Thursday, 29 May 2014

Aaron Dilloway - Medicine Stunts (Hanson records)

The buzz of washing machines, a ruffling dusty sound, revolving and looping; the first piece on this digital release from Aaron Dilloway leaks weirdness and indistinct intent.  Living chains dangling like tentacles from a ceiling lost in darkness, clanking hooks suspended in grey gloom, the occasional echo acting as a joyless dub chasm-drop.  There is an accumulation of detail and scraping hissing ambience that makes this as haunted and desiccated as any tape-concrete music I’ve ever heard; there is a subtle compositional sophistication at work on ‘Medicine Stunts’, an intriguing sequencing of sounds that captures the attention until the end, and beyond.  A musical evocation of the woods around Twin Peaks, untrustworthy owls hoot emptily with forlorn exhaustion.  Elsewhere, gurgling lungs hock rusty barrels into cement mixers; apathetic ventilators wheeze and respire in roofless hospitals; cloth sacks full of taxidermied song birds squirm, their undead tweeting muffled and obscured.  A ghostly whistle acts as a spine throughout, a thread winding through this dark and fascinating album. 

Originally released in a tape edition of 100 on the Lal Lal Lal label, this digital version is available from Hanson Records, a rotting forest-shack housing many a diseased and nightmarish transmission.

Purchase 'Medicine Stunts' here.  Label info here.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ex-Easter Island Head - Daylight Music, Union Chapel - 24th May

Missing much of Mook and Papernut Cambridge, I arrived in time for the band that most strongly drew me to this session of Daylight Music at the Union Chapel.  Ex-Easter Island Head began in an almost ritual manner, an invocation of sorts; four guitars laid upon tables, struck with mallets and resounding, appropriately given the venue, like great electric church bells.  A complicated rhythm was conjured: cow bells and drums, beats, chimes and klangs entwined in an ever-thickening spiral; spinning and sucking, the undertow of repetition becoming hypnotic; loops within loops within loops; all human-derived and played.  This was machine-like in process but full of hand-crafted brain-sculpted beauty; a half-hour of magic.  A mid-section saw all three band members rubbing the guitar strings into shivering choirs of undulating noise.  The final third built to a thrilling motoric coda; the sudden end felt wrenching and cruel; the cheers that immediately filled the venue were not, the band appearing moved by the long and grateful applause.  The show was performed with light pouring down upon the pews; the band adding further illumination in the minds of those observing their unforgettable performance. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Isnaj Dui - Euplexia (Rural Colours)

‘Euplexia’ is the new album from Isnaj Dui (aka Katie English); like her previous work it combines bass flute and electronics, with the addition of dulcimers on this release.  Beatific and almost entirely peaceful, the songs unfurl like petals seeking the sun; organic and plant-like in construction and pacing, progress occurs in slow steady growth, curls and incremental lunges; mind encircling sound-vines.  ‘Euplexia’ is not entirely homogenous in tone, the calm is disturbed by the slide of ‘Basement Floors’ into dank dripping subterranean spaces, stagnant pools of clanking percussion dripping ceaselessly.
The musical structures within ‘Euplexia’ appear eroded rather than written, like a menhir which has long-since lost its original boundaries, reshaped by wind and rain.  The electronics and loops are coated in moss and sap; acorns as processors, rocks as pedals; the bass flute winding like twisted branches.
There is something of the woods about Isnaj Dui; the woods in all their guises; as peaceful retreat from urbanism, unsettling home of unseen creatures, or mythic womb of many a folk-tale.  This is all encompassed in ‘Euplexia’; the album meandering through many textures and atmospheres. As Isnaj Dui, Katie English makes beautiful wind-borne music, swept to and fro like falling leaves, arcs of sound described in descending curves.

Buy 'Euplexia' here.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Cup and Bow - Bridge Physics (no label)

‘Bridge Physics’ by Cup And Bow is an album for fans of looking under the bed at night.  Using home-made instruments, synths and electronics; Cup And Bow create a creaking multitude of noise: fog horns and floating hover-menace; flickering peripheral shimmers; weary shuffling bass wobbles; waste-plain wind gusts; doom-trumpets ripping feedback from baked rocks.  Siren klaxons cause a weirdly lonely confusion; alarms sounding in empty rooms; the Nostromo’s corridors, empty of life, in the brief moments between Ripley’s escape and its self-destruction; metal, darkness, and audio distress its sole remaining inhabitants.
The occasional clatter of woody percussion resembles Demdike Stare if they left their machines unhindered, running loops autonomously.  The funereal pacing throughout enhances a uniformity of tone and delivery that becomes stifling in places, an atmosphere clogged with airborne dirt and heat; alien, dank, and sinister.
To purchase 'Bridge Physics' point yourself here.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Lost Trail - Blacked Out Passages (Visceral Media Records) / Live at Glenwood Coffee & Books, Greensboro, North Carolina, 04/11/2014 (no label)

Slate grey and beautifully so, ‘Blacked Out Passages’ hums into life like a sun rising in a sky choked with perspective-flattening monochrome cloud.  Employing longform drone, field-recordings, subtle guitar bubblings, and ambient electronic noise they create an opaque, mysterious and lustrous mist of sound; fog-choked sleepscapes for the deepest of dream dives.  The shivering and haunting ‘A Parking Lot Gloaming’ is especially affecting, a voice intones the possibility of a post-death transference of yourself into ideals and causes, an ascent into posterity and collective memory mirrored in a wonderful drift into crackling vinyl respiration and soft pillows of looped static.  There is an intensity of musical direction throughout that ensures ‘Blacked Out Passages’ transcends the merely pretty, it gathers an emotional weight about itself that belies the effortless slipstream it superficially resembles, it is a wrenching and disorientating experience to emerge into the fiery rumble and fierce Penderecki moan-chorus of closer ‘Rooftops/Spires/Valleys’.  The fury abates and the album closes in loops of sawing buzz, bird song, and fragile piano melody.

A cyclical furrow of stylus through ash.  Radiophonic ghost emissions.  Frequency-scanning hiss.  Train roar and shovel scrape.  Deep breaths of stellar sighs.  ‘Alpha’, the first half of this recording of a Lost Trail live show performed in collaboration with Animals Like Earthquakes, seems conjured from disparate noise ephemera before silky strands of synth-noise bind and warp the fragments into a whirlpool of grinding pressure; intensely alienating and bleak; it eventually falters like a crumbling engine, surrendering to rust and ruin.  ‘Beta’ begins with distorted voices, forgotten moss-choked answer machine messages, corralled into humming drone bliss by screaming guitar shepherds.  Whistling kettle elephant calls are stretched into tape-smeared crumble elegies.  A melancholy bellow into wilderness and wastelands.

'Blacked Out Passages' is availble here and 'Live @ Glenwood Coffee & Books, Greensboro, North Carolina, 04/11/2014' hereLost Trail is a duo of Denny and Zachary Corsa; explore their work here.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Various Artists - For Syria (Linear Obsessional)

Made in reaction to the ongoing disaster in Syria and hoping to make a beneficial ripple in the misery, is this great compilation album from Linear Obsessional.  The artists all donated work for free; the sounds they created are never less than fascinating.

Bruce Hamilton’s ‘Mohika’ is a meditatively sparse piano rumination.
Iris Garrelfs adorns Viv Corringham’s wonderful vocal wanderings with weird echoing electronics.  ‘Five Faced Bishop’ by Pete Flood is a glitching judderwaltz on broken stilts around reverberant ballroom acoustics.  Kev Hopper’s contribution ‘Bevelled Edges’ has an absorbing lounge insouciance, a lovely night-time tired and slightly drunken sway across bright keys and glutinous guitar effects.  ‘Intervention’ by Duncan Goddard is filtered through a plastic sheen; helicopter bass synth-whips sparking up conversation with doomy classical chord structures.  ‘Violence for your Furs, a Rework’ is full of piercing sax flutterings; sharply metallic, striking sparks; Mark Browne’s playing both snaking and lithe.  ‘Dead Voices on Air’ by Coele-Syria is a glowing ambient duskscape; glassy tones, piano melodies dancing like insects in the air, beautiful, still and poignant.  A dubby bass line, clattering kitchen-sink percussion, and twitching electronics disperse into a haunted drift coda on Marsh and May’s ‘Down the Line’.  Richard Sanderson’s ‘ShiverTipple’ is a captivating sighing taut-wire wind-hymn, becoming increasingly insectoid and alien as it progresses.  On ‘A Suit of Tin’ by Solaris crashing guitar-like down-strokes of noise interrupt winding curls of what might be accordion and clarinet, like the crashing footsteps of iron giants in peaceful butterfly-strewn fields.  The album takes a menacing turn into buzz and surface scraping abrasion with ‘Cities Without Windows’ by Chris Whitehead.  A radio-frequency scanning investigation finds only fuzz for days before alighting upon a sweetly sad folkish piano-led instrumental that comes and goes in fugue-like fashion on ‘Farewell to Woolworths’, from The Original Beekeepers.  Sue Lynch and Adrian Northover’s ‘Two Figures in a Picnic Area’ sees the two creating an argumentative sax duo packed with whistle, spinning drills and shrill vibrations in a committed and lively engagement .  ‘Degenerating Meganucleus’ by Colin Webster and Graham Dunning is all aquatic plonk and quick-sand static while snatched voice clips are sliced, stamped and burnt.  A hiss-beat ode to the age-old fish-selling trade emerges on Jude Cowan Montague’s ‘Libya’, a ticking electro pop song skewed with weird booms and business analysis digressions into the Libyan oil economy.  Skitter’s ‘DISNAE (mix) 29042014’ is a hive-storm of confusion, a rapid flicker of hot noise and foundry scraping, fierce and violent. 

Final song ‘Masters of War / War Coda’ by Mike Cooper, combines guitar, smashed piano and arresting lyrics (“you put a gun in my hand and you hide from my eyes, and you turn and run first when the first bullets fly”) in an anti-war dark ballad, an indictment of desk-bound war-mongers with drawers full of blood.  The album and song closes with a fierce free-jazz attack, words no longer enough; a suitably heated and enraged closing-of-curtains on a thought provoking and sadly necessary project, an engagement between the abstraction of the experimental underground with the reality of a collapsing nation. 

A celebration of charitable artistic creation in support of a people facing division and destruction; as well as serving an excellent cause, ‘For Syria’ also acts as an effective sampler for Linear Obsessional’s multifarious interests.  Give them your time, ears, and money.

Available until June 1st, get a copy of 'For Syria' here.  All proceeds go to the Disasters Emergency Committee Syria Crisis Appeal.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Electric Dog Show (Howlround / Gyratory System / Quimper) - Wed 7th May 2014 - Power Lunches, Dalston, London

This second edition of The Electric Dog Show, run by Soft Bodies Records, was held in the basement of Dalston’s Power Lunches bar was a synesthetic delight, combing a varied band line-up with colourful projected film accompaniment, the artists performing in a hazy fog of strange film fragments.

Quimper made electro odd-pop with fidgety rhythms.  Nocturnal and weirdly suburban; the sound of things that should be foxes but aren’t, dashing across orange-washed pavements.  The singing was smeared and echoed over laptop-derived electronic backing, sounding a bit like Broadcast covering a Junior Boys song they’d only heard once through a neighbour’s wall.  A set of dreamily-aloof ballads, soaked in ennui and spooked by owls.  Music for hot nights where whatever is ruffling through the bins below your bedroom window sounds like it has too many legs.

Gyratory System

Gyratory System are a reeds, pedals and bass trio that made looped and phased jazz riffs, closely curling, insistent and forceful.  Dub rhythms underpinned phased sax interactions.  A band lively and bouncing, the film projections on white office shirts were an apt metaphor for the label itself, the extraordinary and every day in ghostly uncanny concurrence.

Howlround were amazing, perfectly eerie, a droning, revolving yawn of sound, a morass of crumbling noise, whale moans, the distress of slowly compressing hulls and skulls, they; conjured a hard to place melancholy – perhaps from the knowledge that the tapes and machines are at the end of their lives, still vibrant but with numbered days.  Long strands of tape spun around stands, the duo stumbled around the flickering web like spiders, the audiences’ minds caught and bound, constricted further with each passing minute.  A ballet of thread-hanging twirls, or a pair of tape-architects measuring drone boundaries for fencing-in sound-ghosts.  This was likely to be the last live performance for the duo, as Howlround are faced with a choice between playing live and preserving the machines for further spectral recording duties.

The projections were brilliantly selected throughout: Disney cartoons, Svankmajer Jabberwocky loops, Terry Gilliam collages; a perfect overlay for the bands on stage, a shifting of place, the basement descending into dreams.
An evening canvas of wonderful weirdness, painted with strange light and stranger sounds.  The Electric Dog Show will become an essential fixture among London’s avant club nights should it become a regular occurrence.
Soft Bodies label info here.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

LOUP - Modern Heretic EP (Gaffer Records)

LOUP are a duo of Clément Edouard and Sheik Anorak employing drums and saxophone with electronics in a mind-scrouring EP for Gaffer Records label.  ‘Modern Heretic’ ranges from stop-start death grind dynamics and dark stormy layered drone on the title track to the free-fuzz-jazz of ‘Drums Unit 2’, and the obliquely funky judderscape of frantic drumming, skipping cd rhythm-erosion and caustic machine malfunction acid baths that is ‘Way After JC’.

All is not full-on blurt, however.  Burst of silence as jarring as the scolding textures are emitted at intervals; these act as brief respites in an otherwise torrential assault; ragged disintegrating umbrellas.

LOUP operate at an intersection of free-jazz, grind-metal and improvised noise electronics.  Error-rock, reject-jazz; this is pieced together from screaming off-cuts, slivers of shredded sound scorched together at furious pace; a mutating Yves Tanguy bio-morphic shape ascending a rung-less ladder.  With these three blasts of invigorating, fascinating, impassioned music; LOUP have made an EP for those in need of a thorough head-cleaning.

Get 'Modern Heretic' here.  Gaffer Records website: here.