Ground Patrol – DRIFT

“Math” has to be one of the most malleable genre prefixes. What other tag could somehow link the glimmering summertime anthems of Totorro, boisterous noise jams of Hella and coldly calculated technicality of Botch? And that’s not even considering how quickly the classification has evolved since the days of Drive Like Jehu, Polvo, Shellac and Slint. Yet, there…

Release Day Roundup – 7/14/17

Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the the day’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year end list. Enjoy!

Journey to the NOLA Swamps – The Birth of Sludge Metal

We’ve covered a fair bit of ground with our Starter Kit series, where we select a handful of key records that highlight a niche musical style or penetrate the prolific status of a staple genre. Unfortunately, this format doesn’t lend itself to covering proto-genres—microcosms of musical history comprised of a specific set of albums released in a fixed period of time. But these movements are crucial to the evolution of our favorite genres, particularly when it comes to the trajectory of sludge metal. What’s become a multifaceted and often refined style was once a disparate lineage of bands from different genres who all applied the “sludge factor” in different measures. While you won’t find a dedicated section for proto-sludge at your preferred music store, the following albums an artists laid the framework for the modern sludge landscape. So whether your sludge purveyors of choice come from the atmospheric, blackened or progressive sects of he genre, they’re all indebted to the groundbreaking statements these albums made.

Heavy Vanguard: Boredoms // Vision Creation Newsun

We’ve covered a lot of ground with Heavy Vanguard, from improvisation to sound art, and nearly ever genre someone has ever played around with, but you might notice there isn’t a whole lot of diversity in terms of nationality. Most of the acts we’ve gone over have been American or European. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course—good art is simply good art, and we shouldn’t put so much emphasis on the person creating the music as opposed to the music itself—but music knows no borders or boundaries, and this counts exponentially so for the avant-garde. There are free jazz scenes all over the world, and radical music being created in every country. This is why we finally decided to cover one of the countries best known for their experimental music, Japan, with one of the country’s best experimental rock bands ever, Boredoms.

Heavy Vanguard: Red Krayola // The Parable of Arable Land

Let’s dive into our album this week: The Parable of Arable Land by experimental rock/psych band Red Krayola, made in collaboration with “The Familiar Ugly”—a group of the band’s friends. RK consisted of Texas art school students, and this “outsider” influence (i.e. not trained musicians) shows up in their music in the best way possible. Lo-fi? Check. Tons of tracks that sound like noise (referred to as “Freak-Outs”)? Double check. If you like your music psychedelic, experimental, and given to flights of all-out, Brötzmann-esque free jazz, this is your record.

Swans & Michael Gira – The Great Annihilator/Drainland (Reissue)

Though Swans has had several sonic reincarnations, The Great Annihilator is one of the most important phoenixes in the flock. After five perverse, punishing records, Michael Gira and crew began to slowly drift up from the gutters into some puzzling territory. The band followed up Children of God (1987) with an unexpected absolution and released The Burning World (1989), a collection of gothic-tinged neofolk album which was easily the most pleasant offering they’d composed up until that point. Then came sister albums White Light From the Mouth of Infinity (1991) and Love of Life (1992), which strayed slightly from their predecessor but took the general framework along with them. Swaying between dismal post punk, morbid folk and unidentifiable bliss, these albums flirted with a sound that Gira and crew would perfect on The Great Annihilator (1995), one of the greatest achievements of Swans initial life as a band.

Heavy Vanguard: Can // Tago Mago

Krautrock was a musical movement with roots in Germany during the sixties and seventies, with key focus on psychedelia, musical experimentation, and a heavy focus on repetition. Bands like Faust, Neu!, Kraftwerk (in their earlier years), and, of course, Can, were integral in pioneering this sound. However, Can’s adherence to the typical krautrock sound was short-lived, with this album as proof of that. While Tago Mago has krautrock elements in it (especially on the first half of the album), the band ultimately went beyond what others in the genre were doing and created something amazing and out there, full of experimentation with delay effects and tape music, among other things. It’s a long, dense listen that grows more difficult as the minutes go by, but it’s ultimately a rewarding experience that has proven to be a huge influence on modern music. Artists like Radiohead (specifically Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood), Primal Scream, The Jesus And Mary Chain, and Public Image Ltd all have cited inspiration from Tago Mago. And, of course, this is one of our favorite albums as well! So, have fun!