Posts Tagged ‘Hybrid’

Bronson Recordings

Christopher Nosnibor

Life’s short. Too short. It may not always seem it, when you’re slugging through long days in grinding employment that earns a wage that buys less by the year – or, right now, by the week – or when you’re sitting in waiting rooms in doctors or dentists or hospitals, or waiting for trains or busses, ever fewer and ever later. Life as lived, in real-time, is often a drag. But then you realise a year, three, five, ten, has evaporated while you’ve been willing each day to pass just so you can move on from it and move on to the evening, the weekend, a better future that never comes.

But even when time drags, we’re busy and don’t have time to waste on shit we don’t want to do, beyond the work, the groceries, the bill-paying, the essentials. What little leisure time we have that we’re awake enough to enjoy is too little to squander on crap that isn’t the crap we want to spent it on, meaning life’s too short for crap bands and crap music.

On opening the email urging me to listen to the latest from Leatherette, the single ‘Sunbathing’, lifted from their upcoming debut album Fiesta, out on 14th October, my heart sank as my slow, scrolling broadband, revealed a promo short of the Bologne-based quintet a segment at a time.

Turns out they’re infinitely better to listen to than they look, and ‘Sunbathing’ very much fits with everything I’ve just said about life being too short. It’s pitched as a ‘song about hope, dreaming of a better life and telling the world to go f**k itself when needed. It sounds loud, fast and rough, an irresistible punk-shoegaze anthem’, and the band explains that “‘Sunbathing’ was almost born as a joke, it came out of nowhere. We wanted to write a happy cheesy pop song and then completely destroy it from within”.

And they succeed: in the space of just over a minute and a half, they throw down a sackload of post-punk angularity delivered with a rawness that brings real bite. Drawing on a broad range of stylistic elements all tangled together, it’s simultaneously familiar-feeling and fresh, not to mention exhilarating, with squalling guitars howling through a rack of effects lurking behind a pleasant jangle and played at a frantic pace, propelled by some whirlwind drumming. It’s a rush, a clash of sensations, disaffected and yet uplifting. Short lives demand short songs, and with ‘Sunbathing’, Leatherette are spot on.

AA

5tqs_LEATHERETTEorizzfight3650

Aural Aggravation is immensely proud to present an exclusive video in the form of ‘Lifted by Marionette Strings (For Kleist)’ by Dan McClennan.

Taken from the album Unfurling Redemption released by Cruel Nature Records on 2nd September, ‘Lifted by Marionette Strings (For Kleist)’ is an unusual hybrid of neoclassical and experimentalism, balancing ominous synths and graceful piano with elements of noise to create a multi-faceted journey brimming with drama and tension.

Known for his energetic furling beats with noise-rock experimentalists Warren Schoenbright and Why Patterns, this solo release sees Daniel McClennan draw on classical and avant-garde influences such as Giacinto Scelsi; Svarte Greiner; Valentin Silvestrov; William Basinski; along with sound-artists such as Jacob Kirkegaard and The Caretaker .

Unfurling Redemption is a collection of eight assemblages comprised of synthesised instruments and freely available/stock sound samples. These assemblages explore the widely observed and seemingly inherent desire for overcoming in humankind, a dangerous proclivity for dreaming the transcendent. Particularly, the tracks pull at the problem of what we can do when these efforts inevitably drop us short of paradise, miss the mark or leave us as pyrrhic victors. Taking the form of empathetic or imagined inward reflections, they are inspired by characters in both fiction and critical discourse and take the form of unpredictable, spectral or melancholy audio ruminations. What must be done when transcendence is forever thwarted? Where then, must we seek redemption?

Watch the video here:

AA

a1220833455_10

24th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There are certain popular adages which are, frankly, and demonstrably, bollocks. The first is ‘if you can’t do, teach’. Admittedly, the state off education here in Britain means that academics at all levels are forced to teach outside their field with the scantest of time to prepare. I discovered this first-hand while working on a PhD thesis on William Burroughs and postmodernism and being tossed a semester’s teaching on Elizabethan literature. But moreover, most teachers wo get to teach in their specialist areas clearly can ‘do’ having attained a certain level of qualification. Can teachers of musical instruments also not ‘do’? Can diving instructors not drive?

And then there’s the popular notion that music reviewers are failed musicians. Perhaps the people who cast this aspersion should speak to Neil Tennant or more pertinently John Robb, Jim Irvin, and Sally Still. I might not point them in the direction of my own ongoing musical activities so much, but would highlight Oscar Quick, the man behind the ‘Needs More Cowbell’ site, where he posts considered reviews of new releases, who has recently turned in a handful of live shows and delivered the album Weaponised Soup.

In his bio, Quick explains how Weaponised Soup ‘features influences from disco, hip hop, rave and progressive rock, while remaining true to its core 80’s post punk sound. Dealing with Oscar’s experiences with insomnia, this record is a stream of consciousness during those many long nights, covering the extreme highs and destructive lows of staying awake for days at a time.’

As a lifelong insomniac, it’s relatable: the output happens because how else do you distract a fevered, restless brain that won’t let you rest? As you may guess, it’s not only a stylistic melting-pot, but also very much an album that jumps all over the place in a way which conveys the mania and erratic impulses that arise from protracted sleeplessness.

Weaponised Soup Album Cover

Opener ‘I Should Sleep’ sounds like The Pixies, only staggering weary with fatigue and mumbling, slurred, and fugue-like. But if you’re looking for reference points, look no further than the title of ‘Assorted Psycho Candy’, which is, unexpectedly, a remarkably atmospheric, downtempo trip-hop / post-rock crossover that finds Quick picking through a medley off musings. ‘Over the Garden Wall’ is a contemplative wash of Cure-esque synths and packs more than its necessary share of cowbell.

Some songs are more successful than others: ‘Chrysanthemums’ is a weird, almost baggy slice of dance that twitches with paranoia and tension and switches into frenetic territory around the mid-point, but the sub-Goldie Lookin’ Chain white rapping takes some absorption., and the New Order-esque ‘Respect for Dinner Ladies’ brings more Sprechgesang and even straight spoken vocals that likely sit in the Yard Act bracket, and in its simmering tension and up-front awkwardness, by accident or design, Weaponised Soup seems to capture the post-pandemic zeitgeist.

Something clearly changed during lockdown: artists are now talking openly about mental challenges and neurodiversity, and embracing these experiences creatively, and this is reflected in a new wave of music that refuses to be bound by genre, as Andre Rikichi’s wonderfully weird exploratory stylistic explosion on which I wrote only yesterday exemplifies.

As we continue to crawl from under the psychological rubble of the pandemic and successive lockdowns, into a new world that’s not brave, but fearful, tremulous, and ultimately fucked-up and swinging ever further to the right, these are truly terrible times – but as history shows, terrible times tend to spur the creation of great music. With Weaponised Soup, Oscar Quick forges a small but unique space in that fucked-up world, and it’s very much a good thing.

Derby-Uni-UGG-038

Bearsuit Records – 31st August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I may have mentioned it before, but I always get a buzz when I see a jiffy marked with an Edinburgh post stamp land on my doormat mat and I realise it’s the latest offering from Bearsuit records. Because while whatever music it contains is assured to be leftfield and at least a six on the weirdness spectrum, I never really know what to expect. That lack of predictability is genuinely exciting. Labels – especially micro labels which cater to a super-niche audience tend to very much know their market, and while that’s clearly true of Bearsuit, they’re willing to test their base’s boundaries in ways many others don’t dare.

Andrei Rikichi’s Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness is most definitely an album that belongs on Bearsuit. It doesn’t know what it is, because it’s everything all at once: glitchy beats, bubbling electronica, frothy screeds of analogue extranea, mangled samples and twisted loops and all kinds of noise. As the majority of the pieces – all instrumental – are less than a couple of minutes long, none of them has time to settle or present any sense of a structure: these are fragmentary experimental pieces that conjure fleeting images and flashbacks, real or imagined.

‘They Don’t See the Maelstrom’ is a blast of orchestral bombast and fucked-up fractured noise that calls to mind JG Thirlwell’s more cinematic works, and the same is true of the bombastic ‘This is Where it Started’, a riot of rumbling thunder and eye-poppingly audacious orchestral strikes. Its counterpart and companion piece, ‘This is Where it Ends’ which closes the album is expensive and cinematic, and also strange in its operatic leanings – whether or not it’s a human voice is simply a manipulation is immaterial at a time when AI—generated art is quite simply all over, and you begin to wonder just how possible is it to distinguish reality from that which has been generated, created artificially.

Meanwhile ‘At Home I Hammer Ceramic Golfing Dogs’ is overtly strange, a kind of proto-industrial collage piece. ‘What Happened to Whitey Wallace’ is a brief blast of churning cement-mixer noise that churns at both the gut and the cerebellum. Listening, you feel dazed, and disorientated, unsettled in the stomach and bewildered in the brain. There is simply so much going on, keeping up to speed with it all is difficult. That’s no criticism: the audience should never dictate the art, and it’s not for the artist to dumb things down to the listeners’ pace, but for the listener to catch up, absorb, and assimilate.

‘Player Name: The Syracuse Apostle’ slings together some ominous atmospherics, a swampy dance beat and some off-kilter eastern vibes for maximum bewilderment, and you wonder what this record will throw at you next.

In many respects, it feels like a contemporary take on the audio cut-up experiments conducted by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin in the late 50s and early 60s, and the titles only seem to further correspond with this apparent assimilation of thee random. I suppose in an extension of that embracing of extranea, the album also continues the work of those early adopters of sampling and tape looping from that incredibly fertile and exciting period from the late 70s to the mid-80s as exemplified by the work of Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Test Dept, Foetus. These artists broke boundaries with the realisation that all sound is material, and that music is in the ear of the beholder. This strain of postmodernism / avant-gardism also follows the thread of Surrealism, where we’re tasked with facing the strange and reconciling the outer strange with the far stranger within. Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness is an album of ideas, a pulsating riot of different concepts and, by design in its inspiration of different groups and ideas, it becomes something for the listener to unravel, to interpret, to project meaning upon.

Caged Birds Think Flying is a Sickness leaves you feeling addled and in a spin. It’s uncanny because it’s familiar, but it isn’t, as the different elements and layers intersect. It’s the sonic representation of the way in which life and perception differ as they collide.

AA

a3019257531_10

26th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AA

a3115324007_10

12th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

While we swelter in the middle of the hottest, driest summer on record, during which wild fires and hosepipe bands sweep the nation, people are shitting themselves about paying for heating in the winter as the cost of living crisis bites ever deeper. When a tub of butter costs £7 and people are staying home because they can’t afford to put fuel in their vehicles, it’s clear that things are beyond fucked and that this isn’t simply some post-Covid dip. This is aa cataclysmic collapse, exacerbated by shit government and capitalist greed. You see, not everyone is struggling here. The top guys, the ones who make all the money from the work of their employees, their doing ok. The major shareholders in the companies raking in profit by the million, by the billion, they’re doing ok. Bankers are landing double-figure pay-rises while the people who keep the country going – from the teaches and nurses to rail staff and refuse collectors – are queuing at food banks at the end of their working day. This crisis, then, is a crisis of social division, a crisis of capitalism.

Formed in 2018, Bedroom Tax sound nothing like Benefits, but both bands are clearly part of a growing swell of stylistically disparate but politically similar bands who exist to voice dissatisfaction, and their very name reminds us of just how hard the Conservative government has pushed an agenda to fuck over the poor.

‘Kin’ is a hybrid amalgam of indie, alt UK rap, and blues influences and they’re probably the post-millennial answer to The Streets – only they’re better than that.

‘Kin’ delves into kitchen sink territory, and blends social commentary and disaffection – not so much bile but a whole lot of downtrodden day-to-day depictions, with the jittery drumming and scratchy guitars of the twitchy verses leading into a magnificently melodic chorus that’s buoyed along by some jangling guitar work. It’s genuinely beautiful, and so well-delivered you can forgive the rhyming of ‘issues’ and ‘tissues’ in the blink of an eye.

AA

Kin - Release Artwork

Industrial/glam-rock hybrid Terminal have just issued a video for ‘Godfire’, a song from their debut album ‘Blacken The Skies’, which was released via Metropolis Records in 2021. Showcasing the heavier, almost metallic side of the group’s sound, the track would sit well on playlists featuring the likes of Rammstein, Rob Zombie or Null Positiv, while Terminal frontman Thomas Mark Anthony has previously cited Killing Joke’s Geordie Walker as an influence on his own guitar playing.

‘Godfire’ is presented in trademark Terminal style with frantic visuals and confrontational lyrics, with words such as "Seethe in razor wire / as your palace is your pyre" a ‘j’accuse’ pointed at those bad actors who have taken the Ukrainian invasion as an opportunity to commit their own misdeeds while the world’s attention is elsewhere.

For Anthony, who was born in South Africa but raised in Canada, anti-apartheid issues remain tragically timely. The video for ‘Godfire’ is dedicated to Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was recently killed by Israel’s defence forces while documenting their brutality in the West Bank. “Apartheid is unsustainable,” he states. "It will fall. We’ve seen it. But the longer it goes on, and the worse its atrocities, the harder it will be to have reconciliation instead of violent retribution.”

Watch the video here:

AA

ced69b3b5ff7b330757db67925c2b48c268a2c4c

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.

AA

BIS-020_front

Constellation – 11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Kee Avil isn’t an individual, and isn’t really a band, so much as a concept, a collective, a project, the brainchild of Montréal producer and guitarist Vicky Mettler. Debut album, Crease, is pitched as ‘a singular expression of fractured dream logic concretized in chiselled postpunk guitar, sinuous low-end electronics, a panoply of organic and digital micro-samples creating alternately twitchy and propulsive rhythm, and the anxious intimacy of her finely wrought lyricism and vocals’.

It all sounds pretty grand and sets expectations high. Thankfully, Crease doesn’t disappoint. To manage those high expectations, let’s get it established here and now that it’s not a conventional album, with easy songs with obvious or accessible verse/chorus structures.

‘See, my shadow’ starts out with hints of early PJ Harvey but swiftly spins into industrial post-punk with electro/hip-hop beats, more akin to Lydia Lunch fronting Coil remixed by Portishead. It’s a lot to happen in the space of under four minutes, but then, that’s par for the course here: Crease is as jam-packed with ideas as it is sonic strangeness. It’s not an easy album to get a grasp on, and Mettler comes across as quite otherly. Some may say crazy, unhinged, but it’s not that. It’s just apparent she exists on another plane, and Crease shuns conventional structures in favour of exploring avenues of songwriting that more closely reflect an alternative vision and concept of ‘songs’. I certainly don’t mean that as a criticism, but equally, don’t want to sound like a wanker by saying that this is art and therefor superior. I mean, it is superior, but not because of that. To unpack that a bit, Crease is clearly the product of a quite specific mindset, and a determination to find a means of articulating. And sometimes, to articulate is to go beyond language and beyond conventional musical structures. As such, what Crease articulates is a separation from the rest of the world, the turmoil of the mind, the duality of the internal monologue.

‘Drying’ is sparse, glitchy, a clicky clatter and pop of percussion providing an erratic framework for the incidental instrumentation and slowed-down, opiate-haze vocals that are at once sultry and threatening.

‘And I’ is a sparse, scratchy acoustic guitar-based song; the tense picking at times calls to mind early Leonard Cohen, and the atmosphere is muscle-tensingly taut. It’s a masterclass in how less is so much more, and as Mettler’s breathy vocal arcs over the spindly fretwork, a kind of magic happens in the way it draws you in with a hypnotic sensation. ‘Devil’s Sweet Tooth’ lunges and sways, violins teeter on the brink of a breakdown

It’s often difficult to make out the actual lyrics, so you lean in closer in an attempt to get your head and hands around them. You fail, but you’re drawn in closer to the dissonant strangeness that’s more than just music: it’s a world of disconnection and dislocation. It’s unnerving, alien, but likely better than this one right now.

AA

a2394473098_10

Not Applicable – 4th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Instant disorientation is the effect of hitting ‘play’ on Isambard Khroustaliov’s Shanzhai Acid. What the hell is this? Woozy drones and amorphous waves or warping wisps ripple and blur, and hums like a swarm of drunken bees weave precariously through an alien soundscape. I’m accustomed to experimental and sci-fi, but this… This, I was not fully prepared for. By fully, I mean at all.

It’s vaguely sci-fi in its strangeness, and I find myself blinking and bewildered in a lack of comprehension as to what it’s all about.

Welcome to the world of artificial intelligence, which may well be intelligent, but in a way that’s so artificial as to have taken leave of intuition. To unpack that, the liner notes explain that Shanzhai Acid is an album ‘produced through artificial intelligence design and interaction with modular synthesisers. Reminders of the complex, granular music of Autechre, Fennesz’s reimagined environments, the deconstructed dance music of Lorenzo Senni, and the expanse, gestures and sheer reach of Gerard Grisey’s spectral master-work: Les Espace Acoustiques, Shanzhai Acid exists in its own intersection of art, design, music and technology where process and function are transcended to produce an album of extraordinary auditory allusions’.

My initial reaction was, if I’m honest, ‘hell yeah!’ Because innovation in music seems to have slowed so badly over the last decade. No, that’s not my ageing and being stuck in the past. I’m not saying there’s been no good or exciting new music. But innovation stalled: I believe that to be pretty much fact. Because it’s pretty much all been done by now. Guitars have been taken to their limits and beyond, meaning most significant advances since the late 70s have been driven by the use and abuse of technology, and while hip hop and dance music have certainly exploited technology, we’ve not seen anything as radical as the advances made by Throbbing Gristle and the like in the last forty years.

There are points during Shanzhai Acid that both Throbbing Gristle and certain dance tropes are evoked, with crackles and fizzes and static shudders and glitches pop and hum and there is circuitry in interplay, whirring and wowing. It’s hard to tell how much meaning to attach to the titles of these pieces, or even how seriously to take it. But then serious music can have a playful element, and ‘Experts v. Shamans’ sounds like R2D2 in communication with a nightmarish fairground ride. It’s a journey – and a disorientating one at that – that leads to the seven-minute slow-grinding drone and stirring swirls and hums that build layer upon layer on ‘Meanwhile Cephalopods’. Meanwhile, cephalopods what? No, there is no what. It simply is.

Shanzhai Acid is a remarkable abstract work that delves into microtonal and glitch territory, swerves wide into drone and ambience, and scratches at the shores of early industrial and vintage avant-garde. With such wide-ranging elements scrunched together, it’s a unique hybrid and a refreshing, if at times challenging listen. And while you should supposedly never judge a book (or album) by its cover, Shanzhai Acid sounds like the cover looks.

AA

Shanzhai Acid album cover 6000px RGB