Reviews Archive


Foxy Digitalis Reviews “Dried Fish Is Just Good As Bait” by Tetsuya Hori

Tetsuya Hori

Click to read Isaac Aronson's review

Isaac Aronson’s recent review of Tetsuya Hori’s record entitled Dried Fish Is Just Good As Bait is chock full of healthy critique and praise. Aronson begins his review with skepticism over Hori’s claim that:

“My pieces do not have concept. That is my concept. The concept develops in the head of the listener.”

Aronson opines that statements like these are often parroted by artists whose ideas “really only make sense to them.” Or something like that. His latent skepticism is quickly brushed aside and rightly finds in Dried Fish:

“…a beautiful album with a surprising array of emotions… Dried Fish blurs the line between instrument and object, allowing the listener to truly get lost in the piece and explore the emotions within.”

Rating the album 9 out of 10, Aronson plainly has explorative ears and writes with passion about one of our recent additions to the label. We couldn’t be happier. Go read the whole thing over here, but before you do so listen to the record below and purchase a limited edition CD that includes a gigantic 15 inch X 15 inch full color poster.


Spokane and Mirror Mirror: “Lonely Are the Brave”

Mirror Mirror - Spokane's Finest

Jason Campbell (front) and Mirror Mirror/Photo: Jordan Beauchamp

Spokane, Washington’s local weekly The Inlander has delved deep into Jason Campbell’s music in a recent article entitled “Lonely Are the Brave” detailing his band Mirror Mirror’s recent climb up the Spokane club and bar scene. What isn’t apparent in the write-up is that Spokane has, over the years been a kind of incubator of Campbell’s darkly romantic gloom-rock. A native to Spokane, Campbell spent years playing in Spokane in the 90s with several different bands. He bounced between Olympia and Portland for awhile also playing and recording music but never quite clinching the momentum to garner this kind of write-up. On the other hand, maybe people just weren’t paying attention.

Spokane is an arid city with remarkably distinct seasons that stands alone amongst farmland and Ponderosa Pine covered hills. It’s heart lies in a valley in Eastern Washington – the last major outpost on Interstate 90 before the expanse of the Great Plains. It is the largest city between Seattle and St. Paul, Minnesota. It is a large enough burg that it touts itself as the capitol of the Inland Empire. A moniker that once had us all speculating about David Lynch’s announced film of the same name (it actually references a place in Southern CA). Was it (Inland Empire) about our strange hometown? Lynch spent time in Spokane having been born in nearby Missoula, Montana. As Spokane doesn’t seem to have many local celebrities – unless you count Craig T. Nelson and a few sports stars – our artsy crew took pride in the fact that Lynch walked our streets and that his movies might have been influenced by the truly odd characters and landscape Spokane exhibits. It is a conservative stronghold in mostly blue Washington, but it also has a very rich array of subcultures that thrive purely on their own fuel. Nary a word in the local press was printed about the underground scenes, underage church basement noise shows and DIY warehouse raves in the 90s. Spokane has seemed to morph from a culturally starved backwater to a more viable petridish of the arts. The local press is now starting to take notice.

Spokane has garnered many detractors, myself among them. One thing is clear however, Spokanites know good music when they hear it. After it is the hometown of Ben L. Robertson (drums/Aphonia co-founder) and Campbell. Both spent significant amounts of time on both sides of the cascades and it seems fitting, if not perfect, that the Mirror Mirror would reform and receive the notice that Olympia, Seattle and Portland collectively neglected.

Indeed, there is a hint of David Lynch in the music of Mirror Mirror. I can see Campbell as sharing crooning company with Julee Cruise, Lynch’s oft utilized anti-diva. His vocals are part of lyrical canvas both vague and specific, full of shadows and mystery. It is a fitting soundtrack to a city that stands alone near the precipice of the the Great Plains, which is to say, near something huge.

Read the article here. Listen below. Purchase here.


Mangled Bohemians Kick Off First Leg of Summer Tour

Portland’s own Mangled Bohemians tours Washington in the next week with Seattle’s Blue Moon being the first stop. If you are not familiar with Mangled Bohemians Michael Mannheimer of the Willamette Weekly puts it this way:

… Mangled Bohemians make guitar music that sounds like it’s coming from outer space. The band’s new LP, At the Edge of Earth, sounds foreign and slightly off-putting until you really listen to it closely and notice all the wobbly details, intersecting guitar lines, and hidden melodies that make it a perfect soundtrack to any late-night comedown.

Since the release of “At the Edge of Earth” [AR036CD] James Lee has been making the circuit around Portland and beyond. His current rounds include the following dates:

June 9th-Seattle,WA-The Blue Moon W/ Below Blackstar and Shot in Minnesota
June 10th-Bellingham,WA-The Cabin Tavern W/ Zach Zinn and Sick Kids XOXO
June 12th-Olympia,WA-The Northern The 17th Annual Olympia Experimental Music Festival W/ Derek M. Johnson, Eric Ostrowski, Forrest Friends and more..

<a href=”” mce_href=””>At the Edge of Earth by Mangled Bohemians</a>

More press snippets below:

“Portlands Mangled Bohemians play a mellow brand of psychedelia that expertly balances languidness and eeriness—think Spacemen 3′s “Call the Doctor.” It can be viewed as a kind of fluid, shivery freak folk that provides an escape valve into another dimension where time and responsibilities aren’t crushing you into urgent activity; you can sense that Mangled Bohemians’ music offers a portal to the infinite.” Dave Segal, The Stranger

“Mangled Bohemians like their sometimes tour mates Jackie O Mother f**ker have elements of experimental music and folk music that don’t really fit into either category.” Ben Meyercord, Crappy Indie Music-The Blog

More confirmed dates:

July 6th – Ella Street Social Club, Portland, OR
August 28th – The Comet, Seattle, WA
September 1st – The Black Forest, Eugene, OR
September 8th – The Soda Bar, San Diego, CA


Kristian Garrard: From Electroacoustic to Acoustic

Luke Bergman and Kristian Garrard at Aphonia Recs Showcase April 2008

Kristian Garrard (KRGA) & Luke Bergman are Thousands.

In the past 4 and a half years our label has gone through many changes and growth spurts. Our artists are no exception. I have seen many of them play their first shows, go on tour, later to dissolve, reform and reinvent themselves. Kristian Garrard is one such individual.

I recall meeting him very early on in the Aphonia Recordings journey. Ben had met another Max/MSP composer and was extremely eager to have Kristian release something under his moniker KRGA. Later we would tap Kristian to play many of our showcases. Ben and Kristian even hosted a Max/MSP workshop at Gallery 1412, detailing the cryptic under the radar manipulations that many disavow as mere knob twiddling and laptop music. Yes, Kristian performed with a laptop but the results were simultaneously engaging, sedative, dynamic and, at times, frightening. Some of the best performances I witnessed during our run of showcases were shows in which KRGA was the headlining act.

By the summer of 2009 it was clear Kristian was onto other material. By this time he had released his first EP Magic Wand [AR014] and the full length June [AR016CD]. Both were mere snapshots of a larger musical genius at work. I had known that Kristian had been a drummer in the band Joules and that he was a blossoming master of electroacoustic improvisation. It was with his formation of Lonesome Shack and Thousands that is became clear that there was little Mr. Garrard could not do.

A few months back I passed by Kristian on Ravenna Boulevard where we both live – we are neighbors as well. I had no idea that this casual passing was on the brink of Thousands getting signed to UK imprint Bella Union. Yes, the very same Bella Union that signed Seattle’s Fleet Foxes in addition to Andrew Bird, Wavves and Midlake. Very good company, indeed. Hearing the news that they had been signed took me back to a show that Kristian and Luke had played at one of Kristian’s last appearances at our showcases.

Fully expecting to hear KRGA’s signature hum and layered developing/enveloping textures, I asked what he and Luke were doing there with a guitar and an upright bass. “Are you gonna hook that up to your (Max/MSP) patch?” I joked. Kristian something like, “Oh we are just going to play acoustic… no mics.” I knew some direction had changed for Kristian and while I knew him to be a consummate performer, he and Luke’s short set that night headlined a night of ambiant and noise music like no other. The strains of Kristian’s particular weaving chords, half resolutions and sustains and Luke’s persistent and hardy upright bass backbone ended the evening with a tribute, a lullaby that later would morph into Thousands.

Recently they have been playing sold out shows, completed a successful tour of Europe and were rightfully praised in Seattle’s alt-weekly The Stranger. Mr. Reighley describes their sound: “Like a shadow that cannot be divided from the entity that casts it.” Well said, and best of luck to our pals, Luke Bergman and Kristian Garrard.

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Evon review: “Monster movie soundtrack”, “floating and dancing” and “like chamber pop meeting some jazz performers at the symphony for the screening of a film noir.” Agreed.

agnes-profile-web1Read this great review of The Bees Are Coming from KFJC 89.7 FM in Los Altos Hills, CA:

Released in September, 2010, this album by Evon, “The Bees are Coming,” features a number of SF Bay Area artists and is led by composer and artist Agnes Szelag. Agnes composed, performed, recorded and produced this and shows her chops on a dizzying number of instruments (cello, bass, guzheng, harp, guitar, harpsichord, vibraphone, singing bowls, glockenspiel, piano, electronics, etc etc!).

The overall effect is at times heavy, with the album starting up with deep bass sounds that lumber into a monster-movie soundtrack and then twist into beauty with pretty Eastern-flavored plucking, along with warm percussion, marimba, vibraphone and woodblock. Agnes’ vocals then come in, providing a slightly jazzy accent. It can also be atmospheric, with prominent strings and vocals that are at times fuzzy accents, floating and dancing with the music. It’s kind of like chamber pop meeting some jazz performers at the symphony for the screening of a film noir, with the loveliest sounds resulting from that marriage.



Barn Owl Taps Marielle Jakobsons and The Norman Conquest for their new record “Ancestral Star”

From Pop Matters blog post:

On their new release for Thrill Jockey, Ancestral Star, they continue to explore the Morricone tinged Western soundtrack side of the genre—first pioneered by the heavyweights Earth—that they have done so thoroughly and competently on their previous albums. For this album, Caminiti and Porras took their time in the studio and expanded the instrumentation on the songs by experimenting with bowed guitar, and by inviting Marielle Jakobsons to play violin, the Norman Conquest to contribute eerie chanting vocals, and Portraits to add some nuanced percussion.

Read the whole article here.

These artists have appeared on the following Aphonia Recordings releases:


Textura on Evon: “suggestive of moody goth-rock”

In issue #73, Textura reviews Agnes Szelag’s new project “Evon: The Bees Are Coming.” Describing Szelag’s work as a “one-person, mini-orchestra” is not an understatement.

If you haven’t heard the new album we welcome you to have a listen over here. Indeed, as the review points out, it is perhaps important that Szelag chose a different moniker other than her birth name, as there are lot of contributions by other artists on the record.

The Norman Conquest provided recording help as well as voice, guitar and percussion. Fellow Aphonia artist Marielle Jakobsons, who also works with Szelag in their duo Myrmyr, provides vocals as well.

Although this is clearly Szelag’s vision, the wide array and cast of characters makes it an ensemble piece, larger than life, not a hobbyist or stripped down side project that merely spotlights the ego of it’s principle creator. No, Evon’s “The Bees Are Coming” is an immense work, encompassing many sonic backcountries and thoroughfares alike and again revealing another layer to the near geologic depth that Szelag’s work encompasses. Enjoy!.

Click to listen!


Date Palms are Marielle Jakobsons & Gregg Kowalsky

Marielle Jakobsons and Gregg Kowalsky are Date Palms. Of course we know Marielle from Darwinsbitch and as a member of myrmyr with Agnes Szelag. Now the blog “Raven Sings the Blues” has reviewed Date Palms release Of Psalms. Rachel Swan from the East Bay Express has a lot more to say about their new release as well but I suggest looking into these Oakland based artists and get that LP while you can! Highly recommended!


Agnes Szelag’s project Evon “The Bees Are Coming” gets nod in East Bay Express. Check it out!

The East Bay Express offers reviews of local talent. In this case local is the bay area where Agnes Szelag is based. Visit us and get your copy today. CD and downloads available.


Aphonia Rec. Showcase in this weeks The Stranger

Pick up a Stranger or click here to read about our upcoming showcase at Josephine.