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Jan. 24th, 2017

cyberinsekt

K. Leimer - Very Tired

Here's some electronic ambient music for you. Kerry Leimer started recording in 1975, releasing first DIY cassettes and then LPs. He was inspired by the music of people like Eno and Cluster, and there's more than a touch of early Edgar Froese in there too.

Very Tired comes from his 1983 album Music for Land and Water, and it's unmistakably water music. The track is a pool of ripples, forever spreading and reflecting. There's not an awful lot going on sonically, but that is not the point. It's all about the slow patterns of haze and clarity drifting across the surface of the musical pool. And yes, it really does sound like the next morning after staying up all night, where everything is strange and wonderful again and the light catches the world just so.

K. Leimer - Very Tired
(alt)

Jan. 23rd, 2017

cyberinsekt

Shackleton - Rinse Out All Contaminants

If you've every thought there was something creepy about purification rituals, here's Sam Shackleton to reinforce your beliefs. Rinse Out All Contaminants is the opener from his 2016 album Devotional Songs. It's a nagging and uncomfortable drone, a plodding dirge, and vocalist Ernesto Tomasini is superb as a man in search of nullity. It's the most anti-life piece of music I've heard in quite some time, played completely straight, and hopefully possessed of the deepest and darkest irony. Sinister as anything, and worryingly beautiful with it. Like the man said, if bad ideas were ugly, we wouldn't have to worry about them.

Shackleton - Rinse Out All Contaminants
(alt)

Jan. 22nd, 2017

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Charles Dodge - Any Resemblance Is Purely Coincidental

Charles Dodge is an American composer who has worked extensively with computer manipulations of sound, often of speech. His 1978 piece Any Resemblance Is Purely Coincidental is along these lines. It used the famous 1918 recording of Enrico Caruso singing the aria "Vesti la giubba". If you don't recognise the title, don't worry, you'll know it when you hear it; it's the one with the great sobbing laugh in the middle.

It's an interesting and rewarding listen. Much of the orchestration has been stripped away, leaving only Caruso's (often) dramatically filtered voice. It play alongside a rather expressionistic piano, sometimes reinterpretating of the original music, sometimes acting as a direct response to Caruso. But it's actually the digital filtering that is perhaps the most fascinating thing here. Sometimes the voice seems to be coming from a tremendous distance. It's not just the crackle and the bandpass of the vintage recordings, Dodge places him well back in the acoustic space, only to rocket him straight to the foreground in a staggering firework of metallic chorus effects. And yet in it's way, it's a respectful treatment of this piece of musical history: part scholarly deconstruction, part giving new life to those wheezy old sounds.

Charles Dodge - Any Resemblance Is Purely Coincidental
(alt)

Jan. 21st, 2017

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The Redskins - Lev Bronstein

After a day like this we could all do with a bit of antifa help, a bit of leftist skinhead help. The Redskins are best known for rousing mid-80s soul/punk anthems such as Keep On Keepin' On and Kick Over The Statues. This ode to international socialism was their first single, released in 1982. The familiar horns have yet to make an appearance, and overall this is a much tricksier, more rhythmically intricate, more idiosyncratic number. And Lev Bronstein? You probably know him better as Leon Trotsky.

The Redskins - Lev Bronstein
(alt)

Jan. 20th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Mindflayer - Gore Gone WIld

In the classic AD&D module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1980) a band of adventuring rogues, clerics, fighters and magic-users stumble upon a crashed UFO and use lasers and grenades to defeat the horrors within. Likewise, in the classic noise rock album Expedition to the Hairier Peaks (2005) a duo of bards stumble upon a pile of circuit-bent electronics and proceed to make an incredible racket.

Mindflayers are gothic frockcoated bipedal Cthulhoids, and Mindflayer was Brian Chippendale's other band that wasn't Lightning Bolt. Matt Brinkman provided the dense, feedback-laden electronic squall which pushed Chippendale's mutating drums right into the foreground. Super intense, occasionally pretty harsh but always exciting, Gore Gone Wild is a great introduction to the band's sound.

Mindflayer - Gore Gone WIld
(alt)

Jan. 19th, 2017

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Fiona Apple - Tiny Hands

Popular chants are a relatively under-documented musical resource. If I remember correctly Chumbawamba did something with them on their 101 Songs About Sport project, and terrace songs are used as the starting point for plenty of Half Man Half Biscuit tracks. Away from sport I've never heard any of the "We're here, we're queer" variants cross over from the streets to the studio. In fact the only protest chant I can think of that did is "Maggie Maggie Maggie! Out out out!", on a great track by The Larks.

The chant itself was written by Fiona Apple, and it was turned into music Michael Whalen. The thing is, it's for a protest march that hasn't actually happened yet. It's been created for the upcoming Womens' March in Washington DC on the 21st. While I'm sure it's well intentioned, I'm also sure that there will be a number of people who will get stroppy at the idea of a prescribed chant. The curse of the authentic voice of the streets strikes again. Did you know there are some people who have the idea that true anarchists shouldn't organize themselves at all and that everything should evolve "organically"? And not all of them are antagonistic trolls.

Anyway, I'm sure the women of America will be relieved to know that Tiny Hands has the Doklands seal of approval. Always glad to sort out these knotty conundra. And if the worst comes to the worst, you can always turn a profit over the next four years investing in email spam. These subject lines will be surefire winners:

Enormous hand $ize is attainable
Extra rigid digits
She'll be smitten in her mitten when you fill her love glove

Fiona Apple - Tiny Hands
(alt)

Jan. 18th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Belgradeyard - Yeah My Ass!

Please pardon the title. I guess you need to be a native English speaker to realise just how naff Yeah My Ass! sounds. Belgradeyard, like their parent group the Belgradeyard Sound System, are a Serbian act. And just as English isn't their native tongue, jazz isn't their native music either. This means that they may be playing hard and discordantly, but never meandering, never caught in the old head/solo/solo/etc structures. The reed tones don't come from jazz either - there's some straight up rock saxophone in here. This is pick up and play music rather than conservatoire fare, played with an infectious enthusiasm.

Belgradeyard - Yeah My Ass!
(alt)

Jan. 17th, 2017

cyberinsekt

The Coneheads - Psycho Killer

I wish I'd had this ready for you the other month when we were listening to Talking Heads covers because it might just have stole the show. Here's 100 seconds of ultra-clipped and hilariously stupid art punk. It's compressed down to the barest of bones and anger so faux you could swear it had been toshopped. From the 2015 release L.P.1 AKA 14 Year Old High School PC-Fascist Hype Lords Rip Off Devo for the Sake of Extorting $$$ From Helpless Impressionable Midwestern Internet Peoplepunks L.P..

The Coneheads - Psycho Killer
(alt)

Jan. 16th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Harry Partch - Castor and Pollux

Man, did Harry Partch like to make things he could hit. He made them out of lightbulbs and hubcaps, bottles and jars, gourds fueltanks and artillery shells. All of them made music. He made a marimba so huge that it resonated at 22Hz and he had no time at all for any conventional tuning system.

Here's his 1952 dance piece Castor and Pollux which has a hell of a lot of things being hit in interesting rhythmic patterns. It slows down in the middle for some microtonal lyre playing - yes, Partch also made his own string instruments - but mostly it's an incredibly lively and exciting number.

Harry Partch - Castor and Pollux
(alt)

Jan. 15th, 2017

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Cheater Slicks - Psychic Toll

I reckon you can tell that Cheater Slicks have been playing rock'n'roll for 30 years because they've become really fucking good at it. Psychic Toll is downright nasty: a huge bassless garage noise assault. It pounds and thuds and fills every space it can, and the only place you can go to escape the absolute bloody chaos is down. It's uncompromising and magnificent and can be found on the band's 2012 album Reality is a Grape.

Cheater Slicks - Psychic Toll
(alt)

Jan. 14th, 2017

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Otto Leuning - Invention In Twelve Notes

Here's a piece that has an interesting place right in the centre of 20th century classical music. Otto Leuning was an American composer who worked with Vladimir Ussachevsky at Columbia University. They were pioneers of tape music, performing their electroacoustic manipulations on reel to reel machines. With no oscillators to work with, all the sounds in this 1952 composition are made with Luening's flute. It turns out to be an excellent source for providing tones that are simple enough to show the range of sonic treatment they undergo, and yet pure enough to give a real sonic frisson. But what makes Invention In Twelve Notes so interesting is that Leuning uses serialism as compositional underpinning. Two of the great audience unfriendly schools of art music combine in this one piece, Second Viennese rigour meeting space age astrotronics. It's like hearing a missing link.

Otto Leuning - Invention In Twelve Notes
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Jan. 13th, 2017

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No-Neck Blues Band - Live Your Myth in Grease

There are plenty of standout tracks in the NNCK back catalogue, but not many that could be described as blues. But Live Your Myth in Grease from the 2004 release Qvaris could, and as such the adherence to familiar forms makes it one of the more approachable things the band has ever done. That's not to suggest this is going to please a lot of people. It's still meandering and atonal and has lengthy freeform passages, but it does at least always show willing that it will return to some familiar form. And that tension is what keeps it going, with the band's tribal chug plotting a path less taken through the wilderlands of rock.

No-Neck Blues Band - Live Your Myth in Grease
(alt)

Jan. 12th, 2017

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Josipa Lisac - Ne prepoznajem ga

You might not normally be inclined to listen to 1970s Croatian proggy lounge pop, but take it from me that Ne prepoznajem ga is quality. Lisac is the grand dame of Croatian popular music and has spent much of her 50 year career looking like she just stepped in off the set of Blakes 7. My impression is that most of her later work can be ignored. She seems to have fallen into self-importance, elevating her artistic signifiers way beyond the actual worth of the material she's performing, trying to appear still radical with some rather banal music. Basically, it's the leftist politics career path.

But none of that is important, because Ne prepoznajem ga is an absolute stunner of a song. It's a bluesy ballad that would have totally suited Joplin, though she'd have probably wanted the string section toned down. But don't let a few violins scare you off: when this kicks up a gear it regains urgency, and the way it ends with the flute going apeshit in an ever-growing sea of echo is completely audacious. Righteous, passionate music from the 1973 album Dnevnik jedne ljubavi.

Josipa Lisac - Ne prepoznajem ga
(alt)

Jan. 11th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Cock and Ball Torture - Where Girls Learn to Piss on Command

German grindcore from 2002 with vocals that sound like a slowly bubbling drain. Nothing more to say about the music. It's all about the Trump news, which has managed to make all acts of sexual humiliation deeply uncool overnight. Sorry, but they're no longer edgy and transgressive, they are now just a bit sad and pathetic. If that has been your thing, maybe you could move on to some other power games like being blackmailed by the FSB? Just trying to help.

Cock and Ball Torture - Where Girls Learn to Piss on Command
(alt)

Jan. 10th, 2017

cyberinsekt

John Zorn - Pulcinella

In the commedia dell'arte, Pulcinella is the everyman character. He is part thief and part nobleman, crude and calculating and utterly without regard for the world outside the self. John Zorn's Pulcinella from his Commedia dell'arte suite is a baroque fanfare, all curly brass and insistent clarions. It's absolutely unlike anything you'd expect from Zorn. Just as the character is one of the archetypes of European culture, the music is also instantly familiar. It never comes over as pastiche; it's much too assured for such a fate. The whole suite is well worth your attention, 5 short pieces all done in very different styles, although the other 4 are rather more forbidding than this. But that's as it should be: this is Pulcinella.

John Zorn - Pulcinella
(alt)

Jan. 9th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Coldseal - Wow That's What I Call Jingles

Wow That"s What I Call Jingles
For several years I have had in my possession a copy of a cassette tape called Wow That's What I Call Jingles. It was released at the end of the 1990s by a double glazing company called Coldseal who became notorious for financial failures and malpractice, only for them to rise phoenix-like trading under a new name, and sudden free of all the debts they owed to disappointed customers. I say notorious, but that's not actually true. No-one remembers that apart from all the people they ripped off. No, what people actually remember Coldseal for is their plethora of annoying jingles and radio ads.

And it just so happens I've got a cassette full of them. Full tracklisting:

1. 3 Little Pigs
2. The Laugh
3. Irish Eyes
4. Coldseal Are Everywhere
5. Bing Bang Bong
6. The Can Can
7. The World Looks Brighter
8. Gonna Call For Coldseal
9. Mum Call Coldseal
10. William Tell
11. Old Mak
12. Sugar Plum - The List
13. Blackbirds - Award Winners
14. C-O-L-D-S-E-A-L
15. Coldseal Are Coming
16. The Day We Went To Coldseal
17. Dot
18. The Fly
19. The Coldseal Calypso
20. Redetzky
21. The Rushes Grow
22. Blackbirds
23. Nation-wide
24. Come Over Song
25. Moving Up To Coldseal Song
26. Don't Just Think Song
27. Line Dance
28. Love Them To Bits
29. Don't You Dare
30. The Farmer And The Rabbit
31. Look For Coldseal On The Tele
32. The Spice Boys
33. Top Of The Form
34. Loopy Loo
35. Rule Britannia
36. Finigans Zoo

That's thirty-six tracks of nursery rhymes, novelty pop songs, and some of the darkest horrors of the light classical repertoire. None less than 30 seconds, few much more than a minute, and the entire tape can be listened to in a little over 25 minutes. But you won't get that far. You'll fall at the sixth or seventh Wurzels impersonation and never get as far as the trilogy of inexplicable Oasis pastiches, and frankly I WOULD NOT BLAME YOU. I've had to listen to the entire thing, so I know what I'm talking about. I'm doing this for digital curation, not pleasure; the only reference I can find to Wow ever existing is a blog entry dated several years after I got hold of this about a CD of the same name published by a different window company. Is there a charming tabloid amateurism about these songs? Well, maybe, but mostly they're just very very bad.

Coldseal - Wow That's What I Call Jingles

Jan. 8th, 2017

cyberinsekt

The Ripple Effect - Ocean Wave

The Ripple Effect's 2005 album Hybrids brought together Jack DeJohnette, John Surman and Foday Musa Suso to play a jazz/world music/electronica hybrid. If that sounds ghastly, it's because it often was: the fault lay with remixer Ben Surman who all to often brought clichéd and obvious treatments to bear on the music. And it's not entirely without merit either: Ocean Wave hints at what the rest of of the record could have been. Suso's kora is full of metallic wah-wah, DeJohnette's drums are gloriously alive, and John Surman's soprano sax floats above it all like a serene and contented little Buddha. But even here there's too much going on that's unsympathetic to the instrumental parts: when it works it can be really good but when it doesn't it's just a mess. That's a shame because someone could go back to the master tapes and make something exceptional. Still, the sound of promise for you today.

The Ripple Effect - Ocean Wave
(alt)

Jan. 7th, 2017

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Country Teasers - Song of the White Feather Club Secretary

Here's something quite repulsive for you. Country Teasers were a group of arty Scottish punks who played discordant, broken country and western songs, sarcastic to the point of nihilism. Here's one of their horrible stories from the 1999 album Destroy All Human Life. The tradition of white feathers is a particularly odious part of British history. They were presented as badges of alleged cowardice to young men who decided not to go to war. Public shaming by social media is bad these days, but back then it literally drove men to their deaths. The White Feather Club was Edinburgh football team Heart of Midlothian who were singled out for particular attention. They were persecuted, recruited, and sent to die.

As to how that relates to Song of the White Feather Club Secretary I couldn't tell you, except that it's an unpleasant tale of shit, pain and misery. Trigger warnings for just about everything, obviously, but if you're a fan of Fall-like repetition and Mark E Smith-like spoken delivery, this little nightmare might just be for you.

Country Teasers - Song of the White Feather Club Secretary
(alt)

Jan. 6th, 2017

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Robert Ashley - Automatic Writing (edit)

It's usually easy to identify a piece of music by the composer Robert Ashley. It's not so much the music as it is the way he uses voices, his words recited with a studied disinterest. It's a technique that was used with varying levels of success for much of his career. Automatic Writing isn't like that at all, and yet with its ambient levels of intensity it could come from no-one else.

It took 5 years for Ashley to construct Automatic Writing. With sounds taken from his own Tourette's syndrome utterances it is his attempt to reveal meaning within the meaningless. But what gives the piece its distinctive character, its Robert Ashleyness, turns out to be the actual musical content. He gives these processed vocal fragments a bass part of extraordinary vapidity. It's like listening to 1970s light entertainment from another room, and it's absolutely crucial to the success of this piece.

Robert Ashley - Automatic Writing (edit)
(alt)

Jan. 5th, 2017

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Prent Rodgers - Speaking in the Air

Back before the turn of the millennium there weren't all that many places to find mp3s. Napster was a recent arrival and didn't yet have the user base, Audiogalaxy was better established but rather more niche. Frankly, your best bet was usually to head over to the mighty mp3.com, the home of amateurs, hobbyists, and teenage freaks. That was where I first heard the microtonal music of Prent Rodgers. Microtonal/xenharmonic scales are the sort of things where it's way too easy to delve deep into the theory and forget the original human impetus behind making music, namely that it's sexy and fun. That's why I've always enjoyed Rodgers' take on splitting the octave: his music is almost always lively and moving forward. There's absolutely no reason why you can't have your fresh harmonies and also keep things rhythmically interesting. That's certainly the case on Speaking into the Air. While it's sometimes a little thin, and sometimes threatens to fall over, this usually keeps moving at a cracking pace, and it's the sort of pace that demands you join in by picking out some of those rhythmic elements yourself. Lively, fun, and just plucking great.

Prent Rodgers - Speaking in the Air
(alt)

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