Posts Tagged ‘Dance’

11th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Yorkshire based Mayshe-Mayshe’s bio references blending ‘dreamy art-pop and electronica with rich storytelling, skittering percussion and infectious melodies’, and how her ‘deceptively simple songwriting – at once universal and deeply personal – incorporates choral vocals, vintage synths and the occasional hairdryer.’

Said hairdryer was observed in a couple of live reviews I’ve penned in recent years, in catching her live in 2016 and 2021, but what always stands out during her performances is just how deftly she combines an array of elements, both stylistic and instrumental. She’s by no means just ‘another’ loop pedal artist, but a musical who judiciously uses the tools available to conjure textured, layered, detailed works which are, at the same time, simple and radiate aa unique sense of – for wont of a better word – naivete. But equally, her capacity for understatement is a defining characteristic. The fact that while playing a number of regional shows to launch Indigo, her second full-length album, her hometown show in York on the release date is in a record shop/café with a capacity of about 30 speaks for itself.

Performing as Mayshe-Mayshe, Alice Rowan presents as not necessarily shy, but introspective, considered, contemplative and as much as immersing her work in reservedness, there’s a certain sparkle of sass and levity in the mix, as titles like ‘You Throw Lemons, We Throw Parties’ from 2019’s Cocoa Smoke indicates.

Indigo is simultaneously simple and complex. As the lyrics to the title track demonstrate, she’s given to exploring emotional depths by balancing the direct and the oblique to create an obfuscating haze. And, in record, the same is true of her compositions.

‘But I Do’ kicks the album off in a style that’s minimal and poppy and kinda urban but at the same time ethereal and shoegazy, with busy fingerdrums and a crystalline distillation of mood that invites solid and favourable comparisons to The XX.

‘Dark Mountain’, released as a single in September, is really rather buoyant, with a bouncy bass and busy lead synth and twitchy urban vocal delivery that’s quite at odds with the tense lyrics and the ‘I’m drowning, downing’ hook which speaks to anxiety and panic. I suppose you might call it a sugar-coated pill, but it showcases Alice’s capacity to pen bleak yet buoyant pop tunes.

In contrast, ‘Moonflood’ is altogether darker yet dreamy, in a Curesque way, while ‘The Colours of Anxiety’, which originally featured on the 2019 Long Division compilation, is looping, lilting, and easy on the ear in a way that brushes over the tension it channels via a stuttering beat akin to a palpating heart. In this way, Mayshe-Mayshe conveys sensation beyond the words, beyond the explicit, and does so beautifully, in the most subtly resonant fashion.

In many ways, ‘Eczema’ speaks for itself, an itch that just won’t go away, sore and raw, uncomfortable and irritating, but presented in a palatable fashion, and ‘How to be Happy’ feels like a conscious attempt to be uplifting – which is it, but there are strong undercurrent which are less joyous. ‘Zachter’ is another previous release, having featured as the lead track on the two-track Zachter EP last year. With its lyrics in German and its instrumentation sparse and gloopy and with a hypnotic minimal dance groove, it’s something of an oddity which sits apart from the rest of the album.

The title track, released as a single only the other week, rounds the album off in a hazy, intricately detailed style. Accessible, and often breezy-sounding and easy on the ear, Indigo is an album that’s rich in depth and complexity. It’s thoughtful and emotive and dark and tense yet still extremely enjoyable. It’s a wonderful thing.

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Shows:

Nov 10

Cobalt Studios

Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Nov 11

FortyFive Vinyl Cafe

York, UK

Nov 12

Hatch

Sheffield, UK

Nov 14

Dubrek Studios

Derby, UK

Nov 15

The Holy GrAle

Durham, UK

Nov 17

Oporto Bar

Leeds, UK

Nov 18

The Peer Hat

Manchester, UK

Nov 19

The Studio

Hartlepool, UK

Nov 20

The Grayston Unity

Halifax, UK

Nov 26

Blues Night

Richmond (North Yorkshire), UK

26th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

How did this happen? How?? I mean, it’s no bad thing – quite the opposite, in fact – but somehow, a joke band so jokey as so seem almost mythological has broken through, not just on the local scene, but nationally and with songs being played on high-profile radio stations like BBC introducing and even 6Music. They’re a way off beating Shed 7 as York’s most renowned act, but they really are gunning hard for national status right now, following the success of Oh I Don’t Know, Just Horse Stuff, I Guess and now Please Note Intentional Misspelling of Horse.

To look at the covers of early Petrol Hoers albums – or indeed, alboms – is likely enough to deter most sane people – cartoon horses with toilet-wall scrawled enormophalluses provide the housing for messy combinations of hardcore techno and grindcore, the most improbably of hybrids imaginable rendered cheaply and with not only a knowing, but a gleeful lack of sophistication.

So what happened? Not much, really, at least on the face of things. The material is still very much centred around shameful horse puns and so on, and their sound is still a weird mash-up of techno and industrial metal, kinda like Revolting Cocks gone even wronger than on recent tours. The cover art’s been toned down a bit (Horse Stuff featured Danny elegantly draped in a dressing gown in his horse head mask), and some hard touring alongside mates Horse Bastard turned the nation on to all things equine seems to be about the summary of the turn in favour for the act whose most renowned merch is a T-shirt that was born out of a hilarious misunderstanding with the printers, bearing the slogan ‘“PETROL HOERS” IN COMIC SANS CENTRE FRONT BIG AS YOU CAN TA’.

Danny Buckley isn’t daft, and the whole HOERS project is very much an escape for him – but he does it all so well. From the relentless, eye-bleeding block caps posts on social media to the tie-dye T-shirts and pants, HOERS are the full package, so to speak.

Lead single, ‘Captain Me Space Daddy’ has already had some radio play, which is an incredible achievement, considering that it’s an aggressive shouty racket that switches from grating aggrotech to some kind of cheesy Eurovision pop shanty meets early Wax Trax! that’s 100% what the fuck.

It’s exemplary of the album as a whole: fast and frantic – Ali G rapping over chiptune Cossack disco in a head-on collision with full-on raging metal abrasion with raw-throated hollering vocals. It is utterly absurd, and even knowing what to expect, you still find yourself dazed by the audacity of this insane hybrid that singlehandedly knells the death toll for postmodernism, because now, it really has all been done. The thing is – and make no mistake, it’s absolutely genius – even if you absolutely hate it, it’s impossible to deny the audacity and to admire it. ‘Honk if You Like Donk’ is pretty much self-explanatory, while ‘You Can Give Horse a Buckfast’ is a balls-out rager that slips into some kind of lederhosen-slapping ho(rs)edown. ‘You can give a horse a Buckfast / but you’ll never see me drink’, snarls the tee-total Hoers. Wait, he does this shit sober? Oh yes.

It kicks off – and boy, it kicks off – with the Hi-NRG happy horsecore / doom-grind crossover of ‘It’s Just a Mask’, and one feels for all the horseplay, there’s something quite insightful and honest about this. ‘I Would Die for Mr Crunchy’ finds The Hoers spitting vitriol about politicians and the monarchy, and again illustrates that for all the frippery and puerile puns, there is some genuine substance here, and Hoers are by no means completely crass and two-dimensional.

Closer ‘Biblically Accurate Horse’ is a pumping techno tune that invites worthy comparisons to PIG and KMFDM. It’s a bangin’ finish to a bangin’ album, and yes, yes, it really does bang all the way. It’s completely barmy, and that’s precisely why it’s brilliant.

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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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MFZ Records – 24th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Conceived and recorded between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, this set reflects ‘the everyday troubles Davide [Nicosia, aka Acid Youth], deals with as an individual but also as part of a community’.

The title refers to his ‘desire to get out of the gloom and seek for a reassuring light’, and explores this theme by the vehicle of dance music exploiting the vintage Roland TB-303, produced only for a short time between 1981 and 84. It was supposed to sound like a bass guitar. It didn’t. Of course, it would later come to be appreciated, and Reverse Darkness is a concise encapsulation of the appeal of these vintage analogue machines.

Against shuffling drums – heavy echoed with some thudding bass beats – there are simmering synths that drift and wash, and a flock of fluttering tweets, all underpinned by a thick, bouncing bass groove, ‘Vibrato Brilliance’ is simultaneously sparse yet dense, and Nicosia really starts to warp things up on the dislocated retro-futurist title track.

Acid Youth very much captures not only the sound but also the feel of those early 80s dance cuts, the kind of meandering, gloopy synth works that appeared on soundtracks of movies where computers had green text on little monitors and neon lights were synonymous with the future. Being nine or ten in 1985, it felt exciting; with hindsight, it feels like the future we ended up with is a whole lot less of a rush, but hearing this inspires a kind of nostalgia, not for anything specific, but for a feeling, a sense of a near future, thanks to rapidly evolving technologies, that held near-infinite potential. Setting aside any gloom over the disappointment that those potentials now feel chronically unfulfilled as we stumble through every dystopia ever envisioned rolled into one colossal morass of shit on shit, Reverse Darkness tugs me back to the crackle of excitement that once coursed through culture.

He goes really deep on the uptempo ‘Modded Dub’, full-on bass squelch wobbling and rippling atop an insistent kick drum – but it’s toppy, and really packs a punch towards the chest rather than the gut, and in context creates a different kind of tension by way of the contrast with the thick, bassy bass, and it’s true – they don’t make ‘em like they used to.

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Cool Thing Records – 25th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Cool Thing isn’t just a name: it’s essentially a manifesto. Established in 2014 as a conduit for Asylums to release their music, the label is truly a beacon of DIY independence, with in-house PR, the lot. One suspects the success they’ve achieved is in no small part to the calibre of the releases they’ve put out, not only for Asylums and side-project BAIT, but also the various acts from their locale of Southend-on-Sea, and occasionally London that they’ve given a home through the years.

The latest is ‘Submission’ by Southend electronic duo A Cause In Distress’, the follow up to the band’s third single, ‘Paraffin’, released just short of a year ago.

The band describe themselves as ‘The lovechild of Nine Inch Nails, Fugazi & Radiohead, if it was fathered by David Lynch’, and on the basis of previous press coverage, they’re everything all at once, which sounds like a tightrope walk that could be spectacularly amazing, or the most disastrous plunge into a catastrophic platter of shit imaginable.

Cool Thing know how to pick ‘em, and this is an outstanding hybrid that packs a throbbing synth that weaves and waves, propelled by an urgent shuffling beat and a vocal reminiscent of Morten Harket: it’s as if Factory Floor had perfected soaring melodic pop instead of running out of steam and ideas after just two EPs. At three minutes, it’s succinct, and it feels like half that. The cyclical groove just sucks you in, and tugs you along, and you’re completely immersed. It’s not music, it’s alchemy. Give in to it.

A Cause In Distress - ‘Submission’ _ Artwork

21st January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Slowburn’ is, true to the title’s promise, a slow-burner, and as a single, it’s solid – not immediate, but appreciation evolves with repeat plays. The track itself is, in many respects, very much in the darkwave tradition, with cold synths and equally cold, almost monotone vocals that also carry an ethereal quality.

There’s a mesmerising, hypnotic quality to the original song, which, we learn is ‘a song about passion; passion- a deep love/emotion that consumes body and soul. It is about depth of feeling for a person, place, process or thing.’ Against brooding piano and backed-off beat, it calls to mind Jarboe-era Swans and some of her solo work, in no small part due to Cat Hall’s powerful but understated vocal.

Cat explains the origins of the song as follows: “I wrote this as I was considering the many all-consuming passions of my life. Passion to write. Passion for art. Passion for nature, for the planet. Passion for science. Passion for humanity. Passion for the individuals I love. Also, the painful realization that despite my intense feeling, actions and orchestrations, these things, places, people, and processes come to an end. I come to an end. My passions die with me.”

Our passions drive us and keep us alive, and without passions, what have we and what is life? And what passion is there in a set of remixes?

My standard complaints around remix EPs are that they’re essentially lazy and eke out the smallest amount of material for the most physical space, and that they’re something of a short-change for fans; then there’s the fact they’re often really, really tedious, with the same track or tracks piled back to back and mostly sounding not very different apart from either being more dancy or dubby. This set is a rare success, in that the remixes are so eclectic and diverse half of them don’t sound like the same song, but without doing that whole thing of deconstructing it so hard with ambient / techno / dub versions that there’s nothing left of the original in the versions – another bugbear.

The Von Herman Lava Lamp Mix piles on the soul and sounds like Depeche Mode circa Ultra, while the Kirchner Charred Mix is a straight-ahead, thumping electrogoth dancefloor-ready banger. The Haze Void Mix cranks up the grind, with oscillating electronics more akin to Suicide than any contemporary act. This is the biggest, densest, and most transformative reworking of the lot, venturing into space rock territory as it thuds an d rattles, twisting the vocals against an urgent, throbbing sonic backdrop and throwing in some hints of Eastern mysticism for good measure. It’s an intense experience. The Hiereth Lonely to a Cinder mix brings some brooding piano and even harder hammering beats, landing it somewhere between the Floodland-era sound of The Sisters of Mercy and that quintessential Wax Trax! technoindustrial sound.

It’s a corking single, and as remix sets go, this is a good one.

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17th December 2021

James Wells

Pieces is the second in a projected series of five EPs, and on the face of it, it’s an immense undertaking: this release contains five tracks, and its predecessor four. Across the project, that’s a full two albums worth of material… until you clock that half of the tracks are remixes. Not that that’s a criticism per se, and I won’t revisit my eternal remix peeve yet again here, because no doubt readers are as sick of that as I am of remixes as a thing.

So ‘Pieces’ is in effect a single, comprising of ‘Disease of Kings’ and ‘Failure Principle’, bolstered by a brace of remixes of the former and one of the latter. ‘Disease of Kings’ is a in some respects a surprising choice of lead song, in that it’s a slow, brooding cut with expansive, cinematic synths casting an arena-wide vista over the reflective mood. It’s well-executed and emotionally charged, but the vocal treatment – namely a fuckload of autotune on the verses – is perhaps a little overdone and reduces the impact of the song’s kick-to-the-chest sincerity. It’s a fine choon, but maybe a fraction too produced and polished and even a little bit Emo, where a slightly rawer edge would have bitten harder.

‘Failure Principle’ is geared toward the mid-tempo, with quintessential dance tropes in full effect, with nagging synth loops rippling over and over an insistent dancefloor-friendly beat. While still featuring the core elements of techoindustrial, it carries a keenly commercial style.

The Assemblage 23 Remix of ‘Failure Principle’ is a standout by virtue of the way in which is accentuates the track’s danciness and general catchiness, bordering on euphoric dance which seems somewhat at odds with the lyrical content. But then, the medium is not necessarily the message, and there’s something to be said for slipping darkness in under the cover of light. In that sense, it works, although the extent to which suggesting any song by an industrial act has mainstream crossover potential and a broad appeal is questionable.

Rounding off the EP, the KALCYFR Remix of ‘Disease of Kings’ beings some fuck-off dirty great guitars and grinding bass to the party and comes on way more Nine Inch Nails, and tempers the vaguely emo leanings of the original and GenCAB remix.

The ‘limited-edition PANIC LIFT FACE MASK to accompany you on your journeys through the current post-apocalyptic landscape’ is a nice touch, too – because we need some nice things to help us navigate living through the reality of all of the dystopian fictional futures becoming reality all at once.

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Anticipating Nowhere Records – 24th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

With the colossal five-volume ‘Isolation and Rejection’ lockdown compilation series and the one-off final final FINAL Front&Follow project, the compilation You Can Never Leave released in June, the eternally restless Justin Watson can put his label to bed and resume work with his current musical vehicle, the collective who operate as The Incidental Crack to deliver album number two. After all, it has been more than three months since second album Municipal Music.

The three – Justin Watson, Rob Spencer and Simon Proffitt – are still yet to meet, and their third album, like its predecessors, took form with ‘them exchanging field recordings, samples and random noise between Manchester, Wigan and North Wales’.

As the liner notes recount, ‘Detail contains within three new long-form pieces and a couple of shorter ones filling in the gaps. The adage goes that the devil is in the detail, and Detail brings exactly what the title promises, with the first composition, ‘We Might Bump Into each Other’ beginning with some muffled dialogue and an ominous hum, then hums, bubbles and slurps against a backdrop of echoic reverberations, before ‘Fish Dance Tank Track’ marks a shift in style, with more defined beats – an insistent bass bump occupies a different space from the glitchy fluttering woodpecker-type stammers and stuttering hi-hats which all make for something quite complex beneath the drifting drones and quavering hums. It’s an interesting and complex composition that brings together elements of ambient and minimal techno, and as birdsong flutters in toward the end, the piece takes on new aspects that juxtapose nature and artifice.

That the grating looping throb of the six-and-a-half minute ‘Waterfalls Per Capita’ should be considered a gap-filler is a matter of context, and it comes after the harrowing dark ambient collage of ‘I Lost It’, that is by no means a comfortable or easy listen.

The seventeen-minute ‘Morning Tram’ combines field recordings where the original source remains clear, but with subtle but insistent beats, and it’s perhaps there – the finale – that everything comes together. Fragmented samples and snippets of dialogue collide with tumbling trees and slow-turning washes of ambience to create remarkable depth. Passengers pass on and off, engines rumble past, there is endless chatter and a wall of extraneous sound. Assimilating it all may be difficult, but it’s rewarding. The beat is almost subliminal, but it’s relentlessly insistent and registers almost subliminally as the sound swells and voiced clamour and congeal among a rising tide of horns and other momentous sounds. And then it stops, abruptly.

It may be short in terms of tracks, but Detail has substantial depth – and much detail, all of which is very much worth exploring.

The Incidental Crack - Detail (cover)

Consolidated, the political dance/industrial music band from the early 90ties reunited for a studio sessions in San Francisco last summer that resulted in a new album We’re Already There and now a series of remixes. The first one was released on 10th May: "Capitalism (Lonesome Rider Remix)". Listen here:

The remixes are being commissioned and released by the Austin, Texas-based eMERGENCY heARTS label, being issued two weeks, beginning last month. The release series culminates in September in conjunction with Consolidated’s live performances at the Cold Waves Festival in Chicago September 24. Remixers include R34L and avant-dub visionary Adrian Sherwood who both have their own projects coming out on eMERGENCY heARTS this year. I hope you’ll consider covering this release with a feature interview, news story or track review.

The main musicians on the original sessions were Adam Sherburne (guitar/vocals) and Mark Pistel (synths/beats) backed by Lynn Farmer (Meat Beat Manifesto) on drums, who replaces the original Consolidated drummer Phil Steir. We’re Already Th was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mark Pistel at ‘Room 5’ in San Francisco. These recordings are an innovative mix of danceable Industrial, jams, Hip-hop, Rock and funky Pop performed on a mixture of live instruments and electronics, topped with radical Left-Wing activist lyrics.

Consolidated was and is now again, an American radical activist music group. Their original line-up consisted of Adam Sherburne (guitar and vocals), Mark Pistel (samples, sequencers and keyboards/synths), and Philip Steir (drums). They formed in 1988 and first gained notoriety as an Alternative Dance/Industrial music band. Between 1989 and 1994, their instrumental style progressed from Industrial, to Hip-hop, to Hard Rock/Funk. They stood out from most of their contemporaries owing to their bold embrace of overtly topical lyrics as part of a determined Left-leaning political agenda, as well as their ground-breakinge sonic collages, blending Industrial and Hip-hop styles.

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Audiobulb Records – 5th May 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The wonderful thing about stories is that there are no rules – no rules about what they should contain, how they should be told, or whose perspective they should be told from. Even the standard expectations of ‘beginning-middle-end’ are an artifice, and for any convention, there are infinite ways to deviate from it. Linearity is a construct which assists in rendering events more easily navigable, but sometimes, disrupting that linearity is an integral part of the unravelling of events. Stories – be they true or fictional – are often a way of making sense of the world through the construct of narrative. Sometimes, we forge our own narratives from fragments of confusion in order to orientate ourselves, and as such, stories are instinctive and integral to our understanding the world and our place in it.

The fourth album from Quiet Noise, the vehicle of West Wales based producer Adam Wilkinson, is, like so many albums from the last year, the product of lockdown. ‘In a studio that overlooks a valley where the air breathes a lone craftsman sets to work mapping his experience through experiment,’ his biography tells us. Does this mean that Wilkinson was perhaps better equipped than many to deal with the last fourteen months, given his solitary nature? Not necessarily, but while many lockdown musical projects, which have been steeped in an air of claustrophobia, anxiety, and tension, Story Machine is a breath of fresh air that conveys aa sense of – if joy is too strong, then appreciation – of life. Perhaps it’s the fact that after four years being busy producing music for singers and film makers, Wilkinson finally has time out to return to the world of Quiet Noise to explore his own avenues of creativity. Adam explains the limitations that determined the album’s formation, recounting, “stuck at home, sitting with my wife and children while they worked from home, I set myself the challenge of creating pieces using only equipment that could fit in my space on the living room table. Motivated by my game and pleasantly surprised by what I could achieve.”

For the most part, Story Machine is an overtly electronic set that comfortably incorporates a diverse range of styles from across the spectrum – and a large portion is fresh and accessible, danceable even. The range is such that the individual pieces feel as though they each tell their own stories – but then again, taken as a while, perhaps they’re chapters of a longer story that is the album as a whole.

With bold, surging orchestral strikes and tension-building strings, ‘Grand Entrance’ is appropriately titled. ‘Climbing Trees’ is altogether more light-spirited, with a buoyant electro beat and birds twittering – although it suddenly explodes in a surge of light that’s a veritable epiphany. ‘Murmurations’ brings a very different vibe, with a straight-up dance groove. The beats are bold and uptempo, and while the top synths are quite soft and subtle, bringing an expansive but chilled later to the sound, the bass is bouncy and urgent.

In among it all, there are some moments where vast expanses of sound burst seemingly from nowhere, radiating an almost prog-rock grandiosity. These bursts of extravagance are a shade audacious, but somehow, they work. Above all, Story Machine is an uplifting experience, and in the face of so much bleakness, it’s one that’s most welcome.

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