Wold - Postsocial

In my review of Wold's last full-length, Freermasonry, from 2011, I detailed how I had never been much a fan of the band's earlier works, but that I was a huge fan of that record in particular. With the band's newest record, Postsocial, I think I have crossed over into full-on fan status.

I loved Freermasonry so much that when Postsocial became available, I grabbed it blindly, without having heard so much as a note of it. And I have to imagine that will be the case from this point forward, because Wold has made another chaotic yet unstoppable record that just calls out for repeated listens. I can binge on this for hours, and while my ears may at some point ask for mercy, my mind will not allow it. The album contains 5 songs and 45+ minutes of genuine aural punishment, but if you're anything like me, you'll keep begging for more, because this album is pretty damn catchy, too.

"Catchy" might not be a word that is often, if ever, associated with Wold, but there's something very unforgettable about this record that identifies it as such. It's not as if Wold has gone pop, but the rhythms of Postsocial are undeniable to say the least. Indeed, there seem to be patterns in the chaos, and I can't help but think there is something greater going on here, something more than just music, more than just art. I feel like Wold are making a statement of some sort here, though I'll be damned if I can figure out what it is.

Wold have always had an element of black metal to their sound, but like with Freermasonry, Postsocial seems to have little if any hint of it at all. But those unavoidable rhythms, be they intentional or not, produce sounds at times that are almost melodic. Notice I said almost... I don't want to be misunderstood here; the disorder and noise attack that has always characterized Wold's sound is here, and in spades. The hate-soaked, frenzied vocals and walls of electronic and acoustic noise that Wold fans should expect permeate the album from beginning to end, and are as resplendent as they are frantic. Check out the track "Five Points" for instance: it is a perfect example of the dichotomy of the record. While it is quite insane, it also gets caught in my head quite easily. And even though I can't guarantee similar results for everyone (or anyone, for that matter; this is Wold, after all), I should hope that if you haven't been a Wold fan in the past,  you would at least give this record a chance.

This is available now on CD from Profound Lore, and on vinyl from numerous fine distros, including Experimedia and Gilead Media.

Swans - To Be Kind

Friends, I have a deep confession to make.

I made the unfortunate error in thinking that Swans could not possibly improve upon the delicately heavy and tormented sound of The Seer. I must now admit that I was wrong - in fact, I could not have been more mistaken. As much as I love The Seer in all that it truly is, To Be Kind is vastly superior in just about every way.

Once upon a time, I loved Swans, but The Seer was the first album of theirs in ages that I actually gave a fuck about. I know everyone loves Soundtracks for the Blind, but it never struck a chord with me. The last Swans album that I could be bothered to listen to again and again was probably The Burning World, which came out in the late 80s, if I remember correctly.

Therein lies the origin of the error of my thinking.

When The Seer came out, it was like reopening that window of my life - I was free to love Swans again! Not that it sounded anything like the Swans of old that I loved so; it was a new sound, but still true to what I felt Michael Gira was always getting at. Therefore, the album made so much sense to me, and I felt that it was probably the zenith of this "new" Swans. I put it on such a high pedestal - a throne, if you will - that logic declared that any follow-up would pale in comparison to the majesty of The Seer.

I was so very wrong, and so happy that I was. To Be Kind is a far superior record. This should not take The Seer off of its very high pedestal, because it surely deserves its place there. This just goes to show that none of us should ever feel comfortable in thinking that Gira doesn't have something new up his sleeve, or that he's achieved everything of note that he ever will. The songs on To Be Kind are vintage Swans - slow, heavy, and subtly discordant, and are possessed of a spirit that energizes AND enervates the listener. That being said, it is still something of a relaxing record. I realize that sort of makes no sense - when does anyone ever relax while listening to Swans? They've always been so physically jarring and uncomfortable, right? Well, something about this record sound just a tiny bit playful. I'd like to explain it further, but I will refrain. I fear I've said enough, or too much, already.

So this is something that you should get on ASAP. Perhaps I'm late to the party, I really don't know what people in general have said about the album, but for my money, it's a damn celebration. Pick it up now in one or more of its multiple forms here, at Young God Records.

Playlist: Marissa Nadler

Marissa Nadler has been performing since 2000, releasing a number of well-received studio albums, and most recently, July on Sacred Bones Records and Bella Union Records in early 2014. She's contributed vocals to Xasthur's last album, and opened for Swans this year, and toured with Earth in the past. 

Lyrically, her music has a strong narrative aspect, featuring introspective and American Gothic themes complimented by reverb-laden instrumentation and production. The Boston Globe wrote "She has a voice that, in mythological times, could have lured men to their deaths at sea, an intoxicating soprano drenched in gauzy reverb that hits bell-clear heights, lingers, and tapers off like rings of smoke”.
July, her first release on Sacred Bones Records, was recorded at Seattle’s Avast Studio, pairing Nadler with producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), Wolves in the Throne Room). Dunn matches Nadler’s darkness by creating a multi-colored sonic palette that infuses new dimensions into her songs. 

For more information, visit her website at http://www.marissanadler.com.

Inspiration List:

Catherine Ribeiro and the Alpes

Alphonse Mucha

Egon Schiele and his withered, tragic line quality

Giacometti and his lonely figures

Francesca Woodman

Svankmajer's animation

Terrence Malick - specifically Days of Heaven and Badlands

Julee Cruise - Floating Into The Night

Jenny Saville's painting

Lucien Freud's paintings

John Cassavetes

Louie CK - I just watched the 90 minutes flashback episode last night and was really blown away

Endless hours of Willie's Roadhouse on Satellite Radio while driving

Sammi Smith's voice

Tammy Wynette's voice

Edith Piaf

Townes Van Zandt

Leonard Cohen