?

Log in

Previous 20

May. 2nd, 2016

cyberinsekt

Pumice - Greenock

All of Stefan Geoffrey Neville's instruments are broken. You'd think that would be it, right? That would be the end, no more making music for Stefan. Not a bit of it, that's just how the Auckland resident likes things. That's when things start to get interesting. That's when his chamber noise pop starts to come alive.

And live it does. Here's Greenock from the 2007 Pumice album Pebbles. It's a massively multi-layered plywood slab of sound, every woodchip distressed in a different manner. Sometimes it might be the out of tune piano at the school outward bound centre, sometimes it might be the accordion with the busted bellows, sometimes it might be the monitor amp with the tattered speaker that makes a brand new feedback sound. For me it is massively nostalgic, with its salvaged no-budget ethos. On its own the Bontempi-like lead organ line might have had a weary melancholy, but it's so obscured by the massed layers of distortion that it ends up sounding heroic. It's an achievement just to make itself heard. An absolutely terrific approach to noise.

Pumice - Greenock
(alt)

May. 1st, 2016

cyberinsekt

Xex - Holland Tunnel

Do you know impLOG's classic Holland Tunnel Dive? Released in 1980, it's a stone cold no wave classic, minimal and sinister and with the finest use of a screaming jet engine in a song ever. Owes a debt to Autobahn of course, but still one of the best things ever recorded.

And yet it wasn't the only song recorded in 1980 about Holland Tunnel. Xex were a group of students from New Jersey, and in the home of denim and white t-shirts they made music entirely on synthesizers. Like the rest of their album, the initially-amusingly-titled Group: Xex, it's a bit of an oddity. There's way too little melodic material for a full track, but they went ahead with it anyway. What we'd now describe as coldwave vocals contrast with the outsider bouncy electropop of the keyboards. It's either infuriatingly naive, or it's the sound of a band torn between Cabaret Voltaire and OMD. A genuinely unexpected find.

Xex - Holland Tunnel
(alt)

Apr. 30th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Jerusalem In My Heart - A Granular Buzuk

Here's another track by the Hotel2Tango studio's very own Radwan Ghazi Moumneh. He's gettting quite the name for himself for his radical electronic treatments of middle eastern folk melodies. The buzuk is a long-necked microtonal member of the lute family - think bouzouki and you get the general idea of the instrument. It's appropriate then that Moumneh decided to use granular synthesis to tweak the sound of the instrument as it was technique devised by the Greek theorist and composer Iannis Xenakis.

A Granular Buzuk is a terrific piece. It's built around a fast, steady pulse and an impassioned, romantic buzuk performance. But the synthetic elements start to swirl over the surface, with the grains of sound starting to sound like impossibly fast fingerpicking, and then accelerating into chaotic hurdy-gurdy drones. It's magnificent in its intensity.

Jerusalem In My Heart - A Granular Buzuk
(alt)

Apr. 29th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Colin Newman - This Picture

Colin Newman is the lead singer of Wire. Mind you, when This Picture was released in 1980 he was the former lead singer. The band had disbanded and nobody expected them to resurface again. It's taken from his solo album A-Z, and it's a fine example of the peculiarly muddy sound that a few acts had at that time. It's a rather nauseous sonic blur, with filmy layers of sound at atonal drifts.

I'm not selling this at all, am I? In truth, this was probably a bit of a musical dead end. But it's a peculiar and interesting one, and with the recent revival of interest into bands such as Minny Pops I thought some of you might be interested in hearing what else was being done with electronics at the time.

Colin Newman - This Picture)
(alt)

Apr. 28th, 2016

cyberinsekt

The City of Liverpool - You'll Never Walk Alone

Yesterday the jury at the coroner's court enquiry into the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans at Hillsborough stadium found that they had been unlawfully killed. This should have come as no surprise to anyone who had followed reports either at the time, or over the intervening 27 years, but it is a major victory for the families of the bereaved. The court has acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their kin had been systematically covered up and lied about by the police. Again this should come as no surprise.

To understand the circumstances surrounding the coverup, it's first necessary to understand the relationship between the Conservative government, the police, and the city of Liverpool. Margaret Thatcher government had a relationship with the police of the day so unhealthy that it bordered on corrupt. Police became overtly political. At the same time, the city of Liverpool was something of a bête noire for the government. It was the red socialist thorn in the steely paw of monetarist theory. Make no mistake about this: the establishment hated the popularity of left wing politics in Liverpool. It was well understood at the time, and has persisted amongst the right even to this day. Denigrating the city is still a dog whistle, a half-remembered ancestral response among certain commentators.

So if some of the police of the day allowed those 96 people to die, or even caused their deaths, it was never going to be a big deal. After all, the dead were only Scousers. The thin blue line had their protection. Thankfully, some small modicum of justice has at last been served, and it seems like this protection might finally be stripped away.

This is something the people of Liverpool have always known. They have known that they were at odds with the establishment, and that institutional corruption has led to 27 years of lies about that fateful day. They have known precisely who it was who tried to deny them justice for 27 years: the Conservative party, the Murdoch press, and their allies in the South Yorkshire police. They have borne the slurs, the lies, the schemes and machinations of these parties for a generation without ever losing hope, because they came that most unfashionable of things. They became a community. And outside St. George's Hall in Liverpool they came together and sang the song that has become the city's anthem. Taken from today's Channel 4 news broadcast, here is the city of Liverpool singing You'll Never Walk Alone.

There is such thing as society.

The City of Liverpool - You'll Never Walk Alone
(alt)

Apr. 27th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Ava Mendoza - That Furious Harpy's Still Following Us

Until recently I'd not been fortunate enough to hear the guitar stylings of Ava Mendoza, and now I can't get enough. She reminds me of no-one so much as Casper Brötzmann with her vigorous and raucous experimentalism. Instead of Brötzmann's prehistoric brutalism, she brings equal parts contemporary noise rock, classic blues and metal guitar hero shredding. Don't expect any teenage virtuoso-fetish wank fans to climb aboard the bandwagon though, her music is far too raw for that. That and her gender, obvs. Here's the mathy and punishing That Furious Harpy's Still Following Us from my recent D&D campaign the 2015 album Unnatural Ways. Sure it's challenging, but it's also undeniably essential.

Ava Mendoza - That Furious Harpy's Still Following Us
(alt)

Apr. 26th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Unwound - We Invent You

Unwound? Really? Aren't they a bit earnest and dreary and very much A Guitar Band? Well yes, post-hardcore is a young man's game and Doklands is most definitely not a young man's blog. But We Invent You from the band's 2001 album Leaves Turn Inside You suggests a band who were definitely aiming for reinvention. It's not so much the waves of airy psychedelia but the extended intro that proceeds them: two minutes of oscilloscope drones. It's an air raid siren clearing the streets to give Unwound space to exercise and experiment. Even if the tune that follows isn't to your taste, it's hard not to be impressed by the audaciousness of that intro. And I don't think it's beyond the boundaries of reason to hear a parallel between the roll-on, roll-off guitar and the rapid pitch sweeps that precede those initial coarse drones. You can almost hear the ghost of those initial noises throughout the song, and that's a great trick.

Unwound - We Invent You
(alt)

Apr. 25th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Them - Baby Please Don't Go

Classic pop tune quickie for you here. Them (with Van Morrison on vocals) are probably best known for Gloria. It looms over the rest of their canon, and while it's an impressive shadow there's at least one other track by the band that deserves equal respect. Their 1964 cover of the blues standard Baby Please Don't Go is like a blast of teenage testosterone. It's equal parts r'n'b and garage rock. Nobody who was at the recording session can remember who played the great tremulous guitar line stuck in the middle of it, but legend has it as the young Jimmy Page in his session musician days. Great song, a proper kick up the arse.

Them - Baby Please Don't Go
(alt)

Apr. 24th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Girl Band - Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage

Daft nonsense that hits you like a fucking hurricane: that's Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage, a song that sounds like it should have been a Breaking Bad episode. If you know the title, you know the full extent of the lyrics and you can probably guess how much shouting goes on too. Of course, if you know the relentless and raw original by techno act Blawan then you know that already, but frankly Girl Band take that to a new level.

So a few facts: Girl Band are Irish, they are a band, and none of them are girls. Their lead singer is Dara Kiely, who sounds a little posh except when he's screaming, which appears to be fairly often. And with their take on Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage they've turned something that was already a bit of a banger into a complete fucking juggernaut of amplification and apocalyptic, scarifying, coruscating noise. It's completely magnificent. Brain-meltingly essential listening.

Girl Band - Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage
(alt)

Apr. 23rd, 2016

cyberinsekt

Les Reines Prochaines - Opfer Dieses Liedes

A Swiss cabaret group performing a cover version of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game? Well okay, if you say so.

I do say so, and I think for good reason. At first, Opfer Dieses Liedes seems like it might be a safe, even banal take on the song. Even the affected simplicity of performance artist Pipilotti Rist's vocals aren't quite enough to give new life to the song. It's still vaguely sinister, vaguely sweet. But three minutes in the backing vocals start, and you have never heard their like. It's the sort of ugly shriek that never makes it onto record. It's the sound of pain, despair, anger and self-loathing yelled into the night and heard several doors away. There are no concessions to art or taste, just this shockingly brutal experience. It's the damnedest thing you ever heard. From the 1995 album Le Coeur en Beurre-Doublegras.

Les Reines Prochaines - Opfer Dieses Liedes
(alt)

Apr. 22nd, 2016

cyberinsekt

The Noveltones - Left Bank Two

Massive nostalgia time: Vision On was a children's TV programme of the the 1970s. It was meant to be accessible to kids with hearing difficulties, and therefore focussed on the visual arts. Despite this, it's probably best remembered for its music, especially Left Bank Two which accompanied the weekly gallery of viewers' drawings. It's little more than the steady walking chug of a very Parisienne guitar while a vibraphone picks out a nonchalant and lengthy melody. It really is the musical equivalent of a pleasant stroll. It's the signature theme for every good flâneur; great stuff from this bunch of Dutch session musicians.

The Noveltones - Left Bank Two
(alt)

Apr. 21st, 2016

cyberinsekt

Earthworks - White Knuckle Wedding

Bill Bruford retired in 2009.

It's odd thing to say about a musician. They're not supposed to retire. They're supposed to go on, performing and recording, until they drop in front of our eyes. And there's something more than that. There's the unspoken suggestion that maybe, just maybe, they never loved the music and were only in it for the money. That's not something that can be levelled at Bruford though. He was a student of the drums for 40 years, the little matter of stopping playing them doesn't seem to have altered that fact. He still is, although now in the role of an academic.

Here's something from five years earlier, from the album Random Acts of Happiness (2004) by his band Earthworks. White Knuckle Wedding is a brittle piece of modern jazz notable for the furious staccato flute playing of Tim Garland. The communication between him and pianist Steve Hamilton is pretty terrific. "Clever" is usually a pejorative term when applied to music, but in this case it's a description that should be worn with pride. Great stuff.

Earthworks - White Knuckle Wedding
(alt)

Apr. 20th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Shopping - In Other Words

I wasn't sure about the spiky anti-capitalist art punk of Shopping when I first heard them. For the record, "spiky" is what people call music when they think it doesn't have enough bass and it's true that In Other Words certainly doesn't have much harmonic range. But hey, restrictions right? They make things interesting. And this really is an interesting sound. Everything is crammed up at the trebly end of things, the instruments don't have the chance to make their individual presence felt, so they have to work together all the better. Is the song's aesthetic a political metaphor? Would like to hear what they'd sound like if the drummer was allowed to cut loose a little more though.

Shopping - In Other Words
(alt)

Apr. 19th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Sonson - Foghorn

With the Swedish band Sonson, post-rock has finally gone full circle. At first we were using "post-rock" to mean the new music that was being made with rock instruments in rock settings that was clearly something else, something new. But Sonson apply the methods of post-rock, the instrumentals and the intricacy, and they apply them to make something that is most definitely rock music once again. At some times its modern heritage is more evident than others, particularly when the band play quietly. But when the psychedelic organ swirl kicks in, the drums start playing loud and the entire band start playing hard - that's when the spirit of the music reveals itself. Foghorn comes from the 2014 album A Shine Below the Mound.

Sonson - Foghorn
(alt)

Apr. 18th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Pierre Bastien - Tin Unit

Pierre Bastien builds robots that play music. Sure, they might be called automata, or mechanised instruments or anything you like. But they're robots really. He started with a modified metronome, moved on to hack his childhood Meccano kit, and these days has approximately 200 devices that can play various string and percussion instruments.

They're an imprecise bunch. Bastien might not have all the gears and sprockets he needs to get the tempo or the phrase length exactly how he wants it. Not to worry. If the robot wants to play it like that, let it play and see how things work out in the end. And these aren't precision tooled devices. Sometimes they just cock up, and that's okay too.

Here's the opening track from his 2015 album Blue as an Orange. Tin Unit is an intricate and charming extended piece. One of the oddities of Bastien's music is that something so fundamentally mechanical sounds so warm and inviting. Part of that is the way he accompanies his devices on pocket trumpet (sometimes using a kazoo as a mute), but part of it must be the way he allows their flaws and idiosyncrasies to shine. Vive la robolution!

Pierre Bastien - Tin Unit
(alt)

Apr. 17th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Nils Frahm - Mi

When the pianist Nils Frahm broke his thumb, his doctor told him to stop playing until it healed. Well obviously that wasn't going to happen. Instead, over nine days he recorded a suite of pieces that could be played while he was plastered up. I love constraints like this, and the way they bring out the unexpected. Mi is rather more prettily gentle than I'd normally consider sharing, but its story and the heavy-handed hollowness that Frahm coaxes from his piano make it quite fascinating. It can be found on the 2012 album Screws.

Nils Frahm - Mi
(alt)

Apr. 16th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Derek Bailey/Jamaaladeen Tacuma/Calvin Weston - What Is It?

So, if it wasn't enough to have the godfather of beat poetry making with the funk, here's Saint Derek of Free Improv doing the same. It's from the album Mirakle (2000) which Bailey recorded with the pairing of Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass and Calvin Weston on drums. They were free funk stalwarts who had cut it up with people like Ornette Coleman and James Blood Ulmer.

A few years earlier, Bailey had recorded the album Guitar, Drums & Bass. It's a bit of a missed opportunity. He'd wanted to play with d&b musicians, but the backing track his label provided for him was woefully tepid. You can almost hear him lose interest and start to go his own way on many of the tracks. The perception of Mirakle has perhaps suffered from that history. It is in no way Bailey playing over a backing band. It's not him doing his thing "over" some funk. Rather it's all three musicians coming together in the moment to create something entirely new, and it can be a genuinely thrilling listen.

For my money, it never works better than on What Is It? Bailey can't work his trademark pregnant silences into a racket like this, and is forced to hustle. Tacuma plays an absolute blinder, delighting in the challenge to his technique. It gets really chewy and gristly in places. Delicious.

Derek Bailey/Jamaaladeen Tacuma/Calvin Weston - What Is It?
(alt)

Apr. 15th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Brion Gysin - Sham Pain

Brion Gysin: beat poet, painter, low-life, restaurateur, artist, inventor of the dreammachine and the cut-up technique, low-life, hotel keeper, mentor, calligraphist, and... funk singer? Well yes, actually. Gyson wrote song lyrics for much of his life. The saxophonist Steve Lacy set some of them to music, and they are well worth checking out. But that's not what we're here for today.

No, Sham Pain is as '80s art funk as it gets. The music was written by French composer Ramuntcho Matta and from the first few notes you know that it was done while he had a huge man crush on Adrian Belew. At times it's hard to believe this isn't a lost Talking Heads or King Crimson track, and while is Gysin by no means a great singer he has the requisite vocal neurosis to make this work.

Brion Gysin - Sham Pain
(alt)

Apr. 14th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Dorothy - I Confess

Did you know that Throbbing Gristle tried to enter the Eurovision Song Contest? Well, that's not strictly true. Genesis P-Orridge, Alex Fergusson of Alternative TV and Dorothy Max Prior of Rema-Rema got together to record some pop music. Why not? People have been ironically normcore for years. It would be a laugh if nothing else. But I Confess turned out to be such a sweet and sunny little number, with Max singing about all the things she liked such as musique concrete and Herman Munster. It's so light and unselfconscious and genuinely charming, even if Max did play up the ingénue side of things in her role as Dorothy. Still, no less authentic than any other pop song, right? And yes, the three of them did try to enter Eurovision but it never got through the nationals. I wonder if it was the Subway Sect reference that threw it for them?

Dorothy - I Confess
(alt)

Apr. 13th, 2016

cyberinsekt

Vibracathedral Orchestra - Es Inaceptable Para Mí

A bit of psychedelic shimmer here for you from Vibracathedral Orchestra's 2010 album Joka Baya. They're a band who often like to dig musical holes, obsessing over sonic fragments, looping and phasing them until they make some kind of sense. Es Inaceptable Para Mí doesn't have that kind of vibe at all. It's rather more Acid Mothers Temple-like, with a sparking and pulsating musical bed primed for takeoff. Above it the most rock'n'roll of all guitars dances, contrasting with the stillness of the drones. Very nice indeed.

Vibracathedral Orchestra - Es Inaceptable Para Mí
(alt)

Previous 20