As winter descends, some highlights

Preparing for the dark weeks
By PORTLAND PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  January 3, 2014

Listeners of the harsher stuff could lose hours digging through the musical output of Patrick Hasson, who we’ve just discovered plays in a ton of musical projects worth the effort. Let’s list them. There’s the black metal group Black Chalice, who put out a fierce blast of an LP called Obsidian last year. There’s a dark neofolk project Field of Spears, whose new full-length Heathen Youth reminds us a little of Simon Finn or Current 93. There’s Avulse, a raw and blackened punk group that has us fondly recalling the vile canon of Poison Idea on a wintry workday afternoon, always a delight. There’s Auspicium, a cruddily recorded solo exploration of blackened riffage, bedroom symphonics, and left-hand path tactics that’s somehow been going ten years now. And there’s Wholy Failure, Hasson’s dronier solo project of bastard guitar parts and shoegaze-y requiems. No rest for the depressed, we’d say, but that’s not really fair. Despite its adherence to formal expressions of dark music, some of this stuff sounds downright euphoric. Some of it’s available in tangible form at Strange Maine — poke around bandcamp to hear it all.

We’re also hearing projects in the works via C Money Burns, the noisy hip hop artist and productionist in the Milled Pavement crew. He’s mixed and mastered an intriguing venture by labelmates Moshe and 32french called Black Puddin’, which reportedly sounds like ambient dubstep and Aphex Twin’s more antagonistic moments. A new-ish collaboration with Brzowski called Vinyl Cape — playing apocalyptically heavy rap tunes — delivers a seven-inch on the leftie collective DIY Bandits come April. And possibly the fan favorite of the bunch, a debut five-song EP from Hybrid Vigor should be out one of these months, marrying C$’s dark-edged genre fascinations to the vocal talents of Dean Ford, Renee Coolbrith (who reportedly slayed as Madonna in Empire’s Halloween show), and former Headstart singer Kevin Kennie. | milledpavement.com

Speaking of Dean Ford, that dude’s preparing another platter of his bubbly, character-driven electropop for a mid-2014 release, said to have cameos by Coolbrith, Spose, and Saiyid Brent. Slick and sparkly stuff. | deanford.bandcamp.com

And yeah, we write about him a lot here, but the music oozing out of Sterling Black is some of the most invigorating doses of rock trash available. The guitarist just this week released Vast Difference, a 14-song punk rock and roll shitstorm that early listenings reveal as easily his most cohesive to date. Still a lot of noise and Johnny Thunders-worship in these gratingly melodic, reverb-heavy slashers, but there’s a lot more realness, actual emotion(s besides anger), and inarguably good songwriting. Begs a listen, full review soon. | sterlingblack.bandcamp.com

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