Archives by month/year

Toshimaru Nakamura and John Butcher – Dusted Machinery


Toshimaru Nakamura & John Butcher - Dusted MachineryA couple of years ago a friend took me to Café Oto to see Londoners John Butcher and John Edwards teaming up with US guitarist Elliot Sharp. Not knowing what to expect, I was amazed by the gig, especially learning that Sharp never met the two others before, not to mention never played with them. This ended up being one of the best improv gigs I had seen for years. The interplay and attitude towards the music and each other was some of the things that moved me the most, as I recall. Later it came as no surprise having learned that Butcher has been very much sought after as a session musician or collaborator.

So getting a

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Stephanie Hladowski and C. Joynes – The Wild Wild Berry


Stephanie Hladowski & C. Joynes - The Wild Wild BerryHere we have a collection of British folk song interpretations by guitarist Chris Joynes and singer Stephanie Hladowski. Without even listening to this album, one can’t help recall the inspiring union of singer Shirley Collins and guitarist Davey Graham on the 1964 album Folk Roots, New Routes – a regular spinner in my car’s CD player.

From listening to The Wild Wild Berry, I find my deconstructive mind pondering the words ‘New Routes’ in Collins’ and Graham’s album title. When comparing the two albums, it’s hard to find what’s new in the approach of Hladowski and Joynes’ 2012 British folk interpretations. However, this leads me to think: why fix something that doesn’t need mending? There’s

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Hawkwind Light Orchestra – Stellar Variations/Dave Brock – Looking for Love in the Lost Land of Dreams

Esoteric Antenna

Hawkwind Light Orchestra - Stellar VariationsA slew of new Hawkwind-related material has appeared of late, as Dave Brock and his ever-changing cast of merry men enter their fifth decade of existence, still flying their pirate freak flags high. The group released a double album, the patchy Onward, last year, a new Brock solo album (see below) has just come out, and to top it all – in every sense – comes this quirky release from three-fifths of the current Hawkwind like-up: Brock himself, long-serving drummer Richard Chadwick, and recent arrival Niall Hone (who, like many latterday Hawkwind alumni, cut his musical teeth in the free festival scene of the 80s, in this case as a member of Tribe Of Cro). The liner notes explain that the three

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Banco de Gaia – Apollo

Disco Gecko

Banco De Gaia - ApolloThis is Banco de Gaia’s first new studio recording for seven years and the thing that has impressed me initially about it is the beautiful cover design. The painting of the ancient Greek temple on the front of the sleeve gives you some indication to the music contained within. Automatically it makes me aware that Banco is on the move again geographically. From the ancient Mayans to travelling through Tibet, Banco’s work can sometimes be seen as a travelogue for both inner and outer experiences. Whether or not these are places Toby Marks has visited or a kind of musical atmosphere he thinks of when contemplating these areas matters not, because the real journey in the end is the musical

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Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay


Neurosis - Honor Found In DecayThere’s something eternal, something relentlessly omnipresent about Neurosis, despite their constant shifts in sound. They’re not so much like a band who play music at you and every couple of years record some of it; they’re more like a BIG FUCK-OFF ASTEROID where the music is ALWAYS playing, and which sometimes passes close enough to Earth that we can hear it for a while. Although it’s fucking loud, so it doesn’t actually come close enough to wipe us out, although at times it sounds like it really wants to. And at other times it sounds like a transmission back from a future after it HAS wiped us out.

Basically, Neurosis are BIG. Big men playing big music on very big

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Rasp Thorne and the Briars – The Lecher’s Waltz


Rasp Thorne and the Briars The Lecher’s WaltzI’ve been trying to find a way to review this record without simply comparing Rasp Thorne and The Briars to other bands I enjoy. I could, of course, write a comprehensive list of other acts that make this kind of gothic punk gypsy burlesque, but the first thought that struck me was that what it reminded me of most was the Australian dark cabaret of Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen – although there is perhaps even a touch more of the rogue about these rapscallions. The Lecher’s Waltz is their first full-length album as a band, having had some small success with their EP Debutante Warnings, and here we are treated to a fuller exposition of their sound.

The first track

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Iannis Xenakis – GRM Works 1957-1962

Editions Mego

Iannis Xenakis - GRM Works 1957-1962“Concret PH” begins with glass splattering, not in a Vagina Dentata Organ way, but made to seem like static, or phrases in static – those late night TV static patterns that only emerge when your brain is looking the other way. With Xenakis, your brain often has to look the other way. I know nothing about Xenakis as such but he seems like a tough guy: a hard philosophy. He doesn’t seem like he’s the kind of guy who values compromise. “Concret PH” acts as an introduction to Varèse’s soundworks at the Philips Pavilion at the World’s Fair in 1958, but it’s also an introduction to another world, and acts like this here. These tracks aren’t soundscapes you need or ones

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Thought Forms/Gentleman’s Relish (live at The Lamb)

The Lamb, Devizes 8 February 2013

Gentleman’s Relish are a wicked combo, a spiky pop duo of tight guitar evolves, countered by neat percussive candy. Those quirky poetics of lyric, comically charged and made further so by the drummer’s Bill Bailey mannerisms. A lot of sweet action indeed: that switch-a-roo guitar slashing in an angelic upstart-esque insistence as the syllables broke across your head in a bank of warm jets. The howler monkey finale raising a surreal Pearl’n’Dean wah-wah, the cherry topping to their rather short set; really looking forward to another EP appearing from these boys really soon.

Gentleman's Relish and Thought Forms at The Lamb

The lighting is suitably dimmed for Thought Forms, Deejus cross-legged, chanting out a spiral of voice, swaying in a nest of undulating textures and Plexiglass

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Holly Herndon – Movement

RVNG Intl.

Holly Herndon - MovementThis album has been around since November 2012. So I’m a little late to the chorus of adulation. I’m doing my best not to read all the reviews that scroll up when I google Holly Herndon‘s name.

Is it awful to admit I had no idea?

Oh well. I didn’t have any idea, but when it was suggested I might like to review this, I was intrigued. I watched the video for the title track and single and was actually spellbound. Musically and visually this was arresting, beautiful stuff.

I wasn’t sure I could do it justice. I’m not a massive follower of the scene, I just catch snippets here and there. Maybe it is because I was told she lists Laurie

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Anthroprophh+Big Naturals/Gnod/Giant Swan (live at The Exchange)

3 February 2013 The Exchange, Bristol


Giant Swan were first up, a duo plying a lush clamour of harsh ear schisms that materialised into gristlised rhythms, a lot of box teased goodness to soak up. These boys certainly knew a thing or two about the art of bending circuitry. Loops and pick-up burrs literally ear danced in textural plugholes of echoed vox, resurrected in scars and sycamore incisions that wavered from slithering invisible points, suggestions of words playing in your inner ear – I swear I heard dildo o-o-o-o-oh-ing in all that fedback tourettes…

Having seen Gnod a few times now, I was half expecting a nomadic instrument showdown; slightly huffed to see my favourite head merchants had opted for a completely electronic persona. Needn’t have worried though, the resulting sounds didn’t lose

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My Bloody Valentine – m b v


In an era of bands reforming, reappearing and generally revising, sometimes apparently out of the blue, few albums have been as eagerly anticipated as My Bloody Valentine‘s third; and after twenty-two years it finally appeared on their own website with barely a breath of warning to the waiting throngs – and on YouTube when their servers crashed too. Freq offers three opinions on the mbv brouhaha.


My Bloody Valentine - mbvI couldn’t figure out how to buy the mbv download, because the site was so abstract and weird.

Consensus here, some of it sounds like two hairdryers with someone trying to play a guitar solo. It keeps promising to stop, then lurches back into itself. Then a hoover comes in, along with a lawn

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Malcolm Mooney – The Sound Of White Columns

The Sound of White Columns

Malcolm Mooney - The Sound Of White Columns EPUnlike Star Trek fans, Can enthusiasts never have to choose between the two key vocalists of the Can oeuvre. Partly this is because Damo Suzuki and Malcolm Mooney both found idiosyncratic ways in which to interact with the rest of the band. It is also because Can enthusiasts are not necessarily Star Trek fans.

Mooney’s sojourn with The Can initially manifests as one and a half albums. Further material is revealed on (Un)Limited Edition and then later we were treated to a full album of Mooney-era material with Delay 1968, the slightly unfortunate Rite Time in the late 80s; and the recent unearthing of The Lost Tapes reveals more of the Mooney legacy.

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Cyclopean – Cyclopean EP


Cyclopean EPBringing together musicians who have worked together separately before – Burnt Friedman and Jaki Liebezeit have released several outstanding records of electronic dub together, among numerous other guest spots and collaborations; Irmin Schmidt and Jono Podmore made two albums as Schmidt & Kumo; and of course Schmidt and Liebezeit were Can members together, as well as collaborators since the band’s demise. Add in Podmore’s sterling work on editing The Lost Tapes, and it’s really no surprise that this début Cyclopean EP appears (via Mute) on the Spoon imprint either.

So much for the background. The self-titled 12″ may only contain four tracks, but they’re each marvels of intricate percussion and enveloping electronica, deep baths of bass humming and heaving majestically at the rhythmic end while swarms and

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Edward Ka-Spel – Tanith And The Lion Tree

Cold Spring

Edward Ka Spel - Tanith and the Lion TreeTanith and the Lion Tree revels in that rich and sumptuous world Edward Ka-Spel has carved for himself, one where the surreal becomes vivid, a vibrant play of words that like Kenneth Anger’s pleasure dome inaugurations, slowly unfold, ensnaring you in simmerings of dark fascinations. Tastes that jump from macabre to tender heart felts, from spite to cheerful jaunts of observation. Nuggets that refuse to give away their journeys end, delight in leaving resolutions dancing around in the listeners mind whilst the music slickly entertains a multitude of possible atmospheres, poking at the aura of each song in a prism of pleasing dimensions, stage sets. His words impart a strange narcotic, an alluring hypnosis of language, like something trapped in

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The Black Twig Pickers – Rough Carpenters

Thrill Jockey

The Black Twig Pickers - Rough CarpentersI’d waited for an opportunity to listen to this album where I’d have some uninterrupted space and so the epic Megabus journey that started at 03:00 in the morning was the perfect place. I got on the bus, walked to the top of the stairs, plonked my self down at the back and was greeted by a wonderful centred perspective view of empty bus seats and pressed play.

The album kicks off with a slow reedy rasping solo violin tune masterfully laid down by Mike Gangloff, who also features in the folk drone project Pelt alongside fellow Twig Picker Nathan Bowles. Whereas Pelt seem to be dealing with the wide-open fuzzy land of collective-conscious folk forms, The Black Twig Pickers draw

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