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The Necks (live at The Vortex City Sessions)

The Necks live at the Bishopsgate Institute March 2014 The Bishopsgate Institute, London 21 March 2014

Greeted at the entrance to the venue by a very City commissionaire resplendent in full uniform complete with ceremonial sash and medals, it’s clear that this is going to be no ordinary gig. The Bishopsgate Institute is at once an adult education centre and a concert hall, and it’s certainly a splendid setting in which to revisit the live music of The Necks. A pleasant surprise is finding Gina Southgate at her easel in a corner by the stage, ready to paint the band as they play.

So when the trio eventually come on stage, their improvised set is the same as ever but different as usual, and oxymoron which

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Reinhold Friedl and Franck Vigroux – Tobel


Reinhold Friedl and Franck Vigroux - TobelThirty-six minutes to ascend. Thirty-six minutes to grasp the interior of a piano and strum, stroke and pluck softly until it hums. Thirty-six minutes to clatter and hiss between strings and keys and electronic devices, to shuttle like a poltergeist rising mordant among ectoplasmic shudders.

Reinhold Friedl‘s prepared piano and Franck Vigroux‘s analogue synthesizers, tape recorders and other machinery collide on Tobel with the force of an occasionally irresistible gale meeting a clattery object, the pair rattling off each other until their collective instruments set to shaking. When they scrape and shine, they do so with the slow ear-grinding scream of metal caressing metal, brakes hauled and groaning in an agonising gasp undershot with distant detonations in the underpinnings. The duo like to buzz

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kakofoNIKT – Kaktuus

Fourth Dimension/BDTA

Kakofonikt – KaktuusHow many records or compositions have taken the existential essence of the cactus as their theme? Kaktuus is one (perhaps the only) such; and on the evidence of the album under consideration here, perhaps kakofoNIKT had the Agave americana particularly in mind. It’s certainly a psychedelic experience from the opening minutes, evolving into a surround-sound trip where garbled, guttering voices extemporise and vocalise without words and electronic and other sounds click, whirr, ping and chirrup across the soundscape at varying paces and levels of intensity.

Kaktuus bears occasional comparison with the likes of Eskimo, where The Residents imagined up a soundtrack to the life and times of the Inuit, or some of Thomas Köner‘s explorations of the Arctic entirely

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Sidi Touré (live at Komedia)

Brighton 18 March 2014

This was a funny evening. Good, of course. Sidi Touré is really quite the performer, and his band some of the finest. I kind of get the impression it’s not really a regular gig-going crowd. At one point there was a chap clapping out of time (clapping out of time is quite a feat, in a way). I clocked someone who seemed to take the opportunity to carry on her dance moves (I think it was a salsa of some sort – it didn’t bear any relationship to the music that was playing). Criticising other people’s dancing when you’re the largely static turd at the back is a bit disingenuous but it’s kind of emblematic of the evening. Touré speaks enough English to say hello and that’s about it, but carries on his between-song patter in French regardless of the fact that it’s lost on the

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Dat Rayon – Motor City


Dat Rayon – Motor CityContemporary Detroit is in ruins, its car plants and the employment they provided gone; and given the pollution and petrol-guzzling its main product was and is infamous for, perhaps not especially mourned by many. It’s a city where recoverable houses can be bought among the weeds which are making home to resurgent scrubland for $500 or less. There’s supposedly a number of optimistic new settlers moving in in search of cheap homes and the chance to rebuild afresh, to reuse and recycle to old factories into farmland and to repopulate the city on a more human scale. As with cities everywhere in the post-industrial west, some kind of eco-sensitive renewal seems to be ongoing, though whether Detroit can raise sustainable vegetable

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Every Contact Leaves a Trace label feature (Seth Cooke/Henry Collins/Ignacio Agrimbau/Dominic Lash and Will Montgomery)

Four releases from a shiny new label devoted to something like sound-art, but not as asceptic and dry as that genre has a habit of implying. Hopefully, label head Seth Cooke is already known to Freq readers, but if not his is a formidable CV – sometime Freq writer, engine, petrol and tillerman for Bang The Bore, previously one of spazzy rock’s finest drummers (Hunting Lodge), an improviser of God knows how many outfits, episodic A Bander, contemporary composition performer (mostly on the Wandelweiser side of things), conceptual sound-art tickler and probably a raft of things I’ve forgotten.

Before I start cooking the meat of the corpus, it’s worth pointing out that the label, thus far at least, is pretty concept-heavy. Concept is often a perilous matter – sound-art/experimental/whatever tends to rest atop well-articulated concepts but if there’s not much attention paid to whether or not it’s worth following through

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Arnold Dreyblatt – Choice


Arnold Dreyblatt – ChoiceChoice finds Arnold Dreyblatt making his instruments and chosen musicians sing and chime from minimalism to moments of forthright completeness over two sides of vinyl which demand an honest listen and are ultimately rewarding when given such. Curated from more than thirty years (1981-2007) of live recordings, the LP is all the more remarkable for not sounding like a compilation of music made over such a long time-frame at all.

Sometimes his titles are quite literal, as in “Striking,” where the sharp brush of hand or object on strings is overwhelmed by the churn of longer sustaining tones. Tumbling strings prick the air in a frenetic parade on “Harptones” and the harmonic drones of “Regal Sustain” fill the

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Thug Entrancer – Death After Life


Thug Entrancer - Death After LifeThug Entrancer‘s Death After Life smashes the fourth wall of an Atari screen, riding into outerspace on Hokusai‘s Vaporwave to fight Space Invaders, while the Silver Surfer does backbends and smokes spliff. Equal parts eccojam and beat-tape, Ryan McRyhew draws an intangible line from ’90s braindance to the folk poetry of hip-hop.

McRyhew has been making music for years, in a variety of projects, along with running the Laser Palace label and playing in the band Hideous Men with his wife Kristy, so it’s nice to see him get picked up by Oneohtrix Point Never‘s Software Records. He is poised to perhaps surpass even Daniel Lopatin‘s ability for high-concept and downright funkiness.

On Death After Life, McRyhew has accomplished

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Cyclobe – Sulphur-Tarot-Garden/The Visitors

Phantom Code

Sulphur – Tarot – Garden

Cyclobe ‎– Sulphur - Tarot - GardenI was lucky to catch the premier of this back in August 2012. The band captured the eerie grace and peculiar atmosphere of Derek Jarman‘s super 8s so completely, I was falling over myself to grab one of these CDr documents they were merch(ing) at the time. A nicely packaged item that have enjoyed listening to ever since. Now in the 20th anniversary of Jarman’s death, Cyclobe have reworked and re-mastered this curious work and put it out for mass consumption. There’s some subtle tinkering, tweaks in the fabric here and there (well to my ears at least),but nothing to distract from the original power.

“Sulphur” is the first to shiver out, and judders like some hypothermic apparition. A

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Courtis/Moore – KPPB


Courtis/Moore - KPPBAlan Courtis (of Reynols fame) and Aaron Moore (of Volcano the Bear) are at it again… colluding; colliding… hot on the heels of Brokebox Juke and a live document comes this new collaboration, a two track, 42 minute journey of differing tastes/textures and expanding ripples between the album’s epicentres of Buenos Aires and Brooklyn.

“King Pancreas” starts in mournful blowholes riding cymbal sheens, leaking dischords thrown unexpectedly to military snares in full execution roll. The saxy pendulum swings the betweens like a cabaret boa on a spot-lit performer on the cusp of something death-defying. The hovering heads of the cover looking on astonished, oooh(ing) like comical terrorists, loose purple wires popping out of their pineal glands. Wobbling button eyes affixed on the dislocations bingo kicking

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Laibach (live at Le Trabendo)

Laibach - live at Le TrabendoParis 8 March 2014

Le Trabendo lurks next to a not-quite completed concrete behemoth which squats at the side of the Périphérique ring road around Paris, part of the ever-expanding Parc de la Villette with its promenades and exhibition centres, its music and (almost) out-of-town cultural activities for a city always in search of entertainment. It’s reached down a winding path through the woods and into a multi-level blockhouse of a venue where modernism rules and the sightline to the stage shows that this is a place more suited to club nights than live music – and there are also different drink prices depending on whether there’s a band booked or a disco underway.

A pre-recorded brass fanfare heralds the arrival onstage of

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Hybryds – Music For Rituals


Hybryds – Music For RitualsHybryds are one of those Eighties/Nineties tape culture outfits (in this case from Belgium) whose early material is getting a welcome series of re-releases nearly three decades later. Zoharum have pulled out all the stops for this double CD package of their debut 1992 CD Music For Rituals which is complemented by a bonus disc, Rarities and Unreleased.

Recorded to four-track cassette and cleaned up for the re-issue, Music For Rituals actually manages to sound for the most part as might be hoped – if not always expected or transpires – would apply to rediscovered music of this era and genre: fresh and to a large degree out of time and place. Given the title, it’s no surprise that there’s a fair bit of chanting, droning and

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Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything


Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on EverythingIt’s hard for record labels. I got the MP3 promos of this ages ago and listened a few times and… nothing. I’d slightly lost touch with Thee Silver Mt. Zion Variations over the last couple of albums – this is seven – but I was broadly a fan, had loved finally seeing them at the Dirty Three ATP in Butlins; had many of their albums, had appreciated they’d sped up over the years but this one didn’t grab me. It seemed an exemplar for neither one thing nor another, fell badly between two schools. I just didn’t get it, couldn’t hear why it had to be. It fell into an

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Echoes of Yul – Tether


Echoes of Yul – TetherOn the evidence presented by Tether, Echoes of Yul would seem to like to serve their acid-fried variety of rock deeply strange, with a side order of frazzled. When the opening chords of “Rosids” have subsided into a string-dripping delayscape, and samples mutter about “Triggered echoes of flashbacks” it’s evident that there’s some serious stoner rock about to kick in, and hard. Which it does, as “Guess” gets nice and weirdly heavy, but not in the way which might be expected; yes, there are riffs, sustained chords and scratchy guitar skronk, but they are delivered with a decidedly angular bent. When the drums do crash and lurch aboard, whatever instrument(s) make that heaving sound brings nothing so much as

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Kemper Norton – Lowermoor EP

More Than Human

Kemper Norton - Lowermoor EPStraight society often views conceptual or avant-garde art with a suspicion bordering on hatred. “Art for art’s sake,” a dirty phrase, meant to imply these artists contribute nothing to society, only existing to inflate their own egos and justifying their existence with pretentious-sounding theories that the everyman can not understand. Look at the way various totalitarian regimes have treated music, which seems to suggest that the only official purpose of artists is to create heroic anthems and propaganda for the glory of the state, as an example.

Yet for many, experimental art and music is often a gateway to revolutionary thought and activism. It pries the scabs from our eyes, peels the topsoil of society away like a Glycolic skin peel, revealing bones and artifacts

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