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Welcome to Freq in 2016

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 — see below.

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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Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Pond Scum

Drag City (Americas) / Domino (Europe)

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Pond Scum“My job is just to sit here and sing these songs that have no purpose.”

And yet Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy, aka Palace Brothers, aka Palace Music, has been singing these songs for more than two decades, and whether his purpose is found still remains only in the hearing of the listener.

Oldham’s back catalogue is an intimidating place to navigate. With an extreme work ethic and a prolific output to match, it can be difficult to truly know everything he has done. I have listened to more of his albums and collaborations than those of any single artist and still have only heard about a quarter of what I know is out

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The Bolshoi – 5 Albums

The Arkive

The Bolshoi - 5 AlbumsMany years ago, I was all about The Bolshoi. Tipped-off by a friend at sixth form college, I borrowed their album Friends from the local tape library (for the benefit of our younger readers, tape libraries used to be a thing back in ancient history. As, of course, did tapes. And libraries.) and instantly fell in love with its marriage of goth-inflected cynicism and massively catchy tunes. For a while back there it was up there with The The‘s Soul Mining and the Sisters Of Mercy‘s First And Last And Always as my favourite album.

When I left home and hit the big city, I managed to track down their first mini-album, Giants, and was blown “clean away” (as it

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Vainio and Vigroux – Peau Froide, Lèger Soleil / Franck Vigroux and Matthew Bourne – Radioland: Radio-Activity Revisited

Cosmo Rhythmatic

Vainio & Vigroux - Peau Froide, Lèger SoleilIt really makes a huge amount of sense for Mika Vainio and Franck Vigroux to have made Peau Froide, Lèger Soleil together, especially considering the latter’s storming Centaure 12″ of a year or so ago. There, Vigroux mashed up the hardest of beats in a welter of analogue electronics that bore easy and justifiable comparison to Vainio’s former outfit Pan Sonic; together they make a heavily textural collaboration which unfolds with a wheezing, shuffling sense of palpable heaviness and weighty atmospherics.

Replete with all manner of weighty analogue oscillator drones and the crunchiest of crunchy rhythms, the album unfolds in a gathering swarm of delayed hissing snippets, sliding bass tones, cinematic dynamics and an ever-present sense of

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Møster! – When You Cut Into The Present

Hubro

Møster! – When You Cut Into The PresentThis third release from Møster! shows them in good from, even better than before. On the previous album, Inner Earth, they tried to move closer to prog, but with this album a more confident style is apparent. Although it is a combination of avant-garde jazz, ’70s prog rock and psychedelia, a clear signature of the band flows distinctly throughout the album.

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Savages – Adore Life

Matador

Savages - Adore LifeWhen SavagesSilence Yourself burst onto the scene in 2013, with its rock-hard riffs that rocked hard but were never hard rock, it was genuinely refreshing — like a time capsule from the early ’80s that had somehow manage to attract modernism to itself rather than simply aping it, and had somehow managed to get here while entirely missing out grunge and metal.

A totally focused and purposeful blast of pure post-punk energy, it was impossible NOT to wonder to yourself “how the hell do you follow that?” It was such a self-contained artefact, it would have been tragic but understandable if it had remained at that, and no more new Savages material had been forthcoming. Because, really, where WOULD you go

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Cardiacs – The Seaside

The Alphabet Business Concern

Cardiacs - The SeasideMusically, it’s a frantic fairground erupting cosily in your head – an aesthetic matched by the queasiness of Cardiacs‘ badly made-up faces. I remember their video for “R.E.S.” — the turtlenecks, nodding heads and punch’n’judy antics, beamed barmy from the offset. An eensy-weensy bit disturbing too; as your eyes filled with those fixed pearly grins and purple bruises — fffurrrrrrhhh — They were like madness (the band or the condition you ask?); yeah, it’s a bit blurred, like a covers band gone gleefully awry, outshining the original, flying the beyond whilst clutching their freshly-inked clown school diplomas.

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Seth Cooke – Christ of the Abyss / Seth Cooke and Dominic Lash – Canary

Hairdryer Excommunication

Seth Cooke - Christ of the Abyss

Following up from the no-input field recordings reviewed here, Seth‘s either in a spirit of intrepidly obtuse field recording, or taking the piss (either’s good, frankly). The no-input field recording method, foolhardy though it is to compress it to something so asinine as a method, involves getting a recording, making it record itself, and putting that recorder somewhere. Possibly a field.

Christ of the Abyss, my extensive research shows, is a crucifixion portrait by Archibald MacKinnon, a teacher on Eilean Dà Bhàrr, who painted it and didn’t tell anyone. And this record comes with on a business card CD with a wee negative of the painting. Something Hairdryer Communication do very well, in my experience, is packaging.

Christ of the Abyss by Seth Cooke

And the music is a neat little three minutes

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Electric Moon – Flaming Lake

Sulatron

Electric Moon - Flaming LakeLive, Electric Moon always hit you right in the third eye and this album recorded in Battenberg on the second of July (my birthday) in 2011 is a good document of everything the band are great at. So grab your stash, flick through some underground comix, get the joss sticks started and clutch your pocket I Ching and off we go.

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Aderlating – Hell Follows / Gnaw Their Tongues – Eschatological Scatology / Dragged Into Sunlight and Gnaw Their Tongues – N.V.

Black Plague

Aderlating - Hell FollowsOperating at the intersection between the dingiest of dark ambient, noise and post-industrial electronic gloom, Hell Follows turns out to be a more spacious affair than Aderlating‘s previous delves into the murk and mire. However, Maurice De Jong (Gnaw Their Tongues, Seirom, Cloak of Altering etc) and Eric Eijspaart leave no drone unturned nor mordant exposition too clearly laid out — while there is now a certain clarity to the nine tracks served up with an ominous sense of dread, it is all the better to hear their particular take on the sounds of one might encounter at the moment and aftermath of an unnervingly personal doom.

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Sula Bassana – Shipwrecked

Sulatron

Sula Bassana - ShipwreckedLet us journey in to the far reaches of space. Let our mind travel through dark matter and push forward the boundaries of human knowledge. What soundtrack should we have for this celestial voyage to the outer regions? Why, Sula Bassana’s new album, of course.

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David Bowie – ★

ISO/Sony/Colombia

David Bowie - BlackstarNew Bowie album. For years that meant bollocks all.

LOCATION <DOESN’T MATTER, REALLY> TIME <xx111994>

I remember a mate saying to me back in 1994, on turning up on a Saturday night, “Here’s the new Bowie album”. “NEW Bowie album? It’s the fucking ’90s. That’s not a good selling point. Just play some old ’70s ones, we’ll be cool”. He had the drugs, so he won the music. It was Outside. It blew the top of my head off, and then shat awesomeness so far down my spinal column I was shitting cool for a month.

It rocked so hard we went all the way to Exeter and back on a single coach fare and the kindness of strangers. Mind you, it took us two days

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Anderson Ponty Band – Better Late Than Never

earMusic

Anderson Ponty Band – Better Late Than NeverIt was the late Seventies when I discovered Yes via a friend of mine. At first I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. There were all these complex time signatures and chord sequences flying around from my stereo that at times it felt like music from another world. Soaring over all this alien music was the voice of Jon Anderson, high in its register, seeming almost angelic and out there. From then on I was hooked and became a massive Yes fan. So I always keep an eye on what past and present members are doing musically. So getting to review a Jon Anderson album for the mighty Freq was always going to be a pleasure.

Better Late Than Never is

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Lush – Chorus

Lush - Chorus4AD

More loveliness from the vaults of 4AD, and the label have pulled out all the stops on this one. A five-disc Lush retrospective housed in a glossy hardback book, surely destined to become an instant collector’s item.

Not only are the historical releases Gala, Spooky, Split and Lovelife captured, there’s tons of session tracks, demos and previously unreleased miscellany appended to each disc too – in all a gigantic 105 tracks with the visual history from each release beautifully documented as only 4AD can. It looks as amazing as it still sounds!

Gala

Lush - GalaSweet harmonics peering through a hazy jangle of guitars, scoured chords – Lush lived

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Fields Of The Nephilim / Black Volition (live at The Forum)

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum December 2015London 21 December 2015

Having been unceremoniously shunted from the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (due to what is officially known as “structural weaknesses” but which I personally suspect may be closer to “some bastard wants to make some luxury flats”, Fields Of The Nephilim are tonight gracing The Forum with their presence. The date’s also been changed, which is undoubtedly a right bastard for people who can’t change their plans, but which on the plus side means they’re playing on the winter solstice, which is pretty much the perfect time of year for a Nephs gig.

And they’ve brought friends. And what wildly eclectic friends they are. Black Volition are confusing, confounding, and rather wonderful. They start off kinda Bauhausy, playing rock’n’roll-oriented goth

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