Oct. 13 2010 10:06 AM

CD reviews of the latest from Bottomless Pit, The Gaslamp Killer and Wolf People

Bottomless Pit
Blood Under The Bridge

(Comedy Minus One)
Goes well with: Silkworm, Built to Spill, Crust Brothers

Silkworm ended on a tragic note in 2005 when drummer Michael Dahlquist died in an auto accident. Meanwhile, the remaining two members—Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen—continue on as Bottomless Pit.

With its second LP, the band presents a sound that's both fresh and familiar to fans of their former trio. Now a four-piece, Bottomless Pit are notable for having a denser sound than anything Silkworm put out once that band was reduced to a trio after founding member Joel Phelps left in 1994. Where Silkworm used empty space as a key element on their later recordings, Bottomless Pit are all about filling every void with sonic goodies.

Blood Under the Bridge doesn't top their fantastic debut, Hammer of the Gods, though. The latter was an emotionally charged album filled with songs drenched in sadness—most certainly connected to the loss of their longtime buddy, Dahlquist. However, this new one finds its greatest success in the same melancholic sounds that made their first so memorable. The sparse “Rhinelander” hints at the old Silkworm sound with a spacious delivery, and “Winterwind” is a six-minute, mid-tempo nugget that rides a repetitive groove for all it's worth. Just in time for the chilly weather, Blood Under the Bridge is required winter listening.

—Dryw Keltz

The Gaslamp Killer
Death Gate EP
Goes well with: Flying Lotus, Gonjasufi, Mulatu Astatke

William Bensussen, an L.A.-based DJ / producer who goes by the name The Gaslamp Killer, cut his teeth in the Downtown San Diego nightclub scene in the early '00s. But even the hipsters at El Dorado and Voyeur, so used to sweaty dance parties, might have trouble getting into A Sufi and a Killer, Bensussen's 2010 collaboration with vocalist (and fellow former San Diegan) Gonjasufi. The record's retro-futuristic psychedelia isn't club music—it's the kind of thing that would play over a Victrola during a scene in Blade Runner.

Death Gate, Gaslamp Killer's new five-song EP, mostly traffics in a distinct blend of spaced-out synthesizer and limber breakbeats. “Carpool Dummy,” a collaboration with Mophono, boasts a syncopated thump and a raw snare, sounding like a muscled-up drum track from some '60s b-side. On “When I'm in Awe,” Gonjasufi's hypnotic croon perfectly complements a brooding Ethiopian jazz groove, making the track one of the Killer's most timeless yet.

The Gaslamp Killer may be a mainstay of the L.A. “beat scene,” but his otherworldly electro has no peer, even among path-breaking cohorts like Flying Lotus. Death Gate may not be especially far-out by the Killer's own standards, but you won't hear anything else like it.

The Gaslamp Killer plays Thursday, Oct. 14 at Voyeur.

—Peter Holslin

Wolf People
Goes well with: Cream, Soft Machine, Fairport Convention, Hawkwind

Of all the bands christened with canine monikers during the past 10 years, Wolf People stick out quite noticeably from the pack. Firstly, there's nothing on their debut fulllength that could be considered “indie,” at least in the unfortunate NPR sense of the word. Next, they tap into a British pastoral quality—think The Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society—that offers little sign of musical progression since 1973. Finally, unlike the majority of their animal-oriented peers, Wolf People are actually good.

Running the gamut from heavy freak-outs (“Cromlech”) to catchy, flute-andguitar duets (“Tiny Circle”) and electrified folk (“Banks of Sweet Dundee, Pt. 1”), this outfit can not only play; they can write memorable songs, too. Where their singles collection, Tidings, signaled great promise through its cut-up aesthetic, Steeple seamlessly sutures those parts together, turning Wolf People into one of the most conceptually perfect retro-leaning rock acts since Witchcraft.

This record is probably best imagined as a long-lost psych LP, one that sat in cut-out bins for years with no audience, only to be discovered by cratediggers years later and praised as an unheralded classic. Given the renewed interest in this type of music by beat-heads—the crews at Now-Again and Finders Keepers, especially—it shouldn't be another 35 years until Steeple gets its proper due.

—Todd Kroviak


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