Archive for November, 2017

Living Music Duplication – 17th November 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Thor Harris continues to keep himself more than vaguely occupied in the post-Swans era, and also continues to demonstrate just what a versatile percussionist he is. The collective, centred around Harris, who not only contributes diverse and eclectic percussion, but also wind instruments including some of his own devising. features at its core, Peggy Ghorbani on marimba, and Sarah ‘Goat’ Gautier on marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, organ, voice, mellotron and piano.

Anyone on the market for Swans-style brutal percussive bludgeoning should leave now. Thor and Friends are pitched as an ‘avant-chamber ensemble’, drawing on ‘the classic Minimalist composers including Terry Riley and Steve Reich, but also amalgamate such diverse influences as Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Moondog and The Necks around a polyrhythmic core of mallet-struck instruments, primarily marimba, xylophone and vibraphone’.

There’s a lighthearted, skipping melodic heart beating beneath the eddying synths and weirdy whistles and subtle strings which are all interwoven into one another on the hypnotic and ever-shifting ’90 Metres’. Ominous and eerie tones and echo-heavy chimes dominate both ‘Creepy Carpets’ and ‘Dead Man’s Hand’, while elsewhere, ‘Mouse Mouse’ explores a more playful side, manifesting as a sing-sing tune that has an almost nursery rhyme / lullaby feel to it.

In the fucked-up, brutal world in which we find ourselves, where it’s everyone for themselves while each and every citizen is shafted by governments and multinationals and consumerism, kindness does feel subversive. And in their own quiet way, Thor and Friends offer their own subversive resistance. It’s a gentle, mellifluous collection of compositions which are neither overtly contemporary nor steeped in traditionalism. It’s this sense that the music exists out of any place in time, and that it doesn’t obviously connote any concrete physical space that makes it so very appealing.

Thor and Friends

Tricky Spirits Records – 24th November 2017

Having just been listening to Safer with the Wolves… by Pete International Airport (aka Peter Holmström of the Dandy Warhols), which features Lisa Elle of Dark Horses and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Levon Been, it seems somewhat serendipitous that the new single by Dark Horses should be the next item I clock in my inbox. And I’m very glad it is.

Much as I dig Holmström’s effort, Dark Horses’ comeback track has just so much more bite, its glistening motoric groove grabbing the listener in the first few seconds.

It’s pitched as being ‘underpinned by an insistent, pulsing synthesizer,’ while ‘singer Lisa Elle paints a ghostly dystopian scene in which every one of us is broken down into data, our individuality and expression stripped back to numbers and algorithms’.

It’s all in the delivery, of course. The vintage synth throb and spiralling cascade of sweeping fx, paired with the guitars set to stun and blank monotone vocals, collide retro-futurism and contemporary postmodern living to forge a thrilling hybrid.

A nagging four-chord riff kicks in three-quarters of the way through and nags the fuck out of the senses to the end. I could easily bleat on about crafting and construction, but is anyone really interested? Bottom line is that it’s a cracking tune.

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Having recently announced that their new album Anatomical Venus will be released early next year, Black Moth have shared the first single from the record in the form of the psychedelic video for ‘Moonbow’, directed by Ben Foley (Foley previously worked with BM on their spectacularly kinky ‘Looner’ clip, 2015).

Vocalist Harriet Hyde comments:

‘It is an ode and an offering to the moon herself, in the hope that she will shine her silver blessings on Mothic ventures to follow. Ben Foley’s directorial work with us has gone from Looner to Lunar. His deft creative touch on ‘Moonbow’ drags the viewer with us through a psychedelic neon dreamscape – an intoxicating experience of lunar worship’

While their first 2 albums were released by New Heavy Sounds, Black Moth will have their latest / third studio album issued worldwide via Candlelight Records on February 23rd 2018, the result of an alliance between Candlelight and NHS.

Produced by Andy Hawkins (Hawk Eyes, Maximo Park) with Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir) handling the mix, this 10-track affair sees the Leeds / London outfit – vocalist Harriet Hyde, guitarists Jim Swainston & Federica Gialanze’, bassist Dave Vachon and drummer Dom McCready –  further honing the various elements of their sound to make the hooks more barbed and the focus more collective.

Lead single ‘Moonbow’ provides the first taste of things to come, successfully combining wide-eyed wonder with true metallic weight, the whole thing supported by the aforementioned clip that delivers from the off in both intensity and colour. Watch the video here:

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Southern Lord – 3rd November 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Fast and furious isn’t in it. But the enigmatic and secretive Friendship are from Japan, and when it comes to extreme music, Japan really leads the field. And if Hatred seems an odd title for an album by a band called Friendship, then the equation really should be turned on its head: for a band this brutal, abrasive and gnarly to be called Friendship is simply perverse. There’s nothing friendly about them, and song titles like ‘Rejected’, ‘Regicide’, Corrupt’, ‘Tortures’, ‘Grief’, and ‘Execution’ don’t exactly send hugs in abundance either.

Of the album’s twelve tracks, only two extend beyond the three-minute mark, and half are sub two minutes. Holy fuck, this is fast and hard and nasty. It begins with feedback and immediately plunges into the dingiest, gnarliest, darkest metal noise going. The drums are pounded so fast it sounds like a pneumatic drill. Everything else is just a blurred barrage of insane, intense noise. There are riffs, but they’re brief, and churningly cyclical. The rest is all squall. And it’s a furious, punishing grind.

If friendship it is, it’s an abusive one which shows no regard for the wellbeing or mental health of those concerned. But as far as hatred is concerned, this album is all aspects of pure loathing distilled to the most potent concentrate.

Listening to Hatred is like having your soul torn from the heart of your being and ground to a pulp before your eyes, while your eyes are being pricked with hot pins. Aurally, it’s torture in its own right.

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Friendship cover art

8th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Salvation Jayne’s latest offering, which follows the summer release of ‘Moves that Make the Record Skip’ which got our thumbs up, marks a substantial step both forwards and upwards.

With a nagging clean guitar in the verse and a thunderous overdrive propelling the riffy chorus, all underpinned by a chunky bass, ‘Juno’ is a savvy, sassy rock tune. Chess Smith’s in fine voice, and there’s a vintage post-punk twist in the execution of the song’s grunge dynamics.

And really, what more do you need to know? It’s got guts and is as catchy as hell, and in terms of achieving everything it’s intended to, it’s pretty much impossible to fault. Did I say Salvation Jayne are a band to watch for 2018? No? I did now.

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Salvation Jayne - Juno

Psychedelic, occult rockers Jess and The Ancient Ones have shared the second track from their brand new album The Horse and Other Weird Tales  which is released on 1st December via Svart Records. You can take a listen to ‘Return to Hallucinate’ here:

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4Jess and the Ancient Ones

French industrial-goth metal band Porn have just released their third album, The Ogre Inside, from which the song ‘You Will Be The Death Of Me’ is taken.

Porn leader Philippe Deschemin describes the song as being about "life, death and love and the fact that love is like humans – mortal. I am obsessed by death, which I see everywhere. Everything ends, everything dies. And sometimes, maybe always, being in a relationship means to kill the previous version of yourself. You change, and in a way you die, to be reborn as another you. The new video is a metaphor for death, a ‘mise à mort’, and I wanted to place the female protagonist in the dominant position."

Do people still use ‘NSFW’ these days? If so, this meets the criteria. If you’re not at work, or work in Westminster, you can watch the video here:

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Porn - Ogre

Ici d’ailleurs – 15th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The gathering together of Aidan Baker (guitar), Gaspar Claus (cello), Franck Laurino (drums) and Maxime Tisserand (clarinets) was engineered by Stephane Gregoire, Ici d’ailleurs’ artistic director for the purpose of simply seeing what would happen. The four were selected because of their musical dissimilarities, and the fact they did not know one another personally or musically. As such, the element of chance was one of the leading factors in the emergence of the pieces which make up the album. All of this makes Serendipity an appropriate addition to the ‘Mind Travels Series’ releases, of which it is the eighth.

Serendipity brings its share of unexpected twists and turns, sudden changes in tone and direction, but what’s more remarkable is just how smoothly it flows. And while there are expansive ambient passages, it’s certainly not an ambient record.

‘A day staring at eternity’ part 1 begins with an elongated, broad sweeping drone before strolling percussion and a wandering bass brings a sense of structure and more linear movement on ‘part 2.’ Through disconsolate, minimal jazz – horns lost in a wilderness of sighing drones – to a funereal darkness and eventually racing, urgently towards…what? eternity is not fixed, but stretching out across myriad horizons, all of which are uncertain.

‘Drawn with the wind,’ also in four parts, works a seam of expansive space-age prog with ambient undercurrents. A motoric swell of urgent percussion propels the composition relentlessly forwards, before stepping back in tempo and position to forge a distant thunder amidst eddying drones. The fourth part blossoms into a spectacular sonic sunburst, a slow groove at its heart. The performance and production coalesce to create a spellbinding moment.

The twenty-one-minute ‘After all the sun is awakening’ is immense in every sense, a widescreen krautrock drone that sways and swirls hypnotically. Strings drift and drape over rumbling sonic abstraction which envelop the listener.

The last two pieces, ‘We host you’ and ‘Fructification’ stand somewhat apart from the rest of the release. Shorter, more linear and overtly psychedelic, the former is a nifty noodlesome nugget, while the latter somehow represents the culmination of Orchard’s objective, incorporating as it does all elements of the album with condense concision, weaving around a paired-back yet insistent groove.

As a whole, Serendipity is an impressive work which demonstrates the power of collaboration when the right people come together – making Orchard a fruitful collaboration indeed.

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Bearsuit Records – 23rd September 2017

James Wells

Multi-instrumentalist Hayato Takeuchi hails from Japan. Beyond that, I know nothing in terms of biography. No that it matters. It’s all about the music, and the music on this EP is… different. Different from what? Pretty much everything. Yes, it’s a typical Bearsuit Records release.

The five tracks on offer here are dizzying, bewildering, multitonal works which play with time signatures and textures at the same time. There are all shades of oddness here, from the whistling loop over wonky synths and a sparse beat on the piano-led ‘Usan Kosao No Usoushiki’, and the playful theatrical noodles of ‘Mr Henderson No Ai To Replica’ is a fairground waltz that skips lightly through a space that revels in experimentalism. Weird and woozy, dramatic and quirky are Takeuchi’s key themes here. The final track, ‘Anata To Watashi No Kyoukaisen’ sides gracefully into crystalline, cloudlike ambience which tapers and turns subtly in a space of its own creation.

There’s no way of putting a tag on this that’s in any way informative, and to pick it apart is to destroy its intrigue. Weird and special, and special in its weirdness.

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Hayato Takeuchi

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have revealed their first video for single “Little Thing Gone Wild” via their Facebook.  The band recently announced their forthcoming album Wrong Creatures, produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Arcade Fire), out on January 12th, 2018.

Watch the visceral, live video directed by Brian T Lauzon here: