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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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Interview: Gnod

Fresh from the release of their recent triple album Infinity Machines, psychedelic space cadets Gnod have stripped down to a guitar-heavy four piece on the road. Michael Rodham-Heaps questions Gnod Gnetwerker Paddy via email about this most freaked-out of bands.

Gnod live at The Old Malt House

1. You’re probably asked this question a lot, but where did the band name spring from, other than a dyslexic spelling of Gong?

No gods no masters.

2. As a kid were you massively musical? Any early memories?

I was into music from a very early age, had a guitar from the age of eight, used to imagine that my trousers were magic drum pads and spend hours playing them, imagining all the different sounds the different parts of my trousers made. Standard stuff really.

3. Back in 2008 I snagged a tape of

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Raw Power 2015

Circle live at Raw PowerThe Dome and Boston Music Room London 24 May 2015

I have to admit that I’ve never been to Raw Power before. Every year, more than any other festival, there are always an amazing bunch of bands that I have wanted to see, or at least witness again. So even though I was unable to do both Friday and Saturdays events, I managed to race to the venues for the start of things on Sunday afternoon.

As I arrived a few stragglers from the night before began to appear, some still looking blitzed or partly shell-shocked; some with tales of drunken debauchery or just suffering from partial deafness from the Earthless set the day before. Someone informed me that it was more packed at the start of things yesterday, but I suppose two days of hedonism made it difficult to

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Fairport Convention (live at The Borderline)

London 22 May 2015

Fortis Green, north London. A place of fertile musical soil. Back at the turn of the Sixties, Fortis Green was the manor of brothers Ray and Dave Davies, whose combination of gifted lyricism, overdriven Vox amplifiers and almost unrivalled songwriting ability saw them take the output of their ground-breaking – although never less than highly combustible – band, The Kinks, to the pinnacle of the decade’s musical achievements. No compilation or documentary on the decade is now complete without a playback of the band’s performance on Shindig in 1965 (Ray purring out the words to “You Really Got Me” whilst Dave conjures the spirit of metal from his freshly-razored speaker cabs like Dr John Dee wrestling with a semi-acoustic) or grainy colour footage of the beautiful people rifling through racks of guardsmen’s jackets and groovy A-line skirts in Carnaby Street, all to the strains of “Dedicated

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Niton – Tiresias

Pulver und Asche

Niton - TiresiasDrawing on their collective backgrounds in electro-acoustic composition, electronic music and free improvisation and with a general avant-garde interest in pushing at boundaries and generally mashing things up musically, El Toxyque, Luca “Xelius” Martegani and Zeno Gabaglio do their best to evoke the spirit of TS Eliot‘s The Waste Land on their second album as Niton. Through the application of cello, self-built instrumentation and a battery of vintage analogue synthesizers of various sorts, they lay out a bleak programme of apocalyptic sounds for the end of humanity on Tiresias, named for the doomsayer of classical legend who saw nothing good would come from avoiding harsh realities, and was blinded by the gods for saying so.

Having set themselves a heftily profound subject, Niton deliver their take on the end of the world in deep listening instrumental form

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Opollo – Stone Tapes

New Nihilism

Opollo - Stone TapesJarosław Leśkiewicz‘s (AKA Naked On My Own) first CD as Opollo delivers ten tracks of wool-gathering shoegaze ambience which pulse, glide and drone at the listener, prompting the attainment of theta wave-heavy states of consciousness, or perhaps more simply nudging them towards a kind of wakeful sleep state.

As with the best of this kind of thing (Leśkiewicz is obviously a fan of both Brian Eno and Justin Broadrick in his smothering modes as Lull, Final et al, as well as Main), Stone Tapes – a title that could equally be a nod towards both the theory that ghosts are spirits encoded into places and to the British TV play of that name from the 1970s whose radiophonic soundtrack has long been the stuff of lo-fi electronic legend and inspiration – seizes control of the audio spectrum,

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Swans (live at The Roundhouse)

London 21 May 2015

Swans live at the Roundhouse– The Conscious Pause –

It is daunting to write about a show that was attended by so many Freq contributors because I know they’ll all read this and I am sure they will all have things to add (or deny). But what does that matter? It is daunting to write about a Swans show, because – Swans –

This was my second time at a live Swans show. And of course as I write that I realise live swans makes it sound like some Tudor feast centrepiece and really that’s not it at all. I had forgotten I was even going until last week, although perhaps that’s not quite accurate — it hit me last week that the show was sooner than I thought, but only really thought about it that morning during my morning

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Swans (live at The Marble Factory)

Bristol 20 May 2015

Swans live at The Marble FactorySadly, I only caught the end of Okkyung Lee’s set — a real pity as that scraping reverberation of cello was curving some lovely tonal mirages. It wasn’t long before the Swans gradually graced the stage (sometime around 8.37pm). First Thor Harris, who brewed a lovely metallic warble from his massive gong, a sound that sizzled excitingly in the ear. Phil Puleo joined him, affixing rattling metal and falling salvage to the hypothermic fray. The clatter brought on fond memories of Coil’s “How To Destroy Angels”, but here it was more oceanic – vast, a rolling rise and fall of shingle-caught sibilance to be savoured.

With the appearance of Christoph Hahn, things were thrown into more acidic directions, his lap steel full of serrating mirages, a panoramic roar of a football stadium that heralded the

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Various Artists – Eurovision 2015: Building Bridges

Universal Music

Eurovision 2015 - Building BridgesHas it been twelve months already? Twelve months since Conchita Wurst swooped into our hearts and planted a big blue, pink and white flag in the heart of Europe for the second time in Eurovision‘s history. I realise that for a lot of people Eurovision is some chintzy, end-of-the-pier nonsense, but when you can have someone advocating trans* politics in front of millions of people across the world, that is quite literally a big fucking deal.

Eurovision has a reputation for being ‘camp’ but I think it’s pretty important to emphasise that it’s not a camp that’s worthy of humiliation and denigration – Conchita Wurst in 2014 meant a lot for LGBTQIA politics the world over and was a beacon of “FUCK YEAH”. There wasn’t any global gender revolution and trans* folk still have it astonishingly

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Alexander Rishaug – Ma.Org Pa.Git

Crónica

Alexander Rishaug - Ma.Org Pa.GitMa.Org Pa.Git is the fifth solo release from the Norwegian sound artist and experimental musician Alexander Rishaug. Here he is exploring the space and the acoustics of a church organ and the hiss, overtones and feedback of an old tube amp and electric guitar. The album consist of two long pieces, recorded in the Norwegian seaman’s church in Rotterdam. Even though the material is heavily processed and recomposed, the overall feeling is genuinely spacious and acoustic.

The sounds are subtle, with very weak hisses or extremely slowly built up ambient drones. The volume is low, it is definitely not intrusive, it’s rather more like when you listen to someone talking very quietly, and you have to try to make an effort to listen to what was said. Not that I am certain Rishaug wants to express

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Electric Wizard / The Cosmic Dead / Purson / Moss (live at The Roundhouse)

London 15 May 2015

Friday night at The Roundhouse, and the faithful are gathered for what promises to be a night of epic heaviness — four bands culminating with the mighty Electric Wizard are set to compete for our hearts, minds and ultimately, souls. However, due to a rubbish London Transport experience, I arrive when the first of them, Moss, are already half-way through their set. The two songs I catch, however, are immense.Moss Live at The Roundhouse 2015 -2Moss Live at The Roundhouse 2015Purson live at The Roundhouse 2015There’s an element of early Swans to their low-down, slowed-down riffage which is even more impressive when you realise there’s only one dude on stage with a guitar, while another guy abuses the drum kit like nobody since Ted Parsons (even when a

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Holly Herndon – Platform

4AD (UK)/RVNG Intl (USA and elsewhere)

Holly Herndon - PlatformAbout two thirds of the way in to Holly Herndon‘s Platform, on the track “Lonely at the Top”, there comes an intimacy so disarming that, on first listen, I was unsure of what I was hearing.

Platform is Holly’s second album; I reviewed her first album, Movement and, though I liked it a lot, I found it a little too disjointed, calling it “admirable geekery” that needed “more substance to be fulfilling”. And perhaps this is why I am so enamoured of Platform — it is more joined-up and coherent as a singularity — more than a collection, it has something of the narrative shape that I associate with the idea of an album.

Whilst Platform carries many of the same motifs of Movement — the disjointedness is a signature, and Holly’s use

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Ozric Tentacles / Mantis Mash (live at O2 Islington Academy )

Ozric Tentacles live May 2015London 12 May 2015

Ozric Tentacles gigs now seem like a celebration. They are the meeting of the multi-coloured clothed tribes come together in one place and celebrate the wonderful psychedelic sounds of the Ozrics. The fact that the band are now 31 years along their long strange trip to Erpland also proves the continuing love and respect and support the band have with their far-out fans. The first time I saw them was in a lysergic haze on a sun-baked day at Stonehenge when their music was bright colourful and just plain out there; three decades later they are still striving for the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

First up is Mantis Mash, who is Natan, sleeve designer for the new Ozrics album and now part of spin-off band Nodens Ictus. Behind his Apple Mac and with a table

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Magma (live at Cadogan Hall)

Magma live London May 2015London 8 May 2015

I remember quite a few years back after a Magma show, a friend of mine turning to me and saying, “That was like being on another planet for two hours”. And he was right, very few bands make you transcend to another realm but Magma has the capacity to do this.

Maybe it’s because the songs are sung Kobaïan, a language invented by band leader Christian Vander, that gives the songs an off-world feel. Or maybe it’s the majestic music filled with grandeur that feels like the aural equivalent of The Lord of the Rings meets Frank Herbert’s Dune. It’s probably a combination of the two, but one thing’s for certain: nothing is quite like experiencing Magma live.

According to Stella Vander it had been six years since Magma last performed in the UK and it

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James Welburn – Hold

Miasmah

James Welburn - Hold“Naught” is a great start with its verby bass plunges and clip-winged percussion from The NecksTony Buck. James Welburn‘s music brings to mind the grim determination of early Swans or the merciless grind of Godflesh, here coupled with the distant hum of nose-diving Stukas. The minimal muscle underneath grinding away like a clogged artery, extra drones weaving in, gathering like a Godspeed venture sans the orchestral willow. A magnetic maelstrom tonally piling on the obliqueness.

Crank the volume up and it roars, as lower registers bite and the drone parabolics invert into a destructive swarm effectively drowning out all this annoying electoral babble. There’s some good perspective-filled noise at play here as secondary chords harvest smoking axels, throbbing with almost devotional intent, choiring to a mild clanking finale. This is the sort of sound that envelops, possess

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The John Coltrane Quintet – So Many Things: The European Tour 1961

Acrobat

John Coltrane - So Many ThingsJohn Coltrane then. I’ve not really listened to a great deal of ‘trane. So it’s probably pretty stupid to review a 4-CD box of stuff that’s likely for the jazz collectors market, right? Except, y’know, jazz is a thing that exists in the cultural memory, so if it’s just written by and for folk who are already in, it kind of stops being a live culture and starts being a museum piece. This isn’t a review of museum music, for my money.

There’s another point to be made — we’re in a time when black folk are getting royally shafted, all over the world, including in developed countries that feign liberalism and “healthy approaches to diversity”. Including in cities like Baltimore, where the latest casualty of police racism is not the first this year, this month,

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