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Thor & Friends / Kite Base (live at The Lexington)

London 2 May 2017

What makes the difference between just another gig and a profoundly uplifting experience? This is the question that I am left pondering in the wake of Thor Harris‘s (erstwhile Swans) percussion and noise collective Thor & Friends show at The Lexington last night.

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Goat – Requiem

Rocket

Goat - RequiemSometimes you want music you can just joyfully wig out to. For exactly these moments there is Goat, for which I am very grateful.

Goat have an unselfconscious and unflinching commitment to their music. It’s a celebration. A testament to emotionally transformational power of music, but thankfully without any underlying philosophy other than manifestly really enjoying what they do. Their euphoric delivery, which comes across in recorded format as well as their live performances, is disarmingly engaging. Its not particularly clever, but who cares? It’s so much fun to listen to.

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Vessels / William Arcane (live at XOYO)

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.Vessels live October 2015

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Underworld – dubnobasswithmyheadman

Universal

Underworld - dubnobasswithmyheadmanMaybe it says something about the staid state of mainstream music fare at the moment but there has been a glut of reissues recently. 20 years after its first release, Underworld’s dubnobasswithmyheadman is the latest album to be remastered and repackaged in search of a new audience. In this case, if for no other reason that you have not heard it before, the re-release is worthwhile. Apparently the remastering has significantly improved an album that already sounded great, however the label was only prepared to provide access to a streamed MP3 version, which means that it’s not possible to comment on the impact of this.

The deluxe version of the package comes with a lot of extras. For those unfamiliar with the Underworld back catalogue,

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Ekoplekz – Rock La Bibliotek

West Norwood Cassette Library

Ekoplekz - Rock La BibliotekFollowing his recent albums Four Track Mind and Unfidelity, Ekoplekz has now released a six-track EP on the wonderfully-monikered West Norwood Cassette Library label. Rock La Bibliotek is in a different format and has a totally different vibe. On it he offers up a more minimalist sound, and while the richer radiophonic aspects of the albums has been put to one side, with some distinctly retro sounding bleeps and squelches, the Ekoplekz approach to production still renders tracks that are dripping with atmosphere.

At times quite dark, the collection also reaches into psychedelic territory through layered, progressive trancey episodes and some contorted dissonance. However, in throwing the more conventional sound palette out the window, Nick Edwards has nonetheless

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Kreidler – ABC

Bureau B

Kreidler - ABCKreidler’s latest album continues their post-kraut-rock meets techno melange — a kind of bastard love child of Neu! and Carl Craig — which emerged on their 2012 album Den. ABC is a genre-bending and -blending collection of tracks built around consistently strong keyboard and guitar riffs with driving percussion.

ABC was recorded in Tbilisi, Georgia and the east meets west vibe of the studio’s location rubs off on the album’s sound from the outset. The opening track, “Nino,” evokes a strong silk road vibe through the guitar lines, while the drumming has a steely, cold insouciance. This combination, with some swooshy synths overlaid, makes for a kind of industrial space funk roller. The track builds its layers into a rousing crescendo, but

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Slint – Spiderland

Touch & Go

Slint - SpiderlandWe are living in the era of re. Remakes, reissues, reunions and yes, remasters are becoming the staple of our cultural life. I for one have a tendency to resignedly sigh “oh, really?” when I hear of another bit of creative heritage being given a once over, a new lease of life – the defibrillator paddles being applied to the long cold corpse of something that has passed into the mists of time. Things have a time and a place, and even if they were great, their legacy may best be served by leaving them there.

So, in the case of Slint’s 1991 album Spiderland – of which a remastered version is being made available as a vinyl box

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Gilded – Terrane

Hidden Shoal

Gilded - TerraneThe internet is a wonderful thing. I had no idea that western Australia had a rich experimental music scene. With my northern European prejudice I probably assumed that all too brief and rather damp summers were a necessary precondition for musical innovation. But thanks to the web, my prejudices can be confounded.

Gilded are Matt Rösner and Adam Trainer, both notable composers and performers in the aforementioned scene around Perth, who collaborate together on this album for the first time. Terrane was mostly recorded in the beach community at Myalup, although some of the piano which features strongly throughout the record was recorded in Perth in a room specifically conditioned to provide the optimum environment for the instrument.

When thinking of great experimental music (if you

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Swans (live at Koko)

Koko, London 15 November 2012

Following their new album, The Seer, Swans first live performance in London for two years was genuinely eagerly awaited. The second album from the ‘reactivated’ Swans had shown that despite, or indeed because of, the long break they were still capable of producing innovative music that defies comparison with any of their contemporaries. Swans reputation as live performers goes before them, and a performance including material from the demanding and yet uplifting new album held the promise of being a particularly special event.

I have never been to a gig with such a palpable sense of anticipation. Every corner and balcony at Koko was packed and the nervous excitement of the crowd communicated an intense expectation of a spiritual experience, rather than just a gig. Sir Richard Bishop’s low key but powerful warm up set the bar high and served to crank up the

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Photek – KU:PALM

Photek Productions

I was surprised to hear that Photek had released a new album – somewhere along the line I had heard that he had hung up his Sennheisers. When Freq asked for a review it was with some trepidation that I took it on. When someone has withdrawn from the scene at the top of their game, the inevitable question is whether their return will be triumphant or ignoble. The return of Photek takes us back in time, not to the drum and bass era which he did so much to shape, but even earlier to mine a rich seam of electro, house and techno grooves, invoking classic dance music vibes but with the same originality and technical excellence that marked his heyday

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