I get a lot of random records, tapes, and books in the mail, because publicists forget that outlets for which I used to work aren’t around anymore, or someone finds the address hidden on my website, or… whatever. This is a way to keep them from piling up uselessly in the corner of the office.
It’s been a minute since I did one of these, because I only had a few things, and then, suddenly, I had a ton, so here we are. First up is album which was supposed to be the start of a March installment of this column, but again – oops.
Anyhow, the latest LP from Repeated Viewing, Beach House, is simultaneously the most lovely thing yet from Alan Sinclair, the man behind the project, but it’s also troubling. While Sinclair’s played about with music which homages gialli, action flicks, and horror, this marks what might be the first truly uncategorizable music from Repeated Viewing.
The Beach House was “inspired by a deserted house found during a hungover morning walk along the beach near the filming location of The Wicker Man,” so says the press for the LP, and with track titles like “Bizarre Ritual” and “Looking for Help,” you can’t help but feel that the music is meant to be the soundtrack to a film wherein a gorgeous location is a setting for something horrid lurking right beneath the surface, or hidden somewhere in the background.
I love the openness that Sinclair has on this album. It’s very much like the oceanside setting the title evokes, but with a sense of menace. It’s kind of beautifully unsettling. As it kicks off, it seems as though you might be able to put it on as background music, and then maybe go about your chores around the house, but the likelihood is probably greater that, by the time the menace of “Surface Tension – Accept Your Fate” kicks in, you’ll be considering locking all the doors and pulling the blinds tight.
Gorgeous artwork on the jacket courtesy of Cinepunx pal, Hauntlove, who makes a pair of hands on the back cover possibly the saddest thing I’ve seen. The way the art hints at something terrible, just like the music, makes me wish I were talented enough to conceive of the film which Repeated Viewing has scored here. Also – props to Lunaris for pressing this on transparent “ocean swirl” vinyl, which looks like a hint of foam on waves. I’ve seen a lot of great colorways over the years, but this might just be the prettiest.
Beach House is still available directly from Lunaris Records.
Next is a split 7-inch single between Orphan Goggles and Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. The A-side, “From Planet Orb With Love part.1,” is pretty well head-melting. It starts out pretty noisy, and then turns into this crazy droning bit of symphonic psychedelia, with piercing synth lines winding their way through the song. Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. is, per the band’s website, a “freak-out group for the 21st century founded in 1995 by members of the Acid Mothers Temple soul-collective.”
Led by Kawabata Makoto, this cut feels like it cuts out just as shit’s getting ready to go off to the moon, so I’m hoping the “Part 1” aspect of the title means that they just trimmed this trippy jam for the 7-inch and we’ll hear more somewhere else, and soon.
The B-side is “Hey Bud, How’s Your Blood?” by Orphan Goggles, and it’s a full 180-degree turn from the Acid Mothers’ cut. It kicks off with furious guitar, and then just barrels along at freakout speed, lurching and twitching the entire way. Basically, have you ever wondered what the Sweet’s Brian Connolly would sound like if he fronted an early ’90s Sub Pop band? Here’s your chance.
I like to think that the cover art is a middle-aged Thelma from Scooby Doo feeding a middle-aged Fred into a wood chipper, with a rainbow flying out of it. The anger-meets-psychedelic feel is a perfect match to the two cuts on the 7-inch, and the swirly colors and big, bold lettering carry over onto the center labels for the vinyl. The vinyl, it must be said, is pressed on what I can only describe as “blood red,” so good job on the cohesive visual statement, kids.
The split’s out Friday from Whiteworm Records, which is the brainchild of Harr Cloud, the man behind Orphan Goggles. You can snag a copy on Bandcamp.
Next is maybe my favorite record I’ve heard all year. The Fall’s Mark E. Smith died in 2018, and the surviving members of the band decided to carry on, making music. They named themselves after Imperial Wax Solvent, the Fall’s album on which this lineup made their debut. Imperial Wax takes the idea of that post-punk sound of which Smith had been a pioneer, and turns it into something slightly more straightforward.
If I had to give an elevator speech on why Imperial Wax is so impressive, it’s that they’re basically what I expect to hear every time someone tries to sell me on Idles, the latest British buzz band to sell out clubs around America. On their debut LP, Gastwerk Saboteurs, Imperial Wax takes the idea of post-punk and really leans into the “punk” aspect of it.
There are still Gang of Four-like grooves hidden within the songs of their debut, but it’s the sheer energy which the band displays that really grabs you. The cuts which open each side, “The Art of Projection” and “Rammy Taxi Illuminati,” are similar in terms of their verve and anger, but the ways in which they’re different are astonishing: as the latter fades out, it switches into a dub-meets-Sabbath jam that lasts nearly as long as the song proper, whereas the former is a straightforward rocker which thrills me each and every time I listen to it.
The LP comes pressed on pink vinyl, which sounds fucking fantastic. While the jacket cover for Gastwerk Saboteurs is a terrifying and fascinating image from artist Mow Skwoz, the back features a kind of grainy image and banal typography. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much when I threw this on the turntable, but it immediately blew my hair back, and I feel like Imperial Wax’s debut is going to be the release which absolutely becomes the sleeper hit of the year. If you hear the way the guitar, bass, and drums lock into everything at the one-minute mark of “Turncoat” and don’t immediately want to run out and see this band live, I don’t know if we can be friends.
The album’s out May 17 from Saustex Records, and you can buy it from them in a limited edition of 150. The LP is only nine tracks, but the download includes three songs not on the LP itself.
Blue Glass’ Pale Mirror might be the most minimalist release I’ve ever gotten which isn’t actually just in a plain white cardboard DJ sleeve. There’s nothing on the cover or the spine of the record to announce who it is, and there’s very little on the back but song titles, who recorded and mastered it, who did the artwork, and then – way down there in the lower right-hand corner – is the band name and album title.
There are no lyric sheets, band lineup, website URLs – not a goddamn thing. I know I can Google all this and figure everything out in a second, but when the LP first showed up, I just wanted to throw it on and get surprised. I wasn’t necessarily blown away, because Pale Mirror is pretty mid-tempo ’80s worship which draws equally from the Cure, early Depeche Mode, and maybe a little New Order. The bass work is pretty impressive, and I do love those chiming, yet jangly guitars, but the tempo from Blue Glass never really kicks up to a point which feels like there’s anything other than a plod.
I mean, it’s nice and all, but after a listen or two, there wasn’t anything which really grabbed me, other than the fact that Blue Glass’ Pale Mirror is a very cold album which feels very sad. I mean, New Order had “Blue Monday,” but they also had “Age of Consent.” Not every New Wave revival record has to be the Cure’s Disintigration, and even that album managed to mix the sadness with some really lovely instrumentation. It might’ve been sad, but it was fucking pretty.
The cover art’s pretty striking, and I do appreciate the fact that it comes in an archival antistatic sleeve inside the jacket, but other than that, there’s not a lot to recommend this album other than, basically, “It’s fine if you like that sort of thing, I guess?”
The album’s out May 24, according to the Blue Glass Bandcamp.
Got a zine, cassette, 7-inch, LP, or flexi you want read, looked at, or listened to? Hit up Nick on Twitter at @nuthousepunks.