Archives by month/year

Sly & The Family Drone – Unnecessary Woe


Sly & The Family Drone - Unnecessary WoeStarts in a dawn chorus of cymbal scrapes and reverbatory metals, rebounding some abandoned factory walls, dust bars of light catching the industrial glitz and crow-beaked pickings.

A mild introduction that opens to the raspy slaps of “Grey Meat,” a curmudgeon that clumsily knocks into drawers full of cutlery franked by Gnostic monk moans. Then moments later it’s jumping out of the fire extinguisher smoke going headlong into a percussive jumble sale alive in electronic spatters, buckets of the spastic bric-a-brac. A riot routing ringware, smashing sticks into its chromium forehead. Some hot hot damage of cromagnon magnitude, maimed in whirry-chuff backwardness , ending at a pleasing 12 minutes 14 seconds. Some truly great butchered vibes here, and they haven’t

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Compound Eye – Journey From Anywhere

Editions Mego

Compound Eye - Journey From AnywhereThis’ll be the second Freq review where I start with “I miss Coil” but I do miss them, they felt necessary, at least in my bubble. They didn’t seem in the least contingent and thus neither of them being here – still – is vaguely preposterous, almost illogical. That said, there’s still hints, around the corners, in not especially dark places, under stones, inside the wind. There’s still stuff out there, just not enough. There’s still genuine lost things, popping up occasionally on YouTube, things that make sense (or would have one day made sense with a little tweaking, with some Balance). But there’s never enough and it’s… irritating. It feels like you wanted Jhonn

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Cut Hands/Container/Blood Music/Black Amiga (live at Bunker)

The cells at The IslandThe Island, Bristol 22 November 2013

The venue’s an abandoned police station, now converted into an arts centre/studio space. The grim nature of the place gets more pronounced as you step deeper into the building, those institutional hues greying against the eerie wipe-clean gloss of the white tiling. The cold concrete and red-bricked Victoriana, dower, depressing as the flaking magnolia, or the raggedy plastic bag spectres barb wire clinging, not to mention the blank stainless sterility of the cell toilets. The place oozed a creeping oppressive atmosphere even the comfy sofas and chatting people couldn’t shake.

Black Amiga live at The IslandInside the holding cell of

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Kemper Norton – Carn

Exotic Pylon

Kemper Norton - CarnThere is a television advertisement for Cow and Gate infant food supplement currently doing the rounds (at this juncture it is more or less obligatory to state that “Other baby and toddler nutritional products are available”), which shows a gang of little nippers unleashed in a spacious recording studio. Wandering curiously around this acoustic playground the bright little buttons innocently scrape away at violins, pluck at bass strings, work kick drums, and generally do a very creditable impression of The Scratch Orchestra’s inaugural meeting at St Katherine’s Dock in 1969. Gradually their uncoordinated plinkings and plonkings begin to mesh together, a melody and defined rhythm emerging from the musical chaos like a ship from the fog, until by the end they

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Bill Callahan/Mick Turner (live at The Aladdin Theater)

Portland, Oregon 19 November 2013

Portland was at it’s finest on Tuesday night, for this sold-out performance of Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner and indie staple Bill Callahan, who used to make music under the Smog moniker before returning to his given name for a series of well received albums.

We’ve entered the real rainy season in the City Of Roses, but it was clear and frosty night. People huddled against the cold, as a few brave souls sought after extra tickets beneath the Aladdin Theater‘s vintage flashbulb marquee. We were in the last few days of Scorpio, and there was a hidden hush beneath the pre-show exuberance. People are turning inwards, preparing to go indoors for the winter, and we have not yet hit the festiveness of Sagitarrius. There was a feeling of introversion amidst the revelry.

For once, I feel prepared. I had spent the afternoon reviewing Callahan’s

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Plankton Wat – Drifter’s Temple

Thrill Jockey

Plankton Wat - Drifter's TempleOn Drifter’s Temple, Plankton Wat takes us on a vision quest through a dream of America’s West Coast. The ghosts of deadheads and time-travelling Rainbow Family gather in ancient sylvan redwood groves, playing the endless groove, while immortal orange-clad Boddhisatvas hold down the pedal note on a tambura. Emerald light slants through the distant canopy; all sense of time is lost.

Dewey Mahood has been constructing homespun new age guitar meditations since 2008, leaving his native northern California for the grey skies of Portland, Or. After departing the popular northwestern psych outfit Eternal Tapestry at the end of 2012, Plankton Wat has become Mahood’s full-time job. He’s released a slew of tapes and CDrs on some of the most prestigious labels of the underground,

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The Samsara Blues Experiment (live at The Borderline)

London 15 November 2013

Samsara Blues Experiment live at The Borderline After some mix up on the door where I had to admit to being me twice (not sure why anyone would want or even pretend to be me), I make my way down a crowded staircase into a packed Borderline. I’d not been here since the ill fated Deviants gig a few months earlier so it was good to see the place heaving with people. The audience were a cross between the new psychedelic ‘hippies’ and stoners dressed in their finery, looking at times in a disdainful manner at the older war horses who have been going to these type of gigs when there was maybe only 10 other people in watching the bands in the back room of

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NoHome – NoHome


Nohome - NohomeFull of throat-throttling goodness, this powerhaus trio carves quite a ruckus that effectively fills that massive void of a stage depicted on the cover. Right from the offing Caspar Brötzmann and Marino Pliakas‘s hexagonal arcs seem to leer, goading the somersaulting percussions and hypothermic cymbals of Michael Wertmüller. All three locking horns superbly , notching up quite a temperature, gnawing on each other’s shrapnel-filled halos in screeching brake and spewing turbine. The merest notion of tune, thrown to noisy kinetics and collision.

Gives your ears a really good workout as you get blissfully lost within that free-form forest of give and take, those opportunist grabs of limelight, the foot-to-floor rushes. A faceoff you wished you’d witnessed firsthand, something that the lucky audience between tracks completely lap up. That muscular mascara of bass on track two is storming,

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Medicine – To The Happy Few

Captured Tracks

Medicine - To The Happy FewTo The Happy Few, the new album from seminal So.Cal. shoegaze/noise pop act Medicine, is like being submerged in a lake of amniotic glycerine, and watching the sky. Guitars like outboard motors disturb the stillness, making waves, while chanteuse Beth Thompson lulls you towards the depths. Jim Goodall‘s drums go off like depth charges, and it suddenly occurs to you how badly you’ve missed rock ‘n roll.

Medicine were best known for their inclusion on the iconic soundtrack for the film adaptation of James O’ Barr‘s The Crow. They even had a cameo in one of the club scenes, right before Eric Draven catches a million bullets. They just never quite got the following they deserved. Chalk it up to to

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Jex Thoth/The Death Letter (live at The Black Heart)

Jex Thoth, live at The Black Heart November 2013 -3London 9 November 2013

The Black Heart is filled to capacity to witness Jex Thoth’s first ever London date. I’ve been waiting and wanting to see this band live since the release of the first album, but for some reason every time they planned to tour here it fell through. So its only now, two albums and two EPs into their career, that they are hitting British shores for their first ever tour here and I, for one, was pleased I was in the audience.

The Death Note, live at The Black Heart November 2013First off was support band The Death

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Paul Ferris – Witchfinder General OST

De Wolfe Music Library

Paul Ferris - Witchfinder General OST1968 was the year that British horror films began to turn away from the cosy gothic perennials of Dracula and Frankenstein and move into the unknown territory of heathenism and the darkness of the English woodland. These new tales of secret rites and pagan communities had to have a very distinct filmic language of their own. Here nudity and extreme sadistic violence would take over from the corseted heaving bosom and the pan-away neck biting shot. One film that was at the vanguard of this new era was Michael ReevesWitchfinder General, made during some glorious Autumnal days in East Anglia where the changing seasons gives scenes an almost haunted feel.

For a film about witchcraft, it’s strange that the film actually features no real witches at all. Vincent Price

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Patrick Higgins – String Quartet No. 2 + Glacia

Ex Cathedra / Words+Dreams

Patrick Higgins - String Quartet No 2…so there’s a thing with a lot of musical vaguely designated as ‘classical’ where the descriptions don’t per se tell you a great deal. ‘Pounding kraut vibes’ tells you most of what you need to know about a record but “ a palindromic movement structure, the quartet moves through a cycle of compositional styles from diatonic tonal material, to atonal, lyrical writing, to twelve-tone, micro-tonal, and indeterminate materials” doesn’t imply a great deal. It describes some generic ideas about writing music (as in pen-to-stave) but not a great deal about the content. Atonal and twelve-tone have glaring connotations of modernism but there’s a world between (say) Schoenberg and Webern, let alone composers at most of

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Circle and Mamiffer – Enharmonic Intervals (for Paschen Organ)

Ektro (CD)/SIGE (vinyl)

Circle and Mamiffer - Enharmonic IntervalsEnharmonic Intervals (for Paschen Organ) emanates rousingly from that sharply-scrawled nonplace where Magma meets Khanate, where touches of doomy martial pomp worthy of Coil at their most mordantly impressive march alongside the scuttling electrical signals of cables jumbling in decay and the dusty, keening grandeur of Dead Can Dance. In reality, while the hints and ghosts are there, this record sounds like itself far more than the sum of any references or echoes reverberating out from the works of other artists which might make themselves heard. The combination of Mika Rättö‘s operatic vocals with the slow-motion organ-led doom conjured up by Circle (in this instance the core duo of Rättö and Jussi Lehtisalo) and Mamiffer is one of those musical meetings made almost self-evidently

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Ryoji Ikeda – Supercodex


Ryoji Ikeda - SupercodexRyoji Ikeda is perhaps best known for his mastery of the ultra-minimal, for harnessing digital drones, glimmers and glitches to make unfolding sounds take seemingly apparent form in glacial patterns of space-filling lightness, of sounds so subtle as to only be noticeable when they have gone. When placed in the context of installations as found in galleries worldwide (his contribution of pure sine waves combined with stark brightness as experienced through shining tunnel of sound and light at the Sonic Boom group show at the Hayward Gallery in London in 2000 was exquisite) and recently in the dormant TWA Flight Center at JFK airport near New York – or as found in tandem with compellingly-minimal videos like the remarkable Formula – his work can provide a hauntingly immersive addition to any environment, built or perceived.

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Various Artists – Mountains of Tongues: Musical Dialects of The Caucasus, 2012-2013

LM Duplication

Mountains Of Tongues - Musical Dialects of The CaucasusThis music is presented to the world via the extremely productive LM Duplication label, the LM standing for ‘Living Music’, which couldn’t be a more appropriate association for the music recorded here. Life is full of grit and dirt, no matter how much we in the west try and get away from and sanitise it. Some of this mess is captured on the album with tracks fading in and out only after a few seconds. Other tracks contain brief talking or a knock of the microphone, but all this only adds to the listener’s journey and reminds us of its living content, for it’s important to note that these recordings aren’t some obscure Alan Lomax recording made in

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