Archive for December, 2019

December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Having recently ben reduced to a two-piece, you might be forgiven for expecting Yur Mum to have gone quiet, but hell no. Having only released their debut single, ‘Road Rage’ in April 2018, they’ve packed in over 200 shows since their inception and won Tom Robinson’s backing with ‘Sweatshop’, the lead single from this self-released five-tracker.

They’re a band on the up in every sense, drawing reams of positive attention and for all the right reasons: they first came to my attention in their original triangular configuration while touring ‘Road Rage’ and supporting Svetlanas, and no two ways about it, they were outstanding and more than held their own even in the company of the ferocious firestorm of the Russian headliners.

This EP doesn’t disappoint, and is the sound of an act firing on all cylinders, and it blasts off in riffy style with ‘What Do You Want?’, which tears from the speakers with all the overdrive and locks into a hefty grunging groove. There’s grit and swagger and the incendiary guitar blisters and peels while Anelise Kunz delivers a full-throated roar and thunderous bass runs.

Aforementioned single ‘Sweatshop’ starts with a churning bass reminiscent of Shellac, and then the drums drive in and they pound at it, hard, for a hard-hutting two-minutes and twenty. This is grungy punk rock at its most exhilarating.

There’s no let-up with the title track, either, and if there’s a metal-edged 90s alt-rock tinge to it, then it’s al to the good: it’s les about originality and more about delivery, and Yur Mum showcase a knack for a strong delivery. Make no mistake: they’re pretty sodding heavy, and there isn’t a second where they sacrifice weight for melody, and ‘Rotten’ goes full L7/In Utero era Nirvana with roaring angst.

‘Closure’ does finally display a softer side, and there’s a pop aspect to it – in the same way Hole’s Live Through This had a pop aspect to it, blending dynamic range and a clear sense of tune with a gut-punching rhythm section and a raw edge.

Fuck it, for my last review of the year, and of the decade, I’ll put it out there: 2020 is going to be Yur Mum’s year. And if it isn’t, then I give up.

AA

AA

AA

MamaSkull

Panurus Productions – 22nd November 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Newcastle-based cassette label Panurus really don’t have a particular house style, genre r aesthetic beyond releasing stuff that’s different and obscure. A lot of music that languishes in obscurity does so not because it’s not good, or even necessarily because it’s inaccessible, but because it simply doesn’t receive the ‘right’ exposure – or any at all.

In Dreams is a sharp contrast with the last two Panurus releases, in the for of the ultra-harsh blackened hardcore torrent that was Mineshaft’s VENUM LUXDOR DISCOVERY SUPER NOVA and Whelmed, a deluge of sluge and nose courtesy of Lump Hammer and Bodies on Everest, in that it’s an electronic work that promises ‘a serene soak in this sonic pool – an oneiric rendition of water and submersion’.

The majority of the titles share an aquatic theme, and the albums ripples in gently with ‘Floating’. The soft, easy notes tinkle softly like summer rain on the surface of a kale, with a soothing effect. It segues seamlessly into the broader sonic wash of delicate hums which form ‘With the Tide.’ This is not the surge of waves breaking on rocky outcrops, but a steady, low-ebb lapping.

Deeper currents begin to build on ‘Awash’, and for the first time, there are hints of tension and an indication of the potential power a body of water may possess. This dissipates as the listener is carried almost subliminally into the otherworldly space of ‘Drifting Slowly’, a strange and almost silent sonic realm that calls to mind Blue Planet scenes, the serenity of the deep, a vast expanse occupied exclusively by strange and silent creatures. The final two compositions, ‘Out of Body’ and ‘Descent’ merge together in a soft, muffly suspension.

In Dreams is almost quintessential in its ambience, almost formless, the amorphous shapes impossible to capture or define. It’s undemanding, and it’s pleasant.

AA

cover

December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Ukranian industrial duo Kadaitcha, consisting of Andrii Kozhukhar and Yurii Samson, have stepped up a gear for their fourth album, Tar, which follows Southern Phlegm, which landed at the front end of the summer. It’s an expansion in every sense: sonically, it displays a broad palette, from barely-there ripples and clicks to all-out abrasion, with all shades in between, and with seven compositions, ranging from six-and-a-half to thirteen-and-a-half minutes in duration, there’s a lot of room in which to venture on an exploratory journey.

They describe Tar as their ‘most powerful and elaborate release so far’, and there’s a story of sort behind it, as Andrii explains: ‘[The] album cover is based on the images from the series APEIRON by Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondiuk. It’s a series of scanned photo negatives found in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which were remaining there lost and forgotten for over 30 years, being subject to radiation and forces of nature.’

The images, available on Dondiuk’s site are disturbing and otherly, and convey more about the horror of the Chernobyl catastrophe, an event on an environmental, ecological and human scale that still has yet to be fully assimilated and that has, globally, faded into the annals of time for many, than any narrative possibly could. Tar effectively provides a soundtrack to these images. The album has a discernible arc, which transitions and deteriorates into ever-deepening distortion and degradation.

Spacious, atmospheric electronic layers hover and cascade around sparse desert guitar twangs at the start of the first piece, ‘Idle Hands’, before mangled chords, overdriven and distorted, crash in. ‘2219 F’ also collides soft, semi-ambient soundscaping with crushing wall-of-noise guitar screes that come on like an avalanche and devastate everything in their wake. And yet things are only just beginning to take shape: this only foreshadows the aural challenges yet to come. ‘Ran’ brings pulverizing rhythms and a deluge of noise in an altogether more overtly ‘rock’ format, and it’s got tension and attack, and marks the first stage in the transition toward a harrowing mess of ugly noise.

There aren’t many vocals on Tar, but when they do enter the mix, they’re gnarled, dehumanied, and monotone: ‘Eclipse’ is Throbbing Gristle on a doom-infused downer: a persistent electronic throb provides the backdrop to a detached, dehumanised vocal wheeze, and ‘Serpent Hill’s slithers into a murky morass of discomfiture. By the end – the overloading analogue explosion of the 13-minute ‘Yatagarasu’, which calls to mind Halogen-era Whitehouse – it’s a barrage of noise, a clunking beat and something semi-musical plinking away beneath a squall of white noise.

It hurts, but in a good way, a way that conveys damage, devastation, and environmental devastation.

AA

AA

AA

K - Tar

Svart Records – 15th November 2019

Christopher Nosnibr

It’s the Christmas lull and having just pulled together a review of the year, I realise I’ve still got months of catching up to do, with stacks of releases by acts I genuinely like that I’ve yet to get around to listening to lurking in my inbox and download folder.

For those needing to catch up: ‘The Deathtrip began around 2003 by UK-based guitarist/composer Host, with a view to create some cold black metal tracks, evoking a feeling beyond what was generally circulating in the scene at the time. Very much a DIY project, the initial recordings consisted of songs featuring raw yet distinctive riffing over intentionally stripped down, repetitive and simplified programmed drums, combined with a raw-as-can-be ‘production’. The aim was for something hypnotic & primitive, achieved by using repetitive structures and multi-layered guitar parts’.

Like so many acts over the last decade, I first discovered The Deathtrip when I received an album for review – in this instance, 2014’s Deep Drone Master. On the one hand, it struck me as a quintessential black metal album; on the other, it was a damn good example of a black metal album that stood up alongside the greats.

The same is true of Demon Solar Totem. It’s dark, dense, demonic. The production is ultra-murky and appropriately lo-fi, adhering to the DIY aesthetic and the principles of a scene so underground and to be ploughing a passage though molten magma: the drums are a blurred blizzard of blasting beats. The snare is practically absent amidst crashing cymbals and hundred-and-fifty mile per hour bass beats.

The title track commences proceedings with eight minutes of grandiose black metal steeped in ceremonialism. It’s punishing and furious and dark and highly theatrical, and monastic voices rise in sepulchral echoes as the guitars fade in a long afterburn. And everything burns: it’s a nonstop blast of furnace-like heat belched from the bowels of hell. Every note, every guttural utterance, is twisted and tarred. It’s relentless and savage. ‘Vintage Telepathy’ hammers a sludgy trudge, and powers onwards to the megalithic dirge that is the final track, the nine-minute ‘A New Awakener’.

There is nothing kind or accessible about Demon Solar Totemi: it’s unremittingly punishing. And that’s precisely why it works.

Editions Mego – 1st November 2019

The 80s was an exciting and revolutionary time, and UK label Some Bizzare gave a platform to some of the more unusual exploratory and experimental acts around the middle of the decade, meaning that while acts like Depeche Mode and Soft Cell were mainstays that brought in funds, they were able to release albums by Soft Cell offshoots like Flesh Volcano, as well as work by Foetus, The The, Coil, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Cabaret Voltaire. Their reputation may have slipped in later years following various stunts and a major falling out with Neubauten over unpaid royalties, but the legacy very much remains strong.

The Elbow is Taboo was Renaldo & The Loaf’s fourth and last album of their initial phase prior to their return in 2010, which was released by and Some Bizzare in the UK and Ralph in America in 1987. Marking a significant expansion and evolution on their previous outings in compositional and instrumental terms, and the result of three years’ work, it’s considered to be ‘the definitive statement by the group in this early period’.

There was a 2016 reissue, with a stack of ‘elbonus’ material and I’m sold on the pun alone, but this Editions Mego reissue has to be the ultimate, as in addition to the elbonus stuff, the first 300 vinyl copies and digital editions also include bonus bonus 7” tracks ‘Hambu Hodo’ live and a remix, ‘Hambu Hoedown’, which ultimately sees the album’s original nine tracks expanded to twenty-two. Comprehensive is the word.

But is it any good?

It’s leftfield, weirdy and experimental: the album’s first piece, ‘A Street Called Straight’ melds medieval folk with tribal drumming and something pan-pipey and hints at neofolk but then goes off at some odd tangents, before ‘Boule’ does some kind of quirky somersaults across traditional Japanese music and sparse, clattering electronica. It’s the stuttering, busy-yet- rattly percussion that defines the oddball and off-kilter compositions, from the wonky country twangery of the title track to the marching Krautrock groove of ‘Hambu Hodo’ that lands somewhere between the pulsing electro of DAF and the zany mania of early Foetus. ‘Critical/Dance throws some jazz and atonal bleepings into the mix. It’s this offbeat eclecticism paired with an emphasis on rhythm that renders The Elbow is Taboo simultaneously compelling and bewildering.

The slew of bonus material on Elbonus ranges from fragmentary loops to fully realised versions and songs, spanning disorientating sound collage to audio collisions which are simply dizzying, not to mention quite inexplicable.

If ever an album qualified as a lost classic, it’s The Elbow is Taboo. So if the 80s underground is your scene, you need this. And if it isn’t, then it’s time to get educated.

AA

Renaldo & The Loaf – The Elbow is Taboo

Christopher Nosnibor

8th November 2019

The bio bit tells me that ‘NAUT is a 5 piece dark rock band from Bristol, whose shared love of classic rock and metal, alongside reverence for the post-punk pioneers of the late 70s and 80s makes itself known from the start. Their songs switch from raw tribal tom beats to uplifting anthemic synth in a moment, but always stay danceable and perhaps most dangerously, catchy’.

Fan comments on their bandcamp shed a little more light on their sound, observing the band’s ‘unique ability to recreate the original sound and feeling of 80’s uk goth rock. Sisters, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, the Rose of Avalanche, early Nephilim…’ and their offering ‘the perfect mix of Post Punk with old school Goth Rock… Killing Joke meet The Wake & Love Like Blood.’

It’s no secret that I’m a rabid Sisters / Lorries / Nephs / KJ fan, but it’s equally documented that I consider most of the bands who’ve taken them as influences are generic and derivative, and that includes the mid-late 80s acts like Rose of Avalanche who traded in diluted forms of blueprint-based accessible alternative rock. This means I’ve no idea who The Wake or Love Like Blood are, but judging by the referential monikers, I probably don’t need to.

The EP’s title track kicks things off with a classically ‘gothy’ rhythm that’s dominated by a quickfire snare attack and defined by spindly guitars, trebly and awash with chorus. And talking of Chorus, it does boast a strong, hooky chorus, and there’s real energy behind it, which pushes it over the line from template-based to credible and sufficiently possessed of a band identity while still very much drawing well-studied inspiration from their precursors.

‘Spirit Horses’ steps down both the tempo and the individuality, and there’s a chord progression that’s lifted straight off The Sisters’ ‘Marian’, but the third and final track, which slows the pace further to a sluggish mid-tempo resembles ‘Blasting Off’ era Lorries, and works remarkably well with a looser feel but a grainy greyness that brings a certain weight.

On the strength of this outing, Naut are at their best when they go deeper and darker, and if they continue to evolve their songwriting in the directions demonstrated here, there’s a good chance they’ll break out beyond the trad-goth scene and into wider alternative circles.

AA

NAUT

Toundra, the intrepid instrumental rock band from Spain that recently announced the release of Das Cabinet Des Dr.Caligari are proud to present the first video/single from the album, which will be available on February 28th 2020.

You can now enjoy the first song, Akt. 1, here:

AA

The video is taken from the first Act of the movie to which Toundra have composed a breath-taking original soundtrack. The film is a quintessential German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene that turns exactly 100 years old in 2020, and that the band approached it as a dialogue with the listener with the intention of questioning ideas like manipulation, freedom and human nature itself.

There has also been a tour announced this week, a unique opportunity to watch the movie while the band performs the album entirely.

28.02.20, Madrid, Teatros del Canal, tickets soon

06.03.20, Zaragoza, Las Armas

07.03.20, Barcelona, Aribau Multicines, tickets, http://www.cafekino.es

15.03.20, Siegen, Vortex

16.03.20, Hamburg, Knust

17.03.20, Jena, Kassablanca

18.03.20, München, Backstage

20.03.20, Darmstadt, 806qm

21.03.20, Martigny, Caves Du manoir

22.03.20, Stuttgart, Club Zentral