Posts Tagged ‘Protest’

Despot – 3rd November 2021

Christiopher Nosnibor

Ukraine continues to reveal itself as having a throbbing underground scene, producing some really high-quality nuggets of experimental and exploratory music. ‘Almost Sugar’ is one of those short albums, occupied with a single longform composition on each side of a cassette or 12” record – and with the wait times and increasingly prohibitive cost of producing short runs of vinyl die to myriad factors including but not exhausted by the pandemic, the cassette is becoming ever more the format of choice.

The cassette is something of an unexpected format to experience a renaissance, largely on account of some hipsterish nostalgia for a format that formed an integral part of the formative years for so many of us. It’s very much a rose-tinted hue: memes about pencils (I always used a Bic biro myself) fail to convey the anguish of a chewed tape that had spooled out, and never mind the hassle of endless hours rewinding and fast forwarding to locate specific tracks, and so on. Much of the cassette experience was centred around frustration, and it was simply something we accepted because that was the format we had, and the only recordable (and re-recordable) one at that. Still, it would be wrong to downplay the joy of the compilation (we didn’t all call them mixtapes back then). But also, there are now practical reasons for the return to the cassette as the physical format of choice, and that’s largely down to cost and availability.

However, as Neill Jameson recently wrote in Decibel Magazine, supply chain issues may soon prove to dent the demand for the cassette again, and while on a practical level, I can’t say I’m too disappointed, on a principal level, I very much am: the two sidedness of the format is closest to replicating the vinyl experience, and the limitations of length have a close relationship to duration of recordings. Format does matter; physical mediums to matter. Necessity isn’t only the mother of invention it’s also the driver of discipline. Two fifteen to twenty-minute sides require considerably more focus than a continuous seventy-two minute expanse.

Title track ‘Almost Sugar’ is fifteen minutes of bubbling analogue exportation, with a whole lot of hissing static and polytonal drones and hums combining to for a slow-twisting, heavily atmospheric work. It’s a high concept piece, constructed around the way in which the sugar crystal ‘changes its structure under any impact’. Consider this fact next time you’re stirring your tea or coffee, or tossing a couple of spoonfuls over your morning cereal, or maybe whipping up a cake batter.

‘Superdry People’, the piece which occupies side two, is darker, murkier, the sound of a slumbering beast awakening, an ominous dungeon rumble emanating from the some subterranean chamber or even the bowels of the earth. According to the accompanying notes, ‘Superdry People’ is ‘a play about «superdry people», who are heading to the pool, apparently to «soak off». Splashes of some substances, mechanisms, fragments of secular talks’, but the title simply makes me think of tossers in trendy expensive coats, and as a London-based brand feigning the exoticism of being from Japan with it’s ‘Superdry JPN’ logos and shit, it’s one that inspires ire that extends to the people who purchase their gear. I hope that this yawning sonic abyss is the conduit which will suck all the real Superdry people into its vortex, never to return. We can but hope.

But while we’re waiting for the tossers to evaporate, this is a perfect album to immerse yourself in.

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Tape Records – 9th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Fuck yeah! Purveyors of premium quality grungey no-wave noise Arrows of Love serve up the second taster of their second album, Product, and ‘Beast’ is appropriately titled. A sprawling, squalling mess of chaos, it sums up everything that makes Arrows of Love the band they are.

Now, I was hooked on AoL from the moment I heard the opening bars of ‘Honey’ back in 2012 . That low-slung, dirty bassline and the fizzy guitar racket was one of the most exhilarating things I’d heard in years.

Granted, it’s live that they really come into their own, but their studio recording are a pretty accurate reflection of their wildly unpredictable, full-tilt, performances, and Everything’s Fucked was one of the most courageously raw albums -debut or otherwise – of 2014.

Beyond the music, Arrows of Love have a social and political conscience, too, as the band members’ Facebook postings and the press release in support of the single attest: ‘During the last few months Arrows of Love stepped away from their album recording process to fight a campaign against the ex-Olympic Authority LLDC. With their own warehouse community threatened with demolition as London continues to lose parts of its soul to gentrification, Vittoria Wharf hit local and worldwide news when residents stood up to fight closure. The band and a slew of local artists spearheaded the defence of what i-D called “a thriving centre for cultural and artistic output” during the #savevittoriawharf campaign… ‘Beast’ is a song built for speed. Its anthemic forward march is a sensibility that runs counter to the over-stuffed, of-the-moment world we live in and its context runs parallel with the bands defiant nature. “A lot of people have asked me if I’ve written any songs about this fight with the corporation” says Nima, “This song was actually written over a year ago, but as we’ve been playing and recording it this summer the lyrics turned out to be prophetically relevant”. Proving that Arrows Of Love are one of a rare breed of bands that stand by what they preach when the moment calls.’

All the more reasons to love the band: they’re not your regular egotistical musos, but a gang who give a shit about stuff that matters at a grass-roots level.

Produced with a suitably light touch by Mikko Gordon (Thom Yorke, Gaz Combes), and mastered with a full appreciation of the band’s intent by Bob Weston of Shellac, ‘Beast’ is a bass-driven sprawl of angular racket which indicates that Product will be even more gnarly and uncompromising than its predecessor. I for one am very excited by the prospect. You should be too.