I swear when this whole thing started that it was called Bandcamp Day, then at some point, the collective unconscious (aka Twitter) decided it’s Bandcamp Friday. I held strong for months, unwavering in my preferred nomenclature. Why exclude Saturday-Thursday? Those are all nice days; besides, what is a day anymore?! But I’ve given in…
Welcome to the Viking’s Choice Guide to Bandcamp Friday! The platform waives its service fees on the first Friday of the month, at least until the end of 2020, supporting artists and labels during the pandemic. Here are 30 albums, EPs or long songs — all released on or around Oct. 2 — divided into loud, soft, weird categories… and one that accompanies a nice glass of rosé. (And, yeah, if you’re reading this via email, trust this message is gonna be clipped.)
As always, so much music will be missed, so follow along my personal Bandcamp collection for more! — Lars Gotrich
Serpent Column, Kathodos (Mystískaos): Serpent Column’s twisted black-metal hatred got me through the early months of the pandemic; in fact, Endless Detainment led the last Viking’s Choice column to appear on NPR before moving to this newsletter. Kathodos continues to curl crooked fingers into blast-beaten fists of rage, but, to overextend this metaphor, anguished melody is now the power knuckle in Serpent Column’s all-consuming punch.
v/a, Vigor Reconstruct: A Benefit for the Soroka Family (self-released): I’m only familiar with Markov Soroka’s oceanic doom-metal project Drown (he also makes music as Tchornobog, Aureole, Krukh), but he sure does have a strong metal community behind him. On this comp to benefit his family beset by medical bills, Panopticon covers King’s X, Mare Cognitum covers Thin Lizzy and Emperor, Krieg covers Profanatica; there are also new tracks by Woe, Spectral Lore and many more.
Cosmic Reef / Shrinkwrap Killers, Split (Wave Guardian): Black metal is surf rock in corpse paint; change my mind. Ok, Cosmic Reef ain’t remotely black metal, but they’ve got a doomy streak and punctuate surf licks with blast beats. Shrinkwrap Killers leans into kitschy sci-fi horror, like Man… Or Astro-Man? gone party thrash.
Cryptic Shift / Replicant / Inoculation / Astral Tomb, Chasm of Aeons (Blood Harvest): Four-way split of death by space! Every one of these nerds has stitched Voivod, Atheist and Cynic patches on their battle jackets and reads obnoxiously knotty sci-fi novels.
Encenathrakh, Thraakethraaeate Thraithraake (self-released): Bless the Krallice boys. In 2020, they’ve given us new music from Xazraug, Edenic Past, Indricothere, Ocrilim, Geryon and Slam420, not to mention Mass Cathexis. It is in Encenathrakh, featuring Weasel Walter and Paulo Henri Paguntalan, that Mick and Colin feed their lizard brains blasting, brutal tech-death, evolved from toxic sewer slop.
Amiensus, Abreaction (Transcending): Been keeping an eye on this band ever since 2015’s Ascension. Amiensus’ progressive black metal lands somewhere between Agalloch’s atmosphere and Cormorant’s grandiose arrangements; Abreaction maintains that sound, but the folkloric melodies, technical riffs and thrash-n-crash rhythm section are far more tightly woven.
Ozzuario, Existence is Pain (Distort Discos): Technically, the digital came out in March and vinyl’s out today, but I can’t deny these bleak blackmetalpunk bangers! The duo claims Bathory, Sisters of Mercy and Throbbing Gristle as influences, but their brash melodic sensibility reminds me of A Pregnant Light with an industrial bent.
Axebreaker, They Wear the Mask and Their Face Grows to Fit It (A Red Thread): Maybe it’s because spooky szn is upon us or the very present doom of existence, but this might be the most terrifying album yet from Terence Hannum’s (Locrian) antifascist power electronics project. Searing synths, screams and sound canons sampled from the National Guard root horror in our current reality.
Alien Nosejob, Once Again the Present Becomes Past (Iron Lung / Anti Fade): Second record of 2020 from Jake Robertson, also of Ausmuteants, Hierophants and a million other Aussie punk bands. Dude buzzes with a zonked energy, channeled here into a whisky-swillin’, boot-stompin’ NWOBHM hardcore frenzy.
Lamp of Murmuur, Heir of Ecliptical Romanticism (Death Kvlt / Not Kvlt): First, let us enjoy the names of the labels splitting release duties… I’ll wait… Look, there’s a lot of raw black metal out there and most of it sucks. Lamp of Murmuur doesn’t offer anything new, but the restless energy, sudden dynamic switches and swaggering rock-and-roll riffery keeps me coming back to its sickening bile.
Smoke DZA, Homegrown (Cinematic Music Group): Smoke’s flow sends me straight to the boroughs, hitting up bodegas for tall boys and chopped cheese, maybe a bottle of something fancy for later that night.
Alain Bellaïche, Sea Fluorescent (Souffle Continu): This folky, French funk-fusion record reissue sounds like something both Chris Schlarb (Psychic Temple) and Ethan Miller (Howlin Rain) would dig, so that’s a Must-Buy situation right there.
Outer World, Fixed Like a Painting (self-released): Tracy and Kenny’s previous band, Richmond indie-rockers Positive No, exploded with a radiant energy. Outer World is quieter and weirder, indulging their love for Broadcast, whispering and whirring the interiors of everyday life.
soso tharpa, Simon’s Mind EP (self-released): With a hyper joint on Future Times and one on the way from 1432 R, soso tharpa’s got the D.C. electronic music scene’s stamp of approval, for sure. These tracks glide like low tide.
v/a, New Neighborhoods (Freedom to Spend): Last year’s reissue of Ernest Hood’s 1975 album Neighborhoods was a quiet revelation, something I wish I’d spent more time with, and had written about. Felicia Atkinson, Ka Baird, Space Afrika, Jefre-Cantu Ledesma, Roberto Carlos Lange and several others interpret the intimate spirit of that original work, as these artists transform field recordings into floating diaries of their blocks, backyards and lives.
Jusell, Prymek, Sage, Shiroishi, Fuubutsushi (風物詩) (Cached Media): I want to take this album on an autumn drive through southern Pennsylvania during leaf change, or set up a blanket and a nice spread in a nearby park, warming the body with red wine and cool jazz. Considering the folks involved (largely from ambient, folk, avant jazz and experimental scenes), there’s a slightly subversive undercurrent to this remotely-recorded, ECM-inspired collab, but mostly, a supremely chill situation.
Eartheater, Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin (PAN): I once, very seriously and with the deepest respect, called Eartheater’s music “trap Enya,” which she enjoyed immensely. Phoenix removes beats from the hypnagogic equation to mourn for Mother Earth in a beautifully dense and vulnerable work.
Elkhorn, The Acoustic Storm Sessions (Centripetal Force / Cardinal Fuzz): How can music this conversational and wandering — the core Elkhorn duo + Turner Williams — sound so lonely and lost? From the same snowed-in Storm Sessions comes two side-long acoustic ragas that burn into the night.
Lửa, Forestwool (CHO OYU): Just the album title alone wraps your ears with moss for an all-natural nap. Another densely textured, deeply felt ambient excursion from the Vietnamese artist, complete with fluttering bird call, on the excellent South Korean label.
[Removed the auto-playing embed, but y’all should really listen!]
John Kolodij, First Fire • At Dawn (Astral Editions): Is this what happens when Steven R. Smith (Ulaan Passerine, Ulaan Markhor, etc.) gets into John Carpenter? Ominous plumes of doomy guitar drone, spectral banjo, Anna RG’s careening fiddle and Sarah Hennies’ whistling percussion make for a haunted landscape.
v/a, 3afak: Love to NYC (3AFAK): Love a comp that turns me on to several electronic and experimental artists like this one; only Muqata’a’s glitched beats and Maral’s heady beat science were on my radar.
Terms, Asbestos Mouth (Skin Graft): Spindly, riffy, rubbery math rock featuring the guitarist from Yowie + a drummer with six arms. If anyone remembers Atlanta’s Blame Game, this duo similarly breathes a lot of air into its simultaneously concise and sprawling rock action.
Drew Scott, Nocturnes (self-released): Someone called this “goth Four Tet” and now I can’t hear anything else. These slow, slurpy beats have a way of unexpectedly speeding up on you, like that one time I ate smothered pork chops and candied yams at a Southern-style church cafeteria and my body didn’t know whether to zonk or shake.
Cerca, Khalum Zilam (self-released): There’s a rising Jeweled Antler revival and I’m 100% down with this new generation of forest folk zoners (see also: noemienours). This album sets aside Darren Hoyt’s loop-based, ambient guitar work for arcadian drone, acoustic fingerstyle and a foggy sense of space.
v/a, NO Recording II (sefl-released): Wasn’t at all familiar with group A, which curates this compilation of Japanese electro-acoustic, industrial and noise artists affiliated with the Berlin- and Tokyo-based act. And other than guitarist Kohhei Matsuda (who bangs on oil cans here), all of these folks are new to me!