Dec 232011

EDITOR’S FORWARD: I’m a big fan of Portland-based Arkhum and have written about them multiple times at NCS, including this fairly recent post. The band includes two brothers — lead vocalist/lyricist Kenneth Parker and guitarist/vocalist Stephen Parker. Recently, each of them has provided NCS with guest interviews — Stephen interviewing Jason William Walton (Agalloch, Self Spiller) and Kenneth interviewing Izedis of apocalyptic black noize merchants Enbilulugugal.

As part of our year-end Listmania series, I asked each of them if they would let me publish their personal lists of the year’s best albums, and they agreed. Both lists include albums I’ve never heard before — which is a big part of why this Listmania thing is fun — and so at the end of this post I’ve randomly included some music from the albums that were new to me. Here we go:

STEPHEN PARKER’S TOP 11

1. Light BearerLapsus

If anyone out there is a fan of the sludge/neocrust titans Fall of Efrafa, you know who Light Bearer are. The first track I heard was ‘Prelapsus’, and it was amazing. The track starts with the signature vocal magic from Alex CF. His harsh but emotional vocals really set the tone for this entire track. After a lengthy but necessary buildup, the track busts into an orgasmic display of bassist Tom Watson’s vocal range. When you hear Watson and Alex sing/scream the lines “We are the sons of fire, we are the daughters of light”, prepare to have chills from your head to your toes.

Nov 082011

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our first guest post of today is an interview conducted by Stephen Parker, the talented guitarist of Oregon’s Arkhum. I’m a big fan of Arkhum and have written about them multiple times at NCS, including this fairly recent post. The subject of Stephen’s interview is Jason William Walton. He’s probably best known as the long-running bass player for Agalloch (another big NCS favorite and still one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen) but his musical resume is a long one. In addition to playing bass for Sculptured, Nothing, and Celestial, he has also played with Self Spiller, Especially Likely Sloth, and a half-dozen other bands that I know of. He’s also the owner and operator of a recording and production studio called Audio Savant. I’m really grateful to Stephen for landing this interview for us, and of course quite grateful to Jason Walton for participating.

SP: First of all, I’d like to thank you for answering these retardedly repetetive questions. I can understand that life has you pretty busy right now, but I genuinely appreciate you taking the time for this.

JW: Of course. I enjoy doing interviews from time to time, and it has been a while.

SW: I’d just like to jump into some business. How are things going with Audio Savant Studios? I know you recently relocated, so has that played a part in a lull, or has it really mattered?

JW: I have had a lull in business over the last year, but it has nothing to do with location, and everything to do with time. I do expect a couple projects coming up this fall and winter, but I have had less work this year than usual. Plus, Agalloch touring has taken precedence over Audio Savant. It is always a balancing act. In 2012 I hope to refocus my energy on Audio Savant.

SW: From all of the reviews I’ve seen, it seems like Marrow was widely regarded as “fantastic.” I remember even seeing it on Tom Gabriel’s list of the best of 2011 in Decibel. Do you think you’ve achieved a better response to this album, compared to Ashes Against the Grain or The Mantle?

JW: I don’t think it is fair to say a better response, but it has undoubtedly been very positive. Way more positive than we had anticipated. Each of our albums receives negative and positive feedback, and for different reasons and Marrow of the Spirit has been no different. I think it may appear that we are getting a better response for this album, but I also think we are more in ‘the public eye’ this last year than we have been in quite some time. I think if you asked the average Agalloch fan what their favorite album was, most people would still say The Mantle.  (more after the jump . . .)

Aug 202010

We first stumbled across an unsigned Oregon band called Arkhum about six weeks ago. We were intrigued by the striking cover art for a yet-to-be-released album and included the band in one of our occasional EYE-CATCHERS features (here). At that time, the only music we had available to us were rough mixes of two songs for the forthcoming album and an earlier 2009 track. But those three songs certainly grabbed our attention in  a big way.

Much has happened to Arkhum in those six weeks. Today, the band officially releases its debut album, Anno Universum, and we can now report that they have been signed by the Vendlus Records label (home to such talented bands as Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room), which will begin distributing the album worldwide later this fall.

Arkhum was kind enough to give us an advance copy of the eight songs on Anno Universum and we’re happy to report that our earlier instincts about the band have proven to be correct: Anno Universum is stunning — one of the best debuts we’ve heard in 2010.

We got so excited about the music that we pestered Arkhum for an interview, and brothers Stephen and Kenneth Parker patiently answered our meandering questions. In the post immediately below this one, you can read that interview, which turned out to be pretty damned interesting.

In this post, we’ll try to explain why Anno Universum has made such a strong impression on us and why we think you’ll be hearing lots more about Arkhum in the months to come.  (more after the jump, including a song from the new album . . .)

Aug 202010

Arkhum promo

ARKHUM (photo by Jessica Stover)

We were so excited about the just-released debut album by Oregon’s Arkhum — which we reviewed here — that after we got the chance for an advance listen, we asked if the band would subject itself to an e-mail interview.

Proving themselves to be kind-hearted as well as talented artists, guitarist Stephen Parker and his brother, vocalist and lyricist Kenneth Parker, agreed. They didn’t even try to back out after they saw our questions, which included such penetrating inquiries as what it’s like being in a band with your brother and whether they ever try to beat the hell out of each other.

In addition to getting the answer to that question, we also learned details about how Arkhum’s label-signing came about (which is breaking news all by itself), the science-fictional topics addressed in the album’s lyrics, Kenneth Parker’s recommendations about other bands, Arkhum’s future plans (including the next album), and more.

We thought the answers to our questions were interesting, and might be interesting to you, too. So, what follows after the jump is our interview of the brothers Parker from Arkhum.

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