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Rise Above 25th Anniversary Show (live at The Garage)

Blood Ceremony live at The Garage December 2013London 28 December 2013

So who would have believed all those years ago that a small British label focusing mainly on doom music would last all this time? But by the time I went to the last anniversary show a few years back at the ULU it was obvious then that the scene had grown and the blood lust for this type of music hadn’t abated. In the pub across the road I heard some good things about Friday night’s show with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats headlining, so I couldn’t wait to get into the venue and experience what tonight’s acts were going to do in their time slots.

Age of Taurus live at The Garage December 

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Metamono – With the Compliments of Nuclear Physics

Instrumentarium

Metamono – With the Compliments of Nuclear PhysicsI love vinyl. There is something about it, lifting the needle and placing it down on a record seems real. That slight crackle of the run on groove, that wonderful analogue warmth that breathes from the speakers, the music’s cold hard digital heart taken away. So it was nice to be sent a real piece of proper lovely vinyl to review from a band local to me, Metamono.

The band operates under a ‘no digital’ manifesto that automatically gets my vote. These type of band manifestos reminds me of artists during the post-punk period that set themselves various conditions that as the years went by they could not work under anymore (Psychic TV springs to mind here), but

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Stephen O’Malley (live at Nuit d’Hiver)

One of Stephen O'Malley's Sunn amps at Nuit d'Hiver 2013L’Embobineuse, Marseille. 20 December 2013

The first thing to notice – after being amused and bemused by the number of variously-mutilated teddy bears peppering L’Embobineuse‘s decorations (nailed to the ceiling; as the head of a nude mannequin in a fish tank) as well as noticing the number of SunnO))) stencils which have presumably recently appeared on every available surface in the place – including its in-car 3D cinema) – about the venue is the way in which the entire back of the stage is taken up with Stephen O’Malley‘s six Sunn cabs, three Sunn amp heads and two more Ampeg bass amps and cabs. What was that about a wall of sound?

With GRIM‘s eleventh annual Nuit d’Hiver festival

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Pyrolator’s Wunderland

Bureau B

Pyrolator's WunderlandThis is a gleeful, cheery offering. A million miles from the moody cultures of Inland, Kurt Dahlke‘s ’79 debuting ice-breaker, it’s all ruby-cheeked whimsy, paddling in the shallow end, sucking on plenty of easy ear lollipops. Knowingly going where most experimenters fear to tread, into a world reserved for elevators and on hold appeasement; in short , the land of the inoffensive ditty.

Pyrolator is clearly having so much fun with it all too, playfully squeezing the melody to the max, spicing up the trebly tailoring with quirky animal ker-ching. It’s as if the soft-contoured scoops of tango on “Hal’ s Dream” or “Rush Hour in Singapore”‘s handclap/bamboo(zle) were adverts for nonsensical products floating out on carpets of helium, or MIDI

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Black Sabbath (live at the Manchester Arena)

18 December 2013

Pantomime season is once more upon us, and the heaviest and most bludgeoning pantomime of all is rolling into town. My first ever concert was Black Sabbath – a scary 38 years ago, and so when a friend who couldn’t make this week’s reunion tour offered me his ticket at a Christmas party last weekend, I was sufficiently inebriated to be unable to refuse.

Arriving at the vast and horribly-named Phones 4U Arena (the largest venue in the EU apparently) in the sober twilight of early evening, I was having serious reservations. I generally avoid venues which are big enough to not be on first name terms with the audience. On top of that, Bill Ward won’t be present and Ozzy‘s lifestyle hasn’t been kind to his voice – oh dear. On the other hand, I felt similarly sceptical about this year’s 13 album, which turned out

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Faust and Omar Rodríguez-López – Live at Clouds Hill

Clouds Hill

Faust and Omar Rodríguez-López - Live at Clouds HillOn the many occasions I have seen Faust live over the last years, the original krautrockers have played many favourites and songs from the ’70s classics, although mixed with some improvisations. But other times they grasp the opportunity to collaborate with other artists, letting them colour the expression, or even get a feel for a different setting creating new fresh music.

This time it is the core members of Faust, Jean-Hervé Péron and Zappi Diermaier, who have teamed up with Omar Rodríguez-López from The Mars Volta. Ultimately it sounds like a good idea, as the latter is well known to be capable of thinking outside a traditional song structure-like box, even though he now is making pop music

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Oil City Confidential

Cadiz Music

oil city confidentialAlthough Julien Temple’s film about pub-rock heroes Dr Feelgood dates from 2009, it is only now receiving a DVD release (through Cadiz Music) in the US, and it’s this new edition that is reviewed here, although I’m not aware of any difference between this and the original release.

Nevertheless, the fact that this is intended for an American market immediately invites focus on an intriguing aspect of the high-energy four-piece who were, for a brief period circa 1975-77, one of the biggest live draws in the UK: the way in which their music, rooted almost entirely in American styles and tropes, was nevertheless a peculiarly British phenomenon. Indeed one can narrow the locale down much further than that, to Canvey Island, Essex: a bleakly atmospheric place

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Wooden Shjips – Back To Land/live at The Grand Social with Twinkranes

Dublin 14 December 2013

Set phasers to phase.

Listening to the recent Wooden Shjips album Back to Land is a very different experience to seeing the band play the album live. That’s obviously true of every record. Every artist. Every band. But some more than others. And Wooden Shjips more than most.

Fortunately both experiences are excellent.

Wooden Shjips - Back To LandBack to Land (Thrill Jockey)is as good a slice of mellow spacerock as anything released in the past ten years. From the first seconds of the opening (title) track through to the end of “Everybody Knows,” the groove never relents. But it never gets predictable. It travels from a west coast of America haunted by the spirit of Jerry Garcia to Lou Reed‘s New York. It passes

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Pye Corner Audio – Conical Space

Dekorder

Pye Corner Audio - Conical SpaceConical Space, the first offering of Dekorder‘s brilliant Hybrid Vinyl series, finds Pye Corner Audio‘s Head Technician channelling all his loves: ’80s horror synth, Detroit Techno, kosmische and corrupted technology. These synthscapes conjure images of polished chrome skylines, with miles high neon adverts, before yr cruiser exits the stratosphere, eventually being swallowed in the event horizon of Dr. Reinhardt’s black hole.

It’s always a pleasure to hear new music from Pye Corner Audio. Paying close attention to the shadowy comings-and-goings of The Head Technician gives valuable insight into the state of the hauntological, retroactive underground, as his music has progressed leagues since his initial anonymous Black Mills Tapes. Those curiosities were an attempt to replicate some moldering radiophonic

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Sidi Touré – Alafia

Thrill Jockey

Sidi Touré - AlafiaGetting the hastily-search engined blurb out of the way: Sidi Touré (no relation to the other famous musicians with the same last name from the same country) is from Mali; Mali’s had it pretty rough of late, and seems to be in a tempestuous state politically. I shan’t embarrass myself by feigning more than a cursory awareness but the appearance of a number of conflicting voices (and actual violent actions) are dividing the nation. And from this tension, Touré is apparently bringing lyrical expression to these tensions.

The inexorable caveat: I can’t write this without being disingenuous. Doubly so as a few accounts paint this as a politically-charged record, the context of which I have a minimal access to. The positive (as it were) is

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Gallon Drunk – Live at Clouds Hill

Clouds Hill

Gallon Drunk - Live at Clouds HillFor those who have waited for a recent live document of Gallon Drunk, I’ll say it’s halfway there. As a part of the Clouds Hill live 10” series, only five songs fits on this white vinyl record and the good thing is that the fans can stay hungry for more.

> Print this

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Lagowski – Redesine+

Zoharum

Lagowski - Redesine+For his first album in seven years under his own name (rather than as S.E.T.I.), Andrew Lagowski seems to have decided to revisit every possible way of making synthesized music – let’s lump them all under the rubric of techno just for the moment – and give it an extra shove in various oblique directions. Sprinkled with bleeps, thwups, trickles and sprightly bursts of brightly-crafted sonics, Redesine+ is one of those records which tweaks and expands the template by which sequencers have both constrained and empowered electronic music for the last thirty-five+ years.

By turns dubby and angular, flecked with minimalist touches in a maximalist environment with the abstracted samples often flowing thick and fast, the thirteen tracks offer up a coruscating tumble of sounds which ripple and twist into contortions so supple that the effect can be

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Black Dirt Oak – Wawayanda Patent

MIE

Black Dirt Oak - Wawayanda PatentIs Black Dirt Oak a supergroup? Perhaps. With members of Desert Heat, Violators, Pelt, Black Twig Pickers, Rhyton, Psychic Ills, D. Charles Speer‘s band and NNCK (that’s just from the more well-known groups too) it probably counts as one, if such a term really holds much meaning anymore. With seven musicians on board, it often sounds like there are yet more hard at work on creating as psychedelic an experience as they possibly can, from the opening sound of what could be mistaken for every primitive guitarist since Basho and John Fahey getting on down to jam, to the outer reaches of the drum-machine rippled “Demon Directive,” which shimmers and shimmies with an LSD funk from across the dope-smoked floor

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Deep Fried Dub – Slow Cooked

Dubmission

Deep Fried Dub - Slow CookedDeep Fried Dub are on a bass mission to quiver the livers of all who enter to within a five kilometre radius of ground zero around their bass bins, it would seem; because every track on Slow Cooked, whether presented in rootsier style, teched-up or given the dubstep wobbleover is a binshaker of the highest quality. Breakbeats and stepping rhythms are flavoured with horns, skanking guitars and fragments of vocals of an expectedly euphoric, raggamuffin and/or Rastafied variety (though sometimes the robots get to have their voices heard too, as on “Condensor”). This is music square-wavedly aimed at the dancefloor – which probably should be reinforced, as should the supporting walls – if the amount on bass to be heard

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Rapoon – Vernal Crossing Revisited

Zoharum

Rapoon - Vernal Crossing RevisitedThe desert is a place of sunlight and shadows; a place of bedouins and fertile deltas; lazy, muddy rivers and ancient tales. Time stands still beneath the flaming orb of the relentless sun. You feel the need to whisper, despite the whining wind. It is a place of fakir and genie, supplication and purification. This is the realm of Vernal Crossing Revisited.

Vernal Crossing was the third release from ambient ethnomusicologist Robin Storey, under his Rapoon guise, originally released in 1993. Storey had come to notoriety with his involvement from influential industrial outfit :zoviet*france:, before departing in 1992 and launching Rapoon. He was an early and notable contributor to the Soleilmoon and Staalplaat labels, whose esoteric releases would help bring the fields of

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