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The 49 Americans – We Know Nonsense


The 49 Americans - We Know NonsenseIt’s unusual to encounter a CD reissue where the ubiquitous ‘bonus tracks’ amount to more than inessential filler. The extras here, taken from the group’s first single and LP, turn out to be far superior to the actual album itself. The good news is that there are no less than 23 of them – swamping the LP proper’s meagre 17 songs and making this CD an invaluable release, just so long as you start it at track 18 – the classic “Beat up Russians” – and only skip back to track one should you fancy some bonus material at the end.

The 49 Americans’ début 7” single was seldom far from my turntable back in 1979. I had no idea who they were, but had

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Art Trip and the Static Sound – EP2


Art Trip and the Static Sound - EP2If you have ever longed to hear La Düsseldorf covering The Damned‘s “Neat Neat Neat,” Polly Harvey backed by Wire and Hawkwind (at the same time!) or The Saints fronted by Lydia Lunch, then Art Trip and the Static Sound are the group for you. EP2 (I somehow missed EP1 – but will remedy that) is full of concise, no-frills rock ‘n’ roll – driving rhythms, grinding riffs and arctic vocals coalescing into the coolest punch to the solar plexus you’re going to suffer all year. With five songs spread over a mere sixteen minutes, it’s all over before you can pick yourself up, dust yourself down and wonder what hit you.

Although you can download the EP from the

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Van der Graaf Generator – Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London

Convexe (N America)/Salvo (Europe)

Van Der Graaf Generator ‎Live In Concert At MetropolisAt the end of 2010, the Metropolis television company organized a series of intimate concerts at their London studios, each showcasing a ‘heritage’ act to 140 people, each of who paid £175 for the privilege. Apparently a glass of champagne and a meeting with the artist was also included in this price. The series included Caravan, Barclay James Harvest, The Zombies, Roy Harper, Bill Nelson and Van der Graaf Generator. The idea was to professionally film the performances in a studio environment and broadcast them on national TV. Each audience member would get a DVD of the show, which would then made available to the public at some later date.

In the event, the TV showings never materialized, with DVD

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Mark Stewart – The Exorcism of Envy

Future Noise

Mark Stewart - The Exorcism of EnvyThe Pop Group reunion gigs seem to have revitalised Mark Stewart. Rather than basking in the overdue glory accorded his old group, Stewart was straight back in the studio recording his first solo album for four years. The Politics of Envy came out last March, featuring guest spots from many of his punk era peers – Keith Levene, Gina Birch, Tessa Pollitt, Richard H Kirk, Youth etc. – and most rewardingly, their spiritual heirs from Factory Floor. The album was great – claustrophobic, dense and paranoid in the tradition of Stewart’s finest work, but with a lightness of touch that suggested that Stewart had actually learned to have fun with his music.

Some copies of the album came

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An interview with Laetitia Sadier

Alan Holmes speaks to Laetitia Sadier about her second solo album.

One of the most played records at our house so far this year has been Silencio, the second solo release by former Stereolab front woman [post=laetitia-sadier-silencio text=”Laetitia Sadier”]. It’s a record that releases its charms slowly, each listening revealing new and wondrous depths. This subtlety is counterbalanced by the direct political nature of the lyrics, harking back to the approach she took in Stereolab’s early days. After repeated plays of the record and a [post=laetitia-sadier-silencio text=”review”] for Freq, I asked Laetitia about Silencio:

Freq: The two solo records seem to be more direct than anything you’d released for years. Did a pressure in Stereolab to avoid repetition lead to ever more intricate records? After twenty years,

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Roedelius & Schneider – Stunden /Qluster – Rufen/Moebius & Tietchens – S/T

Bureau B

Over the past few years, Hamburg’s Bureau B label has released an astonishing treasure trove of music. Reissues of long out of print kraut classics, including much of the enormous [post=cluster-roundup text=”back catalogue of the Cluster family”], now sit alongside brand new work by many of the people from the German scene, old and new, including recent releases from [post=faust-something-dirty text=”Faust”] and [post=kreidler-tank text=”Kreidler”]. The label now returns to the Cluster camp for us to catch up with just what Moebius and Roedelius have been up to since they last disbanded the duo a couple of years back.

Well, it seems the answer to that is, they’ve been forming more duos. For Stunden, Hans-Joachim Roedelius gets together with To Rococo Rot’s Stefan Schneider to

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Irmler/Einheit/Paul/Young – Spielwiese 3/Wolfarth & Irmler – Illumination


The release of [post=faust-is-last text=”Faust Is Last”] a couple of years back seems to have freed up Hans-Joachim Irmler’s creative enthusiasm, his output rate suddenly jumping from Scott Walker to Acid Mothers Temple territory. These two new Klangbad releases are the fourth and fifth new projects involving Irmler since the Faust album in 2010 and there’s no sign of any let up in quality yet.

The third [post=bill-spielwiese-zwei text=”Spielwiese”] finds the reunited duo of Irmler and FM Einheit joined by Ute-Marie Paul of Nista Nije Nista and American bassoonist Katherine Young. The crash and throb of Irmler & Einheit’s No Apologies is still very much present, but on Spielwiese Drei, the soundfield is given a subtly uneasy sense of foreboding by Paul and

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Van der Graaf Generator – Alt


Hmmm… a Van der Graaf Generator instrumental album eh? For a supposed ‘prog’ band, Van der Graaf Generator have never really gone in for lengthy instrumental passages, preferring to fill their convoluted songs with Peter Hammill’s densely-packed words. Then again, The Graaf, as they’ve seldom affectionately referred to, have never really gone in for the usual ‘prog’ behaviour.

Of course their biggest ‘hit’ “Theme One” was an instrumental, but that was a cover of a George Martin piece, so hardly counts, and the less said about the lacklustre Long Hello series the better, except to be grateful they weren’t released under the group name to tarnish the reputation. 2005’s triumphant reunion album Present came with a second disc of improvised instrumentals, a disc that

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Laetitia Sadier – Silencio

Drag City

It’s mandatory when reviewing [post=laetitia-sadier-interview text=”Laetitia Sadier“] to glibly remark on how everything she does sounds a bit the same, so let’s get that bit over to start with. Silencio isn’t sonically a million miles away from 2010’s The Trip, or indeed most Stereolab or Monade releases if it comes to that. The familiar elements are present: retro-futurist electronica, lushly arranged textures, “exotic” rhythms, sophisticated melodies and of course that curiously detached yet intimate and airy voice, floating like a liberated red balloon over the rooftops of her intricately-constructed universe. In truth, she has developed a musical language over the past twenty years that is quite at odds with the familiar vocabulary of rock ‘n’ roll. As a result, she always sounds

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Kevin Coyne – 1979 Live at WDR-Studio L Cologne

Blast First Petite

I never saw Kevin Coyne live despite being a fan of his unique work throughout the seventies. With the absence of any UK TV coverage at the time, it was only with the dawn of the internet age that I chanced upon bootleg footage of his appearance on the German Rockpalast show from 1979. It was a great performance that reinforced my enthusiasm for the man’s music and happily the show is now officially available, remastered from the broadcast tapes, on DVD thanks to Blast First Petite. Although the quality is slightly better than my old bootleg, 1979 transmissions hardly compare to today’s HD standard, but then I guess most Kevin Coyne fans are probably not technophile obsessives.

On record, Coyne comes over as the unlikely progeny of Max Miller and Memphis Minnie, and the visual element actually emphasises

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Throbbing Gristle – The Second Annual Report/Throbbing Gristle’s Greatest Hits


Following the final termination of Throbbing Gristle, the surviving members have revived Industrial Records with the aim of presenting their recorded legacy with all the care and attention it deserves. Each of the studio albums have been lovingly re-mastered by Chris Carter and are repackaged in lovely card sleeves. All the CDs come with a second disc, selecting live highlights from the period of the respective album, along with any stray singles.

> Print this

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FM Einheit and Irmler – No Apologies


Klangbad’s series of Spielwiese releases involves label boss Jochen Irmler inviting interesting collaborators to his Scheer studio and simply recording the results. This particular meeting between the frenetic engine driver of eighties period Einstürzende Neubauten and the convivial klangmeister of Faust was always going to provide rewarding results, and their debut live appearance at the 2010 Klangbad Festival was certainly a highlight of the weekend. No Apologies was actually recorded slightly before that but took a while to sneak out into the world – Swabian time bears only the most tenuous connection to the rest of us after all.

In fact the idea for the collaboration stretches back decades, to when the two were neighbours in Hamburg, Jochen running an electrical shop and Mufti involved in a local café. Some things take time though, and the two eventually met up at

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Lustmord – Songs of Gods & Demons


Following his return to live performance over the past year, Brian Lustmord’s increased activity shows no sign of slowing down. He has clearly been spending some time in the dusty vaults below Castle Lustmord rummaging for lost treasures and well-matured morsels to toss to his hungry followers. Last year’s Heretic was a fascinating alternative version of his classic 1990 album Heresy and now further exhumations bring us Songs of Gods and Demons.

On the face of it, the album is a rag bag collection of bits and pieces – mostly commissioned “day-job” music from Lustmord’s alter ego Brian Williams, featuring work for various films, TV shows and video games. What promises to be an interesting stopgap release however, turns out to far more, thanks to Lustmord having reworked all the material into a cohesive album that belies its disparate sources. Presumably

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Factory Star – Enter Castle Perilous


In The Fall and The Blue Orchids, Martin Bramah founded two of the greatest British groups of the punk and postpunk (or indeed any) period. Any man responsible for Live at the Witch Trials and The Greatest Hit could happily retire in the certainty that they had contributed more to the world by the age of 23 than the rest of us will do in a lifetime. As far as the wider world was concerned, that appeared to be pretty much what he did, apart from the occasional reappearance with either group.

The creative urge isn’t that easily retired though and Bramah resurfaced solo in 2008 with The Battle of Twisted Heel, a collection of timeless acoustic songs that filtered traditional English folk through psychedelic impressionism and austere post-punk minimalism. Every song was a gem and the need to perform them

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The Wild Swans – The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years


Paul Simpson is the Adam Adamant of the music world, a gentleman adventurer awoken from a twenty year slumber to find himself in an unfamiliar world that both disgusts him and spurs him into action. The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years finds him back to resolve unfinished business, sparking his swordstick on the banes of modern life and fearlessly banishing its villains with deftly soaring melodies.

The original Wild Swans peaked prematurely: “The Revolutionary Spirit” was everyone’s top single of 1982; Bill Drummond and John Peel identifying them as Liverpool’s finest group of the period. Apart from sessions for Peel and Janice Long though, little more was heard of the original group and they split soon after. Further incarnations appeared in the late eighties, releasing two LPs whose incandescent songs were cruelly compromised by the major label production values of

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