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Archives by month/year

David Eugene Edwards [Woven Hand] (live at Dingwall’s)

Dingwall’s, London 27 April 2011

Though this gig is billed occasionally as a [post=”wovenhand-ten-stones” text=”Woven Hand”] performance, it’s decidedly David Eugene Edwards‘ show from the moment he steps onstage to a rapturous welcome. Accompanied by Woven Hand man Jeff Linsenmeir on various forms of percussion and keyboard, Edwards dispenses with onstage banter, instead launching into a set which covers his back catalogue including a goodly selection of 16 Horsepower songs.

Using every available limb at their disposal to play a multitude of instruments and FX, he and Linsenmeir perform with all the volume and density of a full band in a truly impressive display of how to travel light and rock hard as a duo. Together, they make the songs their own – and while the focus my be on Edwards, Linsenmeir is the perfect sideman,

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Klaus Kinski – Skelington Horse

Ankst

Klaus Kinski is a scary man. As scary as Herzog. And also a vampire. I think. (That one was a documentary, right? RIGHT?)

You know that guy, right? Opera house in the jungle? Crazy Conquistador dude?

Not him.

THIS Klaus Kinski is an equally scary proposition, but in a very different way. This Klaus Kinski is a band, only they’re more like a handful of rotting horse entrails being shoved into your face (I mean that in a good way… kinda…). They’re like being waterboarded with hot piss while being yelled at by one of the “clients” from Hostel. (Probably the one with the blowtorch who takes that chick’s eye out, but it could equally be the creepy dude from the train). They’re like being beaten up by psychopaths during the best punk gig you ever saw, and you can still

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Tecumseh – Return To Everything

Beta-Lactam Ring

Swooping up from the depths of infrasound, Tecumseh bring a faint whiff of glitch and a hint of industrial shiver to the emergent doom on Return to Everything, and the electronics thicken into string-driven rumbling among the encroaching wall of full-spectrum FX. The metal starts to kicking properly as the second track (or movement might be more correct) “Apophis”fills the all-pervading drone with heavyweight slow-motion riffing, dealt out as if the band’s lives depend upon the visceral sound levels being maintained at all costs.

There is no substitute for volume when listening to this record – the possibly apocryphal adage about listening to loud music quietly and ambient music very loud doesn’t really work well here; Return to Everything instead demands extremity, especially in the bass department to set the speaker cones rattling the windows, doors and random items of

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Brian Ellis – Quipu

Parallax Sounds

Brian Ellis is the guitar player with the band Astra, whose album The Weirding was one of the best of a batch of progressive rock revival albums released last year. It swept majestically over musical fields covered by Yes, early Genesis and King Crimson. On what appears to be his sixth solo release, Quipu, Ellis touches upon and expands on all these elements to make an interesting album.

“Birth” starts off in a jazzy ambient style mode that strays onto territory covered by Rain Tree Crow’s set of improvisational pieces that made up their sole album. Horns squelch away over Bruford-esque drum patterns while keyboards pad out layers of sound beneath. About halfway through the track changes into a heavy metal take on a Magma workout, guitars power ahead and wrestle with rhythm in a hard edge Christian Vander-style percussive

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Low – C’mon

Sub Pop

Low - C'monThere’s always a tension going on between artists and their audiences growing up. Back when we first encountered Low they were playing deliberately quietly, persistently black and white. As if something of a damp night in Manchester at the end of the 70s had been caught and refracted in a puddle in Minnesota. In a few years we all stopped being so bloody miserable; us, them, everyone. Although God knows there was plenty to be miserable about.

Some people went off and had kids. We thought that was the last we’d see of them, but no, they carried on doing the things they tended to do. A bit more colour came into the world. Although when we look back there had always been flashes of it like tawdry costume jewellery lost and forgotten in the coal cellar.

And

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Zion Train – Dub Revolutionaries

Nascente

Zion Train began around 1988 and was one of the late John Peel’s favourite live bands. Their music was an essential soundtrack to the free festivals and (new age) traveller scene of the early 90s, their heavy dub sound influencing bands like Back to the Planet to add dub flavours into their songs and inventing a whole new sub-genre of ambient dance music. These guys are important, so an overview of their work is long overdue and this as a fine introduction to the band as your ever going to get.

The set pretty much stays in chronological order with the opening salvo being the band’s first single “Dub Power.” It’s hard to review this classic of the genre after all these years, the whoosh of the synthesizers, the big slow dub bass and the wonderful vocals by Sis K let

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Various Artists – Out of Silence: Reflections on Samuel Beckett’s Work

Modisti

In 1961, Harold Pinter was in Paris, attending rehearsals for the French production of his play The Caretaker. Pinter’s critical reputation was starting to gain serious traction at this time, and the literary establishment were beginning to write about him as the natural successor to Samuel Beckett in the same way that they had once referred to Beckett himself as the successor to James Joyce. The play’s director, Roger Blin, was a friend of Beckett, although the two men had experienced something of a falling out, and when Pinter expressed a desire to meet him, Blin used the opportunity to affect both a rapprochement for himself and Beckett, and a necessary meeting of literary old master and young pretender. Pinter later spoke of that night with utter wonder, of hours of talk that encompassed the whole sweep of Western drama, of

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Acid King/Sons of Alpha Centauri/Carlton Melton (live at The Purple Turtle)

The Purple Turtle, London 19 April 2011

Lori SIt’s Sunday, it’s sunny, so a 6.30pm start time for a gig seems terribly early, especially when you have the choice between a sweaty venue or a cool pub beer garden, oh well….. Also putting on four support acts before a main band on a Sunday when public transport is hardly at its greatest (even Lori S from Acid King pointed this out on stage). But enough of my ‘ole man complainin’, I’m here to see the Kings of Acid themselves for the first time so I’m quite excited.

After dragging myself away from a fine chilled pint of cider I make my way into the dingy, sweaty Purple Turtle to be confronted by the opening battle noise of Carlton Melton. Massive riffs and wildly clattering drums smashed all around as the sludge belched from

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Crass – Penis Envy

Crass

“Feminism – what happened?” (Eve Libertine).

(Writer checks footing on soapbox. ‘Secure? Good. Let’s go…’)

This is a ridiculous record. I’ve never listened to Crass before, and I was still the other side of birth when it was released. Ridiculous and offensive, really.

But not the record itself. Oh no. It’s brilliant. Who couldn’t like a record shouting at the painful absurdities of marriage, the hideous inculcations of capitalism-enforced gender roles, the bucolic terrors of high heels and a whole raft of other feminist/gender/capitalist-related issues? No-one. Obviously.

The problem is that this should, by all reasonable rights, be a record whose urgency has collapsed in the wake of progress, a record which poses as a snapshot of political naivety, as the ‘let’s all just get along, yeah?’ flower power music is. But instead it’s a painful reminder of the absurdities of

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Weedeater (live at The Underworld)

The Underworld, London 18 April 2011

From the very first beer-waving introduction to the crowd eagerly awaiting the return to what would seem to be their favourite London home from home, Weedeater arrive in cheery mood, lapping up the adulation and ripping straight into a fearsome “God Luck and Good Speed,” as powerful a statement of intent as any sludge-doom-stoner-rock band is ever likely to open a show with. Bassist Dixie hams up the eye-rolling, Jack-swilling and head-slapping goofiness, but as ever, his presence onstage is a combination of the leeringly weird and the snarling hardcore punk attitude squeezed through a mincer of Southern rock cavortings and high-kicking, four-stringed catharsis. The sound is suitably dense, and Shep keeps his guitar nonchalantly turned to 11 while shredding without seeming to move from the spot between saluting the audience with his beercan; and as ever,

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Earth/Beak>/Sabbath Assembly (live at The Scala)

The Scala, London 12 April 2011

Sabbath Assembly is the rather surprising spin-off from noise-manglers and avant scribblers the No-Neck Blues Band. Surprising why, exactly? Not just because they show that, yes, they are actually good musicians, but that they can also play tight, Seventies-style power pop of the sort which has a solid groove at its heart and an earnestly-sharp, clear guitar raising the rooves, church-band style, as they waft in on a hefty block of incense which flames up like the herald of the light bringer himself. In this case though, singer Jex Thoth is praising Lucifer as well as JHVH and the Lord Jesus Christ through the medium of hymns penned by the very whacked-out hippy psychedelic sect The Process Church of Final Judgment. Once this rather odd factor becomes accepted, their music is strangely – and offputtingly – like

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John Cale – Dyddiau Du/Dark Days (installation)

Llanberis Slate Museum 25 March 2011 to 3 Aril 2011

It was a soul-destroying experience to grow up in Wales back in the seventies in the knowledge that your entire country had only ever produced one single role model of any value. The frustration was further compounded by the fact that hardly anyone here seemed to have even heard of him, certainly not the Welsh media, and the few exceptions usually knew him as “that bloke who used to play with Lou Reed.” Throughout the eighties, I would regularly play people Music for a New Society, pointing out that the author of this work of obvious genius was in fact Welsh, only to be faced with blank stares.

It came as something of a shock in 2009 then, when John Cale was chosen to officially represent Wales at the 53rd Venice Biennale. It seemed that the powers that be had

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Sculpture – Rotary Signal Emitter

Dekorder

In their download panic frenzy, labels and artists are coming up with ever more ingenious/desperate ways of providing attractive bonus content with their physical releases. It’s common for CDs to feature bonus video content, but as far as I’m aware, this is the first vinyl record to offer bonus video footage – on the actual grooves of the record itself!

The aptly named Rotary Signal Emitter is no sales gimmick though; the visual element is as integral as the audio, each complementing the other and sharing the same aesthetic of collaged found sounds and images. Both sides of the picture disc feature concentric sequences of images that just become a blur when spinning on the turntable. The key to unlocking the images is to view the record via a video camera, the camera shutter acting as the slits in an old

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Various Artists – Allies and Clansmen

Monty Maggot

OK, let’s start up here with a massive amount of respect to Lee Potts for putting this together. For not only does this CD look great and has some marvellous music on it but it’s absolutely free from the above website, all you have to do is pay the P&P and the disc will wind its way to you from the cosmic reaches of outer space to brighten up your day.

The album starts with the Omenopus track “Call Your Name,” a beautiful melancholic song touchingly sung that taps into the same vibe as some of Led Zeppelin‘s acoustic numbers until it punches in with big power chords and sends you skyward. 1912’s “Please Take Me Away From Here” has lilting piano that hits a more prog rock vein and reminded me of recent releases by Opeth in its execution

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William D Drake – The Rising of the Lights

Onomatopoeia

The Rising of the Lights is a record that feels exceptionally English – if someone said it was some hitherto unreleased Canterbury Scene opus, or some obscure Matching Mole side project, I’d likely not arch an eyebrow. It’s a record that’s indebted massively to Drake‘s tenure in Cardiacs, though a great deal less acerbic and more light and whimsical.

The first two tracks particularly shimmer in a Cardiac shadow – all rinky-dink piano and baffling time signatures. And there’s generally a real sense of quite a broad soup of influences on the music – there’s baroque flourishes, sarcastic/drunken lounge jazz sections, perhaps even a smidge of an oompah band thumbing lifts in the home counties. The lyrics too cover a fairly peculiar set of subjects – like sets of characters from childhood book, vicars and dragons pop up, puns about cups of tea

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