Archives by month/year

Seth Cooke – Christ of the Abyss / Seth Cooke and Dominic Lash – Canary

Hairdryer Excommunication

Seth Cooke - Christ of the Abyss

Following up from the no-input field recordings reviewed here, Seth‘s either in a spirit of intrepidly obtuse field recording, or taking the piss (either’s good, frankly). The no-input field recording method, foolhardy though it is to compress it to something so asinine as a method, involves getting a recording, making it record itself, and putting that recorder somewhere. Possibly a field.

Christ of the Abyss, my extensive research shows, is a crucifixion portrait by Archibald MacKinnon, a teacher on Eilean Dà Bhàrr, who painted it and didn’t tell anyone. And this record comes with on a business card CD with a wee negative of the painting. Something Hairdryer Communication do very well, in my experience, is packaging.

Christ of the Abyss by Seth Cooke

And the music is a neat little three minutes

Continue reading Seth Cooke – Christ of the Abyss / Seth Cooke and Dominic Lash – Canary […]

Fort Process 2015

70 steps into Fort ProcessNewhaven Fort, East Sussex 13 September 2014

Wow! This place was superb!! A semi-ruin with a labyrinth of white-clad tunnels eating into the gloom, the natural reverb promoting plenty of pseudo monk fun. The weathered solidity and teasing signs of atrophy, the stonework full of weird apertures that once occupied armoury now harbouring a host of musical oddness.

> Print this

Continue reading Fort Process 2015 […]

Seth Cooke – Sightseer

Organized Music From Thessaloniki

Seth Cooke – SightseerAnother tiny offering from Seth Cooke, the man behind Pneuma‘s panoramas. He certainly has a talent for pulling surprising stuff from unusual places — who’d have thought pneumatic drills could sound so exotic? This latest offering on the intriguingly-titled Organized Music From Thessaloniki label is no different, a combo of no-input holler and decaying field recordings set under the moniker of Sightseer. The track titles give you possible clues about the context with “Fake Tan,” “Self Catering/Package Tour,” “Traveller Checks;” a bit tongue in cheek maybe, but it’s a sound diary of sorts, an alternative holiday brochure for the forgotten/ignored, photos replaced with scribbled interference, making you feel like that kid in Poltergeist, hands on the glass of the TV, hypnotised

Continue reading Seth Cooke – Sightseer […]

Every Contact Leaves a Trace label feature (Seth Cooke/Henry Collins/Ignacio Agrimbau/Dominic Lash and Will Montgomery)

Four releases from a shiny new label devoted to something like sound-art, but not as asceptic and dry as that genre has a habit of implying. Hopefully, label head Seth Cooke is already known to Freq readers, but if not his is a formidable CV – sometime Freq writer, engine, petrol and tillerman for Bang The Bore, previously one of spazzy rock’s finest drummers (Hunting Lodge), an improviser of God knows how many outfits, episodic A Bander, contemporary composition performer (mostly on the Wandelweiser side of things), conceptual sound-art tickler and probably a raft of things I’ve forgotten.

Before I start cooking the meat of the corpus, it’s worth pointing out that the label, thus far at least, is pretty concept-heavy. Concept is often a perilous matter – sound-art/experimental/whatever tends to rest atop well-articulated concepts but if there’s not much attention paid to whether or not it’s worth following through

Continue reading Every Contact Leaves a Trace label feature (Seth Cooke/Henry Collins/Ignacio Agrimbau/Dominic Lash and Will Montgomery) […]

Seth Cooke – Pneuma


Seth Cooke - PneumaThis was conceived after a particularly arduous eighteen months whilst a basement flat beneath Seth Cooke‘s Leeds home was being renovated. Building noise, pneumatic drills, shouting, workmen urinating in the garden… you name it, and it was probably suffered. The sheer beauty etched into the metallics of this disc seem testament to how scarring this experience must have been. In fact Seth describes this work as alchemy, an attempt to banish the misery and recoup the treasure. He’s not far from the mark, the slow tendrils of drone on the first 25 minutess certainly feel like effective exorcism, as he transforms the gritty bite of a jackhammer into an aerosol of golden eternities.

A Cthulhu of cylindrical dynamites cutting through your consciousness

Continue reading Seth Cooke – Pneuma […]

Steffen Basho-Junghans – Is

Architects of Harmonic Rooms and Records

There’s something tantalisingly unreal about these direct to DAT solo twelve-string guitar compositions, recorded between 2000 and 2006. Capturing almost exclusively the twang, scrape and buzz of the strings, the instrument sounds almost disembodied, a shimmering, glistening, glassy surface with barely any hint of the guitar’s resonating chamber, let alone any sense of the environment in which it was played. There’s a sense of dislocation and separation, an almost rootless unease, as though the music is caught somewhere between the transcendent and corporeal.

Steffan Basho-Junghans’ guitar style is a curiously restless hybrid, based on similar ground to Philip Henry’s synthesis of John Fahey Americana with Asian influences yet capable of incorporating a minimalism that recalls some of Tetuzi Akiyama’s more motorik excursions. The album could fairly be described as an exploration of what might link these

Continue reading Steffen Basho-Junghans – Is […]

Josh T. Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen


Woman when I’ve raised hell, there won’t be a star left untouched in your sky When my lighting crashes across that night No shadows of doubt or of turnin’ in that questioning little mind Just a burnin’ rekindled truth and one single agonizin’ blinding white light

The greatest protest songs contain a moment when the political becomes personal; the greatest spiritual songs relate the personal to the theological or cosmological. The pivotal verse of “Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell” – the third song on Josh T. Pearson’s solo album Last of the Country Gentlemen, the first full length with which he’s been involved since Lift to Experience’ bruised, apocalyptic 2001 masterpiece The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads – brutally expands the frame of reference from an ode to domestic violence sung from the position of abuser to Yahweh’s

Continue reading Josh T. Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen […]

Spoils & Relics – Dependent Arising/A.O.N.; Mark Durgan with Spoils & Relics – All Mistakes Straightened


Spoils & Relics - Dependant ArisingThe packaging aesthetic of London-via-Nottingham based Johnny Scarr’s Mantile label suits Spoils & Relics to a tee; recycled card with grainy, degraded and indeterminate images of dubious provenance; hand-stamped titles evoking a production-line gone askew; and each release on cassette, that medium so beloved of bloody-minded advocates of the warmth, tactile enjoyment and inconvenience of the near obsolete format. And you can’t get much more tactile than this: Scarr, Gary Myles, Kieron Piercy and Mark Durgan molest their homemade, repurposed and customised electronics with a grubby hands-on physicality, inserting their fingers into the guts of their machinery, beating, caressing or palpating its outer surfaces, in some cases tugging fisted reels of tape through its spools or adding their own fitful current to the exposed circuits.

These three releases see Spoils

Continue reading Spoils & Relics – Dependent Arising/A.O.N.; Mark Durgan with Spoils & Relics – All Mistakes Straightened […]

The Remote Viewers – To the North

The Remote Viewers

The Remote Viewers – To the NorthWhat a difference a well deployed field recording can make. The Remote Viewers’ ninth album, To the North begins with what sounds like footsteps on gravel, an approach made on private land, a trespassing, intrusion or return home. It’s sufficient to throw the ensuing material off-kilter; what could be otherwise described as a comfortable and comforting tour through a variety of approaches to jazz derivatives becomes something slightly askew, exuding a slinky menace that insinuates itself further with each repeated listen.

Saxophonists David Petts (the Poison Cabinet, B-Shops for the Poor) and Adrian Northover’s (Dha, Happy End Big Band, B-Shops for the Poor and Sonicphonics) ensemble has seen multiple line-up changes over the years. For this release – their second without singer Louise Petts – they augment their sax quartet (rounded out by

Continue reading The Remote Viewers – To the North […]

An Audience with Mark Sanders

Mark sanders (Photo: Andrew Putler)Mark Sanders has been a professional drummer for almost thirty years. His diversity is unmatched, running the gamut between jazz, free improvisation, pop, avant-rock, modern classical, dance, new complexity, dub and folk. He’s one of the few free improvisers who integrates the learning that he accumulates from these broad activities: most improvising musicians’ approach rarely synthesises or overlaps their sets of experience from other styles. You would be hard pressed to find musicians currently working within free improvisation who he hasn’t worked with.

Continue reading An Audience with Mark Sanders […]

Paolo Angeli – Tibi/Fred Frith – Live in Japan

Paolo Angeli – TibiFred Frith - Live in JapanThere are four main ways of making music that sounds different to anyone else: by devising your own conceptual framework; using rare or unique instruments and equipment; developing an unusual approach to your instrument; or by training until your technique is broader, faster or more specialised than that of other players. Depending on your level of insecurity you may reinforce these with deliberate obfuscation, whether that entails removing the labels from your vinyl, claiming that you don’t understand or aren’t interested in your own process or ability, hiding your equipment or simply not answering questions. It depends whether or not you’re afraid of the competition or you think you’re the kind of person who’s only going to have one decent idea in your lifetime…

Continue reading Paolo Angeli – Tibi/Fred Frith – Live in Japan […]

Boduf Songs – This Alone Above All Else In Spite Of Everything


Boduf Songs - This Alone Above All Else In Spite Of Everything“My hammer feels the urge to nail you to the ground / to smash one through your cheek.”

Welcome back Boduf Songs, straight off the starting blocks with another ingeniously constructed threat of violence to the listener, with both the compulsion and responsibility for the act located outside of the detached perpetrator and the implication of an animist, ritual significance. It’s a classic Mat Sweet strategy, delivered straight-faced and expressionless, uncomfortably unfiltered intimacy with an undercurrent of knowing mischief. After all, this is the same man who began 2008’s How Shadows Chase the Balance with the line “All of my heroes died the same day, all of them fallen away / swinging from nooses, wrists opened wide /

Continue reading Boduf Songs – This Alone Above All Else In Spite Of Everything […]

K-Space – Infinity

Ad Hoc

K-Space – InfinityEvery now and then you come across a product born of such radically alternative starting assumptions that it gets treated with near indifference by its potential audience, as though to even entertain the possibility of its existence could cause the tapestries of multiple musicotheologies to unravel. Infinity by K-Space is one such product: a CD that never plays the same music twice, intertwining ideas from disciplines such as improvisation, indeterminate composition, generative music and new media with anthropology, magic and non-musical sonic expression. While informed readers could be forgiven for commenting that it came out two years ago, at the time of writing no one seems to have been able to do justice to this remarkable record. That’s a shame, because it raises important questions about received wisdom in many of the key strata within

Continue reading K-Space – Infinity […]

Toshimaru Nakamura – Egrets

Samadhi Sound

Toshimaru Nakamura - EgretsThere are few musical instruments that are as conceptually pleasing as the no-input mixing board. It is part of a rich tradition in experimental music in which peripheral hardware and audio equipment are repositioned as musical instruments in their own right (turntables, effects pedals and tape recorders could be seen as other examples). It is a controller of sound without anything in the way of a conventional sound to control, a content-free methodology that has reminded many commentators of the Soto school of Zen. This, coupled with the unpredictability of its controls, is strongly reminiscent of the work and ideas of John Cage. In its illumination of the secret inner sound world of machinery, the no-input mixing board also belongs to traditions that explore the glitches and faults within electronic devices. And in its exploration of feedback

Continue reading Toshimaru Nakamura – Egrets […]

Alan Licht & Loren Connors – Into the Night Sky

Family Vineyard

Alan Licht and Loren Connors – Into the Night SkyWhile improvisation and social activity are natural bedfellows, improvisation and relationship can be a trickier proposition. It’s a reasonable – albeit vaguely fundamentalist – argument to say that familiarity is antithetical to improvisation; the former is about learned responses, primed expectations and prior awareness; whereas the latter is about responding in the moment, dealing with the unexpected and being able to create without preparation. As two or more players get to know each other they become used to each other’s approaches and preferences. The stronger a relationship gets, the more likely it is that the players involved will have negotiated a system of complementation, compromise and shared characteristics as comfortable and familiar as any composition or idiom.

In this context it’s

Continue reading Alan Licht & Loren Connors – Into the Night Sky […]