Sound
Ramadan Party Breakdown

Ramadan Party Breakdown

Usually, the music is Turkish. Arabesque, as it is called, featuring Middle Eastern- sounding instrumental motifs, but still,  Turkish. Blasting out of cars idling at the stoplight on Karl-Marx-Straße, I often find myself trying to make out the details of the songs. “Was that an Om Khaltoum sample, or an actual orchestra?” I never get it right. More»

The Noise of War

The Noise of War

Context equals genre. Or so one might surmise, concerning Israeli noise. With labels like Tophet Prophet gaining international recognition, and artists playing to growing audiences, the idiom has touched a nerve. This is a recent development. In the mid-1980s, when ur-band Duralex Sedlex – Latin for “the law [is] harsh, but [it is] the law”–  first started, it was in an environment dominated by pop and folk rock.  More»

Anti-American Techno

Anti-American Techno

Gangnam Style is not a protest song. If anything, the 2012 hit, by Korean rapper Psy, is a celebration of meaninglessness, a musically repurposed novelty phrase, in a non-English language, cleverly paired with pedestrian, early ‘90s rave arragements.  Imagine Americans’ shock when its author, about to perform at the White House, was outed for inciting against the US military, back in 2004. More»

Mediterranean Protest Music

Mediterranean Protest Music

Besides their release this year in beautifully packaged vinyl editions, and use of Mediterranean field recordings, Mutamassik’s album Rekkez, and Savage Republic’s Varvakios LP, don’t seem to have a lot in common. However, both come from an aesthetic of fatalistic, yet rebellious, sonic energy, fuelled by an urgency to burst into a future weighed down by ancient history. More»

Oliver's Top 10 for 2012

Oliver’s Top 10 for 2012

2012 was a damn good year for music in general, and for new musical discoveries, personally. I found my own tastes wandering between the seemingly-unrelated-yet-actually-interconnected worlds of hardcore punk, deathrock, postpunk, and neofolk. My “top 10″ for 2012 reflects this. More»

Iberian Punk Sampler

Iberian Punk Sampler

Times are tough in Spain. Suffering the aftereffects of the collapse of a speculative real-estate bubble in 2008, debarred from improving its export position through devaluation because of its participation in the Euro, the government of Mariano Rajoy has recently proposed a budget plan involving cuts of over $85 billion in the next two and a half years. More»

Nuggets and The Velvet Underground

Nuggets and The Velvet Underground

“Not again,” I thought, looking over the new releases on display at the record store. The top shelf featured a 40th-anniversary reissue of Nuggets, the classic garage compilation, while the one below offered a 45th-anniversary version of The Velvet Underground and Nico. It annoyed me that I was being asked to buy music I already owned. More»

From Crisis to Sol Invictus

From Crisis to Sol Invictus

Tony Wakeford has been making music since 1977, starting with political punks Crisis. Wakeford and ex-Crisis members started the seminal postpunk/neofolk Death in June. Afterwards came his current project, Sol Invictus. Wakeford’s career has not been without controversy. He recently discussed his legacy with Souciant. More»

Making Grind a Threat Again

Making Grind a Threat Again

+HIRS+ is a Philadelphia duo dedicated to harsh noise and queer politics. Their motto, as emblazoned on their t-shirts, is “looks like hell, sounds like shit, no gods, no cops.” The band’s singer, Jenna Pup, sat down with me to discuss sampling, what it’s like being a queer band in the grind scene, and the role of music in delivering political messages. More»

Of the Wand & the Moon

Of the Wand & the Moon

Of the Wand & the Moon are one of the big guns of contemporary neofolk. Arriving a generation after founders like Death in June, Sol Invictus, and Current 93, Of the Wand & the Moon have breathed new life into this beautiful and perennially misunderstood genre. OTWATM’s 2011 The Lone Descent LP is widely regarded as a neofolk masterpiece. More»

It's All About Locale

It’s All About Locale

You didn’t want to listen to it. That is, the song you hear repeatedly in your head, untethered from your iPod, and your CD collection. Overheard in an elevator, or while shopping, such sounds have a colonizing effect. We hear it during our most private moments. We think about it when we try to script our own musical sensibilities. Everything about our sonic imaginary is defined in relation to it. More»

The Party is Still Over

The Party is Still Over

Political activism, and especially political music, has always suffered from the problems of nuance and restraint. In order to get your point across to the masses, you can’t just stand on the street corner with a megaphone and scream at everyone. If you’re lucky, all that will happen is that you’ll be ignored. If you’re unlucky, you might find yourself in jail or a mental asylum. More»