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wmmberger on 08/02/2014 at 11:46AM

Pretzel Bill in a Witch's Blood Sauce...; Grasshopper on My Castle of Quiet, 28th May 2014

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Ah, Grasshopper! A mainstay of My Castle of Quiet playlists from the very beginning. This Brooklyn duo has traversed the most-eerie of improvised / otherworldly territories, and come out the other end, as outstanding soloists and collaborators, in many projects outside of Ghop. Their musicianship remains expert, the sheer quality of them "knowing what they're doing," and choosing to do THIS, is one of the great charms / inspirations of Grasshopper, still very much the "mothership" for Josh and Jesse.

Fans will find the band largely in familiar territory here, painting a slow-burn garden of creeping dread and pulsation, cradled by ethereal long tones. "Witch's Blood in a Sauce" finds them especially "on," adding unanticipated horror-dressing to their usual array of mesmerizing sound evolution. Always good, and always at home on MCoQ.

Grasshopper have new work out or coming soon, on various formats / labels. The new, full-length Grasshopper LP (their third 12" on vinyl), Dark Sabbath: Symbols of Evil is coming soon on Hausu Mountain. Jesse and Josh also have a solo / split tape, Josh Millrod / Shingles, also on Hausu, there's a full Shingles cassette, First God Planted a Garden (2AM Tapes) ,and a Josh Millrod solo cassette, Seeking the Millenary Kingdom, on Solid Melts. (MCoQ archive links: Josh | Shingles)

Grasshopper on My Castle of Quiet, v.1 (2009; our second live-musical guests, ever!)

Thanks as always to audio engineer Juan Aboites, for his professionalism and talent, and to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting, for continuing to immortalize my crappy iPhone band captures.

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wmmberger on 05/31/2014 at 03:37AM

Coffin Nail Kickout; Through Thorn and Brier LIVE on My Castle of Quiet, 5.7.2014

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

WFMU, among a great many other things, is about community, i.e., presenting and promoting local musicians / artists / humorists, in addition the great International performers we present. My Castle of Quiet has always been about the business of seeking out exceptional local musicians, and it doesn't get too much more local for us than Through Thorn and Brier, their craft honed in our shared County of Hudson, NJ. At one time, WFMU's staff was chock-full of NJ-bred radio personalities, many of whom lived and or passed through nearby Bayonne, including late-great broadcasters and good friends of mine, Terry Folger and Frank "Vanilla Bean" Balesteri, both of them taken from us way too soon. Bayonne borders directly on WFMU's home town of Jersey City, and offers great pizza, good bars and a decent standard of living for a largish NJ city. All that considered, if you told me that Bayonne had bred a strong, talented, one-of-a-kind punk / metal band, I still might have doubted the veracity of your claim, not sure why though. That is, right up until the first time I heard Through Thorn and Brier.

Originally stumbling upon their songs on bandcamp, in a position I now often find myself in, checking out a band that I missed live for no good reason except that I generally like to stay home. Sporting twin brothers on vocals and guitar, amidst a mighty, accomplished lineup, TTAB play a threatening, driven brand of metal-infused punk music, with arcing guitar melodies, swinging, thudding riffs, and ominous, almost tribal beats; add roaring vocals and a general mood of rolling with reckless abandon. If punk-metal hybrid bands can be "catchy," TTAB certainly ARE, their riffs immediately inspiring head swirling; one of those physically motivating bands that make me wish that I had long, straight, flowing hair to swing in time. 

Every Through Thorn and Brier song is something like a mini-suite, blasting through multiple inspiring riffs and you-must-pay-attention time signatures in a matter of minutes, taking you on a ride you can't fully absorb the first time, and isn't that the way? Shouldn't a band's numbers be such that new pleasures reveal each time you listen?

Call them screamo (don't!), call them hardcore, or metal—all those genre labels quickly dissolve in the hands of the best of bands—and TTAB's songs cover a wild breadth of punk and metal styles with purpose and ease, such that the hops are never gratuitous and always contribute quite naturally to the sum of their parts.

I was very pleased to present this excellent band, well-deserving of more widespread notoriety, as evidenced here. (Note: Where songs were played without a complete stop in between, they are presented here as such, i.e., tracks 1 and 3 consist of three songs apiece.)

Thanks and much appreciation must go to engineer Juan Aboites, for working his ass off, and making everything sound full and ferocious. Thanks too, to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting, who for maybe the 100th time, pieced together a handsome band portrait from my miserable iPhone captures.

You can hear the Good Grief EP and Failure Prone MLP (both worth owning) and purchase hard copy of the same at Through Thorn and Brier's bandcamp page. There, you'll also see their use of non-typical, decidedly un-metal imagery, a move well appreciated by this DJ / writer. Also visit ttabhc.com for more up-to-date band info.

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wmmberger on 04/21/2014 at 05:39PM

The Rapture, in Several Shades of Orange; Future Death Toll LIVE on My Castle of Quiet, 4.9.2014

Tracy Widdess / Wm. Berger

The concentrated joy of this set by Future Death Toll is its own reward. Fresh off of tour, the band sounded a-frickin'-mazing, and I was immediately confronted with a familiar feeling, of "O, Lucky Man!" ...I dig deep into the underground, bobbing for those most-artistic of apples, and this time came up with the OUTSTANDING sounds of FUTURE DEATH TOLL!!! Indeed, I am fortunate, to have this incredible OUTLET wherein I can extend invitations to artists such as these, and they just show up and play! Sit in that Studio B chair sometime, and you'll begin to understand how good the years of MCoQ weekly broadcasts have been to me, and my colleagues at the station, and to WFMU's devoted listeners. The kiss of WFMU is GOLDEN, and I need to remember to utilize this opportunity, in order to bestow upon all who care the rareified talents of artists like these.

Based on a barely labeled cassette tape I had received a long time ago, different from this set (more "home studio," obviously), I knew this band would make good use of the opportunity for a live radio set, and I was not disappointed. Though the tape is generally "lighter," as might be expected, as well as more song-oriented, F-DT do a lot of different things, and as with Slasher Risk before them (see this set from 2010), the variety of their capabilities just meant that playing live on the radio revealed another layer. They were noisy, dense and intense, but not entirely free-form, with themes that arose, dominated and then dissipated, as you will hear.

Though I did not have a pile of hard releases to muse over and absorb, there's quite a lot posted online, both to the band's Web site, and their YouTube page, and I've been at this long enough, that I knew for certain that F-DT's radio set would not disappoint, and it went far beyond that, into dazzling territory, rousing a hearty, enthusiastic response from Castleheads on our playlist comments.

So sit back, listen and enjoy. Massive props to engineer Juan Aboites for applying his considerable and diverse talents to making Future Death Toll radio-ready; whatever I throw at him, he makes the very best of it, rising to every challenge. Thanks also to Tracy Widdess for again making excellent, memorable photo art from my on-the-quick iPhone band captures.

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wmmberger on 03/18/2014 at 12:45AM

A Grind Apart: Ubasute Live on My Castle of Quiet

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

The grind music I like, I really love, because as a genre, there is a rampant saminess; so I sit back and let bands like Psychic Limb, Ubasute, Agathocles, Cattle Decapitation and Pig Destroyer rise to the top by way of their own virtues.

Alex Caprio's distinctive and unpredictable shriek, Mike Marciano's artful, intricate Rickenbacker bass virtuosity, and Jeremy Suria's guitar work (equal parts technical, Steve Howe-midrangery, and thick, power-chord glue) all work thoroughly together to make the band a cut above the raging pack. Upon even deeper observation, Ubasute's lyrical content, and carefully chosen graphic imagery flaunt the more-easily-attained / co-opted genre conventions. 

Live set from February 2014 »


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wmmberger on 09/05/2013 at 05:18AM

Jamaica-Queens-The World; Psychic Limb Live on My Castle of Quiet Pseudo-Finale

What makes a great grind band? Doing as much as you can in an average of 43 seconds' song duration, flexing those ferocious chops from all angles, and, though this may be hard to explain to someone whose ears are attuned to pop music and the traditional song form, a certain "catchiness," an anthemic propulsion that will make the listener/receiver want to propel oneself into the pit without a care for personal safety. Psychic Limb have all these qualities, in spades.

I've liked these guys from the second I heard them, they stand out mightily from the pack of late 2000s grind on bandcamp and elsewhere, and they make records that stand firmly amongst the classics of the genre. And yes, they can and do reproduce it all in person.


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wmmberger on 08/23/2013 at 09:09PM

Music #1 and #2; Tom Carter and Pat Murano, live on My Castle of Quiet, 5.24.13

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Still working my way through the last few months of live performances on the My Castle of Quiet program, we find ourselves now at this haunting session from late May by Pat Murano and Tom Carter. 

This is an exciting time for improvised music in general, and the releases on Murano's Kelippah label, including the Carter/Murano LP, are at the very forefront of this exciting post-everything era in the genre. Here, we're "after" Krautrock, after 90s space-rock (Carter being a veteran of the much-respected, much-loved Charalambides), after the Parker/Bailey EMANEM-label vibrations from the UK, after doom/drone/"organic" improv, and basically that's all a good thing, as anything goes—one can tweak and kerplunk, be melodic, be massive, be subtle and contemplative, and give bursts of electronic noise, all in the course of one session, or even one piece. 

Carter and Murano seem to guide one another into vast fields of arcing melody and rhythm, and at least for this session (one must consider all the Murano / Carter works to really get the gist, including the aforementioned LP, and NATCH 4, also offered on our Free Music Archive), we're in blooming meadows of post-Kraut brilliance. Especially in "Music #2," Murano's synth figures weave intricate spiderwebs over and under Carter's Michael Rother-like, slow-burn guitar improvisations, before collapsing into a welcome noise-gasm in the concluding minutes.

Yet again, that "magic room," also known as WFMU's studio B, and the forum of the My Castle... show, seem to have provided the comfortable environment for another history-making session to occur. And though kraut/space might be the listener's initial reaction, absolutely nothing is off the table, and I hear elements of dub, doom, and wild, free noise in these tracks. Lie back, with or without your inebriant of choice, and enjoy.

Huge thanks to Tom and Pat (Mr. Murano having the dubious distinction of being the most-often-featured live performer on The Castle, having played this session, as well as ones with Malkuth, K-Salvatore, solo as Decimus, and also on Brian Turner's program in the duo Key of Shame), and to engineer extraordinaire Juan Aboites, and to Tracy Widdess for yet another varicolored photo manipulation of my scrappy captures.

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wmmberger on 07/29/2013 at 11:45AM

Denton Blues; Bludded Head on My Castle of Quiet, 5.10.2013

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

As I said to the members of Bludded Head, for a good, long while, I'd been subsisting on the two, outstanding tracks from their debut 12"—and with great enthusiasm, am now proud to bring you live versions of these four, new compositions from this unique Texan doom outfit. Studio versions of the songs are also available from the band on limited CDr. 

With two new members added to the lineup (and the original, intact core of Nevada Hill and Darcy Neal), these songs find BH in the realm of even greater dynamics and subtlety when compared to the tracks on their debut; the addition of double bass and an accomplished new drummer having opened up the compositional palate of the band considerably. None of the crunch has been sacrificed though, and Nevada's outrageous screams still ride atop the steamrolling melee of Bludded Head's mighty downbeats.

Doom bands come and go, many sounding similar to one another, with the greatest emphasis being placed on how far apart those gut-punch downbeats can be spaced; not so for Bludded Head, who seem in it to write, arrange and execute great songs, several worlds apart from the sameyness that characterizes many of their peers in the genre. My Castle of Quiet and WFMU caught up with the band mid-tour, and it shows, such that the freshness and intensity of these selections are at a dazzling peak.


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wmmberger on 06/28/2013 at 02:26PM

My Boss Is an Angel Cast out of Heaven, not a Jewish Carpenter; One Master LIVE on My Castle of Quiet, 4.26.2013

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

This session is a monster, black-metal fire that strafes the earth and then salts it for good measure. Fuckin' unbelievable.

Speaking very generally, black metal can be divided into two, distinct subgroups; the raw and the dirty, with its roots in punk, and the more "musicianly," with expert playing, and grander, more-"orchestrated" concepts. Either way, to pass my filter, the songwriting is key, and has to be there to bring the sound across.

Naturally, there's been significant cross-pollination of these two basic styles over the years, and One Master are perhaps the finest example of a band that has chops to spare, with longer, epic songs, but with not an ounce of grit sacrificed—in fact, the sheer gut-punch of this session, as well as One Master's two full-lengths and split cassette with Glass Coffin, will simply bowl you over like a life-affirming ass-kicking. Even as I listen now, after many a deep sit-down with the material, the ferocity of One Master's Castle session is staggering and the first thing your ears will notice—melodic riffs, deftly arranged and well-written songs, delivered with mighty, mighty force.

These guys were also great to hang with, and we had lots to jaw about off-air, with our shared obsessions for classic horror / exploitation film and the like. These are men you can have a beer with, and talk about Cannibal Ferox on into the night. I recall saying, "Is there any scene in Requiem for a Vampire other than the basement-torture scene? 'Cause if there is, I don't remember it...." hehe....

Thanks a fuck-ton to the band for bringing their exquisite black-metal art to WFMU, and to engineer Juan Aboites for creating a clean, solid and forceful mix for the broadcast. Thanks also to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting for re-crafting my shitty iPhone band captures.

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wmmberger on 05/02/2013 at 09:59PM

The Face You Made: Arvo Zylo Live on My Castle of Quiet

©Wm. M. Berger

Arvo Zylo's recordings and talents run the range from truly overwhelming, confrontational, and chilling, to thought-provoking. His experimental sounds are rooted in the 1980s Raplh/LAFMS/post-TG international "noise boom." Over many releases and collaborations, he has maintained a character of the unexpected, though one always wants to hear what that next sonic mask will be. In his other projects Blood Rhythms, Saint Street, and Mister Fuckhead, Arvo guarantees provocative listening, and the "catchy" or more-easily-palatable nature of the work will naturally come and go, giving way to the horror.

The cassette-and-CDr album 333, his recent split with Death Factory, and some of the live solo work he's done recently, under his own name and as Blood Rhythms, all stand out to me as experimental music of the highest order from an original talent.


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wmmberger on 03/07/2013 at 06:04PM

WARNING - Giant, Pre-historic Shark Attack! IDES Live on My Castle of Quiet, 12.21.2012

©Wm. Berger

NJ's IDES did what I'm always a sucker for—treated their live WFMU appearance as something unique and special, considered the medium / opportunity of a live radio appearance, and planned accordingly. In addition to their mini-masterpieces—tight, well-composed songs of 40 secs. to one minute in length, they bridged those songs with a series of improvised, powerful "interludes," cleverly paced and sequenced passages of enthused energy.

I knew immediately upon hearing IDES for the first time that they were a cut above simply another hardcore band, with an intensity and dedication to their sound that transcended genrefication. They pretty much played straight through their 22-min. onslaught, wound tight as a battlefield tourniquet, though there were two ever-so-momentary "breaks," which is where I cut up the otherwise-continuum presented here, for your mp3 enjoyment, stream or download. 

Like the predatory sea mammals we have today, the Megalodon cannot stop, or it dies, and the sonic charisma of IDES remains intact. The band have an incredible "swing" to everything they do, such that even an old fart like myself can daydream about careening off the stage head-first into the pit; all you'd see of me would be the flat heels of my Converse hi-tops, back when such footwear actually sort-of supported my meager arches.

The noise bridges are welcome, carefully placed throughout the set, and sound casually great, miles away from anything even remotely half-arsed. So, the verdict is and remains that New Jersey is a reliable, consistent font for all things hardcore and punk, and beyond; look just across the Hudson, 'cause great things are happening.

Can't thank the band enough for playing, adding yet another outstanding, highly memorable live performance to the ever-growing WFMU / My Castle of Quiet pantheon. Thanks also to engineer Juan A. for the reliable, versatile and casual application of his considerable talent, translating the often-chaotic happenings across the double-glass into something radio-ready and highly listenable.

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