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Archives by month/year

Welcome to Freq in 2015

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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Graham Bowers & Nurse With Wound – Mutation

Red Wharf

Graham Bowers & Nurse With Wound - MutationThey’ve been here before. Well, not quite here but near enough. This isn’t the first collaboration and, on this evidence, it won’t be the last. They’ve found that rubbing up against each other generates just enough electricity (teenage lightning, perhaps).

I’ve been in and out of the NWW canon for what seems like all the years now; I drift away, malcontent; having heard it all before (the creaks, the sighs, the gushes and rattles) and then something drags me back into the fold again, some little release slips out and makes me reconsider the oeuvre all over again (and inevitably sends me back to all the other stuff I have; re-listening, re-discovering). So it’s been with Steven Stapleton since I used to play out his Automating Volume 2 (still my favourite) record on

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Acid King – Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

Svart

Acid King - Middle of Nowhere, Center of EverywhereWow, ten years between albums is quite a feat; I mean we are talking Kate Bush levels of time here. But it’s not as if Acid King have been sitting around doing nothing — in fact the band have been constantly touring over that time, playing festivals and building an even larger loyal following. So were all these years worth the wait?

The album opens with “Intro”, a glorious three and a half minute instrumental wig-out full of psychedelic guitars and powerful bass throbs that wouldn’t be out of place on Are You Experienced, but the major thing is that Acid King’s signature big riffs are there in all their glory. “Silent Pictures” begins with long guitar wails that sound like demons howling from the depths. When Joey Osbourne‘s precise drumming (some of

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Angélica Castelló – Sonic Blue

Interstellar

Angélica Castelló - Sonic BlueBased on sounds recorded above and below the surface in the Lofoten Islands, Angélica Castelló‘s compositions on Sonic Blue create an imaginary underwater exploration on the theme of the effects of human sonic intervention in the aquatic soundscape.

While both whale and water sounds have been a staple of the new age relaxation industry for decades, Castelló constructs an altogether deeper and different listening experience on Sonic Blue, using field recordings (made by her, Susanna Niedermayr and others) as well as her favoured instrument, the Paetzold or sub-great bass recorder. While there are certainly plenty of watery sounds in evidence, they are placed as one important element among the whale song and other sounds of aquatic life, as well as the acoustic and electronic instruments and other processed environmental recordings.

The results are suitably and superbly immersive,

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Sula Bassana – Kosmonauts

Deep Distance (2LP)/Sulatron (CD)

Sula Bassana – KosmonautsSci-fi is the theme behind David Schmidt’s latest (re-)release as Sula Bassana. Even though part of this was originally available on CD, Deep Distance have done a marvellous job with the vinyl version. Not only do you get two different coloured discs (it’s a double album) but also Komet Lulu’s artwork looks absolutely gorgeous on 12” vinyl size and gives off the perfect visual representation to the cosmic soundtracks within.

Side one starts with “Barbarella”, a homage to the space siren played by Jane Fonda in Roger Vadim’s 1968 camp science fiction spectacular. Bassana here doesn’t go for the garish histrionics that Maurice Jarre (father of Jean-Michel) produced for what was a very late sixties-style film; instead we get an otherworldly, almost motorik series of electronics and synth that has more in common with Jean-Claude

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Alan Courtis / Aaron Moore – Bring Us Some Honest Food

Dancing Wayang

Alan Courtis / Aaron Moore - Bring Us Some Honest FoodThe third album turmbling forth from the fertile pairing of Alan Courtis (Reynols and more) and Aaron Moore (of Volcano The Bear, Dragon Or Emperor, Invisible Sports, Textile Trio, etc) follows on from the phonographic slurs of last year’s KPPB with four new tracks which find the duo pushing further at the avant-garde fringes of ludic surrealist interplay.

For Bring Us Some Honest Food, while the post-production of each side of the LP was undertaken remotely in Brooklyn and Buenos Aires respectively, (as with their first two albums), Courtis and Moore recorded their music for the first time together in a studio in London. This serves to give the album a heightened sense of immediacy that immediate musical interaction brings, and is all the better for it – though by

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Anthony Cedric Vuagniaux – Le Clan Des Guimauves

Plombage

Anthony Cedric Vuagniaux - Le Clan Des GuimauvesBursting with the same sort of demented energy which characterise much European music of the Seventies and Eighties, Anthony Cedric Vuagniaux‘s bizarre space opera Le Clan Des Guimauves (The Marshmallow Clan) tells the story of “the adventures of a gang of Alien Gypsies lost on our planet. Their physical feature is to have a big nose and seven fingers on their left foot.” Part pot-head pixies, part Magma-esque interstellar weirdos, the clan set forth on their musical peregrinations with the bubbling enthusiasm, highs, lows and far-out cosmic synth and electric piano vibes redolent of an era when all restriction seemed null and void.

This celebratory retro feeling is heightened upon learning that (of course) Vuagniaux records solely to analogue tape, makes his own instruments and is a fan of ancient electronic instruments.

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Laibach (live at the Electric Ballroom)

Laibach Electric Ballroom 2015London 2 April 2015

A spectre is haunting Camden, and that spectre is the spectre of Spectre, Laibach‘s most recent and sublimely poppy album.

On the face of it, you’d think Laibach’s “foregrounding the totalitarianism inherent in pop music” schtick would have worn thin really fast, like a one-joke Damien Hirst piece that blows your head off at first and then gives you no real reason to go back to it. But after 35 years – and let’s not forget that’s three and a half decades which have seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, the beginning of The War Against Terror and, closest to home for the band, the break-up of Yugoslavia – the novelty has yet to wear off.

This is, of course, for several reasons – first, that they’ve always worked on many levels, and it’s never really

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LTO – No Pasa Nada EP

Injazero

LTO - No Pasa Nada EPA member of both Khing Kang King and Old Apparatus, No Pasa Nada is LTO‘s second solo outing of haunted dubscape electronica. The EP shifts slowly and recursively across four tracks of gritty textures washed languidly in a bath of tape-hiss, echo and reverb, feedback and all (with the occasional environmental recording of rustling clothing or running water dropped into the mix for good measure).

Operating somewhere in the vicinity of the dubbier end of minimalist dubstep without ever falling squarely into the genre — or any other for that matter — though LTO’s sensibilities are definitely of a kind related more to the feeling that dubstep had when it first emerged rather than in the recent ravetastic commercial bastardisations of the form. So LTO leans on the clap and the clatter more than the

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Hybryds – The Ritual Should Be Kept Alive

Zoharum

Hybryds - The Ritual Should Be Kept AliveThe fourth re-release of the Hybryds back catalogue by Zoharum expands at length on their 1991 composition, adding in three more pieces of music, two more parts of the title track and a bonus piece from the same era. Together, they now make up a full album’s worth of largely unheard material.

The late Eighties and Nineties saw an upswell of music that aimed for some form of inner space exploration which went well beyond the glib hippieness of New Age muzak. Hybryds’ shamanic dedication to achieving gnosis through trance states induced by repetitive electronic music is at once universal and somewhat of its era. The Ritual Must Be Kept Alive speaks volumes of a time when magick, techno-paganism and a plethora of cross-cultural spiritual and musical influences made themselves part of the ever-expanding

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K-X-P – III, Part One

Öm

K-X-P - III, Part IFor their third album, K-X-P have upped their psychedelic game as well as expanded their kosmische disco credentials (with a hint of prog) by not only naming the LP III, but Part I thereof, with who knows how many more instalments yet to come.

If those aren’t real Mellotron sounds which introduce the thumping tribal drums of “Psychic Hibernation”’s overture, then the synths that sweep majestically into view certainly make enough of a stirring impression for starters. Where previous records have tended towards the motorway-friendly, III sets itself up for a journey still more spacious and expansive, with all of applicable intergalactic metaphors ready to be deployed for their description.

So the mood is stirringly upbeat, whipped up and sundered by trails of echo and drone from guest Mika Vainio of Ø and Pan Sonic, which

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Lightning Bolt – Fantasy Empire

Thrill Jockey

Lightning Bolt - Fantasy EmpireThe two Brians from Rhode Island are back with Lightning Bolt‘s first album since 2009’s Earthly Delights and their first for new label Thrill Jockey.

Lightning Bolt are a classic example of an underground noise band who have had some success in the mainstream without compromising their sound or attitude. Their live shows are blisteringly visceral, often violent and incredibly loud experiences, the band playing on the floor surrounded by the audience. An acquaintance once hilariously described them to me as “a really talented drummer and bass player showing off.” I couldn’t disagree more.

The first thing that hits you when listening Fantasy Empire is how well recorded it is compared to their previous output. The make a point of mentioning this in the press release, this record being the first to be made using

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Bo Ningen (live at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen)

Bo Ningen Hoxton April 20151 April 2015

The word “Hoxton” to me is like the word “Mordor” to hobbits — a terrifying place whence flows all the evil plaguing London. So tonight I’m deep in the heart of enemy territory to see Bo Ningen, and you know what? It ain’t that bad.

There are very few shovelbeards on show here, and while part of me fears that this may just be because all the hipsters have moved north in order to ruin my neighbourhood, the nicer explanation is just that people have come from all around to watch the finally-acclaimed Bo Ningen. Which had a certain level of plausibility, given that they’re playing two nights, and both are sold out. So the place is packed to the rafters, rammed to the roof, stuffed to the gizzard and any other metaphor you can think of

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Oozing Wound/Ghold/Super Luxury/Pohl (live at The Exchange)

Bristol 2 April 2015

Pohl live at The Exchange April 2015Pohl were an epic, hard and ultimately satisfying display of heavy riff-based shenanigans. A mighty three piece whose ranks boasted Hugo of Bristolian psyche monsters The Heads fame, who supplied some seriously grunged-up basslines whilst the (Buddy Holly look-a-like) singer stabbed at them with octave grates of guitar and some excellent shouty incentives, leaving the drummer to smash and grab at the sound barrier in a blur of elbows and knees as if fending off a multitude of invisible ninjas. A meaty set with plenty of surprises.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress

Constellation

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet and Other DistressNow Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven defined Godspeed You! Black Emperor for me, even more than their début F#A#∞ (1995-1997). Although that album’s “Dead Flag Blues” certainly glows favourably in my head, the rest seemed instantly overshadowed by Skinny Fists‘ scope, its harmonic exhilarations — those soaring crescendos that seemed far richer, more determined, taking the fucked-up economy and hammering home hope with holy unison. An impression further sealed after I caught their three-hour Scala show that year, a live experience which to this day has yet to be surpassed.

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Charlemagne Palestine + Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra – ggrrreeebbbaaammmnnnuuuccckkkaaallloooww!!!

Important

Charlemagne Palestine + Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra - ggrrreeebbbaaammmnnnuuuccckkkaaallloooww!!!Boasting one of the more amusingly unpronounceable album titles of recent years, ggrrreeebbbaaammmnnnuuuccckkkaaallloooww!!! puts on record the performance of Charlemagne Palestine, Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan (of Guapo, Ulver and Æthenor) at Café Oto in London during Palestine’s two-night residency there in June 2013.

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