Archives by month/year

Sleaford Mods – Chubbed Up: The Singles Collection


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 - 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


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


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


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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Ekoplekz – Unfidelity

Planet Mu

Ekoplekz - UnfidelityEkoplekz is almost a priori; you could conceive of him from your armchair. Or at least you’d think you could. He’s come up thick and fast (he’s got a release schedule that shames us all) and I doubt whether his methodology has changed much since he first plugged that Eko organ into a analogue delay way back in the pre-flood (pre-Flood? There’s a thought) years. For once, the press release nails it: “…this is Ekoplekz’s most satisfying album to date and we hope you [think so] too.” This will satisfy in the sense that it won’t disappoint existing fans; the key Radio-Tubby-TG elements are here (on “Pressure Level” in particular I swear I can hear Cosey‘s cornet breaking through the

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Shackleton – Freezing Opening Thawing

Woe To The Septic Heart

Shackleton – Freezing Opening ThawingJust in time for a mordant shot at the Easter Number 1, here comes Shackleton again; his last album was a work of necessarily flawed genius, drifting across lines, missing beats and breaks, losing itself in the mystery of moments. It ought to have been everyone’s favourite album of the year but often got a little missed, as if it was just too singular. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

This 12” is less fluttery, more robust, a return to Form (as opposed to a return to form which would demean him and this and is, anyway, duckfuckingly wrong in all ways). This has a sheered off quality, like the inside of a chainsawed cow. It seems likely

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Compound Eye – Journey From Anywhere

Editions Mego

Compound Eye - Journey From AnywhereThis’ll be the second Freq review where I start with “I miss Coil” but I do miss them, they felt necessary, at least in my bubble. They didn’t seem in the least contingent and thus neither of them being here – still – is vaguely preposterous, almost illogical. That said, there’s still hints, around the corners, in not especially dark places, under stones, inside the wind. There’s still stuff out there, just not enough. There’s still genuine lost things, popping up occasionally on YouTube, things that make sense (or would have one day made sense with a little tweaking, with some Balance). But there’s never enough and it’s… irritating. It feels like you wanted Jhonn

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The Doomed Bird of Providence – Blind Mouths Eat

Front & Follow

The Doomed Bird of Providence – Blind Mouths EatBefore I knew anything about them (I still don’t know much about them), I heard The Doomed Bird Of Providence (on the excellent Collision/Detection compilation of EPs) and assumed they were Eastern European Death Marchers. They seemed a little like the mini-tradition clustered around A Hawk and a Hacksaw with, perhaps, a sideswipe of Dirty Three (yes, I know how utterly dismissive that sounds); seesawing violins, heaving accordions, breathless amateur tap-dancing like the guys in Neubauten’s “Ein Stuhl In Der Hölle.” Well, I even got the continent wrong.

This album sounds different. Those sounds are still there but they are blackier and bloodier. Tap-dancing on broken nubs of flesh and bone. It’s themed around the

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Xylitol – Kunst Ist Tot

Peripheral Conserve

Xylitol - Kunst Ist TotA few predictions: you like sleeves by Babs Santini. If you’re my age you’ll have spent a fair amount of time in obscure record stores and fairs staring at Nurse With Wound covers and wondering if it’s worth the 25 – 100 quid they were asking for the original vinyl. You’ll have grown to love those sleeves even if you didn’t shell out at the time. They’ll have stuck with you, like a berry rash. You’ll probably also like Peter Strickland who directed films that you’ll like called things like Berberian Sound Studio and Katalin Varga. Even if you haven’t seen those films you’ve probably already figured out that you’re bound to like them. Even if you don’t like them you’ll have

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