Archives by month/year

Kling Klang/Tennis/Ticklish (live at the Kosmische Club)

Kling KlangThe Kosmische Club

Upstairs At The Garage, London 28 July 2001

For the Kosmische Club’s fifth birthday, the party hats, balloons and banners have been brought out to celebrate half a decade of putting on one of the best clubs in London, if not the country and possibly the world. A touch of hyperbole, perhaps, but the nice thing about this club, despite the almost unbearable heat in the small roof-space room which has plagued Upstairs At The Garage in summer since the year dot, is how intimate it is. Not just in the sense of being small, but there’s usually a general air of seriously friendly fun and frivolity to be found, and it’s especially the case tonight. The party mood may not be that different from the average Kosmische, but the selection of DJ’ed tunes and live guests makes for

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Hazard – Wind

Label: Ash International Format: CD

Wind - sleeve Sourced from field recordings made by Hazard and Chris Watson and reprocessed by Benny Nilsen, Wind takes the sound of that element as it moves across two continents and brings out the drama of nature in an immediate, textural manner. Where the Isolationists drew their analogue/digital interfaces into dense wastes of often desolate structures (a broad generalisation, true), Wind concentrates on the immensity of the chaotic, the actual, definite majesty of one of the more devastating forces of nature. The rumbles and rustles are often in danger of originating at the point of recording, where the physical surface of the microphones become the resonant object in the production of the sound itself. Nilsen is careful to note his and Watson’s selection of the sources, and it is instructive to attend carefully upon the recording process as

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Twilight Circus Dub Sound System – Volcanic Dub

Label: M Records Format: CD,LP

Volcanic Dub - sleeve detailWhen the Freq Meister asked me if I liked dub and fancied reviewing some I said yes. And after listening to this I’d still say yes again. What I like is that you can either let it all wash over you and be vaguely aware that space is being moved around while you stay where you are, or you can focus on the tiny modulations of one of the instruments. Like a magnifying glass held up to the sound a drum is making.

This is a good example of either approach and is the work of Ryan Moore who plays and produces everything. Tracks move effortlessly into each other with shifts in rhythm barely noticed. Ditto the instruments. Keyboards, bass and drums shift and echo, repeat and fade. I think the titles overstate the

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The Black Heart Procession/Simon Breed (live)

Pall A. Jenkins 93 Feet East, London 9 July 2001

Simon Breed“Bosses, They’re all cunts, pricks wankers and shits – does anyone here like their boss?” Well, those were similar words to the ones I muttered when Simon Breed nearly trampled me in his stampede to the bar pre-showtime. He was allegedly referring to his boss, or bosses in general. The same song also proclaimed him to sound like Bruce Springsteen, make what you will of that. The sound system is crap, there was a bug on the wall, and the bar on which I am trying to write is shifting constantly with a serious threat to collapsing. Not a good start really, but I will calm down and give it a chance.

I am here at 93 Feet

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Tricky (live at The Junction)

The Junction, Cambridge 9 July 2001

For whatever bizarre reason, this gig couldn’t be advertised. Having found out about it, having already missed Tricky’s appearance at Robert Wyatt’s South Bank Meltdown, and noting that his only other UK appearances this tour were at the V2001 festival and Penrith (remember Withnail spitting this town’s name out in a phone box? – yes, that Penrith), I had to check it out. I’d only seen Tricky before at Glastonbury, where I was totally blown away by his metallic trance, so different from his recordings, so unimpressive to everyone gathered to see Blur aftewards. His new album, Blowback, was suitably tickling me, and two of the tracks (“Girls” and “Bury the Evidence”) hinted closer than ever at his live sound. Seeing him at the sweaty little Junction got me highly expectant.

In short,

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To Rococo Rot + I-Sound – Pantone EP

Label: City Slang (Europe)/Mute (North America) Format: CDS,12″

To Rococo Rot + I-Sound – Pantone EPThe Pantone EP brings together a selection of tracks originally aired on To Rococo Rot and I-Sound’s Music Is A Hungry Ghost album, here revised in light of live performance. “Pantone (Red)” whirrs out from an opening skim across the glitchscape into a tinkly melody, all trailed echoes of brightly-sparking electronics and the characteristic TRR bass glide. The synthetic strings swell, the melody hums beatiful thoughts to itself, and the chirrup of cyclical hiss and spinning tops makes drowsy clouds waft by into delicate decay. The Trance Of Travel (Gets)” brings the Funk on in, as hesitant synthetic notes make their statement of intent to the beat of steam-propelled drum machinery and the sound of layered delay-looped percussion samples. It’s on this track that I-Sound’s

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Reuber – Ruhig Blut


Reuber – Ruhig BlutThis is one of those albums which goes on forever, but with the pleasant companionship of days passing and the changes of the quality of light and temperature on one side, and the intensity of a nightmare storm battering on the other. The title is German for Keep Cool, and the long slow unwind of electronic tones is certainly chilled out to a specific degree of mellowness – at least at first it is. The circling high pitches of “Ruhig Blut A” take their twenty minutes (one side of the vinyl edition) to swap stereo channels, swooping and diving through the sound picture with tranquil ease as teensy synth pulsations make their entrance and meander in concert with sundry squeaks and gentle sputters. Calmness is achieved. Rhythms are hinted at, pass though almost imperceptible bass phases; calmness never

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His Name Is Alive (live at Toynbee Hall)

Lovetta PippenArts Café, Toynbee Hall, London 3 July 2001

One of the things about getting older is the urge to mellow out, to chill into a fully-realised state. Warn Defever has been skimming the surfaces and wading into the depths of music for over a decade now, and his frequently disparate collision of sounds and genres onto each His Name Is Alive record has been whittled down into a focussed approach to collecting sounds together. This has found its most recent form on the (apparently, deceptively) polished R&B sheen of the surprising Someday My Blues Will Cover The Earth, but anyone expecting the live show accompanying that album to revolve around funky beats and low basslines was in for yet another raised eyebrow moment – the latest in a long series from Defever and company.

Instead, the swooningly hot interior of the Arts

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The Black Heart Procession – Love Sings A Sunrise

Label: Speakerphone Format: 7″

LSSR - sleeve detailTucked away on this seven inch disc of transparent red plastic is one of Black Heart Procession‘s mini masterpieces of melancholic glorying in the sadness of things in general and the passing of time in particular. “Love Sings A Sunrise” coasts on a slow-turning beat and a lambent shimmer of electronic detritus, with Pall Jenkins‘s mournfoul voice declaiming his lost love as the band back up in the background, or possibly another room entirely. To the plangent chimes of a sad guitar, the song unwinds its sorrowful way to drown sorrows in booze and self-reproach, expressed quietly in the piano strokes of eventual rising redemption. It’s a throughly beautiful misery from a band who know exactly how to make the heart bleed without giving self-pity a bad name in the process, and one to be treasured.


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Young Gods/Lolita Storm (live)

Franz Treichler warms up the crowdThe Mean Fiddler, London 2 July 2001

Lolita Storm

Somehow Lolita Storm should have got a better reaction on this bill – their shouty teen rants and splattery digital hardcore beats and pieces are part of the busy collision of electronics and rock the Young Gods were instrumental in creating after all. But perhaps the early start time is why there’s about twenty people gently bobbing in front of the trio of singers in their hand-drawn t-shirt dresses and punk attitude. The resulting blasts of defiantly anti-Spice agit-prop shrieking and close-harmony invective fall a little flat as a result, and the band seem less than sparkling as a result.

Still, give ’em a roiling moshpit and a flail of legs in the air and the sneering kick of “Red Hot Riding Hood” should get those floors heaving

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Fennesz – Endless Summer

Label: Mego Format: CD,LP

Endless Summer - sleeve detailInteresting.

We in Los Angeles have to suffer through the endless re-viewing of this surf escapade. It’s expected. It’s part of Western (literally) cinema, much now like a muscle in the face that one uses but forgets exactly what its purpose is. And yet these sounds scuttle like the smallest parts of that film – ones that are never popularly noticed, even after a hundred viewings. These sounds remind a bit of watching a line of ants while sitting on the sidewalk at the Hollywood Christmas Parade. They’ve been there all along. They are spectacular in themselves.

Grains of sand push their way past the microphones and muddy up the eddies of the sounds surfing from one point of the melody to the next. It is unclear if there are extracts from the original soundtrack occuring

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Bush Chemists – Dub Fire Blazing

Label: Dubhead Format: CD,LP

Dub Fire Blazing - sleeve Counscious Centry man and all-round dub star Dougie Wardrop‘s third outing with P Davey in the Bush Chemists‘ trilogy of digital roots manoeuvrings continues to prove that this particular branch of reggae is as much a London thing as Jamaican. From the fields and tents of sunny sound-systems on Hackney Marshes to the dub clubs of Brixton, Tufnell Park and Finsbury Park, the Stamford Hill posse have drummed up the electronic percussion and spread the bass vibrations across the “Toker’s Trilogy” of Light Up Your Spliff, Light Up Your Chalice and now Dub Fire Blazing.

The first of these albums had one of the wacky-bacciest opening lines ever in the shape of “Light up your spliff/light up your chalice/c’mon everyone to Buckingham Palace”, a tune which surely should be the anthem of Smokey Bears and

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