Archive for June, 2022

CRONE have released a pro-shot video illustrating the first single ‘Gemini’ taken from the dark rockers’ forthcoming new album Gotta Light?, which has been slated for release on September 23.

Watch the melancholic and longing video for ‘Gemini’, which perfectly mirrors the mood of this track here:

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“I wrote all the basics for ‘Gemini’ on an old acoustic guitar”, vocalist and guitarist Phil Jonas reveals. “It is amazing to look back and see how the song eventually developed into the piece that it is now. The lyrics came to me very quickly. I am sure their meaning unfolds with a little digging. The video by director Robert Piel at least in my mind tells the story of a lost twin and its inevitable return in some kind of a rebirth. This can be interpreted in many directions. I think each of us has already had to leave someone behind.”

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Industrial/glam-rock hybrid Terminal have just issued a video for ‘Godfire’, a song from their debut album ‘Blacken The Skies’, which was released via Metropolis Records in 2021. Showcasing the heavier, almost metallic side of the group’s sound, the track would sit well on playlists featuring the likes of Rammstein, Rob Zombie or Null Positiv, while Terminal frontman Thomas Mark Anthony has previously cited Killing Joke’s Geordie Walker as an influence on his own guitar playing.

‘Godfire’ is presented in trademark Terminal style with frantic visuals and confrontational lyrics, with words such as "Seethe in razor wire / as your palace is your pyre" a ‘j’accuse’ pointed at those bad actors who have taken the Ukrainian invasion as an opportunity to commit their own misdeeds while the world’s attention is elsewhere.

For Anthony, who was born in South Africa but raised in Canada, anti-apartheid issues remain tragically timely. The video for ‘Godfire’ is dedicated to Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was recently killed by Israel’s defence forces while documenting their brutality in the West Bank. “Apartheid is unsustainable,” he states. "It will fall. We’ve seen it. But the longer it goes on, and the worse its atrocities, the harder it will be to have reconciliation instead of violent retribution.”

Watch the video here:

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Misanthropic Agenda – 20th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I’ll admit, I was struck by the name when this landed in my inbox. Success! With an insane number of submission emails day, I don’t even open most, let alone play the albums attached. But then I learned that PWIS is Nathalie Dreier – who’s interesting for her visual work as well as her audio – and Dave Phillips, who’s To Death I covered last year – which deepened my intrigue. And it’s one hell of a cover, too.

Meaning What Exactly? is quite a different proposition – from pretty much anything, in truth. Presenting four lengthy compositions, it’s fundamentally an electronic album, but it’s far more than that, or anything. The title is a challenge, a query, a – what I keep hearing as a phrase in my corporate dayjob – a ‘provocation’. It comes down to ‘exactly’. The word is weighted; even without explicit emphasis, it feels emphasised, vaguely stroppy even. The addition is the lexical equivalent of a hand on hip, a raised eyebrow, a scowl, a sneer of condescension to a worker from another department who has no facts. ‘Yeah, do your research, bitch’, is what it says.

And who really knows what it means, or what anything means? Exactly. And what this album means – exactly – I can’t quite fathom. The titles conflict with the contents, at least, based on my lived experience, on my reception. They say it’s a ‘dialogue mixing treated field recordings with organic acoustics and digital sources, brought together in long trance-inducing sessions of meticulous audio de/construction and philosophical debate’. But how much of that is apparent in the end product? Well, that’ debatable.

‘Pangolin’ is otherworldly eerie: a booming drum echoes out through a shifting reverberation of spine-shaking synths. It doesn’t readily evoke aardvark-like creatures, apart from perhaps in the final minute or so when Drier’s monotone vocals are replaced by snuffling barking sounds. It’s weird, but then, what did you expect? I don’t know what I expected, if I’m honest, but probably not this. This is dark, disorientating, disturbed and disturbing, and even more challenging for the absence of context. Meaning is the end product of intent, of purpose, and there’s no clear indication of where this is coming from, meaning we’re left to face the strange with no guidance.

A grinding bass and muffled, muttering voices, whispering about fish all build to a hellish tumult of murmurs and doom-sodden low range hums and thrums, and nothing feels right. It’s awkward, and unsettling. You – certainly I – don’t really tune into the words delivered by Drier in her suffocating spoken word passages, not out of disregard or disrespect, but because all of it comes together to create a claustrophobic listening experience. Meaning What Exactly? is not an album you sit and dissect, or sit and comfortably disassemble or analyse. I find myself, instead, contemplating the meaning of meaning.

‘Us vs Us’ plunges into deeper, darker territories, with a grinding, driving bass worthy of Earth, propelled by thunderous sensurround drumming, with purgatorial howls echoing all around. It’s heavy, harrowing, and it’s that simple, tribal drum style that defines and dominates the eerie eleven-minute closer, ‘The House is Black’. The house is black and the atmosphere is bleak: the vocals are mangled and distorted and play out against a murky, fragmented, fractured backing, to unsettling effect. The beats are sparse, subdued, distant, yet taut, crashing blasts and ricochets. You make it want to stop. The clock is ticking. Your chest tightens. The nerve rise, jangling, fearful. It’s like walking through a graveyard at night, knowing there’s someone lese shuffling around nearby. Make it stop, make it stop!

A crackle, a crunch. What is this, exactly? Perverts in White Shirts don’t only excavate darker domains, but scour and gouge their way into the darker, deeper territories where tension pulls tight and tighter still. It’s the sound of trauma, of suffocation. Meaning it feels like a direct passage to the depths, meaning it’s dark, uncomfortable, like it’s almost unbearable at times. Meaning it’s good.

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Dallas, TX, Sloth Fist are a 5 piece punk / rock ‘n’ roll band that combine the melodic sense of Descendents and Teenage Bottlerocket with the fierceness of bands like Motorhead and Turbonegro. The result is an eclectic mix of songs that will satisfy anyone who likes their music hard and heavy, but still catchy with hooks galore.

With lyrics written mainly during the pandemic, the band’s upcoming EP ‘Bombs Away’ (out October 7 on Mindpower Records) takes a much darker turn than past efforts.

The lead single, ‘Cut Through It’ deals with ‘The Great Resignation’ and lashes out at the current state of corporate greed.

Watch the lyric video for ‘Cut Through It’ here:

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Cruel Nature Records – 24th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Hot on the heels of second album Can’t Be Arsed, Cruel Nature have repackaged the eponymous debut from the Manchester makers of ‘kitchen sink punk for the 21st century with a whole side’s worth of remixes from both previous releases – including two pretty radical reworkings of snarling single cut ‘Brain Driver’.

First, to revisit the debut – it’s a primitive, noisy document of disaffection. Adam Stone’s drawling, sneering vocal style is vintage punk, less about holding a tune as conveying attitude, and from the off they set the tone with the seven-minute ‘Food Chain’. A thick, dirty bass grinds out just a couple of notes over a plodding drum while Stone vomits vitriol. If ever a track encapsulated the monotonous drudgery of existing in Boris Johnson’s Britain, this is it. Most of the songs churn away for around seven minutes, but if you’re wondering just how far a band can push low, slow, trudging bass repeating the same simple motif atop a plodding beat, then the answer lies in ‘Half Priced Chickens’ – and the answer is just shy of fourteen minutes. This quarter-hour slog is a gloomy, dark, monotonous trudge: the kick drum sounds like a wet lump of wood, and the sneering shoutiness is replaced by a blank monotone spoken word, and in combination, they create an oppressive sonic fug. The scenes depicted are mundane. Words drift in and out – mobility scooters, office, boyfriend, cough mixture, cheese pasty – and these objects assume bleak resonance as you ask yourself, ‘is this it? Is this life?’ and the answer is there, slumped, devoid of energy, eyelids half closed: yes, this is life. And this is as good as it gets. And it’s fucking endless. Until it ends, in a swampy morass of slow decayed distortion and noise.

The final track, ‘Bunker’ locks into an uptempo groove, but while the drums rattle and bounce away, the mood remains tense, equal parts The Fall and Uniform. As the track progresses, so the anguish builds, and the effect is cumulative Stone hollers roughly about world war as feedback wails and the bass and drums just batter on, and on. Same old, same old…

There’s nothing pretty about Pound Land – the band or the album – and this is a good thing: they deal with the gritty reality of living in shit times. Pound Land articulates the languorous torpor of demotivation, of waking daily to feel the aching anguish of being beaten by life, every minute of every day. Sonically, it’s a long, long way from early Swans, but the density and oppression are very much shared aspects.

By the end of the five tracks, you’re absolutely harrowed and drained.

The remixes are a nice addition, though. The Ruffians on the Train Remix of ‘Brain Driver’ ventures into swampy, almost avant-jazz / trip-hop territory, before kicking into gnarly space-rock swirl. The drums are crisp but overloading, while the bass is pure punishment. Where remixes for most other bands are either dancier or more ambient or whatever, this set – with three of the six from R.O.D., these are primarily exercises in accentuating the gnarliness of the originals, with everything simply sounding even heavier, more crushing.

Pound Land is the real soundtrack to the now. They may have to change their name to Tenner Land before the year’s out the way things are going, so you’d be wise to bag this while you can, and hunker down before things get really tough…

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Christopher Nosnibor

Steve Kendra has probably received as many words praising his work as anyone to have been covered here at Aural Aggravation, but the chances are, it’s gone unnoticed, since he’s rarely, if ever mentioned directly or by name. As the rhythm guitarist in York’s premier purveyors of psychedelic drone, Soma Crew, his contribution is something I’ve long admired. Like drummer Nick Clambake, Kendra’s brilliance lies in his humbleness, and his appreciation that the sum is always greater than the parts. A great rhythm section sticks to rhythm and keeps it together. Sounds simple, but it’s much harder in reality. It requires great concentration for a start. And it takes humility too not want to step into the spotlight in one way or another. But this is precisely why he’s the perfect player for Soma Crew, content to keep his head down, face obscured by the peak of his cap, and bludgeon away at two or three chords for six or seven minutes.

Just as he’s the quiet one of the band – not that they’re really big talkers most of the time – he’s quietly been working on his own material as Kendroid. It’s essentially a solo vehicle, but with input from as handful of people well known in York music circles, not least of all instrumental and production assistance from Dave Keegan, and to date he’s recorded and released two full-length albums, The Last Love Song on Earth (2019) and Poetry Love & Romance (2021) – so while these aren’t- hot-off-the-press new releases, it’s never too late to catch up. In fact, the whole promo build-up of a clutch of singles and videos in the run-up to an album’s release and then the explosion of reviews in the weeks and months around it, I get, but it does create a false sense of there being a certain window for new releases. The reality is that albums have a slow diffusion, and more often than not, people discover albums and artists months, years, even decades, after their emergence.

Kendra’s route to being a musician has been far from conventional: the man didn’t even pick up a guitar till he turned 40, and is by no means a muso. I have a lot of respect for that, and have found that oftentimes, technical education is a limiter to creativity. Steve can’t read tab and doesn’t know music theory – and consequently, isn’t hampered by conventions.

The chronology of the material is chewy: most of the songs on the second album were written before those on the first, and the second album is more of a lockdown exercise to document/ purge the journey that preceded The Last Love Song.

The Last Love Song on Earth presents a pretty eclectic set, spanning low-key blues and reminiscent of Mark Wynn before he went punky/shouty and went off to support Sleaford Mods (Married to the Rain’), to Soma Crew-esque space rock workouts that toss in dashes of Stereolab and Pulp (‘Mexican Heart’), and songs that incorporate elements of both, along with an experimental twist, with the swampy ‘Incel’ and brooding grind of ‘Deam Lover’ that has hints of Suicide in the mix contributing to the diversity that draws in The Doors to Mark Lanegan.

Poetry Love & Romance is quite a different animal, and while recorded in lockdown, it’s not – unusually – a lockdown album, packed with the anxieties of forced captivity or separation. But it is, in another way, a definitive lockdown album, in that its recording is one whereby the sound and production is determined by limitations, being largely acoustic – although Dave Keegan again features in a musical capacity, as well as engineering, mixing, and mastering.

We’re straight in with an easy country swing, with acoustic guitar and simple drum machine for the title track, and it sets the style for the album as a whole, which is mellow, sparse laid back, and pretty country. These are songs that paint pictures, sketches of scenes, some faded and tinged with the distance of time and reflection, and it’s quite touching at times.

Poetry Love & Romance does feel like something of a stopgap, but who wasn’t waiting for life to restart in some way the last couple odd years?

It’ll be interesting to see what Steve does next, but what he’s done thus far is interesting, and a clear step away from his guitaring day-job, and a such, it’s a bold move that’s yielded some great results.

O.R.k., comprising of celebrated Italian vocalist, producer, and award-winning film score composer Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari a.k.a LEF (lead vocals), King Crimson’s Pat Mastelotto (drums), ex-Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin (bass) and Marta Sui Tubi’s Carmelo Pipitone (guitars) have premiered the video for their new single “As I Leave”, their first new music since the release of the acclaimed 2019 album Ramagehead.

The new single “As I Leave” is the first foray into the band’s new album (the second on Kscope) which will be released later this year. It is accompanied by an otherworldly and dreamlike video from 3D-VR artist Chiara Orsi who has managed to match the song’s expressive intensity in a highly imaginative visual display. Watch the video here:

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“As I Leave”, was an obvious choice for a new first single/calling card for the band, containing all the sonic elements that make up O.R.k’s unique and inviting world. Lef’s powerful vocals, Carmelo Pipitone’s energetic riffing, Pat Mastelotto’s inventive rhythmic accompaniment and Colin Edwin’s distinctive bass tones all infuse the sound with a refreshed intensity and a new luminosity.

O.R.k bassist Colin Edwin states that “Lyrically, ‘As I Leave’ is an ambiguous contemplation on the inexplicable reasons for close personal bonds and human connections. It’s a song for anyone who ever desired deeper connections with another, but in some puzzling way, just couldn’t make it work. The profoundest differences are rarely geographical, as most of us have discovered over the last few years.  There’s often an unknowable reason under the surface, did your blow your chance? …or did your dreams just get old?”

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17th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Blackpool isn’t exactly a roaring flame on the musical map, hanging in the shadow of Manchester and being more geared toward tourism than seemingly existing as a place to live in its own right. Sure, Jethro Tull originated in Blackpool, along with – although some time apart – The Membranes, and Alfie Boe – but it’s hardly indicative of a cultural melting pot with a thriving scene to represent it.

Ivory Skies may – or may not – change that. Formed in 2019, they’ve released a couple of singles already, and scored support slots with Kyle Falconer from The View, and The K’s, which puts them on the fringes of the bigger leagues.

Perhaps it’s a coastal town thing: ‘Bring Me Up’ calls to mind the uptempo punk / indie crossover sound of Southend-on-Sea’s Asylums, and it’s buoyant, energetic – inoffensive, but certainly not lacking in a bit of bite, yielding four minutes of melodic, guitar-driven joy with a dash of realism.

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6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

This latest four-tracker from Panic Lift continues the trajectory of themed EPs that it’s been pursuing for a while now.

With two new cuts and a remix of each, it’s reminiscent of the old-school 7” and 12” formats, and ‘Every Broken Piece’ accompanied by ‘Bitter Cold’ would make for a perfect 7”, with the additional tracks – remixes respectively from Mechanical Vein and Tragic Impulse – fleshing out a 12” and CD… Such reminiscences are relevant because Panic Lift’s harsh industrial dance sound is rooted in the 90s when multi-format releases were de rigueur. Much as they were clearly a way of milking fans and boosting chart positions, I do kind of miss those days, since the majority of releases don’t even come in a physical format.

For Stitched, James Francis, aka Panic Lift, revisits the kind of sound that defined his debut, Witness To Our Collapse, and talking of the physical, there’s a strong physicality to both ‘Every Broken Piece’ and ‘Bitter Cold’ – not just their thumping hard as nails grooves and pounding beats, but the overall density of the sound hits with a physical impact, while the forced, rasping vocals equally hit hard, the sound of anguish and rage and a host of mixed and conflicting emotions aflame.

‘Every Broken Piece’ was a feature of Panic Lift’s online performances during lockdown, and it’s from this place of inner turmoil that these songs emerge, with the accompanying notes pointing out that they ‘continue with the familiar themes of stress, coping, and concerns of self-image’, and the rippling synth lines, juxtaposed against snarling, abrasive vocals, are the perfect expression of internal conflict. There’s a lot going on here in the arrangements, with churning metal guitar grazing against cinematic synths, and the slower chorus on ‘Bitter Cold’ brings impact by contrast.

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‘Phenomena of the Mind’ is a re-mastered EP of selected tracks from the album of the same name released by Mieko Shimizu in 2006, the year after the London Terror attacks. Something dispirited and unexplainable lay heavy in the air off the sprawling city we lived and breathed. In the title song, ‘Phenomena of the Mind’, her intense Japanese rap echoes the deafening noise of the chaotic streets we walk each day. “Visualise”, she said, try to imagine a way to fight your way out of this ominous, dystopian world.

In the track ‘Signal Found’, the theme continues to shattered Dance Hall beats that reverberate to the “twisted sound of broken down London town.”

“Have you lost the plot? Are you ok?” she asks.

In the track ‘Black Salt’, a dark melancholic theme floats over fragmented, glitchy beats, compounded by the repetition of “black” which hammers the constant bombardment of racism prescient of the call for freedom that Black Lives Matter.

Wonderland Magazine has described Mieko’s music as, “beautiful poetic verses and stunning musical arrangements” and Mark Taylor of Record Collector as “An avant garde artist pushing boundaries.”

Mieko Shimizu is a London based Japanese singer, songwriter, composer and producer. Mieko first erupted onto the UK electronic scene as Apache 61; her searing alter ego. The self-titled album garnered plays by John Peel and she quickly build a name across the London & Berlin underground scenes.

Previously she had released 2 albums in her own name, Totem & Road of Shells, then the album Minimal Dance as Mekon Zoo and in 2020 she released her latest album I Bloom.

Watch ‘Phenomena of the Mind’ here:

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