Archive for November, 2018

Brooklyn duo GHXST have released ‘Gloom’, the third EP in their Nowhere trilogy, mixed by James Aparicio (Nick Cave, the Horrors).

The EP is the final iteration of a sonic journey that has taken the duo across America: from the sonorities of hyper-real deserts, back to New York’s no-wave.

The Sabbath-inspired riffs of their previous releases have faded in ‘Gloom’ into droning guitar feedback and reverb-drenched drum machines. Shelley X’s melancholy vocals serve as a anchor in the frozen emotional haze.

They recently released, ‘Ride’, the first single from the EP, a southern doom track with the paranoid swagger of Suicide’s electronic beats. The video features footage from New Orleans’ “Krewe of Boo” parade projected in a flickering, Lynch-esque dream.

Watch ‘Ride’ here:

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Movement-2 Records – 31st October 2018

Some things shouldn’t be rushed. And some things just take time, because. When it comes to the Gaa Gaas’ career and release schedule, both statements apply. 15 years on from their inception, they’re finally on the brink of the release of their debut album, and to build momentum, they’re throwing out a few tasters / reminders. Following a brace of EPs, V.O.L.T.A.I.R.E. was the band’s first single release back in 2010. And finally, it’s received a vinyl reissue, with a limited amount sold exclusively for Record Store Day 2018 prior to the official release date in October.

The physical format matters. For bands – anyone who was born pre-millennium, at least, I would say – the dream is to release music and be able to hold, as well as hear it. Music-making is a multi-media, multi-sensory practise, and how it’s presented is an integral part of the experience where consuming music is concerned. And for fans – the object is the gateway to the sonic experience, the tangible form to which the attachment to the music itself forms, presenting the band and their music and firing an infinite array of subliminal triggers and associations. The black-and-white cover art and labels say budget, independent, underground – and it’s all in the detail, like the hand-stamped number on the label. It gives a sense of artefact, of something to be treasured.

And rightly so: the single itself, it’s a stormer. The drums snake out of a screed of feedback and nagging, off-kilter, shrieking guitar that’s got a bit of Bauhaus about it before the bass cuts in with a funksome groove that again hints at Bauhaus’ ‘Kick in the Eye’ but equally hints at Gang of Four and Radio Four. It’s tense, dark, reverby post-punk with a twisted psychedelic edge that’s claustrophobic, desperate, anguished, the trebly, echoey production capturing the essence of early March Violets and at the same time offering an infectious hookiness.

Flipside – and yes, it’s a genuine, literal, flipside here – ‘Hypnoti(z)ed follows a similar trajectory, with a dense, throbbing bass groove and metronomic, mechanised doom disco drumming providing the skeleton over which they stretch a skin of spindly guitars and echo-soaked yelping vocals. Skeletal Family and The Danse Society’s early work comes to mind, but The Gaa Gaas bring a manic edge that’s uniquely their own, and Gavin Tate’s vocal only accentuates the fevered unpredictability of the skewed, clanging guitars.

The post-punk revival that spawned the likes of Interpol predates the emergence of The Gaa Gaas, meaning they don’t sit within that bracket in terms of timing, but then again, The Gaa Gaas don’t sit within that bracket stylistically, either. While Interpol, White Lies, et al feel somewhat studied, controlled, and produced even in their more formative stages, there’s something warped, unhinged, dangerous about this. And eight years on from its initial release, it feels more vital than ever.

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Gaa Gaas

Baptists have announced they are heading to Europe for the first time ever – supporting SUMAC, their third album Beacon Of Faith is out now via Southern Lord. Also joining the tour on select dates are Endon and Nordra. Find full dates below:

BAPTISTS EUROPEAN DATES:

08/03/2019    DK    Aalborg    1000fryd    w/ Nordra
09/03/2019    DK    Copenhagen    Alice    w/ Nordra
10/03/2019    SE    Gothenburg    Skjul Fyra Sex  w/ Nordra
11/03/2019    NO    Oslo    Blä  w/ Nordra
12/03/2019    SE    Stockholm  Kafe 44 w/ Nordra
14/03/2019    NL    Dortmund  Junkyard w/ Endon
15/03/2019    BE    Brussels    Magasin 4 w/ Endon
16/03/2019    UK    Bristol   The Exchange w/ Endon
17/03/2019    UK    Glasgow  Stereo  w/ Endon
18/03/2019    UK    Manchester    Deaf Institute w/ Endon
19/03/2019    UK    London    The Underworld  w/ Endon
20/03/2019    FR    Paris    Petit Bain w/ Endon
21/03/2019    DE    Karlsruhe    Jubez  w/ Endon
22/03/2019    DE    Leipzig    Institut Fur Zukunft w/ Endon
23/03/2019   DE    Berlin    Zukunft Am Ostkreuz  w/ Nordra

Listen to Beacon of Faith in full here:

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Baptists - Beacon

Hallow Ground – 16th November 2018

James Wells

While the majority of the releases on the Hallow Ground imprint which have come my way have been pretty noisy, the Gloryland EP by PLYXY is notable for being extremely mellow indeed. Pressed into heavyweight red vinyl (and available digitally), with three tracks on side one and two on side two, it’s something of a vintage-style EP.

Nothing really happens over its duration, and one might conclude hat while the digital version achieves optimal immersion and absolute ambience, the vinyl version gives the listener reason to move in order to flip the record, meaning they’re tugged from their soporific torpor for a moment. With a digital promo, I find myself drifting… drifting… heavy-lidded and drowsy.

In keeping with the loosely-formed Aural Aggravation project to divide ambient works into background and foreground (and whatever shade in between seems appropriate), Gloryland is for me the apex of ambient: I enjoyed it, but was close to sleep around the mid-point. And this is no criticism: we need mellow, and Gloryland is a totally pleasurable listening experience.

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PLYXY – Gloryland

GX Jupitter-Larsen – musician best known as the founder of noise act The Haters, who feature on some 300 or so releases, performance artist, conceptual artist, film-maker, writer, and ultimate polyartist – is the epitome of ‘cult’. Widely regarded, and avidly-followed by a small but discerning fanbase, he’s forged a career of enviable – and almost unrivalled in the broader field of ‘noise’ barring Merzbow and Whitehouse – duration stretching back to the 1970s.

With The Haters’ 40th anniversary looming large on the horizon, John Wisniewski snatched a brief Q&A with GX for a progress report…

John Wisniewski: What projects are you currently involved with, GX?

GX Jupitter-Larsen: 2019 is The Haters’ 40th Anniversary, so there will be a few releases and performances to mark the occasion. Including a double 10-inch on Influencing Machine Records. That’s a decade a side! Ha!

JW: What were the first recordings of yours like? Were they noise or collage?

GX: Kind of a mix of the two.

JW: What was the ethos of The Haters. What did you want to accomplish?

GX: I was in New York in 79; in many ways, The Haters was my reaction to being in THAT city at THAT time. New York in 79 was such a celebration of entropy and decay. I just wanted to keep the celebration going.

JW: What was the audience reaction at the time?

GX: People either got it or didn’t. Those who got it didn’t need to be told what was going on. Those who didn’t get it were never going to get it. Either you didn’t need an explanation, or no explanation would do. Forty years later, nothing seems to have changed much in that regards.

JW: Any future plans for you, GX?

GX: I’ve started working on my third feature-length movie. This one takes place in a library; a library full of noisy books. Ha!

JW: Do people still seek out challenging art today?

GX: Fewer and fewer. Sadly.

GX Jupitter-Larsen is on-line here.

Starsha Lee is set to release a new single to coincide with a London show at a 1-2-3-4 Presents night at The Victoria in Dalston on the 15th of November 2018.

‘Human, All Too Human’ was recorded recently with Nick Howiantz (Black Midi) at Brixton Hill Studios and is a hint of what to expect from the forthcoming ‘Plausible Hate’ EP which is set for release on Syndicol Music on the 23rd of November. Featuring four ferocious and infectious new songs that sound like nothing else around right now, also included here are ‘Antagonistic She’, ‘Marcel Duchamp’ and the EP’s eponymous title track.

Listen to ‘Human, All too Human’ here:

Room40 – EDRM419 – 30th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Despite having released about a thousand albums since first emerging in 1979 (Wikipedia states ‘over 400 recordings’, which still makes for a completists impossible dream), a new Merzbow album still instils a certain glimmer of excitement and anticipation. Perhaps it’s the fact that while Masami Akita’s work sits squarely in the domain of ‘noise’ and the element of surprise is limited when it comes to a new release – there’s no dropping of a sudden and unexpected pop or country album, for example – his capacity to push the parameters of a genre he almost singlehandedly defined means that there’s always something to warrant interest.

Writing on MONOAkuma, a live recording made in Brisbane in 2012 at the Institute Of Modern Art, Lawrence English, the man behind the ROOM40 label, recalls ‘this was the second time I had the pleasure to present him live in Australia. To me, this performance epitomises the physiology of Merzbow’s sound work. He creates in absolutes; sonically he generates a tidal wave of frequency that sweeps across the spectra with tireless frenzy. Merzbow’s capacity to conjure a massive swirling mesh of analog and digital sources is without comparison. His work is one of physiological and psychological intensity; a seething, psychedelic and utterly visceral noise-ocean.’

English continues by noting that ‘2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the commencement of Merzbow. This recording, which epitomises Merzbow’s 40 years as arguably the most important noise musicians of our time, demonstrates the intense and complex audio world Merzbow has created. It’s the perfect starting point from which to wade into the noise ocean that is Merzbow’s vast output.’

Sidestepping the fact Merzbow has been in existence almost as long as I’ve been alive, I’d be inclined to agree: MONOAkuma is quintessential Merzbow and encapsulates all of the defining features of said vast output.

I’ve personally only witnessed Merzbow once, performing in Glasgow in 2004 – a set which saw him split the signal between the PA and a massive – and I mean immense stack of Marshall cabs. Akita was barely visible, perched atop a wall of speakers that made the combined backline of both Sunn O))) and the Quo look like they’re travelling light. The sound he produced through this set-up was a face-melting, brain-bending, tone-shifting wall of noise. I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite the same since.

MONOAkuma, then, contains 50 minutes of classic Merzbow. It begins with s few seconds of scratchy feedback. It tweaks at the nerve-endings. And then the levee breaks and the sonic deluge explodes. All the frequencies, all the tones, all the textures erupt simultaneously and blister and burn and fire in all directions. It’s so dense, so immense, so all-encompassing and immersive: the experience is overwhelming. There is noise, and then there is Merzbow. There is so much detail here… although it’s almost impossible to absorb even a fraction of it with so much, and delivered at such volume. Everything is tossed and churned in a barrelling tempest of relentless abrasion that scours the skull’s interior – select cement mixer / blender / washing machine / oil drill / swirling vortex / apocalypse simile of choice here. Whiplash blasts of funnelling distortion howl and scream in a churning tunnel of overloading distortion, and within six minutes it’s hitting the lower levels of pain and by 21 minutes aural and psychological ruination is achieved. The power lies in the ever-changing textures and tones: there isn’t a second were the sound doesn’t change, and it’s this constant shift that makes it so powerfully challenging, with layer upon layer of howling racket tearing the air to the point of atomization.

Few artists – if any – have the capacity to inflict brain-pulping anguish like Merzbow. This isn’t just nose: it’s all the noise. All at once. Amplified to the power of ten to create screeding, screaming, multi-tonal, multi-faceted blitzkrieg. There is no respite, no space to make shelter. It hurts. And until you’ve experienced Merzbow in full effect, you really haven’t experienced noise. And MONOAkuma is relentless in its assault. This is total noise, relentless, obliterative, devastating.

But as punishing and oppressive as it is, there’s something cleansing and cathartic about it. And herein lies the pleasure of the pain and the ultimate joy of Merzbow.

Please note: All proceeds from MONOAkuma will be used to fund research and preservation attempts for the Tasmanian Devil, which in recent years has suffered greatly due to effects of a transmissible facial cancer.

Merzbow - Mono

Christopher Nosnibor

Fibonacci Drone Organ: three random words spliced together, unshackled from the constraints of context to allow free association to determine interpretation? Or a descriptive indication of what Dave Procter’s second- or t(h)ird-latest (this month saw the debut of HUNDBAJS, which is Swedish for dogshit, the absolute latest) of his myriad projects which include the Wharf Street Galaxy Band and Legion of Swine? The cassette release contains precisely no information whatsoever, even down to a track listing, but a spot of digging reveals that it’s the latter – which should come as no surprise, given that the man behind FDO curated a ‘10 Hours of Drone’ event a while back. The album contains two pieces, each occupying a side of the tape, and they’re formed around droning organ notes. Long, long droning organ notes.

And my (rather limited but suitably fruitful) research uncovered that FDO ‘uses the Fibonacci Series as part of the compositional process,’ that ‘the notes are chosen via dice rolls and coin tosses,’ and that ‘the durations of the notes are chosen by the Fibonacci Series. Notes are added at the appropriate time.’

From this, I infer that in technical / theoretical terms, FDO compositions emerge from an intersection of John Cage-inspired randomness and the mathematical precision of Fibonacci. What this actually means, ‘m not entirely sure, and thankfully, the technical aspects don’t impinge too heavily on the output from a listening perspective. Ultimately, it’s all drones. And on this outing the ‘appropriate’ time for adding noes is seemingly after an eternity.

This means that across the tape’s duration, not a lot happens. Notes may be added, but at such distance that the layers build so gradually that the pieces are over before much depth, resonance or layering has occurred. This is all testament to Procter’s unswervingly uncompromising approach to music-making, and encapsulates the reasons I personally hold him in such high regard (and it’s fair to say that if there’s one person I’ve worked with who’s intuitively understood my vision for creating spoken word with the most hellishly mangled noise, it’s Dave who’s been behind the majority of my best and most exhilarating collaborative live work). With more projects, pseudonyms and releases to his credit than seems humanly possible, he’s practically a one-man underground scene in his own right. Look up ‘northern avant-garde’, and you’ll likely find a picture of Dave Procter – or a bloke in a lab coat sporting a pig’s head or something.

Procter gets art, and is an artist, but doesn’t espouse the pretentious trappings of being an ‘artist’ (or, worse still, an ‘artiste’). Which means he can not only get away with releasing a tape containing 40 minutes of theory-backed drone without appearing a tit, but delivers some of the most brilliantly self-aware electronic drone you’re likely to find.

Side two (not that the sides are marked) brings a quavering decay to the elongated drones – which hover toward the higher frequencies – by way of contrast to the strong, stable drones of side one. The effect is cumulative and ultimately soporific, and it’s definitely the music and not the beer as I listen to the spindles rotate on my tape deck and the notes drift from the speakers. Sometimes, there’s no shame in sleep.

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If the Internet has changed anything for the better in the music industry, it’s surely the immediacy of the medium. Bands can not only connect directly with their fans, but can get material out without having to wait for the label and all of the associated parts of the machine to plan and pull together.

With their new video, which accompanies the song ‘Girl Talk’ from their recently-released ‘The New Argonaut EP’, Argonaut demonstrate just how fast it’s possible to move when you’ve got total creative control, having shot the footage on Hampstead Heath only yesterday and getting the video live on YouTube in under 24 hours. It’s a win for the DIY ethic and creativity. It’s also a fin vid and an ace tune…. And you can check it here: