July 3, 2009

Space travel is fun...!

And we're traveling all over the place this month, which should explain my tardiness in posting this installment. I briefly touched down on terra firma for summer vacation the last couple weeks, ports o' call within my orbit from San Diego to Portland, but I'm back in the satellite now with a set of the heavy, the majestic and the obscure, just for you.

Attention metalheads! The first meaty chunk of this set is for you! If you're not so metallic don't let that frighten you off - this is only the most progressive of modern day post-metal, from Harvey Milk, Torche, Helms Alee and Oceansize. The once-defunct but recently regrouped Athens GA trio Harvey Milk bring the heavy to closeted metal lovers in the oft-effeminate indie scene. Torche, who I saw on a bill with Red Sparrowes and Isis (two bands that would fit perfectly in this set, but time doesn't permit), bring a surprising melodiousness to their manic punk-metal hybrid. Helms Alee came to me through the impeccable taste of my cohort Sully, who caught the Seattle three-piece at their recent stop at Petaluma's illustrious Phoenix Theater. Oceansize is a band I struggle with pigeon-holing, because despite hailing from Madchester UK, their drift and crunch conjurs not only their namesakes Jane's Addiction, but everything from Radiohead to Tool to vintage grunge circa Alice In Chains. Confusing? But not necessarily a bad thing.

We then transition to a proggier segment with the vintage keyboard saturated space travels of Zombi, the spaciest track from the stellar new Tortoise album, some shoegazin' bliss from Ulrich Schnauss, a motorik-inspired selection from the Phantom Band, and a Phil Spector worshiping slice of melodrama from Pink Mountaintops (side project of Black Mountain stalwarts Stephen McBean and Amber Webber).

Then it's time for a couple left-field departures, where Japan's Mono bring postrock ever nearer to neoclassical proportions on their latest release, and Australia's Necks launch jazz instrumentation into Space 1990. That's when things get really weird: Black Eyes are not for everyone, and can be just as painful as their namesake to those unaccustomed to the abrasive textures where ART meets NOISE. But fear not, after the band broke up their helium-voiced singer formed a new band Mi Ami that melded the sandpaper skronk of his previous outfit to mind-melting echo chamber dub! And as icing on the noise cake, three epics of endurance: one from the enigmatic Majik Markers, one from the latest installment of the saga that is Sonic Youth, and a lengthy closer from Kiwi atonalist Birchville Cat Motel a man who straddles the line between aural and textural as well as anyone in the history of spacerock.

I hope this reaches you in time to annoy the neighbors at your Independence Day BBQ and ignite fireworks in your brain. Happy Birthday America! May your current trajectory carry us like a comet, arcing ever higher and never crashing to earth!

The following tracks should appear in the player below:

Death Goes To The Winner - Harvey Milk - Life... The Best Game In Town
Amnesian - Torche - Meanderthal
A New Roll - Helms Alee - Night Terror
Catalyst - Oceansize - Effloresce
Earthly Powers - Zombi - Spirit Animal
High Class Slim Came Floatin' In - Tortoise - Beacons Of Ancestorship
On My Own - Ulrich Schnauss - A Strangely Isolated Place
Throwing Bones - Phantom Band - Checkmate Savage
Axis: Thrones Of Love - Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love
Battle To Heaven - Mono - Hymn To The Immortal Wind
Next - The Necks - Next
Yes, I Confess - Black Eyes - s/t
Echonoecho - Mi Ami - Watersports
Axis Mundi - Majik Markers - Boss
Antenna - Sonic Youth - The Eternal
Chi Vampires - Birchville Cat Motel - Chi Vampires