Having had something of a banner 20th anniversary year in 2012, the Thrill Jockey label continues to surprise and delight, and on March 19 will release new albums from two of their most recent signings, Stygian Stride and Black Pus. Stygian Stride is NY-based avant-psych/ improv musician Jimmy SeiTang, a one-time Psychic Ills member currently playing with TJ label-mates Rhyton, but on his eponymous solo debut he sidesteps guitar-centric rock music altogether in favour of hypnotic synths and electronic explorations. Alternating between drifting ambience, foreboding drones and repetetive rhythms, SeiTang’s soundscapes owe as much to industrial noise and glitchy post-techno as they do to ’70s Krautrock pioneers like Tangerine Dream and Manuel Gottsching, and when all the elements come together – as on album centrepiece “Taiga”, below – the results are mesmerising.
Black Pus’ All My Relations is the first fruit of Thrill Jockey’s relationship with Lightning Bolt‘s Brian Chippendale, a world-renowned drummer who has been been hand-picked for collaboration in the past by artists as diverse as Bjork, Lee “Scratch” Perry and The Flaming Lips, and – as you might expect – is an altogether more chaotic affair. Chippendale’s first studio-produced solo release (following a series of home-made CD-Rs) finds him creating an almost unbelievable amount of noise with just drums, vocals and a kick-triggered oscillator, unleashing wave after wave of punk- and free jazz-inspired rhythmic fury augmented by looped bass tones and distorted howls that occasionally add a bizarre bubblegum pop twist. Insane and addictive, it’s the avant-rock album of the year so far; watch the Chippendale-animated video for “1000 years” below.