Archives by month/year

Seth Cooke – Sightseer

Organized Music From Thessaloniki

Seth Cooke – SightseerAnother tiny offering from Seth Cooke, the man behind Pneuma‘s panoramas. He certainly has a talent for pulling surprising stuff from unusual places — who’d have thought pneumatic drills could sound so exotic? This latest offering on the intriguingly-titled Organized Music From Thessaloniki label is no different, a combo of no-input holler and decaying field recordings set under the moniker of Sightseer. The track titles give you possible clues about the context with “Fake Tan,” “Self Catering/Package Tour,” “Traveller Checks;” a bit tongue in cheek maybe, but it’s a sound diary of sorts, an alternative holiday brochure for the forgotten/ignored, photos replaced with scribbled interference, making you feel like that kid in Poltergeist, hands on the glass of the TV, hypnotised

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Eaux – Plastics


Eaux - PlasticsEven though the members of Eaux have been making music together since 2006, originally as the post-rock band the Sian Alice Group, Plastics seems entirely of the moment, firmly rooted in the present, in its anachronism. That’s not to say Eaux are bandwagon-hopping, rather that they are an example of something in the air, a cultural tendency, a drift. They can be seen as a microcosm of the underground, with an interest and emphasis on exploratory instrumental post-rock, back in 2006, giving way to this style of hypermodern synth pop.

Plastics holds to a basic template of solid, gliding House beats, adorned with drum machine abstractions and levels and layers of analog synths, over which Sian Ahern‘s distant, disembodied vocals float and soar. This blending of ethereal, Cocteau Twins-esque vocals with dance floor beats can be found in bands

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Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band – Live From Harpo’s 1980

Gonzo Multimedia

Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band – Live From Harpo’s 1980F Scott Fitzgerald famously once declared that American lives had no second act. Thankfully, Don van Vliet, throughout his career an exception in so many ways, was one exempted from this rule. For, following the musical big bang of 1976, Beefheart – truculent, dissonant, and decidedly not a member of the flaccid hippie ranks against which Punk rock had raged – gradually began to assume something of the role of elder statesman. Openly cited as an influence by John Lydon (née Rotten), the refreshed palate of the Punk and Post-Punk eras, more open to the abrasive, the obtuse and the unconventional, saw the Captain as someone who had represented Punk avant la lettre, and whose influence could been seen and heard shot through the angular guitars and stuttering non-linear rhythms

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Chrome (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Electrowerkz, London 21 June 2014

This was something I never dreamt I would ever see. I stare at the ticket in my hand and still can’t quite believe what the lettering says: “Chrome – doors open 7pm.” I would have been less surprised to have found myself standing atop the cliffs at Beachy Head with Chris Marker’s cat Guillaume-en-Egypt, looking out to sea whilst the Kraken rose from the watery depths to wreck terrible vengeance on the south coast of East Sussex: “You know Guillaume, I half expected that this would happen one day.”

Despite the last two and half decades having provided the opportunity to witness the reanimated antics of everyone from The Velvet Underground and Iggy and the Stooges to The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Black Sabbath, I was still utterly wrong-footed by this one. Chrome? CHROME? Really? You must be joking. This can only be

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Godflesh – Decline and Fall


Godflesh - Decline and FallSo I defrosted my fridge yesterday. Inches thick in ice, it was. Had to take a hairdryer to it in the end. Scalding hot air. Huge expanses of frozen water. A lot of wrenching, smashing and cries of frustration. All in all, it was a lot like the new Godflesh EP.

Decline And Fall is the first new material from the reactivated Godflesh project in thirteen years, and right from the start, “Ringer” sees Broadrick and Green going back to their roots in chuggy minimalist brutalism. The drum machine’s back, and it restores to Godflesh that sense of cybernetic onslaught that their last release, Hymns, was missing. When they’re on it, as they are here, it’s impossible

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Theme – No Emotions Catered For


Theme - No Emotions Catered ForThere’s a cryptic, arcane nature to the goods Theme offer up here; which strike me as Coil-like in a lot of ways — that corkscrew of dualities, those discordant magicks, the word-choked secretes, repeat ectoplasms weaving dissident truths.

“Enough is Never – Parts 1,2 & 3” begins in a cornucopia of effect-driven phrase-roasting on a skeleton’s ribcage, Richard Johnson‘s withering words tangling slipping — “NEVER ENOUGH,” a comment on consumerists’ dilating eyes perhaps? The aftershock echo “a broken habit” rooting an impression. There’s this lovely hypnotic quality to the wordplay that drags you drifting in a snakeskin of transparencies, until the skies are swallowed in a squawking herald of starlings. The drama then switches to an underworld of glistening ante-chambers,

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Electric Moon (live at The Underworld)

Electric Moon live at The UnderworldLondon 13 June 14

It is summertime and in Britain the early morning mist drifts across fields and clings to the roots of trees. Tents are erected and the dowdy colours of winter are a thing of the past as the children of the rainbow appear from forests and their various hiding places to worship the sun, to enjoy the abundance of nature around them. And the music these spirits of the fields like to indulge in on balmy warm evenings is psychedelic space rock.

In the olden daze there would have been these wondrous events called “free festivals” where people could dance till dawn to the sound of pounding bass lines. But then came the bad times when darkness crept across the land and the free

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Shonen Knife – Overdrive


Shonen Knife - OverdriveShonen Knife tend to massively divide opinion. And, contrary to what you may have been told by the well-meaning, there ARE opinions which are right and opinions which are wrong and worthy of no respect. Some people find their Ramones-drenched girlpop infuriatingly twee- these people have the WRONG opinion, and should be pointed and laughed at in the street. Others think their particular brand of kawaii-core (yeah, I did just make that up. Whatcha gonna do about it?) to be a truly wonderful thing and perhaps even capable of one day bringing about global peace and harmony. This is the RIGHT opinion. And these are, of course, the only two possible opinions available on Shonen Knife. And you don’t want to be

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Arto Lindsay – The Encyclopedia of Arto

Northern Spy (N. America)/Ponderosa (Europe)

The Encyclopedia of Arto LindsayI sort of lost touch with Arto Lindsay‘s work after Mundo Civilizado, the second album in which he swapped his usual oblique guitar trademarks for the sweet whispering of sensual nothings into your ear. A Brazilian-focused crooning wrapped in a spicy salsa of re-circuitry and upbeat topographies.

Disc one of this new Lindsay compendium takes this easy on the ear perspective, twelve songs that span 1996 to 2004 collated by Arto himself. The blend is varied and highlights Lindsay’s excellent wordsmithery. Personally, I really wished he’d put more of Mundo on this first disc. The wavy sigh of “Imbassaí” is sadly absent from the line up, so is the midge-ridden “Horizontal,” although “Complicity” (which does make the

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Swans (live at Brixton Electric/Concorde 2)

Swans live at Concorde (Pic: Al Robertson)Brixton Electric London 27 May 2014

Since reforming – or, perhaps more accurately, reincarnating – in 2010, Swans have rapidly become one of the most extraordinary musical entities of our age. Their comeback album, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, was a fine release, and they soon re-established themselves as a formidable live act. But with 2012’s The Seer – a vast, audacious, and stunningly wonderful double album – they scaled hitherto unconquered peaks, and matched that with a series of quite astonishing live shows which were about as close to holy communion as some of us are ever likely to get (see here for Jim Bliss’ review of one such gig in Dublin in 2013. I wasn’t there, but I

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Sculpture – Membrane Pop


Sculpture – Membrane PopI’ve heard it said that for art to truly succeed, it needs to run the risk of failure. If there is no antagonism, if everything is completely predictable, it glides right off of you without making an impression. Compare Tropic Of Cancer to drugstores full of pulp romance, for example. When an art form is rote, completely succumbing to convention and formula, you might be able to appreciate the craftsmanship a bit; but that’s about it.

A lot of what passes for the electronic music industry, such as digital 12″s topping the DJ charts, is just so much anonymous, replaceable commodity filler (and that’s part of it’s attraction and appeal, I realize), with artists sticking to their comfortable niche and BPM. It’s all fine

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Outer Space – Phantom Center EP

Editions Mego

Outer Space – Phantom CenterIn the past couple of years or so there has been a resurgence in synthesizer music, with more and more titles being released every month by various labels. Most of the work I have heard has been of a high quality and is generally packaged well. Many of these albums make use of, and note on their sleeves, old analogue synthesizers to create these sounds. John Elliot’s Outer Space have been around for a number of years now, running concurrently with his now defunct band Emeralds, and mainly releasing tape-only items in the early days. Over the last couple of years there has been a rash of vinyl releases from Elliot which, as a vinyl collector, has pleased me greatly. So here

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Loop/Godflesh (live at Heaven)

Loop live at HeavenLondon 4 June 2014

“In case of sonic attack,” warned Hawkwind, “follow these rules,” before advocating such crazy measures as “try to get as far from the sonic source as possible.” One assumes, therefore, that the combined onslaught of Loop and Godflesh doesn’t technically count as an “attack,” what with being consensual. More like sonic S/M play, maybe. Because the urge here definitely seems to tend towards getting as close to the sonic source as possible.

Godflesh live at HeavenAnd the first sonic source tonight is Godflesh, the UK’s pioneers of industrial rock and things that go “RRRRRRRRR AAAAAAGHHH!!!” in the night. And they haven’t

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Kreidler – ABC

Bureau B

Kreidler - ABCKreidler’s latest album continues their post-kraut-rock meets techno melange — a kind of bastard love child of Neu! and Carl Craig — which emerged on their 2012 album Den. ABC is a genre-bending and -blending collection of tracks built around consistently strong keyboard and guitar riffs with driving percussion.

ABC was recorded in Tbilisi, Georgia and the east meets west vibe of the studio’s location rubs off on the album’s sound from the outset. The opening track, “Nino,” evokes a strong silk road vibe through the guitar lines, while the drumming has a steely, cold insouciance. This combination, with some swooshy synths overlaid, makes for a kind of industrial space funk roller. The track builds its layers into a rousing crescendo, but

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Isobel Ccircle~ – Fluttercage

Exotic Pylon

Isobel Ccircle~ - FluttercageDark ambient music is particularly effective at evoking strange, surreal, subjective visions. Synthetic tones and natural field recordings, swathed in echo and cavernous reverb, are stripped of context, and freed from the brutal confines of Western tonality. It borrows a lot from cinematic sound design, particularly of a horror/sci-fi nature, but it’s untethered to visuals to concretize it, and tie it to down to a particular meaning. Strange movies, particular to each listener, play out between yr eustachian canals, behind eyelids, in yr dreams, in thin air.

Because of this, it’s particularly effective at creating unsettling environments. Yr nervous system is not entirely sure what the hell is going on, as real-world recordings, that are maybe vaguely recognizable, warp and bend beyond all

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