Pop Archive


Russian Invasion! Garage Rockers SONIC DEATH Land in US


Nikita Krikunov & Arsenij Morozov on the cover of GOTHIC SESSION

Formerly Padla Bear Outfit, this St. Petersburg, Russia based duo is composed of Arsenij Morozov and Nikita Krikunov. They now call themselves SONIC DEATH. They have carved a distinct garage-y, moody niche out of a retro 60s psychedelic pastiche. I am not even sure what I just wrote. In any event, in rare form, these gentlemen found Aphonia Recordings and sent in a demo. We get quite a few demos and certainly we try to give some attention to ones that catch our ears. Luckily for me, I still do have my ear holes open. Listen below!

Morozov describes the process of recording “GOTHIC SESSION” thus:

After a little break we started work on a new session. Seven fresh songs were recorded on a Tascam cassette Portastudio, sitting in the already known bathroom. At this time we used a clean slightly reverbed guitar sound, the drum section was shaded with maracas. The sound is soft, psychedelic vibrating, like The Cannanes meet Vivian Girls on The Seeds cover party. The lyrics are all about dark love emotions and solitude. All of this has been called GOTHIC SESSION. The first track with the western spirit and refrain “I take off all of me/ You will not get pleasure” is entitled ‘Pleasure’ and is like a roll call with Stones ‘Satisfaction’. The second called ‘Now(Son Of A Bitch)’ and has at the end the converted quotation from Misfits “I am goddamn son of a bitch/ you better think about it baby”. Third song named ‘Marzipan’, and has a sample from an amateur slap porn video, whose plot is about pining for the attention from a girlfriend. The fourth acoustic-postpunk song ‘Streets’ laments the loneliness in the city. Fifth ‘To Me’ is classic garage-y amateur guitar rock. The sixth track ‘Huuuh-uuh-uuuh’ is an acoustic ballad for two voices. The last one ‘Floor’ is a confluence of The Jesus and the Mary Chain with Buddy Holly and back again. On the cover, we photographed against a background of the crucifix as Bible sellers in East European chic.
Dat shit cray!

This music is decidedly lo-fi. That’s OK. I don’t really see that as being all that important in terms of the songs. The songwriting is incredible. Even though it is grimy, gritty, loud and rambunctious, the songwriting doesn’t suffer. In fact, the whole record has a posture of being relaxed and effortless, which I find particularly charming. Folks, this is garage-psyche at its best. It embodies everything you want it to be. If they weren’t singing in Russian I would think they were from late 1960s Los Angeles. Seriously, it is that level of fidelity to the roots of that scene that these two obviously take very (un)seriously. As their Bandcamp page states: “We are two horrible motherfuckers with problems.”

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Mirror Mirror Videos Galore: Tune Into YouTube

Artwork: Nina Pratchios

Few artists on our label get the online attention that Mirror Mirror receives. For this Spokane, Washington based psychedelic rock group, no other outlet has been so successful as their YouTube channel.

The band has truly reached online fandom, especially in Europe, where video artists continually post versions of their most popular tracks. True to the murky, underwater and downright dark overtones to the record, the videos can be repetitive, oblique and ultimately spacey.

We certainly expect new and great things from Mirror Mirror this year.


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.


Unicorns in the Snow New Record / Embark on Eastern US Tour

Julia Vering is the singular voice behind Unicorns in the Snow. Hailing from Kansas City, Kansas, Vering first came to the attention of label founders Ben Robertson and Andrew Senna at the Evergreen State College where all three were studying music composition. Vering’s performance based music is at turns spooky, theatrical and whimsical. Vering’s debut release with Aphonia The Geriatric Pony Express [AR007] is at times part pop, part storytelling and swirls around piano figures and spacey synth tones. Those familiar with Geriatric will not be disappointed.

The Aviator (click to listen) marks a more ambitious turn for Vering. Coming in at 24 minutes, The Aviator consists of a single “narrative” track. Although the CD has yet to ship, you can catch Unicorns on their midwest/northeast tour and pick one of the limited 100 copy release. The release supports Vering’s vision to engage the elderly in contemporary art. Read more about that here.


8/8  St. Louis, MO @ The Lemp Neighborhoods Art Center
8/9 Chicago,  IL @ The Ball Hall
8/10 Cleveland, OH @ Boo Box
8/11 Rochester, NY @ Meddlesome Lab
8/12 Troy, NY @ 51 3rd St.
8/13 Northampton, MA @ Feeding Tube Records
8/14 Cambridge, MA @ Cambridge YMCA
8/15 Brooklyn, NY @ Death by Audio
8/16 Baltimore, MD @ Red Room
8/17 Pittsburg, PA @ Garfield Artworks
8/18 Cincinatti, OH @ The Mockbee

Click on the image below to read about Vering’s ambitious aims as a performance artist and musician. Hers is a truly unique and inspired vision. Enjoy!

You Live Here Too - Dolls


Mirror Mirror “In the Shadows” Hits the Digital Ether This Week – CD Pre-sale

Mirror Mirror rains down upon any acoustic space and expands it. The vocals are haunting and obscuring and they echo out over mysterious expanses. This much anticipated full length release will twist your brain around blind curves on poorly lit highways, take turns soothing your fears and indulging them. In plainer terms, it is psychedelic, oddly beautiful and melodic, sinister and distant.

In the Shadows has been a long anticipated release as Jason Campbell, principle songwriter and band leader, has recently relocated from Olympia, WA to Spokane, WA. Also appearing on the record is Ian Freddes who provides languishing drums. The two spent many sessions crafting each of these twelve tracks – a venerable outing.

Mirror Mirror’s appeal is wide ranging and we expect more from this band of reverb bathed rockers. Expect more shows in the Pacific Northwest in the next few months. Below video from the track “Monophonic Catatonic:”


Nucular Aminals to Play Folklife Festival

Every Memorial Day Weekend Seattle hosts the Northwest Folklife Festival. I have attended many times over the years as it tends to bring some interesting acts that otherwise you may not see anywhere else. Like every music festival, this one will no doubt be replete with weirdos, side show acts, buskers, pot heads and bums. Basically everyone who might go to Bumbershoot as well if weren’t so expensive. Folklife is free and it draws the Burning Man rejects, the touring bands, firebreathers and, of course, tons of food vendors. I have been to Folklife when it the food was primarily the first and foremost draw on my mind. Anymore, however, I stay away from huge crowds and overstuffed festival bills. The connection to the music gets lost sometimes in the comingling grill and pot smoke. However:

I was pleased to find out that this year, our own Nucular Aminals has a slot at the Indie Roots Center Square Stage on Saturday, May 28th, 8:30PM. Though in recent years I have only seen them perform in tiny little spots – and poorly, if at all, lit and not up on a stage but at ground level, with the audience itself. This performance no doubt vaults them high above the audience. They will be louder than I probably have ever heard them play. This is one show, among many others during Folklife, (the Hail Seizures comes to mind) worth seeing and you should go!


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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Mirror Mirror Video! “Locked From the Inside”

A sneak peak into Mirror Mirror’s upcoming full length release on Aphonia Recordings! Check out Mirror Mirror’s other videos here.

Click below to purchase:


New Beautyquest Videos! Julia Vering of Unicorns in the Snow Has a New Project

Julia Vering (Unicorns in the Snow) & Rita Brinkerhoff perform Phase One of their Sci-Fi Operetta at the Fahrenheit Valentine Masquerade Ball on Feb 14th, 2011. Julia is a longtime collaborator with Aphonia Recordings as Unicorns in the Snow.

Check out Unicorns in the Snow’s The Geriatric Pony Express:

Unicorns in the Snow - The Geriatric Express


Pics From Evon’s Debut Show on Jan. 25th

On January 25th,  Aphonia Recordings artists Evon played at El Rio in San Francisco.  A belated release party show for the band,  we welcome you to check out some choice photos from the event as well as listen to the release. We recommend you view the pictures below as a slideshow (the page will reload) while using the player. It’s almost like you were there! OK, not really. So the next time they play, get your ass off the couch and see them. Check the Aphonia Recordings website regularly for show dates.

Evon is an amazing group of 6 stupendously talented musicians lead by Agnes Szelag from Oakland, CA. Enjoy!

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