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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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Earthling Society – England Have My Bones

Riot Season

Earthling Society - England Have My BonesThis is full hippy in every good way. Hyperdrive hippy. Hippy in excelsis (not in Excel). Godz-driven, primal, ballistic-psychedelic, balls-to-the-wall, throttled/throttling. It’s the hippyish, proggy album that other people think they’ve made. There’s a massive meandering Alice Coltrane cover on here that sounds like it could be/should be terrible but works brilliantly. There’s devastating stoner stuff, a beautifully placed and ever-building soundworld which swirls and ebbs and pushes into you. There’s awkward movements in just the right places. This attempts to blow you away and achieves it in a way that most albums couldn’t even dream.

I’d never heard anything from Earthling Society before and assumed this was going to be one of the those half-heard, half-liked albums

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Moebius Story Leidecker – Snowghost Pieces

Bureau B

Story Leidecker Moebius – Snowghost PiecesNegativland still keep me chortling to myself whenever they pop up on random play. In fact random play seems designed for Negativland, has given them a place in the canon that might otherwise have excluded them – I don’t remember playing their records that much before MP3, though I liked having them and was eternally glad that they were there, in the background, chipping away at egos. I mention this because it’s that Leidecker.

Moebius is the one from Cluster, of course, who I had never actually listened to until young Matt Woebot mentioned them in the Hacker Farm/Kemper Norton/IX Tab article in The Wire a few years back and I thought it wise to seek them out immediately (yes, it turns out

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Kemialliset Ystävät – Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa

Dekorder

Kemialliset Ystävät - Alas Rattoisaa VirtaaLove these guys. Just love them. This is a bubbly, ecstatic mess of an album, in every good way… It’s all over the place; a dig around a wet pit of transcendentalism, an overflowing tub of funny jelly.

There’s moments where the Ghost Box almost appears (in fact a few of the melodies resemble the chord progressions and gentle hauntological swotting/swatting of Concretism) but these moments are always derailed; even the echos and trails at the end of some of the long notes seem full of chattering spirits, laughing gnomes, trillions. Pianos appear, get lost in electrics; odd Wu Tang karate grunts and twitches appear briefly in the background, gulped by trolls; elongated electronic howls jump in and

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Fennesz – Bécs

Editions Mego

Fennesz – BécsThe opening number sounds like the closing track; it’s all about endings with Fennesz; endless endings, everything slowing down and finishing off. These are jet trails, not jets. This is the stuff that clings to rock, not rock itself.

“Static Kings” opens Bécs like it’s the last album he’s ever going to make (cf. the, in retrospect frankly fraudulent, last track on Orbital 1.0’s Blue Album, “One Perfect Sunrise”). It deals with its emotional aggregates and it soars with them; it glorifies in that sense of abstract loss that music can specialise in; the kind of thoughts that gather at the bottom of a bottle at the bottom of the world when you look up and know, beyond all doubt, that things will never

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E.A.R. – All Things Being Equal

Dekorder

Experimental Audio Research - All Things Being EqualA hyper-collectible one-sided ‘hybrid vinyl’ you say? *strokes non-beard* What curious engine is this? *bug-eyed lunatic face / “Soylent Green is people!”* Well, it’s got meaty black vinyl on the audio side and the usual slack-jawed picture-disc vinyl on the other – AKA this is what Leibniz was referring to when he uttered under his wig “Die beste aller möglichen Welten” (“the best of all possible worlds”).

This is the first E.A.R. release since 2005’s Worn To A Shadow and, to tell the truth, not much has changed. He’s still got drone and he’s still up there amongst the greatest exponents of the genre and he’s still got that unfathomable humchattering Spacemen 3 sound in amongst it all;

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Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything

Constellation

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on EverythingIt’s hard for record labels. I got the MP3 promos of this ages ago and listened a few times and… nothing. I’d slightly lost touch with Thee Silver Mt. Zion Variations over the last couple of albums – this is seven – but I was broadly a fan, had loved finally seeing them at the Dirty Three ATP in Butlins; had many of their albums, had appreciated they’d sped up over the years but this one didn’t grab me. It seemed an exemplar for neither one thing nor another, fell badly between two schools. I just didn’t get it, couldn’t hear why it had to be. It fell into an

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