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Jul. 29th, 2016

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Gorgonzola Legs - Screaming Jay Hawkins

For most people it would be enough to know that there was a Dutch proto-noise band in the 1980s called Gorgonzola Legs. And yes, it's a splendid fact and one we all can derive some enjoyment from. But you're not like most other people. (It's one of the things I like about you.) You actually want to hear what they sound like.

Here's their contribution to the 1986 compilation cassette Home-Made Music For Home-Made People Vol. 5: "Crazy But Chic". It's short and to the point: 49 seconds of free drumming and shrieking sax modulations that ends with a righteous yell. Not at all typical of the band, who were more prone to releasing meandering atonal side-long sound experiments. On cassette, naturally. And those are good, but I thought you'd appreciate the brevity of Screaming Jay Hawkins. (It's one of the things you like about me.)

Gorgonzola Legs - Screaming Jay Hawkins
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Jul. 28th, 2016

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Amanaz - Amanaz

Here's a Zambian psychedelic blues instrumental from 1975. If psychedelia succeeds based on how much it disorients, then this is definitely a success. Part of that success is surely down to the very eccentric mix which has the bass way up front, the fuzz guitar behind it, and the drums almost inaudible in the distance. Sadly in this case the lo-fi recording quality hides the music rather than adds to it. It can't disguise the fact that Amanaz is a great theme song though, reminiscent of Cream's Sunshine of your Love but very much its own stoned thing. From the 1975 album Africa.

Amanaz - Amanaz
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Jul. 27th, 2016

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Jun Y Gor - Junbano

A lot of free improv tends to sound the same. It's as if, liberated from genres and playing styles, musicians are closing their eyes, crossing their fingers, and hoping for the best. There are exceptions of course, and to this list it will soon become necessary to add A.L. Guillen and Javier Carmona of the Spanish duo Jun Y Gor.

Carmona is a drummer with a good jazz pedigree, but guitarist Guillen was previously unknown to me, and the guy is a phenomenon. I don't think I've ever heard nastier, scratchier playing than on Junbano from their group's eponymous debut. It opens with a passage that could almost be some cheesy Latinesque thing if it weren't for all of the chaotic noise inflections. In terms of sheer sonic shock it reminds me of the stripped back post-punk clatter of The Fire Engines, but with white noise guitar and fiddlehead drums. This live recording is raw and vital and really exciting music. Do yourself a favour and grab a free copy of the album from archive.org.

Jun Y Gor - Junbano

Jul. 26th, 2016

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Brian Eno - Pour It Out

I love* how musicians have certain eras of work we're supposed to listen to. Eno's is quite a lengthy one, from approximately 1972-83. That's why today's track is from his 2011 album Drums Between The Bells. It's a massively varied and ambitious work that sets the poetry of Rick Holland to music of varied and disparate styles.

Pour It Out is a fairly restrained piece, but it does have the advantage of being utterly gorgeous. Listening to it is like being immersed in liquid sound: a simple minor key piano motif blends with a plain-spoken yet dreamlike reading from Laura Spagnuolo. It's music that keeps its distance.

* This is untrue

Brian Eno - Pour It Out
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Jul. 25th, 2016

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Red Balune - Capitalist Kid

Not many people can claim to have been members of both Henry Cow, Aksak Maboul and Univers Zéro, but Geoff Leigh can. That's an impeccable set of RIO credentials right there. Red Balune was his short-lived musical theatre project from the late 1970s. Only two releases to their name: the second, the Maximum Penalty EP, has the familiar RIO difficult classical/overly theatrical Marxist cabaret tropes. It's good, but it doesn't really stand out. But the first was the quite extraordinary Capitalist Kid single, and it's like nothing else. It's part Crass, part scratch orchestra school band throwing everything into the mix, and part barely coherent groaning and wailing. Some people insist that it was only released as a joke. To hear the b-side, Spider in Love, does lend a bit of credibility to that theory. If you want to make up your mind one way or the other, Geoff has released this and many other early tracks of his for free via his Bandcamp.

Red Balune - Capitalist Kid
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Jul. 24th, 2016

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Staraya Derevnya - Hram

The most extraordinary sound I've heard this year? Easy. Without question it's Gosha Hniu's strangulated yodel that opens Hram, the first track from Staraya Derevnya's Kadita Sessions. It's an album with some superb moments that draws in part from the post-punk explorations of bands such as This Heat, neo-psychedelia, Sunburned Hand of the Man communality, and the Tzadik-like reappropriation of Jewish musical traditions. This proves to be a potent mix. You get the impression that Staraya Derevnya were as surprised as anyone at the sounds they made together, surprised yet delighted. It's unfailingly experimental, yet the pleasure of the sound is there throughout.

Hram is such a startling listen. From that opening vocal it's as if the scream never stops, carried along by the single droning chord, the drum circle percussion, the chattering choir, the tearing minimal guitar. It's more full of sound than anything I've heard in a long time. Too full at times? Perhaps, but if that's a mistake then I don't want to go back to things being right. The CD release comes packaged in a hand-felted pouch that is a swirl of textures and colours, and it's a surprisingly honest album cover.



Staraya Derevnya - Hram
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Jul. 23rd, 2016

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Peter Brötzmann - Banyan Revolution

It's the last stop on Doklands' tour of the EU, and we round things off with Germany. It's a nation with an embarrassment of musical riches, but few to rival the legendary Peter Brötzmann. Hard-blowing free jazz saxophonists are usually described as incendiary, but that's never been a adjective that's really suited him. His tone tends towards the rough, the industrial, the staccato. He's more at home spitting out a sequence of granular sound fragments than he is just letting rip: think sandblaster rather than welding torch.

But none of that applies on Banyan Revolution from his 2006 collaboration with drummer Michael Zerang Live in Beirut. Instead, Brötzmann takes to the clarinet for a lugubrious, tender and sorrowful performance. Sometimes he finds a quarter note or bends away from the semitone, but extended technique is kept to a bare minimum for this. Genuinely emotionally affecting.

Peter Brötzmann - Banyan Revolution
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Jul. 22nd, 2016

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Kodian Trio - V

Are you ready for some meticulously disjointed free improv? If so you're in luck, as that's precisely what the Dutch outfit the Kodian Trio excel at. Their first album I was released earlier this year, and it's full of the scratchy, clicky difficult listening that we all love. One track that stands apart from the rest of the album is V, which sees the group cut loose with amplification and general skronkiness. It also sees them play a bit more with rock tonalities - Dirk Serries' electric guitar may be chopping and switching, but every so often there'll be a phrase that sounds like it might have been played by Mick Ronson. Colin Webster is furious on sax, and Andrew Lisle likewise sounds as if he's acknowledging the rock influences, right up to the point where everything gets blasted into fragments. Really fun noises.

Kodian Trio - V
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Jul. 21st, 2016

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Anna Högberg Attack - Borderline

New Swedish jazz from Anna Högberg's all-female sextet, Attack. Borderline is a short number with a lot of punch that sees Högberg playing her alto dry and hard. It's a brutal sound, the same way that brutalism is all about the raw unornamented concrete. The opening solo really needs to be heard to be believed. The rest of the band are firmly of the opinion that having many things going on at once means that every single listening will be different. Good policy. This one hits like a punch to the kidneys. From the 2016 release, Attack.

Anna Högberg Attack - Borderline
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Jul. 20th, 2016

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Laibach - Tito-Tito

You may think you have a good irony game, but Laibach have you beat. The Slovenian industrial funsters have worn their totalitarian garb with perfect poker faces for over 30 years. But where did their subversive take on (sub)cultural allegiances come from? For that you need to go back to their 1992 album Ljubljana-Zagreb-Beograd which collects live performances from 1982.

Here's their dubious homage to the late Yugoslav authoritarian, Marshal Tito. It's a speedy and distorted version of the Brazilian easy listening classic Tico Tico that sounds as if it's being played on a children's plastic turntable through broken speakers. Analyse it all you want, you're not going to get away from the fact that it's fundamentally hilarious. Game.

Laibach - Tito-Tito
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Jul. 19th, 2016

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Manolo Kabezabolo - No Me Emborratxo Más

Old school Doklands readers may recall our fondness for the unparalleled Spanish one-man-band punk singer Manolo Kabezabolo. He's almost outsider-like in his pursuit of his distinctive musical voice. There are few people who could inhabit the rhythmic structures that he brings to his guitar playing. No Me Emborratxo Más, his ode to giving up the sauce, is played in his typically DIY shambolic style. There's a real sense of honesty and decency to his singing. That's what I want to believe, anyway, and having never learned a word of Spanish I'm quite happy to go on with that opinion, thank you. From the 1995 album ¡Ya Hera Ora!

Manolo Kabezabolo - No Me Emborratxo Más
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Jul. 18th, 2016

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Yuri Yunakov - Arabski Kjuchek

Here's some Roma wedding music from the Bulgarian saxophonist Yuri Yunakov. We've listen to his music before on Doklands, working on the assumption that everyone actually likes gypsy music. It's lively, frenetic, and full of clashing discords. Just like punk rock, really. It's also really emotionally expressive. Unlike punk though it's always had a strong Arab influence, and on this track from the compilation Mehanata New York Gypsy Mania Yunakov makes that explicit. It's tight as a gnat's chuff, spinning and twirling in the smallest of spaces. Love the tinny rotating drum patterns and the way Yunakov plays with echo on this. Really vibrant stuff.

Yuri Yunakov - Arabski Kjuchek
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Jul. 17th, 2016

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Ultan O'Farrell - Untitled

Here's an amazing early wax cylinder recording of Irish piper Ultan O'Farrell. Coming from a traditional musical family, to describe him as eccentric would be underselling him. O'Farrell, for reasons known only to himself, largely eschewed the chanter pipe and instead emphasised the drones. This 1910 recording, thin and crackly as it is, is the sole recording ever made of his playing and takes his practice as far as it could possibly go: an unornamented drone that stretched over 3 cylinders. He was shunned by his peers, but history should record him as one of the true pioneers of minimalism.

Or at least history might, had O'Farrell ever existed. He is the creation of Jennifer Walshe as part of the Aisteach Foundation, a fictitious history of the Irish Avant-Garde. It's a truly brilliant project. Have a look through the archives, and tell me that you too don't wish that the stories it tells had actually happened, from the contemplative organ meditations of Sister Anselme O’Ceallaigh to the cut-up syllabic deconstructions of folksong left behind by the mysterious Aleatoric Revisionist Balladeers.

Oh, and the real piper behind Ultan's sole recording? His name is Jack McMahon.

Ultan O'Farrell - Untitled
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Jul. 16th, 2016

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Girnų Giesmės - Virstantis Drugiais

At first Virstantis Drugiais sounds like superior industrial electronica. With its dramatic stereo effects, spoken vocals and surprising sonic juxtapositions it appears to be something understood. That's not to knock it, not at all. It does what it does very well, in a far less banal manner than the genre might suggest. There's even some rhythmic work in there that's both clever and irresistible. But then at the 4 1/2 minute mark the saxophone appears in the background to apparently paraphrase Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman and the whole gloomy nighttime vibe becomes considerably more human, more noirish. Great work by the Lithuanian band Girnų Giesmės from their 2003 album Procesai, some genuinely surprising innovation.

Girnų Giesmės - Virstantis Drugiais
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Jul. 15th, 2016

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Plastic People of the Universe - Okolo Okna

The Plastic People of the Universe were the foremost underground rock band of pre-Velvet Revolution Czechoslovakia. Despite harassment from the authorities they managed to release a few records; that their 1974 debut recording Egon Bondy's Happy Hearts Club Banned had to wait 4 years to finally see release is a testament to their tenacity if nothing else.

It's a record that's very much of its era, filled with classical textures and anti-rock'n'roll austerity, and yet at no point does it have the pomp, pretension or clinical wankery of parts of the '70s prog/RIO scene. Here's the tightly controlled Okolo Okna, which melds strongly rhythmic pizzicato string & bass riffs with spoken word vocals and some intense screaming viola. But best of all is Vratislav Brabenec's soprano sax which veers between moody slouch and needle-sharp traumatised wail. No laughs here, but the quality is inescapable.

Plastic People of the Universe - Okolo Okna
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Jul. 14th, 2016

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Edward Vesala - What? Where? Hum Hum

Most musical representations of confusion use the chaotic route, have everything playing at once in a splendid aural mess. Not so with Edward Vesala, the late Finnish bandleader and one time owner of the best moustache in jazz. Here the music itself is confused, not knowing which way it's going from one moment to the next. Everything is slurred and hazy as the music stumbles drunkenly along with Vesala. He allows himself a bit of virtuosic drum time, but What? Where? Hum Hum is at its best when he's keeping things metronomic and the rest of his big band are leaning on the lamposts and throwing up in bus stops. A magnificently messy and inconclusive slice of musical life from his 1990 album Ode to the Death of Jazz.

Edward Vesala - What? Where? Hum Hum
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Jul. 13th, 2016

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Dimosioypalliliko Retire - Gnorizondas

I can't tell you much about Greek experimental rock project Dimosioypalliliko Retire (Δημοσιοϋπαλληλικό Ρετιρέ). They were a trio, active in the late '80s and early '90s but still stretched out a long tail into the current century. They were more at home playing galleries and building sites than they were clubs, and most of their music is very difficult to find. Here's a playful little piece from the 1988 compilation Ecstasy by Current. Gnorizondas takes the voice and drum format of ritual music and subverts it with calmly inappropriate sounds.

Dimosioypalliliko Retire - Gnorizondas
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Jul. 12th, 2016

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Pink Freud - Bike

Cheap wordplay does not make for good band names. That's what Pink Freud saddled themselves with and they have to live with it. It's not exactly a sign of quality. And that might lead to this Polish jazz act to be underrated in several quarters, and that will surely not do.

We've listened to them before on Doklands, but that was clearly not enough to prepare these ears for Bike. You might fear an unwise cover of the Barratt-era Floyd classic, but this is far from whimsy. It is a cover though, from the recent release Pink Freud Play Autechre, and what's more it's a monster. The Freud pick out the melody with their assembled brass, but the real meat of the track is what's happening underground. They've given the track an immense dubwise bassline and loaded down on the psychedelic fizz. Great drumming too, loose and rangy and thoroughly stoned. An absolute beast of a track and strongly recommended.

Pink Freud - Bike
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Jul. 11th, 2016

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Monophona - Black on Black

It comes as something of a surprise to find interesting music coming out of Luxembourg. Monophona's Black on Black comes from the 2015 album of the same name. It's an uneasy, sparse trip-hop number without much in the way of a tonal centre. You're never quite sure where you are with it. It's the same with Claudine Muno's voice. It's got that sort of breathy naivete that is usually musical apple juice, but the way she drifts off the long notes conveys almost Swans-like pain. Properly uncomfortable listening.

Monophona - Black on Black
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Jul. 10th, 2016

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Phragments - Machines Machines

Here's some industrial noise from Slovakia, because of course it is. Sometimes in the journey through the Central European underground it seems as if there's nothing but black metal fascist cosplayers and collagen pop. Any respite from that is welcome, and Phragments provide that on both fronts: by doing away with any form of tonality, and displaying their rejection of coercion and dehumanisation by producing pounding, monolithic, inhuman music. They make noise, not sense.

Machines Machines is from their 2005 release We Are All Beasts. All-grinding, all-scraping, all-hammering, and not a note to be heard. Not an iota of subtlety either, but that's an overrated quality when it comes to orchestrating industrial machinery. All rather impressive.

Phragments - Machines Machines
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