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Shelley Parker / Leslie Deere / Graham Dunning / Tom Richards / Tom Mudd (live at Ghost In The Machine Music)

New River Studios, London 1 October 2015

Graham Dunning is a name that seems to be popping up all over the place. This isn’t a surprise as he is busy performing, exhibiting, and now, curating; tirelessly working away and putting others to shame with his prolific energy. Performances of late have been as an improv duo with Colin Webster, where they team up on turntable (Dunning) and sax (Webster); with the duo also enlisting the assistance of Sam Underwood (Ore) on tuba from time to time, with magnificent results.

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Now (live at The Strongroom)

London 3 October 2015

Anyone who’s seen London stalwarts Now play live will know that they are always different, yet always reliable (as in they will always deliver). They’ve been existing in different formations for over a decade and a half now (Now!), and have collaborated with the likes of Damo Suzuki, who is basically Krautrock royalty, for those of you unfamiliar with his name.

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Morphogenesis / Colin Potter and Jonathan Coleclough (live at Café Oto)

London 10 September 2015

Café Oto, a place that seems to be shorthand for Bobos to some people. However, tonight there were far more middle-aged music nerds than craft-ale and pulled pork enthusiasts (as there seems to be every time I’m at the venue, yet it has this reputation as being wall to wall, errr, the ‘H’ word).

First up was a duo featuring the mighty Colin Potter. Potter sat centre stage in front of an array of hardware (mixing desk, pedals, et al), whilst his accomplice Jonathan Coleclough activated various boxes taped to the walls etc throughout. At the start Potter stated that “anything could happen”, turning the mind toward catastrophe. Luckily, the man at the controls had control of the situation and we were treated to Colin’s tactile, vivid sound (his contribution to the Nurse With Wound‘s sound is undeniable).

Once underway, an icy metallic drone rose from

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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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Swans – The Seer

Young God

When Michael Gira announced that he was reactivating Swans (not a reunion, remember?) it came as a bit of a surprise; albeit one that garnered some excitement. The album that followed showed that the band had fleshed out the folk trappings of Gira’s Angels of Light project; instilling some of Swans heaviness onto the Angels’ southern twang. Some people liked it, some didn’t, but it was still an announcement that Swans were indeed back.

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Beak> – >>

Invada

There is just something that doesn’t quite make it when it comes to the band Beak>; whether it’s because they seem to be trying too hard to emulate the motorik rock that came from Germany in the ’70s, or because they attempt to go for a ritualistic sound that falls short of ritual, there’s just something that they can’t manage to pull off.

The band comprise of members Billy Fuller, Matt Williams, and of course, Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame. The sound they make has obvious Krautrock references, especially on the track “Liar,” where they do an amazing impersonation of Damo Suzuki-era Can; but there are post-Kraut influences too, most notably in the post-punk that came along in the late ’70s, which also had its roots

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Liars – WIXIW

Mute

The turn of the century saw an explosion of underground musical activity over in the states( especially in New York, and Brooklyn in particular) The bands that were part of this supernova also seemed to defy expectations by shape shifting at a rapid rate (think Black Dice, Animal Collective, Gang Gang Dance), and it was almost impossible to predict what an outfit’s next album or EP would sound like. The only thing certain is that it would be daring and that it would have journalists throw terms such as ‘cutting edge’ around with reckless abandon. It was an exciting time for underground music with new, young bands delivering gold standard work.

These bands have matured now and are, one can say, old hands and part of the avant-establishment. Some

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Tortoise re-release series, part 6 – Beacons Of Ancestorship (revisited)

Thrill Jockey

After the, quite frankly, cheesy and banal efforts from Tortoise on their previous album It’s All Around You, it was understandable if one found themselves without their hopes raised for Beacons Of Ancestorship, released in 2009. However, it comes as a relief to report that this is a vast improvement on the album beforehand; and is also a work that sees the band branching out into new territory without the tendency to repeatedly fall back on familiar tropes like they did on Standards from 2001.

They open confidently with “High Class Slim Floatin’ In,” all La Düsseldorf-esque motorik drums and fuzzy guitar riffs. The Krautrock references don’t end there as the synth melodies resemble Harmonia. In fact it appears that Tortoise had dragged

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Tortoise re-release series, part 5 – It’s All Around You

Thrill Jockey

Tortoise’s fifth album, It’s All Around You from 2004, tells the listener from the outset that they are in for no surprises whatsoever. On previous albums; and especially with the proceeding Standards, Tortoise showed that they were a band who could take off into several directions. Unfortunately with It’s All Around You they made it absolutely clear that they chose the most tedious and uninspiring one.

The album cover is a dead giveaway as well, recalling the awful Athena poster look of the artwork on albums by bands such as Weather Report. The music also resembles the smug Jazz Fusion of Weather Report. Cloying guitar melodies nuzzle up with an over-familiar use of the vibraphone in what is

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Tortoise re-release series, part 4 – Standards

Thrill Jockey

The way Tortoise opens Standards, their fourth album, suggest that they want to have some fun with the listener’s possible preconceptions. The buzz and hum of a guitar amp makes way for a bombastic passage of music wholly unlike what Tortoise are known for. It could be that they’re poking fun at their own reputation for subdued, restrained compositions. Or indeed it could be a wider swipe at the whole ‘post rock’ genre in general; a term that makes the band bristle.

This anthemic opening sequence of “Seneca” sounds more like MC5 or The Stooges; a large dose of psychedelics mixed in with garage rock fuzz. However, it is a false start; which cements the notion

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Tortoise re-release series, part 3 – TNT

Thrill Jockey

When TNT came out, some of the band members mentioned whilst interviewed that using Pro Tools had given them too many options, and that they had feared at one point that the album would lack direction. Lacking direction would be a harsh criticism for TNT, however it could definitely be said that it’s a sprawling album, and can become aimless and like something akin to sonic wallpaper from time to time.

By now listeners knew what to expect from Tortoise, and indeed the opening track “TNT” delivered their trademark sound. Relatively upbeat, pretty serious and muso, it opens with jazzy drum frills which give way to a guitar riff straight from the band’s workbook. Dubby effects and muted horn riffs come into play in what

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Tortoise re-release series, part 2 – Millions Now Living Will Never Die

Thrill Jockey

By the time the second Tortoise album appeared on the scene, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of time dedicated to the discussion as to whether they were in the spirit of Prog, or Krautrock.

This debate seems a little perplexing now, especially when one remembers that Tortoise started operations in the early to mid 90s. However, it’s important to remember that the year Millions Now Living Will Never Die was released, 1996, was just a year after Julian Cope released the Krautrocksampler book; and it had become de rigueur for rock albums with a leftfield bent to be compared to the radical music that hailed from Germany during the late 60s and early 70s.

It seemed that much

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Tortoise re-release series, part 1 – Tortoise

Thrill Jockey

The arrival of Tortoise brought along a discussion surrounding the widespread use of a new genre term that described a supposedly emerging musical genre. The term was ‘post-rock’ and, at the time, seemed to be the focus for as much debate as the band were themselves.

Supposedly coined by music journalist Simon Reynolds, the term appeared to be much maligned at the time. Deemed as po-faced, as was much of the music which fell under the banner, it shared space in the musical room of shame alongside IDM (intelligent dance music); surely the most irritating of all genre titles.

Reynolds first used this term when reviewing the Bark Psychosis album Hex for The Wire; and indeed post-rock was initially attributed to the British underground

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