Good afternoon! If you’ve been hanging around here for a bit, you’ve probably heard Disemballerina, whose 2014 and 2016 albums were covered here, and A Stick and a Stone who had a release we discussed back in 2017 and one just this past January.
But if you haven’t — both are musical projects that generally tend toward the folk/ambient, sometimes a bit on the experimental side with unusual instrumentations, but always highly expressive, cathartic responses to both inner and outer turmoil. And over the past few months each has released a new single or EP, both of which I’d like to point in the direction of your ears today. Enjoy!
Disemballerina – Fawn (Riff Merchant Records, 06 August 2021)
A Stick and a Stone – Root Shock (Spirit House, 03 November 2021)
Nothing – GEORGE (A Live Part Time Punks Session, Los Angeles 12.07.2019), self-released 01 June 2020
In light of, and in solidarity with, the wholly justified anger (and the equally justified demonstrations and protests currently taking place) against the completely broken system we are all stuck in — and particularly in light of the undeniable truth that the system is SO MUCH more broken for SO MANY demographic groups other than my own — it has felt appropriate to take some time away from putting out any new content of my own, for the past week or so.
To the extent that anybody ever cares what I have to say about anything, it feels like especially right now, who wants to hear the thoughts and opinions of some random straight white dude? So I’ve been pretty quiet, no writing about music, no news or reviews; and instead trying to use whatever minuscule social influence I have to help spread the words of other people, who are far more relevant to the very serious discussions taking place right now.
But today, the fifth of June, is Bandcamp Friday once again — where the Bandcamp is taking zero fees from anything purchased through their platform — and artists and labels all over the world are taking advantage of the day to pledge donations to a very wide range of social causes. In fact, Bandcamp themselves have put together this lengthy (but certainly not comprehensive) list of folks donating their profits and/or making special limited-edition material or merchandise available for the occasion. They also shared this gigantic list of over 1000 black artists and producers and black-owned labels you may wish to check out today. (A big thank you to those who have put a ton of effort into compiling and continuing to maintain this spreadsheet!)
Forgotten Bottom – Hostile Architecture (digital: self-released, 25 July 2019 / cassette: Black Horizons, coming soon)
Around here, we’ve had a bit of a history picking on the city of Philadelphia, and its residents, and especially its sports fans. But we’ve also spent plenty of time listening to and enjoying — and writing about — the variety of musical output from “The City that Bombed Itself.” And here is yet another example of that, in the form of a uniquely-orchestrated instrumental two-piece.
Forgotten Bottom, which has just recently come to my attention, includes one person we’ve mentioned multiple times on this website: swiftly becoming perhaps the most significant experimental-music violist since John Cale‘s stint with The Velvet Underground, the prolific Myles Donovan has also appeared with Disemballerina and A Stick and a Stone.
The line-up is then rounded out by Eric Bandel who plays a bit of guitar here, but mostly bouzouki. If I hadn’t already been excited to hear this project, that’s the part that fully sold me. A life-long fan of uncommon musical instruments of all ethnicities, I’ve especially enjoyed the bouzouki ever since Monty Python taught me what it was called.
(As a kid, I had this double-cassette set, which I listened to a zillion times — and “The Cheese Shop” was always one of my favorite sketches included here. While this was also performed on the Flying Circus tv show, the audio-only version included on Final Rip-Off clearly mentioned the instrument by name: check it out here, specifically from 0:40-0:50 and from 3:33-3:43.)
Ruby the Hatchet – Planetary Space Child (Tee Pee Records, 25 August 2017)
I’m putting the finishing touches on writing this article during breaks between watching Philadelphia’s hockey team getting demolished during the first game of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Entirely by coincidence, that city (a place whose biggest claim to fame is striking a beloved holiday character with snowballs) happens to be the home base of psychedelic ensemble Ruby the Hatchet. But I’ll implore you not to hold that against them.
As you may recall, we wrote about this band’s 2012 debut album Ouroboros when it was reissued back in 2016, and then last summer we mentioned that they would have a new album out soon. Today we’re discussing that album, as RtH prepare to head out on a whirlwind tour of the country over the next few weeks (kicking off this Friday, 13 April 2018). Check out the full list of dates at the bottom of this page.
A Stick and a Stone – The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost (cassette Sentient Ruin / Breathe Plastic, CD Spirit House; 21 July 2017)
Hey… remember several months back when Bandcamp donated all of their profits one day to the ACLU to aid in the fight for equal rights for all? Well apparently that was a big success, and they’ve decided to do something similar again, TODAY.
Their announcement earlier this week said, in part (read the whole thing here):
We support our LGBT+ users and staff, and we stand against any person or group that would see them further marginalized. This includes the current U.S. administration, and its recent capricious declaration that transgender troops will no longer be able to serve in the military.
In response, we will be donating 100% of our share of every sale on Friday, August 4th (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time) to the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to change law, policy, and culture for the more equitable.
That announcement also included a list of featured artists of various gender identities, and they’ve also posted a follow-up detailing hundreds of bands and labels who’ve pledged to join in by donating all or part of THEIR profits from today as well.
Of course, our archives here at Valley of Steel are filled with releases that are available on Bandcamp as well, if you’re looking for something to buy today. And if you keep reading, here’s one more recent release you may wish to consider.
God Root – Salt and Rot (CD self-released / digital Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, 11 July 2017)
The music world suffered a great, if largely unheralded, loss around the end of 2014, when ambient-experimental blackened doom duo Sadgiqacea, one of the only good things to ever come out of Philadelphia, ceased operations. (Our review of their last album can be found here). The pair briefly reunited to perform at last year’s Shadow Woods festival, but otherwise it seems they’ve been occupied with other projects. While guitarist/vocalist Evan Void continued on as a member of Hivelords and Tombs (both of which were discussed here), drummer/vocalist Fred Grabosky (aka the artist behind FTG Illustrations) was quietly assembling some other like-minded individuals to form a brand new group. After shifting a few pieces around for a little bit, the line-up stabilized with bassist/vocalist Ross Bradley, guitarist/vocalist Joe Hughes, guitarist Keith Riecke, and Jordan Stiff who is credited with “noise” and guitar, all joining forces as God Root.
The band’s second official release, Salt and Rot saw the light of day just a few weeks ago, and the guys are now gearing up to hit the road with New Jersey’s Sunrot. A full list of those dates, all over the northeastern and midwestern U.S., can be found down below, but first let’s check out that new album!
John Frum – A Stirring in the Noos (Relapse Records, 12 May 2017)
Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (Relapse Records, 23 June 2017)
Hey boys and girls. To start off the week right, I’m going to call your attention to a couple of recent Relapse releases. Presumably Dying Fetus (whose new album we previewed a little while back) will already be familiar to everyone reading this, but I’ll just take a moment to introduce John Frum.
Named for the messianic figure of a particular religious sect from the south Pacific nation of Vanuatu, John Frum combines guitarist Matt Hollenberg of Cleric (who has also played with John Zorn), bassist Liam Wilson of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Derek Rydquist from Bereft, (who was also with The Faceless for their first couple albums) on vocals, and Eli Litwin (the mastermind behind one-man band Intensus) on drums.
These two bands may have strikingly different takes on death metal, but both albums are definitely worth taking the time to check out!
I am the Trireme – Gnosis: Never Follow the Light (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, 30 June 2015)
Hello out there — and a happy Saturday to you! Hopefully you’re all in the midst of celebrating a nice long weekend (at least for those of us in the U.S.) in classic unofficial-end-of-summer style, with plenty of food cooked over charcoal, and definitely plenty of bottles of fermented beverages. Not to mention lots of good music. Seems like a perfect time to get out there and catch a show, whether it’s at an outdoor festival or somebody’s basement, or whatever.
If you happen to live somewhere near Pittsburgh, might I suggest this one: locals United By Hate are playing at the Rock Room in the Polish Hill neighborhood, and kicking off a bit of a tour; that trip will take the band through Philadelphia on Tuesday night, where they’ll be performing with that city’s I am the Trireme, who are returning the favor by making the trip out here to play at tonight’s Pittsburgh show! Sorry if that sounded a bit confusing, but to make a long story short, if you live in western Pennsylvania you’ll get to see both bands tonight, while our cross-state neighbors will have that chance on Tuesday the 6th.
I just happened upon this information randomly on Facebook, and it reminded me that I had been meaning to write something about IATT‘s album Gnosis: Never Follow the Light ever since I first heard it when the City of Brotherly Love based label Horror Pain Gore Death released it last summer. Mostly based in blackened and death metal, the album impressed me with its range and variety, and I think you’ll agree if you check it out …
The Ravenna Arsenal – I. (self-released, 23 February 2013)
Gholas – Litanies (Dullest Records, 11 February 2014)
Hello out there, folks. Hope this week has gone well for you all. Over the past few days — during which things got pretty crazy busy, to the point where I didn’t have any time to get anything written — I’ve heard some pretty incredible brand-new releases, and I definitely look forward to sharing those with you. But not quite yet; instead, today we’re going to turn back the calendar a little bit, and spend some time with a couple of my favorite releases from years past that I just never quite got around to writing about yet. These were featured in my Top 13 of 2013 and Top 14 of 2014 lists, respectively, chiefly due to the fact that both of these bands know how to write a hell of a song. These are both albums that I’ve listened to front-to-back like dozens of times, and I feel pretty certain you’ll agree that every single song on each is of excellent quality …
Ruby the Hatchet – Ouroboros (RUR Records, 29 April 2016)
Mars Red Sky – Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (Listenable Records, 20 May 2016)
Good afternoon. Today I’d like to talk to you about two different bands who each fall under the general umbrella of “psychedelic/stoner rock.” Both have new releases out (recently, or within the next two days), and both will be hitting the road (separately) playing various shows and festivals across the USA over the next few months. First I’ll introduce you to those recent releases, and then head down a little further to the comments section where I’ll share the scheduled tour dates!