Ohrmazd – “Venturing Beyond Irreality” Cassette (2018)

The tracks on Venturing Beyond Irreality were recorded between 2008 and 2018, and I believe released for the first time earlier this year in limited editions of 66 copies each on cassette and CDr. I got my tape via Depressive Illusions HERE, and for a couple of Euro extra they included a burned CRr as well.

At pretty close to 60 minutes in length, this is a lot of dark ambient (the Depressive Illusions website describes Ohrmazd as “Dark Atmospheric Dungeon Ambient”) for one sitting. It leans much more to the evil side of the darkness continuum (as opposed to morose) – at times I feel like I’m hearing the intro to what will burst into a black metal sonic assault, but the attack never comes, leaving you instead with that undercurrent of fear and dread. When Ohrmazd sample in human voices, like they do on “Tomb of Bones”, the effect is even more amplified and you start to wonder if you’re actually losing your mind. Don’t worry, you’re not. Well… probably not, at least.

Neighborhood Watch – “Feeding The Hand That Bites” (1987)

Neighborhood Watch were part of the same punk scene that eventually launched Suicidal Tendencies into national crossover prominence, with members of the two bands even sharing a house at one point. But whereas the Tendencies were more hardcore and thrash, by 1987 Neighborhood Watch was something different. Feeding The Hand That Bites is definitely punk, but maybe more in the Dead Kennedys vein – quirky vocal delivery and tons of political lyrics crammed into relatively short songs. With songs like “Sucking Corporate Ass”, “Corporate-Cola”, and the heavily ironic “I Want a Corvette”, it’s clear where they’re coming from.

Feeding The Hand That Bites will appeal to those who are into that 1980s anti-Reagan style of punk. What’s perhaps a bit surprising is that it doesn’t actually sound dated 30 years later – this same stuff we’re still dealing with today.

New 7″ Records From Bömmer and BSÍ (2018)

If I’m following the thread correctly, Bömmer put out some stuff in 2012, morphed into Kvöl to put out some stuff in 2014-16, and now are back at it as Bömmer again. Most recently they put out a couple of songs in July, “Start” and “Come On”, which can be heard on Bandcamp HERE. If you’re a glutton for punishment, like I am, you can also try to track down one of the super limited (20 copies) lathe-cut 7″ singles featuring both tracks.

Musically “Start” is all cold synths and gloom, frigid and dark, like a synthpop song caught up in the throes of depression. The synth lines are unstoppable, never offering a respite from the mood. The synths weave in and out a bit more on “Come On”, the higher parts contrasting sharply with the morose vocals. A pair of excellent tracks, perfect for quieter and more reflective moods.

I’ve been to the BSÍ terminal in Reykjavik many times – it’s where the bus from the airport drops you off before launching you into the city core on a fleet of smaller vans and shuttles. It is sometimes described as “the most miserable location you can find in all Iceland”, and while that’s pushing it, it has few if any redeeming qualities. It’s always cold, and like bus stations the world over, no one seems to give a shit. The folks working there always seem surprised when yet another bus pulls up in the early morning hours to disgorge its load of tourists… even though clearly they were notified when it left the airport almost an hour prior. Arriving there on cold November mornings for Airwaves is always an adventure. How long will we wait for a shuttle? Two minutes? Thirty two minutes? No one knows.

The band BSÍ, however, is a bit more welcoming with their new three-song 7″ record. The duo play a sort of punky pop that has a charming amateurishness about it. There’s nothing fancy or pretentious here, just a couple of people playing songs on instruments they didn’t normally play before forming BSÍ. My recommendation is the unpredictable “Bú On You”, though I also enjoy the almost shoegaze-y “Manama”, its vocals infused with a sort of innocence that you often only find from newer performers. You can check out all three songs as well as purchase the vinyl HERE.

Futuregrapher – “July 1″ 10” (2018)

Icelander and electro-weaver Futuregrapher is at it again, this time with the three-song suite called July 1. Written during a stay in Poland, the vibe is guided by his roots in Patreksfjörður and Tálknafjörður, creating soundscapes that combine a pulsing bass heartbeat with an overall sense of desolation, of broad unpopulated expanses covered in green moss and wiped clean by the ever-present wind.

“Láginúpur” is a particularly captivating piece, a blending of a quiet conversation in Icelandic and sort of retro-futuristic soundscape. There’s something about the Icelandic language, a certain pattern to it, that I find intriguing, and Futuregrapher captures that sensation here. The other two pieces are purely electronic affairs, both with quiet, pulsing beats that offer structure while not being distracting, allowing the higher register the more prominent position. This is perfect music to chill to.

Primarily a digital release, July 1 did receive an ultra-limited vinyl pressing (lathe cutting is probably more accurate…) of just 30 copies in a 10″ format. A physical copy will probably be hard if not impossible to track down, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still go to Bandcamp and give it a listen HERE.

Nonagon – “Skeletal Obelisk” Cassette (2018)

Skeletal Obelisk is 34 minutes of aural anxiety. It’s like what I imagine floating in a sensory deprivation tank feels like. The slowest undulations, changes so slight that you at first don’t notice them. It’s dark and brooding, but not frightening in any direct way, more just unsettling. I certainly wouldn’t listen to it if I was having a bad day, but sitting here in the early morning with a cup of coffee and looking at the fog outside my window, it works pretty well.

You can get your cassette copy in a limited edition of 66 directly from the label Depressive Illusions HERE.