RECORD CRACK: Fallen Empire Records to release vinyl for Kuxan Suum

New Jersey’s Kuxan Suum have been breaking out their brand of black and drone metal since 2008, releasing demos, single tracks, and split efforts. With the help of the Fallen Empire label, two of their songs will be released in album form. The self-titled album compiles remastered versions of the 17 minute “Kinich Ahau” and the 11 minute “Principle of Harmonic Resonance”, so even if you have these as MP3’s or from cassette, these mixes are an improvement over those.

Kuxan Suum add a lot of different textures into their music, going into a dirge that might remind some of Black Sabbath or Venom, but then getting into something that speed demos will love. You are able to stream both tracks below via Bandcamp before buying the LP. 500 copies, pressed on 180g vinyl, have been made, and that’s it. Head to the Fallen Empire store to make a purchase (European fans can go to Mordgrimm to order the vinyl.) For digital fiends, you can get the album with a pay-as-you-want price on Bandcamp.

REVIEW: John Frusciante’s “PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone”

Photobucket If you have followed the music of John Frusciante during, in between, and after his visits with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you know that the use of the word eclectic is putting it lightly. For his new album, he is not only going deeper into that, but also elsewhere. It seems Frusciante now wants to explore his electronic side.

PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone (Record Collection) is an album that shows he still has a love for clicking his microphone on and playing the guitar, but the biggest different between this and older projects is that he now wants to explore the sample-based world and add everything from trusted breakbeats to jazz flourishes, and then getting electro and synthy to the point where some might say “what in the hell is he doing now?” I would compare this to Ad Rock & AWOL’s BS2000 project if they merged the trippy greatness of thelr self-titled debut album with the later work where they focused on the development of proper songs. One has to put faith in Frusciante’s work and say “okay John, take me for the ride, I don’t know where you’re going but I know I am secure with you.” Yet even with that faith, some of what he does here is a bit of a shock only because he has never gone down the electronic route in this fashion. Then again, considering that the tastes in the Red Hot Chili Peppers are also very diverse, perhaps this was a route unexpected but one that I’m glad he has taken. For me, it sounds like the album I’ve always wanted to make for myself, and I hope this gives courage to those who wish to express themselves in this manner. Mr. Frusciante, thank you.

(The album is available as MP3’s, vinyl, CD, and cassette directly from Those who wish to order from Amazon will be able to buy the vinyl and CD versions only. If you click the Amazon boxes below, make sure you see which format you’re about to purchase.)

VIDEO: Kyle Rapps & Diwon’s “Breaking Bad”

Kyle Rapps and Diwon have teamed up for a track that also doubles as a tribute to one of their favorite TV shows, Breaking Bad. Does the end result work? Check it out.

The song is on their Syndication mixtape and if the title of it wasn’t a clue, the album offers new twists with songs sourced from different TV theme songs. The mixtape will be released in about two weeks.

FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: OHM Dedication Series #4: Mr. Beatnick presents Sun Ra

Had it with this planet called Earth? Herman Blount was very adamant about letting people know that space is the place.

One Handed Music started an OHM Dedicated Series where they seek people to honor different artists by creating a mix made exclusively for them. For installment #4, OHM seeked the help ofMr. Beatnik, whose work with Don’t Be Afraid Recordings and other projects have made people realize he’s quite serious about his music, and his love of music, as this Sun Ra mix will show you. Here’s the full track listing:

Discipline Intro
Outer Spaceways Incorporated
Love In Outer Space
Somebody Else’s World
Mayan Temple
The Antique Blacks
Island In The Sun
There Is Change In The Air
Night Of The Purple Moon
Space Is The Place
Nuclear War
Journey Onwards
The Cosmic Exploror
God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be
Strange Worlds
Where There Is No Sun Outro

You can read Mr. Beatnik’s comments about this mix by heading to the Soundcloud page that features the mix. stream and listen to this, or download it for free for a limited time. For a look at the first three installments, click here.

COVERED: Stevie Wonder vs. Justin Horn

At times it seems fans and critics tend to forget Music Of My Mind when it comes to discussing some of Stevie Wonder’s best albums. They’ll often talk about “the holy trinity”, or the holy trinity plus Songs In The Key Of Life as a platform. When Music Of My Mind is mentioned, it at times shows that the person who suggests it is paying attention.

For jazz/pop vocalist Justin Horn, he decided to honor Music Of My Mind by paying homage to the album cover, right down to the items reflected in his sunglasses. Down side: Horn’s Hornology has no covers from Music Of My Mind. No “Evil”, no “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)”, not even a rendition of “Sweet Little Girl”. There is a cover of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints”, but it would have been nice to have at least one Wonder cut on here, even as a secret bonus track os a track 0. The album cover tribute is a nice touch, though.

REVIEW: Crypts’ self-titled debut album

Photobucket The term “post rock” has been around for decades, but Crypts are a Seattle trio who don’t care that the place that they live in has been called Seattle Rock City. They are electronic music wizards who are proud of their keyboards, samplers, sequencers, and files, but they twist things in a way which shows that perhaps the incestuous way of their city’s passion for rock has seeped into their passion for creating some very wicked sounds.

Their self-titled album is less post-rock, and more post-apocalyptic, because when they create sounds that may sound happy and sappy, they layer it with warble and distort things to the point of where you’re not sure what you’re listening to. Within their songs, all of which are quite good, is also hints of minimalism, atmospheric soundtracks with those important incidental tracks, and even brief hints of industrial that is very nice to hear in 2012. Just as Crypts make an attempt in doing something that could be a dancefloor hit, they demolish the floor and tell everyone that it’s better if you go underground. If Seattle’s monorail system was able to go beyond the city limits, it would go into the soil instead of heading to Everett, Mountlake Terrace, or Issaquah. It is the soil where you will find roots, and while Crypts are meant to be post- something, these guys are very much in the present, and I’m thankful they are.

REVIEW: “Re-Machined: A Tribute To Deep Purple’s Machine Head”

Photobucket There was a time when I was obsessed with tribute albums. Didn’t matter if it was Sonny Bono, Love, The Damned, Alice Cooper, R.E.M., Captain Beefheart, The Outsiders, The Troggs, Leonard Cohen and I can go on and on and on, I loved them because it was one way to not only hear new interpretations of songs, but a way to hear your favorite artists covering a song that may or may not have been one of their own influences. For awhile, it seemed Sonic Youth was everywhere. Marking the 40th anniversary of Deep Purple’s Machine Head, Re-Machined<: A Tribute To Deep Purple's Machine Head (Eagle Rock Entertainment) is a way to revive the greatness of that album by having a number of artists record it, song by song.

Since “Smoke On The Water” became the big FM radio hit, the song is covered here twice, first by Carlos Santana & Jacoby Shaddix. Santana’s guitar work is still top notch while Shaddix does the song respectively. Sammy Hagar: say what you want but regardless if its his own band, joining a group that needs a replacement, or hooking up on a new project, he remains one of the best rock vocalists of all time. He gets to do what he does best with Chickenfoot as they take on “Highway Star” in a live setting and make the crowd literally piss on themselves from the excitement.

Glenn Hughes & Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith handle “Maybe I’m A Leo”, Black Label Society punch up “Pictures Of Home” with grace, while Kings Of Grace get “Never Before” into a bluesy Bryan Adams-type motif. Flipping to side two…

The second cover of “Smoke On The Water” is handled by Flaming Lips, and if you know what these guys have been capable of doing for almost 30 years, then you know that you must expect the unexpected. Wayne Coyne and crew flip the song into an mushroom-tinged political manifesto, complete with thick and fat Moog’s and… this would be that record you’d find in the back of a used record store, praised not by the owners but mold and ring wear.

The wicked “Lazy” is turned up to 11 when given into the hands of Jimmy Barnes & Joe Bonamassa, and the late Jom Lord would be extremely proud by the B-3 solo that dominates this version.

Iron Maiden offers up the album’s proper ending with their cover of “Space Truckin'”, and hearing Bruce Dickinson singing this definitely takes the song back home to the grittiness of England, where it originated.

Then things get interesting. When I had heard Metallica were offered a chance to cover a song, I actually thought “watch them do the B-side that was recorded during the Machine Head sessions”, and they did. “When A Blind Man Cries” had always been a song some fans found difficult to find, especially Americans. It was the N-side to “Never Before”, released as a single in the UK and other European countries, but U.S. radio had taken to “Smoke On The Water”, “Highway Star”, “Lazy”, and “Space Truckin'”. James Hetfield becomes a sweet balladeer in the song’s first half before he, Kirk Hammett, Rob Trujillo and Lars Ulrich deliver the crunch that fans have loved for 30 years. As shown in the Cliff ‘Em All home video, Metallica have been Deep Purple fans since the beginning so hearing them do this (and expecting for them to do the non-LP track many still have never heard) is a treat.

The album ends with another cover of “Highway Star”, this time the team of Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith returning with guitarist Steve Vai who, I have to say, is just fucking wicked when he honors Ritchie Blackmore with his solo. I also want to say that I’m glad that he wasn’t given the task to do “Smoke On The Water”, because while everyone knows of his origins with Frank Zappa, it would have been too appropriate for him to play in the song that features the line “Frank Zappa and The Mothers”. Yet when it’s his time to do the solo in “Highway Star”, the former “stunt” guitarist flies into space (as many fans did when Machine Head came out) until the right moment.

While there are a few covers on this that could’ve been better, I still feel Re-Machined was organized properly and executed in fine fashion. Having name artists also helps give this a push, making this more than a casual tribute CD attached to a copy of Mojo magazine. I’m also glad that the producers behind this album didn’t go overboard by asking artists who would have messed up the integrity of this recording, although I’m someone who generally doesn’t mind that but this is a record that means something to hard rock and heavy metal, along with generations of guitarists, singers, bassists, drummers, and organists who made this one of their personal favorites. The twists from Metallica and Flaming Lips are great, and Iron Maiden ending with a bit of pride for the United Kingdom seems only right.

REVIEW: Tigon’s “Infinite Teeth”

Photobucket Infinite Teeth (The Ghost is Clear/New Atlantis) is an album by a band that knows what it takes to create a sound, goes for the definitive touches but also loves to test their own limits by trying things that some will not expect upon first listening. The band are called Tigon, and while one can help define them by hearing each of these songs, it’s how they twist up their influences that make this album a trip to hear.

Now imagine this: indie rock. Okay, I know that may be a weak term to use but when one thinks indie rock, I tend to look for bands that aren’t afraid to mess with what they do because they don’t have to cater to anyone else’s formula but their own. That’s where the journey begins. Rock, hardcore, metal, sludge, math rock, progressive rock, punk: it reminds me of wishing Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers had left and had taken a solo route, but also got the guys from Helmet, Cro-Mags,and For Love Not Lisa to create a hybrid of a beast where you can’t control its pace and tactics. A track like “Whale Maker” is a perfect example, where the music and lyrics sound like a whale coming out of the ocean, but instead of easing up on the beach to become comfortable, it flops itself around like tuna and grows in size as vocalist sings “do you feel safe… do you fit in, do you fit in… are you safe, are you safe”, before the band unleashes their musical weapons on one another and creates a sound that’s incredible before easing up to recalibrate for their next song. Then you have a track like “Tortoise Goes To Burning Man”, where the fierce crunch is layered with nice vocals courtesy of Sara Carpenter, and it blends beautifully.

What I also enjoy is how they know how to get as much impact as possible by limiting themselves in songs under two minutes, but they also know how to color the soundscape with songs that run five or seven minutes, including the 7:53 duration of “Prophetess”, where things enter a Melvins/Eyehategod/Buzzov•en-type grind and you never want that wide-open eye feeling to stop.

Infinite Teeth is also the perfect length (just over 38 minutes), so if one gets off on this and feels a need to express themselves as the band punches them with volume, they can take it to the stage. Tigon are a band who enjoy variety, and hope to find others who enjoy the unknown twists as they do.

REVIEW: White Ash Falls’ “By The River Bend”

Photobucket There’s something so raw and open about picking up an acoustic guitar and just singing, and when you hear someone do it in a studio, it feels like someone slitting their wrists and waiting for the wound to heal so you can taste its scars. That is one way of comparing the music of White Ash Falls and his album, By The River Bend (Light Organ).

White Ash Falls is the musical mask of Andy Bishop, a Vancouver, BC musician who has done his share of punk over the years, but decided that his love of folk and calm needed to be tended to, and eventually this lead to the creation of White Ash Falls. The album is beautiful and gorgeous like some of those intimate albums you enjoyed hearing from your parents, the stuff you didn’t quite understand but it soothed you. You may hear hints of Wilco and the Black Crowes in “I Can’t Get Tomorrow”, while “Don’t Let It Go Down” sounds like Michael Penn if he decided to hang out in Nashville, with Justin Timberlake in a cowboy hat at the bar, telling you “hey, I’m just sitting here after a long day of schmoozing, and I’m here for a quick drink before the limo takes me back home. Have a listen.” There are songs of love, heartbreak, fear, sorrow, and happiness on this, and it gets to a point where, while you may know and/or understand the influences, the idea of this being your parents or grandparents music slowly fades when you immersed yourself in it to where it becomes your music. These songs could easily be covered by some of today’s country artists, while also being interpreted by today’s pop stars. In fact, White Ash Falls could be a major star if major labels understood quality over quantity, but… their loss, our gain.

Short version: White Ash Falls piles folk, country, and blues in the back of a truck, takes it to a family BBQ, brings in friends, allows everything to slow cook, and the end result is an album that becomes an evening gathering that lasts until the sun comes up.