First RTJ 3 Single

Wooohooo, damn Adult Swim is really patron of the dark arts lately. They’ve just dropped week 23 of the Adult Swim Singles 2016 (fuck, I guess you could call it a compilation), with the latest track by purveyors of genre-jettisoning rap Run The Jewels. This one should help you through whatever early-in-the-week day you’re stranded on.

Talk to Me, this offering from RTJ, is typically loud: a cacophonic El-P beat with a fast funky shuffle from a bunch of nice instruments gone bad and some fuzzy scratching; Mike and El duelling verses. Bars on bars on bars. Loudness, spacey production, aggression. Awesomeness

This is the first sample of what to expect from Run The Jewels: 3 which seems like it might be released before the end of the year, but I doubt it. It looks to continue the same outstanding braggadocio and zeal of the last two RTJ releases. Only one song is out but it evidences all the pace, fury and stylistic hallmarks of their two previous award-winning albums, and you could be forgiven for already setting aside a tentative place in your years end best-of lists for this one (in whatever year it actually drops). It’s been two undistinguished years since RJT2 dropped and literally made people reconsider the power of hip hop. Mercy, can’t chill until this is out.

Check out the Adult Swim Singles 2016 here. There are tunes by Captain Murphy, Dj Paypal, Earl Sweatshirt, Sremmlife Crew, Kittie et al. Keep posted for the last of the releases coming on Wednesdays.

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Adult Swim has curated some amazing visual representations of the releases on the Adult Swim Singles tape. Could this be the working artwork for the RTJ3 cover? Doubtful, but still dope. 

 

 

Yes Lawd! NxWorries

A long wait has preceded this album. For the aware that had caught NxWorries before hearing Anderson .Paak’s solo or guest work, this was the holy grail of delectable slow jams. After huge year of being inundated by .Paak hooks and tours and hearing the Suede & Link Up EP in 2015, it’s wild to hear this album and what you gotta believe is one of his more sustained efforts. Held down by incredible production from Bandcamp king, Knowledge (he’s released over 60 tapes on the platform since 2009), it’s one of the most transportive, cinematic hip hop albums this year. This is a holistic album that comes off best listened to in its entirety (preferably with a fat twist nearby). It’s relatively long and tessellated with many tracks and different vibes that never really settle for too long, but it seems more definitely rooted in hip hop and funk styles than other more pop .Paak releases.

The albums kicks of with some sampling then gets into the paired organ and choral vocals that pirouette through most of the tracks. ‘Livvin’, the kickstarter of Yes Lawd, lays out the after school special melody over layers and layers of .Paak vocal pyro that falls lusciously into itself like tiramisu. It’s a dynamic and very alive voice that croons, rhymes and runs through the soundscapes. It’s a testament to the closeness of the duo that they both know when to give the other the limelight to solo, and this provides for some elegant compositions that eschew more linear hip hop styles. This is an album that has the feeling of human hands on it- a Hip Hop/R&B album that plays like a live band, like a lottery of sessions musicians sweating away on the hottest days to bring you jewels. It’s got that collaborative chemistry and the soundscapes pull you back to their place in space and time. It’s comparable to D’angelo’s Black Messiah.

Lyrically, most of the tracks are autobiographical snapshots–slivers of break ups, and making love; making ends meet or flying out on tour; ballads and exploitative hymns to the booty and the merits of an obsequious woman–he switches gears and moods capriciously, frequently without prelude. The Knowledge production is much more consistently powerful, pushing things along even when the lyrics aren’t hitting.

The minimalism of the album cover hides a wealth of wonderful organic sounds, like chicken soup for the soul-deprived. There is more vocal and instrumental mountains climbed on this album than in most discographies. Paak’s ethereal vocals take away a lot of the pique contained in the sometimes dismissive lyrics. But this is an album by a hip hop duo, which people keep forgetting. Yes, .Paak has had a lot of commercial play this year and been on some softer songs, but this is something different- more homegrown, more uninhibited. Most people were probably expecting Malibu to sound more like this, grittier and less contrived- Yes Lawd just sounds natural and unaffected.

With a voice both sexy and stunting, incredibly emotional and affective yet cool and stylised, .Paak can really hit any target he decides to swing at. Like, you’ll here the meat and bones of the beat drop out just for .Paak to bring in a vocal melody in the gap. His lyrics, ambiguously located between R&B and Hip Hop are scene-setters, more props for the vocal displays that really express the intended emotion and bravura. There are already people saying the lyrics are misogynistic but I feel they don’t have any direct malice but are more intent on conjuring West Coast G-Funk in its most authentic vein, like on ‘Suede’ or ‘Best One’.

Knowledge’s beats have the depth and range of Dilla or any legendary producer, his name should appear seamlessly amongst Stones Throw’s elite beat makers like Madlib or Peanut Butter Wolf. The real talking point of this album, I can already tell, is going to be the Amazon-like depth and explorability of the beats. Spanning cut-up sampling like on “What More Can I Say”, to layers of dulcet vocals and church ambience, B3 organs, skanking guitars, crate-digging gone wild, some real esoteric samples that’ll have other music nerds going to Whosampled like crazy. Every filigree, every serif, every detail is perfectly rendered. The fluid dynamics of a man whose head spins with suggestion, who conducts symphonies joining disparate times and cultures. The clarity and integralness of an MD high, a sensual warmth that unravels around the listener and darkens the external world.

This wizardry is evident even on the seemingly interstitial track Can’t Stop which is really an instrumental, but really doesn’t sound like it because Knxwledge’s production is literate and speaks to itself in dialectics that constantly build to overspill the horizon with disco-ball shimmer. HIs technical mastery is pronounced, in his hands a relatively bland vocal readymade will turn into an alto sax and back to a human vocal chord, then back again and wiped in delicious reverb. He marionettes horns and guitars and vocals like the main character in Being John Malkovich. True fireworks left right and centre. And a Rick and Morty sample.

There’s a crazy broad emotional palette on this album, taking us into sun drenched retro vibes and wavvy West Coast smoke anthems (Lyk Dis, Get Bigger/ Do U Luv, Best One, Suede), to introspective slowness (Sidepiece, Kutless, Starlite), and general playfulness (HAN, Link Up). These are songs that are much more than lush. Truly carnal tunes equally sharable with a lover or with the boys. It’s an album for smoking, partying, falling in love and fighting, separating, celebrating the permanence of emotional scars and the transience of the moment. For taking the fun for granted as much as for self-condemnation the morning after. It’s mood music for the past-obsessed, emotionally stunted present, and fittingly the sentiment on the album is as much break-up as make-up.

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The Kentucky Hug

My jawn at the moment is KC and the Sunshine Band’s Boogie Shoes. A utopian classic from 1975 about dancing the troubles away and just being carnal in general, like all KC&SB songs this is pure disco-funk revelry to blow away the white-world blues. If this actually played as you walked into work like in movies you could guarantee the sky would be cloudless , the day would end in a corporate orgy and someone would shout the office lunch at 1pm.

Anyone who hasn’t managed to lap up this golden dance floor classic in the last 40 years will be familiar with it thanks to KFC whom have utilised it as the anthem for the whole of oceania to sell hormone-blasted chicken. It really has the power to change the banal evil of the Western world into something a little more groovy. Thanks crazy horn section and unskippable 15 second Youtube ads.

KFC may well have pushed themselves up the informal Cholesterol Hierarchy with this one, established well above McDonalds but languring under HJ’s still. I hope that some Baby Boomer on the KFC promotions team got drunk off XXXX and went to work covered in last night’s chicken binge playing this song for comfort on his daughter’s IPod, and the boss looked at him, had an eidetic hallucination of what their ideal consumer looks like, and said “You’re it John…You’re it. What is that entrancing noise you’re listening in to on your headphones?”

The genius of marketing: take something good and shove it into the maw of something bad and then put your best foot forward, model a ‘lil bit wearing a mask that only superficially conceals true motives (profit), then sell GMO foul for a pittance to people whose brains you’ve manipulated with funky feelings. Scuttlebutt in the industry is that KFC needs a margins upgrade because the despotic Colonel at the heart of the operation needs more bleach to get the bloodstains from his clothes.

 

Did you know the Colonel’s autobiography is actually called Life as I Have Known It Has Been Finger Lickin’ Good. 

The Nation Blue Review(s)

The Nation Blue released two albums today after a decade of illusory purgatorial existence. Get this straight it’s not a double-album or anything but two distinct albums recorded about 12 months apart in an historic building in Kyneton, Victoria. It’s a dense listen and a fair slog to work out which album you prefer and exactly how they differ. There’s definitely layers to Black and abstract compositions that take a few listens to open up and for one to sink their teeth into. Blue is more readily listenable without being any more commercial or slow or soft or pussified. It just hits more in the centre than the sprawling, chaotic Black and stay heading in one direction for longerOHMYGOD there’s so much spread across this churlish kaleidoscope you could never touch on every element so mia culpa in advance.

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Black is more experimental, not in the sense of unlistenable pedal-worshipping wankery, but in its refusal to stay in one speed or overarching mood. It’s beautifully recorded so that every shrill, distorted squawk makes it into the mix. It’s one of few albums that manages to capture the energy of a live performance. Awesomely thick and stalwart bass tone with a wonderful crunch of dissonance to the guitars. The vocals hint at Nick Cage circa Birthday Club era grunts, shrieks, calls and moans. It’s hugely instrumental as well, helping to shuttle the tracks along. Some great imagery in the lyrics that have a stark poetic quality to them and unravel in an authentic Australian idiom that repaints many typical Australian ideologies for what they have become.

Black opens with a vociferous acapella assault on the eardrums with the short track I Have No Representatives which has some of the most impassioned criticism of this country in music since Peter Garrett had the pipes rattling. It’s a vile condemnation of contemporary Australian values and governmental apathy and it builds brilliantly from blind rage to whatever is beyond that, some homicidal aggression.

Next track Australian of the Year kicks open the doors and sets a gruelling pace. It’s a stomping syncopated track with a wall of noise. A 90 second burst of blue collar Aussie aggression. Following that is Caroline, which is a demented post-punk song by people who’ve never participated in the genre’s tired gimmicks. Manic higher-pitched vocals doubled with a low-octave apathetic groan create a drunken farrago. It’s just so much more unhinged when you don’t know whether they’re gonna shift gears into glam-worshipping riffs or take off into a breakneck circle-pit grooves.

Then follows the one-two punch of Come in Stinger and Erectile Disfunction. There’s a lot happening on these tracks– lots of noise and other effects-loving, neck-jarring behaviour creating a grunge-industrial delirium. Come in Stinger has some wonderfully jarring feedback and a baseline that catapults things along at whiplash speeds while the guitars talk estuary english over the top. Crazy crying, almost moaned, vocals on the hook typical of the cathartic nature of the album. Erectile Disfunction starts off with a super ominous crunch, alternating between two chords and letting the ringout go for all its worth. Perfect amount of reverb on the vocals to leave them both crisp and legible with a massive sound like a pundit at a pulpit. The guitars are very expressive and abstract on these tracks with the bass and drums really pushing things along like the subterranean bass on intro to Come in Skinner. The low-end (and often the franticly inebriated singing as well) structures and propels the tracks while the guitars eke shrill sonics like Jackson Pollock painting the canvass.  Similarly on the intro of Rendition, the drum and base create a momentous mechanical groove; the guitar comes in, does a few curtsies, and leaves. Probably gonna have these one’s stuck in your head.

Black is an album that is bipolar even when it is most calm. There’s dystopian punk tunes like CCTV which sound like a mesomorphic Joy Division with added shred. This and Australia Day  are salient as meditations on National values. There’s some real lyrical street-magic on this album that I think right go under-appreciated because the vocals are at times so frenetic its easier to listen to them as an instrument. Take these golden bars on CCTV: “our Christmas-eve wrap party at a military drone school/flying one-handed drinking whisky running black ops hypotheticals/ and I can see your fiends on the other end and i pretend that god is my co-pilot/guiding my raid while I’m still stationary on C-CCTV”

Wild is a sing-along for a fucked generation and is probably my favourite track on Black. A belter that wastes no time and is completely emaciated of all pomp. This is followed up by the melodic Nations Capital that uses a good punky three-chord guitar riff to frame a pretty catchy vocal melody that, once again, has as much of a percussive element as it does a melodic effect.

Don’t think its too daring to say that this is an album with an agenda, saying a lot about this country even if its not all good, which makes them reformers, probably more patriotic than any Young-liberal in parliament. its got stark monochrome imagery of a hallucinogenic parliament house the almost looks like its been floated away on some aegean sea, while blue has the photo of the blue mountains?? but definitely something important to say more than, ‘Hey we’re back with more songs” It;s almost like the condition of Australia right now, the social disaffection, equidistant racism and over political-correctness, dehumanisation of anyone not a part of the general lowest-common denominator, has summoned the boiz back to make crazy pub-punk because after all where is the best place to talk politics. Nation Blue start this dialogue then recedee to the corner to play knife games and wonder when you’ll get it. youthful vigour to the songwriting + they just released two albums at once, yet a maturity to the voice and the way they handle their anger.

There’s heavy moments on this like on The White Death- probably the heaviest track on Black. It’s pure noisy tribalism almost getting to Butthole Surfers levels of pummelling too-much-happening tantrums. Then there’s softer moments like on Mansion Family and Be That Man which evidence songwriting chops easily on par with national darlings like The Drones. There’s moments for party Come on Stinger and moments for reflection (Nations Capital). A lot to keep the ear guessing and will really repay attentive listeners. For others it may come off as slightly confused, too bipolar and hard to get a strong purchase in. If this is the case, Blue is the album for you. It’s more linear and consistent in it’s emotional-spectrum.


 

 

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Blue is a less claustrophobic, more traditional listen. It’s still mad idiosyncratic and done in their highly personal style, but it’s just more approachable in its consistency. It’s very loud, the songs are quite quick, and there are more bop-along moments and melodies. It’s got its roots more in the traditional punk cannon but it is no way derivative or lazy or not entirely it’s own thing from the outset. It’s got whoah-ohs and oi’s over it making melodies the real DIY way, and some eminently listenable guitar riffs that should inspire a few bedroom karaoke sesh’s and TAB requests.

It opens with the blue cheer of Rotten, which is definitely a tune for late nights and bad decisions. Punk meets post-rock meets kitchen sink to the teeth with teeth. Green Around the Gills follows, a fast-paced stomper with some fucken awesome riffing that is both hairy and incredibly danceable. It’s characteristic of The Nation Blue on this album to create these really heavy riffs that blow your hair back but you can still dance to. Tired is another angry catchy song that you wanna yell along too, once you get accustomed to the angularity of what they’re giving you. Its got a really saucy, accented riff holding it down that occasionally jets off into more introspective territory. They create these dynamics on lots of the songs on Blue where one instrument will become hegemonous before the whole band comes back in again on the beat to pummel you an excoriating panorama of sound.

There’s a weird little interstitial track Short on Air which repeats the title words maniacally like the singer has caught the holy spirit. It does seem to borrow some of the post-apocalyptic stylistics from Black and is a bit anachronistic here. 

There is more unity and melody tempering the entropy on Blue. Black is like this monomaniac fugue that has a lot to say and sometimes get’s lost in itself. Less flat out and avant-garde songs like Blue Blood and Always Keep a Light On that sound like the Bronx with smarter melodies. You really get these fuckers caught in your head. Theres just some way-too-deadly guitar riffs on these, like the little lead lick that accompanies the chorus of Blue Blood. 

There’s also more sensitive moments like Blue Bloods which is almost a ballad (almost) with croons of  “I won’t let you go, I won’t let you go” on the chorus and an unashamedly slower tempo. Male vocal melodies are always a dubious thing and can come off as super gauche when not executed right but they’ve done a good job here to not sound cheesy at all but appear ingenuous and stoic.

They do the same things with songs that contortionists do with their bodies. On Blue there is this transcendentalist rejection of forbears. It’s hard to really place this album between other releases because there is just so much here and it really rewards having an open mind. They do things that shouldn’t be done, like have really emotional, abreactive moments in the middle of otherwise upbeat street-punk songs. Like on the superficially straight punk fun of Always Keep a Light On and I’m an Ape there are these beautiful melodic moments. God the bass on this album sounds like Pompeii going off too. I’m an Ape seems to be a forgotten song from the British Oi Punk days before it shifts into the chorus, dons a new costume, and become something only The Nation Blue could make. Truly peerless.

There’s moments on this album where, if you’re not paying attention to the anarchistic social commentary or serious emotional palette, there’s just some really good-time, brisk punk songs. But it would be rude to suggest that’s all this is. There’s definitely something more here. It’s got great dynamics, and is crystalline clear in the recording, not wanting to sacrifice any accent for the sake of being ‘heavy’ or anything preconceived. Like on Black Fax which starts heavy, with a heavy larrikin chorus, and then becomes soft and dulcet immortalising the banality of white collar office jobs. Like, it’s all backwards but only they could do it and make it this natural.

The incendiary, intoxicated sing-along of Baby Blue towards the end that just really makes sense being here. As does the stadium-ready classic of Paranoia which sounds like it could belong in Bad Religion’s oeuvre. Then there’s the grandiose, magnificent chunkiness of closers Soft Power and Black Light. Soft Power has this super stylistic jazzy texture and builds tension to a sleazy breakdown. Black Light is a sludgy closer that is just gargantuan in size with a melody that will trepanate you so you’ll be walking around singing it wondering where you heard it. It’s ponderous and brilliant and ambitious. For such a good song it almost disappears in the odyssey that is getting through this album. But it’s a wonderful way to close nonetheless and it like nothing that has accompanied it on either release. Just another arrow I the quiver, I spose.

Blue is definitely less lamenting and paranoid in tone. It’s the album you can put on when you’re kicking it with your mates and everyone will catch the groove of it. It’s more uniform in both structure and timbre and the songs are each more comparable to typical punk rock/post-punk tunes. But it’s noisy and shiny and upbeat like a mix of early Unsane x Japandroids x The Living End. Sometimes it sounds like it sounds like a stadium rock album, sometimes a dirty pub classic. It revels in both in everyday-ness and it’s singular intelligence. All with a distorted craziness genuinely lurking under the surface. Brilliant stuff. A treasure trove of creativity from muses fully unleashed.

 

Nation Blue stream

Yo, its your mo Skinny Stash here. Woke up to some peerless news today that The Nation Blue’s two new albums Black and Blue are streaming on Faster Louder here ahead of tomorrow’s release.

Already had a bit of a listen and it is shredding, idiosyncratic stuff. The band have more speeds than a tradie with a bag of crack and another bag of morphine and a four-day work week.

Had a bit of a listen and its super strong so far. Black is more noisy and experimental, shifting gears and refusing to keep one overarching tempo or mood although the heart of all the songs is indignant anger and incredulity. There’s so much ambience in the mix  that gives Black this extra loudness, like its all resonating off the inside of your cranium. It’s recorded phenomenally. Every nuance, feedback squeal and rumbling punch delivered crystal clear.

Blue is more easygoing and exhibits more straight-up noise/post-punk tendencies and is probably an easier listen than Black purely because the songs are a little more accessible. This is making them sound like cookie-cutter genre songs which they’re really not. Nothing about this album can be adjectivally related to any band really. The Nation Blue have a sound of their own.

If Blue is more post-punk, Black is more post-human or post-societal-conditioning -retriving the sublimated madness within.

Plenty more to be discovered with more listens weeeew dream_3debb850d1

YMHM- Darc Mind

Don’t get holes pumped in your mind with the Existential Nine

a2205597029_16Duo composed of X-Ray Da Mindbenda on the instrumentals and Kev Roc spitting some labyrinthine bars. Marked by the expressionistic jazzy production and Kev Roc’s deep voice and wordplay. X-ray has also worked with EMPD, DOOM, Monsta Island Czars, and MC Sham. Kev Roc was in Legion of D.U.M.E. The album is probably most readily comparable  to Jehru the Damaja’s The Sun Rises in the East or Kool G Rap 4,5,6.

It’s an album steeped in that dark soundscape that equally could be a 40’s noir murder in big band chicago as mid-90’s NY Boom bap. It’s really kind of ageless except for the macabre type of textures that don’t really feature in most Hip Hop nowadays, but were noticeable on like Gravediggaz’ 6 Feet Deep and Nonphixion’s early stuff. Kev’s rhymes emit like fronds from an alien tundra and perfectly complement the street-lit vibes.

Opener ‘Visions of a Blur’ is a classic underground gem. First heard on the ‘Soul in the Hole’ soundtrack, the only track off Visions of a Blur to get an official release before the album was buried when Loud, the label DM was on, folded in 2002 taking the record into the deep dark with it. It never saw the dusty light of day until 2006 when Anticon put it out, whereupon DM released Bipolar the same year- an eclectic collection of earlier material, demos and b-sides.

That being said, apart from some of the basslines and drum sequences which have the early-90’s starkness the group, there is no way to tell where the group comes from; could be NY, could be West Coast, could be via Saturn with Sun Ra.’Seize the Phenom’ has a caterwauling jazz horn on the verse that’s pure steamy Gotham City alleyways at night and then these almost outside-sounding keys on the chorus break. The utilitarian beat in the background like a cat strutting about, confident it owns the scene because it’s there at every crime without being fingered. ‘Knight of the Roundtable’ speeds things up a bit to bebop velocities and shows their diversity, while ‘Covert op’ has these dangerous chords ringing out dissonantly over sparse Dnb beat and reverb-drenched horns.

‘I’m Ill’ features one of the most idiosyncratic samples of the ubiquitous Nas soundbite, but over some really colourful brass and a hummable piano lick. There’s a great bit of crackle in the background of the beatscape as Kev shreds all over the top of it with his wildstyle eloquence.

In fact, what really marks this album out as singular is Kev Roc’s flow. A clear monotonous baritone that pulses like a metronome and is as dense as sulfur hexafluoride, it almost sounds like an alien language if your brain can’t process phonetics joined in such a skein. While it might take a few listens to even discern individual words from each other, off the bat the flow deserves veneration as one of the most original and percussive since Kool Keith. Even Rapgenius has nothing on Kev Roc’s verbosity (the only lyrics currently available are for ‘Visions of a Blur’). This is a real testament to the man’s wordplay and prose, as his delivery is lucid and metrical, but apparently too deep and coiled in intricate internal rhymes to reveal themselves in few listens. If you had to place the flow anywhere it would be akin to Charli 2na x Doom x Kool G Rap.

You’ve really got to be floored by some of Kev Roc’s lyrical collages like on ‘Outside Looking In’ where he spits something like: ‘On the eve of my release/ Pleasing my season and appease your peace/ Kev Roc steezing fine like fleece/Magnifique, Belisse *mwah*/ Mic checker/ this party be bomb I’m making the piece to be/ fogging up the bakery glass from all the pastry’ and ‘Rebuff and suffer me you hoes say/ running back as aperture collapse I beat a rap like OJ’ or ‘Impressive punk aggressor fuselage pressure deficit/ ill verse of my precursor punk I push him off a precipice/ Kev Roc a brother betwixt a hard place and L/ lacing L space i dwell with great taste and grace in jail’.

A seminal underground Hip Hop album that should be in the forebrain of more groups to show how a holistic sound can really be achieved. Also if anyone’s ear is slick enough to grasp the lyrics, send ’em atchaboi. Peace.

Check the Darc Mind discography here https://www.discogs.com/artist/239429-Darc-Mind and pick up their albums on their Bandcamp here.

YMHM Silencer-Death Pierce Me

Silencer has one of the richest mythos of all black metal bands and, if real, possibly the darkest. Founded in Stockholm, Sweden by guitarist Leere in 1995, the group didn’t release any material until the Nattramn (real name allegedly Mikael Nilsson, b. 1977) recordings took place during July 2000. The album was released in October 2001 and by then they had already dissolved. This is a highly-polished DSBM outing that has none of the KVLT lo-fi recording techniques or terrible guitar tones of its ilk. It has a meticulous production most BM albums wouldn’t even dream of, yet this doesn’t derogate one bit from the claustrophobia or atmosphere. In a world where black metal is little more than a gimmick, a hyperrealisied version of itself to be put on t-shirts for rebellious rich-kids to wear, the Nattramn lore is one of the  more interesting and outre tales since Varg/Euronymous.

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Silencer: Death, Pierce Me

Death, pierce me, the opener, begins innocuously with acoustic guitars majestically intertwining like snakes over some heavy kicks from the drums. The piece is a really mature composition that steadily builds beautiful tension until Nattramns demented vocals kick in at about 90 seconds along with the first distinguishable black metal riff of the album. Since this is the probably the first time you will have heard the Sumerian shriek that comes from the notorious vocalist. Coaxed from some deep depression or control of some schizophrenic daemon, Nattramn cut his hands and arms to elicit such wails when recording. Sometimes they’re ridiculous for their Dio on PCP aspect, (if you really listen to some of the moments when the banshee scream stops and Nattramn starts mumbling incomprehensibly like in Sterile nails or toward the middle/end of Taklamakan, it genuinely sounds like a paranoid glossolalia, and is there anything more painful than listening to a neocortex boil like that.

A truly pained man making music, like a dadaist, to shock the audience out of, or into, what? I know that I’ve played this for friends who find it hilarious when the vocals start but who slowly begin to be less energetic as the album continues and they realise it’s not going to stop- it might be real. And such is the major appeal of Silencer and the Nattramn story in general. It’s so transgressive and out there that it seems patently false at the start, and you’re not sure if you want it to be real or not. But then, it would take an unhinged mind to associate oneself with child-attackers and to create this massive game of cat and mouse with the online BM community, which occasionally reaches Holmesian proportions.

Manic-depression seems to characterise the album; for instance, midway through Death, Pierce Me the DSBM-riffs drop out to usher in a gothic-sounding piano section that hops along nicely before EEEEIGIIIGIHGIH, guess who’s back. Some people think the album is unlistenable or ruined by the vocal performance, but I feel that if you put it on and let it go, it just might take you somewhere. Most of the tracks either start soft and crescendo or begin in the middle of a gale and move to the calm eye of the storm. It’s always progressing. But this occurs in a natural, almost geometric way. For someone so demented the album has a polished and excogitated feel. Maybe this is due to the rest of the band who are more musically, and less psychotically, actuated. That said, Nattramn has also composed dark-ambient/power electronics albums under both Diagnose: Lebensgefahr (S/T) and Trencadis (Odelagt). He was also apparently in a project called ‘Mammoth’ that only issued 9 copied of their album, all of which were sent to schools unsolicited except one copy Nattramn kept to spill his own bodily fluids on.

Allegedly, (but now highly doubtful and easily the most spurious legend assoc with the man), he cut off both his hands while on the mic and replaced them with pig’s hooves. There are more holes in this story than pores in an ephebe’s face. Like how did he do both hands alone, especially after one hand had come off? Or how did he subsequently swing an axe at a young girl, or write poetry and draw, with no opposable thumbs. And the fact that you can’t just sow a dead pigs hoof to your hand and not get some toxzcema or something. Also the claims that he attacked a five year-old girl with an axe and attempted suicide by cop, while it sounds exactly like something he would do, might be misattributed. You can read the article which has been translated to english here. It never mentions names specifically but does mention a man escaping from the Växjö Psychiatric Ward and leaving a note bordered in swaztikas regarding plans to attack a young girl.

He also released a book called Grishjarta **or “Pig’s heart” in 2001, a collection of poems and drawings from 1996-2000. The re-release came with a mandatory vial of blood for all Swedish buyers (they had customs problems sending this oversees). All of Nattramn’s artistic offerings are available on HAL, his label and website. The basic philosophy of HAL (Humani Animali Liberati), is that of rejecting the notion of being human, embracing the animal, and thus becoming something that transcends either/or. Whatever the case, Nattramn seems to have a monomaniacal interest in pigs and pig parts, which is suggested to be related to some blashphemic idea of being a new Jesus- a flawed earthly sacrifice, Jesus being the pig (not lamb) of God.

Nattramn is interesting because in a genre that relies on such spectacular personality cults as BM, Nattramn could be the only real outsider artist of the genre. So much black metal is about murder, insanity and satan, while the musicians’ first-hand experience of this are only through Hellraiser VHS and Venom albums bought from Hot Topic. What is known is that he definitely spent time in a sanatorium where he recorded Diagnose: Lebensgefahr over one year, and he definitely maintains one of the most enigmatic mysteries in music. I mean, more people listen to this band because of their notoriety than any other reason, even if it is unknown whether its all a put-on or not, coming from the self-propelling mythologisation of the man.

4741856939da456e8d46a455e199bc3bSo, loosely, that is the story, minus some grim filigreeing. You wanna believe an antisemitic maniac made one of the grimmest BM albums of the decade, or would you rather see it as an art-for-arts sake holistic production: a dark avatar, an album, an ongoing narrative and an online treasure hunt to boot? I’m not going to debut or call bullshit or anything. Maybe all this is a great marketing ploy by Silencer who thought their music was a little too weird to be listenable without some character selling it. Maybe, as some suggested, Nattramn never existed. Maybe Mikael Nilsson does exist and is mentally unstable, believing himself to be Nattramn. Or maybe he’s just a cunning marketer who knows that The Regular Man, while superficially moral, has a love of darkness inside. I mean, why else has this okay-but-testing album had such an enduring exposure in underground circles. Even Xasthur and Gorgoroth have never generated the horrified attention Nattramn has.

BOO

** if anyone is interested in viewing the book but can’t get a copy, a generous redditor has uploaded it. A google search should suffice.