Author Archives: Editorial

Album of the Day: The Utopia Strong, “The Utopia Strong”

Steve Davis has enjoyed the most interested career rebirth since Mickey Rourke decided he wanted to punch flesh and bone for a living. Anyone familiar with the sport of snooker will know it’s not hyperbolic to declare Davis one of the greatest players of all time, a six-time world champion who established his own era of domination in the 1980s, when snooker was a staple of British TV. So imagine the bemusement surrounding the native Londoner’s rebirth as a club DJ in recent years; instead of making trick shots, Davis spins records as one “DJ Thundermuscle”—at festivals like Glastonbury, natch. And this was a man once dubbed snooker’s Mr. Dull because of his methodical play? What a time to be alive.

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Ten Divine, Diabolical Feminine Artists Challenging Heavy Metal Machismo

Heavy metal has been challenging the status quo for its past five decades (and counting!) of existence on this doomed planet. But in some respects, rock ’n’ roll’s loudest, wildest bastard child has skewed more traditional and—in matters of gender, race, and identity—downright conservative. And yet from Jinx Dawson, Bolt Thrower’s Jo Bench, Nuclear Death’s Lori Bravo, Cretin’s Marissa Martinez, to Sunrot’s Lex, women and nonbinary people have been heavily involved in the evolution of the genre since it was barely a glimmer in Tony Iommi’s eye. Yet, even now, as they are creating some of the most challenging and exciting music in metal’s history, some reactionary elements that still regard metal as a boys’ club continue to persist. Many have been petulantly resistant to making space for anyone else, and at worst, they’ve latched onto misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, racist, and fascist rhetoric in a misguided last-ditch effort to “keep metal dangerous.” 

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How Mariusz Lewandowski’s Epic, Emotive Paintings Made Him Metal’s Most In-Demand Artist

Mariusz Lewandowski

“Capturing emotions in a painting is similar to showing depth and light. If it is not there, if it is missing, the art is simply flat and it does not look good,” explains Mariusz Lewandowski, a Polish painter whose artwork, by the venerable Encyclopaedia Metallum’s count, has emblazoned the covers of 10 metal albums since 2017. Emotion is as integral to his work as his depictions of skulls, scythes, and other standard metal imagery—if not more so. 

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Gourmet Deluxxx Brings the New Generation of Boom-Bap to CD

gourmet deluxxx

The recent resurgence of the underground boom-bap sound in hip-hop has happened in conjunction with the rise of three European indie labels: Tuff Kong Records in Rome, and two London-based labels, Daupe! Media and Gourmet Deluxxx. For the last few years, these imprints have been turning out an endless stream of releases from the top tier of boom-bap’s new wave, including artists like Westside Gunn & Conway, CRIMEAPPLE, Hus Kingpin, and Vic Spencer. But while Daupe! and Tuff Kong focus mainly on vinyl, Gourmet Deluxxx noticed that there was a demand for CDs that wasn’t being met, so they stepped in to fill the void.

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Album of the Day: The Garifuna Collective, “Aban”

The Garifuna Collective has been bringing the culture of the Garifuna people to the world stage for over a decade, and Aban, the celebrated Belizean music group’s latest album, is a rapturous addition to their discography. The group’s name pays homage to their ancestry, as part of an Afro-Indengious community in Central America and the Caribbean. Co-founded by the late Andy Palacio, the collective sings in the endangered Garifuna language, and features Garifuna people from across Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. As a result, Aban is a vibrant mix of Garifuna and other African diaspora musical traditions. 

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The Transcendent Soundscapes of ’80s Noise Artist Minóy

Minoy

“For the uninitiated, this is the guy who lives under your bed and creates soundtracks for your worst nightmares.” That’s how writer Mick Mather described Minóy in 1987, a year into the artist’s brief but prolific career in the noise underground. On over 100 releases, Minóy made much more than just scary sounds. But Mather did nail something essential about this enigmatic recluse. Born Stanley Keith Bowsza in 1951, Minóy didn’t literally live under a bed, but he rarely left his house, and his work felt like it belonged in dark, secluded corners.

That mystery is what first attracted Philip Klingler—aka composer and sound artist PBK—to Minóy’s music. Klingler was so intrigued by a review of Minóy’s 1987 tape Landscape With Serpent that he quickly ordered it and other albums straight from the man himself. “I’d listened to some experimental music before I heard him,” Klinger recalls. “But his work was so unusual, so outside the range of my listening at that point, there was almost a magical feeling to it—definitely otherworldly.” Klingler’s fascination remained so strong that now, nearly a decade after Minóy’s passing, he is the voluntary steward of the artist’s vast catalog, archiving it on a Bandcamp page named after his original label, Minóy Cassetteworks.

Listen to the releases that Klingler added to the page since launching the label in 2017, and you’ll soon hear what attracts him to Minóy’s work. Each piece helps to create a sonic universe in which noise, drone, and ambience grind in the background and bubble up to the surface. “Many of his tape releases had only one or two compositions, thus allowing him the time to develop a drone theme and hypnotically immerse the listener in what were vastly complex works of art,” wrote Joseph Nechvatal in his 2014 biography of Minóy. “His challenging, irritating at times, roaring-ambient recordings [created] deep and blurry ambiguous compositions full of feeling.”

Klingler learned all about that compostional process when collaborating with Minóy shortly after the two met, under the name Disco Splendor. “He had a fascinating way of working,” Klingler recalls. “For instance, he’d play two tapes of source material at the same time on his boomboxes in his bedroom, controlling the volume and EQ while dubbing onto a Sony Walkman Pro, adding live instruments or vocals or sounds of shortwave radio in real time. Then he would bounce these things back and forth multiple times to build up these complex compositions.”

Minoy

This practice quickly became an obsession for Minóy, who often avoided sleep for days to make music. In 1986, his first year putting out tapes, he released 33; by 1991, that annual number had grown to 50. But the following year, his prolific output suddenly stopped. As he explained in a letter to another collaborator, Zan Hoffman, “Minóy Cassetteworks has been permanently terminated. My soul has dried up and blown away.”

“His manic episodes resulted in tremendous creative energy, but at the same time that energy could also feed negatively, causing him anxiety, or anger,” recalls Klingler. “This was the reason that we would only work together for a short time before burning out. I found out later that this happened rather frequently in Minóy’s life.​”

Such artistic turmoil was likely a product of Stanley Bowsza’s troubled upbringing. In his teen years, he came out as gay to his parents, who responded by putting him through electro-shock therapy in the hopes it might “cure” their son of his homosexuality. “This dreadful episode clearly had profound effects on his mind and body,” says Amber Sabri, who met Bowsza after encountering his visual art on Flickr in 2005, by which point he was confined to a wheelchair. “Pain, panic, paranoia, bipolar mania, schizophrenia… he lived it all,” Sabri wrote in Nechtaval’s book. “Massive amounts of medications had been prescribed for him for more than forty years in an effort to mitigate his neuropathic pain and psychic suffering.”

Though Minóy cut off contact after their collaboration ended, Klingler continued to reach out to him and never lost interest in his work. In 2012, he discovered by web searching that Minóy had died two years earlier. He then located Minóy’s longtime partner Stuart Hass, who had saved all of the artist’s master tapes. Despite suffering from Alzheimer’s, Hass “was cognizant enough to grasp the importance of saving Minóy’s work, and he trusted me with the archive,” Klingler recalls. “So eventually his boxes were shipped to me, and they turned out to contain over 300 master tapes.”

That trove included many unreleased works, some made after Minóy’s public retirement from music. “He abandoned the evolving soundscape approach of his earlier work,” explains Klingler. “The late compositions are just unrelenting and austere, heavy noise structures with little movement, sounding like a precursor to the Harsh Noise Wall movement today.​” It’s that kind of endless search for new sounds that makes Minóy so fascinating, and keeps Klingler excited about documenting his work.

“Even now when I am digitizing from his archive and listening to something for the first time, [I] can never know where it’s going from the start or how it’s going to turn out in the end,” says Klingler. “His work can be a labyrinthine experience in a way that really can’t be described… it’s like a gripping novel, or a film in audio. There was never anything quite like Minóy.”

Marc Masters

On “Sonocardiogram,” Daymé Arocena Goes Home

Dayme Arocena

Photos by Pablo Dewin Reyes Maulin

For Cuban jazz singer Daymé Arocena, the live setting is more than just an opportunity to sing some songs—it’s a chance for the audience to get an authentic glimpse of the performer behind them. “When you see an artist in the live concert, you see their soul,” she says. “It’s the most important thing for me—it’s the moment you show off who you are.” 

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Album of the Day: Jenny Hval, “The Practice of Love”

Jenny Hval’s seventh album The Practice of Love is the Norwegian writer-musician’s most accessible work yet, but it doesn’t sacrifice the cerebral complexity she brings to all her projects. In contrast to Blood Bitch, a murky collage about female vampires, The Practice of Love uses wispy electronics and layered vocals to explore the difficulties of intimacy. In addition to Hval’s own voice, Vivian Wang, Laura Jean Englert, and Felicia Atkinson contribute vocals, adding sonic complexity, conversations, and even some pseudo-ASMR moments. Continue reading