Archive for October, 2017

I’m Not From London Records

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a fucking miracle Arrows of Love are still here, let alone that they’ve managed to nail a second album. But then, to watch them play live, it often seems like a fucking miracle that they can make it to the end of a set. Everything about Arrows of Love, from day one, had had an air of precarity, teetering on the brink of implosion. Every song carries that same sense of danger. It’s their wild volatility that sets them as one of the most exciting bands of the last decade, but ultimately, it’s the songs that matter. They’ve always had songs: sprawling, messy, noisy, fucked up and perversely challenging songs, underpinned with some lean grooves.

Product has been a long time in coming and the line-up on this, their second album, is quite different from the one which recorded their debut. In the period between the delivery of aforementioned debut the nihilism-in-a-nutshell noisefest that was Everything’s Fucked (May 2014) Arrows of Love have evolved, and perhaps some of it’s a natural progression and some of its… not so much an increasing maturity as a refocusing of energy, and some if it’s a result of the personnel changes. One obvious shift is the absence of shared vocals: Lyndsey Critchley’s departure has certainly altered the dynamic of the band in that sense (bassist Nuha Ruby Ra’s vocal contributions are a lot less prominent, and she only leads on one track, the surprisingly sultry and almost tender ‘Come With Me’), and Product is a lot less direct and attacking than its overtly grunge-orientated predecessor.

That doesn’t mean that Product is any less confrontational or antagonistic, and the nihilism which drove Everything’s Fucked is apparent in the subtitle ‘Your Soundtrack To The Impending Societal Collapse.’ Moreover, the use of the definite article shows an absolute confidence in what lies ahead – Arrows of Love are certain we’re past the tipping point and freewheeling toward the end of the world as we know it. Product is certainly a darker, more claustrophobic affair than its predecessor, and finds Arrows exploring wider, deeper territory in the process.

‘Signal’ is dark, dense, disturbing, and desperate, and is heavily hung with a curtain of goth which drapes over the violent (post)punk energy. ‘Did you ever see this coming?’ Nemah challenges through a fuzz of distortion ‘Let the lunatics run the asylum,’ he spits, and we know that this isn’t the future he’s predicting, but a plain observation on the present. The tension builds into a squalling racket and the vocals reach fever pitch as the track reaches its explosive climax.

It feels like an eternity since ‘Predictable’ first aired on-line – and while the band articulate their ennui at the daily shit that is life in the 21st century, as a musical work it’s anything but predictable. The vocals transition from drawling boredom in the verse to screaming mania in the chorus, while the guitars lurch and swerve every which way.

Marking a change of pace and direction, ‘Desire’ is dark, brooding, stripped back, introspective. At near the six-minute mark, it’s a seething mess of emotions: Arrows of Love are a band who’ve always emanated a gritty sexuality, but this channels it in a very different way, and it’s not comfortable or snuggly.

‘Tidal’ is perhaps the most overtly ‘art-rock’ song on the album, as well as being the most classically ‘grunge’ composition, with its quiet / loud verse / chorus juxtaposition. At the same time it encapsulates the dual character of Product, and album that swings – quite effortlessly, and thus with maximum impact – between classic post-punk trappings and raging noise, with exploratory experimentalism informing the process.

‘Beast’, which premiered some months ago now, is a swampy, squalid mess of seething abrasion a throbbing mess of bass that sonically calls to mid Melvins in places but ultimately stands as the soundtrack to a riot. The shrieking ‘Toad’ is equally uncompromising, and ‘The Parts That Make the (W)hole’ comes on like a hybrid of The Fall, Shellac and The Cooper Temple Clause. ‘Restless Feeling’ captures the dark, dirgy doom of Swans circa 1984 and makes for one hell of a low ending to the album: if anything, it’s the sound of society after the collapse as its low-end swell builds to an all-consuming tsunami of noise.

Product bridges the gap between Bauhaus and Nirvana, but ultimately, any comparisons are but signposts to an album which is unique in its standing. Product avoids pretence and overblown portentousness: it doesn’t make lofty statement about the future, but instead stands as a painfully intense document of the present. If any album of the last five years articulates the dizzying, anxietised state of contemporary life, it’s Product.

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AOL - Product

Following a triumphant set at HRH Stoner V Doom, space rockers Regulus have launched a video for their new single “Last Chance To Die Young”.

Drummer Joe Milburn says of the video: "’Last Chance…’ is our ode to rock and roll and all that is encompasses. From the masochistic sacrifices it requires to the ecstatic highs that fuel us down this path!"

Watch the video here:

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Regulus

Loner Noise – 13th October 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Now, I’ve been digging Nasty Little Lonely for a while. Clearly, this is because I’m a music reviewer who gets to hear about everything in advance and I’m infinitely cool because of it.

But seriously, I was introduced to these noisemongerous mofos three years ago, by means of their Bad Jack & Other Stories EP. And they’ve only continued to get better – by which I mean more intense and visceral – ever since.

‘Ugly Vitamin’ is a seething, squalid eruption of-guitar-driven derangement that calls to mind not only Hole at their best, but also the sneering ferocity of Lydia Lunch the rather more psychotic Queen Adreena. It writhes into the skull and penetrates hard. A choppy, chunky bass and hammering rhythm drives through squalling, treble-smash guitar and Charlie Beddoes does sweet but dangerous on the vocal front. You don’t want to fuck with NLL, that’s for sure: but you do need them in your life.

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Nasty Little Lonely - Vitamin

Neurot Recordings – 20th October 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Mass VI may have six tracks listed, but effectively, it only has four full movements, with a brace of brief interludes breaking up the blasting, blistering intensity. And what intensity. Five years on from Mass V and Amenra have not softened their sound one iota.

The ten-minute ‘Children of the Eye’ makes for a slow-building opener: there’s a full minute of silence before a quiet, gentle intro of chiming guitars rips into a screaming vortex of noise that channels a spiral straight into the depths of a world far below the earth. The delicate, reflective mid-section offers much-needed reprieve, albeit temporarily, before the deluge of guitars bring a return to the tempestuous anguish. No doubt, the Neurosis comparisons stand as obvious, and it’s not hard to make the connection as to why Amenra have made their way to the Neurot label. But the howling, barking vocal derangement is altogether more frenzied and tortured to the point that borders on the inhuman. It’s the sound of a voice detached from the world and detached from hope, desperately screaming into a sonic vortex which swirls as an emblem for the pain that is existence.

‘Plus Pres de Troi’ brings a heavy, dolorous trudge and a sinewy, organic guitar sound. The thick guitars grate in an epic Sunn O))) -like drone. Gradually unfurling, transitioning between the aural equivalent of delicate fronds to boughs torn asunder by hurricane-force blasts.

It’s on ‘A Solitary Reign’ that Amenra really show both their depth and range. Epic doesn’t come close: yes, it’s post-rock, post-metal, and it’s raging, brutal shoegaze with an emotional dimension that’s deeply affecting in the way that only music can be. There are no words to fully articulate such resonance and the levels sound and voice can reach into the soul and affect the mind. As a reviewer, there’s a real sense of impotence when faced with something like this. It’s so much easier to write either objectively or to dissect technical issues, or to otherwise slate in the most violent terms possible something that’s inherently shit or lacking in whatever, way. But how does one articulate music that turns the innards to liquid and melts the brain? What do you say about something that leaves you feeling numb, incapable of movement, and utterly overawed? When the last thing you want to do is analyse, and instead sit back and let the experience touch every corner of your innermost being, how do you reconcile the role of fan and critic? You give yourself over to the music of course, and accept that this is bigger than you.

Mass VI is bigger than your small world, your little life. Mass VI reaches deep into the heart of the human condition through the medium of sound. The fact that the lyrics are impenetrable and inaudible for the most part only heightens the experience: it’s the language of sound which conveys so much and means everything.

The eleven-minute closer, ‘Diaken’, combines all of the elements of drone / doom / post-metal / post rock in a thunderous and sprawling behemoth of a sonic journey to create something that’s both cerebral and physical: the crushing riffs played on obliterative guitars contrast with the delicate, detailed breaks to breathtaking effect.

Despite its duration, Mass VI feels remarkably concise, largely on account of just how focused it is. There’s no waste, no packing, no flab: everything about the album is centred around distilling every sound into creating optimum power, and the result is stunning.

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NR108_Amenra_cover

Too Pure – 29th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

With Billy Blacklister’s recent relocation to Germany, there were likely to be questions over the future of Leeds’ masters of abrasive angular noise. The arrival a new three-tracker as part of Too Pure’s singles club series answers them: their first new material to be released since their second album, Adult, in October 2015, is absolutely fucking blistering.

It may be hard to believe, but they’ve actually gone one louder, one heavier, one more ferocious than the previous release here. A tangle over overdriven guitar wails over drumming that’s up front and pure Shellac leads the assault on Dart. The bass is brutal and Billy’s vocals are sharp and full-lunged. They’ve not gone for hooks, instead going all out for battering ram brutality, all with their trademark hint of mania.

‘Disco’ and ‘Drag’ both clock in at under three minutes (the latter only just breaking two). On the former, sinewy guitars skew angles across a nagging bass groove. Funky it isn’t. On the latter, chords stab like daggers as the whole thing lurches at pace to an abrupt halt.

Lyrically, the songs are largely impenetrable, but this isn’t music to muse to: Dart is a violent, visceral experience – and one of the best things I’ve heard all year.

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Blacklisters - Dart

Holotype Editions – HOLO7 – 25th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s hard to reconcile the sounds emanating from the speakers with this being a document of a live performance. And yet Schulevy Maker, which comprises two long-form tracks in the form of ‘Schulevy Maker’ Parts 1 and 2, was recorded live at Cafe Oto in London in December 2013, and captures two outré sonic experimenters coming together to forge something that’s weird and wonderful in equal measure. It’s credit, then, to the artists and all involved in the creation of this album that the sounds are so rich, layered, and detailed so as to sound as if they were meticulously ordered, edited, polished and mixed with great labour in the studio. There is a lot going on, and none of it is remotely obvious or predictable.

The set begins with a nagging motif, repeated end on end and resembling a demo of The Fall circa ‘79, over which electronic screaches and wibbles and irregular, occasional clatters of percussion weave and flit in an out. And over all of this, Tazartès and Dunietz grunt and ululate, quaver and trill. At times, rather less a walrus of love and more like a walrus slain, Tazartès explores the lower registers of the larynx, while Dunietz offers a soaring, semi-operatic counterpoint.

Amidst grating industrial drones and scrapes, weird samples and chiming finger cymbals, the pair challenge accepted notions of melody with their often deviant vocalisations which stray from the roots of key and tempo. And yet as much as they often run contra to one another, every instant is a moment of perfect connection and compliment, and there’s a synchronisation of their idiosyncrasies which renders the performance utterly compelling.

It’s strange and disorientating, and it’s not always easy to find a foot or handhold amidst the ever-shifting soundscapes which rapidly transition from accessible to strange, and often appear to originate from another world entirely.

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Ghedalia Tazartes   Maya Dunietz

Virginia/North Carolina-based instrumental metal ministers Loincloth have shared an official video for ‘Bestial Infernal’, hailing from their final LP Psalm Of The Morbid Whore, which was issued last week through Southern Lord.

We’ll skip the preamble and get down to gnarly business. Here’s the video:

The second collection of collaborative recordings by Off World, the aptly titled 2, is dropping on Friday October 6th. After an initial introduction to the improbable orbit of this project with the track ‘Decamp’, we’re venturing further into deconstructed electronic realms with ‘Scrubdown’. On this track, label veteran Sandro Perri is joined by fellow Torontonian Lorenz Peter as synths and drum machine squelch and snake their way around some lovely, spacious piano punctuations – highlighting the exploratory, impressionistic, harmonic eloquence of the semi-improvised sound world that is Off World’s signature.

Perri will be the first to insist that Off World is not "his" project: tracing its origins as far back as 2008, with Perri and Peter (Processor, Corpusse) working together on tracks and very occasionally performing live, Off World collaborators include producers Drew Brown (Lower Dens, Blonde Redhead, Beck), Matthew Cooper (Eluvium) and Susumu Mukai (Zongamin), and instrumentalists Craig Dunsmuir (Glissandro 70, Kanada 70) and Eric Chenaux, among others.

Off World is alien electronics played humanly, resulting in genuinely exploratory and peculiarly sui generis electronic music that sounds like it could have issued from any time in the past 40-50 years. Off World resists easy categorisation: not ambient, not strictly "improvised", nor "retro" – just eccentrically absorbing, impishly stimulating and gently uneasy listening in an awkward, nerdy, precocious class of its own.

Listen to ‘Scrubdown’ here:

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Off World

Black Needle Noise has unveiled the new video for ‘Shiver of Want’ with Bill Leeb of Front Line Assembly and worldwide charting dreampop collective Delerium.  In the world of post-punk and industrial music, thesee are two key personalities that have consistently been putting out quality music.

Legendary artist-producer John Fryer, the mastermind behind this project, met up with Bill Leeb in Norway after a Front Line Assembly gig.  They hit it off right away and found a really good friendship in the making. While it did take over a year or so for the stars to line up, they eventually did. The new video was shot in 3 countries: Norway, Germany and the USA. 

"This track made history for me because, even though I have worked with countless artists over the years and really value the concept of collaborating, I personally had never sung on a one-off collaboration. I have said no to quite a few offers over the years. But when John approached me, it just felt right. With his background I thought we could do something interesting without having to worry that we were looking for a radio hit, but rather make it a journey into an artistic creation," says Bill Leeb.

"To me, the lyrics are like you are peering through a looking glass at your life, as if it were a third person.  You are trying to grasp its fluidity as it slips through your mind and soul, having absolutely no control of where it is truly taking you on its final journey. Somehow one tries to come to terms with this, but it never gives you a clear picture or resolves in your subliminal state or dreams.  Everyone knows it will end, but I do hope somehow a realm of consciousness will arise and we can all dream for eternity through our spirits.  Yes maybe this sounds a bit optimistic, but we need to find hope in one form or another. A shiver of want."

This new video follows up videos for ‘And Nothing Remains’ with Ana Breton (Dead Leaf Echo) and ‘Neon Noir’ with Dr. Strangefryer, which matched 80s-style synthpop with retro-fitted video colorama graphics courtesy of Alisa Akay.

Watch the video here:

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John_Fryer_and_Bill_Leeb_2_-_photo_credit_Adam_Scott

Christopher Nosnibor

The facts:

Jeph Jerman: snare drum, frame drum, cymbal, pumice, e-bow with metal, wok lid, old brass bowl and ball bearing, disintegrating paint brush ​
Giacomo Salis: percussion, objects, field recordings ​

Paolo Sanna: percussion, waterphone, prepared zither, thingamagoop2, s.w.radio ​

So, not just any paintbrush: Jeph Jerman’s instrument of choice is a disintegrating paintbrush. The list of instrumentation deployed in the production of Kio Ge is nothing if not improvisational, and this is in keeping with the spirit of the album’s twelve improvised fragments.

There’s nothing fully realised in an explicit sense here, but that’s not what Kio Ge is about. These pieces – they’re not strictly compositions in that they’re not pre-ordained, but by the same token, composition can take place in real-time, spontaneously – but it may be more appropriate to refer to them as musical happenings or sonic events.

While many of the tracks sit in the three to four-minute bracket, a number are barely a couple of minutes in duration, but what they offer in a holistic sense is a series of sketches which clatter and clank, bubble and scrape, transitioning through simple, sparse arrangements to dense, multitextural works.

These aren’t pieces which resonate on any particular level, and they don’t move the mind, the soul or the body with their abstract firms and absence of rhythm. But that does not mean that Kio Ge lacks engagement: in fact, Kio Ge engages at precisely the points the attention begins to wander.

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Jerman Salis  Sanna – Kio Ge