Thursday, 27 March 2014

Predicate - Nails (Gaffer Records)

‘Nails’ is the second album from Predicate; a band led by Alex Ward (guitar), and featuring Tim Hill (alto, baritone, and sopranino sax), Mark Sanders (drums), and Dominic Lash (double bass). 
The first piece launches straight into Ward’s contorted riffing, a dense thicket of sharp needle points, molten string bending eruptions, and thrashing violence; Sanders and Lash ably bracket this in a shifting kaleidoscope of rhythm, restless and endlessly fidgeting.  Hill’s sax comes to the fore halfway with a babble of heated growling; a no-wave calamity swell building, cresting, and dissipating behind him.  Composed by Ward, this is fiercely complex stuff: a drum solo becomes a stretching and condensing waveform, concertinaing erratically, conjuring a tumult of noise or a pointillist atomism at intervals.  It closes reflectively with a sighing exhalation, its rattling structure expiring in heat-death.
The remainder of the album is no less interesting.  ‘Pall’ finds Hill’s mercurial sax playing leading a weary band; the guitar complaining and rhythm section making progress in tired lunges, dragging exhausted blistered feet.  ‘Traipse’ is sparse and exploratory, a sense of avenues being wandered in unhurried fashion, possibilities tested; at eight minutes it becomes becomes a fascinating rainfall of percussive pings and mossy bass manipulation.  ‘Bricks 1’ is the first of a pair of pieces co-composed with the rest of the band; the contributions of all are isolated, striking from four separate corners, making darting grabs for a shared centre, clashing over some confused middle point occasionally and then retreating wounded into silence or insular noise making.  ‘Bricks 2’ is more aggressive: great lowing guitar drones, strafing drums traversing the sound-field, squalling sax, bowed bass rumble; this all recedes eventually into an uneasy truce, thick with unresolved amity, steadily boiling back into action. ‘Toggle’ is a deceptively simple and short jazz-rocker that explodes into spinning freak-outs at frequent points.
It is a credit to the compositional chops employed here that music like this retains the spontaneity of improv while being pre-written, still allowing so much room for winding speculative questing.
Purchase the album here.  Information on the label here.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Picture gallery by Dawid Laskowski: N.E.W. live at Cafe Oto, 7th March 2014

Ears For Eyes, finding itself unable to attend this by all accounts thunderously good gig, is extremely pleased to host the wonderful pictures of Dawid Laskowski.  His work will hopefully feature in future live reviews.  Readers of this blog will know of the awesomeness of N.E.W; they are one of the very best improvising groups currently operating and are unmissable should you find them playing near you.  Dawid goes some way to achieving the impossible here, capturing in frozen stasis a band famed for furious movement while still evoking the passion and fire they bring to their performances.

All pictures by Dawid Laskowski.  See here for the full set on Flickr.

Solvognen - IKB (Disco Insolence)

‘IKB’ is the second release by Solvognen for Disco Insolence following a spilt-tape with Chaz Dolo last year.  The full album treatment suits this artist, allowing them to display a variety of interesting sounds.  ‘Vermillion’ has something of the all-surface sense-rush of Oneohtrix Point Never but with less of the plush plasticity, this is gnarlier and steam-driven; the arpeggios low-resolution and melted around the edges.  ‘Wisteria’ contains a synthesised cello grinding amidst a glitch whiteout; Kosmiche hum and crunching fruitless modem scanning adding further grime to an already pixelated sound-space.  ‘Aureolin’ has a placid soft tidal drift, barbed acid scribbles gambolling in the surf like poison-spined crustaceans.  ‘Amber’ proceeds in martial fashion, snare rattles echoing into the distance.  ‘Mauve’ burbles circularly like a pre-skronk section from a Colin Stetson track; a creeping bass riff lends a night-time air, wet streets and urban decay evoked in the crumbling song structure and strained grid-like precision.
Emotionally engaging, inventively arranged, atmospherically haunting; this second release for Jonathan Lee’s Disco Insolence label is an excellent addition to their fledgling catalogue.

Purchase the album here.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Time Attendant - Treachorous Orb (More Than Human)

There is a collection of amazing non-genre electronics-focussed music coalescing around various sonic nodal points at the moment: the Outer Church club night in Brighton; London’s Horse Hospital venue; several labels - Exotic Pylon, The Geography Trip, Front & Follow; the ‘Down to the Silver Sea’ compilation; and the ‘Collision/Detection’ EP series.  All these places and many more contain cross-pollinating spores of weird audio.  Paul Snowdon’s Time Attendant alias is from this axis of strangeness and releases his latest EP on the excellent More Than Human label.
‘Treacherous Orb’ enfolds and emits a chaotic scatter of sci-fi psych and broken radiophonica.  Wafting palls of squeaking fall-out drizzle are parted by melancholy bloop melodies and clicking Geiger-counter beats.  Haunted mood-music for abandoned broken-hulled space-stations.  The tunes of rusty wheel-less ice-cream vans fail to materialise substantially through the medium of glowing wires and smoking boxes, their clanging tin notes echoing around squirming cables.  One highlight, ‘The Hexapod Star Shuffle’, has words supplied by Dolly Dolly, who’s recent album ‘Antimacassar’ (Exotic Pylon) is also more than worth your time; vocals uttering such things as “head of cow” and “animal head sun disk” indicating totemic nature worship in blasted scrap-infested spaces that haven’t nurtured a living creature in decades; a machine concrete collage of furred buzz, rapid clicks, shuffling defeated beats, brief bell intrusions, and ringing sonar pings.
This is an alien and strange disk housing oddtronic transmissions from flickering televisions in cobwebbed warehouses, the sets attended to by cowled supplicants; electrical plugs and cables dangling from robe sleeves.  ‘Treacherous Orb’ is ritualistically weird, an invocation of itself – sounds summoning sounds to entice further sounds; a music burrowing into itself; another dream-dredge from the mind of Paul Snowdon; a spooky and hallucinogenic brain-baking delight.
More info on Paul Snowdon here.  Purchase the EP here.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Black Classical - A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints (self released)

A brief missive from dusty corridors, ‘A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints’ finds Black Classical summoning haunting and desolate piano rumblings, obscured by vinyl crackle and tape hiss.  Desolate and lonely, the music sounds dredged rather than recorded, scooped from a fallow existence on some forgotten floor; discovered on a tape reel unspooled in oil-streaked puddles; a warped and crab-scratched gramophone disk wedged between smashed crockery on a drifting abandoned ocean-liner.  Soft piano notes unfurl in the air gracefully but heavily, their progress arrested in short tracks, like excerpts of a larger whole; the rest lost to irretrievable audio-senility. 

This EP is all the more affecting for its brevity, a fleeting glimpse of empty rooms, pregnant with memories but lost to time and waste; a collection of instrumentals from the fog, and returning to it.

Buy it here.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Ex-Easter Island Head - Large Electric Ensemble (Low Point)

‘Large Electric Ensemble’ by Ex-Easter Island Head comprises four movements of no-wave infused chamber klang-symphony; lushly realised and rich in reverberating overtones.  The album was recorded live over two days with local Nottingham musicians after a commission from the World Event Young Artist festival; this piece has evolved from its first inception, debuted at the festival.  It combines 12 prepared electric guitars and drums in a richly textural and propulsive composition.  The guitars are fascinating in the breadth of sound they explore: sparkling chimes, thick ringing gongs, a ripple of rain on tin, aquatic sulphurous burbling; the second movement utilises all of this and drifts with an ambient grace that is entirely hypnotic; approaching and receding with a gentle tidal motion.  The first, third and fourth movements, in contrast, are focussed on forward movement, with an emphasis on driving rhythm to push the massed guitars forward, the drums dragging the group along a rushing motorik sonic-parallax, the percussion lending a tilted perspective on the tightly-processing ensemble. 
‘Large Electric Ensemble’ is a brilliant achievement, recalling Sonic Youth at their most stretched out; a less bilious Glenn Branca; Steve Reich at his most entrancing.  An intricate adrenal rush of intricate large-scale communal music-making, Ex-Easter Island Head are a guitar orchestra not merely concerned with the conjuring of sturm-und-drang like some other similar groups, but also the creation of beautifully accomplished rhythmic constructions; compositions that should bear countless re-visits.
Buy the album here.  More information on Ex-Easter Island here.