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Swans (live at The Roundhouse)

London 21 May 2015

Swans live at the Roundhouse– The Conscious Pause –

It is daunting to write about a show that was attended by so many Freq contributors because I know they’ll all read this and I am sure they will all have things to add (or deny). But what does that matter? It is daunting to write about a Swans show, because – Swans –

This was my second time at a live Swans show. And of course as I write that I realise live swans makes it sound like some Tudor feast centrepiece and really that’s not it at all. I had forgotten I was even going until last week, although perhaps that’s not quite accurate — it hit me last week that the show

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Alan Courtis / Aaron Moore – Bring Us Some Honest Food

Dancing Wayang

Alan Courtis / Aaron Moore - Bring Us Some Honest FoodThe third album turmbling forth from the fertile pairing of Alan Courtis (Reynols and more) and Aaron Moore (of Volcano The Bear, Dragon Or Emperor, Invisible Sports, Textile Trio, etc) follows on from the phonographic slurs of last year’s KPPB with four new tracks which find the duo pushing further at the avant-garde fringes of ludic surrealist interplay.

For Bring Us Some Honest Food, while the post-production of each side of the LP was undertaken remotely in Brooklyn and Buenos Aires respectively, (as with their first two albums), Courtis and Moore recorded their music for the first time together in a studio in London. This serves to give the album a heightened sense of

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The Necks / Motus (live at Sonic Protest)

Motus live at Sonic ProtestÉglise Saint-Merri, Paris 9 April 2015

Paris’s historic Église Saint-Merri is the scene for the more sedate concerts in Sonic Protest‘s busy festival schedule of gigs which take place across the city and its environs over a very long weekend. The music which unfolds beneath the multi-coloured illuminations that scatter across the ranks of cherubim, illuminate the stained-glass windows and fall upon the various sculptures and multimedia installations which are scattered among its chilled stone walls tonight is nothing if not unusual and occasionally suitably uplifting.

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K-X-P – III, Part One


K-X-P - III, Part IFor their third album, K-X-P have upped their psychedelic game as well as expanded their kosmische disco credentials (with a hint of prog) by not only naming the LP III, but Part I thereof, with who knows how many more instalments yet to come.

If those aren’t real Mellotron sounds which introduce the thumping tribal drums of “Psychic Hibernation”’s overture, then the synths that sweep majestically into view certainly make enough of a stirring impression for starters. Where previous records have tended towards the motorway-friendly, III sets itself up for a journey still more spacious and expansive, with all of applicable intergalactic metaphors ready to be deployed for their description.

So the mood is stirringly upbeat, whipped up and sundered by trails of echo and drone from guest Mika Vainio of Ø and Pan Sonic, which

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-b0̷b- – The Technical Academy Plays -b0̷b-


The Technical Academy plays -b0b-Remember when any miffed wannabe-Luddite music fan could be relied upon to heap opprobrium upon electronic music with the assertion that “it’s just push-button music”; “the synths are playing the songs” or dismissive words to that effect? That’s essentially what Bob Lee attempted to do, more or less, a quarter of a century ago with his cybernetic alter-ego -bøb-. Recovered from the only remaining recording Lee had in his possession, this Fixture re-release — also on cassette like the original home-made tapes — commemorates a unique experiment in machine music of the 1990s.

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Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard – Sound X Sound: Music for 8 Recorders


Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard – Sound X Sound Music for 8 RecordersThe first in the Sound X Sound series of 7″ singles which will each explore just one instrument, Music for 8 Recorders finds Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard‘s compositions tackling the alto and soprano varieties on each side of the record. On the evidence of the first disc, the rest of the Sound X Sound series should be well worth following, not least to discover how much Løkkegaard can push the limits of each instrument as intriguingly as he has done here with one as unassuming as the humble recorder.

The recorder (or blokfløjter in Løkkegaard’s native Danish) has long suffered an association with endless childhood lessons on the instrument, seen as it is (in Britain at least) as

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Janek Schaefer – Unfolding Luxury Beyond the City of Dreams / Inner Space Memorial in Wonderland


Janek Schaefer - Unfolding Luxury Beyond the City of DreamsTwo companion LPs from Janek Schaefer find this most mercurial of composers expanding upon some of his more exploratory audio ideas across four sides of vinyl (or nine tracks in digital form).

“White Lights of Divine Darkness” is a suitably spiritual opener to Unfolding Luxury Beyond the City of Dreams, a piece recorded for Sir John Tavener on the day he died, and the mood of reflective recursion continues into “Unfolding Honey”, an hypnotic swirl of shimmering, silky feedback and subtly-shifting crackling echoes recorded to accompany an exhibition of Japanese fashion in London. The segue into “Luxury” is almost imperceptible, with its drift into angelic drones, as is the elevation into the clouds and spattering

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Mugstar + Damo Suzuki – Start From Zero


Mugstar + Damo Suzuki - Start from ZeroRecorded live with no rehearsal, as is Damo Suzuki‘s way — he makes a habit of not meeting or playing with the group who will act as his ‘sound carriers’ before the night of the gig — Start From Zero does just that.

Mugstar demonstrate their proficiency as space rockers extraordinaire in a churn of muscular drums and wibbling synthesizers from the get-go. While there’s a certain inevitable lurch into the sort of free-form jam band workout that playing with Damo so often inspires — the urge to drop into “Mother Sky” seems always palpably present in his backing band whenever Suzuki plays live — Mugstar keep their playing restrained and spare for the bulk of “Subway Sound”, giving Suzuki the space

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o’death – Out Of Hands We Go

Northern Spy

o’death - Out Of Hands We GoHaving returned to a simpler production sound for their fourth album, o’death opted to record Out Of Hands We Go’s twelve songs live in the studio with Caleb Mulkerin at the controls. With Greg Jamie’s vocals burning brightly at the band’s heart, o’death bring rock and country instrumentation into close collaboration, mixing in many particular devices of their own devising or finding which they have acquired over the years. Theirs is a unique, immediately identifiable sound, and o’death are a band who make and move to their own different tunes.

So fiddle bows and banjo plucks are as likely to carry the interwoven melodies as an electric guitar and the signature distortion which often flecks the emotive vocals,

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Scott Haggart/Lary Seven/Felix Kubin – 1:17


Scott Haggart/Lary Seven/Felix Kubin – 1:17Recorded live in New York in November 2009, 1:17 is one of those glorious conceptual pieces in which the premise – in this case, the use and re-use of a 0.7 millisecond snippet of sound originating from a Diskono collective concert in 2000, itself transformed gradually over the years into a one minute seventeen second blast of noise – is almost entirely irrelevant to the appreciation of the results as realised here.

It is amusing to report, however, that for this performance, Scott Haggart played and manipulated his original Diskono 12” of 1:17 on the decks, while Lary Seven did things with a custom leather glove, a wine bottle and a reel-to-reel tape machine; Felix Kubin was both at the controls and dropping samples

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Howlround – Torridon Gate

A Year in the Country

Howlround - Torridon GateIn which the affable retronauts of Howlround limber up their trusty reel-to-reel tape recorders and feed in the sound of the built environment in order to make a fearsome and at times gently life-affirming visit to pastures so old and venerable that they are of course back in style. And what a stye it is – lush reverb and rippling scurries of what sound like – but aren’t, probably – voices skirl and scree across the aether. It’s like finding the whole of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop special effects department from circa 1964 fiddling and experimenting with some new skiffy sounds to broadcast in glorious monochrome as backdrop to an eerie yet highly-influential series involving children, moors and probably some

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Felix Kubin – Chromdioxidgedächtnis


Felix Kubin - ChromdioxidgedaechtnisCommissioned by the Deutscher Musikrat (German Music Council) for their edition elektronik series, Felix Kubin attunes his lateral ears to a subject dear to his heart — and with a title that translates to English as Chromium Dioxide Memory, it’s no surprise that its subject, sound source and (in part) medium is the compact cassette.

By contrast with the (allegedly) precise fidelity of digital recordings and the incremental uploading of humanity’s collective memories and cultural heritage to online repositories over the last couple of decades, the cassette has a unique place in audio history. Kubin’s contention is that analogue tape’s very fragility and low fidelity, as well as the democratic ease of use and availability of the cassette, makes it a unique format which has many

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Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Singer’s Grave A Sea Of Tongues

Drag City (North America)/Domino (Europe)

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Singer's Grave A Sea Of TonguesWill Oldham has never shied away from revisiting the past. He updated the indie primitivist early work of Palace Brothers (and name variations thereof) from before he took on the Bonnie “Prince” Billy identity with a collection of veteran country session musicians on Sings Golden Palace Music (2004) to excellent effect. The album gave a polish and shine to songs which were only improved by the addition of high production values — which thankfully didn’t reduce Oldham’s off-kilter strangeness one jot in the process.

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Franck Vigroux – Ciment


Franck Vigroux – CimentCiment starts spasmodic and spare, then proceeds to deploy buzzing, whining breath-fragments and scraping flexions among some moments of stark, simple beauty along the way. Pressed on two sides of vinyl, the LP is fully intended to be listened to with all the accumulated crackles, hiss, pops and incidental warmth the format brings with it, for better or worse.

All sounds originate with Franck Vigroux‘s guitar, and as is often the case when the instrument is treated in an obscure and abnormal fashion, as he frequently does here, there are moments where the vanilla sound is lost so far in the depth of its deconstruction as to sound like nothing so much as a collection of wires, wood and pickups disassembled and

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Carter Tutti Void (live at The Oslo Club)

Carter Tutti Void live at the Oslo Club September 2014London 16 September 2014

Mounting the stage with a promise of a different set to the previous night’s show at the same venue, Nik Void, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti settle quickly into place behind a compact selection of effects boxes, mixers and other instruments. As the gig gets underway, the backdrop lit up by the slowly-cycling op-art imagery familiar from their début album projected overhead, the first audible and visual surprise is that Carter is flanked on either side by Void and Tutti, and they’re playing guitars. Certainly, both Factory Floor and CarterTutti have both always used the instrument, but it’s a striking image at odds with the sounds which the trio are generating. The electronic beat is strong, clear and

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