Archive for July, 2019

Editions Mego – EMEGO264 – 5th July 2019

Australian avant-gardist Oren Ambarchi has enjoyed a varied career spanning over three decades, and includes among his associations Sunn O))), Merzbow, and Burial Chamber Orchestra. To describe his output as ‘prodigious’ would be an understatement.

According to the press release, ‘Simian Angel finds Oren Ambarchi renewing his focus on his singular approach to the electric guitar, returning in part to the spacious canvases of classic releases like Grapes from the Estate while also following his muse down previously unexplored byways’.

It continues: ‘Reflecting Ambarchi’s profound love of Brazilian music – an aspect of his omnivorous musical appetite not immediately apparent in his own work until now – Simian Angel features the remarkable percussive talents of the legendary Cyro Baptista, a key part of the Downtown scene who has collaborated with everyone from John Zorn and Derek Bailey to Robert Palmer and Herbie Hancock’. Some of this has meaning: a lot of it doesn’t. I don’t know everything, and nor have the time or inclination to research. Jobbing reviewers crib from press blurbs and make like they know stuff. The majority are lying.

Neither Brazilian music nor guitar are overtly apparent on the two long-form tracks which make up Simian Angel: the sixteen-minute ‘Palm Sugar Candy’ consists of supple, trilling organ notes drifting across clopping, loping, irregular wood-based percussion which fades out to nothing leaving only soft, whisping tones which weave in and out of one another.

The title track is vague, piano notes rising into a rarefied air. It builds gradually into flurries of notes which flutter like snow in a breeze, skittering unpredictably. Baptista’s contribution is remarkable in its subtlety: a sedated heartbeat pulse which occasionally stutters and stammers. Around the mid-point of this twenty-minute mod-inspiring epic, the piano halts unexpectedly and an upward gliding drone alters the previously straightforward trajectory of the composition. Simmering down into twittering gentleness, subtly twisted with the slightest hints of dissonance and eventually transitioning into some mellowed-out semi-ambient reinterpretation of minimalist jazz – which isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. Instead, the slowly insistent beats force something approximating a solid frame on which all the other abstraction hangs – and it works.

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Oren Ambarchi – Simian Angel

Canadian composer Scott Morgan shares a video for the track ‘Equivalent 6’, taken from his 12th long-player as Loscil, Equivalents.

The album takes its title from an influential series of early 20th century photographs by Alfred Stieglitz, abstracting clouds into miasmic, painterly canvases of smoke and shadowplay. It’s a deeply fitting analog for Morgan’s own musical process across the past two decades, fraying forms and tones into widescreen mirages of opaque texture and negative space. The name Equivalents referred to Stieglitz’s notion of the photographs as being equivalent to his “philosophical or emotional states of mind;” the same could be said of these eight weighty, shivering chiaroscuros of sound. Each piece unfolds and evolves enigmatically, adrift in low oxygen atmospheres, shifting dramatically from pockets of density to dissipated streaks of moonlit vapour.

The entirety of the record was created specifically for the album with the exception of ‘Equivalent 7’, which began as a dance score for frequent collaborator Vanessa Goodman. The album version of this track was reworked with Vancouver musician Amir Abbey aka Secret Pyramid.

Watch the video here:

Sound in Silence Records – 29th May 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

What do we know? The press blurb says that ‘øjeRum is the ambient solo project of musician and collage artist Paw Grabowski, with previous releases on labels such as Fluid Audio, Eilean Rec., Shimmering Moods Records, Champion Version, Unknown Tone Records and many others,’ and his work is ‘recommended for fans of William Basinski, Brian Eno, Harold Budd and Tim Hecker’.

I have no idea what Alting Falder I Samme Rum translates as, but it contains six tracks numbered I – VI which are built on rippling, pulsating, almost subliminal rhythms. This is the kind of soft, fluid electronica that for me conjures images of deep-sea jellyfish, the likes of which pulse with luminescence as they surge smooth , silent, and with barely a hint of resistance through the dense waters drifting with plankton and minuscule creatures which hang, mote-like, in suspension. What is their purpose? On what do these near-microscopic organisms feed? It will never cease to bewilder me that we know less about both the deepest parts of the ocean, and the human mind, than we do about near space and even further afield.

Alting Falder I Samme Rum exists between space and the interior of the mind, and as such is an exploration into the unknown. It hovers and hums and slowly ebbs and flows. It feels otherworldly, far beyond this world. And I am transported.

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øjeRum – Alting Falder I Samme Rum

Cruel Nature Records – 29th July 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, social networking really works. When Facebook isn’t about infighting, trolling, bitching, pissing and moaning, and people accept contact from strangers based on mutual friends and mutual interests, good stuff happens. I can’t exactly recall how I came into contact with James Watts, who runs Newcastle-Upon-Tyne based tape label Panurus productions, but some months after, I ended up performing in London alongside Lump Hammer, one of his numerus musical vehicles, thanks to another mutual friend with a penchant for big, noisy guitars who found me via Aural Aggro reviews. And so it came to pass that said mutual friend – Owen, from Modern Technology – introduced me and Steve Strode, who’s also in a bad and who also runs another Newcastle-based tape label, Cruel Nature Records. Fret! happen to feature Strode on guitar (twang), alongside Rob Woodcock (credited with ‘flails / screams’) and Cath Tyler (‘thrum / la’). And with cover art by Tom McCarthaigh, the design/layout is courtesy of none other than James Watts. It really is a small world. Especially in Newcastle.

This is lo-fi, low-budget, scuzzy. The production is proper rough, the guitar sound fuzzed-out and unpolished – we’re in home-recorded four-track demo quality here, with crackling at the edges and needles pushing the top ends of red, and opener ‘Belly’ comes on like early Fall with its repetitive riffage played rough ‘n’ ready. It seems fitting, not only because this is a cassette release, but because this is underground in every way.

On the lumbering slow-pace riff noise of ‘Hucknall’ (pretty much all of the titles are indecipherable one-worders), there’s a hoarse howl all bit buried in the mix, by accident or design, countered by a drawing monotone counterpoint. ‘Davy’ goes for the all-out screaming racket that not quite metal but is unquestionably all-out in its frenzied brutality, but most of the album favours the frenetic but contained blistering squall of 90s alternative. By which I mean bands like Fudge Tunnel, Terminal Cheesecake, Helmet, are all viable and appropriate reference points, and by which it should be apparent that this is a monster riffageous racket of the highest order. ‘SUSD’ sows it down, grinding away at a repetitive cyclical riff that’s as messy as hell, wash with distortion, reverb, and tremolo, while ‘Cowboy’ piledrives into got/psychobilly/hardcore/crust-punk territory with obliterative fury.

Is there an element of nostalgia in the appeal of this, as a 43-year old fan of grunge and more subterranean 90s alternative? Well, naturally, but that really isn’t the primary appeal here. What appeals about A Vanity Spawned By Fear is the simple fact that it’s raw and uncompromising and blindingly intense. It isn’t pretty or nice, and isn’t supposed to be. It wouldn’t work if it was.

The last track, ‘Country’ is a slow, hesitant cross between early Pavement and Shellac. But A Vanity Spawned is most definitely not derivative, and there’s nothing remotely lifted or directly referential here. Instead, they amalgamate a mass of influences and condense them in a mould of their own making. It’s hard, heavy, and difficult. Stylistically, it isn’t any one thing, but it’s completely ace.

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Fret - Vanity

Spotlights have shared a video for the track ‘Mountains Are Forever’ taken from their latest album Love & Decay which is out now via Ipecac Recordings. The video arrives as the band commence their first headline tour across the US, having previously shared the stage Deftones, Melvins, Quicksand, Hum, Glassjaw, Pelican and Pallbearer – dates below.

Spotlights: Love & Decay US Tour

Tickets Ipecac.com/artists/Spotlights

July 12 Lexington, KY The Green Lantern

July 13 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme

July 14 Toronto, ON Monarch

July 16 Pittsburgh, PA Black Forge 2

July 17 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie

July 18 Brooklyn, NY Sunnyvale

July 19 Harrisonburg, VA The Golden Pony

July 20 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506

July 21 Asheville, NC The Mothlight

July 23 Atlanta, GA The Earl

July 24 Memphis, TN Hi Tone

July 25 Little Rock, AR Vino’s

July 26 Shreveport, LA Bear’s

July 27 Dallas, TX Double Wide

July 28 Austin, TX The Lost Well

July 30 Phoenix, AZ Valley Bar

July 31 San Diego, CA Bar Pink

August 1 Los Angeles, CA The Satellite

August 2 San Francisco, CA Thee Parkside

August 3 Sacramento, CA Blue Lamp

August 4 Reno, NV Jub Jub’s (Side Room)

August 6 Salt Lake City, UT The Loading Dock

August 8 Denver, CO Hi-Dive

August 9 Lincoln, NE 1867 Bar

August 10 Rock Island, IL Rozz Tox

August 11 Chicago, IL Subterranean

Spotlights - Love & Decay

19th July 2019 – Buzzhowl Records

Christopher Nosnibor

This quartet from Richmond, VA, may have a name that suggests quiet, introspective contemplation and piety, but their third EP, which follows ‘Touched’ (2015) and ‘ICUP’ (2017) whips up an unholy racket.

It’s a lumbering, off-kilter, shouty discord that defines their sound. Chugging, math-tinged rhythms cut across with angular guitars that evoke the spirit of Shellac, The Jesus Lizard, and the essence of the Touch & Go roster from the late 80s and early 90s. It’s gnarly, gut-churning, challenging – and hits the spot like a punch to the oesophagus.

Should we consider why there seems to be a resurgence of music that recrates that period around the grunge explosion, when alternative music that wasn’t grunge but centred around dirty-as-fuck guitars and difficult rhythms that would come to define ‘math’ rock? Probably. Back then, there was a revolt against radio-friendly rock, the slick sonic paste being pumped out by major labels. Of course, the ‘alternative’ sound very quickly got co-opted, but no-one was ever going to flog acts like Tad or Tar or Helmet or Guzzard to the masses even when Warners were angling Ministry at MTV and A&M had launched Therapy? As a top 40 singles band. The bands who got signed and broke through may have changed the face of the musical scene, but it was always the bands who remained underground who defined the era.

Now, with the chasm between mainstream and everything else wider than ever – and long beyond the point at which it becomes unbridgeable – the underground is more resolute than ever. They’re never going to make on this… but they have every inch of credibility intact as they channel their frustrations against an ever-grimmer world of conformity and vacuity. The bands that matter aren’t in it for the money – but then, they never were, and Prayer Group are admirable in their absolute lack of compromise.

They’ve just unleased the EP’s closer, ‘The Other’ by way of a taster. It’s nicely representative, and trust me, you need it.

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Prayer Group - Eudean

The Minus Pool is a new project from members of Nasty Little Lonely and friends. ‘Safety In Numbness’ is their first release, inspired by TV series Peaky Blinders. And because I’m a firm fan of Nasty Little Lonely’s style of noise, my interest was instantly piqued by the prospect of another related project.

On the strength of their debut, The Minus Pool seem more restrained in comparison to NLL’s squalling barrage, instead distilling the fierceness into something dark and brooding. ‘Safety in Numbness’ is queasy and uncomfortable, built around a low-slung, repetitive bassline. Coming on like Foetus slithering around with Gallon Drunk, the atmosphere is grimy, dirty and airless. Wallow and enjoy the suffocation.

Christopher Nosnib0r

The press release froth on about how Milton Keynes pop-punkers Get Your Head Straight have just launched their new single, ‘Swansea’, which is taken from their excellently received debut EP, Contrast.

The fact it’s pop-punk – and I’ll admit a certain genre prejudice here – notwithstanding, ‘Swansea’ is a neatly performed slab of generic bilge. The guitars are up in the mix, but you get the impression that’s more by accident that design, as the production is okay to middling at best. Meaning, what may sit as ‘dynamic’ elsewhere simply conveys ‘slapdash’ in context. Call me choosy.

And it really is a terrible name for a band.

The monolithic collaboration between industrial-noise post-everything bands Uniform and The Body continues with a second entry, Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back. Comprised of an amalgam of abrasive influence that spans Swans-y dirge and purge, Whitehouse’s clenched-jaw noise, middle-period Ministry’s penchant for metallic post-industrial everything, New Order’s nose for melodic emotionality, and Juicy J-inspired beats, Uniform and The Body’s approach delves deeper down the rabbit hole than before, igniting a sonic world of terror and bliss poised to grip the throats of fans yet again.

They’ve now shared the album’s lead track ‘Penance’, which Uniform’s Michael Berdan explains, “has to do with an ongoing attempt to hold oneself to a higher standard than you did yesterday. Human beings are bound to mess up as often as not, which can lead to either teachable experiences or nihilistic resign. I grew up surrounded by religious types who could act like monsters six days out of the week as long as they were willing to say ‘sorry’ to some priest and pray a rosary on the seventh. Continuing in malicious behaviour and demanding arbitrary absolution is a garbage way to live. However, if we take account of where we’ve done harm to others and ourselves and endeavour to learn and not repeat these actions, then maybe we can grow into empathetic and loving people.”

Listen to ‘Penance’ here:

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Uniform Live Dates:

06/07: Groningen, Netherlands – Vera

07/07: Leper, Belgium – Leper Fest

09/07: Malmo, Sweden – Plan B

10/07: Stockholm, Sweden – Hus 7

11/07: Anyksciai, Lithuania – Devilstone Festival

12/07: Kutná Hora, Czech Republic – Creepy Teepee Festival

13/07: St. Petersburg, Russia – Serdce Club $

14/07: Moscow, Russia – Pluton $

16/07: Bratislava, Slovakia – Protokultura

17/07: Kosice, Slovakia – Collosseum Club

18/07: Ostrava, Czech Republic – Colors Of Ostrava Festival

19/07: Berlin, Germany – Kantine Berghain

20/07: Den Haag, Netherlands – Grauzone Summer Festival

21/07: Bristol, UK – Crofters Rights +

22/07: Hull, UK – The Polar Bear +

23/07: Leeds, UK – Temple Of Boom +

24/07: Cardiff, UK – The Moon +

25/07: London, UK – Electrowerkz +

26/07: Paris, France – Espace B

27/07:Bamberg, Germany – Pizzini

28/07: Rokycany, Czech Republic – Fluff Fest

19/08: San Diego, CA – Casbah *

20/08: Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar *

22/08: San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger *

23/08: Austin, TX – Barracuda *

24/08: Denton, TX – Rubber Gloves *

25/08: Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall *

26/08: New Orleans, LA – Poor Boys

27/08: Birmingham, Alabama – The Firehouse

29/08: Tallahassee, FL – Wilbury

30/08: Tampa, FL – Orpheum *

31/08: Gainesville, FL – High Dive *

01/09: Atlanta, GA – Masquerade *

03/09: Nashville, TN – Exit/In*

04/09: Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel *

07/09: Washington, DC – Black Cat *

08/09: Jersey City, NJ – White Eagle Hall*

10/09: Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere *

11/09: Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club *

12/09: Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall *

14/09: Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace *

15/09: Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme*

17/09: Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *

18/09: St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall *

20/09: Denver, CO – Marquis Theater *

21/09: Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall*

23/09: Seattle, WA – Neumos *

24/09: Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge *

26/09: San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall *

27/09: San Jose, CA – The Ritz *

28/09: Camarillo, CA – Rock City *

29/09: Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex *

$ w/ Thou

+ w/ Bad Breeding

* w/ Boris

The Body Live Dates:

04/07: Roskilde, Denmark – Roskilde Festival #

05/07: Kassel, Germany – Goldgrube *

06/07: Leipzig, Germany – Conne Island *

08/07: Prague, Czech Republic – Modra Vopice *

09/07: Budapest, Hungary – Durer Kert *

10/07: Munich, Germany – Backstage !

11/07: Paris, France – Gibus #

12/07: London, United Kingdom – The Dome #

13/07: Dour, Belgium – Dour Festival #

15/07: Nijmegen, Netherlands – Valkhof Festival *

16/07: Berlin, Germany – Zukunft Am Ostkreuz *

17/07: Oberhausen, Germany – Drucklufthaus %

18/07: Crispendorf, Germany – Chaos Descends Festival

20/07: Birmingham, United Kingdom – Supersonic Festival

21/07: Sheffield, United Kingdom – Doomlines V
22/07: Glasgow, United Kingdom – Broadcast %

23/07: Manchester, United Kingdom – Soup Kitchen %

24/07: Bristol, United Kingdom – Rough Trade %

26/07: Moscow, Russia – Mutabor

27/07: St Petersburg, Russia – Opera

28/07: Rokycany, Czech Republic – Fluff Festival

29/07: Milan, Italy – Macao %

30/07/: Bologna, Italy – Freakout Club %

31/07: Linz, Austria – Kapu %

01/08: Kosice, Slovakia – Tabacka Kulturfabrik %

02/08: Katowice, Poland – OFF Festival

05/09: Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge

06/09: Denver, CO – Denver Hex at Lost Lake Lounge

07/09: Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room

13/09: Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre ^

14/09: Hudson, NY – Basilica Soundscape ^

15/09: Brooklyn, NY – The Bell House ^

^ w/ Assembly of Light

# Collab set with Full Of Hell

* w/ Full Of Hell

! w/ Full Of Hell and Napalm Death

% w/ Black To Comm

Uniform and The Body