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SunnO))) / Hildur Guðnadóttir (live at Convergence)

The Barbican, London 21 March 2017

SunnO))) live at Convergence 2017The tickets. We purchased them, they came. Who are they? Explorers in the further reaches of experience — demons to some, angels to others. We bought the tickets, they came. Now we must come with them and taste their pleasures.

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Richard Pinhas – Reverse

Bureau B

Richard Pinhas - ReverseAllons enfants de la Patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé.” When the musical “Marseillaise” is sung, there can surely be no more fitting embodiment of Gallic savoir faire than Richard Pinhas. Philosopher, guitarist, innovator, electronic music pioneer – his visage is perfectly placed to flutter aloft on the bloody banners raised above the barricades.

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Senyawa (live at Café OTO)

London 17 October 2016

Senyawa live October 2016It’s going to be very difficult to describe Senyawa in words. What follows will probably contain muddled metaphors, chaotic similes, idiotic expostulations, expletives, wild imagery, desperate comparisons, upholstery by Zachery, knick-knackery by Thackery, Terpsichore by Dickery and dickery by Dock. Younger readers – or those of a nervous disposition – may want to look away now.

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All Them Witches (live at The Scala)

London 4 October 2016

All Them Witches live at The Scala October 2016The Man Whose Head Expanded. Not in a good Mark E Smith kind of way, though. Oh no. Sadly not. In a kids-back-at-school, viral-laboratory, I’d-like-to-just-lie-down-in-this-ditch kind of way. Taking the bus down to The Scala, I wonder how long it will be until my eyeballs just pop out due to the pressure from my sinuses. But, Freq reviewers are hopefully made of sterner stuff, and so in a bravura display of stiff upper head, I marshal myself off the 73 and into the venue.

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The Master Musicians of Jajouka (live at The Barbican)

Milton Court Theatre, London 29 September 2016

Master Musicians Of Jajouka live September 2016A crucial international fixture, and Team Freq is in utter disarray: star striker Rodham-Heaps out of action, midfield playmaker Nickells injured (his silky skills laid low after a night of drinking at Acid Mothers Temple), and others all unavailable for selection. And so, in a bold decision, the Freqmanager1 decides to bring yours truly off the subs bench and into the starting line-up. Taking my inspiration from Ole ‘Super-Sub’ Solskjaer, my aim is to come on and change the course of the game decisively.

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Various – I’m A Freak, Baby: A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72

Cherry Red

Various - I'm A Freak, BabyEarly on in Give the Anarchist a Cigarette, Mick Farren’s majestic – and comic – memoir (its early years set against the growing pains of British youth culture), he relates an incident that took place whilst visiting his friends Paul and Beryl in Brighton one grey bank holiday weekend in the mid-Sixties.

Sitting on a wall outside the Metropole Hotel, amidst the hand-to-hand combat and full-on deckchairs, chains and bottles carnage of mods versus rockers apocalypse, the trio were approached all day by roving bands of bloodied and beleaguered participants from both factions

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Spirit Of Moondog (live at Black Box)

Münster 29 May 2016

Moondog steleIn a quiet and undisturbed corner of the Zentralfriedhof (Main Cemetery) in Münster, there stands an elegant, tapering stone stele, atop which is a death mask so wonderfully detailed and realistic it seems that the eyes might at any moment open slowly, like an image from Dennis Potter’s Cold Lazarus come to life beneath the blue Westfalen sky. Foregrounded against the thick green hedge behind it, and surrounded by a colourful riot of flowers, it is a beautiful spot. Here, amidst the birdsong and the obsessively well-tended greenery, lies American expatriate Louis Hardin, better known to the world by a moniker adopted in honour of his trusty, yet lunar-affected, hound: Moondog.

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Iggy Pop (live at the Royal Albert Hall)

London 13 May 2016

Blow my cool. Bite my lip. See me through on my death trip.

Once the needle had finally run out from the closing grooves of “Death Trip”, the concluding song of Iggy and The Stooges’ 1973 white-hot masterpiece Raw Power, there was no shortage of occasions when it looked like the title was truly a prophecy rather than merely youthful braggadocio.

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The Flamin’ Groovies (live at The Scala)

London 25 April 2016

Just as everyone thought that Spring had really, finally, definitively arrived, fresh and rosy-fingered, Winter once more puts its cold, cold hand back onto our shoulders. Arriving at The Scala (always redolent with memories of all-night Eighties quadruple bills and marathon Shock Around the Clock gorefests1) it feels more like January again than practically May.

Inside, I stake a place at the front of the upper tier, crack open a ridiculously over-priced can of San Miguel, and survey the scene. Faded nostalgic ghost films flicker across my Kopfkino as I picture the tatty auditorium as it used to be in years gone by: the cinema cat walking across my lap during a showing of From The Velvets to Voidoids; the seat I was in for the last film I ever saw here, preposterous Greek “experimental independent surrealist underground art film” Singapore Sling, about incestuous mother and

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Caravan (live at the Union Chapel)

Caravan live at the Union Chapel March 2016London 14 March 2016

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, the Jules Rimet still gleamed in the trophy cabinets of old Albion, Patrick McGoohan was recognisable to the nation as Danger Man John Drake rather than some arsy bloke being pursued across a Welsh beach by a weird white ball, and Harold Wilson was the dynamic, thrusting young politician thrilling the body politic. Around the same time, although Swinging London was grabbing all the headlines and covers of Time magazine, the Canterbury scene was also a seriously happening event.

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This Is Not This Heat (live at Café OTO)

London 13 February 2016

This Is Not This Heat live at Cafe OTO February 2016I suppose it would be prudent to start off with something of a disclaimer – it’s going to be very difficult to get much critical distance from this evening. Like no other gig I can think of, I was nervous when I thought I wouldn’t be able to go, nervous when I found out I could go, and nervous about trying to write any kind of review. The weight/wait of expectation is almost too much to bear.

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Drew McDowall / Helm (live at Café OTO)

London 3 February 2016

Analogue at Cafe OTO February 2016It’s all very restful really, sitting around at the front of OTO, bathed in the soft orange glow of the tea-lights scattered around the stage and sipping a cranberry juice. I’m trying to get my head around Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s recent tome on anti-fragility whilst awaiting the arrival of the “notoriously reclusive” Drew McDowall, one of the lesser-spotted denizens of the liminal zone staked out by his erstwhile collaborators Coil, when suddenly the guy sitting next to me strikes up a conversation.

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Faust / Nurse With Wound / Cut Hands (live at St John Sessions)

Faust & Nurse With Wound live at St John Sessions December 2015 (Picture: Michael Rodham-Heaps)St John at Hackney, London 5 December 2015

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas: illuminations strung across the lampposts of the capital, sparkling every night like twinkling stars; the inky darkness of the night already setting in by mid afternoon; overflowing trays of “luxury” mince pies everywhere you look. And – really – what says “Christmas” more than a Faust gig?

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Various Artists – Brown Acid: The First Trip

Riding Easy

Brown Acid - The First TripIf this album were attending high school, right now it would be on its way to the principal’s office, about to be expelled for having been caught selling cheap speed to the younger kids at the school gates.

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Gary Numan (live at The Forum)

Gary Numan live at The Forum October 2015

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.

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