Archive for September, 2018

It’s the night before payday and I’m skint. I should probably be at home, sifting through the mountain of review submissions that have crashed into my inbox while I’ve been at work. I should probably be doing myriad other things. But having caught Dead Naked Hippies for the first time in Leeds a few months ago, I vowed to see them again at the first opportunity, and given that this was a free-entry show at a venue above a WMC two minutes’ walk from my house, there was no way I was going to miss this. And with bottles of Timothy Taylors’ Landlord at £3.20 a bottle, it wasn’t going to be a complete overdraft-smasher.

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I often experience a strange sense of déjà-vu, but tonight, I suffer a deep sense of disorientation on finding the room I’d previously watched bands perform in full of chairs, so I continue on up and lo, there’s a cluster of people, some of whom I recognise. Dave, aka Washing Machine Repair Man, who runs Young Thugs Records and it at the helm of the activities surrounding the Hovel – which is above a WMC in York’s South Bank, gives me a bit of a tour and shows me some of the changes they’ve made since I last visited. It’s impressive: the studio is now in a large, and rather plush room, and he’s excited about the potential of what was – and is, where he’s yet to begin work – a dilapidated but substantial space with a number of rooms.

And so I find myself in a room I’d previously sat in as a studio-in-progress, repurposed as a sort of rehearsal space with lights, before some kind of weird Japanese-made electronic organ / synth contraption from the early 80s. A dude in a cropped jumper and sporting a neatly-trimmed beard bounds about flamboyantly and chats entertainingly between songs played by the trio on said instrument. He’s accompanied by and shares vocal duties with a curly-topped chap in a bobble hat and a super-bouncy female singer / keyboardist in glasses. They sings off-kilter songs with pithy lyrics and groovesome rhythms and a certain retro vibe, which build a sort of narrative across the set. Welcome to the world of Drooligan. I haven’t quite made up my mind yet, but tonight they delivered something special, something engaging, something different. And something different is rare, which makes this quite the compliment.

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Drooligan

Being a small room, it doesn’t take many (half a dozen?) to make it feel quite full, and for it to get quite warm, and to describe the atmosphere of a gig venue smaller than my living room as intimate would be as weak an understatement as describing the sun as ‘quite warm’ or Brexit as ‘not the best idea ever’. But then, the Hovel Sessions aren’t really gigs in the conventional sense: the shows are filmed and serve more as a showcase performance and an ‘experience’ than your usual setup.

Casting sheets of paper to his feet like brutal and chunky confetti, live, clothed punk poet Henry Raby seems to have been taking performance tips from yours truly, and one of the three new pieces aired tonight takes cues in the opening segment from criminally underrated local performer Lawrence O’Reilly – but then, creativity in the postmodern age is all about drawing material from a wide range of sources and intertextuality isn’t simply about what’s written, and Henry’s style seems to be evolving. The last time I saw him was at that Dream Nails gig in a 400-capacity venue. It’s often more difficult to perform to a small audience, especially in a small space, but a seasoned performer, he does a decent job of it, firing out nuggets of socio-political commentary with energy.

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Henry Raby

Dead Naked Hippies are touring hard at the moment, and it was the fact I landed ‘Drain You’ for review last year that made me prick up my ears in the first place, before checking them out at The Belgrave Music all and Canteen supporting DZ Deathrays recently that ultimately brought me here tonight. As much as the music and the songs themselves, it was the band’s intensity – especially the electrical energy of Lucy Jowett – that makes them such a compelling act. Off stage, testing their snooker-playing skills, they’re an affable bunch, but give them instruments and amps and the fiery angst explodes instantly. The lumbering groove of new release ‘Rare’ sits neatly alongside the grungy ‘I Wanna Know Ya’ and some simple-but-effective rabble-rousing anti-work sloganeering.

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Dead Naked Hippies

It’s a fairly short set, but this much spikiness needs to be dispatched hard and fast for optimal impact. And in such a tiny space, the intensity is amplified. Maximum intensity: optimal impact. Blistering.

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Kranky – 28th September 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Total immersion. This is what I get from Tim Hecker, both recorded and live. Responding critically to such a sensation is a major challenge.

My first attempt to review Konoyo redefined ‘failure’, as I sat, vacant and staring for the duration without typing a word. Yes, other things happened around me: emails continued to ping into my inbox, text messages, Facebook notifications, and so on. So much peripheral shit. But while pushing all of this noise to the peripheries, I struggled – nay, found it impossible – to get a firm grasp on the drifting soundscapes of Hecker’s latest album. My second stab proved no different. I can no longer blame the distractions: I’m reminded of ‘seeing’ Hecker’s performance at the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds a few years ag. Purple smoke filled the room. It was so dense I couldn’t see my friend standing next to me: I felt as if I was in an isolation tank or a sleeping bag. With my surroundings completely removed, I found myself alone with the music, and in an almost trance-like state, swaying on my feet, in my own world. When things like this happen, I immediately assume I must have drunk more than I should or that I’m tired or something. But music at its most potent is like a drug, and Hecker has the capacity to transform the mental state and one’s relationship with one’s surroundings. And this is certainly true of Konoyo.

Inspired by conversations with a recently-deceased friend about ‘negative space’ and the banal density of contemporary music, Konoyo was largely recorded in a temple on the outskirts of Tokyo with a view to creating something that has room to breathe, rather more cerebral than physical, drawing back from sonic force to invite a different kind of engagement.

The first composition, ‘This Life’ wails eerily, resonant low notes hanging ponderously beneath escalating layers of discord that bow and shriek, before oriental motifs chime a certain note of freshness and innocence… but the notes are bent, the underlying washes of sound begin to twist, scrapes of extraneous noise swell to shrieks of metallic feedback.

As is Hecker’s signature, Konoyo, is very much about shifting textures and juxtaposed tonalities, but more than anything, the incidentals, the way layers fade in and out, and extraneous knocks and clatters suddenly appear from nowhere, and then disappear just as quickly. There are murky pulsations and hazy echoes that resonate through spatial densities that range from the subaquatic to the zero-gravity. Hecker conjures space outside of space, spaces which transcend both time and space to exist in another realm entirely, suspending time in the process. It’s ambience with edge.

An abrupt halt in the soothe drones just 20 seconds into ‘Keyed Out’ provides the album’s first real indication of just how difficult Hecker can – and will – make this. Jolting discord and jarring dissonance rupture the smooth, vaporous backdrop as thigs become overtly challenging around three minutes into this ten-minute journey through dissonance and sonic difficulty, across which a lacey cloak of accessibility slowly settles. The fifteen-minute finale, ‘Across to Anoyo’ is a slow-evolving epic which mutates from quiet mellowness into a warped, woozy discord, which twists Japanese motifs into funnelling electronic abstractions.

Piano tones which should offer tranquillity and comfort are rendered with an edge of attack and amidst a metallic edge of reverb, and nothing is quite as it seems or should be on Konoyo. It bends the brain and pushes the listener to explore unexpected spatial experiences, challenging connections to concrete orientation. The physical world disappears, and time evaporates. Konoyo delivers a path to transcendence.

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Hecker

Consouling Sounds – 5th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been five years since A Storm of Light graced us with Nation To Flames, released via Southern Lord. Anthroscene has a very different mood, and isn’t exactly a Southern Lord type of album. It’s still very much a metal album at heart, and still has the sharp, snarling throb of latter-day Ministry at its molten core – but on this outing, they’ve opened things up a way – without losing any of the fire.

Josh Graham’s take on the album is that “Anthroscene ignores genre and freely combines a lot of our early influences. Christian Death, The Cure, Discharge, Lard, Fugazi, Big Black, Ministry, Pailhead, Melvins, Pink Floyd, Killing Joke, NIN, Tool, etc. Where Nations to Flames was a very a focused sonic assault, this record has more time to breathe, yet still keeps the intensity intact. We allowed the songs to venture into new territory and push our personal boundaries. It’s heavy and intense, but always focuses on interwoven melodies, song structure and dynamic.”

It’s a slow build by way of a start: the six-minute-trudger that is ‘Prime Time’ is constructed around a stocky riff, choppy, chunky. The guitar overdriven and compressed, chops out a sound reminiscent of post-millennial Killing Joke. The vocals are more metal, and then it breaks into a descending powerchord sequence that’s more grunge. The overall feel, then, is very much late 90s and into the first decade of the noughties, and lyrically, we’re very much in the socio-political terrain of Killing Joke. Indeed, the shift in focus is as much about the album’s heart as its soul, as ASOL turn to face the world in all its madness and corruption and pick through the pieces of this fucked-up, impossible mess. It’s practically impossible not to be angry; it’s practically impossible not to feel angry, defeated.

‘Blackout’ grinds in with some big chuggage, and ‘Life Will be Violent’ is remarkably expansive as it howls through a barrage of percussion that blasts like heavy artillery for eight and a half minutes. There are no short songs here: Anthroscene is the post-millennial cousin of Killing Joke’s Pandemonium. Only, whereas Pandemonium was pitched as prophetic and prescient, Anthroscene is clawing its way through the wreckage that is the future now present. Yes, the damage is done, and we’re standing, looking into the rubble as the dust drifts across a barren wasteland. But we’re too busy on social media and with faces buried in smartphones and tablets to even contemplate what we’ve done, and our children, heading inexorably toward an existence bereft of meaning as they too bury their faces in smartphones and tablets and Netflix on the 50” flatscreen, have no idea.

But this is no by-numbers template-based regurgitation: Anthroscene is sincere, and original. The squalling guitars of ‘Short Term Feedback’ sizzle and squirm over a barrage of drums and throat-ripping vocals as A Storm of Light revisit industrial metal territory, tugging at Ministry and early Pitch Shifter by way of touchstones. Elsewhere, the lugubrious ‘Slow Motion Apocalypse’ fulfils the promise of the title, but perhaps with more emotional resonance than you might expect.

Anthroscene is harsh, but evokes steely industrial greyness in its dense, claustrophobic atmosphere. A challenging album for challenging times.

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CD/DL Fourth Dimension Records/Foolproof Projects FDCD107/PRJ049

7th September 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

The blurbage: Void Axis is Brighton duo Map 71’s fourth album. The previous one, Gloriosa, released on Fourth Dimension as both a limited edition cassette and, later, a CD featuring bonus material, saw them garnering more praise and attention than before. During the interim they have continued to play live regularly and have a few more shows planned around the UK in September and October, including an appearance at the Fourth Dimension Records’ label night at Cafe OTO on 19/10/2018, where they share the bill with Alternative TV, Richard Youngs and EXTNDDNTWRK (Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods’ solo endeavour). A 2×7” compilation will appear to coincide with this likewise featuring a track by them. Lisa Jayne (words and voice) and Andy Pyne (drums and electronics) are based in Brighton and became Map 71 in 2013.

The critique: This is glorious. It’s not accessible, easy, light. In fact, it’s anything but either. Atonal vocals and clattering motoric percussion dominate. We’ve moved a long way from The Fall and Kraftwerk, but at the same time, MAP 71 call to mind the sparse simplicity of Young Marble Giants, but synthier and dronier.

Blank, monotone narratives about nothing in particular drift out over repetitive synth oscillations and cyclical synthesised rhythms. For ever.

‘Nuclear Landscapes’ presents a thunderous, murky, barrelling noise by way of a backdrop. The rhythms are messed-up, sound bouncing against sound to build a dark mess of noise like tennis balls in a tumble dryer. Elsewhere, ‘The Future Edge’ goes murky and dips into Suicide territory with its dark, dank, throb which provides the sonic backdrop to Lisa’s expressionless spoken-word narrative.

‘Armour and Ecdysis’ goes spacious and eerie, with fear chords and heavy echo and infinite delay creating an unsettling atmosphere, while ’21:12’ goes dark and robotic in in its plundering of early 80s post-punk electronic works for inspiration. And it works Void Axis is tense and dark, and clinical and difficult in a stark analogue way.

Void Axis isn’t an album to engage with on an emotional level: there’s no engagement or resonance here.

Sonically, I’m reminded in some ways of Dr Mix and the Remix’s Wall Of Sound – the album released by Eric Debris post-Metal Urbain through Rough Trade in 1979 and which provide a blueprint for both The Jesus and Mary Chain and Big Black. Being one of my all-time favourite albums, this is a good thing: Void Axis is spectacularly primitive and claustrophobic and insular. And in its revisiting the technologies and production values of almost 40 years ago, Void Axis is also imbued with a certain sense of authenticity, despite its being spectacularly out of step with, well, pretty much any zeitgeist. Let’s face it, no-one else sounded like Dr Mix back then, and nor has anyone before or since, and the same is true of the drum-machine thump-led treble overload of Big Black.

But ultimately, what sells Void Axis is that is doesn’t sound like any other album. MAP 71 have found their niche.

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MAP 71 – Void Axis

Since the release of her previous album Five Incantations in 2016, internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail has been touring extensively across Europe performing alongside the likes of Boris, Amenra, Caspian, Myrkur and Winterfylleth. Festival performances this year include ArcTanGent, WGT, Dunk! and Tramlines Festival, and two separate concerts at the invitation of Robert Smith for his curation of the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival.

Jo’s new album Exsolve, recorded with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Conan), will be released on 2nd November. Watch the trailer with an excerpt of the track ‘Mandrel Cantus’ here:

European tour w/ Mono & A Storm of Light

01 Oct: Bristol, UK, The Fleece

02 Oct: Norwich, UK, Arts Centre

03 Oct: Glasgow, UK, Classic Grand

04 Oct: Newcastle, UK, The Cluny

05 Oct: Leeds, UK, Left Bank

06 Oct: Ghent, BE, De Central

07 Oct: Utrecht, NL, Tivoli De Helling

08 Oct: Bremen, DE, Tower

09 Oct: Dresden, DE, Beatpol

10 Oct: Wiesbaden, DE, Schlachtof

11 Oct: Aarau, CH, Kiff

12 Oct: Lyon, FR, CCO

13 Oct: Barcelona, ES, Aloud Music Festival

14 Oct: Toulouse, FR, Le Rex

15 Oct: Bordeaux, FR, Krakatoa

16 Oct: Orleans, FR, Astrolabe

17 Oct: Heerlen, NL, Nieuwe Nor

18 Oct: Oberhausen, DE, Drucklufthaus

19 Oct: Leeuwarden, NL, Into The Void

20 Oct: Athens, GR, Fuzz Club

22 Oct: St. Petersburg, RU, Zal

23 Oct: Moscow, RU, Zil

European tour w/ Myrkur

03 Dec: SE Stockholm, Vasateatern04/12 – NO Oslo, John Dee

05 Dec: SE Gothenburg, Pustervik

07 Dec: DK Aarhus, Voxhall

08 Dec: DK Copenhagen, Pumpehuset

10 Dec: PL Poznan, U Bazyla

11 Dec: PL Krakow, Kwadrat

13 Dec: HU Budapest, Durer Kert

14 Dec: AT Vienna, Arena

16 Dec: NL Tilburg, 013 KZ

18 Dec UK London, The Dome

19 Dec: UK Bristol, The Fleece

20 Dec: UK Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

21 Dec UK Glasgow, The Great Eastern

22 Dec: – UK Manchester, Gorilla

Jo Quail

Weekend Recovery are storming through 2018 with the release of their new EP ‘In The Mourning’. The EP is being released on the 27th September 2018 alongside a release show for Camden Rocks Presents on the same day followed by their home town release at The Key Club, Leeds. ‘In The Mourning’ sees the band release their most mature and personal tracks to date. The lead track has already received spins on Kerrang! Radio and Planet Rock, and it very much gets the Aural Aggro vote.

Coupled with assertive, assured and alluring performances, this EP is set to stun as Weekend Recovery keep their finger on the pulse of garage punk.

Check the video – EXCLUSIVELY – here:

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The EP was recorded and produced by Dan Lucas of Anchor Baby Recording Company (Chris Slade ACDC, Maid of Ace, Coco and the Butterfields) and mastered by Charlie Francis (REM, Catfish and the Bottleen, Kill It Kid)

Weekend Recovery formed in 2016 and have not been short of praise since. Various outlets have been quick to compliment Weekend Recovery such as BBC Introducing, NME, Music Glue and Indie Central Music. Additionally, Weekend Recovery have made appearances at NME Presents Evening whilst supporting acts such as INK. Featuringg McFly’s Dougie Poynter, Svetlanas and REWS. Following the release of In The Mourning, the band will continue on their biggest UK tour to date with over 50 dates and with more to be added in the future including Camden Rocks Festival, Tramlines Festival and Rebellion Festival.

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With its heavy dub bass and raw distorted vocals, the sound of ‘If I Die And Nothing Happens’ belies Hero’s playful lyricism. The dark spectral soundscape she builds evokes a deep volcanic winter as her ambient instrumentation facilitates the telling of a fundamentally human story. Hero’s lyrical quest for light also serves as an affirmation of life, and a recognition of the beauty around us. Moreover, it showcases Hero’s unique dynamism as a songwriter. There are light moments within the dark, as in her canny layered vocals and the sublime motorik outro. The glacial production style shines with the same vitality that Hero has carried through all her work. Ultimately, ’If I Die And Nothing Happens’ is a heady reminder of the heights of alternative music and its limitless potential to tell new stories and explore new ideas. Hero’s influences are vast, but she distils them into a sound that feels both effortless and rare.

Watch the video for ‘If I Die And Nothing Happens’  here: