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Kontakte – Superbug EP

Drifting Falling

Kontakte – SuperbugLondon bliss-rockers Kontakte continue their journey into the outer reaches of motorik rhythms and chimingly elevated guitar work with an EP which works around the theme in differing ways. “Superbug” itself boils over with tightly-wound energy, surging from twinkly psychedelic guitar melodies which dive off into shoegaze metal territory on a bedrock of cascading, weighty beats and a buzzing undertow. It’s reminiscent of the way Bowery Electric took the sound of ecstatic soaring guitars and made them throb to drum machine rhythms, but updated for a new century of technological beat-making, pulling off switchback returns until the final crash out.

“The Light Shining From A Window Behind Us” brings a benign uncoiling piano solo to the fore to introduce the final push into the reverse-engineered electronica of “Flight Paths,” where crossover keyboard reverberations trickle Harmonia-like into a langorous

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Skinny Puppy (live)

The Forum, London 18 July 2010

Orge unmaskedcEvin KeySkinny Puppy shows are pretty much bound to be weird, and more than a tad befuddling; bemusing even. Where else can a grown man shimmy onstage dressed like cross between a lightshow-bejewelled Torquemada and the dead king of Sutton Hoo, all pointy white cone-hat and empty-socketed stare against a background of videogame corridors – which it soon transpires on further exposure are probably filmed in the real world – and a panorama of desert warfare fallout and urban debris colour-filtered into psychedelic abstraction. Skinny Puppy’s musical approach is somewhat similar to their visual sense; distorting, inverting and making the organisation of commonplace sounds unfamiliar and more than a bit digitally outré. Slipping wraith-like between the precise boundaries of genre with an unnerving adroitness, walking the tightrope between the

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Godflesh – Pure/Cold World/Slavestate

Earache

Godflesh - PureDespite having been involved in probably about 90% of all British manifestations of all that is heavy, grindy and noisy in the last twenty-odd years, from Napalm Death to Jesu, Justin Broadrick is still only fourteen years old; or at least that’s how he appears. And given that my job here as a critic, is indeed to judge things on appearances, then to all intents and purposes, Mr Broadrick is in fact fourteen years old. Which is why it’s all the more startling to see the dates on these re-released classics. Not only are they actually temporally impossible artifacts, they make me feel really, really old. Definitely at least nine or ten times older than the ever-youthful Mr Broadrick.

Never anything short of prolific, he’s currently trancing out at Kevin Shields-scaring volumes with Jesu as well as nuking the

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Alan Licht & Loren Connors – Into the Night Sky

Family Vineyard

Alan Licht and Loren Connors – Into the Night SkyWhile improvisation and social activity are natural bedfellows, improvisation and relationship can be a trickier proposition. It’s a reasonable – albeit vaguely fundamentalist – argument to say that familiarity is antithetical to improvisation; the former is about learned responses, primed expectations and prior awareness; whereas the latter is about responding in the moment, dealing with the unexpected and being able to create without preparation. As two or more players get to know each other they become used to each other’s approaches and preferences. The stronger a relationship gets, the more likely it is that the players involved will have negotiated a system of complementation, compromise and shared characteristics as comfortable and familiar as any composition or idiom.

In this context it’s

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Rangda – False Flag

Drag City

Rangda – False FlagThe foundations of rock music are built on strata that have long eroded for all but the most credulous. It was initially fun, sexual and swaggering; angry, rebellious and irreverent; energetic, spontaneous and irrepressible; extrovert, engaged and innovative. Decades of mishandling by musicians, record labels, critics and musicologists have caused these qualities to be all but stripped away. Energy and spontaneity have been neutralised by expectations of repertoire and recording methods that spend too much time correcting the music’s natural grain. Irreverence has been slowly, dully bludgeoned into a meek acceptance of a sacred canon of artists and albums. Anger and rebellion have been either co-opted into brand exercises or ridiculed and dismissed as inarticulate/misinformed/misdirected, leaving both sidelined as unfashionable or irrelevant. The result is a music that has become increasingly thwarted and

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Cluster – Qua

Klangbad

Cluster – QuaLongevity in the fickle world of pop music has traditionally been an undervalued trait and Cluster, now well into their fourth decade as a musical unit, have long been an elusive presence as they’ve sailed through the decades since their inception in 1969 (with fellow electronic pioneer and Zodiak Arts Lab alumni Conrad Schnitzler as Kluster with a ‘K’). Cluster have seen through the ‘heroic years’ of krautrock in the 1970s, the popularisation and subsequent instrumentalisation of ambient music into new age in the 1980s and the re-emergence of krautrock as an explicit reference to successive generations of electronica and pop artists from the 1990s ’til now.

There’s a ceaseless expectation upon the shoulders of electronic artists of Cluster’s generation to be somehow ahead of the curve, somehow anticipating incipient trends in electronic underground ten years

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The Necks (live at The Barbican)

The Necks at The Barbican Theatre The Barbican Theatre, London 26 June 2010

The Necks have had a pretty good upswing in their fortunes with London performances over the last few years, with sold-out runs of nights at The Vortex in Dalston so successful they added in extra shows late into the night, followed up by a triumphantly immense performance in the ecclesiastically-charged setting of the Union Chapel in May 2009. Tonight’s set finds them moving further into the upper echelons of the capital’s establishment music scene by bringing their special brand of minimal-maximal improvisation to the Barbican Theatre, the smaller space in the Barbican arts centre – which is by any other standards a huge space where a pin dropped reverberates and a coughing audience member resonates into the auditorium.

So when Chris Abrahams starts things

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Disappears – Lux

Kranky

Disappears – LuxI have to admit I’d never heard of Disappears before this record landed in my lap, so I looked them up online. (Research, see? Professionalism and that. That’s what seperates us real professional music writer types from the blogroll masses.) A noisy Chicago four-piece, refugees from the sad decline of Touch and Go records, Disappears have found an unlikely home for themselves at glitch-(and drone – Ed.)-merchants Kranky. On their myspace the band list their influences as “Reverb Delay Drums Heavy Tremolo Feedback Guitars Repetition”, and say they sound like “Reverb Delay Drums Heavy Tremolo Feedback Guitars Repetition”. Heh, awesome. They also sell 7″ singles and RANT IN ALL CAPS on their blog.

Lux is the band’s first album, and there’s not an inch of fat on this record. Lux is a taut, urgent love letter,

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