Posts Tagged ‘odd’

Bearsuit Records – 21st October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

To recap on a long and often retold tale of mine: I love weird shit, but I’m not quite so mad keen on remixes – unless they’re inventive and interesting. So what to make of a remix album of Eamon the Destroyer’s A Small Blue Car?

When I reviewed the album on its release back in November of last year – which barely feels like three months ago, let Alone the best part of a year – I was perhaps ambiguous in my appreciation, describing it as ‘downbeat’, gloomy’, and ‘soporific’. It is very much all of these things, but these are reasons to appreciate this understated collection of songs, with their lo-fi bedroom production style being integral to the Eamon the Destroyer listening experience as he rasps away darkly to aa droning backdrop in a crackle of distortion

One frequent niggle with remix sets is the repetition, but here, only a handful of tracks appear twice, with three interpretations of ‘My Drive’, which is fair enough having been the lead single, and dispersed among sixteen tracks in total, it doesn’t feel like overkill.

The reimaginations of the original songs certainly capture their spirit and essence, from the stop/start glitchy gloopiness of the wandering Like this Parade remix of ‘Nothing Like Anything’ to the longer, more abstract reworkings, like the six-and-a-half-minute festival or reverb and cavernous slow-mo, downturned echo that is Société Cantine remix of ‘Tomahjawk Den’ that’s as experimental as you like and quite disturbing in places, to Michael Valentine West’s seven minute spin on ‘My Drive’, A Small Blue Car – Re-Made / Remodelled is the definition of eclecticism. There’s low-level pulsating electronica and swerves into electronic chamber pop, against ambient electro and scraping industrial noise.

Yponeko brings swirling synths and grating distortion together in a drowning space-rock drift, while MVW deconstructs ‘My Drive’ to a junkyard of spare parts that’s somehow elegant and delicate as well as a wheezing, droning hum that wheezes and groans.

There are no obvious rehashings here, no lazy no-effort remixes that do the usual thing of whacking a booming beat behind the original. In fact, there are absolutely no stonking beats, techno or disco remixes here: these are all most sensitive to the original intent. Sometimes there are beats – as on the thrumming Ememe remix of ‘Avalanche’, but it’s a stuttering wall of drilling noise, ploughing into a mess of glitching loops, a mangled cut-up collage of sound – and often there are not: The Moth Poet’s take on ‘Slow Motion Fade’ is nightmarishly dark, a whirling churn of sound, which drifts into sepulchral opera at the end

Across the course of the album, there’s a lot of cut-and-paste splicing galore, resulting in an ever-shifting sonic collage, and John 3:16 brings gloomy, stark industrial to ‘Humanity id Coming’. House of Tapes turn ‘My Drive’ into a throbbing grunge beast, with additional helium. It’s hard to imagine anything further removed from the original, and that includes Halai’s twisted tribal techno take on the same song.

Alongside one another, it should all amount to a horrible mess, but is, in fact, an absolute triumph, because this is exactly how it should be: Eamon the Destroyer’s original work was a kaleidoscope of darkly disorientating oddity, and this revisitation is more of the same, only different. It’s unlikely to land any spins in nightclubs across the land, and even less likely to find any of the tracks landing Radio 1 playlisting, and it’s even unlikely to win many new fans – but then again, Eamon’s acquired some admirably influential fans, and moreover, that’s not really the ambition for any artist releasing work through Bearsuit. And it’s so refreshing when so much emphasis is placed on not just sakes, but airplay, streams on Spotify, and likes and followers on various platforms, that there are still those who value artistic freedom and exploration above all else.

A Small Blue Car – Re-Made / Remodelled is a source of pleasure, not only because it’s genuinely interesting, but simply because it exists.

AA

a0817555736_10

After a lengthy hiatus from 2013 to making a return to the fray this summer, Benjamin Heal’s Cowman alter ego is back with a vengeance: hot on the heels of the Crunch’ EP, which was essentially the salvage from an aborted album project, we have a full-length album proper in the form of Slaughter.

The title may or may not be a fairly off-the-cuff and easy reference to its being recorded at a studio by the name of The Slaughterhouse – evidently not the one in Driffield, favoured by Earache acts back in the day, since it was destroyed by a fire in the 90s – but it equally seems appropriate to the tense, tortured atmosphere that pervades this release.

Kicking off energetically with ‘Hydrant’, this is the sound of Cowman reinvigorated. It’s still gloriously lo-fi, and still warrants Pavement comparisons I effortlessly tossed at its predecessor, but this carries the unbridled excitement of those early EPs which preceded Slanted. But moreover, it’s fuller, scuzzier, dirtier, somehow more adrenalized, and also more frenetic, more angular, as if Trumans Water had witnessed the apocalypse. In this sense, it’s very much a return to the gnarly grind of 2013’s Artificial Dissemination and Palpating the Rumen (2009).

AA

This tension carries on into ‘Rinka’, two and a quarter minutes of multi-layered mumbling vocals largely submerged beneath a hefty chug of rhythm guitar and a lead guitar that just about carries a motif, but wanders and around as if half-blinded and disoriented by a spinning compass on a map that’s missing bits.

‘Blackstock’ is a full-on wall of sound, the mangled vocals echoing impenetrably in a churning cyclical riff, and it’s not until ‘Kissing the Rock with Eyes’ that we get something approximating a groove, but even then, it’s impossible to settle into it for long. The beat may be vaguely baggy, but it’s urgent, thwacked out at a hundred miles an hour while the guitars are cracked up, overdriven and grungy. Something has happened here, and perhaps perusing the 2010 Cowvers album, which includes rough-as-fuck renditions of songs by Big Black, The Fall, yes, Trumans Water gives a clue of the roots to which Cowman is returning to here, but there’s also a newfound sense of purpose here, as if there’s a real need to channel some post-pandemic angst into big, bad, noise.

‘Itch’, clocking in at a minute and forty-one is pure Big Black, with a squall of treble-to-the-max guitar clanging over a pummelling blast of drum machine, before the dark, dank mass of the lumbering closer, ‘Wichita Black Sun’ rolls in and mines a mid-tempo motoric groove for over a quarter of an hour. The nagging monotony is integral to the experience, like a feedback-strewn reimagination of Lard’s ‘Time to Melt’ and the entire back catalogue of Terminal Cheesecake pulped into a single document.

While ‘Crunch’ was fun, Slaughter feels like the real Cowman. It’s not an easy or accessible record; in fact, it probably requires four stomachs to fully digest, but it’s a magnificent set of dingy alt-rock noise with firm roots in the early 90s, the likes of which is rare these days, yet seems fitting for these challenging times.

Listen EXCLUSIVELY to album tracks ‘’Blackstock’ and ‘Sticks, Stones, Fingers and Bones’ here:

AA

a2206602401_10

Christopher Nosnibor

Over recent months – and more – we’ve unravelled the series of releases by experimental oddballs Kröter, via their affiliation with the king of quirk, Mr Vast, formerly of cack pop maestros Wevie Stonder, aka Wevie De Crepon. You can never have too many side-projects, offshoots, and affiliated acts, and so it is that Kröter-associated Hunger give us Wollufos. (Hunger is Christoph Rothmeier & Jörg Hochapfel; Rothmeier is the other half of Kröter along with Henry Sargeant, aka Mr Vast). This is their eighth self-distributed album, and their first on vinyl.

Have you managed to keep up so far? Good, because it’s only going to get more complex and convoluted, because these guys are a prolific, self-contained community cranking out endless oddities, and Wollufos is no exception. They pitch it as ‘mixing fake folk acoustic instrumentation like banjos and open tuning guitars with Harry Partch-style homemade devices’. Fake folk?

From the springy sproingy lo-fi shuffling synth whackout of the brief intro piece that is ‘Zwergenfieber’, it’s immediately apparent that this is going to be a substantial serving of quirky, off-the-wall music that doesn’t conform to any conventions, even their own. The Berlin-based duo work across time signatures and genres at the same time, with some woozy, warpy synths and picked guitars existing in the same space but seemingly playing different songs. Then there’s the leaning towards titling their quirky, heavily rhythm-orientated instrumental ditties in French.

‘Mambo Momie’ is an exercise in bleepy motoric minimalism, and the album is brimming with minimal beats and squelchy synths, as is nowhere more apparent than on the strolling ‘Sunset Sling’. When it comes to making music with all the bells and whistles, Hunger take this quite literally: download bonus cut ‘Schuhe aus Brot’ sees them pull out all the stops to create something that borders on the overwhelming, with additional droning horn sounds and blasts of noise on top of the stuttering, clamorous percussion, before winding down to trickling chimes.

There’s some kind of half-baked wonky country / space crossover on ‘Chariot de Pipi’, and the atonal, off-key pickings of ‘Macramée Cramée’ are truly brain-bending. And then there’s the twelve-minute ‘Hundenebel’, a quivering proggy space-rock workout that makes optimal use of space and distance and of Daniel Glatzel’s clarinet to forge a vast sonic vista. Great, yawning siren wails rub against bubbling synth swells, and there are so many contrasts, to may layers, so many juxtapositions.

Why do we find discord so difficult to process? Even while I enjoy it, I find that numerous things that are seemingly disconnected or otherwise independent create something of a sensory overload that isn’t always entirely pleasurable, and can at times prove quite disorientating and uncomfortable. It messes with our orientation and equilibrium, trips our sense of balance and spins us off centre. Wollufos will leave you dizzy. At times it’s quite bewildering, but it’s never dull or lacking in inspiration.

AA

a2004897443_10

Human Worth

Christopher Nosnibor

Since their formation in 2002, Enablers have forged a career that has truly defied categorisation, and they’ve maintained a steady output, delivering eight albums – occasionally in flurries, sometimes with longer pauses between – each of which has pushed different directions and different boundaries.

But while their debut saw them showcase a sound that was different, it was their second album, released on Neurot in 2006, that really made a definitive statement that set Enablers in afield of their own creation. 2006 is now a whole terrifying fifteen years ago, and so, just as the time is right to reflect and reappraise the feat that is Output Negative Space, so the time is also right for a magnificent reissue courtesy of Human Worth. And being a Human Worth release, 10% of the proceeds plus Bandcamp cut going to charity – on this occasion, Sounds of Saving, who aim to improve mental health and reduce suicide rates by celebrating the power of human connection to music and directing people to the resources they need before it’s too late – in respect of drummer Joe Byrnes, with this release also marking the tenth anniversary of his passing.

The album features the lineup of Joe Byrnes (Drums), Pete Simonelli (Words ), Kevin Thomson (Guitar), and former Swans bassist Joe Goldring (Guitar & Hammond), and they really do cohere as a unit: the interplay between the four is outstanding; everything flows, so fluid, so natural, so intuitive. The chemistry and the electric vibe is immediate from the opening track, ‘Five O’Clock, Sundays’, which touches so many areas, crosses so many boundaries, and yet belongs to no one genre.

Simonelli’s delivery certainly isn’t rap, but then, it’s not singing either; it’s spoken word but with a sort of poetical, beat slant, with rhythm and a wonderful cadence that’s calm, even, but dynamic, too. The instrumentation is a bit jazz but it’s not jazz, it’s a bit mathy but doesn’t have quite that cutty, choppy, angularity, instead meandering and noodling, but without ever hinting at indulgence, and then there are crests and waves and low-level crescendos.

Most spoken word with backing feels very much like that – spoken word with fumbled instrumentation or otherwise awkward and juxtaposed. Not so Output Negative Space. This feels like a band, a complete collaboration, where each contributor is fully cognisant of the bigger picture, that their part is just that – a part of a whole, where nothing works unless everything works. And everything does work. There isn’t a second that doesn’t hit a sweet spot in terms of the performers coming together.

Output Negative Space is a stunning journey, and it’s wildly unpredictable. And yet it works.

There are moments when riffs break out and things get as almost conventionally rock; elsewhere, as on ‘Mediterranean’, everything happens all at once and comes in from all angles, and there really isn’t a moment that’s predictable – but at the same time, it’s not unduly jarring, and it doesn’t feel disorientating or chaotic. What it does feel is remarkably balanced; all of the elements combine to forge a real sonic synergy, and the music is so, so sympathetic and intuitive in the way it provides an understated backdrop to Simonelli’s nonchalant, world-weary vignettes, brimming with observations, details, and aa palpable sense of humanity.

Fifteen years on, it still sounds fresh, unique, and absolutely amazing.

With a small and selective roster and a keen focus on quality, Human Worth have done a super job, to, producing a limited edition run of heavyweight 180g vinyl, packaged in a gatefold sleeve which includes a hand numbered booklet featuring writings by vocalist Pete Simonelli and friends of the band remembering drummer Joey Byrnes 10 years after his passing, accompanied by rare tour photography by Owen Richards.

In all, it’s pretty special.

AA

Enablers_OutputNegativeSpace_Artwork-Front

11th May 2021

(kröter) don’t do things by halves. Back in 2018, the landed not just one album, but three, all culled from the same sessions, with two of those albums arriving simultaneously. Fifteen minutes of (kröter) can be quite the headfuck, but three hours? (kröter) are a melting-pot of madness, and how much of their derangement does anyone need?

Well, from seemingly out of nowhere, they’ve dropped a further two albums, *d and *e, again drawn from the epic sessions in 2017-18.

‘avantgarde’, the first piece on *d is typically whacky, and knows it. A picked guitar, hesitant, and sounding more like tuning up than an actual composition, is immediately obliterated with a squelchy squirt of digital diarrhoea. ‘How much water does an avocado need to grow?’ they ponder by way of an introduction to some abstract lyrical ponderances. ‘This is avantgarde’. And yes, it is: and this is also an exercise in avantgarde self-reflexivity, art reflecting on art reflecting on art.

‘soul monkey’ does have that cack pop vibe of associated act Wevie Stonder and Mr Vast’s solo works, white soul played limp and strange, before a really dingy bassline grinds in like a bulldozer and distorted vocals rant and yelp half-submerged in the mix. The ten-minute ‘flattening shades’ marks a distinct shift of style and pace, manifesting as a slow, ponderous, piece with chorus-heavy guitar and a sparse, strolling that combine to create some palpable atmosphere. Despite some odd vocal segments, there are some moments of both menace and beauty, which show that beneath all the zany shit, these guys have some real talent and ability.

Not that you’d know it from the discordant chaos of ‘lambs brain’, which is twelve minutes of demented racket and shouting, and a bunch of twanging and sampling and whatever else happens to be at hand that ended up bring tossed into the blender. Then there’s ‘tomatos’ and ‘omatose’, companion pieces that are daft, quirky interludes. Because.

The album really only has one song that’s recognisable as such, and that’s ‘up to chance’ which incorporates elements of country and prog and autotuned Radio 1 chart pop, and of course, it gets pretty weird pretty quickly.

*e, described as ‘another bucket full of toad spawn fished out of the kröters sessions’ is more of the same, only more, containing four longform tracks that showcase leanings towards more spacey-electro and jazz. Tinkling synths and a wandering horn amble all over an insistent beat that in combination provide the disjointed backdrop to monotone chanting vocals on borehole (prelude), which provides an extended introduction to another aspect of their oddball stylings. It paves the way for the twenty-minute ‘borehole (suite)’, which is both more and the same, an extended drone of froth and foam and bubbling electronics, propelled by a swampy, looping, pulsating bass. It’s certainly darker in hue, and the expansive forms only add to the bewilderment.

The hypnotic weirdness continues through the snickeringly-titled ‘glandfather’, culminating in the eighteen-minute ‘coloumns’, another off-kilter spoken word piece accompanied by minimalist instrumentation that scratches and scrapes

If some of this feels like the whacky weirdness is something they’ve worked on, it’s equally something that they feel comfortable with, as if they derive pleasure from making you feel uncomfortable. As such, while there’s a certain self-awareness about all of this, it doesn’t feel particularly contrived or forced, and we leave this duo of albums with the conclusion that this isn’t a gimmick and that these guys are genuinely fucking barmy. And we should embrace that: while people all around us are losing the plot, (kröter) celebrate the idea that plot is overrated and they never had any grasp on it to lose in the first place. At their best, (kröter) evoke some of Bauhaus’ more experimental moments,, but mostly, (kröter) just sound like (kröter), and utterly deranged. Which is all the reason to like them, even if their music isn’t for everyone.

a1761606725_10

a4069748634_10

Room40 – 11th September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

I struggle to keep up with the influx of material I’m sent for review, and have done for at least the last 8 years, which may or may not be coincidental with a) becoming a parent b) rapidly developing a massive network or PR and band contacts. It turns out that there comes a point when you don’t need to ask to be added to mailing lists, and people just find you. Anyway. Sometimes I just struggle, but that’s a whole other matter.

Apparition Paintings is a collection of oddly disjointed compositions that alternately soothe and trip the listener, moving between mellow melodies and rippling calmness – ‘All I Desire’ is a slow melt of chillwave, electronic post-rock and Disintegration-era Cure – and eerie weirdness – ‘When I first came here (I thought I’d never get used to the trains; now when it’s quiet I get nervous)’ is part chamber-pop, part deranged spookiness. None of this sits comfortably, in any context, and the deeper one delves into the eerie collage work that is Apparition Paintings, the more unsettling it becomes.

Toop’s notes which accompany the release are as disjointed and confounding as the music they accompany: ‘Don’t ask me about genre or consistency. Who cares? Half the world is drowning; the other half is in flames. Each story is an animal, a plant, something you drink, a surface you touch, a faint line, some memory emanating from a cardboard box. “’Things’ in themselves are only events that for a while are monotonous,” wrote Carlo Rovelli in The Order of Time. Maybe sounds are melting ‘things’, tired of the monotonous real.’

Yet on a certain level it makes sense. In a post-Covid world. The monotonous real is the lived experience of the everyday for many – not that it wasn’t before, but now, without the commute, without being in proximity to the volatile colleague, the explosive tension or the whatever, the monotonous real is confined to the household and to within the head. It may not be immediately apparent, but Apparition Paintings is a sort of inside soundtrack of the now, with extraneous and unexpected noises pinging back and firth across the main sonic backdrops to each piece.

‘She fell asleep somewhere outside the world’ finds a disembodied female voice singing a quavering melody, hesitantly. It’s a popular trope, but the deranged, childlike singing against a spooky backdrop is an effective trigger for cognitive dissonance. Apparition Paintings is an album that very much speaks to the sounds of the interior.

AA

a2399192845_10