Archive for June, 2017

Metropolis Records – 16th June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Since their initial (slight) return with the EP produced in collaboration with Cubanate’s Marc Heal on his guise as MC Lord of the Flies in the spring of 2015, PIG have been on a real (sausage) roll.

Hot on the heels of the remix album Swine and Punishment lands the Prey & Obey EP, which features three new tracks spawned from the same swirling cesspit of sleaze which gave birth to The Gospel, the first PIG album in a decade. Bringing extra meat to the lineup for this outing is Sisters of Mercy guitarist Ben Christo, who also receives co-writing credit for ‘The Revelation’. Meanwhile, the eternal PIG / KMFDM overlap is maintained courtesy of the En Esch, who contributes a remix version of the lead (prime) cut.

‘Prey & Obey’ positively explodes with heavy-duty guitar-led grunt and chug. It’s vintage PIG, drawing all of the elements that define the band’s sound from the span of their career: Watts spits and snarls over overdriven guitars melded to a thumping industrial disco beat while a swirl of strings whip up the layers of drama. It’s all delivered with a knowing bombast and, and as such, sits up there with anything in the substantial PIG oeuvre.

‘The Revelation’ references PIG classic ‘Serial Killer Thriller’ in the sinewy lead guitar part, while Watts, snarling menacingly, juxtaposes bodily fluids and biblical references like only he can (and get away with). The third of the new tracks, ‘The Cult of Chaos’ is also of premium PIG standard; slower, grinding, it twists a goth-tinged lead guitar over a throbbing groove that’s equal parts guitar and electronic, while a brooding piano strolls around in the background

Of the remixes, the Leæther Strip remix of ‘Prey & Obey’ fits the predicable technoindustrial groove version requirement, while the aforementioned En Esch reworking is darker, murkier, grimier, and more atmospheric. Collectively, they make for a rounded representation of what PIG are about. There’s snout wrong with that, and Prey & Obey is not only a rip-snorting effort, but up there with the best PIG releases.

 

PIG - Prey & Obey

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Constellation

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been 29˚C in the shade today. I’ve been awake since 4am for the second day in a row, and at work in the day-job since 7:30am. I’m a flustered, strung-out sticky mess, dying of hayfever, trying to hold it together and keep myself cool and hydrated with a constant flow of Scrumpy Jack. It’s not working. But I am: instead of kicking back or chilling out, I’m desperately trying to chisel out words in my cramped home office space where it’s so humid I can barely breathe. And instead of taking the easy option of one of the million mellifluous ambient works in my never-ending to-review pile, or taking a soft hit with some straight ahead metal or whatever, I’m battling with this dizzyingly diverse effort by Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche.

Sold as a kraut-rock ensemble, Montreal collective Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche (which translates, I believe as ‘with the sun coming out of his mouth’) pack myriad influences into their second album. Although containing ten tracks, it’s ostensibly an album built around three primary movements.

Psychedelic rock, krautrock, desert rock, punk rock, noise rock, afrobeat, experimental pop, post-rock, electronic; all are touchstones for Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche.

The album’s first track, ‘Trans-pop Express I’ manages to combine hypnotic psychedelic desert rock with wibbly analogue retro-futuristic spacey electronica and some kind of warped gospel/country infusion. It bleeds invisibly into the hypnotic pulsating riff-trippery of ‘Trans-pop Express II’

The opening minutes of the second movement ‘Alizé et Margaret D. Midi moins le quart. Sur la plage, un palmier ensanglanté’ (of which there are three parts) marries a martial beat to some skittering world music vibe and tops it with a desperate, yodelling vocal holler that’s far wide of carrying a corresponding melody, or even a tune. Over the course of the piece as a whole, the band push into new territories by unconventional roads. This is essentially the key to the pleasure to be found in Pas pire pop. Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche are clearly a band who please themselves first and foremost, and enjoy themselves in doing so. And yet they largely swerve indulgence by virtue of their sense of movement: the tracks build and bed, trip and transition: the explosive crescendo at the end of the aforementioned first part of ‘Alizé et Margaret D’ is killer, and immediately loops back to the opening proggy motif on the second part. It’s like skipping back in time, like a glitch in the time continuum. It’s a minor detail in many ways, but it’s also a minor work of genius.

The final movement – in a colossal five parts – begins with a sweeping orchestral cascade which gushes every whichway over a thumping dance groove. It’s merely the beginning of a crazy journey through jazzy math-rock and noodlesome post-rock via some hefty noise and some Talking Heads-y post-punk oddness that works its way to a nifty finale by route of a tightly-woven funk groove meted to some clattering drums while whizzing electronic details fly like comes into the distance.

I’m oozing perspiration from every pore, especially the backs of my various joints: the knees, the elbows, the groin, and I find myself contemplating the complex musical conjunctions within the framework of the shifting tubular geometry of my limbs in context of the insane, overwhelming heat and its effect on my capacity for focused, linear thought, as if existing in some stylized Ballardian landscape of the mind.

 

Avec le Soliel

Southern Lord – 23rd June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Maybe I’m not nearly as musically ware as I thought. Or maybe some bands are simply so way off radar, it takes a poke from a PR to get things moving. And so it is that my introduction to Circle comes after they’ve already got over 30 albums to their credit. Before I even start listening, I find myself thinking ‘shit, I hope it’s not so awesome that I feel compelled to explore their entire back catalogue’. I’m still working on The Melvins after all, and have kinda parted ways with The Fall in recent years, not because I haven’t enjoyed any of their more recent release, but because I simply can’t keep up, and there’s so much music out there. Something’s got to give.

Terminal contains six tracks, all bar one of which extend beyond the five-minute mark, and opening with the thirteen-minute ‘Rakkautta Al Dente’. It’s got the lot woven into its epic, dense fabric, building on a mystical desert rock vibe that spins out for mile after mile, before a ravaged vocal, by turns demonic and magickal, leads through a preposterously theatrical rock opera of sorts, riding through a succession of crescendos and surges, with changes of style galore, ranging from medieval riffery to cinematic prog. And… well. It’s effectively an entire album in a single song. Over the top? Way over… but if you’re going to go over, there’s no point in just scraping the bar.

The title tracks kicks in with a punchy riff that leans heavily on ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ by The Stooges – or, from another perspective, that classic chord sequence that informs a near infinite number of songs – before flying off into motoric space rock territory. With ‘Saxo’ mining a manic post-punk seam and ‘Kill City’ coming on somewhere between Iron Maiden and GWAR before ‘Sick Child’ plays out with a thumping psychedelic trudge, Terminal is as eclectic as a heavy, guitar-based album is as likely to come.

Small wonder the Finnish act are almost unanimously hailed as the very definition of genre-defying. At its heart, you may say there’s a hard rock / heavy metal album lurking amidst the coalition of disparate elements which form Terminal. This would certainly sit with the narrative of an album released on Southern Lord. But the way in which everything is drawn together – sometimes seamlessly, sometimes audaciously and unexpectedly – means that this framing of the album doesn’t really work. All of this leaves more questions than answers in terms of how to frame, and therefore how to accommodate Terminal. But regardless of how one assimilates, or otherwise fails to assimilate it, Terminal is a wild ride, and while in places perplexing and vastly excessive, it’s never for a moment dull or predictable.

Circle - Terminal

Chelsea Wolfe has announced the release of Hiss Spun, her sixth album, upcoming via Sargent House on 22nd September 2017. Additionally, Wolfe has some remaining European dates, and has announced an extensive Autumn tour of North America. A full list of dates is below.

Following her acclaimed 2015 album Abyss, Hiss Spun is at once dynamic, heavy, and raw.  Recorded by Kurt Ballou (Converge), the album was conceived as an emotional purge, a means of coming to terms with the tumult of the outside world by exploring the complexities of one’s inner unrest. “I’m at odds with myself,” she explains. “I got tired of trying to disappear. The record became very personal in that way. I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality.

Hiss Spun features prominent guitar contributions by Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age, Failure) throughout the album, and a guest spot from Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom, SUMAC) on the song ‘Vex’.

By way of a taster, she’s unveiled ‘16 Psyche’. You can get your lugs round it here:

 

 

Chelsea Wolfe Live Dates:

14/6 Malmö, SE – Babel w/ Christine Owman
17/6 Clisson, FR – Hellfest
19/6 Antwerp, BE – Trix w/ Moon Duo
18/8 Las Vegas, NV -  Psycho Las Vegas

North American tour:
28/9 – Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room
30/9 – Los Angeles, CA – The Regent Theater
2/10 – San Diego, CA – Belly Up Tavern
3/10 – Tucson, AZ – 191 Toole
4/10 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
6/10 – Austin, TX – Paramount Theatre
7/10 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall
8/10 – Dallas, TX – Kessler Theatre
10/10 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
11/10 – Atlanta, GA – Aisle 5
13/10 – Chapel Hill, NC – Cat’s Cradle
14/10 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage
15/10 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
17/10 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
19/10 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
20/10 – Montreal QC – Le National
21/10 – Toronto, ON – The Opera House
22/10 – Detroit, MI – El Club
24/10 – Chicago, IL – Metro
25/10 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
27/10 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
28/10 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
30/10 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox
31/10 – Vancouver, BC – Venue Nightclub
1/11 – Portland, OR – The Wonderland Ballroom
3/11 – Sacramento, CA – Ace Of Spades
4/11 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom
* Youth Code will open all North American shows

Aural Aggro faves Hands Off Gretel return to York on Thursday and promise to bring with them a tidal wave of angry, angsty grunge rock.

They’re pitched as being ‘for fans of Nirvana, Hole and Alt Grunge’, and it’s an accurate enough summary, as their debut album Burn the Beauty Queen evidences in spades. But what it doesn’t really convey is just what a killer live act they are, and in Lauren Tate they have a real star in the making as their focal point.

Support comes from Brooders and the mighty (and seriously noisy) Seep Away. Needless to say, we’re fans.

There’s more info, including ticket links, at the Facebook event page. See you down the front!

 

 

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SOFA – SOFA 557 – 21st April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Antipodean multi-instrumentalist, composer and experimentalist Jim Denley has been playing the flute since 1969 and has a formidable reputation in his home territory, not to mention an extensive resumé.

Denley has a preoccupation with location: as there is no flute tradition in his native Australia, his aim – according to his biography – is to situate his music within a global outlook, and takes is cues from flute traditions from other parts of the world, spanning Europe, Papua New Guinea, the Far East and the Amazon, and, in particular, the flute traditions of the Solomon Islands. There is always something to learn: with a background very much rooted in western music, particularly of the post-punk period and beyond, the fact that there are specific regional flute traditions is something I was unaware of. I suspect this is not something unique to me.

Denley is clearly immersed in his research of the traditions which inform his work, in particular this album, with the album’s second longform track, ‘For Celina Rokona’ dedicated to a flautist from Ataa in North East Malaita, who played the Sukute, described as ‘a curious combination of flute and percussion’. Who knew that the flute had such a lengthy and diverse, pan-continental history, or that there were so many hybridisations across the continents? This does perhaps explain why the two nineteen-minute compositions on Cut Air sound precisely nothing like any flute I’ve ever heard.

I’m unclear, after listening to Cut Air, if my knowledge and understanding of these various traditions is any more advanced. Aside from moments of fluttering, tweeting, looping harmonics much of Cut Air consists of quiet. It consists of interloping notes which quiver and quail, tremble and tremor. The air isn’t explicitly cut, but subject to soft, massaging vibrations which alter its movement, softly, subliminally, imperceptibly. This is not an immediate or direct work, and it’s very much an album which requires a degree of patience as it hangs, unobtrusively, in the background.

Jim Denley - Cut Air

SOFA – SOFA 556 – 7th April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Within a few weeks of moving into my current home, there was an immense storm, which led to my discovery that it wasn’t water-tight, on account of a) having no cover over the letter box b) some defective guttering c) a gap between the roof tiles and the brick work. Consequently, this – admittedly unusually heavy – downpour resulted in there being a pool of water, an inch or so deep and over two feet in circumference just inside my front door. Ok, it was more of a puddle than an actual pond, but the anecdote serves to illustrate that the surrealist image conjured by the title of Philippe Lauzier’s second album is neither strange nor funny when the abstract notion becomes an actual lived experience.

The album’s four tracks are built around multiple tracks of bass clarinet, but there is nothing on A pond in my living room which could be readily identified by ear alone as being woodwind, and the longform compositions are explorations of sound rather than structure, with not a trace of jazz or orchestral influence to be heard.

‘Bleu Pénombre’ opens the album in a long, swirling churn of feedback. Gradually, layers of sound build, granular textures roughen the surface of the undulating, elongated multitonal humming. It’s a richly atmospheric composition, which suggests a preoccupation with the relationships between sounds as much as with the sounds themselves. Higher pitches and nagging oscillations emerge as ‘Bleu Pénombre’ bleeds into the uneasy ‘Water Sprinkling’. The notes quiver and ripple, like a mirage through a heat-haze. Sharp blasts of white noise fizz against the creeping whines which populate the sparse, eerie ‘On the Window Side’. The result is ominous, unsettling, with the unpredictably-placed shards of static adding moments of shock to the tension which Lauzier sustains over the full duration of the ten-minute piece, which culminates in a dark, rhythmic pulsation.

None of the sound contained on the album carries connotations of water, or even any overt reference to the surreal juxtaposition the title suggests, but this only accentuates the air of abstraction which hangs over the album as a whole. The final track, ‘Napping in a Neglected Garden’ yawns and grates, a metallic creak like a rusty gate opening and closing replayed in half-time dominates the haunting eleven-and-a-half-minute work. Gradually, the slow, natural rhythm becomes subject to disruption and halting adjustments bring further disruption and twist the listener’s sensory adjustment.

A pond in my living room is more effective and affecting by virtue of its comparatively subtle approach. A pond in my living room is not a loud album, and does not rely on harsh textures and tones to achieve its discomforting impact.

Philippe Lauzier - Pond