Archives by month/year

Up – Rising

Applebush/Easy Action

Up - RisingBack in the late 60s, Up were part of the same fired-up Detroit scene that gave us the MC5 and the Stooges but have been largely forgotten over the years. This is perhaps understandable as their only releases at the time were one and a half 7” singles – 1968’s “Just Like an Aborigine/Hassan I Sabbah” and “Free John Now,” which appeared on a split release with Allen Ginsburg in 1971 as part of the campaign to free White Panther leader John Sinclair.

For this beautifully presented retrospective, the people at Applebush/Easy Action have done a great job once more. The packaging takes the same long-box format as their recent set with extensive notes and a collection of beautiful miniature poster reproductions. Not only have they managed to unearth enough material to flesh out the existing three tracks

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Hawkwind (live at The Forum)

The Forum, London 17 December 2010

This is Earth calling, this is Earth calling……

It’s mid-winter, snow is on the ground and Arctic winds blow and London is bought to a stand still by Tube strikes and 2cm of the white stuff (no not the “Right Stuff”). Beaming down from their planet, Hawkwind are on their usual winter solstice space ritual tour and tonight is its final night.

Hawkwind live at The Forum

What better way to warm the frozen masses than to slide into a rousing rendition of the X In Search of Space classic “You Shouldn’t Do That.” In fact tonight Hawkwind manage to slip in a few little surprises. From the moment the set starts with Tim Blake’s space synthesizer giving an electronic countdown to cosmic blast off you know you’re going to be in for a treat. Then the rest of

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The Orb (live at The Scala)

The Scala, London 11 December 2010

The first time I saw The Orb play live was at the time of the release of their album Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. At that time the techno/ambient/trance scene was at an all-time high with a plethora of new bands using psychedelic images and pushing at making the underground become overground. The Orb’s “Little Fluffy Clouds” drifted through the spring and summer airwaves (well they did in my house), and their gig at The Fridge in Brixton was packed with sweaty dancing bodies.

Fast forward to 2010 and The Orb is a slightly different prospect. The gig tonight is only half full and I kept glancing around to see if there would be a final surge of people once The Orb hit the stage at 11.30. I’m not sure why there was a lack of people especially after their new album Metallic Spheres with

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US Christmas – Run Thick In The Night


USX – Run Thick In The NightRun Thick in the Night is USX‘s (as they are sometimes called) fifth album and the first I have heard and I’m really quite impressed…

The album begins with the 13 minute opus “In the Night” witch starts off with a guitar and keyboard drone reminiscent in sound to that of The Doors‘ “The End” before the track catapults into the main section of big power chord space rock lead guitar and swirling analogue synths (you can tell I’m in heaven at this point). The vocals cry to the heavens and the songs pounds the music of the spheres into oblivion. Space rock synth and big Hawkwind-style chords introduce “Wolf on Anareta” and the song moves with some urgency toward its centre guitar solo while drifting through a tuneful middle eight. It’s at this time

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Smegma – Mirage


Smegma - MirageSmegma was formed in Pasadena, California in the early 70s, found no fans there and moved to Portland, Oregon, though they’re still an important part of the Los Angeles Free Music Society. Geographical lessons aside, in addition they have made wonderful avant-garde free noise improv music ever since. So a new release by Smegma is always something to look forward to, and not to be drowned in mainstream categories. Mirage is no exception.

So it begins. Cabaret singing and free-jazz mixed with some weird strangeness of another world. To knock it into bits and pieces, descriptions such as: a variety of horns, feedback, spoken words, operatic song, scream, krautrock rhythms, a cacophony of industrial noises, or references to music concrète, and it is done. Looks easier in words, but sounds a lot more complicated. Smegma has always been difficult

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – A Very Steampunk Xmas EP

Leather Apron

A Very Steampunk XmasNews having recently reached my ears of a troupe of performing “Gentleman Ne’er-do-wells” giving themselves the grandiose name of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, who have of late been Turning a fair few Heads, chiefly among the lower orders and the varied Forms of Scientists, Slatterns and Scum of London’s East End, I despatched a young Boy, who had been lurking around my Table for scraps of Food, to the local Market, armed with a shiny sixpence, with which to purchase their latest Offering and, of course, whose Change he could keep for himself, to do with as he will, it being nearly Christmas and the seed of Christian Charity having been planted in my manly Bosom. On his return, I set up my new Steam-Powered Musical Performance Contrivance, and retired to the

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Eyeless in Gaza (live at The Vortex)

The Vortex, London 3 December 2010

It’s thirty years now since Eyeless in Gaza released their debut single, “Kodak Ghosts Run Amok” (1980), and in all that time there’s never been a moment when they could be made to fit in with whatever else was happening around them. In the early days they were seen perhaps as part of DIY post-punk; once signed to Cherry Red they were treated as yet another of that label’s line in wistful, weedy acoustic singer-songwriter combos; more recently The Wire has tried to palm them off merely as presursors of the tedious Wyrd Folk trend/marketing opportunity.

Eyeless in Gaza at The Vortex

Their gig at London’s Vortex brought all of this to mind and gave me a chance to think about how they fit into my own private scheme of things. I’ve been listening to Eyeless in

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An Audience with Mark Sanders

Mark sanders (Photo: Andrew Putler)Mark Sanders has been a professional drummer for almost thirty years. His diversity is unmatched, running the gamut between jazz, free improvisation, pop, avant-rock, modern classical, dance, new complexity, dub and folk. He’s one of the few free improvisers who integrates the learning that he accumulates from these broad activities: most improvising musicians’ approach rarely synthesises or overlaps their sets of experience from other styles. You would be hard pressed to find musicians currently working within free improvisation who he hasn’t worked with.

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Paolo Angeli – Tibi/Fred Frith – Live in Japan

Paolo Angeli – TibiFred Frith - Live in JapanThere are four main ways of making music that sounds different to anyone else: by devising your own conceptual framework; using rare or unique instruments and equipment; developing an unusual approach to your instrument; or by training until your technique is broader, faster or more specialised than that of other players. Depending on your level of insecurity you may reinforce these with deliberate obfuscation, whether that entails removing the labels from your vinyl, claiming that you don’t understand or aren’t interested in your own process or ability, hiding your equipment or simply not answering questions. It depends whether or not you’re afraid of the competition or you think you’re the kind of person who’s only going to have one decent idea in your lifetime…

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