Archive for February, 2023

1st March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

The title of their new single is a fitting one for a band that really doesn’t piss about when it comes to getting things done. Nathan and Lorna, who make up half of this London-based energetic indie-punk foursome cranked out lo-fi bedroom-recorded cuts at a remarkable rate during lockdown, and now, despite working dayjobs and all the rest, the band have not only reconvened but released a new EP Songs from the Black Hat on February 1st, for which they’ve been unveiling in instalments (a number of which have found exposure here, not least of all ‘Futoko’ a year ago) by way of promo.

‘Move Fast’ is pitched as ‘Channelling Gen X Silicon Valley sloganeering,1980s pop synths and nineties noise!’ – which is in many ways quintessential Argonaut – big on energy, some bright, breezy melodies, but a dark undercurrent and a degree of social unrest.

With its clean, chorus-tinged guitar sound, there’s a Cure-esque post-punk element to the track, with a cute, almost bouncy vocal, there are classic indie-pop / shoegaze aspects dominant here, and then of course, the chorus breaks out the big fizzy guitars and busy, dizzy synths. It all comes together to give us an energetic tune which comes on like a lo-fi Blondie, and it’s a winning formula.



From Coma To Catharsis is the second full exploratory mission in the current five-piece incarnation of NYC / NJ-based instrumental ensemble, The Royal Arctic Institute.

At present, The Royal Arctic Institute comprises five musicians who have played extensively with other groups and/or as backing/session musicians: drummer Lyle Hysen (Das Damen, Arthur Lee, The Misguided), guitarists John Leon (Roky Erickson, Summer Wardrobe, Abra Moore) and Lynn Wright (And The Wiremen, Bee And Flower, Shilpa Ray), bassist David Motamed (Das Damen, Two Dollar Guitar, Arthur Lee, Townes Van Zandt), and keyboardist Carl Baggaley (Headbrain, Gramercy Arms).

What are the first things you would feel coming out of a coma? Would it be cathartic, a full release of all your emotions? What would that sound like? From Coma To Catharsis tries to capture that auditory experience replacing the steadfast emotions expressed on From Catnap to Coma with the sounds of dreaming, then awakenings.

All the pieces were created communally, deconstructing then reconstructing material mainly composed by guitarist John Leon with a couple written by other band members. McNew recorded the band in a live setting with no digital magic and minimal overdubs except for pedal steel work by John.

This record also highlights the band’s musical development after a further year of playing together. This includes songwriting contributions by Dave (‘Angleman’s Lament’), and Lynn (‘The Elated World’) as well as more input from Carl. “This is the third record I’ve played on,” explains Baggaley, “and on this one we really broke the songs down to the bones. I was able to bring in new influences like King Crimson-style mellotron and electric piano inspired by the late Billy Preston performances during the recording of the Beatles’ Let It Be album.” Besotted by 2021’s Beatles documentary series stemming from those sessions, Lyle draped his drums in tea-towels ala Ringo for the song ‘Passover Bucket.’

Regarding that same title, John says, “During the COVID lockdown, everyone’s kids were home and parents were scrambling and grasping at straws to entertain them. A Jewish friend of mine decided to celebrate Easter with her children to give them something to do. They were fascinated by the concept of Easter baskets. The following year, instead of Easter baskets, the children were given Passover Buckets to keep them quiet.”

‘K-Style Circuit’ provides a flavour of the album, and you can watch the video here:

Christopher Nosnibor

Books have a slower diffusion than records, although they too can have a far slower diffusion than the industry cycle accommodates. If it’s not a hit in week one it’s sunk and you’re fucked. This story is not a new one, although in his autobiography, initially penned around 1998, circulated as a .PDF around 2001 and finally first seeing the light of day in 2014 before being republished in 2019 – Mike Edwards lays it bare.

I never really got into Jesus Jones. Perhaps I never really ‘got’ Jesus Jones. Back in the early 90s, I was primarily into goth and industrial and the heavier end of the current bands – The Sisters of Mercy, Swans, Ministry, Therapy? were my staples and the bands I’d whack onto the sixth-form stereo, often to complaints from my peers – particularly a mate who was absolutely rabid about Jesus Jones and Faith No More. Jesus Jones always sounded a bit soft to my ears, a bit lightweight, limp, and poppy. Having seen them live for only the second time in 2021 supporting The Sisters of Mercy at The Roundhouse, I can’t say I was converted: they still sounded lightweight, limp, and poppy, but I did find a newfound respect: they played hard, and it’s hard to deny the hooks – and the fact that they’re survivors.

Death Threats from an Eight-Year Old makes for an interesting read, in that it is very much told from the perspective of a band whose survival wasn’t so assured having crashed out of favour and the public eye after their ascendance and commercial peak in the mid-90s.

The other time I saw them was on the way up. I laughed when their guitarist fell off the stage at Wembley Arena when supporting The Cure as part of Radio 1’s ‘Great British Music Weekend’ in ‘91. That doesn’t get mentioned in Mike Edwards’ autobiography. But then, there’s a lot that doesn’t get mentioned.

Having written on Charlie Beddoes’ autobiography being an atypical work, from the perspective of a hard-gigging musical who never attained the status of being a household name, Mike Edwards’ book is also atypical of the genre and while it’s not quite an inversion, following a riches to rags trajectory, it is certainly not your regular celebrity spill brimming with tales of rock ‘n’ roll excess, and is instead a tale of an unceremonious decline, of struggles and slogs, and mountain biking. There’s probably more in this book about cycling than music, which would be incredibly dull to anyone who isn’t into biking if it weren’t for the context.

There are no real anecdotes here, tour-based or otherwise, at least from the ‘fame’ years, but then ultimately, the sketchiness is integral to the overall arc of the narrative of this comparatively slim tome. The fame years – barely three of them – were a blur of touring and promotion, and Edwards captures this nicely.

It’s appropriate, contextually, that as much ink is devoted to detailing the laborious process of recording the fourth album as the entirety of the band’s preceding years – since both spanned around the same amount of time, and Edwards’ recounting of the frustration of both the practicalities of the process and dealing with label shenanigans is illuminating.

And it’s an interesting and worthwhile read for this. Groupies and TV appearances are the glamourous public side of being in a band: long hours slogging to achieve practically nothing for years is the grim reality behind the scenes, and these sections contain some of Edwards’ best writing, too.

It’s sometimes easy to confuse accessible for poorly written. Edwards’ book is accessible, and in the main well-written, although the prose is s shade patchy and sometimes feels rather rushed, leaving narrative gaps where it’s difficult for the reader to join the dots. A few pages in we read that his band played a show where his future wife attended, then just a dozen or so pages later, Jesus Jones’ career has exploded and is on the decline and his life and marriage are crumbling in disarray. Worse than this, there are times when he feels rather too keen to remind us just how fucking famous he was, and how we earned some decent wedge and despite things going down the pan, he managed to maintain his place in the higher tax band. It’s quite the contrast to Beddoes with her squats and cramped flats and sofa-surfing bandmates, and does make it that bit harder to be quite so sympathetic to his plight. That said, he offers insights and reflections which are quite moving, and you realise just how hard it must be to descend from such heights and so quickly.

Edwards certainly doesn’t hold back in his criticism of the British music press: ‘If you call a spade a spade, you call a British music journalist a cunt’ – although given the press’ general dislike of the band, it’s a loathing that’s not unjustified. The NME, in particular appear to ave been unnecessarily vindictive. His discourse on his and the band’s relationship with the music press is interesting, in particular the blackballing in the UK media of the band ahead of the release of Already, an album that completely bypassed me too, and now it seems for obvious reasons.

But if there’s any proof that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, the complete absence of any coverage of Already was clearly a major factor in its total failure to shift units.

And, more than anything else, Death Threats from an Eight-Year Old is worth reading for this insight into what happens when the press have no interest and the label can’t be arsed. The takeaway is, ultimately, that the music industry is as fickle as it gets, and just how fucked up it all is. Consequently, being a fan of Jesus Jones is by no means a prerequisite for reading this book, and it’s a quick and mostly enjoyable read which makes it worthwhile.


‘Terzo’ : an Italian word translating as ‘the third’, it represents an additional presence that new darkwave/shoegaze/post-rock duo Terzo sensed inhabiting their most creative moments when they began working together.

Karl Clinton (former bassist in post-punk act Diskoteket, plus co-founder of improvisational project Tsantsa) and Billie Lindahl (lead singer and guitarist in dream pop/dark folk act Promise and the Monster) share a mutual penchant for dark sounding music in all its forms. They have also both been itching to free the shackles binding them to strict timelines; not only those of the music industry, but society in general. “Terzo was born out of a discussion about songs we mutually liked and a wish to try a different work process to our then current projects,” they state. “We wanted to do whatever we wanted without restrictions, using our obsession and gut feeling as guidance.”

Their preference for music and art that embodies a degree of doom and gloom is evident on their upcoming self-titled debut album, with its central theme of ‘love and death’ linking all six tracks. Their very first studio session yielded the 10+ minute post-rock epic ‘Cymbeline’ (available now as a debut single), while in the midst of recording it they both had the sensation that a third presence was keeping them company. Intrigued by the thought, “we started talking about the appearance of a third element, in sleep and in dreams,” they explain. “Terzo is about acknowledging this, the swirl that light in the darkness generates, opening ourselves out toward our own weaknesses.”

‘Cymbeline’ is actually a unique cover of a 1991 song by the Celtic/world music singer-songwriter and composer Loreena McKennit, which has a lyric lifted from the William Shakespeare play of the same name. “We had a feeling that we could make something interesting with it,” says Lindahl. “Karl did most of the instrumental work, guitars and programming, while I recorded my vocal in one take. This song means so much to us because it was the first thing we did as a duo and I think we just sort of understood that we could do great things together.”

Terzo travelled to New York in the summer of 2022 to play their first live shows, with the video maker and photographer Johan Lundsten accompanying them to document the trip. Footage from this can be seen in the video for ‘Cymbeline’, with Lindahl adding that “we always pictured something in documentary style for this song. Johan filmed everything that we did, even just hanging around. It is very raw, but it feels right.”

Watch the captivating video to this immense song here:



TERZO | photography by Johan Lundsten

14th February 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Having first encountered Deborah performing as one half of dark ambient noise duo Spore, I’ve discovered she’s nothing if not prolific, and having hit the classical charts with one recent album and released not one, but two new albums in the last few weeks, it’s hard to keep up, not only with her vast output but the stylistic range. Daughters Of The Industrialists is one of those new albums, and one which again presents a very different musical face.

Daughters Of The Industrialists couldn’t be further from the sound of Spore. The track tiles radiate a glowing warmth which translate in their sound, too. The first of the album’s ten compositions, ‘Sparkle’ does exactly that, a soft a mellow sonic hue rippling in slow waves and gradual washes, and ‘Angel’ is every bit as delicate and skyward-facing as you might expect. The same goes for ‘Dazzle’, a composition which exudes tranquil, calm, and soothing vibes but becomes increasingly busy, hinting at both 80s electronica and the vintage sounds of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream.

With no accompanying verbiage, Daughters Of The Industrialists is an album which very must stand to speak for itself. And it’s an album with sonic range and one which stretches out in many directions. A number of the compositions have been released previously as standalone singles via Bandcamp, including the ponderous, reflective ‘Mothtail’ a slow and wistful work built around drones and a swelling digital breeze – but collected here into an album context, everything fits into place with a sense of unity and coherence, with the majority of the pieces being concisely contained between three to four minutes in duration, meaning nothing feels overdone or stretched out to outstay its welcome.

‘Pixel Eye’ possesses space-age qualities despite its having been forged while rooted the spot, and there is much activity here.

‘Orange’ is sparse and contemplative, and while the flickering, misty ambience of ‘Callisto’ and Orb-like bleepery of ‘Waning Moon’ set their sights on the vast expanses of space, what really stands out is their organic feel, a sense of connecting with nature as well as the cosmos. It’s this sense of being attuned to the natural world and its cycles, and of being at one with the earth and in turn the space beyond that feeds through the six-and-a-half-minute closer, ‘Crystal Rain’. Here, slow, turning drones intertwine in a slice of truly classic ambience, and it’s so very soothing, and conveys a sense of vastness, of space. And in doing so, the album concludes by transporting the listener somewhere beyond the confines of four walls and reminds us that there is something outside, and beyond. Go, explore.



Blaggers Records – 24th February 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Having recently signed to Blaggers Records, Kill, The Icon! Unveil the first taste of their debut EP in the form of single cut ‘Protect the Brand’ – a song they describe as being ‘loosely based on David Fincher’s Fight Club’.

As Chuck Palahniuk wrote in the novel on which the film is based, ‘You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.’ This is capitalism laid bare: the workers defining themselves by brand allegiance, working all hours to eke out a living and make themselves feel better by buying shit they don’t need with money they don’t have. It’s a fucking con, and it’s never been more transparent as energy companies rake in record profits while people struggle to afford to stay warm and feed themselves, blaming the so-called cost of living crisis on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and mass strikes taking place across the UK while rail companies siphon off millions to pay execs and shareholders while claiming there’s no money for staff wages, and the NHS coffers are bare for paying their staff because they’ve haemorrhaged billions on redundant PPE provided by companies owned by government chums like Michelle Mone.

The trouble is, it’s taken too, too long for the general populace to twig that they’re being shafted, and the government has been quietly bolstering its powers to dismantle protest and limit rights – not just workers’ rights but human rights since Brexit – that pushing back against it all is incredibly difficult. And many still don’t even see corporate brainwashing for what it is as they obediently trudge back to their offices at their own expense for two or three days a week for the ‘hybrid office experience’ corporations are insistent is essential for both productivity and wellbeing.

This realisation is the narrative of ‘Protect the Brand’, a song which the band explain is ‘viewed through the lens of an overworked and underpaid office worker who is tasked with mind-numbing, repetitive jobs until he finally engineers his own sacking. The Worker stumbles through a crisis of realization, as he starts to question the purpose of work within a capitalist framework.’

It’s driven by a mega-dense bass, and the vocal is a perfect counterpoint, a monotone that chops between corporate inanities and anti-corporate vitriol. It absolutely works, and creates a tension that doesn’t entirely resolve. Once again, Kill, The Icon! are on the money and nail the zeitgeist. Listen up, and listen good.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Former Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles dominated social media here in the UK following the tubby tosser’s proclamation that he doesn’t play unsigned bands because they’re crap. He has, naturally, provoked a virtual riot. All bands were unsigned at some point, and without anyone backing them, they’d have remained unsigned forever, even hiss beloved oasis – who should have probably remained unsigned and instead played their pedestrian pub rock to pub-gig audiences before fucking off to the mediocre day jobs they deserved.

The same applies to so many bands. Most bands who get the break do so because of luck, not talent. They’re not better than the unsigned acts, they just have a contract because someone decided they might have commercial potential. But what do labels know, really? They select taste based on their opinion and observation.

A large percentage of the bands I review are unsigned or otherwise independent, and Neon Insect are yet another. The musical vehicle of German composer and multi-instrumentalist Nils Sinatsch, Neon Insect is a project which provides the soundtrack to thee dystopian present.

The press release reports how ‘Nils found it difficult to continue on the cyberpunk, dystopian-themed path that began on the preceding release; the full-length LP, New Moscow Underground. It’s not hard to understand why. But ahead of the forthcoming album, they’ve given us ‘Rewired’.

It’s industrial, alright, in the 80s sense, a grinding mess of crunching drums, swampy synths and churning bass, bringing elements of Ministry, NIN, and Foetus. It really gets dark and dingy in the final minute, and it’s heavy and intense.



20th February 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Hailing from Austin, Texas, electronic act Gleaming are deeply rooted in 80s synth pop, and while there are hints of gothic grooves and whatnot, the more obvious touchstone is mid- to late-80s Depeche Mode. But if opener ‘Rat Me Out’ is a clear access point with a strong hook, the first single, ‘Run Faster’ is starker, harder, more industrial, a thudding kick drum welded to a relentless bassline that nags away at your brain while calling to mind DAF. It’s a tense affair, and with lines like “the phone, the ego, the friends, the future, the body I’m in – all telling me to run”, we get an insight into the EP’s themes. The band describe the EP as ‘an ode to one’s former self and depression, habits, partners, family, friends, etc.,’ adding ‘It’s an attempt to bring closure to a darker past and to celebrate life in a more positive and meaningful sense.’

Closure, catharsis, celebration: it feels like all three to an extent. ‘Ashes’ is propelled by a busy beat and throbbing bass, and ‘The Voyager’ follows its path but ventures more toward Depeche Mode c84 crossed with Pretty Hate Machine era Nine Inch Nails – it’s dark, it’s synthy, but also accessible and feels light and perhaps less menacing than intended, in the way that early Ministry wanted to be harder than it was. The glitchy autotuned vocals don’t help: the never help anything, unless perhaps you’re Cher. It’s not a bad tune – there isn’t a bad tune on the EP – but the execution, if done differently, may have had more impact.

The seven-and-a quarter-minute title track is a low-tempo, slow-burning synth-led brooder, heavy with reflection and emotion and a sense of closure.

Showcasing a certain range within the stylistic confined of their genre of choice, Gleaming are an interesting proposition, with a sound that’s familiar and illusory, but not specifically derivative – and that’s an achievement.


25th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Two years on from when I covered Open to the Sea’s Another Year Is Over, it transpires that Milan-based Matteo Uggeri and his cohorts are back with Tales from an Underground River. A lot has happened since then – and yet in many ways, not a lot has, and for some of us, it feels as if lockdown never ended.

Governments and employers seem to be content to peddle the idea that with vaccines rolled out and restrictions lifted, the switch had been flicked that restores normality – so much for the endless talk of a new normal not so long ago. This is likely true of some things, primarily retail and public services, but then, many office workers have only returned on a part-time basis, if at all. For me, personal circumstances have meant not at all, which is welcome – much as I miss people, I don’t miss those people.

I digress, but this context is what I bring in terms of my reception to this album, which was, recorded over the course of a couple of years, starting in the Winter of 2019 and spanning the pandemic period – a time that has drifted into near-unreality and feels almost dreamlike, unreal. And this is very much the sensation that Tales from an Underground River creates. Listening to it feels like listening to a dream.

The text which accompanies the release, they’re at pains to point out, is not a press sheet, but a diary, and that makes sense, as it charts the album’s long and convoluted evolution. It certainly isn’t a sales pitch. But then, art shouldn’t be about sales pitches: creatively, the journey to the end result – if indeed it even is the end result – is far more interesting, and of significantly more value.

Beginning life as two long and multi-layered sets of improvisation with piano, guitar and synths recorded by Enrico Coniglio, it was then completely reworked by a process of additions and subtractions by Matteo Uggeri, and over time, incrementally, it was picked apart and broken down into thirteen relatively short pieces, where soft, rolling piano and mournful brass merge with the sounds of thunder and rain and a host off subtle field recordings which add delicate layers to the sound. And they’re segued together in such a way as to render the album one continuous piece in a succession of movements.

The mood transitions incrementally through the segments, and the titles are beautifully descriptive: I found myself forming mental images of scenes while listening, the music providing the soundtrack to a slowly unfurling movie in my mind’s eye – a movie brimming with scenes of nature, as ‘Pebbles Clink, Fluffy Echoes Make the Air Colder’ and ‘Pebbles Clink, Fluffy Echoes Make the Air Colder.’

Indeed, reading the lengthy titles in sequence conjures a semi-narrative in itself. At times ponderous, contemplative, brooding, at others with flickering sun offering hope – sometimes within the space of a single piece, as on ‘Limpid Lights Dig Words in the Rocks’, you feel yourself carried on a current through different terrains and landscapes. ‘Emotions and Thoughts Climb over Years and Years, Always the Same’ brings droning guitar textures and a rather darker hue of ambience with post-rock leanings, and Tales from an Underground River is an album where the movement and changes never cease over the course of its journey. At times eerie and unsettling, at times ominous, and at others – for wont of a better word – cheerful, it’s a magical piece of creativity that shows vision and was very much worth the three years of work.