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Trans Am, Federation X, Life Coach (live at Stumpfest )

Mississippi Studios Portland, OR 25 April 2014

The ramifications of the loop, the power of the riff, the subdivision of the motorik beat. College, krautrock, and working for yr music festival.

This jam-packed free-for-all in the barnlike interior of Mississippi Studios on a Thursday night illustrated exactly how far kosmische musik has come since Trans Am first released its seminal Futureworld on Thrill Jockey in 1999. When I first heard Trans Am in college (I hate even writing things like that. I didn’t finish, though, don’t worry), it seemed like approximately 12 people — most likely all musicians and music journalists — were jamming the likes of Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk. It was the ultimate badge of obscurity, to show you were hip and European and futurist.

*

Fast forward 13 years, 13 years of Can re-issues and Neu! re-packaging, to a Thursday night in Portland, OR packed

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E.A.R. – All Things Being Equal

Dekorder

Experimental Audio Research - All Things Being EqualA hyper-collectible one-sided ‘hybrid vinyl’ you say? *strokes non-beard* What curious engine is this? *bug-eyed lunatic face / “Soylent Green is people!”* Well, it’s got meaty black vinyl on the audio side and the usual slack-jawed picture-disc vinyl on the other – AKA this is what Leibniz was referring to when he uttered under his wig “Die beste aller möglichen Welten” (“the best of all possible worlds”).

This is the first E.A.R. release since 2005’s Worn To A Shadow and, to tell the truth, not much has changed. He’s still got drone and he’s still up there amongst the greatest exponents of the genre and he’s still got that unfathomable humchattering Spacemen 3 sound in amongst it all;

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Prescott – One Did

Slowfoot

Prescott - One DidOne Did has a Max Wall kind of rhythmic comedy about it, as if the instruments have taken a ministry of silly walks pill, a ganglia of legs skipping the hoots and jaggerations. You wouldn’t be surprised to know that former Stump bassist Kev Hopper is behind this gem. After having his fill of abstract, atmospheric electronica he’s back with a vengeance as Prescott, joined by former Scritti Politti member Rhodri Marsden on keyboards and supporting guitar and Frank Byng on drums. A tirade that breeds some nice irregular metrics, funky falls and even a smidgen of dub.

You could imagine the albums’ artwork animating well with its musical contents. A pattering of joviality in jowls as the sewing machine quick-foots a curve of

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Sleaford Mods – Divide and Exit

Harbinger Sound

Sleaford Mods - Divide and ExitSleaford Mods, Nottingham’s self-styled purveyors of “electronic munt minimalist punk-hop for the working classes and under,” are back with Divide And Exit, the follow-up to their cult classic compilation Austerity Dogs; so brace for anger, scatology, moshing and swearing. If they were a publication they’d be a cross between Class War and Viz, but they’re not. They’re a band. And they’re fucking excellent. Frontman Jason Williamson comes on like a Black Country John Cooper Clarke, delivery and flow pitched somewhere between Mike Skinner and Mark E Smith, with none of the cheese of the former but all the bile of the latter. Against a stunningly lo-fi, low-rent backdrop Wiliamson spits rhymes, rants and rage into the face of an

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Godflesh/Cut Hands (live at The Hawthorne Theater)

Portland, OR. 18 April 2014

The Evolution Of Bass

Every time a band reunites, it raises the cynical question: is this mere nostalgia, a quick cash grab? Musicians with nothing new to say, relying on former glories to make a quick buck? Or is it merely that their time has come and people are in a place to finally hear and understand what they were going for in the first place? With the recent interest in MIDI-fuelled rock by the likes of Factory Floor and the destroyed electronic textures summoned by Emptyset and some of the Hospital Records roster, it seems that the time is right for audiences to revel in Godflesh‘s ruin.

I arrived just in time for Cut Hands, (perfect timing, although I deeply regret not getting to see House Of Low Culture. Seriously, who puts a sludge metal band on at 8:30? Sorry readers; and HOLC. Next

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Die Partei – La Freiheit des Geistes

Bureau B

Die Partei - La Freiheit des GeistesWalter Dahn (of Die Hornissen) and Tom Dokoupil (of The Wirtschaftswunder) met up for a single weekend back in ’81 and this 36 minute album was the kinetic fruit it bore. It’s a forgotten classic if you relish your post-punk Germanics as much as I do, and being quietly obsessed by anything Wirtschaftswunder related…well… resistance was futile.

It sounds retro, but in a good way, a rediscovered zest skipping a hot plate, sans cliché, like some Deutscher disco ba-zazz of danceablity at odds with the sombre chiselled relief of the cover. Teaming with Casio teeth and hi-nrgy sharks, monkeying around with your noggin in arpic grooves and nippy beat ups. That dry snap to the beats reminds me

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Kemper Norton – To Mahina

Front & Follow

Kemper Norton - To MahinaIn which Kemper Norton applies his spectral resonances to The Doomed Bird of Providence‘s “Mahina,” a standout track from their most recent album Blind Mouths Eat. The Doomed Bird of Providence explore the very darkest recesses of Australian history through their bleak sound constructions, and Kemper Norton brings his own West Country roots to bear on a story which reflects on the violent effects of tropical cyclone Mahina (one of the most intense, if not the strongest, storm recorded in the southern hemisphere since record-keeping began) in 1899 upon ships packed full of Cornish emigrés heading for a new life in the Southern colonies.

It’s not just Europeans whose lives and livelihoods were cut short by Mahina – also

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Chrysta Bell (live at The Oslo Club)

Chrysta Bell live at Oslo - pic: Elaine KingettLondon 11 April 2014

There’s probably an argument to be made that talking about Chrysta Bell in terms of David Lynch is lazy, but that’s what I’m going to do, at least at first. The reasons for this are threefold – first, having not only produced her album but co-written it with her, he casts a pretty long bequiffed shadow over the music. Second, at a gig plugged as “David Lynch presents,” which begins with an intro video of the man himself doing the spoken intro to “Bird Of Flames,” I think it’s fair game. And third, I am indeed quite lazy. So, y’know…

Instead of starting with “Bird Of Flames,” the band pull a switcheroo and kick straight into “Real Love,”

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Chrysta Bell – This Train revisited

Chrysta Bell This TrainChrysta Bell‘s album This Train has finally been released officially in the UK (with extra tracks too) via QQ5 – read David Solomon‘s original review here.

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Abstracter – Tomb of Feathers

Trendkill/7 Degrees/Shove (LP)/The Path Less Traveled (CD)

Abstracter – Tomb of FeathersIt begins with “Walls that Breathe.” All that can be heard is the sound of raindrops pattering delicately on hard ground, punctuated occasionally by booming thundercracks that pierce the quiet night sky and reverberate out through the darkness. I cannot resist it. I cannot ignore it. There is something hard-wired deep inside the human brain that responds to an electrical storm, something overpoweringly atavistic that draws us to the edge of the cave, despite the fear, to look out and wonder at the power of nature. It is a sublime moment of primitive connection between man and his environment. But then… but then…

Stand aside caveman, let the riffs commence!

Issuing forth from

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Gallon Drunk – The Soul Of The Hour

Clouds Hill

Gallon Drunk – The Soul Of The HourAfter the tragic death of their bassist Simon Wring in 2011, Gallon Drunk continued as a trio, releasing The Road Gets Darker From Here, a furious raw document of their stance at the time, almost a tribute to their own live appearances. After that, the band toured with Leo Kurunis on bass, and today the quartet has moved on even more, bringing also with them that raw, furious sound, combined with even better tracks, making these recordings some of their best work to date.

“The Soul Of The Hour” starts off carefully in a quiet piano mood and with a careful approach by Ian White on the toms (overall approval of his use of toms,

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ÄÄNIPÄÄ – Through A Pre-Memory

Editions Mego

ÄÄNIPÄÄ - Through A Pre-MemoryThrough A Pre-Memory is an embrace of the titans; two behemoths of the dronederground, Mika Vainio of Pan Sonic and Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O)))/Khanate/KTL/Lotus Eaters and head of the Ideologic Organ label. While screeching black metal, doom, glitch, noise and dark ambient may not be the most obvious of bedfellows, they all share an interest in exploring the trans-human, using sundry technologies to evoke images of vast, empty spaces; images of nightmarish, industrial landscapes.

That’s a large part of what makes ÄÄNIPÄÄ‘s Through A Pre-Memory such a gripping listen: every tool and trick and production method comes with its own prehistory, its own loaded context, which allows these two sonic architects to build vast and interesting edifices; sprawling alien soundworlds. The

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Slint – Spiderland

Touch & Go

Slint - SpiderlandWe are living in the era of re. Remakes, reissues, reunions and yes, remasters are becoming the staple of our cultural life. I for one have a tendency to resignedly sigh “oh, really?” when I hear of another bit of creative heritage being given a once over, a new lease of life – the defibrillator paddles being applied to the long cold corpse of something that has passed into the mists of time. Things have a time and a place, and even if they were great, their legacy may best be served by leaving them there.

So, in the case of Slint’s 1991 album Spiderland – of which a remastered version is being made available as a vinyl box

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The Cosmic Dead – Easterfaust

Sound of Cobra (LP)/Paradigms (CD)

The Cosmic Dead – EasterfaustNo-one would have believed that in the first years of the 21st century that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space…

Easterfaust is The Cosmic Dead’s 12” vinyl, two track wig out to spiral galaxies via doses of Krautrock and good old space rock. The vinyl comes in glorious coloured loveliness with some artwork that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Barney Bubbles Hawkwind album sleeve from 1973. The packaging is lovely enough alone to make you want to fork out your hard-earned cash, but what about the music?

Part one starts with a lilting riff with swirls of sound that drift around beneath its chord structure. Some primal vocalising punches

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Art-Errorist and Zsolt Sörés – The Wasp Boutique

Peripheral Conserve

Art-Errorist and Zsolt Sörés - The Wasp BoutiqueAbsolutely loving this musique concrète mixer: its powertooled psych-o-delia of mis-shapes pleases me no end, quivers a satisfying kraut dot’n’dashes too. The overall sprawl is akin to a modern rework of The Faust Tapes, and well, I wouldn’t expect anything less, as The Wasp Boutique is one part Jean-Hervé Péron after all. This is rousing fare for sure, thrown into the light by Peter Strickland of Berberian Sound Studio fame and housed in a Babs Santini collage that’s definitely designed to keep you awake at night.

Aptly-monkiered The Art-Errorist, he’s coupling the sonic limelight with the multi-talented Zsolt Sőrés. Now, I’m unfamiliar with this chap’s work, but going by the sounds on this handsome slab of double vinyl he certainly shares more than

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