Posts Tagged ‘angular’

Teasing their forthcoming self-titled debut album, Manchester’s most uplifting cacophonous craftsmen Chew Magna, are serving up their own alt-rock antidote to lifelessness in the modern age with the ironically titled new single ‘Listless’ – complete with an unsettling self-made David Lynch inspired video.

“Listless is mostly about wasting an abundance of potential,” guitarist and vocalist Laurie says, alluding to the track’s thundering chorus as it sharpshoots, “I’d kill for what you’ve got” to a motoring Krautrock groove. Recorded at Salford’s The White Hotel with SWAYS producer Martin Hurley, it is a restless and incendiary re-introduction to a band who have been busy cranking up the dial on their unyielding attack of guitar squall. “For this track we melded two songs together; you can hear the jam the main part came from,” Laurie reveals.

‘Listless’, the first track to be unleashed (and the last to be written) from the four-piece’s upcoming debut album, is unrelenting in its anthemic riff, symphonic vocal, guitar and bass flirtations, crashing drums and overall wall of enduring sound.

The accompanying ‘Listless’ video was created and filmed by the band in a single day, in a cleared-out spare bedroom on zero budget. Each Magna members’ eyes covered as their senses are heightened, slide projections and shadows dance across their turtlenecks and barefoot stance which culminates in the strangest but most addictive of calisthenics style dance routines since ‘Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)’.

“The end result is delightfully odd,” says guitarist Simon who, alongside partner Annie, took the directorial lead. “The angles are quite Lynchian, driven by us using lighting in unusual ways to enhance the confines of the small space. It was a case of setting each scene with the things we had in the house and the dance adds a surreal, claustrophobic feel to the song’s already uncanny theme.”

A further foray into Chew Magna’s poetic and philosophical world, ‘Listless’ is the first earful of the band’s eagerly-anticipated debut album arriving Spring 2022 – a record they say, sees them “emerging from Covid’s sleep.” An onslaught of decibel-destroying fuzz and rising tension, Chew Magna explores the angst felt of wasting one’s potential, freedom’s plight, apocalyptic cautionary tales, inverse worlds, the passing of youth, conspiracy theories and life’s countless frustrations.

Watch the video here:

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Chew

Christopher Nosnibor

The last time the once-ubiquitous Blacklisters graced us with their presence in Leeds was back in 2017. A lot has happened since then, including some substantial geographical ones for the bandmembers. In fact, there was a time when it seemed as if the band was no more: following the release of Adult in 2015, things went quiet, bar the unexpected release of the Dart EP in 2017 via Too Pure. The arrival of Fantastic Man in 2020 came as a surprise. A welcome one, but a surprise nevertheless. Consequently, tonight’s double-header with associated / offshoot ace USA Nails is a cause for excitement: their fifth album, Character Stop, released just last month is a truly outstanding example of the angular / mathy / noise genre. And what a lineup!

In a late change to the advertised schedule, Care Home’s debut is shelved, with the band replaced by Hull noisemakers Cannibal Animal. Sound-wise, they’ve changed a bit from when I last saw them back in 2018 – less swamp-gothy, more post punk in their leanings, less claustrophobic and with more breathing space in the songs. Yet for all that, it’s very clearly the same band.

Cannibal Animal

Cannibal Animal

The set lands with a throbbing drone before they power into some hefty chords. They’re not pretty, sonically or visually, but Christ, they kick ass. Strolling basslines and wandering spacious guitars shifting into ball-busting riffs. Busting bad moves throughout Luke Ellerington makes for a compelling and charismatic performer as he leads the band through a set that sounds like a collision between Pissed Jeans and The Fall.

The guy from BELK seems to have got his dates wrong and has come dressed for Hallowe’en – or at least made-up for Hallowe’en. The Leeds act are a screamy thrashy guitar and drum duo. They’re as heavy and fuck and there’s a mental moshpit from the off. Shifting pace and dynamics nonstop, it’s primitive and brutal with full on frenzied riffery and screaming vocals. Everything about their sound is abrasive, jarring, angular, although at times it’s a shade thin, and they possibly would benefit from some bass.

BELK

BELK

USA Nails don’t only benefit from some bass, but place the bass at front and centre to powerful effect. And that bass has that ribcage-rattling tearing cardboard sound reminiscent of Bob Weston. The emphasis may be on attack and hard volume, but they fully exploit the dynamics of these. The two guitars are often still for the verses bar feedback, bursting into life for the choruses. Along the way there are some expansive bass-led spoken word stretches that call to mind The Fall, with frequent forays into hardcore punk. It’s a strong set that flips between sub-two minutes and longer workouts, and it’s all killer.

Nails 2Nails 3

USA Nails

With the last train to York departing at 23:13 and Blacklisters not due on until 11pm, I was presented with the option of disappointment or sleeping on a bench. I gather that they were good, though, and just hope we don’t have to wait another four years.

‘People’ is the first video from Flood Twin, the eponymous full length debut album from this determined, disturbing Atlanta trio. It was directed by Dean Carr, known for his work with Tool, Marilyn Manson and scores of others. The album was recorded at Madison Studios, in their hometown, produced by lead singer and bassist Grant W. Curry, an alumnus of New Orleans cult rockers Pleasure Club.

The opening track and lead single, ‘People,’ introduces the album and the band with a powerful swagger: howling guitar feedback and a “let’s get this mother started” kick drum pulse gives the bass an opening to set the tone for the album, hammering home a jarring bottom whereupon Hedberg conjures the demented surf guitar nerve-twitch of the early Cramps and their Australian disciples, the Birthday Party.

It’s one hell of an introduction and a hot taster for the album. Watch the video here:

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Flood Twin 2 pc Brian Manley for email

Human Worth – 17th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, a record hits you before it’s even got going. Perhaps it’s the way sound connects beyond the rational, striking a chord in the soul on a subconscious level that’s almost impossible to pinpoint, let alone articulate. We All Do Wrong is one such record.

From the first bar, the chord struck is a brittle clang that intimates something sharp-edged and to be mindful of. Meandering brass isn’t the most obvious thing to enter the mix next, but then for all of their hardcore / noise credentials, there’s nothing obvious about the material on this release from X’ed Out, featuring members of Silent Front and Working Men’s Club (the hardcore one, not the shit indie one). And then the guitars blast in and everything explodes. It’s only the first track, and already I’m dazed and dizzy, feeling as though I’d been beaten around the head with a crowbar outside a jazz club – because how else do you explain such a brutal battering while brass bursts all around?

Turns out this is just the gentle introduction to the full-throttle mania that ensues. ‘The 5 Headed Boy’ is a jolting, jarring mess, a blurring whirl of hardcore, math-rock and weird craziness, like Black Flag, Shellac, and Truman’s Water in a blender. I can’t remember if it was NME or MM (probably the latter) who described Truman’s Water’s deconstructed math-rock with their jolting, jerky, off-centre riffs as being ‘the real Pavement’, but it made sense at the time, as Pavement were hailed as inventing slackerist lo-fi with skewed riffs, while TW were way more slanted (if not necessarily enchanted) in their manic approach to similar materials. I digress, but I suppose this is informative to the context of what X’ed out sound like, with stop/start rhythms, changes in tempo and direction at the most unexpected of moment

Sometimes, this job is really tough. You’re exposed to new music quite literally all the time, your inbox bursting with more than you can ever even listen to or even aspire to listen to – in my case, twenty or more albums a day is a minimum average. Have you ever listened to twenty albums in a day? Let along listened to and written about them? I’d love to, of course, and knowing it’s simply not humanly possible, I’ve contemplated the possibility of having music injected directly into your brain, so you have it stored, heard and assessed, without the labour.

Of course it’s a ridiculous concept: you listen to music to feel the energy and emotion, to bask in the experience, not to simply ‘know’ it, and albums like this remind me why. You feel this with a blistering, blinding intensity.

Everything is louder and faster and more angular than everything else. When they play slower, it gets sludgier and gnarlier, as on the synapse-blasting ‘Fouling the Nest’ and ‘Self Healer’. On the former, it’s a bowel-quivering bass that dominates, while on the latter, from seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a long, slow, expansive instrumental section over which melodic vocals drift, and you momentarily forget where you are – namely in the middle of a sonic riot, with bottles, brick and Molotov cocktails being slung in all direction. What happened? Were you temporarily hypnotised? Possibly. I believe it’s called being ‘in the moment’, and this of course is one of the most wonderful things about music, in that it can transport you, can make you forget. A rolling piano chimes out and it’s grand, and almost soothing, and then the drums hammer harder.. and then it’s gone.

The epic ten-minute final track, ‘The Noble Rot’ is different again – expansive, emotive, it sounds very much Oceansize in styling, at least until the trumpet marks its arrival. With so much in the blender, it’s so, so hard to categorise or pigeonhole We All Do Wrong, although alongside the aforementioned comparisons, Terminal Cheesecake and Bilge Pump are probably worth mentioning: if these bands means anything to you, then you need X’ed Out in your life. If they don’t, then you still need X’ed Out in your life, as well as to expand your education.

What’s more, being released on Human Worth, a label where the clue is in the name, 10% of the proceeds from the release is being donated to charities, on this occasion Breast Cancer UK. It’s all good.

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Prank Monkey Records – 11th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The story goes that London four-piece Muscle Vest reportedly ‘formed in 2018 over a mutual appreciation for ugly rock music’, and that’s what they serve up on their debut EP – a sweaty, guitar-driven dirty rock workout that’s brimming with churning riffs, grease and grime. They come out all guns blazing and firing wildly in all directions with the manic racket of ‘Creepy Crawlie’, a juddering, angular rager that melts the best of 90s noise into a mangled metal nugget in the vein of later acts like Blacklisters and Hawk Eyes, and it very much sets the fast and furious tone for the rest of the EP: ‘Stray’ bears fair comparison to Blacklisters’ ‘Shirts’, with a throbbing riff blasting out against a low-slung bassline. If Shellac and Big Black are in the mix, so are The Jesus Lizard and early Pulled Apart by Horses.

Muscle Vest pack in a boatload of adrenaline and bring ALL the noise: it’s fucking ugly and monstrously brutal, and those are its positive points. It ain’t polished or pretty, and if you’re on the market for something gnarly, look no further.

‘We’ll all be dead / we’ll all be dead one day’ vocalist Dave Rogers howls nihilistically into a tempest of abrasive guitar noise that churns and grinds on ‘A Slow Death’. He’s right, of course: the question is whether we will die a quiet, peaceful death, or a horrible, painful one, shrieking in agony for the duration of those final hours. This is very much the soundtrack to the latter, and it’s almost enough to make death sound appealing. Because, well, better to go out screaming than to flicker out. The last track, ‘Blissbucket’ is a minute and three-quarters of blazing napalm, taking its cues from hardcore punk and tossing in all the jarring, jolting guitars that scratch and scrape at all angles across the relentlessly churning rhythm section. It’s fast and furious and brings the EP to a blistering close and then some. It positively burns with an intense fury, and it’s beautifully brutal. Gets my vote, and then some.

Cover art

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16th August 2019

Their first release in a couple of years finds bassist Lachlan Anderson return to the fold after eight years away. Recorded in just one afternoon, the EP exudes urgency and marks a return to earlier form. The guitars jolt and scratch, sharp treble explosions that crackle like fire. They’re choppy and cut across the rhythm section at blurred, oblique angles, fraying the edges as they side and scrape skewiff and frenetic. The rhythm section pins it all together tight, but it’s attacking, relentlessly kinetic and propulsive, driving, and simultaneously solid and agile.

‘These songs find the band much more raw and harsh than they have sounded in years. Maybe it’s something personal or maybe it’s because the world is on fire’, writes Nate Holdren in his enthusiastic text which accompanies the release. It’s true: New Zealand may not be the place most directly feeling the pain of Trump or Brexit or now Johnson, but it’s clear it’s no place to be. In fact, the bottom line is that there simply is no place to be right now, with rapidly accelerating climate change and, quite simply everything. We’re all doomed. But while we’re all screwed, at least we still have art and music.

‘Casualties of Decades’ slams in hard by way of an opener, machine gun drumming driving a stop/start riff attack that’s a blend of Shellac, Fugazi, and Trail of Dead. ‘What We Choose to Remember’ is also reminiscent of Shellac, the minimal lyrics half-spoken, half shouted, and half buried beneath angular guitar blasts and a throbbing bass that’s less of a groove than a hammer assault. It’s the bass that dominates ‘Everyone Else’ and hold the whole blustering, blistering racket together. ‘Break the Mirror’ rams it home in a blistering minute and 23 seconds, a full-tilt stuttering frenzy of (post)punk noise that goes hell for leather in a scream of feedback.

This is the sound of a band rejuvenated, reinvigorated, a band bursting with energy, passion, and fury. There’s no shortage of things to fuel fury in the world now, and I’m certainly not the only one with a vast thirst for music which channels that fury and frustration.

Die! Die! Die! on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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Die! Die! Die! – O EP

7th December 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Irk have been tearing it up on the Leeds scene for a little while now, and are a band at the epicentre of the DIY scene surrounding the CHUNK studio / rehearsal room space, tucked away in a rough and dilapidated industrial estate a good half-hour hike out of the city centre. It’s an apposite location for the thriving creative community of metal / sludge / noise bands.

The band describe themselves as ‘three polite wee rascals…. who make ugly, angular, noise-fused, math rock, consisting of drums, bass, and vocals’, and as such, belong to the city’s now well-established post-millennium tradition for producing seriously noisy bands who are bloody good. Many have fallen by the wayside, but a lineage of acts that includes Blacklisters, Hawk Eyes, That Fucking Tank, Holy State, Hora Douse, and yes, we’ll throw in Pulled Apart by Horses here, because they’re hardy quiet or genteel, speaks for itself.

I’ve caught them live a few times in the last couple of years, and have even performed on the same bill, exchanging books with front man Jack (I think Life Pervert is ace; I’ve no idea what he makes of The Rage Monologues). I’ve never once been disappointed by their performances, and it’s a reasonable expectation that Recipes from the Bible should sound like the work of a band who’ve been honing their material live for some time.

But by Christ, Irk really give it some here, and forge the title: this is a sonic concoction that cooks up the most unholy racket going. ‘I Bleed Horses’ begins with a howl and a barrage of frenetic drums and a mass of guitar racket. While you’re picking your jaw off the floor, check that tight, compressed, springy bass sound and the churning throb it produces that just about holds the whole squalling mess of discord together. Less that two and a half minutes in duration, the bled horses bleed out into ‘Life Changing Porno’, another unintelligible blizzard of noise that’s so chaotic it’s not always entirely clear if they’re all playing the same song: the tempo lurches unpredictably and whole racket collides in a spectacularly ugly explosion.

The seven-minute ‘The Observatory’ built around a choppy, cyclical riff reminiscent of Bleach era Nirvana, and again, it’s the menacing bass that dominates as they forge a suffocatingly claustrophobic density. It’s about as close to respite as it gets: with the only other exception being the verses of the lumbering ‘The Healer’, Recipes from the Bible is relentless in its screaming mania and brutal angles. The wild sax action on ‘You’re My Germ’ could be free jazz in another context, but here, it just adds another level of crazed hysteria to the mix.

Taking obvious cues from Shellac and Blacklisters, it’s a set of sharp-cornered, serrated brutality that stops, starts, shudders, judders, jolts and jerks – but unlike Shellac, Jack’s raving, gibbering, rabid vocals break free from the tight limits of the coiled tension of math-rock tropes and instead cut loose and careen into the wild noise of The Jesus Lizard. Snarling, howling, drawling and slavering, there’s something cracked, even psychotic. In combination, it’s a tense, intense set that sound deranged, dangerous: at times, its really quite uncomfortable. That’s a clear measure of success.

Chances are, reviews will tout this as being ‘uncompromising’, not least of all on account of it’s being self-produced by the band (of course). But Recipes from the Bible goes beyond that. Way beyond. It harnesses the full force of the band: so often, bands draft in producers only for the sound to be polished, slickened, rendered overtly ‘studio’. By keeping things in-house, they’ve retained the rawness, and the sheer velocity and unbridled power that defined them, and the sonic vision remains unadulterated. And beneath all of distortion and dirt, the ragged, jagged edges and the feel of a style of playing that’s loose and uncontained, there’s a remarkable and deceptive degree of precision.

It’s hard to find fault with Recipes from the Bible: there isn’t a weak track or an ounce of fat. There’s no filler, and no slack. There’s not a moment of tameness or timidity, and instead, they bring top-level ferocity and relentless fury, and the chances are you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better noise-rock album this year.

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Irk - Recipes

31st August 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

SAHARAS’ previous single, ‘Sweat’ won me over in an instant, being a sucker for that post-millennial retake on the post-punk sound.

The contention that they’re ‘one of the most unique emerging bands in the industry’ might be a bit of a stretch, but on the strength of this latest effort, they’re proving to be one of the most consistent and exciting, which is probably a bigger deal.

They forewarn that ‘Shake My Fever’ marks ‘a shift in focus from their previous synth-heavy arrangements of past releases [resulting…] in an increase of emphasis on their spacious and melodic guitar work.’ This is no bad thing, and said guitar work was always there and integral to the sound and structure.

The cover art looks like a nod to The Cure’s ‘A Forest’, but with its buoyant post-punk disco beats, ‘Shake My Fever’ is closer to ‘Let’s go to Bed’ or ‘Hot! Hot! Hot!’. It’s unashamedly poppy and less angular than its predecessor: it’s still all about the smoky, chorus-heavy guitars and wandering bass groove, but with the melodic backing vocal hook to the fore in the chorus, it’s what you might justifiably call a ‘chooooon!’

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Saharas - Shake

Ex Records – 23rd March 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

‘We always start from zero when we make a new album,’ the band explain of their creative process. This could well be the essential factor in their enduring nature: in avoiding the trap of becoming predictable to either their audience or themselves, they’ve remained fresh and innovative, continually testing their creative limits. Almost forty years and twenty-odd albums since their formation as an anarcho-punk band, The Ex are noteworthy for their eternal evolution and their refusal to stands still or to retread old ground. Collaborations, side-projects, and shifting lineups have also proven integral to this ethos, and it’s been almost eight years since their last album together as a quartet.

27 Passports sees them return once again reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to reinvent rock once more. And they do, in the way only a band with three guitars (but no bass – Moore’s baritone guitar provides essential tonal range here) and infinite vision likely can.

As the title suggests, this is an album of movement. Or, moreover, perhaps an album that creates the illusion of movement. 27 Passports is accompanied by a 40-page booklet of photos shot by Andy Moor. They’re odd, devoid of context or narrative meaning. Simultaneously eye-catching and mundane, they’re snapshots of life, devoid of perspective or implication: a row of feet on a train; a rusting car; a swan with its head under water; a traffic jam. These images provide an appropriate visual accompaniment to the disjointed, semi-abstract and immensely oblique lyrics and the musical content.

The first track, the six-and-a-half-minute ‘Soon All Cities’ is driven by a loping rhythm and crashing cymbals and builds a hypnotic groove slashed through with angular guitars which clang and scrape and layer up with volume and distortion. More than the choppy guitar work that often strays into the atonal and discordant, as do the vocals, it’s the percussion that really provides the focus of 27 Passports, pinning the loose and purposely obtuse guitar work in place and holding everything together.

If the claim that ‘there are some remnants of their African adventures’ (a reference to their collaborations with Getachew Mekuria) sits at odds with the spiky post-punk schematic, ‘The Sitting Chins’ subtly and strangely weaves ‘world’ music elements into the jolting barrage of chaos. If there was ever an antithesis of Paul Simon or Sting, this is it, and this fact alone makes 27 Passports an essential album.

For the most part, the compositions eschew linearity in favour of locking into a space and pushing away at a single motif for as long as seems reasonable, and sometimes beyond. This is very much a selling point. At to B is overrated: it’s about the journey. And it’s less about the distance than the motion itself. Take a walk: multiple laps of the block will not only achieve the same exercise effect as walking for miles toward a destination, but new details will reveal themselves with each circuit. No two circuits of the same short route will ever be the same. 27 Passports may be transcontinental in intent, but looking the wrong way down the binoculars is what it’s really about.

Barrelling bass scours the lower sonic realms on the robotic, motorik, ‘New Blank Document’; equal parts Gary Numan and early Swans, with heavy hints of The Fall’s ‘Spector vs Rector’ in its messy fabric. Such discord scratches away at the psyche, drills into the cerebellum, and unsettles the equilibrium.

In contrast, ‘Footfall’ deploys the same methodology and the same instrumentation, but against the relentlessly thumping beat, there’s a nagging aspect to the cyclical riff which has an intuitive emotional drag, a certain resonance. There’s something special about a certain descending three-chord sequence… and of course, they almost bury it beneath layers of jagged trebly noise. And that only renders it all the more beautiful and captivating.

There are some wonky pop moments present, too, with the Pavementy ‘The Heart Conductor’ bouncing along nicely, with a catchy vocal melody riding on top of the off-kilter guitars that are reminiscent of early Fall. Of course, when it comes to The Ex, comparisons are vaguely pointless beyond providing guidance for the uninitiated: with such an expansive career, it’s their work which has influenced many of the acts that stand as useful reference points. Of the surviving bands of the period – The Fall being no more and having arguably plateaued a good few years ago and Pere Ubu only offering occasional sparks – it seems like The Ex are the last ones standing who continue to really extend their reach and to challenge themselves and their listeners. 27 Passports is an absolute stormer, and an album which stands up against anything else going – period.

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The Ex - 27 Passports