Posts Tagged ‘eponymous’

SIGE Records – SIGE100 – 25th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Woah! Dizzying, head-spinning chaos and cacophony! Twangs and bangs – strings stretched to within a millimetre of snapping, bending and scraping and scratching. Every instrument is playing across the others at an angle. About ten minutes into side one, you realise the discoordinated racket, having had some flickers of brass bubble through – like tentative flames licking around an oversized log on a fire that’s yet to fully establish itself -has congealed into a dense, soupy drone with industrial strength hip-hop beats played by a live drummer. And it just doesn’t stop. For twenty minutes straight. It gargles and parps and booms and toots and parps and growls and farts on and on and on, while the drums clatter and crash and thwack and thwock and bump and fuck me it’s an almighty headache-inducing din.

Details about this release are fairly limited, but details tend to be lost to history anyway. And most of history suggests that White People Killed Them is a common recurring theme throughout. There are so many of ‘them’, anonymous, often buried in unmarked graves in the name of progress – white progress. History is a narrative of shameful exploitation and bloodshed.

Whether or not the three musicians, Raven Chacon, John Dieterich, and Marshall Trammel, intended any such connotations when they came together in New Mexico in 2019, I have no idea, but the forty minutes of music recorded and relayed on this eponymous release would certainly make for a fitting soundtrack to the sheer brutality of history as a catalogue of killing. It’s so relentless, it makes you want to stand up and shout ‘stop! Enough is enough!’ But of course, as history shows us, it never stops. And nor, seemingly, does this album. It’s not a particularly pleasurable experience. It is an intense experience, and one that instils a kind of anxious excitement, even exhilaration. But pleasure… not really.

Things take a turn for the strange on side two, where from some warped, stretched-tape nastiness, there’s some twangy, spaghetti western weirdness that emerges briefly, before everything gets fucked up and mangled again. And it just builds and then sustains this massive wall of thick, discomfiting sound. The end leaves you absolutely drained, desiccated, mentally and physically decimated. If it was possible to achieve death by avant-jazz, White People Killed Them have slain us all with this monster.

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26th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

LA instrumentalists Teethers, centred around drummer and composer Andrew Lessman, brings together an unusual fusion for their debut release. With contributions straddling jazz, avant garde, and indie pop, for Teethers, Lessman has brought together an eclectic lineup, consisting of Graham Chapman on bass, guitarist Alexander Noise, Joe Sanata Maria and Ted Faforo on saxophones and Stefan Kac on tuba. The results are, as you might expect, unusual.

There’s a smooth, jazzy, swingy pop vibe that permeates the EP#s three tracks, and as ‘Goose Chasing’ indicates, they can locks down a tidy groove and create music you can bop to, nod along to, even dance to… and then they’re more than capable of – and willing to – drive that train straight off a cliff into a wild frenzy of horn-driven discord and madness. This is bit a brief introduction that sets the scene for what Teethers are really all about: the twelve-minute ‘Monopoly on Violence / Mushroom dance’ is a multi-faceted, shifting exploration of rippling shades and expansive soundscapes.

It’s rambling, at times immensely proggy in a vintage sense, and at times it just can’t seem to make up its mind as it ambles and weaves hither and thither, a mellow jazz meandering that hits some frenzies peaks and altogether more sedate intersections. It’s one of those pieces that transitions enticing and irritating in a mere blink – and that’s not even a criticism. Condensing so many elements into its space, it’s difficult to keep up.

The third track, ‘Love Poem’ is seven-and-a-half minutes of dappled sunlight painted in music, with a clean, picked guitar chiming in a simple, hypnotic sequence that’s a post-rock / contemporary prog crossover laced with soft, delicate strings. It’s perhaps the most focused and conventionally coherent of the three compositions, on what is a fairly wide-ranging set – so wide-ranging that it’s not easy to immediately assimilate, and even more difficult to pin down – not just stylistically, but in the most basic terms of formulating an opinion. Is it any good? Do I like it? Does it matter? There’s certainly no doubting the technical proficiency on display here, and having the confidence and audacity to make music that straddles so many boundaries and genuinely challenges the listener is an achievement worthy of recognition.

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2nd October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Having been brought into Talk Talk to assist with remixing on ‘It’s My Life’ in 1984, Tim Friese-Greene became an integral contributor to the band on their subsequent albums. Short Haired Domestic sees Tim come together with his wife, Lee, formerly of 90s act Sidi Bou Said and currently lead vocalist and guitar player for Pavlova.

As the liner notes explain, the vocals for each song are sung in a different language, and ‘have at their heart a breakbeat loop, sampled fragments, scratching, insistent funk and Latin rhythms, surprising appearances of acoustic guitar and just about every sound it’s possible to wring from a WASP synthesiser’.

This manifests as a collection of songs with a quirky charm to their style, which has something of a mainland European, vaguely gallic feel to it, and their touchstones of Stereolab and Francois Hardy, among others, sit comfortably. It’s so not my regular bag, but sometimes I need something to chill to, and a complete change of scene by way of a pallete-cleanser.

The titles are helpful in their explanatory nature but disclose little about the stance on the subjects being sung about – but that probably speaks more of a global Anglocentrism when it comes to song lyrics than anything – and also highlights that you don’t necessarily need words to appreciate a song.

It’s a laid-back sashaying groove and swinging beat that sets the scene with ‘A song in Latin about the importance of comfortable shoes’, and without a lyric sheet and translation, it’s hard to be certain, but it sounds like they rather like them. And who wouldn’t? Who says you can’t have style and comfort?

They hit an insistent funk groove of ‘A song in Spanish addressed to men who drive big cars’, and work it hard, while ‘A Song in Bulgrian for Lovers of Gin; is positively loungey in its laid-back jazziness, a head-nodding groove as smooth as the silkiest chocolate. Things get a bit Prince on ‘A song in Italian saluting his mother’, and there’s even a dash of piano reminiscent of Talk Talk on the slower, sparser head-nodding A song in Hindi for insomniacs’.

For their sugared pop coating of sunny melodies, these simple-sounding and accessible tunes are layered and steeped in experimentalism, and they pull it off with a deceptive ease.

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Short-Haired Domestic (album cover)

23rd October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from break_fold, the electro-semiambient project of former i concur front man Tim Hann. But life has a habit of getting on the way of creative endeavours, so it’s not entirely surprising. This is the third eponymous break_fold release, and it marks a clear continuation from its precedents, including the song titling, with the majority of tracks denoted as a date which this indicates when work started on the song. The two exceptions are ‘Gaps_in_the_Mesh_(Remix)’, a reworking of a track by ambient artist and collaborator, Ten, and ‘JP’, which is dedicated to a friend of Tim’s who unfortunately passed away in 2019.

That the first two tracks date back to 2018 give an indication of the length and laboriousness of the assembly of this third excursion. The previous release, 27_05_17 – 21_01_18 was a comparatively speedy work.

The first piece, ‘22_12_18_Pt1’ is soft, supple, floating mellifluous ambience that evolves from an elongated, ominous drone, into a cascading piano motif, while its counterpart brings the beats – soft, yet strong, clear, and propellent, it’s a cinematic electro groover, which radiates an uplifting vibe.

From this point, the album begins to develop a definite sense of having a forward trajectory. A dark, serrated hum blossoms into a multi-hued shimmer of radiance, pushed along by a solid danceable rhythm on ‘15_11_18’. There are some quite noodly synth details behind the broader sweeps. There are hints of Jan Hammer about some of this, and there are moments that stray into drivetime dance that’s kinda smooth, kinda accessible: the buoyant basslines are easy on the ear and there’s an undeniable bounce in the background. It feels rather escapist, and it’s rather nice: we all need somewhere to escape to at times, especially now, so immersion is good. And breathe…

‘29_04_18’ feels fully formed as ripple waves of gentle sound pulse across a flickering, understated dance beat – more one to nod along to than to get down t, but nevertheless, it’s unexpectedly uptempo, and while it does still evoke chin-stroking ponderousness, it equally creates a rich atmosphere in which to wander and ponder.

There is a lot off space to be explored on break_fold, a lot of texture and tone, and while it may largely favour the light and melodic and easy on the ear, it’s got range and ventures into shadowier realms in places. There are parts that evoke 80s film soundtracks, and others still more chillwave in their orientation.

The album ends with ‘JP’, and one can’t help but feel the abrupt ending is significant, a work truncated, unfinished and unresolved. But for all that, it feels like the work for this album is done, as though this particular creative cycle is complete. Where to go from here remains to be seen, but in the now this resonates majestically.

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24th July 2020

This Valley Of Old Mountains is a collaboration between Taylor Deupree and Federico Durand, which the press release informs us, ‘quietly creates the folklore of an imaginary land. From a hemisphere apart, share simple sounds with complex stories. Their music balances an edge between translucency and exploration, focusing on obscurity, repetition and a shared

fascination of the mountains between them’.

The album’s thirteen tracks are sparse and lilting, and oftentimes intimate a certain oriental influence as the notes – picked and struck – ring out into a confined-sounding space. For the remainder, they simply hover and hum, an easy, effortless wash of sound. You don’t you just sit as the glitches play out, twisting your psyche fleetingly, and wonder where it’s actually going as you venture into your own head.

Not a lot happens here, but then again, this isn’t about events, and more about atmosphere. Listening to This Valley of Old Mountains, there are moments where I can’t tell if I’m listening to the album or just the throb of the extractor fan in the bathroom next to my office. In a way, it doesn’t really matter either way.

‘Honii’ brings trilling twitters of birdsong to join the slow, echoing chimes of dulcimer and similar, while ‘Wintir’ is minimal, atmospheric, and exemplary of sparsely-arranged warps and wefts. ‘Polei’ is a slow, soporific tinkling piece, and fits with most of This Valley of Old Mountains’ mellow mellifluousness.

This Valley of Old Mountains is background, is barely-present, is vague in structure. It’s a perfectly ambient work of ambience, and works perfectly.

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7th January 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I like Modern Technology before I’ve even heard a note. Drummer Owen approached me through Facebook having clocked Aural Aggravation with a link to the East London duo’s debut EP. Most bands starting out want to get on the radar, and get some cash back for the hard graft they’ve put in trying to get to the point of putting music out into the public domain, especially as a physical release – and this comes in limited-to-200 clear vinyl in addition to the digital version – but they’re donating all profits between Mind and Shelter, perhaps two of the most vital charities in the age of austerity.

I may not have written much about the plight of the homeless, although the fact we have a massive problem here in Britain right now requires no qualification, but I have touched on mental health on more than one occasion here in the past. The oft-shared statistics are just statistics, but in my day-job (yes, I work for a multinational who deal in insurance and investments, because, incredibly reviewing bands no-one’s heard of and writing books no-one reads doesn’t pay the bills) I’m often required to step out of my role to help people and to listen to people. They all have trouble. They’re all stressed. They’re all anxietised. Some are depressed. I know how they feel, and they know it. It really is good to talk. No, not just good: vital. This is my daily reality. So the fact that the bulk of CD I get sent for review which I don’t choose to keep end up at my local Mind charity shop is just something I do. Because it’s important to do what you can, right?

According to their bio, Modern Technology formed through ‘a shared frustration of the post-truth society and political unrest that is currently suffocating our global conscious’. The one positive of political turbulence is the spur to creativity: it’s no coincidence that that post-punk emerged during the Thatcher era, and it’s fair to say that the parallels between then and now are strong. One major difference now, however, is that it’s practically impossible to sign on and form a band: zero-hours contracts and the benefits system mean that even looking for work is a full-time job, and the economics of making music simply don’t stack favourably. But regardless of economics, all that shit has to go somewhere. You need to process. You need to vent. Modern Technology sound like a band who are doing this not for fun, but because they need to.

The EP’s opener provides a theme tune of sorts: entitled ‘Modern Technology’, it launches with an ear-shredding blast of splintering noise, before pulverizing drums, grating bass and squalling feedback hammer out a sonic landslide of a backdrop to a hollering vocal, half-lost in an avalanche of reverb. Christ! They’ve got the savagery of early Head of David coupled with the goth-noise mania of The Birthday Party.

It certainly sets the tone and tempo: ‘Project Fear’ is two minutes of overloading, distorted fury that makes optimal use of lo-fi production values for maximum impact. It hits like a punch in the guts. Deciphering the lyrics isn’t easy and at times is pretty much impossible, but the sentiment is more than adequately conveyed by the medium. Besides, the titles speak for themselves in many respects, as they take the most mundane aspects of contemporary capitalist living and attack them with shuddering sonic barrages. Shades of psych filter through the scuzzed-up tumult of no-wave noise. And deep from within that sonic cyclone screams the painful truth: everything is fucked.

When they do slow it down, as on the grinding ‘Select Retail’, they bring out the brooding theatricality and highlight the depthlessness and superficiality of consumerism with the blank slogan / refrain ‘Select retail / reject detail’. But then they also do choppy, bass-led Shellac-tinged angularity on ‘Queue Jumper’. Closer ‘Modern Detritus’ distils every last ounce of frustration and compresses it into a dense roar of thunder.

Modern Technology are the real deal: this isn’t music being made with one eye on a commercial ticket, but music that’s born out of compulsion, the urge to purge. It’s art. It’s raw, it’s visceral, it’s painful. And in expressing the agony of frustration, it’s perfect.

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Ipecac Recordings – 23rd November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Planet B finds Justin Pearson – of Dead Cross, Retox, and more bands and projects than even he could probably name – pair up with hip-hop producer Luke Henshaw. The result is a gloriously mangled hybrid of punk and hip-hop that’s more in the vein of the crossover collaborations that featured on the Judgement Night soundtrack than anything thrown up subsequently by nu-metal or anything else that’s followed. No doubt this is something Ipecac head honcho Mike Patton considered when the album landed with the label, having delivered the belting ‘Another Body Murdered’ with Faith No More in collaboration with Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. back in ’93.

Having spent what seems like forever criticising people for becoming fogeys prematurely and becoming locked in an era that corresponds with their late teens / early twenties and bemoaning the fact that there’s no new music that’s any good, I’ll confess with no small disappointment that just typing that gave me a major pang of nostalgia, and that I haven’t listened to any mainstream or chart music in about eight years now, and I really don’t know who’s who or what the kidz are listening to now (and although I have been subjected to ‘What Does the Fox Say?’, Pingfong’s ‘Baby Shark Dance’ and ‘Skibidi’ by Little Big, I’m not sure how representative these are of anything). But the notion that there’s no new music that’s any good is patent bollocks. The fact of the matter is there’s more good new music emerging now than ever before – it’s just a matter of taste and knowing where to find it. Ipecac, it has to be said, are pretty consistent as a source of things both noisy and strange, and while the styles and forms may not be entirely predictable, the quality usually is. Planet B’s eponymous debut is illustrative, and while it’s new music with roots in older music, it still doesn’t sound quite like anything else current.

Political and pissed off, Planet B is an album with attack, taking not the mellowed out doped-up end of hip-hop but presents a fiery force-for-change antagonism that’s more Body Count or Beastie Boys at their best. As one would reasonably expect from an act featuring Justin Pearson, the result isn’t pretty, but it is pretty intense, and ‘Crustfund’ makes for a strong start: deep, pounding hip-hop beats and snarling synths provide the backdrop to an uncompromising and aggressive vocal courtesy of Kool Keith, (one of a roll-call of inspired guests featured on the album).

Things take a turn for the more direct and driving with the fast-paced pulsating groove of ‘Join a Cult’ – the backing sounds like Sigue Sigue Sputnik, while the vocals are a pure punk whooping holler, brimming with anger and nihilism. ‘Manure Rally’ and ‘Come Bogeyman’ are also thunderous stompers reminiscent of Ministry (the latter featuring the percussive talents of Martin Atkins), and big mid-tempo beats and dense, looping low-end are one of the defining features of the album as a whole. This certainly contributes to providing Planet B with a sense of cohesion – which is much-needed given its eclecticism.

Like many, I’m wary of covers of songs I really, really like, and am often heart howling in despair ‘Sacrilege! How could they do that?’ or, conversely, ‘why did they bother? It doesn’t do anything different.’ The cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Never Let Me Down’ is unexpected – slowed down, stripped down, it’s brutal and ugly – and quite outstanding.

Although the production is significantly cleaner and the overall, and the vibe altogether less violent, Planet B shares shouty, sneering, snotty common ground with Uniform’s The Long Walk. And as The Long Walk is one of my favourite albums of the year (despite its relentless fury and clanging noise invariably leaving me physically and emotionally drained and with a headache), it’s a big thumbs up for Planet B.

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16th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Salvation Jayne are going from strength to strength at the moment, and kicking off with lead single ‘Cortez’ which drives hard with an amalgam of grunge guitars, solid, hard-rock riffage and pop-tinged rock-solid vocal sass their eponymous six-tracker sees the band take stock, refocus and capitalise on their work to date to mark the trajectory of the next stage of their emerging career.

‘Juno,’ which surfaces as a standalone track a year ago showcases a poppier groove in the med-section, but is primarily about the hefty, bass-driven, riff-centric chorus, and at the risk of reductionism, it’s the riff and the rock vocals that define the EP as a whole. There’s no lack of heft to ‘Black Heart’, either, which is propelled by some attacking drumming and thickly overdriven guitar, while Chess belts out the lyrics with full lung.

If the verses of ‘Tongue Tied’ suggest a slight lifting of the foot from the pedal with its layered, chorused guitar and easy disco beat, the chorus kicks it back up a notch or two. The slide guitar and strolling bass of ‘The Art of Falling’ marks the biggest shift as they slip comfortably into country grunge that expands into stadium space-filling emotionally-charged rock epic territory. It may be vaguely template and conventional, but it’s got a captivating sincerity, it’s well-placed and works well, and more importantly, it’s what you might reasonably call a ‘big’ tune that indicates the band’s mass-market potential

Yes, the Salvation Jayne EP is on the more accessible side of whatever: it’s not nasty or gnarly or dirty or fucked. But is does pack some riffy, guitar-based punch, at least for the most part: the ‘stripped’ version of ‘Juno’, with its aid-back, sultry beats is pleasant enough but my views on remixes and alternative versions are strewn about the Internet for those who remotely give a fuck. Suffice it to say that while it’s actually quite nice, it still feels like quite nice filler, and perhaps five tracks would have done the job just as well.

That said, it’s a fair inclusion and not a terrible addition to an EP that’s got some guts and showcases a band with game.

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