Sunday, January 29, 2012
Recalling, both sonically and spiritually, electronic-music collectives from every era, everyone from White Noise, Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. and Tangerine Dream, to John Carpenter's film soundtracks and Manuel Gottsching and Michael Hoenig's 70s long-form explorations, LDP have succeeded in pleasing and attracting a wide array of happy followers, and not least of all in that appeal is their proclivity to occasionally just give their music away, as we find in The Shores of Titan, a one-track mini-album, comprised of the 23-and-one-half-minute piece, "Imposters" offered via Soundcloud, and embedded below for easy, in-browser listening, but also downloadable for saving and such.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Also, some playlist comments (and much appreciation from your DJ) for a track by Nihilobstat, from a new, self-titled tape (first press already OOP) on the Rhinocervs label. Gorgeously turgid and bleak, and hopefully going for a second press, as I'd like to actually own the tape, rather than play a downloaded burn. Some of these editions are so ridiculously slim, and I took it upon myself to write a (polite) email to Rhinocervs, letting them know that there was an acute interest in a second edition.
Kavra, our friends from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, got labeled "soothing" of all things, though it's been said that a lot of this heavy music we all revel in at The Castle does have pacifying properties for the right formulation of mood and psyche in certain, select individuals. Indeed!
Playlist big-ups for Castle favorites Wretched Worst (appearing live March 15!) and Moonknight (both of those artists have contributed exclusive tracks to this year's MCoQ WFMU 2012 Marathon premium CDr), and of course, the great new LP on Throne Heap by Sewer Election.
See you in two weeks; the highly capable, free-form superhero Jeff Mullan fills in next week, as I'm off to see Dust Belt and Dual Action (K.P. solo projects) as part of two weeks' of Hospital Productions-curated shows at The Stone in NYC.
Click on that eye-poppin' VHS clamshell art for Eddie Romero's Mad Doctor of Blood Island above, to access the audio archive and playlist for last night's horrorcast™.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Get ready, because I have a question for the lapsed Catholics in the MCoQ listening / reading audience—one I've wanted answered for years. I could just look it up, hell, you can look up ANYTHING these days, but I thought it might be more fun to get some more-personalized, non-Wikipedia-type answers. Here goes—what is a Sacristan? Or rather, who is the Sacristan?
I ask because, in Michele Soavi's film The Church, one of my top-ten Italian horror offerings of all time, that frightening little critter up above is what the Sacristan in the story becomes. The character seems to be the caretaker of the church, though with no ecclesiastic power bestowed upon him, and he also plays abusive Dad to Asia Argento's character, so maybe he had that demonic transformation coming after all. "The Sacristan!" "The Sacristan's gone mad!" Well, who the hell IS he?
Many heaps of praise on last night's playlist for my choices, and for the show in general, on a week when I especially needed it, so thanks Castleheads. Your wanton praise and participation via the comments board is always, always appreciated by yours truly.
I had several weeks of accumulated punk / black / thrash / hardcore welling up inside of me, so the show's first hour was made up of that blast of energy, kicked-off by The Who's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," a John Entwistle song and a long-time favorite of mine, retrieved from the memory banks thanks to the BBC Jekyll show, its first and only series, a decent little piece of entertainment, though far from flawless.
Many of you reveled in the blast of 'core, including tracks by Axnaar, Vordr, and a great many others, in addition to enjoying the pressure wave of chunky, mind-warping collage noise that followed later on, from the likes of K.P., Dust Belt (a K.P. side project), Death Factory and others.
Upstate NY was representing hard, King Penguin even giving us a play-by-play of his journey by car listening in to The Castle (we were a bit concerned, as driving conditions were far from ideal.) How oddly gratifying to have this group of beautiful humans who have rallied around the show, and who I've come to care about, their weekly comments filling a necessary void, and making the show feel more like a community, than a presentation for a passive, impartial audience. Many thanks to you all!
Back next week with more thoughtfully structured mayhem.
Thanks for tuning in!
Friday, January 13, 2012
Despite this distraction, the show flowed like butter, and I had the great time that I always do.
While we're on the subject of releases, records and such, I've been thinking a lot about the absolute hatred that permeates the universe of noise music especially, for compact discs. Less so in metal. I personally have always just cared about music, being a voracious consumer of all types for my entire life. I always, as is the case with most music fanatics, considered vinyl to be the ultimate format, and I still do, but beyond this one caveat, really just want to have the music to listen to, and have never been particularly against one format or another. The anti-CD sentiment is rabid, and I truly struggle to understand it. I don't at all like jewel cases, disposable and easily broken packaging, that lends nothing positive to a CD release, but assuming CDs are packaged attractively, creatively—what truly is the problem? I'm not being facetious in the slightest, I really don't get it. If anything, CDs are an easy to use and store, high-fidelity music-delivery option, and where I can see the point of digital downloads being somewhat disposable, there are even mp3s that I searched long and hard for, and would be disappointed to lose. So please, in all seriousness, what is the beef at the core of the anti-CD backlash? (I expect some snark in response to this query, though I truly am seeking an insightful response that will broaden my understanding of this phenomenon.)
On the playlist this week, much praise for Cripta Oculta, a tape I acquired through the Seed Stock online store, the interest in which was also generated by Seed Stock's proprietor, RB, who was a guest DJ on The Castle last year. (Though the CO tape seems to be out of stock, the store is a great place to go for all your extreme, underground metal needs.) There was also praise for the Filth and Violence label, and the Nyrkki & Kyrpä II collection, and the several selections I played from tapes on the great Legion Blotan label (Rife, Axnaar, and Vanyar.) Castleheads are also (understandably) looking forward to Wretched Worst's appearance this year on the show on the Ides of March. I'm also in the midst of arranging a visit from Philippe Petit in April, and several other surprises.
As always, thanks for listening; click on the pic up top (the fallen Findlay) for access to the playlist and audio archives of this week's horrorcast™.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Ten-plus Great, Resonant Films (Mostly Horror); and an Even-More-Ridiculously Long Music List Than Last Year.
The Possession of David O'Reilly - An insulated, small-scale horror tale from the UK, which can perhaps be seen as a response to Paranormal Entity, or the Paranormal Activity films, but if I may wax Anglophile for a moment, The Possession of David O'Reilly is indeed possessed, of much greater subtlety and mystery, where many aspects of the story are never fully explained, only shown. For example, as the movie starts, the young couple have already installed a motion-activated camera in their flat, though the reason why is only very passingly discussed. The couple's friend David shows up, uninvited, and clearly in distress—his girlfriend, Sarah, is seeing someone else, though the implication of more sinister reasons for his untimely visit are immediate. Did David harm, or even kill Sarah? We never find out. As the story progresses, David quickly goes from distraught to downright loony, referring to a mysterious "they" who may "get in" and cause the trio some kind of harm. There are so many clever, unforgettable, haunting elements to this film, like the newspaper-and-shot-glass spirit board, the upstairs neighbor (a pregnant woman that only David can see), and some of most horrifying, non-CGI monsters ever conceived since Lovecraft set pen to paper. The paranoia knot tightens exponentially, as David's mania seems highly catching, and builds the film to an exhausting climax.
YellowBrickRoad - In the canon of tales that describe or depict a theoretical journey, such as Barbet Schroeder's film La Vallee, Tarkovsky's Stalker, or Rene Daumal's great, unfinished novel Mont Analogue, YellowBrickRoad stands as an intelligent, complex, horror version of such a tale. A group of experienced hikers and friends decide to attempt to duplicate the journey of a group of New Hampshire townsfolk, who, 70 years earlier, set out on a trail called the Yellow Brick Road, many never to be heard from again, while a great many others turned up brutally murdered. Five days into their expedition, they start to hear a distant, prevalent music, that seems to come from everywhere around them, an endless cavalcade of pre-WWII hits echoing through the forest. The music has different effects on each individual, creating torment in some, dependency in others. Psychological breakdowns occur, and things go from very bad to much, much worse. In stories such as these, the "destination" becomes an individual experience for each explorer, the getting there being of equal significance to whatever "Oz" colors their eventual demise. As one character says towards the end of the film, "there are many endings." Highly recommended.
The Films of Michael Findlay - Michael Findlay (aka Julian Marsh) is the kind of preternatural animal that only New York City could have produced. A thorough discussion of his life and films takes more than a paragraph within a blog post . But this year was MY year of the Findlay, and much like taking LSD, it's an experience you can't turn back from; once you've viewed The Ultimate Degenerate, the Flesh Trilogy, Sin Syndicate, Satan's Bed, or even his latter-day, hyper-bizarre attempt at a "Bigfoot movie," Shriek of the Mutilated, your DNA has been altered, such that you'll find yourself thinking about these films at odd times of the day, referencing them constantly, and divining some much deeper meaning within the sleaze. Championed by Something Weird Video, who have re-released many of his works (he made 24 features in 12 years, from '65 to '77), Findlay's movies were made for the Times Square soft-core market, but with innovative content and cracked ideas that far transcend the slap and tickle, hump-hump of most soft-core pornography of any era. Take The Ultimate Degenerate, for example, where Findlay cast himself in the lead, as a wheelchair-bound deviant named Spencer, who runs a house where dope-addicted women trade sex for cash, and are primed and "trained" for their work by way of Spencer's hack sexual science, involving electrodes to the labia, and huge plates of corn on the cob, among much else. If you're the right kind of person (or the wrong kind) you'll be sucked in by the over-the-top oddness of these features, and will be possessed by a craving to see everything of Findlay's you can lay your hands on, just to inhabit that universe—the one with the sedate, slow-motion go-go dancers, outrageous dialogue, giant machetes, and Findlay's own hypnotic gaze and New-Yawk twang. Explore at your own peril; there's been much talk of a "Findlay curse," as the director died horribly, decapitated, and otherwise made into human sushi, by the spinning rotor blades of a helicopter atop the Pan Am building in 1977. An obsession with these films may derail your once-placid existence, however pleasurably. The brassy refrain of the stripper's music will echo in your brain while you're trying to concentrate. You've been warned.
Colin - Just when I think that I can start to shovel the dirt over the zombie mythos in film, a new movie comes along to tell the zombie tale through a fresh set of eyes. Colin is a young man, "turned to soon" you might say, and through his gradual decline into irreversible zombiehood, we experience his struggles and the tragic dissolution of his human consciousness. For example, in the requisite scene where an outnumbering horde of zombies overwhelms a group of human victims, our Colin seems to be wondering if he's at the wrong party, and feeds only reluctantly. The film has true pathos, and we sympathize as Colin struggles with his memories, which will soon be wholly unavailable to him. He seems desperate to piece together how he got here while he still has the chance. A reluctant zombie, who doesn't just rise to a complete transformation within a matter of seconds—that alone is really something new! But Colin has even more to offer, with believable acting and a visual palette that is deceptively low-budget, and very appropriate to the proceedings. Lots of muted blues, off whites, and a generally grainy twilight pervades the film, as Colin briefly reunites with family, wards off anti-zombie vigilante attacks, and seems to generally mourn the collapse of his life as a human being. Perhaps my favorite film on this year's list.
Five Across the Eyes - One terrible, terrible night in the life of a half-dozen or so high school girls. Riding around in a parent's minivan, they ram the wrong car in a convenience store parking lot, hit and run, and end up pursued, terrorized and eventually tortured, by a shotgun-toting, psychopathic middle-aged woman. Much is made of the unfortunate dynamic between two disparate social classes of female—a woman who's been wronged, and it's thrown her off the edge of sanity, WAY off, and a group of relatively carefree adolescent girls with nothing but a promising future before them—prior to this night, that is. Played for realism with a shaky, handheld camera, and very well-acted, despite an obvious minimum of means, Five Across the Eyes is an effective, "small" tale about one, unforgettably bad night.
A Horrible Way to Die - Told in non-linear chunks is this story of a compulsive serial killer and his live-in girlfriend. The acting is superb, with AJ Bowen as the killer, who's by far the best actor working in independent horror today, this starring role coming on the heels of brilliant turns in The House of The Devil and The Signal, both films featured on my best-of lists in previous years. Bowen's killer is a sad figure, out of control, who hates what he does but cannot stop himself, and the significant parallel of his girlfriend's alcoholism will not go unnoticed by the astute viewer; both addictions inflict inner and outer pain, though one causes more immediate and intense harm to strangers than the other. A moody and dreary drama, but with horrific murders aplenty, A Horrible Way to Die plays out a human tragedy, more neo-realist than coy genre film. In fact, this film is a downer in the best sense of the word, owing more to a story like Five Easy Pieces than any serial-killer film that comes to mind.
The Troll Hunter - Who could resist a movie with the title The Troll Hunter? Not I. One has to at least see how the filmmakers go about backing up that enormously potent title, I would think. Yet another handheld-camera, POV tale, The Troll Hunter springboards from its medium to tell an engrossing tale of some hack documentarians, determined to capture the day-to-day activities of a real-life troll hunter, a now-elderly man, living in a trailer, who's made a lifetime of this bizarre under-the-radar career, and it's the government who secretly signs his paychecks. Yes, trolls are REAL, and did you know that some of them are not really all that small, either? In fact, some of them are absolutely HUGE. It's a credit to the filmmakers that The Troll Hunter never once descends into silliness, nor does it abandon the viewer by resorting to the tongue-in-cheek. The troll effects are also excellent, very convincing and minus any obvious computer-graphic help. Much to my great pleasure and satisfaction, I put aside my prejudices and doubts incurred via the title, and you should, too. Take the ride, as it's everything you'd want a film called The Troll Hunter to be.
The Horror Films of Norman J. Warren - Terror / Prey / Inseminoid / Satan's Slave / Bloody New Year - Though I've been into them for some time, it's taken me until this year to gain a heightened, broad-scope appreciation for the films of British director Norman J. Warren, and it all started with WFMU's acquisition of a soundtrack CD. Warren often worked with a unique composer named Ivor Slaney, and it was the disc for the Terror and Prey soundtracks, released in 2009, that got me jonesing to reexamine Warren's movies (I had seen Terror and Prey, his two most notable films, previously.) Though Warren's films decline in quality from the 70s into the 80s (as so many things did), even the later ones are a dynamite combination of sophistication and cheese, and almost all of them feature above-average acting for "B" films, and boldly weave in adult themes (Prey, for example, features as its centerpiece a very mature and realistic lesbian relationship.) Inseminoid (aka Horror Planet) draws heavily on Ridley Scott's Alien, though it's possessed of its own gloomy atmosphere, and you likely won't be laughing when Judy Geeson is impregnated by a cleverly calculating and physically revolting alien beast. Bloody New Year, though it is on its face the standard group of celebrants being picked off one-by-one in imaginative ways, features innovative themes, and some very bizarre makeup treatments. Terror and Prey are the best of the lot, and the obvious place to start, being the smartest and most mature of Warren's work, though if you're like me, you'll be led to Inseminoid, Satan's Slave and Bloody New Year as well, left craving for more of Warren's campy-yet-chilling and ultimately original "B" universe.
God's Lonely Man - Yet another film inspired by Paul Schrader's Taxi Driver screenplay about the social decline and psychoses of one man, a tortured Catholic with a haywire, seemingly random moral code. Like Taxi Driver, there's a sympathetic teenage girl (the Blessed Virgin), men who must be punished (merchants in the Temple), guns, pornography and the backdrop of New York City. Unlike Taxi Driver, the antihero of God's Lonely Man abuses drugs, worsening his situation, and eventually (or so it's implied) takes advantage of the sexual charms of the young nubile. His morality is less clearly cut than DeNiro's characterization, and hence this film takes many a flight of fancy and indeed can be said to have an ending that may or may not be based in the characters' external reality. In fact, the entire film takes a bit from Gaspar Noé's I Stand Alone (another Taxi Driver-inspired film), in that the whole story may indeed be taking place in the internal, hellish fantasy world of the character's own, roiling monologue.
The Last Exorcism - Handheld-camera POV horror is abundant these days, though a great many of the films offer great conceptual promise that is only partly delivered upon (Skew, for example.) TLE is a sneaky, apparently benign tale, that plays at first almost like a comedy, and by the time it's become most decidedly a horror film, the creep factor has risen to a point of no return. A completely self-aggrandizing and generally self-absorbed sham exorcist and faith healer has decided to abandon his bogus "exorcist training" practice, but wants to go out with one, final big bang of an exorcism to cement his reputation. He answers a letter from a small, Southern town, a letter that pleads for his help in the demonic possession of a local adolescent, and from there onward, The Last Exorcism plays like a low-rent Wicker Man, as the sinister townsfolk don't seem to really want him or his entourage there, and by the time it becomes clear that their lives are in danger, our "hero" has come to fancy himself as a "real" exorcist, determined to see the trouble through, though from the very beginning, it was already too late. Echoes of both The Devil's Rain and The Brotherhood of Satan will give 70s horror-film fans a warm fuzzy.
Honorable mention -
The Ceremony - A hapless student falls into spiritual peril, simply by lighting a few candles and reading out loud from a book one of his roommates left behind. Trapped in student housing he is, and weird things start to happen. All this from reading a few passages in an ancient language. In order to be able to ever leave the building, and / or continue with his life at all, he must pass the curse on to someone else, but who?
The Entrance - In a full-scale parking garage on the Williamsburg, Brooklyn waterfront, people are being captured, and forced to engage in a series of simple games until one of them loses. They are then shown a film of their greatest wrongdoing as it occurred, before being flung off to some demon-maintaned eternal hell. Baal-Berith leaps from person to person to get his foul work done, and The Entrance is a nice, creepy little nighttime mood piece.
2011, The music I loved this year (CD unless otherwise indicated) >>>
Dhampyr - assorted releases | Moloch - assorted releases | Sesso Violento - Sesso Violento + Pacificador | Exordium - In Wrath Principle LP | One Master - The Quiet Eye of Eternity LP | Putrid Servant - cassette demo | Castevet - Mounds of Ash | Physical Demon - Hyperdrift CDr | Solid Attitude - Prison Water 7" | Hell - Hell I LP reissue | Music of the Group Ongaku LP reissue | Psychic Limb - Queens o/s LP | Occultation - Somber Dawn CDr demo | Lussuria - Sunken Meadow CS + Ghost Entanglement LP | Yskelgroth - Unholy Primitive Nihilism | Psykotisk / Vredgad split | K.P. - Archaeological 8 CS boxed set | Sovereign - Rehearsal 1995 10" | Raspberry Bulbs - Nature Tries Again LP | Sword Heaven - Gone LP | Josh Lay & Teeth Collection - s/t LP & CDr | Roman Torment / Feed the Dragon split LP | Future Blondes - vila'gok 2 CS | Shingles - Shingles CS | Hex Breaker Quintet - Knightcourt CS | Instinct Control - assorted releases | Coprophagic Substratum - A Libidinal Hypothesis CS | Lake of Blood - As Time and Tide Erodes Stone | York Factory Complaint - Will & Testament CS | C.C.C.C. - Live at Velvet Sun CS | Flesh Coffin - The Horns of Your Altars CS | Kakerlak / Macronympha split picture disc LP | Unknown Artist - Untitled (black metal from Portugal) | Odz Manouk - s/t CS | Glossolalia - Gold in the Throat CS | Narcorgasm - Ways of Infernal Brain Destruction CS | Demonologists - assorted releases | Decimus - assorted releases | Half An Abortion - Naked Math Machinery | Tomhet - Astral Isolation CS | Long Distance Poison - assorted releases | Telecult Powers - Zion Traveler LP | Grasshopper - Goodnight Sweet Prince LP | Vesicus - Magi: Within the Sigil of Kia CS | Tukaaria - assorted tapes | Kuxan Suum - Kinich Ahau CS | Arizmenda - Without Circumference Nor Center CS | The Haunting Presence - s/t CS | Hive Mind - Elemental Disgrace LP | NRIII - Solus Patoir | Ov - Pleasure CS | Moonknight - Toplov CS | Lord Time - Forgotten Future + Black Hole at the End of the Tunnel CS | No Pleasure in Life - Happiness Is Not an Option CS | Harassor - Harassor LP | Barghest - s/t LP
So, what did you like this week, enough to comment upon? The Ov / Pleasure cassette; buy yours from Primal Vomit Records here. The new Nuit Noire CD; buy direct from the band at their myspace page, or write firstname.lastname@example.org; The new Dead Reptile Shrine double LP on Weird Forest; A.M.S.G., the dirty devil-worshipers; the Menagerie of Suffering v/a compilation from Grimtown Records (free download!); of course, a Castle favorite - Lussuria; and the Rife cassette on Legion Blotan (Rife on YouTube.)
Thanks as always for tuning in, and for your comments. Now please read my year-end list, and get back to me with your thoughts and opinions. Much appreciated. Link to this week's archives and playlist by clicking on the messy, damned soul up top.