Posts Tagged ‘Jazz’

Cruel Nature Recordings – 29th January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The description sets the scene and the expectation perfectly: ‘True Archweigian Improve-Free-Grind-Noise-Experimental-Avant-Jazzcore. John Coltrane quadruple booked on the same stage as Extreme Noise Terror, Swans and The Incapacitants.

It sounds horrible and utterly brain-frying, and it is. ‘Deep Pan Magna Carta’ launches the album – a whopping sixteen-track sprawl that reveals something of a fixation with wolves and goats – with a barrage of crashing, chaotic percussion, gut-churning bass, wild horns and tortured vocals that spew larva from the very bowels of hell. And they’re clearly intent on dragging you there with them, into the pit of pain, because there is absolutely no fucking let-up. This is everything all at once – and while it’s relentlessly and uncompromisingly nasty, it certainly doesn’t confide itself to any one style – and as for genre, it’s a crazed hybrid mash-up, seemingly intended to inflict maximum pain – and if this is indeed the objective, they succeed.

Most of the tracks are around the minute mark – but actually feel much longer, as they drag and dredge their way through the deepest sludge. Believe it or not, that’s not a complaint or criticism, so much as an observation on how it feels to be brutally battered from all sides at once. There is, undoubtedly, an element of endurance required here.

As the band’s name and whacky, irreverent and possibly irrelevant (it’s impossible to tell without being able to decipher the lyrics) song titles suggest, we should probably only take this so seriously. But then, as the best comedians will tell you, comedy is serious business, and so it would seem is slugging out the harshest, brutal mess of noise.

Before long, they’re in full-tilt frenzied grindcore territory: ‘Wolf Goat’ is nine seconds of snarking and blastb(l)eats, followed immediately by the thirty-six second ‘Goat Wolf’, another blast of carnage that thunders at a thousand miles an hour. There’s some black metal nastiness in the mix when the snarling vocals deliver a snarling acappella intro to ‘hash, Weed, Pills, Saurkraut’. ‘Red sausage’ is about the only phrase I can pull out of the frenetic thrash that follows.

‘Natural Born Testicle’ takes a different turn: a howling blizzard of shrieking electronics and clean shouting, it’s a wild swing into power electronics, and is more reminiscent of Whitehouse than anything else.

It’s the manic horn action that really makes Blood & Stomach Pills the experience that it is. It’s chaotic, discordant, and above all, incongruous – but then again, it calls to mind the jazz-coloured noise of GOD, as well as recent work by Sly and the Family Drone – but this is probably the grindiest permutation of such crazed free jazz I’ve encountered yet.

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Hummus Records – 23rd October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Well of course my interest was piqued: Convulsif’s fifth album, pitched as a work of ‘self-inventing gloomy rock in the abyss between such subgenres as noise, metal, jazz and grindcore’ likely to appeal to fans of GOD, Godflesh, Swans, Naked City, Napalm Death, Painkiller, Boredoms, and Neurosis. It doesn’t get any more of my noisy industrial-favouring bag than that – not least of all because the referencing of short-lived Godflesh / Techno Animal offshoot GOD seems wilfully perverse. Let’s face it, what is the real scope for techno-hued jazz/grind crossover?

The Swiss quartet eschew conventional rock instrumentation with a lineup featuring bass, drums, bass clarinet and drums, and I can already hear many wailing about the lack of guitars. Hearing the cacophonous freeform racket they conjure, however, would be enough to make even more wail, and certainly not just about their unconventional band makeup, and just to enhance the album’s commercial appeal, the bleak set’s titles are all cut up and mashed up lines of Charles Darwin’s Beagle Diary.

The first cut, the seven-minute ‘Buried Between One’ is dominated by the gut-churning, nausea-inducing rhythm section stylings of Swans circa Filth and Cop – the drums explode like volcanic detonations, slow and sporadic, and the lumbering low end stops and starts and lurches woozily, while everything else on top is just discord, and as the track progresses, it all whips into a hellish maelstrom, a brutally sustained crescendo that leaves you wondering ‘where’s left to go from here?’

The elongated drone, low, sonorous, ominous, that introduces ‘Five Days of Open Bones’ provides some respite, , before dolour bass and brooding violin drift in; the atmosphere is dense and grows from a mist to a fog as the drumming builds… the tension increases… they sustain it, but you now it’s surely a matter of time before something yields… the clarinet ebbs and flows like a layer of synth, but the fact this is organic and orchestral somehow ads something else… and then… and then… Anyone familiar with the last incarnation of SWANS will now what it’s like to endure such a seemingly endless build. It’s exhilarating and torturous in equal measure. Your heart’s palpating and your lungs feel ready to burst and you think you might vomit… and then it all breaks into a frenetically frenzied jazz noise of parping horns and hundred mile-an-hour drumming. No, that’s not right. Surely. But then, this isn’t SWANS, this isn’t your regular avant-industrial: this is the kind of experimental freakout that’s right at home at Café Oto, and ‘Five days’ feels literal in its timespan.

A couple of brief, lurching interludes make for more difficult listening, with ‘Surround the Arms of the Revolution’ sounding like ‘A Screw’ played by a drunk jazz ensemble, paving the way for the fourteen-minute finale that is ‘The Axe Will Break’, which is constructed around a tight, cyclical bass motif, which is again, decidedly jazzy in a Sly and the Family Drone sense. The endless repetition is mesmerising, hypotonic, and the tension builds almost imperceptibly… but build it does. It grinds it way through a merciless squall of noise through which filters mournful woodwind that flickers hints of post-rock reflection before being submerged in the swelling surge of chaos. The final five minutes – an eviscerating sustained crescendo of monolithic proportions – is little short of devastating. Jazz isn’t always nice.

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The Secret Warehouse of Sound Recordings – 23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Maybe it’s just me, perhaps I’m tired and emotional or perhaps I’m just feeling particularly sensitive as the long-term effects of an absence of live music and being generally cut off from people bites harder as the nights draw in and the days grow shorter, but I’ve started to feel a real heavy-hearted ache lately for the things I miss. Maybe these are my October Blues, which means the arrival of this single is perfectly timed – not to lift the spirits, but to reflect that inward-facing melancholy that comes with the urge to hibernate or hunker down by a log fire.

Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I spent lazy evenings in basement bars listening to live blues, and it’s perhaps precisely because of that that Muca & La Marquise’s latest single, fills me with pangs of nostalgia.

Stripped-back and simple, primarily an acoustic guitar and voice, it evokes simpler times – while at the same time being absolutely timeless – of late-night smoky basement bars, with its jazz-tinged blues and laid back laconic delivery. La Marquise has a magnificent voice – timeless, classic, smooth. The guitar-playing is similarly understated, but follows a nice, chilled slow blues chord sequence and there’s an exquisite break, too, that draws you in and drifts away on a magnificent wave of melancholy.

Jason Sharp has been a fixture of Montréal’s experimental/improv scene for many years, chiefly as a saxophonist exploring eletcro-acoustic and durational music, and in a wide variety of jazz, avant and contemporary music ensembles. “Gates of Heaven” is an 18-minute through-composed acoustic recording and Sharp’s first official new release since Stand Above The Streams (2018). The single accompanies an experimental film by Guillaume Vallée.

Jason reveals, "this recording captures a solo bass saxophone performance in the Gates of Heaven, a small synagogue in Madison, Wisconsin. After an exhaustive recording session elsewhere, I visited the synagogue en route to the airport to quickly record a solo piece. The engineer and I had only a couple of hours to capture something before catching our flight home to Montreal.  Microphones were set up at varying distances throughout the synagogue and I improvised a solo piece using the acoustics of the space. We had just enough time to record what became an 18 minute multi-tracked piece. Each layer was a first take and a response to the previous. It began to rain heavily towards the end of our session audibly rattling the synagogue, we tore down the mics, and hurried to the airport. Taking this fleeting moment for myself to play in this beautiful resonant space was both nourishing and revitalising. I returned to this recording when the pandemic hit in mid-March as a way to focus my attention on something positive and future-driven. Listening back to this acoustic document during this unprecedented time, I once again felt the support this space had provided – and was reminded of the fragility that improvised music can often reveal and the strength it can restore."

Guillaume Vallée adds, "along with the musical beauty of the piece, the context of recording was an inspiration to me. When Jason explained to me that he recorded the piece in a place of worship, I imagined something soft & dark, some sort of suggested figurative visual ambiance. After listening obsessively for days, I began to work on a three-part narrative structure that follows the music’s progression. Everything comes from Super8 images that I shot years ago and got processed and scanned during isolation. Flowers, walls from the Middle Ages, a church – in colour and black & white that have then been heavily processed through analog video tools. I wanted the images to be sculpted by the music, as a pure depiction of the emotional states of mind this piece puts me in."

Watch the video here.

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Pic: Gwendal le Flem

John and Toni Baumgartner, founding members of New Jersey band Speed the Plough, were on a planned band hiatus last winter when they started working on some new music, in some new directions. Initially, they enlisted third STP founder Marc Francia to add some guitar parts on a few songs. Things were moving along nicely through January and February. Then they found themselves in the epicenter of the coronavirus and in lockdown starting in March 2020. That meant that any new recording would have to take place long distance. They decided to continue recording and releasing tracks on a monthly basis. I hope you might consider covering this release series via feature interview or track reviews. The latest release in the series is "Unknown Quantity."

Watch the video here:

The Secret Warehouse of Sound Recordings – 23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Blue Moon Bossa’ is the follow-up to Muca & La Marquise’s debut, ‘London’, and I have to confess this isn’t my regular bag and certainly not regular Aural Aggro fodder. In a fit of antagonism, I’d ordinarily dismiss the majority of jazzy / bossa stuff a bunch of muso wank and sonic wallpaper, but for every rule there is, and has to be an exception.

Moreover, jazz, like blues, has a certain place, and I began to develop my appreciation of both back in the days of smoke-filled basement bars putting on late-night shows where the emphasis was on slowing things down, relaxing and cutting loose a bit. These aren’t things I’m especially good at, but given the right ambience, the right soundtrack, and the right whisky, it turns out even I can chill a little.

‘Blue Moon Bossa’ is the epitome of chill – or even chiiiiiiill. It’s smooth as smooth gets, muffled, smoky, laid back to horizontal, hypnotic mid-tempo, and mellow as, with sultry vocals accompanied by acoustic instrumentation of guitar and hand-drums that’s understated and subtly melts together to create something a shade soporific, it’s one of those cuts that lowers the heart rate and transports the listener to a calm place, real or imagined. A little escapism goes a long way in a world of pressure and stress, and this is just nice.

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Cruel Nature Records – 3rd July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

On the face of it, Newcastle has a conspicuously large and thriving scene devoted to all kinds of noisy / experimental metal shit, until you realise that about 75% of the bands feature James Watts and a number of his mates. Ultimately, that’s col, because Watts is a versatile vocalist – maybe not Mike Patton, but more than adept at affecting all kinds of low-throated metal, as well as anguished elongated notes and monastic incantations, and, as the last song evidences, human didgeridoo.

The band are described as ‘a unique weirdo blend of improvised doom with a drunken psychedelic vibe which is anywhere between THRONES to The Melvins to a very pissed off Butthole Surfers.’ The blurb also goes on to detail that ‘They normally play as a 3 piece, with bass, drums, a little sax and vocals which sound like they are coming out of someone’s mouth who has been trapped in a basement for 20 years and staying alive by licking the mould that grows on beer barrels.’

It’s a fair summary, although there’s more than a little sax here. But no violins. For all the sonic assault, they’re very much pacifists.

There’s nothing like easing the listener into an album gently, and the twenty-three minute opener, ‘Ioniser’ is absolutely nothing like easing the listener into an album gently. An overloading crackle and buzz churns and distorts like hell. It eventually settles into a Shellac-like groove, hectic Todd Trainer-esque drumming driving a grungy low-end grind that provides the backdrop for a display of vocal contortions that celebrate all things tortured and guttural.

Christ, that bass! It’s so low and grindy it could relieve constipation within a matter of bars, and against a jazz-influenced rhythm played with explosive force, ‘Shan patter’ is an absolute beast. The vocals are barely audible and as low, if not lower, than the bass, a chthonic gurgle

‘Shenanigans’ has the looping structure of a dance track crossed with the nagging circular motifs that defined Therapy’s sound on Nurse – only it’s a twisted jazz-funk odyssey, and it’s a complete contrast with the ultra-slow, ultra-minimalist drone-plod of ‘Wallow’ that crawls into a droning boom of repetition, a single chord ringing out for an eternity, the sustain twisting to feedback. Any Sunn O))) comparisons are entirely justified, although the percussion has a certain swing that lifts it from the domain of sludgy doomy drone and into that of something more jazz/low grunge in style.

And if the title of the final cut inspires references to Derek an Clive, the thirteen-minute ‘Horn’ is less to inspire a rush of blood to the penis than a crawling sensation over the skin as another lumbering bassline strolls, battered, bruised, dust and dirt-covered from amidst a fizz of noise before a heavy-hearted brass brays, wails, and honks all over.

While the freeform elements of the pieces give them a sense of looseness, or non-conformity, of spontaneity, of disarray, the way they come together so tightly and intuitively on the extended riffy segments is indicative of a real musical competence and a high level of intuition. It’s special and it’s rare. And it’s a defining feature of an album that’s properly heavy, and at the same time, way jazzy without sucking.

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limitedNOISE – 10th July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Eleven whole years on from Third One Rises, World Sanguine Report crawl bloodied and bruised from a dark, dingy back alley to stagger into the light and toss down onto the rain-soaked, blood-spattered concrete their new album, Skeleton Blush. It’s a haggard, battered beast, a collection of songs that wheeze and puff pain from every pore. Whether it’s whisky-soaked introspection of staggering, brawling bleariness, it’s grainy, gritty, and often bleak, dredging emotions from the pits of the city’s sewers.

The various members have been keeping busy in the meantime, with various projects, notably with vocalist / guitarist Andrew Plummer having detoured for a few years with the grizzled no-wave racket of Snack Family. The various projects are clearly different, but at the same time their creative roots are abundantly clear.

Across the spread of the album, the band swing psychotically, schizophrenically, between dirty jazz-tinged blues that draws together The Doors and Tom Waits in a deliriously drunken swagger of swinging rhythms (you could never call it an elevated or euphoric mood – more an upswing in a maniacally volatile moodset) and boozy, brawling horns, and seedy, low-down lugubriosity.

The title track is as close as thing get to flamboyant, with a flamboyant jazz cacophony delivered with a Beefheartian mania and taste for dissonance, and ‘Drip Driven’ is similarly crazed in his riot of jolting, discordant horns that spirt every whichway over a low-slung stop-start funk groove, while ‘Aou’ trudges through dark, soup waters of brass-tinged gloom, sounding like Gallon Drunk on Ketamine.

Skeleton Blush brings derangement to a big band setting: it’s absolutely wild, and also low-down and seedy – and absolutely fucking ace.

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Love Love Records

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s no secret I’m quite a fan of Matt Cargill and Co’s oddball, off-kilter approach to freeform experimental weird noisy shit that stubbornly defies genre categorisation – largely on account of the fact that it is weird noisy shit that stubbornly defies genre categorisation (although the blurbage that accompanies Walk it Dry, the follow-up to 2019’s Gentle Persuaders describes them as ‘London’s neo-jazz wrecking crew’.

Sly have trod themselves a unique path, and find themselves in the curious position of being one of the most obtuse bands beloved by almost everyone I know in underground musical circles. I’d like to think it’s a combination of their uniqueness and the fact that they are unequivocally

On this outing, they promise ‘the familiar sound palette of skronked electronics, bulging noise blasts, wailing sax & Kalashnikov drums that was found on ‘Gentle Persuaders’’ but at the same time say that this ‘is a very different beast. The tracks here are shorter and punchier as the band digs deeper than ever to find increasingly potent sonic pockets.’

Mad horns and a crushing, slow-paced jazz beat explode from the speakers the second the ‘play’ button his hit, and with ‘A Black Uniformed Strutting Animal’ they plunge into a collision of heavy rhythms and divergent notes that counteract one another in a battle between order and chaos, where there is no clear winner.

‘Dead Cat Chaos Magician’ is frivolous, glooping electronics, with a fast-paced jitter of tension and some ragged blasts of drums that are nothing to do with rhythm and everything to do with dramatic punctuation, sudden explosions that disrupt any semblance of an emerging flow.

The compositions on Walk it Dry are difficult, dissonant, and while they are indeed more succinct than the bult of the pieces on previous outings, they condense those dank, disrupted soundscapes into dense chunks of ‘Bulgarian Steel’ brings the kind of swampy mess of nose that’s quintessentially Sly, dominated as it is by booming beats and murky mid-range, before ‘Shrieking Grief’ steps the torturous din up a notch, with more thunderous rhythms bashing frantically into a void of grinding greyness while horns flash and flail

The lack of pun-based titles is compensated to an extent by ‘Sunken Disorderly’, while ‘My Torso is a Shotgun’ is a cranium-crushing morass of tension, a bludgeoning battery of hammering and noise.

This all stacks up to an album that’s classic Sly: the same dark industrial clanking, doomy undercurrent and warped jazz overtones, but in much shorter segments. It’s still dark, dingy, difficult, jazzy, otherly, and there’s no other band who quit straddle so many boundaries. Walk it Dry may mark a certain evolution, but more than anything, it’s the work of a band who simply don’t do compromise. And that’s why we love them.

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5th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Starless is a new musical project from Yurii Samson of Ukranian industrial noisemakers Kadaitcha. It’s pitched as being ‘less industrial and noisy than Kadaitcha, but more acoustic and lyrical’, although this very much depends on the strain of industrial you’re angling towards.

Admittedly, my first thought is less ‘more acoustic and lyrical’ than Kadaitcha, but ‘fuck me, this is spaced-out experimental jazz!’ ‘Entro’ piles in haphazard and chaotic, as a riot of parping horns hoot and honk seemingly at random though a twittering electronic oscillation with bleeps and quirts, and wandering notes that are difficult to assimilate, stylistically or psychologically. There’s a lot going on at once.

But the title track goes much more industrial / dark ambient, a restless thrumming providing the backdrop to a distanced, echo-heavy vocal and squalls of extraneous noise, swells of feedback and layers of serrated electronica, whole distorted impenetrable vocals ring out with a bold authority. It’s the sound of Big Brother’s dictation, monotone, cold, flat, and impervious, while metallic noise spirals and swirls.

Next up, ‘Chudovys’ka’ begins all aclatter and aflutter, a clicking flicker or delicate beats, before a warped vocal begins to nag away in the background. And then, before long, it goes full Throbbing Gristle with churning electronic rhythms and hard-edged noise butting up against them. And this is a sustained sonic attack, the best part of ten minutes of difficult noise that simultaneously rumbles and screes, a low-end wash that rolls and throbs while clattering percussion ricochets off in all directions.

‘Kiviten’’ goes all-out with the heavy-duty percussion, calling to mind the thunderous battery of Test Dept. It also brings droning church organ and shrieking feedback that hurts the ears and bends the brain, as well as heralding introduction of epic choral voices on the scale of Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’, only distant and dissonant. It’s big on drama, and also disquiet.

Closer, ‘Saga’ is also impressive in its depth, and equally the depth of the discomfort it discharges as wheezing monotone vocals drone out over a shifting soundscape of hesitant beats, creeping jazz horns and scrapes and bubbling synths. It’s sparse, low, slow, and trepidatious, making for an unexpectedly Low-key conclusion that also happens to leave the listener hanging on the edge of a swamp hidden by fog, wondering what lies beyond.

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