Archives by month/year

Bloom – What Is Life


Bloom - What Is LifeMost new bands were previously other less new bands, and so songwriters behind Bloom (Megan and Emily) used to be part of The Beautiful Word, who were Brighton-based indie-ish breezes sharing borders with whimsy and twee but (mercifully) never fully occupying those territories. The Beautiful Word were great, but they’re not here any more and (ahem) from that seed grew Bloom. (Sorry). There’s a bit of a backstory behind Megan’s voice taking a bit of a knock along the way but the tl;dr version is that her and Emily’s harmonies are, basically, amazing and getting to that point was a struggle.

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Ravi Shankar – In Hollywood, 1971

Northern Spy

Ravi Shankar - In Hollywood, 1971Some guff you’ll read everywhere: by a large margin the best-known sitar player and largely responsible for the popularising of Indian classical music. Unfortunately, it’s still a world I don’t know a great deal about; I know there’s a difference between Hindustani and Carnatic Indian classical music, but precisely what the difference is, I’m not sure.

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Urusei Yatsura – You Are My Urusei Yatsura

Rocket Girl

Urusei Yatsura - You Are My Urusei YatsuraIt might well be the case that you’ve spent the last twenty years not listening to Urusei Yatsura. Which is fine, I guess, but it does put you and I rather at odds. There’s only one band I own every release of and these are they. I have three copies of their first LP (1x clear, 1x orange, 1x blue, two with “geek rock” tattoo intact). So. Readers expecting the verisimilitude of objectivity might well look away now.

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Daniel Bennett and Stephen Cornford – Fellfield Draff

Hideous Replica

Daniel Bennett And Stephen Cornford - Fellfield DraffIt’s not clear how composed this is, but there’s bits that have the quality of being like someone’s writing harmonies (ahem) while under the influence of ketamine — it’s definitely happening, but at a pace just that smidge too slow to discern quite how it’s moving. Stephen Cornford I’m less familiar with but Daniel Bennett‘s; well, he’s always been a frighteningly meticulous musician and his attention to detail is astonishing. Here, it’s not clear whose voice is whose, so the entirely gorgeous squelch of early in “Field”, just nauseous enough to be disconcerting but never outstaying it’s welcome and is really quite lovely.

Detail is probably the thing that separates the “will this do?”‘ textural wheat from the noise chaff (NB

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Perch – Umbra


Perch - UmbraPerch is seemingly smudged into shape from the leftovers of Fat Bicth, one of Brighton’s embarrassment of “why didn’t they ever gig further than London?” bands. The Bicth were, perhaps, somewhat closer to Brighton stalwarts (your I’m Being Goods and Sweet Williamses) than Perch, so let’s hope this is the band to thrust Perch/ Bicth mastermind Chris Mitchell slightly further afield than London Road.

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Eurovision 2016

Eurovision 2016It’s that time of year when Kev Nickells undertakes his annual mammoth hatchet job feature-length review of every entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Let the ritual ruination and Eurotunnelvision enthusing literally begin.

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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


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


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


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


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


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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