I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Anyway, if you're new here, hi! Bandcamp Friday is when that platform waives its revenue fees so that artists/labels can pocket the change. I churn out 20+ short recommendations of albums/EPs released on or around Oct. 1, categorize them by silly/obscure ideas instead of genres, and then y'all spend a stupid amount of money on new music.
So what's the theme for the 10th (!) edition of the Viking's Choice Guide to Bandcamp Friday? Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure! If I'm being real, this is my favorite movie of all time. I think about its sweet, but smart silliness all of the time, and how it prepared me for a lifelong admiration of Keanu Reeves.
In addition to the listed categories below, you can also listen to the Viking’s Choice Guide to Bandcamp Friday playlist via BNDCMPR! I've also included some songs from albums I didn't have time to write up.
Palmbomen II, Make A Film (World of Paint): VHS-fuzzed house/techno producer digs into the weird world of library music to soundtrack your imaginary/real film — mine is a family-friendly Miyazaki fantasy in the clouds.
Pharmacist, Carnal Pollution (Black Hole Productions): Japanese goregrind with an old-school death metal swagger. There's a Pharamacist onslaught every month, it seems — albums, splits, EP — so there's not a bad place to start, but Carnal Pollution does feature some guest guitar solos by Ripped to Shreds' Andrew Lee. A total spectacle of filth, but also totally catchy.
Michael Masley, Cymbalom Solos (Morning Trip): The cymbalom, as far as I can tell, is like a cross between a hammered dulcimer and a piano — foot pedals sustain the struck strings for an Appalachian New Age journey. Here's a reissue of Michael Masley's mystical 1983 cassette on the instrument.
Gloosh, Sylvan Coven (Drevo Music): Never mind that the name Gloosh sounds like liquid expulsion of a sexual nature, but Gloosh the band does give me serious Cascadian black metal vibes via the Russian woodlands. Maybe I'm just not on the hunt for this majestic, melodic style much these days, but it's scratching an itch I didn't know I had.
Grave Pilgrim, Grave Pilgrim (Death Prayer): On some level, I gotta respect a black metal band that keeps to a raw aesthetic — some of these songs have a hooky, anthemic power that could easily translate to an expensive studio and horde-headbanging stage show. And yet! There are also weird as hell tracks like "Thick as Thieves," essentially blackened circus music for the sideshow.
v/a, Program 3: Sonic Communications from the Circle City, Midwest & Other Far Off Places (Medium Sound): Does what the title says. Omni Gardens, Landon Caldwell and Drekka are the names known to me; otherwise, a varied scene report of Midwestern komische, electronic freakery and whatnot… not necessarily limited to its sonic or physical geography.
Pilgrim Raid, Anna Agenda (Chinabot): From raving at the club to dancing in the streets to trash snacks at the bodega to blissful sleep in front of the TV, a soundtrack for a night out in Saigon. Blaringly loud EDM bleeds into sentimental karaoke cheese, robotic dance-pop, woozy emo crooning.
v/a, Nuçi’s Space 21st Anniversary Benefit Compilation (Keeled Scales): Nuçi’s Space holds a special place in my heart — I called Athens, Ga., home for 5 years, and that venue not only hosted some of my most beloved concert memories but also still provides mental/physical health services for musicians. 21 years is no small testament to its place in the Athens community and anyone who passes through. Anjimile, Buck Meek, Cassandra Jenkins, Flock of Dimes, R.E.M. contribute covers and live tracks. I am most looking forward to Anika Pyle's version of "Space Cowboy"!
v/a, Reflections: Gnome Life Artists & Friends Cover Each Other (Gnome Life): Little Wings, Molly Sarle, Chuck Johnson and others contribute to this cover-each-other comp. Since 2005, Gnome Life has been California dreamin' with music to match — verdant folk, deep drone, ocean-swept psychedelia — and these covers continue that free spirit.
YUNGMORPHEUS & Eyedress, Affable With Pointed Teeth (Lex): Thumbing Thru Foliage is still on heavy rotation since March, but my ears are ready for the new jam from the LA rapper. This one's with Eyedress, an unknown-to-me Filipino producer — his slinky and atmospheric synth-funk is a natural fit for YUNGMORPHEUS, whose laid-back flow oozes in and out of the boom-bap.
View from the Soyuz, In Misty Path (Bound By Modern Age): Nostalgia is a curse, yet I can't tear myself away from '90s hardcore — that's why I check out pretty much everything from this German label, which digs up new bands that sound like the old ones. Japan's View from the Soyuz captures metalcore's transitional, turn-of-the-century moment when the arena-ready metal riffs came to the fore, but was still rooted in hardcore.
Necroticgorebeast, Human Deviance Galore (Comatose Music): Notably more surgical slams from the Quebecois brutal death metal band with threateningly gory song titles.
Juçara Marçal, Delta Estácio Blues (QTV): 18. Juçara Marçal is a Brazilian singer who's been on the scene for a few decades now, but is just coming across my radar via Rio De Janeiro's QTV, a label that pushes the experimental edges of Brazilian music. This is an electrifying, maximalist take on MPB — canção torta ("crooked song") as the Bandcamp tag suggests. The folkloric electronics and mesmerizing fusions of Bjork, Caetano Veloso and Juana Molina come to mind, but Marçal definitely has her own pulse, darkened and quickened by her spirited voice.
Wendy Eisenberg, Bloodletting (Out of Your Head): You know, I got this one confused with Bent Ring, which is out Nov. 5 (the next Bandcamp Friday) and also splits the tracks between banjo songs and guitar songs… but with singing. Bloodletting is instrumental, though is based on a personal text written by Wendy… confusing! Anyway, these are memory works, meaning the same pieces played on two different instruments, in slightly different modes and degrees of retention, so there's a compare/contrast at work, but also a way to experience muscle memory through Wendy's shadowy sense of space.
Loren Rush, Dans le Sable (Recital): Not at all familiar with this Bay Area composer, but quite taken by the elegant swarm of the title track. It sounds like a few pieces of music played at once — opera, spoken word, chamber music — weaving in and out of each together in phases.
Yikii, Crimson Poem 深紅之詩 (Danse Noire): I love music that I can't explain and, better yet, scares me a little. I have no idea what's going on with the Chinese artist Yikii — are these nursery rhymes from hell? Ambient folk horror? Industrial haunted house pop? Yikii neatly treads that line between supernatural wonder and terror.
Wasteland Jazz Unit, Mind Obscured (Helicopter/Troniks): 41 minutes of demented screech and squawk from the feedbacking Cincinnati sax-n-clarinet duo. WJU was heavy on the noise scene over a decade ago and took a long break, but damn this a renewal that turns their mayhem into shattered sheets of sound.
Maria Elena Silva, Eros (Big Ego): Sweet, spacious songs sung in English and en español that evoke endless prairie. Helluva backing band that features some of LA's finest improvisers — Jeff Parker, Chris Schlarb, Philip Glenn, Anthony Shadduck among them — giving Maria lots of room to wander to/from/in/out of heartbreak.
Ignatz & De Stervende Honden, Saturday's Den (Ultra Eczema): Ramble tamble from the Belgian guitarist and his band of psychedelic ruffians. Blisters the morning like a hangover.
The Body and BIG|BRAVE, Leaving None But Small Birds (Thrill Jockey): Two very different metal/heavy bands take on the lilting and droning melodies of British folk-rock and turn out the bright lights of Richard and Linda Thompson for an amp-stacked bummer.
Ustad Saami, East Pakistan Sky (Glitterbeat): His voice sounds ancient, yet so full of yearning. Ustad Saami performs Surti, a 13th century tradition, backed by tanpura, harmonium and tablas. It's deeply spiritual, peace-giving music.
Myriam Gendron, Ma délire - Songs of love, lost & found (Feeding Tube): The power of traditional music is that it can preserve and transform time all at once — that's what Myriam Gendron does with these songs. There's an essence of the past, captured in her withered and yearning voice, but also a complex sense of the present, muddied and delicate.
Hiroshi Minami / Eiko Ishibashi, GASPING\SIGHING_SOBBING_ (self-released): A spectral twist on the piano trio. Hiroshi Minami's piano playing is spacious, but melodious; Daisuke Ijichi approaches the bass the same way. That allows Eiko Ishibashi — an atmospheric touch on the synth — room to process and edit the acoustic sounds into half-remembered thoughts and digital escapes.