Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Pomperipossa Records – 10th January 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The Stilling, according to the accompanying text, is ‘a phenomenon whereby the wind speed on the planet seems to be slowing down for no known scientific reason’. Given the nature of climate change and what seems to be an increasing number of more violent storms hitting the shores of what no longer feels very much like a green or pleasant and, it seems hard to credit, but there are no shortage of articles which discuss this phenomenon which began in the 1960s or 70s, although recent months have seen reports that wind-speeds are beginning to pick up again.

For now, let’s remain with the narrative that inspired the album which ‘explores this state of discomfort and perplexion’, and locate it in a context of wind speeds sowing while the pace of life and the flow of information have accelerated exponentially and in direct proportion to wind speeds slowing over the same time span.

For their fourth album, drøne, the duo consisting of Mark Van Hoen and Mike Harding (not the Mancunian singer / songwriter / poet / comedian who was popular in the 70s and 80s), have enlisted a role-call of contributors to add strings, noise and vocals to their unsettling mash-up of samples and random sounds layered up and over one another.

They promise ‘the trademark drøne sounds of static, radio voices, field recordings, modular synthesizer and found sounds, recording chance sounds right up to the final mix add to the dynamism and energy of the album’. And the stilling very much is a mess of incongruity: car horns cut through chatter and chanting while ominous hums and tremulous top-end flickers and tweets.

‘Scream – its all you can do now. Overwhelming, scatter-gun information delivery has us confused, bowel churningly fearful and appalled at the nature of the changing times. We are biologically, psychologically and emotionally able to cope with slow evolutionary change, but struggle with revolutionary, violent distortion or mutation. This leaves us anxious and even desperate for a firmer footing.’ So says the press release, summarising the lived experience of the postmodern condition in just five lines.

With segments of monologue and dialogue chopped up and scattered, sometimes overlapping with one another as well as the musical backing, which isn’t exactly musical or backing, so much as a shimmering, shifting sonic collage, if not exactly reminiscent of William Burroughs’ audio experiments, then very much a sonic interpretation of the cut-up technique in its simultaneous representations of multiple events and perspectives. Because every moment is a moment of change and the pieces on the stilling are constructed around a continual shift, it’s disorientating by design. Scrambling the mutter lines, it’s the soundtrack to your soundtrack.

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Loner Noise – 25th May 2018

It’s a delight, when facing an endless stream of dross and mediocrity, or otherwise stuff you’ve never heard of but that has only limited appeal (I daresay I’ve bypassed some great music on the basis of a dismal press release or email, but then again, I’ve squandered countless hours listening to cack that’s been oversold), to receive a promo invitation for something that’s quality is assured.

Bristol trio Nasty Little Lonely have, since day one, been kicking out gut-punching, balls-out riffage with a grimy, sleazy edge, and they haven’t put a foot wrong. ‘Wicked Vicious’ continues the trajectory set with their two previous singles on Loner Noise, ‘Ugly Vitamin’ (October 2017) and ‘Glitter’ (February 2018), and plays up the ‘power’ in ‘power trio’.

‘Wicked Vicious’ is driven by a snarling, lumbering bass, over witch jittery, tripwire guitars, tense with treble and stretched, sinewy and angular across in a mathy mess reminiscent of The Jesus Lizard and a hefty, grinding hunk of the vintage Touch ‘n’ Go roster, as well as contemporaries who’ve drawn on the same sources, like Blacklisters. It grabs you by the throat in the first attacking bars, and then tightens the grip, pinning you against the wall and constricting.

There’s nothing pretty about this venomous assault: Charlie Beddoes may be coming on almost cuetsy in her semi-salacious, squeaky vocal, but make no mistake, there’s menace and malice and venom behind that hissing, spitting, yet also bubbly delivery, and the relentlessly churning rhythm section. It may only be 2:47 in length, but seriously, check the weight and the girth: ‘Wicked Vicious’ packs some serious meat. Nasty… vicious… killer.

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Long-running Japanese power trio Boris are preparing for the release of their twenty-third studio album Dear on July 14th (Sargent House). The legendary amplifier worshippers have unveiled the album’s second single, ‘Memento Mori,’ which juxtaposes deluges of fuzz with hints of ethereal dream pop in ways only Boris can.

Get your lugs round it here:

No, it’s not a Nirvana cover, but a brand new cut from self styled ‘trash-punk’ trio Dead Naked Hippies which features on the forthcoming 4×12″ compilation sries set for release by Leeds label Dance to the Radio (who we haven’t heard from in a while).

It’s a welcome return on the strength of this track, which you can – and should get your lugs round here:

Constellation Records

Christopher Nosnibor

I love a title that conjures strong visual imagery, and The Infected Mass certainly fits that criteria. Calling to mind scenes from The Walking Dead alongside images of London during The Plague and of cholera epidemics, The Infected Mass evokes a skin-crawling sense of the dirty, the dingy and the dangerous.

Constellation is a label with a low-volume output and a focus on quality and consistency, with The Infected Mass being only their second release of the year.

By way of some background, Those Who Walk Away is the new project of Winnipeg-based composer Matthew Patton, best known for his widely-acclaimed musical score (and Emmy Award-winning collaboration) Speaking In Tongues with the choreographer Paul Taylor.

The press release pitches The Infected Mass as ‘a haunted and profoundly emotive requiem of minimalist composition and a powerful work of avant-garde sacral music, executed with elegiac beauty and restraint.’ It is, indeed, sparse, deeply haunted, and haunting. Dank rumbles grind beneath ominous fear chords and drifting notes which evoke the disembodied voices of angels. Large portions of the album contain no music to speak of, instead forming delicate and deeply evocative atmospheres which infiltrate those personal mental spaces which are rarely touched.

There are significant mood variations to be found here: while ‘Before the Beginning’ is a dark, murky and challenging piece, ‘First Degraded Hymn’ presents a certain lightness of spirit. It is, of course steeped in a detached, abstract sense of the melancholy, the wistful: it evokes a joy tempered by sadness, the kind of sadness which the passage of time and a growing sense of isolation elicits. There is a deepening sense of sadness which trickles through counterpart pieces ‘Second Degraded Hymn’ and ‘Third Degraded Hymn’, which seems to plot a trajectory downward through elliptical sonic helixes mirroring invisible, subconscious psychological processes, to the darker recesses of the reflective mind.

The sample-sodden narratives of ‘First Partially Recorded Conversation’ and ‘Second Partially Recorded Conversation’ crackle against hums, drones and a bleak wind which blows through a disconsolate landscape.

As the final interlacing tones of the album’s last track, ‘After the End’ – a bookending composition which works alongside rather than opposite to ‘Before the Beginning’ taper away, one is left contemplating the sensation evoked by this subtle and nuanced sound-work. A certain creeping sadness, hollowness and absence lingers in the silence which remains.

 

 

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No, it’s not a Lionel Richie cover. Bauhaus Peter Murphy has a new live album out. Murphy always wanted to be Bowie, and now Bowies’s no longer here, we have only Murphy. But as this track, unveiled as a preview for his live album Bare-Boned and Sacred (Metropolis Records, 10th March 2017) demonstrates, Murphy is still – after all this time – on top of his game.

Listen to ‘All Night Long’ here: