I’ve been so far from here. It’s good to feel you again.
It’s been a long long time.
We reviewed the wonderful Fresh Snow back here. On hearing their new album one track stood apart from the title alone – ‘Don’t Fuck a Gift Horse in the Mouth’. On realising that the dulcet tones were those of Damian Abraham from Fucked Up the whole thing jumped to a new level of delight. A perfect motorik wig out with Abraham screaming “It melts away” and other angered insights. Astonishing. Last track on the excellent new album Won. Available here:
I think it fair to say we’re a little tired of post-rock as a genre (and even more so the ‘just because you know all the notes you don’t have to fucking play them’ sibling, math-rock) However, some bands know how to tweak the buttons of epic pleasure and Caspian are such. A propelled arp to start, a perfectly realised long build, a clattering heavy ending…sometimes you have to ask ‘what’s not to like?’ From their new album, Dust and Disquiet. Available here:
Despite having self-professed limited keyboard skills, Casiomtb has produced something with a beautiful simplicity on The Devil Take Your Stereo. Taking one old keyboard, playing one note at a time and chucking a load of effects at it might displease the musical purists, but such an approach is more than welcome round these parts. It’s an album of evolving and intriguing drones and oddly percussive refrains, with space to think and feel, and aids a drift away into the deep. It’s ace. Available here.
Another artist we’ve championed before in our completely regular Sack of Streams feature is Hanetration. Back with a new release entitled Waldsterben, he’s taken something of a departure in style as rhythms and beats are brought to the fore and the cerebral drone to the back. Innovation is here by the bucket load and the EP provides an atmosphere that is both captivating and pleasingly difficult to locate. Available here, for free!
Right. I’m off to extract the marrow from your backbone.
Along with the lovely chaps here at Both Bars On, the Brainwashed Radio Podcast has been a fantastic source of new music for me. My tastes could be said to have calcified in recent years, but a lot of the plaque has been shaken loose by this podcast. While I was riding the Transbay from Oakland to San Francisco every day, it was a regular accompaniment, and now that I’m taking the E12 from Al Reef via Yas Island, it’s back in rotation.
The format is pretty straightforward. The excellent host Jon Whitney gives just enough information about each piece of music, with a little bit of chat, but never enough to make me switch off (and believe me, it doesn’t take much). He will churn out a bunch of episodes in quick succession, then go quiet for months. But the episodes are about an hour long, often have great replay value, and the archives are quite extensive, with over 300 episodes so far. Plenty to dig into.
Some of the artists that have appeared on the podcast are; Klara Lewis, Steve Hauschildt (new album coming soon – watch this space for review), Suicide, The Legendary Pink Dots, Broadcast, The Haxan Cloak, Factory Floor, the list goes on-‘n-on-‘n-on-‘n-on-‘n-on-‘n-on-‘n-on.
Tanzwuth Recordings, the Cardiff-based label which appears to be the home of one prolific artist with various pseudonyms, has released a new longplayer from Diebenkorn. Magnox is a collection of ten tracks which float around in the area of noodly electronics, simple phrasing and chord sequences, glitchy beats, and weird processed vocal snatches.
Opener Class of 83 sets the stage with a simple piano phrase, before opening up the drums and drifting on until the school bell rings. Mini-highlight Whistling Trees repeats the formula minus the drums, with a hint of the Vangelises about it (not a negative thing at all). Headshake also has some 70’s Greek touches, which are joined by some vocoding.
My favourite Rural Idyll could do with being about four (or fourteen) minutes longer, but in its short length it channels both Orbital and BBO faves Advisory Circle. Similarly, Metrotech could be stretched into a good early Goldfrapp tune.
The title track (another highlight) brings the drums to the fore, before the swirling noise and forceful distorted synths make their point very clearly. Detektor and 4 O’Clock also apply the drum technique, the latter with a nice chord sequence which could really be extended.
The party starts on I Really Don’t Know. Squiggles lead into a playful break to get your toes tapping, backed with an almost mournful flute. It gets a bit fruity up in there, breaks it down, then the bass is left to keep you busy while the atmosphere builds, morphs and fades – a bit of a missed bass drop op.
Final 10-minute corker Infoscan brings all these ideas together, starting with meaty drums, throbbing bass, swirling atmospherics, then bringing in the synth chords and arpeggios, before letting the throb find closure.
A nice collection, with some good ideas worth exploring and extending. Check it out, it’s great for driving the Sheikh Khalifa Highway on cruise control in your white Corolla.
Post Tangent is a charity compilation supporting CalAid, a group of volunteers collecting for the Calais refugee camps. The compilation seems to have been set up by some of the bands playing the ArcTangent festival in Bristol last month, so it’s essentially 32 tracks of post-, math-, noise-, glitch- and drone-rock.* BBO favourites Deerhoof are as full of beans as ever on ‘Kuma Kita’:
And the last track, the more contemplative ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,’ comes from the brilliantly named He Was Eaten By Owls (who were new to me but are well worth investigating):
I don’t know anything more about this compilation beyond what’s on Deerhoof’s facebook page, but it’s definitely worth buying – excellent music for a very good cause. The Bandcamp page is here and it’s £4 or more. You could always donate to CalAid too, here.
* do you like that hyphenated rock?
The Imitation Archive is an album produced solely from field recordings at the UK’s National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park, where Matt Parker spent 2 months as the artist in residence in early 2015.
And it’s magnificent.
It’s an album made up of 10 mostly quite short tracks, opening with “WITCH” – a track that sets the tone for the whole album, introducing the clacking and clicking of the Harwell Dekatron Computer, before leading into the blissful drone of “The Bold and The Beautiful”.
It just gets better and better from there, “Test Patterns” is all scratching hiss building to a static crescendo in just 44 glorious seconds. “Terminal” continues the static hiss, combining it with dark foreboding percussion and is one of the absolute highlights of the album.
One of my favourite things about the album is the way Parker has delved way back to some of the earliest examples of British computing such as the WITCH and Colossus (and the ‘Bombe’ – the decryption device designed by Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, the calming whirring and buzzing drone of which can be heard on “Bombes of Bletchley”). This ensures the album is far removed from the 1980s style chiptunes that some people associate with the sounds of retro computers.
Get the Imitation Archive from Bandcamp – if you’re into experimental noise and drone then it’s an essential purchase
Kieran Mahon returns with a new EP, which continues with the cosmos theme of his album from earlier in the year, Radio Astronomy. There’s 4 tracks of beautifully droning soundscapes which really do convey a feeling of outer space.
‘Leonov’, named after the first cosmonaut to do a spacewalk, is the short opening ambient track. A steady drone floats in the background while over the top of this oscillator sweeps evoke the vastness of space, and just how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.
Track two, ‘The Men went to the Moon’, starts with samples from NASAs recently released archive of sounds, and if you shut your eyes (that’s it, squeeze them tightly closed) you can imagine the inertia of lifting up from the earth’s surface in a rocket, headed for the stars, then the strange calmness of orbiting the planet.
‘The Eagle Has Wings’ is another shorter track, building up from calming static to what sounds like a space choir, which sets us up nicely ‘16 Orbits per Day’, the ten minute long EP closer. It’s an epic drone worth the price of admission alone.
Space is the Place can be picked up from Bandcamp, where you can name your price. Do it.
Hailing from East Rome, Heroin in Tahiti are a duo that have produced one of the most rewarding albums of the year with Sun and Violence. And they’ve seemingly invented their own genre, best summed as sun-scorched psyche Radiophonica. That may need work, so let’s go with their own tag of Spaghetti Wasteland. Much better.
There’s so much of interest here, so much that demands your attention, I barely know where to start. One thing that stands out is the brilliant use of field recordings – muezzin wale with intensity, birdsong and call is warped and coils in on itself, radio voices plead and spook, fragments of chants loop and animated rants become cadences.
Tracks erupt with rumbling ritual intensity or build to sudden ends. Drones haze the room and crystallise into diamond facets. Rhythms mass into tribal funks or drip with erotica. Synths wobble, float, and score lines across your vision. Guitars trace fragments of full riffs. Organs appease. Put it this way: I love this so much I even forgave them the use of sitars at the end of the epic ‘Continuous Movement’.
If Goat dropped all the spirituality nonsense and some of the somewhat tiresome posturing, and went a bit more pleasingly ‘out there’, you’d be almost arrive at the place Heroin in Tahiti inhabit. It’s a strange, third-eye coagulating, claustrophobically intense place, located somewhere beyond the visible horizon in an exotic land. I wanna go.
This is a brilliant album. I’d strongly consider buying it if you know your shit. BUY.
Italian instrumental post-rock band Stearica have served up their second album, and such is the intensity of it that it’s almost like running a marathon. Well, probably a bit like that; I’ve never ran a marathon myself but I imagine you start out all bright, eager and full of energy, have a little bit of doubt in the middle, and then end strongly as you feel the finish line coming up.
‘Delta’ is a storming first song, all angular guitars, in your face bass and sizzling hi-hats; next track ‘Halite’ takes up where that leaves off, with pummelling in your face drums. Then, while you’re still reeling ‘Bes’ slides in. Lulling you in with it’s slowish start before the punishingly thumping bass and drums combo bludgeons you.
With these album openers offering a one-two-three knockout, you’re left wondering if you’ve got enough stamina to keep up with this pace throughout the entire album. Things do slow down a little…eventually. But not until the final couple of tracks, by which time you’re all ready to be wrapped up in that shiney silver blanket that gets thrown on people at the end of a big run.
Mid points of the album, ‘Nur’, complete with shouty (occasionally almost bordering on the screamy) vocals, and ‘Tigris’ are pretty unrelenting, coming at a stage where I wanted some light to go with the shade of the physical assault, and ‘Siqlum’ borders on metal, which depending on your mood at the time might be utterly glorious or just a step too far.
Thankfully, Amreeka arrives just in time to slow things down a little, complete with atmospheric vocals. Things get even better with Sha Mat, the 11 minute-plus ending to the album. This brings in brass and woodwind instruments providing a contrast with the all-out guitar/bass/drum battering of the rest of the album, and the slow burning, building approach of this song makes it an absolute highlight. Taking it’s time to get into it’s stride it eventually transforms into a combination of all the best bits of the album on one song before fading to a satisfying drone.
And just like that, it’s over. You can topple over the finish line. Then you can do it all over again – this is an album that rewards repeated listens, and fans of bands like And So I watch You From Afar and Russian Circles would do well to check it out.
The four tracks on Overexposed EP, Flange Circus’ second self-produced release, each have a distinct sound of their own, but they are all definitely in the groove of electrically driven post-nu-kraut-psych-orbit-rock shot through with (dare I say it?) Northern Humour. I say orbit, because this Mancunian quartet are definitely grounded, not whirling completely into space.
Teaser tune and EP opener ‘Fabric Lughole Systems’ starts out with a driving warped synth line, before the reverb-soaked electronic melody takes control for the rest of the ride. This is a chase scene through some rain-soaked streets, taking side roads, then crossing against traffic. A pause for breath – have you shaken off your pursuers? Not now you’ve gone down a dead end. A resonant acidic pulse sweeps in as your pursuers approach, closer, there’s no escape… or is there?
Echoes of a warehouse with a strange machine at the center introduce ‘FAT CRAB’, before crunchy windswept Hawkwind guitar takes control. This is joined by mellotron-like organ, synth sweeps, and a single processed vocal stating the subject and the purpose of the piece. A live set would use this as a form of chant, perhaps. Even a signature dance move? The second half brings the one-chord driving guitar and organ, returning to the main theme, before wigging out in a whirlwind of electric sparks, ending on an almost church-like note.
‘Leopard Skin In Miniature’ starts out as what sounds like a straight rock song, backed with strings and whirring overhead noises, and distant paranoid phrasing from vocalist Pete, before some sinister Russian speech stops things in their tracks. Arpeggiated bleeps lead back into the main theme, and as the track resolves, the walls of sound move away, leaving you alone in the dark, with the electric fireflies.
I love me a phased intro, and ‘Disko Bay’ does not disappoint. The slow burn back-and-forth synths build, then step back for an electronic tapped phrase overlaid with violins, before all is brought down for the slow guitar notes and a beautiful piano resolution. A great EP-closer, and even better set-closer.
In this release, Flange Circus have taken the ideas and ideals of their debut Ekranoplan EP, and a couple of layering techniques from the spinoff drone duo Zirkus, pushed the rock harder in places, brought forth the psych, kept the humour, twiddled the knobs a bit more, added very welcome vocal touches, and come up with a tight, atmospheric and thoroughly good EP. Nice one. Buy it here.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Flange Circus contains two members of Both Bars On, in the great tradition of music journalists being in bands.Their previous release was reviewed by the then only other member. Now they’ve got me on board (the other new fella couldn’t do it because he’s in the band as well), so I drew the short straw this time. Except it’s a long curvy (yet angular) straw, which leads to places known and unknown, and I genuinely enjoyed the ride.
Let’s play a quick game of word association: What do you think of when you see or hear the word “Eindhoven”?
If you think “erm…it’s in the Netherlands somewhere but I couldn’t point to it on a map” then see me after class for a quick geography lesson. If, however, the words “Psych Lab” float their way into your temporal lobe and then out of your mouth, well done. Have a gold star and a hot vimto.
I’d like to think that Het Droste Effect, who are a band from that very Dutch city, have fully absorbed the goings on at the annual festival, and from the evidence of their debut album SOAR it would appear they have. Opener Syncopiapo is an industrial fizzer which sets the tone nicely for the rest of the album. Follow up track You Know That I Knew really gets into the psych rock groove that moves the head and feet, and a glorious bass line that you’ll be humming for days.
While some of the shorter tracks wander into a more ambient territory, with bleepy field recordings punctuating the many layers of overdubbed guitar and cymbals, a full on fuzzy freak out is never far away: Hash It Out in particular stands out as a song where you just need to close your eyes and let it take you wherever it wants before the title track takes the pace down somewhat, allowing some much needed recovery time with icy synths taking a much more prominent role. Well, that is until the midway tribal drum breakdown and we’re back in full on psych territory reminiscent of some of Pink Floyd’s more experimental early post Syd Barrett recordings.
Final track Sandra Eats the sunshine is a near 10 minute epic which starts slowly with some dreamy sax and simple guitar before it just builds and builds. And builds.
You can name your price for the digital download of SOAR on Bandcamp so there’s very little excuse for not getting your grubby mitts on this. Vinyl and tape formats are also available by contacting the band.