Archive for January, 2019

Evi Vine previews ‘My Only Son’ single ahead of the Black Light White Dark album. The new LP features The Cure’s Simon Gallup, Fields of The Nephilim’s Peter Yates and Martyn Barker (Shriekback, Goldfrapp).

Evi formed this band while living in LA, quickly getting a support show opening for Slash at the Whiskey-agogo. She has collaborated with Graham Revell (SPK, The Crow Soundtrack), The Eden House, Tony Pettit (Fields of the Nephilim), and Peter Yates (Fields of the Nephilim).  In 2016, Evi sang on Phillip Clemo’s DreamMaps album, together with Talk Talk’s Simon Edwards and Martin Ditcham, subsequently making appearances on BBC6, BBC3 Late Junction and Jazz FM.

In recent years, Evi Vine has toured with The Mission, Chameleons Vox, Wayne Hussey, And Also The Trees, Phillip Boa and The Voodoo Club, and Her Name is Calla. After hearing Evi Vine’s debut album and including it among his top five albums, Wayne Hussey invited them to tour with him in 2016 and subsequently with The Mission in 2017. Invited on stage to sing three songs by The Mission, the seed was sown and Vine joined The Mission as featured vocalist for their 30th Anniversary Tour.

Watch ‘My Only Son’ here:

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Evi

Panurus Productions – 22nd February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

It promises ‘a voyeuristic excursion through the concrete labyrinth of Greater Manchester. A collage of the constantly evolving sensory barrage of the big city and it’s accompanying paranoia. The infinite possibilities of an adopted home and the entangled memories of the intrepid listener.’ It’s also pitched as a ‘prequel’ to Absolution – by which I’m assuming that the August – December 2017 recording of Burden predates that of Absolution, released in March last year.

It matters little. Chronology is a construct. While an individual’s actions may follow a simple chronology, events overall do not: things happen simultaneously, and in different locations. Those lines of time and location are distorted by real-time communication by such means as telephone and television, which can temporarily connect different time-zones and countries, even bridging periods of history. Letters, on the other hand, have an effective time delay. The idea that events can be charted by means of a simple chronological timeline is further discredited when thoughts and recollections, as well as dreams, can occur completely at random and in a fragmentary manner.

Supposedly combining ‘snippets of conversation and field recordings [filtered] through Kepier Widow’s digital ear’ and combined ‘with droning synth and bubbling glitches’, the two messy, disorientating, half-hour sound-collages (corresponding with the two sides of a C60 cassette) pay no heed to chronology or sequentiality. This, of course, is the beauty of the medium, in that it is non-linear, articulating instead the simultaneity of experience. And while it’s impossible to extract any semblance of narrative or even cohesion from the jumble of chatter, birdsong, car engines, grinding synths and wispy mists of ambient abstraction, often overlapping into one another, and occasionally all at once, Burden replicates – in a warped but intensely immersive way – the experience of traversing a large city. It’s loud, a collision of sound, uncoordinated, discordant, disorientating.

Some of the electronic intrusions penetrate with some pretty harsh noise. There are unsettling, hums and drones, and glitchy ruptures kink the flow of any attempts to create smoother, more linear flows. Sonorous, undulating ripples of sound weave in and out. There is no structure. There doesn’t need to be – nor should there be. Everything simply ‘happens’. And this is life.

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God Unknown – 22nd February 2019

Cristopher Nosnibor

The first sound is a murky, rumbling boom. Then silence, before another eventually follows. The stage is set, and it’s in darkness. The atmosphere is oppressive and laden with an air of uncertainty. What lies ahead?

When the first song proper, ‘In Amber’ arrives, it feels like a weight being lifted: the delicate, supple guitar notes cascade and hang in the air with room to breathe. The mellifluous tones unfurl softly. Sonically, there are certain parallels with recent Earth recordings and Dylan Carlson’s solo works, in that the compositions on Heaven In The Dark Earth are simple, sparse, and focus strongly on the tonality of the clean guitar sound.

This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise: Jodie Cox, who makes up one half of Markers, featured on Earth’s 2014 LP Primitive and Deadly. Along with Jason Carty another member of the London math rock scene in the late 90s / early 00s, the duo made a conscious decision to abandon all of the trappings of rock to produce something raw, honest, and with a are sense of focus.

The text which accompanies the release explains at length how the project is ‘an expression of their deeply seated need to challenge themselves in their natural inclinations through a radical departure from genre music and an attempt to exploit more nuanced musical realms, along with less obvious aspects of their artistic personalities. Having stripped their sound to the bare minimum by eliminating vocals and rhythm section, they are compelled to focus on every single note produced by their instruments. That, in turn, enables them to discover a whole new range of structural possibilities and, ultimately, achieve a higher degree of emotional expression’.

It’s in the exploration of structural possibilities that Markers place the greatest distance between themselves and Carlson / Earth: whereas the seminal Seattleite emphasises the power of cyclical motifs and repetition, Cox and Carty create compositions which slowly evolve, spreading forth like verdant tendrils in the freshness of spring.

The contemplative, considered, even hesitant string picks often reverberate for an age, and evoke simpler times way back in the mists of time, an arboreal world before the advent of cities and industrialisation. It’s evocative, not of anything specific, but conjures a vague sense of nostalgia for something just out of cognisance.

The sweetness, the light, is interspersed with brief interlude pieces which are darker, more ambient. These contrasts render the expansive explorations of string against fret all the more uplifting in their purity, and make Heaven In The Dark Earth an album which brings everything its title suggests: an album to explore, but also to bask in as light overcomes darkness not by force, but through purity.

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Markers

Christopher Nosnibor

I keep seeing articles, usually shared on social media, about the plight of the small venue, how they’re struggling and their numbers diminishing at an alarming rate. Often, the emphasis is on how little venues are the lifeblood of the music industry, and without them, the industry would die, seeing as pretty much any artist starting out cuts their teeth in such places. I would also note another vital role played by small venues: they’re not all about the industry, or nurturing the talents of the next big thing, but cater to those who crave alternatives. Niche audiences collectively make up as great a proportion of the music-consuming, gig-going public as the more mainstream section.

I’ve just watched a beefy guy with a ruddy face and sweat pouring off him, screaming his lungs out while wearing only boxers and a pair of DMs. You’re never going to get that at an O2 Academy. But there’s undeniably a place, and an audience, for it. Yes, Manscreams make for an exhilarating and exhausting start to an evening – with free entry – that boasts a typically loud and varied lineup as curated by Soundsphere’s Dom Smith.

Their name describes their brand of grunged-up hardcore punk pretty much perfectly. And if the overtly masculine trio’s abrasive racket is superficially an excuse to air some testosterone, with Jon Donnelly’s performance making occasional nods to Henry Rollins, closer inspection reveals that for all the aggression, this is the tortured ventings of impotent rage. Exchanging words with a couple of the band afterwards, as Jon, dressed once more, retrieved his glasses and phone from his rucksack only confirms this: they’re pretty meek, ordinary guys for whom the music is their outlet, and their way of dealing with the fucked up shit that is life.

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Manscreams

Apparition showcase a fucked-up, massively overchorused guitar sound that’s straight out of 1984. We’re tripping onto obscure territory here, with the band landing somewhere between early Danse Society and Murder the Disturbed, and the songs are complex in structure, with accelerations, decelerations and tempo changes here, there and everywhere. They’re a barrage of treble, with two guitars, drums, synth and no bass, and assail the crowd with an analogue primitivism and angular aggression propelled by some thunderous drumming that’s centred around heavy use of toms and rapidfire snare work. There’s rough edges and even rough centres, and the singer is yet to fully master mic stand control, but this all adds to the charm and the sense of period authenticity, and I’m certainly not the only one in the room who’s totally sold on their style.

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Apparition

In many ways, there’s not a lot to say about PUSH: the full-throttle screamo punk duo (are they brothers? Twins) are on the attack from the first bar, thrashing out a fast-paced and frantic set. With elements to That Fucking Tank and No Age pushed to the fore and cranked up to eleven, if Pulled Apart by Horses had been a duo, they’d have probably emerged sounding like this. It’s all over in a loud, shouty blur.

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PUSH

Newmeds have totally nailed what they do. I had fairy low expectations given their presentation, mostly shiny new tats and black hoodies, but straight out of the traps, they’re a raging guitar-driven hurricane. Their stab at audience participation and encouragement to clap notwithstanding, their calls to move forward are met positively, enabling their front man to engage in some crowd surfing – which, given the height of the stage and the ceiling, and the size of the crowd, was no mean feat. But they emanate real energy and play with relentless power, and watching them rev up a small crowd like it was an arena show, it isn’t hard to see the potential. Maybe there’s something for the industry after all.

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Newmeds

The same is true of On The Ropes. I’ve known Jonny Gill for years, and seen him perform solo acoustic countless times, but never before with his band, On the Ropes. ‘I just run around a lot,’ Jonny told me before the show, and it’s a fair summary of his stage performance, most of which happens in front of the low stage.

I’ve been pretty venomous in my critiques of punk-pop acts over the years, and I won’t deny that OTR could easily be just another vaguely emotastic guitars and whines band. I also won’t deny that with the right PR, they’d be all over Kerrang! Radio in an instant. Whether or not it’s my bag shouldn’t detract from the fact they’re a cracking live act with some corking tunes. But more than that, being a cracking live act, I find myself completely drawn to them in the moment. Gill is a blur, and isn’t still for a second. It’s the energy, the sincerity, the emotional honesty, and the massive bass drive, and the way these elements come together to create a positive rush.

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On the Ropes

There’s much hugging and handshaking afterwards, and as much as I’m not a hugger or a handshaker or a fan of the kind of music played by Kerrang! the vibe is the key. we’re all here because we’re misfits together, and we’re all passionate about music, regardless of genre, regardless of, well, anything. This is the way it’s meant to be. Five bands for no money and beer at £3.60 a pint. It doesn’t get better.

Protagoniste

I love unusual instrumentation, and am often amused and entertained by the repurposing of non-musical items and objects for music-making purposes. The stranger and more overtly non-musical, the better, of course. But do we really believe the credits on Ilex, which sees Xavier Charles and Jacques Di Donato (whose 12 Clarinets in a Fridge I covered somewhere at the time of release) reunited for a follow-up to 1995’s Du slavon glagol listed as playing ‘clarinet, helicopter’ and ‘clarinet, lawn mower’ respectively? I wouldn’t like to completely rule it out: although there are no obliterative motorised walls of noise blasting away the speakers at any point on Ilex, there’s a lot of distant drones, hums and extraneous noise in the background on a number of the album’s fourteen pieces.

Born out of improvisation and subsequently evolved, each piece is different, if not entirely distinct, as the pieces often bleed together or are otherwise tightly packed. The lengths of the pieces vary considerably, too, from fragmentary, sub-two-minute interludes to complex, expansive compositions more than three times that. Collectively, they form a body of work which his often evasive in its ever-shifting form. In terms of mood or style, Ilex is neither one thing or another: it’s not even categorizable as experimental, really, slipping as it does from abstract to ambient to parping free jazz – although thankfully, there’s not of much of the latter.

From hesitant, clattering percussive sounds, resembling tabla or similar small hand drums to sighing drones, it’s often difficult to relate the sounds to the clarinet, or, in some instances, any instrument at all.

Ilex is, however, without question, abrim with clarinets. It pours, oozes and froths with a wash of clarinets. Clarinets that alternately trill and toots like The Clangers on a veritable cocktail of drugs, zipping from wired hyperactivity to opiate-slowed torpor. Often resembling strings rather than woodwind, elongated, woozy hums and drones abound, ominous hovering notes and scrapes and shards, whistles and tweets of feedback-like treble grate against one another, the resonances creating a subtle tension.

On Ilex, the performers push not only the parameters of their instrument of choice, but also their playing, combining a mix of conventional and innovative techniques to create something that balances the familiar and the strange. It’s this juxtaposition that ultimately renders Ilex not only a most interesting work, but an artistic success.

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Ilex

Exile On Mainstream – 22nd February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I hear this a lot, at work, at home. People tell me that I must relax. I disagree, of course. It’s not healthy to get too comfortable. To relax is to be vulnerable. You make yourself vulnerable, you’re open to attack, and also emotions. Who needs any of that? It’s not that sensitivity is undesirable in these times of dehumanised capitalist culture, as much as it’s dangerous, a risk to self-preservation. Taking a cynical view, relaxation and wellbeing are avenues which pave the way to exploitation. No, better maintain a hard exterior even while you’re breaking on the inside. Never relax.

There’s absolutely nothing relaxing about the squeal of feedback and distorted, tortured vocals that shred the speakers in the opening moments of the album’s first cut, ‘Hollywood 2001/Rollrost’. The closest comparison I can draw is to early Whitehouse: shards of treble and humming lower-end feedback provide a brutal, unstructured backdrop to vocals designed to inflict maximum pain.

Things to become overtly rock thereafter, with the grinding sludge riffery of ‘Old Overholt’ bringing maximum gnarly grind. The repetitive, barrelling bass trudges on remorselessly, while thunderous drumming explodes amidst a wall of obliterative guitar noise that’s very much about the texture rather than the tune. Ten minutes later, it bleeds into the title track, which sounds more or less the same, but half as slow again. The bass is so low and murky as to vibrate the bowels. The vocals are warped, distorted, a demonic howl from the pits of fiery hell. But it’s not unbearable; the heavy psychedelic leanings give both a kind of context and bring a certain groove. As whiplash whirls of flange fire in and it transmogrifies into some raging beast that’s half Hawkwind, half Sabbath on Ketamine, samples begin to echo around in the murk, adding further layers of suffocating sound on sound.

And as the album progresses, so the songs get longer and gnarlier, the riffs more cyclical and tightly wound and packed with a greater intensity. By the time they piledrive into the eighteen-minute finale, the volcanic assault of ‘CBD/Herinunder’, the earth has shifted on its axis under the sheer weight of the thunderous riffery, guitars so dense as to have created their own gravitational force.

There’s an agonising eternity between each beat, each driving power-chord, the grainy blast of distortion channelling down and re-emerging as a howl of feedback sustain. And on and on it grinds. And in its own perverse way, with its dense, rich wall of overdrive crawling at a tectonic pace, ‘CBD/Herinunder’ brings a certain cannabinoid comfort. It’s not the stoner mellowness of HTC, but the quiet delivery of a more settled underlying state.

It’s still by no means relaxing, but it is a superlative example of no-messing, slow-churning monster riffing.

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Bellrope

Drid Machine Records – 7th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Fuck me. I was trying to remember what I’d thought of the previous eponymous Golden Oriole album, when I read the accompanying press release, which reminded me. Is it an ego thing? Perhaps. But there are times when music reviewing is a pretty thankless task, so to see your own words quoted provides a certain sense of validation. Admittedly, when this happens to me – and it does with moderate frequency and regularity – I find myself staring at the words and wondering if I rally wrote them. They sort of look like something I’d write… But better. Life’s too short to be precious about your words, and there’s just too much new music flying round to labour for a lifetime on every review.

Norwegian experimental duo Golden Oriole – consisting of Thore Warland, Kristoffer Riis – know how to augment a hard-hitting sonic attack. And II continues the trajectory of its predecessor, with some thumping beats and a chaos of discord all around. II contains just two pieces, occupying a side of vinyl / cassette apiece, and given this much room to explore, they really do head every which way.

After an epic – and I mean truly epic – thrashing funk-driven workout that bumps and grinds an grooves and bounces on for about a quarter of an hour, ‘The Waxwing Slain’ crunches to a halt and leaves a painful trail of feedback, holding a single torturous note for a number of agonising, excruciating minutes. The fact I actively enjoy those minutes may indicate a hint of a masochistic streak, and I’ll live with that: the point is that the duo never bow to expectation or even soften toward accommodating any prospective audience’s listening tolerances. It’s the very definition of uncompromising. It’s the apex of angular. If brutal funk sounds like an oxymoron, then you need to get your lugs bent by this demented shit.

‘Až Přijde Kocour’ plunges even deeper – miles deeper – into a frenetic explosion of scratchy, scribbled guitars and spasmodic bass against a tumult of percussion. Just when you feel like your head might explode, they bring everything right down around the four-minute mark…. The quiet strains of distant feedback provide but a brief respite before the sonic mania of Beefheart on all the drugs ever made

The passage that almost contains a strolling bass doesn’t really contain a strolling bass, as much as a bass that tries to stay nonchalant, but can’t help but twitch and spasm like it has a wet finger in a live socket: it sounds like three songs at once as those squelchy low frequencies bounce beneath a rippling sonorous drone while the drums hammer out a rhythm somewhere between drum ‘n’ bass and a military march. It’s :

Of brain-pulping brilliance.

You can’t dance to this. You can’t even not knowingly. In fact, I’ve no real clue what a rational or sane response to this is. Truth is, I don’t even know what this is, other than that it’s deranged, loud, chaotic. If it’s one thing, it’s truly genre-defying.

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Golden Oriole – Golden Oriole II