Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

Sacred Bones – 16th June 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

They’re the first to admit that this pairing may seem like an unusual one, having first teamed up for a US tour in 2019: as the bio notes, ‘Sure, both bands harness the power of big, blown-out riffs, but Boris’s rock heroics, lysergic sprawl, and monolithic sludge summon a different energy than Uniform’s mechanized bombardments and frenzied assaults.’ But often the most exciting and unexpected results emerge when pairing contrasts rather than sameness. Put two drone bands together, you can predict the outcome will be amplified drone; sludge with sludge equals more sludge, and industrial matched with industrial is unlikely to yield any great surprises. Yes, pairing like with like makes sense, it’s safe, there’s an intuition and interplay that comes from familiarity with the territory and the form, and fans will likely be happy being served a double helping of what they like.

But neither Boris nor Uniform are acts who are overly concerned with appeasement: that isn’t to say they don’t care about their fans, but more that they both trust their fan bases to be broad-minded and accommodating of the idea that creative fulfilment is integral to their existence. Even those more casually acquainted with their respective catalogues will recognise that both Boris and Uniform are driven, not by the desire to entertain, but to follow their creative instincts. The way these manifest musically are very different, but in this context, the parallels become more apparent, and it also becomes easier to understand their mutual appreciation for one another. And neither act is new to the spirit of collaboration, with Boris having have collaborated with the likes of Sunn O))), Merzbow, and Keiji Haino, and Uniform having previously released a blistering collision with The Body back in 2018, as well as remixes with Zombi more recently.

It will be news to no-one that this is big on riffs, that it’s loud and heavy, but this is a collaboration like no other: ordinarily, artists will bring their ‘thing’ to the table, and the songs will represent the meeting in the middle ground. This isn’t so much the case on Bright New Disease: the two acts are given equal billing and play evenly to their strengths and stylistic methodologies: but don’t necessarily play ‘together’ in the conventional sense. But when did either Boris or Uniform do ‘conventional’?

The album’s first track, ‘You are the Beginning’, aired online a few weeks ago, is the perfect combination of the two bands’ individual sounds: hard, heavy, the blistering harsh industrial intensity of Uniform, angular, antagonistic, crackling with the punk-tinged rage of Michael Berden, suddenly melts into a wild blitz of fretwork which paves the way for a monster thrash workout. Even the tone and texture shifts from harsh treble to murky mid-range, and it feels like a song of two halves. Quite unexpectedly, it works. When you weight up the value of any collaboration the question is always ‘is it different from or better than their independent works?’ Bright New Disease throws a curveball in that it’s a yes and a no at the same time, and that’s the genius of it.

The explosive ‘Weaponized Grief’ is a sub-two-minute blast of feedback and fury, and another thing which is notable about Bright New Disease is just how short the songs are. While there are a couple over four minutes and the finale, ‘Not Surprised’ does just creep over five minutes, the majority are significantly shorter, and condense a lot into those brief times, too.

‘No’ goes all-out grindcore / thrash in a two-and-a-half- minute flurry of churning guitars, but at the same time there’s something vaguely Spinal Tap – or Melvins –about its overblown excesses, and this may be a short album, but it’s high impact, and that’s true of much of the album: they slam down riff after riff with relish. ‘Endless Death Agony’ brings together the boldest excess of Boris with the most brutal attacks of Uniform, with a shrieking guitar solo fading out ahead of a most punishing riff with more solo mania blistering and melting on top, before the megalithic slow grind of ‘Not Surprised’ drags its way through the pits of hell.

Apart from the gloomy atmospheric suspense of the intro to ‘The Look is a Flame’ there really isn’t much respite on Bright New Disease. It’s harsh, heavy, relentless, by turns sludgy and slow, or otherwise frantic, frenetic, explosive – and packed with surprises, from the murky ambience of ‘The Sinners of Hell’ to the bubbling electronica of ‘Narcotic Shadow’ that sounds more like DAF collaborating with A-Ha and the straight-up glam pop of ‘A Man from the Earth’. Never could I have anticipated describing anything involving Uniform as ‘glam pop’. But then they kill it hard with ‘Endless Death Agony’, which is some brutal shit. Bright New Disease is everything all at once: it’s often punishing, sometimes spectacularly theatrical, and (almost) always heavy, but it’s smartly realised and expounds the importance of identity as both bands showcase and celebrate theirs in triumphant tandem.



Cruel Nature Records – 26th May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

If ever a band could be defined by constant flux and evolution it’s this Derby duo, who began life as Omnibael before becoming the more frivolous-sounding Omnibadger. Working their way through doom-grunge riffery to all-out industrial electronic noise, theirs has been an interesting journey thus far, and one that it would seem is by no means over yet.

So many acts set themselves into a mould and stick to its form for the duration of their career. Some may find a market and thrive in it, but for many, it becomes a trajectory of diminishing returns as they plough the same rut over the course of successive albums, as things become evermore predictable and wearisome, and people lose interest. But then, so many acts make a radical shift and lose a substantial part of their audience in the process. You simply cannot win.

Only, Omnibadger have done things differently: they have spent their career trying to decide who they are, meaning each release has been different, with one release often landing leagues apart from its predecessor. To say that they’ve spent their career deciding may suggest that search is now complete, but that would be a wrong conclusion: that quest continues, and likely will: Omnibager exist to eternally push the boundaries, to seek, to progress, to evolve. There is no linear progression, only expansion.

It all kicks off from the outset with ‘Lick One’, and it gives little away in many respects: it’s a semi-ambient collage of rumbling noise which gives way to tribal percussion, and it’s a confusion of collage that’s difficult to find a hold in. But that’s no criticism: it’s tedious knowing what you’re going got get for the entirety of an album from the first four bars. And this isn’t a ’bars’ album: it’s a hotch-potch sonic soup where rhythm really is not a dominant element, and at times isn’t even present at all.

‘Speeding Ground (Part 1)’ is an epic electronic exploration, stun lasers and gleeps and glops and trilling top-end drones shrill and challenging, like a Star wars scene – and then it goes hypno-prog, a thumping rhythm backing a screeding sheet of noise. And on it goes, thumping and thundering a relentless beat. At Nearly fourteen minutes, it’s a monster.

‘F.I.X.’ slams in some gnarly electro stylings, with undulating synths and insistent, fretful beats twitching away as a backdrop to howling vocals. It’s as if Gnaw Their Tongues and Cabaret Voltaire had bit in a head on collision. There’s no winner here, just a mangled, smoking mess. And as if to reinforce the point, ‘You Never Tell Me What You Think’ crashes in with a nagging bass groove and aa shedload of aggro, and battering away at a simple monotonous grind while the vocals are mixed low in a ton of reverb with the treble cranked to the max, it sound like early Revolting Cocks. Elsewhere, ‘But What I Want Is Not the Most Important Thing Right Now’ spins like an outtake from Pretty Hate Machine, all mangles electronics and gritty guitar.

Clocking in at over ten minutes, final track ‘Equations for a Falling Body’ is the album’s second monolithic piece, and it grinds and scrapes and sheers and saws it way through its duration. Within a couple of minutes, it’s built to a full-throttle racket of discordant electronic chaos, a tempest of noise.

That’s ultimately a reasonable description of Famous Guitar Licks Vol. III (their second album, which is largely guitar-free) overall: audacious, like Throbbing Gristle ironically calling their first (and second) release ‘best of’ and their second album First Annual Report.

By way of a ‘difficult’ second album, with Famous Guitar Licks Vol. III, the only difficulty is for the listener, who is faced with a harsh and challenging listen. But for all of its racket and unpredictable nature, the experience is rewarding, and even enjoyable in a perverse way.



Dret Skivor – 5th May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

The liner notes to Trowser Carrier’s A Flower For My Hoonoo, originally released in some form or another back in 2013, say everything you need to know about Trowser Carrier – the duo consisting of Dave Procter (Voice) and Java Delle (Noise) – and their purpose.

‘Noise and vocal delivery tend to occasionally focus on edgelord taboo subjects. Trowser Carrier are not like that. After 10 years, Trowser Carrier once more ask the following question – why can’t noise be nice? Find the answers amongst harsh noise and insipid words.’

Procter in particular is no stranger to the noise scene, performing as Legion of Swine and Fibonacci Drone Organ, among others, not to mention countless collaborations. and he’s no doubt encountered more than his fare share of edgelords along the way. Like many makers of noise, he’s also a fan, but not incapable of critique and criticism, and not without humour. And as such, A Flower For My Hoonoo is something that you could describe as a humorous act of rebellion – and since noise and all of the serial killer and pervo shit that is often the subject matter of noise that’s designed to shock ‘normal’ society – this is a rebellion against rebellion, an attack on cack cliché, a parody of po-faced posturing.

The result is a collection of pieces that resemble Alan Bennett fronting Whitehouse, and the track titles largely speak for themselves: ‘a nice cup of tea’; ‘this ketchup is nice’; thanks for hoovering’; and ‘I remain you humble servant’ are all representative – and it’s perhaps as well the titles do speak for themselves since most of the actual words are, in true noise fashion, largely inaudible for blasts of intense pink, white, and brown noise layered up with distortion and overloading synth meldown. ‘sausages for supper’ extols the virtues of vegetarian sausages, with lines like ‘my body is a temple… and I don’t eat The Lord’s creatures.’

From the words it is possible to make out, ‘nice’ is probably the word which appears with the most frequency after ‘the’, and the bland lyrical niceness, a porridge-slick spill of pleasantry worse than saccharine sweetness in that it’s a world of magnolia in word form. It’s like being forced to sit in a corporate ‘wellbeing’ room plastered posters of motivational quotes, only instead of pictures of beaches and sunrises as the backdrop, there are images of crashed cars and slaughterhouses as the ear-shredding electronic racket blasts relentlessly. The fact that they’re short bursts – most around the minute mark – doesn’t make it any easier on the ear: if anything, it’s worse, as the stop-start nature of the sonic assault has the same effect as various methods of torture. The ear-shredding blasts are of the bubbling crackling fucked-up analogue kind.

The ‘mix’ versions of the tracks – which double up the sixteen tracks to thirty-two place the vocals up to the fore and back off the noise (which is different), meaning Dave’s sappy words are nauseatingly clear as he gushes gratitude for tine spent washing dishes together and courteous manners.

The contrast between the aural punishment and the fist-clenchingly pleasant banalities of the lyrics is amusing and frustrating in equal measure. Procter utters these grovelingly insipid lines in a blank monotone, often repeating a singe verse twice to fill the minute of noise as it froths and sloshes and foams and bubbles and drives the meter needles to the upper limits of the red.

It’s overtly silly, but does make serious points about the genre trappings and songs lyrics and musical forms more broadly.



Christopher Nosnibor

‘I’m sorry, I’ve been busy’. We’ve probably all heard it: and most of us have probably spoken the phrase. I’m guilty, too, and hate myself for it. Everyone is fucking busy. Too busy to text, to open a message even, too busy to reply to emails, catch up with friends, too busy to fucking live. What is everyone so busy doing, and why is it that in a time when technology was supposed to make our lives easier, and in supposedly affluent western cultures, people are both fiscally porr and time-poor?

Naturally, I blame the current strain of capitalism: keep everyone too busy to live, to breathe, and too skint, and they’re not going to be protesting, they’re going to be too busy wondering where the next meal is coming from to fuck shit up. After everything, they’ve only got the juice to be ‘busy’ bingeing Netflix or the new season of The Mandalorian.

Admittedly, I have been genuinely busy parenting, publishing stuff, and writing a review a day while battling through an evermore overwhelming volume of submissions, but is that really a reason, or just an excuse? Right now, I’m not sorry either way. I keep myself to myself and I write when I can when I’m not doing laundry or cleaning or paying bills or feeding the cat

Gintas K is always busy, and he’s been having albums released at a ratee beyond that at which I can even download them, let alone listen and digest. And so it is that March and April have seen the release of three – yes, three – albums by the prodigious Lithuanian.

I must have been absolutely nuts to have set myself the task of reviewing all three together. The idea was to soak it all in with an evening of electronica, and report on what I expected to be an immersive experience. But knowing Gintas K’s work over the years, this was, in hindsight, an unlikely outcome. The headline here is that there is no overarching theme, there’ s no evolutionary trajectory, and nothing to really take hold of. But that in itself is K’s selling point: his work is exploratory, varied, sometimes playful, and often difficult.

Resonances, the first of these, ‘was recorded live, using computer, midi keyboard & controller on Autumn 2021’ and has been released by Sloow Tapes in an edition of 70 copies. It spins slow-swirling vortices around hovering hums and low-humming drones over the course of its ten, comparatively short (only a couple extend beyond four minutes), ponderous tracks. It’s perhaps one of his more varied works, both sonically and atmospherically – and Resonances really does explore atmospheres and cavernous swampy echoes.



Fluxus +/- is a split collaborative release, which finds him working with Kommissar Hjuler Und Frau on a longform track, while a piece by Wolfgang Kindermann & PAAK occupies the other, and what we get here is just shy of eighteen minutes of really weird shit, bubbling swampy noise and loose collage layering of all sorts of snippets and a mish-mash of all kinds of everything that’s not easy to digest.

And then April saw the arrival of Sound & Spaces #2, which is perhaps more Gintas K’s standard fare of bubbling, foamy froth and stuttering, stammering glitch-heavy sonic mayhem. It stutters and scuffs, bleeps and wibbles, and at times sounds like the speakers are shredding, the cones torn and flapping in the blasts of random noise bursts, while at others… well, at times it’s a foaming froth and as others, it’s really not very much at all. The pieces run into one another to create a continuous stream of crackling distortion and bibbling trickles of tweeting and twittering, and while the effect is the most incomprehensible and difficult to digest, it’s by far the most quintessentially K. If it’s what I’d expected, then what this trio of releases demonstrates is that Gintas K continues to defy expectations and to produce work that’s different and diverse.

Sound & Spaces #2


Constellation – 12th May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Ky Brooks’ solo work is, on the face of things at least, a very far cry from her output with noise-punk trio Lungbutter. This, of course, explains why it’s her solo project rather than the new addition to the Lungbutter catalogue: sometimes things just don’t belong together under the same banner.

That said, there was always a slightly experimental / arty bent to Lungbutter’s work, and it’s this which stands to the fore on Ky’s solo album. The title track is exemplary – and ultimately, fucking weird. Entitled with ‘teeth’ in parenthesis, it features a robotically-delivered monologue about ‘the integrity of the teeth’ and some weird shit over a gently gliding drift of warm, fuzzy synths. Teeth often make me think of Martin Amis, and specifically Dead Babies, but also my late grandmother who had all of her teeth removed when she was nineteen, to be replaced with false teeth she would wash with soap. I suppose you might say I’m easily triggered on account of my randomly-tripping memory which tends not to be my friend. But if it seems like an epic tangent, bear with me: it’s relevant because this is what music does: it sends you places. They’re not always good places, they’re not always or even often the places you expect, but it can open doors to recollections.

I suppose this makes the joy of music something of a double-edged sword, something I hadn’t always appreciated. You want it to open the channels and provide conduits for emotional connection, to evoke and provoke – well, at least some of us do. It’s not always comfortable or easy, but it’s about feeling something, and that emotional resonance simply cannot be found in the oil slick of mainstream middlingness, where everything is processed and pre-digested. Power Is The Pharmacy is anything but.

‘All the Sad and Loving People’ does rippling, pulsating ambience before whappy automated vocal wanders around all over it and things go strange. It’s pinned together by a slow, clacking beat that’s murky and subdued, evoking the spirit of Portishead with a smoky trip—hop vibe, which is in stark contrast to the sharp, stark spoken word of ‘Work that Superficially Looks Like Leisure’ which is unsettling in its Stepford Wives pro-conformity zeal which we instinctively understand to be false long before it turns rabid, both in its vocal delivery and crashing jazz drum explosion that rides in on a swell of expanding noise.

The Dancer’, released as a single is hypnotic, entrancing, and detached, deranged, with a looping synth blip bubbling along through sonorous scrapes and driven by an insistent, impersonal beat. You can probably dance to it, but you’re more likely to feel a growing tension as it cyclically bubbles its way over the course off nearly five minutes.

But then what do you do when immediately presented with a song like ‘Revolving Door’? It’s like Jarboe-era Swans and Big |Brave, with crushing chords providing the backdrop to a breathy, haunting vocal. You certainly don’t find a comfortable category for Ky or her work that’s for certain. ‘Dragons’ brings next-level intensity, and while there numerous comparisons which float into my mind, perhaps it’s better to highlight a unique talent rather than tame it with contextualisation.

There are so many details and textures here that make Power Is The Pharmacy an album that requires repeat listens in order to absorb them. That’s a challenge in itself, because it’s not an immediate album, and it’s a record that leaves you feeling like you need a break, to sit and stare into space for a bit after.

And perhaps that’s the way to approach this: with space, to allow it to breathe, and with no concrete expectations. The spoken word passages are very much akin to David Bowie’s Outside, I realise, and Power Is The Pharmacy could be described as a concept album of sorts. It’s certainly a strange album, but it’s interesting.


cover Ky - Power Is The Pharmacy

Everyday Is The Song is an evocatively drifting ambient-adjacent work of sampled tape, a diaristic soundwork that weaves interconnected songs out of field recordings and ephemeral music snippets featuring dozens of players in Void’s artistic community, including Owen Pallett, Sarah Pagé, N NAO, Shota Yokose and YlangYlang.

Two tracks from the album have just been made public.

‘Present Day Montage’ is one of them, and it begins as a scratchy droning chordal piece sampling organ from “I’ve Never Seen Paris In The Spring” by Philadelphian Darian Scatton’s Still Sweet project (from a rare 7-inch on Edible Onions), gradually blended with samples from a Montréal live performance recording by Acid Mt. Royal (Sarah Pagé, Maya Kuroki, Shota Yokose & Eddie Wagner). Void drops one of their trademark minimal broken-clockwork beats around the halfway mark, accentuating the sense of temporal slippage and transience. Disembodied atonal singing voices, the echoes of crowds and empty spaces, and the glistening of freight trains grinding on the tracks that run through Montréal’s Mile-End district, create a montage that melds gently otherworldly melancholy with concrete urban-industrial specificity.

“Present Day Montage” has a self-explanatory title. As one of the closing songs on the album, it was meant to evoke a time-lapse sequence that runs up to my current time and place, in relation to the years where ‘this album took place’—like those epilogues at the end of films that describe the fate of the characters. This time-lapse reveals both changes and repeated cycles, elements that stay in place and others that drift by, the sensation of both fast motion and slow stillness. — Joni Void

Listen to ‘Present Day Montage’ here:


Everest Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Guess it pays to learn to trust your sources: if I’d seen pics of these guys or simply seen mention of this release in passing, passing is precisely what I’d have done, without a second thought. It would have vert much been my loss.

A skim over the press release cause me to take pause as I read that ‘Two Dogs are Beat Keller on guitars and Joke Lanz on turntables and voice, both based in Berlin. An uncompromising union of two musical individualists who are shaking up the noise world.’

Shaking up the noise world, are they? In that case, I’m all ears to hear what these two Swiss musicians who ‘oscillate between perfect dissonance and intelligent harmony’, and who, ‘with their stripped-down instruments, Lanz and Keller create a unique language somewhere between pavement poetry and free improvisation.’ The pair both have impressive resumes, which even mention artists I’ve heard of.

‘Mom’s Birthday’ is the first track and lead single from their debut album, Songs from the Trash Can. It’s a short (sub-two-minute) glitched-out collage of whacky shit which finds Lanz half-speaking, but almost shouting, about the events which befell him on waking, namely his inability to find his toothbrush or toothpaste. But, here’s the real wince moment: he got drunk and forgot his mum’s birthday. Ah, shit. So he sings an off-key rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ by way of a belated apology. As you do when you’re probably still drunk from the night before.

‘Mom’s Birthday’ is discordant and chaotic and sits very much at the experimental end of noise: it’s also very much of the lineage from early 80s tape-looping noisemaking – think Foetus’ Deaf!.

It’s a fitting companion to ‘In the Pub’, the quirky track that’s available to stream as a taster for the album, which, with tongues firmly in cheeks, pokes droll fun at English pub culture with an astuteness of observation that should shame most natives, and in just two minutes, they capture the reasons why I avoid town pubs and miss Europe, and why these guys are great.


Two Dogs (uncredited photo)

Editions Mego – 24th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Editions Mego have since forever released ultra-niche but eternally-fascinating exploratory works. Since their inception in 1994 as MEGO, before transforming into Editions Mego, bearing eMEGO catalogue numbers, the label has given home to pretty much every significant and emerging artist working in the field of electronica given to abstraction, minimalism, glitch, and the more experimental side of things. As such, this release is a very comfortable fit in the catalogue.

As the bio details, ‘Dismantling the acoustic to feed the electronic, Editions Mego presents Telepath, the new album by Material Object. Born out of a single improvised recording session with a lone Violinist, Telepath is a startling album of future electronic music, resulting in an LP of unique and timeless tracks that reimagine a classic sound for an endless future.’

Nothing about Telepath sounds remotely like a violin in any recognisable sense. Even the long, soaring tones and strong-scrapes which sound like a violin sound, in context, processed, abstract.

It’s all about the process, of course, and it’s the literal processing and manipulation of sound which renders the output so far from the initial input. The results are interesting, to say the least.

To return to the bio for context, Telepath is presented as ‘Boldly departing from his previous canon of largely ‘ambient’ work, Material Object’s Telepath renders itself out as something much stranger, something more spacious, more subtle and gradual. Moments of bouncing minimalism meet moirés of delayed pure tones phasing in and out of resolution, giving way to a series of strobing foreground gestures arranged and offset in disorienting landscapes which scatter themselves asymmetrically amongst crystal pools of reverb.

There are moments of deep, rumbling ambience to be found here, but it’s certainly not the album’s dominant feature.

‘Enter’ isn’t quite microtonal in its focus, but does very much narrow down to an extremely small sonic spectrum in order to interrogate minor changes and the relationship between notes as they resonate and bounce off one another – and that focus is intensely concentrated, remaining fixed for some nine and a half minutes. It sets the stall for Telepath overall: the fifteen-minute ‘Hyphae’ flickers and clicks as sounds bat back and forth at a rate of rapidity that’s tension-inducing, particularly as the click-clack becomes overwhelmed by a bubbling cloud of dense sound yet remains persistently audible.

Structurally, the album alternates between longer works and shorter interludes of a couple of minutes or so: these serve, I suppose, as the sonic equivalent of palate-cleansers, and they’re necessary in breaking up the vast sonic swaths of hyper-focussed detail as interrogated over five minutes or more.

It may seem a contradiction, but while focusing microscopically on the most minute details, Telepath also covers a lot of ground. It’s all about contrast and contradictions, and arguably these are the foundations of this intriguing and often quirky work.

Following the twitchy, processed pings of ‘Thermo’, the eleven-and-a-half-minute ‘Exit’ is the perfect bookend to stand opposite ‘Enter’. And as the album leaves us reflecting the whisps of mist left in its trails, there is a hanging sense that there is something yet to come. From among the shadows, Telepath presents us with an unexpected sense of insight, both outside and in.



Cruel Nature Records – 20th April 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Regular readers – or even more casual ones – will likely have noticed that Cruel Nature releases have received a fair bit of coverage here. The Newcastle-based cassette label, and brainchild of Steve Strode, are now celebrating a decade of their existence, releasing non-conformist, way-outside-the-mainstream music, and they’re celebrating with a compilation of 23 (of course, it has to be 23) exclusive tracks recorded specifically for this release, on a label who can now boast the tagline of ‘Channelling sonic diversity since 2013’.

Spectrum very much succeeds in showcasing that sonic diversity, presenting a collection that spans ambience to brutal metal. In times past, no-one who would listen to one would listen to the other, but my own musical journey over the last decade and a half means that whereas once I’d have sneered at one and hesitated over the other, I’m now on board with both. And why not? Cruel Nature Records has spent a decade now giving a home to music that doesn’t really fit, and doesn’t conform to a specific genre.

Of the 23 contributors, a fair few of them have previously featured on these pages, so new material from them is most welcome. VHS¥DEATH are among them, and ‘Sacrifice’ is a relentless industrial hardfloor disco banger, which couldn’t be more different from the mellow jazz ambience of Aidan Baker’s contribution, ‘Grounded Hogs’. And in a nutshell, the contrast between the two tracks instantly encapsulates the ethos of Cruel Nature. Anything goes as long as it’s different and interesting.

It’s great to hear snarking antagonists like Pound Land in the same space as Nathalie Stern’s haunting atmospheres and the spare folk of Clara Engel. Pound Land deliver a gloomy grinder in the form of ‘Flies’; despite its minimal arrangement, it’s dense and oppressively weighty, not to mention really quite disturbing in its paranoid OCD lyrical repetitions.

‘K Of Arc’ by TV Phase’ is a punishing, percussion-led trudge through darkness, while Charlie Butler’s ‘Eagle’s Splendour’ which immediately follows couldn’t be more different, it’s rolling piano and soft, rippling chimes providing six and a half minutes of mellow enchantment.

Petrine Cross bring a rabid howl of utterly crushing, dungeon-dark black metal that’s as heavy and harrowing as anything they’ve done, making for a most welcome inclusion here. Offering some much-needed levity, Empty House’s ‘Blue Sky Dreamers’ is a wistful slice of breezy indie with a hint of New Order, not least of all on account of the run-filled bassline, while Katie Gerardine O’Neill swings something of a stylistic curveball with some quirky deconstructed jazz.

Also worthy of mention (although in fairness, there isn’t a contribution on here that isn’t, had I the time for a track-by-track rundown) are Aural Aggravation faves Whirling Hall of Knives and Omnibadger, with the former whipping up a mangles mess of glitching distortion and the latter – these buggers get everywhere, having featured on the Rental Yields compilation I covered only last week – mixing up a collage of hums, thunderous drones, and a cut-up melange of feedback and miscellaneous noises to discombobulating effect. Then again, the final two tracks, courtesy of Lush Worker and Lovely Wife respectively bring some mangled reverb-heavy drone-orientated avant-noise and eight and three-quarter minutes of demented, downtuned, downtempo sludgy space rock. Both are truly wonderful, and this is a superlative compilation that perfectly encapsulates the eclecticism of Cruel Nature. It’s also the perfect illustration of why we need these small labels who aren’t driven by commercialism or profits or shareholder value. For disseminating all of this weird and wonderful music – music which often challenges the very idea of music – the world is a much better place.

Fans of the label with absolutely love this, and for those unfamiliar with the label, there couldn’t be a better introduction. Here’s to the next ten years of Cruel Nature.



Front & Follow – 14th April 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

These are shit times to be alive in Shit Britain, UK Grim: having taken back our borders, this green and pleasant isle is floating in a sea of shit – literal shit – that we’ve pumped out onto our beaches for our domestic holidaymakers to swim in, and we have 16-hour quest to leave the country to go on holiday for those who want to escape for a bit – damn those French bastards for checking the passports off non-EU visitors. But hey, at least we got rid of all of those foreigners working on coffee shops and bars for minimum wage and those doctors from overseas, right?

And yet, while the cost of living is spiralling, major corporations – and not just energy providers – continue to push up prices, not to cover the cost of paying their workers, but to preserve profit margins. It’s not that they can’t afford to increase wages, they simply won’t because capitalism is built on maximising profit. Fuck the staff, look after the shareholders. And of course, rent continues to rocket: landlords, too, need to protect their rental yields

An investigation undertaken in behalf of The Guardian late in 2022 found that ‘asking rents on new listings are up by almost a third since 2019, and some people are facing increases of up to 60%. Prices in 48 council areas are now classed by the Office for National Statistics as unaffordable when compared with average wages’.

The trouble is, capitalism is based on exploitation, and invariably, the wealthy become wealthy and grow their wealth through the exploitation of the less wealthy.

There is an irony here: in nature, the most successful parasites achieve a symbiotic relationship with their host. Under capitalism, the parasites seem determined to kill the host (the poor) on the premise that there will always be more. But then, the same is true of the human relationship with the planet: only, the resources are finite and there isn’t another planet, so we’re fucked.

The accompanying text pulls no punches in explaining the context:

“As we travel further into the year of our overlord 2023, the cold snap that had enveloped the country no longer seems to mock us as we struggle to complete the simplest of daily tasks. With public services at a standstill as the people actually doing the jobs fight tooth and nail for honest payment and work prospects, the rest of us eke out a little more of the heat reserve to keep us going as the ice finally begins to thaw. But the Rental Yields do not stop. The opportunity to make hay while the sun refuses to shine carries on as if no one was suffering. The money continues to be made and the towers in space continue to be built. Dark shadows now dominate the skyline of a city that has been forgotten to the wishes and demands of the few. Some will say this is the progress promised by those in charge of levelling up. But many others will suffer as the bankrolls of the rental yielders grow ever fatter. Still, the spring brings promises of its own.”

What makes life in this endless torrent of shit in which we’re all sinking is that there are some people who aren’t cunts, and who go out of their way to make the quality of life better for others, as well as themselves. The guys who run Front & Follow are among them, as are the many, many artists who have contributed to the Rental Yields compilation series, of which this is the fourth, showcasing tracks by myriad underground acts, remixed by myriads more in an exercise in infinite cross-pollination.

Featuring 26 new tracks and 52 artists, all money raised from this release will go to SPIN (Supporting People in Need), whose purpose is to feed, shelter, clothe and generally support the homeless and people in need of Greater Manchester.

As with the previous instalments, Volume 4, is very much geared towards ambient and more sedate electronica. With so many tracks and such an epic duration, and given the nature of the material, Volume 4 is a wonderfully immersive experience.

The overall quality is, again, excellent – meaning it’s consistently great across the duration and there’s nothing that makes you feel inclined to hit skip. There are, as always some names that leap out for a range of reasons: Kemper Norton. Yol, Omnibadger, The Incidental Crack, Field Lines Cartographer, Sone Institute – but the main point of this is not the names, but the merits of collaboration and collectivism.

Some tracks do stand out, notably ‘Acid Bath’ by BMH vs Lenina for it’s pumping beat, and CuSi Sound vs Robbie Elizee’s ‘I’m Not A Tourist, I Live Here’ for its overt wibbly synth weirdness, for starters. ‘The Enamel Hamper’ by Cahn Ingold Prelog vs The Ephemeral Man is a nine-and-a-half-minute dark psychological drift, while Omnibadger vs Grey Frequency’s ‘Speeding Ground (Part iii)’ is a glitchy, collaged morass of disorientation, with layers of noise, tribal drumming, and disembodied vocals, and ‘Home on the Whalley Range’ by Opium Harlots vs Yellow6 combines dark ambient, murky noise, and a hint of The Cure’s ‘Pornography’ to forge something intensely claustrophobic.

Solo1 vs yol’s ‘Black Spoons And Crosses’ is a collision of ambience and noise that will twist your brain, and the sonorous drones of Laica vs Learn to Swim’s ‘High Yields, Low Prospects’ is a doomy post-punk affair with an agitated drum machine hammering away amidst a sea of murk, and both the title and sound encapsulate the sentiment and the message of the album as a whole.

It is, once again, a triumph, not only artistically, but socially: the Rental Yields series is the epitome of community. And while our government speaks of community while acting in every way to destroy it, promoting division by every means, and social media has become a warzone whereby the goal is achieved, musicians are showing the way. This, this is how we will survive the shit and create a better future.