Posts Tagged ‘Duo’

Nim Brut – 19th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The hardest battles are those against yourself: they’re perpetually self-defeating and at the same time impossible to win. A duelling duality creates the core dynamic of Rejection Ops. The Leeds-based duo’s bio describes them as ‘a drummer and bass-and-electronics player who sound like each is trying to outdo the other at driving audiences from the room’, presenting a scene of duality and conflict, and this document of that internal tension was captured in its rawest form, namely self-recorded on a Zoom recorder during May 2021, so no engineering panache or highly-detailed production values here, no layering, multitracking, or overdubs. And it’s a mangled, gnarly mess of noise from beginning to end. It’ sets your teeth on edge, it makes your organs vibrate. It makes you feel tense, and grind your teeth. And these are the reasons to love it, because it has impact. It’s not some comfortable background work, and it’s not even songs that drift into your ears and lodge softly but with longevity. Rejection Ops vs. Rejection Ops is pre-emptive revenge for something you may do, and it’s going to punish you hard for it.

The first track, ‘Agendas Vary’ is a squall of feedback and overloading noise pitched against a tempest of thunderous drumming, and it does that free jazz thing of sounding like the climactic finale of an epic set without there having been the epic set preceding it. As such, it’s seven minutes of ear-bleeding, cranium-crushing chaos that doesn’t go anywhere, but then isn’t intending to.

‘Atomic Basketry’, the album’s longest track at almost eight minutes in duration, ratchets up the noise and almost buries the percussion beneath a blistering squall of screaming noise, a tidal wave of treble, a deluge of distortion. Blistering electronic noise, a bowel-shredding harsh noise wall splatters against arrhythmic clattering.

Thereafter, the form shifts away from expansive and exploratory towards brief blasts of mangled abrasion, every one faster and harder and wilder and more off the wall. Guitars thrashed hard splinter in a mesh of treble while the drums pop like bubblewrap. ‘Heeding Tartan’ is particularly abrasive, two-and-a-half minutes of metal-scraping, crunching, white hot molten noise, and ‘Raging Ninepin’ rages hard, so hard it blisters and peels and pulverises the grey matter to the point of near liquefication. The drums ricochet hard and fast like machine gun fire through ‘Rat Pie’, which snarls and crackles hard, but it’s all just a prep for the sonic blitzkrieg of the final cut, ‘Soon Learned’. Even sooner remember earplugs would be the advice, because this absolutely fucking hurts. Again, it’s three and a half minutes of everything all at once, only here, it’s the head-shredding crescendo climax it sounds like, rather than just some avant jazz end without a start.

By the time it’s over, you feel battered, bruised, drained, but also buzzed and exhilarated. The purpose of art is not to entertain, but to challenge, to arouse the senses. Rejection Ops certainly challenge – not only the listener, but themselves and one another, to create a stupendously intense experience.

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Fast & Bulbous – 14th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Perhaps the best known Hazy Jane right now is Brewdog’s unfiltered IPA, which has by far eclipsed the profile of the Idlewild-associated Dundee indie pop act The Hazey Janes. But that could be about to change with the ascending star of this two-piece blues-rock act, hailing from Halifax with their third single showcasing their talent for authentic, gritty blues tunes.

‘I Find it Hard’ is a mid-tempo song that takes a very traditional template chord sequence, and a lot more stripped back than ‘Yellow Belly Blues’, released in February. That’s a good thing: less a lift of early Royal Blood, it sees the band go back to the basics of the genre. Sure, there are still the rockist leanings of Led Zep on display, but then the glory of blues is that those same chords are universal, and cranking those chords through an overdrive pedal is similarly something that’s for anyone and everyone. In short, when it comes to playing the blues, there’s no ripping off one act or another: it simply comes down to how it’s done: it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

One benefit of being a duo is that is doesn’t require the co-ordination of a whole bunch of people all juggling jobs and different personal schedules, and if lockdown has had one benefit (and it’s one of maybe two, the other being working from home), it’s rendering distance less of an object and pushing people to overcome geographical barriers to collaboration. ‘I Find it Hard’ bears testament to this. From lyrics and vocal lines, to drum parts and song structure, the entire track was composed through a back-and-forth of 60 second voice notes from throughout lockdown.

You’d never know: this sounds and feels live, like they’re playing in a small venue right in front of your face. The guitar is chunky, the drums are beefy, and it’s a solid tune. Nailed it.

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The Hazy Janes Artwork

Pak40 – Crusts

Posted: 14 September 2018 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , ,

5th September 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

I practically creamed my pants over Pak40’s live show in York, just up the road from my house, a few months back. I didn’t exactly know what to make of them, which was part of the appeal – they didn’t conform to any one style, but they were bloody good. And noisy. And now they follow up their live show with a ‘live in the studio’ EP. ‘Crusts’ was recorded live in one take, and released it the same day, the band leaving it ‘warts and all for a loud, crunchy listening experience’. And that’s exactly wat they deliver. While this type of set-up rarely works for guitar-orientated bands, York-based Pak40 prove the exception to the rule with their crossover style and experimental, big-noise approach.

A spot of research reveals that the 7.5 cm Pak 40 (7,5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 40) was ‘a German 75 millimetre anti-tank gun developed in 1939-1941 by Rheinmetall and used during the Second World War.’ It figures: these guys sound like total war, a sonic blitzkrieg from beginning to end.

The first track, ‘Sausage Roll,’ is formed around a rolling, strolling, trippy psychedelic bass groove. It’s hefty, trudging, a mid-temp sludge-soaked stoner workout that emerges from a hum of feedback before it slows and speeds and grunts and grinds and powers along with some packed-in density. And when it slows to early Melvins pace around two-thirds in, it truly sounds like a Sabbath 45 played at 33. If you’re expecting some laddish indie jauntiness based on the title, with its connotations of working-class / low salaried simple pleasures in Gregg’s and various greasy spoons, think again.

It bleeds through a humming sustain into the ten-minute centrepiece ‘Rain’, a slow-burner that begins quietly with more strolling bass and some understated percussion. It goes nowhere fast, and in fact doesn’t do anything fast, burrowing deeper into darker depths as the squirming bass worms its way down, down, down. Time stalls: it trickles along and tapers away.

‘Pyramid’ hits a powerful groove and also calls to mind That Fucking Tank, only gnarlier, messier, more downtuned and bottom-heavy. In concluding with a definite finale, the EP has the shape of an inverted bell-curve in terms of the listening experience, and Pak40’s obtuse approach is something to be admired.

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Pak40 - Crusts

New Heavy Sounds – 20th July 2018

Originally released independently in February, Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0 sees Blacklab’s debut receive a vinyl release, wider distribution, and augmented by an additional track. It sounds like we’re arriving halfway through a song at the start of the album’s opener, ‘Black Moon’. It’s a slow, hefty riff that grinds out of the speakers at high volume. Yes, it’s loud and mastered even louder. Then the pace picks up the drums really get cracking and everything just throbs.

Yuko’s vocals are astonishing, switching between full-on gutsy hard rock, and witchy ethereal, and snarling deep and demonic. And they’re not afraid to send the needles into red, everything cracking with a fuzzy edge of overloading distortion. It’s this in-yer-face production that really makes Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0 the album it is. You don’t just listen to it: you feel it. You visualise the speaker cones on a massive rig vibrating, can almost feel the air being displaced.

‘Warm Death’ takes the face down and exploits the classic quiet / loud dynamic thing, and against a tidal wave of overdriven guitar the banshee howl vocals are nothing short of terrifying. Closer ‘Big Muff’ goes all the way for maximum downtuned sluge, with enough low-end to give rise to an uncomfortable sensation in the bowels. And it does so for ten whole minutes, in an audaciously excessive workout worthy of Melvins.

Coming on at times like Boris at their best, it’s hard to conceive that Blacklab are just two in number. Because this is some dense noise, gritty, driving and raw. There’s chug and grind, and there’s thunderous powerchords in abundance. In fact, there’s no let up – and no filler. And they could only ever have come from Japan: while we’ve seen a number of female-fronted stoner/doom/heavy bands emerging recently, Blacklab stand out as one of the fiercest, most intense and most-far out. They promise ‘Fuzz, fuzz, fuzz, doom, stoner, more fuzz,’ and they deliver it with the knobs all turned to eleven.

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