August 24th 2014

Why I Have Given Up on Music Criticism

It has been difficult to keep AFIN going, due to other life pursuits and obligations, even though I still love and listen to lots of music, new and old, every day. Going on hiatus…coming back, repeating the cycle. It is of little use to anyone who has enjoyed reading the site and listening to recommendations to have all these false starts, so I’ve got to make my mind up about it. Many of my favorite blogs from days gone by don’t exist anymore - will A Future in Noise be another pile of bones on the heap?

I started having trouble keeping the site going after a failed attempt at pursuing journalism academically that made me truly miserable over the course of my first semester in college. I also looked back at some of my previous writings and thought “did I really feel that enthusiastically about [insert album here]? Or, was it because [choose one: they sent me a free copy; I was writing in a way I thought I was ‘supposed’ to critique music; because I wanted people to read my site].”

When I say I don’t make a specific aim to critique music anymore, I’m not saying I don’t discuss it with people or recommend artists, albums, and songs. Far from it. Music is one of the most important things in my life. I have, however, given up on the dry so-called critical analysis of music so often seen that consists of a very limited selection of terms and comparisons. Oh what’s that, you say? Another shoegaze album that’s ”gauzy” and “dreamlike”? It’s possible to describe music to spark interest in listening without falling into these traps.

Great music criticism exists, yet it is not an avenue I want to pursue any longer as the thought of it has come to fill me with absolute dread - the opposite of what I want to feel while sharing or listening to music in this format. Unless it’s like Flowers of Romance or The Marble Index or something. Then the dread must be embraced.

I want A Future in Noise to be a music recommendation spot from me to you. That’s what I always wanted it to be and trying to dress it up as anything else, even if I rarely have committed such an error, is a mistake and failure in my mission to simply share what I love and what interests me.

Welcome back.

~Marilyn Roxie

March 29th 2014

HTRK - “The Body You Deserve”

March 22nd 2014

Akina Nakamori - “Back Door Night” (Fushigi, 1986)

I came across Fushigi when searching for albums outside of ‘the West’ that had a post-punk or shoegazey sound - I went for this first because I’ve been studying Japanese for some time now and could hope to understand it better than other possible choices. Happily, Fushigi has become one of my favorite dark, mysterious little albums by this point. The layering of instruments and Nakamori’s vocal range are a delightful treat. You don’t have to know Japanese to appreciate how varied and haunting an album this is. Although it can be a bit difficult to find, thankfully most tracks are up on YouTube and the like (for now).

March 08th 2014
Patrick Cowley – School Daze 2xLP | Dark Entries Records

I first heard Patrick Cowley in the library of the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco, of course. I had to know what this fantastic music was, this swirling concoction of electronic noise and melody.

If you are someone who has ever joked about the quality of porn soundtrack music, well, here is something that will give you hope to the contrary: all tracks here are Cowley’s collected gay porn soundtrack compositions. Some of them are so out there, reminiscent of Kraftwerk or BBC Radiophonic Workshop, or traversing new territories altogether, blipping and bopping into the future. This is my favorite compilation of any sort in recent memory, so you’ll find it highly recommended from me.

 Cowley is already known well for his work in the disco scene, working with Sylvester (see also “Do You Wanna Funk”), and Hi-NRG (“Menergy”) and was unfortunately an early casualty of AIDS, passing in 1982. All proceeds for the sale of the double LP go to Project Open Hand and the AIDS Housing AllianceSchool Daze is also available to purchase digitally on Amazon and iTunes and to stream on Spotify.

September 26th 2013

Pictureplane’s newest release isn’t really new at all, but rather (largely) previously unheard. RARE & BLOODY 2004-2007 is a compilation of totally unreleased songs plus material from two otherwise elusive sources out there, Slit Red Bird Throat (2008) and some of the music he had released on Soundclick as Area 66 some time ago.

"Double Sets of Lungs Now", "Neon Hearts for Eyes", "Why Dont You Just Fade Away I", "Colors Melt Poppy Seedlings", "Wide Awake At My Own Funeral", and "Blood All Over My Hands Again" are all from Slit Red Bird Throat, which had been my first introduction to Pictureplane in 2009, being previously pleased with his HEALTH //DISCO remix and wanting to investigate more. The Area66 songs I had heard after he mentioned the link in an interview with AFIN; I do appreciate that he has more carefully curated the more interesting selections to put on the compilation - expect to even hear some rapping and spoken word!

If you are the sort that’s going to obsess over the difference in quality or style compared with his later work, you’re probably not going to want to pay attention to this, but as for myself - I do enjoy releases like this because hearing a musician’s older work helps clarify their development as an artist and it can be plain fun to listen to. Much of the work on RARE & BLOODY is of a poppy-noise / noise-pop variety, where dreamlike textures and fuzzed vocals abound. Even with this early material, I daresay that same sort of celebratory joy in creative expression is found here as in everything else that this guy has put forward musically.

Listen/purchase on Bandcamp:


September 25th 2013

George Gimarc’s Post-Punk Diary 1980-1982


Check out 300+ of my favorite songs from the book with the Post Punk Diary 1980-1982 Spotify playlist

George Gimarc’s Post Punk Diary 1980-1982, following up his Punk-Diary 1970-1979, does not only cover post-punk in the strict sense of how we think of the genre, but rather the post-punk era which included the formation and articulation of the genre post-punk as well as other products of the aftermath of the heyday of punk, ranging from yet more punk to mod revival, new romantic, and new wave. Gimarc focuses for the most part on the alternative side of things, whatever the genre. In this book, there are “over 900 bands represented by over 3,300 recordings”. The author generally maintains a neutral, but descriptive, point of view — with a dash of dry humor here and there — and the entries are near-daily for the time period covered. Releases of singles, EPs, LPs, and compilations are covered along with additional material like remarks from artists, break-ups, concerts and the like. Many pages feature posters, logos, album art, or advertisements for artists mentioned within. 

The book is very entertaining to skim through at a leisurely pace or to pour over closely, using it as a guide to discover potentially interesting artists. Check it out on AmazonWorldcat (to find it in a library), or see the Google Books preview. 

My list on RYM collects the artists in the index, and provides a list of compilation albums at the end. Please do let me know if there are any errors here so I can correct them. I’m currently working on identifying a few obscure bands listed in the compilations that may not be in the RYM database.

August 10th 2013
Peg Leg Love College Girl / The Captive The Captive
69 plays

Peg Leg Love - “The Captive”

Offering up a raucous little pair of tunes, Peg Leg Love one part surf, one part garage rock and all with a frenzied undercurrent of lurching gloom, or as LA Times recently put it “a delightfully perverse concoction of perversities.” “The Captive” was my favorite of the two (paired with “College Girl” on this release), instantly catchy (“in isolation, in isolation…”), refreshing at this point to hear music that doesn’t attempt to play into the obsessive conscious narrowing into specialized sub genre/s that plagues much new material today: it’s just rock, and it’s good, and that’s all that matters here.

Stream and buy now (only $2!) on Bandcamp:

Upcoming tour dates:

Aug 17 - Vlad the Retailer - Los Angeles, CA

Oct 05 - meowz meowz - Pasadena, CA

July 26th 2013
Ivry Ivry Love It Takes
79 plays

Ivry - “Love it Takes”

The latest musical offering from Henry Ivry is a free solo album entirely “written/performed/produced/recorded/mixed/mastered” by Ivry, who I had last heard — and released a single on my netlabel Vulpiano Records — from as a member of electro-poppy Year of the Tiger.

As my experience receiving many more submissions than I have time to listen to and write about on A Future in Noise, I have learned to build up my skepticism to entirely or largely self-created endeavors as the technological revolution in recording and producing has both freed creative genius as well as enabled amateurs to carry on being amateurish, and then to have the wall break down when my assumptions about what this will entail are broken every now and again, although, I must add, being familiar with Ivry’s previous work, I was better primed for the sweetness (and grit) ahead.

Ivry is not only more than competent in the self-made department, composing since age 13 and creating sound design in a variety of capacities. The Ivry EP offers a tantalizing taste of material from someone with an intuitive sense that catchy, prospectively commercially capable songs need not have the the bite taken out of them in order to widely appeal.

Download Ivry for free on Bandcamp:

July 07th 2013

Fresh Snow - “French Horse Hall of Fame”

A kind of “Hallogallo” for the 2010s? I don’t even know what’s going on on the rest of the album because I keep coming back to this song (okay, I lied, but it really is that good!).Wonderful mastery of noise and grooviness. Check out the streaming player above to listen to the rest of the album on Soundcloud.

June 22nd 2013

Dreamcrusher - “Dracula Meets the Lorelei”

I have a deep affinity for synth and drone music aesthetics, all the better when they happen to collide as they do with artists such as Suicide, Spacemen 3, and, yes, Dreamcrusher.

You may know Dreamcrusher from his Tumblr drencrome, which is where I found out about his musical efforts, a delightfully weird assortment of images including themes of morbidity, fashion, and high art (sometimes a combination of the above).

Suicide Deluxe is a delightful compendium of melodic noise, Dracula Meets the Lorelei” and the title track being my favorites. “Goths at the Beach” is one of the most challenging tracks here, starting off with a wicked jumble of sounds that would seem to suggest a caped movie villain descending upon their latest victim (or perhaps a group of goths plonking down on the sand? your call), later moving into a less sinister beat as the song progresses.

Check out Suicide Deluxe on Bandcamp. Highly recommended!

June 22nd 2013
The Longdrone Flowers Cesare Runs Away EP Girl On The Drums
21 plays

The Longdrone Flowers - “Girl on the Drums”

Of course, I could wax endlessly poetic about the merits of Mr. Dan Wreck (see review of Neurotic Wreck - Leave Tonight: Mixtape Side 2 and netlabel release I’m Laura Palmer) whose stylistic breadth and distilled cool have not failed to impress so far, but I will pipe it down a notch for a moment to direct my attention to the collective efforts of the band he is in, The Longdrone Flowers.

You can check out their Cesare Runs Away EP on Bandcamp. “Girl on the Drums” is the catchiest, most fun track here, with others being more meandering and kaleidoscopic (“Righteousness”, “Just Like Living in the Clouds”) and even a bit sinister (“Adore Me”, “In Cupid’s Garden (Pouring Down With Rain - the latter is a tribute to Einstürzende Neubauten’s “The Garden”)”). If you are looking for a slice of psychedelic garage with sprinklings of some good ol’ kosmische musik (read: krautrock), and perhaps some frenetic chaos mixed in with your grooviness, you are sure to be quite pleased with this. I will indeed be curious to see where next they are headed.

April 27th 2013

Fire Island Pines - “1915”

New! Comes out April 29th, 2013 available from Manic Pop! Records in the US and direct from the band in the UK.

April 27th 2013

Zach Thorpe - “Collect Demo”

Thanks to Derek Piotr for passing on this track, which also has vocals sampled from “Deliver” by Piotr. Difficult to categorize - alternates between having an earthy feeling (grinding, quick glitch) and airy (clear vocals and synth strings). Looking forward to hearing more from Thorpe.

March 09th 2013

Luxury Elite - “Midnight”

It’s been a good long while since I discovered a new and incredible artist through recommendations. Today, while checking out the page of Neurotic Wreck (review of his recent mixtape available here), I saw an unfamiliar name in the similar artists list: Luxury Elite, who is not actually sonically similar oddly enough, but still great. I dove right into new classicsTagged promisingly with “weather channel”, the lo-fi, TV-in-the-distance quality of the tracks combined with kitchy soothingness struck me as the audio equivalent to the new aesthetic. Luxury Elite is gearing up for a new release with AMDISCS, which this track is from. Recommended if you like synth, James Ferraro, Fatima Al Qadiri, and Gatekeeper. Check out their Bandcamp and Soundcloud for more.

January 22nd 2013

Derek Piotr - “Grave” (from Raj)

A pretty boy shrouded in glitched out effects freaks you out and/or charms you through his entrancing sonic waves. *♥* Raj comes out February 2013.

Derek Piotr: Official Site | Bandcamp | Twitter

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