Archive for January, 2016

Bury St Edmunds trio Horse Party have released a new single, ‘Gratitude Falling’, which is free to download from the band’s website. Expanding on the band’s early promise, it combines classic rock elements with the brooding, measured alt/country leanings of Come. We strongly recommend it. Get your lugs round it and download the track for free here:

The band will be playing an X-Posure all-dayer for Radio X’s John Kennedy at London Camden Barfly this coming Saturday, 30th January (onstage 2.30pm) alongside Dinosaur Pile-Up, Demob Happy, Happyness, Traams and more, before embarking on an East Anglian mini-tour with Dingus Khan, SuperGlu and Claws. 

Confirmed live dates so far are:

Saturday 30th January – X-Posure All Dayer @ Camden Barfly, onstage 2.30pm

Friday 11th March – Ipswich Steamboat Tavern w/Dingus Khan, SuperGlu & Claws

Saturday 19th March – Bury St Edmunds Hunter Club w/SuperGlu & Claws

Friday 8th April – Cambridge Portland Arms w/Gavin Chappell-Bates

Sub Rosa

Christopher Nosnibor

I’ve long been an admirer of Sub Rosa’s releases: the label has a particular knack for uncovering weird and wonderful releases, and while not all of them are necessarily to my taste (the William Burroughs LP Break Through in Grey Room is very much my bag and absolute gold; the Charles Manson one less so: no-one would really care less about Manson’s frankly feeble musical efforts if he hadn’t attained global notoriety as a mass murder who implicated The Beatles in his infamous killing spree), their historical and musical value is undeniable. And so we have ‘Kosmic Music from the Black Country’, an archival retrospective of the little known but nevertheless near-mythical Kosmose spanning the years 1973-1978.

Built around the core nexus of Alain Neffe and Francis Pourcel (of SIC renown), Kosmose (more of a loose collective than an actual band) operated as an occasional live entity, playing exclusively around the Charleroi area of Belgium. They splintered in 1978 without leaving any officially released material to document their existence. It’s the kind of stuff of which legends are indeed made.

As their very name suggests, their music is far-out, spaced-out and experimental, a brain-frying amalgamation of krautrock, progressive rock and jazz. Some 40 years on, how do the recordings hold up? There’s a very real danger that a release like this could completely devastate the mystique and the myth. Perhaps the fact their appeal is niche and their legend very much confined to underground circles, there’s less of a risk of the hype overwhelming the output than, say, an undiscovered album by The Beatles, or Bowie, or even, say, King Crimson or Jethro Tull. Aficionados of wild wig-outs – those aware of the band by reputation – are, one might say, predisposed to appreciate these recordings, and will be ultimately thrilled rather than disappointed.

There are many of the standard elements of freeform prog / jazz improv in evidence; lengthy drum solos, prolonged passages of sparse hums interspersed with groans and shrieks of saxophone. There are no shortage of epic grooves. But there’s a lot more besides: this is inventive, atmospheric and psychotropic stuff. There are moments of subtle beauty. There are moments of explosive crescendos and shattering discord. It’s not always easy to tell what instrument is doing what. Swirling drones provide a shifting, shadowy backdrop to creeping flickers. Everything goes every which way, in all shapes and colours.

The tracks – all untitled – trip, swirl and weave into one another to form an immense, dense, whirling psychedelic trip. The recordings have a hazy quality, and the production values – such as they are – are very much of their time. And that’s integral to their appeal: it’s like unlocking a sonic time capsule that’s stored in someone’s brain.

Kosmose

 

https://www.youtube.com/embed/pSpadjolmA8

Kosmose online at Sub Rosa

You don’t need words to preface this. However, ahead of their second album, released via Gizeh Records on 26th February, Brave Timbers have unveiled a video to accompany the track ‘Swimming ion the Isar’. Filmed by K Craig of Last Harbour, it’s a semi-abstract piece which maintains the ocus on the delicately arresting music.

Relax and enjoy.

 

999 / Suburban Toys / Percy

Posted: 20 January 2016 in Live

The Fulford Arms, York, 16th January 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

As a rule, I tend to keep my reviewing focus on the bands and the music, rather than myself. But there’s very much a personal element to tonight’s show.

So, first, some back story: in my early teens, I worked in a second-hand record shop – the likes of which you don’t really find any more – in Lincoln. The owner, Vincent, was a fanatical old-school punk, who would pogo round the shop and drum on the counter as he introduced me to bands like The Adverts, Slaughter and The Dogs, The Ruts, Penetration. That musical education was an integral part of my adolescence, but equally, provided the backdrop to my transition to music reviewing. The owner was also a bass player with a love of strolling basslines, and played sporadically with a band who never seemed to have the same lineup for more than a month.

20 years on, the shop is no more, but Suburban Toys are still going, and in the 20 years since I last saw them, they’ve supported the majority of the old-school punk bands their bassist introduced me to. Tonight is another one of those support slots – one of many they’ve had with 999.

York three-piece Percy sound like The Fall circa ‘77, and chop out a ramshackle-as-fuck set to get the night going. The sound is hindered by some serious guitar pedal grief, but shit happens, and said pedal gets booted around the stage for its unwillingness to co-operate. It all adds to the appeal of their shouty four-chord discordant blasts about doomed relationships and shit jobs delivered with a snarky sarcasm and a hint of curmudgeonliness.

Percy

Percy

 

Casting an eye over my badly scrawled notes, I’d scribbled comparisons to The Slits and Martha and the Muffins in respect of Suburban Toys’ current ska-infused post-punk pop sound (they were a much darker, post-punk proposition the last time I saw them), and then they only went and covered ‘Echo Beach’. The strolling basslines are pinned to some tight drumming. The band sound tight and look like they’re having fun, the songs short and punchy and with a keen sense of melody. They’re well received, and their free CDs fly near the end of their set, before they wrap up with a blistering rendition of Penetration’s ‘Don’t Dictate’ that seriously gets the front rows going.

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Suburban Toys

Looking at the guys on stage before them, no-one could say that 999 have aged particularly well, and on listening to the songs almost 40 years on, the notion that punk was primitive and built on an advancement of standard, 4-chord pub rock is borne out here. It’s easy enough to say with hindsight, of course. What’s easy to forget is that such overtly political material, angry sloganeering, driven by high-octane guitar riffage, amped to the max wasn’t only revolutionary in musical terms, but in the way it brought people together.

While I’m often pretty down on nostalgia as a raison d’etre, 999 have an undeniable energy – and a new album out. Whereas there’s a sense that The Damned and The Buzzcocks are going through the notions and doing it for the money – and the less said about The Sex Pistols reunions he better – it’s obvious these guys aren’t exactly raking in the filthy lucre doing the small venue / pub circuit.

999

999

Their debut album, released in 1978, is one of those perfect encapsulations of the punk spirit, and tracks like ‘Me and My Desire’ and ‘Hit Me’ still do the trick, and the latter portion of the set includes the trio of ‘Emergency’, ‘Nasty, Nasty’ and ‘Homicide’ (for which they’re joined by Vincent from the Toys on backing vocals) really ratchets it up in the packed-out venue.

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999

They encore with ‘Lie Lie Lie’ from 1980’s The Biggest Prize in Sport and a riotous rendition of ‘I’m Alive’ which nearly brings the house down.

999 may not be pin-up material, and nor may the music sounds exactly cutting edge in 2016.

The fact the audience, the majority of whom are in the 50+ bracket, get down, and whip up one of the most energetic moshpits I’ve seen in ages is impressive, and puts the young punk, rock and metal crowds to shame. Yeah, fuck you, stroking your beards and nursing your rucksacks and cans of Red Stripe – how about actually showing some passion? 40 years on and the old guard clearly still have it.

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99 Setlist

The Brudenell Social Club, 15th January 2015

Christopher Nosnibor

 

Less of a gig and more of a mini-festival, the lineup represented a herculean – and vaguely daunting – assemblage of brutal metal: with five bands over almost five hours, this was a marathon of brutality in the making. And yes, it delivered on its promise.

Kicking off early (6:50 early), Gloomweaver get things going to a suitably thunderous start. The trio – a configuration of bassist, drummer and angry nihilistic shouter – bring a heavy trudge and some monstrous grooves from a dark place and call to mind Godflesh and early Swans. Interlaced with classic doom tropes. From amidst an ever-reflecting labyrinth of infinite delay, the heavily processed vocals are delivered with force.

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Gloomweaver

In contrast with the confrontational stance of Gloomweaver, Mountains Crave offer a more atmospheric approach to both presentation and the music. Swathed in a dense smog of smoke, their songs gradually unfurl through lengthy passages of a more delicate nature before erupting into cataclysmic mayhem. Swirling, expansive post-metal sections collide with pure black metal fury, and there are heavy hints of Neurosis to be found in their sound as they unleash a fierce, primal howl from the depths of ancient swamps and forests. If Mountains Crave play to convention, they at least do so with total conviction and unflinching ferocity.

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Mountains Crave

With DVNE, it’s all about that snarling, low-slung bass sound. Wait, no: that’s the guitar. They’ve got two of them, and the dual vocals register the upper and lower frequencies while the bass gnaws at your intestines. Packing in tempo changes galore, the songs lurch from doomy sludge to lightning pace black thrash via expansive, epic sections each track features multiple, unexpected and seamless transitions. We’re firmly in progressive metal territory, and this is innovative and technical stuff, detailed, complex, and as fierce as hell.

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DVNE

Nursing my pint and inching closer to the stage as the venue became increasingly full and gilled with an air of anticipation, I felt oddly conspicuous as one of the few without a big beard. Yet for all of the ferocity of the music, I’m always struck by just how docile and thoroughly decent metal crowds are, and the atmosphere in the busy Brudenell reminded me just how accommodating and broad-minded the fans are, and the diversity of the acts to this point only illustrated the point. So many different shades of metal.

But for all that, I’d heard rumblings of division where Gnaw Their Tongues were concerned. By which I mean, a fair few people seem less than keen on their work. But then, perhaps appreciation of GTT requires an appreciation as much of power electronics as anything metal. Until now, they’ve been the studio-bound project of Mories, and only began taking it out on the road early in 2015. Morries plays five-string bass and screams, while his two cohorts twiddle knobs and poke laptops. Which essentially adds up to laptop metal. The drums are all too often buried in the mix, and while power electronics acts like Whitehouse and Prurient offer sharp diction and abrasive lyrical content, and variety and texture respectively, Gnaw Their Tongues’ sample-infused sonic assault grows a shade samey over the course of a fairly lengthy set. And yet, for all that, it was a decent performance, issuing forth a relentlessly uncompromising noise.

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Gnaw Their Tongues

 

And then Dragged Into Sunlight took things up several notches, both in terms of volume and violent force. The foursome are braving a public appearance without balaclavas tonight, but the stage is kept in near darkness – alternating with blinding strobes – and they play almost the full duration of their set with their backs to the crowd. The candle-stand at the front of the stage, atop of which sits a an antlered skull, adds to the theatre and sense of occasion, and if anything, the presentation and cultivated distance between artist and audience only heightens the intensity of the performance. And intense it is – searing, gut-churning and agonisingly intense. That the music hits at three hundred miles an hour with the weight of a Boeing 747 falling from the sky almost goes without saying. That they don’t sit in the ‘extreme metal’ bracket for nothing is a given. That it’s dark, unremittingly harsh is an understatement. But live, it’s all in the execution. Is it mere catharsis when your retinas are scorched and your ears are bleeding? Call it what you like, but Dragged Into Sunlight take everything to another level.

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Dragged Into Sunlight

It’s only just January, but I’m wondering if I’m likely to see another show anywhere near as visceral as this during 2016.

Francis Juno – Tomorrow’s Nostalgia

Posted: 17 January 2016 in Albums

Hula Honeys – 17th November 2015 – hon18

James Wells

I kinda like the idea of future nostalgia. First, because there’s a certain postmodern knowingness about the oxymoronic, paradoxical nature of the concept. It shows a degree of confidence, too, however ironically it’s intended, in the implication that this work has ‘future classic’ potential – unless, of course, it means it’s somehow a soundtrack to future nostalgia, or a comment on what nostalgia may look like. Not that anyone’s looking to the future much right now: nostalgia is big business alright, with people mooning over the most mundane aspects of the past. I yearn for a future in which people reserve their outpourings of nostalgic adulation for things that are actually worthy. Getting misty-eyed over dull as ditchwater bands like Shed 7, or the time when a chocolate bar shared the dimensions of a log and you could buy crisps that tasted of hedgehog. I’m not saying things weren’t better then, but not everything was better, and a lot of the world, from art and culture to consumer goods, was plain cack.

Precisely what this album says about the nostalgia of the future is unclear. Or perhaps it says nothing, and the album’s title is simply an observation of the fact that in time, tomorrow will be nostalgia at some point in the future.

Low-key, minimalist compositions which rely heavily on wibbly, wobbly basslines are perfectly represented in the fonts used on the cover, and sound like the sound of the future 15 or 20 years ago. Juno lays down some chubby, laid-back electro grooves, underpinned by classic retro drum machine beats – whipcrack snare sounds synonymous with machines like the old Roland TR606. It’s a collision of late 70s and early 80s disco and more experimental work with the knowing retro chic and analogue worship of underground dance music the late 90s and, indeed, since the turn of the millennium.

No doubt had this been released in the 80s or 90s to a degree of cult success, people would be excavating it now and hailing it as a masterpiece. Or maybe not? Perhaps it could be interpreted as a satire of sorts. Who can really tell? And ultimately, does it really matter?

Francis Juno Online

Juno

Pelagic Records – 29th January 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Is the vinyl revival all a part of the mass cultural shift toward nostalgia? Were the ‘good old days’ really better, or is it simply that the present is so unbearable that the majority would seemingly wish to regress to the past? Of course, every generation has its old golden age, and it’s inevitable that the first years spent getting into anything new will sparkle the brightest with the passage of time. And so, for many, the late teens and early twenties are synonymous with ‘finding’ music and a sense of individual identity – but also a commonality. The more disaffected the youth, the more powerful the experience is likely to be.

Times have changed. Social relations are a different kind of minefield, and the music scene and industry more broadly are unrecognisable now from 20 years ago. Having recently turned 40, and as someone who spent a good decade from around the time I turned 14 hanging out and working in independent record shops and record airs, travelling to gigs and reading the weekly music inkies, I miss all of that.

This split EP is very much in the spirit of now bygone times, of record stores, of bands touring together with a shared record, and discovering new bands at gigs and bagging a chunk of vinyl (at an affordable price) at the merch stand on the way out to play at home when your ears had stopped ringing.

Whether or not the Internet has made the dissemination of music easier or better for bands isn’t the question here: it’s more about the fact that it’s stripped out all of the mystery. You can find music by any band on-line without having to venture to a toilet venue and take a punt on four bands for three quid, and similarly, you can ‘own’ the music on your iPod at a single click. Instant gratification has its downsides, and the wonder of discovery and the rush of connecting with a new band simply isn’t there in the digital age.

Cult of Luna and The Old Wind – two bands of significant standing, but too obtuse and heavy to ever trouble even the peripheries of the mainstream – evoke the spirit of the old-school on this vinyl release, which very much rewards the patient listener.

Cult of Luna offer ‘Last Will and Testament’, which is a veritable behemoth of a track which, after a delicate intro, slams in with full force. It’s a brutal beast, clocking in at an epic seven minutes – but it’s not all about the length, check the weight.

The first of the two tracks by The Old Wind, ‘Wooden Scythe’ brings a medieval fury through a barrage of guitars that hit like a battering ram, and the second, ‘Daughters of Cleanse’ delivers more of the same fire and brimstone. It’s gnarly, raw, dense and bloody. And very, very good.

Cult of Luna Old Wind Split