Here are the First Five Records I Listened to on My New Turntable

Posted in Buried Treasure on March 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been a while since I’ve had a fully functional turntable, and by that I mean one that worked at all. Platters have been coming in for review for The Obelisk and I’ve managed to figure something out, either listening somewhere other than my office or whathaveyou, but really, it’s something that I’ve been missing up to this point. I tried several times to acquire a working one to no avail, until just this past week, Slevin rolled through with one he wasn’t using and set it up. Toss in a new cartridge, dust it off, and as you can see above, whamo, a working player of vinyl records.

Nifty, right? I traded him the busted Technics that formerly resided at the top of my office shelf system and he gave me this working Optimus, and since I don’t know the difference, I’m just happy to have one that actually can play an albums. I’ve had a pile of stuff here waiting to be written up or even just listened to, so at the end of last week, there was a bit of a binge in vinyl listening, one after another after another and so on. Can’t help it. Sometimes I get excited.

In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d post the first five records I put on once I had the ability to do so. Needless to say, there have been several more since:

1. YOB, Demo

I haven’t asked to confirm, but I think this was actually the one that got Slevin on board for giving my pathetic ass in the first place. A couple weeks ago, I put up a rant, basically pissing and moaning at having bought myself the 2009 vinyl reissue of YOB‘s demo despite not being able to hear it, so when I finally could, it was the first thing I grabbed. Sure enough, the four tracks on the release — the three of the initial 2000 demo and one live track to close out side B recorded in 2005 — were as primitive as one would have to expect, way more Sleep-derived even than YOB‘s first full-length, but still a joy to hear after so long. Even as a curio, this one was worth the wait and since I’m planning on having this turntable for a while, I was glad I got to play this one first.

2. Asteroid, Move a Mountain 7″

Maybe this one was kind of obvious, since a review went up the other day, but wow, I was looking forward to hearing the latest from Asteroid. Aside from thinking they’re one of the best Swedish heavy rock acts going these days — balancing heavy psych jams with memorable songwriting and sounding so incredibly natural doing it as they do — I wanted to hear how they were developing with their new drummer and was glad to find that even on such a short, two-song release, they hadn’t lost that combination of structure and laid back exploration that has made both of their albums to date so much fun, indeed pushing it further on the B-side, “One Foot in the Grave,” which was some of their fastest material yet. I was already looking forward to their third full-length. Now even more so.

3. Mars Red Sky/Year of No Light, Green Rune White Totem

Mars Red Sky — whose new EP, Be My Guide, is due in April, in case you missed the news that just went up — were kind enough to send me a vinyl copy of their Green Rune White Totem collaboration with their countrymen black metal experimentalists Year of No Light, and I think it must have gotten lost in the shuffle around the time the hurricane hit, and then when I finally would’ve had the chance to hear it, there wasn’t a working record player to make it happen. I was bummed out, because although Green Run White Totem is up on the YuberToubes, I was dying to hear the real thing. The textures that Year of No Light bring to Mars Red Sky‘s rich, deep tonality make the 12-minute collaborative piece all the more fascinating, and the black and red vinyl give it a truly special feel. It’s one I’ll be returning to for sure, especially as Mars Red Sky get set for Desertfest next month and that aforementioned EP release.

4. Clutch, Strange Cousins from the West

The heartbreak of slightly ripping the sleeve when taking out the second of the two LPs in the special edition of Clutch‘s 2009 outing aide, Strange Cousins from the West was a listen a long time in the making. The packaging on the Weathermaker vinyl is astounding (and now ripped, god damn it) with foil and a six-panel gatefold, and when the first side of the first LP started, I swore up and down it was the wrong platter because it was “Freakonomics” instead of “Motherless Child.” Nope, just a different tracklisting than the CD. Given that this is an album with which I’ve spent significant time over the four years since its original release, it was probably the first one on this list that I could really get a sense for the difference the vinyl makes, the compression in the cymbals and warm pops, etc. Particularly in light of their new one (review here), it was cool to revisit Strange Cousins and hear the older material in a new light.

5. Black Sabbath, Dehumanizer

If I’m honest, I don’t even really know where this vinyl copy of Dehumanizer came from. Must have been a reissue that came through at some point, but it’s been in my office for a while now and so it was something of a matter of principle that it should get a play on initial run with the new turntable. The 1992 reunion album between Black Sabbath and vocalist Ronnie James Dio isn’t the best work of either party — and wow, that really came out on side B; I can’t even remember the last time I purposefully listened to “Too Late” or “Buried Alive,” and I named my dog after Dio — but for cuts like “I,” “Master of Insanity,” “Computer God” and “Sins of the Father,” Dehumanizer was well worth another visit. Now I just need to get a copy on tape and I’m all set.

Even though I have a working turntable in my possession, I don’t see myself going overboard as a vinyl collector or anything like that, but if someone’s got a 7″ for sale at a show or something is vinyl-only, at least I know I’ll be able to give it some due time without using someone else’s player or scrambling for a download. But mostly it’s just a review thing for stuff that comes in on LP. It’s not like I’m looking to start a vinyl library. Not like I’m already eying up Hypnos 69 splits on eBay or anything. Me? No way. Ha.

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Buried Treasure and the Little Things We Do for Ourselves

Posted in Buried Treasure on February 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I remember when YOB‘s 2000 demo got re-released in 2009, I held off buying it. My thinking was that sooner or later the thing would show up on CD and I didn’t need to shell out for the vinyl, which, well, wasn’t a format I wanted to deal with anyway. Sure, YOB occupy a slot on my ever-rotating list of favoritist favorite bands, but what was the point in buying a copy of their demo on vinyl and feeling stupid later when I finally got it on the CD I wanted in the first place?

Well, the point turned out to be that there was no CD coming. Probably I could’ve asked someone and found that out, or done even the most cursory level of research and found out that Raven’s Eye Records, the label run by the artist Sean Schock (also of Geistus and H.C. Minds), wasn’t doing a CD pressing and that once the vinyl run was gone, that was it. That the label, like the band, was based in Eugene, Oregon, and that even in this day of interwebular immediacy, it might not be so easy to come by. But yeah, I didn’t do that research or ask anyone if a CD was coming. Hey, it was 2009. I was busy not having a job.

YOB‘s demo retreated to that place in my mind that holds the list of music I should pick up at some point. I guess half of me was still holding out hope that a compact disc release would come along sooner or later, and it just took that long for me to finally resign myself to the fact that one wasn’t, but at long last, I snagged a copy of the 12″ version on eBay late last year. It was my Xmas present to myself, a little something to get me through the cold months. Calling it a treat in such a manner didn’t really take away from the fact that I was a stubborn dumbass for not buying it in the first place, but it did give that all-too-familiar feeling of dumbassery a nicer frame than it usually gets.

The package showed up a couple weeks back. Not exactly timely for the holidays, but whatever. I was still happy to see it, except for the fact that at this point, I own two turntables and neither of them works. So yeah, after three-plus years, I decided to buy YOB‘s very first demo — three tracks, “Silence,” “Revolution” and “Dogma,” coupled with a live recording of a song called “White Doom” recorded in 2005 at CD World in Eugene, pressed up with artwork by Brian Mercer – and I don’t have a way to play it.

One of these days, I’m gonna hear this fuckin’ thing. “Revolution” is up on the YouTubes, so that’s easy enough to check out, but hearing how different it is from the version that appeared two years later on YOB‘s 2002 12th Records debut full-length, Elaborations of Carbon, does little more than tantalize and make me want to listen to the other tracks. I’m sure it’s up for download somewhere, but screw that. I’ve waited this long, I can keep on staring at the LP sleeve until one of the two turntables — which are stacked one on top of the other with posters on top, for that extra touch of class — is repaired or a third is acquired. Patience has always been one of my stronger qualities.

YOB, “Revolution” Demo

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