Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

We love mental shit, and this is some mental shit.

Avant group Hifiklub has shared a new track, ‘Weird Five,’ featuring the legendary Iggor Cavalera (MixHell, Cavalera Conspiracy, Pet Brick, co-founder of Sepultura). The song is a part of the French trio’s audio-visual collaboration, ScorpKlub I & II Original Soundtracks, with the Montreal animator James Kerr (Scorpion Dagger). The double-sided record — which features Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Eleven) in addition to Iggor Cavalera —will be out digitally as well as on different colored vinyl on 27 May 2022 via Electric Valley Records.

Hifiklub bassist Régis Laugier on ‘Weird Five’: “1 Day as A Lion, 2Pac, Spacemen 3, Gang of 4, Electric 6, L7… Something was missing. What about the “Weird 5”? Let us know what’s your favorite band with numbers in their names. In the meantime, here is the first track of Hifiklub’s collaboration with Iggor Cavalera, from ScorpKlub I & II. 18 more videos to come!”

Check ‘Weird Five’ here:

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Crónica – 26th April 20222

Christopher Nosnibor

Having seen various videos of Gintas K’s improvisations, involving a keyboard and a dusty old Lenovo ThinkPad running some custom software, it’s apparent that his approach to composition is nothing if not unusual, and it’s matched by the results.

His Crónica debut, Lengvai / 60 x one minute audio colours of 2kHz sound was sixteen years ago, and his return to the label is a very different offering, although as has been a common factor throughout his career, Lėti – Lithuanian for slow – consists of comparatively short pieces – and here, the majority are four minutes long or less. Less is more, and what’s more, Gintas K invariably manages to pack more into a couple of minutes than many artists do in half an hour. Here, we have a set of eleven short pieces ‘created from recording and improvising in studio followed by extensive mixing and editing using software.’ There’s no more detail than that: some artists accompany their releases with essays explaining the creative process and the algorithms of the software and so on, but Gintas K simply leaves the music for the listener to engage with and to ponder.

Where Lėti is something of a departure is in the emphasis on the editing and mixing of the material and the fact that, as the title suggests, the arrangements are a little more sedate. The signature crackles and pops, chines and static are all present and correct, but there’s a sense of deliberation as we’re led through ethereal planes of delicate chimes and tinkling tones that resonate and hang in the air, drifting in open expanses, with time and space to reverberate and slowly decay. With this more measured feel, melodies become more apparent, with simple motifs, repeated, giving ‘Hallucination’ a sense of structure and, I suppose you might actually say ‘tune’.

It isn’t that Gintas’ works lack tunefulness as such, but that any tune is surrounded by froth and extranea, and so much is going on it’s often hard to miss. Listening to Lėti is a fairly calm, even soothing experience, at least for the most part, conjuring a mood of reflection, of contemplation. The album’s longest piece, the seven-minute ‘Various’ brings a dense wave of sound that surges and swells slowly like a turning tide. There’s almost a stately grandeur to it, but then, there’s a rattling kind of a buzz that’s something of a distraction, and a glitch that nags away and seems to accelerate. These little headfucks are quintessential Gintas K, and Lėti isn’t all soft and sweet: ‘Savage’ brings thick, fuzzing distortion and discomfort.

The flurries of sound, the babble of bubbling bleeps and bloops that are his standard fare are slowed to sparse, irregular drips in a cave on ‘Variation’, and the application of reverb is impressively nuanced, to the point that the reverbs almost become music in their own right. ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘Ambient’ are appropriately titled, while ‘Nice Pomp’ would comfortably serve as a soundtrack to a slow-motion film of a moon landing or somesuch, and again none of the pieces are without depth or detail, as the layers and slivers of sound that intersect create so much more than mere surface.

Lėti is a genuinely pleasant and pleasurable listening experience, but is most certainly isn’t straightforward or simple in what it delivers. There are many sonic nuggets to unearth, and so many tones and textures along the way, that what is, superficially ‘less’ is, in actual fact, a whole lot more.

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Important Records – IMPREC511 – 29th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Merzbow releases are rather like proverbial busses, with this collaborative release with Arcane Device being releases simultaneously with a 20th anniversary reissue of his Merzbeat album and a CD reissue of his 1983 album Material Action, all on Important Records. The difference between Merzbow and busses is that you never have to wait long for a Merzbow album.

Merzbow & Arcane Device is a coming together of two very old hands at this experimental / noise stuff. David Lee Myers aka Arcane Device has been building electronics and creating feedback based electronic music since the late 70’s. Merzbow’s career also began at the tail end of the 70s, and the last forty-odd years has witnessed the release of a truly staggering body of work, with as many as twenty or more albums being released in a single year. It’s a daunting, overwhelming output, and the same is true of the music itself. Perhaps more than any other artist, Merzbow has pushed the boundaries of music – and even the boundaries of noise – to the absolute limits, and then continued to push beyond.

The premise of Merzbow & Arcane Device as a split LP is straightforward: each takes a piece by the other and remixes it, each presenting a longform piece correspondent with a side of vinyl.

The two pieces here are very slow, low, and drony, with the EQ geared toward the mid-ranges and lower, rather than harsh walls of treble. ‘Arcane Device Remixes Merzbow’ is particularly dense, murky, and unhurried in pace. Bubbles and pops blister the crinkled surface of churning sods. There are brief, momentary stalls to the crunching earthworks, filled with swarming hornet buzzes and wippling ripples of analogue synth sounds and skimming laser blasts. A Geiger counter crackle is pitched down and slowed to register around the gut and occasional trills of feedback break through the swampy soup. But for the most part, it’s half an hour of thick, wind-blown drone.

Merzbow’s treatment of Arcane Device’s sound is similarly given to bleeps and drones, but at a higher pitch and faster tempo; the laser bleeps are machinegun rounds by the barrage, and there are wailing siren cries of elongated feedback notes. As the drones drill deeper, the washes of static grow louder and harsher, and as the layers build, so does the volume and the tension. By the eight-minute mark, the tonal separation has become most pronounced, with barelling low-end underpinning a veil of squalling pink noise. Perhaps uncommonly for Merzbow, there are lulls, and they’re most welcome – but when the noise swells once more, the impact is amplified.

In the scheme of harsh noise, Merzbow & Arcane Device is not particularly harsh, but it’s tonally varied and its comparative subtlety is effective, as it gives the album a more considered feel, and it in no way diminishes its impact. The fact the two tracks are different – perhaps not so much for the casual listener, but to a noise enthusiast – the variations on a theme hold the attention, and draw the listener into the details of texture. These works are restrained, respectful, even, but not reverently so, and in offering two sides of a melted, battered, and pulverised coin, Merzbow & Arcane Device makes for a tough yet immersive listen.

Limited Noise – 29th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

With a CV that lists near-multitudinous membership and participation in bands (notably his regular gigs with Snack Family and World Sanguine report, but also contributing to Sly ands the Family Drone and countless others), renowned experimentally-minded jazz drummer and percussionist Will Glaser has taken some time out to continue his solo album sequence with the fourth instalment of Climbing in Circles.

Over the course of three previous releases, Glaser has explored jazz, folk, and beyond, through an experimental prism and with a methodology that’s very much about improvisation. This outing features long-time collaborator, Matthew Herd, on saxophones and piano, alongside trumpeter, electronic artist and producer, Alex Bonney, and was assembled over the course of five day. While the album is loosely constructed around two overarching ‘acts’, they consist of eleven separate and distinct pieces, and bookended by ‘Beginnings’ and ‘Endings’, there’s a narrative arc of sorts, here.

It begins with crawing birds and a gentle piano playing what one could readily describe as a charming melody with a quite conventional structure, and ends with a genuinely pleasant lilting piano tune – and yes, I mean tune in that it has all the conventional features of one.

In between, there is slow decay and infinite space. Rumbling, echoes, notes reverberate off one another at distance. Sax and trumpet trill and drone, sometimes at one, at others as if duelling. The percussion rolls and crashes, but more often than not, at distance, and creating texture and atmosphere and colouring the pieces with expression rather than maintaining rhythm.

The combination of instruments is relatively conventional in jazz, and, similarly, there’s nothing particularly radical about the way they’re played and interact on here. But there’s considerable joy to be had in simply listening to the musicianship and the way the musicians themselves interplay on the pieces. ‘Spiral Dance’ is a hypnotic serpentine spin, while ‘Bad Dream Machines’ is a drifting mass of fragmentation, dissonant, discordant, and above all, a work that exists in the spaces between the notes and in the reverb and echoes as in the notes themselves.

There will be some – perhaps many – who are deterred by the very mention of jazz, and there is a perception of there being a certain elitism about jazz – the idea that random notes and borderline unlistenable chaos is somehow a superior art form, and anyone who doesn’t ‘get’ it is clearly a philistine. But Glaser is a remarkably positive showcase for jazz, with a focus on the listener rather than purely the musicianship. Climbing in Circles Pt 4 is about atmosphere, about vibe, rather than indulgent wanking: this is jazz you don’t need to be an aficionado to appreciate. It’s listenable, and it’s varied, too.

On ‘Dead Fly Disco’, he and his collaborators play completely straight, a song with structure and swing, something you could even dance to, or at least nod a long to its toe-tapping groove in a basement bar late at night. ‘Ballad in the Jazz Style’ almost feels like they’re playing with and working within the tropes as an example of discipline, and it’s highly restrained and wonderfully moody in that sad, smoky jazz melancholy way.

There’s plenty going on, and enough to maintain interest, but not so much as to be chaotic or to lose the listener. Whether these things make it a good access point to jazz, it’s hard to say, but what it does mean is that Climbing In Circles pt.4 is a jazz album that’s accessible and enjoyable simply as a musical work.

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Southern Lord – 23rd April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Covering multiple works in a single review feels like a major short-changing exercise, and I feel I should apologise to the artists involved in advance. It kind of depersonalises and maybe even cheapens the coverage, and I remember how I felt when the book version of my PhD thesis finally received a review, only to find that it was in an article alongside three other books. It may have been a paragraph of praise, but nevertheless, it was a solitary paragraph in a long article. Nine years of work, 90,000 words and 300 printed pages given a one-paragraph thumbs up… meh. But still, better than a thumbs-down or no paragraph.

A decade on, it’s still not settled with me, and I always try to do better. But sometimes, bundling makes sense and feels justified and this is one of those times.

Having spent many a virtual column inch in recent years bemoaning how Record Store day has made a deep descent from being an event that served to raise awareness of independent record shops to another cash-in for major labels cranking out shitty reissues on limited colour vinyl to wring yet more funds from completists while at the same time driving some of the most shameful scalping activity anywhere on line, it’s a relief to find something positive about RSD 2022.

That something comes of course from an independent label in the form of Southern Lord, who, as a sidenote, had commendably stuck to producing outstanding vinyl releases regardless of trends, fashions, popularity, or Record Store Day, and, admirably have continued to release whatever the hell they please, with a catalogue that’s an equal balance of cult hardcore punk re-releases and cutting-edge works of crushing weight that perpetually push the parameters of metal, with recent releases from Neon Christ and Big | Brave highlighting the polarities of the label’s interests.

This pair of RSD releases exemplify this span to perfection, and while admittedly one is a reissue, the other very much is not – and as such, they represent the label’s standard release scheduling. As the press releases outline, ‘The Catatonics were one of NYC and Syracuse’s pioneering hardcore punk bands…While the band’s seminal Hunted Down EP has remained one of the most highly sought-after releases of the genre, the heightening collector’s price made this 7” inaccessible to most people. Southern Lord has now elected to re-release this EP as a 12”, with bonus tracks.” And, meanwhile, Forest Nocturne is ‘the first full length solo venture of Greg Anderson, under the moniker of The Lord. Inspired by the great horror film composers of the 70s and 80s, Anderson turns his back on the riff worship of Goatsnake or SUNN O))) and instead creates a truly unsettling atmosphere heavy with tension, offset by 90s Scandinavian death metal’.

The Catatonics release certainly gives value for money: the original 1984 7” released on Anorexic Nympho Records featured five tracks: this reissue features a whopping eighteen. Following the bonus intro cut if ‘Descending in E’, the original EP accounts for tracks two to six, while the rest is an almost exhaustive gathering of compilation tracks, early demos and live recordings, all remastered from original tapes. Only two of the eighteen songs run beyond three minutes, with most clocking in under two, and this is rough and ready, ball-busting full-throttle, relentless fury, nonstop-pounding hardcore at its rawest and most furious, and the live cuts are particularly raw and brutal, making this a unique and comprehensive document of another underground band’s short but high-impact career.

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The Lord’s debut is a very different proposition: it’s clearly contemporary for a start, although it’s steeped in vintage metal stylings, and driven by an understated and simple but gut-churning bass that digs tunnels beneath your ordinary lives. Forest Nocturne is an album that twists and turns, and more significantly, gnaws like rodents, and like woodworm, at the smooth, flat planes of sonic normal. I say ‘normal’, as if that’s a thing – but The Lord conjure vast aural expanses, broad vistas that invite the listener to bask in the rich density, before tearing it to pieces.

A slow, swelling church organ droned doomily on ‘Church of Hermann’, a piece which is truly awe-inspiring. This is an instrumental album that definitely marks a departure for Anderson and feels more like early Earth than Sunn O))). Then again, it’s doesn’t really sound or feel like either.

Thick swells of strings that build into brooding, megalithic waves, define the power of this instrumental work. ‘Forest Wake’ starts with the wail of a siren, and brings bulldozing bass and power chords wrapped in gut-punching clouds of distortion. Those clouds dissipate for a time, and the atmosphere looms large and heavy as things unfurl, but take a moment to breathe and there’s nothing to see here other than smoke and that absence… It grinds, and it absolutely fucking kills, going full Sunn O))) drone doom on ‘Old Growth’. Forest Nocturne is hard and harrowing, immense, epic, beautiful, and yet at the same time devastating. The last track, ‘Triumph of the Oak’ is a new shade of heavy, an angering mess of thrashing chords that crashes down so, so hard.

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Finally, thanks to Southern Lord, there are releases that are actually worth getting up and queuing for at the weekend.

Editions Mego – eMego016X

22nd April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Context counts for a lot, particularly when evaluating works which represent the time in which they originated. This is no more true than when it comes to evaluating this reissue of Christian Fennesz’ Hotel Paral.lel, originally released in 1997.

For some of us – those of a certain age – 1997 seems recent. But then, there will be great swathes of the population who are actively listening to music -and who are fill-fledged adults, many with children of their own now – who weren’t even born in 1997. Stop and consider that for a moment. 1997 was twenty-five years ago. A quarter of a century.

Cast your mind back twenty-five years, if you can, and try to recall the musical landscape, what you were listening to, what was fresh and exciting, new and emerging. And cast your mind back, if you can, simply to life as it was back in 1997. Pre-millennium tension was beginning to slowly build around the end of days, and the millennium bug that would bring all technology to a halt. Nu-Metal was only just breaking, with the release of Limp Bizkit’s debut, Three Dollar Bill, Y’All. It was the year of The Prodigy’s The Fat of the Land and Portishead’s debut, as well as Radiohead’s OK Computer. It was also the year of Princess Diana’s death and here in the UK, there was a sense of hope as Labour won the election, deposing the Conservatives after eighteen years in power.

But it’s also worth remembering just how far technology has come in twenty-five years. As the liner notes remind us, Hotel Paral.lel was ‘recorded just before mobile computing devices became omnipresent’, and that ‘it was an investigation into the sonic possibilities residing in guitar based digital music. Sz launches the career with a constantly buzzing sound that resembles a fax machine encountering a G3 laptop for the first time, realising the game is up. ‘Nebenraum’ is the first foray into the style for which one would attribute to Fennesz. A glacial drone unexpectedly morphs into a gorgeous melody and microscopic groove. Adding pulse and melody was hearsay in the radical end of experimental music up until this point and with this single gesture, everything changed, for everyone.’

It seems hard to comprehend now, but Christian Fennesz’ debut full-length release really wasn’t so much ground-breaking as earth-shattering – only it wasn’t apparent at the time, and no-one was really paying attention anyway. There was a 2007 remaster to mark the album’s tenth anniversary, but this version isn’t only re-remastered buy boasts a bonus three tracks.

Listening to Hotel Paral.lel with the distance of time and the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear just how out of time it was. It’s a disturbing mess of static fizz, crackles, and hissing, clanks and rumbles, thuds and glitches. It’s an assemblage of dark ambient grating and griding, droning and grumbling., but then ‘Fa’ is more a gritty slab of bouncing heavyweight death disco: it’s got beats, it’s got groove, but it’s got some grainy bite to it.

If ‘industrial’ had become synonymous with Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, Hotel Paral.lel was a reminder – for those paying attention – of the roots of the genre, which lay with Throbbing Gristle and early adopters of emerging Technology like Cabaret Voltaire. And on Hotel Paral.lel, Fennesz exploits the latest emerging technologies to conjure alien soundscapes and strange forms.

There are moments, such as the closing couple of minutes of ‘Nebenraum’ which are surprisingly and incongruously mellow and melodic, in contrast to the warping, circuit-splintering dissonance of ‘Zeug’, one of a number of incredibly short experimental pieces.

Hotel Paral.lel also serves as a reminder that experimental is not a negative trait or a critical dismissal: without experimentation there is no progress, and in ‘97, Fennesz really was flying in the face not only of popular opinion, but, well everything. Now, of course, it doesn’t sound too radical, sonically or in terms of objectives. It does, however sound difficult, gnarly. It sounds dark. And it’s a beast.

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Dret Skivor – 1st April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Another month, another Dret release, and this one, their fifteenth, is from Dormir, a sound artist who lives on the island of Bornholm, near the Stavehøl Vandfald. It’s no April fool.

‘Under isen’ translates as ‘Under the ice’, and consists of two side-long tracks: ‘under isen ligger noget, du ikke kan lide’ (‘under the ice is something you do not like’, apparently) and ‘min indblanding er din afhængighed’ (‘my interference is your addiction’, according to Google translate. It sounds a little clunky, and is perhaps left in its native form,

‘under isen ligger noget’ is a suitably dark, dense blast sound that arrives on an arctic gust, scouring and scourging the bleakness of a whiteout landscape with a roar that strips away the senses with an elongated scrape of treble and a low, resonant booming like a ship’s horn, the sound lost adrift in a blizzard of impenetrable static. It’s disorientating, bewildering. You do, truly, feel surrounded, encased in sound, and if anything has ever recreated the harrowing experience of the time I was caught in a blizzard on top of a mountain in the Lake District and unable to gain any sense of my location in order to navigate down, it’s this. It was one of the most terrifying and traumatic experiences of my life, so suffice it to say, listening to this is something of a challenge on a personal level. It never ends, and you fear there is absolutely no way out. The tone and pitch has barely any variation over the duration; just additional elements thrown into the blistering vortex. It’s not strictly Harsh Noise Wall, but it is a wall of harsh noise that leaves you feeling buffeted, pulverised, punished.

If you’re hoping for something more gentle on the flipside, ‘min indblanding er din afhængighed’ is likely to disappoint: it’s more noise, only this time louder and denser and dirtier, not so much the sound of a blizzard but a washing machine on a spin cycle as it slowly breaks down, as recorded using a microphone thrown into the drum. It grinds and churns, thrums and throbs and swirls, it clatters, clanks and gurgles and swashes along, everything overloaded and distorted. In contrast to side one, it’s a more overtly rhythmic piece that positively pulsates, a dark heart pulsing beneath the eye-wavering curtain of static that crackles and fizzes. But there’s nothing soothing about this rythmicality, and you sure as hell can’t dance to it: it’s like having a wire connected to a battery prod your temple twice a second for almost twenty minutes; it leaves you feeling absolutely fucking fried. But it’s worth it.

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Muzamuza – 8th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Eighteen months on from Alms of Guilt and the prodigious Newcastle sound artist Kevin Wilkinson, aka brb>voicecoil returns with Dissolve into the Now. Active for over a quarter of a century, his field remains staunchly experimental and underground.

Forged from founds sounds subsequently manipulated and mauled beyond recognition, the majority of the seven compositions on Dissolve into the Now are briefer than on its predecessor, with more than half compressed into under five minutes. But what that compression of time also translates to is a compression of density. Wilkinson describes the album as the ‘audio equivalent of a bag of cats’. If only it had even one cuddly feature. Dissolve into the Now is pretty bloody difficult for the most part.

Understanding the title of the first piece, ‘The Great Antagnoiser’ as a play on ‘The Great Annihilator’ (not only a Swans album, but, perhaps more significantly, the name of a microquasar surrounding a black hole in the Milky Way), it seems appropriate for this springing, glitching, fragmentary spray of sound collapsing into atomic particles. It’s like an entire library of samples splintering as they’re dragged along a conveyor belt before being sucked to their doom. It paves the way for increasingly murky, and increasingly fractured, pieces constructed from later upon later of darkness and dissonance.

‘Assimilate 5.1’ is bleak, ominous, dark; sounds that evoke flames and the screams of animals as they flee a forest fire are half-audible amidst a mid-range thrum. Shifting, scratching, rumbling… there’s much by way of atmosphere, and none of it’s pleasant of comfortable, but at the same time, there’s nothing tangible to take hold of through this ever-shifting work. Frequencies sweep in and out, bubble and burst, fizz and fade in the blink of an eye, everything fermenting in a soup of miscellanea. It’s like a neurological explosion. Time and tapes run backwards at his speed in the erasural ‘The Fact it was Removed Doesn’t Mean it Never Existed’. By this point, everything’s really starting to fuck with your head, and that’s before the dubby-bass barrage of ‘Nod to the Mu’, which might be a dance track if it wasn’t subject to being mixed by a strimmer and mastered by a wood chipper and spat out as dust and pulp.

The first of the album’s two longer tracks (running over eight minutes), ‘Sycophant They Are – Watch Them’ is a frothing, foaming, fizzing mess of flickering circuitry spasms which shares common ground with Gintas K’s work. The second of the longer pieces is the closer, ‘Assimilate 5.2’, and it’s here everything is incinerated under the roar of a jet engine, leaving nothing but scorched earth. Obliterated, dissolved, we’re left with nothing but air and the roar of silence.

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Kety Fusco: ‘Music To Make A Dream Come True’ is the new soundtrack by the harpist and sound researcher, out 4 March 2022 on Floating Notes Records.

Kety Fusco transports us to a new era, one of music to make dreams come true and the subversive sounds generated by her harp sound research. ‘Music To Make A Dream Come True’ is an imaginary soundtrack composed by the Italian-Swiss harpist, to be released on all digital platforms on 4 March 2022 on the international label Floating Notes Records. This soundtrack is the result of a sampling of sounds from Fusco’s harp, collected in a digital sound library named Beyond the Harp, Extreme Extended Experimental, available for artists, producers and art lovers on the musician’s official website.

Fusco destabilises the usual perception of the harp, moving away from the arpeggios and sound carpets that the instrument can easily call to mind, thus entering a universe that no listener would ever think belongs to a harp. Fusco has dedicated herself to transforming the sound of the harp, an instrument rich in sonic possibilities, and wishes to make its innovations available to everyone, not just harpists: "For me, thanks to my technique as a harpist learnt during my academic studies, it would be easy to produce arpeggios and soundscapes, but I don’t like playing easy. Instead, I’m interested in the harp being freed from any taken-for-granted connotations and for any kind of musician to explore it with a more punk approach".

In 3 minutes and 47 seconds of experimental music, ‘Music To Make A Dream Come True’ fuses noise, drones and screams with a magical aura. You can hear the cascades of nails on the strings, followed by vocal resonances emitted inside the harp’s sound box. Nicknamed ‘The Queen of the Electric Harp’, Fusco made exclusive use of the classical harp this time. ‘Music To Make A Dream Come True’ conveys to the world for the first time ever a new sound timbre given by the oldest instrument in the world, the harp, which Fusco has completely revolutionised in style.

The highly esoteric video clip accompanying the track was shot by Francesca Reverito and Riccardo Bernasconi of Studio Asparagus, amidst woods, harps suspended in the air like heretical-mystical instruments, evocations and dances in the grip of possession: "Kety Fusco’s sound research is very evocative and immediately triggers dreamlike images, spirits and presences, sometimes disturbing. We have always been attracted to Genre and Fairytale, which is why ‘Music To Make A Dream Come True ‘immediately ‘spoke’ to us". Fusco confirms the creepy mood of the film: "My dream? To make the soundtrack for a horror film!".

Watch the video here:

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BISOU Records/Beast Records – 18th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, there’s simply no escaping the fact that grooves and hooks are important. However wearying the conventions of rock and pop are so much of the time, there’s still a vital appeal. Sometimes you just need something to grab hold of, something to grip your short, feeble attention span. But what happens when you bring all the conventions together at once and then mash them, bash them, squash and smoosh them with joyful irreverence? It goes one of two ways: it’s a horrible hybrid mess with no cohesion, or it’s genius. Supersound is genius. It mines many aspects of those conventions to forge an album that’s got groove and hooks, while making unusual takes on country, rockabilly and post-punk, and wrapping them in an abundance of noise that’s pretty gnarly at times. It’s all in the mix – blues rock, alt-rock, grunge, even regular radio rock – but delivered in a twisted, mangled fashion that’s guaranteed to keep it off the airwaves.

The story of the creation of this masterwork is decidedly un-rock’n’roll as it involves Red (Olivier Lambin) suffering from presbyopia and purchasing a bass because it has ‘bigger frets and fewer strings’ and recruiting a collective who can actually see to play their instruments to realise his musical vision. It’s perhaps no wonder it’s a blurry haze of bits and bobs. Said lineup involves ‘two drummers, Néman (Zombie Zombie, Herman Düne) and DDDxie (The Shoes, Rocky, Gumm)’ who Red asked to create their own rhythms, plus Jex, aka Jérôme Excoffier, his lifelong accomplice, who still has excellent eyesight, who played all the guitars on the album.

A strolling bass and jagged guitar slew angular lines on ‘Normal’ that’s spineshaking swamp rock, sounding like a collision between the B52s and The Volcanoes. ‘Ready to Founce’ has all the groove and all the swagger, and has the glorious grittiness of Girls Against Boys at their scuzzy, sleaze-grind best, calling to mind ‘Rockets Are Red’. Then, ‘Shark’ sounds like Butthole Surfers covering an early Fall Song. ‘Screen Kills’ is altogether gothier, with acres of flange swathing the trebly guitar, and all paths lead to the tense, needling jabbing jangle of the final song of the album, ‘Carcrash Disasters’. It could have so easily been tempting fate, but while they veer wildly and screech around every corner on two wheels, DER remain on the road to the end of a crazy conglomeration of an album that buzzes from start to finish.

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