Archive for February, 2020

Canadian multi-media artist Jay Crocker presents what’s being pitched as his ‘third and most impressive Joyfulktalk album, a tour-de-force of modern composition systems music for electronics and strings. A Separation Of Being is based on Crocker’s mural-sized visual score artwork and his Planetary Music System of rotational interlocking notation. Channelling minimalism, Japanese environmental music, Maghrebian rhythmic modes and other numinous folkways, and featuring string arrangements performed by Juno and Polaris Prize winner Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Destroyer). A Separation Of Being is translated from two-dimensional page to trans-dimensional aural life using an array of homemade instruments.

As a taster, Crocker’s shared the 9-minute track ‘Pixelated skin’, which you can check out here:

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Joyfultalk

(Photo Credit  Annie France Noel)

Panurus Productions – 31st March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s always a pleasure to receive a new release from Panurus Productions, although that perhaps says as much about my perverse tastes as anything, since this cassette-only microlabel specialises in weird, obscure, dark and resolutely underground music. And this one’s a double cassette. So perhaps my pleasure is in torturing the self-loathing facet of my psyche, or perhaps it’s just that I’m wired to appreciate the way sound – and not necessarily songs, and not necessarily conventional melodies and structures – can convey meaning and be imbed with a subconscious resonance that taps into emotions by an alternative means. That’s the kind of pleasure I get from receiving a new release from Panurus: a pleasure that sets a certain churn in the pit of the stomach in anticipation of the dark delights it will offer up.

It’s also something of a pleasure to read the accompanying press releases, which are more or less reviews in themselves, brimming with descriptions not only of the sound, but the sensation. Here, we’re promised a work on which ‘pneumatic pulses crunch over electronic drones, as bestial grunts and gurgles wallow in the synthetic murk. Wordless siren calls weave through the textures, shifting between forlorn and beckoning. The vocal sounds of Möbius and electronics 1727 at times distinct and at others indistinguishable, giving us a sonic insight into something we are not meant to see. This is the soundtrack to grainy footage of cult activity – to newspaper clippings of strange happenings and missing persons.’ I feel as if my work is done, even though it’s only just beginning. It’s a challenge: where do you go from there?

Down, is the answer on this occasion. Down. And further down. Burning the Black Candles is a journey deep underground, and begins with a rapid descent into darkness, and a cold, paranoid space. You can no longer trust your senses: the very air will prod you and whisper painful truths and lies as you flinch and question your mind.

The title track leads the listener deep underground to a dark, dank place. Subterranean earthworks grind, slow-moving, tectonic resonance shuddering. Haunting, disembodied voices echo through distant caverns, echoes of lost souls enacting obscure rituals. It drones, groans, moans and grumbles on for a full twenty-three minutes.

‘A Censer Hanging from Chains’ continues in the same vein: so much so that the tracks bleed not one another in a seeping morass of swirling murk. Dank air gusts thick and heavy through shafts and tunnels, a purgatorial labyrinth.

It’s a low, slow, bowel-churning rumble of a drone that forges the fabric of ‘Smoke Slowly Filling the Chamber’: the title is evocative and the sound dense and suffocating. There’s a noise, far away, echoes of shouting, possibly torture, but it soon vanishes, and all that’s left is the buzzing low-frequency flutter. It’s an oppressive, chest-tightening experience, and by the end of its twenty-minutes, it’s slowed to a shuddering crackle, like a failing heartbeat. Then stops.

The final piece, ‘GinruB’, which isn’t quite ‘burning’ backwards is so barely there ambient it’s practically subliminal. And yet it radiates a dark presence that over the course of twenty-five minutes burrows deeper down, and into the listener’s psyche to unsettling effect. It rumbles, it crackles. It burns. Monastic voices and mournful drones rise and reverberate a way off, but the ceremony feels like a lament, a funeral ode, as the end draws closer. And closer. And then… nothing.

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This is it Forever – 14th February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Since whittling down to just Gavin Miller, worriedaboutsatan’s outut has positively exploded, with the latest offering, which Miller describes as ‘quite an experimental little thing’ sees him share a tape – a side each – with Capac.

‘Orion’ is indeed quite experimental, and marks something of a departure for Miller, transitioning through a sequence of passages that rupture forth unexpectedly. At its heart, the piece is appropriately spacey, with squelchy quirts of analogue phase illuminating the smooth, slow-moving expanse of soft drones. It’s dense and atmospheric, and distant rumbles of thunder register like planets colliding way off in other solar systems before heraldic horns and full galactic marching band parades it way through. Gunned down in a blitzkrieg of lasers and noise, leaving an expanse of desolation, a near-emptiness.

Capac’s ‘A Well-Turned Suite’ is altogether darker, an eerie discord creating an ominous atmosphere. The four-piece describe themselves as creators of ‘sonic explorations of the murkier spaces in and between “new music”, and there’s certainly an exploratory quality to this fourteen-minute aural ambulation. At first there is calm, sustained notes that hover and hum for an age, stretching time itself. Gradually, cracks and fissures begin to appear in the smooth surface, and wheezing organ notes begin to twist and disconnect, and over time, the tension rises as atonality takes over. Muffled beats stutter and thump anxiously, and the sloe fade leaves only the whisper of the breeze.

It’s an intriguing release, and the two pieces are unusual and more than contrasting enough to sustain the interest for the duration.

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WAS and Capac

21st February 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s more or less a fact – and not a happy one – that much of the strongest and most meaningful art comes from dark personal places. And so it is that Mollayanna’s new single, ‘Human Error’ is taken from an album of material, which will shortly be released under the title Archaeology, written last year by front-woman Bernadette, and which charts her experience of surviving abuse and undergoing therapy.

Speaking candidly, she says, ‘One thing I realised in therapy was that I’d spent so long trying to micromanage things, clinging to relationships and behaviours and hadn’t really stopped to assess if any of it was still making me happy. Once I let go and those people and situations fell away, I felt nothing, too. Emptiness. But also relief? And that’s what ‘Human Error’ is about. The frustration at putting all your effort into something only to realise it’s not what you wanted.’

And so ‘Human Error’ is a tidy slice of indie-ish alt-rock with sweetly melodic vocals that’s easy on the ear but harder on the heart. The lilting minor chords of the clean rhythm guitar has hints of Dinosaur Jr, while the remaining musical layers sit somewhere between Paramore and Fleetwood Mac (Bernadette manages moments that really do hint at Stevie Nicks, and also has a decidedly folksy twist to her vocal style) but then again, and the emotional range is closer to The Twilight Sad as Bernadette pours every ounce of soul into a narrative of giving all for limited returns while being trapped in a cycle.

Oh, and there’s a whopping great guitar solo that plays out through to the fade. It’s as indulgent a solo as you’ll get, but doesn’t feel indulgent, somehow, and fades are chronically underused these days. It all adds up to a great single, and a strong pitch for the upcoming album, too.

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Human Error Artwork

Live dates:

28/2 – Rotherham – Magna

4/4 – Whitchurch – Percy’s

11/4 – Leeds – Verve

Cruel Nature Records – 9th March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Cruel Nature clearly aren’t going for a major cash-in with this release, a 12-years-after-the-fact album containing the final recordings of a band who, while building a cult national following during their existence between 2002 and 2008, were predominantly a local phenomenon in their stomping grounds around Gateshead. Which means you may be forgiven for not being entirely au fait with Marzuraan and their work, of if you haven’t been o the edge of your seat and dripping with anticipation for this limited-to-75-copes cassette compendium.

For those not up to speed (and I’ll include myself here), the potted history of Marzuraan is that they started out as the duo of Pete Burn (guitar) and Lee Stokoe (Culver) (bass) before evolving into a full band with the introduction of Rob Woodcock (drums) and Stu Ellen (voice). ‘Taking their cue from bands such as Melvins; Black Flag; Harvey Milk; Earth; Godflesh and Loop, they soon cemented themselves as a pivotal band in the North East’s burgeoning Drone-rock / Trudge-core scene. Revered locally with a strong cult following nationally, they released 3 studio albums, appeared on countless compilations and split records influencing bands such as Bong and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, before disbanding in 2008’. The title, therefore, is on point and self-aware to the max. But t’s never too late, right?

The recordings here – apart from two tracks which featured on an obscure compilation and split 7” back in the day – represent their final cuts, dating back to 2005 and 2006, and they’ve lain neglected in the proverbial vaults ever since.

But if anything, the timing couldn’t be better: what goes around comes around, and heavy music is very much enjoying a renaissance right now, and the north-east scene is also thriving thanks to various acts associated with microlabels represented by Cruel nature and Panurus Recordings.

It’s the seven-minute ‘Morphine Waterfall’ from the Mare Nero compilation that introduces the release, and it’s a dislocated, angular dirge of a tune that plods and trudges disconsolately through barren territory that alludes to early Swans and 90s Touch and Go, along with peer obscuritants like Oil Seed Rape and Zoopsia: it’s grunge distilled and chilled to sub-zero and as it builds toward the end, the guitars become increasingly discordant, while the snarling, rapping vocal becomes increasingly desperate.

It’s Tar and Girls Against Boys that come to mind through the low-end murk of the chunky riff grind of ‘Golden Roman’, and everything is there for a killer tune but the recording, despite having been remastered last year prior to release. It’s as muddy as hell. It doesn’t actually detract, for what I’s worth, and in many ways is integral to the gritty, lo-fi charm.

It very much sets the level: ‘Muckbucket’ and ‘Blowin’ Cool Breeze’ are built around thumping, repetitive riffs, but the guitars are trebly and skew off at divergent angles.

The final track, ‘Moneybox’, which previously featured on a record split with SINK is a doomy trudge that pushes the influence of early Melvins to the fore as it crawls in a sea of howling feedback and a 23bpm percussive trudge that’s paired with a gut-quiveringly downtuned bass. It’s ace. If you can cope with infinite suspense between drum beats and the striking of a single chord, that is.

Ten Years Too Late shows that Marzuraan were both a band of their time, and a band ahead of their time, sounding utterly contemporary now. Maybe it’s time for a reunion…

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bandcamp

"This video was pieced together over several months.  Most of the footage was shot by the intrepid Pierre Malacarnet at Beck Studios in Wellingborough, the site of the original Bauhaus recording of ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. I filmed the game and lovely Emily Jane White in a 19th Century bathtub in San Francisco.  Pierre then shot some other cut away scenes in Berlin and edited the whole thing together quite brilliantly.  The mood of the film resonates perfectly with that of the music," says David J.

Released in support of the massive double album Missive to an Angel from the Halls of Infamy and Allure, there’s a lot to get enthused by. Watch the video here: