Jherek Bischoff‘s new record Cistern is beautiful. I was already expecting this, knowing as I do that he is the master of melody and a conjurer of clever arrangements that can tug the heart and ensnare the senses. I loved his first record, Composed, and so I was ready to be beguiled by Cistern. It is a very different record, entirely instrumental and beautifully orchestrated: it has an intimacy; it is very personal.
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Continue reading Jherek Bischoff – Cistern […]
1966: A fixed point in time; a distant place, another country, an alternate reality. People had yet to walk on the moon, the American civil rights movement was only just gaining momentum, there were no home computers, no email, people wrote letters, sent telegrams, long-haul travel was a luxury most could not afford and The Beach Boys were a clean-cut, all-American pop group.
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Continue reading The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary Edition […]
Drag City (Americas) / Domino (Europe)
“My job is just to sit here and sing these songs that have no purpose.”
And yet Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy, aka Palace Brothers, aka Palace Music, has been singing these songs for more than two decades, and whether his purpose is found still remains only in the hearing of the listener.
Oldham’s back catalogue is an intimidating place to navigate. With an extreme work ethic and a prolific output to match, it can be difficult to truly know everything he has done. I have listened to more of his albums and collaborations than those of any single artist and still have only heard about a quarter of what I know is out
Continue reading Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Pond Scum […]
London 21 October 2015
I have found it quite dispiriting lately to read so many”death of live music” pieces when my experience is of a scene that is exciting and fresh as ever. I can only surmise that the people who write this stuff are not going to the gigs I’m going to, because I’d defy anyone to go to a night like this and not come away with a sense of optimism.
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Continue reading Vessels / William Arcane (live at XOYO) […]
Front & Follow
The inscription inside the cover of Laura Cannell’s beautifully packaged CD reads “Beneath swooping talons we choose to be brave, or else to edge the shadows of open spaces, Silent wings come upon us in a strobe of feathers, we choose to be free, or else let the unknown control us.”
There is a pleasing sparseness to these single-take recordings, made in a mediaeval church in the wilds of East Anglia, played on fiddle, overbow fiddle and double recorders, and originating from scraps and fragments of mediaeval music — with echoes of Hildegard von Bingen and Guillaume de Machaut (among other sources) ringing through these improvised pieces to create something quite extraordinarily beautiful.
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Continue reading Laura Cannell – Beneath Swooping Talons […]
One Little Indian
It is more difficult to write about The Sugarcubes‘ Life’s Too Good than I had anticipated. Although I know the record well, played it endlessly throughout my mid-teens and still find it to be a really good listen, it is hard to say any more about it than has been said elsewhere.
It is a great album, a great first album and a record that stands up very well considering how much has happened musically in the intervening years. It is a big record, it is bouncy, exuberant, fun.
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Continue reading The Sugarcubes – Life’s Too Good […]
Front & Follow
Mark Kluzek‘s project The Doomed Bird of Providence began in London in 2009 with the aim of telling the stories of early colonial Australia. This latest offering, You Brought the Knife, is a haunting five-track EP that recounts the tale of Maria Murray (née Middleton) — a runaway slave, convicted murderer and transportee, largely forgotten by all but a handful of academics.
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Continue reading The Doomed Bird of Providence – You Brought The Knife […]
London 10 June 2015
It is good to remember why you came. How the reverberation of the bass through every cell is like the lift of a wave that carries you. How each staccato re-teaches your heart to beat. Percussion is life, rhythm is the first language and with it we make sense. Every sentence you’ve ever read and truly felt has had its own cadence to keep it in place.
These are my first thoughts when I wake up the morning after Holly Herndon‘s packed-out show at XOYO remembering the threads of the night before. Remembering why I came.Electronic music has become ubiquitous and the club scene is so well established as to have amassed whole generations of followers. Techno has become
Continue reading Holly Herndon / Amnesia Scanner (live at XOYO) […]
London 21 May 2015
– The Conscious Pause –
It is daunting to write about a show that was attended by so many Freq contributors because I know they’ll all read this and I am sure they will all have things to add (or deny). But what does that matter? It is daunting to write about a Swans show, because – Swans –
This was my second time at a live Swans show. And of course as I write that I realise live swans makes it sound like some Tudor feast centrepiece and really that’s not it at all. I had forgotten I was even going until last week, although perhaps that’s not quite accurate — it hit me last week that the show
Continue reading Swans (live at The Roundhouse) […]
4AD (UK)/RVNG Intl (USA and elsewhere)
About two thirds of the way in to Holly Herndon‘s Platform, on the track “Lonely at the Top”, there comes an intimacy so disarming that, on first listen, I was unsure of what I was hearing.
Platform is Holly’s second album; I reviewed her first album, Movement and, though I liked it a lot, I found it a little too disjointed, calling it “admirable geekery” that needed “more substance to be fulfilling”. And perhaps this is why I am so enamoured of Platform — it is more joined-up and coherent as a singularity — more than a collection, it has something of the narrative shape that I associate with the idea of an album.
Whilst Platform carries many of the same motifs of Movement — the disjointedness is a signature, and Holly’s use
Continue reading Holly Herndon – Platform […]
The Lonely Life is a 27-minute film written and directed by Mike Aho and starring Will Oldham, the erstwhile acting persona of the musical genius also known as Bonnie “Prince” Billy. The film was crowdfunded using Kickstarter in 2012 and filmed just outside Austin, Texas.
Billed as “A low-fi sci-fi psychedelic journey of a man trying to understand his past,” The Lonely Life contains animations by artists Travis Millard, Mel Kadel, Jeremy Fish, Michael Sieben and the Okay Mountain Collective and was made on a shoestring budget of $9,305.
It is a delightful visual spectacle from the outset, filmed on hand-held cameras and utilising the exceptional natural light of the region, creating a dreamy delicacy that offers a pleasingly jarring contrast against the themes of the story. The film
Continue reading The Lonely Life / ((SOUNDER)) – The Howlingest Call […]
Heldinky‘s Miles To Go Before I Sleep intrigued me — anything referencing Robert Frost has to be worth my time, right? And an influence list boasting the likes of Tim Buckley, Elizabeth Frazer, Annette Peacock and Kate Bush was enough bait to get me to put my hand up to hear the debut LP from the Welsh trio.
The vinyl I received in the mail all the way from Ynys Môn (Anglesey) is very beautiful. The sleeve artwork is all abstract blues and greys on a white background, a painting by the artist Peter Hollaway. Simple yet attractive, the vinyl itself gratifyingly heavy. On first listen I am drawn to say that Heldinky are a very accomplished live band, and this recording exemplifies the allure of that raw-edged late night sultriness that a
Continue reading Heldinky – Miles To Go Before I Sleep […]
Music to write science fiction to.
L’Envol is the first solo album release from American-born, Brussels-based composer Elizabeth Anderson. She is a prolific artist and teacher, and when I hear the opening of L’envol, I feel somewhat like I am at the beginning of a lecture on electronic music.
The sounds are perhaps what you might have expected from the title of the record, (L’envol is French for The Flight), but only if you have spent a lot of time watching science fiction films from the Nineteen Sixties. I know these soundscapes because they furnish my dreams. It is a vernacular that as a reader and writer of science fiction — stories of space and space travel — I know very
Continue reading Elizabeth Anderson – L’envol […]
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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Continue reading Pixies – Doolittle 25 […]
“Well I heard that you were spoken for/it’s hard to imagine anyone speaking for you,” sings Amity Joy Dunn in the opening of “Rosy Technology,” the latest Morning Bride single, taken from The North Sea Rising. It’s a great line and one that has fuelled my anticipation as I’ve been listening to this track for weeks after I received my copy of the CD.
To call this record eagerly awaited sounds clichéd, yet it was in our house anyway. The line up, changed somewhat since the band’s last release Greetings from Abney Park, make a sound that is tighter and more compressed as a unit. But at just six tracks long, weighing in at a sprightly thirty minutes, it is really only a mini-album. The
Continue reading Morning Bride – The North Sea Rising […]