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UnicaZürn – Transpandorem

Touch

UnicaZürn - TranspandoremSometimes, the press releases just absolutely nail it and I hate it when they do. This latest release from the band that fell from the belly of The Amal Gamal Ensemble came with a description that’s clearly trying to ruin my review before it’s even got going.

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Electric Sewer Age – Bad White Corpuscle

Hallow Ground

Electric Sewer Age - Bad White CorpuscleI’m not going to use the C word, but he’s not hiding from it. As much as Danny Hyde is his own man, and Electric Sewer Age is his own creation, there are several tantalising trails and in-jokes and red herrings for the fanatic(al). Some of these traces are obvious

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The Other Without – The Other Without

Heavy Rural

The Other Without - S/TThis sounds like home.

It’s slow, like Somerset. It creeps up on you, like the sunlight splitting off the top of Glastonbury Tor. It gets where it’s going in its own time; there’s absolutely nothing about this release which feels forced. Neil Mortimer (Urthona) and Michael J York (Cyclobe, Téléplasmiste, The Stargazer’s Assistant) have a beautiful sense of quietude as their music crawls majestically over the landscape.

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Momus – Pubic Intellectual: An Anthology 1986-2016

Cherry Red

Pubic Intellectual: An Anthology 1986-2016Nobody is evil, nobody is good All the guilty people have misunderstood

I have a bit of a man-crush on Momus. It goes right back to 1987, just after this retrospective begins. He can’t do any wrong (even when he does lots of things wrong) and I’m probably the wrong person to do this review…

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Various Artists – Strange-Eyed Constellations

Disco Gecko

Various Artists – Strange-Eyed ConstellationsI’m a sucker for this kind of thing. I totally bought into the Planet Dog/Shamanarchy angle as a teenager and still buy in now. This compilation has been put together by Toby Marks AKA Banca de Gaia, one of the heads of the scene in the ’90s, a guy who used to be everywhere, whose music was played at and defined by West Country beach parties and forest raves, who always seemed to be spinning.

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Andrew Liles – First Monster Last Monster Always Monster / Cover Girls

Dirter

Andrew Liles - First Monster Last Monster Always MonsterAndrew Liles, the second Duke of Burgundy, third in line to the old French throne and now a broken-hearted (re)publican millionaire (his fortune in bacterial warfare, a subsidiary of Pershing), scores when he wants.

He spends his time at his Bavarian recording castle, chasing peasants, scaring locals and recording recording recording. There’s Liles smears everywhere, even if you think you don’t own one of his records you’d be wrong. Look deeper, one of the Monster things will be there. He kicks around with Nurse With Wound, of course, and plays occasionally with Current 93‘s gnostic mass; but these two releases, with Andrew on his own (apart from all the cover girls, that is) sees him doing what he does best; ploughing a lone furrow, doing what the hell he wants.

First Monster is

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Nurse With Wound – The Sylvie and Babs High Thigh Companion

United Dirter

Nurse With Wound - The Sylvie and Babs High Thigh CompanionSeriously plunderphonic, this baby plays Surrealist ping-pong with ’50s advertising, sped-up exotica, Brat Pack crooners and virtually anything else that fevered mind of Steven Stapleton could chuck in there (it’s little wonder this was three years in the making).

I can imagine Stapleton dressed in his crow-black finery rooting through the charity bins, this perverted twinkle in his eye as his mischievous mind affixes to new trajectories. Trajectories that fit into the loonier end of the Nurse spectrum, cross-pollinated in disruptive sonics and edit room discards, until everything is writhing round for dominance in a heap of malevolent Slinkys. If you’re driving back down the motorway at some ungodly hour, dog-tired, these dislocations will

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Graham Bowers & Nurse With Wound – Mutation

Red Wharf

Graham Bowers & Nurse With Wound - MutationThey’ve been here before. Well, not quite here but near enough. This isn’t the first collaboration and, on this evidence, it won’t be the last. They’ve found that rubbing up against each other generates just enough electricity (teenage lightning, perhaps).

I’ve been in and out of the NWW canon for what seems like all the years now; I drift away, malcontent; having heard it all before (the creaks, the sighs, the gushes and rattles) and then something drags me back into the fold again, some little release slips out and makes me reconsider the oeuvre all over again (and inevitably sends me back to all the other stuff I have; re-listening, re-discovering). So it’s been with Steven Stapleton since I used to play out his Automating Volume 2 (still my favourite) record on

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Peter Christopherson – Live at L’Étrange Festival 2004

Black Mass Rising

Peter Christopherson - Live at L'Étrange Festival 2004The music on this album feels quietly all-encompassing; you can tell immediately that it’s Sleazy because over time he’s developed true signatures; there’s sounds here that are indistinct and yet unmistakable. This could be Coil because, in many ways, it is Coil. I mean, we know that sometimes Coil’s music was just Sleazy don’t we? We know that Balance is on this album in a way he was on every track that Coil produced and that it really doesn’t matter if he’s literally on the album because he’s, à la Jack Torrance in The Shining, always been there. He’s in amongst the sounds, the sighs, the loops. He’s where he isn’t. Is especially there. And, if there’s any doubters, there’s a kind of instrumental, extra-wooshy version of “Sex With Sun Ra” on

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Villalog – Space Trash

Klangbad

Villalog - Spacetrash Neu! have a lot to answer for. Their best bits can be transcendent, their worst bits lazy and a little pointless and even a little contemptuous. We all have days like that, but Neu! were the exemplar; they wrote the script and others followed. We all loved them despite their patchy output (perhaps because of it) and many attempted to emulate them. Stereolab did it pretty well, I thought, but the Stereolab imitators sounded exactly like a copy of a copy of a copy; with the referent long gone, the essence lost, the image shattered.

I’m not saying what you think I’m saying here about Villalog. “Düsseldorf Dub” has that Neu! hum, the ever-so-slightly tumbling/scraped and slurred drums but… Actually, it’s the drums I want to talk about. Drums are big throughout this album; are present even when

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Hacker Farm – 12,000 Seconds/Ashley Paul – 12,000 Seconds

Magic + Dreams

12,000 SecondsOf Human Bondage; salvation through restriction. An intriguing premise, where all the artists in the series were given not just the limitation of time per se but the ultra-specific requirement of actual track times (0:06, 0:23, 1:11, 2:37, 3:03, 3:14, 4:20 and 6:06) to conform to. It doesn’t matter if the actual mathematics is wrong, that it’s 60 seconds over. The extra minute seems necessary.

While Ashley Paul and Hacker Farm don’t appear aligned, this isn’t the first time they’ve appeared together; I saw them both at Salvage: A Hacker Farm Field Trip and there’s textural similarities if you listen closely enough. True, Ashley Paul’s music is more unfolded and sparse than Hacker Farm but they are both brittle commodities, prone to falling apart if you stop paying attention. Paul’s music

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Sleaford Mods – Chubbed Up: The Singles Collection

Ipecac

Sleaford Mods – Chubbed UpAt the start of Lautréamont’s Maldoror, the disclaimer suggests: “This is not for you” and this is where I find myself with Sleaford Mods. I like this album, find it witty and funny and I’ve always liked The Fall and it’s not as annoying as Renegade Soundwave but… this isn’t for me. I feel wrong listening to it, feel like I’m inevitably going to like it in the wrong way. Now, I’m not about to suggest that you have to be there (and be in there) to get Sleaford Mods – this is a work of art, after all, and requires imagination, a certain amount of retroscending – but there’s something about all their releases (I joined with most of the rest of

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Concretism – Town Planning

Concretism

Concretism - Town PlanningThis is an exception to my general rule that music sounds better when it’s slightly wrong. This sounds exactly as it is intended to be. It feels commissioned, considered, skilful. This isn’t normally regarded as a virtue in my world; I’m suspicious of technical brilliance and musicianship seems like a terrible blind alley, redolent of the kind of people who bring those small guitars to parties, ruining it for everyone. But I’m also utterly suspicious of my own entrenched opinions and Concretism has been winning me over for a couple of years now.

For one thing, he’s actively co-opting Hauntology as a genre at a time when almost everyone else is running away from it (sometimes in almost comical fashion), when it’s become in my circle a kind of

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20,000 Days on Earth

Film 4

20,000 Days on EarthHis wife mostly hides. I think she knows what he’s going to say, or rather what he’s not going to say. She’s central and peripheral in this tale and that seems about right since so is Nick. He’s in every scene and every scene is about him (or, more properly, for him) but we don’t get anything as ‘startlingly frank’ as you’d imagine. He’s there but he’s not there. 20,000 Days is a visit to the Court of Cave and, whilst gently mocking in places (the ‘Lionel Ritchie’ moment is a stand-out scene), it doesn’t attempt to get to grips with anything except what Cave thinks of himself. Nothing here is unguarded, especially the unguarded moments. It’s all as real as a fake therapy session.

Now, to be fair, no one’s

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Jeremy Reed and Karolina Urbaniak – Altered Balance: A Tribute to Coil

Infinity Land Press

Altered Balance: A Tribute to CoilJohn Balance dies and becomes a kind of saint. This is a hagiography of sorts, though it doesn’t attempt to smooth edges or unwrinkle ravages; it’s clear in these beautifully-presented pages that he was a complex, maybe difficult man. It’s also clear that he was a flame that attracted people to him, a person so out there that he was able to continually make them feel welcome. A man full of light, or spectral kindness, of deep morality. A balance.

Like many Coil fans hearing about this book, I was hooked between two poles, pulled apart by horses: on the one hand, we all want more; more insight, more detail about the processes and the paradoxes behind the

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