25 Mar 2016

The most Sacred of Bones - ten essential releases from the NYC label's astounding catalogue

In the past, it used to be the case that a primary way of getting new music you liked would have been to avidly follow the releases put out by labels you love. In an age though, where there are millions of labels, many more ways to obtain music recommendations, and everything's just a bit more fragmented, y'know? But there's one label that's head and shoulders above the others in putting out records consistently incredible and that is Brooklyn label Sacred Bones, who feature so prominently in my record collection that they're the closest thing imaginable to a 80s 4AD or a 90s Creation Recs equivalent in the modern day. Here's [an unordered list of] my favourite 10 of their releases - singles, albums and EPs - all of which you need to hear before you die.

1. Exploded View - No More Parties In The Attic (7 inch)
Exploded View were mightily unveiled at SXSW this week, and their debut 7' is out via Sacred Bones at the start of next month. I've already dubbed it debut single of the year, but what is exciting about this is sets the stage for a great release that might just make it to a list like this in future. It's an alien mix of bleeping found music, electronic dub, and wailing noisy guitar rock. Essentially, this has lots of great touchpoints, and the band are fronted by German political journalist Anika, so who knows? They could go on to make some of the noisiest, most important music there is - Exploded View are exciting, and this dystopic rock track is already a gem in one of the best label discographies there is.

2 & 3. Destruction Unit - Deep Trip & Negative Feedback Resistor (albums)
These are the second and third albums by one of the most furious, exciting and unstoppable bands there is. The band's sound is a mad scientist's concoction of celestial space sounds and pummelling, pummelling punk rock. It's basically about as intrusive and invasive as guitar music can get, as every powerful punch through both records' durations comes incessently through a thick veil of squally reverb and noise and arresting dark energy. Their sound is so psychically angry, and on both of these records you're hardly given a moment's rest. They're literally top of my bands to see live, because it's difficult to imagine anything more remarkable than hearing this pummell ya in a tiny grotty venue.

4. Pop 1280 - Imps of Perversion
When an album title's this good, you've really gotta sit up and take note. Pop 1280 are a cyber-punk band from Brooklyn, and their sound revolves around the bullish snarl of their frontman, vividly recalling the likes of Steve Albini of Big Black. Songs like Human Probe and Population Control are nightmarish bursts of noise that vent so much anger and so much frustration that it's incredible. It's refreshing to hear a record with furious vocals where the psyched-out instrumentation match the vocals - this is the rawest, purest punk rock you'll hear.

5. Timmy's Organism - Rise of The Green Gorilla
Wah-wah guitars over some pretty tight aggro psych, Timmy's Organism are a band that put their 2010 debut out via Sacred Bones, and demonstrate a sound pretty typical for the label. Effects laden vocals, transportative astral guitars and song structures that just bounce and helix around any which way they choose. The best way to describe this comes on Sacred Bones' website - after all it is the 'Rise of the Green Gorilla' - where it says this is heavy "nuclear guitar rock", which sums it up perfectly.

6. Institute - Salt (EP)
Garish punk rock, this is a 12 minute blast of intense guitar music, unavoidably tight and undeniably not giving a fuck. Angst-channelling, the Texan band's frustrated sound is kinda like Parquet Courts' No No No, cranked up and given an intimidating, cold structure. Like lots of punk bands through US history, Institute's sound is ridden with angst in a small town kinda way - see Kerosene by Big Black for the ultimate small town punk sound - and the way they launch that out over this release is pretty perfect.

7. Follakzoid - III
Choosing a favourite band by this Chilean trio is hard, and if I wasn't cripplingly aware that I'm running outta room on my list I'd probably also include the game-changing groove-psych II too. On their most recent release, Sister Ray's album of 2015, they hone and perfect that primal psychotropic krautrock sound they are just wizards with and keep it flowing thick and fast through the records whole duration. It's split into quarters, each quarter - or I guess song's a more adequate a descriptor if you'd call a 10 minute free flowing psychedelic groove a song - named after an element, and each one as natural as its namesake as the Chilean band reach an accomplished peak of inner flight. Despite the inaccessible nature of 10 minute space jams though, Follakzoid are masters of locking into a serious groove and maxing out in a way that's both obnoxiously danceable and more than satisfactorily trippy.

8. Angelo Baldamenti & David Lynch - Twin Peaks season two music & more
Amongst Sacred Bones' incredible back catalogue, the label has rolled out reissues of underground gems at times of late. In 2013, my favourite of the said reissues came out via Sacred Bones, The score to the second series of Twin Peaks is much weirder than that of the first, because at that point in the two-series drama things began to get, well, a lot weirder.  A beautiful version of Love Theme From Twin Peaks is included, whilst almost certainly every second from the ethereal series 2 opener (that wafts in as Agent Cooper wakes back into the conscious world) to the close will leave your life's temporary soundtrack making you feel like yr in a dreamy dreamy David Lynch film.

9. Holydrug Couple - Moonlust
That of listening to Chilean band the Holydrug Couple is among the most luscious velvety experiences that you can imagine. Their spaced out minimal psychedelia bears resemblance to Beach House and Slowdive as it whisps you into total aural bliss. Kaleidoscopic melodies at the hands of one of the central duo, their Moonlust album is a dreamy record that is even more Culty 70s French Film Score than all their more psychedelic others. Dreamy and elegant where before there was only subtle hints towards this kinda trip-hop dream-pop combination, it's a really beautiful little record you can't stop listening to.

10. Jenny Hval - Apocalypse, Girl
Oddball pop music, the disjointed sounds of Jenny Hval's third studio album are oddly dystopic, and in all honesty a bit much at first listen. But further listening, you get to grips with it you hear the well written pop songs underneath the noisy cacophonies. It's a record of uncertainty but more to the point, it's a record you can't certainly pigeonhole into one genre ('soft dick rock'?!), and is basically enthralling every listen of the way.

you can check out sacred bones' amazing back catalogue here, give it a look!

(written by calum cashin)