Archives by month/year

Lisa Dillan – Arousal


Lisa Dillan – ArousalLisa Dillan is a vocal improviser originating from the northern parts of Norway. She is a trained and educated jazz singer, but many years ago she moved further away from the jazz, and started exploring the possibilities that lies within improvising with the voice and creating various mouth sounds. When I first watched this tiny woman doing a live performance some years ago, it was a big(!) surprise that she could produce such massive sounds by her sheer voice. Combined with the subtle minimalistic moods and sounds, her playfulness and use of glass and fruit in her performance, it was a pleasant experience. She is an artist with many talents, she has a background from breakdance, and does performances and also teaches in improvising and telemark skiing.

Her second solo album comes a full

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Skjølbrot – Maersk


Skjølbrot - MaerskRecording studios are time machines, capable of layering conflicting alternate pasts, warping space into new configurations and building dreamlike gestalts from contrasting times and places. But we could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Engineers and producers have worked diligently for decades to maintain the illusion they’re releasing records made by pub rock bands performing live together in the same place at the same time (live performance being a rarely questioned benchmark of ‘authenticity’). Outside of experimental music the most anyone usually hears about time and location in the recording process concerns lengthy gestation periods and/or musicians who choose to record in exotic locations, usually in starfucking glossy magazine articles in which both are used to reinforce notions of wealth, celebrity status and the myth of the ‘tortured artistic genius.’

For most recording artists the studio has

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Jazkamer – We Want Epic Drama

Pica Disk

Jazkamer – We Want Epic DramaThe June edition of the Jazkamer monthly series, We Want Epic Drama, is the first album with the full metal line-up since the highly acclaimed Metal Music Machine was released. Two drummers, electronics and three guitars promises quite an onslaught. However, that is often the case with Jazkamer, two or more members almost always manages to present an impressive wall of sound, no matter what.

As with the March edition, this album is a full-on production, with lots of drums apparent, though not in a metal doom kind of way you might expect from this line-up, but more free improv full speed ahead noise style. Divided into two tracks, this album is more than 70 minutes long. Both tracks starts off with hard-hitting freestyle drums, and guitar and electronics

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Weedeater (live at The Underworld)

The Underworld, London 17 June 2010

With their tattooed limbs and trucker caps, their wall-eyed glares and N’Awlins shirts that might never actually have seen better days, Weedeater strike about as Southern image as can be imagined, straight out of Wilmington, North Carolina via the casting for a Rob Zombie slasher flick soundtracked by the leavings of the stoner blues. Set down like they were at home on the stage of Camden’s darkest haven of all things heavy and metal, the trio’s sprays of small blond dreads, forked-viper scraggly beard or the smeared pencil moustache of guitarist Shep‘s greasemonkey suavity are the hirsute equivalent of their gear from messers Marshall, Ampeg and Sunn making up the backline of battered cabs whose grilles are held together with gaffer tape as much as screws.

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The Cellophane Flowers – If I Was A Girl

Minor Fall Records

The Cellophane Flowers - If I was a GirlThis is an EP that really wants you to like it from the moment you see the sleeve. It screams “Hey, I’m friendly, we could hang out and play Swingball!” First off you get a really endearing picture of a smiling jukebox as the sleeve art, and then the CD itself is pretending to be vinyl. It’s beautiful packing, it really is, and to an old cynic like me, filled me with a sense of foreboding – I was bound to be let down after such a charming opening.

But, happily, it wasn’t to be. Inside is a collection of rather lovely indie-rock – and don’t let the term put you off; yeah, I know it summons up hideous images of

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Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal

Editions Mego

Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal The problem with the notion of Hypnagogic Pop was never the music, and Oneohtrix Point Never‘s superb Returnal demonstrates that fact perfectly.

Brooklyn’s Daniel Lopatin makes tried and tested emotive music with plenty of precedent. Tangerine Dream is the most frequently cited, but you could equally choose any number of works by Vangelis or Jean Michel Jarre or Aphex Twin‘s Select Ambient Works albums. The title track does indeed sound like an out-take from The Knife, as commentators have already remarked. But the overriding similarity is with the synth interludes on concept albums by Marillion, Clannad or even Christian celtic prog-rockers Iona.

These are the plush synthesizer timbres of a thirty-something’s childhood processed through plenty of reverb and delay, audio MSG that never fails to evoke a sense of yearning, loss and memory.

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Little Annie and Paul Wallfisch – Genderful


Little Annie & Paul Wallfisch – GenderfulFrom early avant-garde releases on the legendary Crass records as Annie Anxiety, to guest slots with artists as varied (and awesome) as Coil, Nurse With Wound, On-U-Sound and Collapsed Lung, to her current incarnation as Little Annie, Annie Bandez has been nothing if not prolific, apart from eclectic. Now she and long-term collaborator Paul Wallfisch (Botanics, as well as the criminally-underrated unofficial contender for Best Band In The World Ever — according to me — Firewater) have released a new album, Genderful. From the title one could almost be forgiven for expecting some kind of dour post-feminist tract, but that would be to ignore the “wonderful” part of the compound. Indeed, the personal is political, but by the same token the political can be personal, with all the

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Omar Souleyman – Jazeera Nights

Sublime Frequencies

Omar Souleyman - Jazeera NightsThe third compilation of Omar Souleyman’s Syrian party music to be released by Sublime Frequencies doesn’t require much in the way of context for new listeners. It’s a dance-pop album. All that really matters is whether it’s catchy and whether it makes you want to flail around making an utter goon out of yourself. Happily both criteria are met with a resounding YES.

Despite being culled from an astonishing five hundred cassettes released over fifteen years, all the songs that make up Jazeera Nights seem to have been performed and recorded at with an energy and urgency that makes you wonder whether lives were at stake. The sound is stripped back and raw, giving the impression that these songs had to be captured before they could wreak havoc rather than merely put to tape. The percussion

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Hawkwind – Alien 4


Hawkwind - Alien 4Ah, the mighty ‘Wind. Where to start? Let’s assume that readers have at the very least a passing knowledge of Hawkwind‘s classic 1970s material and mythos. That decade’s long strange trip went roughly thus for the Hawks: early ‘electronic barbarian’ days in the Ladbroke Grove freak scene, then the never-bettered industrial strength trance-riffage of the Space Ritual era, before moving on to leaner, tighter, sci-fi dystopianism in the post-punk era. Almost every (official) Hawkwind release of the 70s is a timeless classic, and the band’s influence can be felt in virtually every countercultural music trend since. Under Dave Brock‘s stewardship, the band maintained a sizeable cult following throughout the 80s, as one of the house bands on the free festival scene, and if their material got patchier, they were still enough of a live draw to end their

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Celeste – Morte(s) Nee(s)


Celeste – Morte(s) Nee(s) sleeveFrench black metal hardcore act Celeste has realesed an album that is a proper dirty heavy black screaming noisy rotten piece of work that really takes me to some of my darkest places. Not only being dark, they are occasionally so heavy it makes my head want to go down and the rest of my body move underground. Don’t get me wrong; they are still a hardcore metal band with a wonderful dirty sound, but at times they have that tremendous heavy beat. Combined with massive symphonic references and attitude, they create an interesting album – which is rare to find these days. Then again, they can be quite rough and noisy in a wonderful chaotic way. Most tracks are heavy symphonic pieces from 4-5 minutes and up to 13 minutes. There is one exception though, the

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David Wrench / Black Sheep – Spades & Hoes & Plows


David Wrench received an epiphany while trapped in the worthy nu-folk purgatory of the Green Man Festival last year. Surrounded by polite and twee young indie kids who had discovered acoustic instruments and woolly jumpers, he despaired at how a once radical and iconoclastic social force had been reduced to yet another lifestyle and fashion choice. As synchronicity would have it, at that very moment he received a call from Julian Cope inviting him to record a solo album as part of Cope’s Black Sheep project. Seizing the opportunity to restore traditional folk’s lost edge and to reshape the genre in a manner befitting the 21st century, Wrench immersed himself in texts from previous centuries, eventually settling on a handful of songs that he deemed as resonant today as at the time

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NEU! – NEU!’86/NEU!’72 Non-Public Test


NEU!86New NEU! Releases are by their very nature important events, their three classic albums having grown in stature year on year since their original release back in the early 70s. Most serious fans of the group will have bought NEU!4 when Ken Matsutani’s excellent Captain Trip Records released it briefly back in 1995. The masters used, recorded in 1986 but subsequently aborted, were supplied by drummer Klaus Dinger without the knowledge or consent of his former partner Michael Rother, who subsequently described the release as “a rather painful disaster between Klaus Dinger and myself.”

This disagreement led to the delay of an official re-release of the three classic NEU! albums and an effective end to any potential reunion. Following Dinger’s death in 2008, Rother surprisingly decided that he would return to the aborted 1986 recordings and release them “as they

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Arthur Brown – Kingdom Come/Kingdom Come – Journey


Arthur Brown – Kingdom ComeForever doomed to be remembered as the one hit wonder god of hellfire, Arthur Brown is surely a true British eccentric maverick in the tradition of Syd Barrett, Peter Hammill and Genesis P. Orridge.

After The Crazy World split, Arthur Brown put together the similarly theatrical group Kingdom Come in 1970. The group’s 1971 debut album Galactic Zoo Dossier was recently reissued by the people at Esoteric, who now follow up with the two remaining Kingdom Come albums.

The self-titled second album was released in 1972, confusingly credited on the sleeve as a solo album. A lot of the music within is very much of its time, filled with the kind of stoned ‘humour’ that marred many releases of the period. You can’t help feeling that The Mothers of Invention and The Fugs had a lot to

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Richard James – We Went Riding


Richard James – We Went RidingThe “quiet one” from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci has been somewhat, well… quiet of late. In the five years since his former group officially called it a day we have been treated to no fewer than five releases from his ex-bandmate Euros Childs and yet We Went Riding is only Richard’s second solo offering, following on from 2006’s superb Seven Sleepers Den. As with his Beatles counterpart George, Richard always had a tendency to contribute a mere one or two songs per Gorkys album, but they were always among the highlights – gems such as “Stood on Gold”, “Eating Salt Is Easy” and “Sometimes the Father Is the Son” must count as some of the group’s finest work.

While Seven Sleepers Den was, with the exception of the searing diatribe “Wanna See You Die”, a low key

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