Archive for October, 2019

1st November 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

So The Shakin’ Nightmares gatecrashed my radar thanks to a message via Facebook from Dan Gott, guitarist and the man wit all the whoops and howls for manic rockabilly duo Snakerattlers. Since he books gigs at my favourite venue as a day-job he sees and hears a lot of bands, so if he reckons I need to hear an act, the chances are I really do.

They do the matching outfits thing – which is a bit Snakerattlers, but also reminds me of The Computers – and the four songs on this, their debut EP are kicking, but with a sense of order and a determined sense of identity.

‘(I’ve Got) The Shakin’ Nightmares’ kicks it off with a slow swagger and a reverb-heavy twang that struts its way into a swampy gothed-up surf riff that reminds me of The Volcanoes – which means I’m instantly sold. It’s very much about a well-worn template that has its origins in the blues and has been kicking around in various mutant forms since ‘The Hippy Hippy Shake’ in 1959, but it gets increasingly wild, twisting 60s psyche with grunged-up alt-rock.

They step up the pace on ‘Revenge’ which brings a frenzied punk aspect to the boogie-woogie wig-out and ‘I Wish’ chops a groove that sashays into the more straight-ahead rock closer ‘A Little Death’. It’s still dominated by a choppy guitar and some deep reverb, and these guys are cruising hard on an obsessive death trip. I can get on board with that. If it’s not sex or drugs, then rock ‘n’ roll needs death. We can’t all get sex or drugs, and don’t even necessarily want them, but we’re all going to die. And given the state of things, sooner rather than later seems increasingly appealing. On that basis, plus the basis of some solid tunes, The Shakin’ Nightmares have all the appeal right now.

After a thumbs-up review some weeks ago, DIY noisemongering power trio Neverlanded throw their new single, ‘Refuge’ out to the world. We dig it. You should give it a listen.

Ipecac Recordings – 1st November 2019

You could look at this from two different angles: one – some people never grow up. Two – some people never sell out. Cunts’ eponymous debut is the product of both simultaneously. The ‘snarling LA-based punk band’ features guitarist Michael Crain (Dead Cross/Retox) and singer Matt Cronk (Qui), with drummer Kevin Avery (Retox/Planet B), bass player Keith Hendriksen (Virginia Reed) and guitar player Sterling Riley (Hepa.Titus).

So they all have other projects, and so the fact Cunts will never achieve radio play or mainstream attention simply by virtue of being Cunts isn’t an issue. Then again, their other projects won’t achieve major-league success and radio play either, despite not being graced with a media-blackout moniker, meaning that none of them has anything to lose or gain here. So yeah, fuck it: Cunts are keeping it real and keeping it antagonistic, and forget being cynical, they’re doing this for the right reasons: they’ve got the rage. Rage used to be for the young, descending into the impotent bitterness of the cliché grumpy old man. But times have changed. Older, wiser, more furious and better equipped to articulate that rage, Cunts represent the new generation of over-40s who, rather than mellowing and settling into midlife, have all the anger and need to vent or suffer an aneurysm. These are the worst of times, and we live in a divided world.

This is proper old-school gnarly US hardcore punk shit, played at a hundred miles an hour, and if song titles like ‘Ass to Grind’ and ‘He’s a Lady’ carry distinctly un-PC connotations, the lyrics reveal the band as being on the right side of consideration for difference. They’re not afraid to venture into Unsane gore territory, but shock tactics aren’t entirely without merit in a desensitized society. There’s noting subtle about an of this, least of all the over art.

‘Goin’ Out West’ gets a bit Ministry, but with glammy / goth overtones to its thudding stomp, while a number of the frenzied thrashabouts, like ‘Fail at Failure’, clocking in at 1’46”, and the 1’ 26” ‘Seagulls’ bear hints of Dead Kennedys, while ‘For the Greater Good’ lunges messily into Unsane territory, and there are a fair few tracks that clock in well under three minutes, with the longest song on the album being just 4’08” and no other songs being much over three-and-a-half minutes.

Cunts is fiery, shouty, fast and furious with the emphasis on the furious. Primally raw and brutally uncompromising, it’s harsh but vital, and punk at its best.

You could look at this from two different angles: one – some people never grow up. Two – some people never sell out. Cunts’ eponymous debut is the product of both simultaneously. The ‘snarling LA-based punk band’ features guitarist Michael Crain (Dead Cross/Retox) and singer Matt Cronk (Qui), with drummer Kevin Avery (Retox/Planet B), bass player Keith Hendriksen (Virginia Reed) and guitar player Sterling Riley (Hepa.Titus).

So they all have other projects, and so the fact Cunts will never achieve radio play or mainstream attention simply by virtue of being Cunts isn’t an issue. Then again, their other projects won’t achieve major-league success and radio play either, despite not being graced with a media-blackout moniker, meaning that none of them has anything to lose or gain here. So yeah, fuck it: Cunts are keeping it real and keeping it antagonistic, and forget being cynical, they’re doing this for the right reasons: they’ve got the rage. Rage used to be for the young, descending into the impotent bitterness of the cliché grumpy old man. But times have changed. Older, wiser, more furious and better equipped to articulate that rage, Cunts represent the new generation of over-40s who, rather than mellowing and settling into midlife, have all the anger and need to vent or suffer an aneurysm. These are the worst of times, and we live in a divided world.

This is proper old-school gnarly US hardcore punk shit, played at a hundred miles an hour, and if song titles like ‘Ass to Grind’ and ‘He’s a Lady’ carry distinctly un-PC connotations, the lyrics reveal the band as being on the right side of consideration for difference. They’re not afraid to venture into Unsane gore territory, but shock tactics aren’t entirely without merit in a desensitized society. There’s noting subtle about an of this, least of all the over art.

‘Goin’ Out West’ gets a bit Ministry, but with glammy / goth overtones to its thudding stomp, while a number of the frenzied thrashabouts, like ‘Fail at Failure’, clocking in at 1’46”, and the 1’ 26” ‘Seagulls’ bear hints of Dead Kennedys, while ‘For the Greater Good’ lunges messily into Unsane territory, and there are a fair few tracks that clock in well under three minutes, with the longest song on the album being just 4’08” and no other songs being much over three-and-a-half minutes.

Cunts is fiery, shouty, fast and furious with the emphasis on the furious. Primally raw and brutally uncompromising, it’s harsh but vital, and punk at its best.

AAA

Cunts

Christopher Nosnibor

Something is wrong. Seriously wrong. That there is something wrong with the enigmatic Paul T, who is Foldhead, almost goes without saying: purveyor of strange and dark noise via means of a multitude of collaborative projects as well as solo channels, creator of avant-garde visual art, William Burroughs nut, and passionate left-winger, Paul is the epitome of the fringe polyartist who confuses and confounds all things mainstream and normal. These are all the reasons I like the guy and so enjoy collaborating with him whenever we manage to get our shit together. He gets it: he lives and breathes cult and outsiderdom, and has both the means and the theoretical comprehension. Which in the eyes of the many, makes him wrong. He doesn’t fit and neither does his work, and his output as Foldhead is just so much noise to most ears.

The (at least on the surface) inexplicably-titled liveBufferingErrorTimeout (I must clean the black milk with brine) is typical, and wrong on every level. This is electronica that splinters the peripheral senses. It focuses on frequencies that register almost subliminally and that hurt the most, with shards of brain-piercing treble attacking from all sides while whipping whorls of stuttering circuit crackling prod the synapses like needles. It’s a relentless crackle, pop, hiss and fizz, like a firework display exploding inside your cranium exploding over a wash of analogue froth.

Recorded on 19 October 2019, the recording features just the one piece – ‘rotting tongue: nature’s assailed’. It’s as brutal as whiplash and ten times more likely to induce tinnitus, and with a running time of only 7’34” – instead of a classically Burroughsian 23’ that’s more typical, something is very wrong indeed. The noise stops abruptly, and in the absence of information accompanying the release itself, the clue, I suspect, is in the title.

Equipment malfunction or failure is one those things that plagues the recording artist in the digital age. And so what was mapped out to be an hour of racket has emerged as a mere seven minutes; a single rather than an album. But what it lacks in duration, it makes up in pian infliction. A short, sharp shock indeed.

AA

Foldhead - Buffering error

Cult Black Metal band The Deathtrip have shared the video for new single ‘Enter Spectral Realms’ taken from their sophomore album Demon Solar Totem, the follow-up to 2014’s debut, Deep Drone Master.

A hypnotic yet brutal concoction for this offering. Ferocious and unrelenting, evoking the magical untamed essence of old. Featuring the long-due return of Kvohst (Ex-Dødheimsgard/Code) on lyrics/vocals joining the cold, hypnotic riffs of Host, the primal drumming of Storm (Ex-My Dying Bride, Blasphemer) and introducing the bass playing of Thomas Eriksen (Mork), The Deathtrip offer tickets to primeval possession and open portals to other dimensions. Demon Solar Totem captures the spirit of ancient Darkthrone, Thorns and Beherit imbued with old-English occultism and the chanting of sacred sound formulas.

"From the depths of the blackened tomb, bear witness, as we commune with the spirit world and summon the abyss that will swallow the universe, & our flesh becomes at once scattered and, again, renewed.
Enter Spectral Realms. Come.
Enter Spectral Realms.”

Watch the video for ‘Enter Spectral Realms’ here:

Southern Lord – 25th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

The appearance of a new Sunn O))) album just six months after Life Metal represents a significant upsurge in their usually steady output. But then, as much as it is a standalone document, Pyroclasts exists in many ways as a companion and counterpart to Life Metal, which in the slow-moving scheme of Sunn O))) represented a seismic shift on a par with Monoliths and Dimensions in that it brought a new focus. The question posed by Life Metal centred around what precisely could Steve Albini bring to Sunn O)))’s eternal drone guitar noise. In the event, his ‘stick the mics in front of the amps at a precise distance and angle and let the tape roll’ approach brought new sonic dimensions (but no monoliths) to the fore, giving the band a new and unexpected richness of sound. It’s this clarity and depth that also defines Pyroclasts recorded during the same sessions.

An element of ritual is integral to much of Sunn O)))’s work, and while this is perhaps nowhere more evident than in their live performances, the very nature of the music, the image, and the titling of their albums alludes to a certain type of repetitive organisation and (pseudo)spiritual convention. The origins of Pyroclasts is rooted in that ritualism, as is explained in the press release:

‘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.’

And so the four pieces on Pyroclasts last between 10’54” and 11’04”, and being aware of the time constraints imposed by the players, the endings make sense: the first track, ‘Frost’, is close to what sounds like a natural ending as the drone hum hangs, but fades uncommonly fast when ordinarily they’d let the note hang for an eternity. Likewise the last of the four, ‘Ascensions’, which starts higher, faster, more aggressively than is usual for Sunn O))), and ends abruptly as though the tape was simply stopped dead – which it probably was.

Given the band’s maximalist tendencies and a propensity for sprawling sludgescapes spanning fifteen to twenty minutes this discipline and concision offers a new insight into their methods. Four tracks and a running time of circa forty minutes is tight for Sunn O))), and it works remarkably well.

Pyroclasts is exploratory and experimental in context of Sunn O))), and in revealing new facets while at the same time mining the same seam the band have explored since their inception, it’s an interesting and highly necessary document of their evolution and practises. Moreover, it’s another booming slab of texture-heavy droning doom and absolutely classic Sunn O))).

AA

700829

Gizeh Records – 25th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Although having contributed to various projects and collectives, including a number of independent soundtracks that have appeared through Gizeh, it’s been a while since Christine Ott last released anything as a primary artist. Nanook of the North, a collaboration with Torsten Böttcher, who brings hang drum, kalimba, and didgeridoo to Ott’s diverse array of instruments.

Nanook of the North is another soundtrack to a film which ‘tells the daily life of the Eskimo family living in Hudson Bay. Fights for life, constant shifts, fishing, seal hunting… The spectator shares the life of the family of the far north’.

As a release, this has been a long time in coming, having been first commissioned in 2013 by La Rochelle International Film Festival.

From the first strike of percussion, which sends a low, rippling hum on which eerie atmospherics build in layers like thick mist, the pair conjure highly evocative soundscapes. Pairing piano with non-western instrumentation makes for some fascinating and utterly compelling combinations, with unusual melodies taking shape along the way. Whereas many soundtracks place the compositional emphasis on atmospherics and vague structures, Nanook of the North stands out for its tendency toward keenly co-ordinated structures and definite tunes brimming with chiming melodies.

There are moments of brooding, shade that contrasts with the unexpected levels of light that fill this album, and ‘Walrus Hunting’ balances drama and playfulness through the incorporation of jazz tropes. Elsewhere. ‘Winter’s Coming’ conveys the ominous sense of darkening days and a creeping chill, while ‘Et le blizzard’ is surprisingly calm and soothing as opposed to the tempest one would reasonably expect. But then, the silence of a blizzard can be a strangely tranquil experience.

The range on Nanook of the North is impressive: it’s expressive and conveys such an array of moods and spaces, while at the same time retaining a compositional and instrumental coherence. And while the places these pieces speak of are bone-breakingly cold, the listening experience is most heart-warming.

AA

GZH93DP-Digital-Sleeve