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I’m still a young guy, and I’ve only been seriously exploring music for about ten years or so. During that time however, I’ve had a lot of favorite bands/musicians: some of them composers, some of them rappers, and some of them power metal groups (please don’t ask). It was only when I discovered King Crimson about three years ago that I finally settled down in my search for the best, though. Everything from the warm, mellotron-laden progressive rock of their debut to the stark, futuristic music found on Crimson’s recent albums struck a cord with me, and I was in love before I knew it. Exploring the band’s extensive catalogue, which is filled with studio gems and absolutely searing live releases, has proved itself to be enjoyable enough, but with KC’s last album released in 2003, I began to wonder if we would ever get a new CD, which would be the first one released since I became a fan.
My prayers were answered a few months ago, when King Crimson announced the acquisition of Porcupine Tree’s drummer, Gavin Harrison, with the intention of recording new material. I was overjoyed. Not only would my favorite band be releasing a new album, but they would be playing with two percussionists—a set up that hearkens back to previous Crimson lineups in the 70s and 90s. I didn’t think that it could get any better until I read the front page of Discipline Global Mobile today. King Crimson will be touring this year. This summer. Right near me. I can hardly contain myself.
The dates for the mini-tour are as follows:

I want to make it to one of the New York shows. There hasn’t been any word on ticket prices yet, but I can’t imagine them being outrageously-priced. Even then, I’d be willing to pay anything to see one of the most powerful and influential bands of all time in action. Summer cannot arrive soon enough.

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This is the second bootleg that I have uploaded now. I can’t up things like these too often because my school restricts bandwith on a weekly basis, and FLAC files can make a significant dent in that (20GB) weekly limit, especially when you download as much as I do. Judging from the statistics, it looks like a decent percentage of the few readers that this blog gets enjoyed the Mars Volta show that I posted last week. There’s a lot of amazing music like TMV out there today, but this time I wanted to focus on a classic band: Can.

Information

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Title: Queueing Down
Artist: Can
Performance Date: May 12, 1973
Genre: Krautrock
Download Link: One Disc
Tracklisting:

  • 01 – Queueing Down [35:55]
  • 02 – One More Night [08:49]
  • 03 – Spoon [16:05]
  • 04 – Stars and Lines [14:41]
  • 05 – Vitamin C [13:41]

Music

Along with a few of their other countrymen, Can is well-known for developing the “Krautrock” aesthetic, a type of progressive, psychedelic rock that was primarily limited to Germany in its early years. During their golden age, Can was made up of four proficient German musicians and Damo Suzuki—a Japanese wandering performer who the band literally recruited off of the street. This quintet recorded Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days together: all three of which were revolutionary albums that are recognized as classic works of genius today. Can’s output declined after Suzuki left the band to become a Jehova’s Witness in 1974, and the group eventually broke up after releasing a few decent albums in the late seventies.

This recording features Can in more glorious times, however, with Suzuki still in his position as the group’s frontman, doing what he is famous for: crooning and murmuring strange lyrics made up on the spot. The opening track is perhaps the best example of Can’s spontaneous creativity, as it is an entirely-improvised 35 minute jam. Even the other songs that are performed, which originally appeared on studio albums, are significantly extended, seamlessly incorporating tight and professional improvisations. The quality of musicianship displayed in this performance (and in any Can live show) is something that must be heard to be truly believed. Fans of Can in the studio will appreciate beefed-up versions of favorites like “Spoon” and “Vitamin C”, while curious first-time listeners will simply be krautrocked to death by these five monster tunes. As far as bootlegs go, this is a personal favorite of mine and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

This is the first post of what I hope will be a recurring feature here on this site: bootleg sharing. In my introductory post, I stated that I didn’t want this blog to simply be a music upload dump, but I think it’s fun to upload and discuss bootlegs every now and then. Unlike commercial albums, bootlegs are recorded by fans for fans. The tapers and traders usually do not see a dime from the efforts, which makes bootlegging absolutely justifiable in my book. It’s all about the music. The recordings uploaded here will be lossless, which is the standard in the trading community. The songs are kept in this format to prevent the quality decay that occurs when a file is transcoded. Feel free to encode these files to lossy sources for your own listening, but if you ever trade the material to somebody else, try to ensure that it is lossless. Anyway, here’s the show that I uploaded for this entry:

Information

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Title: Live in Sydney
Artist: The Mars Volta
Performance Date: March 15, 2007
Genre: Progressive/Psychedelic/Alternative Rock
Download Link: Disc One | | Disc Two
Tracklisting:

  • 1.1 – Rapid Fire Tollbooth [15:13]
  • 1.2 – Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of) [15:20]
  • 1.3 – Cygnus….Vismund Cygnus [18:10]
  • 1.4 – Viscera Eyes [09:08]
  • 1.5 – Idle Tooth [06:20]
  • 1.6 – Drunkship of Lanterns [12:48]
  • 2.1 – Vermicide [04:50]
  • 2.2 – Tetragrammaton [17:08]
  • 2.3 – Cicatriz ESP [14:39]
  • 2.4 – Meccamputechture [7:16]
  • 2.5 – Day of the Baphomets [13:40]

Music

Despite the fact that The Mars Volta is consistently praised as a band of technically-adept musicians, a group of true innovators, and the King Crimson of our generation, I have never really gotten into them. I enjoy their first two albums whenever I put them on, but I have not bothered exploring the group any further. Since acquiring this recording however, my position on the Mars Volta has changed, and I am more interested in this fascinating young group than I ever was before.

This disc-spanning live set contains much of the band’s already-classic material, bookended by tight extended jamming. Each and every song is performed accurately with a certain energy that is unparalleled by other acts. If I was a dedicated fan, I’d be able to elaborate upon specific moments during this show that catch my attention, but as of right now, I can only comprehend this recording as one long psychedelic explosion. Perhaps it’s for the best, as my attempts to describe this music from an outsider’s perspective would be hamfisted no matter what. In fact, I really don’t have much else to say about this one. I just liked this show so much that I figured that I would share the wealth. I am looking forward to listening to more Mars Volta in the future, as well as writing more “real” articles for this site. Enjoy!

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Oh my, it’s already happened. The first non-collaborative Boris release since Pink has leaked online in 192kbps MP3 format. I found out about this less than an hour ago, and now I am already almost through my first listen of this. What a listen it has been! I’m saving a full review for when the album is officially released in April, (which I will certainly buy) but you should know that this is amazing. Like any Boris album, it is quite different from everything else in the group’s catalogue. It’s more straightforward then Boris’s droning or experimental albums, but it would be foolhardy to compare it to Pink, Heavy Rocks, or Akuma no Uta. It’s an entirely different beast. I guess the only way to find out is to listen for yourself, either now or when the album drops a few months later. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s the tracklisting:

  1. メッセージ [07:07]
  2. BUZZ-IN [02:34]
  3. 放て! [05:02]
  4. 花・太陽・雨 [05:36]
  5. となりのサターン [05:20]
  6. 枯れ果てた先 [07:26]
  7. 君は傘をさしていた [09:20]
  8. 君は傘をさしていた (Pt. 2) [19:20]

Michio Kurihara and Steven O’Malley are also here as guest musicians.

Given that Altar, a collaboration between Japanese rock geniuses Boris and American drone gods Sunn O))), was released in the October of 2006, it is not exactly fresh news as far as music goes. The album was a critical success, fans enjoyed it, and both groups toured the world together, performing their monstrosity in front of awestruck onlookers. With Boris set to release their first full-length studio album since their 2005 hit, Pink within a month’s time, I would do well to speculate upon what the future holds rather than look back upon a work that is already more than a year old. However, I’ve only acquired a physical copy of Altar recently: a beautifully-packaged limited edition reissue of the album, spread over 3 LPs that feature photographs of the group performing live on the surface of the vinyl, to be more specific. Needless to say, such a purchase warrants a very late review.

Information

Altar
Title: Altar
Artist: Sunn O))) & Boris
Label: Southern Lord
Catalogue Number: SUNN62
Release Date: December 10, 2007
Price: $37.00 [Sold out]
Genre: Drone, Doom, Experimental
Tracklisting:

  • A1 – “Etna”
  • B1 – “N.L.T.”
  • B2 – “The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)”
  • C1 – “Akuma No Kuma”
  • C2 – ” Fried Eagle Mind”
  • D1 – “Blood Swamp”
  • E1 – “Her Lips Were Wet With Venom (Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas)”
  • F1 – “Her Lips Were Wet With Venom (Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas) (Continued)”

Packaging

In less than three days after ordering it from Southern Lord’s website, Altar was in my giddy little hands. The shrinkwrapping had a little sticker mentioning that the pressing was limited to only 500 copies, but this was incorrect; there were actually 551 packages available. Despite this limited quantity, I was disappointed to realize that there was no cute individual numbering gimmick for this release. I really wanted to be able to say stuff like “Yeah man, I have number 376.” in conversations with other fans. Oh well. Sadly, my copy was also slightly damaged in the shipping process. It had a bent corner and the edges of the LP sleeves were slightly frayed. Luckily, it did not suffer any major forms of hurt.

The package is just as heavy as the music on the records, containing not only three LPs, but a built-in booklet, which features large, glossy photographs of frightening caves, artistic photos of the band members standing in a corn field, and some forward notes, among other things. I only own about twenty albums on vinyl, many of which are cheap old ones from the seventies, which makes Altar the most intricate and full LP in my collection as far as packaging goes. It looks wonderful and stands out as a collector’s piece on the shelf.

What makes this version of Altar truly unique, however, are the records themselves, which feature striking photographs of the members of Sunn and Boris performing live in concert. I’ve heard of picture discs before, but I’ve never owned any until now. It is nothing amazing, but spinning one these is much more fun than watching a black LP rotate. With the complaints about damage aside, I am extremely pleased with the presentation of this release.

Music

Altar is somewhat of a musical surprise. When I first heard news about the collaboration between Boris and Sunn O))), I was excited to hear the sounds of both of these great bands come together. Altar is not simply a merging of two sounds, however. Instead, both groups have focused on creating something entirely different from their past work, with astounding results. It is best to approach Altar not as a meeting between two rock giants, but as the output of one collective of artists, whose members extend beyond the ranks of Sunn and Boris.

The album begins with “Etna” which is appropriately asskicking. Beginning with some droning and a drum solo by Atsuo, the song quickly moves into extended crushing riffage. The opener leads into “N.L.T.,” which is a more subdued ambient piece consisting of light cymbal percussion and bass. The final song on the first LP is “The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep),” a beautiful tune that features guest vocalist Jesse Sykes. With the heartfelt singing and the piano work, at this point it becomes very clear that Altar is atypical as far as Boris and Sunn material goes.

The next installment of Altar explodes with “Akuma no Kuma” (which according to the liner notes is Japanese for “Evil Bear”). This bizarre psychedelic meltdown of a song is the high point of the album, making use of an obscene amount of synthesizers, heavily-distorted vocals, and even a trombone. Things finally wind down a bit with “Fried Eagle Mind”. This noisy and spacey piece features the hypnotic vocals of Wata, which lull the listener into a trance before cutting off abruptly. The final song on the second record is “Blood Swamp”, which is an enjoyable droney listen. Altar‘s midsection is a powerful example of the creativity between these two bands and the other musicians that they have employed for this recording.

The side-hopping “Her Lips Were Wet With Venom (Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas)” brings this album to a close on an epic note. Playing upon the concept of palindromes, this 28 minute piece features instrumental solo spots that act as bookends over a sea of heavy droning. While this song was not included on the original CD-issue of Altar, it serves as an excellent addition to the work as a whole. It is certainly not just some “bonus track”.

Overall

Altar is what its title implies: a monument. This collaboration showcases the talent of two of the most unique and prolific bands in metal today, and this wonderfully put-together package does this musical masterpiece complete justice. The picture LP version is unfortunately sold out already, but there are still remaining copies of the purple LP edition, as well as the double CD version (which includes “Her Lips Were Wet With Venom”) in Southern Lord’s online store. Try to pick this release up in whatever format possible.

Score

★★★★