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Sep. 22nd, 2017

cyberinsekt

Chain and the Gang - Free Will

It's always good to make time for the contrarian intellectual garage rock of Ian Svenonius and friends, AKA Chain and the Gang. Free Will comes from their 2012 album In Cool Blood, and if like me you've got the habit of making really bad decisions it's something you should play close attention to. Basically, what you need to do is to completely abandon your ego, abnegate your personality, and let CatG live your life for you. Let's face it, they couldn't do a worse job that you have, could they? You might think you're doing okay for now, but all that means is you haven't found the catch yet. Go on, give up. I dare you.

Chain and the Gang - Free Will
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Sep. 21st, 2017

cyberinsekt

Dälek - The Son of Immigrants

Dälek have been making industrial shoegaze hip-hop for 20 years now, and that's the way we like 'em. The Son of Immigrants from their 2017 album Endangered Philosophies is firmly rooted in the now, the sound of educated street protest. A monolithic rumbling bass, layers of feedback and a melody drawn screaming out of dissonance. There seems little cause for optimism, but it's still defiant. It's also amazing in terms of sheer scale: this is the single biggest sound you'll hear this month. Breathtaking.

Dälek - The Son of Immigrants
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Sep. 20th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Bruce Haack - Gastronomicplentyfication

Time for another track by the ineffable Bruce Haack. Ever the outsider, Haack went from oddball technophiliac educational songs for schoolchildren to sleazy vampire porn numbers in the space of a decade. Gastronomicplentyfication comes from latter half of his career, the 1979 Electric Lucifer Book 2. It combines the familiar sound of his self-made vocoder and bouncy disco funk Moog, but it's clear that something is very wrong here. The hunger on display here is that of someone deeply damaged by austerity and rationing, as the smooth vocals quickly transform into cartoon wolfishness. Haack's eccentric inventiveness is in full flow, but this is peculiarly dark stuff.

Bruce Haack - Gastronomicplentyfication
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Sep. 19th, 2017

cyberinsekt

John Butcher - Willow Shiver

When it comes to the list of saxophone innovators I feel like John Butcher is someone who tends to be forgotten about. And that is, if you forgive me for saying so, crazy. No he didn't introduce plastic instruments, no he didn't work with monstrously tough reeds. Even if he had, he's never had the opportunity, never had the popularity to demonstrate just how radical he is. The fact is, I'm not sure that there is anyone alive who understands the saxophone as well as Butcher. Maybe some of the craftspeople who design and built instruments, maybe. But amongst his fellow players, Butcher is without peers.

Willow Shiver comes from his 2012 album Bell Trove Spools. It's recorded with the microphone actually inside the bell of his sax. There's no air involved at all: all the sounds come from Butcher tapping the keys and the body of the instrument, and from the swell of feedback that live amplification allows. It's as if he's mapping it, using sound to describe the interior. The music's the thing though: this isn't just some dry artistic exercise, it's also a enthralling listen.

John Butcher - Willow Shiver
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Sep. 18th, 2017

cyberinsekt

How To Disappear Completely - Oressa

How To Disappear Completely are a Polish ambient drone group. I think they're quite insistent that they're named after the 1985 book, rather than the Radiohead song, and that's fine. Oressa comes from their 2017 release Mer de Revs II, a collection of tracks designed to fall asleep to. And you know what? It sort of does the job. No overly complicated textures or harmonics, just this big shimmering blanket of sound that covers you up and makes your limbs feel heavy. It doesn't get more tranquil than this. I've never got around to checking out Max Richter's 8 hour long piece Sleep, but my bet is this is rather more succinct and way more functional.

How To Disappear Completely - Oressa
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Sep. 17th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Yusef Lateef - Juba Juba

There probably aren't many Yusef Lateef fans out there, but Doklands doesn't care. The guy brought a wide range of different musics to Western ears, and he's paid his dues many times over. That said, his 1968 album The Blue Yusef Lateef is... not good. He tries to tie several disparate musical strands together, combining them with the blues. It can be clumsy or worse, such as on Moon Cup where he adds far eastern folk music to the mix and starts to scat in Tagalog.

But the album's opener, Juba Juba is spot on. It's a prison work song with that unmistakable heavy beat and gospel backing vocals from The Sweet Inspirations. Lateef was never one to shy away from the spiritual and you can certainly hear that understated passion in his flute melody here. American slavery, American prisons, and all the fine graduations that exist between them; together they have given us our modern musical heritage. Sometimes you've just got to remember that and roll with the punches.

Yusef Lateef - Juba Juba
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Sep. 16th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Damaged Bug - Bog Dash

Damaged Bug is Oh Sees founder John Dwyer. Bog Dash has him turn his hand to some demented noise funk, a home recorded pincushion of feedback and crabbed fingers. It's as likely to annoy with its dentist drill synths as it is with its vocal whoops, but if you're not put off by such dirty and nasty sounds you may find it in your heart to love this. From the 2017 release Bunker Funk.

Damaged Bug - Bog Dash
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Sep. 15th, 2017

cyberinsekt

The Body - Prescience

I love this track by experimental doom metallers The Body. Prescience comes from their 2016 release No One Deserves Happiness and it's as dark and foreboding as the title might suggest. It's got a beat like a giant mechanical lung and a growing scrawl of noise like the very best of Fuck Buttons. But that wave is one that is never going to break. You're never going to get those white noise horses cascade down in exultant release, the pain is always going to be directed inwards. Depressing but quite magnificent.

The Body - Prescience
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Sep. 14th, 2017

cyberinsekt

ShitKid - Tropics

Plenty of people have approached the music of the past in an ironic or kitsch way. That's certainly been the case with exotica and pop music for quite some time. Far fewer have taken this approach to rock'n'roll. Maybe it's because it's difficult to get right, or maybe it's because rock always sees itself as the music of now, of the future, and any reference to its past is something to be avoided. Yet when this approach works, it has created music that has remained innovative and fresh sounding for decades: some of Suicide's early recordings could almost be contemporary.

Or at least they could until ShitKid came along. It's the work of Gothenburg-based Åsa Söderqvis who has created a new ironic distance between past and present. The loping, affected laziness of Tropics has a DIY surf vibe to it, and an almost childlike appreciation of vintage rock. It's cool, it's fun, and it's from the 2017 album Fish.

ShitKid - Tropics
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Sep. 13th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Ex-Easter Island Head - Ten Bells

There's no-one who sounds quite like Ex-Easter Island Head. Laying their guitars horizontally and playing them like dulcimers, they've got the primal sonorities of Test Dept. and the percussive rigour of Steve Reich. Ten Bells comes from from their 2016 release Twenty-Two Strings. You've got to admire the methodology at work here: the 22 strings are the band's three guitars and single bass. And here they are indeed joined by ten bells, adding a distinctly gamelan-like sound to the rhythmic tumult. That is song titling at its very best, and this is brilliant soundmaking.

Ex-Easter Island Head - Ten Bells
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Sep. 12th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Tuning Circuits - I Am A Non-Believer

In 1990 René Bakker sat down in his home studio and recorded the eight tracks of sinister, industrial techno that would see release as the No Compassion cassette. He recorded everything live to tape. Only 200 were ever made.

Fast forward 16 years or so, and the tape starts circulating via music sharing blogs, and people's ears are being blown. This is some lo-fi shit, relentlessly minimal with gated-to-fuck vocals. It's also extraordinarily good. It's since seen a limited re-issue. If you've any love for coarse early '90s bangers you owe it to yourself to listen to I Am A Non-Believer.

Tuning Circuits - I Am A Non-Believer
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Sep. 11th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Wayne County and the Electric Chairs - Fuck Off

Teenage boys sure do love a bit of transgression. Glam transsexual playing dirty rock'n'roll in punk clubs? Sure, whatevs. Same singing "If you don't wanna fuck me baby, baby fuck off"? Well that 7" single immediately gains most treasured possession status, thank you very much.

Haven't heard this in donkeys' years. It was recorded in London in 1977, and is apparently the first studio recording that UK music telly fixture Jools Holland ever appeared on. (Nice fella. Looks much shorter in real life.) Received wisdom would have us believe that Wayne (later Jayne) County had to embrace underground culture to find somewhere she was accepted, but that never quite rang true. If her antagonistic stage shows were anything to go by, County never seemed to be someone looking for acceptance. But at least the punk scene was somewhere where she could perform a bit of old wank like this and have it go over well.

Fuck Off is... not great. What it is however is a key cultural artefact, possibly the most famous song by rock's first openly trans performer. Maybe that is something that could have only ever happened at the margins.

Wayne County and the Electric Chairs - Fuck Off
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Sep. 10th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Michael Nyman - Love Doesn't End

However fond you might be of the music of Michael Nyman, there's no getting away from the fact that he's written quite a lot of it. And much of his output, especially his soundtrack work, isn't so much immediately recognisable as it is Nyman-by-numbers. This really isn't one of those. Love Doesn't End is a mile away from his trademark baroque minimalism. It's from his soundtrack to the 1999 film The End of the Affair, and it's a hesitant, romantic melody for solo piano. Sometimes hesitancy denotes uncertainly, here's it's quite the opposite. It's the sound of everything making perfect sense, perhaps for the first and last time. Terribly sad.

Michael Nyman - Love Doesn't End
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Sep. 9th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Yves Tumor - Mssng Naw

Well holy crap this one will blow you away. Yves Tumor comes from Tennessee and never makes the same record twice. Mssng Naw is the opener of his 2015 release When Man Fails You. Imagine '70s spiritual jazz electric guitar laden down with reams of shuddering reverb, gigantic but light. Then add weighty and complex drums, rolling intuitive curlicues of colour. They don't mark time, they sculpt it. Absolutely fucking bravura music, totally assured and confident.

Yves Tumor - Mssng Naw
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Sep. 8th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Volcano The Bear - See Me Now

Exquisite dissonance from the Leicester-based avant-droners. See Me Now is the climax of their 2006 release Classic Erasmus Fusion, and it's one of the most painfully gorgeous rackets you'll ever hear. It's 10 minutes of chanting, crashing gongs, ring modulation, clatter and stridulation, and an immense organ drone. Eventually, everything gets washed away in an act of sonic purification. Ritual music to drive away existential dread, holy and magnificent.

Volcano The Bear - See Me Now
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Sep. 7th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Oleg Kostrow - In Three Hands

Charming bit of loungetronic fluff for you today. Oleg Kostrow is the Thiaz Itch of experimental easy listening, splattering the sonic canvas with as many bright colours as possible. There's a bit of surf, a bit of Jane Birkin, but it's all very chill. I particularly like the needlessly overcomplicated syncopation. On the one hand it's all very organically constructed, on the other it's a bit too obvious that it is constructed. Could probably lose a minute or two, but still very fun.

Oleg Kostrow - In Three Hands
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Sep. 6th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Duke of Iron and his Trinidad Calypso Troubadours - Last Train

None of us has any control over the very earliest records we remember, so don't judge me. For me it was delving into my grandparents' radiogram and digging out a copy of Last Train To San Fernando by Johnny Duncan. It was a jaunty skiffle number, so of course your tiny scribe thought it was the best thing ever.

Many years later I discovered that Johnny Duncan didn't write it. It's a cover of the 1952 song Last Train by the Duke of Iron. You and the rest of the world might not care, but for me this is fundamental stuff. This scratchy old calypso 78 informs everything I've ever heard since. So this one's for me, not you. Hope that's okay.

Duke of Iron and his Trinidad Calypso Troubadours - Last Train
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Sep. 5th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Wipers - D-7

Wipers were a band from Portland, Oregon. They probably considered themselves punks, but in retrospect it's possible to hear a lot of the roots of West coast grunge in their slower, bassier sections. Just check out the intro to D-7 from their 1979 debut album Is This Real? Great tune, but they miss a trick with the lyrics. It's not about a polyhedral gaming die at all, but about being an outsider. Well join the fucking queue, mates. Everyone and their gran are outsiders, but d7 dice are exceedingly rare, being experimental irregular solids produced in small batches for dedicated dice fans.

Wipers - D-7
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Sep. 4th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Valerio Tricoli - As For The Crack

As For The Crack is the unbearably tense conclusion to the 2016 release of musique concrète, Clonic Earth. Everything is fragmentary. No sooner has a snippet of sound been registered than it is gone again: cries and bells and breathing disappearing into a fog of echo and delay. Thing happen at the wrong time, in the wrong place, at the wrong speed. It's horrifyingly pessimistic, and yet I cannot stop listening.

Valerio Tricoli - As For The Crack
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Sep. 3rd, 2017

cyberinsekt

Henry Threadgill - Celebration

Long before the unbearably pleasant downtempo pop of Air there was another group of the same name. They were a trio from Chicago and they played free jazz1, and therefore it was considered only right and proper for their legacy to be overwritten by some trite synthesized pap. Go ahead lads, erase that history. You can get away with it. You're sexy young pop stars and the world belongs to you. Fuckers.

Sorry about that. On a good day, with the proper lighting and bulky clothing you can barely discern my loathing for Nicolas Godin.

The real and proper Air broke several times before eventually disbanding in the mid-'80s. During one of those breaks, saxophonist Henry Threadgill got together the band who would record the 1979 album X-75 Volume 1 (there is no Volume 2). They had a singer. They had four reed players. And they had four bassists. Oh yes.

So if you want to hear something where the rhythm and the bulk of the melody is so low you'll feel it in your anus, Celebration is the track for you. It starts off vast and stately, all four bassists playing arco and sounding like some giant harmonium. And then the bows go down and and it's fingers and thumbs all the way 'cause it's time to get propulsive and irresistible. Once that groove is firmly established they can be joined by voice and flutes and from there it's a straight road to the end. Audacious in its orchestration, its simplicity and in just how much fun it is, Celebration is an essential cut that somehow hasn't yet been mined by DJs.

1. And yes, there was an earlier band of the same name, but they had Jan Hammer in so they don't count.

Henry Threadgill - Celebration
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