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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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The Quietus: Album Reviews: Shiny darkly, ‘little Earth’

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I recently reviewed Little Earth, the debut album from SHINY DARKLY for The Quietus. You can read it here.

Interesting album. heavily signposts its influences. Is very much cool sexy goth for 21 Century – not in that they are Joy Division (As one music writer noted in their press release), but more of a cool Clash Magazine photo shoot way. Darkness as pure surface sheen, gothic transgression as affected pose.

And yet i did find myself enjoying the album in a few places. Might whip it out at a few goth parties! If anything it made me fish out my old cop of Primary Colours by the Horrors. Forgot how good that album was…

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2015 in <

 

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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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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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Reykjavik Grapevine: Album Reviews: Misþyrming and Ivar Páll Jónsson

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Even though it’s been a while, there are a couple of review salvos that were fired off to Castle Greyskull aka Grapevine towers. First up is Söngvar elds og óreiðu by Misþyrming, some truly gnarly black metal that turned turned this reviewer into the living embodiment of the Nihilist Arbys twitter account (“oh no,” said the intrepid reviewer on his first listen. “what if life really was just an accident and that we all die alone in the black eternity of nothing?”) but some good production and pitiless nihilism in intent. I really did like it… a lot.

the same couldn’t be said for Revolution…..blah. blah by Ivar Páll Jónsson. Really dull, piss poor indie-rawk, that peddles an almost moronically simplistic use of peace, love and freedom for a musical plot. notice how they highlight the “Love” in Revolution ala russel Brand. Says it all really. and no i didn’t like this one.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in music

 

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Mixes: Nordic Interstitial Thresholds: Brutalist Melancholia….

As we try to crank up the gears of blogging production, it also means the awakening or the #NITcasts over at the mixcloud site. has it been EIGHT months since the last one? that is waaay too long.

i actually had someone come to me last night at a gig saying that these #NITcasts were “fucking brilliant.” So I’ve got that going for me then

Go and listen this afternoon. It’s currently number 28 in the Post-Punk charts!! get that mutha rising!!

TRACKLIST

Sinola Caves – Forever Dilating Eye (Death Waltz Recording Company, 2014)
John T Gast – Infection (Planet Mu, 2015)
Paper Dollhouse – Diane (Night School, 2015)
Laurie Anderson – Gravity’s Angel (Warner Bros, 1984)
Das Kabinette – Something’s on your mind (Minimal Wave, 2008)
The Cannanes – Untitled (Feel Good All Over, 1993)
Beat Rhythm Fashion – Turn of the Century (Bunk Records, 1981)
For Against – Echeleons (Independent Project Records, 1984)
Ed Tomney – A walk to a safehouse act iv the final discovery (The Fine Line, 1995)
Richard Pinhas – Iceland, Part II (Polydor Ramses, 1979)
The Associates -.Q Quarters (Situation Two, 1981)
DVA Dama – Wet Vision (Downwards, 2015)
Anonymous Bash – Postcode Scam (Sambarbeta, 2015)

Mike Ratledge – Riddles Of The Sphinx Sequence 3 (Mordant Music, 2013)

Född Död – De ensammas hus /Northern Electronics, 2015)
IVVVO  – Redux (Danse Noire, 2014)
Ñaka Ñaka – Dioges (Opal Tapes, 2014)
Function / Inland – Odeon (Infrastructure New York, 2015)
Karen Gwyer – Mississippi (No Pain In Pop, 2014)

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in mixes

 

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