Micro album reviews 02
Once again, these are album reviews which are short, not reviews
of short albums! I decided I like this format - or at least,
I'm likely to find it more sustainable.
Oulu Space Jam Collective's "Drug Rings of Saturn" (2019) 
I discovered this epic album, which clocks in just 10 seconds short
of *two hours* and five minutes back in November or maybe early
December last year, shortly after moving, and it definitely ranks
as one of my best musical discoveries of 2020. This is really
excellent spacey and jazzy long-form improvisation (basically
exactly what the band name would lead you to expect) that flows
effortlessly through a range of styles without getting boring.
It ends energetically with a lively krautrock-inspired track called
"Speedway to Titan", but the second track, the equally well-named
"Soft Velvet Underbelly", is tremendously chilled out. The beginning
of that track has an incredible tranquillising effect on me, I
love it. I can't recommend this album enough. I am incredibly
disappointed I didn't learn about the Oulu Space Jam Collective
while I still lived in Finland and could have had the opportunity
to see them live. Hopefully I'll still be able to do this some
day when the pandemic situation is less severe.
Physical media geekery: this super long album will not fit on
a single LP record (it is actually available for sale on vinyl
as a *three* disc album, for those who really like interrupting
their long, flowing jam sessions by getting up to flip records
over multiple times), will not fit on a single CD and will not fit
on any single cassette tape except the ones with really thin tape,
that deck manufacturers often warned against in their user's manuals.
A single 74 minute MiniDisc recorded in perfectly adequate LP2 mode?
No problem, fits comfortably with room to spare.
Gnod's and The White Hills' "Drop Out" (2015) 
I discovered this album at a local cafe here very shortly after
I moved. It's only a few hundred meters away from the temporary
accommodation we stayed at immediately upon arrival, and the whole
time I've been here has been operating in takeaway-only, one masked
customer allowed inside at a time mode. The title track "Drop Out"
was playing while I was waiting for my coffee and it was so up my
alley that I asked the barista who it was. He had no idea, as he
was just playing a Spotify playlist off his phone, but he was good
enough to show me his phone's screen and I immediately searched
for it when outside, and was delighted to find it on Bandcamp.
This is a collaborative album between two separate bands, Gnod from
the UK and The White Hills from the US. I've since listened to some
of each group's individual releases and, to my tastes at least,
there's just nothing which compares to this. I guess this is an
ideal outcome for a collab, that it produces something different
from what either band might ever produce individually.
Anyway, this is really good space/psych/kraut rock, more energetic
and rockier than Drug Rings of Saturn (although OSJC can rock out
too, check out their album "Hijago"!), but not quite as loud or heavy
as, say, Dhidalah's "Threshold" which I reviewed earlier last year.
Excellent repetitive tracks which pull you in and hypnotise you
without getting dull for a moment. Super happy I discovered this
by pure chance when I did.
Ghost's "Hypnotic Underworld" (2004) 
This album, and indeed this band, is really just something
very different. I don't even remember how I originally stumbled
upon this. Ghost are (or rather were) an experimental / avant
garde rock group from Japan who put out some really strange stuff,
with a heavy focus on improvisation, often recording in highly
unusual venues, like ancient temples or abandoned subway stations.
I have listened to a bunch of their stuff on YouTube now (seemingly
the most accessible way to get at it - their record label has put
their stuff on Bandcamp, thankfully, but have taken the very unusual
step of not allowing you to preview their music before purchase,
or sometimes allowing previewing of a single track. I think this
is really dumb). I like some of it a lot, some of it not so much,
but somehow this particular album captivated me enough that I ended
up buying it. There is a huge variety of sounds to be heard here,
with occasional extremely abrupt transitions that make you wonder
if something has gone wrong and you've skipped the end of a track.
Definitely something you need to be in the right mood to listen to.