London 23 October 2015
Can you imagine how hard it was being Gary Numan in 1989? A decade earlier, shortly after “Are Friends Electric?” had been released in May 1979, Tubeway Army made their triumphant appearance on Top of the Pops, and the sound of a generational gasp could be heard all the way from Truro to Inverness. Punk’s white light had burned away so much dead wood, reinvigorating youth culture and opening the door for those with the boldness of vision to step through it. Now, a new dream of futurism seemed completely embodied in Tubeway Army’s woozy Polymoog synth wash and Numan’s cold, android stare. Like the Apollo space programme earlier in the decade, Numan’s emergence into the musical firmament promised a new dawn that felt so close you could almost reach out and touch it.
> Print this
Continue reading Gary Numan (live at The Forum) […]
London-based duo Kontakte‘s 2014 release These Machines brought a blissfully blistering end to their silence of two years between albums. Here, Ian Griffiths and Stuart Low give a detailed breakdown of how and why each of the album’s tracks came into being.
“Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames” These Machines – Limited Edition CD by KONTAKTE
Stuart: This track was birthed over a number of years, the original bare bones were written in 2005 – 2006 and it existed in that form for a few years until 2009 when I started recording bits and pieces as a home demo. It was during this time that the idea for a ‘desert’-sounding lead guitar came to me, along with the extremely droney guitars
Continue reading Kontakte’s These Machines track by track […]
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
Continue reading Every Contact Leaves a Trace label feature (Seth Cooke/Henry Collins/Ignacio Agrimbau/Dominic Lash and Will Montgomery) […]
The Third Golden Age of Welsh Pop™ shows little sign of abating any time soon. Following his contributions to Cate le Bon‘s two extraordinary Cyrk releases and Euros Childs‘ sunshine classic Summer Special last year, Stephen Black now unleashes his own long awaited fourth album as Sweet Baboo. Originally from Trefriw in north Wales’ Conwy valley, SB has long been an integral part of the Cardiff musical community that includes Cate, Euros, H Hawkline, Richard James and Gruff Rhys, who can often be heard helping out on each other’s records. Their individual records bear little relation to any musical fashions but neither do they sound like each other, although a common aesthetic can, I think, be detected.
> Print this
Continue reading Sweet Baboo – live, interview and album feature […]
Grönland released their epic four-disc tribute to legendary producer Conny Plank in February 2013. Leon Muraglia of the Kosmische Club looks back at the man, his music and some of the artists whose distinctive, revolutionary sounds he helped create.
“Do you feel like a ride into the forest?”’ Conny Plank asked Brian Eno one warm autumn evening. After a short drive in Plank’s old Merc, they parked in a forest clearing and sat talking, surrounded only by the birds and the breeze. “Do you want to hear something on the radio?” Conny asked. “Why not?” Eno replied. He switched on the radio – and it broadcast the piece they’d been working on all day. Conny had set up a transmitter
Continue reading Conny Plank – Who’s That Man? […]
Harry Wheeler of Harmonic Rooms spends a week in November in the company of some of the current greats of the acoustic guitar, and reflects on the enduring legacy of John Fahey and Robbie Basho.
Last November, I spent over a week in and out of the recording studio with my trusty video camera and two explorative guitarists, Cam Deas and Steffen Basho-Junghans. Part of the appeal of getting these two guys together was the cross-over in their respective styles and approach to their instruments (primarily 6 and 12 steel-string guitars), combined with their difference in age. With Cam being in his early twenties, his playing has a youthful passion and vigour to it which also contains high energy and real sparkle, while Steffen, being in
Continue reading Harmonic Rooms guitar diary (November 2012) […]
Label: 4AD Format: DVD+3xCD
There is an air of finality about the title and contents of 1981-1998. With the dissolution of their musical partnership into separate solo careers, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry are no longer Dead Can Dance, but as the extensive essay on the group included in the luxurious slip-cased hardbacked book (jam-packed with landscape photos) which makes up the packaging of the set observes, the band lives on through its music. However trite that may appear at first – all now-split bands or deceased artists exist beyond their actual personal existence together, barring reunions and the like – somehow it seems even more appropriate when considering Dead Can Dance, who practically embody the idea of timelessness in their uniquely overwhelming sound.
One of the aspects of the group’s career which is remarked upon in
Continue reading Dead Can Dance – 1981-1998 […]
Label: Mute Format: CD,2LP
As purposely obscure and enigmatic as ever, Laibach‘s return to the world of record releases and live shows steps up the pressure they bring to bear upon the listener’s expectations of what this most uncompromising of groups might actually intend and ultimately mean. Presented in German, English and occasionally Serbo-Croat to thumping beats of an orchestral Techno bent, WAT kicks off with one of the most outrageously utopian Space Operas committed to disc in the shape of “B Maschina”. From the opening tinkling electronics and rising hum of power steeling itself for release, the archetypal deep voice of Laibach speaks the lay of dream machines raising into orbit to a whirring rhythm which soon grinds into escape velocity on impassioned digital whinnies and an explosion into choral grandeur of breathtaking aspect. Laibach have returned in style,
Continue reading Laibach – WAT […]
– Iranair Inflight Magazine – Red Madrassa – Jebel Tariq Label: Muslimim Format: CD – Arabbox Label: Soleilmoon Format: CD –In Search Of Ahmad Shah Masood Label: Nexsound Format: CD
Recent months have seen the continuing flow of Muslimgauze releases slow down considerably – given that it is now five years since Bryn Jones‘ untimely death, this is hardly surprising, but that it has taken this long is in itself a testament to the legacy of finished material he left behind. This round-up of new and reemergent material covers only some of the diverse CDs which have appeared – a second instalment is likely to follow shortly.
With track names taken from the Iran Air Inflight Magazine of the album title and referring in turn to the passenger jet of that airline shot down, apparently by mistake,
Continue reading Muslimgauze review feature […]
The Ralfe Band; The Destroyers; Guillemot; The Paetbog Faeries; Salsa Celtica; Sild; Cheltenham, UK 2nd-4th June 2006
Lying in the green heart of the Cotswold valleys is the small town of Cheltenham, where the remains of the emerald giant Wychwood Forest stands. This had been a site for forest gatherings and folk ceremonies until the 1850s when the land was sold to the Navy, so there is special significance now to dance over those rotten dealings in the name of better things. There is a lot of conscience here, with a big presence by Greenpeace, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and more, and its also aÂ really good way to discover new performers who are and have been playing in the Folk circuit for a long time already. There is a Songlines tent doing artist signings and selling records of the bands playing, and generally a world of wonder and
Continue reading Wychwood Festival 2006 […]
Label: Studio Philo/Music Video Distributors Format: DVD
When Genesis P-Orridge returned to London in 1999 after nearly a decade of tabloid media-inspired witchhunt and subsequent exile to America, there was no doubt that the reappearance of Psychic TV on stage would be an event. That GPO’s manifestation resulted in broadsheet The Guardian running an extensive feature on his welcoming into the very heart of the arts establishment was almost as remarkable as the fact that PTV would be playing in the Royal Festival Hall itself, site of many a surprise underground-made-overground event before and since, but never one quite so outré.
Thanks for this eagerly-anticipated marathon gig is largely due to the then-head of contemporary arts programming, David Sefton, and as the accompanying Cut Up Concert documentary on the DVD recognizes, Time’s Up was quite a pageant of psychedelic
Continue reading Psychic TV – Time’s Up Live […]
Label: Mute Format: 2CD
“Still with Mute Records, the sadly neglected Fad Gadget looks like he could give The Human League a run for their money in the smart electronic pop stakes. His third excellent single in a row previews two tracks for his forthcoming album and features more of his clever, black humour lyrics and nifty tunes. “Fireside Favourites” pointedly combines the home fire, the atom bomb and an insanely jolly cakewalk, while “Insecticide” views life from an insect’s point of view with some clever effects. Highly recommended”.
Smash Hits, October 2-15 1980
That was then. Now there are a 1001 dodgy Eighties and Electro Pop compilations out there. As with all retro compilations memory and sellability are just as important as the music itself. If you take a look through the track listings
Continue reading Fad Gadget – The Best Of Fad Gadget […]
Label: One Little Indian Format: CD
If, at any point in the last six or seven years, you had only taken the time to ask, then I would have told you, dear reader, that Björk Gudmundsdottir was THE Great Pop star of the 1990’s, what Bowie was to the 70’s, and, I would contend, Prince to the 1980’s. I use the term great not in the term of these people selling the most records, although they all have done great business there too, in their time. What I am referring to is a certain kind of character who is the best example of their age, a unique voice completely of their times and yet somehow always outside of and beyond them, a genius at the peak of their powers, doing their best work (and here we come to the
Continue reading Björk – Vespertine […]
Label: Ralph (America)/EuroRalph (Europe) Format: DVD, CD (soundtrack only)
There have been plenty of strange and powerful musicians and groups out there for many a long year. Captain Beefheart, Coil, Wesley Willis, Ken Nordine an so forth, each extending the realms of taste and disrupting the boundaries of what exactly constitues music and art . Then there are The Residents.
Through thirty years of wilful obscurity and cutting-edge innovation, they have maintained a largely successful anonymity, one of the features about the group which is at once integral to their mystique and irrelevant. The eminently ridiculous sight of a Resident in a tuxedo with an eyeball for a head is at once silly and sinister, a
Continue reading The Residents: Icky Flix – Live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 9th June 2001 – Icky Flix DVD […]
The Bloomsbury Theatre, London 6-7th April 2001
Perhaps if Billie Holiday had received nuptial visits from the spirit of La Cage Aux Folles and produced an offspring, that might explain how the universe has been blessed with Antony Hegarty. Perfoming live for two nights in London in support of Current 93 and the David Tibet Show, Antony And The Johnsons provided us with a glimpse into the nature of that blessing. And like a book is always better than the movie, Antony live was far better than even the CDs would let on. He poured himself onto a stage before a bedazzled audience, swathed in pink chiffon, as elegant as an angel, and sang like a violin. With the most beautiful voice of all time, ethereal
Continue reading Current Ninety Three/Antony And The Johnsons (live) […]