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Laibach (live at The Forum) and The Ex / Bamboo (live at The Hope And Ruin)

London, 12 April 2016 Brighton, 13 April 2016

Laibach live at The Forum April 2016 (Picture: Agata Urbaniak)I went to two gigs in two days for Freq. They were unrelated, possibly, but worth pointing out that gigs are experiential things — it’s often more about the being there than what was played and such. That or I’m too lazy to write two separate reviews, so collapsing them into one with some spiel about commonalities is a rhetorical feint.

But before I do that, just a quick couple of lines on The Ex‘s support, Bamboo — not a band I’d come across before, but doing a fine line in big pop numbers with synth, heavily-effected banjo and drums. Their drummer for the evening, Andy Pyne,

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Babymetal – Metal Resistance

earMUSIC

Babymetal - Metal ResistanceOMG BEST ALBUM EVER.

Yeah, probably should write more than that.

Precarious, is how you might describe it. Prior to this release, there was a couple of songs floating around, notably “Road of Resistance”, which features Dragon Force, or DragonForce (I’ve no intention of dignifying them with finding out how their name’s spelt). They’re alright, if you’re in a shred kind of a mood

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Datblygu – Porwr Trallod

Ankst

Datblygu - Porwr Trallod

It should be the case that this band don’t need any introduction, but they do, because the British are rubbish and refuse to celebrate anything beyond narrow trajectories of well-worn paths. There’s little about Datblygu that’s radically awkward or difficult to listen to, just songs in a language that’s not English (namely, Welsh). A big political point for me, especially as the Tories’ death march continues unabated, that anyone having the tenacity to make “minority” art in the oxygenless British culture of abject desperation and actual humans dying actually actually… is doing something that’s worth cherishing, and venerating, to the fullest.

Not that I have the energy to be excited about something just for the sake of making it a flimsy bulwark against the worst

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Seth Cooke – Christ of the Abyss / Seth Cooke and Dominic Lash – Canary

Hairdryer Excommunication

Seth Cooke - Christ of the Abyss

Following up from the no-input field recordings reviewed here, Seth‘s either in a spirit of intrepidly obtuse field recording, or taking the piss (either’s good, frankly). The no-input field recording method, foolhardy though it is to compress it to something so asinine as a method, involves getting a recording, making it record itself, and putting that recorder somewhere. Possibly a field.

Christ of the Abyss, my extensive research shows, is a crucifixion portrait by Archibald MacKinnon, a teacher on Eilean Dà Bhàrr, who painted it and didn’t tell anyone. And this record comes with on a business card CD with a wee negative of the painting. Something Hairdryer Communication do very well, in my experience, is packaging.

Christ of the Abyss by Seth Cooke

And the music is a neat little three minutes

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SK Kakraba – Songs of Paapieye

Awesome Tapes From Africa

SK Kakraba - Songs of PaapieyeOh, liner notes! I get that some people just want the music to speak for itself, but, frankly, that’s nonsense. I want someone to put it in a context, which is what Awesome Tapes From Africa have done here; thanks, ATFA. We learn that SK Kakraba comes from a line of gyil players, and we learn that the distorted buzzes on the slats is caused by silk walls of spiders’ egg sac and is called paapieye in Lobi.

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Morton Feldman – Clarinet and String Quartet

Important

Morton Feldman - Clarinet and String QuartetComposition’s kind of ridiculous to write about in that you have to write about (broadly) two things — the composition and the delivery — and differences between various recordings can be relatively minimal. Usually, the appeal of composition from about the ’40s onward is that it falls into one of two categories — shit, therefore over-recorded (Phillip Glass, most Americans) or amazing, therefore under-recorded (usually by Europeans). Morton Feldman is an anomaly in that he’s an American composer who isn’t shit and is relatively well-recorded.

Feldman’s also an anomaly insofar as he makes some gruelling, implacably tense music that has an appeal that’s relatively broad. He’s sometimes termed a ‘minimalist’, which is true in a fairly flat sense and not true in another. Some of

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Keith Rowe and John Tilbury – Enough Still Not To Know

Sofa

Keith Rowe & John Tilbury - Enough Still Not To KnowSometimes, you just want to write a review made up of ephemera and snatches of observations rather than, y’know, syntactically cogent sentences. I would say “poetic”, but what I really mean is that I find my own notes hilarious and disingenuous and the idea of having a series of shit kōans in place of a record idea is amusing.

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Datblygu – 1985-1995

Ankst

Datblygu - 1985-1995Yn ddiwedd mis Ebrill eleni, teithwyd drosodd i Gaerdydd (sydd yn hyfryd, o ddifrif) i wylio gŵyl CAM. Mewn gwirionedd, es i, i wylio Datblygu a digwydd fod yne bandiau eraill yn chwarae (parch i Ian Watson ai electro-acwstig clecian ac electro-pop Y Pencadlys, a byddai’r ddau ohonynt wedi gwneud y daith yn gwerth chweil os nid bod Datblygu ar y bil).

Dwi wedi bod yn ymwybodol o Datblygu ar gyfer rhywbeth fel 15 mlynedd — codi CD mewn siop ail law ar sail fod John Peel wedi chwarae nhw ac fod o wedi drysu fi. Ac maen nhw wedi bod yn band sydd wedi ymddangos ar bob cymysgedd-tâp ers hynny, band y mae ei felodiau wedi arnofio drwy fy meddwl. Hudolus a rhwystredig (yr rhwystr iaith) … roedd yna ychydig o ddisgwyliad at y sioe.

Mae yna adolygiad

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Various Artists – Eurovision 2015: Building Bridges

Universal Music

Eurovision 2015 - Building BridgesHas it been twelve months already? Twelve months since Conchita Wurst swooped into our hearts and planted a big blue, pink and white flag in the heart of Europe for the second time in Eurovision‘s history. I realise that for a lot of people Eurovision is some chintzy, end-of-the-pier nonsense, but when you can have someone advocating trans* politics in front of millions of people across the world, that is quite literally a big fucking deal.

Eurovision has a reputation for being ‘camp’ but I think it’s pretty important to emphasise that it’s not a camp that’s worthy of humiliation and denigration – Conchita Wurst in 2014 meant a lot for LGBTQIA politics the world over and was a beacon of “FUCK YEAH”. There wasn’t any global gender revolution and trans* folk still have it astonishingly

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The John Coltrane Quintet – So Many Things: The European Tour 1961

Acrobat

John Coltrane - So Many ThingsJohn Coltrane then. I’ve not really listened to a great deal of ‘trane. So it’s probably pretty stupid to review a 4-CD box of stuff that’s likely for the jazz collectors market, right? Except, y’know, jazz is a thing that exists in the cultural memory, so if it’s just written by and for folk who are already in, it kind of stops being a live culture and starts being a museum piece. This isn’t a review of museum music, for my money.

There’s another point to be made — we’re in a time when black folk are getting royally shafted, all over the world, including in developed countries that feign liberalism and “healthy approaches to diversity”. Including in cities like Baltimore, where the latest

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Jaki Liebezeit & Holger Mertin – Aksak

Staubgold

Jaki Liebezeit & Holger Mertin - AksakConfusing record, that’s the synopsis. It’s got all the ingredients of a blinder — fully world-class players, uncommon mix of instruments, well recorded and mixed… but it’s lacking a certain something. That something being length.

There’s arguably a problem with Jaki Liebezeit‘s pedigree — Tago Mago‘s one of my favourite records and, obviously, I’d really like to hear a version of that album with an hour-and-a-half mix of “Halleluwah”. It’s a shitty criticism but that’s where I am; I like to hear an idea developed over long periods of time. That doesn’t have to be a solo Carnatic classical percussion but it does seem a bit of a shame to have a drummer of Liebezeit’s calibre limited in the two to

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Jozef van Wissem – It Is Time For You To Return

Crammed Discs

Jozef Van Wissem - It Is Time For You To ReturnA new year, another chance to get preponderous about whatever it is that makes us like a thing. Jozef van Wissem‘s Stations of the Cross is about seven years old now, a record I got and thoroughly enjoyed and always intended to follow up but entirely failed to. That was quite a shock at the time — just about minimal enough to sit somewhere near to Morton Feldman but just that bit more static and cold that made it quite a bizarre thing. That he was playing a lute but seemed to lack much of the stylings of baroque or early music (at least, that which I’ve heard from those eras) made for a strange and

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The Ex / Trash Kit / Afework Nigussie / Terrie Ex and George Haddow / Arend B Blauw (live at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)

Trash Kit live November 2014Brighton 10 December 2014

Gig-craft. It’s a tricky thing. Something that’s a perennial irritation for me is the way you’ll get a touring band and three-five clones of that band. I always have this problem with things like grindcore gigs where you just get five of the same band. Which is great, for about two acts, then I get bored. SO one of the things about this gig was that it was really well-programmed. Dutch-language singer-songwriter stuff, fidgety improv, Ethiopian songs, something I’m going to vaguely call “dance-ish music with guitars” and The Ex. The latter of which I’m going to assume you’re familiar with.

What The Ex seem to have done here is, rather than buy into the idea that everyone wants

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Zeitkratzer – Metal Machine Music/Zeitkratzer + Keiji Haino

Zeitkratzer (CD)/Karl (LP)

Zeitkratzer - Metal Machine MusicRight then. First thing to say is that this is an awesome achievement. And one that I’ve been waiting to have a proper listen to for a while. Metal Machine Music (MMM) doesn’t, perhaps, stand up as the finest noise/tape collage records, but it does have a high degree of cultural relevance — at least in terms of being a quite unthinkable gesture from a major label artist in 2014. A postcard from a time of excess in the record industry. An excess marked on one side by, y’know, awful sexual politics and criminal misogyny and, on the other, a record like MMM — the sort of preposterous self-indulgence that has merit artistically (I realise other records like this existed and

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Erasure – The Violet Flame

Mute

Erasure - The Violet FlamePerennial problems of established bands — your new record is very good, but you also wrote… fucking hell, “Oh L’amour,” “Drama!,” “Ship of Fools,” “Blue Savannah,” “Victim of Love”… I mean, just the ornately extended “never” on “Drama!” is enough to merit a statue of Messrs Bell and Clarke on every street corner, let alone that they’re basically better than the Pet Shop Boys in terms of consistency, except God knows why, they’re not written about in the same terms (Erasure are more glaringly out maybe?).

Anyway, it’s not a competition, but Erasure are always worth listening to. And they’re doubly worth seeing live — last I saw them was… oh my word, yeah, that was awesome — Sophie Ellis-Bexter supporting and putting on the

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