Archive for October, 2018

28th September 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Disjointed. Fragmentary. Fractured. Sketchy. Incomplete. The ten pieces (untitled other than by numbers 1-10) on Refound are vague in structure, minimal in form, non-linear in trajectory, and often unclear in purpose. Hardly surprising, given that they emerged from improvisational sessions made with electronics and ‘inside piano’. I’m not sure if this is becoming increasingly popular as an instrument of choice in avant-garde circles, or I’m simply evermore aware of its use in the making of experimental music since I received a copy of Reinhold Freidl’s immense Inside Piano double CD four years ago.

But what are they doing to the piano to achieve these sounds? Precisely what ‘inside piano’ actually is remains is shade unclear. The liner notes to Friedl’s debut solo which effectively set the mark for and so defined the technique, is spectacularly oblique and vague in its definition of ‘inside piano’: The good old grand piano plays aggressive noise attacks, choir-like symphonic movements, strange complex sound fibrillations, sometimes lighting up single prepared piano notes, juxtaposed with the tremendous bass of the nearly three-meter long strings…

For Refound, Neumann and Neilsen’s improvised experimentations were remixed and realigned by the two contributing artists themselves to create something… well something. I was tempted to say that conveyed their joint vision, although what that vision is, assuming there was a vision beyond seeing what their playing together produced, is unclear.

Refound manifests as a succession of tweets, hisses, rumbles… skittering, bird-like treble and yawning mid-tone feedback. There’s no discernible trajectory, the pieces break off and stand separately from one another as a series of sketches rather than as a coherent, cohesive album.

 

 

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Andrea Neumann Mads Emil Nielsen – Refound

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2nd November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Not so long ago, I began a review by saying I felt sorry for Jo Quail. That was no slight on her musical output, but an observation that as incredible performer, it seemed wrong that she should be put on so early that her set was a third of the way through before the doors even opened. On listening to Exsolve, my awe of her musicianship is greater than ever, which only renders the injustice worse. To get the point: this is an incredible album, a triumph of musicianship and vision in tandem to create something not only greater than the sum of the parts, but beyond imagination.

The accompanying press release informs us that Exsolve is comprised of three tracks, with each one being broken down in to sections and movements across 45 minutes. Mastered by James Griffiths, himself a film composer, there is, the blurb notes, an almost symphonic quality to the album. This is true, but there is so, so much more, much of which defies conventional description: it speaks not to the domain of words, but the psyche.

The bald facts are that Jo Quail plays cello, and does so through a raft of effects to create sounds a million light years removed from the cello, looping bangs on the mic to create thunderous percussion and conjuring eerie moans and grating tempests of sound. The result is pretty heavy, not to mention intense.

Eight minutes into ‘Forge of Two Forms’, Quail is conjuring blistering interweaving prog riffs against a swirling backdrop of noise and thumping beats. Epic doesn’t come close. It sounds like a full band pushing into new realms of enormity, and with a blistering distorted picked motif that sounds like a crisply-executed lead guitar line, it’s easy to forget just how this music is made. Twelve minutes in, it’s tapered down to nothing and actually sounds like subdued, low-tempo orchestral dronings, creeping atmospherics and melancholy. The transitions are seamless, invisible, but definite as the extended soundworks transition between segments.

‘Mandrel Cantus’ sends sonar echoes across low, slow ripples of mellow cadences, and somehow builds into a monumental emulation of a guitar solo of monumental proportions. How did this happen? From whence did this immense sound emerge?

Everything coalesces on the third and final composition, ‘Causleens Wheel’ which begins delicately, builds to a rolling, roiling, sustained crescendo. It’s a multi-faceted composition, tonally rich and also moving, not just by force but by expression.

Powerful, graceful, compelling and dramatic, Exsolve is a remarkable album of rare quality.

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Jo Quail - Exsolve

Spanish metallers Bones Of Minerva have released a new single, ‘Privilege’, ahead of their run of UK shows this month.

You can hear ‘Privilege’ in full here:

The band are set to playing the following:

FRI 26/10 – Oxford – The Wheatsheaf (JamCity Promotions)

SAT 27/10 – London – The Dev (The Dev+Church of Cat Promotions)

Bones of Minerva are quickly developing a reputation as one of the must-see acts of the Spanish metal scene, bringing something different both on record and onstage, and they are a band who are working tirelessly to get their music to everyone they can. Their eclectic sound aims to combine visceral and melodic elements; merging heavy riffs, hypnotic rhythms, ethereal passages and raw lyrics.

In the age of digital media, selling out all the hard copies of an album is no mean feat, and October 5th saw their debut Blue Mountains (Nooirax/La Rubia Productions) reissued in a special edition including two new tracks.

The four-piece consisting of Blue (vocals), Chloé (bass), Ruth (guitars) was formed in 2013, with Nerea (drums) joining the band in early 2018. Blue Mountains came out early last year, followed by crowdfunded deluxe vinyl edition at the beginning of 2018.

After a year which has seen them embark on two tours of Spain and shows in Sweden, recording single ‘Vehemence’ for the Spanish film Call TV and a shout out as one of the albums of the year by Bandera Negra (Radio 3 España) the band is now gearing up for their first European tour, starting later this month with their first UK dates.

The end goal? To take their music as far as possible, with everything to gain and nothing to lose.

‘Privilege’ is available to stream now on youtube, soundcloud and bandcamp.

Initial selections available now; new official content to be added on an ongoing basis.

Band to sell guitars, amps, LPs and more from throughout career on Reverb

Wednesday, October 24, 2018-nugs.net, the leading live music distribution platform for concert recordings, webcasts, and live archival releases has partnered with Sonic Youth to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band’s landmark album, Daydream Nation.

Effective immediately, Sonic Youth fans can access the initial live audio and video content being offered through nugs.net’s ongoing archival release program.  This content is available in the nugs.net music streaming service as well as in multiple download formats ranging from MP3 to hi-resolution audio, as well as on CD.

"Through the years and as the times changed we recorded our live shows as often as we could, on cassettes, DATs, CD-Rs and later on multi-track recorders. We collected fan-generated audience tapes, shady bootlegs and anything we could get our hands on. We now maintain an archive of hundreds of hours of Sonic Youth concerts and we’d like to share some of our favorites, often from the best uncirculated source possible via nugs.net." said Sonic Youth drummer, Steve Shelley.

nugs.net founder and CEO, Brad Serling added "Sonic Youth’s music has influenced innumerable artists across many different genres, past, present, and will continue to do so into the future.  For fans this is an incredible opportunity to revisit what they delivered as a live band touring the planet for three decades."

Sonic Youth’s partnership with nugs.net kicks off with the following shows; additional releases will appear on a regular ongoing basis:

Audio releases at launch include:

  • November 5, 1988: Cabaret Metro, Chicago, IL USA
  • December 13, 1988: CBGB’s, New York, NY USA
  • August 17, 2002: Metro, Chicago, IL USA
  • August 22, 2007:  ABC1, Glasgow, Scotland*
  • October 21, 2009:  Columbiahalle, Berlin, Germany
  • August 12, 2011:  Williamsburg Waterfront, Brooklyn, NY USA

Video release at launch:

  • August 22, 2007:  ABC1, Glasgow, Scotland*

*In further recognition of the 30th Anniversary of the 1988 release Daydream Nation, members of Sonic Youth recently unveiled plans for special "30 Years of Daydream Nation" events to take place in select cities.  This will consist of the screening of three films and additional previously unseen footage. One film features a concert shot on video by filmmaker Lance Bangs, of the band playing Daydream Nation in its entirety in Glasgow, Scotland in 2007. 

Screenings have taken place in Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and Los Angeles, with a San Francisco screening tonight at The Alamo Drafthouse.  Future screenings are scheduled for Chicago, Austin, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn with potentially more dates on the horizon. Details for upcoming events are as follows:

  • October 24, 2018:  San Francisco, CA, New Mission Theatre with discussion panel featuring Lance Bangs, Steve Shelley, Sonic Youth archivist Aaron Mullan and Brian Turner in conversation.
  • November 11, 2018: Chicago, IL, Music Box Theater with discussion panel featuring Thurston Moore, Steve Shelley, and Sonic Youth archivist Aaron Mullan.
  • November 12, 2018:  Austin, TX, Alamo Drafthouse-Ritz with discussion panel featuring Lance Bangs and Matador Records’ Gerard Cosloy in conversation.
  • November 18, 2018: Philadelphia, PA, PhilaMOCA with discussion panel featuring Lance Bangs and Steve Shelley in conversation.
  • November 19, 2018: Brooklyn, NY, Alamo Drafthouse with discussion panel featuring Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Lance Bangs, and photographer Michael Lavine in conversation.

For those unable to attend these events, nugs.net will be making Lance Bangs’ film available on demand in the nugs.net subscription streaming service.  The show will also be available on DVD via nugs.net. Audio of the show will be made available as well.

The Official Sonic Youth Reverb Shop will launch on Tuesday, October 30, and will feature more than 200 pieces of gear used on tour and in the studio as far back as the 1988 and 1989 Daydream Nation tours through to 2011. The shop will also feature nearly 200 screen-printed show posters, rare poster-sized photographs, memorabilia, and personal relics from concerts throughout the band’s career.

To view currently available official Sonic Youth live releases please visit: https://nugs.net or download the app at http://nugs.net/app

Supernatural Cat – 8th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Eerie strings streak across an ominous low-end throb, transitioning expansive vaporous drones with serrated edges on the album’s first track, ‘Hefy Lamarr’ and it sets the ominous tone for the rest of the album, as piano notes hover in rarefied atmospheres with a slow-decaying sustain carried on a cold, dry echo. It’s minimal, sparse, dislocated, disconnected. There are no sonic hugs on Doppeleben. It’s an album that builds walls, force-fields. Nihilism, isolation, introspection… these are the moods of Doppeleben.

So what do we know about the artist? The Mon is the solo name of a new project by Urlo, best known as the lead vocalist, bass and synth player in heavy trio Ufomammut. Doppelleben is The Mon’s debut album, and, as the press release notes, ‘where Ufomammut create mind-expanding, heavy psychedelic, almost other-dimensional sounds, The Mon by comparison is far more intimate, looking inward, as Urlo explores and examines his inner most thoughts through music.’

And Doppeleben is very much an introspective set, which is far from heavy and as such, it is very much a departure from Urlo’s work with Ufomammut. But heavy is relative, and ‘Relics’ still manages to come on like Ministry on ketamine, with distorted, raw-throated vocals hollering out against a backdrop of plodding percussion and howling feedback. It’s representative, but it isn’t: the atmosphere of Doppeleben recreates the claustrophobic intensity of The Cure’s Pornography, while drawing on the stark discomfort that pervaded the alternative scene circa 1979-1983.

Fear chords ripple, delicate notes drip and drop over slow surges of dark density which rise and swell through interminable sustain. ‘Hate One I Hate’ sounds like Earth circa 1992 covering ‘One Hundred Years’ by The Cure. Devoid of percussion, the glacial synths and thick, crawling guitars coalesce for create a spine-stiffening tension.

With clattering metallic drums battering away in the background, ‘Blut’ grinds hard at a bleak post-punk seam, landing somewhere between Movement era New Order and Downward Spiral era NIN, with hints of Visage’s ‘Fade to Grey’ thrown in for good measure. It’s compellingly intense and makes optimal use of a handful of chords in a descending sequence.

In contrast, ‘Her’ offers a bend of shoegaze haze and Bauhaus-hued art rock as it washes blank curtains of synth and monotone vocals before a cascade of slide guitar swerves its way into the mix. And yet never could it be as far removed from country as the notes bend and glide and slide to fade.

Low, slow, and dark, there’s an oppressive density to Doppeleben which is hard to define and even harder to let go.

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The Mon – Doppeleben

Starsha Lee has released her new single on Syndicol Music.

‘Antagonistic She’ was recorded recently with Nick Howiantz (Black Midi) at Brixton Hill Studios and is the first single to be lifted from the forthcoming ‘Plausible Hate’ EP which is set for release in November. Featuring four ferocious and infectious new songs that sound like nothing else around right now, also included here are ‘Human, All Too Human’,‘Marcel Duchamp’ and the EP’s eponymous title track.

Not for the faint of heart, the multi – talented Starsha Lee is a visual artist from Portugal who sings with all the subtlety of a dentist’s drill. During her relatively short time based in London, she has already developed a reputation around the capital’s gig goers as a truly exhilarating live performer that demands the utmost attention.

Recent singles ‘Mothers Mess’ and ‘Uncle Nietzsche’ saw Starsha Lee pick up public acclaim together with critical praise from, amongst others, the likes of Alternative Press and Louder Than War who proclaimed that “the new rock’n’roll queen is in town”.

Starsha Lee together with her band will play a London show at a 1-2-3-4 Presents night at The Victoria in Dalston on Thursday the 15th of November. More UK live dates will be announced over the next few months to coincide with the EP release.

EP tracklisting:

01. ‘Antagonistic She’

02. ‘Human, All Too Human’

03. ‘Marcel Duchamp’

04. ‘Plausible Hate’

Listen to ‘Antagonistic She’ here:

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Watch ‘Uncle Nietzsche’ here:

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Starsha Lee

Karl Records – 21st September 2018

James Wells

There’s nothing like an intriguing title, or one which ignites the imagination to generate interest in an album – or maybe it’s just me. And so the curious selection of the pairing of ‘runt’ with ‘vigor’ piqued my interest: the idea and image of a runt, smaller and weaker than nature intended, flailing feebly but energetically… Paired with the collage cover art, it all points toward something far-out – and I’m not mistaken or misled.

Now, I’m more accustomed and adjusted to music from the furthest, most extreme fringes, avant-gardism that redefines bizarre, inexplicable, outré. Chen is so outré that she’s bypassed me for all of 30 years, which includes a prodigious solo career punctuated by myriad collaborations that accounts for the last 15.

While much of her output is centred around cello, voice, and analogue electronics, vocal explorations have been at the heart of her most recent works including this four-track offering, which contains forty minutes of gulps, clicks, gargles and hums all emanating from the mouth and throat. Ululations and stuttering glottal stops create the very fabric of the compositions and occupy the foreground, along with asthmatic, gasping breaths, atonal, meandering whistles, and strangulation sounds.

While it’s more overtly ‘musical’ than Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for Voice which stands by way of a relatively obvious comparison, it’s not less disturbing or strange, and it’s impossible to distinguish the origins of all of the sounds here; the whispering hums, drones and wavering gusts of wind are, I would assume, as likely to originate from the artist’s body as from an instrument. It’s the way in which everything is rendered obscure, the voice twisted, pushed, pulled, distorted and disfigured beyond all recognition from the conventional utterances of speech, song, or even flatulence, which is so awestriking.

You may hear albums which share the same sonic territory, but I’d wager none will have been created in the same way.

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Audrey Chan