Boris Connects Pandemic-Torn World With Subversive Metal on Latest Album ‘No’

The latest album from Tokyo-based experimental rock band Boris is simply titled NO, a word that sums up the ethos of the metal aesthetic that pervades it, as well as the sentiments behind the songs. With the coronavirus pandemic leading members Takeshi, Wata, and Atsuo to question everything about their culture, they decided to create an album dedicated to the theme of skepticism and societal subversion, and independently released it via Bandcamp earlier this month.

“We’d observe the different events, news, people’s words, actions,” Takeshi told Audiofemme through translator Kasumi Billington. “Those directly impacted us. In these kinds of critical situations, culture always loses power and is even left behind. What can we do as artists? What do we do? What kind of music can be played in any situation, and can be delivered? The production proceeded as we questioned these types of doubts.”

The word “no” is meant to express rejection of the societal mores and ideals one grows up with — an idea expressed in the song “Non Blood Lore,” a term the band created for mythologies and ideologies stemming from wider culture rather than family.

“We’re always slaves to our unconscious,” Takeshi explains. “We accept what we see and hear without questioning, we interpret things conveniently, and we become paralyzed by unreasonable things. We eventually forget what it means, and even forget how to think. It’s an abominable system. We unconsciously decide everything and follow it. The first step to getting free will is to deny your unconscious thoughts. We point with NO toward that system: ‘What did I feel? Did I think this myself? Did I choose to, and take action myself?’ We get to live by questioning and denying yourself first.”

The need to think for oneself is even more important in today’s political climate, where people are bombarded with information and ideas online and in the media, he adds. “People are chased by various anxieties, fear, doubts, and hatred, turning into chaos. In that situation, rather than blindly following the information, we need to think and judge for ourselves. The answer is not given; you must derive your own.”

This is why the band decided not to publish the lyrics for NO. “Our work doesn’t give answers to the listeners, but we’d rather it become material such as values and aesthetic sense that guides you to the answer,” says Takeshi.

The 11-track collection includes a variety of experimental sounds falling within multiple genres. The opening track, “Genesis,” exudes a doom metal style, with strong, ominous, sometimes discordant guitar riffs and drums that repeat and gradually speed up. Other songs on the LP, like “Anti-Gone,” “Non Blood Lore,” and “Temple of Hatred,” follow more of a punk aesthetic, with dramatic guitar and shouting vocals. “Lust” spotlights the band’s use of electronic effects, with almost drowned-out vocals.

Boris also recorded a cover of Japanese hardcore punk band Gudon’s “Fundamental Error” after the band’s ex-bassist Guy came to a show of theirs in Hiroshima. This was exciting for Takeshi, as Outo was a favorite hardcore punk band of his as a teen.

Finally, the album closes with “Interlude,” where Wata almost whispers against dark, mellow synths and slow-paced cymbals. The track’s title suggests that the end of NO is merely a transition into more music to come.

Based on the band’s history, there very likely is. Boris has been releasing music since 1996, and NO marks their 27th album, not counting albums recorded in collaboration with others, which include Japanese noise artist Merzbow, Seattle black metal duo Sunn O))), The Cult frontman Ian Astbury, and Japanese noise metal band Endon. Currently, Takeshi plays guitar and bass, Wata does guitar and Echo, Atsuo is in charge of percussion and electronics, and all three contribute vocals.

Despite its message of rebellion and resistance, NO is ultimately intended to unite a world that’s physically divided. Takeshi hopes it can help people make something good out of the negativity currently in the atmosphere and validate people’s emotions, the way hardcore and thrash metal did for him when he was younger.

“In this current messed up world, people have sunk in hatred and sorrow,” he says. “We hope that for those who listen to this album, their negative feelings reflect like a mirror, and reflect in another direction into something positive. That’s the possibility that extreme music has.”

It sounds heady, but the band practices what they preach. With their planned two-month U.S. tour canceled, Boris is in the process of recording about four albums’ worth of music at the moment – a positive, healing process born of a negative situation. “All we can do is create,” says Takeshi. “Artists must all be in a similar situation. We’re hoping that from this adversity, we can create great music.”

Follow Boris on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for ongoing updates.

ONLY NOISE: Creatures of Discomfort

A few nights ago at a bar, someone asked me a reasonable but difficult question: what do I want to experience when listening to music? What do I look for in a band? I floundered briefly, rattling off some vague declaration about placing a “good song” above any technical music ability.

“What do you mean, a ‘good’ song?” my interviewer prodded (this person is a reporter by day). “You can’t just say, ‘good’ song; obviously you prefer a ‘good’ song – but what makes a good song to you?”

Touché. I stewed over the question momentarily, thinking of other forms of art I’m drawn to; imagining the display of fleshy imagery covering the wall above my home desk – a collection many houseguests find revolting. Boobs, hairless cats, cadaverous feet, Hans Bellmer’s doll. Nondescript, pink perversions.

I thought about my lifelong gravitation towards objects and subjects of disgust; the numerous occasions my parents would come home from work asking what I was watching.

Confessions of a Serial Killer: Jeffrey Dahmer,” I would reply, munching a Cheeto. My dad still recommends movies to me by saying, “We just watched this really depressing, fucked up film – you’d love it!” without an ounce of sarcasm. We also have a game in which we text each other when famous people die. First to text wins.

I considered my fondness for bitter, astringent, and blazing flavors; my love of rare and raw meat; my affinity for unsettling (but funny!) books.

Looking back at my inquirer, I delivered the most succinct reply I could muster:

“I just want to be assaulted,” I said.

Sonically assaulted, of course…but what does that mean?

Last year, while still working as a panty designer for a big company called, let’s say, Veronica’s Privacy, I found myself in need of a date night…with me. I scrolled through concert listings in search of something unexpected. If there was one thing I was not in the mood for that evening, it was “good old fashioned rock n’ roll.” I did not want dream pop, nor chill wave, nor beach wave, nor dream wave. I craved something dour and unpleasant, like ya do.

Sifting through gigs by Sunflower Bean and Shark Muffin, I paused on a vaguely familiar name: Glenn Branca. Where had I heard it? Something about the name commanded respect. Though I was mystified as to why, an air of provocation and intrigue hung around those two words. I bought a ticket immediately.

Taking a seat at The Kitchen in Chelsea, I glanced around. The only other solo-goers were middle-aged men who looked like they used to be in bands. Silver hair. Black Sonic Youth t-shirts. Sensible, manly shoes. Leather belts. The low stage was set with a drum kit, a bass, and three guitars. When Branca and Co. sauntered onstage not a word was spoken before they crashed into a belligerent wall of sound. Fumbling for my complimentary earplugs (courtesy of the venue), I felt bathed in distortion – baptized in cacophony. Discomfort. A hail of splinters. Railroad ties and metal siding. It was all being hurled at us – and we loved it. Were my concert mates likeminded gluttons for punishment? Did they too adore unlistenable, violent music at all hours, even in the wee, small, pre-coffee hours? I left The Kitchen feeling like I’d been in a boxing match – no – like I’d gotten the shit beaten out of me by a biker. Boxing is too clean and dignified a sport for how I felt. And yet there was another sensation spread all over me like cream cheese on a bagel: elation. For lack of a less annoying word: transcendence.

There are entire message boards full of people who want to be tied up for fun. Fetishists get shoved into bags, closets, vacuum-sealed plastic. For many, there is pleasure in physical discomfort. Factions of the sex accouterment trade cater to such needs. So what about auditory discomfort? Where be the cottage industry for audio-de-philers? (see what I did there?) Where is the safe space if you’re looking to be cleansed by rage and mayhem and high decibel levels?

I’ve certainly found my fix in Branca and his No Wave ilk – John Zorn, Steve Reich, and John Cage, to name a few. Then there is Girl Band, the Irish foursome I’ve been admiring for the past year. The Dubliners are fresh on my mind as I just saw them live a few nights ago and felt intoxicated after their antagonizing set. Screaming? Odd time signatures? Squealing guitar? Weaponized bass? Yes, please. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside just thinkin’ about it.

Two nights ago I was speaking with an artist friend of mine. A brilliant photographer, she also curates at the Museum of Sex, and has a keen eye for the odd and outcast. “I’m always looking for art that is standing on the ledge and about to step off of it,” she said, her head bobbing over a goblet of frozen margarita at Dallas BBQ. I nodded in agreement, nursing brain freeze and thinking about why I’m so enamored of grotesque and furious things. Her mention of the “ledge” intrigued me. Is that where the fascination lies? Perhaps music and art that seems “out of control” is in fact the most controlled, as it assures us we can still keep it together while staring at the messiest aspects of humanity.

Girl Band is a prime example of this, in fact. The group’s singer Dara Kiley suffered an intense psychotic episode in the lead up to their debut release, Holding Hands With Jamie. Understandably, much of that record’s lyrical content was inspired by the event. You don’t have to listen closely to realize that Girl Band’s music sounds like a psychotic breakdown – or at least what you would expect one to sound like. If you’re drunk enough, sleep deprived, or maybe just malnourished, giving Holding Hands With Jamie a spin can make you feel like you are going crazy – but you probably aren’t. And maybe that’s the amazing thing – that someone like Dara Kiley can survive psychosomatic hell and then channel his agony into an unconventionally beautiful record with the help of bandmates. Perhaps some artists stand on the ledge, so we don’t have to.


girl band

A friend recently mentioned something that’s never occurred to me before.  He said that making music requires an enormous amount of restraint.  That, whether it be at the songwriting or recording stages, holding back is of utmost importance.

Restraint.  Patience.  Modesty.

These may not be the first words that spring to mind while listening to the screeching sprawl that is Girl Band’s music.  However, if you zoom in on their 2015 LP Holding Hands With Jamie, which was meticulously written and self-produced, you can hear the discipline.  It is a methodical record; each stab of guitar and gurgle of bass strategically placed to maximize discomfort.

That same level of focus was evident at Baby’s All Right last week, where our own Emily Daly covered the group’s rapturous gig.  The Irish foursome, comprised of guitarist Alan Duggan, vocalist Dara Kiley, drummer Adam Faulkner, and bassist/engineer Daniel Fox, were on point throughout, delivering a streamlined spike of rage in sound only.

At times, his feet obscured by heads in the crowd, Duggan looked as though he was kicking someone’s head to the curb.  Snapping at the waist and convulsing slightly against his own instrument.  Turns out, that’s just how he plays guitar.

But for all of their sonic violence, the guys in Girl Band are an amicable bunch.  I sat down with Duggan and Fox before the show to chat about concept albums, Glenn Branca, and a winking dog.

Audiofemme: It seems like people have finally come to grips with your sound. Have the horrible comparisons to grunge you’ve faced in the past stopped yet?

Alan Duggan: Yeah it’s finally stopped.

Daniel Fox: Yeah, like Pearl Jam references and stuff…

Oh! I didn’t see a Pearl Jam reference! It was a Nirvana reference I think…

DF: Yeah, it was a Nirvana reference.

Which is worse? I think Pearl Jam.

DF: Of course, Pearl Jam! I really like Nirvana. I hate Pearl Jam.

What are you guys currently working on?

AD: We’re just writing new music. Pretty much.

DF: Got some songs, yeah. We’re not going to play any of it today, (laughs) but uh, yeah we’ve got loads.

I know you guys have said in the past that techno/electronic music has been more of an influence than people might assume. What electronic musicians have been listening to lately?

AD: At the moment I actually haven’t listened to much techno in a while. I’ve been listening to a lot of Tim Hecker for ambient electronic stuff. That new Factory Floor song sounds pretty cool. It’s called “Yah.” They’re really cool. They’re on DFA Records. They’re from London. I think. But yeah just really good techno, kind of early techno sound. I don’t think they still have a live drummer, but they had a live drummer and weird guitar sounds-all very stylized as far as the visual aspect…I don’t know. They’re just really, really good.

That’s an area of electronic music that the mainstream doesn’t always grasp: that there are sects of it that are outside of just trying to make people dance…something more orchestrated than just “four on the floor.”

DF: I’ve been listening to early electronic music people. The BBC had a lab where they were basically figuring out how to do it, called “The Radiophonic Workshop.”  It was in the ‘50s. There was this woman Delia Derbyshire who wrote the theme for “Doctor Who.” So it’s all these weird like (makes space noises). A lot of those kind of people really set the tone for what ended up being electronic music. But there’s a lot that can be done with it as opposed to just dance music. It’s a whole sonic palette that people just associate with dancing, really. Which I always thought was weird.

Since you signed to Rough Trade and you started touring internationally, have things changed with your place in Dublin? Are you still accepted in the local music scene?

AD: Yeah, it’s always like a real warm welcome when we go back and play Dublin, you know what I mean? Ireland’s pretty supportive.

I know you guys produced this record, which sounds fantastic. Is there a dream producer you’d love to work with? Or do you think you’ll continue to do it yourselves?

DF: I like producing. I mean, it’d be cool to get peoples’ perspectives, but-

And you worked as an engineer, correct?

DF: Yeah. That’s what I do in my spare time. So yeah…sometimes working with a producer could be-especially for the first record, could probably be a hindrance really, to have to re-explain something…

It [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the record] would be covered in horn sections…

DF: Yeah, like a string orchestra.

I find that it rare that bands truly collaborate as a group, but it seems like every little detail has gone through everyone’s hands at this point. How do you guys write songs together?

DF: Sit in a room and hammer it out for ages.

For you guys personally, what were some of your earliest urges to make music? What brought you to it?

AD: For myself, all of my brothers were in a band. All of my family has always been really into music, so when I was a kid I used to sit down and watch them play, when I was about four or five, and just be like, “oh, that’s really cool.” They were real bad. They were terrible. They used to rehearse in my sitting room and face like they were playing a gig, so they wouldn’t even face each other, it was like real funny if I think back to it.

DF: They did it in the front room?

AD: Yeah, in the sitting room. But they’d set the PA up and face it out that way.

Oh, they had a PA?

AD: Yeah, it’s actually the PA that we use.

DF: It’s survived a long time.

AD: Yeah, cuz that would have been like, early nineties. It’s crap as well.

DF: It’s really not a very good PA.

(to Daniel) And what about yourself?

DF: My dad was a musician, like played bass as well, and I was around music a lot as a kid.

What aspect of what you guys do brings you the most joy?

AD: For me, I don’t really think it’s one – because you know usually you could be touring and it’s really, really fun, and you really enjoy it but-

I was wondering if someone would say touring because I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone say that.

AD: Oh, I love it.

DF: Yeah it’s a lot of fun.

But it sounds like it’d be a lot of fun, or like, really awful. Correct me if I’m wrong…

DF: Depending on the people.

AD: Yeah, if you’re with people that don’t get along I’d imagine it’s hell, but we don’t fight, we’ve never raised a voice to one another, so we work, we just kind of function really well.

DF: They all have their different perks. It’s like a meal, you know they all have their different things that are good about them. You know, like, touring you get drunk for free a lot, but then when you’re writing it’s like, writing songs is something fun, and then in the studio it’s just, it’s fun as well, so…

We’re supposed to negate the Irish stereotype. Come on!

(all laugh)

DF: Yeah, “get loadsa cans!”

That’s gonna be the header: “Get Drunk For Free.”

(all laugh)

What kind of milestones, or, maybe it’s just kind of an in-the-moment thing for you guys, but do you have artistic milestones that you want to achieve, that you strive for?

AD: I mean, I just wanted to put out a record that I was really proud of.

Well you did that. You’re done!

DF: Double album

(all laugh)

DF: I want the fifth record to be a double-


DF: Yeah a double concept record. I just want to rip off Rick Wakeman and do one about Excalibur.

Oh yeah, and then like, it will be a pop-up in the center?

DF: Oh yeah.

AD: That would be pretty cool actually…

Just an idea. Just throwing it out there.  Your prog rock record, ha. I know I just condemned comparisons only a moment ago, but when I was listening to your guys’ stuff I was thinking: are you guys fans of Steve Reich or Glenn Branca?

AD: Yeah, big time.

Ok, I was thinking you must be.

AD: Yeah, hearing Steve Reich for the first time was a real kind of eye-opener, so that kind of just-

DF: “I can do one thing for ages…”

Glenn Branca?

AD: Yeah, that whole No-Wave scene in New York.

Yeah, he’s incredible. I saw his orchestra live a few months ago and he’s a real…I mean he’s kind of like a Tom Waits, he’s just a weird guy-

AD: Did you meet him?

Oh, god no! No I was just there, I didn’t cover it, but…what a weird dude!

Both: Yeah.

DF: (doing gravelly Glenn Branca impression) “I don’t participate!” (grumbling and cursing).

When they were tuning he just went on this rant about the best hot dog he’d ever eaten…

All: (uproarious laughter)

Anyway, just checkin’. I’m glad you guys are fans, me too. So, can you talk about the role of humor in your music? It seems like it’s something that’s very important to you guys.

AD: Yeah, just always like, I mean…Dara with the puns, I mean the guy can’t stop making puns all the-

DF: All day.

AD: All the fuckin’ day.

I read in an article that that’s a disorder.

DF: (big laughs)

AD: Interesting! But yeah humor’s very important. I always think humor is a very strong way of conveying a maybe very meaningful thing.

DF: Especially since some of this stuff is quite dark. Like the music’s so bloody angry sounding anyway, so it kind of like, negates that a little bit so it’s not just like, “I hate you mom!” you know?

I think I was reading something about when you did the KEXP performance you were like, “this is our poppy song!” which I thought was hilarious.

AD: Yeah, heh.

I listen to it, and I’m someone who listens to music that some people might deem “difficult,” and I hear a lot of melodic things in it…but I understand some people might not feel that way (laughs).

AD: Especially if you’re rehearsing, and then you’re touring it, and then you’re recording it, which is what we were doing, when it came time to put it out, you really lose context of how-

DF: Aggressive it might be.

AD: Yeah, we were like, “oh, this is a radio smash!”

Top Of The Pops! Another thing I picked up from an interview with DIY Magazine, was something about how on “Umbongo” you threw around some car parts and someone threw a spoon…

DF: (to Alan) you threw the spoon.

I tried to hear it today and…

DF: (laughs) It’s in there!

I don’t want to disappoint you by saying I couldn’t hear it, but I was trying…

DF: It’s buried in the mix.

AD: It was actually just like, a slam-dunk from across the room.

DF: Yeah we played parts of like, big huge springs…

Have you guys ever thought of going even further to create specific sounds? Maybe even building your own instruments?

AD: Yeah, definitely. We really want to try getting in touch with this guy called Yuri Landman. He’s built guitars for Lee Renaldo and…

DF: He’s a Dutch guy.

AD: Yeah, we played a show with him in Amsterdam, about two years ago now I suppose…but he built all these insane instruments, and he’s obsessed with noise. It is something that I think all of us would be really keen on doing. Like, Adam’s drum kit is very creative. He’s got loads of different cymbals like, stacked up on one another…that kind of stuff.

DF: Yeah, pipe cleaners…

Pipe cleaners?

AD: Yeah.

Like the fuzzy ones?

DF: No, no. Like, long springs (laughs).

Ohhh. Lastly, what do you both plan on doing, for leisure or work, when you return home?

DF: (to Alan) What are you going to do? Walk your dog?

AD: Yeah, probably walk the dog. I got a little puppy.

(gasps) what kind?!

AD: Uh, it’s a Collie cross. He’s quality. He can wink as well.

Really? On command?

AD: No, but soon though! Check it out…

It’s just a twitch…

AD: No, well, it is a twitch, but

DF: His dog is adorable.

 AD: It is a twitch but it will soon not be a twitch.

What’s the dog’s name?

AD: Boomers. Check that out: (shows winking dog pic) What a wink!

Oh muh lord. He is just always winking though…

AD: No he just-

That’s a moment you caught?

AD: Yeah.

He looks kinda badass when he does that.

AD: Yeah. This is him when he was just a little pup: (shows fluffy, adorable puppy pic)

(requisite squealing)

AD: He’s really cool. But he’s gettin’ a snip soon.

(to Daniel) And what about yourself?

DF: Me? Ehh, I have to mix a record for a guy when I go home.

Nice. That’s fun.

DF: Yeah, it’ll be very fun, because I thought I’d have it finished ages ago, and uh I don’t! (laughs) So I’m going to finish it when I get home.


Thanks gents, and safe travels back home.


LIVE REVIEW: Girl Band @ Baby’s All Right


I’ve recommended Girl Band to a few people who were skeptical before they even listened – because of their name. I understand, because I felt that way too. According to an interview with the Quietus, that’s intentional, as they admitted “it’s a stupid name” they came up with to annoy someone at a bar. There are some other implications the name applies, whether those are intentional or not. like, is four dudes calling themselves Girl Band an attempt at self-deprecation, a compliment to the female sex, or a statement on how gender can define a band? But their debut album Holding Hands With Jamie washed all those thoughts away in a wave of noise, and it no longer bothered me.

The only things that worried me before their show last Thursday at Baby’s All Right were if their live show would be comparable to the amazing chaos of their album (especially after they had to cancel their previously scheduled Brooklyn shows due to health issues), and that I had decided that the sold-out crowd was going to be one giant mosh pit.

I was wrong; most people stood totally still, fixated on what was happening onstage. “Ooh, I think this is what they call a noise band,” someone behind me said a few songs into the set. And yeah, that’s a good place to start if you’re trying to describe Girl Band. They are definitely noisy, Alan Duggan’s guitar sounds like a machine, and some songs like a musical car crash. For most of the show Duggan and bassist Daniel Fox were just two bowed heads of messy hair, elbows moving mechanically, while singer Dara Kiely kept his head upwards, directing his tortured lyrics in the form of shouts and howls towards the ceiling above him. In the middle of it all, drummer Adam Faulkner looked oddly serene. Though they’re intense, there’s a sense of humor buried under their music. This is especially apparent in their cover of “Why They Hide My Bodies Under My Garage,” which is basically its own genre of scary dance music. The only lyrics are the title of the song, repeated endlessly over an increasingly frantic techno beat until they lose all meaning. 

Holding Hands With Jamie is based on a psychotic episode Kiely went through, which is bold enough as the subject matter of an album, but something else entirely when they sing about it in front of you. It’s almost shocking to see someone bare their feelings like he does, briefly embodying insanity without totally becoming consumed by it. For a weirdo like me, watching Kiely dance around the edge of the abyss, looking in, and then reporting back on what he found was one of the best performances I’ve even seen from a frontman. I just wonder how he does it night after night.

Read our review of Holding Hands With Jamie here.

PLAYING DETROIT: Wolf Eyes “I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces”


Wolf Eyes reemerges with their Third Man Records debut (the label created by Detroit’s own prodigal son, Jack White) with I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces. After an aggressive and perplexing takeover of Third Man’s Instagram account last week (they lost over a thousand followers as a result, which warranted a regretful apology from the label), Wolf Eyes is doing what they do best: making noise that is as jarringly tragic as it is sonically eruptive. Considered the “kings of U.S noise” and pioneers of trip-metal, Nate Young, John Olson, and Jim Baljo have not departed from their signature nuance of dismal, distempered dystopia on I Am A Problem as explored previously on their exhaustive, extensive catalogue. But don’t assume that Wolf Eyes are wading in stagnant waters. In fact, this time around they’ve managed to turn their chaos into discernible, tortured transcendence. Although celestially despondent, I Am A Problem never runs away from itself; each track cascades into a cosmic rawness that warps, wraps, and entangles you. From start to finish (and back again) it’s difficult to put a finger on what makes this album seem like it’s on the precipice of undiscovered territory, yet remaining familiar simultaneously. Perhaps it’s the vocally palpable despair paired with the bombastic layering of intergalactic pulsations reminiscent of both heartbeat and heartbreak. Wolf Eyes finds a way to make abstraction relatable and intoxication desirable.

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TRACK REVIEW DOUBLE FEATURE: New Singles from Ty Segall’s Label

Ty Segall God? Records

Ty Segall‘s GOD? Records imprint, on Drag City, is only a little over a year old, but Segall has chased a visceral, DIY aesthetic since the imprint’s very first release. To that end, Segall is bringing out two new 7″s from noise rockers Running and the tech-heavy, growling metal outfit Zath. Stylistically, the two groups have chaos in common–whether zany or doomed, Zath and Running test the limits of listenability with heavy distortion and production thick enough to wade through.

“Totally Fired,” the B side to Running’s Frizzled, opens with a slew of reeling guitar riffs, reveling in the sheer pleasure of making a whole lot of noise. The rest of the track is half blissed out with punk rock naiveté, half sci-fi and surreal. Even though the song’s backdrop tells an old story–a dingy basement show and a sea of moshing blue mohawks, beer cans crushed underfoot–there’s a drone to the guitar work  that occasionally cuts into the forefront with a sound like a space laser.

Zath’s “Black Goat Razor” is more old school, but not a whit less freaky. This is technical, guitar-led, metal, beefed up by growling vocals that seek to dominate–sometimes literally. “Do what you’re told,” the most audible line hisses, the words backed by a rapid and gunshot-crisp drum line. There isn’t anything particularly innovative about this single, but that doesn’t bother me a bit. Remember how Behemoth released The Satanist early this year and even though it didn’t really break new ground for the band, it still ruled so hard your ears started bleeding halfway through? Exactly. Sometimes heavy metal just needs to be heavy. “Black Goat Razor” will land on you with such force that you’ll feel oppressed, in all the right ways.

You can check out both new tracks in the Soundcloud links below. Go here to purchase Frizzled, and here for Black Goat Razor. 

LIVE REVIEW: Sonic Celluloid’s static & shimmer on Chicago’s North Shore

Mark McGuire



Misty seas, microscopic slides and mannequin shots dominated this year’s Sonic Celluloid showcase at Northwestern University’s Evanston campus last Friday night. Well-attended by students and community members alike, Sonic Celluloid is now celebrating its twelfth year as one of the most exciting experimental music and film events put on by WNUR 89.3 FM’s Rock Show and the Block Museum Cinema. Providing live scores for art and archival film reels, it was promised to be an event to “reconfigure your consciousness.”

To help facilitate altered states, this year’s roster of musicians included multi-instrumentalist and former Emeralds member Mark McGuire, as well as local Chicago-based drone artists, Vertonen and Kwaidan.

Vertonen is the rumbly experimental project of Chicago noise veteran Blake Edwards, who also runs local record label Crippled Intellect Production, better known as C.I.P. Playing over a Prolepsis, an experimental art film composed of pixelated night club promos, ABC news footage and panning clips of mannequin heads, his concentrative set was almost meditative in its adherence to the hovering camera shots and precisely timed transitions.

Like the film itself, Vertonen’s music was very cyclical, slowly building upon a lazy, droning buzz as the film drifted between helicopter hover shots of craggy human faces and topographic maps. Gradually layering wobbly synth, cartoon-esque glitch and choppy radio transmissions into one chaotic mélange of noise, Edwards eventually descended back into a lulling drone that served as a satisfying finish to his jagged, corrugated set.

Up next was Kwaidan, who borrow their moniker from Masaki Kobayashi’s classic 1964 horror film. Just as ghoulish as you’d expect anything named after an Oscar-nominated ghost story to be, their set followed the narrative of Jean Epstein’s Le Tempestaire, a folklore-influenced story about a surly old “Tempest Master.” Worried about her sardine-fishing beau in rough waters, a woman sets out to find this tamer of sea winds to Kwaidan’s ominous score. Most prominent was an indefinable sense of impending dread, tense and intimidating. Featuring Neil Jendon’s wandering keyboards, Andre Foisy’s croaky guitar and Mike Weis’s weighty percussion, the trio crafted a portentous soundscape perfectly suited to the film’s threatening premise. Looming and foreboding, Kwaidan had the audience on the edge of their seats, leaving many still unsettled despite happy endings.

The last act to take the stage was headliner Mark McGuire, who thanked the audience for bringing him to such “a beautiful building and beautiful campus with beautiful people.” Known for his adventurous, wonder-filled guitar work, the two short films selected for him were perfect in their geometric and naturalistic simplicity. The entire set felt like an otherworldly journey, whether it followed the cycle of crystal formation or the reproductive habits of octopi, filled with blissful tessellations and oscillating riffs. Glimmering and kaleidoscopic, he did an incredible job of improvising his set and adapting to the organic flow of the films. From the sensual slow jams of the alien-like octopi to the accelerating riffs of rapid crystallization, it was a grand, gliding adventure that truly took the audience to another realm of “reconfigured consciousness.”