Freq has been online in various forms since April 1998; this iteration has been around as of 2010, with an archive of older material available too.
Please scroll down and on for the most recent reviews; see also the archives index for 1998-2009 below while there is also an A-Z index of everything posted so far.
The bulk of the record reviews 1998-2008 are in the following pages — as time allows they are being converted to the newer, searchable format:
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Love the way Seven That Spells storm at you in corrugations of drum and hyperactive fret fingers on the second instalment of their Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock albums, staggered momentums that cool into some twilight rebound, a delight as bassy injections flirt with the drums and the guitar noodling some sweet Egyptian-strung ode.
Far from the kraut-worshipping you’d at first expect, IO dips nicely into some eastern European chants, like a male Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares chased by the gnostic fox, the surrounding instruments stoking an elaborate Circle-esque pyre of mysticism, its rhythmic core holding you in its spell. It brings to mind those Master Musicians of Bukkake as the shrinking spaces fall into a delicious insect-filled pavilion, sitar shapes echoing the wavering grass. An interesting detour to
Continue reading Seven That Spells – The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock: IO […]
Heldinky‘s Miles To Go Before I Sleep intrigued me — anything referencing Robert Frost has to be worth my time, right? And an influence list boasting the likes of Tim Buckley, Elizabeth Frazer, Annette Peacock and Kate Bush was enough bait to get me to put my hand up to hear the debut LP from the Welsh trio.
The vinyl I received in the mail all the way from Ynys Môn (Anglesey) is very beautiful. The sleeve artwork is all abstract blues and greys on a white background, a painting by the artist Peter Hollaway. Simple yet attractive, the vinyl itself gratifyingly heavy. On first listen I am drawn to say that Heldinky are a very accomplished live band, and this recording exemplifies the allure of that raw-edged late night sultriness that a
Continue reading Heldinky – Miles To Go Before I Sleep […]
Bristol 23 February 2015
From the IYABE’s screamy staggering starts, I was expecting that riot grrrl action to continue, but it was quickly evident these weren’t one-trick ponies, but a dynamic beast, dissolving onto something more deliberated, atmospheric, flitting happily between spindly trip-hops, brooding frustration and a whole lot else.
They fitted themselves around an array of spooky pre-recorded landscapes that exploited that soulful vocal exploration to the maximum with a sweet liquorice Zola Jesus-like lilt that leaked on through most of the set, not to mention those broody double drums that give me the “Play Dead” shivers. Everyone swapping their instrumentation between tracks, the vibes best relished when plenty of welly was put behind it all, stoking the frustration into spikey bursts that at one point coincide beautifully with the blaring headlights of a passing bus.
Continue reading Seven That Spells / Anta / IYABE (live at the Stag and Hounds) […]
Having previously appeared on the label’s From Earth to Sirius compilation in 2011, Expo 70 mark their full album début on Zoharum with not one but two CDs, one a reissue and another a brand-new offering. With a shade under fifty albums alone in his discography, it’s interesting to discover where Justin Wright takes his expanded one-man band on two disparate examples of his ongoing mission to construct a monster psychedelic rock discography.
Corridors to Infinity originally appeared on tape and CDR via Wright’s own Sonic Meditations label and brings McKinley Jones (who has also recorded as Breathing Flowers and Cantus Firmus) and his trusty Moog aboard the starship Expo 70, with this expanded album offering up not only the two lengthy numbers from the 2009 edition, but also three more unreleased tracks on a second
Continue reading Expo 70 – Frozen Living Elements / Corridors To Infinity […]
Cardinal Fuzz (Europe)/ Captcha (North America)
The latest from the trio of Paul Allen (of longstanding and criminally under-exposed Bristolian psych-rockers The Heads), Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb (both of Big Naturals).
The track titles are a selection of place names and dates (“14.10.54 Southend-on-Sea”, “17.7.55 Bexleyheath”) referencing several decades’ worth of UFO sightings around the UK. However, the tracks themselves don’t bear any obvious relationship to these signifiers of time, place, and event – there’s no sense that any given piece is attempting to capture or convey anything about the specific incident for which it’s titled. In fact, what you really have here is two long pieces of the stoney-droney-spacey stuff, divided somewhat arbitrarily into nine tracks that blur into each other.
Anthroprophh – UFO (CFUL034) by Cardinal Fuzz Record Label
It begins in a smeared, low-end miasma with
Continue reading Anthroprophh – UFO […]
A wonderful new release from Sulatron Records has arrived on my home world, so here I go with trying to interpret the incoming data…
Sula Bassana‘s Live at Roadburn 2014 starts with the synthesizer cosmic wind of “Rainstorm” that works up into a thudding big riff as bass and drums roll around under some expressive guitar playing. This is pure freak-out music, the kind that Sula’s band Electric Moon do so well (Komet Lulu plays bass on this recording too, folks). This is heavy psych with a big lysergic hit of -edelic at the end of it. The track makes colour traces in the air as it begins to hit momentum and soaks up plenty of number 25 within its grooves.
“D-Light” starts with fluttering synth goodness and a marvellous sitar-style drone hum away under
Continue reading Sula Bassana – Live at Roadburn 2014 […]
(Before we go any further, a word about the title: you saw the caron on the s, didn’t you? Yes, of course you did. And that immediately suggested to you that Šlag Tanz is pronounced Schlag Tanz and you didn’t have a silly schoolboy [or girl] moment, did you? Good, and furthermore you get the Germanic sense of the word that indicates something like Shock Dance, so we don’t need to waste any further time on this now, do we? Good.)
There are two things immediately noticeable about Magma’s Šlag Tanz. Actually maybe there are three: the first being its relative brevity, what the label describes as a mini-album, but perhaps that is not to the point: Šlag Tanz is a single piece of music. If you are unfortunate enough to have an mp3 player that puts
Continue reading Magma – Šlag Tanz […]
Heaven, London 15 February 2015
So tonight CarterTutti bid a fond farewell to their iteration as Chris & Cosey, and as expected the place is rammed to the rafters, as nobody wants to miss the end of this particular era. Prior to the gig my Facebook feed was a constant stream of updates telling me that one person or another on my friends list was going, and judging by the sizes of the groups milling around the bar, my experience was hardly unique. A lot of crews here, all ready to have some fun. And I’ve got an epic hangover, due to having been corralled into watching Frozen by the prospect of dinner and heroic quantities of booze (and to be honest I quite enjoyed it… it certainly had far better gender politics most other Disney
Continue reading Chris & Cosey / Nisennenmondai (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut) […]
The fold-out sleeve holding this baby together is a delight for the eyes. Its over-printed black imagery singing from beneath a golden glow of textured stock inkling at the album’s corroded essence. The struggling definition of the half-buried vocals, that healthy scouring of frustration eating into the machined percussives. Tastes forged in Dead Gum’s “lost decade” and a myriad of other releases, a mood finely-focused and now purring your ears in song-like chunks, the type Sonic Youth used to make back in the ’80-’90s, gnarly pearls that held you in their imagination, tore into your complacency and telescoped your soul.
A shimmering dissatisfaction that the album’s opener “Float” holds so dear, its vocals like a suitably forlorn Thurston Moore knuckling round a cyclic growth of frets, kisses of Bakelite percussion and hand-claps holding the momentum beautifully as
Continue reading Dead Gum – Gainer […]
Remember the ’90s? Well, I only vaguely do. But ignore all that Britpop/Cool Britannia shit, as nationally embarrassing in the cold light of day as Diana’s funeral, and think in a more esoteric direction. Think of Coil‘s classic album Love’s Secret Domain, and the fucked-up techno they were doing back then. Do you remember? Protection certainly do, being a synth duo one half of which has worked with both Coil and Cyclobe in the past. And while they both take a turn providing vocals (although there’s also a special guest, about whom more later) the ghost of Jhonn Balance is never far away. But this is no slavish copyist bollocks; they’ve taken that vaguely-defined, liminal sound and run with it, attempting to force it into something more conventionally songlike. And with a great deal of success.
Continue reading Protection – The 10″ EP […]
This is the record that you put on when you are lying entwined with your loved one, the both of you perhaps shimmering in a post-coital afterglow, the bedroom window open, a warm breeze blowing in the faint sounds of summer. Hang on. Actually, no. Sorry. That’s by The Isley Brothers.
Rather, this is the record that you put on when a small selection of your closest friends are gathered in your living room, the wine flowing, the conversation convivial and animated, as you open another bottle and stand in the doorway, filled with joie de vivre and deep sense of connection to your fellow man. Oh no, sorry, it’s not that one either. That one’s by Miles Davis.
What’s this then?
Might well you ask. This is the record that you put on
Continue reading Gnaw Their Tongues – Collected Atrocities 2005-2008 […]
Music to write science fiction to.
L’Envol is the first solo album release from American-born, Brussels-based composer Elizabeth Anderson. She is a prolific artist and teacher, and when I hear the opening of L’envol, I feel somewhat like I am at the beginning of a lecture on electronic music.
The sounds are perhaps what you might have expected from the title of the record, (L’envol is French for The Flight), but only if you have spent a lot of time watching science fiction films from the Nineteen Sixties. I know these soundscapes because they furnish my dreams. It is a vernacular that as a reader and writer of science fiction — stories of space and space travel — I know very well. This is not a bad thing, although it does afford me a level of commitment
Continue reading Elizabeth Anderson – L’envol […]
One of the genre’s key figures joins forces on Late Night Endless with a genuine wizard of the mixing desk to put the dub back into dubstep (something which it has probably needed for a long time — a bit like post-rock, which used to be about so much more, seems on occasion to have become shorthand for instrumental prog-rockishness and feelgood epic FX blather, what gets called dubstep is all too often just a bunch of wobble bass and ravetastic blether in the wrong hands) while giving a fresh makeover to the ever-evolving On-U Sound discography, old and new.
Continuing a tradition of venerable (OK, Adrian Sherwood‘s not that old) dub maestros teaming up with their younger disciples over the years — as Lee Perry has with both the Mad Professor, for
Continue reading Sherwood and Pinch – Late Night Endless […]
The Night is a CD reissue of Sula Bassana‘s 2009 LP and finds him playing some of his finest space rock on what could be seen as almost a concept album, all wrapped around by Frank Lewecke’s luscious cosmic sleeve design.
“In Space” opens the album and has more than a nod to ’50s sci-fi in its lush groove — the feel is more like The Tornados hitching a ride on the Metaluna space craft from This Island Earth. All instruments on the album are played by Sula and this just goes to show the man’s versatility on this wonderful, smooth opener. “Lost In Space” sets a motorik rhythm over which a 1967 Rick Wright freak-out organ sets its controls for outland in a silver-suited alien rampage around the galaxy whilst hushed vocals call to the void.
Continue reading Sula Bassana – The Night […]
When I heard that I was to review this album, I had to re-visit some of my old Devo records, blow the dust off and give them a new, fresh listen. Some call them punks, post-punks, new wave or even artrock, but they certainly have their own signature no matter what. The recordings from the late ’70s especially have some of the same quirkiness and dark moods of The Stranglers, although Devo in their early years seemed to be a more avant-pop band in the same fresh breath as Pere Ubu. For my own part, I prefer the second album, Duty Now for the Future, being the more rough and more guitar-dominant side of Devo over the début album Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! with its more slick, polished up production by Brian Eno.
Continue reading Devo – Miracle Witness Hour […]