Archives by month/year

Joinedbywire – _ 48 Space Platform

Striate Cortex

You might not know joinedbywire, but if you do, you’ll probably know them for their exquisite packaging. Their latest is no exception to that rule – it’s an entirely beautiful, apparently home-made, fabric-on-hardcase thing which makes me wonder quite why most CD packaging looks so hopelessly crap – especially limited run or self-released records. I’m not sure if a little .jpg will do it justice, but it’s my second favourite packaging of the year so far – the number one spot going to, uh, joinedbywire’s contribution to the 2020 project on Bang the Bore.

But we don’t buy records for sleeves… well, ok, some of us do, but it’s always nice when we do that and there’s a decent record underneath the prettiness. And – hurrah! – that’s the case here. [post=f-records-roundup text=”Elsewhere on Freq”] I described joinedbywire as like

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The Buggles (live)

O2 British Music Experience 25 October 2011

I had never been to the O2 before, but had heard lots of horror stories about it. Apparently it had poor sound, bad visuals, over priced drinks, and terrible for people with vertigo. Luckily enough I was not headed for the main arena – that joy was to be for Cliff Richard’s blue rinse brigade – I was going to the smaller British Music Experience. As I wandered around the giant dome in search of the venue I was suddenly reminded of the domed city in Logan’s Run and half expected to see Sandmen running around. Somehow this futuristic setting seemed quite apt to see one of The Buggles’ very rare live performances as their music always had a sense of Sci-Fi about it.

Before the performance Geoffrey Downes and Trevor Horn did a Q&A, fielding

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Bonnie “Prince” Billy (live at Rockstore)

Rockstore, Montpellier 19 October 2011

In the great parade of dark-suited, wild-whiskered and drink-crazed (allegedly) rock’n’roll frontmen with a penchant for country tunes and Southern gentlemanly manners, in whose songs God breathes hellfire as often as not even existing, relationships rarely tread an easy path and death is a constant companion, one performer stands head and shoulders at the forefront – Mr William Oldham, of Louisville, Kentucky.

In his Bonnie “Prince” Billy guise (is it a band, is it Olham indulging delusions of regality?) he fronts the stage with a certain dashing presence, an occasionally avuncular figure whose suit is sharp but with a casual elegance, and whose gestures are more than a little eccentric and hint at a more rock’n’roll past whose onstage antics have reduced with maturity. There is still something

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Throbbing Gristle – Heathen Earth


OK, having not been born until 1971, I was a bit late to the Throbbing Gristle party. By the time I discovered them in the late 80s, they were long defunct, the mission having terminated several years before. So when they did reform, I was cock-a-hoop (do people still say “cock-a-hoop” anymore?), and by the same token I was greatly saddened by last year’s tragic death of Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson. But my first memory of Throbbing Gristle’s actual music (as opposed to the legendary tales of their live shows, imagined lifestyles, ideologies and controversies) was the album Heathen Earth. Sitting around a home-made dreamachine at my mum’s house (it took us fucking AGES to find a record player that would still go at the right speed, even back then) listening to it with eyes closed and wondering why we hadn’t all

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Chris Carter – Moonlight


This will play out. This will be roundly buggered, sliced and diced and shat out all over the lightflashes and discofloors of your local sleaze pit. It’s good music for dancing girls, car chases, hedge-trimming, car-jumping. Chris Carter has the Abba fixations, of course, but the Devil’s in the disco. The Neurotic Drum Band remix (reimagining) maybe slows the beat down a little to create something that feels vaguely reminiscent of Spacemen 3’s “Big City;” a disco slur, narcotized but just danceable, if you’re prepared to shamble and wave. It’s not Italo; only partly Homoerotic. The press release tells you it’s “ultra cosmic-a-fying it for an ultra-headtrip psychedelic spaceflight!” but it feels a little earthier than that, Northern even; the sound of a Rugby or Widnes disco-bar with a headful of research chemicals (their twinkly names encoded into the music) and

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James Ferraro – Far Side Virtual

Hippos In Tanks

History is a virus. A fifth horseman of the apocalypse. It’s brutal, beyond reason, full of rage and memory; brittle with the fear of being forgotten. It loves and hates it’s host. Nostalgia is a dish served cold and for a long time now people have been struggling against it, trying to reheat old spices (and Old Spices), attempting to blur their way out. But history is winning (had already won before the battle lines were drawn) and now we’re on the retreat, if unable to move. It’s coming (through the trees).

The virus comes in waves (but, what ends when the symptoms shatter?) and it can take a lot of shaking. You can struggle against the pre-settings, tread lightly around it or ironically through it or stomp all over its kindly old man face but you can’t

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Ekoclef – Tapeswap

Magic and Dreams

In China Mieville’s wondrous The City And The City, the city of Beszel exists in more or less the same space as the city of Ul Qoma. The cities interweave, crosshatch; citizens unsee their counterparts in the other city, buildings themselves merge but don’t merge. Neighbours live next to each other but dutifully don’t notice their proximity, in fact are forbidden from doing so by the mysterious Breach, which is both an action and a powerful agent of order. To see what is there is to breach. To breach is to invoke Breach.

The cities are post USSR, post-world. They share many of the same characteristics but remain absolutely, qualitatively different. They are separated by language, by intention, by Kant’s categories. It vaguely reminds me of that Wittgenstein quote about how, if a lion could speak our language, we

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Bryin Dall – Deconstructing Hank


From the moment Bryin Dall starts singing “I Feel So Lonesome I Could Cry,” it’s evident that this is no ordinary selection of Hank Williams covers. With everyone (and probably their dog) who ever played a guitar seemingly having tackled their own version of the Hank Williams œuvre, Dall’s particular take on the subject matter primarily emphasises the pain and anguish of the songs, wringing every last ounce of despair from his voice as he sings, seemingly on the verge of tears at times. So far, so country – but here the strummed guitars of Dall and cohort Derek Rush (usually on bass, sometimes synthetic strings and percussion) are augmented by washes and ripples of noise and sussurating backround sounds brought up in the mix.

The effect is suitably eerie, and it’s unsurprising that Dall and Rush have also worked together

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Paolo Angeli & Takumi Fukushima – Itunomanika


It’s a curiosity, this one. I don’t know if you’ve seen Paolo Angeli‘s prepared guitar (have a look on YouTube), but it’s legions more cumbersome than the old crocodile clips and ebows that pass for prepared guitar in some circles. Part of me thinks of tacky one-man-bands when I look at it but, luckily for Angeli, the absurd look of his creation is quickly mollified by the dexterous and intelligent use he puts it to. In fact, calling it a ‘prepared guitar’ is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more of a box of sounds that happens to be built around a guitar. He’s got all sorts of fans, hammers, resonant strings, percussive whatsits in his set-up. Fukushima, by contrast, sticks to playing ‘just’ the violin and singing here – that seems an odd way to phrase things, given how lovely

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Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Summvs/ANBB – Mimikry


Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s partnership is nearing a decade now, and it’s odd to think that (from what I remember), the pairing of a laptop and an acoustic musician was quite odd at the time – especially given Sakamoto’s history as a ‘proper’ classical musician. It could be philistine-coloured glasses on my part, but my memory of the early ’00s was that digital musicians and non-digital musicians weren’t frequent bedfellows. Laptops were laptops and pianos were pianos, and ne’er the twain shall meet. This might be coloured on my part by playing in a band with a laptop, and nightmareish soundchecks with soundguys who didn’t quite get that the laptop was going to be actually playing as a full member of the band. And seeing Noto/Sakamoto at The Barbican was the first live show I saw where I really felt

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