Archives by month/year

Comus/Fusion Orchestra 2/Purson (live at The Borderline)

The Borderline, London 29 April 2012

It had been raining solid for 24 hours. The streets of London were filled with a babbling brook of water that the sodden masses had to navigate to stop them from getting drenched further and all the while more fell from the sky to dampen peoples Saturday night.

As I entered The Borderline the place was already beginning to fill out early. The word was out that Purson were hot and people gathered to see what the fuss was about. I had already heard them as I had managed to find a copy of their limited single on Rise Above and was looking forward to finally seeing the band live, and they didn’t disappoint.

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Circle – Manner

Hydra Head

Twenty plus years and albums into the long strange trip that is Circle, Manner confirms that they are still a seriously out there band, whose œuvre can encompass punky noise and proggish metal with equal dexterity, a group who are never less than tight and whose playfulness is as convincing as their steely-eyed commitment to the very meaning of rock. This is the band who spearheaded the ever so slightly sardonically-yet-righly-named New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal, who keep their faces poker straight even while ramming tongue firmly into cheek. Yes, singer/keyboardist/occasional ballet stooge Mika Rättö does dress as leatherman’s wet dream of a Rob Halford wannabe while singing like a demented cross between Ronnie James Dio and Freddy Mercury at

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Laibach (live at The Tate Modern)

The Tate Modern, London 14 April 2012

Picture: Pete WoodheadIn the days following the Laibach “We Come in Peace” show at The Tate Modern it is Mina Špiler’s singing of “Across the Universe” that stays on permanent replay in my head. Such a beautiful nearly acapella lullaby she made of the ominous lyrics, both promise and threat that nothing is ever going to change in this or any universe. Her clear little voice a fantastic bell ringing softly in contrast to the super power sound of the rest of this gig; she so delicately poised over her little keyboard and slightly trembling. Not one other Laibach song of the evening impressed itself upon me so, or equalled the nervous tension, the fragility of music, life as we

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Bobby Conn – Macaroni


The hardest working little man in show-business is back. Inventor of the Continuous Ca$h Flow System™, Anti-Christ, appliqué kitten fan, Chicago’s finest Juedo-Christian edutainer, Bobby Conn has, since his first album in 1997, taken more sobriquets for a walk than Tom Cruise has made turgid sequels to Mission Impossible. In a career with ludicrous highlights such as the original video for “Never Get Ahead” (eye-shadowed Bobby in preposterous crimson shell suit falling all over the floor before gawky and bemused teens on Chic-A-Go-GO) and his eye-wateringly evil cover of “[post=bobby-conn-llovessonngs-ep text=”Without You”]” (Anton LaVey plays the hits of Badfinger!), life is never dull with Bobby around. Oh no.

And so, Mr Conn’s sixth album proper, Macaroni, arrives clad in a typically

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Ein Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft

Bureau B

This probably isn’t the D.A.F. you’re thinking of. The lines aren’t clean, the electronics are sort of around but incidental and hidden in shards of guitar noise and (real) drum bashing. This isn’t even the D.A.F. of the “Kebab Traume” track on the C81 compilation which was a gateway drug of a track I fell in love with and which set me on a path to Neubauten and beyond (and back to Neu!, Can et al). I have the later, sweaty, electro albums (I’ll bet Nitzer Ebb had them too) and although I was expecting this re-release to be very different, I wasn’t expecting… this.

This is 1979. It’s post-punk, grimy (not grimey), quasi-psychedelic music, in the sense that the

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Prinzhorn Dance School – Clay Class


Picture a disillusioned man – still barely 40 yet struggling with a spirit crushed by professional failure and a heart broken by disastrous marriages – reaching a point of exhausted resignation and moving in with his aunt. Withdrawing from life, in a few years time he will be dead.

That man was Dr Hans Prinzhorn, a German psychiatrist, who earlier, in the course of his short and turbulent career, nevertheless gathered, and wrote about, a truly extraordinary collection of artwork made by patients suffering from mental illness. Prinzhorn, seeing more than the insane daubings of lunatics, analysed the work seriously and critically, examining more closely than anyone had previously ever done the boundary between individuality and creativity, and the

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Various Artists – Head Music

Fruits de Mer

Krautrock is a brilliantly meaningless term, full of meaning. Head Music attempts to show why. There’s motorik music (there’s some on here) which is often what people mean when they say krautrock (they mean it sounds like Neu! or the way Can’s drums flip over one another) and there’s the dense wiggy kosmische space music (which means it sounds like Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream). But a lot of krautrock is also a lot like heavy metal (in the sense that, say, Hawkwind, are heavy metal, with the emphasis on heavy rather than metal). You’ll hear the phrase ‘krautrock’ all over the place and it’ll mean nothing much. This compilation, this fantastic conceit, attempts to skew things further.

Most of these

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Volcano The Bear – Golden Rhythm/Ink Music

Rune Grammofon

Volcano The Bear have long done their best to confound the simplicities of classification; they’re not simple to sum up as an experimental or avant-garde project (whatever that might mean exactly), and on Golden Rhythm/Ink Music the range of emotions and auditory adventures they offer up is one which can easily – glibly even – be described as such, but which is also a case study in what it truly means to be different musically.

The constant thread of emergent cacophony of omnidirectional horns and fluttery noise recalls the heady nihilistic non-melodic urge to clatter and parp of Faust; another particular reference which is as unavoidable is This Heat, whose circling condensation of the post-punk DIY ethos with prog’s exploratory musicianship finds echoes and

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Shit And Shine – Jream Baby Jream

Riot Season

Once upon a time, some enterprising music writer came up with (or popularised at least) the term “arsequake” to describe the sort of heavyweight sludgy rock which occasionally crawled out of Camden to force itself onto unsuspecting grunge audiences in the Nineties; usually talking about the sort of sounds which stepped very close to the definition of music, then trampled on it, bit off its head and relieved itself at great length over the very notions of “listenability” and “form.”

Shit And Shine make arsequake which fits that term like a glove. The charmingly-titled “Dinner With My Girlfriend” pulls its intestines out the difficult way using a gauntlet made of rusty scrap steel discarded by Faust from the floor of The

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Sonolumina – Solar Logos

Symbolic Insight

This is a debut album by Colorado duo Sonolumina. The album mixes ambient music with world music and trance. Between the duo they play a mixture of traditional instrumentation such as flutes, violins and trumpets as well as Indian tablas. The whole comes together in a heady cocktail of Middle Eastern and Indian musics with one eye firmly fixed on the dance chill out scene as well.

“Fire” features drones and electronic percussion that sound like the beginning of a journey into foreign lands. “Sona” is bass-heavy and introduces ethnic percussion and distant wordless vocals as if crying from a rain forest at night. Acoustic guitars and traditional strings introduce “Hado” and we are immersed into the Arabian night for a track that could pass as

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Omenopus – The Plague: Scars

Monty Maggot

The Plague is [post=omenopus-time-flies text=”Omenopus”]‘ sophomore album, a double disc worth of songs that takes us on a whirlwind of an emotional rollercoaster ride across its two silvery surfaces.

Disc one (or rather the first disc I placed into the machine, as I have the feeling you could play either disc first) contains the four part concept piece “The Plague.” This is a twenty minute opus that could be viewed as four individual motifs or as one whole masterwork, very much in the same way that bands such as Yes or ELP did in the mid-Seventies.

Dark brooding keyboards begin “Part One(Plague of Ten),” then come in Bridget Wishart’s nursery rhyme vocals as she counts down the plagues from ten to one. This begins

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Ufomammut – Oro: Opus Primum


I was wondering, as I took my copy of Topographic Oceans off the turntable, why the dark overlords at Freq Towers felt that I should review the new Ufomammut concept album that will be released in two instalments this year. I scratched my chin a slid the CD from its case and pondered to myself about this. Hmmmmm………

Oro seems to be based around some sort alchemical magickal process that transmutes base elements, such as human fears, into gold. So this is less of a story concept such as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but more like the above-mentioned Topographic Oceans, a concept about ideology. First track “Empireum” is a slow-building predominately synth piece whose feels hit similar territory as some

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Astralfish- Far Corners

Noh Poetry

Astralfish are Bridget Wishart and Don Falcone, who here create cosmic melodies with a whole host of special guests including Daevid Allen from Gong. With sixteen tracks across its shimmering disc we should venture forth into the beautiful beyond to tell you all what glories there are to behold.

The opening track “Far” includes Allen’s gliss guitars and has a other world feel similar to the Sacred Geometry releases and touching slightly on Eno’s Apollo soundtrack. “Lil Utburd” begins like an Indian raga but moves into some big Vaughn Williams-style chords that break down into a funky bass section which kicks in the drums. A lilting melody carries through the piece giving its busy beats an underlying feel of melancholy. “Pepper Sky”

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Nadja – Excision


Most bands when releasing a collection of otherwise placeless split vinyl album tracks and remixes end up with a selection of shorter pieces compiled into what often ends up as some sort of a grab-bag of odds and ends. Not so with Nadja, who fit just four tracks on each CD of this two-disc set of recordings from 2007-08, and who also manage to make a coherent whole in the process, if perhaps in part through long-form osmosis – but what a way to trickle down…

“Jornada del Muerto” and “Perichoresis,” which open disc 1, come from a pair of split LPs which also featured solo tracks from Leah Buckareff and Aidan Baker. Here together their summed bass, guitar and drums (synthetic or otherwise) lay out the

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Striate Cortex roundup (Part 1) – Jan M Iversen/On The Wrong Planet/Petals/Sleepwalking/Star Turbine

Striate Cortex

Striate Cortex seems to have gone, in just a few years, from another ‘yet another’ label putting out tiny editions of unheard of artists (or ‘no-audience underground’ as radiofreemidwich have it) to having a pretty heavy catalogue of exquisitely-packaged things. I can’t claim to be a completist but I’m seeing a lot of names on their discography of bands and people who are making great sounds – Plurals (whose SC release, I’m assured, is their best record to date), Bambikill, Petals, Dead Wood, [post=joinedbywire-48-space-platform text=”joinedbywire”], the sadly missed Joey Chainsaw

I think there’s a great caprice around these records – when they came in the post, I almost didn’t want to listen to them. The packaging is just so entirely gorgeous. A response to record industry atrophy, perhaps – no-budget labels can’t compete with the big guns but they can make desirable objects. With these, it’s a real

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