Archive for December, 2017

Ripple Music – 19th January 2018

James Wells

Maybe it’s just me – and it’s quite possible – but many of the current crop of so-called doom-metal bands are pretty tame, and are little more than Sabbath-inspired hard rock bands lacking in inspiration and keen to jump on the metal zeitgeist of circa 2015.

I’m not intentionally singling out female-fronted doom acts, but I was recently appalled by Jess and the Ancient Ones for reasons which really ought to be apparent, and those reasons aren’t a million miles away from the anguish on being presented with Witchcryer’s latest offering.

Cry Witch is better, less cliché and less Jeffersone Airplane meets The Doors, which is a relief. A major fucking relief. But it’s still so steeped in cliché and heritage as so be not so much so last year and so ersatz retro bullshit and to be deeply uncomfortable. And it’s not especially doomy.

There are some ok riffs and the thumping bass embarks on some neat little runs, and the title track, which is also the opener makes for a strong enough start, and sonically, stylistically, it’s representative of the album as a whole. So what’s the problem? Actually, that’s precisely the problem. Against, say, Black Moth, who are also of a similar ilk Witchcryer sound tame, and while there’s not much different in the two band’s approaches, the lack of real bite could be forgiven if the hooks were sharper. But the preoccupation with mining the vintage seam has apparently eclipsed any quest to forge their own identity.

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Witchcryer – Cry Witch

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Prepare your mind, body, and the deepest recesses of your soul: the black gates that Dark Buddha Rising opened a decade ago with I, open further in 2018, as the band announce the II EP, due for release via Neurot Recordings on 23rd March 2018. II continues to traverse spiritual planes, opening up a vortex with their sonic, and following calls from beyond.

For 10 years, the Finnish band has convened in the now-famous Wastement studio space; set below their home city of Tampere, Finland; to roil in the sounds of the underground, to meet dark spirits, to breathe in time with rhythmic pulses sent from the skies, the stars and the very dirt around them.

On the surface, the band emits the blackest of psychedelia. Deep down, their sounds are forged in the blue fires of the ancients, exhalations of gods, goddesses and demons alike. Of this new offering, V. Ajomo says: "To drain our sonic temple, we wanted to record the new material which was made for 2016 shows in order to proceed towards the unknown with open minds and hearts. After the cleansing, we initiated our chamber with ambient meditation and opened the portals of inspiration for our future work."

II sees Dark Buddha Rising return to its purest incarnation: a three-piece rhythm section; J.Rämänen on drums, P. Rämänen on bass and V. Ajomo on guitar; and with J. Saarivuori on synths and M. Neuman on main vocals. "We have done a full cycle of the orbit and now is the time for gravitational slingshot towards the new dimensions in sound, deliverance and vision"; Ajomo adds.

The EP’s A-side was recorded and mixed in Space Junk Studio by K.Nyyssönen and B-side was recorded in Wastement by DBR and mixed by S. Tamminen.

It has been two years since Dark Buddha Rising found a home amongst kindred spirits at Neurot Recordings, who released Inversum; the first album recorded in the band’s Wastement home: "the asylum of eternal feedback".

Get a taste of II here:

Dependent

Christopher Nosnibor

Bristol synth-pop duo Mesh are a classic example of an act underappreciated in their domestic territory but who have found a fan-base in mainland Europe and who are particularly appreciated in Germany. It may be that there’s a sense of the grass being greener, but even taking into account scale and catchment, I can’t help but feel that Germany has a better appreciation for certain strains of ‘alternative’ music. For example, can you think of anywhere else that The Sisters of Mercy still regularly headline festivals? And so it’s in this context that Mesh performed a one-off with the Philharmonie Zielona Gora to a sold-out audience at Neues Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Live at Neues Gewandhaus Leipzig is a document of the occasion, augmented with three new orchestral-based compositions

‘Just Leave Us Alone’ from 2013’s Automation Baby is the first song of the orchestral set, and it’s striking just how Depeche Mode it feels. The soulful richness of Mark Hockings’ voice is the key, but what’s equally striking is just how subtle and nuanced the arrangement is. The 65-piece orchestra contrive to build drama without at any point overstretching into extravagance.

They reach further back into to catalogue for ‘Only Better’, here led by a skipping piano and plucked strings, and the vocal harmonies work well alongside the layers of brooding theatricality, while ‘Save Everyone’ is simultaneously deep yet sparse. The fact the live orchestral show featured just five songs and ran for half an hour – and is captured in its entirety here – is admirable. So many acts, when presented with the opportunity to perform with an orchestra, will splurge, with overblown renditions and overlong performances. That Mesh keep it concise and keep a tight rein on the material, which, if anything, intensifies the effect and the emotional layers imbued therein. ‘Taken for Granted’ is the last of the live songs, and it broods through dark tension and builds to a soaring finale which utilises the dramatic and layered instrumentation to the max.

As a necessary aside, the audio quality is exceptional, and does the performance justice. Every detail is perfectly captured, as it should be. And there is a lot of detail; the songs are played with real nuance, and while the performances are powerful, there’s a palpable emotional depth that’s intrinsically linked to the subtlety and multi-dimensionality of the instrumentation.

The three new studio tracks compliment the live set very nicely indeed: recorded with a stripped-back orchestra, they still explore the same emotional terrain as the material chosen for the live set, and because the sound quality of the live recording is so god, they flow into one another rather than feeling like appendices which have been bolted on.

There isn’t a weak song in the new recordings, although ‘Can You Mend Hearts’ is a standout, being delicate and fragile, the surging builds bringing depth and resonance to Hockings’ affecting vocal delivery.

Live at Neues Gewandhaus Leipzig is one of those albums that could so easily be a drag, and fall to cliché, but instead offers a set of strong reworking of songs which lend themselves to the orchestral treatment, and as such, it’s not only successful, but an impressive release.

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Mesh - Live

Cold Spring Records – 23rd January 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Never mind the cat, listen to the whale! There’s a rather trippy, dubby crossover feel to the trilling new-age rhythmic bass-led groove of ‘Thee Whale’, one of the three tracks on the second disc of this two CD plus DVD extravaganza of a release, which includes the film Dead Cat, which was released in 1989, and shown only at a handful of cinemas that year, including once at the infamous Scala Cinema in London. According to the accompanying blurb, ‘it was never issued on general release and has only recently been uncovered by David Lewis (writer & director).’ This release finally presents the full film, re-authored from the original source. The film itself features unique starring roles from cult film director Derek Jarman (who also worked with TG on In the Shadow of the Sun back in 1980), Andrew Tiernan (The Pianist, 300, The Bunker, and Derek Jarman’s Edward II) and Genesis P-Orridge. The film features the music of Psychic TV, included here on CD1, in its complete form.

On the one hand, it’s classic Psychic TV. On the other, I’m reminded why I parted ways with Psychic TV and much of the industrial movement, when, post-TG, everyone seemed to disappear up their own arses, otherwise ceased making music that felt either challenging or essential. It’s not that none of the members of Throbbing Gristle made any decent music after the initial split, because they clearly did, and early PTV and Chris and Cosey releases are proof of this. But at what point is enough enough? At what point does it all become so much indulgence?

That the material here is lifted from the archive provides only so much justification or defence. There’s very much a sense that all of the early groundbreakers have been surpassed, and that the myriad artists they’ve influenced have advanced far beyond the parameters their forebears pushed to new places. And they were already pushing on in 1989. Listening now, in 2017… ‘Dead Cat’ is a gnarly mess of humping and pumping, grind and drone, a seemingly formless throb of grating dissonance, and it sits well enough as a soundtrack. As a musical piece, the short (23-minute) version which closes CD2 is preferable: the plaintive mewlings stretched across the shuddering scrapes, punctuated by obliterative detonations, are challenging to the ears, but in some respects it feels all rather predictable. Whereas Throbbing Gristle still sound dangerous and deranged, ‘Dead Cat’ sounds like a safe assimilation of the template.

‘Thee Whale’, recorded on 23rd January 1988, is the soundtrack to the film Kondole, which was never made, although if it had been, it would have been 23 minutes long. ‘Thee Shadow Creatures’, the track which sits between ‘Thee Whale’ and the short ‘Dead Cat’ is also 23 minutes in duration. It’s dank and ominous, muffled rumblings and disembodied voices buried amidst swampy echoes. And way off in the distance, low in the mix and submerged by the distorted tribal rhythms, tortured jazz horns honk their anguish into the subterranean depths. While recorded some years later than the other tracks – in 1993 – it’s arguably the most successful, not least of all by virtue of being the most menacing, sustaining its atmosphere to the end.

As a whole, it is a nice set. As unsettling and noisy dark ambient works go, it delivers precisely what you would expect. And, regardless of my opinions as to whether or not it’s essential on any level, it is, unquestionably, a valuable and intriguing archive document. And on that basis, it’s very much worthwhile as an addition to the PTV catalogue.

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PTV - Kondole

Klangbad Records – 20th October 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

This is one difficult album to digest. It’s hard to assimilate, or even comprehend precisely what Audiac are aiming to achieve here. At first, the title track comes on like some kind of electro-soul effort with a soft-focus, analogue-hued retro vibe, augmented by some doodlesome 80s synths. But then everything goes haywire with eternal delay overlaps and there are overloading circuits and the soul turns to strain and… oh, it’s bending my brain.

Thankfully, the album’s second song, ‘People Going Places,’ is a relatively conventional piano-led post-rock ballad, with heartfelt vocals and soaring, quasi-operatic backing vocals. It perhaps goes without saying, then that conventionality is relative. It’s brimming with theatricality and bombast, a wildly extravagant composition

And back and forth it goes, alternating between weirdy and vaguely fucked-up experimental electronica and relatively straight piano songs with odd twists. There are moments of absolute beauty here, moments which not only tug on the heartstrings but nag at the corners of the soul. Audiac’s website places them as having ‘roots in the German Romantic Lied, chansons, theatre music traditions and the burlesque’.

‘Not Bound to Anything’ is scratchy and soulful: grandiose and , and there are hints of Scott Walker circa Tilt on ‘Doberman’, a bleak, piano-led piece that’s less post-rock drama than a warped and intense sonic smorgasbord, while the soft-edged ‘Dreamadream’ borders on the dreamy lounge side of synth pop. And then there’s ‘When You Say My Name’, which is subtle and sensitive, with its acapella opening and soft piano that gives way to brooding atmospherics before things get dramatic and a bit odd. JG Thirlwell’s post-millennium Foetus releases are something of a touchstone here.

Audiac could only ever hail from Germany. There’s something about the way they’re unbound by convention, about the undocumented, unspoken undercurrents of their sensibilities which belongs to Germany. Ultimately, though, So Waltz is an album that exists out of time and stands free of geography.

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Audiac – So Waltz

Brighton punk/riot grrrl group Pussyliquor have unleashed the video for ‘Kitty Kitty’, the second track from their forthcoming debut single ‘Pussyliquor’s 7inch Wonder’. Taking cues from Cosey Fanni Tutti, L7 and The Slits, they’re exponents of powerful feminist guitar-driven punk.

‘Kitty Kitty’ and the recent ‘Get Out’ both feature on the double A – Side limited edition seven – inch vinyl single on their own Revulva Records imprint. To celebrate the single’s release, the band will play a special London launch show at Birthdays in Dalston on Thursday the 28th of December 2017.

Buy the single here, and watch the video for ‘Kitty Kitty’ below.

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Pussyliquor

The French industrial-goth metal group Porn released their third album, The Ogre Inside, in October. The third video from it, for the slow-burning and atmospheric 9-minute title track, now appears on the same day as an EP of remixes of the song by Aura Shred, Heartlay and An Erotic End Of Times, entitled Inside the Ogre Inside.      

Band leader Philippe Deschemin explains : “The video was shot in Los Angeles in October. It follows the duality pattern that was noticeable in our previous video for ‘You Will Be The Death Of Me’, with alternating shots of two people, a male and female. The male is trapped in a sort of prison or factory cell, a small and darkened room, and condemned to work on basic machinery in a laborious routine. In an adjoining cell is the female, doomed to the same fate. The factory cells represent their lack of communication and the machines represent the routine of a relationship. We wanted to create a metaphorical version of a doomed relationship, one without soul and feelings."     

Watch the video here:

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Porn Inside