Archive for February, 2016

Britney – Britn3y

Posted: 16 February 2016 in Albums
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Superstar Destroyer – 11th March 2016

James Wells

Not so much a drone as a collective groaning sigh prefaces the thunderous barrage of brutal rage that splits the speaker cones with pummelling drums and bursts of screaming vocal anguish and stop/start guitar judders. ‘Fully Ben’ assails the lugholes like Truman’s Water having been tortured, brutally murdered, butchered and cast forth to crawl around in purgatory. Fuck me. Three minutes in and I’m dizzy, punch-drunk, giddy and utterly bewildered – in the kind of way I like. And that pretty much sets the tone for this most manic, frenzied albums.

Where do you even begin with this white-hot torrent of noise? The tempos, man! The jolting, jarring, spasmodic guitars! What is this? It’s not metal, that’s for sure. Noisy math-rock? Math-rock is about intricacy, and this is intricate in terms of structure and changing tempos and time-signatures, but at the same time, it’s violent, frenetic. The vocals aren’t your regular shouty, screamy effort, either– this is the sound of pure mania, derangement to the power of 10. Not so much psychedelic as psychotic, the songs – the majority of which clock in at under two minutes – melt into one another, a crazed blur of spasmodic noise.

It’s intense, but not conventionally heavy: the guitars are warped, elastic, and don’t rely on hefty distortion. ‘Neon Python’ sounds like a collision of early Pulled Apart by Horses and second-album These Monsters – only with more drugs. Seriously, what are these guys on?

There are occasional breaks – ‘Sleep Now Dogman’ provides two minutes of respite in the form of some woozy percussion-free experimentalism while someone chunders their guts up, presumably a physical reaction to the exertion of the preceding track – but ultimately, this is beyond full-on, Especially after the, er, ‘interlude’.

‘Boss Moggy’ goes electro-math-screamo – or something and ‘Gum’ ups the tempo and the racket even further, achieving the effect of a sonic blizzard. You don’t know where you are or what you’re listening to, it’s a total whiteout. Britn3y isn’t an album – it’s a convulsive, abrasive explosion of noise, the aural equivalent of someone’s brains bursting from their skull while they twitch uncontrollably having been connected to an open mains electrical circuit. In short, it sounds exactly the way the cover looks.

If you’re in any doubt, I mean it’s good. Mental, but really, really good.

Britn3y

Britn3y by Britney Online

The Oscillation are set to release a new single on the Hands In The Dark label on the 12th of February 2016.

‘Lonely People’, the follow up to ‘Truth In Reverse’ is available to download and is another indication of what to expect from the band’s new album Monographic, which is set for release in March.

The new album, the follow up to their recent Beyond The Mirror compilation of rare and unreleased material, was self-recorded in London over last Summer and features seven brand new tracks.

Monographic will be released on limited edition vinyl, CD and be available to download, the latter two formats will come with three bonus tracks: ‘Alignment Zone’ (extended), ‘Lonely People’ (ambient) and ‘The End Of Conscious Thought’.

‘Lonely People’ is a rippling, twisted drone-out, a magnificent and majestic shoegaze slow-burner, heavy, heady and very cool indeed. Get our lugs round it here:

An ambient and sinister downtempo work, LDP 1 is the debut EP from south London innovator Zaflon. It contains two songs featuring Zaflon’s latest collaborator, Gilan_Music, among the cyclonic sub-bass, abstracted guitars, harmonic piano and crooked percussive breaks.

Coming on in places like a stark, electronic Cranes with some hefty beats, in other places it brings with moments that are by turns claustrophobic and immensely spacious with a woozy Ketamine undertow and a deep sense of yearning. It all makes for a set that’s pretty other-wordly. We dig it here at Aural Aggravation.

Listen to the EP as a continuous stream here.

 

 

Zaflon

clang records – clang032

Christopher Nosnibor

Stan Brakhage was an experimental filmmaker who sometimes closely shot glass objects. A huge influence on Frasconi, who sometimes makes music with glass instruments. The album title is a play on words, in reference not only to his artistic forebear but also the cracked quartz crystal bowl which was used to make this 20-minute musical work.

Having previously given the instrument a rather too vigorous workout during a rehearsal, Frasconi decided to explore its absolute limits. As Frasconi himself observes, ‘Glass is fragile. Glass is easily broken. Most glass instruments ignore these fact and instead focus on the material’s delicate beauty’.

Standing Breakage captures the artist’s efforts to complete the job he unintentionally began when the instrument – pictured on the front cover – became fractured. Ironically, despite labouring at the fracture in order to bring about the bowl’s ultimate destruction, he failed to achieve the desired moment of breakage. As such, for all its fragility, the glass held firm against a sustained assault.

An awareness of the circumstances of the album’s creation is, in this instance, integral to its appreciation, first and foremost, because if you didn’t know it was made using only the sounds created with a glass bowl, you would never guess that it was made using only the sounds created with a glass bowl. Because it doesn’t sound like it was made using only the sounds created with a glass bowl. In fact, it doesn’t sound like anything organic, or even of this world.

Standing Breakage finds Frasconi create an intriguing blend of chimes, rings, swirls and twangs, scrapes and chatters. Heavy, bulbous bass tones resonate, twisting and spinning upwards. Percussive thumps and sounds like scraping violin strings all emerge from the single instrument under the musician’s interrogation. Clanging, gong-like sounds crash. Eerie sounds that defy any obvious description, and sound alien and other-worldly in their origin drift. Booming synth-like notes balloon outwards, expanding in the air.

Tension mounts and builds. You sit, teeth on edge, fists clenched. You’ve no idea what will come next. You will twist and squirm. You’ll conjure myriad images in response to the strange sounds. But never once will you think ‘this sounds like someone pissing about with a glass bowl with a crack in it.’

Miguel Frasconi

Miguel Frasconi’s Website

York/Manchester-based noise-punk band SEEP AWAY have unleashed a remix of their debut single, ‘Trudge’ by US industrial heavyweights Cyanotic as a free download, one day after the track was debuted on Regan! Cyanotic mastermind Sean Payne had this to say about working on the track: "It’s like grimey UK hardcore on top of digital bangery: angry robot style!"

The collaboration came about following initial interest from SEEP AWAY drummer, Dom Smith: "I’m a massive fan of industrial and alt-electronic music, and the rest of the band are all about finding new ways to develop the sound, so Cyanotic was a natural choice – Sean’s work, and his label Glitch Mode’s output has always been awesome. I’m really proud of this."

Cyanotic’s previous remix and production credits include: Front Line Assembly, Chemlab and 16volt. For more information on the band, visit: https://www.facebook.com/Cyanotic

SEEP AWAY have announced a small number of shows recently with more to be announced, check them out below. The band will also be recording a new single, and EP for release later in the year:

February 24 – Fulford Arms, York (w/ One Way Street)

April 15 – Fulford Arms, York (w/ InTechnicolour)

May 20 – Star And Garter, Manchester (w/ Deified)

The new single can be found streamed and downloaded for free here (and don’t ask what’s going on with the page formatting, it’s all gone screwy. We’re working on it.)

Seep Away Online

Shot at the Electric Ballroom in November of 1979 when the single was originally released, the previously unseen video was recently unearthed from the attic of video maker Chris Reynolds who explains:

"During my final year at the Film School I had a desire to make film about a Bristol band rather than a London one. A guy I worked with at the Bristol Hippodrome as a stagehand, said I should meet The Pop Group and sorted out a visit to them rehearsing in a studio near St Pauls in Bristol.

"A few months later, following the recording of the single We Are All Prostitutes, myself and Simon Fanthorpe long time buddy and video associate ended up at the Electric Ballroom in Camden to shoot the band live.

"The band were playing a gig with the Gang of Four and the Slits. It was quite simply a wondrous night. We had purloined a couple of black and white Sony Rover half inch video recorders from the London College of Printing and set ourselves up in the auditorium. Simon grabbed a slot near the stage and we turned over. The gig was a belter and all three bands blew us away.

"Editing in the mid to late seventies was as basic, as basic can be. Cuts were made with only a terrible accuracy of 4 frames either side of the frame. We found, that a way round this was to sync the decks up by hand any blindly cut in and out manually. Madness. For this reason the tapes were transferred and I processed them through a Colour Video Synthesiser housed at the college. Basically it was a multilevel keyer that colourised and boosted the rushes.

"We hid in the edit suite all night and after several hours of very risky on the fly cutting created the anarchic collage that you see. Its not neat or clever in fact we pulled the plugs and waggled the video connectors to make the images break up more. Nuts.

"It did the job at the time and was seen as pretty unorthodox then, but it has languished in its box in my attic, lost for over 37 years. A belated reunion last year with Mark found me repeatedly trawling through the waist high junk of my attic without success. But, as is so often the way, a search for a serviceable suitcase had me literally tripping over it. I hope it brings you some pleasure."

A timeless nerve-obliterating insurrection, "We Are All Prostitutes" was released to a climate of political unrest.  On hearing it for the first time Nick Cave commented, "It’s one of those moments when the cogs of your mind shift and your life is going to irreversibly change forever." It was "everything that I thought rock & roll should have…it was violent, paranoid music for a violent, paranoid time."

The Pop Group reissue their vital post-punk statement "We Are All Prostitutes" both digitally and as a limited edition coloured 7" packaged in its original sleeve artwork on Friday 19th February 2016 through Freaks R Us.

Their long out of print second studio album, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? is being reissued the same day.

Watch the video here:

 

Christopher Nosnibor

Having only recently found TesseracT on my radar through their latest album, Polaris, which is vast in its ambition and the scope of its realisation, I arrived with no real knowledge of their back catalogue, or what to expect from a live show. I realise, on arriving well after doors to find a queue halfway down the Brudenell’s car park on a soggy Sunday night, I’d also no real idea of their popularity.

The crowd are unexpectedly hip; lots of dudes with beards and plaid shirt, but then, also multitudinous hoodies and gothy / metal chicks. I’m 40 and very much in the older minority – along with the guy in the Europe T-shirt, who must have at least 10 years and 5 stone on me. I say unexpectedly, because the meaning of the band’s name perhaps gives a fair indication of what the Milton Keynes quintet are about, and their progressive / mathematical inclinations: ‘In geometry, the tesseract is the four-dimensional analog of the cube; the tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square. Just as the surface of the cube consists of six square faces, the hypersurface of the tesseract consists of eight cubical cells. The tesseract is one of the six convex regular 4-polytopes.’

Is prog cool now? The one thing to be clear on here is that progressive rock has, in fact, progressed. The new breed – the neo-prog brigade, if you will – are a world away from the indulgence of the likes of Yes, ELP, early Genesis. Tonight’s lineup places the emphasis very strongly on the rock element, and it’s perhaps too not difficult to unravel the appeal of music that’s cerebral and articulate, but packs a real punch at the same time.

I only catch a fleeting glimpse of Nordic Giants, but it’s enough to remind me of what a spellbinding live act they are. Resonant bass and rolling piano fill the room while the feathered duo play before a backdrop of dramatic visuals which accentuate the cinematic qualities of their expansive progressive / post-rock instrumentals.

I usually do a spot of research into the support acts prior to turning up to review bands, but The Contortionist are a completely unknown quantity to me – and I’m clearly in the minority. But then, the fact a band from Indianapolis of some considerable standing are supporting a UK band around Europe is in itself quite a deal. And they’re certainly not slack as a live act.

DSCF2700

The Contortionist

While they’re very much a technical band, with intricate guitar parts defining their sound, they’re paired with a thunderous bass sound that’s pure metal – and corresponds with the preponderance of beards and leather jackets on display. When they go for the heavy, The Contortionist do heavy, and there are many epic chug sections propelled by some powerful double-stroke kick drumming during the course of their 45-minute set. As impressive as the music is, I’m also impressed by vocalist Mike Lessard’s vascular arms. At times, it does feel a shade pompous and that there’s a lack of engagement between band and audience, but I don’t see any of those pressed into the front rows complaining.

Some may argue that TesseracT aren’t so much a prog act as exponents of djent, or at least exemplars of the bands who emerged from the microgenre which itself grew out of progressive metal in the wake of bands like Meshuggah and Sikth. The point is, it’s heavily technical, and yes, a bit muso – the stage is cluttered with eight-string guitars and five and six-string basses, which are used to create some of the most bewilderingly complex music, both in terms of notation and time signatures, not to mention the tempo changes and dynamic leaps between the multiple sections of each song. But they sure as hell know how to let rip in the riffage stakes, too.

DSCF2771

TesseracT

Benefiting from a big lighting rig to illuminate their vast arena sound, they perform like an arena band, and pull out all the stops. Daniel Tompkins’ return to the fold has clearly had an impact on both the sound and the style of the performance: he spends the set at the front, leaning over the crowd and projecting, while switching effortlessly between thick, throaty vocals and a clean, melodic range. They manage to lift a fair chunk of their debut album, while also fairly representing both Altered State and Polaris – as you might expect from a set that runs for around an hour and a half, and much to the delight of the packed-out audience.

DSCF2722

TesseracT

Again, there are times when I feel the rock posturing actually builds a significant separation between band and audience, who standm rapt, as Tompkins postures and powers his way through the songs. But then, I see just how happy everyone is. It may be a 450-capacity venue, but it feels like an arena show. TesseracT play like they’re rock deities, and the audience respond in kind. And that’s cool. Certain bands require a degree of inaccessibility, of otherness to really work, and that’s very much the case with TesseracT. They’re a band with big ideas, a big sound, a big lighting rig and some big tunes, and they pull the whole deal off with aplomb.

Keitkratzer Productions – 26th February 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Reinhold Friedl’s Zeitkratzer collective are well established as trailblazers, tackling not only some of the most challenging composers and musical works, but also dismantling the distinction between genres and fields. They may use conventional orchestral instruments, but the sounds they produce are anything but conventional or readily recognisable as orchestral. It’s their unique approach to the creation of sound that has enabled them to not only interpret and perform, but do justice to, works ranging from Metal Machine Music to material by Whitehouse. Here, the nine instrumentalists are joined (for the third time) by Japanese experimental / noise performer Keiji Haino on vocals, and we find them revisiting one of the most difficult, divisive and groundbreaking composers of the 20th century in the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen.

The track-listing is the same as the Aus den Sieben Tagen album, recorded live by Keitkratzer without Haino in 2011. The compositions are the same and the performance similar in essence, but the overall sound achieved on Aus Den Sieben Tagen feels less brutal. But with restraint comes a greater sense of nuance, and a more menacing overtone.

After a silent play-in, ‘Unbegrenzt’ builds a long, low wheezing drone that sustains in perpetuity. Earthmoving bass tones growl in the sub-strata beneath it, while Haino emits droning, guttural incantations, groans and coughs as if attempting to expel his innards through his mouth before the sound once again fades gradually toward silence.

Emerging from the void, ‘Verbindung’ builds on the dark atmospherics which characterise the album, which simmers with, low, slow-building tension, scratches and scrapes, hums and hisses. Dank echoes and alien, animal sounds, snarling, growling, salivating dangerously.

The discordant brass and crashing, non-rhythmic percussion of ‘Intensität’ is a blast of anti-jazz, over which Haino coughs and splutters and heaves, howls and jabbers and screams like a possessed man in the throes of an exorcism.

Final track, the seventeen-minute ‘Zetz Die Segel Zur Sonne’ hangs on an eternal drone, the subterranean croak of the vocal conjuring images of ancient demons performing purgatorial rituals reminiscent of ‘Monoliths’ era Sunn O))). Truly, it’s a monster.

Zeitkratzer - Haino - Stockhausen

Zeitkratzer Online

 

Pitched as ‘a high-energy haunting post-punk alt rock single that’s surely set to give you goosebumps and peak interest in their forthcoming LP’, ‘Revolvist’ comes with the tags for fans of Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, The Damned, Sisters of Mercy, Nine Inch Nails.

For our money, the dense screed of metallic, reverb-heavy guitar invited comparisons with Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and The Danse Society. What matters more than which forebear it most resembles, but the fact it’s a killer track. Watch, listen, enjoy.

 

Gizeh Records – 12th February 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Æmaeth is the project of Owen Pegg (A-Sun Amissa / Hundred Year Old Man), and he’s already scored a number of films. Independent flick The Roman is a silent work which to which ten segments of improvisational drone-based passages played on guitar and piano were composed by way of an accompaniment.

Since the film premiered in May 2014, its soundtrack has been evolving, developing, accruing layers and details, until finally, the ten pieces came together to form a fluid, brooding sequence that stands as a whole, and as a powerful sonic journey. It’s fitting for a film which is no gung-ho Hollywood take on history based on a succession of cast off-thousand battle scenes. Simon Rawson’s movie, shot in Yorkshire, is outlined as a story of two men, lost, who are ‘challenged and tested by nature, each other and the inner most conflicting primordial affiliations with man’s body and mind’.

Pegg’s soundtrack conveys so much, its dark, tense tones resonate as they connote psychological drama. The battles fought within the mind, the conflict and the uncertainty. The barren, unforgiving landscapes, shadowy woodlands and bleak moors. These are the scenes portrayed within the compositions, which are spacious, often sparse. Delicate piano notes drift airily but ponderously, gradually eclipsed by deep, dark, thunderous rolling drones, stormy and threatening. At times, the sheer weight and density of the ominous tones are oppressive, the sounds so large as to create a sensation of a pressure being applied to the skull.

That isn’t to say the soundtrack lacks subtlety: far from it. There are passages of quiet, so hushed as to compel the listener to strain their ears listening for some faint sound – and invariably, there is something, something small, soft, indistinct. Or there are layers of sound, often in the upper frequencies, needling the senses, tugging at the peripheries of the psyche, somewhere in the background or half-hidden, off to one side. These, like the brief moments of light which occasionally present themselves, are integral to the soundtrack’s dynamics, and the power of its effect.

There is torment, there is discomfort. There is also an ever-present sense of danger, sometimes distant, sometimes heart-stoppingly close.

The final passage, the nine-minute ‘Neptune’ is vast, built on a slowly turning vortex of sound. A rumbling rhythm lingers as it pulses just beneath the surface of its soft tonality and offers a hint of redemptive relief at the conclusion of a journey which is most worthy of the term ‘epic’.

Æmaeth - Roman

 

Æmaeth – The Roman at Gizeh