Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Agent Cooper Moment Wednesday March 27th 2013

1. pot of Lapsang Souchong tea from Ten Ren (Brooklyn)- tastes an awful lot like drinking a campfire. Strong, dark, and robust tea that happens to be my favorite tea ever to pass my mouth.

2. "Astral Mantras of Dyslexia" (Funeral In Heaven/Plecto Aliquem Capite split album on vinyl)- Sri Lankan psychedelic Black Metal. What atmosphere! What ambience! Includes very 'traditional' sounds and is steeped in Sri Lankan occultism. If this sounds even remotely interesting, don't bother reading a review full of spoilers, just get it! ...Or listen to it on youtube. THEN get it!!!!

3. Reading the previously reviewed "Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants."

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mortillery (Band Review)

Mortillery (Canada)- Thrash Metal

Mortillery (demo)
Murder Death Kill
Origin of Extinction

A ripe old band formed way back in 2009, Mortillery's still got lots to offer. Female-fronted, (Cara McCutchen. She also sings for Minax, worth checking out for some Thrash with even more traditional Heavy Metal overtones if that sounds appealing and you like her voice) with a female bassist, I am already interested! I love it when the gals show the guys that they are just as (or more!) tough. On that topic, Cara's vocals are probably my favorite part of this band. What a scream! Great raspy near-talking singing drops for some near-growls and screams. She's no King Diamond, nor is she trying to be, just damn good raspy vocals with a respectable range and good control. The guitars have some nice hooks and the drumming has a fair bit of punk tinge (as I think it should). You won't find the most ripping tracks ever here (at least not all the time!) but the albums are definitely worth a listen if you like Thrash and the idea of a 2/5 female band sounds exciting. I have ordered from the band directly for a shirt and the demo, they were super-appreciative and shipped my stuff quickly. So order with confidence. There are several colored vinyl versions of the 2 full-lengths, so check out their site if you want them (they look awesome, I am envious as I have the CD versions of all releases).

Favorite songs:
"Nuclear Disaster" from Mortillery demo. Decent hooks and speed, sticks in my head somehow more than the other tracks from the release. Sound quality more than acceptable, almost as good as the full-lengths except that the bass is barely audible in the mix.

"Murder Death Kill" title track from 1st full-length, the first Mortillery song I heard. Opening riff is nice and dirty then adds some Speed Metal elements over a gurgling bass, we get a break then the song takes off with a scream and some decent riffage throughout with good tempo changes. "Fritz's Cellar" also off Murder Death Kill, DEFINITELY has thick Speed Metal sound, catchy as hell. On the selfsame album, "Countless Suicide" has a great main riff but the song doesn't vary enough to make it a major stand-out track but I like it anyway. "Without Weapons" has an interesting opening riff that feels distinctly to me like early Metallica and with a little patience we get some nice vocal work here that makes me really like this track.

Now for the 'Origin of Extinction' album! "Battle March" is a great instrumental intro with an interesting time signature, followed by some melodic guitar work on "No Way Out" that breaks into some good mid-paced Thrash with NWOBHM touches. Nice. Next is "Cease to Exist" with a tough riff notable, but otherwise not stand-out for me. The next two tracks continue on in enjoyable Mortillery-style but again don't stand-out. "Feed the Fire" gives us a slow but short chunky guitar intro followed by some fast riffage that keeps fairly interesting but I think this song would be even better if shorter to keep its power up, but that's just me. "The Hunter's Lair" is tough and fast, really like this one. Vocals again dance with NWOBHM along with the very Bathory-esque delivery and high screams. SOLID. "F.O.A.D." also super-solid with fast drum intro and in-your-face delivery of all instruments with great hooks. "Maniac" has a good chorus and bridge but a tiny let-down after the last 2 tracks. "Sunday Morning Slasher" has a solid bass intro and catchy tough riffage that is an acceptable album closer that speeds up nicely to cervical strain levels for you headbangers out there.

In short, Mortillery has a fantastic vocalist and bassist with exciting guitar hooks and tight punk-tinged drumming with song structures that are at their best when the band plays with tempo and lets their Speed and Heavy Metal influences shine alongside their thrash and punk ones.

NOTE: digipack version of 'Origin of Extinction' has 3 cover songs (Razor, Anthrax, and Angelwitch). The Angelwitch is my favorite (probably because out of the original versions it is also my favorite, ha!), Cara makes the chorus even catchier than it was before, I think. So I have been in an Angelwitch mood now, thanks Mortillery!

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Music Care and Protection Materials- Recommended Site

They sell all sorts of music archival and care products.

Due to an overwhelming hoard of musical treasures, I decided to look into some protection and storage options. Specifically for this review, I decided to remove all the jewel cases from applicable CDs and replace with plastic sleeves to decrease the amount of space my CDs consume. This is especially important in my tiny Brooklyn, NY apartment. Since I MUST save all relevant artwork, INCLUDING the back art, regular CD booklets and most sleeves do not allow this. After searching around the internet for 5x6 in sleeves, finding several independent stores and ebay sellers, etc., I discovered Sleeve City USA. After perusing the website, the company's mission statements, satisfaction guarantee, and so forth, I decided to order some sleeves.

I ordered 25 bags of 100 sleeves to cover my collection and leave me about 500 extra. The order shipped EXTREMELY quickly and arrived precisely as they described. Shipping charges were exactly what it cost them at the post office. The cost of the sleeves was cheaper per unit than anywhere else on the internet that I could find, however the company offered an ADDITIONAL reduction in price for orders over 5 units. Oh bliss and satisfaction, I found ye here. There total price cost me about $99 with shipping, whereas about 2000 would have cost me around $150 WITHOUT shipping.

Order from these guys if you need any of their products!

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

"The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and It's Applications" by Christian Ratsch (Book Review)

ISBN #: 978-089281978-2

Long have I lusted after this book, having discovered it in a 'used' bin at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area, but that is another posting, I suppose). For some time psychoactive substances and culture have been of interest to me, even moreso now in my profession as a Physical Therapist as I see the effects of various medications on my clients. What I love about this book is that it combines the history, biology, chemistry, and cultural significance and use of the plants it discusses (as the title suggests, haha). It has already helped to bridge my understanding of various topics because it is wondrously pan-disciplinary (and I am just starting it!). Though I would ordinarily refuse to review anything before I've finished it, I feel confident making a review having so far only read the forward, introduction (etc, etc) and a few plant entries as the rest of the entries follow the same set-up and a quick perusal ensured the same quality. The author's style is extremely knowledgeable, based on a lifetime of academic research and personal experiences; direct and informative. My kind of writing (though not yet my style, ha!).

If you are interested in the use of psychoactive plants or even in ritual/magical practices across various cultures, I HIGHLY recommend this book!

Criticisms: PRICE. This book will set you back at least $70+ but it is SO worth it.

P.S. special thanks to my partner for buying this for me for my birthday. NO THANKS to the USPS for losing it once.

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

1st "Agent Cooper" moment of the day

As suggested by my hero, Agent Cooper in the TV Series, "Twin Peaks," once a day, treat yourself, whether it be a new tie or a cup of coffee. Don't plan it, just let it happen.

Today's was a cup of Celestial Seasonings 'Lemon Zinger' tea with a drop of honey added, served with Bora Bay (artificial) banana flavored thin crisps. I am usually a loud opponent of artificial banana flavors (Runts be gone!) but this was acceptable and added to the flavor.

On the topic of Twin Peaks, for those of you Peaks Freaks in Readerland that don't already have it, pick up the Gold Edition of the series, it is worth every cent and has everything you need (except the TP:FWWM film), including BOTH versions of the pilot and ALL Log Lady intros. The volume of the episodes is still jumpy (probably moreso than on the VHS if memory serves) but that's David Lynch's preferred way to present it, from near inaudible admissions to near-painful blasts.

Right, to the treats for me!

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Friday, March 22, 2013

Horror Vacui (Band review)

Horror Vacui (Italy)- Death Rock
 The Sheriff - vocals
Andrew - Guitar
Mrs. Vacui - Guitar
Pandora - Bass
Henry - Drums

SOUNDS LIKE: Chameleons (UK), Nosferatu (UK), Christian Death/Rozz Williams (California, USA).
The guitars have the great catchiness of The Chameleons, Nosferatu, and Christian Death with the masterful use of effects that The Chameleons possess. Heavy atmospheres as per Chameleons and Rozz Williams' early Christian Death work. The song structures are similar to all three aforementioned bands in that they are direct and on the simpler side which makes for straight-forward listening. The band takes a strong and clear stance against fascism, sexism, and racism which is greatly appreciated by yours truly. The lyrics are good, not as obscure as Chameleons or Christian Death, but I like them better than Nosferatu's limited (though enjoyable!) fare. As for a criticism, the songs are a bit similar in sound, but the same can be said for Nosferatu I think. I contacted the band to order the live album, they are SUPER-friendly and I had no problems getting it shipped from Italy to USA. I recommend getting some releases from the band and ordering the full-length from HPGD (expect positive of many of their releases from me in the future!), I will closely be following this group for sure!!!

Black Rivers (demo)- CD, 2011
Can You Still See Reality- 7", 2011
In Darkness You Will Feel Alright- debut full-length CD, 2011
(Full-length available at

A tape is available from the band that combines the LP and 7" as well as a live show from December 2012. To obtain, contact the band on their fb at

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

KMDFM at Irving Plaza, NY March 21 2013


Support: Legion Within, Chant
Date: March 21st 2013
Venue: Irving Plaza. New York, New York

My prior knowledge of the bands:
 I had never heard of Chant or Legion Within prior to the show. I was able to listen to two Chant tracks via their facebook page but Legion Within's player was not working on my computer. I am a long-time supporter of KMFDM. Although their songs on the "Mortal Kombat 1 & 2" soundtracks seem to be the gateway songs for KMDM fans of my age-bracket, I first heard them on the "Hellraiser III" soundtrack sometime around 2000. The band name was familiar to me prior, absorbed from sources unremembered. The song "Ooh La La" did not impress me much at the time. Around then a close friend beginning to talk about the band very frequently. Eventually I found a used copy of the "Retro" album around late 2003- early 2004 and the rest is history. I will add that I have heard the majority of KMFDM's releases (18 full-lengths!), having, at this time, missed "Blitz" and "WTF?." I am familiar with most of the singles, splits, live, and remix releases.

I was very excited to see KMFDM as their newest album "Kunst" is incredible with excellent guitar hooks that can hold their own with any of KMFDM's previous work. The synths were wet, simple, driving, and bass-heavy. Overall a very direct album. Included is the song "Kunst" celebrating '30 years of conceptual continuity' (surprisingly NOT spelled with 'k's') which is to say KMFDM's many idiosyncrasies. It feels very much like "Sucks" in idea. The song dedicated to Pussy Riot was a big plus in my opinion. On the subject of topical content, Brute! delivered an incredibly memorable album cover (even moreso than usual) featuring a naked woman smashing a cross. In light of Ratzinger 'stepping down' as Pope (the day after receiving info he would be tried in World Court, coincidence?), this was especially appropriate.

SHOW: Chant was interesting and I would like to hear them develop their sound more. A laptop provided some simple synth lines while one band member alternated between a keyboard and acoustic drums. The other member played drums (including a trash can!) and sang. His outfit was nifty too, looked a bit like he could have been in Mad Max somwhere... however, the spikes on his back reminded me a bit of Bowser in size and distribution. Basically a percussion driven band with simple electronics, they reminded me of 16 volt mixed with Babyland to give you an idea of the style (both of which I like). The arrangements got a bit sloppy on occasion and some slight adjustments to tempo or transitions could have made the songs more powerful and memorable.
Legion Within did not make me a fan. They played some modern goth rock, which is fine but the hooks just weren't there for me. The bassists had some nice lines that were simple-to-moderately complex but interesting. 2 guitarists (one basically using effects to make background sounds and also playing electronic drums and managing some synths, the other's guitar kept messing up and the show had to stop twice for him). 1 acoustic drummer, his timing was on but the style didn't move me any, could have easily been an drum machine. In fact a drum machine with some effects on it would have been an improvement in the overall sound I think. 1 singer who started off with a weak voice but about 3 songs into the set sounded a bit like Peter Murphy so that was acceptable. Unfortunately, he lost his voice shortly thereafter. This did not help when he came out during KMFDM's set to sing 'Anarchy.' The band was confident on stage despite the equipment failings and jeers from the crowd, for which I give them credit, but overall not memorable.
KMFDM delivered on all fronts. Essentially all songs I wanted to hear where played, though they teased the audience by holding many of the heavier songs until the encore(s). They started with DIY and the crowd went wild. The pit opened up immediately but was fairly tame until some heavier songs a bit later. I cannot remember the exact playlist but here's what I recall: Kunst, Sucks (partially played to start encore), A Drug Against War (2nd encore and concert closer), World War III (during 1st or 2nd encore), Attak/Relaod, I 'heart' Not, Megalomaniac (2nd encore), Anarchy. They played for 90+ minutes.

VENUE: Nice venue, I've been here many times before. Location near Union Square makes transit easy for me and street parking is usually available in the evening. Security was pleasant and didn't interfere with the pit. My only complaints with the venue are minor and as follows: no bathroom on the stage floor (upon entrance there is a bar to the right with small bathrooms ahead, stairs also on immediate right leading up to the merch area separated from the stage and standing area by large doors, 2nd bar in rear of standing area) and extreme cost of beverages ($10+ for a bud???), not that I would have had more than 1-2 beers anyway. I like to be relatively sober for shows.


*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*


The point of this blog is to chronicle things I experience that I think are worth sharing. As for now, the focus will be on music; reviewing albums, bands, live shows, etc. In the future, I plan on including reviews of movies and books. If I encounter other memorable events such as museums, restaurants, etc., I will share them here as well. I am unsure currently how regular this blog will be, as I tend to accomplish things in spurts. Massive dumps followed by radio silence should probably be expected. I will NOT be entirely objective in my statements, but I will make an effort to separate opinion from fact. I hope this blog is useful and interesting, let's see where it goes!