In My Absence: Vol. I

Tanner Garza- "Always"

Over the summer I had a mishap involving a cat, a cup of coffee, and my only means of writing the posts that appear on this website. As fate would have it, repair was out of the question, essentially ending the life of my laptop.  It took three months before my family performed a great kindness by purchasing a new laptop for me as an early holiday gift. While it’s easy enough to get back into the habit of writing, there were more incredible releases during this period than I could keep up with even if I had been writing during that entire period. Since you folks deserve to know what goodness might have slipped by, here’s the first in a series of brief posts that will hopefully fill in some of the gaps created this year. We’re going to start with experimental releases.

Sound Awakener– Episode

I wrote about Sound Awakener earlier this year, focusing on a slightly more melodic and exploratory release, September Traveler. After wandering through the delicately crafted atmospheres of that release for a while, I was surprised to be presented with the blaring horror and uncertainty offered up on Episode. If you’re into harsh noise, this claustrophobic burst of sound will be a welcome release. Since this album’s release on bandcamp, two more have popped up. I know what I’m doing with my free time later tonight.

Tanner Garza– Always

Tanner Garza has long been a friend to Black Metal & Brews, and I was eager to hear his latest, Always. This album spans four hours over the course of two cassettes and makes for an overall soothing experience. These songs are dedicated to Garza’s unborn child, making for some of the most unconventional yet gorgeously arranged music for nap time to date. Garza does recommend sleeping to the album, although I’ve listened to it while entirely alert and found it to be incredible music for focusing on a project. While we rarely have four hours to dedicate to relaxing or drifting, I urge you to try to find the time to get lost in songs like “Goblins,” “Takes You There,” and “Bride in Black.” While ideal for sleep, these all deserve to be known and heard.

Various Artists- Kalpamantra IV: The Earthen Siphon

Kalpamantra has been out there as a purveyor of dark ambient music for quite a while now. It’s through this label’s compilations that I’ve grown to know and love artists like Blood Box and Phelios, and with their most recent compilation they continue this trend of high quality dark ambient and death industrial. With thirty-three tracks, mostly from artists well known to fans of the Malignant Records roster, there’s more than one could easily take in with a couple of casual listens. Still, almost every track on here is a complete success, especially highlights like “By My Hands” (a collaborative effort from Shock Frontier and The Vomit Arsonist) and “Image Over Flesh” by Theologian. If you run out of ideas and time as you prepare for Halloween, just throw this compilation on at maximum volume and you’ll clear the block.

Coil- Backwards

Why yes, I am sneaking the highest profile release in at the tail end here. Why? Because the others are equally deserving of your time and attention. My status as a fan of Coil is pretty well established at this point, but I really didn’t want to allow myself to turn my website upside-down while trying to put words to my thoughts on this definitive edition of an unreleased album of lore. While demos for Backwards have circulated for ages and a few of these tracks appeared in slightly different forms on compilations and on the posthumous The Ape of Naples release, this release feels fresh enough to warrant a listen. Would it hit me as hard had it already been part of Coil’s catalog? I’m not entirely certain. The newness and excitement are the biggest facets of my experience with Backwards, but I still find myself clinging to the other versions of these songs that I already knew. The sped-up rendition of “Careful What You Wish For” lacks the ominous weight of its cousin on The New Backwards, for example, yet the takes on “Fire of the Mind” and “Amber Rain” may grow to be even more beloved to me than those I’ve cherished for a while. If anything, the strongest moment is in the form of “Paint Me As a Dead Soul,” which was pretty much unheard otherwise, save for a few bootlegs. If you’re already a fan, you’ll listen and form your own opinion. If you’re not already a fan, Backwards was recorded right as Coil began a major sonic transition. You can almost hear the gears grinding and switching course here, and it’s a relevant and delightful document, even if it’s a bit of a “warts and all” approach. Order it from Cold Spring in Europe or Soleilmoon in the US.