Archives by month/year

Aidan Baker – Lost in the Rat Maze

ConSouling Sounds

Rippling with softly-struck piano strings echoing through a slow accretion of sonorous drone fragments, the opening minutes of Lost in the Rat Maze finds Aidan Baker stepping briefly into the brightly-lit fresh air from the more weather-beaten fuzz and feedback soundscapes of Nadja and some of his other solo releases. Which is not to say that he has abandoned all things gritty and texturally-touched by the warmth of hiss or the overtones of melodies which weave around each other in hypnotic rapture. No, rather that the structures Baker builds from loops, keyboard and guitar speak of an almost optimistic mood here (at least as first), as sections of sound shift across each other in undulating accretions and dissipations, gliding from background to foreground as each segment segues into the next.

Muttered words and vocalisations appear and recede into the denser

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Comus – East Of Sweden

Gnostic Dirt

Comus - East of SwedenEven in this age of Tunng, Espers and countless assorted other groovy out-there New Folk outfits who are busy fusing ancient melodies and instrumentation with samples, beats and all the trappings of hip urban coolness as fast as their little hands can programme, for most people the word ‘Folk’ still brings to mind images of worthy acoustic sing-a-longs, beards and real ale as relentlessly as driving rain on a Bank Holiday dowsing trip to Wessex. Let’s face facts, ‘Folk’ still too often struggles to shed the ‘hey nonny nonny’ and ‘all around my hat’ fuckery of its rather tiresome mid 20th Century incarnation. Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘Folk’ music, and its quiet but considerable influence in ‘Rock’ is often cruelly overlooked in favour of the more gritty and credible

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Nurse With Wound/Mika Vainio & Bruce Gilbert/Radian (live at Koko)

Koko London 15 May 2011

Loved the minimal post rock vibes of the opening act Radian – that 23 Skidoo ethnicity and those broken This Heat narratives were riddled with an exciting unpredictability, each track, a scattered jigsaw filled with unusual colours and textures, oozing a restrained intent that was really impressive.

Bruce GilbertBruce Gilbert and Pan Sonic‘s Mika Vainio were next on the bill. Introducing themselves in a short burst of hi-end pierce that got the crowd cheering. They continued with a Malaysian flavoured ambience, a gigantic staked beauty, fluttering like a quartz split mouth of the night, later molested in high pitched scars. Then the beats kicked in, like sacks of liquidised potatoes slapping all hardcore, whirring on the rebound, turning the rainbows of electro abstraction into a lush avant-club land, the

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Damon and Naomi – False Beats and True Hearts

Broken Horse

Peaches and cream, assault and battery, Damon and Naomi…some things are just made to go together…

With the unbelievable proliferation of ‘Americana’ over the past dozen or so years (just check out the bulging racks in Rough Trade), it’s hard to remember a time before such market segmentation set in so ferociously, when acts such as Giant Sand, Galaxie 500 and The Palace Brothers wafted in their strange and unfamiliar sounds and atmospheres into Olde Albion. Whereas Howe Gelb’s records managed to distil down the sounds of dusty, desert Arizona – all cactus filled landscapes and resonant guitar sounds – and Will Oldham took you slowly up the cool, green valleys of the Shenandoah, Galaxie 500 took their cue from slightly more urban ur-springs, using Lou Reed’s ‘three or four simple chords can build a masterpiece’ template run through the

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Hauschka – Salon des Amateurs


Prepared piano always struck me as one of those ideas that shouldn’t really have stopped dead with John Cage‘s nearly-pensionable pieces. I’m no scholar of modern piano, but I’ve not heard many people having a tinker about with the inners of a piano. A real shame, as I quite like the idea of some flat-capped old fella lugging the upright into his shed to make gamelan sounds with weather stripping and bolts before rolling up a tab for when he’s trimming the azaleas.

Moreover, the piano’s capable of some pretty astonishing sounds once you’ve had a fiddle under the bonnet, as Hauschka‘s Salon des Amateurs shows. Cage’s intention with the prepared piano pieces was to extend the timbral range, and to bring out the more percussive elements for a dance piece. And, while it’s possibly a bit trite to compare Hauschka’s

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Cut Hands – S/T

Susan Lawly/Very Friendly


She fumbled with the lock, scratching at it unsteadily with her key. Her head was swimming slightly from the drink, and she could feel his hot breath on the back of her neck, urgent, lustful, and bestial. Finally the key engaged and turned, and the door swung open with a suddenness that made them both stagger slightly. They fell through the doorway into her flat, and she steadied herself, closing the door with the tip of her foot. She turned and kissed him, violently, her hand rubbing his crotch, before breaking away and brushing a stray lock of red hair back behind her ear, a gesture both defiant and provocative. William Bennett could feel his erection rising. He flashed her an

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Mugstar – Lime

Important (CD) / Agitated (vinyl)

Mugstar – LimeOnce upon a time, a long time ago (but not long in the annals of Britain’s space rock godfathers), a bunch of dishevelled reprobates, part time musicians and full-time dopeheads used to play around with Hawkwind songs, frequently changing the words of “Psychedelic Warlords” to “My name’s Dave/And I’m a good bloke/Got a wife and kids/But I still like a smoke” in a suitably irreverent manner. These people are not connected at all to Mugstar, but somehow it seems an appropriate anecdote to mention in relation to the latter’s Lime album, or at least to its opener “Sunburnt Impedance Machine.” This is because Mugstar make good bloke (though not blokish, or laddish, and not just by or for men) music, redolent of motorbike oil and real ale, of free-flowing beards, freewheeling festivals and squidgy black

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Armaggedon – S/T


Armaggedon (sic) have an interesting place in the fecund story of German music in the late Sixties and early Seventies. as guitarist Frank Diez tells it in the sleeve notes for this re-release, he was recruited over the phone and flown from Berlin to Munich to record the album over the space of six days with a bunch of musicians he’d never met before for the small independent label Kuckuck. Then that was pretty much it – the album was released in 1970 to no particular great reception, the band played a few gigs, and shortly thereafter split for other pastures (including an album Diez recorded with legendary Klaus Kinski), and disappeared quietly into record-collecting obscurity.

Listening to the record four decades later, it’s perhaps understandable why Armaggedon didn’t really make much of a splash on a scene heaving with a

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Winter – Into Darkness

Southern Lord

It’s somewhat startling to realise that more time has now elapsed since the release of Winter’s seminal doom metal masterpiece Into Darkness – twenty one years – than had passed since the release of Black Sabbath when Into Darkness first appeared. For a genre as oft derided, sneered at and generally treated with contempt by the mainstream of ‘serious’ musicians, forty years is a pretty fucking impressive achievement in terms of longevity. Not only that, but compared to many musical genres which are either defunct, stuck firmly in a rut, or corporatised and sanitised to the point of utter meaningless futility, metal is a vibrant and living style whose bewilderingly complex evolution continues with a tenacity that would have Darwin himself throwing up his arms and considering becoming a Creationist instead.

Along that four decade old road, there have been

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