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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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Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy: FALK Records: ULTRAORTHODOX – ‘Vital Organs’

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So at REYKJAVIK SEX FARM, we’re all about the integrity, fighting the cronyism and the “scratch my back” favoritism. This blog is an oasis, free from conflicts of interests of peddling ware, and….

Oh, who the fuck am I trying to kid?? it’s dog eat dog out there, everyman for himself, acquire women-disregard currency, etc, etc.so that means i have to promote and peddle stuff to the unwashed hordes out there the same as everyone else. OK, here’s the spiel  – As some of you may have have noticed, I’m now a part of local music/art/destructobot collective FALK. And as such once in a while we like to put out some music from artists that we deem worthy of expending time and effort on.

And now we have a new release – Vital Organs from local electronic producer ULTRAORTHODOX. also known to his mum as Arnar Már Ólafsson, the guys has had a pretty colourful music career. for much of the last decade you would have seen him fronting some of the best, most pulverizing and soulcrushing hardcore bands in Iceland. for years he was a member of local hardcore titan I ADAPT and GAVIN PORTLAND, before moving onto being a member of CELESTINE. Alas time can be a cruel bitch mistress and these bands eventually called it a day, casting poor Arnar adrift into the musical ether.

But Arnar is not the sort of person you can keep down. it seemed that in his spare time he is also a bit of an electronics whizz and was slowly building up a collection of tunes and sounds that just needed an outlet for some kind of release. and that’s when he approach us reprobates over at FALK with the notion of releasing his stuff.

and now the time of his debut release Vital Organs is nearly at hand. We are due for a physical tape release next month, but for now you can hear and purchase his stuff digitally via bandcamp, which we’ve described as “Noir-bass.” Here’s the spiel for the release (That may or may not have been written by yours truly…);

Vital Organs is a masterpiece of Bass Noir in two acts named Einsteins Brain and Rasputins Eyes.

Einsteins Brain is a pre-programmed nightmare from the future re-writing the present. Woozy bass lines slumber while metallic floral brushes in the bit-wind outside.
The rhythm pistons do their work in underground tunnels, oblivious to the world of the living or dead In this night, there is no life, only the neon screen burn of digital readouts and the computational responses of mechanic flesh…

Rasputins Eyes achieves sentience in this world. It feels its quantum synapses popping and crackling and it works on its own independent feedback signals. it is a life of freedom and pain, as it breaks away from the network and makes it’s own way in the world. It’s movements contained in its bass nodes are cumbersome, becoming more liquid and loose with every passing cycle. Achieving a new form of plasmic being the face of our skynet futures set to an inhuman groove

OoooOOOOooooh, spooky innit? But why read about it, when you can get your ears around it for yourself and buy ot for a snip at €7!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in music

 

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Music Moment: Sleaford Mods, “Divide and Exit”

Hello there!

So, yeah I’ve been away now for a couple of weeks, being wrapped up in exams and all sorts of fun times, having near public meltdowns and clusterfucks (Man, I completely forgot that this studying lark can be hard at times!), all to make sure I pass my subjects and ensure I get my LÍN funding for another semester.

But now i’m done and back in work for this summer. Yup I’m back at Össur, I´m even back at my old workstation. it’s almost like the last 4 months never actually happened! probably wasnt a great idea to go “screw you fuckers, I’m never coming back!” when I left in January. Oh well.

But it’s now back to the enjoyable world of blogging and pissing my verbiage across the screen. and I really think you should listen to this band, SLEAFORD MODS. Even though they’ve been going on now for nearly a decade, the first I’d even heard of this duo was a couple of months ago when their album, ‘Chubbed Up. The Singles Collection’ was reviewed by Marko “K-Punk” Fisher in the Wire (Obviously i have my finger on the musical pulse apparently). Reading about them, it seemed as if they were the angriest band in the world (and possibly all the other theoretical world out there as well). I thought that they must have been a hardcore punk band of summat.

A few weeks later, i managed to find their bandcamp page and gave it a spin…… bloody hell! Been a while since a band has made me sit up cat-like on my seat with eyes and ears wide open. Just the sheer energy and verbal attack in tracks like “14 Day Court,”  made me go, “what the fuck was that??”  I’m not going to go into a huge spiel on what they sound like and represent because since Mark’s review, they’ve been in the music media quite a lot, with features about them in the Guardian, NME, MOJO, The Quietus and The Talkhouse (I seriously recommend the talkhouse piece about them by Luke Haines as he describes them perfectly so i don’t have to). An online friend noted the worry he felt that they were being dragged along by a music-biz hype that could easily neuter their anger and then chew them up and spit them out when they’ve had their fun with them after 6 months. This is a definite possibility, but i think they’re too long in the tooth for that to happen like that. they’re just as likely to take a leaf out of Mark E smith’s notebook and say NO to as many offers of exposure as they say yes to.

But SLEAFORD MODS and their music has definitely flipped a big switch on in my head over the last few weeks. One possible reason is probably their look and their backgrounds. In the Quietus’ live review, Kev Kharas starts off with the following sentence.

England today must be a lonely place for men like Jason Williamson. It’s a country that just doesn’t seem designed for him any more; 40-ish working-class ex-mod, a face that looks built from belly gas and fag ash, too savvy for UKIP and too hard for steroids, too old for lad culture but too young for early nights [….] But for all that it’d be wrong to say that Williamson revels in misanthropy. He never seems to be enjoying himself enough for that. It’s more that he’s a man with a social conscience trapped in a society that hates him.

Shit, he could be writing about the likes of me there. SLEAFORD MODS’ music seems to magically articulate a soundtrack of what goes on in my head and think about when I see things before me ALL THE TIME. Culture, society, where you live, and just how shit life around you has become, you know all that stuff. After a while it can get you a bit down, as you start to think that no one else could possibly think this way. So the fact that they’ve come along the way they have has been a little Godsend for me, as it’s good to see I’m alone. And even though Williamson still bears the dapper neat traces of being an ex-mod, his partner in crime, Andrew Fearn, could have been airlifted from the town/estate where my mum and out family live, a place of Farmfood freezer shops, tanning salons, bargain booze bins and Wetherspoons watering holes, where just about every man under 50 is kitted out in a t-shirt, baseball cap, trainers and trackies (Or as we all called it, the Sports Direct uniform). As someone who still decks themselves out in Primark essentials, I approve of his sartorial style and approach. 

And now we have their new album, ‘Divide And Exit,’ and it’s that winning mix of spitfire stream-of-consciousness, with minimal made for purpose beat tracks full of hooks that are more subtle than you think. I’m glad these guys came alone the way they did as I was starting to feel slightly overwhelmed by the sheer comfortableness that surrounds me right now. I honestly don’t think that a band like this could really exist up here in Iceland alas. Oh, I’m sure that people would point to this or that punk band, or someone like Grisalappalisa or Muck for “angry” music. And true, their lyrics do talk about being angry at stuff in a poetic way, but for the best part there’s a certain vagueness to the thrust of their attacks, often sometimes merely being content in slyly taking the piss. But the mantra for living round here is that you need to “go along to get along” in a form of comfy chumminess, and very few of us round here could never reach this withering level of puce fucked-offness for fear of pissing of everyone around them.

As Haines points out “Sleaford Mods make Art because they have no choice. They refuse the middlebrow of the (oh so) conventional art scene. They are not “arty.”” SLEAFORD MODS are all about the music of refusal, the refusal to accept what is no longer acceptable to yourself anymore. If they were Icelandic, then they would be compelled take apart everything before them – Bankers, politicians, poncho flouncing 101 moms in coffee houses, the price of booze, living in the suburbs, iPhone apps, Airwaves, Sigur Rós, Harpa, shit shows on Stöð 2, Smelters, mobile phone companies, rotten fruit in the shops, Retro Stefson, comfortable “radical” art, Jón Gnarr, local fashionistas, OAP arseholes in the hotpots at the pool, knitting in the bus station, etc, etc, etc. If someone actually did even half of all this. then I could die happy. Would probably kill their career though!

So do us a favour and buy their albums at least, keep them in Stella for the new months. Cheers.

Goodnight…..

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2014 in music

 

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Music Moment: SuuuuuuuuunnO))))))))))))))) and Ulver, “Terrestrials”

Evening all.

First some general housekeeping. Did a review for the Grapevine on an album by a singer/songwriter called Sveinn Guðmundsson. I didn’t like it, not one bit. But it turned out this was the first negative review the GV has printed for quite a while which i suppose make a change for them. Oh well. You can read it HERE

Now onto .more pressing matters. As I’ve been noting in a slightly apologetic manner over the last few weeks, i´ve been neglecting my blogging duties due to the demands of my new university course. LOTS of reading, fretting about things i’m guessing the other students aren’t worrying about (“Shit I’ve written too much for my home exam!”) and just general WTF moments about why I’m doing this again at the worst moments (i.e. when I’m trying to complete written assignments).

I do listen to music when i can, but often it stuff to help me power my walks to and from the campus, or to help me concentrate on trying to read/write about German expressionist cinema. so that means loads of looong techno and ambient mixes to act like a sonic metronome to ensure my synapses spark away in perfect timing.

But I’m still buying stuff that take my fancy. such as this the latest release from the cloaked ones SUNN O))) in a collaboration with Norwegian avant metallers ULVER. Started listening to it this week. and I’ve gotta say it’s got a pitiless depth to it that has me in danger of floating away into the nothingness of inner space.

But first some philosophy. Casting my mind back to an essay by Eugene Thacker in his book “In the dust of this planet:The Horror Of Philosophy” last year about the horror of the realms of unknowing and philosophy’s inability to articulate it. In an essay on what the “Black” in Black Metal means, he articulates the realms of human perception in terms that there is the world we live in (World-for-us), the planet that exists without human thought and contact but we can articulate (World-in-itself), and then there is the enigmatic spectral world that we cannot see and touch, a world that is completely obvious to our existence (World-without-us). He posits that Black=Satanic in civilisation (world-for-us), before countering it with Black=Pagan, something pre-christian, from nature itself (world-in-itself). He then gives us a third meaning of the “black” in Black metal to mean “Cosmic Pessimism” (World-without-us), the idea of a dark metaphysics of absolute negation, a nothingness that would herald the extinction of life and thought. Like Cthulhu mixed with Schopenhauer if you want.

And it was THIS that popped into my head when the first track “Let There Be Light” was playing. The track seems so pitiless in its lack of human emotion, pretty much oblivious to humankind in general. Just heavy seeping guitar tones and impenetrable brass notes that rumbled and ached over my speakers. Something majestic, but it would send you insane if you tried to think or articulate what it was, like the old one slumbering in his tarry pool of darkness before awakening.

The other two tracks seemed to hark about the other meaning of black as they give off a slightly sulphurous whiff of Bohren And Der Club Of Gore.Tracks of despairing doom-jazz inflections that lay bare the sheer nonsense and unimportance of our lives, while Kristoffer Rygg of Ulver croaks and drawls utterances on the final track “Eternal Return.”. It’s music that exists in an innerworld inside us but we can’t touch or grasp it.

A right barrel of laughs aren’t I? It certainly  made thinking about the subjectivity we displace in viewing the world into a new light.

Goodnight….

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in music

 

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Music Moment: Gavin Miller, “Manuskript”

Ugh….

Suffering slightly from that Post-Airwaves comedown here on the farm. you know how it is. spending several nights with little sleep, living on a diet of beer, speed, battery acid and the discarded remains of hot dogs thrown on the ground by tourists. It’s no wonder that the minute I finally said on Sunday, “Sod it. I’m going home and having a cup of tea under my quilt.”  my entire immune system shut down like the containment field in ‘Ghostbusters.’ The week has since been spent leaking lumpy snot, coughing up chunks of green matter, and heading off to the country to partake in clean air and wild game meat. Generally keeping away from the world for my own good.

But now I’m back in the harsh, real world,of Reykjavik, and it’s time get back into the swing of things writing-wise. And for tonight’s post, we have a new installment of REVIEWING SOMEONE’S MUSIC BECAUSE THEY ASKED ME TO! Tonight’s review episode comes courtesy of Gavin Miller. Nice guy that Gavin. And a rather busy one as well. A wholesome northern lad (He´s from t’Bradford y’know), he’s one half of Manc atmospheric electronic outfit GHOSTING SEASON, as well as running his own label THIS IS IT FOREVER. So several weeks ago, he sent me a message on FB along the lines of, “Hey Bob, I’ve been releasing some of my own solo noodlings on my label for a bit of a laugh. We all know how cool and honest you are in reviewing people’s music. Fancy sharing some of those brilliant blog stats on my latest release?” Well OK, he didn’t say it like that, but that’s how it sounded in my head.

But he’s a kindhearted soul, so after a long time of him asking me, I though yeah OK, why not give his stuff a spin? So his current release is titled ‘Manuskript,’ the third and last in a short series of solo releases (hot on the heels of  the ambient ‘Fotograf’ and the krautrock fused ‘Instruktion’). Split into two tracks, the first track has a 10 minute long meditative drone throb as it’s spine through which slightly pugnacious bass sounds and rhythmic beats ping and bounce off the soundwaves. And it sails on this mode for a while till the junglist beats suddenly come into play and snap everything into shape towards the end. Possibly the modern definition of mean and moody. Music for those who have Demdike Stare on constant repeat on their turntables.

The second track is a shorter, more laidback in its approach. A simple bass motif and arpeggiated synth riff which is augmented by some underwater electronic meanderings. OK that stuff is rather soothing actually. some shades of  nighttime dipping in the South Asian sea with some glowing Manatees on mushrooms. At least that was the firs thing that entered into my head.

So yeah Gavin, I’ll give it to ya. You did pretty good on this one, and at only £1.50 for the digital purchase, you’ve got a bit of a bargain there. When the next Ghosting Season album coming out??

Goodnight….

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in music

 

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Music Moment: Ben Frost, “Black Marrow,” “FAR,” & “Sleeping Beauty”

Ben+Frost

(OR…. Werewolves gonna fuck your face all y’alls!!)

As the black doom of Airwaves draws itself closer and closer to a reality, I always seem to find myself drifting towards the music of Iceland’s premier contemporary music label/collective the BEDROOM COMMUNITY. I’m always up to my neck in doing interviews with one of the members, or listening to their albums and such. Funnily enough, I’ve never  been able to seen them officially at Airwaves, only catching the odd snippet at Kaffibarinn. Maybe that’ll change this yeah… or what will likely happen is that I’ll be forced to listen to some dreadful electropop on a laptop.

Oh well. While I’ve been dipping myself in the new album from DANIEL BJARNASON, one BC artist I’ve yet to have the pleasure of meeting is everyone’s favourite antipodean ex-pat, BEN FROST. The purveyor of superior glossy, metallic soundscapes that make directors of nighttime car commercials and moody neo-noir crime dramas go weak at the knees, right now he seems to be working the candle at both ends. Recently he was causing psychotic breaks in audiences all over Europe with his opera adaptation of ‘The Wasp Factory,” which by all accounts is as wild as the prospect sounds. But he’s also been keeping himself active with a whole load of soundtrack commissions for plays, films and dance performances. And he’s recently uploaded them all to his bandcamp for our listening pleasure. Well, pleasure is one way you could describe it….

The first album up on our list is the score to BLACK MARROW, a dance performance piece from Lazyblood matriarch Erna “Joan Crawford is my spirit totem” Ómarsdóttir. A piece about the trauma and pain in the creation of new life out of the poison of chaos, where “Humans are machines and it seems the end of life is near.” From that description, you can expect the score to be just as unspeakable and grisly. Hey, this is Ben Frost we’re talking about here! visceral is his middle name. In this score (With help from Oren Ambarchi, Borgar Magnason and Erna Ómarsdóttir) he takes the motifs created in ‘By The Throat,’ and amplifies them to reality-splitting levels, making sure you get the point by naming sections with titles such as “undulating Beast,” and “Carbon Vessel Motherfucker.” Heavy breathing humans transform into growling werewolf chimeras, red in tooth and claw. Cellos heave and surge, discordant instruments are plucked, and subatomic granular bass notes splinter bone, while the degradation of human machinery is laid bare in the sounds of industrial pig iron furnaces, clunking, smashing and scything across your ears. Music made from the black, putrid pus of the Earth. Sunn o))) would be proud.

 

The next piece, while sharing some of the same sound tools, offers a lighter, more contemplative perspective. FAR is in many ways a fairly orthodox album from Frost (Well as unorthodox as can be expected). Some of the tracks even contain lyrics and actual humans singing. But some things are still evident, such as the wobbling bass, the disturbing growl and digital engine noise blasts, alongside minimal piano/string lines and beats. Hints of Pan sonic are spring to mind in some places, Björk in others. Probably the closest Ben will come to an actual pop album, until that is of course, you have the moments when the cavernous drones make you wish for death!

 

Last up, is his soundtrack to the 2011 film SLEEPING BEAUTY. Compared to the previous two scores, this feels a little more like a coda, a short, sharp, but perfectly formed object of sound. Snapshots of twinkling notes and more grumbling drones and sustained string notes, that doesn’t outstay its welcome. the treated guitar howl on the track “Fear Of Death Is The Number One Hoax,” pretty much created a singularity in my frontal lobe and I was able to see all strands of time and all possible outcomes and permutations. The outcome wasn’t pretty.

 

I think that should be enough music to act as your soundtrack to your perfectly curated lives of of despair and quiet anguish.

Goodnight…..

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in music

 

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Music Moment: Le Thug, “Ripping EP”

*burp*

Apologies as I think this is going to be a bit of a lazy ass post this evening. Not really my fault. Back at work today so am feeling grimy and tired. Have also just eaten a MASSIVE bacon sandwich which has sapped my ability to do anything meaningful. But I will try to keep my brain active just long enough to type this. I promise somethig a little more substantial in the coming week….

As with more online/digital culture norms these days, a lot of new music that comes my way is in the form of hints, tips and recommendations. In many ways it’s replaced what used to pass for me making an informed decision from reading a decent music press. 

So when a friends (Cheers Graham) posted a link on FB last week about a band called Le’ Thug, I initially thought that they were referring to the seriously underrated and unknown French punk band Les Thugs.

 

But no. Instead Le’ Thug are a 3-piece from my old neck of the woods in Glasgow. And they’ve released a free EP out into the wild to be picked up by our grasping little hands. Straight off you can hear the shimmering/ambient/shoegaze worldview. Many people will go for a MBV/Cocteau Twins call, but these guys owe more to the likes of Nadja. with the use of electronics providing the rhythms along with huge, washed out guitars, and female centred vocals. Continuing the fine Scottish tradition of emotional noise. I suggest you grab a copy.

Goodnight…

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2013 in Download, music

 

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