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Why do people keep giving me stuff?? Stop It you Bastards! Trawling through my pile of music gifts….

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It’s always the way when you start a career in writing about music, that while you will almost certainly get paid fuck all (That is if you get paid at all!), you will find that people, from musicians, to their managers and PR guys,  will just happen to message you to “give” you stuff, even if you don’t ask for it. This is what i often call Hey-check-us-out-itis. It’s a fairly standard ailment, along the lines of tooth decay, or gout, and it’s something you inevitably will need to get used to.

Despite doing this for what seems to be like years, I’ve always felt slightly ambivalent when people just give you music “with no strings attached.” This is not to cast aspersions on the people giving you stuff. some of them are indeed very nice people. But I’ve always felt that such an transaction/encounter comes with a certain quid pro quo attached to it, that I find myself in the position of being compelled to say something about the music as a form of thank you, which has always made me feel uneasy (hark at old prolier than thou here!)

Over the past few months though, the amount of records, CDs and digital files have grown into a slightly large pile near the record player and on my desktop. and despite my best efforts, I can’t ignore them any longer, as the compulsion to play and write about them growing stronger by the day.

So with that in mind, Iet’s have a look at some of the stuff that has come my way from the UK in the past couple of months, And before you ask, an Icelandic version will be following in the next week or so…

OK first up are a couple of tracks that were sent to me by the lovely Sophie Cooper, who you may remember (probably not) being featured as part of an Exotik Pylon label review way back when. Well she’s fast becoming a major linchpin in what is the most unlikely cultural hub in the UK. No, no Deptford or Dalston, but Toddmorden in West Yorkshire. A few months ago she sent me a few files for some music that was being released though her work with the bombshop arts collective, something that she said I might be interested in. The files have petrified on my desktop for weeks, but it’s only now that I’ve got around to giving them a proper listen!

The first act is the self titled release from MOSAIC OF TEETH. A motley band of improvisational musicians that include Justin Wiggan (Roadside Picnic), Nicholas Bullen (Napalm Death), Keith Moliné (Two Pale Boys / Pere Ubu), ILIOS (Mohammad/PAN), Anthony Donovan (Murmurists) and Antonio de Braga. According to the blurb, this collaboration came about due to the Eyjafjallajökul eruption in 2010. Wiggans finds himself stranded in Norway for a few days, so he spends his time getting a loads of crappy cassettes from the local fleamarkets. the tapes are then morphed, edited and passed around the cabal who warp and flail at the sounds with febrile glee. the result is a 40 minute sound sculpture mindfuck that sways and tilts all over the place, from poised, polished blocks of sound, to corroded shards of noise rock jazz jams, to bastardised Bond Soundtracks being passed through a grunge filter. After listening to it a few time, I have no idea what’s going on, but that’s all part of the fun of this collaboration – Defamiliarisation and Destabilisation is the name of the game. There are still copies to order, and physical copies come with a phial of volcanic ash! Hope they got a permit for that.

(Alas there’s no soundcloud link available, but you can here an excerpt HERE)

 

The next up is FUSE 004 by Petrels, the latest in the series of recordings from the FUSE multimedia art space in Bradford. It’s a live recording by noise artist and composer Petrels aka Oliver Barrett. Over tow long form tracks of densely layered harmonic compositions, we hear two components at play. On the one hand you are gently assaulted aurally by overloading, sometimes jarring electronic textures and waveforms, but at the same time they adhere to the core harmonic principles that lay down a lot of raga infused folk musics. the result is music that is both harsh and melodic, stinging walls of pure sound a colour that trigger a painful delirium of the ears. I can only hope that there was a light show that came with it that blew out the eyes as well. If you fancy something that’s along the lines of Fuck Buttons or Oneohtrix Point Never at their harshest, then i think you’d be interested in this.

 

Now I turn to a bunch of releases from the only and only Andy Cooke from JUNIOR ASPIRIN records in London, a repository label for some frankly weird and disturbing music that should come with a govt warning. Simple story this – I got an e-mail from Andy a few months ago thanking me for using a track from the band The God In Hackney in one of my Nordic Interstitial Thresholds mixes. He then goes. “Would you like me to send you some music?” to which I reply “Sure, why not?” Now what I was expecting was for Andy to send a a CD of 12″ or two. Imagine my shock when a week or so later, I received a rather hefty package (well it was more like a box) from the mail courier. opening it, I see not one, or two, but TEN albums (See the pic at the top), pretty much the entire discography of Junior Aspirin records! I won’t be going into some of the records he gave me, such as the releases from Skill 7 Stamina 12, and The Rebel, but instead point you towards the following 3 groups.

Fist up is Big Legs and their self titled debut album. Two Englishmen stuck in NYC who have decided to make some decidedly off-kilter pop ditties in an attempt to articulate their lives in their adopted hometown. the result is one of wibbly and contorted home studio beats electronics and samples, woodwind sintruments, surrealist spoken word mumblings and vocal cutups that are of a decidedly English monotone bent. The album’s highlight is a cover of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” that descends into a loopy, haunting intermission. Pop music for people who don’t like people.

 

Next up is Cave Moderne, by The God In Hackney. A four piece that contains Label owner Andy, the album is meant to be a concept album that imagines the Flintstones for real, a contemporary neolithic period where avant pop/rock sounds are performed “with chants, drums, guitars, synths, shells, earth, teeth, bits of tree and crap music apps.” the result is an bricolage album of songs as sound assemblages, held together by dinosaur gut twine and duct tape. Looping and clattering drum rhythms mix with deadpan vocals, churning keyboards drones and broken guitar riffs. An alternative album title for this could have been Prehistoric Modern Life Is Rubbish.

 

Finally we have Further Conclusions Against an Italian Version (BAT) by the wonderfully named Socrates That Practiçes Music. Another band that contains label owner Andy Cooke and his mate Alex Ellerington, they call their music METAGOTH, which if anything is at least one of the best ideas for a band name I can think of. And like Big Legs, STPM are a band that take a simple base structure/genre of music (in this case goth and post-punk) and smashes it around the room with an English approach to DIY music and songwriting. this sort of approach has a long lineage from The Fall, The Fates, Cleaner From Venus, and The Nightinggales, all the way to Grumbling Fur, Officer! and Daniel Patrick Quinn. A track like “Mrs Hammersmith” for example reminded me a little bit of  the early music that the likes of The Young knives were putting out years ago. Despite the obviously avant-pop structures and the woozy use of samples and gothic atmosphere, there is definitely a strong, decidedly grounded, pop sensibility that shines through the tracks. It’s suburban garden/kitchen sink goth music, where the magic comes from performing divining rituals on utility bills and clairvoyance using Tetley tea bags. Recommended.

that’s your lot for now. I’m back off to work!!

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in music, Uncategorized

 

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Album Reviews: The Reykjavik Grapevine: Buspin Jieber, ‘We Came As we Left’

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A while back I reviewed Buspin Jieber’s We Came As We Left, the latest release from Icelandic electronic label Raftonar for the Grapevine. Go and read here.

It was OK. Some really excellent production touches, but as an exercise in retrofuturism/memory as inspiration it wasn’t that much of an immersive experience.

But take a listen for yourself and see what you think.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in music

 

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Reykjavik Grapevine: Interviews: Sóley

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Last weekend I interviewed Sólety Stéfansdóttir aka SÓLEY for the Reykjavik Grapevine. You can read it here. She also has an album release gig on at Frikirkjan tonight in the run up to the release of her 2nd album Ask The Deep (details at the end of the interview). Alas i can’t go, but I think some of you should at least think about attending and stuff.

She was really nice to interview. Well, it was more of a chat than a straight up interview, an exchange of suggestions and ideas sort of thing. Sóley is just one of those lovely musicians that, even if you’re not really into her music, obviously is one of life’s thinkers, ponderers and slight obsessives (She just thinks more about life and death and shit, instead of politics and cultural theory lol!) We also talked about weird films such as Beyond the Black Rainbow and the music of Aine O’Dwyer, with regards to her plans to hopefully make organ musical pieces. It was also interesting about the way that she visualizes ideas, sounds and structure in a very similar way to how music triggers colours, cinematic images and memories (real and pilfered) in my own head. We just apply our own obsessions and energies into entirely different paths….

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2015 in music

 

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Music Moment: Isobel Ccircle~ , ‘Asterism’

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Morning all y’alls!

One of the interesting things about summertime for me now I’m at uni is that I get this weird feeling of space. most of my semester time is mostly undertaken in a default setting of mild chaos and stress. It’s a constant conveyor belt of lectures, essay readings and writings and spending most of the time leaning across to my classmates and saying “um… what did he just say again?” All in all a constant stream of low-level anxiety.

But now that summer is here and the classes finished last month, it’s like I’ve been unshackled and unhooded, the door to my cell has been opened and I’ve been pushed out into the glaring sun, with a deep voice going “now fuck off till September” before the door closes behind me. As i blink and rub my eyes and stretch me legs, I simple ask myself, “What now?”

Of course I now have other worries and anxieties to think about – finding and getting work, getting enough hours, paying the bills (or which there are many). It’s the first time in a many year when my working life has been filled with a precariousness where I constantly wonder if I can afford to pay my way on a lot of things.

But this Summer is also the first in a while since I’ve been able to think. To think about a lot of things, and allow my mind to drift and wander. not so much as a daydream, but simply taking the time to ponder and read whatever I have that comes to hand. IT’s also the first time in a while when I’m starting to think a little differently about the music I’m hearing on my social feed and what I receive from people, as well as it’s place zones of experience and chaotic thought processing.

One such record I received recently was Asterism, the latest release from ISOBEL CCIRCLE~, the continuing collaborative project between Arpil Larsson and Matt Bower. Between the two of them they’ve been producing a fairly hefty body of musical works – April has been releasing under her own name for a while now (She’s also the proud owner of Dorian, the most beautiful wide-eyed cat in the world (I want to make a noise rock band named Dorian Flump), While Matt has been particularly busy, releasing numerous albums and collabs as WIZARDS TELL LIES and THE REVENANT SEA. They both specialise in that interstitial mode of drone/ambient/noise creation, with Matt taking things to a different route via kosmiche and krautrock inflected jams. But the two together make some incredibly stark, brooding soundscapes. I was first made aware of Isobel Ccircle when they released fluttercage on Jonny Mugwump’s Exotik Pylon label a couple of years back. since then they’ve fone on to make a few more releases for the likes of  Auditory Field Theory label and Matt’s own Chapelyard Records.

Now they have Asterism out on Soft Bodies Records. What I rather enjoy when listening to Isobel Ccircle’s music is the rather inhuman nature of it all, encompassing unnatural hauntings and sounds that provoke strange feelings of a decidedly Lovecraftian otherness. The fact that their soundcloud page starts off with the phrase “Transmissions From Elsewhere” only emphasizes this point. But isn’t that the whole point of ambient music in the first place? It’s attempting to make music of a certain locale that articulates the atmosphere and worldview of the world from the point of view of the locale itself. Humans are meant to be secondary (at best) participants/agents in these pieces.

And that world-in-itself feeling comes across nicely in Asterism. The blurb states that “These audio files appear to contain subsonic elements that alter the chemical compositions and geological structures of the surrounding area.” The sounds that they detect, warp and treat with human hands come across as  a mix of inhuman drones and noises that drift and mush together. the heavy rumble of the world-in-itself makes its presence several times during the record, like a geological mother calling for its children. The haunting aspect in Asterism comes from the human elements that continually threaten to break the dimensional barrier and infect the world-in-itself with its filth and malfeasance. A slight waft of piano here, a distant voice there. This is a world where rocks and crystals have feelings and emotions and able to talk and communicate with each other, but not on any level that the human sphere would understand. it is a soundworld that’s inexplicable yet strangely familiar; probably because we live just of each other perceptions.

But have a listen for yourselves. I’m off out to have some lunch!

Good day….

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2015 in music

 

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Sunday Playlist Placement Filler Interlude….

Next level bleep, horns and maneuverings this afternoon.

Normal blogging service to resume in the next couple of days once I stopping getting shafted by this work schedule…

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2015 in music

 

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Album Reviews: The Quietus: Jon Brooks, ‘Walberswick’

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Second quick fire post of the day – a review of Jon Brooks’ stunning ambient effort Walberswick for The Quietus is now available to read.

i find myself delving more and more into the nature of music and topography/memory. I haven’t been to the coast of Suffolk (my brother’s Partner/Babymama Lis actually mentioned after this was posted that she and my niece went to Walberswick a couple of months ago to go crabbing), but the fact that the music came across as very evocative of the place from what I had seen in my research on the area (Suffolk wildlife trust brochures, documentaries on WG Sebald and Sizewell B nuclear power station down the road, plus re-reading Mark Fisher’s Ghosts Of My Life book). As i mention in the review, it’s a soundtrack to a very peculiar hinterland in the British landscape.

This is something that may need a little piece written about in the next few weeks. Music that evokes a sense of time and place, even if it isn’t necessarily your time or your place. This is going into esoteric/ritual music territory again….

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2015 in music

 

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Album Reviews: Reykjavik Grapevine: Pink Street Boys, ‘Hits #1’

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It’s going to be a bit of a busy day, so a couple of quick fire posts from me.

My review of Hits #1 from those Icelandic filthbag rockers PINK STREET BOYS, is now uploaded and available to read on the Grapevine website.

Effectively if Singapore Sling are the Velvet Underground/Skag, then they are Iggy and The Stooges/Speed. With more shouting. and Chlamydia. And Monotown are the Eagles/Herpes.

Their barrel-chested lead singer Axel Björnsson is a hoot! I actually had to throw him out of Bakkus on my first shift as a doorman there. Imagine dropping a bag of broken spanners into a snowdrift. Guy came back and apologised for his behaviour the following week. Very few people actually do that. Nice bloke.

Also a shoutout to Sindri Eldon whose description of Bubbi Morthens I wholeheartedly stole for this review, because i could not have described him better myself.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2015 in music

 

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