Archive for the ‘Singles and EPs’ Category

Christopher Nosnibor

I know very little about this release, at least in terms of specifics. I do know that it’s the work of the prodigious John Tuffen, who also performs as part of Neuschlaufen and Wharf Street Galaxy Band amongst others. I know its physical edition is in a hand-numbered run of 50 CD-R, housed in a paper foldover sleeve in a PVC wallet, with an appropriately blank image by way of cover art. There’s a bleak, quasi-modernist feel to the night-shot photograph of a structure constructed as some kind of shelter. But a shelter without people and a car-park without car is simply dead space. One Year, Two Days is a night-time work. Recorded at night (we’ll return to that shortly), it’s the soundtrack to empty spaces and time without people. And abstract as the sound sequence are on One Year; Two Days, it’s reasonable to summarise the project as a work about time and space and a certain absence.

I do know that John likes his kit, and to fiddle with it, and that a lot of his works are ‘project’ based, centred around either a piece of equipment (e.g. 808 // Whammy (2016) and Field Memory Recorder (2017) recorded exclusively with a novation circuit) or specific times / locations. I also know that John has been working under the Namke Communications moniker for some seventeen years now, and has built quite a body of experimental work in this guise.

The track titles are simply dates and times, and show that the four pieces were recorded over two days in 2016 – as the EP’s title suggests. In some ways, it marks a continuation of the 365/2015 project, which saw Tuffen record – and release – a track a day for the entirety of 2015.

This project and its predecessor provide a considerable insight into Tuffen’s creative modus operandi, which could equally be described as a work ethic. It’s one I can personally relate to, as I strive to produce and publish at least one review a day. This does, of course, raise the inevitable question about quality control, but there are two very different positions on creativity: the first suggests creativity is something which cannot be controlled, is spontaneous. It says you have to wait or the moment, the idea, the impulse. To wait and to go with the flow. The second says that creativity is like a muscle: the more you do, the more you’re able. In time, quantity begets quality as a committed, systematic approach to making art.

‘2016-08-08-2202’ sets the tone, a distorting oscillation provides the backdrop to creeping notes which gradually rise majestically before bleeding into ‘2016-08-08-2318’. It may be growing later, but the mood grows marginally lighter. The sequencing of the tracks is a major factor in the listening experience here, as there is an overall arc from beginning to end. The mid-section, as represented by ‘2016-08-10-1909’ transitions into hushed ambience, before fragmenting into darker territory with fractured distortion and dislocation taking hold. Eventually, it spins into hovering metallic drones, the frequencies touching on the teeth-jangling.

The final track, ‘2016-08-08-2256’ forges a cloud of amorphous sonic drift, a sonic cloud without tangible form. It’s immersive, but at the same time entirely engaging, as the oscillations and quavering notes which fade in and out of the rumbling thunder slowly dissipate in a drifting mist.

While locked in time and space in terms of their creation, in terms of reception, the four tracks on One Year; Two Days transport the listener beyond both time and space. And herein lies the power of this release, in that it both freezes time, and stretches it out over a frame which has no fixed limits.

HHHHH

Namke Communications – One Year Two Days

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Future Void Records – 25th August 2017

James Wells

The pedant in me – and he’s a dominant, sarcastic brawling bastard – asks if two tracks with a combined running time of just over eight minutes really constitutes an EP. The same pedant also wonders if post-rock and post-hardcore can really sit together as a hybrid genre.

The debut release by Brighton’s Chalk Hands makes him shut the fuck up. These two cuts – ‘Burrows’ and ‘Arms’ – are both brutal and beautiful in equal measure. The guitars shift between delicate chiming notes and driving power chords, the vocals a nihilistic snarl of rage amidst the tempest.

According to the band’s bio, they’ve been compared to Pianos Become The Teeth, Caspian, and Envy. Because I’m old and because it’s impossible to know every inch of every microgenre or even every genre, I don’t know any of these bands, but instead draw from a sphere of reference that includes Profane and Andsoiwatchyoufromafar, and comparisons to both are favourable in the case of Chalk Hands. However, they also reference MONO and Russian Circles, and yes, they hold up nicely against them too.

On ‘Burrows’ in particular, Chalk Hands build some awesome crescendos from delicate, rippling washes of clean, chorused guitars, presenting an impressive dynamic and emotional range.

Chalk Hands EP Sleeve R2 OL

Warren Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Lumer follow up ‘Futile’ (which we bloody loved, and which was picked up by BBC Introducing and a host of other tastemakers even more influential than Aural Aggro) with another serrated slice of dark, angular post-punk. ‘Gruel’ is propelled by a bulbous bassline drenched in chorus and flange and distilling the essence of 1983 as represented by bands like The Danse Society and Xmal Deutschland, but with a violent, rabid edge, and the gothy overtones collide with the manic art-rock of Bauhaus circa In the Flat Field as well as heavy hints of 90s grunge with some explosive, driving guitar and crashing drums. 

The lead guitars are fractal, echo-heavy, sinewy. The frenzied, menacing, and borderline psychotic vocals are mashed by effects. There’s a claustrophobic tension that’s almost suffocating and an energy that positively crackles.

Lumar are shaping up to be one of the most exciting new bands around, and ‘Gruel’ has set the bar for future releases. Check the video here:

Lumer are on tour in the coming weeks, too. Dates are as follows:

Thursday 20th July – Fuel Café, Manchester
Friday 21st July – Rough Trade, Nottingham
Saturday 22nd July – Shacklewell Arms, London
Sunday 23rd July – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield

Saturday 5th August – BBC Introducing Stage, Humberside Street Sesh

Tuesday 8th August – Huw Stephens presents at The Social, London

Lumer - Gruel

Metropolis Records – 16th June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Since their initial (slight) return with the EP produced in collaboration with Cubanate’s Marc Heal on his guise as MC Lord of the Flies in the spring of 2015, PIG have been on a real (sausage) roll.

Hot on the heels of the remix album Swine and Punishment lands the Prey & Obey EP, which features three new tracks spawned from the same swirling cesspit of sleaze which gave birth to The Gospel, the first PIG album in a decade. Bringing extra meat to the lineup for this outing is Sisters of Mercy guitarist Ben Christo, who also receives co-writing credit for ‘The Revelation’. Meanwhile, the eternal PIG / KMFDM overlap is maintained courtesy of the En Esch, who contributes a remix version of the lead (prime) cut.

‘Prey & Obey’ positively explodes with heavy-duty guitar-led grunt and chug. It’s vintage PIG, drawing all of the elements that define the band’s sound from the span of their career: Watts spits and snarls over overdriven guitars melded to a thumping industrial disco beat while a swirl of strings whip up the layers of drama. It’s all delivered with a knowing bombast and, and as such, sits up there with anything in the substantial PIG oeuvre.

‘The Revelation’ references PIG classic ‘Serial Killer Thriller’ in the sinewy lead guitar part, while Watts, snarling menacingly, juxtaposes bodily fluids and biblical references like only he can (and get away with). The third of the new tracks, ‘The Cult of Chaos’ is also of premium PIG standard; slower, grinding, it twists a goth-tinged lead guitar over a throbbing groove that’s equal parts guitar and electronic, while a brooding piano strolls around in the background

Of the remixes, the Leæther Strip remix of ‘Prey & Obey’ fits the predicable technoindustrial groove version requirement, while the aforementioned En Esch reworking is darker, murkier, grimier, and more atmospheric. Collectively, they make for a rounded representation of what PIG are about. There’s snout wrong with that, and Prey & Obey is not only a rip-snorting effort, but up there with the best PIG releases.

 

PIG - Prey & Obey

2nd June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The digital generation may be unfamiliar with the experience of leaping around their bedrooms to favourite tunes, only for their exuberance to result in the needle skipping a groove or two. While it’s unlikely to cause any damage to either the vinyl or the stylus, it has a way of disrupting the flow and making you feel like a bit of a buffoon. There’s Kent four-piece Salvation Jayne’s EP suggests, it contains rock nuggets potent enough to inspire bedroom moshing, although it’s not being released on vinyl.

After a brief introductory segment, the EP gets going properly with ‘Burn it Down’ which we covered when it first aired back in April. And it’s a cracking tune, chunky blues-based guitars chopping against a sinewy lead line and strolling bass. It also meets the ‘monster chorus’ requirement for a strong rock tune. And yes, tunes matter: on Moves That Make the Record Skip, Salvation Jayne offer tunes, with strong vocal melodies shaping the songs.

If ‘The Jailer’ contains all of the elements of infinite 80s rock bands and reminds me of many, many pub gigs I caught at the tail end of the 80s and into the early 90s in my home town (for all I know, there are still the same sort of bands cranking out the same stuff in the same venues now: Lincoln never was the most progressive of places), it’s well-executed and has the guts in the delivery to make it work. There’s also some nice slidey guitar action that brings a dirty country / blues vibe. ‘Thrillride’ starts with a low-slung bass and sassy, semi-menacing vocal from Chess Smith before she gives it some throat and everything kicks in.

EP closer ‘Whorehouse Down on the SE’ makes for a strong finish: it’s a percussion-driven hefty rock workout which has all the makings of an anthemic crowd-pleaser live. It mines a proper old-school rock seam, and calls to mind The Pretty Reckless at their best, with Smith giving it the raw, rough ‘n’ tough treatment.

 

 

Salvation Jayne - Moves

Schoolkids Records – 2nd June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The blurb tells me that ‘On the trail of their successful Record Store Day 7” single ‘Symmetry / Slow Grind’, Raleigh-based Schoolkids Records have announced the coming release of ‘The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape EP’ by alternative soul and shoegaze pioneers The Veldt.’

The Veldt have been around for a very long time, now – always on the peripheries, but wholly ingrained in the same milieu as The Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, et al, as well as sharing stags with an impressive roll-call of acts spanning The Pixies to Echo and the Bunnymen via The Manic Street Preachers.

The EP’s title is (in part) lifted from a poem by e.e.cummings, while ‘The Drake Equation’ is a sort of punning gag that’s both intellectual and spectacularly . Cumbersome as it is, it’s quite a tidy literary allusion, and one which illustrates both the band’s overtly arty leanings the and the immense breadth of their spheres of reference: this is, after all, a band whose name derives from a story by Ray Bradbury. If the idea of high modernism coming together with slick 21st century r‘n’b seems like an improbable and unlikely recipe for success, then it’s all down to the execution.

The five tracks on this EP may or may not ‘rage’ with ‘a sound influenced equally by emotional soul of Marvin Gaye, free jazz warriors Sun Ra and Pharaoh Sanders, various Drake hip-hop tracks, long-term musical kin Cocteau Twins, and their own fertile electric imagination.’ But what they do achieve is a compelling hybrid of styles.

Stuttering beats, somewhere between hip-hop, jazz and drum ‘n’ bass jitter and twitch beneath draping, rifting layers of sonic mist define the multifaceted ‘Sanctified’, which glides he EP into a smooth yet detailed launch. It’s the progressive soul element of their expansive shoegaze-orientated sound which renders The Veldt most distinctive:

‘In A Quiet Room’ simmers and chimes, a laid-back rhythm contrasting against the swirl and eddy of layered, FX-drenched blankets of guitars. The tom-orientated drumming on the dreamy ‘One Day Out of Life’ has echoes of early New Order about it, before a rising swell of a drifting sonic cloud.

The EP ends on a super-mellow soul trip in the shape of ‘And It’s You’: with a melody that evokes Bread’s ‘Make it With You’. Perverse as it may sound, it not only works well, but seems entirely fitting, the smooth soul vibes entwine with a slick hip-hop beat to forge a loved-up groove that’s sort of slanted, but at the same time, kinda natural. Nice.

 

Veldt EP