Archives by month/year

Welcome to Freq in 2014

Freq has been online in various forms since 1998, and this iteration has been around since 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:
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Kate Bush – Before the Dawn (live at Hammersmith Apollo)

LondonKB-bird 16 September 2014

Listen, For in each tiny sound, In the movement of the air, And in the song of the birds, Shall the voice of God Speak unto you, If only you chose to hear it.

Johannes Dieterich, Prorsus Inventa, 1573

In his book Prorsus Inventa, musician, author, scientist and inventor (a true baroque polymath) Johannes Dieterich describes the compositional method “stylus fantasticus” as:

… the most free and unrestrained method of composing, it is bound to nothing, neither to any words nor to a melodic subject, it was instituted to display genius and to teach the hidden design of harmony and the ingenious composition of harmonic phrases and fugues.

Allegedly, when at the age of 93, Dieterich was asked why he continued to practice musical composition for five hours a day, he

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Trans Am – Volume X

Thrill Jockey

Trans Am – Volume XWhen we look back to the ’90s, back when something that was called post-rock was as vital a part of the musical landscape as Britpop or grunge, we might find ourselves wincing at the apparent uselessness of this subgeneric category, or we might find ourself wincing at the uselessness of all subgeneric categories, or we might find ourselves just not caring either way.

Post-rock was described somewhere apocryphal as what happened if you ditched your vocalist and hired John McEntire to produce your album. And as far as it goes, some of this was true of Trans Am; the McEntire production credit was there, also the lack of songwriterliness and the lack of a singer too; at least initially. Back then, if we were to attend one of those very serious gigs where people with glasses,

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Bob Drake – Lawn Ornaments

ReR Megacorp

Bob Drake - Lawn OrnamentsThis is literally bonkers, and monkeys with your expectations in all the right ways, each song swerving from its original starting point in a genre-flinging bewilderment of mood swings (at least four, if not more, times within the confines of each song). Quite a trip, starting with an unassuming country tinge before suddenly going off-road with a rough dose of Eugene Chadbourne-style fisted frets and bouldering percussions, then whipping the carpet clean away moments later in smooth Beach Boys crooning or winkle-picking tremolo lushness.

It’s a great technique that really emphasises the drama, the story underpinning it all with a zaniness akin to Spirit’s Potato Land. A warped tale centring around an errant meerkat (that the pet shop people were usually glad to see go) meticulously and colourfully illustrated in the accompanying booklet, with lyrics too,

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Wolves In The Throne Room – Celestite


Wolves In The Throne Room - CelestiteOn Celestite, the fifth LP from Olympia, Washington’s atavistic warriors Wolves In The Throne Room, the Weaver brothers have done probably the least black metal thing imaginable, and released a record of modular synth soundscapes. And while the keepers of the trve kvlt flame are undoubtedly at home, sharpening their battle axes and planning a jihad, Celestite points out some interesting layers of the modern musical milieu, as well as simply being good music.

Since the very beginning, Wolves In The Throne Room have been accused of being hipster metal — solely responsible for getting a generation of skinny jeans emo vegans into the blasphemous glory of black metal. For the grim hordes this is, of course, unforgivable, but it’s not entirely fair or accurate, either. I mean, come on, Thurston Moore and Julian Cope

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Kleistwahr – This World Is Not My Home

Fourth Dimension

Kleistwahr – This World Is Not My Home“Christ, It’s Lonely” is the title of part three of the most recent release from Gary Mundy (of Ramleh) under the name Kleistwahr, and it’s about as good an indicator of the bleakness to be found mired on This World Is Not My Home as might be required to gauge its intent. Though the dense textures crushed and mushed into the album’s seven pieces (though the CD itself contains only one track) are filled with the sort of discordance and spasms also found in Ramleh’s outpourings of harsh, brutalist psychedelia, this is far more the sound of misanthropic discontent than the battering sludge purveyed by most so-called power electronics, eventually transubstantiated into pure ecstatic trance music with some curiously redeeming qualities.

“Tell The World You Tried” is the title of one portion of

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Fort Process

70 steps into Fort ProcessNewhaven Fort, East Sussex 13 September 2014

Wow! This place was superb!! A semi-ruin with a labyrinth of white-clad tunnels eating into the gloom, the natural reverb promoting plenty of pseudo monk fun. The weathered solidity and teasing signs of atrophy, the stonework full of weird apertures that once occupied armoury now harbouring a host of musical oddness.

On arrival, a spasmodic crackle of strip lights and Marshalls greeted us from a long corridor that spurred off from the entrance, their randomly-triggered bolts of phosphorescent paparazzi(ing) the curving murk of the narrow half-corridor, recoiled in guttural spasms of ampage. Momentary light splattered, the crack of the amps cattle-prodded the blackness like a sparse re-enactment of a Blitz bombing.

Easter Island - Fort ProcessThe running order was frustratingly alphabetical, which completely scuppered any

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Franck Vigroux – Ciment


Franck Vigroux – CimentCiment starts spasmodic and spare, then proceeds to deploy buzzing, whining breath-fragments and scraping flexions among some moments of stark, simple beauty along the way. Pressed on two sides of vinyl, the LP is fully intended to be listened to with all the accumulated crackles, hiss, pops and incidental warmth the format brings with it, for better or worse.

All sounds originate with Franck Vigroux‘s guitar, and as is often the case when the instrument is treated in an obscure and abnormal fashion, as he frequently does here, there are moments where the vanilla sound is lost so far in the depth of its deconstruction as to sound like nothing so much as a collection of wires, wood and pickups disassembled and reconfigured into intriguingly (un)familiar avantgarde shapes. Vigroux is content to let his fingers do the plucking

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Carter Tutti Void (live at The Oslo Club)

Carter Tutti Void live at the Oslo Club September 2014London 16 September 2014

Mounting the stage with a promise of a different set to the previous night’s show at the same venue, Nik Void, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti settle quickly into place behind a compact selection of effects boxes, mixers and other instruments. As the gig gets underway, the backdrop lit up by the slowly-cycling op-art imagery familiar from their début album projected overhead, the first audible and visual surprise is that Carter is flanked on either side by Void and Tutti, and they’re playing guitars. Certainly, both Factory Floor and CarterTutti have both always used the instrument, but it’s a striking image at odds with the sounds which the trio are generating. The electronic beat is strong, clear and propulsive, barely varying its base rhythm throughout the next 75 minutes or

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Tundra – Tajnie i Głębie


Tundra - Tajnie i GłębieIt’s all about space: between things, around planets, the place of which Sun Ra spoke and the concept which he often evoked. But this is not a jazz album; Dawid Adrjanczyk and Krzysiek Joczyn are more electro-acoustic in their means and perhaps calmer in their demeanour here. The title Tajnie i Głębie – Mysteries and Depths – gives a hint of what the album brings as it rolls in on slow-burning coils of sound that shift and shimmer from low-end rumbles to breathing drones which rise and fall like the chest of a slumbering giant.

If the duo’s chosen name Tundra evokes a similar arctic chill as that summoned by a goodly portion of Thomas Köner‘s oeuvre, then that’s no bad place to start with comparisons. Motion seems under a lesser effect of gravity here than is

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Radio 9 – Learn to Walk Through Walls EP

White Label Music

Radio 9 - Learn to Walk Through WallsLike the former colonel of the First Earth Battalion, Jim Channon, whom Jon Ronson encountered in the story he recounted in The Men Who Stare At Goats, Radio 9 are apparently encouraging their charges – their listeners – to embark on a mission to achieve the impossible, and walk through the walls; though maybe via the more simple expedient of metaphysically opening up the doors of perception rather than shifting their molecules into different arrangements.

This seems to be the case on “A Futuristic Journey by Car,” where Leon Muraglia sings of “endless streams of light” (the title of Radio 9’s recent album) and “moving without sound” in wasted wastrel style over rhythms lifted straight from the Big Book of How to Drum like Klaus Dinger. The NEU! influence is acknowledged

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Causa Sui – Pewt’r Sessions 3

El Paraiso

Causa Sui – Pewt’r Sessions 3On the four planets that orbit their warm star, a few hundred terran colonists have built their new homes, pioneers, lost thousands of light-years away from the home world…

Causa Sui is the sound of molten rock on a far away world, of lava streams and eruptions that spout their waste high above the atmosphere of these almost dead worlds out into the cold reaches of space.

Their Pewt’r Sessions 3 album is made up of three improvised tracks of mind-blowing cosmic otherworldliness that defy gravity. The five members play a heavy blissed-out psychedelic jam that could draw parallels with bands such as Gnod, The Cosmic Dead and Electric Moon, but also stretching back further in time to Krautrock legends such as Ash Ra Tempel.

“Abyssal Plain” has a rolling drum rhythm that carries

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Camera – Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide

Bureau B

Camera - Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide

I confess, I was in two minds about this one. When Freq’s esteemed editor suggested that I review the second album by Camera (their debut Radiate appeared in 2012), my internal braking system engaged almost at once. Reading the accompanying blurb, it was pushing the band’s Berlin-based, Krautrock-legacy-authenticated brand of guerrilla Kosmische to the hilt, their endorsement and live performances alongside (*cue angelic choir*) Michael Rother and Dieter Moebius lending an air of gravitas to the proceedings way over and above repeated use of the hated M-word.

Do I have anything against such things? Far from it. Faaaaarrr from it. In some things (although sadly not in my terrible trumpet playing) I like to take my cue from Miles Davis: later in his career, when asked why he no longer played the old

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Nisennenmondai – N

Blast First Petite

Nisennenmondai - NStuck in traffic for hours, long after I desperately had to get somewhere. I’m still intent, which is past reason.

What she’s doing on the guitar reminds me of the mid-’90s experimental electro scene. Ooh, nice bit of panning. Does that come off live?

I bet it would be good live. They played in London, just recently, and a bunch of other places, including Bristol I think, before.

Yeah, this’d be probably good live. The suspense, the nameless urging. A dark room, lights, a moodily pulsating womb.

Mate I remember this one time,

we were in the pub and this massive corn-fed giant farmer kid

walked past my mate, sittin dahn,

he like paused, and then just smacked him in the face so like,

fast, all you

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Datblygu – Erbyn Hyn


So when a new EP comes out from Datblygu, Freq offers up not one, but two reviews. Firstly, Kev Nickells enthuses:

Datblygu - Erbyn HynIn a caveat that might as well be me saying “this is why I don’t write for a living,” it’s tricky writing about Datblygu. Certainly from my perspective. If you don’t know, they’re broadly considered as arguably the most important Welsh-language bands of the last 32 years, but their culture is vastly removed (and desperately scathing) of the Eisteddfod and shitty festivals of crap singer-songwriters in sodden Cardigan. What I’ve picked up from their lyrics come from the English translations in the Wyau/ Pyst/ Libertino double CD Ankst put out a few years ago. For the uninitiated, buy that. By the time I’d picked that up I was utterly gagging to hear what the lyrics were about;

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Cindytalk – Touched Raw, Kissed Sour

Handmade Birds

Cindytalk - Touched Raw, Kissed SourRight from the offing, “Dancing On Ledges” is a difficult listen, plies a remarkably fucked-up notion of ambience, shooting your lobes in sherbety shards, like a redux of “Everybody is Christ” from Cindytalk‘s Camouflage Heart (which is 30 years old this year), its heavy drones daggering you brilliantly into submission as the uncompromising vision jousts it through with lathe-like screams. Discernible licks of bass give you fleeting compass points, continually torn up on an ominous blare of differing textures, shattered splints. A great opener that offers little if any sanctuary, taking the corrosion and paradoxical beauty of last year’s A Life Is Everywhere to a whole new level. A gutsy, almost autobiographical delve into the abstract, full of corner of the eye glimpses.

“Fire Recalling Its Nature” is gentile by comparison, awash with nocturnal synth

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