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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Front & Follow
The inscription inside the cover of Laura Cannell’s beautifully packaged CD reads “Beneath swooping talons we choose to be brave, or else to edge the shadows of open spaces, Silent wings come upon us in a strobe of feathers, we choose to be free, or else let the unknown control us.”
There is a pleasing sparseness to these single-take recordings, made in a mediaeval church in the wilds of East Anglia, played on fiddle, overbow fiddle and double recorders, and originating from scraps and fragments of mediaeval music — with echoes of Hildegard von Bingen and Guillaume de Machaut (among other sources) ringing through these improvised pieces to create something quite extraordinarily beautiful.
Beneath Swooping Talons by Laura Cannell
There is so much of the landscape, and of Englishness, in this music that seemed
Continue reading Laura Cannell – Beneath Swooping Talons […]
It’s been nearly a decade since teenage wunderkid Zach Condon released The Gulag Orkestar, Beirut’s bells-and-whistles, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-and-Granddad’s-accordion, Eastern-European- influenced debut album. Whist both The Gulag Orkestar and its follow-up, 2007’s The Flying Club Cup packed in a lot, Beruit’s third album, 2011’s The Rip Tide, suggested a shift in tone, moving away from the large brass and strings sections found on previous albums towards a lighter, more electronic-tinged sound.
No No No continues this shift, as evidenced in the title track, the chirpy, piano-led opener “Gibraltar”, and “Perth”, all of which highlight both Condon’s beautiful voice and the poppier sensibility that has emerged in his music in the last few years Tracks such as “At Once” and “So Allowed” show a more reflective side to the band, whilst still maintaining the airiness of the album’s other
Continue reading Beirut – No No No […]
Bristol 21 August 2015
Loved the way Twin‘s guitars seemed to shimmer in your mind’s eye like a hazy mirage. A spectre of voice weaving through as lush loops were overlaid in trebling ascents. Endlessly changing, channelling, dusted in a candle-lit intimacy of curling chords caught in a Fursaxa-like beguile. A sound that climbed into scythed skylines and collapsed in radiating waves. A delicate and dreamy apparition that exploded in applause.
Next were angular tantrums of guitar and screaming vox, noisy post-punk shenanigans under the moniker of Terrine (aka Claire Gapenne) to a backing of fucked-up sparks and trashed percussions. She was a box of total surprises that just kept giving fractured with awesome curves of guitar’n’wailing pedals. A blissful, bruising squeezing in an altogether mellower diversion, a surprise brassware addition that gave me TG Fanni Tutti shivers smeared in kettling drumscapes before wasping back to more noisy enthusiasms
Continue reading Chicaloyoh / Terrine / Twin (live at Café Kino) […]
The Royal Festival Hall, London 18 August 2015
Throat-singing. It’s the new rock and roll. Or the OLD rock and roll, if you subscribe to the theory espoused by the likes of luminaries such as Patti Smith, Julian Cope and me that a rock concert is essentially the modern variant on religious worship. Phurpa bridge this gap across time and space by playing ancient devotional Bon music (from an incredibly early form of Buddhism) in a rock setting, sat cross-legged on the floor of the Royal Festival Hall in front of an audience of metalheads.
Phurpa (Picture: Meltdown)
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Continue reading SunnO))) / Phurpa (live at Meltdown) […]
One Little Indian
It is more difficult to write about The Sugarcubes‘ Life’s Too Good than I had anticipated. Although I know the record well, played it endlessly throughout my mid-teens and still find it to be a really good listen, it is hard to say any more about it than has been said elsewhere.
It is a great album, a great first album and a record that stands up very well considering how much has happened musically in the intervening years. It is a big record, it is bouncy, exuberant, fun.
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Continue reading The Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good […]
London 7 August 2015
It’s a balmy Friday night in old London Town, and the Mothership has just landed on Camden’s Electric Ballroom, bringing its message of light, love and lavatory humour in the form of George Clinton and Funkadelic. And godDAMN if he still isn’t the best pilot it could ever wish for.
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Continue reading George Clinton & Funkadelic (live at The Electric Ballroom) […]
I’m seriously fixated by musique concrète, along with a lot of other musical niches; it’s been a slippery slope ever since hearing Luciano Berio’s Visage at an impressionable age, which set the dominos toppling for other magnetic tape twisters, splicers and slicers. In turn, this spurred an appreciation of more tonally spread hues, that floating gasp to our everyday stripped of recognition, the petri dish of the consequencidental magic, the mechanical rush or clank, the whirring innards — the ticking arteries of combustion — largely ignored, often found irritating; the consequences of modernity that Bérangère Maximin investigates on her recent release Dangerous Orbits.
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Continue reading Bérangère Maximin – Dangerous Orbits […]
The Dome, London 3 July 2015
Okay, so here’s a thing. I don’t really remember ever seeing Acid Mothers Temple. I’ve seen them on various occasions, and I don’t really remember any of them. Now, I don’t make a conscious effort to indulge any more before an Acid Mothers Temple gig than I do before a show by anyone else, but somehow after the fact they always elude me, sliding apart into vague fragments like a dream does on waking.
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Continue reading Acid Mothers Temple And The Cosmic Inferno (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut) […]
From the angsty bristles of their debut All Mind in the Cat House comes another Jaggersaw of squabbling quadients with a smidgen more hip-swinging melody sneaking under/over that the despotic word spillage. A danceable zest that happily avoids cliché whilst simultaneously dragging you through a thicket of barbed carnivores and bullying percussions.
This is so good — every song a radiant splinter, siphoning the spirit of The Birthday Party billowing on Fall-like sails and more some. A bit of James Johnston in the toppling guitar department, with maybe a taste of Spleen’s inherent psychosis about it — but to be honest, this is breath of fresh air that doesn’t need the crutch of comparison to it prop up. A rare commodity indeed, stitching in the new, splashing the melodic with glittering clashes of no wave, duelling gravities
Continue reading Repo Man – Minesweeping […]
The Barbican, London 18 July 2015
“My name’s Terry Riley, I’ll be here all week”. It would be nice to think that at some stage over the previous weekend, America’s great composer actually expressed his forthcoming residency in exactly this way. For in order to celebrate his eightieth birthday, El Tel (as doubtless everyone calls him), has spent the last seven days encamped here as part of the Barbican’s Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening event.
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Continue reading Terry Riley (live at Station to Station) […]
I like to think these were lullabies, bedtime ambience for Steven Stapleton and Diana Rogerson’s daughter Lilith, born in the same year this was first released, the album’s shapes spinning the horsey mobiles as she slipped into the deep nether world of unconsciousness, that wordless sparkle of fertile imaginings. This, remains for me, one of Nurse With Wound’s best, born out of some studio electrical fault, obscurity divined by a feedback henge of effects pedals. The original no-input cabbalism where Stapleton was the vital conduit, hands hovering, fingers endlessly reconfiguring the evolving hum.
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Continue reading Nurse With Wound – Soliloquy for Lilith […]
Calostro Recordings (LP) / Little Crack’d Rabbit (CD)
Following up on the success of Aidan Baker and Eric Quach (thisquietarmy)’s 2014’s début live album of the same name, the now-expanded Hypnodrone Ensemble is now a band in its own right and presents here a set of four new studio recordings laid down in Berlin. Judging from the album and track titles, the group seem intent on seeing just how much further they can warp the fabric of the universe through the power of psychedelic music.
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Continue reading Hypnodrone Ensemble – The Shape of Space […]
Pressed on four different mixtures of coloured vinyl and its sleeeve graced by vibrantly lysergic geometrical paintings by Pete Greening, Drone-Mind/Mind-Drone 4 is another landmark release from the label whose very name defines their purpose more than most others. The fourth instalment of Drone Records‘ LP-length explorations of meditative instrumentals of all sorts from across the globe brings to light six new pieces by a quartet of composers from far-flung — but no longer necessarily musically distant — corners of the Earth.
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Continue reading Various Artists – Drone-Mind / Mind-Drone Volume 4 […]
When I was a kid, Key Markets’ car park was the venue for all sorts of dark dealings and (as AC/DC would put it) dirty deeds done dirt cheap, whether real or imagined. If there was a story going round school that someone had been stabbed, overdosed on smack (which was a hot topic in the classrooms and corridors due to that Zammo off Grange Hill) or been arrested for sniffing glue, it was almost certain to have happened “in Key Markets car park”.
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Continue reading Sleaford Mods – Key Markets […]
Zoharum (CD)/Sonic Meditations (cassette)
From the ominous drones and splutters of “A1V” by way of the decidedly Harmonia-like curlicues of “Crawling Through Crystal Skies” — all twinkly echo trails and meandering electronic rhythms — to the freefall wafts of guitar feedback and multiple effects units orbiting each other in a docking pattern, Solar Drifting does exactly what the album title suggests, conjuring imagery which hovers and glides from the shimmering heat-haze of desert testing grounds areas into visions of extraterrestrial flight powered solely by the sun’s rays.
Assembled from the bulk of Expo 70‘s 7″ singles and cassette-only non-album releases which appeared between 2008 and 2011, Justin Wright has done a good job on Solar Drifting of collating them into an album which ultimately works well as a whole. Every track from the original editions has been retained,
Continue reading Expo 70 – Solar Drifting […]