Over the past few years, Hamburg’s Bureau B label has released an astonishing treasure trove of music. Reissues of long out of print kraut classics, including much of the enormous back catalogue of the Cluster family, now sit alongside brand new work by many of the people from the German scene, old and new, including recent releases from Faust and Kreidler. The label now returns to the Cluster camp for us to catch up with just what Moebius and Roedelius have been up to since they last disbanded the duo a couple of years back.
Well, it seems the answer to that is, they’ve been forming more duos. For Stunden, Hans-Joachim Roedelius gets together with To Rococo Rot’s Stefan Schneider to record a series
Continue reading Roedelius & Schneider – Stunden /Qluster – Rufen/Moebius & Tietchens – S/T [...]
The release of Faust Is Last a couple of years back seems to have freed up Hans-Joachim Irmler’s creative enthusiasm, his output rate suddenly jumping from Scott Walker to Acid Mothers Temple territory. These two new Klangbad releases are the fourth and fifth new projects involving Irmler since the Faust album in 2010 and there’s no sign of any let up in quality yet.
The third Spielwiese finds the reunited duo of Irmler and FM Einheit joined by Ute-Marie Paul of Nista Nije Nista and American bassoonist Katherine Young. The crash and throb of Irmler & Einheit’s No Apologies is still very much present, but on Spielwiese Drei, the soundfield is given a subtly uneasy sense of foreboding by Paul and Young’s contributions. Opening track “If
Continue reading Irmler/Einheit/Paul/Young – Spielwiese 3/Wolfarth & Irmler – Illumination [...]
Hmmm… a Van der Graaf Generator instrumental album eh? For a supposed ‘prog’ band, Van der Graaf Generator have never really gone in for lengthy instrumental passages, preferring to fill their convoluted songs with Peter Hammill’s densely-packed words. Then again, The Graaf, as they’ve seldom affectionately referred to, have never really gone in for the usual ‘prog’ behaviour.
Of course their biggest ‘hit’ “Theme One” was an instrumental, but that was a cover of a George Martin piece, so hardly counts, and the less said about the lacklustre Long Hello series the better, except to be grateful they weren’t released under the group name to tarnish the reputation. 2005’s triumphant reunion album Present came with a second disc of improvised instrumentals, a disc that
Continue reading Van der Graaf Generator – Alt [...]
It’s mandatory when reviewing Laetitia Sadier to glibly remark on how everything she does sounds a bit the same, so let’s get that bit over to start with. Silencio isn’t sonically a million miles away from 2010’s The Trip, or indeed most Stereolab or Monade releases if it comes to that. The familiar elements are present: retro-futurist electronica, lushly arranged textures, “exotic” rhythms, sophisticated melodies and of course that curiously detached yet intimate and airy voice, floating like a liberated red balloon over the rooftops of her intricately-constructed universe. In truth, she has developed a musical language over the past twenty years that is quite at odds with the familiar vocabulary of rock ‘n’ roll. As a result, she always sounds more like herself
Continue reading Laetitia Sadier – Silencio [...]
A ping hits my mind, over and over again, record crackle from the turntable, strange voices talking to me, giving me unheard messages, drums moves frequencies back and forth in all kinds of directions. Subtle periods mixed with what sounds most people would argue does not belong in music. Repeat-loop train-tracks going to a playful sound together with jungle musique concrète. Stressed out or going through the motions with weirdness. Like a battle of the machines, a wall of sound, three people pushing the limits of what sonic space is left in my brain, rhythmic, not rhythmic, chaotic, almost sounding random but still focused. This time, the stage must have been packed with sound and noise.
The trio of Maja Ratkje, Lasse Marhaug and Paal
Continue reading Slugfield – Slime Zone [...]
Wow! Take in that space. It’s practically a whisper for the first minute … Hákarl’s violin glowing like some gipsy succubus in the headphones… tugging the emotions as Daniel Hignell‘s electronics flitter the periphery, hugging those violin strokes in a dance of vaporous tastes. Vignettes of sensation, like a creeping doppelganger to that lichen-needled concrete.
Six minutes in, its leisurely unfolding into a beat driven penance with flickering bow scrapes of roaming intensity. Vibes that could have you hovering over your St Christopher as stormy weathers approach, dispersing on swirls of whining ligaments… a series of lush discomforts that keep you guessing. Suddenly taking a medieval(ish) turn, then a Vienna chambered fallout to whirring machinery. Curving beats to a re-emerging shark pool of violin,
Continue reading Hákarl/Daniel Alexander Hignell – Bambi [...]
Crucial Blast (CD)/Consouling (vinyl)
In a media landscape where seemingly every mainstream early-evening crime drama routinely features grisly post-mortem footage of dissected cadavers and high-definition CGI renderings of the paths of wounds and injuries being inflicted as seen from inside the body, is it any wonder that artists such as Gnaw Their Tongues want to push the sonic envelope of morbidity? Just as slickly-sick splatterfests like the Saw and Hostel series give gorehounds and the censorious alike yet more fodder for their prurient schadenfreude/distaste (delete as applicable), so the extremes where orchestral music, metal, noise and soundscaping meet become progressively more and more immersively shocking.
With a title which refers to worshipping the dark with blood and the whip and a back catalogue dripping
Continue reading Gnaw Their Tongues – Per Flagellum Sanguemque, Tenebras Veneramus [...]
Back in the days when an internet café was a big deal, and a cool, hip, happening place where awesome kids did 72-hour Starcraft sessions and didn’t die (note- these days are actually largely fictional, much like the days immortalised in the movie Tron, when running an amusement arcade was essentially EXACTLY THE SAME AS BEING A ROCK STAR, but I still remember them with fondness), rather than just a place you went to to print out booked train tickets on your lunch break, there was one round the corner from me. In a car park. It had flats attached to it, and in my head it always looked like the sort of place hip, happening, cool Starcraft-playing kids would live and plot virtual bank heists
Continue reading JK Flesh – Posthuman [...]
There is just something that doesn’t quite make it when it comes to the band Beak>; whether it’s because they seem to be trying too hard to emulate the motorik rock that came from Germany in the ’70s, or because they attempt to go for a ritualistic sound that falls short of ritual, there’s just something that they can’t manage to pull off.
The band comprise of members Billy Fuller, Matt Williams, and of course, Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame. The sound they make has obvious Krautrock references, especially on the track “Liar,” where they do an amazing impersonation of Damo Suzuki-era Can; but there are post-Kraut influences too, most notably in the post-punk that came along in the late ’70s, which also had its roots
Continue reading Beak> – >> [...]
I’m playing this on the road from Marrakesh to the coastal town of Essaouria, the sprawl of habitation reclaimed by stony desert, a spluttering of abandoned ruins, the odd pylon lines groping the desolation. The road ahead, a grey tarmac smear in all this scorched dust, as a ney wrapped call to prayer fills my ears, a lushness that gets the mind wandering. Out the 4by4′s window, a dusty tornado spirals upward between grave-like piles of rock – seems to be caught on those flute flourishes, quickly dissipating on a haze of Islamic handphonics…
The landscape here is without doubt the catalyst behind this cinematic vision from Azurazia, a trio of musicians, Vincent Epplay, Pharoah Chromium and Arnaud Maguet, is a soundtrack for an (at present) imaginary
Continue reading Azurazia – Azurazia OST: Lowering the Mediterranean, Irrigating the Sahara [...]
Originally self-released as a CDr by Sir Richard Bishop in 2011, Intermezzo now gets a vinyl outing courtesy of Stephen O’Malley‘s estimably eclectic Ideologic Organ imprint. Maybe surprisingly for a record with such a limited first release, this is one of those œuvre-spanning albums which provides a snapshot of Bishop’s range and versatility, as each instrumental piece on here pretty much fits into a different genre of (mostly)solo acoustic guitar music.
So once “Dust And Spur”s has rolled straight in from familiarly fantastic Fahey country, and the avant-surge of “Reversionary Tactics” has switched back and forth, Bishop brings out “Dance of the Cedars,” a suitably-titled Arabic waft of Mediterranean air where the pollen and evergreen spires which symbolise so much of the Maghreb and
Continue reading Sir Richard Bishop – Intermezzo [...]
The début release from the Turquoise Coal label is also Irma Vep‘s first time on vinyl, though it’s also the tenth solo album from Klaus Kinski drummer Edwin Stevens. However, anyone familiar with Klaus Kinski and therefore expecting a full-frontal assault of blistering noise from Stevens will be bound for some disappointment – in fact, a metric shedload thereof.
Which is not to say that HAHA isn’t intense enough in its own way, but not like having extremities removed at brutal speed by the application of discordance. Instead, the Irma Vep approach owes more to a lo-to-mid-fi songsmithing tradition which might as easily have sprung from the local corner café-bar as from the sound of New Yorkers in black polonecks singing about the Marquis
Continue reading Irma Vep – HAHA [...]
I’ve been way behind with my listening recently; still got a bucket of stuff (actually, some of it is in the old washing basket) I’m supposed to review, still got piles of albums and MP3s idly ticking over, mangling the datashields of my iPod… When DSM V finally comes out there’s bound to be some new disorder based around the triple anxiety felt 1) by having too much potential information, too many things that might be your favourite things ever, that might change everything, 2) by having the ever increasing, ever intense feeling that every single thing you listen to, new or old, might simply be adding another brick to the tiresome ‘heard it all before’ wall… and 3) by being frightened (and opposed) to the
Continue reading Woebot – Hallo [...]
If there’s any kind of party going on, when the sun’s shining or no, if there’s barbecue coals warming up and a good-sized tent set up for entertainment, cornbread and sweet tea to start, grilled foodstuffs and harder liquor to follow, there should also be The Black Twig Pickers, a turkey in the straw and the ladies hopping high on a “Merry Mountain Hoedown” all the way to Napoleon’s retreat by way of the “Brushy Fork of John’s Creek.”
Following on from the upright and whirlsome sounds of Ironto Special comes Whompyjawed – which means crooked, off-centre; but here it sounds redolent of getting fiddle-ache from playing energetic music for far too long, but pleasurably, exhaustedly so. This is the record which
Continue reading The Black Twig Pickers – Whompyjawed [...]
Conveyor (N America)/Salvo (Europe)
In 1987 I was trying my damnedest to reject the hateful and morally-bankrupt Thatcherite dream which seemed to be crushing everything in its path like some ghastly metal steamroller with Keith Joseph laughing behind the wheel, and instead recreate the psychedelic summer of twenty years before in Buckinghamshire’s green and pleasant pastures.
And, with plenty of sunshine that year, the release schedules of Bam Caruso and Edsel to be worked through, my first Purple Om and the Alice in Wonderland/Planet Alice nexus to take me on magical mystery tours (to dazzling, psychedelic Lowestoft!) and sell me ludicrous crushed velvet shirts, I considered that I was doing a halfway decent job of it. Barbara, who ran the local Student
Continue reading The Zombies – Live at Metropolis Studio, London [...]