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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Chrysta Bell (live at Oslo)

Chrysta Bell live at Oslo - pic: Elaine KingettLondon 11 April 2014

There’s probably an argument to be made that talking about Chrysta Bell in terms of David Lynch is lazy, but that’s what I’m going to do, at least at first. The reasons for this are threefold – first, having not only produced her album but co-written it with her, he casts a pretty long bequiffed shadow over the music. Second, at a gig plugged as “David Lynch presents,” which begins with an intro video of the man himself doing the spoken intro to “Bird Of Flames,” I think it’s fair game. And third, I am indeed quite lazy. So, y’know…

Instead of starting with “Bird Of Flames,” the band pull a switcheroo and kick straight into “Real Love,” a much more kick-ass piece with which to begin a

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Chrysta Bell – This Train revisited

Chrysta Bell This TrainChrysta Bell‘s album This Train has finally been released officially in the UK (with extra tracks too) via QQ5 – read David Solomon‘s original review here.

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Abstracter – Tomb of Feathers

Trendkill/7 Degrees/Shove (LP)/The Path Less Traveled (CD)

Abstracter – Tomb of FeathersIt begins with “Walls that Breathe.” All that can be heard is the sound of raindrops pattering delicately on hard ground, punctuated occasionally by booming thundercracks that pierce the quiet night sky and reverberate out through the darkness. I cannot resist it. I cannot ignore it. There is something hard-wired deep inside the human brain that responds to an electrical storm, something overpoweringly atavistic that draws us to the edge of the cave, despite the fear, to look out and wonder at the power of nature. It is a sublime moment of primitive connection between man and his environment. But then… but then…

Stand aside caveman, let the riffs commence!

Issuing forth from the decidedly non-primitive environs of San Francisco, dark metal merchants Abstracter serve us up their debut

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Gallon Drunk – The Soul Of The Hour

Clouds Hill

Gallon Drunk – The Soul Of The HourAfter the tragic death of their bassist Simon Wring in 2011, Gallon Drunk continued as a trio, releasing The Road Gets Darker From Here, a furious raw document of their stance at the time, almost a tribute to their own live appearances. After that, the band toured with Leo Kurunis on bass, and today the quartet has moved on even more, bringing also with them that raw, furious sound, combined with even better tracks, making these recordings some of their best work to date.

“The Soul Of The Hour” starts off carefully in a quiet piano mood and with a careful approach by Ian White on the toms (overall approval of his use of toms, by the way!) on “Before The Fire.” The track grows into this hypnotic looped-like catchy tune,

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ÄÄNIPÄÄ – Through A Pre-Memory

Editions Mego

ÄÄNIPÄÄ - Through A Pre-MemoryThrough A Pre-Memory is an embrace of the titans; two behemoths of the dronederground, Mika Vainio of Pan Sonic and Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O)))/Khanate/KTL/Lotus Eaters and head of the Ideologic Organ label. While screeching black metal, doom, glitch, noise and dark ambient may not be the most obvious of bedfellows, they all share an interest in exploring the trans-human, using sundry technologies to evoke images of vast, empty spaces; images of nightmarish, industrial landscapes.

That’s a large part of what makes ÄÄNIPÄÄ‘s Through A Pre-Memory such a gripping listen: every tool and trick and production method comes with its own prehistory, its own loaded context, which allows these two sonic architects to build vast and interesting edifices; sprawling alien soundworlds. The album was recorded over the span of three years, at Einstürzende Neubauten‘s studio

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Slint – Spiderland

Touch & Go

Slint - SpiderlandWe are living in the era of re. Remakes, reissues, reunions and yes, remasters are becoming the staple of our cultural life. I for one have a tendency to resignedly sigh “oh, really?” when I hear of another bit of creative heritage being given a once over, a new lease of life – the defibrillator paddles being applied to the long cold corpse of something that has passed into the mists of time. Things have a time and a place, and even if they were great, their legacy may best be served by leaving them there.

So, in the case of Slint’s 1991 album Spiderland – of which a remastered version is being made available as a vinyl box set, with DVDs, books and various other extras included – the question is, is the reincarnation worthy?

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The Cosmic Dead – Easterfaust

Sound of Cobra (LP)/Paradigms (CD)

The Cosmic Dead – EasterfaustNo-one would have believed that in the first years of the 21st century that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space…

Easterfaust is The Cosmic Dead’s 12” vinyl, two track wig out to spiral galaxies via doses of Krautrock and good old space rock. The vinyl comes in glorious coloured loveliness with some artwork that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Barney Bubbles Hawkwind album sleeve from 1973. The packaging is lovely enough alone to make you want to fork out your hard-earned cash, but what about the music?

Part one starts with a lilting riff with swirls of sound that drift around beneath its chord structure. Some primal vocalising punches through this sound now and again, but the overall feel is as if being

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Art-Errorist and Zsolt Sörés – The Wasp Boutique

Peripheral Conserve

Art-Errorist and Zsolt Sörés - The Wasp BoutiqueAbsolutely loving this musique concrète mixer: its powertooled psych-o-delia of mis-shapes pleases me no end, quivers a satisfying kraut dot’n’dashes too. The overall sprawl is akin to a modern rework of The Faust Tapes, and well, I wouldn’t expect anything less, as The Wasp Boutique is one part Jean-Hervé Péron after all. This is rousing fare for sure, thrown into the light by Peter Strickland of Berberian Sound Studio fame and housed in a Babs Santini collage that’s definitely designed to keep you awake at night.

Aptly-monkiered The Art-Errorist, he’s coupling the sonic limelight with the multi-talented Zsolt Sőrés. Now, I’m unfamiliar with this chap’s work, but going by the sounds on this handsome slab of double vinyl he certainly shares more than a few Venn intersections with Mr Péron’s erroneous

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The Necks (live at The Vortex City Sessions)

The Necks live at the Bishopsgate Institute March 2014 The Bishopsgate Institute, London 21 March 2014

Greeted at the entrance to the venue by a very City commissionaire resplendent in full uniform complete with ceremonial sash and medals, it’s clear that this is going to be no ordinary gig. The Bishopsgate Institute is at once an adult education centre and a concert hall, and it’s certainly a splendid setting in which to revisit the live music of The Necks. A pleasant surprise is finding Gina Southgate at her easel in a corner by the stage, ready to paint the band as they play.

So when the trio eventually come on stage, their improvised set is the same as ever but different as usual, and oxymoron which sums up the live Necks experience. Chris Abrahams initiates proceedings with a cascading ripple of piano

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Reinhold Friedl and Franck Vigroux – Tobel

Alamuse

Reinhold Friedl and Franck Vigroux - TobelThirty-six minutes to ascend. Thirty-six minutes to grasp the interior of a piano and strum, stroke and pluck softly until it hums. Thirty-six minutes to clatter and hiss between strings and keys and electronic devices, to shuttle like a poltergeist rising mordant among ectoplasmic shudders.

Reinhold Friedl‘s prepared piano and Franck Vigroux‘s analogue synthesizers, tape recorders and other machinery collide on Tobel with the force of an occasionally irresistible gale meeting a clattery object, the pair rattling off each other until their collective instruments set to shaking. When they scrape and shine, they do so with the slow ear-grinding scream of metal caressing metal, brakes hauled and groaning in an agonising gasp undershot with distant detonations in the underpinnings. The duo like to buzz and burr, to rumble the ivories in acoustic

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kakofoNIKT – Kaktuus

Fourth Dimension/BDTA

Kakofonikt – KaktuusHow many records or compositions have taken the existential essence of the cactus as their theme? Kaktuus is one (perhaps the only) such; and on the evidence of the album under consideration here, perhaps kakofoNIKT had the Agave americana particularly in mind. It’s certainly a psychedelic experience from the opening minutes, evolving into a surround-sound trip where garbled, guttering voices extemporise and vocalise without words and electronic and other sounds click, whirr, ping and chirrup across the soundscape at varying paces and levels of intensity.

Kaktuus bears occasional comparison with the likes of Eskimo, where The Residents imagined up a soundtrack to the life and times of the Inuit, or some of Thomas Köner‘s explorations of the Arctic entirely through the medium of drones and brushed gongs. However, Kaktuus take a less ambient, descriptive route and opts

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Sidi Touré (live at Komedia)

Brighton 18 March 2014

This was a funny evening. Good, of course. Sidi Touré is really quite the performer, and his band some of the finest. I kind of get the impression it’s not really a regular gig-going crowd. At one point there was a chap clapping out of time (clapping out of time is quite a feat, in a way). I clocked someone who seemed to take the opportunity to carry on her dance moves (I think it was a salsa of some sort – it didn’t bear any relationship to the music that was playing). Criticising other people’s dancing when you’re the largely static turd at the back is a bit disingenuous but it’s kind of emblematic of the evening. Touré speaks enough English to say hello and that’s about it, but carries on his between-song patter in French regardless of the fact that it’s lost on the

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Dat Rayon – Motor City

Zoharum

Dat Rayon – Motor CityContemporary Detroit is in ruins, its car plants and the employment they provided gone; and given the pollution and petrol-guzzling its main product was and is infamous for, perhaps not especially mourned by many. It’s a city where recoverable houses can be bought among the weeds which are making home to resurgent scrubland for $500 or less. There’s supposedly a number of optimistic new settlers moving in in search of cheap homes and the chance to rebuild afresh, to reuse and recycle to old factories into farmland and to repopulate the city on a more human scale. As with cities everywhere in the post-industrial west, some kind of eco-sensitive renewal seems to be ongoing, though whether Detroit can raise sustainable vegetable gardens from its vast areas of blight, both physical and economic, remains to be

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Every Contact Leaves a Trace label feature (Seth Cooke/Henry Collins/Ignacio Agrimbau/Dominic Lash and Will Montgomery)

Four releases from a shiny new label devoted to something like sound-art, but not as asceptic and dry as that genre has a habit of implying. Hopefully, label head Seth Cooke is already known to Freq readers, but if not his is a formidable CV – sometime Freq writer, engine, petrol and tillerman for Bang The Bore, previously one of spazzy rock’s finest drummers (Hunting Lodge), an improviser of God knows how many outfits, episodic A Bander, contemporary composition performer (mostly on the Wandelweiser side of things), conceptual sound-art tickler and probably a raft of things I’ve forgotten.

Before I start cooking the meat of the corpus, it’s worth pointing out that the label, thus far at least, is pretty concept-heavy. Concept is often a perilous matter – sound-art/experimental/whatever tends to rest atop well-articulated concepts but if there’s not much attention paid to whether or not it’s worth following through

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Arnold Dreyblatt – Choice

Choose

Arnold Dreyblatt – ChoiceChoice finds Arnold Dreyblatt making his instruments and chosen musicians sing and chime from minimalism to moments of forthright completeness over two sides of vinyl which demand an honest listen and are ultimately rewarding when given such. Curated from more than thirty years (1981-2007) of live recordings, the LP is all the more remarkable for not sounding like a compilation of music made over such a long time-frame at all.

Sometimes his titles are quite literal, as in “Striking,” where the sharp brush of hand or object on strings is overwhelmed by the churn of longer sustaining tones. Tumbling strings prick the air in a frenetic parade on “Harptones” and the harmonic drones of “Regal Sustain” fill the air with the buzzing sounds of a mechanical summer. “Flowchart” is one of the longer pieces which drifts

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