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Feb. 7th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Pussy Riot - Make America Great Again

It's always interesting to hear what Pussy Riot are doing. They're in a very unusual position where even if their music is not what you'd actually call 'good', it can't fail to be of cultural value. No wonder other bands resent them. It's understandable, but it misses the point. They're not really a band, more an art collective/protest group who have chosen music as their medium.

Likewise, we shouldn't expect their music to be stylistically constant. It's tailored to the situation. When they had to evade the Russian authorities they were hit and run punks. Now, with a bit more leisure to do their work there's no need for that. Even so, it's a bit of a shock to hear Make America Great Again, recorded by Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina. It's sunny beach pop, catchy and facile, St Tropez by way of Rio. Released as part of the XXX EP just before the 2016 US elections it's not exactly what you'd call subtle, and arguably nor should it have been. Still, the tone is so starkly at odds with the current climate that it will probably be remembered as a failed experiment. More Molotov cocktails in future please.

Pussy Riot - Make America Great Again
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Feb. 6th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Odd Nosdam - Hey Friend

Hey Friend is a track with a very distinctive mood. It's from David "Odd Nosdman" Madson's 2016 release Music For Raising, and is built around a repeating monastic chant. Even with most surrounding rhythmic elements stripped away, there's something obviously not quite right about this. There should be drums there, drums that would help you make sense of what's going on, but instead you're left with this voice that's gone deep into itself to find this beat. Experimental music with a deep chain of echo and bleeding reverb and maybe a seed of 1980s keyboards. You want to hear this.

Odd Nosdam - Hey Friend
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Feb. 3rd, 2017

cyberinsekt

Holy Fuck - Chimes Broken

Holy Fuck make great rhythms. If you're going to have hypnotic analogue synth parts, there is nothing better to pair them with than some uninhibited drumming. Throw in some echoing wordless vocals and you've got some magnificent sonic space being filled. I'd really recommend listening to Chimes Broken from the band's 2016 release Congrats.

Holy Fuck - Chimes Broken
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Feb. 2nd, 2017

cyberinsekt

Black Eyes - Someone Has His Fingers Broken

Aw damn what a great bit of noise punk this is. Black Eyes were equally dedicated to both words of the genre, making music that was both angry and danceable, and full of atonal squall. I love the way the deformed shredding of the opening guitar solidifies into something resembling a melody. Someone Has His Fingers Broken is post-hardcore goodness from the band's eponymous 2003 debut.

Black Eyes - Someone Has His Fingers Broken
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Feb. 1st, 2017

cyberinsekt

Oval - Sensa

Oval were the undisputed kings of '90s ambient glitch music. They took the sound of skipping CDs and made it pretty. By the time of their 2001 album Ovalcommers however, they were no longer quite so ridiculously good looking.

Here's a track from that album. Sensa is still true to the band's more ambient past. Rather than showing conventional structures, it's instinctive music, each moment a reaction to the previous. It has the same disturbed surface that listeners had come to expect from the band, but underneath things had changed dramatically. Instead of the smooth, still substrate for the cracks to refract across, it's now the sound of oversaturated media. It's rich and it's noisy. Back then most listeners weren't prepared to see the beauty in noise, and this has remained a much underrated recording. Time to reassess.

Oval - Sensa
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Jan. 31st, 2017

cyberinsekt

Robert Wyatt - The Red Flag

CHAPTER 3,757
In which the author is drunk and typically bolshy

So here's the thing about The Red Flag: for years if you heard the tune you knew exactly what you were getting. You were getting the de facto anthem of socialism. Okay, maybe if you were German you might be getting a folk song about a loyal fir tree with some faithful leaves that last all year round, but that was the exception.

And then more and more people started singing O Christmas Tree.

Sure, some of them probably did it because it seemed like a nice tune, and some of them did it because hey, it's Christmas, we'll sing anything with that in the title. But some of them did it very deliberately because they wanted to overwrite the cultural association with leftist politics and claim the tune as a Christmas carol. Am I being paranoid and ridiculous? It's hard to deny that it really does suit the weak and base to haul the sacred emblem down, etc. We're not going to get that tune back without a fight, and the only way to do that it to listen to it and to sing it.

So here's the song of the peoples' flag and the peoples' struggle, sung by Robert Wyatt on his 1982 album Nothing Can Stop Us. Do you know someone who might have been persuaded that the song is an embarrassing old relic? Join in, sincerely. Lend them your strength. We're in this together.

Robert Wyatt - The Red Flag
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Jan. 30th, 2017

cyberinsekt

John Foxx - Burning Car

I thought I'd revisit a teenage favourite today to find out how well it's aged. I've probably not heard the stark electronic classic Burning Car in 35 years, when I last put its picture disc back inside the flimsy plastic sleeve for the final time. Picture discs had notorious poor fidelity back then, and my old record player would have done it no favours at all, but I was still surprised to hear the clarity of the production. It's a properly disconcerting contrast between the harsh electronics and Foxx's lush yet expressionless voice. Is it still as sonically shocking as it sounded to my more innocent ears? Well actually yes, kind of, in places at least. In the pursuit of innovation it's also a little rhythmically awkward, even gawky. But that's fine, I think. This was never music that was going to fit in anywhere, and considering that it's basically electropop it's to its credit how uncompromising this still sounds today.

John Foxx - Burning Car
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Jan. 29th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Martin Creed - Border Control

Stand up and fight, motherfuckers.

Martin Creed - Border Control
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Jan. 28th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Fred Frith - No Birds

A genuine classic for you today: No Birds comes from Fred Frith's 1974 debut album Guitar Solos. It was a record of experimentation that famously stretched the possibilities of guitar technique, but even there No Birds stands out for its radical approach. It's played on two guitars simultaneously, placed flat on a table and heavily prepared. Even as Frith's playing them, he's also live mixing the different pickup volume levels, giving an extraordinary range of sonic textures in what is virtually a live performance. And the results are far from mere boundary stretching: 10 minutes of shifting drones lead into a truly beautiful piece of overlapping picked patterns. It's the sound of interference. Absolutely essential listening.

Fred Frith - No Birds
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Jan. 27th, 2017

cyberinsekt

William S. Burroughs - What Keeps Mankind Alive?

No-one ever made an honest buck off the sweat of another man's brow. At best, all fortunes come from fraud and exploitation, at worst from war and pillage and bloody murder. To some degree you can sidestep that with art and sports, salve your conscience that at least it's not you perpetrating a dishonest system. Not directly at least. One thing above all else is certain: those who rise to the top are the worst of us, blind crippled monsters with only the withered vestiges of humanity left in their shadows.

Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts. So said Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill, and believe me when I say that unlike some today they were not endorsing this as a strategy. You ever see someone who is proud of their ability to make "tough decisions", run like hell. Sick fucks like that think the world is made in their own image, and when it proves not to be they do their damnedest to make it so.

Here's William S. Burroughs reciting What Keeps Mankind Alive? from The Threepenny Opera.

William S. Burroughs - What Keeps Mankind Alive?
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Jan. 26th, 2017

cyberinsekt

The Lucid Dream - I'm A Star In My Own Right

Want to hear someone doing something a bit different with psyche rock? Here are Carlisle-based band The Lucid Dream playing it with dub bass and melodica and the full Black Ark production. It's mighty, it's an enclosed haze of smoke, and yet it very nearly doesn't work. That it does is largely down to Mike Denton's magnificent bass work. I could listen to his lines for hours. From the 2016 album Compulsion Songs

The Lucid Dream - I'm A Star In My Own Right
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Jan. 25th, 2017

cyberinsekt

Olivier Messiaen - Oraison (arr. R. Lainhart)

Oraison is an early work by Olivier Messiaen. Written in 1937 as a solo piece for ondes Martenot, it is reckoned to be the first composition ever written for live performance by an electronic musical instrument. For his 2011 album Lux Richard Lainhart arranged it for Buchla synth, and captured the tremulous, wavering nature of the sound particularly well, with sweeping theremin-like glissandi. The secret is in his use of an analogue keyboard controller which allows for pitch shifting individual notes. The music is a slow and intensely melancholy meditation, full of patience and pathos. Can't help but feel a vocal version of this would have the flood gates opening.

Olivier Messiaen - Oraison (arr. R. Lainhart)
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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
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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
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Jan. 22nd, 2017

cyberinsekt

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
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Jan. 21st, 2017

cyberinsekt

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
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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
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Jan. 19th, 2017

cyberinsekt

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
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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!
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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
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