We scanned the chip aisle of our corner store, recently under new management (they now sell shisha behind the counter!); it looks like they're about due for a restock: missing were Takis, plain Utz potato chips. But in quarantine, with a toddler, you take 20-minute dates when you can, debating the finer points of Pop Tart flavors (them: brown sugar, untoasted; me: cookies & cream, frozen) and why Lays just doesn't cut it anymore.
So that's the theme for the 9th edition of the Viking's Choice Guide to Bandcamp Friday: trash snacks & music pairings. Bandcamp Friday, for those who don't know, is when that music platform waives its revenue fees for 24 hours so that musicians can pay their rent (and buy snacks) during the pandemic. Bandcamp Fridays took a break for most of the summer, but now they're back until the end of 2021.
This is, admittedly, my silliest themed guide, yet, to nearly 40 albums and EPs released on or around Aug. 6. Note that the Bon Ton of York section, makers of hot corn chip paradise, features my top picks this month. Start there, dive into the rest and follow my personal collection on Bandcamp.
In addition to the listed categories below, you can also listen to the Viking's Choice Guide to Bandcamp Friday playlist via BNDCMPR!
小本生灯 xsgacha, 冇有形狀 (Qiii Snacks): Y'all, to have an ounce of this album's cool. The confidence of a bucket hat. Clear plastic raincoats. Shiny, skin-tight pleather. The album title translates, from Chinese, to "No shape," and everything screams '90s trip-hop, underground raves and hacking the planet. This is the kind of nostalgia that celebrates and recontextualizes the source, and sinks that dayglo futurism into a deep, gooey pit.
v/a, Duppy Vaulted (2011-2021) (Bokeh Versions): Ten years of outré dancehall, blitzed ragga, damaged dub and psychedelic island music. I've always been smacked sideways by Duppy Gun productions — typically, American or international producers paired with Jamaican vocalists — and this comp of unreleased nugs is no less quality. See also: a new mixtape of I Jahbar's productions as Roolings Muzik.
Fuubutsushi, Natsukashii (懐かしい) (Cached Media): Now that Matthew Sage, Chris Jusell, Patrick Shiroishi and Chaz Prymek are officially Fuubutsushi, the ambient-jazz quartet closes its tetralogy of seasonal albums, ending with summer. This one captures a bittersweetness of friendship during quarantine, but deepens bonds. You'd never guess everything was recorded and mixed remotely, as the album moves from cool-jazz nostalgia to Tortoise-ian whimsy to chooglin' longing in songs that sound like forever friends.
Arian Shafiee, Pastorale (Constellation Tatsu): I've actually had this album art on my phone screen ever since Keith Rankin posted the glowing orbs on Twitter, so, naturally, I'm gonna love the music itself. Slowly shifting spheres of sound, floating in soft percussion and sand-sifting synths, and yet no two tracks sound alike. Claire Rousay, Chuck Johnson, Gabi and others guest.
v/a, 69 Bootlegs Pack (self-released): A tequila cocktail mix that goes down sweet, but burns at the tips. A Very Nice number of remixes, edits and mashups from reggaeton, cumbia and dembow producers assembled by Mexico's Chico Sonido. A$AP Rocky, Grimes, Badgyal and Rae Sremmurd all get blown-out riddims, but dang, "TATU x GASOLINA" didn't have to go so HARD!
Pink Siifu, GUMBO'! (Field-Left): My introduction to Birmingham's Pink Siifu was last year's noisy punk-rap blast NEGRO, which totally rewired my brain. Dude's got a harsh streak, sure, but mostly simmers in the drippier, funkier edges of hip-hop (think Shabazz Palaces' spacey Afrofuturism by way of OutKast's sweaty Southern rap or Erykah Badu's tweaked R&B). Everything drawls, but glistens with a muggy eccentricity.
Damon & Naomi with Kurihara, A Sky Record (20|20|20): Did I personally manifest this return collaboration? Perhaps. Ghost's Michio Kurihara is a Japanese guitarist whose spectral tone and majestic Ebow I can spot clouds away; among their many credits together, his work on 2000's Damon & Naomi with Ghost is truly special. That magic remains, as Kurihara teases lustrous textures out of Damon & Naomi's gently brushed and hushed songs.
Francesco Cavaliere & Tomoko Sauvage, Viridescens (Marionette): Over a decade ago, I was absolutely taken in by the (actual, literal) water music of Tomoko Sauvage at the High Zero Festival. The Japanese artist has continued to find new ways into her instrument (porcelain bowls, electronics and various mechanisms that drip water), so it's only natural that the next step was, uh, natural? Surrounded by green instruments and objects, her duo with Francesco Cavaliere responds to the placid environment with a delicate, but curious touch. Leaves become brushes, synths softly trill like river dolphins, fluorescent water droplets jump lilypads… mood-altering music that transports the mind to a green fantasia.
Cesspool of Corruption, Requiems of The Ignominious (Gore House Productions): Yes, I've spent a lot of time this year listening to slamming brutal death metal in my Subaru. Yes, a lot of it sounds the same. So when a rippin' and groovin' death metal debut has this much dynamic (several vocal styles, contrasting melody/dissonance) and presence (well-pronounced bass and drum production), I take notice. Cesspool of Corruption's melodic tech-death doesn't get itself (too) twisted in knots, but knows the nuts and bolts of brutality.
NTsKi, Orca (Orange Milk / EM): NTsKi was, far and away, my favorite feature on Giant Claw's MIDI clash-terpiece Mirror Guide. Her solo debut scans as the most "pop" album on Orange Milk, with feather-light vocals and production that spans several decades: '80s synth-pop, '90s house-pop, early 2000s J-pop, trappy/glitchy hyperpop. Everything's smeared with a dreamy atmosphere, like a slice-of-life anime set in a neon-lit future.
Cruel Diagonals, A Dormant Vigor (self-released): Megan Mitchell in an operatic noise trance. Deep, rumbling, glitching music that emerges from the earth and demands a concert hall.
Peak Eloquence, A Quiet Disintegration (The Jeweled Garden): Brad Rose (The North Sea, Foxy Digitalis) in a somber, solo twang guitar mode. Lotta reverb, lotta space, lotta room to get sad on the prairie with a pack of smokes.
Norah Lorway, another world (Distant Bloom): Radio static and unknown transmissions distilled, distorted and drawn out into a satisfyingly numbing experience. Listen loud.
Unweather, Methuselah OST (Sound As Language): Methuselah is not so much a game, but a click-through philosophical story-lesson inspired by text-based RPGs of yesteryear. The ambient soundtrack drifts 8-bit melodies through complex sequences filled with natural wonder and emotion.
Fading Tapes, Cartographer (Panurus Productions): Carpathian moss and shimmer from this Polish psych-drone duo. Credits list electric guitar and drums, but not that wicked flute witchery.
Mother of Sighs, Mother of Sighs (Deathbomb Arc): Cathedral-warping synth drone from husband-and-wife duo Terence Hannum (Locrian) and Eric Burhner (Unlucky Atlas). Unlike their (pretty sexy!) goth-pop project The Holy Circle, Mother of Sighs creeps like John Carpenter through blackened noise and industrial clatter.
Raccoon City, For Nobody, Nowhere (Dog Knights): Aussie post-hardcore band that splits the difference between late '90s screamo chaos and the hooky stuff that followed (think: Thursday, Pianos Become the Teeth). There's a cinematic crunch to the whole thing, a real swing-for-the-fences energy.
Sunk Heaven, THE FVCKHEAѪTED LVNG (American Dreams): Brooklyn club music for no-fun noise deviants who wear sunglasses at night and quote obscure philosophers, but are probably pretty cool once you hang in the alley afterward.
Lingua Ignota, Sinner Get Ready (Sargent House): Faith is not a wasteland, but fundamentalism can be. Kristin Hayter howls the dangerous devastation of oppression (religious and otherwise) using the language of the Second Great Awakening and the folk music of Appalachia.
Jeffrey Alexander and the Heavy Lidders, Jeffrey Alexander and the Heavy Lidders (Arrowhawk): Psych lifer in a bloozy Americana mode (with some Sarah Records jangle tossed in), featuring members of Elkhorn and Kohoutek in the band. Marissa Nadler and Rosali Middleman sing some. The whole thing hangs loose like a frayed rope tied to a river tube... essentially, a choogler's dream.
Richard Youngs, Solo Guitar (No Fans): Even when Richard Youngs — on an unending journey to make and mangle every music known and unknown — goes "straight," it's a little bent. Spanish guitar musings fit for a quiet coffeehouse slowly sinking into the void.
Carmen Q. Rothwell, Don't Get Comfy / Nowhere (Rumination Record Co.): There are moments on this quiet EP that belie its gentle nature. Carmen Q. Rothwell sings with a hushed hesitation, as if choosing the next syllable carefully, over room noise and her plucked/bowed upright bass… but there's a universe between a sigh, uncertainty in a deep breath.
Lassie, The Golden Age Of… (Discos Peroquébien): Zippy, snotty, herky-jerky synth-punk outta Leipzeig. Lassie features members of the very excellent post-punk band Maraudeur (I think) and shares a blitzed energy, but skews New Wave underground. Really fun!
Arctic Sleep & Friends, A Tribute To The TOP GUN Motion Picture Soundtrack (self-released): Okay, what the heck!!! I have pegged the sad bastard space-doom of Arctic Sleep all wrong. Members of Djunah, Elemae and others contribute to this very silly (but very seriously earnest) quarantine project.
Sleepersound, Idle Voices (self-released): Sleepersound pays homage to a slower, sadder slice of '90s indie rock near and dear to my heart (Low, Codeine) while opening vistas with a GY!BE-y vibe. Even so, it's hard to pull off that era without total mimicry, but Sleepersound's cooing dual vocals and dramatic sense of space keep everything moving.
Wij, Dziwidło (Heavy Medication): Lean, baritone guitar-wielding proto-metal trio from Warsaw, Poland. Fat, fuzzy riffs + swingin' drums + a singer that reminds me of Uta Plotkin (ex-Witch Mountain), but wails in a Polish blues growl.
D I I S T, NO LOVE EP 2021 (self-released): Sad boys from the Czech Republic moping on copious amount of reverb, the occasional motorik move and well-worn copies of The Cure's early records.
v/a, An eclectic selection of music from the Arab world, part 2 (Habibi Funk): The title, while straightforward, truly undersells the disco dancin', organ funkin', Moroccan ravin', Casio "Stayin' Alive" jammin' gems here. Habibi Funk's done many of these Arabic pop comps, and each one is such a joy.
v/a, Inside the Outside...Experimentations in American Primitive Guitar (Ramble): Not gonna lie: the second half of this comp's title bums me out. We're making good strides to get away from that problematic term for the style of guitarist who works across several traditions often while breaking them. The label even offers a mea culpa, but throws up its hands. So I'll do the same, I guess, since the talent is so strong: guitarists from America (Joseph Allred, Matthew J, Rolin), Argentina (Mariano Rodriguez), Wales (David Ian Roberts) and Australia (the Man from Atlantis). Still, though, get some non-dudes on the next comp.
Equiknoxx, Basic Tools (EquiknoxxMusic): Next-level riddim crew back with a mixtape. Only one track available at press time, but 2019's bent dancehall banger Eternal Children was a belated fave, so this is an insta-purchase.
Evamuss, Despierta, remedio, cuenta (Schematic Music Company): Blown-out Peruvian field recordings, industrial techno and whisper-quiet noise from Peruvian underground vet Sajjra Xhrs Galarreta Pando.
Hans Grüsel & Loachfillet, Lumpy Graveyard Express (Steep Gloss): Dripping, drooping cut-up industrial horror like they did in the old days (the '80s). Dig the Ozzy cough slurped to sewage. John Carpenter synth creepiness, too.
Mount, )))))))))) (self-released): First things first: Mount's got the sickest band logo I've seen in years… a fibrous, unreadable black metal tumbleweed.
There's zero info on Mount Asheville guitarist Tashi Dorji is Mount, and the music's got a doom-droney goodness without the metallic baggage or drama. Infinite gongs, tape loops and what I assume are effects-laden guitars for drone that whistles and burrows into your skull and soul.
Mukqs, In Human Form (Husky Pants): Hausu Mountain co-founder Maxwell Allison puts on some husky pants for Ryley Walker's ascendent Very Cool label for weirdos and whatnot. Mukqs music exists to confound at every turn, landing somewhere between frazzled ambient and the soundtrack to a sweet RPG meant for chilling rather than killing.
Borderlands Ensemble, the space in which to see (New Focus Recordings): Only had one track at press time, but what a bombastic, creation myth-making piece of music! Tucson's Johanna Lundy leads this chamber group, her flugelhorn a bright, brassy contrast to the acrobatic leaps of strings.
Borracho, Pound of Flesh (Kozmik Artifactz): Hard swingin', deep groovin' stoner-rock apocalypse from this decade-old D.C. band.
Cocareef, Fruit Loop Killer (Cocareef): The artwork features Toucan Sam getting his brains blown out while cooking up beats on an AKAI MPC, so you probably know what you're in for here. This is over-the-top horrorcore filled with gangster movie samples, orchestral high drama, blunt-force boom-bap and a sneering, villainous MC. Overwhelming at times, but riotously entertaining.
Direct Threat, Demo 2021 (Quality Control HQ): Unless the bass player kicks off a song, there's no hope to hear the dude because this demo sounds like it was recorded in a trash compactor: ugly, riffy, angry hardcore that dispenses with guitar solos or any niceties.