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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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The Pop Group – Cabinet Of Curiosities

Freaks R Us

The Pop Group - Cabinet Of CuriositiesSee, I managed to miss The Pop Group, though this is kind of forgiveable given that I would have been like eight years old or something at the time. Slightly less forgiveable is the fact that I managed to continue missing them for the next thirty years. Which is weird, because not only was I a big fan of bands who had been influenced by them (in particular The Birthday Party, one of the greatest bands ever) but I was also a big fan of Mark Stewart‘s solo output, particularly his stuff in the ’90s with the On-U Sound System, and even more particularly with his 1990 album Metatron.

And then last year I saw them at All Tomorrow’s Parties, and the weirdest thing happened. Despite never, to the best of my knowledge,

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The Ex / Trash Kit / Afework Nigussie / Terrie Ex and George Haddow / Arend B Blauw (live at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)

Trash Kit live November 2014Brighton 10 December 2014

Gig-craft. It’s a tricky thing. Something that’s a perennial irritation for me is the way you’ll get a touring band and three-five clones of that band. I always have this problem with things like grindcore gigs where you just get five of the same band. Which is great, for about two acts, then I get bored. SO one of the things about this gig was that it was really well-programmed. Dutch-language singer-songwriter stuff, fidgety improv, Ethiopian songs, something I’m going to vaguely call “dance-ish music with guitars” and The Ex. The latter of which I’m going to assume you’re familiar with.

What The Ex seem to have done here is, rather than buy into the idea that everyone wants to see the headline band cloned, assumed that people have a live show that’s something more

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Mike Heron and Trembling Bells (live at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club)

London 11 December 2014

Entering the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club was almost like taking a trip back to 1973. I was told, most politely, at the door that there was no photography allowed, that there was no re-entry into the building once you left and finally my hand was marked with a massive X. It was like I had entered some Wicker Man cult, and to be honest the bar looked quite similar to the Green Man pub in the film. The large room had a kind of dilapidated 1970s glory to it and even though it was hung with Christmas decorations, it still seemed slightly faded and worn; but that just added to the atmosphere, for once you settled down with a drink it was almost hard to leave.

I have been a massive fan of the Incredible String Band for years, so I always try to get

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Sleaford Mods – Chubbed Up: The Singles Collection

Ipecac

Sleaford Mods – Chubbed UpAt the start of Lautreamont’s Maldoror, the disclaimer suggests: “This is not for you” and this is where I find myself with Sleaford Mods. I like this album, find it witty and funny and I’ve always liked The Fall and it’s not as annoying as Renegade Soundwave but… this isn’t for me. I feel wrong listening to it, feel like I’m inevitably going to like it in the wrong way. Now, I’m not about to suggest that you have to be there (and be in there) to get Sleaford Mods – this is a work of art, after all, and requires imagination, a certain amount of retroscending – but there’s something about all their releases (I joined with most of the rest of you, at Austerity Dogs) that feels overwhelmingly authentic. These guys don’t seem like they’re

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Gong / Psigong / Andy Bole (live at The Garage)

London 28 November 2014

Gong live November 2014A few years ago, Daevid Allen unexpectedly reconstituted Gong with a new and (relatively) youthful line-up, and long term fans were initially rather flummoxed (no doubt this was part of the idea — the Alien having long delighted in wrongfooting his audience). But after a series of barnstorming live performances and a fine new album, I See You – the best Gong album since the early ’70s classics on which their legend rests – the revamped line-up had proved its mettle, and the announcement of a new set of tour dates promised more delights to come.

Then came the bad news – Allen had been diagnosed with lymphoma, he was undergoing treatment in Australia and would be unable to tour, his son (and Gong drummer) Orlando was also staying in Oz to look after his mother and

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Now – Innard Listeningestion

mottomotto

Now - Innard ListeningestionThere’s a certain mild krautishness nurturing in those Kinder Egg diode flashes, a light-hearted flush of danceability that’s swimming in the real and the synthetic in equal amounts. Oddly punctured textures and filtered sequins that seem to bubble-burst plenty of satisfied grins, a childlike tinkering perfectly matching the lurid orange vinyl and crayoned graphics of its package.

Innard Listeningestion by Now

“Innards” starts the ball rolling, its super-cute measures amok with squelching Paddington Bear galoshes bouncing off cling film-coated puddles. A curl-e-whirling of vocals, light and airly remainders to a tinselated rhythmic goodness, popsicles dream-feeding soft cushioned contours and jangling xylo-tonics of a catchy number that’ll haunt you with its fancy footwork. “Listening Forward To It” adds an increase in tempo, the beat toothpasted with arp(ing) sensations and glaring headlights. Its quieter Satie-like moments prised open in resplendent

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Khost – Copper Lock Hell

Cold Spring

Khost - Copper Lock HellRight, it seems there must be two Andy Swans. There’s the Andy Swan who heads up Iroha, one of the Uk’s most underrated “massive hooks with massive riffs” bands. Then there’s the Andy Swan in Khost – an outfit where melody isn’t part of the deal and crushing slabs of claustrophobia are the order of the day here.

Copper Lock Hell is a brutal, brutal record. It’s uniformly funereal in its pace, and really it flirts with degrees of darkness as opposed to light and shade. But it’s deeply layered and considered too. Third track “Hypocrisy Banality Possession” – featuring a beat that’s almost as sparse as your chances of finding any semblance of hope – is a fuzzy wall of violence and negativity. And like a number of songs on Copper Lock Hell, it’s punctuated

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English Heretic – The Underworld Service

English Heretic

English Heretic - The Underworld ServiceEnglish Heretic is an on-going multimedia exploration of various occult threads of British lore — everything from the polished chrome dystopias of JG Ballard to pagan pageantry, all corn rigs and jigs. He draws in tendrils of Crowley‘s 93rd current, mixing with Patrick Keiller‘s situationism and Julian Cope‘s wide-eyed megalith worship.

On The Underworld Service, English Heretic unearths the zombified corpse of 1969 into 1970 — the threshold, the death throes of sunshine idealism and the birth of the post-apocalyptic uncertainty of the ’70s. He throws damning shadows on the rosy retrospection of the myth of the ’60s – with “black wax from candles taken from backstage at Altamont” (“Peregrine”), the continued youth rebellion of GIs gone wild in the wilds of Vietnam, (“Operation Wandering Soul”) and a gaze at ’60s psychedelic occultism

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The Miles Davis Quintet – All of You: The Last Tour 1960

Acrobat

The Miles Davis Quintet – All of You: The Last Tour 1960The 1960 tour of Europe of the Miles Davis Quintet is a significant moment in jazz. It stands at a fulcrum for the development of John Coltrane as a musician and as a distinctive voice. The Quintet here is essentially the Sextet featured on Kind of Blue, but with Bill Evans swapped for Wynton Kelly on piano and without Cannonball Adderly.

Coltrane had played with Miles Davis since the 1955 Sextet, on the albums Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’ and Steamin’, before being sacked for substance abuse issues. When he was accepted back into the fold in 1958 he made important contributions to Milestones and the seminal Kind of Blue, but at the moment of these radio recordings of the 1960 tour we also see Davis bringing back Coltrane as he is

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Large Unit – Erta Ale

PNL

Large Unit - Erta AleLarge Unit was born when Paal Nilssen-Love was asked by a festival promoter to put together the band of his dreams. Nilssen-Love found the musicians among long-time friends and collaborators or by looking for young musicians with the extreme qualities he needed to present his musical visions. This all-Norwegian band (apart from one Swede) has no lack of skills and all the abilities to improvise in all kinds of directions.

Celebrating his 25th release on his own label, Paal Nilssen-Love gives the fans a box of music maybe trying to sum up some of his inspirations to date by being many years in bands and collaborations with Peter Brötzmann, Frode Gjerstad, Ken Vandermark, The Ex and Lasse Marhaug, to name only a few. The latter also being an important asset to this release, Paal Nilssen-Love shows how

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Silver Apples / Tomaga (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Corsica Studios, London 3 December 2014

One of the bonuses of the gig being at Corsica Studios is that I can have a wander around inside the Elephant and Castle shopping centre beforehand. It’s a truly gargantuan space, way too large to justify its enormous real estate footprint in these slavering Neoliberal times, but somehow it manages to persist, its small-flecked 1970s flooring and wooden handrails clinging on in 2014, as anachronistic as pair of brown flares and a pint of Watneys Red Barrel. It’s not pink any more, and sadly no longer has wonderfully alliterative pairings of its purchasable wares written around the top of the facade (“Shoes / Sandwiches”!), but damn it, it’s still there.

Even its original architects later admitted that “the site is really saying no with a big NO to almost any poor pedestrian who wants to creep into the building.” but after many years

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Underworld – dubnobasswithmyheadman

Universal

Underworld - dubnobasswithmyheadmanMaybe it says something about the staid state of mainstream music fare at the moment but there has been a glut of reissues recently. 20 years after its first release, Underworld’s dubnobasswithmyheadman is the latest album to be remastered and repackaged in search of a new audience. In this case, if for no other reason that you have not heard it before, the re-release is worthwhile. Apparently the remastering has significantly improved an album that already sounded great, however the label was only prepared to provide access to a streamed MP3 version, which means that it’s not possible to comment on the impact of this.

The deluxe version of the package comes with a lot of extras. For those unfamiliar with the Underworld back catalogue, some great extra tracks that were previously only available on 12”, including “Rez” and

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Ariel Kalma documentary by Matthew McGuigan

To accompany their release of Ariel Kalma‘s An Evolutionary Music, RVNG Intl. have put Matthew McGuigan‘s documentary about a day in the life of Kalma online

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Andrew Heath – The Silent Cartographer

Disco Gecko

Andrew Heath - The Silent CartographerThe Sound Of Absence

“If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?” – George Berkeley

Have you ever wondered what happens when you’re not around? What Somewhere Else might look like? To look through someone else’s eyes? The limits of knowledge is one of the most frustrating things about being alive – the fact that we are confined to our senses, and cannot help but greatly filter and effect the world around us, with our very presence. Yet as times go on, as we come to integrate with our machines, and explore the depths of their potential and implications, it does seem that we are finally getting a bird’s eye. We are beginning to sense landscapes without us in them.

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Ariel Kalma – An Evolutionary Music (Original Recordings: 1972-1979)

RVNG Intl.

Ariel Kalma - An Evolutionary MusicAriel Kalma first came to my attention after snagging myself up his 0smose re-issue some years back, a startling re-imagining of ambient music from 1978 centred round the rainforest sounds of Borneo, a strung-out beauty well ahead of its time, and a revelation I was happy to hear more of. Now fast forwarding to 2014, the New York RVNG INTL. label have just unearthed a perfect prescription to enhance those otherworldly vibes, a 17 track, two disc epic that glimpses into the Kalma soundscaping of the Seventies. A document that attempts to throw light on his Kalian approach to the notion of ambient, his desire to suspend your disbelief or extend it on the tensile drop of rain from a leaf’s tip or the fluxing contours of cloud-gathering skies.

It’s a sedate affair as

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