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Nov. 13th, 2016

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The Ferocious Few - Gasoline and Cocaine

Here's something as uncomplicated as its title. Gasoline and Cocaine is shuffle beat rock and roll, with a raw garage sound and a rockabilly jangle. Very trad, but dammit I like it. The Ferocious Few are the duo of Francisco Fernandez and Daniel Aguilar, originally from California but now playing mostly in Germany. And while I know that isn't usually a recommendation, look past it this once, okay? Taken from the 2008 album of the same name.

The Ferocious Few - Gasoline and Cocaine
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Nov. 12th, 2016

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The Eccentronic Research Council - Sweet Saturn Mine

Contrary to its rather banal title, Can's Oh Yeah is something of a classic. So good in fact that The Fall, "referenced" it rather a lot for their song I Am Damo Suzuki. And so good that The ERC have continued in that line of scholarly research by including it as a major footnote for Sweet Saturn Mine from their 2015 album Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine… I'm Your Biggest Fan. It's a concept album about musical obsession, narrated by Maxine Peake in the role of a fan of the fictional band The Moonlandingz. This is one of "their" songs, and you can certainly understand her point. Lias Kaci Saoudi of Fat White Family provides guest vocals, oozing with charisma and shedding his emotional restraint while the band escape the krautrock beat with ever more frenetic discord. Super intense rock goddism.

The Eccentronic Research Council - Sweet Saturn Mine
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Nov. 11th, 2016

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Lake of Dracula - Biographers of the Flaming Druglords

No communism-related music today. Those of you hoping that it was a developing theme, or even a radical shift of emphasis for Doklands will be disappointed, I know, but there's only so far you can delve into the Robert Wyatt back catalogue before you hit a brick wall*.

Actually, I've no idea of the politics of Lake of Dracula, the Chicago supergroup formed by Weasel Walter, Heather Melowic, Marlon Magas, and Al Johnson. What I do know is that they took the themes of b-movie psychobilly but played them as ferocious and uncompromising no wave punk. Biographers of the Flaming Druglords from their 1997 debut album picks you up by the larynx and shakes you around for two minutes before discarding you like a limp chew toy.

* No really, I love the guy, but I know I'm never going to listen to those Matching Mole albums again

Lake of Dracula - Biographers of the Flaming Druglords
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Nov. 10th, 2016

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Noism - The Internationale

I get it. You want to wallow a bit. You want to steep yourself in all of the anger and venom because it feels so good. You want music that is ghastly and unpleasant. But you also know that shit won't achieve anything, and sliding down the identity-focused k-hole is part of what got us here in the first place. Neither anger nor despair will do a damn bit of good and what is needed is common cause and active resistance.

Or you can have the best of both worlds with a grindcore version of The Internationale.

Noism are a pair of Japanese communists who play a grindcore/drillcore hybrid, who make their blast beats on drum machines and then fuck them up digitally. Sometimes they'll bring an abundance of noise, sometimes they'll rely solely on a single drum sample and drive you absolutely crazy with the repetition. But it's all good. So arise ye prisoners of want, and be amazed at what Yoshiro Hamazaki (guitar) and Tomoyuki Akiyama (programming) did on this, the opening track to their CD-r Brutal Oratorio.

Noism - The Internationale
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Nov. 9th, 2016

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Bang On A Can - Study No. 3a (Nancarrow)

There's not a lot of music that sounds more American than Conlon Nancarrow's, which is ironic since he lived and worked in Mexico for most of his life, forced to emigrate because of his communist views. His studies for player piano are works of staggering dexterity and complexity; he chose that instrument because he believed it would be impossible for musicians to ever actually perform his works. But times change, and in the final decades of his life he started to attract both critical attention and the sort of talent that could give it a fair go.

Here's Evan Ziporyn's arrangement of Study No. 3a from the Boogie-Woogie Suite, and performed by his ensemble the Bang On A Can All-Stars. They keep the left-hand piano part, and fill in around it with plenty of woodwind, and pass the melodic line around. It's crammed full of extended techniques and aural surprises and the instrumentation really helps all the differing internal time signatures come to life. Utterly exhilarating.

Bang On A Can - Study No. 3a (Nancarrow)
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Nov. 8th, 2016

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Von LMO - Future Language

Nobody has ever made music quite like Von LMO. He first came to prominence on the very edges of the no wave scene, but his music is anything but. Think grandiose outsider synth metal, and you might be getting there. "Long live heavy metal," he screams on Future Language, accompanied by wailing sax and juddering metal blasts. It's maximalist and overblown, and is certainly a musical extreme. Is it any good or not though? That's actually quite hard to determine as there's so little to compare it too. It conforms to neither fashion nor taste. What is undeniable is that this is music that makes an impression. Probably not recommended to fans of the genre, as it sounds distinctly inauthentic and wrong, as is so often the case when you're trying to plough an entirely new musical furrow. Find it on the 1981 album of the same name.

Von LMO - Future Language
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Nov. 7th, 2016

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Real Vocal String Quartet - Homage To Oumou

Not totally convinced by this - it's got a curl right in the middle of its forehead, if you know what I mean. The Real Vocal String Quartet are Irene Sazer, Alisa Rose, Dina Maccabee and Jessica Ivry, and as their name implies they're not only a string quartet but a vocal one as well. If I'm being honest their music is a little on the regional arts centre side: generally very well done, but not in the slightest bit challenging. And that's okay, but there are parts of Homage to Oumou, their tribute to Wassoulou singer Oumou Sangaré (who is great), that are a bit off. Some of the transitions sound awkward, and the classical jazz stylings are iffy to say the least. But when they cut themselves free for the soaring Malian-insired passages here, they sound absolutely tremendous. From the 2012 album Four Little Sisters.

Real Vocal String Quartet - Homage To Oumou
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Nov. 6th, 2016

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Sodom - Surfin' Bird

Is it not enough to simply know that a thrash metal version of Surfin' Bird rather than actually having to hear it? No? Okay, but on your head be it.

In case you're not aware of these things (and I count myself among that number) Sodom are German and have been playing metal since 1981. This track comes from their 2001 album M-16 which is, I shit you not, a concept album about Apocalypse Now. And maybe this does sound more like surfing the Mekong delta while warplanes drop napalm on the treeline than anything that exists in the actual soundtrack, but that's still only an explanation, not an excuse.

What was the audio equivalent of rubbernecking again?

Sodom - Surfin' Bird
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Nov. 5th, 2016

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Stephen Gorbos - Football Season Is Over

The only memorial Hunter S Thompson ever wanted was for his ashes to be shot into space out of a giant cannon with a double-thumbed red fist on the end of it. He got it too, with a drunken A-list guest list to boot. But he also ended up with Football Season Is Over by American composer Stephen Gorbos. The title is taken from Thompson's suicide note, and all the work's electronic sounds are derived from a reading of it. Sometimes it's a metallic echo chamber for Randall Hall's solo saxophone to play off, sometimes its a snarling pack of vicious dogs. I doubt Thompson would have had any time for a challenging electroacoustic piece like this, but you don't get to pick your fans. Especially not when you've had your ashes shot into fucking space.

Stephen Gorbos - Football Season Is Over
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Nov. 4th, 2016

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Chrome - You've Been Duplicated

It's funny the way new genres come about from the least likely of places. These days Chrome are often cited as being one of the originators of industrial rock. And while yes, they were using pieces of sheet metal as drums as early as the late '70s, it certainly wasn't being done with the nihilism that would follow. In fact there was something reassuringly friendly and rockist about the group. Imagine Hawkwind with a bit more feedback and the odd drone or two.

You've Been Duplicated comes from the 1979 release Half Machine Lip Moves, and it's full of whispered menace, layers of obscuring noise, and full on space boogie. It's so hard these days to hear their cheap electronic keyboards as anything other than cheesy. This is music that has been irrevocably altered by time; their sonic adventures are now commonplace leaving their conventional influences more on display. Still great fun though, just different fun.

Chrome - You've Been Duplicated
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Nov. 3rd, 2016

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Spires That In The Sunset Rise - Portabittaclog

Well this is something else again. I'd heard a handful of tracks by the duo of Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson before, and while their folk/drone/psyche excursions were pretty good they never quite grabbed me. That all changed the moment I heard the startling Portabittaclog from the band's 2015 release Beasts in the Garden. For a start, they have clearly been hanging out with some disruptive free jazz types. You can hear the long rolling rhythms and raga borrowings of someone like Pharoah Sanders or Alice Coltrane. But even more striking is the atonal, amodal use of discord: their dull, detuned strings bring to mind the uncompromising sound of The Shadow Ring. This is absolutely not what I expected, and I'm delighted by the fact. An entirely new sound.

Spires That In The Sunset Rise - Portabittaclog
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Nov. 2nd, 2016

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Eddie Noack - Psycho

Earlier today Twitter was very excited at the prospect that Michael Heseltine might have strangled a dog to death. All I could think about was how Eddie Noack didn't want to hold his own dog in case he squeeeeezed it too tight. Psycho (1968) is a creepy novelty country song with a beat that's ever so slightly wrong. Noack is great as the mama's boy whose mind keeps wandering and whose hands always seem to end up holding the axe. If you think this sounds like something you'd enjoy, you're probably right.

Eddie Noack - Psycho
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Nov. 1st, 2016

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CTMF - A Song for Kylie Minogue

CTMF - which may or may not stand for Cunts, Tossers and Motherfuckers - is the latest project by 'Wild' Billy Childish. Knowing that, you can probably guess the rest: bullshit-free lo-fi garage rock. It's as if on entering his fifties he finally got round to forming his ideal teen punk band. A Song for Kylie Minogue is taken from their new album SQ 1. Tangentially it's about his celebrity fans, but mostly it's an excuse for rock god levels of swagger and attitude. Utterly magnificent.

CTMF - A Song for Kylie Minogue
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Oct. 31st, 2016

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Sister Iodine - Napalmee

If you realised that you hadn't heard of one of the greatest experimental noise rock band in the world, how would you feel? What if you discovered that they were French? Would you blame the media you read for ignoring them, or would you blame yourself for not listening broadly enough? That's kind of where I am regarding Sister Iodine. Lionel Fernandez, Erik Minkkinen and Nicolas Mazet have been recording since the early '90s and they are without doubt some of the finest phononauts on this planet.

Napalmee comes from their 2009 release Flame Desastre. It's a massively intense sweep through radio feedback forms, growling and swelling with barely a hint of anything associated with musical instruments. Spitting static, sounds growing too large for the space that hold them, EXPLOSIONS, this has them all. Some of the most dramatic music I've heard in a very long time.

Sister Iodine - Napalmee
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Oct. 30th, 2016

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King Khan - Hurtin' Class

It can hardly have escaped your notice that American politics pressed the reset button a few years back. Right now it seems to be at some point in the 1960s once more, with all the gains made by the civil rights movement needing to be claimed once more. Perhaps it's also become necessary for American music to do the same thing. Hurtin' Class harks back to the angry Marxist soul music of the Attica era. It is sparse and harsh, full of hoarse organ screeches and funk grunts, but the bass is more Kingston, Jamaica than New Orleans. This isn't the music of the troubled South any more - Arish Khan is from Montreal, and the music is written by Ian Svenonius who cut his musical and political teeth in the 1980s D.C. scene. This is music for a generation that has had its future mortgaged away without consent.

King Khan - Hurtin' Class
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Oct. 29th, 2016

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David Fennessy - The room is the resonator

If you're a long-term Doklands reader you'll know that I cannot resist music that plays with acoustics. In that regard David Fennessy's 2009 work The room is the resonator is something special. It uses the sound of an old harmonium playing a held drone an enclosed space juxtaposed against ambient environmental noises from somewhere much larger. Alongside these is the multitracked cello of Oliver Coates. While these three sources all exist in their own spaces, there's something about the stillness of the sound that it makes them seem to overlap, taking the listener with it into three simultaneous worlds. Find this one on Coates' 2013 album Towards The Blessed Islands.

David Fennessy - The room is the resonator
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Oct. 28th, 2016

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Mendrugo - La Breva

Mendrugo are singer Josephine Foster, her husband and guitarist Victor Herrero, and his brother José Luis. They've managed to make their musical family the most family-sounding music imaginable. La Breva is the breeziest ever Spanish folk pop, casual and joyful and sounding as if was recorded in someone's living room rather than a studio and with boxes for drums. Dissonant notes are laughed off as happy accidents and everyone gives the false impression of being entirely untrained. It's a great environment for Foster's operatic parlour voice. They're joined by woodwind player Taku, who gives a mischievous performance where he sounds like the old friend who has dropped by and joined in despite having no idea how to play; nobody minds, they're just glad to have him there. The most good-natured thing you'll hear all week, from the 2016 album More Amor.

Mendrugo - La Breva
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Oct. 27th, 2016

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Black Bombaim & Peter Brötzmann - Pt. 1

A new album by Peter Brötzmann isn't so much of a rarity as it used to be. The sax veteran is going through a prolific spell right now, working with all the usual suspects: Hamid Drake, Paal Nilssen-Love, Keiji Haino and more. But they're not his only recently collaborators.

You might think you know what Brötzmann's music is going to sound like, and his opening solo from Pt. 1 does nothing to disabuse you of that idea. He wrenches huge gutsy man-wails from his sax, grizzled and raucous yet with an acknowledgement of his age. It's only the occasional hint of a blue cadence that suggests that all may not be as it first seemed. And then the Portuguese stoner rock band Black Bombaim surround his sound with warmth. They leave things to brew, and then things kick off into psychedelic overdrive as Brötzmann enters what is perhaps the most unlikely phase of his career: frontman for a space rock band. This isn't a genre known for its tight turning circles or nimble interplay. It's the very much the supertanker of rock music, and yet there's definitely a conversation going on here. Space rock is no stranger to the saxophone, but it's never sounded as human as it does when Peter Brötzmann is blowing it.

Black Bombaim & Peter Brötzmann - Pt. 1
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Oct. 26th, 2016

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds - La Llarona

It feels as if Kid Congo Powers has been around forever. He's been a member of the Cramps, the Bad Seeds and the Gun Club, and has since 2006 led his own band, the Pink Monkey Birds. They create a perfectly realised world of b-movie horrorshow garage rock. The more you listen to them, the more your head fills with screenprinted posters and four-colour comics where the layers bleed into each other. I'm currently really enjoying La Llarona from the 2009 album Dracula Boots which has the band at their most fog-shrouded and swampy. Psychobilly has never been sparser nor more atmospheric than on this classic ghost story. Add it to your Halloween playlist now, okay?

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds - La Llarona
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Oct. 25th, 2016

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Los Saicos - Demolicion

Demolicion is nothing but the finest in surf-tinged garage punk. It's an anthemic swell of anger as a man with a voice like a rasp calls for all the railway stations to be torn down. And it was recorded in Peru in 1964. That singer was Erwin Flores, the band were Los Saicos and they only existed for two years. This was their second single. Some people will try to tell you that it was the first punk recording, as if there were some kind of lineage of influence that could be traced back to it. It doesn't work like that. Once you've heard punk, once you've heard it properly, you start to hear it everywhere. It has always been with us because punk is people. And going by this Los Saicos were pretty fucking fantastic people.

Los Saicos - Demolicion
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