Posts Tagged ‘instrumental’

Hypershape Records – 22nd October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Chronology can be a real bitch sometimes. Linearity is incredibly overrated. How can it be that even now, the world can be so far behind William S. Burroughs’ concept that the conventional novel in its staid, conventional, linear form is passe, and ultimately fails to represent life as it’s lived? Iron Speaks is a release that may trouble some sequential obsessives, as it was in fact recorded before 2020’s Deathless Mind, the fifth album from Stephen Āh Burroughs, formerly known as Stephen R. Burroughs of heavy makers of noise Head of David. Since 2013, he’s pursued subterranean channels of darkness via the medium of fundamentally ambient music, but with an ancient and spiritual undercurrent.

As the press release explains, ‘Iron Speaks has become known as the ‘lost’ Tunnels of Āh album since it was abandoned as the fifth album release due to it sounding ‘unengaged’ to writer Stephen Āh Burroughs; until now. After reworking the original material, Iron Speaks emerges as a rediscovered official sixth album release.’

This is perhaps to overstate the album’s mythology – being shelved for a time is one thing, but to attain ‘lost’ status within three years another. Nevertheless, fans who’ve been keen about this album’s development will likely be happy with both its eventual emergence and its content, which is predominantly a dark whorl of bleak, churning ambience laced with a ghoulish shriek of feedback and general top-end tension. And tense it is: the six pieces bleed together to forge a continuous work that offers no respite and continually works at the psyche and the gut, twisting and gnawing at both. Time stalls, and you find yourself sucked into a subterranean space that’s dark and disorientating.

According to the accompanying blurb, ‘The material deals with the transitional stages of life and death, and it’s an ominous possessive piece of work. As ever though, the darkness of Tunnels of Āh’s output stems from and towards a place of infinite light.’ None of this is so readily apparent on listening, with any light feeling particularly distant as Burroughs leads the listener deeper and deeper through tunnels that rumble and surge with dense walls of noise – and sometimes, it hurts as the weight of it all bears down on the listener. It’s a rich, dense, elemental sound, born of earth and minerals.

We’re told that ‘The title, Iron Speaks, is a reference to the chapter in the Koran which states that iron emerges from the heavens as a gift to mankind. This is often graphically depicted as a blazing ball of molten fire approaching its earthly target, and that image perfectly encapsulates the sonic dynamism of this album. This album is a consuming experience as it slowly enters its intended orbit to its chosen point with inevitable crushing impact.’ The tile track does indeed pack that crushing impact, an oscillating tumult of treble atop layers of rhythmic squalling; in contrast, ‘Every Hour Wounds’ inflicts a different kind of pain as the lower-end notes bounce like oxygen bubbles in murky water in a deep, dark pool. Ominous drones and hums hover before an industrial slash of sheet metal strikes.

The album’s six pieces all sit around the seven- or eight-minute mark, and are densely-textured, and often quite oppressively heavy works. The first, ‘Wardens’ is a smog of bubbling murkiness, where the sound churns ad churns, like dense cloud and uncomfortable gut churning. Long strains of feedback scrape out over a barren wasteland, and ominous hums and drones hover over heavily-textured earth-shifting grind. It’s ultimately not really about ‘engagement’, but about tone texture, and atmosphere, and this is bleak, dense, and uncomfortable, and in a way that draws the listener in. Thunder rumbles, and the experience is quite discomforting. It’s more than that: it’s claustrophobic, suffocating. ‘Terminus Est’ clanks and chimes and booms out dolorous, depressing notes that offer no space to breathe or to reflect. It leaves you feeling compressed, and if not necessarily anxious, then far from relaxed or soothed, but instead on edge and unsettled – and this is why Iron Speaks is a strong work: it has the capacity to have a palpable effect on the listener.

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After a painfully long and undeliberate break, Toundra return from the isolation of their homes to present their new album Hex, which is set for release via InsideOutMusic on January 14th, 2022.

Toundra practically disappeared when the world stopped in March 2020. The outbreak of this global pandemic caught them loading their van to present their last reference in Europe so far: “Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari”. After presenting it in Madrid, Zaragoza and Barcelona, ​​on the same Monday that they returned to their daily jobs, the band decided to cancel their umpteenth European tour. Things looked bad. What happened next, we all know, and it is too hackneyed and serious a matter to be dealt with in a record press release.

Toundra returned to their homes. This time divided between the band’s native city of Madrid and the Cantabrian coast, where two of its members settled just before the squares and streets were empty. The distance and the difficult situation did not make them relax and sit by idly. If Toundra have shown one thing since their formation in 2007, it is the band’s hyperactivity and the need to keep moving forward, looking ahead and not at their shoelaces.

The band members bought the necessary equipment to be able to set up small and indecent studios in their homes and began to send ideas for new songs in a chaotic way at first. Without knowing very well where they were going or knowing very well what they might find. In the summer of 2020, the band began meeting in Madrid again to review the material that had been sent. The composition sessions were accompanied by constant talks about where to go with this eighth studio album (if we count “For those still living”, the album that was released by that side project called Exquirla).

The band states:

“Writing each new Toundra album means doing a job to find each other as a band. From our most innocent early days we have been self-righteous enough to take every step that we have taken as a band too seriously maybe. Every time we think about writing new albums we even suffer for it. This album means a job in which the four of us have rediscovered what we wanted to do without really knowing how we did it. The ideas were coming up in a chaotic way during the first months until little by little we saw how everything was being arranged in various notebooks and on the blackboard of our premises. Finally, the extreme cruelty that we can see around us (closer and closer) served as a catalyst to be able to give order to a lot of ideas, songs and, ultimately, to this new album. We are looking forward to finally presenting it to the fans now.

The composition work led them to finish the demos for their new album “HEX”, under the always faithful sight of Raúl Rodríguez, in May 2021. The next step was to trust Sati García again, who transferred them to Cal Pau studios again. (Vilafranca del Penedés, Barcelona) and Ultramarinos Costa Brava (Sant Feliu de Guixols, Girona) to record the seven cuts of this new album. Seven cuts that actually make up five songs. On July 30, 2021, the band obtained a new master’s degree and Mr. García could finally sleep peacefully. “HEX” will be released on January 14th, 2022 via InsideOutMusic. See the new album artwork here:

Today, “El Odio. Part I” is released as the first single from Toundra’s new album Hex. It is the first of three singles that will later form one long piece of music. For the video of “El odio. Parte I” the band collaborated with Asturian director Jorge Carbajales. Watch the video here:

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‘Kalahari’ is the opening track on All Becomes Desert, an album of improvised analogue soundscapes by London based musician and composer Ian Williams that evokes the hostile beauty of the most spectacularly empty places on earth. The velvety warm, undulating tones of his Roland Juno 106 provide a perfect setting for the meditative sonic backdrop of the piece.

In regard to its video, Williams explains that “it was originally planned to be shot with a nine strong crew during a two week safari to the hostile climes of the actual Kalahari desert, honest, but due to circumstances beyond our control – scuppered by the pandemic, would you believe it – we had to improvise a Plan B, sticking a sand art picture in front of an iPad, which, we’re pretty sure, will be convincing to the vast majority of viewers. And it still looks really cool, so who’s complaining?”

Listen here:

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Enigmatic animal-mask-clad folk-horror band Ghosts of Torrez have resurfaced with new single, ‘The Return’, out now on Prank Monkey Records.

Watch the video here:

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Enigmatic animal-mask-clad experimental-folk-horror band Ghosts of Torrez first appeared on the scene in 2017, under the name of Bong Torrez, receiving some interest due to featuring on the horror animation short "The Place", described by Horror News Net as "Simply Gorgeous".

Since then, they’ve been beavering away on a number of tunes, taking their time until resurfacing this year with a new name and a slightly more electronic, psych sound from their indie, folk roots.

‘The Return’ is the first release from these secluded sessions and has already won the Audition show poll on Amazing Radio as well as featuring on Fresh On The Net’s Eclectic Picks playlist. The track is an intriguing cinematic instrumental piece, swathed in a mysterious darkness that’s underpinned by intricate acoustic arpeggios and a solemn drum machine.

Following the first film/single, ‘Riptide’, Japanese instrumental rock band MONO unveils ‘Innocence’, the second film/single from the band’s 11th album, Pilgrimage of the Soul.

As with ‘Riptide’, the film for ‘Innocence’ was directed by the Spanish film collective, Alison Group. Watch the short film now:

Recorded and mixed – cautiously, anxiously, yet optimistically – during the height of the COVID- 19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, with one of the band’s longtime partners, Steve Albini, Pilgrimage of the Soul is aptly named as it not only represents the peaks and valleys where MONO are now as they enter their third decade, but also charts their long, steady journey to this time and place.

Continuing the subtle but profound creative progression in the MONO canon that began with Nowhere Now Here (2019), Pilgrimage of the Soul is the most dynamic MONO album to date (and that’s saying a lot). But where MONO’s foundation was built on the well-established interplay of whisper quiet and devastatingly loud, Pilgrimage of the Soul crafts its magic with mesmerising new electronic instrumentation and textures, and – perhaps most notably – faster tempos that are clearly influenced by disco and techno. It all galvanizes as the most unexpected MONO album to date – replete with surprises and as awash in splendor as anything this band has ever done.

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Kety Fusco is to harp what Helen Money and Jo Quail are to cello.

One year after the release of her debut album Dazed, the young Italian-Swiss harpist and composer Kety Fusco gives us a very personal version of the famous song ‘Gnossienne N.1’ by Erik Satie. In this modern reinterpretation, which Kety has entitled ‘Ma Gnossienne’, the harp is used in an unconventional way to generate sounds that have nothing to do with its classical timbre. The entire sound system is set up with sounds of vinyl scratched on metal strings, objects struck on the soundboard of the pre-sampled classical harp, and analogue effects manipulated live.

Switzerland-based Kety Fusco has embarked on a unique harp sound research. She works with Delta Electric Harps from Salvi Harps, who have taken Kety on as their official Ambassador. Her exploration of harp and effects technology began successfully with the debut of her album Dazed, described by Swiss critics as "a white fly". Kety Fusco has over 80 concerts throughout Europe, and she is working on the first world’s sound library of non-traditional harp sounds.

Watch her perform ‘Ma Gnossienne’ here:

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Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings – 2nd April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

This is one of those albums you can judge by its cover – and title. Golden Threads From Riven Rot continues to trace the same themes of death and decay as its Inverted Grim Mill predecessor, The Sea To Which The Body Is Drawn.

The liner notes promise Wreaths’ ‘signature swells of fragile strings [which] drift and fluctuate throughout, laying down a thick atmosphere that draws the listener in. While there’s a swamp of sadness to be sinking in, there’s also a hopeful tone.’

The hope isn’t always immediately apparent, and it’s the bleakness of eternity stretching out with nothing to grasp hold of that dominates the album’s eight pieces, the majority of which extend beyond the six-minute mark, giving them room to fully immerse and envelop the listener. The compositions are rich in texture, and the long, slow, droning swells of sound – not notes, not chords, just dense, yet at the same time wispy and intangible, like layers of smoke or fog hanging in the air. The grand sonic vista of ‘The Throes of Them’ is defined by a slowly pulsating rhythmic chime, while ‘That’s How Buildings Burn Down’ grows deeper, darker, denser as it progresses, a rumbling lower-end drone sonorous and heavy beneath the creeping stealth of the top layer, a thin, stratospheric drone that twinkles and shimmers.

The theme of decay dominates the bleakly suffocating smog of ‘Words Come to Rot in the Throat’, the title conjuring the sensation of all the thoughts we fail to articulate as the rise and catch in our throats and remain unuttered, for fear, for shame, for cowardice. Where do those words go? Sometimes, we swallow them back down, but something remains lodged and decaying as those recollections return and manifest as angst and self-loathing. Here, the sounds quiver tremulously as they linger, lost, directionless in the darkness.

Originally self released as a digital album, this CD reissue of Golden Threads From Riven Rot includes the lengthy final ‘lost’ track, ‘A Cloak For Rotting In’. Where it’s been and for how long is unclear, but it’s a sixteen-minute expanse of cold sonic desert. Strings scrape and whine as they suffer in quiet solitude and a sepulchral chill descends. It’s a gloomy, dolorous affair, steeped in sadness.

After Golden Threads From Riven Rot has drifted into nothingness, it leaves you cold, shaken, somehow empty and adrift. The prospect of moving feels beyond attainment, and there is nothing you want to do or listen to afterwards, but sit and bask in the faded silence.

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11th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes I find myself in a state of confusion. Sometimes / often. Admittedly, work fatigue, lockdown fatigue, parenting, and beer on an evening are all likely contributors on many an occasion, but sometimes, I’m almost certain that life and situations are simply addling and that’s all there is to it. E42.A8’s press release is a source of a degree of bewilderment for me, as they outline their latest release thus:

‘E42.A8 lies between a place, a process, a group or several, or maybe as we were introduced in Frankfurt once: a Musikkapelle. We like to think that what matters are the following guiding notions: freedom, play with opening(s) & interaction, resulting in music marked by textures, variations between pulse & stretch, moments of varying intensities, détournements (Verwandlung?), oscillations in saturation and silence.’

IIIII is in fact a compilation, a double CD, which draws on a morass of releases spread across downloads, CDr and one tape, and features 21 musicians, in varying ensembles, from 2 to 9 people, recorded during the first five years of the collective’s existence. Said collective, which operates around a ‘disused farm/barn in the countryside in Picardie ( a region spread over the north of France +southern Belgium’ is centred around improvisational works, and as the fifteen pieces, which span a whopping 141 minutes – which isn’t far short of two and a half hours – and which makes listening to this in full a serious time commitment. The chances are that few listeners are likely to repeat it more than once or twice.

And while most of the compositions are under the eight or nine-minute mark, there are are handful of absolutely epic works that sit in the twelve to twenty-one minute mark that really illustrate the expansive plains E42.A8 ere capable of exploring when given the time and the space, and of course, the right atmospherics.

As one might expect from such a loose framework of musicians improvising over such a time-span, this is a pretty mixed bag, centred around immense drones, grinding organs and elongated oscillations. At its best, it’s haunting, evocative, unsettling, while at its worst its clunky, uncoordinated, experimental but without focus. And that isn’t a problem: the avant-garde and the postmodern so often delights in revealing its workings, demystifying the creative process, pulling apart the myth of the ‘creative genius’. IIIII reveals E42.A8 to be multi-faceted and willing to take risks in the interest of progression, of artistic evolution.

Insectoid skitters and creeping drones, scrapes, and all kinds of bleeps and twitters and stream-like trickles combine to forge the peaks and troughs, gulfs and chasms which make up this immense work. Heavy clanks like the sound if a blacksmith mishitting his equipment as shards shower everywhere in such an enclosed space. Chinks and stammers and fractured tonal cracks break the surface, and disruptions and discord and discombobulations abound.

A track-by-track analysis would be even more pointless than Brexit or an episode of Pointless, because this isn’t a work that has standout tracks: compilation it may be, but ultimately it’s an immense document which collates a vast library of experimental ambient electronic works which will shred your brain, make your eyes pop leave you feeling bewildered overwhelmed, which is, in context, a measure of artistic success.

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‘Love Poem’, the second video from Los Angeles-based instrumental outfit TEETHERS’ eponymous first EP; all the songs are from drummer Andrew Lessman’s book of compositions.​ Lessman is a drummer known in the L. A. underground for his chameleonic contributions to a roster of projects whose jazz, avant garde, and indie pop scenes don’t always intersect.

Watch the video here:

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Most of these pieces were written during Lessman’s days studying at the California Institute of the Arts under Wadada Leo Smith. This is also where Andrew met the irreverent psycho-talents who now 10 years later play on this first TEETHERS EP… sometimes it takes time to cultivate a group sound that does justice to the sound in one’s head. Joining Andrew in the studio on these recordings are: Graham Chapman on bass, guitarist Alexander Noise, Joe Sanata Maria and Ted Faforo on saxophones and Stefan Kac on tuba. Laced into this moody wordless music, like a delicious mushroom chocolate, is a humble nudge to look past the decaying fetters of our assumed boundaries and imagine new organizational forms.

Andrew grew up in a suburb of Chicago called Elgin with a single mom who worked as a dental hygienist. With no musicians in the immediate family, his musical awareness came from playing trombone in the middle school band and listening obsessively to Q101 (“Chicago’s Home for Alternative”).

At age eleven, after making fart noises on a rented trombone for a year, he received a $200 Hohner drum kit as a birthday reward, and promptly formed a Nirvana cover band with his buddy Jim. It was a good start, but at age thirteen everything changed. His mother had been fighting cancer for about six years and it spread out of control and took her life. It was decided that he and his sister would leave Illinois to go live with his jazz musician father in San Diego.

It was a painful loss, but dialectically embedded in this loss was opportunity for growth. On the first day of high school, he made fast friends with some punks on the quad who’d also just gotten some instruments, and they started a band called The Irrelevants. Through hardcore punk, they learned how to channel teen angst into volume and speed. They wore ugly homemade clothing, hated the government, smoked weed out of apples, and booked quite a bit of DIY shows.

At the same time, his dad was a professional gigging musician and his home was a constant hangout for many of the great players in the San Diego scene. His dad’s record collection confronted him with the confusing sounds of Miles’ “Kind of Blue”, Ornette’s “Shape of Jazz to Come”, Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”, and Art Blakey’s “Freedom Rider”. These sounds were incredible, and his dad was there to help demystify it. Within a year of obsessively drumming along to those records on the same $200 Hohner kit, he started sitting in at his dad’s gigs, booking gigs of his own, and picking up lessons from local legends like Charles McPherson.

One of his dad’s friends, drummer and educator Duncan Moore, thought he would benefit from attending UCSD’s summer jazz camp, so he pulled a few strings to squeeze him in last minute. Since all lessons with the drum faculty were full, he was randomly given a lesson with Wadada Leo Smith, the iconoclast composer and trumpeter who in the 60s helped start the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). From this very first meeting, he permanently broke Andrew’s brain and got him thinking about composition. His advice on thinking beyond rhythm, melody and harmony to make creative use of musical form was like jumping from 3D to 4D. Andrew spent the next year shedding for college audition tapes and he ended up following Wadada to the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.

Constellation – 2nd April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Godspeed You! Black Emperor are a band I’ve long found perplexing. Not musically: that they stand as one of the definitive post-rock acts is irrefutable, and the reasons why are evident in pretty much every track they’ve released. Moreover, having started out back in 1994, releasing their debut album in ’97, they more or less invented the genre. But there is clearly a lot more to this perversely enigmatic collective, who have spent a career eschewing all industry conventions, refusing to give interviews, and identifying as anarchists, with left-wing themes and ideologies running through their work.

But perhaps one thing that is often overlooked is a certain absurdist humour that’s occasionally evident in the work of a band who have also released material as God’s Pee, and Pee’d Emp’ror. This in no way undermines the seriousness of the band, so much as it indicates they’re more multifaceted than popular perceptions indicate.

As Kitty Empire wrote in The Guardian in 2002, ‘When they made the cover of the NME in 2000, they did not actually appear. The background image was of a cloudy sky, broiling with portent. In place of the traditional sucked-in-cheek band photograph, a quote appeared, from the opening monologue on Godspeed’s debut album, the snappily-titled f#a#OO: ‘the car’s on fire and there’s no driver at the wheel and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides and a dark wind blows’. And yes, it sounds portentous, even vaguely pretentious even, and certainly suggests high art. But maybe it – and they – aren’t as serious as all that? Maybe there’s something parodic in their intent. Maybe they’re the KLF of post-rock?

Their latest offering, the curiously-titled G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! only furthers that notion. Not that their music sounds anything but deadly serious, and the band’s statement which accompanies the release reinforces their political position from a bleak standpoint:

this record is about all of us waiting for the end.

all current forms of governance are failed.

this record is about all of us waiting for the beginning,

and is informed by the following demands=

empty the prisons

take power from the police and give it to the neighbourhoods that they terrorise.

end the forever wars and all other forms of imperialism.

tax the rich until they’re impoverished.

And then they sign it off as God’s Pee.

The press release interestingly points to the band’s non-conformist tendencies, citing ‘the heretical anarcho-punk spirit of the title’ and pitching an album on which ‘Godspeed harnesses some particularly raw power, spittle and grit across two riveting 20-minute side-length trajectories of noise-drenched widescreen post-rock: inexorable chug blossoms into blown-out twang, as some of the band’s most soaring, searing melodies ricochet and converge amidst violin and bassline counterpoint.’

But that’s two side-long tracks (plus a couple of interludes – because in the world if GY!BE, six minutes is an interlude, and the two shorter tracks are presented on a 10” that comes as an addition to the 12” vinyl album, which actually makes more sense than the digital version, but then, vinyl often makes more sense, especially where bonus material is concerned): you know that this isn’t some shift towards snappy protest music or anything that’s even vaguely overtly ‘punk’ – at least stylistically. Although I would argue that the most punk thing anyone can do is their own thing and refuse to be swayed by trends or peers. So perhaps G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! is the pinnacle of punk in 2021. It certainly isn’t radio-friendly, pop, rap, or R’n’B orientated.

The first track – the snappily-titled twenty-minute behemoth ‘A Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind) (4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz) / Job’s Lament / First of the Last Glaciers / where we break how we shine (ROCKETS FOR MARY)’ is effectively an album condensed into one longform composition, a mess of overlayed vocal samples, ambient noise, field recordings, and heavy guitar that displays a droney / psychedelic bent. At times it’s overloading, distorting, but in contrast, certain passages bring it right down to a low throb and chiming top notes. And just shy of the eight-minute mark, the build breaks into the album’s first monumental, sustained crescendo. That crescendo hits an expansive motoric bliss-out and just keeps on going… and going. And things really step up once again around the thirteen-minute mark with some serious heavy guitars. The folksy passage that follows the comedown is both sedate and surprising, and it ends with gunshots and death. I’m speculating, but it seems fitting.

‘Fire at Static Alley’ begins as a volcanic eruption, before yielding to a steady, stately tom beat at a sedate, strolling pace and chiming guitars that are the very quintessence of post-rock. It’s haunting and atmospheric, and provides a moment of respite before crackling radio dialogue disperses among static and trilling wails of enigmatic electronica. A collage of extraneous sounds, cut and overlayed rises before a ponderous bass wanders in hesitantly to change the trajectory of ‘GOVERNMENT CAME” (9980.0kHz 3617.1kHz 4521.0 kHz) / Cliffs Gaze / cliffs’ gaze at empty waters’ rise / ASHES TO SEA or NEARER TO THEE’ – another multi-sectioned, multi-faceted beast that’s a collision of post-rock, progressive, and experimental. At its many, soaring peaks, it’s a full-tilt psychedelic rock behemoth, which soars off toward the end into altogether trippier territory.

If ‘OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (for D.H.)’ sounds aggressive in its capitalisation, it manifests rather more gently as an expansive ambient composition, which makes for a pleasant and majestic closer.

Matters of formatting make this a difficult release to assess as an ‘experience’, which is likely to differ depending on one’s format of choice. But to take AT STATE’S END! as its two tracks, with their cumbersome titles and multiple segments, it’s by turns intense and soothing – and without question an essential addition to the GY!BE catalogue.

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