Archive for November, 2016

Hubro – HUBROCD2573 – 7th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Krautrock country? Opiate-sedated tribal jazz? The seven tracks which comprise Kurzsam and Fulger don’t readily slot into any stylistic field. That’s Christian Wallumrød all over. This previous releases include a solo work and a collaboration with Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. This is an artist who thrives on variety, and one could probably argue with reasonable certainty, a certain sense of artistic perversity. But then, Wallumrød is interested equally in early polyphony and church music and the work of John Cage.

The pieces on Kurzsam and Fulger are sparse, minimal in their arrangements, yet fulsome in sound span. Shuffling drums, strolling, oscillating bass and lead piano that wanders all over, on and off key, along its own path. ‘Langsam’ ventures into mellow jazz territory, while insistent tom beats. The polytonal organ drone of ‘Phoniks’ offers more of an allusion to church music, but distilled to a skeletal frame, revealing the ensemble’s avant-garde orientation If the supremely brief ‘Klafferas’ is little more than a percussive interlude, the protracted meanderings of ‘Arpsam’ are an exploration of space, not least of all the space between notes, and as such, a piece which also interrogates the relationship between sound and not sound and the way the notes slowly decay while their echoes resonate in the mind. As the notes played vary slightly between each repetition of the motif which provides the key part of the track, the sense of disco-ordination increases as the track progresses.

The final track, ‘Kurzsam and Onward’ brings some levity, and its plinking keys call to mind a proliferation of 70s and 80s US sitcoms and I can’t help thinking of Taxi (despite the fact that it sounds nothing like it, and that growing up in the early 80s I never considered the show a comedy of any kind). The spaces between the playing are even longer, and push the parameters of composition and order, as well as the listener’s patience ad perception.

The less there is to hear musically, the more there is going on theoretically, and on Kurzsam and Fulger, Christian Wallumrød and his ensemble really do interrogate a broad range of theoretical positions in order to arrive at the finished work which is Kurzsam and Fulger.

 

Christian-Wallumrød-Ensemble_2400x2400-1024x1024

Blackened Recordings – 18th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a new Metallica album. You don’t need to be a superfan to know that this is a big deal. Much was made in the press in their approach to promotion for its predecessor, Death Magnetic, with no advance CDs or streams and music journalists being herded in to listen to the album but with a list of caveats and prohibitions, and while that was a full eight years ago, the same approach has been taken, with streams only being made available a mere two days ahead of release to minor-league press like myself (granted, I was given the opportunity to sign up for the listening event, but being minor-league and not residing in London, it wasn’t going to happen). Still, in this day and age, doing something different is what counts, and of course, it’s easier for acts the size of Radiohead, U2, and Metallica (and would it be wrong to mention Bowie at this juncture?) to go for inverse hype, either keeping the album under wraps or even slipping it out with zero warning because it’s going to sell by the truckload anyway, and there will always be royalty-paying radio airings of tracks and all of the other things that provide the main earnings for big-name artists after the release, and if it gets people talking, then job done.

Typing this review feels awkward. I’ve long vowed to avoid the mainstream and the major league, preferring to give coverage to acts no-ones heard of. Everyone has an opinion about the new album by U2, Radiohead, Metallica. What can I add to the general noise? And am I likely to pick it apart in the kind of depth the real fans want? Forums and fan sites chuntered a bucketload about the mixing and mastering of Death Magnetic. Going back an album further still, the virtual riots over the production, specifically the drum sound, on St. Anger still echo on. Personally, I prefer the tangy blue French cheese Saint Agur over any Metallica album, but I digress. It seems that everyone’s out for Metallica, but no-one really talks about the songs these days. I’ll come to the songs shortly, because however vociferously critics and self-professed fans alike bitch about the albums and the spoutings of the band members (or one in particular), none of the noise makes any real difference. Their albums sell by the truckload regardless. Their gigs still sell tickets by the truckload.

Like many, I was properly introduced to the band through their redefining eponymous ‘black’ album in 1991, although of course it’s easy to understand why many of their longstanding fans were pissed off by the new sound. They had betrayed their thrash roots, and were now a commercial proposition. But really, do I give enough of a shit to be ‘qualified’ in the eyes of the masses to dissect a new Metallica album? Perhaps it’s my lack of shit-giving which precisely qualifies me.

The come barrelling out of the blocks all guns blazing with the full-throttle call to arms of ‘Hardwired’: ‘we’re so fucked / shit outta luck / hardwired to self-destruct,’ Hetfield spits in the refrain. If the musical composition itself sounds like ‘Wherever I May Roam’ crossed with Psalm 69 era Ministry (‘Hero’ in particular), it at least sounds like they mean business. It’s also the album’s most concise cut, clocking in a more nine seconds over three minutes.

Following on from the max-impact opener, ‘Atlas, Rise!’ is chugging juggernaut of a song, showcasing a straight down the line metal sound and a suitably preposterous and overblown guitar break. It’s taut and tetchy, and it too sounds like Ministry circa Psalm 69 but with some characteristic latter-day Metallica licks thrown in, and the same is true of ‘Spit Out the Bone’ over on disc two. There’s almost a sense that they’re casting their eyes back to 1990 and thinking that perhaps, that was the point at which things went awry, artistically, at least, although this dissipates as the album progresses.

The hefty drumming drives the throbbing riffage of ‘Now That We’re Dead’ before it descends into post-Black Album Metallica by numbers, and everything I’d dreaded Hardwired would be. Look, it’s not that I’m anti-melody or dislike harmonies, but they can be a hindrance to the heaviness of a metal song, and Metallica are particularly guilty of working to a blueprint. Sure, it’s their own blueprint, but I’m not feeling the danger here.

Hardwired… To Self-Destruct may be a monstrous double album which contains almost two hours of music (that’s twelve tracks, the majority sitting in the six or seven minute region) but to berate Metallica for being overblown or indulgent is entirely redundant. No, the real issue here is that it simply doesn’t feel like an album eight years in the making. Compare it to, say, Swans’ last album, or Killing Joke’s latest. Bear with me on this: Killing Joke have something of a formula, and tend to hammer out tracks built around a single riff for around six minutes, but there’s nothing tired or sluggish about Pylon, and Swans’ The Glowing Man is about four hours long but is the work of a band pushing themselves into unknown territories, and beyond. These feel like immense vital albums: Hardwired does not. Ok, so they manage to churn out a waltz-time lunger in the form of the cheesily-titled ‘ManUNkind’ and it serves to bring variety to proceedings, and ‘Here Comes Revenge’ locks into a churning groove to pretty potent effect: you can get down to this. While there are some undeniably great moments – from the expansive play-out segment on ‘Halo on Fire’ and the heads-down riff of disc two opener ‘Confusion’ – there simply aren’t enough of them. But that isn’t to say that this isn’t a solid enough album.

It was but a few weeks ago that I passed something of a shrug in the direction of the latest Neurosis album, for which ’30 years in the making’ essentially translates as ’30 years refining a stylistic blueprint’, and Hardwired suffers from very much the same creative malaise. The band vary likely believe strongly in what they’re doing and have spent the last eight years perfecting the material and ensuring it sounds exactly the way they want it to, and y’know, that’s ok. It sounds good. The guitars and bass are solid and suitably dense. The drums sound fine, on my speakers, at least. I haven’t spent three weeks listening to it on a loop through headphones, admittedly, and this is very much a broad overview of the album.

Ultimately, it would be wrong to criticise an album for what it is not, and instead, the critical focus ought to be on what it is. Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is a Metallica album. The first in a long time. A lot of people will love it; a lot will be enraged by it, for myriad reasons. But it sounds like a Metallica album and does what you’d expect a Metallica album to do. And that’s no bad thing. You want a Metallica album? You got one.

 

 

Metallica - Hardwired

6th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

How exactly does one locate the work of The Eagertongue? The vehicle of Glaswegian artist Graham Macmillan-Mason, who describes his mode of work style as ‘spoken punk’, there’s nothing remotely Kate Tempest about the gritty poetics of The Eagertongue. There are no limp appropriations of hip-hop stylings for a start, no elongated vowels to intimate a sense of beat, no couplets, no doggerel – no rhymes, in fact – and there’s no pretence of speaking to or for the masses with high-minded socio-political thematics, either. But he does have an undeniable sense of rhythm which carries the pieces along nicely, and arguably, his straight-talking vignettes are far more real slices of life than the more commercially viable Tempest. No BRIT School priming here: the only privilege informing the work is the privilege of life lived as a means of gathering material, which provides instead, a first-hand grasp of the grubby day-to-day. Coupled with Macmillan-Mason’s knack for narrative, it makes for pieces which are vital and ultimately credible. But he’s not John Cooper-Clarke, either. I love JCC’s pithy poems and rapidfire delivery, but Macmillan-Mason’s brand of social commentary is darker, starker, harsher, and he isn’t out for laughs.

I referred to the material as gritty: Graham raps and raves about bodily fluids with a superabundance of cumstains and saliva and a moderate proliferation of vomit streaking his narratives. The characters who populate these insalubrious spaces are three-dimensional, believable, and presented warts and all. “She would always protest it was difficult to speak with a penis inside of her mouth,” he recounts on ‘Jesse’.

MacMillan-Mason has a remarkably calm, almost affable delivery, which is in some ways at odds with some of the dingier, grainier lines. But it’s this calm, measured approach (and that isn’t to say there’s no passion in his voice: there is, as well as a tangible sense of soul) which renders the words most effective: they’re enunciated with crystal clarity and stand out above the murky droning soundscapes – a mangling mix of guitars and amorphous electronic hum – which provide an appropriately unsettling backdrop.

Sharp, direct and unflinching, The Voices in Your Coma Sleep finds The Eagertongue bringing weight to the idea that literature was the original rock ‘n’ roll, and that literature is the new rock ‘n’ roll, too.

 

The Eager Tongue - Voices in Your Coma Sleep

Ritual Productions – 11th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

You might expect that the tracks on an album containing just six songs would consist of long, dawn-out affairs. But not Thralldom’s latest offering: there are a couple that extend beyond the six-minute mark, but in the main, these are short pieces, under four minutes in duration. But in terms of dark intensity, they’re immense.

The introductory instrumental, ‘Cosmic Chains’ is a disturbing vocal cacophony from the bowels of hell which paves the way for the blackened trudge of ‘Chronovisions’, which truly sets the tone for the album as a whole. It’s seriously fucking dark, tangled gothic guitar lines weaving tapestries which depict unspeakable events of demonic torture and pain.

It may be that Thralldom have been silent for over a decade, but is seems that the intervening years since their last release have been spent crawling through subterranean passages by candlelight, stooped, starved and rabid, and battling with marauding demons every step of the way. And so as what’s billed as ‘Thralldom 3.0’ emerge, screaming and agonised into the light, it’s hard to tell if they’ve slain those demons or become partly consumed by them: Time Will Bend Into Horror forges a netherworld of tempestuous torment. The title is fitting in that it reflects the ancient evils which claw their way through the spaces between the crooked notes and mangled power chords which form the fabric of an album which soundtracks a walk through purgatory. In the hands of Thraldom, a four-minute composition feels like ten or more as they grind out the darkest, most oppressive noise.

The angry grey surges of noise which crash and thrash over a violent percussive assault on ‘The Corpse of the Radar Towers Over All’ collides against the churning discord of ‘Dark Grey Mist’, a track which brings elements of Swans’ Cop into a metal maelstrom that’s as black as the canal of Satan’s sphincter. It’s gnarly, alright – and then some – and brings horror in spades.

Thralldom - Time Will Bend

Makkum Records – MR17 / Platenbakkerij Pb 006 – 17th November 2016

James Wells

In these times of accelerated media and an exponential growth in the volume of mew works being cast out into the world, it’s often easy for lesser-known items from the past to be lost to history, to be buried and forgotten. And yet the archive is an eternally rich source of gens which so deserve rediscovery. This album – released simultaneously on 10”vinyl, CD and download – is very much a labour of love. The origins of its existence lie in the past: Komitas Vardapet penned a cycle of pieces for piano – Six Dances – based on Armenian dances, in 1906.

Makkum Records’ Arnold de Boer writes how, on hearing Keiko Shichijo perform Vardapet’s compositions, he fell in love with the music, and how Internet searches revealed other performances of Six Dances but none which touched Keiko’s. and so he made it his mission to capture Keiko playing the pieces, and how it came to pass that Keiko played them on a Steinweg Nachf piano, built in 1880, in the Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis in Amsterdam, a 16th Century house along the city’s canals in December 2014.

In using such a vintage instrument, the recordings are imbued with a deeply ingrained and palpable sense of the origins of the work. ‘Unabi’ sounds like a child learning ‘London Bridge’: the notes are not so much tentative as prone to wandering, but there’s something compelling about the seemingly innocent disjointedness which sometimes creps into the refrain.

The looping motifs of ‘Shushiki’ are delicately charming, and draw the listener’s attention with their easy grace. The heavy timbre of the low notes at the beginning of ‘Het u Araj’ is compelling, and Kieko captures the spirit of the composter’s direction to perform the final piece ‘Shoror’ .The performances are wobbly, wonky, yet delicate and sincere, and this is an integral part of their mystical, dust-coated appeal.

 

Komitas Vardapet - Six Dances

Kranky – 11th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

In researching and considering Loscil’s latest offering, I returned briefly to the previous album, 2014’s Sea Island. An album that was broadly ambient, it was also firmly a work of electronica, an album that was big on ideas, and engaging rather than immersive or entirely background.

Monument Builders expands on this, and while texture and tone continue to play central roles in the formation of the individual pieces which make up the album, it’s also an album on which the individual tracks are built on dynamic and contrast, and the structures of each piece are clearly defined. While the overarching tone is gentle, subtle, there’s much variation between the tracks, and the way in which sounds suddenly emerge in the foreground means there is a continual sense of movement within each piece and across the album as a whole.

Delicate beats thump like a heartbeat against the ticking clock: the soft notes which form a repeating motif through ‘Drained Lake’ may not in themselves build tension, but there’s something beneath the surface. All is not well, all is not calm. You sit, on edge, as an elongated drone undulates like a distant siren wail.

‘Red Tide’ is very much rhythmic in its focus, a cyclical synthesised bass loop – part Kraftwerk, part ‘I Feel Love’ – forms the spine of the track. ‘Anthropocene’, the album’s penultimate track, stands as something of a companion and counterpart to this, with a similar bubbling motif murkily pulsating beneath, while mournful brass conjures black and white or sepiatone scenes of bygone days. It’s an interesting contrast well executed.

Monument Builders is very much a ‘next stage’ work, which continues to expand Loscil’s sonic horizons in a host of directions. But equally as important as recognising the artistic developments, one has to consider the listening experience, and this is ultimately where Monument Builders triumphs. In switching between background and foreground musical dynamics and building and reducing the degrees of tension, Scott Morgan (aka Loscil) has masterfully created a work which demands attention without being excessively obtrusive.

 

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Katzwijm Records & Subroutine Records – SR075 – 7th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

You know when you hear an album, or even just the first few tracks off an album, and know it’s something special? When the fist song alone blows you away and immediately you think that it’s up there with the best stuff you’ve heard all year, and maybe even longer? You’re almost too excited by the firs three tracks to sit still and listen to the rest of the album, because you’re bursting with the urge to race around and prod anyone you can find and shout ‘listen to this! It’s fucking awesome!’ (even though you know they’ll all say ‘what the hell is this noise?’) No? I’ve spent my life doing this. The frequency of such events is one of the reasons I became a music reviewer, because the people I know in real life simply don’t get it. So, as much as anything to shut myself off from the hubbub of the crowded, ramped, overcrowded office in which I have the misfortune to work, I slipped in, more or less at random, the eponymous second album by The Sweet Release of Death. And within two minutes, I was fighting to resist the urge to rampage round the office punching the air.

So what do The Sweet Release of Death do? Doom Drone? Poetical, weeping, theatrical goth? No: way cooler, and far less predictably, they haul in elements of goth, post-punk, hardcore and myriad other sources to forge a truly unique sound that’s got nothing to do with moping dirges or noose-twisting melancholia.

The album begins with the end. Or, specifically, ‘The End’ (and no, it’s not a Doors cover). It sounds like the end, too: a barrage of guitar noise. ‘Post-Everything’ is representative of the albums sound more broadly as it locks into a post-punk vibe, with a spindly guitar spidering its way over a thumping drum and bass groove. Amidst the tempest, Alicia Ferrer Beton’s androgynous vocals betray a ragged emotional edge, cracked with angst and melancholy.

The goth-tinged, no-wave squall of ‘Kitty Swim Club’ is a pure rush of panic-laced adrenaline. This is not a comfortable album, but one which shudders and jitters awkwardly at its self-imposed parameters.

‘Fox’ takes down the volume, but not the tension and is still a dark, angular beast of a track which is punctuated by explosions of cacophonous discord. ‘Smutek’ hints at shoegaze and ambient, but with its warped, fractured guitar sounds, it’s equal parts MBV and ‘Lungs’ era Big Black: it’s certainly got some bite. The stark, metallic clang of the dark disco of 103 finds a manic pop song lurking beneath the wreckage, and contrasts with the magnificently haunting ‘Downstairs’. ‘Don’t go downstairs’ Alicia sings menacingly against a backdrop of chiming guitars. There are hints of I Like rains about this, but then there are equally hints of the monochrome starkness of Band of Susans, and none of it is immediately accessible.

The Sweet Release of Death is dark and difficult, and bloody fucking brilliant. Fact.

Sweet Release of Death

ROOM40 – EDRM426 – 4th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

This is one for the David Lynch fans, but also fans of experimental industrial noise, and those who appreciate works which exist in the realms between media.

Factory Photographs was one of a number of commissions made by the curator of the exhibition David Lynch: Between Two Worlds, a retrospective exhibition held at Brisbane’s Galley of Modern Art in 2015. The exhibition featured Lynch’s works in painting, sculpture, installation and photography, and included a large section of his Factory Photographs: shots of factories in various states of disuse, taken over several decades.

Raised in the country, surrounded by woods and farms, Lynch developed a fascination with the architecture, the machines and ‘the smoke and fear’ of factories from his visits to his mother’s native Brooklyn. HEXA is Laurence English and Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu), and Factory Photographs is their sonic response to Lynch’s images.

While Lawrence English’s work is often typified by a delicate approach to sound and the use of delicate field recordings, it’s clear that the inspiration and the collaborative input of Stewart have pulled him toward something altogether more visceral: Factory Photographs is an intense and brutal work.

‘Sledge’ rumbles and crashes in with some heavy noise, an amorphous roar barrels and funnels a dense sonic cloud, from amidst which shuddering throbs grind and thrum. Each piece is a blast of earthmoving noise, more evocative of a super-scaled atomic destruction than heavy industry or its demise and dilapidation. Yet as noise without clear definition or shape, it’s still highly evocative, and does correspond with Lynch’s conception of ‘the ideal factory location’, with ‘no real nature…’ This is sound which is brutal, harsh, unrelenting and unnatural, wholly man-man made yet wholly inhuman. The barrage of noise is built from a conglomeration of hums drones and thunderous sounds on sounds, roiling, churning. The rhythms are not percussive, but born from cyclical undulations, the churn of industry at its heaviest, in its earthiest form: the mine, the quarry, the drilling rig, the smelting of ore and the forging of metals. But of course these are only echoes of an industrial past: the factories lie empty now, derelict or inching toward dereliction, and the workers have gone, transferred, replaced, relocated, on the same scrapheap as the rusted machinery or otherwise forced into alternative careers.

As crushingly depressing as the factory may have been, its absence leaves only a lack and the question of progress, but as what cost? But equally, the earth-gouging sounds of Factory Photographs reminds of the finite nature of the earth’s resources, in particular fossil fuels. What is left apart from irreparable scars on the landscape once every last scrap has been excavated? Where is the future?

Dark, sonorous notes hang heavy on ‘A Breath’, and Factory Photographs is rich in gloomy atmosphere. Sheet metal thunder resonates through vast empty spaces, and clusters of clangs reverberate in the grimy darkness to create a bleak and oppressive sensation. The turbulent roar of ‘Vertical Horizons’ is harrowing and unforgiving, building to a shrieking howl of feedback while the regular rhythm of heavy machinery rotating is replicated on ‘Over Horizontal Plains’, while thuds and distant rumbles continue endlessly beneath. Digging, dredging…

It’s unsettling but exciting, and the prospect of an audiovisual work, featuring, with Lynch’s approval, the original visual montage of his photographs in 2017 is a thrilling one. Meanwhile, the album more than works in its own right as a dark, stark and uncomfortable collection of pieces which shake the listener’s sensibilities and leaves a hollow, uneasy sensation in its wake.

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0775137879_10.jpg

Christopher Nosnibor

For a long, long while now, Killing Joke have been a 1,500 or so capacity venue band. Hardy perennials of the post-punk scene, I first saw them in the early 90s at Rock City in Nottingham touring the mighty Pandemonium album. They’ve never really been away over the course of a career spanning four decades, but their 2003 proved to be a landmark in their renewed vitality. The onslaught hasn’t really stopped since then, and with the original lineup reinstated, the thing that’s most remarkable about Killing Joke is just how current and utterly essential they feel right now. Some of that’s down t the fact they’ve always been a hard-touring band and a going concern rathe than some nostalgia act but their recent string of albums have been as politically sharp and sonically abrasive as anything you’re likely to find. So it’s small wonder that an additional date at the front-end of the UK leg of their immense European tour at the 400-or-so capacity Fibbers, announced at only a week’s notice, should be sold out.

The evening’s support, Death Valley High, do a decent job of warming up what could have been a difficult crowd. The US foursome, drawing influence from old-school and latter day goth with a major leaning toward the sound of classic Wax Trax! grind out a set culled primarily from their album CVLT (released 4th November). The guitars could do with being a bit more up in the mix, but against a blinding backdrop they give it a hundred per cent. Front man Reyka Osburn gets down into the crowd, who are hanging back away from the stage, and actually manages to get some audience participation going, for which substantial kudos is due.

DVH

Death Valley High

Needless to say, shortly after they’re done (and on this occasion those who delayed their arrival missed out), the venue’s packed and it’s getting pretty tight down the front while the roadies prepare the stage with bottled water, a large rug, candles and incense. Yes, it’s a Killing Joke gig alright. And unlike many larger shows – including when I saw them at Leeds Beckett around a year ago, for one of the fist reviews featured on Aural Aggravation – there’s no barrier. People are resting their pint pots on the edge of the stage, and when the band take the stage, we’re standing within handshaking distance. This is a big deal.

The open a career-spanning set with a gut-busting rendition of ‘The Hum’ from their 1982 album Revelations. The eighties indie-goth hits are dispatched early, with ‘Love Like Blood’ (dedicated to Raven) being the second song on the set-list, followed immediately by a buoyant ‘Eighties’.

After that, it’s back-to-back recent cuts, with a thunderous ‘Autonomous Zone’ and ‘New Cold War’ – simultaneously textured and delivered with the force of a battering ram – representing Pylon. Things take a turn for the even heavier immediately after, with a relentless ‘Exorcism’ finding the band hitting optimum intensity. Standing close together on the small stage, Geordie nonchalantly grinds out the absolute mother of all chirning riffs while Youth, looking like a strange ex-yuppie golfer who’s discovered New Age mysticism with his sparse dreadlocks and, visor peak and flowing star-and-moon cape, reminds us that he’s an incredibly solid bassist.

Killing Joke

Killing Joke

It’s a long set, and impressively – especially given the age of the band-members – doesn’t let up on the tempo for the duration: there are no lighter-waving anthems or slow ballads to allow band or audience alike to catch their breath. There are a lot of older men with bald heads in the crowd, and they mosh relentlessly and with wild abandon as Jaz marches non-stop. He has a stare that can reach the back of any 1,500 capacity venue, so, the intensity he radiates is even more powerful in this small space. But for all the apocalyptic menace, it’s clear he’s having a ball, and there are smiles all round between the veteran players as they feed off the audience’s adulation. Coleman’s voice is showing no sign of diminishment, and the band are so tightly together, playing with the intuition only endless hours shared in rehearsal and on stage can bring.

KJ Setlist

Killing Joke – Setlist

The latest material is up there with their best, and ‘I Am the Virus’ is a particular standout, exploding with fury, while ‘Dawn of the Hive’ is punishingly dense, before the main set ends with the swift one-two of ‘The Wait’ and ‘Psyche’.

The sole track from their landmark 2003 album is the first of the encore, and ‘Death and Resurrection Show’ is nothing short of monstrous. While I would have personally liked to have heard more from Extremities (I never tire of ‘Money is Not Our God’), ‘The Beautiful Dead’ is epic and is perhaps the most sedate song of the set.

With ‘Empire Song’ cut for time (I get why venues have to wind up gigs early to accommodate club nights: it’s a matter of economics, but it will never cease to be a cause of frustration that major headliners have to abridge their shows, for which punters have paid over £20 a ticket only to be turfed out at 10:30 to make way for a clamour of 3-4-2 alcopop-scoffing cretins), they complete the encore with ‘Wardance’ and ‘Pandemonium.’ And it’s fucking belting.

In many ways, this perfectly summarises the appeal of Killing Joke. They’re relentless in their barrage of dense, angry, grey metallic noise. And they’re consistent, both on record and live. A Killing Joke is like being pummelled, mercilessly, yet it’s also immensely exhilarating, because they’re a band who mean every word, every note, and the sense of unity in the room – band and fans – is something special. Everything is fucked. We know it, they know it. They’re preaching it to the converted, but for this time, we truly are all in it together. And despite the eternal sense of impending doom, it’s a great feeling.

Warm – WARM#005 – 10th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Our music is always created by the sedimentations of improvisations followed by a search for harmony – or even the erotic – between the layers of sound, voice and lyrics,’ they say. ‘We realise that to many ears we sound “experimental”, but we still consider our work o be a kind of chanson française.’ Ply is Mathias Deplanque and Guillame Ollendorff, artists with careers in their own right, drawn together after noted parallels between the albums they each released in 2001 provided a certain intersection which was cemented when they met in Berlin in 2011. Sans Cesse is the result of three years of work, which developed through a recording session with drummer Pierre Bougle, various setups of guitars recorded by Delplanque and a leisurely editing process slotting in the lyrics penned by Ollendorff and appropriated from a wide range of courses.

The album’s five tracks are mastered as two sides of vinyl, which bleed into one another and take the form of extended experimental passages built on long, low drones which gradually shift and evolve. The spoken word narratives are delivered in short declarations and in a smooth monotone. Sporadic percussion and quite swells of cymbal punctuate the turning trills of sculpted feedback, before a heavy bass note buzzes though crashing percussion, driving side one to a grinding crescendo: rock music dragged to a glacial crawl.

Side two escalates the tension: the title track begins hushed and ominous, ruptured by feedback and vocal effects before building through ‘Vers’ and ‘Lament’ to a dense rumble of dark, low-frequency guitar drone.

It’s this sense of progression, structure and linearity which evidences the consideration which has gone into Sans Cesse, and which shifts it into a bracket outside the purely experimental field. It’s clear that experimentalism and random elements were integral parts of the creative process, but it’s equally clear that the construction of Sans Cesse occurred post-recording. This is not a document of some spontaneous happenings committed to tape in the raw, but the product of considered and painstaking work and post-facto manipulation and reconfiguring. This is a work where order supersedes the random, where the chance occurrences which may have been part of the initial process have been assimilated and reconfigured for specific purposes.

 

Ply - Sans Cesse