The name of the band and the album gives the game away, as perhaps it should, and the cover image of two musicians walking away towards a line of telegraph poles near-hidden in a dustcloud certainly helps too. The music by Date Palms is immediately suggestive of the desert fringes, of the places where sandy dryness meets welcome verdant relief, of Joshua Tree or the scrublands of Southern California, the Sahel of north Africa and the encroaching dryness of the Mediterranean basin: the interstices where there is enough water to support life but not enough for greenery to rule.
As with the dustbowl introspection of fellow-travellers Om, Date Palms like their tones low and slow. Mournful bass and windswept cello weave their quiet wonder across “Yuba Source” parts one and two (and
Continue reading Date Palms – The Dusted Sessions [...]
Almost unbelievably, Rubhitbangklanghear/Rubhitbangklangear is the first album that Charlemagne Palestine and Z’ev have recorded together, though they have apparently played together a couple of time in the last twenty-odd years. This double CD (there is an LP edition with half the tracks) is released as part of Sub Rosa‘s series of Laboratoire Central collaborations and finds the veteran (and it’s fair to add legendary) improvisers/composers in fine fettle.
On the different versions of the record there are both solo and duo pieces – three of each on the CD, and two duos and one Palestine solo on the vinyl. His solo piece (there is the same one on each format) uses only bells of various sizes as sound sources, and as the album title indicates, he
Continue reading Charlemagne Palestine and Z’ev – Rubhitbangklanghear / Rubhitbangklangear [...]
Aneira appears as one long track, and this time round it’s simply Aidan Baker on his own with a twelve-string acoustic guitar. This is a piece which is far more isolationist than that simple statement might at first appear, as Baker uses the instrument as a sonic generator to produce a whole host of glacial textures and tones. While the sound of steel strings is still evident in the rustling, shimmering noises, their twanging rustle sometimes brings to mind the wind rattling the ice-clad rigging of a wooden sailing ship stuck fast in ice, as do the ominous groans and drones which shudder and heave at the low end.
As listens go, this one is often quite oppressive, and there’s no denying that Baker has captured an impressionistic portrait of forces of nature in slow, glacial motion.
Continue reading Aidan Baker – Aneira [...]
Yesmissolga/Acid Cobra/Lumberton Trading Company
Amaury Cambuzat‘s début solo outing as Acid Cobra (while not playing guitar in Ulan Bator and one iteration of Faust) finds him hopping figuratively onto horseback for the opening guitar looper workout “Il y a des Cowboys!” The Western vibes blow dustily into the widescreen soundscape he plays, all descending figures circling like buzzards rising on a thermal to gain height for the annual migration path from the desert into the high plains. Drifting with a purpose seems to be the order of the day, and Cambuzat’s guitar has rarely sounded more evocative. The soundtrack motif is not accidental either, and the 13 pieces on the album are all written to accompany Cambuzat’s series of paintings also entitled Petrified Minds, some of which are used for
Continue reading Acid Cobra – Petrified Minds/Art-Errorist and Acid Cobra – Cold Waters [...]
UK digi-dub veterans Alpha & Omega have taken on the task of remaking Om‘s track “Addis” from their recent Advaitic Songs album, transforming the original’s hypnagogic swell of doomy bass and mournful cello into a dub workout in two parts. Side A weighs in as “Ababa Dub,” Kate Ramsey‘s haunting vocal lifted into the echo chamber while the strings vibrate below, riding on a coasting undercarriage of sampled drums and bass.
Alpha & Omega snip out a syllable which sounds exactly like “Om” and send it bouncing off on a trail of delay while other sounds emerge as haunted sirens, and as far as dub mixes go, they could hardly have found better source material. On the reverse, “Addis Ababa” continues the meditative mood almost seamlessly (apart from the need to flip over the vinyl). Here the words
Continue reading Om – Addis/Gethsemane dubplates [...]
Aidan Baker‘s Already Drowning marks something of a departure for his solo releases, as each piece finds him collaborating with (in this case, women) singers with lyrical inspiration coming from the likes of Angela Carter, Philip K Dick and various folk sources. recorded over the space of two years, it’s also one of Baker’s most assured works in an already impressive catalogue both as a solo artist and in his many and various bands, not least of which is the ineffable Nadja.
The title song is a slow drum-led number, the kit swinging in a slow rhythm as Clara Engel croons softly. Her voice is as sad as the melancholy bassline, but there is a hint of optimism still in the rising swell of a chord change. The ponderously beatific unwind of “30 Days/30 Nights”
Continue reading Aidan Baker – Already Drowning/Aidan Baker with Plurals – Glass Crocodile Medicine (Latitudes) [...]
Like the music of fellow synthpop freak Jimi Tenor, that played by the duo of Rättö ja Lehtisalo seems to come from a strange otherworld of their own devising, one where off-kilter percussion and jazzy notes sidle at the beck and call of Mika Rättö‘s distinctively weird vocals. It’s not even because they’re in Finnish, because Mika has an international delivery offset by the trademark tendency to surprise at any given turn which he also brings to his vocal work in Circle alongside Jussi Lehtisalo.
So while there’s none of Ed Benttonin briljantti stabilismi tai taivaallinen kylpysaippua‘s eccentric synthpop mania, nor even Kopernikus Hortoilee Näkinkengässä‘s archly motorik‘n’melodic pop, there is plenty to marvel in here, from the shuffling rhythms and soaring organ to the chorale swell which brings the title track to an
Continue reading Rättö ja Lehtisalo – Spiritismi [...]
Bringing together musicians who have worked together separately before – Burnt Friedman and Jaki Liebezeit have released several outstanding records of electronic dub together, among numerous other guest spots and collaborations; Irmin Schmidt and Jono Podmore made two albums as Schmidt & Kumo; and of course Schmidt and Liebezeit were Can members together, as well as collaborators since the band’s demise. Add in Podmore’s sterling work on editing The Lost Tapes, and it’s really no surprise that this début Cyclopean EP appears (via Mute) on the Spoon imprint either.
So much for the background. The self-titled 12″ may only contain four tracks, but they’re each marvels of intricate percussion and enveloping electronica, deep baths of bass humming and heaving majestically at the rhythmic end while swarms and swirls of treated sounds slither and scurry. The occasional whimsical creakiness
Continue reading Cyclopean – Cyclopean EP [...]
Les Disques Victo
The meeting of five titans of noise and experimental music onstage at the Victoriaville Festival in May 2011 was an occasion for a well-formed on the hoof composition from the five performers involved: Richard Pinahs of Heldon fame; Merzbow; and Wolf Eyes. While the latter have frequently been lauded as being in the same league as Throbbing Gristle, their albums and live shows have been sometimes less than impressive, and often failed to actually live up to the expectations heaped upon them at the time of the music press’ rekindling of interest in all matters noisy and oblique over the last decade or so.
However, all that is changed here. It’s not particularly easy to determine who is playing what in the lineup – and it probably wasn’t often much
Continue reading Richard Pinhas/Merzbow/Wolf Eyes – Victoriaville Mai 2011 [...]
Following on from their debut album Meronia (originally released in 1994) come two more remastered and re-released albums from 1997. For a goodly chunk of Meronia, Circle seemed to be wanting to show themselves as Finland’s very own Loop-worshipping post-metal dudes on a mission to out “Arc-Lite” the template of heavy-riffing guitars in collision with the metronomic sound of Munich, Cologne and Düsseldorf some twenty years earlier, all wind-machine vocals and burbling synths riding on a thundering surf wash of fuzz and wah. However, the later Circle showed themselves to be on a far stranger trip, bringing in strings and other things (such as latter-day vocalist Mika Rätto‘s strangulated operatic vocals, which could equally soar as throttle gutturally) to complement the pounding toms and stop/start arrangements which soon earned them (plus some of their myriad of equally
Continue reading Circle – Hissi/Fraten [...]
Anyone wondering what kind of album Mugstar would follow up the far-out and extra solid Lime and the soundtrack to Ad Margineum can now find out. Lime was the point at which all the ideas heard floating around (and sometimes above) …Sun, Broken… and Mugstar coalesced into something greater than the sum total of the band’s reference points (of which let’s just mention Hawkwind, NEU! and The Heads for starters).
A surge of what have by all accounts been mind-blowing live shows has obviously strengthened Mugstar’s musical musculature, because Axis kicks off with an oiled tone on the guitars and smoothly-pulverising bass rumbles as the drums propel the workout into the supremely weighty “Black Fountain;” just the bass guitar here alone is enough to rattle the windows – but frankly it and the following echoing organ-grinder “Hollow
Continue reading Mugstar – Axis [...]
Seirom‘s double-disc epic 1973 lifts off on CD1 (Strands Of Golden Light) with a raft of shoegaze chorale, a soaring surge of fuzz and gritty noise spreading into the realms of where those of a majestic frame of mind might wander, dallying a while in pastoral landscapes where the soothing sounds of synthesized orchestras wash languidly at the backbrain. But as Seirom is also none other than MC de Jong, Grand Guignol overlord of the notoriously macabre Gnaw Their Tongues, it’s no surprise that among the orchestral majesty there lurks a beating black metal heart, all blast beats hurled into the fray as guitars lope into what sometimes sounds like Sigur Ròs have had a dose of Ulver‘s special symphonic medicine, and rather liked the woozy effect it has on their ears and subsequent playing.
Continue reading Seirom – 1973 [...]
Russell Haswell‘s Further 12″ opens with a burst of what could be fireworks, or might indeed be some kind of demented “Black Metal Instrumental Intro Demo” for that matter. The rippling bursts of reverbed drum machine splutter and brap with an apparent randomness which could just as easily be blasting into the sky as into an unlit, dank Norwegian cellar club with spasmodic arhythmia and no sense of blast beats being allowed to kick in. It’s this sort of toying with expectations, especially when if comes to track titles, which makes Haswell so entertaining. That and the crawling chaos of noise which he introduces into the mix; and as with all the best noisemongers, he knows how to judge when and when not to go for the overload (and yes, he does, in shuddering
Continue reading Russell Haswell – Factual EP/Scandinavian Parts (Immersive Live Salvage Supplement) [...]
Snoring into view, Francisco López‘ umpteen-hundredth record (many of them untitled, and here each track is unnamed and numbered instead) crepitates and crunches, rustles, whistles and sussurates with the close-mic’d presence of musique concrète, up close and present in the ears. López’ attention to detail is almost disturbingly intimate, sound sidling, shuffling and creeping around the stereo image. Across two discs of supremely directed environmental manipulations and software arrangements, the overall effect is one which is replete with moments of intensity, a full-fat repast of sonic flavours which tickle the palette and satisfy cravings for the sort of sounds found lurking at the back of the fridge (in the machinery, crackling, and in the ice box, squeezing) before hissing flatulently into overloaded, satiated oblivion.
There are tones and drones, self-transforming shimmers and the rising, falling
Continue reading Francisco López – Untitled  [...]
Twenty plus years and albums into the long strange trip that is Circle, Manner confirms that they are still a seriously out there band, whose œuvre can encompass punky noise and proggish metal with equal dexterity, a group who are never less than tight and whose playfulness is as convincing as their steely-eyed commitment to the very meaning of rock. This is the band who spearheaded the ever so slightly sardonically-yet-righly-named New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal, who keep their faces poker straight even while ramming tongue firmly into cheek. Yes, singer/keyboardist/occasional ballet stooge Mika Rättö does dress as leatherman’s wet dream of a Rob Halford wannabe while singing like a demented cross between Ronnie James Dio and Freddy Mercury at his most operatic, but none of those are bad qualities when possessed by Circle.
Continue reading Circle – Manner [...]