Archive for December, 2015

‘Dervish Sharma Dancing’ is the first single from Lee Negin’s upcoming album (and DVD) release of psychedelic, mind-expanding electronic dance, trip, rave, trance music. Make no mistake, it’s a groove sensation.

Trip out on the video here:

The Fleeting Arms, York, 22nd December 2015

Christopher Nosnibor

So, my final live show of 2015: the obligatory ‘Christmas Foulage’ which finds 上下顛倒罪人的地獄 make one of their infrequent but regular trips into the public was pitched as an event whereby ‘4 disgusting “bands” take to a “venue” to have a party of the foulest kind.’

The tiny indie venue was surprisingly full for a Tuesday night, in York, three days before Christmas, offering music of what can reasonably be described as somewhat fringe, and it was pleasing to see. And who knew that musical forms so heavily weighted with associations of anger, malevolence and sonic brutality could make for a party, even a foul one?

Relative newcomers Seep Away, who recently announced their arrival into the world with an eponymous EP, get things going with a set that brings together punk and grind with a raw energy that’s unmistakeable and a passion that’s unfakeable, even when the guy who’s screaming his lungs out is wearing a Santa hat.

The Puddin’s – stepping in as last-minute replacements for industrial / grind / metal / cabaret act Petrol Hoers, who I’d been looking forward to – aren’t grind – but nor are they as daft as their name or outfits (bearded guitarist in a dress, shirtless bassist sporting a troll mask) suggest. Fierce, grimy crust punk is the thing they do. And they do it pretty well, too, and at appropriate volume. Which means it’s an ugly, shouty racket, played loud.


Puddin’s: Brutal noise with an awkward apostrophe

As I’m composing my thoughts and some notes, a guy is setting up a table with a blender and some plates and with a hessian bag of ingredients down by the side in preparation for Grindcore Cake Makers’ set. The clue is in the name. And they sure as hell pack a lot into their set. Samples lifted from sources like Brasseye and American Psycho, referencing cake and gratuitous brutality, run between the songs, which are considerably shorter than the spaces in between them. The songs themselves are sub-two-minute explosive, violent assaults, propelled by a drum machine cranked up to 200pm. Meanwhile, men with stockings on their heads scream profanities and thrash blistering noise, while the ban’s third member whips up buttercream icing and distributes cake to the audience. The fact he’s working with a plugged-in blender while wearing an apron and a stocking on his head in the middle of such mayhem is truly terrifying. 13 minutes later, they’re gone, leaving nothing but feedback and one hell of a mess on the floor.

Cake Makers

Grindcore Cake Makers: deliver exactly what the name suggests


And then there’s上下顛倒罪人的地獄. Drummer (and event organiser) Dan Gott set up his kit facing toward the stage, in the middle of the room. Meanwhile, it may have been a supposedly Christmas-themed event, but Hallowe’en style blood-spattered shirts and bandaged faces, drag remains (they share a guitarist with Puddin’s) and anything goes as chaos reigns during their intense and truly insane performance. It’s anarchy from beginning to end. Amidst the smashed guitars and splurged cake, there are some songs of sorts, aggressive blasts of ear-bleeding, blastbeat driven noise.

Head 1

上下顛倒罪人的地獄: Carnage

The truth is, it’s hard to really know what the fuck’s going on, and I haven’t witnessed such carnage since Baby Godzilla devastated The Fulford Arms in York a little over a year ago (and before that, when the same band and various supports wrought havoc in November 2012). Somewhere between performance art and a riot disguised as a gig, this is the kind of performance that only takes place every once in a while, and serves as a reminder of why grass-roots, small-venue gigs are so important. The expensive ticket, large capacity venues may host bands people are familiar with, but there’s no substitute for the buzz of a wildly unpredictable, completely in-yer-face show like this.

Head 2

上下顛倒罪人的地獄: Mayhem and devastation

30th October 2015

Christopher Nosnibor

Explorations of sexuality are certainly nothing new, and while every generation likes to think it’s reinvented sex and sexuality, it is of course, what’s ensured the survival and expansion of the human race since it first evolved into its own species. We know we’re by no means the only primates to enjoy recreational sex, but we are, of course, the only ones capable of making art.

Graugaard’s Tears of Dionysius is an unusual project, an audiovisual work which juxtaposes high art with low. The visuals are a collection of anonymous black and white movies, compiled and sequenced by writer and film-maker Thomas Hjlesen, the texts composed by Graugaard ‘after Friedrich Nietzsche’ (taking ‘Geburt der Tragödie’ – ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ which dissects the dichotomy between the Dionysian and the Apollonian as its basis) and the score composed by Graugaard for 18 players and performed by Caput Ensemble, along with Gudini Franzon and Stina Ekblad. As such, its ambition and scope on a purely technical level is vast, and in terms of its theoretical philosophical context, it’s equally immense. In many ways, the enormity of the project proves to be the audience’s greatest challenge. Quite simply, how does one assimilate a work like this?

Graugaard’s score is magnificent. ‘I ask again and again, why are you so sad’ is a bold neoclassical piece which has the drama of ‘Mars’ from Holst’s Planets suite, which stands in contrast with the blurred, grainy images. Hands grabbing, squeezing, kneeding, flesh, malleable, dough-like, the figures become almost abstracted and cloud-like at times, and it’s often difficult to be certain exactly what you’re watching. The effect is akin to a merging of Henry Moore’s figures with the style of Lucian Freud and the rape scene in A Clockwork Orange.

‘When Your Shadow is All Over Me’ – a jumble of limbs, pumping male buttocks toward the lens, then cut to a torso, a male and female abdomen in rhythmic slow-motion, something more akin to jellyfish floating through the deep than the actuality of copulating bodies – cut to a close-up of a woman’s pubic thatch, rising and falling in a slow rhythm. The music is sparse, creeping, cinematic, eerie. In a way, this corresponds with the strange detachment of the nature of these anonymous films: there are no faces in shot. We hear the voice of Stina Ekblad narrate the relationship between Apollo and Dionysius while a penis fills the screen plunging in and out in a fluid motion.

When we do finally see a face, during ‘No Matter How Hard We Try’, it’s a high-contrast image of a man’s forehead and eyes in close-up, slowed to almost a still. Against a soundtrack of unsettling discordance, how do we read those eyes? Freeze. Saturate to fade.

‘You Are in the Arms of an Angel’ finds scraping strings teeter on the edge of a dark abyss over a stuttering loop of a lesbian kiss. Again, the film quality reduces the features to washed-out whites and shadows, the eyes deep hollows, the mouths vortex-like black holes, expressions of lust transformed to anguish and agony.

The drama and tension rises on ‘Nobody Seems to Know Where We Go’, and I’m reminded of JG Thirlwell’s most ambitiously orchestral works. There is, of course, an element of irony that such an overtly cinematic soundtrack should be aligned with the low-grade, short-focus (as opposed to wide-screen, panning) shots which occupy the screen.

At the 24-minute mark, two women, ghoulish with contrast and oversaturation, sit, smoking: it’s every bit as strange and alien as the flickering hands exploring contours of breasts, large dark nipples and stockinged legs. Strings and piano motifs skip and dance lightly, while the looping of the footage, the repetition of scenes at variant paces lock the performers into some kind of perpetual sexual hell in which there is no release, no climax, no resolution, merely the same endless stroking and grappling. Looking for a distraction, I become fixated on one of the girls’ teeth, but the degraded, blurred image makes them look sharp, ghoulish. Mammoth orchestral strikes build to a thunderous crescendo as her partner kneeds away at her tits, a gentle gesture transformed into an act of brutality through its repetition and the alteration of context.

At times, it’s like watching animated x-rays locked in some brutal final battle, and Graugaard’s soundtrack is no less unsettling. Instead, the juxtapositions and the overt incongruity render the experience jolting, unsettling.

Despite the origin and initial purpose of the footage which features here, Tears of Dionisius is most certainly not an erotic movie: detached and abstracted from its original context, we’re presented with something dark, mechanical, inhuman. Instead of arousing, it unsettles, and implicitly reverses the lens position to cast its gaze on the viewer. Is this desire?

The soundtrack only heightens the effect, its sonic pathos building dramatic peak upon dramatic peak. Surging strings and teetering horns which would be at home in 60s sci-fi movies soundtrack images of pulsating vulvas and slow, deep masturbation. It is unsettling. The soundtrack functions in almost precisely the opposite way a soundtrack conventionally functions, not subtly complimenting the images on screen, but incongruously reminding the viewer that there are essentially two entirely separate projects being presented simultaneously here. And within that dissonant space, the viewer is challenged to consider their own desires, and their own place as observer / voyeur / listener / critic.

Time and space collide as old visuals are overlaid with a contemporary score which in fact recalls a previous time, but not the time in which the images were shot. And those images… for all of the pornography that pervades daily existence now, and forms a desensitizing backdrop to 21st century life in the western world, the footage is powerful, and sears itself onto the retinas. It’s an infinitely complex work which functions and resonates on almost countless different levels, and challenges the viewer without mercy. All of this makes for a true work of art, and one which demands comprehensive and considered engagement.



Tears of Dionysius, part 2 from Lars Graugaard on Vimeo.

Gintas K – Message in a Bottle

Posted: 21 December 2015 in Albums

Lietuvos musikos informacijos centreas – MICLCD087

5th November 2015

James Wells

While operating within what could be broadly classed as the ‘electronic’ field, Gintas K’s output is vast and diverse in stylistic terms. This compilation, which draws on the work of Lithuanian composer and musical experimenter Gintas Kraptavicius, one-time leader of electro-industrialists Modus, from the period spanning 2004-2015, can only ever scratch the surface of his output. Nevertheless, it provides a flavour of his divergent sonic explorations. From wispy, ethereal contrails and softly chiming piano and glockenspiel segments via microtonal explorations, throbbing electro beats and barely-audible crackles, ‘Message in a Bottle’ is never dull.

The minimalist soundswells of ‘Reloaded Beauty’ contrast with the dizzying multitonal electronoodles and pink noise bursts of ‘5m’ (previously unreleased): elsewhere, ‘Blind Man tale’ is a piece of subterranean dark ambience which rumbles and hums, while ‘Love is Love 7’ is rendered as a Prurient-like squall of fucked electrodes and stammering synths half-buried by a wall of distortion.

The unreleased title track, a recent and previously-unreleased piece almost 13 minutes in length, assimilates many of the elements present in the other tracks, with bursts of noise and frenzied lasers forming a conglomeration of synth noise. It perhaps hints at Gintas K’s future plans – or maybe it doesn’t. One thing this album does show is that Gintas is inventive, unwilling to confirm to any one musical mode, and continually on the move.

Gintas K Message

clang records – clang031 – 6th November 2015

Christopher Nosnibor

This isn’t how the instrument was designed to work. Just as John Cage made the piano sing in ways it really oughtn’t by the addition of various foreign objects, so Hans Tammen has made the Disklavier his choice of instrument for desecration.

The Disklavier, for those who don’t know (and I’ve had to research this) is an electronic piano produced by Yamaha, which first came on the market in 1987. The way it works is key to Tammen’s project, and I’m going to quote from that fount of all information, Wikipedia, here, and accept any harangues over ‘lazy journalism’ because surely some research is better than none: ‘The typical Disklavier is a real acoustic piano outfitted with electronic sensors for recording and electromechanical solenoids for playback. Sensors record the movements of the keys, hammers, and pedals during a performance, and the system saves the performance data as a Standard MIDI File (SMF). On playback, the solenoids move the keys and pedals and thus reproduce the original performance.’

Tammen’s project is concerned with the ‘hidden sonic qualities’ of the machine. Tammen explains his methodology thus: ‘technically the Disklavier is fed too much information, and at the lowest possible volume. At this point the hammers do not have enough power to bang the strings anymore, and ideally they only vibrate to produce low a rumbling sound. Occasionally the MIDI brain stops for a few seconds – “chokes” – on a chord due to the data overload, hence the title Choking Disklavier’.

Calling to mind Reinhold Friedl’s 2011 ‘Inside Piano’, a colossal exploration of the prepared piano, Music for Choking Disklavier finds Hans Tammen make his instrument sing in unexpected ways, and with intriguing and often very interesting results. And it’s not all unlistenable, experimental noise, either. There are clear and definite tunes present here, albeit played in the most skewed of fashions.

A clumping rhythmic trudge provides the basis of ‘Ascending and Descending Chairs’; over what sounds like slow marching feet, delicate single piano notes rise crystalline into the rarefied air, The levels of dissonance and discord grow as the notes begin to emerge stunted, jarring. ‘Looking Down Sacramento Street’ resembles the whupping hum of a helicopter’s rotas; and so many of the sounds which occupy the album are rhythmic, mechanical, and owe little resemblance to a piano, electreic or otherwise.

The compositions make full use of the Disklavier’s diverse capabilities, especially when messed with. Swing goes south and ragtime goes out of time with fuzz and crackle, the sound of drunken piano being played with wild abandon in heavy rain, and thumping the low notes with a dogged persistence: these are the sounds that tinkle and topple precariously from the speakers at the hand of Hans Tammen. It’s an innovative work, which finds Tammen exploring ways of making new sounds by previously unexplored means and confirms, pleasingly, that originality isn’t entirely dead yet.



‘Runway’ has been compared to the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (cool) and Kasabian (not cool). We’re not really hearing the Kasabian vibe and rather dig it – hence the fature in our ‘recommended streams and videos’ section. We don’t recommend stuff that’s crap, because we have a reputation to consider, after all.


Taken from upcoming album ‘Either That Or The Moon’, which will be released on 4th March 2016, ‘Runway’ is a classic slice of contemporary psych-rock and evidences why Desert Mountain Tribe have enjoyed sharing stages in the last couple of years with acts including Toy, Wovenhand, The Wytches and Damo Suzuki. They’re clearly going places. You can watch the video below:



clang records – clang015 – 4th December 2015

James Wells

Having received a Danish release in the summer of 2014, Frank Benkho’s exploratory electronic EP, ‘The Revelation According to…’ gets a full global release via Denmark’s clang records. Which is cool – unlike the cover art. It’s just not… representative. Or very good. And while nothing suggests ego like the artist including their name in an album’s title (take Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, for example), Frank Benkho ostensibly offers little of himself or his ego on this four-track EP, instead concentrating his energies on the creation of textured atmospherics.

The EP is laid out in four chapters, although stringing any kind of narrative from the tracks in – or out of – sequence isn’t something that seems like much of an option.

Low, hypnotic pulsing synths undulate beneath spaced-out howls and solar winds on ‘The Trumpets of the Puma’. ‘Under the sands of Pisagua’ is darkly sonorous, building to a shimmering psychedelic drone and culminating in as shredding crescendo of noise. The final chapter, ‘Removing Televisions’ transitions through a succession of movements, undulating analogue eddies and multiple sonic  threads intertwine, their different time signatures running against one another disorientating.

Think Throbbing Gristle in collaboration with Suicide, and you’ve got some sense of what The Revelation According to Frank Benkho sounds like. It’s a revelation, alright.


Leeds’ Post War Glamour Girls have already delivered one of the albums of the year with their second long-player, Feeling Strange, and attendant live dates have proven them to be – yet again – one of the most consistent and exhilarating live acts around.

They’re ending 2015 on a high note, with a video release for album track ‘Count Your Blessings’. Brooding and moody, the song’s dark undercurrents and cinematic guitar sound are accentuated by a magnificently-shot video which is presents a bleak narrative with some unexpected twists.

Watch the video here.


20th November 2015

Christopher Nosnibor

As the press release reminds me, from around 2005 – 2010, ‘Leeds had one of the most vibrant DIY hardcore/metal scenes in the UK with Humanfly, Chickenhawk, Whores Whores Whores, Narcosis, Year of the Man, The Plight, Red Stars Parade, Bilge Pump, Gentleman’s Pistols and Send More Paramedics playing week in, week out alongside regular visitors to the city such as Bossk, Taint and Manatees.’

I saw a fair few of these bands: in fact, one of the first gigs I attended in Leeds, and my first trip to the Brudenell, was Whitehouse, supported by Broken Bone (who were shit) and Whores Whores Whores (who were incredible). While bands like Kaiser Chiefs and I Like Trains have garnered broader popularity due to their greater accessibility in commercial terms, the likes of Blacklisters are in many ways more representative of the seething fury that bubbles like molten lava at the heart of the contemporary Leeds scene.

The majority of the 2005-2010 acts are now long extinct, many have gone on to form newer bands creating a whole host of exciting new heavy music – the success of Chickenhawk since they rebranded as Hawk Eyes has been remarkable, and thoroughly deserved. One of the bands to have emerged from this period of effervescence is False Flags, formed out of the ashes of Red Stars Parade, Whores x 3 and Year of the Man. Hexmachine is their self-released debut mii-album.

That it is self-released is significant: the post-millennium Leeds scene has very much been about the DIY ethos, and also about the noise. Hexmachine is unaplogetically brutal, blending dizzying math-rock elements with bludgeoning power-chords and monster riffage to cook up an angular, violent metal-edged stew.

It’s not completely po-faced or built on endless rage and angst: ‘Pet Wolf’ is about frontman Jenko’s Chihuahuas, and elsewhere, ‘Phone My Wallet’ stokes a ferocious inferno about 21s Century problems. But rather than undermine the band’s premise, these details only add to their appeal: the topics are relatable, and the delivery is relentlessly visceral. The anger is explosive and sends flares in all directions. The delivery, and production, is immediate, raw, and in your face – and that’s exactly as it should be.

False Flags

Fox & Newt, Leeds, 8th December 2015

Christopher Nosnibor

In many ways, Tom Morris is the man who got me into reviewing again after some years out, and I’ve been a follower of Her Name is Calla’s career since their 2006 tour with I Like Trains (or, indeed iLiKETRAiNS as they were then). However, despite having also followed Tom’s solo career, which has seen him release a prodigious volume of material under the name T E Morris (and not only does this material include albums and Eps, but a film score, a novel, and accompanying soundtrack), I had yet to witness one of his solo shows. It would have therefore been criminal to have missed his last one.

Having only recently been introduced to the work of Bad Owl, I’ve swiftly learned the duo behind the name have a knack for booking and promoting gigs that not only feature high-quality lineups, but also feel more like proper events than run-of-the-mill gigs, and tonight is no exception. The Christmas present included in the £5 ticket price is a perfect example. It feels like a DVD…

The Fox & Newt is a new venue to me, and it’s a new favourite immediately on arrival: the beer, the bar staff, the venue space, the sound… It’s hard to fault the place.

And so I’m settled at a table in a nice spot for the set of Andy Crowder, performing as Piles of Clothes. It’s an enjoyable, unprentious acoustic set consisting of nice, introspective and metaphor-laden songs, delivered with self-effacing humour.

Fran Minney is immediately notable for her hair, but this is soon overshadowed by her reflective, personal songs, and above all, her quite outstandingly powerful voice. Hers is a style built on contrast, as delicate, reflective lyrics and delicate- and also dynamic –guitar playing provide the vehicle for her strong vocals. If I were to be critical, I’d say that the notes-per-bar quota stretches a little too readily into territory that is, at times, a bit Christina, but her voice is also noteworthy for its deeper tones and some grit and, truth bee told, belting rock leanings. I found myself torn. Honest, sincere, for sure, and with clear commercial potential, I couldn’t help but feel if this unpolished talent could be a shade ‘X-Factor’. Many would, of course, disagree. No matter, she has a charming, down-to-earth demeanour, some nice tunes, a strong voice, and a lot going for her.


Fran Minney

Thomas Ragsdale was one of the main reasons for turning up tonight. While his set effectively draws on the mood and fabric of his recordings, he’s by no means simply ‘playing the songs’ from his releases to date. Given that his solo work has been represented by a pair of soundtracks, it’s fitting that there are strong filmic qualities to the music of his live sets. What’s perhaps more surprising is that the visuals which accompany the performance are little more than projected patterns of light. And yet it works well, because too much by way of moving pictures or other visual stimulus, would likely detract from the music.


Thomas Ragsdale

As it is, Ragsdale’s crackle-soaked evocations, paired with retina-twitching, flickering visuals resonate within the subconscious, building layers which unfurl. Before he begins, he describes what will follow as ‘grim’, but this is rather disingenuous. The shadows and darkness are interspersed with moments of almost overwhelming grace and irrepressible beauty as he builds the set towards a climax where The Cure meet Tim Hecker.

Tom Morris took a gamble with his t-shirt, but no-one’s here to check his sartorial choices. They’re here to hear his songs; those hushed, contemplative acoustic songs which have stood apart from his work with Her Name is Calla, and he opens the set with ‘Survivor Guilt’ from his second EP, 2011’s ‘An Ocean is Enough to Love’.


T E Morris

For all of the anguish and the portent the songs are imbued with, and the fact they are by turned gloomy and tinged with despair, there’s beauty and light, too. Moreover, Tom’s performance is completely without pretence. He’s humble, and disarmingly open. He talks about the difficult personal circumstances that compelled him to perform solo in the first place, his lack of ability as a pianist, and his love of Lego. As an artist, Morris very much wears his heart on his sleeve, although combines this with more oblique lyrical turns and some magnificently understated guitar playing.

‘Long Distance Runner’, which was originally recorded as a Her Name is Calla track and released on the ridiculously limited cassette which accompanied some copies of The Heritage also serve to remind that Morris has a great voice, capable of hitting unexpected high notes to haunting effect.

Tom’s acoustic guitar is augmented by the violin of HNIC’s Sophie Green for a couple of songs mid-set, as well as the additional vocals of Kerry Ramsey, one half of the Bad Owl setup. Her delicate vocals are well-suited to both the material and Morris’ voice, and varying the arrangements in this way sees the hour-long set pass far too quickly.


T E Morris

‘I Am Gone, I Am Gone, I Am Gone’ is hushed, low, moody, and the set’s closer, ‘Your Life in Pictures’ is a tense epic that builds and burns with the drama of Her Name is Calla at their best. It’s a powerful sign off, although it’s hard to feel too distraught on leaving the venue. It’s been a celebration of a significant period of Tom Morris’ musical career, with many familiar and friendly faces in attendance. More than that, the knowledge that he’ll be focusing his creative powers exclusively on Her Name is Calla, who have been finding outstanding form of late, gives reason to look to the future with anticipation.