2011 Half Term Review: What’s been a hit? What’s been a pile of shit?

04 Jul

As we reach the middle of the year, i think it’s only good and proper to see who has tickled my ear buds with their deviant noise nectar.


Iceage – New Brigade: one of THE standout albums of the year so far. Was put on a limited release in March in Denmark, but has since gone international and has reached the ears of the likes of the Quietus and Pitchfork. And quite rightly so. The album is only 24 minutes long, but,man, the energy these Danish guys throw at you, it’s been a while since a record felt so supercharged. They also seem to exude a proper old school sense of complete disregard for their own health and safety. The music itself mixes equal amounts of goth, new age post-punk and old school hardcore that, despite all the noise, has some decent production values that enhance the listening experience. The best descriptive word would be…. clanging!

I’ve been boring just about anybody who’s involved in music about these guys over the last couple of months. The people in charge of Iceland Airwaves HAVE to get these guys, or they should just all resign and work in a fish factory or something.

Kode9 and the Spaceape – Black Sun: their first album in 4 years sees Kode9 and The Spaceape try to break out of the genres that they’ve made their own (UK Funky, Dubstep). Elements of house and Detroit techno can be heard in the synth programming which makes for a more varied listen, but there is still this omnipresent feeling of paranoia and unease within the sub woofer waves. The first track “Black Smoke” is just immense, a journal of the drains of modern life set inside a bass bin.

Pye Corner Audio Transcription Services – Black Mill Tapes Vol.2: Although Ghost Box’s “Study series Vo. 5 – The Open Songbook” and Jon Brook’s “Music for Thomas Carnacki” were both good, It was PCATS that led the way in the hauntological stakes so far this year. Taking his synth sounds on a more Space doom/sci fi journey this year, it definitely has much more of a menacing air this time around.. A bit of a mix of all your favourites, from John Carpenter to Igor Wakhevitch.

Squadra Omega – Squadra Omega: Italian record label Boring Machines are fast becoming one of my favourite indie labels with some of the stuff they’ve been putting out this year. The likes of Fabio Orsi, Mammuthones and Father Murphy seem to revel in that sticky scent of sex, death, religion and smoke that Italy has in spades. But these guys are definitely the best. A jazz/freeform acid rock ensemble, they get all the components just right. For example, they do the brilliant thing of having a 16 minute opening track that in no way feels like 16 minutes. You lose yourself in the music and layering textures and time starts to warp and bend to its will. The way all good acid rock should be.

Tropic of Cancer – The Sorrow Of Two Blooms: The latest release from Nu-Goth maestros Blackest Ever Black is true to form with their other releases. VERY gloomy, VERY gothic. Reminds me of an international version of Iceland’s Two Step Horror (more on them later….)

The Dum Dum Girls – He gets me High EP: THE. BEST. POP EP. THIS. YEAR. Just listening to this makes you feel you all buzzy and floaty inside. Of course, it’s your classic powerfuzz sound with a heavy 80s bent (there’s a Smith cover just to hammer the point home).

Dirty Beaches – Badlands: US-style rockabilly hauntology. I think i described this record as what would happen if Suicide travelled back in time to the 50’s and recorded this record, leaving it in a special Nuclear Bunker in Orange County. filthy rock n’ roll with a hard, flinty edge.


EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

Old Apparatus – Promo Mix

Gnod – Ingnodwetrust

Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972

Lumerians – Transmalinnia

Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place

Anstam – Baldwin/Carmichael 7″

Girl Unit – Wut (Claude Vonstroke Mix)

Kemper Norton – Libraries Act


The Heavy Experience – The Heavy Experience: It’s only 2 tracks long, but this is some decidedly heavy chasmal jazz/rock sounds that “sits at the border between Earth’s late-era desert harmonics and King Crimson going through a doom jazz workout” (my quotes!). the kicker is in the production. It actually feels and sounds well polished and smooth, with a budget way higher than it probably was. I want a lot more from these guys.

Two Step Horror – Living Room Music: An Icelandic duo who make rock steeped in a swirl of 50’s sounds and modern goth and ambient. It just drips sex, desire, Brennivín and death. they’ve got many similarities with the likes of Tropic of Cancer and Dirty Beaches. Definitely one to watch.

GusGus – Arabian Horse: Everyone’s shoe-in for Iceland’s “Album Of the year”. But for what it is, it’s actually rather good. Has that whole late 90’s stadium techno feel of the likes of Faithless and would definitely be a winner on the good ol’ summer festival circuit. It’s sounds, big, lush and at times bombastic, but never overstates its hand. It’s interesting when you compare this to a lot of the techno poop that’s polluting the airwaves at the moment with its plastic synths and autotuned vocals, the overall sound being like that of an annoying wasp in a tin can. “Arabian Horse” on the other hand, with its strong, clean vocals and proper build ups, feels a lot more accomplished.

Jóhann Jóhannsson – The Miners’ Hymns: My review on this has just been printed and i’ll post it in due course. This was the album that showed that JJ can compose soundtrack music that has a reall bit of bite. Track two (“An Injury To One Is The Concern Of All”) immediately grabbed my attention, but it grew on me after several listens and it’s a really well put together pieces of work. you can feel a real sense of anger and loss in the music.


Svartidauði: Temple of Deformation

Evil Madness: Super Great Love

But wow, has half the year gone ALREADY? time flies when you’re having fun eh?

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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in music


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