFT released our split with Psychic Graveyard, Mark mentioned he wanted to put together a halloween comp and asked if would we be interested in contributing a track, so obviously we bit his hand off. We are all long time fans of SKiN GRAFT so are dead excited to be working with them again. As for writing a halloween related tune, I had no idea how to approach that so was glad that Steven took the vocals on for this number…
Steven Hodson: Being asked to be on a horror themed compilation initially made me quite anxious as I had no idea what to write about. I mean, I haven’t really watched any horror films for years. We’re more of a Paul Rudd household these days, though I guess some would class his work pretty horrific (wink wink, nudge nudge, snare, kick and crash) Am I right? I thought I’d talk about real life horror stuff instead.
SHATTER ON IMPACT “Amar’s Volta”
Blake Fleming: Mark Fischer from SKiN GRAFT kindly asked if my new band, Shatter On Impact, would like to contribute a song to a Halloween themed album. We weren’t quite in recording mode yet. We were doing lots of rehearsing and writing and starting to play shows, and so we had to get something down quick. The result is a completely live in the studio version of a song we jokingly called “Amar’s Volta”. I co-founded the Mars Volta and SOI’s guitarist is named Amar. To clarify, it has no relation to The Mars Volta, it’s just practice space humor. We thought it was funny, so we kept it.
BOBBY CONN “Don’t Be Afraid”
Bobby Conn: As is typical of my “career” these days I am generally feeling sorry for myself and crying in the bathroom until someone (Mark Fischer of SKiN GRAFT in this case) comes out of nowhere and gives me something to do. Of course, he only gave me a week to put something together, but as I’ve been recording bunches of group improvisations with our regular players, I had several hours of stuff to pick through. These sessions have been totally indulgent, with lots of instrument swapping and deliberate lack of deliberation. So I found a section with the band that sounded fairly “spooky” and made a few edits. Then I added a bunch of on the nose stacked vocals, and, because I am completely hopeless, too many 90’s guitar overdubs. Then I asked Monica to try to redeem it slightly with her vocals at the beginning. And the result is a genre exercise completed in one weekend! I’m very proud to live in the intersection between “effortless” and “low-effort”.
PILI COÏT “Lo Comte Arnau”
Jessica Martin Maresco: SKiN GRAFT Records is a label that we have known and admired for a long time, and we’ve crossed paths with some of the bands on tour, such as Yowie, The Flying Luttenbachers, and Cheer Accident. We were contacted via the internet by Mark, asking what we thought about the possibility of adding a Pili Coït track to the “Sounds To Make You Shudder!” album. On the spot, honored, and a little stunned by this crazy request, we said yes! Then he told us that we needed an unreleased track. Basically, we had about a month to compose, rehearse and record before delivering the job. A challenge we promised ourselves to take up or we would regret it forever. Fortunately, Stephane Piot with whom we like to record and R3myBoy (the best mixer in the East), were available!
We had in mind a traditional Occitan song, gleaned from an old yellowing book that Guilhem’s father had left him, which contained just the lyrics and the main melody, but without any more harmonizations or annotations. With Occitan being a secular language, an ancestor of French, and globally unintelligible for those who don’t pay attention to it, we had a lot of work to do before appropriating it.
By analyzing the lyrics and the legend, we realized that it fit perfectly with the spirit of Halloween, since it is about a man, Count Arnau, who goes to war leaving behind a pregnant woman, promising to return dead or alive. He returns damned, on a gaunt horse that spits fire from its nostrils, both more dead than alive. Legend has it that he was punished for impregnating a nun, and for failing to pay his stags. Count Arnau’s wife, at the end of the piece, swears to join him in the grave.
The piece was composed, edited and recorded in great haste. We’ve only just recently managed to play it live – with vocals and instruments together!
STRANGULATED BEATOFFS “Happy Halloween”
Fritz Noble: We originally did a track called “TITLE REDACTED” which was ultimately rejected after Kayne West’s legal team caught wind of it. Hence we did a “mood relevant” celebratory track called “Happy Halloween” which was recorded on a Yamaha sampler onto Grainstorm 4-track editing system.
AZITA “Tss Tss”
Azita Youssefi: Mark asked me right as I was about to leave town, so I had to come up with something quickly the day I got back. My only real working idea for “Tss Tss” was that it have a Halloween-ish party vibe. What came out was an improvisation on an Oberheim Xpander which I then layered sax and some more synth on top of.
UPRIGHT FORMS “They Kept On Living”
Nick Sakes: I’ve been working with Mark Fischer and SKiN GRAFT Records for almost every band I’ve been in – Dazzling Killmen, Colossamite and Xaddax. Sicbay was the only exception. I told Mark about this new band and he asked if we could record something for this compilation. I mentioned this track “They Kept On Living” which we had just recorded… It’s kind of funny because originally the lyrics were mainly just about perseverance, endurance with more of a personal nature, I guess, but Mark saw that it could be read as a ‘back from the dead’ zombie message! Perfect! I had never thought of that! So sure…I love how people can interpret lyrics however they like! Some of my favorite lyrics are misheard. Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” is really “Born On A River” for example.
Please give us a quick word or two about yourself or your band. Feel free to share information about other current releases you have and your plans for the coming months.
YOWIE (answers by Shawn O’Connor aka The Defenestrator): Welp a quick introduction to Yowie is that we are a band that’s been around almost a quarter of a century now who make weird ass strange rhythm music that is somewhat overcomposed. We have a hard time getting people to want to play in this band for any length of time in part because the conditions of writing are quite austere and exacting. The plan for the coming months is to keep writing music, possibly lose and gain a member, curse a lot, skin our knuckles a lot, and get to the point we are playing more shows.
CUNTROACHES (answers by the Martina / Claire / David hivemind): We’re a noise punk trio, based in Berlin, active since 2015. We’ve played numerous festivals and DIY venues across Europe and we’ve thrown trash on a lot of people. We swept the garbage up and re-used it every night until someone forced us to get rid of it. Martina built a warhorn from septic toilet pipes that we ripped out of some rich dude’s bathroom at one of our crappy renovation jobs. The sound of the warhorn is featured on our next album, scheduled for release in 2023! Exactly when, we don’t know (depends on who we can bribe to press the LPs faster).
The Borborygmus music video just launched. It stars our guitarist/vocalist Martina as the gnarly Count Roachula and is jam-packed with Muppet rejects, a miniature recreation of our rehearsal room (if you wanna know what that looks like), full-scale interior sets and budget costumes, all of which we made ourselves. You can check out the music video on SKiN GRAFT’s YouTube channel and other collaborating platforms.
We are celebrating the release of “Sounds To Make You Shudder!” and the video with a Halloween weekender tour with our friends, Wax Legs in Prague, Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin. In March of 2023, we’re headed to Paris to play the Sonic Protest Festival and we’ll organize a tour around that. We have big plans once the album is finished – we’ll cross the pond to tour the USA and then later, Japan!
TERMS (answers by Christopher Trull): TERMS is a duo that I am in with the amazing drummer Danny Piechocki. He lives in Florida & I live in Missouri, so most of our writing and recording takes place long distance. We are playing some live shows in October, and our second album, ‘All Becomes Indistinct’ will be coming out on SKiN GRAFT next year!
TIJUANA HERCULES (answers by John Vernon Forbes): Tijuana Hercules is what I’m involved in. We are a hillbilly trance outfit based in Chicago, Illinois. Our latest release is “Mudslod & the Singles” on SKiN GRAFT Records. The next few months will be spent playing as much as we can and finishing our next record, which will also be on SKiN GRAFT Records.
THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS (answers by Weasel Walter): I started The Flying Luttenbachers as an acoustic free jazz trio in 1991. The group released 15 albums in various incarnations and styles until I took a break from it in 2007. I reformed the band in 2017 and there have been 4 full length releases since. The group is an umbrella for my various tangents and obsessions. My writing is influenced by Death Metal, No Wave, Free Jazz, the hardest Prog, 20th Century Modern Classical, and other bizarre tangents. It tends to be brutal, relentless and scathing, while retaining an edge of black humor and absurdity. Some of the people that played in the group include Mick Barr (Krallice), Ed Rodriguez (Deerhoof), Ken Vandermark, Jeb Bishop, Tim Dahl (Child Abuse), Henry Kaiser, Jonathan Hischke (Hella) and many others. I remain the only constant.
LOVELY LITTLE GIRLS (answers by Gregory Jacobsen): The band was started in 2001 by me as a performance project that would be an extension of my visual work. Lots of masks, flailing dancing, ridiculous monologues set to really simple music farted out from cheap synths and bicycle horns. The project grew into a band and settled into its current sound when Alex Perkolup joined and crafted ambitious compositions that still retained the chaotic and confusing nature of the first performances. We have a new record recorded that SKiN GRAFT will release next year. It’s a lot more catchy than past releases and with a lot of focus on duo vocals with my vocal collaborator L. Wyatt.
USA NAILS (answers by Gareth Thomas): We are from London and have been a band in one form or another for about 9 years now. We’re 5 albums deep and will hopefully release our 6th one in 2023. Just before this comp we released a split with Psychic Graveyard who are amazing. I can’t really believe they were up for doing it with us. They are so sick. After our US tour with Child Bite at the end of October we have a run of shows in England and one in Paris. Getting over to the continent is knackering since Brexit but we will be popping over for a few more shows and festivals there next year.
SHATTER ON IMPACT (answers by Blake Fleming): Shatter On Impact is a three-piece instrumental band that makes dynamic, intense, cinematic songs. We are gearing up to record our debut album this winter at our studio near Cooperstown, NY. Currently, the only thing that has been released is the one track for “Sound To Make You Shudder!”. We’ve just started an instagram page @shatteronimpact and for more music, people can look up my personal profile on Facebook where I also post video clips of the band. Besides recording over the next few months, we will start doing more out of town shows and build a website.
BOBBY CONN (answers by Bobby Conn): Unknown to most I released a record in March of 2020 on the great Tapete label from Hamburg, DE. But our friend COVID-19 also came out at the same time and all the touring, etc. was postponed indefinitely. So I am just now trying to find the correct approach to reboot the new record. Fortunately, it’s called “Recovery” so it is perfect for our times! Hopefully touring again in 2023; come and say hi.
PILI COÏT (answers by Jessica Martin Maresco): We are a rock duo. We both sing. Guilhem is the drummer of poil, but in our band he plays guitar. I am also the singer of Grand sbam, but in Pili Coït, I sing and play drums. We have two albums so far: “Pink Noise” was released in 2017 by the label Dur et Doux. Our new album is “Love Everywhere” on Dur et Doux and SKiN GRAFT Records. SKIN GRAFT is putting out a cassette version at the end of this year and they will also release it as a vinyl LP in 2023.
We are now writing our third album, and on it we will be joined by an ensemble of six other musicians (viola, cello, violin, nei, tuba and bass clarinet) that we met during the creation of Janus by the Grand SBAM. We expect that the next album will be ready to be released in 2024.
AZITA (answers by Azita Youssefi): My band is called AZITA. My most recent release is “Glen Echo” on Drag City. I’ve previously performed at SKiN GRAFT’s OOPS iNDOORS festivals and after my band The Scissor Girls broke up, I recorded a song for the “Camp SKiN GRAFT” compilation as Last of SGs.
UPRIGHT FORMS (answers by Nick Sakes): Upright Forms began not even one year ago with me and my friend Shaun just messing around in his basement back in December of 2021. We have been friends for years. Shaun and his crew of 3 or 4 would come to see my old band Colossamite back in the 90’s and give lots of enthusiasm and support. They quickly became known as “The Fans” to us in the band as we generally didn’t have much draw in our hometown. They were all big SKiN GRAFT Records fans and were quite familiar with the label’s roster. We could always count on them to boost the mood! Through the following years we stayed in touch via social media and chatted now and again until one day the proverbial lightbulb turned on and we got together at his house and started making noise and working on riffs. A couple of weeks later – out of the blue – my old friend Noah Paster texted me just to say hi. I have known Noah since my days in Sicbay when his old band Aneuretical used to play shows with us. I asked if he’d be interested in playing bass in this new thing me and Shaun had going and….boom…it all fell together quickly.
SKiN GRAFT’s Mark Fischer: One of the last things to be decided on was the album title. It’s a riff on an old ’70s Halloween sound effects LP I loved as a kid called “Sounds To Make You Shiver!” I used to blast that out of my dad’s garage at trick or treaters every year, but really, I played that thing all year round. I hope there are a few kids who terrorize their neighbors like that with our album. The thought of that alone makes all of this worthwhile.
Please share your picks for the best records of 2022 so far or any under the radar releases that you feel warrants extra attention.
YOWIE (answers by Shawn O’Connor aka The Defenestrator): I shan’t rank order them but here are some:
Imelda Marcos “Albularyo”
If you don’t know Imelda Marcos, you are straight tripping. If you did know them as a 2 piece but never heard them with Donna’s vocals, you are really in for a treat. The band is always pushing limits and surprising the listener and doing innovative, fun things. Just listen to it.
Zantigo! “Please Pull Forward”
This is a local group here in my hometown populated by dear friends who got together and fucking nailed the chemistry of the work. This is music that clearly has its roots in some very solid places and a diverse set of approaches to rock here coalesce into something that transcends the sum of its parts. Check it.
Poil Ueda: “Dan no ura”
Ok, well if you don’t know Poil, i think they are truly one of the best bands on the planet, hailing from the Lyon scene, which is possibly the best place to live if you want to see awesome transgressive music. Their discography is on constant rotation at the crib. This album, not yet fully released, marks a collaboration between the French artists Poil and the Japanese traditional musician Junko Ueda. Benoit Lecompte, the band’s bassist, is no stranger to experimentation with diverse cultural sounds, and it really shows in the product here. This album, and Poil’s (and LeCompte’s other projects, including Ni, Pinoil, and many others) are really worth a listen.
Look, I don’t care what anyone says- this band really nails the essence of what they have always worked to be, here.
Tom Zé: Língua Brasileira
This may not be Zé’s best album ever, but damnit, the man has been doing this for more than half a century and his music is important. If you don’t know him, this is a good entry point and then you should really start exploring around. I am here to spread the gospel of Zé, and you are all in my church.
CUNTROACHES (answers by Martina, Claire and David) Martina’s Picks:
“Influence” by Stable
Existential survival at its finest. Best listened to naked in a dark, cold room. I did some Rumpelstilzchen style vocals for this banger alongside V + P6. Very happy with the outcome! Good job!
***CYBERCRIME*** by B’schszn
Fast East-German Punk. Rough, scruffy punk in times of cyber war.
“Psychonautic Escapism” by The Ephemeron Loop
This album is like that one time you took psychoactive substances and maybe you lost your mind, but specifically it’s that euphoric feeling of when you realized you pushed through and didn’t die, while wrapped in a cozy blanket on the beach at sunrise.
“Look Alive” by Nape Neck
Listen to Kiss Me Boy I’m Dying on repeat to experience a satisfying apex of guitar skronk, swirling vocals and relentless bass and drums coming together and bursting apart and coming back together again. Killer follow-up to NN’s debut in 2021.
“W.A.R. In The Digital Realm” by L.O.T.I.O.N. Multinational Corporation
This band gives me something that music in general hasn’t been able to satisfy for me in many years! Saw them at Static Shock Festival in London this year and it was brain-melting-hammer-punch-in-the-air-ecstasy!
“Dopamine” by BRAK
New blood in Berlin! I had the honor of recording and mixing Dopamine. Dark, experimental noise rock…imagine Brainbombs would have a jam session with Harry Pussy and replace guitar pics with screwdrivers. Can’t wait for more stuff!
D’KRIG by DRAÜMAR
These guys have “THE IT FACTOR!”
TERMS (answers by Christopher Trull): I’ve been listening to a lot of minimal, droney, often microtonal music – recent favorites are Kali Malone’s ‘Living Torch’, Linnea Talp’s ‘Arch of Motion’, and Jon Dale’s ‘Last Blues’.
Also, in a completely different vein, our labelmates Cheer-Accident’s “Here Comes The Sunset’ is fantastic. – And i’ve only heard the samples they’ve released so far, but i’m looking forward to Oort Smog’s ‘Every Motherfucker Is Your Brother’.
TIJUANA HERCULES (answers by John Vernon Forbes): Not all of these albums or songs came out in 2022 but 2022 was when I discovered them.
Pili Coit “Love Everywhere”
This album has put me into a whole other head.
Nduduzo Makhathini “Unonkanyamba”
This song got stuck on me and struck me in a familiar ways despite the pianist is from half the world away.
Ernie K-Doe “Don’t Let Me Down, Girl”
Another song not an album.K-Doe has been gone in mortal form for a couple of years and his hay day was the early 1960s. I hit this tune by chance around midnight. It is loose, loose, loose!
Charles Stepney “Step On Step”
An album of home recordings by the visionary arranger/producer. Another recording by a person that’s gone. This one for a long time. But the shadow is still strong.
Wet Wallet (multiple releases on Bandcamp)
A prolific Chicago duo. A true sensory overload.
THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS (answers by Weasel Walter): The only contemporary music I am really interested in is Death Metal. I’m currently wading through tons of so-called Brutal Death Metal and Goregrind from the mid ’00s on. I’m not really paying attention to most new releases, however “Razor Wire Strangulation” by Stabbing is highly anticipated.
Body Double, Bleeders and Flesh Narc are good bands that aren’t Death Metal. My other bands are Cellular Chaos, Encenathrakh, Vomitatrix, Lydia Lunch Retrovirus, and Drunks I get called to play drums in improvised music and free jazz settings frequently.
LOVELY LITTLE GIRLS (answers by Gregory Jacobsen):
Imelda Marcos – Albularyo
They have been making great disjointed angular and dissonant instrumental noise rock for years, but the addition of Donna Diane on vocals makes it next-level for me. Her ferocious rantings are so satisfying.
Mike Hagedorn – Standards of Conduct
Mike is the trombone player in Lovely Little Girls and Cheer-Accident. He is a weird genius. This is his latest solo release.
Tredici Bacci – live
Simon Hanes’ orchestra Tredici Bacci makes faux-70s euro soundtrack music inspired by the likes of Ennio Morricone. The live band has really hit its stride and has become a whole package, especially with singer Sami Stevens taking on a front-person role. They have also been backing JG Thirlwell recently.
Tropical Fuck Storm – Ann
I love anything they do. Such a weird sound. Dying guitars tangled up in a odd groove with frantic ranting. I did the cover art for this release.
USA NAILS (answers by Gareth Thomas): Charli XCX’s new album “Crash” is so good and is probably my big fave of this year, so far.
The new Petbrick album is savage n’all.
Algernon Cornelius just released a new EP too and I can’t understand why he isn’t massive, I think Marcus is literally a genius.
Oh and the Rosalia album that came out this year is crazy too, I feel like such an old man when I listen to it – I mean that in a good way, for her at least. I love that she is so popular, pop music is so exciting these days oooo my back.
BOBBY CONN (answers by Bobby Conn):
Tekla Peterson “Heart Press”
This is Taralie Peterson’s idea of a “pop” record – she is one half of the great avant witchcraft duo “Spires That In The Sunset Rise”. I guess her idea of pop music is that if it has a drum machine and passionate vocals it is pop – she has both, but it’s definitely not pop! I got to work on this record a bit and love it. You can really hear the heart break.
Jimmy Smack “Death Is Certain”
A very cool re-issue of a genuine LA weirdo from the 80’s. Super goth, super gay West Coast Suicide(ish) nihilism with electro bagpipes and unrelentingly morose lyrics. Fave track “Hating Life”.
Ka Baird “Vivification Exercises”
Ka Baird is the other half of Spires That In The Sunset Rise and they are a brilliant force of nature. Their solo work is more focused than Spires, maybe more pure and powerful as well. I’m always blown away by their talent!
James Marlon Magas “Confusion is my Name”
Chicago comrade from the 90’s No Wave scene keeps the torch of Electro-Clash burning very, very brightly on this great new record. It’s the ultimate party album for the coming end times!
Angel Bat Dawid “The Oracle”
This came out in 2019 on the excellent International Anthem label from Chicago, but her music is timeless, fearlessly strange and beautiful. I get Albert Ayler tingles when I hear her play.
This is a great French electronic duo (I think) combining expansive and trippy dance (y) tracks with a singular singer (mainly in German). It’s European art stuff at its best – this is the debut record that I’ve listened to the most this year, but their new one is very cool too. Gives me good Deux vibes.
Ben Lamar Gay “Open Arms to Open Us”
Another Chicago based genius – electronics and the living spirit of AACM explorations combined perfectly. Chicago has always pushed “jazz” music outside of the boundaries of bebop nostalgia / new age napmusic / cringey funk (my own specialty!) and this record is a great example.
Bitchin Bajas “Switched On Ra”
Super cool Chicago electronic guys do a Wendy Carlos on Sun Ra and it’s fantastic!
The Cool Greenhouse “The Cool Greenhouse”
I really despise modern Britain and the modern world in general, but I’m a total sucker for UK bands that agree with me. These guys have a new record coming out soon that sounds really good, but listen to this one and their killer single “Alexa” in the meantime. Like a (probably?) less alcoholic Mark E Smith, very funny.
Jackie Lynn “Jacqueline”
More Chicago, and the “pop” project from Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr. Hearing her incredible near baritone vocal instrument in combination with tightly composed rock(ish) tunes is a fun listen. Monica BouBou did a string arrangement on one of the tunes; I really hope Jackie Lynn continues with this project!
PILI COÏT (answers by Jessica Martin Maresco and Guilhem Meier): The album we ardently recommend listening to is “Préambule bègue” by Bégayer, a triptych released in 2022.
STRANGULATED BEATOFFS (answers by Fritz Noble):
Sutcliffe No More “Consenting Adult”
Cut Hands “Sixteen Ways Out”
Willis “They Hate Us”
ELP “Live Isle of Wight 1970”
The Pink Assholes “Open fr Business”
UPRIGHT FORMS (answers by Nick Sakes):
Off! “Free LSD”
Pink Mountaintops “Peacock Pools”
Krisiun “Mortem Soils”
Diamanda Galas “Broken Gargoyles”
KEN Mode “NULL”
Laddio Bolocko “97-99”
Osees “A Foul Form”
Psychic Graveyard / USA Nails “split LP”