Posts Tagged ‘Live’

Hispid Records / PNL Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Another one lifted from the epic and eternal backlog, Pan-Scan Ensemble’s Air and Light and Time and Space is a document of the first live improvisation by this Scandinavian collective centred around the ever-active free jazz drumming luminary Paal Nilssen-Love. Perhaps as one would predict, the nine players, with two drummers, three trumpets, a piano, a whole slew of saxophones and a flute, contrive to create quite a dizzying racket.

There are just two pieces on the album: ‘Air and Light’ and ‘Time and Space’. The former is a punchy twelve minutes in duration, and after a calm beginning, with just sporadic clatters of soft percussion to punctuate the aural vista, all free jazz hell breaks loose around five minutes in. Discordant piano and wild brass fly in all directions simultaneously, different keys and time signatures clash. It’s not music that will help soothe a headache, that’s for certain.

On ‘Time and Space’, things begin in a calmer place, and the incidental rolls and rumbles are slow but jarring. It all seems quite restrained. However, by the six-minute mark, it’s a frenzied mayhem of horns and arrhythmic drums crashing and…. It’s a dizzying cacophony, and after a while, when they finally bring things back down a couple of notches, it’s quite a relief.

The second extended crescendo is slower, more deliberate, weightier, but no less dramatic. Finally, some twenty-five minutes in, something recognisable as a tune emerges. Dolorous piano rolls over a steady, insistent beat. The horns still run wild all over the place, but they’re held in check by the solid rhythm. It builds and builds to an immense climax.

I know that this type of free jazz improv is supposed to be ‘difficult’, and some works are more difficult than others. In the main – and this is purely my personal taste rather than a comment on its musical or artistic merit – I find it all too much. Air and Light and Time and Space is a bewildering tumult of chaos, busy, uncoordinated and in some respects wilfully unmusical. None of those things are bad in themselves, but I struggle to grasp the purpose beyond self-entertainment for the musicians in the room. Apart from the last seven minutes or so, when a certain sense of structure coalesces from out of the chaos, it’s not fun. Nevertheless, the passion of the players is unmistakable, and the way they do bounce off one another to evolve the ebbs and flows and monstrous crescendos is impressive.

Pan Scan Ensemble

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have announcd they are set to return to European shores with a comprehensive live itinerary later this year.  The band are currently working on a new as-yet-untitled studio album, which is expected to be released later this year.

All the shows will have a very limited number of VIP packages via Artist Arena that will include a Meet & Greet with all members of the band, sound check attendance, early venue entry, an exclusive merchandise item and a collectible laminate.

VIP/Ticket pre-sale will begin on Tuesday 9th May at 10am local times, with general on-sales to follow later in the week.  For full details check www.blackrebelmotorcycleclub.com.


October
23rd  Dublin  Academy, Ireland
24th  Belfast  Limelight, UK
26th  Glasgow Barrowland, UK
27th  Manchester  Academy, UK
28th  Birmingham  O2 Academy, UK
30th  Leeds  O2 Academy, UK
31st  Brighton  Dome, UK
November
2nd  Bristol O2 Academy, UK
3rd  Nottingham  Rock City, UK
4th  London O2 Academy Brixton, UK
6th  Copenhagen  Vega, Denmark
7th  Odense  Posten, Denmark
8th  Aarhus Train, Denmark
10th  Lille  Le Splendid, France
11th  Nancy  L’Autre Canal, France
12th  Strasbourg  La Laiterie,  France
14th  Grenoble  La Belle Electrique, France
15th  Nimes  Paloma, France
16th  Toulouse  Le Bikini, France
18th  La Rochelle  La Sirene, France
20th  Amsterdam  Paradiso, Netherlands
21st  Antwerp  De Roma, Belgium
22nd  Paris  Elysee Montmartre, France
25th  Hamburg  Grosse Freiheit, Germany
26th  Berlin  Columbiahalle, Germany
27th  Cologne  Live Music Hall, Germany
28th  Munich  Tonhalle, Germany
30th  Milan  Fabrique, Italy
December
1st  Lausanne  Les Docks, Switzerland
2nd  Zurich  Samsung Hall, Switzerland
3rd  Vienna  Arena, Austria

Cleopatra Records – 9th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Why? Why, Al, Why? I ask as a huge ministry fan, and also as someone who has a lot of respect and admiration for what Cleopatra Records do. I practically wore the magnetism off my copy of Christian Death’s Decomposition of Violets album in my teens. I’m not averse to dredging through the archives and giving long hours to the appreciation of murky live recordings from the early 80s, either: my copy of The Cure’s Concert and Curiosity was played until it stretched, and the number of Sisters of Mercy bootlegs, many of quite dubious quality, that I played to death and still own is testament to my obsessive bent and borderline insanity.

This release is undoubtedly of historical interest. But given Al Jourgensen’s (rightful) disavowal of the early Ministry releases, this feels like a shameful barrel-scraping exercise. It’s pretty much unanimously accepted as fact that Ministry only started to become worthwhile with Twitch.

The first four tracks which occupy side one of the double album were recorded live in Detroit in 1982. With some reedy lead synths, dry bass synths and chorused guitars, they sound like A Flock of Seagulls. Only not as polished. With a shouty, punk vocal and drum style, it’s a pretty ragged affair, the sneering, snarling Johnny Rotten style vocals echo into the abyss while the synths are almost buried at times. Even overlooking the mix – the recording quality isn’t that bad – it still all sounds pretty naff – although the material is, on balance, better than anything on With Sympathy. In context, it makes sense: Jourgensen penned much of the material which went onto Twitch and was already working on edgier sounding material before the release of With Sympathy in 1983, but the record label weren’t interested. Still, ‘Love Change’ sounds like The Human League covering ‘Funky Down’. Edgy it isn’t.

The ’82 and ’83 demos are unadulterated synthpop tunes and are very much of their era. ‘Game is Over’ casts some shades of grey with hints of Killing Joke and The Cure, but then, it’s perhaps easy to forget that the tone of much commercial rock and pop was darker than we’re accustomed to now: even acts like Howard Jones and Mr Mister had a certain dark streak to their music and lyrics. Ah, different times. ‘Let’s Be Happy’ is a bouncy goth disco track. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but it’s still difficult to reconcile with the band Ministry would subsequently become, and the less said about ‘Wait’ the better.

‘I See Red’ sounds more like Twitch: built around a thumping EBM groove, heavy electro percussion and processed vocals. Likewise, the heavily percussive, bass-driven ‘Self-Annoyed’ represents the sound of Wax Trax! in the mid to late 80s, and is immediately more recognisable as Ministry/related.

And while this is billed as a Ministry release, the myriad offshoots and side projects have produced some corking tunes through the years, so to find some of them represented here is actually a cause for celebration. That said, it’s not hard to appreciate why the unreleased Revolting Cocks cut, ‘Fish in Cold Water, failed to see the light of day before now. It may pack the sleazy disco grind of their Bigsexyland era material, but comes on like a mad mash-up of Talking Heads, U2, Bowie, and Harold Faltermeyer. ‘Drums Along the Carbide’ is way better. But then, you already know it, as a different version featured on the debut album under the title ‘Union Carbide’. Still calling to mind the attack of ‘Beers, Steers and Queers’, the battering-ram drums and scraping feedback providing a welcome cranial cleanse.

Dub versions of ‘Supernaut’ (released as 1,000 Homo DJs) and the Pailhead track ‘Don’t Stand in Line’ feel like too much filler however awesomely full-on the drum sound is, and the ‘banned version’ of ‘(Let’s Get) Physical’ doesn’t sound any different, and it would take a fair bit of time with an ear twisted to the vocals to determine any differences or the reason why it was banned.

The PTP track, ‘Show Me Your Spine’ is disappointing: it’s got a good beat, but isn’t a patch on the monotone psychopathic technoid groove of ‘Rubber Glove Seduction’, and again, it’s apparent as to why it failed to make an official release at the time.

In all, it’s rather a mixed bag. The majority of the material has curiosity value, but this is very much one for the fans. Even then, I’d recommend sticking to the albums released during the band’s lifetime, including those of the various side-projects.

Ministry_-_Trax!_Rarities_(cover)

The abrasive, otherworldly hiphop pioneers Dälek will be touring this month for a week of live shows, following on from the release of their 2016 comeback LP, Asphalt For Eden (Profound Lore), the first new record from the NYC trio since 2009. Ahead of these shows, they have released a brand new track, ‘Molten’, and the wind-tunnel production and furious wordsmith delivery that have become the group’s calling card have been amped up to reflect the song’s theme…

  "After this unprecedented Presidential campaign, a venting was needed. This is bigger than the individual candidates, bigger than a broken system, bigger than the dumbing down of America. ‘Molten’ is the quiet rage, angst, and sadness against the current climate in our country and in this world, it’s a state of mind and emotions manifested. ‘Molten’ is the guttural yell into the nothingness by those of us who still think."

Their live performances are known as intense events that often end in a shoved mic stand and sonically assaultive layers of sound. Witnessing Dälek live is like coming face to face with the bastard child of Public Enemy and My Bloody Valentine; an amalgamation of the heaviest noise that the Velvet Underground or Merzbow ever unleashed and the knowledge spit by the likes of Rakim. The trio leaves you in a trance, sends shivers down your spine from the haunting beats intertwined with ambient textures and noise scales, and hits you with a powerful raw flow from one of the most charismatic MC’s of his, or any, era.

Listen to ‘Molten’ below. Full list of UK live dates after the jump.

 

 

 

22/11 – The Louisiana, Bristol
23/11 – Saint Lukes, Glasgow

24/11 – Chunk, Leeds *new addition
25/11 – Thomas House, Dublin
26/11 – Corsica Studios, London
27/11 – Islington Mill, Salford

On June 17, iconic avant-rock ensemble Swans are releasing The Glowing Man,  the fourth and final studio album from this line-up since their reactivation by band primum mobile Michael Gira in 2010 after a 14 year hiatus. This will be followed by their customary year-long world-wide tour celebrating the release after which Gira says, "I’ll continue to make music under the name Swans, with a revolving cast of collaborators…touring will definitely be less extensive." This is an excerpt of "Cloud of Unknowing" from the live concert DVD that will accompany the deluxe 2-CD release:

Christopher Nosnibor

Temple of Boom is the epitome of the underground venue. Not in geographical terms, but in that it puts on way cool gigs you have to be in the know to find out about. And you have to find the place. Even on my third visit, I found myself wondering if I was in the right place, as I wandered barren streets lined by warehouse units and esoteric businesses with reinforced steel roller covers festooned with graffiti over their doors and windows, and had to double-check the so-inconspicuous-as-to-be-almost-secret entrance. And stuff happens when it happens. 8pm start means there’ll be someone behind the bar. The first band may be on at 9, perhaps half past or whenever. But that’s the thing with the underground. It’s not mainstream, it’s not out there in the public domain, and you have to seek it out and invest some effort to reap the rewards. Arrows of Love are a band who justify any such efforts.

I’ve seen Arrows of Love on three previous occasions. And I can’t get enough of them. From the moment I heard the dirty, low-slung bass thud of ‘Honey’ I was hooked. And as a live act, they’re something else. Their shows are wildly unpredictable, cathartic celebrations of beautiful chaos during which anything could happen, and often does. So very predictable, they aren’t. They’re as likely to set the place on fire as to crash and burn. And that is every reason why they’re the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll band going right now. They really do exist on the edge.

The Franceens (predictably) kick ass when they finally take to the stage shortly after 10pm. Their energetic, choppy, punky indie is infectious in its own right, but live is where they really kill it. Guitarist / singer Dan Oliver Gott races into the crowd on a number of occasions, exuberant, larger than life. They’ve got songs, and hooks, too. Delivering high–octane rock action from beginning to end, it really is hard to fault ‘em.

Franceens

The Franceens

Scrawny leather jacket wearing skanks Ming City Rockers look like a rock band. By which I mean, if you were to gather together every stereotype of the last 40 years and distil it into a single act, it would be Ming City Rockers. The singer sports wildly backcombed hair and looks like he’s stepped out of a Chris Morris sketch, while the lead guitarist looks like she’s wandered in from an 80s fancy dress party where she’s gone as Strawberry Switchblade, but in Ian MacCulloch’s coat. If they were half as good as they think they are, they’d be awesome. Revelling in rock ‘n’ roll cliché only works with a heavy dose of irony, and if you’ve got some really strong songs. The red-lipsticked bassist has nice teeth though.

Ming City Rockers

Ming City Rockers

 

Arrows of Love are close to unveiling their second Bob Weston mastered long player, Product, mooted as being quite a progression from the squalling grunge racket of their debut, Everything’s Fucked. On the evidence of ‘Toad’, which they’ve recently put up for streaming, they’re venturing into even murkier, noisier, more angular, territory. They’re also showcasing a (relatively) new lineup: in replacing drummer Mike Frank and singer / guitarist Lyndsey Critchley, Craig Doporto and Alex Brown have got a major task in prospect. I did briefly meet them before they played, and like the rest of the band, they’re lovely people. It turns out they’re also bloody good on stage and possess the energy and charisma that’s so essential to the band’s style.

Arrows 1

Arrows of Love

It’s gone midnight when they take to the stage, and Nima Teranchi is rocking the Jaz Coleman look with untamed dark hair and utilitarian boiler suit (which makes a dazzling contrast with bassist Nuha’s electric blue locks and rather more slinky stagewear). He’s not low on intensity when in front of the mic, either, and the second they strike the first chord, everything about the band crackles with manic energy, and exude an ineffable magnetism. They’re beyond – and above – mere ‘cool’. Yes, they put on a show, but it’s not merely performance: there’s something almost transcendental about an Arrows of Love show, with five people completely immersed in the music and the moment.

Arrows 3

Arrows of Love

I soon realise that while trains between Leeds and York are good, there’s nothing between 00:45 and 02:15, and with a 6am start looming, I’m going to have to bail early. But then ‘early’ is relative…

Arrows 2

Arrows of Love

I manage to squeeze four songs before having to peg it, and while I’m itching to know what they’re going to do next, I’ve already seen enough to get a handle on the fact they’re on blistering form, and seriously loud. They’re already bigger outside their homeland, and may yet to really crack the Leeds scene and the north more generally, but shows like this can’t fail to build their reputation, and it’s hard to believe that Product won’t see them explode. If ever a band deserved global cult status, Arrows of Love do.

Christopher Nosnibor

Are Three Trapped Tigers really a £10 band? Are they a band who can justify playing 300-400 capacity venues on a UK tour with some 15 dates? The people of York clearly don’t think so, and it’s telling that the majority of those who’ve turned out purchased discount tickets from the main support, Stereoscope. And yes, they’re the primary reason I’m here, too.

And so it is that being on just 15 minutes after doors, Soma Crew, playing as a three-piece, perform to an almost empty room. As a venue space, Fibbers is good. But when it’s quiet, it’s a vast, cavernous barn of a place. It’s also a huge space to fill, sonically. The twin guitars melt together in a mass of infinite reverb, and the metronomic drums – an integral part of their sound – are all in place, but something, more than the bassist, is missing. It’s not until toward the end of the set when Simon turns to his amp and whacks it up by 30% that it all comes together. Yes, their swirling, FX-laden psychedelic shoegaze dronescapes need to be heard at volume to achieve the optimal effect. The music needs to form a big, fuzzy sonic blanket, a sound large enough to get lost in. and when they achieve that, as they did at the end, they’re ace. Still, you can hardly blame the band for the sound out front when they’ve barely been given a soundcheck.

DSCF3454

Soma Crew

Also denied a detailed soundcheck, Stereoscope have less kit and so manage to achieve a fuller sound. Playing in near darkness, the trio pump out a set of slow-burning electronic behemoths. The live drumming would have benefited from being up in the mix for maximum punch on his outing, but even so, it brings an essential dynamic to the band’s industrial-edged mechanised sound. Front man Andy Johnson gives some amusing and self-deprecating patter between songs, but his lyrics are as dark as the grinding basslines Tim Wright churns out from his laptop, and as the stage itself. Announcing the last song as a cheery number about depression, he contorts his spindly frame into agonised postures and he pleads to stop the world.

DSCF3473

Stereoscope

So, why did the two support acts only have 20 minutes to soundcheck between them? Well, the headliners needing two hours to prepare for a set just over an hour in duration, in short. Ok, so it is their show. So where are their fans? To be clear, I didn’t turn out to gripe about the headliners. True, I did catch them live as a support act some years ago and was largely unimpressed. I wasn’t able to find my write-up of that show, but listening to their stuff on-line in the run-up to tonight gave me an indication of why I might not have been loving their work. But I was still willing to give them another go, and wondered if live they were more palatable.

And lo, the first track of the set made me think I’d perhaps been too harsh. With some strong, energetic and extremely dynamic drumming driving a relentless succession of twists and turns, but marked by some solid riffage, it suggested a powerful statement of intent and that maybe the lengthy soundcheck was justified – after all, the sound was incredible: the clarity! The crispness! But then the wanking began.

I’m by no means antagonistic toward musicianship. But as much as good musicianship requires technical ability, it equally demands the performer has a sense of listenability. Is it really music when the compositions are and endless succession of noodly snippets, disjointed and disconnected, the sole purpose of which seem to be to show the players’ technical prowess? I’ve long maintained that being a good musician does not necessarily correspond with being a good songwriter, and thee London trio reinforce this with every bar. Musicianship should at some point translate to the creation of music, beyond a showcase of technical ability.

And then there’s the presentation. With bearded hipsters Matt Calvert and Tom Robertson standing behind a bank of synths and looking rather self-satisfied (the former flailing at a guitar and paying less attention to his keyboard and laptop), I can’t help but be reminded of the line in hipster-bashing anthem ‘Being a Dickhead is Cool’ by Reuben Dangoor: ‘I play synth / we all play synths’. Granted, the drummer doesn’t play synth, and I can’t tell if he’s wearing loafers with no socks, but he’s a bearded hipster too.

DSCF3493

Three Trapped Tigers

Watching these guys rapidly disappear up their own anuses, my issues are twofold, and do extend beyond grousing about trendy tossbags making music for trendy tossbags: there really is nothing to get a handle on here. There’s no emotional heft, there’s no sense of trajectory or evolution to the songs. It isn’t that I demand emotional depth from every band: that would be unreasonable. Variety is the spice of life, and fun is important. Only this isn’t fun. They don’t conjure a mood, because no one section last long enough to conjure anything other than dizziness. Three Trapped Tigers communicate nothing, beyond a sense of their own self-importance, which hinges exclusively on the fact they can play their instruments extremely well. And I’m not going to deny that they can, because to do so would be patently absurd. But how do you connect with that, what is there to relate to?

The second is the sense of superiority: if you don’t get this and love it, you’re just not smart enough, maaan. But people respond to tunes, and they respond to art that speaks to them in some way. Three Trapped Tigers don’t speak on any level, and seem to think they’re above tunes. They’re wrong, and being a dickhead is not cool.

It’s sad that in 2016 there should be a need for a York Stand Up To Racism benefit gig. But, as one of the speakers noted, periods of austerity tend to bring division, and invariably, race-blame is one of the ways in which frustration at social deprivation and disparity manifests itself. And so, as war rages in the Middle East and we bear witness to the biggest mass displacement of people since WW2, there’s a disconcerting negativity toward asylum seekers, continually referred to in the media and beyond as ‘migrants’ (like it’s a dirty word, and somehow associated with vagrants), with a particular antagonism towards Muslims (as if all Muslims are extremists, and that’s before we consider Christian extremism, which has seemingly been acceptable since the Crusades).

But we’re all here – and yes, it’s a more than respectable turnout – for a mix of speakers and music-makers, disparate in style but united in the opposition to racism, to social division, to stigmatism, to segregation.

It is, necessarily, a mixed bag, and some of the speakers are more compelling than others: Pinar Aksu spoke lucidly of her experience of life in the UK since arriving as an 8-year-old asylum seeker from Turkey in 2001 and living in Glasgow, and Labour MP for York, Rachael Maskell was passionate and rousing during her succinct and well-paced speech. Some of the other speakers seemed less confident, less organised and less cogent, undermining the importance of their messages. But it would be wrong to criticise their contributions: this is about inclusivity. Not everyone can be a great public speaker, but that doesn’t diminish their societal contribution. If anything, tonight’s event highlights the way in which the current right-wing government, and the equally right-wing mainstream media are exerting their control by means of slick manipulation of the mainstream media channels. Tonight is not about spin, but the voices of real people, who have experienced the traumas of racism, of war, being heard.

Of the bands, Low Key Catastrophe and Orlando Ferguson proved to be the night’s real standouts: the former, on early, and making their debut appearance had an infectious energy that infused throughout the audience. Their brand of punky / post-punk tinged dub reggae has something of an anarcho vibe to it, and while the band as a whole are busy working out some chilled grooves overlayed with some tetchy, angular guitars, front man Jim Osman is a real live wire – a charismatic performer, he’s got the kind of passion you can’t fake and is and utterly compelling.

Low Key

Low Key Catastrophe

In contrast, Orlando Ferguson – duo John Tuffen and Ash Sagar – push hard on their avant-garde credentials and are all about the drone. Summ O))) without the power chords or distortion, ‘Earth 2’ reimagined without the gut-churning metal grind, their set, sculpted with duelling bass / guitar feedback and essentially nothing else is the droniest of drone. And it’s ace. There’s no overt political message here, but it’s clear that these guys are on the side of good.

Orlando Ferguson

Orlando Ferguson

The running order changed a few times, and things were running spectacularly late, which meant that after a long day at work after a 4am start, I wasn’t up for watching ZiZ (and I’m prey hardcore about staying it out to the end of a gig). Irked as I was at times by the apparent lack of organisation, and the conversation over performers (Nick Hall, offering his own brand of Folk Rock / Americana had a particularly tough battle against the endless babble), it was a landmark night that brought people together, and that’s what matters.