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Jun. 19th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Rafiq Bhatia - Hoods Up

On his 2018 album Breaking English, Rafiq Bhatia has created a genuinely new musical hybrid. Hoods Up equal parts electrical overload, vehicular sirens, expressionistic drums, flickering sunlight, wailing guitars, and just a hint of wry nostalgia. Conceptually rich and a labour of devoted sonic dedication, this is some of the smartest and most satisfying new music you'll hear this year.

Rafiq Bhatia - Hoods Up
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Jun. 18th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Geraldo Pino & the Heartbeats - Black Woman Experience

Fela Kuti once said that he couldn't have created Afrobeat if he hadn't been listening to Geraldo Pino. Pino's real name was Gerald Pine, but that didn't sound exotic enough for the young Sierra Leonean as he turned into one of western Africa's first and most flamboyant pop stars. Here's a live recording of Black Woman Experience from the album Heavy Heavy Heavy. It's free association funk with stereo separated drums and chromatically challenging guitar. It's a seriously out there performance with more than a little of the Derek Bailey about it. Brilliantly playful stuff.

Geraldo Pino & the Heartbeats - Black Woman Experience
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Jun. 17th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Rie Nakajima - Four Forms 2

I'd never heard of Rie Nakajima until I saw her recently installation at the Ikon Gallery. Cycles was one of the most overwhelming positive pieces of sound art I've ever encountered. It was utterly charming, with an array of mechanical noise makers scattered throughout the space, all doing their thing in cycles of varying length, and all of them totally exposed. No secrets, nothing hidden, and yet it was like walking into a fairy glade.

I was pleased to discover that her 2015 EP Four Forms explores similar themes, albeit with rather more conventionally mechanical sounds. Here's the second track, which rises as quiet scraping, but quickly becomes a sonic downpour. The skies open and noise falls out, and it's exactly as refreshing as wet sort. Plus, the world doesn't smell of dog afterwards, so that's a bonus.

Rie Nakajima - Four Forms 2
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Jun. 16th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Protomartyr - Here is the Thing

I expect to dislike the confident, the tuneful, the well-produced, and for the most part I do. But when the laconic drawl and pummelling post-punk starts, nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe it's because Joe Casey has those Mark E Smith vocal cadences, or maybe it's because they're simply that good, mixing Detroit energy with desert twang. Here is the Thing is from their 2017 release Relatives In Descent.

Protomartyr - Here is the Thing
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Jun. 15th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel - Live @ WREK 27feb2007 1

That's pretty much the most functional band name ever, isn't it? If someone tells you that you're going to be listening to Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel you should know exactly what to expect. Only with the duo of Scott Burland and Frank Schultz you surely don't. For a start, there's none of the hokey chiaroscuro you might imagine such disparate instruments would provide. In fact, once the pair have burnished their instruments with the appropriate electroacoustic treatments, they prove to be in uncanny sympathy with each other. It can be hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. In that regard this piece from their debut self-titled CD-r from 2007 is something of an anomaly, in that it's clear that Schultz's lap steel is providing the rhythmic elements while Burland's theremin exists as the nervous, buzzing medium through which it reverberates. Meanwhile, spoken word samples bring the Zen Buddhism, cosmic apocalyptica, and Twin Peaks references. Yet even here the pair are loathe to emphasise the easy contrasts between their instruments. A dizzying and rather wonderful experience.

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel - Live @ WREK 27feb2007 1
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Jun. 14th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Tony Allen - Push and Pull

Tony Allen started drumming with Fela Kuti in 1964, and he's still making music. How good is that? I'll tell you precisely how good. Push and Pull comes from his album The Source (2017). It's got the earthy brass of '70s fusion, the slinky Afrobeat that Allen all but invented, and an intro that honestly sounds like a Michael Nyman band soundtrack. And oh yeah, the whole thing is tied together with a tuba riff. It's absolutely ridiculous, but it undeniably works. That's how good it is, and the fact that Allen is doing crazy shit like this in his late 70s is perhaps the best of all.

Tony Allen - Push and Pull
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Jun. 13th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Matti Bye - Absence

Matti Bye is a Swedish composer of film soundtracks. I've grown fond of this subdued little tango from his album of original works, This Forgotten Land (2017). Rather than being a work of overwrought passion, this nostalgically detuned piano piece creaks and shuffles its way to its conclusion. There's a great contrast too between the Satie-like deliberation and Bye's lightness of touch. Well worth your time.

Matti Bye - Absence
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Jun. 12th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Harry Torrani - My Lancashire Yodelling Lass

You know that bit in David Byrne's film True Stories where the two auctioneers have a rap battle on stage while the yodelling cowboy slowly lowers a whirling lasso around them? It has a tender eroticism to it, and is clearly the finest yodelling cowboy moment in all of western culture. All others must recede far into the background. But how far?

Harry Torrani, real name Harry Hopkinson, was a miner from Chesterfield who moved into music hall at just the right moment for people to still want to listening to yodelling cowboys. So that was his gimmick, and it's why such supremely unlikely numbers as the faux-country My Lancashire Yodelling Lass exist. The northwest of England was a peculiar place, and country acts persist in working men's clubs even to this day. I don't pretend to understand the sociology of it, but I suspect it has rather more to do with international working class solidarity than any such notion as appropriation. Not entirely sure of the date of this recording, but I'd guess right in the middle of the 1930s.

Harry Torrani - My Lancashire Yodelling Lass
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Jun. 11th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Captain Suun - Beach Burrito

Authenticity has always been one of those big problematic areas in music, seldom more so than when it comes to garage rock. You'll get people obsessing over vintage amps and pedals, lauding the DIY spirit of bands who never played too far beyond their local high school, and looking for moral value in a primal howl. Captain Suun, I suspect, are not like that.

Beach Burrito is filled with twang and reverb, but it also manages to be a subversively camp slice of psychedelic surf music. The genuinely weird don't make a show of their weirdness, rather they relax into it. Captain Suun are comfortable with being ridiculous freaks, and consequently I trust them implicitly.

Captain Suun - Beach Burrito
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Jun. 10th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Asmus Tietchens - Wien Aus Wien

I spent many years under the mistaken assumption that Asmus Tietchens was a band. It's not, it's just one guy, that's his name. He's been making electronic music since 1978 and the majority of it has been rather forbidding industrial fare. But his early work maintains something of a pop sensibility, even if it's a rather cold and formal one. Here's a delightfully sinister little piece from his 1982 release Spät-Europa. Even on a simple number like this Tietchens finds a way to investigate a wide variety of possible discords in his melodic framework. Think of it as a more academic take on the Residents formula: surprisingly good fun.

Asmus Tietchens - Wien Aus Wien
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Jun. 9th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Surfbort - Blobs

Right now Surfbort are one of the best punk bands around, clever and stupid in the best possible way. Back in 2014... well, less so. I've lost count of the number of punk gigs I went to where not just every band sounded alike, but every song did too, and in truth that's something that does afflict R.I.P. Die Old, a demo cassette. That's something nearly all young bands have to go through before they find their identity.

Here's Blobs from that tape, and it's an early sign that they were something above the ordinary. Check out how their wry humour mixes with the defiant punk sloppiness.

Surfbort - Blobs
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Jun. 8th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Julian Cope - Cunts Can Fuck Off

When he was the lead singer of The Teardrop Explodes, Julian Cope's signature vocal style was the bright and brassy "ba ba ba". Other vocalists oohed and lahed and woahed, but Cope baaed. It lifted and energised the music, made pop that was alive and vital. And then he went to pieces a little (but in the process made some of the finest occult rock records ever made), and many years later he may have finally come out the other side. For these days Julian Cope is again singing "ba ba ba" in infectious pop songs, but this time is doing to tell cunts, in no uncertain terms, that they can fuck off. Don't this this appears on any albums yet, but he's been performing solo versions for a few years. I'm sure you can have some fun with this.

Julian Cope - Cunts Can Fuck Off
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Jun. 7th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Brandon LaBelle & James Webb - Staircase

Staircase is a piece of uncomfortably intimate sound art from Brandon LaBelle and James Webb. It from the album Radio Flirt, a record of their installation at the Netherlands Media Art Institute. It's made of footsteps, environmental rumblings, human laughter and half heard conversations, and somewhere in the background a whispering narrator introducing us to this imaginary space. For that's certainly what this is, especially away from the confines of the gallery where these sounds might have been taken for other visitors. And what is so particularly unnerving here is the sense of voyeurism. These sounds are so dissimilar to those that we think of as having been deliberately recorded that they seem as though they must have been stolen. That we're here on this staircase as others have been before, their experience surreptitiously taken from them.

But there is no staircase.

Brandon LaBelle & James Webb - Staircase
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Jun. 6th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Buttonhead - Robocop Sunset

So guys I've gotta tell you I don't really know what to make of Buttonhead. And believe me, that's a confusing state of affairs, because I'm used to having an opinion on everything. They're stylistically frantic, zipping from genre to genre with febrile delight, and surely this should be a good thing? But their whole sound seems to be tied together by some ungodly Aquarian prog ethos, meaning that the resulting effect is Naked City meets The Polyphonic Spree. I mean, it's genuinely fascinating, but I can't tell if it's good or not; I'm barely even sure if I can cope with it.

Robocop Sunset is the lead track of their 2017 album Never Or Forget, and it's the dervish metal/angel choir exotica crossover you never knew existed. Someone out there is going to fucking love this.

Buttonhead - Robocop Sunset
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Jun. 5th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Lorenzo Gomez Oviedo - Fragment 4

Ready Made is a intriguing release by the Argentinian artist Lorenzo Gomez Oviedo. It's a selection of pieces culled from old reel-to-reel tapes, curated rather than composed, and present to the listener as is. That means we get distorted music, tape noise, yelling children and a sense of discovery half way between archaeology and voyeurism. Fragment 4 consists of some magnetically degraded airbrushed easy listening that has ended up misaligned on the tape and now plays backwards. What was once soporific has become unfamiliar and stays that way right up to the surprise ending. File this under sound art rather than music.

Lorenzo Gomez Oviedo - Fragment 4
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Jun. 4th, 2018

cyberinsekt

Kokoroko - Colonial Mentality

If you're looking for a band to represent the new London jazz scene you could do a lot worse than Sheila Maurice-Grey's Kokoroko. One of the best parts of their repertoire is this cover of Fela Kuti's Colonial Mentality. It's a blockbuster tune of course, and what they lose in the original's raw intensity they make up for in expansive soulfulness. Total jazz, with just a hint of reggae on the backbeat.

Kokoroko - Colonial Mentality
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Jun. 3rd, 2018

cyberinsekt

Thelonious Monk - Blue Monk

Sometimes I have to take a step back and wonder if the greatest genius of 20th century music wasn't actually Thelonious Monk. Here was a guy who could play all the wrong notes in all the wrong places, and somehow make every work beautifully. I've never heard anyone else with Monk's sense of timing. He didn't just make music swing, he stopped it in its tracks and refused to let it continue until he was good and ready. The song was the road, the music was the car, and he was the speedbumps.

It's at its most extreme in his majestic solo performances, but even here in this beautiful early recording you can hear his unique style. This remastered version of Blue Monk gives the sound a lot more space to play in, not always to its advantage. It's as if the engineer is letting everything escape that Monk was trying to keep in. Or am I just being overly picky here? After all, it's still an amazing tune.

Thelonious Monk - Blue Monk
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Jun. 2nd, 2018

cyberinsekt

The Mike Flowers Pops - The Velvet Underground Medley

You'd expect a novelty cover band performing a medley of Velvets songs to be some kind of travesty. You'd sort of be right, except that Mike Flowers never approached his loungecore covers with anything other than total dedication. That means the sort of luscious orchestration that polish the original songwriting until it shines. It's obviously no replacement for the original, but these are the groovy singalong versions of All Tomorrow's Parties, Venus in Furs and White Light White Heat that you never knew you needed. This is real craftsmanship.

The Mike Flowers Pops - The Velvet Underground Medley
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Jun. 1st, 2018

cyberinsekt

Christian Bland & the Revelators - 13 Cent Killer

The Revelators are a project of Christian Bland, best known for working with The Black Angels. If you like your neo-psychedelia full of heat haze vibrato then 13 Cent Killer might just be for you. It's a Vietnam fever dream of muggy, oppressive sound from the 2012 album Pig Boat Blues.

Christian Bland & the Revelators - 13 Cent Killer
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May. 31st, 2018

cyberinsekt

Half Man Half Biscuit - Harsh Times in Umberstone Covert

No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin' Hedge Cut is the new Half Man Half Biscuit album and it might be the most curmudgeonly album they've ever made. It's a compendium of petty gripes and sweet revenges and is none the worse for that. But the standout track is a love song, the fierce and rather atonal Harsh Times in Ulverstone Covert. It's a tune that the song's subject, Geraldine, might have enjoyed. When she was young and immortal she'd happily whistle along to Throbbing Gristle, but she has fallen prey to the inevitable betrayal of time. The man who was her lover then has become her carer now, and he refuses to add pity to the list of her problems. Nobody writes a love song like Nigel Blackwell.

Half Man Half Biscuit - Harsh Times in Umberstone Covert
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