Wednesday, 30 November 2016
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Pinch/Tectonic Recordings website
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Thursday, 24 November 2016
Body/Head – No Waves (Matador Records)
Review by Ioan Humphreys.
A lot has been said and written about No Wave, Sonic Youth, free jazz noise, New York Noise, etc., so i won’t labour the point here. Just check out the various publications and compilations available and you will get a real feel of what was so special about the art and music New York circa 1976 through to 1982.
Personally, my life changed around 1989-1990 when on one Sunday, ITV’s The South Bank Show aired experimental filmmaker Charles Atlas’ documentary of the late 1980s downtown New York City music scene called ‘Put Blood in the Music’. Featuring early performances by Sonic Youth, John Zorn, Hugo Largo, Ambitious Lovers, and appearances by Dan Graham, Glenn Branca, Karen Finley and others, i was completely entranced by all of it. I urge everyone to see this documentary if only to just get a starting point for a certain ‘type’ of music to come from New York, and how it would change the face of alternative music forever. The visuals, the sounds, the noises, the violence, the art, the free form expression! Everything changed for me that Sunday night and i will forever be indebted to that documentary for the artists and bands that introduced me to the possibilities of music outside of what i already knew and what i thought was set in stone.
Ok, onto Body/Head that is the vehicle of Kim Gordon (ex Sonic Youth) and Bill Nace. They have been plugging their free form noise experimentation for a while now and this EP showcases a live recording from the ‘Big Ears Festival’ in Knoxville, Tennessee March 28th 2014. Across the 3 (ish) tracks, this EP really does reflect the length and breadth of Gordon and Nace’s noise experimentation and how far they have come as a physical ‘band’. And again Gordon is no stranger to extracurricular band activity. Gordon has played with ‘Free Kitten’ (Julia Cafritz (Pussy Galore), Yoshimi P-We (The Boredoms) and Mark Ibold (Pavement, Sonic Youth)); ‘Harry Crews’ (Lydia Lunch) and Mirror/Dash (Thurston Moore)) so this is no way a ‘new’ thing.
First track ‘Sugar Water has a slow and steady start that gently introduces Gordon’s sultry, yet haunting wailing vocals over the sedate guitar noise. This sedateness crescendos and careens about as the guitar noise fills the room.
‘The show is over’ again starts off slowly and gently creates a noisy guitar orchestra of sounds not unlike Glenn Branca’s compositions. Gordon’s vocals are again haunting and abuse the already aggressive guitar. The two combine to create a tumultuous aural experience that comes to a satisfying, yet grateful halt. Quite overwhelming and powerful.
‘Abstract/Actress’ (both from the 2013 ‘Coming Apart’ LP) start off with an engulfing riff that encapsulates Gordon’s otherworldly vocals, yet it gets noisier and noisier as the pair completely free form and settle down to create the most gorgeous guitar noise i have heard for a while. And this noise just continues to morph and change and coagulate into the second half of this chaotic, corrosive opus that ends with an inspired harmonica outro and guitar crescendo that absolutely kills this track! This piece more than the others shows the capabilities of Body/Head’s as a band and the sonicscapes and places that this band is capable of taking one to.
Sometimes it’s ok to say a big fat fuck you to the past and apply one’s self to an uncertain and (often) clumsily orchestrated future. That is life. But, as long as it means creating works of art that continue to shock and disturb and upset and create excruciating noise, then i think Body/Head have a great future. File as essential.
Published on Louder Than War 17/11/16 - here
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
IN-IS – Seven Days
CD / DL
8.5 / 10
Classical ambient IN-IS releases debut album.
You might think that you’ve never heard of Sheridan Tongue, the man behind the aural sculptures of IN-IS, but you be very wrong as the Belfast born composer is the sound behind several soundtracks including Silent Witness, Spooks (for which he received a BAFTA nomination) and more recently the Brian Cox TV series Wonders Of The Solar System.
Highly polished and beautifully constructed, Seven Days is a gorgeous album. With just enough ambience to keep the Eno fans of this world happy, interlaced with some quite stunning orchestral arrangements it is a centrepiece of creator Sheridan Tongue’s talent. Influences from the likes of Kraftwerk and Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells) are easy to see but perhaps the most striking comparison is one with Rob Dougan whose criminally underrated Furious Angels album intertwined large segments of Debussy styled orchestration.
The eight tracks are simply yet incredibly highly polished and completely loaded with emotion and atmospheric quality. Our Story is haunting yet beautiful at the same time as the delicate strings sweep around like a woodland mist holding together a love-struck couple, and Scarlette In Love serves to confirm comparisons to Dougan as it bears resemblances to the orchestral interludes in Clubbed To Death. Tongue however remains firmly on the subtler, classical side and it is a style which could quite possibly cross over to ambient fans.
The album claims to take journeys through the unexplored and the compared lakes, seas and water locations are easy to imagine oneself floating on as are areas of discreet loveliness. Indian Dilruba and Japanese hang drums also feature but they are treated and manoeuvred sounding like mystical tones throughout.
Seven Days is a short album clocking in at less than twenty nine minutes but, within those tracks is a universe of intricacies and quite beautiful soundscapes, Reverie For A Small Ensemble for instance has enough space and emptiness for the listener to disappear to whenever they like within their mind, and Fjords yet again takes us on a trip of enormous uncertainty yet gives enough familiarity for us not to get lost.
A delightful and charming album which deserves any accolade that will come its way.
Over the past couple of months we have grown to love Rachel Mason. She is a true original.
On Das Ram, her thirteenth album, she fuses varied styles under a huge alternative pop umbrella which ducks and dives in and out of familiarity and strangeness. Rachel is not just a musical artist, her art and exhibitions command as much attention and quite rightly so and the attraction seems to be when both arts fuse.
Her recent videos for Heart Explodes and Tigers In The Dark show not only musical originality but also a keen eye for what makes our sense of sight explode. In some ways like Kate Bush represented both art forms to us, so Rachel does a similar thing.
Often tinged with a little darkness, the videos are simple but mind-blowing.
Eight tracks of unequivocal quality make up Das Ram and surely one of the albums of the year.
Monday, 21 November 2016
Sunday, 20 November 2016
Noura Mint Seymali – Arbina (Glitterbeat Records)
LP / CD / DL
Review by the Unarmed Bandit.
When this crossed my desk, my instant feeling was trepidation – I was not convinced I would like it as I have not been exposed to any music of Moorish descent. How wrong could I be?
Noura Mint Seymali hails from Mauritania with a deep-rooted heritage in music, being a descendant of Moorish griot and this definitely shows in the songwriting. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of listening before, the sound is a fantastic fusion of African, Asian and Western influence. Each of the songs on the album has its own identity, at different times showcasing the guitar playing of Noura’s husband, Jelche Ould Chigaly, the bass of Ousmane Toure and the drums of Matthew Tinari. The full drum kit opens up the traditional sounds to Western ears and the bass which at times offers the percussive effect of a tabla – I suspect this is down to years of mastering the instrument and developed intentionally – paves the way for a series of overlaid guitar riffs that highlight the Afro-Asian influence. All of these support the soaring vocals of Noura without ever clashing. There is no doubt that the story she is telling is the focal point of the songs.
While each of the tracks merit a mention, Ghizlane really stands out for me. It starts quite calmly with a gorgeous melody being held up by a selection of riffs, building slowly with the addition of bass and drums until it climaxes into a cacophony of glorious celebration.
At the end of the day, this has opened my ears to a style of music I probably wouldn’t have searched out otherwise and that I will always be grateful for. Next stop, an online search for the first full-length album, Tzenni.
The Bordellos – How To Lose Friends And Influence No-One (Small Bear Records)
CD / DL
8.5 / 10
St Helens Indie Folk Rockers release their new album.
On their latest album, How To Lose Friends And Influence No-One, The Bordellos seem to have created not a pop album nor the alternative Indie folk that they label themselves as, but instead an album of incredibly addictive anti-pop. Anti-pop in the sense that there are amazing pop efforts squirming to break free but in their own divine way don’t need to become polished and glitzy affairs.
There’s a wonderful beauty and simplicity about the tracks. Sure, the vocals aren’t the best ever recorded and neither are some of the guitar breaks but, that is the key to this impressive thirteen tracked collection. It highlights D.I.Y. music if you like but more importantly defines what music is really all about. It shouldn’t be elitist, it shouldn’t just be made by the privileged few with their big budget videos and bigger name producers. It should instead reflect the voice of everyone and more importantly in today’s climate, the few.
Much recognition has to go to record label Small Bear Records who once again put their proverbial money where their mouth is and back the ordinary which in turn becomes the extraordinary. Indeed label supremo Phil Reynolds may even make an appearance somewhere on the album as he often does, and perhaps the involvement further endorses the relationship between band and label.
Album opener, I Don’t Believe In Motherfuckers Anymore surely sets the scene as the sleeve notes clearly profess the music industry claiming “it’s all about the music” when the music is always about nothing. The dismay of discovering every boys childhood hero had in fact been a paedophile (albeit as the words dictate – ‘when he was naff’) on Gary Glitter, and an interesting slant on the finest DJ of them all in the tortuously titled Did The Bastards At The BBC Kill John Peel. An interesting claim and one that could be a conspiracy theorists wet dream particularly now that the constantly moving show (maybe a thorn in the Beeb’s side?) has a series of attempted emulations on Radio 6.
Pink Torpedo and I No Longer Speak The International Language Of Kojak Kapiche show how Brian, Dan and Ant Bordello can craft some quite sublime songs. The melodies are quite near perfect and evoke memories of the birth of the Indie scene with those tunes that weevilled into your head and refused to leave. Unhappy Song again recalls the writer’s favourite songs from youth and artists from The Smiths to The Supremes, from Ramones to House Of Love – sad songs sometimes, but in the most part from writers that had the ability to inject humour into the most depressing sounding backdrops.
How To Lose Friends is a lesson in D.I.Y., but more importantly it’s the story of a band wearing their heart on their sleeve and believing in what they do and is one of the most enthralling releases of the year. In a world of sequined, over produced mediocrity, The Bordellos represent the alternative world of anti-pop where passion and feeling count just as much as the words and music.
This is the root of music.
Published on Louder Than War 12/11/16 - here