It’s four years since God Luck and Good Speed came out and in those four years I have probably played it as much if not more than any other sludge album or any album for that matter with the possible exception of Harvey Milk.When I heard that Weedeater were releasing a new album I was excited, and unwisely and contrary to my usual cynical disposition believed the hyperbole put out by Southern Lord and others that this album would apparently “slay us all”. So when I first played Jason …the Dragon my first impression was underwhelming. Why? Firstly the first proper track “Hammerhandle” is so great the rest of the album is a bit of an anti-climax and secondly because it is not better than God Luck.
Repeated plays however
Continue reading Weedeater – Jason …the Dragon [...]
At the risk of prematurely blowing my journalistic load, this is a great record. And that’s the bottom line for any review really. It’s not, perhaps, a record that fits with Rhy Chatham’s reputation for Glenn Branca-baiting massed guitar works. Outdoor Spell is nothing like 2005’s Crimson Grail, at least in terms of instruments – trumpets, vocals, percussion for this record, rather than his better-known battery of guitars. What is residual from his massed guitars is the meditative quality of the work – tracks swirl around repetitiously drilling into the ears, loops inscribing sprawling overtones onto the memory.
One of the first things that struck me about this as a great record was the length – a very polite, unimposing 40-odd minutes. No unnecessary frills or superfluous solos, just four tracks
Continue reading Rhys Chatham – Outdoor Spell [...]
It’s easy to forget how dismal the nation felt when the early High Llamas albums appeared. Like an unwanted, puke-spattered drunk still hanging around at the morning-after clear-up of a party, the fag end of the (last) Tory government had clung on for years after Thatcher was driven away from Downing Street for the last time with tears in her eyes. It was an exhausted, morally bankrupt and patently incompetent administration run by uninspiring, grey bureaucrats: men like John Major, Peter Lilley, John Redwood and Norman Lamont. Film-maker Patrick Keiller’s two great commentaries on that era, London (1994) and Robinson In Space (1997), were savage state-of-the-nation critiques that stripped away all of Major’s political bluster and talk of warm
Continue reading The High Llamas – Talahomi Way [...]
Architects of Harmonic Rooms and Records
There’s something tantalisingly unreal about these direct to DAT solo twelve-string guitar compositions, recorded between 2000 and 2006. Capturing almost exclusively the twang, scrape and buzz of the strings, the instrument sounds almost disembodied, a shimmering, glistening, glassy surface with barely any hint of the guitar’s resonating chamber, let alone any sense of the environment in which it was played. There’s a sense of dislocation and separation, an almost rootless unease, as though the music is caught somewhere between the transcendent and corporeal.
Steffan Basho-Junghans’ guitar style is a curiously restless hybrid, based on similar ground to Philip Henry’s synthesis of John Fahey Americana with Asian influences yet capable of incorporating a minimalism that recalls some of Tetuzi Akiyama’s more motorik excursions. The album could fairly
Continue reading Steffen Basho-Junghans – Is [...]
Woman when I’ve raised hell, there won’t be a star left untouched in your sky When my lighting crashes across that night No shadows of doubt or of turnin’ in that questioning little mind Just a burnin’ rekindled truth and one single agonizin’ blinding white light
The greatest protest songs contain a moment when the political becomes personal; the greatest spiritual songs relate the personal to the theological or cosmological. The pivotal verse of “Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell” – the third song on Josh T. Pearson’s solo album Last of the Country Gentlemen, the first full length with which he’s been involved since Lift to Experience’ bruised, apocalyptic 2001 masterpiece The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads – brutally expands the frame of reference from an ode to
Continue reading Josh T. Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen [...]
To borrow the imprecation that Debbie Harry once sang so passionately in 1978, “Picture this.” However, rather than a sky full of thunder, or for that matter Debs’ telephone number (wistful sigh…), try instead a giant sit-on banjo constructed from an oil drum, a goat, an empty bag of powdered milk and some strings. For a finishing touch, decorate the neck and body of this Heath Robinson musical contraption with band names (in the manner of a rock band’s kick drum), slogans and even designs like a near Magen David. With me so far? Good, because what you are now holding in your mind’s eye is known, in southeastern Congo, as a karindula. Over the border into Zambia they call it a kalindula, but it seems rather churlish to worry
Continue reading The Karindula Sessions: Tradi-Modern Sounds from Southeast Congo [...]
Top Auto road tests the latest model to roll off the production line at Helsinki’s Bleep Factory.
Wow, this little baby can really move. Finland’s K-X-P have put together their first effort, and the time and effort pay off in no uncertain terms. Motoring along at speed, the K-X-P feels solid and stylish. The Finnish design team have certainly gone to town in the build quality, ensuring that this really is all that a top-end electronic product should be: slick, sexy and with immoral intentions on its mind. Make no mistake, the K-X-P has only one thing on its mind, getting onto the dance-floor and then into your pants.
The chassis is a sturdy construction, a modern update of the never-bettered German ‘lange gerade’ (issued there
Continue reading K-X-P – K-X-P [...]
Classical music, for some, is burdened with various odd stigmas – that it’s somehow posh, academic or too expensive to watch live. In my experience none of these are true – I have the stub of an £8 ticket for a five hour Messiaen opera attended by a musically self-taught scumbag (myself) that will attest to that. And, as purse-strings constrict further day-by-day, the classical music world will episodically fret about bringing in fresh blood. This sometimes leads to pretty ill-advised ventures – Paul McCartney‘s Liverpool Oratorio, for instance being the single most hideous piece of ‘classical’ music I’ve had the misfortune to be assaulted with; more irritating is that it grossed massively.
Phillipe Petit and Nonclassical‘s CDs fall under these ‘making classical appealing to the kids‘ auspices because, in different ways, they’re engaging with the classical world while
Continue reading Philippe Petit (and Friends) – Off to Titan/ A Taste of Garmambrosia & Various Artists – Nonclassical: Remixes and Originals Volume One [...]
Six years after their surprise reunion, it still seems unreal to be listening to a new Van der Graaf Generator record. Stranger still, lowering the stylus onto A Grounding in Numbers instills the same rush of anticipation as when I ran round to David Hilton’s house back in April 1976 with the newly released Still Life because he had the nearest available record player to County Records.
This time though, the anticipation is tempered with slight trepidation. Before hearing a note, there’s the dubious presence of thirteen songs with an average length of three minutes forty seconds – great for a Franz Ferdinand record, but Van der Graaf Generator? A further ominous portent is
Continue reading Van der Graaf Generator – A Grounding in Numbers [...]
Alexander Rishaug is a sound artist, producer and musician from Oslo, Norway, and one of the original members of the improv-collective ARM with Are Mokkelbost and Arne Borgan. He has also collaborated with artists such as Lasse Marhaug, Ingar Zach, Martin Horntvedt, and remixed albums by Jazkamer and metal bands Ulver and She Said Destroy.
A new release from the minimalist is a rare event, as this is his third solo album since 2001. This album has been under work since 2006, with Rishaug recording and composing, or collecting field recordings and editing, taking his time. This slow process is somehow reflected in the quiet slowness of this album. Although it is not entirely quiet. A mix of field recordings, organ sounds and piano, sometimes combined
Continue reading Alexander Rishaug – Shadow of Events [...]
Hamburg’s Bureau B label are doing a great job of keeping the Kosmische blowtorch alight. Treating the legacy as a living heritage, they give equal precedence to lovingly presented reissues of lost classics and brand new releases by survivors of the scene and their spiritual offspring. Alongside brand new albums by Faust and Kreidler, they have just unearthed a whole batch of Cluster related gems to follow up their recent Cluster & Eno reissues. What’s even better is that all these releases are available on vinyl as well as CD and download – a proper record label indeed!
Listening to Cluster’s debut album Cluster 71 is like wandering around the British Museum’s Mesopotamia room and being floored by the fact that this civilization flourished when most of the world still
Continue reading Cluster/Roedelius/Moebius/Moebius & Beerbohm roundup [...]
12th February 1923, Cefalù, Sicily – Evening.
Aleister – God I hate Mondays, they’re so dreary. Aud, why don’t you put something on the gramophone? Surely you must have brought some of the latest sounds with you from London?
Raoul – Yes, great master, I have with me a choice selection of discs. What can I tempt you with? Some Coil? Horse Rotavator perhaps?
Aleister – Oh Christ, not Coil again. I said I wanted the latest sounds. I’m fed up with all this old stuff, I want to hear what’s happening now!
Raoul – Oh, I see. Mmm… Well, in that case, this might find favour with you.
Aleister – (listening intently) Malleus Maleficarum!!!! This
Continue reading The Haxan Cloak – The Haxan Cloak [...]
The Borderline London 25 February 2011
“We are the survivors, the eternal survivors……”
This phrase may have crossed Nik Turner and the rest of his Space Ritual cohorts minds at some points over the years. But here they are still playing some of the best darn space rock this side of the Andromeda galaxy. Before I start reviewing the tracks played I must make a special mention about Terry Ollis, as the gods of rock’n’roll just don’t make drummers like that anymore. He uses the drum kit to its full potential and is sparing at the same time. He keeps the beat and adds dramatic fills that only drummers from a certain era knew how to do. It was fantastic to watch him and, yes, nowadays he does play fully clothed…..
Continue reading Space Ritual (live) [...]
Although this DVD was released in late 2010, the footage – shot at the second annual festival held in Scheer, southern Germany- dates from 2005. Scheer is a small provincial town that since the late 90s has been the headquarters of Faust (or rather one of the two Faust factions, this being the one grouped around keyboardist Jochen Irmler and the Klangbad label). There are actually two films on the disc- a 70 minute record of Faust’s performance at the event, and a slightly longer film titled Avant-Garde in the Meadows which gives an overview of the festival’s three days.
The Faust performance features the aforementioned Jochen Irmler and one other figure from the group’s early ’70s origins, Arnulf
Continue reading Faust – Live at Klangbad Festival/Various Artists – Avant-Garde in the Meadows [...]