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Silver Apples / Mai Mai Mai / HUM / Simon Wildrfid (live at The Exchange)

Bristol 26 November 2014

Warming us up between sets was turntablist Simon Wildrfid; now some people play records, but this chap gave them another life completely, filter-feeding and FXing the blighters with a nice skull-scouring intensity, a rejuvenating diaspora of pulsing colour and industrialised zest splattered in cordoned beatologies and copious gristle. He had a mysterious selection of releases on the merch table too, that wackILy entitled Innerself Globophobic Clown Tester vinyl was certainly itching my pocket shrapnel.

Mai Mai Mai Live November 2014Anyways, Mai Mai Mai, owner of the eclectic No-Fi label was first up. Candle-lit and cloth-masked, his timber creaks eating the gloom, flickers of projection splicing away as his shoaling sonics descending into the shark-butted clank of underwater radiators. Dark and sinewy channels through which bled a rhythmic

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Pixies – Doolittle 25

4AD

Pixies - Doolittle 25“One-two, ready-go…”

Where do Pixies fit in your musical history? Were you there for Come on Pilgrim, for Surfer Rosa? Was it “Gigantic” that first got you hooked? Or was it Doolittle? Maybe you arrived late to the Pixies party, with that seminal film moment pairing “Where is My Mind” with the final scene of Fight Club.

Maybe you’ve only vaguely heard them, despite the five albums, revivals and controversies over lineups. Maybe you’ve been blissfully unaware, these twenty-five years, that they were a thing.

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Various Artists – Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik

Cache Cache

Various Artists – Science Fiction Park BundesrepublikIf I ever got my hands on a time machine I’d make ‘8os Germany my first destination. The cassette culture back then was rich and varied, a future that even today seems beamed in from a different planet. Enviously, Felix Kubin was lucky enough to be right in the thick of it at the time, a teenager both consumer and participant. The self-penned liner notes to an album subtitled German Home Recording Tape Music of the 1980s lovingly describing him lighting up with possibilities after a chance watching of Der Plan on TV. This was the music he had waited years for, go the notes, music that would set off a catalytic spark for him and his brother to experiment

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Einstürzende Neubauten (live at Koko)

Einstürzende Neubauten November 2014London 19 November 2014

As one does before seeing a show by a well-loved band, I muse on my own personal history pertaining to this group as I make my way to Camden to see Einstürzende Neubauten perform their latest release Lament. I can work out in approximations that I have loved this band since 1984 or so and I’ve seen them around 20 times before. They are a group I never tire of, one I never lose my love for.

Lament is a performance work commissioned by the city of Diksmuide in Belgium to mark the centenary of World War I. One marvels at the genius of the commissioners in choosing EN to be their ambassadors; I picture outdated businessmen in stern suits convening in a bleak

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C Tattersall & T Shrubsole – untitled

Other Ideas

C Tattersall & T Shrubsole - untitledOn this beguiling collaboration between Craig Tattersall, of The Boats/Remote Viewer and Thomas Shrubsole (Sub Loam, Jesus On Mars), the pair rouse the question what it means to be free. In doing so, they show us that this freedom is alive and well in the musical underground.

For much of music’s recorded history, i.e. the history of western civilization, the tendency has been to further the musical vocabulary — introducing strange dissonances and alien harmonies, to create a vast and intricate emotional language — and to break down the rules of the generations that came before. This was all towards the goal of total expression and honesty, freed from the constraints of polite society and their expectations, dismantling conventions and formulae.

This tendency

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The Mediæval Bæbes – (live at Bush Hall)

The Mediaeval Baebes November 2014London 24 November 2014

Bush Hall was built more than ten years before the outbreak of the First World War. It still has that feel of Victoriana, even though it was built after the Victorian era, and a gothic charm too; with its chandeliers and pillars it seems at odds with the world outside its location. So a perfect place for the Mediæval Bæbes to play.

Their set tonight is based around yuletide / Christmas time and is to promote their new vinyl release Of Kings and Angels. This is not the first time the Bæbes have recorded a seasonal offering, as another of their albums is all about springtime. Tonight we are offered new and beautiful treatments of carols we think we know so well, plus some other songs

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Frank Benkho – The Revelation According To Frank Benkho

Clang

The Revelation According to Frank BenkhoFrank Benkho takes us on a voyage down starry rivers and beneath obsidian deserts, using a daisy chain of synths and sequencers on this gem from Clang.

For the longest time, it seemed like electronic music and improvisation were mutually exclusive. This was the day of the push-button performance, where electronic artists were basically just playing their records off of stored patterns on their machines or DJs concocted carefully constructed breezeblocks, with every transition being staged and perfectly polished. The very act of building music out of samples meant your sonic palette was limited; some improvisation was possible, but it was more akin to shuffling Lego blocks around, trying to create replica masterpieces with a few basic shapes and hues.

The fields

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Blown Out – Drifting Way Out Between Suns

Riot Season

Blown Out – Drifting Way Out Between SunsRight, you know that moment in sword and sorcery films where the hero climbs to the top of a peak to see what’s going on and his jaw drops because in the valley below is an orc army thousands and thousands strong? Well, this album would make a great soundtrack for one of those moments.

Two spiralling tracks of unashamed freak out make up Blown Out‘s Drifting Way Out Between Suns that will lead you towards worlds where ancient civilizations once existed and where the black lotus leads your mind into a drug-fuelled fug.

Side one’s colossal title track already hints at its cosmic expanse from the opening few seconds and from its title. This is trip-out

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Ekoplekz – Influkz EP

More Than Human

Ekoplekz - Influkz EPBoard a hovercraft to ride the autobahn of yr dreams on this lovely fissure from Ekoplekz, via the good sonic alchemists at More Than Human Records.

2014 has been a big year for Bristol’s Nick Edwards, following two of his highest-profile — and highest production value — releases on the braindance juggernaut Planet Mu. Mike Paradinas, AKA µ-Ziq, worked head-to-head with Edwards in sequencing the material, then presenting the material with a nice lustrous sheen of a mastering job and coating each in saliva-inducing artwork. It was Ekoplekz at his glossiest and most accessible, although the sounds in the grooves were still signature.

On the Influkz EP it seems that Ekoplekz is getting back to his roots; back to the

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Blues Pills / The Vintage Caravan (live at The Dome)

London 18 November 2014

Vintage Caravan The Dome November 2014Seventies-inspired heavy rock is slowly making a comeback at the moment, with several new bands strapping on their guitars and playing like it was 1972 all over again. Two of the finest exponents of this revival of great music are playing tonight, so it was time for me to pull on my patchouli oil-soaked jeans and cowboy boots and get ready to shake my head.

The Vintage Caravan hail from Iceland and are full of the kind of riffs that would make Bandolier-era Budgie jealous. Singer and guitarist Óskar Logi Ágústsson not only has a powerful voice that conveys the songs with mammoth energy, but his guitar playing is both forceful and subtle as and when the songs need them. The other

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing / The Cesarians (live at The Garage)

London 14 November 2014

The Cesarians at The Garage November 2014The Cesarians and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing together at last! Finally London’s finest purveyors of punked-up big band music are sharing a stage with its premier gang of Victorian anarchists, and it’s a wonder it’s never happened before. Also a wonder that it’s happening at all, Men frontman Andy Heintz having only recently been given the all-clear for throat cancer. To mark this special occasion, there are tribute beards everywhere, which is kind of odd.

Sadly by the time we arrive we’ve missed the first band, False Flags, who by all accounts were storming. I shan’t be making that mistake again, for sure. But we are, thankfully, in time for The Cesarians, who I haven’t seen

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Various Artists – Fractal Meat Cuts Volume 1

Adaadat

Various Artists - Fractal Meat Cuts Volume 1The Fractal Meat on a Spongy Bone show has been running on NTS for around three years now; a platform for the musical outer limits run by artist and musician Graham Dunning. The show is fortnightly and is basically the breakfast show for every other Friday (noise in your cornflakes?).

Dunning is a sound artist who is gaining a lot of recognition of late. His exploration of the turntable-as-instrument involves solo gigs, where he creates techno from a layered cake of record players, contact mics and an array of clamps that would not be out of place in a science lab, or in collaboration with others, such as his excellent improv work with saxophonist Colin Webster, where they emit restless

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Northumbria – Bring Down The Sky

Consouling Sounds

Northumbria – Bring Down The SkyUsing only bass, guitar and slew of effects, Dorian Williamson and Jim Field‘s second release as Northumbria starts as it intends to finish, declaring at the outset that it is time to soar and glide. It seems to be just about fuzz o’clock as far as the guitar is concerned, and while the bass is set to Northumbrian winter time, its low-end rumbles are equally content to give direction to the pedals which set its deep heart a-coruscating.

Textural more than tuneful for the most part, Bring Down The Sky sets out to cover its allotted ground with a comprehensive blanket of sound, sweeping across the frequency spectrum with an implacable determination to fill space and overcome time. While the bright chimes and searing, controlled feedback from

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Frizzi 2 Fulci (live at The Barbican)

London 31 October 2014

It’s Halloween and the streets are bustling with people dressed as various horror icons and kids trick or treating on their neighbours. Revelling in the air of spookiness, I’m heading out to the concrete Logan’s Run-looking Barbican Centre to witness a horror icon, the wonderful Fabio Frizzi. The venue is packed with horror film aficionados from what sounds like all over Europe. Most wear t-shirts showing their favourite slice of gore portrayed on the front, eagerly awaiting the return to the stage (it was last Halloween that Fabio was over) of the mæstro of nightmares.

Frizzi2Fulci The Barbican October 2014The band enter the stage first and there’s quite a few of them, including two keyboard players and a string section. A rousing cheer

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Trans Am / Gum Takes Tooth (live at Green Door Store)

Brighton 11 November 2014

In one swift motion I will disperse any notions of latent ’90s cool – I’d never knowingly listened to Trans Am before. I didn’t even know if it’s Tram Am or Trans AM, an automobile or a radio station. Entering the venue I was immediately struck by the very particular nature of the audience – not a one under 30, few over 40 — the vast majority of them looking slightly out of place, emblematic of an audience who only frequents gigs of bands they liked as teenagers.

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