Amoeblog

(In which the author receives an anonymous gift.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 21, 2011 04:38pm | Post a Comment

Don't you hate it when you're stuck sitting on a plane next to someone with thick ankles?

The other day I was busily preparing my usual breakfast – a small bowl of nonfat cottage cheese with a few cucumber slices, a cup of black coffee, and a rice cake, all deep fried and smothered in butterscotch gravy – when a knock came on the front door. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found no one there, some eight hours later. What was there was a small package, neatly wrapped in what looked like paper (though this is merely speculation on my part).

Strange packages from persons unknown should always be regarded with suspicion, but as I am a curious person by nature (my great-great-grandfather was a cat) I couldn’t help but open it, which proved to be a long and arduous task as I opted to use only my tongue, rather than the more versatile and saliva-free hands I keep at the end of my arms.

Inside the package was a cassette tape, painted a variety of colors, but without any linguistic explanation as to its purpose or content. I assumed it was a gift from one of my fans, but then I remembered they were without capacity for thought, incapable of free will and basically only good for circulating air. No, this cassette tape was almost certainly from a human, probably a living one, and almost certainly residing somewhere on this planet!

Having thus solved this riddle to my satisfaction, I sought out mechanisms necessary to enjoy the cassette. I decided to use my old boom-box (that’s 1990’s for “ghetto blaster”), which gets far better sound than my washing machine (though does nothing for butterscotch gravy stains).

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Keep on Music New Wave and '80s Reunion Party - The Vietnamese New Wave Revival

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 9, 2010 07:19pm | Post a Comment



Last November, Keep on Music threw a New Wave + ‘80s Reunion at Bleu in Westminster. This isn’t new wave in the sense that a lot of people use the term, but rather a mix of Italo, Eurodisco and other ‘80s dance music that notably found considerable popularity with Asian-Americans in the 1980s. I was only turned onto the scene four years ago, by Ngoc Nguyen, who is a Vietnamese New Wave super fan (especially of Sandra).

Flash forward to the present and near future: March 27th. On that day, Keep On Music’s having a second New Wave + ‘80s Reunion at the Can Asian Entertainment Bar in Garden Grove. Unlike last time, I won’t miss this one and neither should you! Luckily for us newbs and the uninitiated, some key figures of the new wave scene graciously agreed to sit down with me and answer some questions about the Asian/Vietnamese new wave scene for Eric's Blog

Who's Really Listening?: The Minimal Wave Tapes, Volume One

Posted by Aaron Detroit, February 1, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment

Over the last few years, Amoeba Music Hollywood has stocked a slew of obscure but quite excellent and endlessly exciting limited-edition vinyl reissues of DIY European and North American dark and minimal analog synth-based music from the 1980’s -- all thanks to the stellar underground label Minimal Wave. Originally these recordings were released in ridiculously small quantities either on cassette or vinyl by the bands themselves or by equally-unknown labels local to the band. Albums by the likes of Spanish Industrial pioneers Esplendor Geometrico, the Belgian Linear Movement (featuring Peter Bonne of New Beat progenitors A Split Second), and French New Wavers Martin Dupont have all recently seen the light of day on quality vinyl pressings via the loving care of the Minimal Wave label.

Minimal Wave’s label head/überfan Veronica Vasicka struck a deal late last year with Peanut Butter Wolf’s Stones Throw label to issue a series of “best-of” compilations featuring choice cuts from the MW roster and beyond. Recently, the popularity of new minimal synth-based bands like Cold Cave and Xeno & Oaklander has heightened, making this the perfect time to issue the first in the series of Minimal Wave/Stones Throw team-ups, The Minimal Wave Tapes, Volume One (available on CD and 2LP). It is a wonderful thing to hear these rescued gems and decades-old transmissions mostly recorded in isolated bedrooms miles away from any bustling cityscapes. Volume One very much invokes a familiar nostalgic feeling, like a mixtape would from your way-cooler friend or older sibling did in your formative years. Vasicka functions here as that cooler friend or sister and thankfully, she doesn’t mind spreading her cool around -- making us ear-opening mixes from her even-cooler record collection.

Volume One will suit anyone longing for jams from the age of pre-Some Great Reward Depeche Mode, Visage, early Human League or OMD. Linear Movement opens the volume with some icy Euro-Electro warmed by disco guitar and a catchy, memorable chorus before the compilation really takes off with the heavy attack-and-decay noise patterns of Crash Course in Science’s “Flying Turns.” On the track “Radiance,” British duo Oppenheimer Analysis offers a dead-pan vocal delivery over classic Numanesque Synythpop blips & bleeps, evoking a slightly friendlier-sounding Camera Obscura-era Nico, while Mark Lane's “Who’s Really Listening?” provides propulsive electro that is a pot-au-feu of Fad Gadget and Soft Cell with odd Industrial drum fills and cool falsetto vocals. Later on the tracklist, French duo Deux is revealed as one of the most obvious ancestors of current analog-wavers Xeno & Oaklander, examining the feeling of isolation and disconnection in an age of rampant technology with Male/Female vocal interplay intoning what is now a not-so-Sci-Fi tale of ominous businessmen and computer programs lurking “in the shadows of the night.” Elsewhere, Turquoise Days ‘ “Blurred” features an “I Wanna Be Your Dog” bassline, Synthpop melodies, urgent post-punk vocals, and lots of jangly-yet-edgy guitar effectively keeping the tracklist surprisingly varied for such a genre-specific collection. There are no clunkers or duds here, just essentials.

Listen:
Deux "Game and Performance"


Listen:
Linear Movement's "Way Out of Living"

Amoeba Music Hollywood has copies of both CD and 2LP of The Minimal Wave Tapes, Volume One in stock now. Also check out our current Minimal Synth favorites; Cold Cave’s Love Comes Close CD/LP and Death Comes Close 12” and Xeno and Oaklander’s Sentinelle CD/LP, all filed in our amazing Goth/Industrial section!


Featured Releases This Week, Amoeba Hollywood

Roma Amor Femmina CD [Old Europa Cafe]
Sophomore album from Italian Noir-Cabaret project. 10 songs inspired by female figures of Mediterranean folklore that celebrate the feminine dark side. Awesome late night listening.

Florence Foster Fan Club Everyday Theatre CD [Wave Records]
Straight-forward old-school EBM and crisp, dark Electropop with heavy 80’s Belgian influences and a touch of darkwave atmosphere.

Osoka Caustic Smoke CD [Rage in Eden]
Osaka is an experimental dark rock group hailing from Russia. Caustic Smoke is one expanded track, 45 minutes long, slow, repetitive and crushing, with heavy sections of distorted guitars often interspersed with dark ambient and industrial interludes.


In Next Week, Amoeba Hollywood

Rome L’Assassin CDEP [Trisol]
Includes previously unreleased material plus string versions of 2 classic Rome tracks!

Nachtmahr Madchen in Uniform CD [Trisol]
Brand-new 13-track remix collection of Naughty Title-track and others.







Still Fresh…

Steve Stapelton & Tony Wakeford Revenge of the Selfish Shellfish CD [Robot]
Awesome reissue of 1992 collaboration between, essentially, Nurse with Wound and Sol invictus. Includes Bonus CD of remixes by Andrew Liles and others! Faithfully restored artwork in mini-LP package.

This Immortal Coil
Dark Age of Love CD and 2LP+7” [Ici D’Ailleurs]
Tribute to Coil and the late John (Jhonn) Balance. "The most extra-ordinary, beautiful, and moving, re-interpretations of Coil I have ever heard!" - Peter Christopherson. Includes amazing version of “Ostia” by Bonny “Prince” Billy! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Light District's Best Dark Music Albums of The '00's

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 23, 2009 12:45pm | Post a Comment
Last week, I posted Black Light District's year-end best of list, which was a breeze to compile compared to reviewing the last 10 years for this week's post -- the 20 Best Dark Music Albums of The Decade. I had to whittle away many great titles, but I believe these records have proven to be or will prove to be dark classics for years to come. See ya next year, kids...

1. Coil – The Ape of Naples / The New Backwards (2005/08)


John Balance’s passing was one of the great tragedies in the music world this past decade. It was especially sad to see one of his greatest works be released posthumously. The recordings on The Ape of Naples and its (later-released) sister album, The New Backwards (collected together in the limited Ape of Naples LP box set), date back as far as 1993 when the band was briefly signed to Trent Reznor’s Nothing label, but went unfinished until 2004 when the group returned to the abandoned material for their new album. Gorgeous Funeral-Folk, third-eye electronics and captured transmissions from beyond The Threshold.

Listen: Coil "Fire of the Mind"




2. Diamanda Galas – Defixiones, Will and Testament (2003)

Diamanda has been scaring and thrilling me since I was a teenager and first heard the double-miked insanity that is Plague Mass
. Her wrath is visceral and unrelenting, and is not something I would like to incur. EVER. She once referred to her voice as “an instrument of inspiration for my friends, and a tool of torture and destruction to my enemies.” And that is exactly how she uses it on Defixiones, Will and Testament -- which not only stands as one of the best albums of the decade, but also as one of Diamanda’s ultimate masterpieces. This album is meant to give voice to those lives lost in the Armenian, Assyrian, and Anatolian Greek genocides which occurred between 1914 and 1923 via Galas’ other-worldy four-octave voice, piano, tape and minimal electronics. Harrowing, devastating, emotionally eructative, yet scholarly focused. The album, for its weight, intensity and scope, has no peers. 

                                                                  Listen: Diamanda Galas "Holokoftoma"





3. Nový Svět - Chappaqua (2001)

The now-defunct Austrian duo, Novy Svet, while largely associated with the Neofolk genre in the early part of this decade, was a truly singular band. Their post-industrial sound included bits of wonky lounge, Mediterranean folk, minimal wave, electro, krautrock, dark ambient and jazz. Their lyrics are sung in everything from English, Spanish, and German to Italian, French and even Esperanto. One’s inability to pin the duo down to one genre is a testament to their unique genius. While nearly any one of their 11 full-length albums could have made this list, Chappaqua is the first stand-out amongst their many stand-outs. It is the early masterpiece in their catalog for its unnervingly sinister ambience and dark romanticism -- sounding like nothing else in the year 2001, before, or after. 
                                                                 
                                                                  Listen: Nový Svět "En Posesion De Te"




4. The Knife - Silent Shout (2005)

Music for a David Lynch film that doesn’t exist but should from weirdo Swedish Brother/Sister Duo.
The Dreaming-style weirdly-pitched and occasional Eastern scale vocals, memorable melodies, bizarre story-telling and general eerie atmosphere make this one of the darkly defining and classic albums of the decade.

Listen: The Knife "One Hit" 






5. Subtonix – Tarantism (2002)

Subtonix was one of the only Deathrock bands to do it right this decade. They reclaimed the flame and moved the genre forward. Combining elements of Christian Death, X-Ray Spex, Fuzzbox and feminism with a Gothic Horror aesthetic at now- legendarily frenzied live shows, this is the one LP they left us with and it holds up with the classics from the original 1980’s Deathrock-wave.


Listen: Subtonix "Berlin 1930"




6. Cold CaveLove Comes Close (2009)


Like Subtonix were to Deathrock, Cold Cave is to Synthpop. Love Comes Close is an infectious slab of 9 inspired Darkwave and Synthpop anthems. Cold Cave couldn't have timed their debut any better either, with Synthpop bound for a big comeback with the release of BBC's stellar documentary Synth Britannia. Read my review of
Love Comes Close from earlier this year here.

                          Listen: Cold Cave "Heaven Was Full"






7. The Vanishing – Still Lifes Are Failing (2004)

After Subtonix, saxophonist/vocalist Jessie Evans (then Jessie Trashed) moved on to the more synth-heavy band, The Vanishing. Starting out with a relatively traditional Deathrock-vibe, the group eventually evolved into a more hypnotic dark electro/industrial sound, which can be found on the intense Still Lifes Are Failing. A record very much of its environment, Still Lifes funnels all the fear, war, excess and confusion of the last decade into a tight yet frenetic set that moves from the paranoid to the celebratory and back in under an hour. One of the best live bands of the decade finally was able to distill some of what made them so special live into a studio record. 

                                                                 Listen: The Vanishing "Still Lifes"






8. Wolves in The Throne Room – Diadems of 12 Stars (2006)

Epic, transcendental Black Metal that set the new bar. Folk, Goth, Shoegaze and Blackened Metal collide on the debut (and still the band's best as a whole) from the Olympia, Washington forest-dwellers. As important to American Metal’s evolution as Weakling’s Dead As Dreams.

Listen: Wolves In The Throne Room "(A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem of 12 Stars" PART 1
                                                                 
                                                                 PART 2




9. Rome – Masse Me
nsch Material (2008)

Honestly, any one of Rome’s records could have made this list, but I do believe Masse Mensch Material is the strongest of
masterstrokes from this young yet wonderfully prolific “Chanson Noir” collective. Rome built its foundation on Neofolk but has brazenly forged its own path, consistently improving and evolving on each consecutive release. They came out of nowhere and knocked all the hapless hushed neo-strummers on their asses and then kicked them into the dirt. The band further evolved on their 2009 release, Flowers From Exile (#7 0f 2009), adding poppier melodies and expanded instrumentation such as flamenco guitar to their soundscape. This definitely made Mensch the closing of the first chapter in the Rome story, and also effectively made it the band’s strongest effort as a ‘post-Industrial’ or ‘Neofolk’ outfit. Also, none of frontman Jerome Reuter’s peers can compete with his classic gothic tenor. 
                                                                
Listen: Rome "Der Brandtaucher"




10. Ruby Throat – The Ventriloquist (2007)

Stellar debut from Katiejane Garside's Folk-Noir project with guitarist Chris Wittingham. Ethereal pyscho-sexual musings to stark transgressive murder-balladry to sixteen-minute-long Apocalyptic/Psychedelic folk tracks. An amazing new peak for Garside, an already consistently powerful artist.


Listen: Ruby Throat "Lie To Me"




11.  Weakling - Dead As Dreams (2000)


Listen: Weakling "Cut Their Grain And Place Fire Therein" PART 1
                             
PART 2











12. Der Blutharsch - When Did Wonderland End? (2005)


Listen: Der Blutharsch "So Bring Your Iron Rain Down"









13. Bain Wolfkind – Music For Lovers & Gangsters (2005)


Listen: Bain Wolfkind "I Only Get Turned On..."

 









14. Ludicra – Hollow Psalms (2002)
 
Listen: Ludicra "The Final Lamentation"





 






15.  Piano Magic – Disaffected (2005)


Listen: Piano Magic "Night Of The Hunter"














16. Turn Pale – Kill The Lights! (2003)


Listen: Turn Pale "Lights Melt Away"

 












17. Cult of Youth – A Stick to Bind, A Seed To Grow (2008)


Listen: Cult of Youth "Torch of Man"


 










18. The Gault - Even As All Before Us (2004)


Listen: The Gault "Bright White Blind"

 












19. Spiritual Front - Armageddon Gigolo (2005)


Listen: Spiritual Front "Love Through Vaseline"














20. Tor Lundvall - Sleeping And Hiding (2009) 


Listen: Tor Lundvall "Falling Trees"











Honorable Mentions:

Nachtmystium – Instinct: Decay
(2006)

Derniere Volonte – Devant Le Miroir (2006)

Crebain – Night of Stormcrow (2003)

Of The Wand and The Moon - Sonnenheim (2005)
 
Pest - Ad Se Ipsum (2002)




Vietnamese New Wave - Part II

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 8, 2009 02:01pm | Post a Comment
Due to popular response, here's a follow-up to my initial blog on Vietnamese New Wave. For those of you who may not have read it, Vietnamese New Wave (less often called Asian New Wave) is not Vietnamese music. Think Northern Soul, a British genre of music that didn't come from British artists, but were beloved by 70s speed freaks for their common sound. At least, they didn't make it, but they took it, played it at dances, made bootleg mixes of it on tape and CD. The songs in the genre share easy-to-dance-to/syncopation-avoiding beats (setting it apart from Freestyle), easy-to-learn and obviously ESL lyrics, and are completely devoid of pretense or irony. My love and exposure to this amazing music is owed entirely to an amazing person, the flawless tastemaker, Ngoc Nguyen.


Vietnamese New Wave artists come from a variety of scenes including Italo-Disco, (English, French and Swedish) Synthpop and (German and Spanish) and Eurodisco. Beginning in the some time around the mid-to-late '80s, these bubbly, infectious tunes found an unexpected audience in the Vietnamese diaspora who disseminated these gems through the aforementioned mixtapes, parties and bootleg mix CDs which you can still find in Little Saigons around the globe.

We carry many of these artists at Amoeba. Most are found in the Freestyle section. However, a lot are found in, erm... Rock. So ask at info if you can't find something.

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