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Archive for the ‘Ministry’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DEAD KENNEDYS “Halloween” (1982).

This Halloween song is also about Halloween.  It comes from Dead Kennedys’ final album.

It’s breakneck paced, snarky and full of socio-political commentary, as you might expect.

Because you’re still hiding in a mask
Take your fun seriously
No, don’t blow this year’s chance
Tomorrow your mold goes back on
After Halloween, after Halloween
You’ll go to work tomorrow
Shitfaced tonight
You’ll brag about it for months
“Remember what I did, remember what I was, back on Halloween?”

The body of the song is pretty simple musically (although the guitar gets to go a bit nutty here and there).  But it’s as the song reaches the end that it gets pretty intense.

Much like the way Ministry’s “(Everyday is) Halloween” mocked those for conforming, this song takes it one step further.

Because your role is planned for you
There’s nothing you can do
But stop and think it through
But what will the boss say to you?
And what will your girlfriend say to you?
And the people out on the street they might glare at you
And whadaya know, you’re pretty self-conscious too?
So you run back and stuff yourselves in rigid business costumes
Only at night to score is your leather uniform exhumed
Why don’t you take your social regulations, shove ’em up your ass?

So yea, this one is a but less suntle than Ministry (who would’ve’ thought anything could be?)

[READ: October 28, 2018] “Abraham’s Boys”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. comes Ghost Box II.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

The Ghost Box returns, like a mummy or a batman, to once again make your pupils dilate and the hair on your arms stand straight up—it’s another collection of individually bound scary stories, edited and introduced by comedian and spooky specialist Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, Patton Oswalt will be reviewing a book a day on his Facebook page.

Much respect to Oswalt, but I will not be following his order.  So there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MINISTRY-“(Every Day Is) Halloween” (1984).

Ministry is now known for being/industrial band.  But before the first album of that ilk, he played a kind of industrial dance music.  Even though I love Ministry’s heavier noisier stuff, I have a huge soft spot for this song and all of the music from Chicago’s WaxTrax records.

I also love that this song get regular airplay (especially at Halloween) and makes all kinds of Halloween Top Ten song lists (who knew such things existed).

In addition to the song being incredibly catchy and surprisingly dancey, there’s a really fun “scratching” solo in the middle of the song.

Al Jorgensen may not like this song anymore, but it’s a favorite for me.

[READ: October 22, 2018] “The Striding Place”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. comes Ghost Box II.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

The Ghost Box returns, like a mummy or a batman, to once again make your pupils dilate and the hair on your arms stand straight up—it’s another collection of individually bound scary stories, edited and introduced by comedian and spooky specialist Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, Patton Oswalt will be reviewing a book a day on his Facebook page.

Much respect to Oswalt, but I will not be following his order.  So there. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 21, 2018] Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O.

Several months ago I purchased a ticket for Ministry in Morristown, NJ.  I’d loved Ministry’s brand of industrial noise in the early 90s, although I pretty much stopped listening to them altogether before Y2K.

But I saw that they were touring and that they were playing some older songs so I thought it might be a cathartic experience.

Then I found out that Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. were playing at a small club the same night.  Acid Mothers Temple is one of my friend Lar’s favorite live acts and it was fairly easy for me to decide to get a ticket to them and sell my Ministry one.  (I decided I’d rather be pummeled by psychedelia than vitriol and anger).

It was the right decision because Acid Mothers Temple was amazing. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ENFIELD TENNIS ACADEMY-“My Missing Eye” (2017).

The Enfield Tennis Academy is one of the major locations in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  So, of course, a band that names itself after it must be listened to.

This is the first release by the band (which states “The Enfield Tennis Academy is TR.”

The bandcamp site describes this song as

“Garbage thrown together on a free trial of Reason. Song’s about missing a fucking eye. Real music soon.”

This is two minutes of noisy instrumental metal math rock.  There’s a lot of different sounds in this two minute song.

It opens with some staccato pummeling sounds–the guitars are interesting in that they sound like they are chords yet ringing out at the same time.  The middle is a really fast pummeling section that reminds me of Ministry.  Those opens stringed chords come back late in the song, and they sound really cool.

I’m curious to see what TETA’s “real music” is going to sound like.

[READ: July 20, 2017] Reheated Liō

I have really enjoyed the Liō books (going forward, I’m leaving off that line over the o, because it’s a real pain).

The strip has been going on for some 12 years now, which is pretty amazing.  And yet, there don’t seem to be any new or recent collections out.

So Lio is strip about a boy named Lio.  Lio is a dark, dark kid.  He has a pet squid, he loves monsters and he’s delighted by chaos.  Over the years his character hasn’t changed much but Tatulli has given him some surprising tenderness, which is a nice trait. (more…)

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orcsSOUNDTRACK: AVEC LE SOLEIL DE SA BOUCHE-Zubberdust! [CST106] (2014).

cst106cover_258x242Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche (With the sun out of his mouth–no translation for Zubberdust) is the creation of former Fly Pan Am bassist Jean-Sebastien Truchy.  With this album he has created a fascinating hybrid of near Krautrock repetitions with some King Crimson guitar lines and time signatures.  And interesting sung almost operatic male vocals.  Technically the disc has four songs, but songs 1 and 3 are extended suites broken into chapters.

“Face à l’instant” (Face Now parts I-IV) is the first suite.  This disc opens like Ministry–with an aggressive, fast, pounding guitar riff for 8 bars, a sharp pause and continuation of same.  After four measures of that, a quirky quiet instrumental takes over and at about a minute the heavy guitars return. Part 2 of the song starts with a funky, slightly off-kilter sounding guitar line and whistling.   About a minute into this secretion the song shifts to a quiet sequence of overlapping riffs and sounds.  About 5 minutes in, the voices start singing in wordless chants–it’s strangely catchy and slightly militaristic at the same time.  The song builds with voices until it climaxes with a stop.  Then a complex drumming pattern begins Part 3. The guitars lines resume and there are several vocals sections (I assume singing in French) that add a lot of tension to the song.  Midway through this part the song stops and that aggressive introductory guitar pummeling resumes, this time changing keys and not letting up.  New sounds and super heavy drumming are added as this brings part three to a climax.  Part 4 returns to quieter playing (and sounds a bit like Fly Pan Am in the way the guitar line as intersect.  The final section continues with the vocals and rhythms of the other three and then ends with some dramatic keyboard chords playing us out.

“Super pastiche fantastique” (Super fantastic pastiche) is the other suite.  It opens with some complex drumming and then several sequences of notes–guitar and synth that meld nicely.  Part 1 is just 3 minutes and by the end some electronic noises start overtaking the melodies.   Part 2 opens with the same melody but the electronics have been replaced by a wah-wahed guitar and more synth lines.  The song is complex and repetitive, with the only non-repeating part being the singer’s voice (no idea what he’s even saying).  The second half of part 2 (which is 7 minutes in total) ends with some sung vocals (not unlike David Byrne).  Part 3 is a 90 second interlude of very quick tinkling strings that are overwhelmed by noise and static and thudding drums.  The end of the track seems to be building up to part 4 which picks up the momentum into a great instrumental motif–intertwining guitars and electronics all with a cool bass line underneath.  After 2 and a half minutes the  song drops to drums and a funky guitar line with all kind of noises and static and voices working as transition to the cool bass line that comes in around 3 minutes.  As the song careens towards the end, the pace picks up and you can hear some intense screaming of vocals way in the distance.  The song cleans up and plays that great fast riff right up until the end when it abruptly ceases.

Tracks 2 and 4 are weird pastiches of sound. “Déja hier…” (Already yesterday…) is a four-minute song.  Interesting music plays very quietly in the background before it gets overwritten by conversation and static.  You can occasionally hear the song being played behind the noise, but it’s mostly just a weird kind of muffled noise.  “À partir de dorénavant” (From now) is similar.  You can hear a distant muddy drum and what sounds like la dinner party–tons of conversations going on at once.  It seems like the disc is going to end with 3 minutes of this, but a keyboard melody begins to slowly overtake the din.

The last minute or so is this interesting sci-f sounding synth line with warbling effects and an interesting, mellow bass.  Although it’s nowhere near as complicated as the rest of the album, it’s a cool way to end and almost feels like a segue into something else.

This album has a whole lot of styles and genres blended together into a (mostly) very cool mix of sounds.  I like it a lot, although I’ll probably skips tracks 2 and 4 most of the time.

[READ: June 15, 2016] Orcs: Forged for War

This book was a little hard to learn about because Stan Nicholls has written several novels in the Orcs series.  So when you look up his books you get a confusing list of the series and other things.  This book is not part of the series, but it is part of the overall Orcs arc. It comes just before the First Blood Trilogy.

In the intro, Nicholls tells us lot more about his whole Orcs oeuvre.  He points out that unlike Tolkien (whom he loved) his Orcs are not mindless brutes. In fact, in his books, the orcs are the heroes and the humans are the ones who have along and messed things up.  He says that anyone unfamiliar with his orcs books should have no trouble following this book.

And that is true to a degree.  One thing that it behooves an author/artist to do is to make sure that everyone understands who all of the characters/races are in his/her book.  He does give a brief summary in the intro, but that doesn’t really help because there’s no visual guide.

Humans are divided into two camps.  The Manifold (Manis) pursue ancient pagan ways.  The Unity (Unis) are monotheistic.  They are both fanatics but the Unis have more bigotry and demagoguery.

This book opens with the Unis fighting the Manis.  And then the Orcs enter the fray but it’s not always clear whose side the Orcs on, if any. Regardless of which side they are on, they are willing to fight and kill whomever (there is much much bloodhsed and a shocking amount of vulgarity in the book). (more…)

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raslSOUNDTRACK: METHOD OF THE W.O.R.M.-Cicatrix (2015).

motwormMETHOD OF THE W.O.R.M. is the project of one guy–known as Grimm.  Cicatrix is a collection of songs that spans decades (“begun long before the present digital day”) and recently remastered and released.

The blurb on CdBaby (where you can download the disc–it’s also on iTunes) notes that Method of the W.O.R.M. is “an industrial hard rock with a trip hop edge, intelligent grown up lyrics delving into the microcosm and macrocosm of our world. Influences run the gamut of NIN, Massive Attack, Cop Shoot Cop, Swans, Coil, Tricky, Skinny Puppy, Tom Waits and many others.”

There’s quite a diversity in that list even if the bands are similar, and you can hear the melding of influences.  And you can hear most of them in the songs. But what sets MotWORM apart from these bands is a keen sense of melody in the vocals.  Most industrial music tends to bury the vocals with distortion or just under the music.  But Grimm’s got a good (even pleasant) singing voice which elevates the songs above the din of lesser industrial bands.

While it’s not like pre-digital technology was all tape manipulation, it also wasn’t as easy as it is now.  And the complexity in these songs shows a lot of skill and attention to detail.

“No Flesh” opens the collection.  After some interesting noisy samples (steel drums?), a slow bassline enters (which also sounds sampled—it’s got a very 70’s sound).  The song slowly builds with more and more layers of sound until the vocals come in–a gentle singing that also builds.  There’s a Skinny Puppy feel in the music, but the vocals are very different from Puppy’s style.  “Purge” is the first of many songs with sampled dialogue, but it’s the sounds around the dialogue that are so interesting–squeaks and buzzes, radio tuners? who knows where they come from.  Once the verses start, the main music in this track is more synthy–a compelling riff that wends through the mix.  When the distorted guitars kick in, it takes the song to an entirely new level.

“Burned” showcases the vocals up front in the mix over a simple layered melody.  But there are actually a lot of vocals in this song, including a fascinating sample that opens and closes the track.  Grimm adds layers of vocals–harmonies (or not exactly)–distorted vocals and clean vocals.  I particularly like when the higher voice sings a new (very cool) melody in the middle of the song (the sampled voice melds nicely if creepily with this too).  This song is a real highlight.

“Tragic Rabbit” has some more interesting samples and a pulsing synth line with cool swirling sounds over the top of the vocals.  “As If a Dream” is a slow trippy number with an excellent processed sample.

“A Viral Method” introduces live drums (which sound great and were provided by Swans’ Phil Puleo).  It also has a great live guitar sound playing a fast riff and harmonics.  There’s more great harmony vocals. And a wild riff for the bridge (do I dare say a bit prog rock?).  Although I love the cool samples and layers in the earlier songs, this live instrumentation adds an excellent urgency to the music.  The only problem with this song is that it’s so short.

“Absolution” starts off quietly but after the distorted guitars, the chorus is super catchy–the way it seems like it’s going to end but rebuilds itself.  It’s really well crafted.  “A Moment of Silence” opens with a retro-sounding synth bass.  It’s a fairly minimal song with the vocals really taking over as that synth line drifts to the background and new sounds bubble up.  “Wasted” opens with distorted guitars kind of like a Ministry song, but the vocals are much cleaner, which brings an unexpected quality to what could have been a typical heavy song.  Especially the chorus which is musically bright (even if it’s lyrically dark).

“Freak-O” (what a great title) opens with some loud jackhammer type drums.  The song creeps along menacingly (with a great sample of someone shouting “You are one ugly son of a bitch!”).  I like the simple melody that simmers up from the noise by the end of the song.  “Miscreant” opens with quieter acoustic guitars before the drums kicks in and a menacing synth line takes over.  The vocals are quietly sung with an interesting effect placed on them.  The middle of the song has some wild sounds–I’m not entirely sure what’s happening with them, but it makes for an unsettling ambiance.

“I Love You Goodbye” is my favorite song on the disc.  It starts out simply with big guitars but quickly retreats into a much quieter verse.   There’s a great riff that throws in a slightly dissonant harmonic note that is just great.  But as the song builds into a unexpected bridge with horns, the song adds an dark carnivalesque atmosphere (and that harmonic note returns in a more prominent role).  It’s such an unusual riff and really bodes well for the interesting direction MotWORM might be heading (if they ever release anything else).

This is a real fun disc full of interesting sounds and samples.  If you like industrial music this is a disc totally worth checking out.

[READ: July 31, 2015] RASL

Jeff Smith is creator of Bone, one of my favorite comics ever.  As far as I can tell he hasn’t done a lot since Bone, but he sure did his research for this book.

The title is unfortunate (and is explained satisfactorily in the last few pages, but it’s still awkward and hard to manage).  But the work inside is extraordinary.  The story concerns dimension jumping, art theft and a whole lot of information about Nikolai Tesla.  It’s also more mature than Bone, in that there are a couple of (non-explicit) sex scenes.

In a nutshell, RASL (real name Dr. Robert Johnson) and his partner Miles are scientists.  They grew up together and studied the works of Tesla.  Miles married Maya, a beautiful scientist who has assisted them with their work over the years.  They delved deeply into the research that Tesla undertook (Resonant frequency, remote control, the earthquake machine, wireless communication) and used his ideas to create a machine that is something like a transporter/dimension hopper. They are working for the military but hope to be able to use the device to end wars (idealist scientists as they are).  Their small tests has been successful, but RASL believes that they need more testing to see if there are any effects when you use it on bigger subjects.

So he takes the machine and hops.  It turns out that each hop between dimensions takes its toll on his body and also tends to confuse matters.  (In one dimension, he checks his iPod and sees that Blonde on Blonde was recorded by Robert Zimmerman (I love that detail)).

We learn that RASL (who as the story opens has shaggy hair and cuts and bruises, unlike the composed scientist we see in flashbacks) has been jumping from dimension to dimension to steal precious works of art as a way to make some money.  There is also a really creepy-looking man whose face looks almost amphibian (Smith has some really disturbing characters in this book) chasing after him.  This man kills everyone that RASL knows in different dimensions because he is after something 9and he believes that the people in other dimensions are not real).  It is slowly revealed why RASL has been reduced to this state. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 13, 2014] King Crimsonkc

When I saw that King Crimson was touring I asked some friends if I should go see them.  I’ve been a fan more in theory than in practice.  I like a lot of their stuff, always planned to listen to them more, but I barely scratched the surface of their output (they’re the kind of band who has released dozens and dozens of things with varying project names and incarnations and since they’ve been recording since 1969, it’s daunting to say the least).

So when two friends basically said they’d give their eye teeth to see the show, it was a quick decision to get my tickets.

It was time to brush up on my back catalog.  I had no idea what they’d be playing, so it was something of a crap shoot what discs to look into.  As it turned out between the two old CDs and the one live CD that I bought, I covered nearly everything that they played.  And that was pretty awesome.  I had grown to really enjoy the CDs over the last few months and to see it done in front of me was… well, it was amazing.

King Crimson haven’t toured since 2008, and I have never seen them before.  This line up was new for the touring band as well.  It was the first time that Adrian Belew hadn’t toured with them in decades.  But there were some old favorites playing:  Tony Levin, frequent KC contributor and amazing bassist (bass and more); Mel Collins, played with KC in the 70s but hasn’t since, and here he is (Sax, flute); Jakko Jakszyk, recent contributor to Fripp’s projects and the real unknown for me (guitar, vocals).  And then the three, yes, three drummers: Gavin Harrison has played with KC before (drums), Bill Rieflin, mostly known for playing with Ministry (!) (drums), Pat Mastelotto has played with KC before, including with Bill Bruford (drums).  And of course Robert Fripp (guitar).

So, do you need three drummers?  Isn’t that overkill?
Yes and yes.

The three drummers were utterly amazing and they were the focus of the show.  As you can see from the photo, the drums were out front so you could watch everything.

Before I get into the show, The Kimmel Center is beautiful and the sound was amazing.  I had first row balcony seats.  My one seating gripe: I was in front of Fripp, but he basically sat sideways facing the stage (and his wall of gadgets) so I never really got to see him do anything. He was in profile most of the night, and I saw his hands moving, but that was it.  So, next time, pick stage left to sit.  Also, bring binoculars, because why not.

Back to the three drummers up front.  Mastelotto on the left (I could see him perfectly), Rieflin in the center and Harrison on the right (profile, but he was very visible).  Behind, l-r Collins, Levin, Jakko and Fripp.

As I said, though, it was all about the drums. (more…)

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