Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mixtape 7: Borneo For Burning

Here it is, the seventh Dreams of Consciousness podcast, focusing on bands from the Eastern Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. The podcast features an interview I did on New Year's Eve with Kota Kinabalu's Maskburn, who were in KL to play Chaos in Rumah Api as well as a one-off show with Seattle's Endorphins Lost and Scotland's xSaxonx.

Doom comes to Kuala Lumpur 2.25.2014

Few underground musical scenes are thriving in Malaysia right now like crust punk; you can't throw a stone at a local gig without hitting someone in a "Dis", d-beat, or Tragedy-core band. So when crust legends Doom announced a Kuala Lumpur stop on their Asia/Pacific tour, the response was huge. Nearly 400 people showed up, some flying in from as far as the island of Borneo, and many hopping on a bus to Singapore the next morning to see the band play there as well.

The gig was held at the under-utilized Black Box space in the swanky upscale Publika mall. It was an odd venue to host anarcho crusties; most of these kinds of gigs take place at Rumah Api, a punk squat/performance space that's run by members of the band Sarjan Hassan and serves as the beating, bleeding heart of Malaysia's DIY scene. But seeing the sheer number of people who descended upon Black Box that night, it was clear the show's organizers made the right call. Security guards watched the congregated punks with bemusement, while the mall's usual posh clientele avoided the area all together.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Recently, someone took issue with me referring to Deafheaven as a black metal band, stating that they are, in fact, "blackgaze"; the implication being that "blackgaze" is a separate genre from "black metal".

This is, in fact, horseshit.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Interview with Drowning Records' Danny Kreutzfeldt

Not long ago, I discovered doom droners SOL. And along with SOL, the netlabel Drowning Records, which released SOL's And The Mouth of Time Is Open as a free download. As a follow-up to my interview with SOL's Emil Brahe, I sent some questions to Drowning man Danny Kreutzfeldt, who was kind enough to answer my questions. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Cynic, Deformatory, Yautja, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Cynic are less "progressive death metal" at this point and more like ambassadors of prog rock to heshers; Kindly Bent to Free Us ditches whatever they once had in common with Death and Atheist for an updated version of Yes. Gone is the frantic thrashing, and in its place is something serene and tranquil; guitar noodling as transcendental meditation. I'm digging this a lot, even if what I really wanted was Traced in Air V 2.0. Masvidal and Reinert were always an odd fit for death metal, and anyone who heard the last few Cynic EPs could have predicted that they were headed in this new agey direction. "Yoga metal" is upon us. [$9.99]

Someday Canada will be as recognized for its technical death metal as it is for hockey, maple syrup, and crack smoking mayors. Deformatory were clearly raised on a steady diet of Cryptopsy, but tempers the hyperblasting madness with Schuldiner-ish melodic flourishes; the result is the accomplished debut, In The Wake of Pestilence. 2014 will see the release of new albums by Origin, Vader, Skinless, and Obituary; albums like this should serve as a reminder for the veterans to come correct. More like this, please. [$8 CAD]

Similar to Brooklyn's Mortals, Yautja drags the sludgy metal so beloved by Decibel into more extreme waters. Songs of Descent finds the common ground between Mastodon's more technical early days and Gorguts' sludgier side. The band's prog/math metal leanings are reigned into digestible bites, with most songs ending under two minutes. Just enough time to tie your cerebellum into a knot. [$7]

Travelling further into proggy weirdness is the wigged out space pop of Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. Despite half of their band name being derived from a Sleep song, there's very little UZU has in common with Matt Pike and company, besides (I'm assuming) a fondness for psychotropic substances and seventies fuzz. Imagine Beach House's lush singing and pop sensibilities wandering around stoned at a Hawkwind concert. Equal parts mesmerizing and confounding. [$7.99]

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Extreme Noise Terror and Desecration in Johor Bahru

"Man, what a shithole."

As the bus crossed from Singapore into Johor Bahru, I looked out the window and couldn't stop my mind from forming that thought. Maybe it was just the juxtaposition of coming straight from Singapore - possibly the cleanest, most orderly country in South East Asia. Malaysia's one of the few countries in the region that didn't suffer through decades of war, but you wouldn't know it from the crumbling buildings and decay that greeted you as you make your way from the immigration building to downtown JB.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Extreme Noise Terror @Home Club, Singapore

The buzz behind Extreme Noise Terror's first jaunt to South East Asia had been building for almost a year; the band was expected to play Singapore as well as Johor Bahru, the southernmost city in Malaysia that lies across the bridge from SG. Normally I would have been happy to skip the Singapore show (and the immigration hassle that came with it) to see the band in JB, but there was a significant difference between the Singapore and JB gigs for me - my buddies Bloodstone were playing the former. I hadn't seen Bloodstone in almost a year, when they kicked off an epic show that also featured Japanese thrash lunatics Hell and Hell and local legends Demisor and Wormrot. One mediocre metalcore act aside, that gig stands as one of my fondest memories of my stay in South East Asia. Also, I haven't seen any gigs in JB, and Malaysia being Malaysia, there was always the possibility that it could've been complete malarkey.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Colbert Riot

Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina of Russian punk activists Pussy Riot were on The Colbert Report last night. They were in NY to appear at a benefit concert for Amnesty International, along with Madonna and the Flaming Lips. Presumably their interview with Colbert was part of a larger press junket, but I can't imagine an appearance on Good Morning America or Letterman being as interesting (or as good).

Like Metallica before them, the two ladies weren't just straight men (straight women?) to their host's clueless pundit character, but scored some pretty solid laughs of their own (via their translator, Anja). They were also eerily cool during the entire interview - like in the video of their sentencing, their demeanor had shades of Hannibal Lecter. They really might be supervillains.


• Colbert's intro ("My guests tonight are Russian activists who are vocal opponents of Vladymir Putin. I will not be sharing their sushi.") had possibly the best "Putin has his detractors poisoned" joke ever written.

• I'd seen pictures of them before, but on the show Nadya and Masha looked incredibly young (Wikipedia lists their ages as 24 and 25, respectively). The idea that the government - ANY government - would be scared of two such demure young ladies enough to send them to Siberia is baffling. It makes their act of protest that much ballsier.

• I wonder how much of Colbert's schtick was explained to the ladies beforehand, or if they could tell that his questions were facetious from how the audience reacted to them. [Or, alternately, if translator Anja provided some editorializing, since her translations seemed longer than Colbert's questions.]

 • The line for which Colbert had no comeback: "We've had two years of practice hiding things from searches."

• On Colbert and Putin going hunting together, shirtless: "You should take some handsome boys with you."

• Some jokes don't need translating - a bit about Dutch prisons only needed Colbert to mime toking up for the girls to get where he was going.

• I was incredibly distracted by a blemish on Nadya's lip. Probably because I dated a girl who habitually picked at her lips, and I had to hold her hands to get her to stop.

• Strange - though Pussy Riot are known ostensibly as a "punk band", there didn't seem to be any interest in their actual music, or in having them play a song on the show. Which is too bad, because "Putin Has Pissed Himself" sounds pretty catchy.

• Apparently, since they're a collective of largely anonymous members, anyone could be in Pussy Riot - even Reverend Dr. Stephen Colbert, DFA.

The Interview, Part 1:

Part 2: