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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Yanqui U.X.O.

Label: Constellation Format: 2LP,CD

Yanqui U.X.O. - sleeve detailYanqui U.X.O. is a record that demands time and attention to it’s myriad details as they shimmer past in a gathering whirl of music that sounds absolutely and profoundly played, rather than constructed, by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Recorded by Steve Albini with all his usual craftsmanship, this slow-building album coruscates with a stately emotional fire which reflects the band’s personal-political agenda of righteous indignation at the state of the world. Their own summation: “Yanqui is post-colonial imperialism is international police state is multinational corporate oligarchy.”

While the group recognise their own complicity as part of the corporate music industry through their record sales in chainstores, slip in sleevenote allusions to Ariel Sharon and the latest bloody Intifada and even provide a handy hand-drafted flowchart of multinational military-entertainment-industrial complex relations, they also point out “the new

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Devendra Banhart – Oh Me Oh My… The Way The Day Goes By The Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs Of The Christmas Spirit

Label: Young God Format: CD

 Devendra Banhart ‎– Oh Me Oh My...The Way The Day Goes By The Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs Of The Christmas SpiritThis has got to be one of the oddest musical surprises in a long time, and an intriguing one too. Devendra Banhart recorded the twenty-one tracks on dodgy 4-track tape recorders, and the hiss is evident throughout — but just adds to the close-up intensity of his songs, played on acoustic guitar and only occasionally supplemented by handclaps, thighslapping and some off-key whistling.

Banhart has a strange falsetto singing voice which makes it hard to determine whether he is male or female at first, and the effect of listening to his vocals can be eerily estranged. His words and music flow

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Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore – Black Earth

Label: Wonder Format: CD

Black Earth - sleeve Black Gothic letters and skull graphics in gloss black print on a matte black Digipak (although it’s a shame about the barcode’s intrusion on a white rectangle breaking up the black theme). An opening choral Mellotron drone worthy of Popul Vuh‘s soundtrack to Nosferatu The Vampyr. Will it be the heaviest of doom metal or the most brainpan-shuddering of nasty gothic industrial anguish? Not quite: it turns instead out that Black Earth is closer to a form of melancholy post-rock, brought forth in grand slow style to the brush of unfulfilled percussion strokes and cymbal ripples, paced by a somnolent detuned double bass thrum and scored to the smoky ceilings of cellar-dwelling melodic misery by half-waking saxophone breaths with only the twinkling sparks of the Fender Rhodes to approach the hint of light.

Bohren Und Der

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Coil (live at Mind Your Head)

Jhon Balance (Picture: Mink Pelican) The Royal Festival Hall, London 1 October 2002

Following an introduction which emphasizes the psychedelic nature of the selection of musicians and bands from Glenn Maxx, the South Bank Centre’s mastermind for the Mind Your Head season, Coil emerge on stage bathed in UV light, their white costumes stark as the sine waves of their opening number, traces of the music projected visually on the giant screen behind the band. They are joined by Massimo and Pierce of Black Sun Productions, who stand to the front as nude statues in deliberately-paced motion, palms out and impassive as the chaos of noise and light builds behind almost as slowly. The strobes kick in at brain-bending frequencies to match the electronic whirlwind, subliminal texts flicker across the screen, and John Balance dusts his hands, declaring “Electricity has made angels of

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Sigur Rós (live)

Mind Your Head Royal Festival Hall, London 1 October 2002

After a blazing performance by Coil, (which was, incidentally, their best yet which I’ve seen: completely charged with the energy one craves from Coil) I was not optimistic about seeing Sigur Ros, despite being a devoted lover of Agaetis Byrjun. Another example of a headliner being shown up by their “special guests”? Just goes to show how wonderful it is when expectations are low and surprise is at hand, for Sigur Rós delivered one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen.

There were eight of them in total, none of them looking as if they could have breached the 25 year old mark. I could not tell you a thing about their set list, as I had never heard most of the songs they played and couldn’t understand them if I knew the titles. Singing in what

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