Posts Tagged ‘krautrock’

2182 Recording Company – 2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

While books have blurbs that likely indicate whether or not you want to read them, records are altogether less pitch-orientated in their physicality, which, back in the day, used to make sifting through vinyl in shops and at record fairs an exercise which was a measure of one’s attitude to risk. Sometimes you’d take a punt on a record because you’d heard of the band and they sounded interesting, others, you’d go by the label or the cover or something.

Some traders – and this is something Jumbo records in Leeds still do – is put a short summary on a sticker on the PVC sleeve the record is stored in.

The virtual equivalent, for me, is scanning press releases. No way can I listen to everything I receive, let alone write about it, and some nights my inbox feels like flicking through boxes of records, unsure of what I actually want to hear until I find it. And lo, as I wander, aimless and befuddled, fatigued from another day of corporate chairpounding to keep the roof over my head and the bills paid, I stumble upon Damage Mécanique by Diminished Men. I’ve never heard of them, but on reading the pitch, I felt as if this was the thing I needed but didn’t know I needed until I found it.

Drawing from elements of film noir, psychedelic exotica, experimental rock, deviant surf and musique concrète, Diminished Men refocus their influences into something entirely unique. Collaged with menacing electricity, the raw materials are broken up and reassembled in their crude private facility. The group has spent more than a decade crafting their style and have established themselves as an integral part of Seattle’s underground music scene.

Their latest record, Damage Mécanique, thrusts the listener into a malfunctioning industrial sci-fi soundscape. Trance inducing guitars beckon with haunting wails, high-tension wires spin and spit with a crackling hiss. Circular kosmische rhythms and anxiety-drenched beats destroy and rebuild around fractured melodies and noise. The band oxidizes and melts into experimental post-punk and acousmatic environments as hypnotic groove and vertigo copulate in cinematic assemblage.

And there’s no question that they’ve got pedigree: drummer Dave Abramson is also a member of Master Musicians of Bukkake, Spider Trio, and has collaborated with Eyvind Kang and Secret Chiefs 3 among many others.

As ‘Double Vision’ crashes in amidst clattering, explosive percussion and dingy bass, I’m hauled by the collar into the realms of early industrial in the vein of Test Dept and Perennial Divide, and instantly, I’m home, knowing that this was indeed what I needed. It’s sparse in terms of arrangement, but dense in terms of sound, and it’s abrasive, rhythm-orientated, loud, heavy, and batters away at the brain.

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that when your thoughts are in a mangled disarray and your focus is no-existent that the answer lies in music that bashes you round the bonce from all directions at once, but for me, at least, it’s infinitely more beneficial than any kind of chillout shit or ambient – although amidst loping, rolling rhythms, ‘Wet Moon’ conjures a shimmering ambience of sorts, while pointing towards esoteric oddity.

‘The Maze’ confuses and confounds with its daze-inducing cyclical riff and motoric beats which are pure Krautrock, evaporating into a mist around the mid-section of its six-and-a-half minute duration that sees it build through a jazzy post-rock segment before tumbling back into that nagging, dislocated groove – and it’s a nagging dislocated groove that dominates the wig-out weirdness of ‘Panopticon’. It’s likely of help to no-one to comment that it sounds like Murder the Disturbed but with the wild sax of These Monsters, but there it is: obscure post-punk collides with obscure jazz-infused noise rock, and it’s a corking way to end the first side of the album.

If ‘Axiel Tremors’ suggests rock excess played at a crawl, then it’s equally dragged out via some expansive jazz expressions into the realms of darkness. ‘Silver Halides’ brings a bold, brawling swagger to a cautious and subdued party of picked guitar introversion, and the final piece in this mismatched musical jigsaw, the six-minute ‘Spy’ hits the groove and drives it out of the door – while the door is still closed. Just as they clearly know how to make an entrance, they obviously understand the importance of a memorable exit.

There’s no particular or overt theme which unifies Damage Mécanique, and nor is there really anything that’s obvious stylistically speaking, as the album tosses a whole load into the mix and feels, in many respects, quite introspective in its influences and inspirations. There are, however, strong and unusual contrasts in evidence, with doomy bass and twanging desert rock working in tandem to forge a unique sonic experience., alongside, well, you name it. Quirky, atmospheric, Damage Mécanique is odd, but also compelling. It could be just the album you need, too.

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18th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Following on from big-hitting introductions in the form of single releases ‘A Working Class Lad’, Manchester’s The Battery Farm hit us with their debut album, Flies.

They describe it a ‘an album about end times fear and societal breakdown. It is an album that tries to come to terms with the violent world we find ourselves in, and tries to reconcile with an uncertain future in world that we have decimated. It’s about the endless, screaming noise of 21st Century living and the squalid claustrophobia that entails. Driven by fury, black humour, compassion and a desire for hope.’

These are all things I’m on board with: it’s essentially a list of the top things that gnaw away at my psyche and my soul on a daily basis. Because to live in the world right now is to live and breathe all shades of anxiety.

Some people – mostly right-wing wankers and idiots on social medial, especially Twitter – like to jeer and poke fun at those who intimate any kind of panic over the state of things, laughing their arses off at those who perpetuated ‘project fear’ and the so-called ‘remoaners’ and scoffing at the idea that this year’s heatwave is anything to do with climate change citing the summer of ’76. But these are the same tossers who whine about health and safety and speed limits as being symptomatic of a ‘nanny state’, and also the same tossers whose kids will die after swallowing batteries or burn the house down lighting fireworks indoors.

What I’m saying is that anyone who isn’t scared is either beyond oblivious or in denial. The world is literally on fire and drowning at the same time. Fittingly, Flies is an album of contrasts, both in terms of mood and style. There are fiery, guitar-driven flamers and more introspective compositions which are altogether more subdued and post-punk in their execution.

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The title track is but a brief introduction, a rushed, desperate spoken work piece set against – at first – a tense bass and a growing tide of swelling drums and guitars that in just over a minute ruptures into a full-on flood of rage. Distilling years of anguish into a minute and a half, it’s got hints of Benefits about it, and then we’re into the snaking groove of ‘A Working Class Lad’, that sees The 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster collide with The Anti-Nowhere League in a gritty, gutsy punk blast with a surfy undercurrent.

It’s the combination of gritty synth bass and live bass guitar that drives the sound of the album. The former snarls, while that latter thuds, and in combination they pack some serious low-end punch in the way that Girls Against Boys and Cop Shoot Cop did. The synth gyrations also lend the sound a tense, robotic edge that gives it both a certain danceable bounce while at the same time heightening the anxiety of the contemporary, that sense of the dystopian futures so popular in science fiction are in fact our current lived reality.

‘In the Belly of the Beast’ is a stuttering blast of warped funk. In contrast, ‘Everything Will Be Ok’ is altogether more minimal, with hushed spoken word verses reminiscent of early Pulp, and tentative, haunting choruses which exude a subtle gothic vibe. And it all builds slowly, threatening a climax which never arrives. But then ‘Poet Boy’ drives at a hundred miles an hour and burns hard and fast to its finale in three and a half minutes.

‘DisdainGain’ comes on like Motorhead at their grittiest and most rampant, and again shows just how broad The Battery Farm’s palette is. By their own admission, they draw on elements of ‘Punk, Hardcore, Post Punk, Krautrock, Glam and Funk’, and one of the key strengths of Flies is its diversity – although its range does not make for a lack of coherence or suggest a band who haven’t found their identity, by any means. What’s more, the diversity is matched by its energy, its passion, and its sheer quality. Full of twists and turns and inspired moments of insight, Flies is a bona fide, ball-busting killer album. Fact.

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Russian Circles have released their first ever music video for the title track of their forthcoming LP Gnosis, available next week, 19th August, via Sargent House. The centrepiece of the album “Gnosis” begins with a slow-build exercise in krautrock methodologies — drones, guitar arpeggios, cosmic synth, hypnotic drum patterns—that eventually explodes into the wall-of-sound bombardment Russian Circles are known for. The accompanying video, directed/edited by Joe Kell, is full of dark imagery driving towards the actual definition of the word ‘Gnosis.’ The band explains:

“’Gnosis’ is a special song that has grown with us over a number of years. The main theme of the song was re-conceptualised so many times that it provided nearly endless arrangement options. It’s rewarding to see such a minimal song idea evolve into one of our most dynamic and fully-realised songs to date.

When discussing a concept for the video, we agreed we wanted cinematic footage of nature and humanity. Ultimately, we wanted the video to feel fresh and inspiring despite dealing with a dark theme. Similarly, we wanted to compel viewers to re-watch the video and get something new from each viewing. Somehow, editor Joe Kell masterfully made this all happen.”

‘Gnosis’ eschews the varied terrain of the band’s past works by employing a new songwriting technique. Rather than crafting songs out of fragmented ideas in the practice room, full songs were written and recorded independently before being shared with other members, so that their initial vision was retained. While these demos spanned the full breadth of the band’s varied styles, the more cinematic compositions were ultimately excised in favor of the physically cathartic pieces.

Watch the video here:

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Russian Circles will be touring extensively in support of the album. Dates are as follows:

RUSSIAN CIRCLES N. AMERICA TOUR 2022:

Sep 15 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line

Sep 17 Denver, CO – Gothic

Sep 18 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge

Sep 20 Seattle, WA – Croc Showroom

Sep 21 Portland, OR – Revolution Hall

Sep 23 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall

Sep 24 Felton, CA – Felton Music Hall

Sep 25 Los Angeles, CA – The Regent

Sep 26 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom

Sep 29 Austin, TX – Empire Garage

Sep 30 Dallas, TX – Amplified Live

Oct 01 Memphis, TN – Growlers

Oct 27 St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall

Oct 28 Louisville, KY – Headliner’s

Oct 29 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West

Oct 30 Orlando, FL – The Social

Nov 01 Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle

Nov 02 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle

Nov 04 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club

Nov 05 Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live

Nov 06 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw

Nov 08 Boston, MA – The Sinclair

Nov 09 Montreal, QC – Theatre Fairmount

Nov 10 Toronto, ON – Opera

Nov 11 Detroit, MI – El Club

Nov 12 Chicago, IL – Metro

RUSSIAN CIRCLES EU TOUR 2023 (Co Headline w/ Cult Of Luna):

March 17 Copenhagen, DK – Store Vega

March 18 Berlin, DE – Huxleys

March 19 Wiesbaden, DE – Schlachthof

March 20 Utrecht, NL – Tivoli Ronda

March 21 Brussels, BE – AB

March 22 Paris, FR – Olympia

March 23 Stuttgart, DE – Wizemann

March 24 Lausanne, CH – Les Docks

March 25 Ljubljana, SI – Kino Siska

March 27 Vienna, AT – Arena

March 28 Munich, DE – Muffathalle

March 29 Prague, CZ – Roxy

March 30 Krakow, PL – Studio

March 31 Warsaw, PL – Progresja

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Photo Credit: William Lacalmontie

Rocket Recordings – 10th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

International Treasure is the second album from the ‘collaborative collision’ of Steve Davis, Kavus Torabi, and Mike York. And, of course, much has – and will – be made of the Steve Davis factor: he may have kept his musical interests largely under wraps during the lengthy heyday of his snooker career, but the fact is that he’s long been a fan and supporter of ‘interesting; music, and this is a musical unit that stands on the strength of its work – and its work is (utopia) strong.

As the accompanying notes explain about the origins of International Treasure, ‘All three musicians here found themselves operating outside of their comfort zones – Torabi’s purchase of a guzheng (a Chinese plucked zither) led to Shepherdess’s lambent allure and York’s spectacular and evolving array of pipes and wind instruments contributed just as much as his ruthless editing. Davis meanwhile, whose speciality lies in rich tapestries of modular electronics, sums up their relationship in characteristically self-effacing fashion: “I see myself as a strong midfielder, or a centre back. Kavus and Mike are like the Lionel Messi or Ronaldo of the equation, and I’m setting situations up for them”.

Davis’ application of an extended football analogy is amusing in context, and one suspects it’s an intentional slice of drollery. The music itself is not amusing – as in, there are no chuckles to be found here – but instead is intensely focused, with magnificent results. There’s a tangible sense of an intuition flowing between the three of them on this album as the sounds ebb and flow and weave and quaver, the elongated drones and meandering organs melting together like a stream of butter.

There are some odd samples – probably animal, rather than vegetable or mineral – flow together into a soft mass, with no hard boundaries, no distinct edges… ‘Shepherdess’ is spacious, meditative, but shifts over time to emerge as a more pulse-based modular synth work, and ‘Disaster 2’ brings all of the various elements together perfectly, as well as bringing together ambient, post-rock, and folk. It’s a beautiful and uplifting experience, and one which acknowledges the pains, trials, and tribulations of life, how it may not be possible to function all day every day.

There’s something soothing, even soporific, about the slow, mellifluous tones that drift together smoothly, seemingly effortlessly, to coalesce into some form, however cloud-like and abstract, to create International Treasure. Even when deep, resonant notes hang like the slow decay of a chimed gong, as on the title track, the darkness is always tempered, by light.

It’s not ambient and it’s not Krautrock – but International Treasure finds the three musicians drawing on elements of both to conjure something magical, something mystical. The final track, ‘Castalia’ is a calypso party party, and if it at first feels somewhat at odds with the rest of the album, it’s worth bearing in mind that the album exists at all because the players are keen to explore different terrains and territories. And explore they do: International Treasure mines many seams, and excavates a wealth of listening pleasure.

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3rd June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

My partner in power electronics, the man behind the white noise aspect of the ‘white noised and shouting’ equation that is …(something) ruined, Paul Thingumy (he has more pseudonyms and variant monikers than the devil himself, or even JG Thirlwell), has gone and self-released another EP. Well, less of an EP than an LP: it may only contain four tracks, but with a duration of almost an hour, it’s a very long play.

Residing in Mirfield, Kirklees, West Yorkshire – or, objectively, the arse-end of nowhere, where trains are infrequent and tend not to visit after 9pm – is probably very like any other Little Britain backwater with a Tory MP. And it’s so often from our immediate environs we draw our inspiration, as the album’s title indicates. For reasons I can’t fathom, the title reminds me of Peter York’s strange book Dictators’ Homes and some TV show I can’t quite recall – probably because I never watched it – about celebrity pads. Or perhaps I’m confusing it with Pimp My Ride or some other wank. Because it all blurs, and fast. Mirfield Pads is blurry, but in a different way: everything melts together to create an ambient wash.

In something of a departure from much of Paul’s previous work – and there’s a lot of it – Mirfield Pads is surprisingly mellow, melodic, accessible. There’s a hypnotic Krautrock vibe about the shuffling oscillations, with sampled vocal snippets buried low in the mix in places. It’s an overtly synth work with a vintage leaning that’s strongly rooted in the late 70s and early 80s. If there’s a debt to Kraftwerk here with elements of Mike Oldfield and Harold Faltermeyer, then equally, Mirfield Pads is Paul’s nod to Tangerine Dream, perhaps in part spurred by the recent passing of Klaus Schulze. You wouldn’t necessarily call it a tribute, but an inspiration, almost certainly.

Tapering tones interweave and turn, glistening, fractal, kaleidoscopic, like beams of light dancing on an illuminated surface, dancing lightly across a millpond or flickering on a wall. Not a lot happens, and it doesn’t need to: the sounds turn slowly on an axis that exists in a space of its own.

‘Crystal Airfield’ – a title that evokes the spirit of JG Ballard – hits the numerical sweet spot of 23:23, and with additional guitar work courtesy of Neil Campbell, longtime collaborator and one half of another project, Early Hominids, it’s a richly atmospheric piece that rounds off the experience nicely in a wash of elongated droning feedback paired with bubbling analogue sounds.

It’s the attention to detail, to the vibe and sensation that really makes Mirfield Pads intriguing. It feels more like a document from a past time more than a nostalgia piece, and this is a good thing, because nostalgia has become dreary and weary very quickly indeed – probably because the smell of cash is so unappealing.

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Klanggalerie – 5th December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

From the Greek xénos, a noun meaning “stranger, guest” or an adjective meaning “foreign, strange”, xeno has come to used as a prefix meaning “alien,” “strange,” or “guest.” Meanwhile, ‘lith’ refers to a stone (making megalith and monolith self-explanatory).

Elliott Sharp’s power trio Bootstrappers’ brand of free jazz / classic rock crossover, they say, is ‘filtered through the ethos of cyberpunk, techno, and free jazz: raging, psychedelic, and filled with fantastic extrapolations’, and since the group’s inception in 1990, they’ve undergone numerous changes in lineup, but the ethos has remained the same, meaning that this offering truly is a strange stone – one that’s hard and soft, smooth and rough, not just in different places, but in some patches, all at once. Such a stone should be geologically impossible, but then, so should the sensory explosion of the seven wildly varied and inventive compositions here, courtesy of Sharp, along with Melvin Gibbs and Don McKenzie.

If the first, ‘Telentechy’ is, at least on the surface, a fairly standard jazz-leaning rock workout, it also possesses enough detail and enough changes to render it rather more. It does seem customary for many such acts to open an album with a track that sounds like a slowly-winding down finale at the end of an hour-long live performance, and this track just does just that, but where so many similar acts lose my attention is in making every subsequent piece sound like another eight-minute winddown and seventy minutes later you’ve had nothing but a crashing, discordant conclusion and not a lot else. So while Bootstrappers do essentially begin at the end, and have numerous sprawling, somewhat formless expanses of barely-contained chaos on Xenolith, they also present numerous changes in mood and tempo, even approximating structural form in places.

‘Sieze the Mement’ is a wibbly, noodlesome piece that evokes eastern scales while also hinting at a dizzying progressive / Krautrock crossover. Immediately after, and after bouncing along for about four and a half minutes, I suddenly realise that ‘Lo Shu’ has grown quite funky in its groove… but then just as the dawning occurs, so the groove melts and dissipates into so much flickering light.

There is a lot going on, but where Bootstrappers succeeds and stand apart is their being only three: this necessitates more minimal arrangements and means they’re not prone to the spells of chaotic discoordination whereby it sounds like six people playing six different tunes in different keys and different time signatures, and instead feels altogether more focused for the most part, and as a result, they do pitch into some nice grooves that you can really get into.

According to their bio, ‘Future editions of Bootstrappers may see the group expand to orchestral dimensions’. While this may be an exciting evolution, Xenolith evidences that they’re fine just as they are right now.

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Cruel Nature Records – 29th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s something magnificent about the naming of Oli Heffernan’s project Ivan the Tolerable. It not only places a charming spin on history, neutralising and disarming the fearsome image of ‘the terrible’ with a superbly balanced piece of bathos, but it’s also so very quintessentially English. It’s the weak smile, the stiff upper lip… it’s not terrible. It’s not good either. It’s, you know, tolerable. No-one died. Or only a few people, it could be worse.

Autodidact II is the follow-up to 2018’s Autodidact, separated not only by three tears abut about a dozen releases. Heffernan is nothing if not prolific, and equally, nothing if not diverse.

This fifteen-track behemoth opens with the fifteen-minute ‘Turkish Golden Scissors (Part I) – there are two subsequent, shorter parts, situated strategically about the album. It’s a meandering progressive piece with pseudo-mystical Eastern leanings, a trippy, psychedelic jazz experience that’s utterly baked, man. There’s a trilling keyboard swirling and twirling around in the midst of the sonic sandstorm, and it’s like a collision between a deconstructed Doors track performed by The Necks.

‘Red Throated Diver’, which is centred around acoustic guitar playing a looping, cyclical motif in the style of Michael Gira, paired with some ominous and atmospheric brass and rippling synths, and clocking in at a fraction over two minutes, is a contrast in every way.

The album’s title is perhaps something of a clue to the form, presenting Heffernan as the self-taught experimentalist finding his way as he navigates the sounds in his head and working through ideas and concepts, and Autodiadact II is big on the expansive, rippling Krautrock noodling, with bubbling analogue synth sounds and trilling tones weaving over lower-end oscillations and grind and lay a gurgling, churning bedrock.

Notes chime into space amidst crackling samples and reverberations that connote space voyages – and ultimately being lost in space. It’s appropriate, as Autodidact II is not an album of focus, butt a work that wanders with or without direction in search of… well, what it’s in search if isn’t entirely clear. Not that it matters. The album started life as three separate recording sessions in July and August 2021 as work for a soundtrack to a series of films about psychogeography and North Yorkshire folklore, and as such, if the expanses of North Yorkshire, the moors and beyond, are buried in a sonic fog of otherness, the psychogeographical element reminds us that the end is not the end: it’s all about the journey. And Autodiadact II, while springing numerous surprises and drifting in and out of an array of varied sonic spaces, leads the listener on a unique, if uncertain journey.

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Clue Records – 27th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The best thing about Team Picture is that, well, they’re Team Picture. A band that doesn’t look like a band, and certainly not in a cohesive, stylised way. The band’s name is a subtle but nifty encapsulation of what they’re about – the way teams at work are essentially a bunch of people thrown together with no commonality beyond their employment. They’re not your friends, they’re your colleagues, and while you may gel and not even loathe works nights out, those team photos only highlight the awkwardness, the disparities.

Every now and again, though, these disparate elements coalesce to positive ends, and this seems to be where the Leeds act are coming from, a band who are built on hybridity and variance. Their latest single – a scabrous satire of the pathetically sad and deeply toxic but occasionally dangerous incel community populated by predominantly low-IQ white misogynists – is a corker.

Speaking about the Single, Josh explained;“The Big Trees, The Little Trees’ is a sub-Talking Heads piece of black-pill satire. The title comes from what might be the first piece of incel literature ever unfortunately created, called ‘Might is Right’ by a total asshole called ‘Ragnar Redbeard’ (the pen name of one ‘Arthur Desmond’). The track was originally considered for the recording sessions for our 2nd record, but after completion of this version we decided it stood neatly enough on its own horrifying two feet to be presented separately…”

It’s got a nagging krautrocky groove that grabs you from the start, and even your dad might like it, and its success lies in its juxtaposition of the medium and the message.

The accompanying video really captures the band’s oddball nerdy misfit style, while pushing forward the homocentric / hypermasculine themes in an irreverent fashion – and it works well.

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Dates:

SEPTEMBER 
28th Bootleg Social, Blackpool 
29th The Parish, Huddersfield 
30th Broadcast, Glasgow 
OCTOBER 
1st Westgarth, Middlesbrough 
2nd Sidney + Matilda, Sheffield 
12th Yes, Manchester 
13th Camden Assembly, London 
14th Komedia, Brighton 
15th Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 
17th Wild Paths Festival, Norwich 
24th Karma Festival, Nottingham

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10th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Anyone who doesn’t fall into the trap of swallowing the bullshit and climbing the corporate ladder to become the person they hated when they started out knows that all the motivational stuff is absolute bollocks, that wellbeing in the workplace is bollocks, and all the new age shit that people plaster all over social media is bollocks.

They’ll tell you that if you ‘Change your thoughts, you can change your world’. What they won’t mention is that the world is behind you, ready to stab you in the back and fuck you up the arse. They’ll tell you to believe in yourself. But that’s because no-one else will, because you’re a talentless sack of shit.

Vex Message have seen through the spin of self-affirmation. Derek Meins (lyricist/lead singer/button twiddler/strange dancer) who was once part of Rough Trade signed indie band Eastern Lane points the finger squarely and unapologetically at “Those cringe-worthy motivational mantras you see some chumps regurgitating,”, adding “‘It’s a beautiful day to go after your dreams?’ Fuck off. How about? ‘Aren’t you wanting to despair about your terrible hair and your coming demise?’ That’s more like it.”

This, I can get into straight away before I’ve heard a note. Given just how many people – especially creatives – who slug it out in dead end jobs just to pay the bills and cram entire careers as musicians, artists, writers, into their spare time, I’m amazed there aren’t more who don’t use their medium to rage against the machine. And anyone who says bands should steer clear of politics is simply wrong. We live in a capitalist society, and capitalism is politics, and more to the point, it’s a system that means your life is not your own, and even your time outside the workplace is dominated by agents trying to flog you stuff you don’t need to be paid for with money you don’t have.

As Meins explains, “The verses are structured in such a way as to emulate the trend for advertising slogans which ask you questions, suggesting their product has the answer. In summary, it is a tongue-in-cheek proclamation that you don’t need all the shit they’re selling, it’s all a load of bollocks and you’ll just have to get on as best you can in this modern hell-hole.”

Yes – it is a load of bollocks – fact. And the majority have been sucked into the consumerist cult, having to have the latest iPhone, a TV the size of a cinema screen filling the wall of a poky flat, and it’s neverending.

One thing that thankfully isn’t bollocks is this single. Over a gloopy Krauty synth paired with an overloading guitar chug and motoric beat, Meins writhers and yowls and whoops and croons with all the rock ‘n’ roll strut and swagger. It’s as gloriously OTT as the guitars are noisy and the drums are punchy. It’s theatrical but cathartic at the same time, parodic yet packed with a certain conviction.

B-side ‘And the Land Stayed Still’ is more overtly electro, propelled by a thumping disco beat, landing like a hybrid of Daft Punk and Sleaford Mods – or something. You hopefully get the idea.

It all stacks up to something quite different, presenting a twist on familiar tropes, and ultimately, it all stacks up to something brilliant.

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Alrealon Musique – 19th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

In the past I’ve struggled a bit with Pas Musique. It’s not that I don’t think it’s music, despite the project’s moniker – far from it. It’s simply a matter of taste: their music has often felt a bit easy, a bit contrived, in its gloopy synthiness, to my ears. It’s easy to judge, of course, but then that is the function of the music critic. We trade in opinions, and if everything was entirely objective there would be none. And there would be no art. Because art exists to tap into the emotions, into the psyche, to stir a response – and a negative response is a greater feat than eliciting a sense of complete indifference. Art serves to reflect and articulate life experience and those innermost thoughts. If art doesn’t connect in some way to the human condition, then it is worthless. So what does Psychedelic Talismans have to say? How does it connect?

I’m not sure. But then, in casting that seed of uncertainty, it succeeds in provoking some kind of engagement. So far, so good, I suppose.

According to the liner notes, rather than being a collective effort, Psychedelic Talismans is actually a solo effort from project founder Robert L. Pepper, which was recorded during Covid-19 lockdown in Brooklyn, New York, and the music and drawings draw their inspiration from the Turkish archaeological site, Göbekli Tepe, which is said to be as old as 10,000 B.C. As such, there are deep currents running beneath the fabric of the album’s six compositions.

Opening the set, ‘Splash of Red Touch’ is gloopy, but also led by sparse, brittle, alien synth sound that sounds like it’s echoing down a long pipe, and as the layers build, there’s a low, almost subliminal thud of a beat and a guitar that sounds like twisted metal scraps. Then there’s twittering birdsong and disconnected voices and there’s a lot going on, and not all of the elements seem entirely complimentary or pinned to the tame time signature, creating a swimming, dizzying sensation, and it plunges onwards with ‘Collected Fictions Brightly’, by which time the style is becoming clearly set: insistent, urgent beats, thumping, monotonous, primitive in the Suicide sense, overlayed with wispy, experimentally-orientated Krautrock synth wibbles and drones.

The vibe is very much vintage here, and often the instrumental pieces, which by and large hover around the five-minute mark, are quite meandering, and despite the low-end density that dredges the depths at points, despite the tense guitar notes that emerge twisted and strangled on ‘In Likeness of Me’, and the impatient palpating beats, and an emerging sense of unease that surfaces in places, for the most part there’s a certain mellowness that permeates the album. Great sonic expenses unfurl in long-echoing reverberations, crackling snippets of sampled dialogue, and long, slow-turning drones.

‘Las Bas’ brings the curtain down in a haze of drones and drifts and with a dash of Eastern mysticism, trilling pipe notes which bounce off one another and turn and fade, and if the piece, and he album as a whole, seems to lack direction, then its points of interest all lie in the diversions, the distractions, the divergences. And when so little else is happening, those detours are most welcome. And finally, I feel I click with Pas Musique.

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