Friday, December 25, 2015

Ho Ho Ho

Leave it to Polish conductor Krzysztof Penderecki to suck all the fun out of Christmas with his haunting, almost hellish Christmas Symphony. Recorded in 1981 with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and a cluster of evocative of vocalists, the symphony is a exactly the opposite of what one would assume from a holiday piece. Dark and foreboding, the music is actually an interpretation of "Silent Night" though listeners will be hard-pressed to discern any details. Discarding the more minimalist/conservative avant-garde style of his earlier works, Penderecki considers his Christmas piece a turning point in his career, what most classical reviewers mark as his maturation into neo-romanticism (I wouldn't be pretentious enough to claim that analysis as my own). Included in the performance is Penderecki's wonderful rendition of Te Deum ("Thee, O God"), an Ambrosian hymn still quite popular in the Catholic Church (evidently during papal ceremony). Equally as unsettling as it's predecessor, the piece and would find itself perfectly at home in any number of cerebral horror flicks (Shining anyone?). Significantly more choral, the last third of the movement is my favorite, a typical Penderecki tradeoff between soprano and baritone that simply sounds ominous and fearful. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pathologically Explicit

Ah, nothing creams holiday spirit like a 30-minute dose of Spanish brutal death metal. Straight outta Lleida, Catalonia comes Haemophagia. I don't know what got into me over the last few weeks but man I was getting tired of the pussy shit that kept popping up on my iPod and felt it was time to find a new BDM band. Originally spawned in 2005, the trio began life the sorta-stupidly named Triskaidekaphobia (technical term for fear of the number thirteen), recording a 3-song demo and eventually settling on their current moniker. While the "low" guttural vocals are a tad bit lower than I'd prefer if I was mixing this myself, it's still a great album and one that isn't marred by shitty production, a tinny drum machine or endless movie samples. The breakdowns are heavy and plentiful, the song titles are meaningless and offensive, and while there's nothing you haven't heard before it's performed by a bunch of guys who know their death metal history and play what they like. Break out the egg nog and throw this disc in the CD player for a cozy night of holiday cheer. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What Have You

Goddamn I wish I was Nick Hexum. Not only does the guy not look like he hasn't aged a fucking day since he graduated college but he owned a fucking island in the Florida Keys. An island. That is some serious shit. Anyways, twenty years before he became a paradise entrepreneur, his band released their second demo on Hexum's What Have You Records. In case you've been living in a soundproof cave on Mars since 1990, Hexum is the lead singer for perennial funk rockers 311; one of the few 90's bands that weathered the death of MTV just fine and still release arguably good shit to this day. I just picked up 311's 4-disc Archive box set and was kinda disappointed they didn't include the band's pre-Music demos. I've sifted through boatloads of illegitimate mp3s over the years trying to find a definitive copy of most of them and the aforementioned Dammit! (1990) has proved the most elusive. Sure there are umpteen "first generation" rips out there but they all seem to be from one of two sources; are completely inconsistent in their mastering; are actually songs from the more readily findable Unity (1991); and many rips clip off several minutes of some tracks (or are missing a song or two entirely). With that being said, I compiled a few "versions" and tried to form what is a reasonable facsimile of an entire album. Side A is actually pretty listenable but make no mistake, the quality is rough (think 64kbps mp3s sleazily up-ripped in disguise). Oh well, what the fuck, you can't have everything. Enjoy.