You can now order the new Kawabata Makoto CD from our Bandcamp page. The speed guru eschews his normally meditative approach to solo recordings to instead create hypno rock of the most cosmic order. We are also doing a short run of t-shirts of the cover art by Sarah Coppen (shirts only shipping from the US, though. CDs available to ship from UK)
It’s all been happening lately. Where to begin? New freebie for you all to download. It’s Willie from Woven Skull’s solo project, here giving it a wrong take on techno:
If you prefer cassette, there’s still a small number left (2 at the time of typing). Speaking of cassettes, we’re now taking preorders for our next two tapes. First up is the return of Bird People but this time for a full-band jam of beautiful, blissed out psychedelic rock.
Or you can buy a download if you prefer that sort of thing. Our second tape is the Was Ist Das? debut of United Bible Studies. David Colohan of the band being no stranger to Was Ist Das? with three previous albums for us. Here they go exploring roman graveyards and thinking of MR James but makes me think of Alan Garner.
One source of frustration since moving to the US has been the ridiculously high cost of international shipping here. So these tapes are being made in Yorkshire and half my allocation are going to our friends Obverse Books to distribute on our behalf so now wherever you are on this big, beautiful world of ours, you can buy these two tapes and not worry that the shipping is going to cost more than the tapes!!
Hope everyone’s staying safe and not losing all faith in humanity. Since the last post there’s been two more freebies added to the Bandcamp.
This one’s a cosmic, glacial solo guitar set from Acid Mothers main main Kawabata Makoto live in Hebden Bridge’s Masonic Hall. It’s a very strange venue and I think that seeped into his improvisations!
…and speaking of strange venues this one is from a meeting room above but adjacent to the Robin Hood at Cragg Vale. It was midsummer, the lights were off and the band played in front of small windows overlooking the whole valley. As they played the room slowly melted into near darkness. I think that DEFINITELY seeped into their performance!
Still waiting on the One Eleven Heavy CDs but I’m sure they’ll be along sooner or later.
After a long delay this year I was excited to get the first reviews of the year posted up on the site back in mid March. To me there was only one way to make up for the silence at the start of the year – an explosion of activity. I set up two cassette releases to come out during my return to the UK in April, maybe launch them with a Hebden show and our first pro CD to greet the launch of One Eleven Heavy’s west coast tour in May. And I vowed to myself to keep the reviews flowing.
Well, now I’m working from home, school is closed and while the child care for our pre-school tot is still open, fuck using that for now. I cancelled the UK trip. The One Eleven Heavy tour cancelled. The CD is probably delayed. International shipping seems very delayed. And still figuring out what the next step is for the awesome tape releases I was planning to drop on you all last week. And as for writing in a crazy house of bored kids, big puppies and a wild toddler……well…..that’s not been happening
This is happening though. I’ve been talking to artists who released stuff in the early days of Was Ist Das? and I’ve been slowly putting up some of those early cassette-only releases for free download. Started with The Cosmic Dead up above and now the sublime Isengrind below
So please grab them for nothing and enjoy. I think now more than ever music is an important part of our lives. I’ll be adding more if possible. Please keep supporting artists via their Bandcamps especially those who have had to cancel tours. Stay safe, support your community, try to buy as little as possible from Amazon and stay strong. I’ll try to do my best to make things interesting, time allowing.
The Corona virus has had a devastating impact on underground music with venues shut, tours cancelled and a lot of money being lost by thos involved. As a fundraiser, that bastion of the underground, Bandcamp, are wavering all fees for labels/artists today. So there’s never been a better time to support your underground by buying direct and getting high quality digital files. However, there’s a ton of stuff out there and the high traffic is making the site a little unstable and slow. So here’s a curated view, all stuff that I’ve personally bought:
A career spanning collection of demos and unreleased gems from Six Organs of Admittance is a pretty damn vital thing. This digital only release is pay what you can afford and ESSENTIAL:
This was the album that made me a Wooden Wand fan when I got the vinyl off Blackest Rainbow. Long out of print so this is the best way to get it. Kinda disturbing to think that was 10 years ago. Also, can we just say that Blackest Rainbow was a label that massively influenced my tastes in music?
Sunburned Hand of the Man were for many a gateway band, one that really signified that anything goes. “Wedlock” is definitely one of the major albums BUT check the discography deal. You can get everything on their bandcamp page for $39. That’s 115 albums of wild, wild jams and freak outs.
A beautiful collaboration between the sainted sci-fi author and an avant garde composer, this is their imagined culture of an alien race from one of her books. It’s world music from another world.
If you fancy some speed-prog madness from the band that incensed the critics, stunned audiences and created their own unique world. Imagine a cross between Magma and Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and something very fast.
Ben Frost takes the textures of abstract ambient and approaches them with a punk ferocity, making his music a slow-building burn out of electronic force.
This is the original compilation that defined the new Japanese psych scene. Beautifully remastered for vinyl and digital and guaranteed to burn down the house.
If you smoked weed between 1998 and 2003 in England you probably heard this at some point. It’s aged beautifully and turns out you can listen to it when you’re straight too. Get this on lossless on your big speakers!
Legendary Phoenix group co-founder by Alan Bishop and W. David Oliphant. Weirdly got lumped into the industrial scene, probably due to the split album they did with Controlled Bleeding but you can tell by this 1987 album (Bishop had left by then but all of Sun City Girls guest on this one) they were in a world of their own.
A great collection of early Liles stuff, though if you’re staying in on shutdown you should consider you can get everything on his bandcamp for 88 quid and that’s enough music to outlast any emergency, as some of the “albums” are actually enormous box sets. This would last you till August without repeating anything
A perfect recording of a perfect moment in time, when Raising Holy Sparks started off day two of the Tor Ist Das! festival. Special guests galore, it starts with a sermon in the church pulpit and ends with a mass session including 3 harmoniums.
Amazing improvisation duo, it was an honor to put out their first two releases on Was Ist Das? but this is their third and most recent on Feeding Tube records. An angelic conversation with eternity
Germany’s current champions of pushing rock ‘n’ roll out of the envelope. An amazing live band and this album bottles the lightning beautifully.
An astonishing live performance that made me feel excited to be in Arizona. They’re not actually a trio and on here are much augmented with some heavenly horns.
Lucky Dusseldorf people can watch Faust playing the whole Faust IV album on December 12th. Hopefully this will not be a one off and will come to every single town in the world.
Tickets available from https://www.eventim.de/en/event/faust-faust-iv-duesseldorf-zakk-club-12156834/
Essaka Hoisa, the new LP of “minyo footwork” by renowned Japanese musicians Shigeru Ishihara (DJ Scotch Egg / Seefeel) and Kiki Hitomi (ex-King Midas Sound) under their mind-bending WaqWaq Kingdom guise, lands this 15th November via Phantom Limb. Here’s the video for the track “Doggy Bag”
Yesterday Was Ist Das? turned 14! Awkwardly my old laptop had finally gone over a cliff and my new one didn’t arrive until the end of the day. So today is more of a celebration as I was actually able to do stuff (and I was off work). Anyway, I just stuck up six new reviews. Well, I say new, one of them was from February and somehow got lost and with it being an anniversary it seemed a great time to revive it (Teeth of the Sea) but one of them is from 4 years ago when I lived in the UK. It was a typed review I found in a cloud when setting up the new laptop. So I slapped it down over a recent photo (Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers). What else? There’s folk, there’s synth pop, there’s abstraction of the finest order. Go on over to the Features page for all the options.
Now my laptop has a bigger screen, the website will be designed accordingly. I know nobody has computers anymore and they’re all using smart phones. I have one too. I’m just a creature of habit.
To celebrate the fact that he’s managed to go over fifty years without dieing, Andrew Liles has released the second half of his enormous “Colossus” project which you can check/buy/peer at right here. Our review, the biggest we have ever done, is on the way this week but for a more timely marking of the occasion, here’s a quick Was Ist Das? 5 release primer for our personal picks from his enormous discography. Two points to note, one is that we are ignoring Current 93 and Nurse With Wound. He may have made some major contributions but they ain’t his babies. He’s just the wet nurse. Secondly, as he is prolific, I haven’t heard everything but I have heard a lot and I know what I like.
A collaboration with Jean-Herve Peron of Faust and a joyous treat. JHP’s dadist sensibilities get fed into Liles’ Hi-Tech but surreal world. The result is rather like what if Faust had entered a time machine in 71 and made their next album in a modern studio.
2.All Closed Doors
A 2003 release that really showcased that here was an electronic artists who may well have inhaled the entire Warp Records catalogue but could coldly outweird them all. For the Bandcamp reissue you get two versions, the original 2003 mix and a special binaural remix for a 3d headphone experience.
3.The Vortex Vault
A twelve CD series, released monthly, this was the first grand declaration of the strange mix of prolific and proficient. With a vast rogues gallery of collaborators, it’s a real feast of sounds. The whole damn set is available as one download for 24 quid which is insane as it’s a huge collection.
4.Like Swallowing Eclipses
I know I originally said no Current 93 but this is actually the first five C93 albums (plus ‘Faust’ and ‘I have a special plan for this world’) remixed by Likes. Rather than doing anything crazy or blasphemous, though, he sort of reimagines the albums as they would sound if they were recorded today. Not that there aren’t plenty of changes, it wouldn’t be worth bothering otherwise, he just drags them into the modern world. It’s a remarkable achievement.
5.The Power Elite
An almost retro approach to the classical avant garde except it’s in blisteringly high quality. Fidelity aside, though, this is straight back to the good old days when you could find this kind of music in charity shops for 50p, content betrayed by being in the classical section with a modern art cover. It really does sound like he’s kidnapped a classical ensemble and is forcing them to do weird stuff in his basement.
So there you are. I’d like to say here’s to the next fifty years of music but by then he’ll be dead and those of us still alive will probably be shitting in caves and eating dogs.
News reaches us that Mark Hollis has passed away. Talk Talk were an important pop group to me even before they morphed into something else with the classic albums “Spirit of Eden” and “Laughing Stock”. Mark’s self titled solo record from 1998 continued the magic.