Author & Punisher is back on tour this January

Author & Punisher
Photo via Brooklyn Vegan

It can’t be easy for Author & Punisher‘s Tristan Shone to haul his massive “doom machine” instruments all over the country. But he’s doing it again next month, and once again he’s mostly doing it as an opening act for former Pantera lead singer Philip H. Anselmo, who clearly knows a badass opening act when he sees one.

Before Shone joins Anselmo’s aptly named “Technicians of Distortion Tour ’14,” he’ll be playing a couple of shows here in SoCal opening for metal/industrial collective Corrections House. Jake and I plan to hit up the Jan. 5th show here in L.A., so stay tuned for a full review of all the Author & Punisher insanity.

Author & Punisher Jan. 2014 tour dates:

1/5/14 — Los Angeles, CA — Echoplex*
1/6/14 — San Diego, CA — Soda Bar**
1/10/14 — Houston, Texas — Warehouse Live/Studio Room†
1/11/14 — Shreveport, La. — Riverside Warehouse†
1/13/14 — St. Louis, Mo. — Pop’s Nightclub†
1/14/14 — Omaha, Neb. — Waiting Room†
1/15/14 — Denver, Colo. — Summit Music Hall†
1/17/14 — Seattle, Wash. — El Corazon†
1/18/14 — Portland, Ore. — Hawthorne Theatre†
1/20/14 — Sacramento, Calif. — Ace of Spades†
1/24/14 — Scottsdale, Ariz. — Pub Rock†
1/25/14 — Albuquerque, N.M. — Launchpad†
1/27/14 — San Antonio, Texas — Backstage Live†
1/28/14 — Dallas, Texas — Trees†

* w/Corrections House and Wreckmeister Harmonies
** w/Corrections House
† w/Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals and Hymns

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Sly & The Family Drone

Photo swiped from ATTN:Magazine
Photo swiped from ATTN:Magazine

Like a mono outbreak on prom night, democracy has struck again here Weird Band HQ, and a new Weird Band of the Week has infested our tender, nubile pages. Did that last sentence totally creep you out? Well, this band might, too.  Meet Sly & The Family Drone, a British crew whose only resemblance to Sly & The Family Stone is that their leader has spent at least a few years living in a van. Possibly. Or not. What do you want from us, research?

Led by a gentleman called (duh) Sly, S&TFD started out in 2010 or thereabouts as a drums and tape effects noise ensemble, sort of a cross between Crash Worship, Wolf Eyes, Whitehouse and that sound my old Gorilla amp used to make when I would get really stoned and just drag my Mexicaster fretboard back and forth across the face of it for hours. They’ve released some studio recordings, including an EP that just came out this past month called Unnecessary Woe, which is the only kind of woe in a world that has bourbon and bands that sound like Crash Worship.

But they’re best known for their live shows, which involve a shit-ton of drums and lots of shirtless dudes crawling around manipulating effects pedals and oscillators and audience members banging on cymbals and just the kind of general, participatory mayhem that makes any good live show more than the sum of its racket. They also sometimes throw some harmonica in there, just to give it a little of that homeless-guy-busking-at-the-bus-station pizzazz. You probably have to be there to fully appreciate the whole thing, but here’s a video clip, anyway. Don’t worry, you don’t have to watch all 51 minutes to get to the weird stuff. It gets weird right out of the gate.

Best line from their official bio: “There is no place for guitars within this band.” It’s about time someone took a stand against all these fucking guitars! Goddamn things are everywhere.

Here’s a track from Unnecessary Woe called “Grey Meat,” which like their live shows was totally improvised. I’m pretty sure you can dance to this one, or at least break stuff.

So congrats on winning our Weird Band Poll, S&TFD! Hopefully this catapults you to enough fame and fortune that you can come wreck some drum kits here in America.

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P.S. After we join our fellow Americans in stuffing our faces with turkey and trampling fellow shoppers in a stampede for the new iPads, we’re taking a little vacation time. But don’t worry, this break will be much shorter than our last one. We’ll be back with more weird bands in a couple weeks. Y’all try to stay out of trouble till then, OK?

The mysterious Hanetration returns with fourth EP: “Timelapse”

hanetration-timelapse

Back while we were still on hiatus, we got an email from the enigmatic U.K. producer known only as Hanetration, informing us s/he had just released a new EP called Timelapse. Quoth the Hanetraitor: “It’s less ‘produced’ than my previous stuff; sparse mechanical experiments.” Perhaps to signal that it’s a bit of a departure, this is the first Hanetration EP whose title isn’t an anagram of Tenth Oar, the name of his/her debut EP. That spooky, droning set was followed by the equally spooky Torn Heat and Nae Troth. Maybe s/he will follow up Timelapse with Smile Peat?

Anyway, you can hear all of Timelapse on Hanetration’s Bandcamp page. Where Tenth Oar sounded like a walk on the moors, Timelapse is definitely a trip through urban wastelands, with lots of ominous industrial clangs, buzzes, creaks and metal-on-metal squeals. Even “Opal,” with its Indian overtones, sounds less like a trip down the Ganges than a 3 a.m. cab ride through the slums of Mumbai. It’s evocative stuff.

Here’s a video of Author and Punisher recording two tracks for something called “The Bush”

author-and-punisher

The doom-metal “Drone Machines” of Tristan Shone’s Author and Punisher don’t really make us think of fairytales—but apparently they had that effect on Diego Buongiorno, an Italian musician/composer who’s made the ominous sounds of A&P part of his ambitious multimedia project, The Bush. Described by Buongiorno as “a new kind of work created by the author’s desire to promote the return of magic,” The Bush features contributions from over 60 different musicians, photographers, visual artists, designers and video directors, and will eventually encompass everything from a soundtrack album to picture and audio books, a “surrealistic film,” live performances, gallery exhibitions and who knows what else. You can read more about the whole crazy thing here.

Although The Bush seems to still be a work-in-progress, Buongiorno did release its first major component this past December: a 25-track album featuring contributions from several guest artists, including our man Tristan and his experimental Drone Machines. He’s also released several short videos, including the one below showing Shone at work in his studio on his two Bush tracks, “Intro” and “It Really Could Happen.” We’re guessing the “It” in this case refers to some part of the fairytale where really, really bad shit goes down.

Hanetration

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Usually, when we do a Facebook poll, the winner is either a shameless ballot-stuffer (but we love you anyway, Baby Seal Club) or a band that’s so blatantly, hit-you-over-the-head weird that of course everyone had to vote for them (rock on, Radioactive Chicken Heads). But the winner of our latest poll is neither blatant nor, as far as we can tell, ballot-stuffing. They’re just low-key purveyors of some of the creepiest drone music we’ve heard in ages. So meet our latest poll winners: Hanetration. And prepare to be unsettled.

Despite being one of the most blogged-about artists we’ve added to The Weird List in quite some time, we actually know virtually nothing about the person behind Hanetration. We know he (or she) is from England and, uh, that’s about it. No bio, no photos, no nothin’. Even when the mysterious Hanester emailed us a link to his (or her) Bandcamp page, he revealed as little as humanly possible: “Can I point you in the direction of a free EP I’ve put together?” read the email. “Hope you enjoy it. All the best.” And then…poof. Gone back to the misty British backwater from whence he came.

I say “backwater” not so much because I’m assuming Hanetration lives on the moors. This shadowy figure could be working out of a seedy flat in Brixton for all I know. But the vibe conjured by this music is definitely one of blasted heaths, boggy woods and ancient fields laced with Druidic stone circles and werewolf bones. It’s eerie shit, is what I’m saying.

It appears that Hanetration’s entire catalog to date consists of just four songs, all available on a free EP via Bandcamp: “Rex,” “Alarm,” “Rufus” and “Wreck.” Check out “Rex” below and tell me this doesn’t sound like a field recording of some kind of pre-Celtic human sacrifice ritual—or, at the very least, a serious Theraflu overdose.

P.S. Go vote in our next Facebook poll. Take it from us: Passing judgment on other people’s music will fill you with smug satisfaction. (You’ll have to like us first, but you already do, don’t you? Don’t you??)

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Author and Punisher

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Photo by Jeremy & Claire Weiss. Swiped from Wired.

What’s up, weirdos? Did you spend your whole Weird Wednesday waiting for us to post a new Band of the Week? Was it torture? Probably not, but hey, it makes a good segueway into this week’s band.

Tristan Shone is an engineer from San Diego (why is it always the sunny places that produce guys like this?) who makes electron microscopes by day and doom-metal “Drone Machines” by night. Then he takes his Drone Machines out and performs with them under the name Author & Punisher, making “music” that sounds like androids howling in agony as they’re slowly ripped to pieces.

Onstage, Shone looks like a man trapped on the world’s most hellish assembly line job. In one hand, he’s got a giant piston-like machine that triggers drum sounds; in his other, he’s got throttles that trigger bone-rattling waves of heavy bass, or possibly something that looks like a cross between a drafting table and a giant deli slicer. A eight-piece MIDI controller microphone obscures most of his face. It’s all very badass and industrial and doom-metal-looking, which is the whole point.

If you want the full A&P story, check out this cool video interview/profile someone did with him for Ground Control magazine back in 2008. Or, if you have short attention spans (and we know you do), just peep this little three-minute video of Tristan and his machines getting it on in the studio. Trent Reznor has to do a Nine Inch Nails reunion tour just so this guy can be his opening act.

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M△S▴C△RA (Mascara)

(Photo lifted from this site)

Today we really should be calling ourselves Weirdest Genre in the World, because today’s band, Mascara (or M△S▴C△RA, if you really insist), is just the tip of a giant iceberg of weirdness called witch house, or sometimes haunted house, or occasionally drag, or even (wait for it) “rape gaze.” Although the band that coined that last term has since disowned it, apparently deciding that no amount of hipper-than-thou ironic detachment can actually make rape seem like a viable metaphor for a new style of music.

So what the hell is “witch house”? It’s a new “micro-genre” (a really pretentious term we just stole from the Village Voice—thanks, guys!) that’s made up predominantly of bedroom electronic producers who combine slowed-down, sludgy beats with ghostly filtered vocals, lo-fi synths, ambient noise and distorted samples of other, often highly recognizable tunes. The results sound like a somewhat cobbled-together combination of chopped ‘n’ screwed hip-hop, goth-rock, darkwave, drone metal and that old Cure cassette you left on the dashboard too long in the late ’80s.

Many of the artists creating witch house protest that they’re not really part of any “scene” or creating music in any particular “genre.” And while it’s true that witch house artists are scattered all over the world, they for damn sure keep Interweb tabs on each other and style-bite with gusto. For example, the vast majority of witch housers (witchies?) mix numbers and symbols into their names or just pick names that are virtually impossible to Google, all apparently in an effort to maintain an air of mystery and underground cred: GL▲SS †33†H, ///▲▲▲\\\, GR†LLGR†LL, oOoOO (one of the godfathers of witch house, actually) and my personal favorite, ▲.

Wait, scratch that: My personal favorite is ▲)╪(▼, which according to their YouTube videos is pronounced “Whispering Sanctity.” Whispering Sanctity is probably some elaborate witch house piss-take, but when your entire scene has already become such a popular Internet meme that it’s inspired its own band name generator, the lines between self-parody and actual parody can get pretty blurry.

The most famous practitioners of witch house are a trio from Michigan called Salem (or S4LEM) who have already become rather legendary for seeming to be almost totally disinterested in being a band. Their somnolent performance at South by Southwest in 2010 is famous for being one of the few documented concerts at which jaded, skinny-jeaned hipsters, who usually passively consume whatever awful shit got at least a 7.8 in Pitchfork, actually booed the band off the stage. They mumble their way through interviews; their first EP was called Yes I Smoke Crack and at least one of the band’s members, John Holland, claims he really does, or did.

Maybe we should have dedicated this whole post to Salem and their uniquely burnout version of witch house, which really does sound like it was created by a bunch of druggy Midwestern kids who stumbled on this sound by accident because their only reference points were Dirty South hip-hop, stoner metal, Top 40 mall music, and their own sad, pathetic lives. But there’s something kind of crass and obvious about Salem’s music that I just can’t get past. Listening to a song like “Redlights” is like trying to eat one of those horrible fast-food mash-ups like a taco pizza or a Philly cheesesteak burger or Potachos—all those delicious elements should add up to something tasty, but instead it’s just confusing and kinda gross.

So instead, we’ll focus on this other witch house band who call themselves M△S▴C△RA, if for no other reason than because they have at least one song (in the vid below) that, even by witch house standards, is insanely creepy and sounds like it was made by gravers in the midst of a ketamine bender that included back-to-back screenings of the Blair Witch movies. [Update: The old video was taken down, so we’ve swapped it for another track called “Sonnambula.” Thanks to reader Lesa for pointing out the dead link.] We also get a kick out of the fact that, based on the performance videos on this site, the M△S▴C△RA dudes actually appear to be happy witchies. At least the one who’s not wearing a mask keeps cracking a smile. And unlike most witch house, a lot of their stuff is actually uptempo and even kinda dancey. (By which I mean, “doesn’t suck.” By which I also mean, “Yes, nearly all witch house sucks. A lot.”)

We know almost nothing about M△S▴C△RA, but that’s par for the course with your average witch house band—except for Salem, they’re all a giant pain in the ass to research. We can tell you that they have an EP out called Black Mass, they’re apparently based in (or at least near) New York, they have some association with the AMDISCS label, and they’ve collaborated with another witch house artist called Ceremonial Dagger, whose official witchie handle is so symbol-ridden we can’t even begin to figure out how to render it. (You can see it here.) [Update: Turns out M△S▴C△RA—or Mascara, as he’s disappointingly calling himself these days—is the work of a dude from Orange County, California named Shane Shumate. He’s now less into witch house and more into dark hip-hop and dance music. Less weird, but probably pays more bills.]

So ladies and gentlemen, prepare to have some M△S▴C△RA smeared across your face. Make sure all the lights are on before you hit the play button.

P.S. Big ups to one of our readers, Spoon, for suggesting that we cover the witch house scene. We were aware of its existence, mostly because of Salem, but until Spoon suggested we check out GL▲SS †33†H and ///▲▲▲\\\ (aka Void, apparently), we hadn’t fully appreciated its weirdness.

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