The Schiphorst 2008 CD is a live album, recorded at the festival held quite literally in the rural backyard of founder member Jean-Hervé Péron, and is as ramshackle as you like. The tone is set by the packaging, which successfully conveys a flavour of the event – the front cover photo depicts a microphone struggling for visibility amid dense clouds of stage smoke, and elsewhere in the case and inserts we get to see one of Faust’s customised old cement mixers standing in a state of magnificent decay in the farmyard, the festival’s ticket office (a brightly painted wooden shack), and a large female pig named Lilli-Sau munching hay in her enclosure. Having perused all this, it’s no great surprise to find that
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Are Tortoise feeling their age? Beacons of Ancestorship, their sixth album and first album proper in five years, is littered with references to age. Ancestorship is a reasonable pointer, with Tortoise being the ancestors of course. And the title “Prepare Your Coffin” is pretty explicit. Not that Tortoise are letting it show musically. Beacons of Ancestorship kicks out into a noisy fuzz-fest at points. It was introduced to me as being synth heavy, which is right on the money. Tortoise have augmented their sound with a fat bank of analogue synths and begun to explore the territories of electronica. The result is an odd eclectic album, at points noisy and reassuringly angular, then at others well …
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Ellen Mary McGee, founder of folk-rock band Saint Joan, has created a short but magnificently intense début album with The Crescent Sun. Its a dark lyrical collection of folk songs written, sung, and largely performed by McGee. She plays guitar, banjo, glockenspiel, drums, percussion and drafts in the help of other musicians ranging from organists to electric guitarists, which takes folk music into fascinating territories. At the same time The Crescent Sun sounds very traditional and very progressive.
At times McGee is reminiscent of folk legend Vashti Bunyan and her instrumentation tends towards the cornerstone instruments of folk traditionalism, but its a folk traditionalism that has taken on modernity on its own terms … unlike say NeoFolk, which strikes
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In which New Zealand polymath Campbell Kneale (Birchville Cat Motel, Our Love Will Destroy the World, Lugosi, Sunship, etc etc etc) sets about recreating the thunder, chaos and crushing despair of one of World War I’s bloodiest battlefields, using sub-bass guitar drones with occasional percussion and samples.
As a bleak and harrowing record, Verdun stands possibly without peer. Sonically, Black Boned Angel owes much to SunnO))) and Earth, but while the drones of O’Malley et al. have been known to stir the spirit, invoking power and passion, Kneale uses the form to create a soundscape of utter dread. The battlefield of Verdun is the perfect setting for a doom record – a time when doom strode
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The Scala, London 26 July 2009
Southern Lord have been doing good business resurrecting their roster from the first time round, with some spectacularly lavish re-releases from Burning Witch, for example, making it strange to reflect that their twentieth anniversary isn’t too far off yet… So it’s only to be applauded that Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley of Sunn0))) (etc) are back with Runhild Gammelsæter and the rest of Thorr’s Hammer for tonight’s post-Supersonic festival gig – the chance for Londoners who couldn’t – or possibly wouldn’t – make the trip to Birmingham for one of the year’s crucial weekends of stupendously good music from around the world
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