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The Sun Ra Arkestra (live at Café Oto)

25 August 2013

en-coun-ter (en-koun-ter):

To come upon or meet with.

(Origin: 1250–1300; Middle English encountren < Anglo-French enco ( u ) ntrer; Old French < Vulgar Latin *incontrāre, equivalent to in- in-1 + –contrāre, derivative of contrā against)

Hynekian System of Classification:

‘Close encounter of the third kind’ – sighting of an animated being.


On the August Bank Holiday 2013, the animated beings that comprise the Sun Ra Arkestra have chosen to take a brief respite from travelling the spaceways in order to land on Earth for a five-day residency at Café Oto. That every night is sold out, the club packed to the gunnels despite the heat of the summer evening, speaks volumes for the standing that The Arkestra now possess. Gone are the hecklers of the 1960s, the financially precarious times of the Philadelphia communal house

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Hoofus – Several Wolves

Exotic Pylon

Hoofus - Several Wolves8-bit razor blade. Bedsit basement dwellers. Darkness on the edge of town.

Hoofus makes music from the Animal Collective unconscious, slimy grimy retroactive electronic improvisations from the wilds of rural Norfolk.

Here’s a snappy soundbyte from the press release:

Hoofus performs and records electronic improvisations from the undergrowth of rural Norfolk, using fuzzy analogue aesthetics and FM synthesized unease to create visceral ritual rhythms, smeared with restless feral yearning and the distant hum of moss covered machinery. Drawing on notions of ramshackle existence on the edges of the wilds, he attempts to express ideas of Arcadian alienation and backwoods neurosis.

This places Hoofus in league with fellow Anglo dropouts like Hacker Farm and IX Tab, what with their disavowal

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Frank Bretschneider – Super.trigger


Frank Bretschneider - Super.triggerThe mechanics of funk

On this newest offering from Raster-Noton head Frank Bretschneider, the man behind Komet, sets aside amorphous drones and textures to explore the basic principles of dance music: rhythm.

Super.trigger is essentially a collection of studio improvisations made between 2012-2013, then edited and re-configured into nine tracks of taut, sparse machine rhythms. This is the sound of an artist at work, struggling to get to know his machines, striving towards mastery. Bretschneider has been making music since 1984, so he has come a long way towards that goal. Super.Trigger is like a catalog of beats, a database of swing and groove. Bretschneider is trying to get all the possibilities, all the combinations, with the serious steadfastness of a biologist studying a new continent.

His music has been described as “abstract analogue pointilism,” “hypnotic

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Bernard Parmegiani – De Natura Sonorum

Recollection GRM

Bernard Parmegiani – De Natura SonorumDe Natura Sonorum seems an impossibly private affair. It feels a little like spying on an old guy as his mind is going and he’s trying to make sense of his belongings, looking at them with old-new eyes, touching them and trying to match the creases, smiling faintly because maybe that person in that clipping might be someone he once new, had a muscle memory of, an autonomic spasm in his DNA, his skin conducting new symphonies. It seemed a Krapp route, making Parmegiani a foil for some alchemical theory or other and trying to shoehorn Beckett into things because I kept thinking how perfect those guys would have been for one another; Bernard dragging Samuel around a soundworld, forcing him

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The Residents (live at The Barbican)

18 May 2013

Residents at The Barbican 2013A rare London appearance from The Residents, stopping off at The Barbican on their Wonder of Weird 40th anniversary tour. The show is presented as a kind of unreliable ‘history of our band’, and begins with a short film, a collection of excerpts from old (and formidably strange) videos and live performances. This does a fine job of encapsulating their appeal and setting the scene, and this often somewhat sterile venue is crackling with anticipation by the time the group take to the stage.

Four decades into one of the longest and strangest trips ever undertaken, the anonymous band have assumed a new disguise, perhaps their most ingenious yet: tonight The Residents present themselves as a fictitious band: a trio called, you guessed

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White Hills – So You Are… So You’ll Be

Thrill Jockey

White Hills - So You Are... So You'll BeDid you know, in this age of budget-slashing and diversion of science funds to the military, that America actually has a SECOND space programme? While Commander Hadfield‘s been channelling Bowie on the International Space Station, and that Japanese dude’s been trading witty bon mots with his robot (yeah, Google it, it’s true, and we DO live in the future), it’s been toiling away at its own ventures beyond our orbit. And while the one everyone knows about is called NASA, and stands for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, the other, noisier one is called White Hills, which stands for “fuzzed out motorik spacerock.”

The latest vehicle to launch from their New York base is So You Are… So You’ll

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Mythos – Grand Prix


Mythos – Grand PrixSireena Records seem to be in the process of reissuing a lot of the old Sky Records release from their back catalogue. This is a lovely-looking edition with original artwork and a booklet with lots of pictures as well as the lyrics, plus a complete run down of all the beautiful old equipment used (which is great if you’re a bit of a synth nerd like myself), as well as a couple of bonus tracks. These help fledge out an album that would have had an original running time of only about 35 minutes. Mythos stands on the borderline in Krautrock, being almost a mixture of progressive styles that mutated further down the line into a more electronic drum machine-laden pieces in a more Kraftwerk fashion.

The album begins with the title track, which has a

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Acid Mothers Temple and The Cosmic Inferno – Doobie Wonderland

Parallax Sounds

Acid Mothers Temple and The Cosmic Inferno - Doobie WonderlandI’ve seen Acid Mothers Temple numerous times and checked most of their incarnations: those skull-scribbled morays and splintered overlays leaving you blissfully skewed on their satisfaction guarantee; and I’m glad to say this latest offering continues the fun in a erotika of vintage sc-fi and vooming accents, twisting your melon in blurring hooks of vox.

The title track is a ’60s Barbarella flounce, a sleazily slick affair built around an acoustic twang-a-rang and valve-phonics. Pika from the insanely bright but sadly defunct Afrirampo recruited to good effect, balancing that all-male orientation with her free-floating vocal gymnastics and drum action. BoredomsMitsuru syllable grazing Pika’s breathy exuberance with the repeated lines “Do U remember… Doodie

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Various Artists – The Outer Church

Front & Follow

The Outer ChurchYou enter a dark theater. Yr not entirely sure where you are, or how you got there. You don’t know what’s going on. You walk into the flickering shadows, the interior of a theater swims into halflight, shadowy patrons whispering, pockets of activity in the corner. A young man beats a bone drum in a ceremonial dirge in the corner, a woman in blood is speaking Baudelaire on a raised platform. Over the loudspeakers, the textured rub of raw granite, snippets of sing-song, recordings of the London Tube. A car chase flickers to life on the vellum canvas of an enormous movie screen; the music rises to a fever pitch. A detuned fiddler arises from nowhere, adds her discordant bow to

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Vultures Quartet with Schuyler Tsuda – Sui Generis


Vultures Quartet with Schuyler Tsuda – Sui GenerisThis is a classic slice of electro acoustika. A lovingly chaotic fusion of talents from Anthony Donovan, Matt Chilton, Will Connor – and joining forces for this release composer and audio hacker Schuyler Tsuda. The Latin title Sui Generis roughly translates to ‘of its own kind’ and the improvised clatterings and purrings here certainly don’t shy from the fact.

The album’s calliper fairies and metallic dissidences plumb a whole netherworld of unnatural chemistries, finger paint your head in plenty of amputated industry. There’s a small concession to melodic ease, brief La Monte Young slivers of fret, a few gluey fingered drones and certain blurring to the ambiance, but the focus is primary that of the scrap yard. As if Stockhausen or Berio were prowling the landfills in search of new vocabularies, their

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Steamboat Switzerland – Zeitschrei


Steamboat Switzerland & Michael Wertmüller - ZeitschreiAnyone who loves the sound of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, while understandably being put off by their repertoire should check out Steamboat Switzerland. I saw the group live a few years ago and was mightily impressed by the sheer power of their Hammond organ, bass and drums line-up. Possibly more like Egg than ELP to be fair, but also considerably more elemental than any of the UK progsters got close to.

Live, I had assumed that the music was improvised and was expecting something different with this album, in which the trio tackle the compositions of Michael Wertmüller, a drummer (though not this group’s drummer). In fact, it sounds much the same as their live set – it’s quite astonishing that these songs were actually composed. The only parallels that come to mind

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Ruts DC – Rhythm Collision Volume 2


Ruts DC - Rhythm Collision Volume 2The Ruts were sort of our local punk band, coming originally from Anglesey, but apart from the “In a Rut” single, my punk friends and I never really got them and considered them heavy metal… which as about the worst thing you could be back in 1979! Of course in retrospect they were not really much like heavy metal – it was probably just that they could actually play. When singer Malcolm Owen died and the remaining Ruts DC backed the late great Kevin Coyne on his Sanity Stomp album, there was further disappointment as the record turned out to be Coyne’s flattest sounding to date.

With this long held ambivalence to the group, I certainly expected very little of a 2013 reunion

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Goldblade – The Terror of Modern Life


Goldblade - The Terror of Modern LifeWho would have guessed all those years ago that there’d still be a strong UK punk scene in 2013? John Robb has been in the midst of it since the very beginning and The Terror of Modern Life shows that he’s not lost an ounce of his energy since then. All the more impressive that he has also recently revived his former gnarly noise combo The Membranes (some of whose members overlap), writes daily features for his Louder than War blog and regularly appears as cultural commentator on all manner of media. These old men could teach the youngsters a thing or two about getting things done.

This is the sixth Goldblade album since they formed

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The Woodentops – Before During After

One Little Indian

The Woodentops - Before During AfterThe press release (and CD booklet) draws our attention to Morrissey‘s endorsement of The Woodentops. What’s not mentioned is that although he raved about their debut single “Plenty,” he had already publicly withdrawn his endorsement by the second (or was it third?) single, dismissing the group as has-beens. This three CD set lets us decide for ourselves whether or not he was being a little unkind in his premature dismissal of the group.

The early pre-LP singles are all collected, together with some of the b-sides on disc 3, and they sound as fresh today as they did back in the early ’80s. The first four a-sides, “Plenty,” “Move Me,” “Well Well Well” and “It Will Come” provide

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