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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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Nurse With Wound – Soliloquy for Lilith

United Jnana

Nurse With Wound - Soliloquy for LilithI 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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Terry Riley (live at Station to Station)

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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Hypnodrone Ensemble – The Shape of Space

Calostro Recordings (LP) / Little Crack’d Rabbit (CD)

Hypnodrone Ensemble - The Shape of SpaceFollowing 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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Various ‎Artists – Drone-Mind / Mind-Drone Volume 4

Drone

Various ‎Artists – Drone-Mind / Mind-Drone Volume 4Pressed 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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Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

Harbinger Sound

Sleaford Mods - Key MarketsWhen 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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Expo 70 – Solar Drifting

Zoharum (CD)/Sonic Meditations (cassette)

Expo 70 - Solar DriftingFrom 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,

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Conrad Schnitzler and Pyrolator – Con-struct

Bureau B

Conrad Schnitzler and Pyrolator – Con-structThis is part of a continuing series of works that delve in the Conrad Schnitzler sound archive to generate newly inspired works. As the label stresses, this series isn’t intended to be homage or to be taken as a plain remix project, but more as an active experiment in creativity itself.

Con-struct starts sedately enough in a drift of aerosol(ed) bleeds over a plasticity of hiccups and gaseous exchanges in Vangelis-like yawns in a streamer-filled horizon. An opener that leaves you head scratching as the next taster “228-1″ (all the tracks have archive catalogue numbers) holds an altogether precarious stability. This is more like it — a dub cage erosive full of tactile scatterings, ruffled aluminium and croaking vocal toads, lovely immersive shapes that climb round your head with a slippery focus strung along a

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Datblygu – 1985-1995

Ankst

Datblygu - 1985-1995Yn ddiwedd mis Ebrill eleni, teithwyd drosodd i Gaerdydd (sydd yn hyfryd, o ddifrif) i wylio gŵyl CAM. Mewn gwirionedd, es i, i wylio Datblygu a digwydd fod yne bandiau eraill yn chwarae (parch i Ian Watson ai electro-acwstig clecian ac electro-pop Y Pencadlys, a byddai’r ddau ohonynt wedi gwneud y daith yn gwerth chweil os nid bod Datblygu ar y bil).

Dwi wedi bod yn ymwybodol o Datblygu ar gyfer rhywbeth fel 15 mlynedd — codi CD mewn siop ail law ar sail fod John Peel wedi chwarae nhw ac fod o wedi drysu fi. Ac maen nhw wedi bod yn band sydd wedi ymddangos ar bob cymysgedd-tâp ers hynny, band y mae ei felodiau wedi arnofio drwy fy meddwl. Hudolus a rhwystredig (yr rhwystr iaith) … roedd yna ychydig o ddisgwyliad at y sioe.

Mae yna adolygiad

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Nisennenmondai – Live at Clouds Hill

Clouds Hill

Nisennenmondai – Live at Clouds HillNisennenmondai are a group whose stage performances are inevitably exercises in hypnotic repetition and mesmerising fascination, so it’s interesting to see just how well it translates to the live album format. As indicated by the title, the disc was recorded as part of the label’s series of such events in front of an audience at Clouds Hill‘s Hamburg studio (the set length limited by the available space on two analogue tapes), so it’s not exactly a concert recording as such. Regardless, the trio work through new versions of every track from the N album as well as the “Mirror Ball” single with their customary concentrated intensity, and a glance at the video of them playing the set shows the trio in full-blown, heads-down trance mode as per usual.

Is there that much difference between

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Stephen O’Malley ‎- Gruidés

DDS

Stephen O'Malley ‎- GruidésWhile probably best known for making the earth tremble beneath heavyweight drones from the likes of SunnO))), KTL and Gravetemple while also rocking hard in both Thorr’s Hammer and Goatsnake, Stephen O’Malley is also the guiding hand behind the Ideologic Organ imprint of Editions Mego, releasing a treasure trove of avantgarde, experimental and electronic music both old and new. So it was with these latter activities in mind that Frédéric Blondy, artistic director of l’Orchestre de Nouvelles Créations, Expérimentations et Improvisation Musicales (ONCEIM), approached him to compose a work for the ensemble to perform.

The resulting piece was recorded in the ancient environs of the Église St Merri in the heart of Paris (itself home to some of the less raucous events of the city’s annual Sonic Protest festival) by Augustin Muller of the neighbouring IRCAM, and appears

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Circle – Silta

Ektro

Circle - SiltaShot over two nights in February 2011, at the Dynamo in Turku and the next day at YK-Klubi in Helsinki, Silta is one of the few Circle DVDs1 released so far which give the viewer a close approximation of the live experience of this most uncategorisably outré of bands.

The Dynamo footage which forms the first part is filtered in sepia tones and framed within an oval vignette effect which keeps the focus on the band tight and fixed, and captures Circle at their most triumphant, bombastic, even, guitars brandished towards the sky while Jussi Lehtisalo and Julius and Pekka Jääskeläinen toss their shaggy manes with the determined rhythmic intensity of the true metallers that they are.

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Flying Saucer Attack – Instrumentals 2015

Domino (Europe) / Drag City (Americas)

Flying Saucer Attack - Instrumentals 2015There was I thinking Dave Pearce (Flying Saucer Attack‘s main auteur) had retired from the music business entirely, living in some quiet corner of the countryside, content to be the only audience for his personal musings. Then out of the blue comes a whole album of instrumental fayre, a stark reminder of what makes FSA’s music so intriguing, essential even. Fifteen (title-less) sketches that play a delicate magic on your senses, a disquiet that you can’t avoid getting entangled with. The perfect accompaniment to staring off (forlornly) into the distance, perhaps, as if the sound were choreographing the wavering unrest of the landscape.

The spacey whirs of the opener certainly reassure you that Mr Pearce still has the potential to weave wonder out of next to nothing, a subtle spell

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Cocteau Twins ‎– The Pink Opaque

4AD

Cocteau Twins ‎– The Pink Opaque4AD have always had a good ear for the creation of compilations — The Birthday Party’s Hits was total cherry-picked greatness for one, then there’s Lonely is an Eyesore, The 13 Year Itch; the list stretches into the horizon. Now this Cocteau Twins ‘best of’ (originally marketed to strike the American market back in the mid-Eighties and now lushly re-mastered for 2015) is further evidence of this. Even now the sticky tar-pit macadam of the cover gives little away to the mesmerizing collection of tunes it contains; I love the way it makes you feel like an archaeologist as you remove the vinyl from its sleeve. Another 23 Envelope masterpiece that spoke volumes and has been faithfully restored to its original glory.

Musically things start off brilliantly with the psychedelic-tinged pop of “Spangle Maker”, all baseball

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Andrew Liles – First Monster Last Monster Always Monster / Cover Girls

Dirter

Andrew Liles - First Monster Last Monster Always MonsterAndrew Liles, the second Duke of Burgundy, third in line to the old French throne and now a broken-hearted (re)publican millionaire (his fortune in bacterial warfare, a subsidiary of Pershing), scores when he wants.

He spends his time at his Bavarian recording castle, chasing peasants, scaring locals and recording recording recording. There’s Liles smears everywhere, even if you think you don’t own one of his records you’d be wrong. Look deeper, one of the Monster things will be there. He kicks around with Nurse With Wound, of course, and plays occasionally with Current 93‘s gnostic mass; but these two releases, with Andrew on his own (apart from all the cover girls, that is) sees him doing what he does best; ploughing a lone furrow, doing what the hell he wants.

First Monster is

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Hilde Marie Holsen – Ask

Hubro

Hilde Marie Holsen - AskHeavy skies that turn from the beautiful to the devastating; Ask is the immersive solo début of young Norwegian trumpet player Hilde Marie Holsen.

It’s a good five minutes until the first recognisable trumpet sounds arrive, such priority is given to the distinctive voice swirling around inside the electronics. Even though combining solo trumpet with the latest software is not new to me, there is a clear musical intent to Holsen’s heavy processing that she uses to surround, modify and merge with her minimalistic horn playing.

Holsen’s trumpet gets radically expanded through her command of software, and whilst the options and variations are staggering, the honing in seems to be well under way. There is little about this that feels random, a side effect that can overtake much of improv that combines the freshest technology with extended

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