Archive for August, 2019

Distortion Records DIST15 – 30th August 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

The blurb: ‘Beatmatching Metalogue’s cinematic industrial with the dark sci-fi visions of d&b/neurofunk, Decentralized Coercion deals in the threats of mass surveillance, decentralized social control, totalitarian manipulations of trust, runaway artificial intelligence and the addictive mechanisms of the attention economy. The resulting sound is that of Big Data multiplying exponentially, sucking us down in digital whirlpool.’

As well known for their remixing as their own output, and having been featured on a fair few compilations, Metalogue – the vehicle for electronic musician, programmer, and sound designer Robin Fencott – has amassed quite a substantial catalogue in a short time, with an approach to performing that lends itself well to live recordings, of which they’ve released several EPs.

However, the studio work is perhaps the medium through which the details are most discernible, with skittering synths and hectic cymbal stutters providing layers to the stark soundscapes shaped by thumping techno beats. The album’s first track, ‘New Era of Trust’ begins with sonorous atmospherics and a slow, jittery beat, before a woozy bass rolls in. It evokes Bladerunner-esqe images, conjures monochrome city scenes, dark alleys and rusted fire escapes, and 80s sci-fi. It has a certain Nine Inch Nails vibe, but the sounds are crisper, cleaner, and therefore somehow more inhuman and more detached.

Stepping up the tempo and the attack, ‘Spectral Froth Annealment’ clatters and clanks and pounds hard while whirring electronics fizz and grate to forge a bleak, paranoid space, and bleeds into the nine-minute ‘Shadow Text’, which maintains the pace. It’s not the subtle shifts in emphasis that are where these pieces appeal: it’s their relentlessness, their consistency, their clinical sharpness. The treble on the snare sound, the metallic edges, all imbue the album with a coldness that somehow reflects the zeitgeist: we’re surrounded my machines, we’re assaulted by information 24/7, and despite mankind’s unwavering belief in its superiority and capacity to control its environment, it feels increasingly s if that control is being relinquished and handed over to automation. I’m not talking about the way the industrial revolution brought us mechanisation, but that more insidious encroachment whereby Alexa is listening in and Facebook throws adverts having decided what you want to buy based on a conversation or status update from the other day, and your FitBit tells you how far you’ve walked and how many more steps you need to walk in order to burn off the packet of crisps you had mid-morning. We think we own our lives, but that sense of control is illusory. Your employer knows how long you’ve been away from your desk for the toilet, and with cameras every 30 yards (I personally pass no fewer than 13 CCTV cameras on my 23-minute walk to the bus stop on the way to work each morning, and the busses are installed with cameras as well), there is nowhere that’s private, and there is no hiding from the machines. You’re bot paranoid: you really are having your every movement watched or tracked.

Decentralized Coercion is a soundtrack to this harrowing but inescapable fact.

‘Extraction Imperative’ is bleaker, more stripped-back still, the stuttering drum ‘n’ bass rhythms twitchy and tense, and there’s little levity in the trajectory towards the album’s close, ending with the pumping yet magnificently empty ‘Behavioural Surplus’. The beats are whiplash-fast and hard as, but everything else is backed off, distant, creating a distinctly disquieting sensation.

By the finish, I’m left drained, punished, pounded, and pulverized. It’s a microcosm of life. Decentralized Coercion boils it down to a succinct sonic statement that encapsulates that life. It’s harsh, but it’s real.

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Metalogue

Nottingham’s Beyond Grace have released the new video for their latest single ‘Barmecide Feast’ which was released on July 1st and can be purchased from their Bandcamp page. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to local food banks.

When asked about the meaning behind the track, the band stated, “In The Arabian Nights there’s a story where a beggar is taken in by a rich man and served an imaginary meal and, after playing along with the illusion, is ultimately rewarded with a life of luxury and opulence. Of course, in the real world, this isn’t what happens. We wait and we wait, but nothing changes. We’re just told to do more with less, to keep our mouths shut, even as those upstream do their best to dam the river so that all that reaches us is the merest trickle of the wealth they’ve hoarded.”

‘Barmecide Feast’ marks the beginning of a new era for Beyond Grace. Darker, heavier, and angrier than ever, it offers a taste of what to expect from their upcoming second album, Our Kingdom Undone, aided and abetted by some suitably guttural guest vocals by Matt Moss (Slugdge) and a fittingly massive production job courtesy of Charles Elliott (Abysmal Dawn).

Watch the video here:

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Barmecide Art

The Pyroclasts album is the result of a daily practice which was regularly performed each morning, or evening during the two week Life Metal sessions at Electrical Audio during July 2018, when all of the days musical participants would gather and work through a 12 minute improvised modal drone at the start and or end of the day’s work. The piece performed was timed with a stopwatch and tracked to two inch tape, it was an exercise and a chance to dig into a deep opening or closing of the days session in a deep musical way with all of the participants. To connect/reconnect, liberate the creative mind a bit and greet each other and the space through the practice of sound immersion. The players across the four pieces of Pyroclasts are Tim Midyett, T.O.S., Hildur Guðnadóttir, and as always Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson.

Pyroclasts was recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio on two inch tape July 2018, and mastered by Matt Colton through all analogue AAA process at Metropolis July 2019. The album is released via Southern Lord on 23rd September.

While you’re waiting, you can check the trailer here:

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Sunn - Pyroclasts

Panurus Productions – 27th August 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

When I lived in Glasgow, I was perplexed by the use of the word ‘links’ to refer to sausages for quite some time. Being from Lincolnshire by birth, I assumed (erroneously) that they were saying ‘Lincs’, but at the same time was aware that there was a certain logic gap in my thinking. It wasn’t until after about a year I discovered that ‘links’ were actually just what anyone else would call sausages, and the term was used to differentiate these from the ‘square’ sausages, or Lorne sausages, used in breakfast baps north of the border.

I hadn’t thought about this in years: after all, I left Glasgow in September 2004, and being vegetarian, never tried any square sausage – or delicacies like deep-fried back or white pudding as served by my local chippy, which also had deep-fried pizza, Mars Bars, and Crème Eggs on the menu. But despite the fact that unlike this album, it didn’t offer deep fried cash, the title of Territorial Gobbings’ latest reminded me.

The liner notes state that ‘Sausage Chain is yet more fresh, amorphous meat drippings from the Territorial Gobbing mechanical reproduction unit. The most disappointing member of Thank gives up on music, instead smearing tape up the wall, wailing into a dictaphone all while gnawing on a skip-salvaged record player… Bodyless body horror. Idiot-savant-garde. Daft ambience. Sausage Chain tries and fails to keeps it together, unravelling and scattering across the stereo field over its anxious run until only trace sausage grease remains.’

It’s a fair summary and sets reasonable expectations for the discordant hash of sound that the album contains, its five pieces not so much compositions or even sound collages, as a semi-random assemblage tossed together to create maximum disorientation and discomfort. Assuming that’s the objective, it succeeds.

‘Machine Learning to Scowl’ is as irreverent as the title suggests, and at the same time is a mess of bleeps, crackles, fizzes, tweets, and twitters before it bleeds into the primitively-captured scrape of mic feedback and distortion that is ‘Painted Teeth’. It’s only a couple of minutes long, but it’s a howling racket of the highest order, making no pretence of structure or anything other than being a noise for the sake of being a noise.

‘Caressed to Smithereens’, with six minutes of haphazard pings and thunks provides a more than adequate build-up to the album’s feature track, the eleven-minute ‘Unusual Achievements in Human Rights’, which fizzes and crackles in a grizzling hum of sparking electrodes and swampy circuitry meltdowns.

It’s a welcome addition to the rapidly-expanding catalogues of both the prolific TG (and yes, this set definitely contains as much gristle as it does meat, and probably a fair amount of rusk and fat) and the eclectic tape label Panurus Productions – and this is reason enough, surely, to check out their York show at the Fulford Arms on Thursday

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Territorial - Sausage

Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mondo Cane) and renowned French composer Jean-Claude Vannier, share the final glimpse into their new album by way of the album track ‘Browning’ ahead of the release of Corpse Flower (Ipecac Recordings, Sept 13th).

A variety of musicians, both in Los Angeles and Paris, took part in the recording of Corpse Flower with the Los Angeles team including Smokey Hormel (Beck, Johnny Cash), Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Air, Nine Inch Nails) and James Gadson (Beck, Jamie Lidell). The Parisian players are Denys Lable, Bernard Paganotti (Magma), Daniel Ciampolini, Didier Malherbe, Léonard Le Cloarec and the Bécon Palace String Ensemble. The lyrics for “Ballad C.3.3.” are drawn from Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol”’ poem, which was initially published using the name C.3.3.

Corpse Flower is available now for pre-orders (http://smarturl.it/CorpseFlower), including special embossed versions featuring Kenro Izu’s stunning cover photo. The album will be available on 180gram coloured vinyl, as well as a CD digipak and digitally.

Listen to ‘Browning’ here:

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Patton and Vannier

Christopher Nosnibor

Wading through gallons of sick on my way through the city centre, I’m reminded why I generally avoid town on a Friday night, especially when the races are on. But sometimes, it’ necessary to take risks and brake rules – right?

And so I arrive at a spookily quiet Spread Eagle. there isn’t even a band in sight ten minutes before the first act’s due on. But as is often the case, three minutes before time, people emerge as if from out of the woodwork.

Dullboy mine a deep seem of 90s alt rock / metal with grunge leanings, especially in the quiet/loud dynamics. A bit Alice in Chains with the harmonies, but also hints of Soundgarden… They’re accessible without being Nickelback, and anything but dull, but I notice the singer’s wearing a Fightstar T and realise I’m probably the oldest person here, including the mum of one of the adult band members.

My Wonderful Daze battle through some early technical difficulties which found them guitarless to power through a strong set. The guitarist – seven strings filling out the sound when the amp finally works – bassist and drummer are the lankiest buggers you’re likely to meet, but singer Flowers is the driving force and dominates the space. In their more melodic moments, they’re a bit Paramore, but when they really blast it, they’re more Pretty On the Inside era Hole: Flowers has a massive raw roar, and the unconventional song structures mark a distinction from other female-fronted alt-rock bands.

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My Wonderful Daze

I’ve managed to miss PAK40 the last half dozen or so times they’ve played in my vicinity, and I suppose an element of atonement and making up is behind my presence tonight. But mostly, I just wanted to see them again, and I’m very quickly reminded why. The first song is a soft, cyclical Earth-like trudge that erupts at the mid-point into doomy riffage. The monastic vocal passages in the second track call to mind Sunn O))) and Bong before they lumber into psych / prog territory in a ow seep of sludge. And they’ve got range: it’s not all noise, and occasionally they do groove too, and do it nicely.

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PAK40

The room’s almost cleared before Churis even start. Shame: the threesome make a massive jolting racket and are seriously fucking good. Swerving wildly between melodic harmonies and screeching angst, they meld math rock, grunge, hardcore, and (thankfully minimal amounts of) emo into a strong cocktail of guitar-driven goodness. Five-string bass action and sheer force fill out the sound, and they make for a worthy headline act. The few who witnessed it scored lucky, and those that didn’t, it’s their loss.

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Churis

Once again, it’s the little bands playing backroom gigs that provide the real excitement and prove that the lifeblood of live music is way below the radar. This isn’t about hipster snobbery, about obscuritanism, about superiority. It’s a matter of experience, and there is no substitute for standing mere feet from a band pouring their all into a set in a space the size of your living room as if it’s everything. Because it’s real, it’s sincere. It’s urgent. Chances are none of these bands will break out of anything, and they likely know it. They’re not in it for that. They’re not in it for the money. They’re in it because they need to be, because they love what they do. And that’s art.

Christopher Nosnibor

Incredible. I arrived at a gig in Leeds with a dry shirt, thanks to it neither raining nor sweltering. And while it’s not exactly heaving in Wharf Chambers tonight, the eclectic (and international) lineup has drawn an interesting and curious crowd. I decide to take notes on my phone, and not to spend too much time on editing. This is a gig that’ about the moment, and it needs capturing.

DJ Perro, up first, isn’t a DJ, but a band from Mexico. The quintet perform the apex of busy math-rock and they’re buoyant with it. And kinda maybe how you’d imagine Mexican mathy post rock somehow. They clearly love doing what they do, and they’re astoundingly good at it. There’s a lot going on, to say the least. It makes my upper arms itch, and it makes my brain twitch. The songs are incredibly complex and incredibly tight and they’re a pleasure to watch. There’s something transportative and elating about watching five staggeringly good musicians, no egos, and some stellar compositions perfectly executed.

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DJ Perro

Failyer have two synths players and play drony, grating synth noise with live drums from James Islip, gig booker, tonight’s doorman, and perhaps best known as one half of seminal noise duo That Fucking Tank, who I first stumbled upon supporting Whitehouse in Sheffield in maybe 2005. And the blew me away, while pissing on the headliners. It was the same night I discovered Kelham Island beers, so the fact he Duck& Drake where I stopped on the way was serving Easy Rider. Failyer’s sound is sort of Krauty Fall meets Suicide motorik noise. Sinewy, echoey, sparse, repetitive. The skinny singer sits for large segments of the set, leaping up to spit punky vitriol into a sea of rapid reverb while throwing shades of Pete Murphy. It’s an awkward but cool take on The Cramps meets The Fall meets DAF. Or something. They’re the best reminder I’ve seen in ages of why the Leeds underground is an awesome thing. And there is no success like Failyur.

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Failyur

Grey Hairs are the reason I’m here and while I’d remembered they were good, I’d forgotten just how blindingly, blisteringly good. What’s cool about them is that they don’t give a shit about being cool. The press write-up says that ‘their third album Health & Social Care … [is] a scorching reflection on balancing your creative impulses against the commitments of impending middle age’. But the reality is more. Way more.

The riffs are all the grunge with hardcore punk moments high in the mix, and front man James transforms angst and anxiety into performance art: twisting his hands and arms around his face, twisting and pounding his palm against his forehead. covering his eyes and exuding a spectacular awkwardness: his presence is awkward, confrontational, and oddly appealing. It’s a performance you can get into – or otherwise be repelled by, depending on your position and life experience.

I could go home or even die happy already.

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Grey Hairs

But then I’d have missed the awesome spectacle that was Doble Capa, the Spanish duo of whom the event’s write-up describe as being like That Fucking Tank but better. The pair certainly have that Tank vibe, and some serious energy. Thumping drums and what even the fuck is that four-string effort rammed through a trainload of effects (mostly distortion) to crank out a massively messed-up racket is the essence of what they do. It’s punkabilly blues noise making optimal use of a minimal setup. A blur of hair. A blast of noise. It’s compelling. And it’s great fun.

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Doble Capa

And I go home happy, and don’t die.