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Archives by month/year

Loop (live at Doug Fir Lounge)

Portland, OR 16 May 2014

After several weeks of attending the vaunted interior of Mississippi Studios, it seem that the calendar had skipped from 1963 to 1968 or so. Maybe 1970. The flower power and idealism and utopia of bands like Acid Mothers Temple and Trans Am were replaced by benzedrine paranoia and velocity, as the intrepid Gary Oaks and myself set foot inside the infernal go-go den of the Doug Fir Lounge, right on Burnside Ave., Portland’s mainline, to see the reunited Loop’s first United States tour since 1990.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Loop released their last full-length, A Gilded EternityLoveless hadn’t even been released yet, and it seemed that journalists were having a great time bludgeoning the burgeoning shoegaze scene. And while they termed it ‘The Scene That Celebrates Itself,” it might be more accurate to describe it as “The

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Acid Mothers Temple (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Corsica Studios, LondonAcid Mothers Temple Corsica Studios October 2013 15 October 2013

Corsica Studios was once again filled to bursting for the return of Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. for what seems to be their London home (alongside Café OTO). The crowd’s anticipation at seeing the Japanese psych legends was at a high, but unfortunately we would all have to wait.

The support band was running over time, this was compounded by the fact for a three piece band they had a large amount of equipment to shift. Two amps, two drum kits, a synth, bass guitar, electric guitar, and a board filled with effects and devices as well as several microphones. AMT’s roadie was looking worried as their set went on knowing it was going to

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Thought Forms/Esben and the Witch/Teeth of the Sea/Dylan Carlson (live at The Exchange)

Thought Forms at The Exchange October 2013Bristol 14 October 2013

Motorway delays meant totally missing most of Teeth of the Sea‘s set… I’ve been loving their latest Kraut-infused offering Master for some time now and was eager to get that all-important live perspective, but only ended up catching the trumpet soaked finale. A Miles Davis-shadowing sundowner of a track on anti-phonic wings; parabolic, infectious…the briefest of taste that left me floundering in the disappointment that I didn’t catch the whole caboodle.

Next up were Esben and the Witch, who started in a storm of tribal energies, siren soarings and rebounding double positives. A sound that periodically fell back into splints of eddying chord and uneasy reflection, and a lush, sultry vox that had me wanting to use the G-word, but

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Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O./Anthroprophh – (live at The Exchange)

Acid Mothers Temple The Exchange October 2013Bristol 8 October 2013

Anthroprophh The Exchange October 2013The Exchange was rammed… Anthroprophh (Big Naturals and Paul Allen) were sprawled in front of the stage, their kit eating away at the room’s capacity. Sounded even better than when I saw them back in February, but tucked into the back corner of the venue, I couldn’t see a blinking thing!

After squeezing through the sardined bodies I managed to catch their blistering finale. A frenzy of double drums, greedily sucking at your skull in pure muscle with overdriven key tones and squealing knives of guitar-groping, hallowed eyes. A totally epic, unstoppable beast; like Test Department

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Mainliner (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Mainliner Corsica Studios September 2013Corsica Studios London 29 September 2013

Ok, there was a lot of buzz on the internet about these shows. First it was the fact that this would be Mainliner’s first European tour for a long time, and second that it would not feature the original line up. But the more I thought about it the addition of Bo Ningen’s Kawabe Taigen wasn’t such massive leap into the realms of the ridiculous, as Bo Ningen have been making their own very good heavy psych music for a few years now. And judging by a packed to capacity Corsica tonight it certainly didn’t seem to matter to the audience who turned up to see the noise giants from Japan perform.

The lights go down and the dry ice

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Mainliner (live at The Thekla)

Mainliner - Thekla 27 September 2013Bristol 27 September 2013

This trio were incredible! The noise flowing from them was full on, bouncing with a rip cord of incentive and bold colour. A lock-horned, tri-cornered combo of gristly riffs going off into wah-wah Hendrix hedonism. Drums becoming bass, guitar chiselling percussion; a bewildering soup of pure energy, blissfully heavy in the repetition department, spurring off into delicious landslides of angles and tempos.

Just as you thought you had a handle on Mainliner, they’d slip out that frame completely and dose you from a different perspective. Cutting back into a plodding mellow gothicness, the drums peppering the swinging forecourt of bassy flesh and Kawabata Makoto tang with a doomic expectant heart. A lush sensibility swaayyyyyying like a python round a half bottle

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Comus/Shirley Collins/Stephanie Hladowski & Chris Joynes (live at Islington Assembly Rooms)

London 21 September 2013

It is a mild, early autumn Saturday night and Upper Street is the very picture of modern urban revelry. Outside the doorways of fashionable bars and clubs, the pavements are clotted with thick knots of drinkers and smokers, the ‘dun-tsch, dun-tsch, dun-tsch’ beat of anonymous dance music bleeding out from their dimly-lit interiors into the warm evening air.

There is scarcely a free chair around the outside tables of the chi-chi restaurants, every surface groaning under cornucopia of plenty: pan seared scallops, herb roasted pork tenderloin and quinoa-crusted plaice, chilled Chablis and Blue Mountain double espresso. Everywhere stand men with casually unbuttoned striped shirts and hair thick with extra-hold gel, whilst women with glowing blonde hair and micro-skirts totter atop their high heels. An enormous shocking pink stretch Hummer glides past, one of its darkened rear windows lowered as a girl clutching a precarious flute of

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Zombie Zombie (live at Birthdays)

Etienne Jaumet of Zombie Zombie live at Birthdays September 2013London 18 September 2013

Zombie Zombie is an enigma. They are neither straight ahead progressive rock like near-namesake Zombi, nor either are they jazz or even space disco, but somehow an odd amalgamation of all three. Yes, they are a synth- and percussion-based band, but there is so much more in there. This was reflected in the audience that turned up tonight; there were prog rockers, synth nerds, someone wearing a Jean Michel Jarre t-shirt and yes, some hipsters as well.

For this tour (as with the last one as well) drummer Cosmic Neman is augmented by a second drummer to add extra power to the percussion and push the songs forward with more force. Etienne Jaumet stands behind

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UnicaZürn (live at The Horse Hospital)

UnicaZürn Horse Hospital September 2013 London 14 September 2013

Loving this place, that subterranean cellar-like vibe; cobbles, cast iron pillars, oozes a Dickensian charm that no doubt Messers. Thrower and Knight approve of. On arrival, their musical wares are already set up on three tables, a tidy synth and keyboard sandwich a percussive jumble filling, the screen flickers with the slo-mo refractions of underwater legs and creamy ceramics.

UnicaZürn Horse Hospital September 2013 - 3There’s a long pre-show wait, having cut through London at a surprisingly swift pace. We amuse ourselves. Spurred on by spotting Karl Blake on the guestlist, the dizzy array of bearded

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Gate (live at Musicfest NW)

Roseland Theater Portland, Oregon 6 September 2013

The double-billing of noise guitar legends Gate, the solo project of Michael Morley of The Dead C, and the newly rejuvenated Godspeed You! Black Emperor on a Friday night at one of the United States’ largest music festivals was an act of bold and challenging programming that should further Musicfest NW‘s reputation not only as a world class music festival, but also as a cultural force to be reckoned with.

Lady H. and I arrived early, after a Foods Stamp dinner at Whole Foods, and engaged in the time-honored tradition of standing around watching the punters, sprawled out on the wide-open floor of Portland’s Roseland Theater. I hadn’t been to the Roseland since my first few days living in the City Of Roses this time ’round, when I reviewed the mighty Neurosis at Musicfest NW two years ago. My head was swimming with

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Swans/Josephine Foster – (live at The Button Factory)

Dublin 15 August 2013

There is a story. “It’s all made of stories, you know”. There is a story that back in 1980 David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) read an article in the music press about a band from England who were rewriting all the rules, who had discovered the new sound. Impressed by what he read, and based on the description of the music not the music itself, Byrne wrote and recorded “The Overload,” the final track on Remain In Light… sinister lyrics intoned gravely over the top of a long menacing drone. A little later he finally got to hear Joy Division and admits to being disappointed. “They sounded closer to a rock group than I thought they were”.

A little over a decade later I first heard the name My Bloody Valentine when a friend enthused wildly about their new album, Loveless. I listened to his

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The Sun Ra Arkestra (live at Café Oto)

25 August 2013

en-coun-ter (en-koun-ter):

To come upon or meet with.

(Origin: 1250–1300; Middle English encountren < Anglo-French enco ( u ) ntrer; Old French < Vulgar Latin *incontrāre, equivalent to in- in-1 + –contrāre, derivative of contrā against)

Hynekian System of Classification:

‘Close encounter of the third kind’ – sighting of an animated being.

________________

On the August Bank Holiday 2013, the animated beings that comprise the Sun Ra Arkestra have chosen to take a brief respite from travelling the spaceways in order to land on Earth for a five-day residency at Café Oto. That every night is sold out, the club packed to the gunnels despite the heat of the summer evening, speaks volumes for the standing that The Arkestra now possess. Gone are the hecklers of the 1960s, the financially precarious times of the Philadelphia communal house

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The Residents (live at The Barbican)

18 May 2013

Residents at The Barbican 2013A rare London appearance from The Residents, stopping off at The Barbican on their Wonder of Weird 40th anniversary tour. The show is presented as a kind of unreliable ‘history of our band’, and begins with a short film, a collection of excerpts from old (and formidably strange) videos and live performances. This does a fine job of encapsulating their appeal and setting the scene, and this often somewhat sterile venue is crackling with anticipation by the time the group take to the stage.

Four decades into one of the longest and strangest trips ever undertaken, the anonymous band have assumed a new disguise, perhaps their most ingenious yet: tonight The Residents present themselves as a fictitious band: a trio called, you guessed

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Acid King/Wizard Fight/Lumberjack Feedback (live at The Underworld)

Acid King live at The Underworld 2013London 14 July 2013

London’s second night of stoner psychedelic rock was hotly anticipated as this was going to be the only UK date for headliners Acid King on their European tour. Unfortunately there was already a glitch before the show even started. One of the support act for the show, the wonderful Gates of Slumber had pulled out/cancelled the show, which left rather a gap to fill. The Gates would have made the perfect support for this show with their brand of Conan-inspired doom which I have seen light up The Underworld a few times and was excited to see again.

Support slots from Lumberjack Feedback and Wizard Fight tried admirably to fill this void with some prime stoner sludge doom that

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Earthless/Atomic Bitchwax (live at The Garage)

London 13 July 2013

It’s the middle of summer and London burns in plus 30 degree heat, and whilst some spent a sweltering day in parks at bars or on beaches some of us spent the time preparing for a whole weekend of psychedelic, doom-laden stoner rock. As it was so hot outside The Garage in all its wisdom decided to keep the air con on minimum (raising the temperature in the venue by quite a few degrees) and only put on four bar staff – so at times it was six people deep at the bar. But the bearded masses were not about to let boiling temperatures and dehydration stop them from enjoying an evening of great rock and roll.

I had not seen Atomic Bitchwax before and was rather pleasantly surprised as they kicked out the jams and got the audience rocking. They were a band on fire,

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