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Regular writing and podcasting about music

Measures of Success

KEN mode

Success

Season of Mist

15th June 2015

KMSuccessCover

KEN mode have built a strong following over their last 15 years of fearsome and unaligned output, gaining fans from lovers of post-rock, hardcore, metal, and noise. Those who like their music concentrated, cut-throat and complex are drawn to the band’s direct and downright savage way of getting things done. This latest release  will take many by surprise with a bold move towards sounds that inspired them at their beginning sixteen years ago, and now doubly so, on their sixth full-length.

Recorded with legendary engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey and so many more) capturing the material in a fully live and analogue session, in the band’s home town of Winnepeg in November 2014, has resulted in the most raw, rock and roll sound the band has released to date. Combining rock, noise, math, indie in a mass of skewed rhythms, corrosive riffs and intense vocals, this is one hell of an album. The intensity grabs you from the outset and keeps your attention throughout.

I saw the question posed somewhere in the cyberpress “Is it time for a grunge revival?”.  One hopes not, if anything, this band has taken the legacy that encompasses the likes of Revelation Records, Dischord, Touch And Go, Sub Pop  with its’ inventive heavinesses and abandon and moved it on with this release. There is no need for a revival, the form has evolved and is intrinsically more exciting and compelling.

Sonically, and lyrically, a shift has been made from the classic hardcore sound, that the band has become known for, to a rawer, more mature, sometimes humorous, indie rock feel. “In April 2014, the band set out to pay tribute to where they come from: a salute to both their Canadian Prairie roots, and a time when they first started to care about making music; the burgeoning grunge; and Touch Go/Dischord scenes of the late 80s/early 90s, with bands like Nirvana, Big Black, Cop Shoot Cop, The Cows, Circus Lupus, and Drive Like Jehu impacting on their teenage minds. Lyrically, the band’s fascination with comedy spirals around classical western concepts of success; – from employment, sex, marriage, religion, socioeconomic standing, and particularly the many perceptions people have of how they, and those around them, happen to fit into the world.”

The current lineup of Jesse Matthewson (vocals, guitar), Shane Matthewson (drums) and Skot Hamilton (bass, vocals) are currently touring Europe delivering Success as it was recorded – live, primal, and in your face. It’s recommended that you experience it in the flesh.  Unfortunately they are only playing two UK dates which are:

May 31, 2015 – Bristol, UK – Temples Festival
June 1, 2015 – London, UK @ Macbeth

Photo by Brenda Faris
Photo by Brenda Faris

The band was formed in 1999  and has been actively touring Canada, the United States and Europe since 2002 with such acts as Russian Circles, Torche, Deafheaven, Norma Jean, Kylesa, Pelican, Daughters, Revocation, and Today is the Day, maintaining an unrelenting schedule for the past 5 years.

Previous releases:

  • Mongrel (2003)
  • Reprisal (2006)
  • Mennonite (2008)
  • Venerable (2011)
  • Entrench (2013).

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Here is a list of incorrect things

This summer, Ben Chasny’s Six Organs Of Admittance will be in the UK spreading the workings of the Hexadic, the system that underpins his most recent album for Drag City bearing the same name. Most of the dates are performances from the full live band, except for a special workshop as part of Supersonic Festival 2015 in Birmingham, where Chasny will be explaining and demonstating the Hexadic process to patrons of the adventurous arts event.

For Mancunians the gig to watch out for Manchester Gulliver’s on June 14th.

6 Organs

Southern California’s Goatsnake have released the title track from their upcoming album, Black Age Blues, the band’s first LP in fifteen years. Black Age Blues will be released through Southern Lord Recordings June 1st, and preorders for the album are now live. In addition to physical preorders, the record is also available via iTunes, offering the tracks “Black Age Blues” and “Elevated Man” for instant download, which are now available to purchase individually. Check out the preorder options at the new Goatsnake store, via BandCamp andiTunes.

In June, Peggy Seeger  embarks on a 16-date UK tour to celebrate her 80th birthday, accompanied on stage by her sons, Calum and Neill MacColl.  Both fine musicians in their own right, between them they’ve played with some of the biggest names in pop and folk music in the world.  Peggy says “The boys asked what I wanted for my birthday.  I said it might be my last tour so I wanted them to join me. How many other families are able to request and give a similar gift?” Peggy plays Band on the Wall Manchester on June 18th.

After leaving a career as mechanical engineer in Boston to focus on art and sculpture, Tristan Shone created Author & Punisher while getting his MFA in Southern California. In the metal and machine shops of University of California, San Diego, Shone forged a relationship with design, sound and fabrication that ultimately yielded A&P’s first three albums and mapped the journey away from traditional instrumentation towards custom made, precision machinery that he calls Drone Machines, Dub Machines and now his series of Masks.

A n P

Author & Punisher’s newest album entitled Melk En Honing, produced by Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual, and more) and due out Summer 2015 via Housecore Records, is a melange of his various drone machineries employed together with multiple physical rhythm machines, some synth and the new electromechanical masks that began to appear in A&P performances across the U.S. and Europe in 2014. After a year of heavy touring and festival appearances, the goal with this album became to try and capture the live dissonant power of the A&P experience. The combination of Anselmo’s persistence, expertise and some of Shone’s new experimentation with various vocal devices, this is a vocal-prominent, bass heavy album that combines A&P’s signature elusive drone sequences and hard hitting rhythms with unexpected terrains of melody and musicality that sustain Shone’s reputation as an unorthodox innovator in a class all of his own.

Gibber

From their sixth full-length album Success, due out June 15th via Season Of Mist, is KEN mode‘s call to end the hostilities that plague our communications and interactions. ‘These Tight Jeans’, the second track on an LP that intrigues and excites at every turn, underlines the bold aesthetic makeover the Canadian band has undergone sixteen years after their inception, with a quickfire round of damaging grunge punk and conscious, catchy lyrical heft – or as the band put it themselves…
  “These Tight Jeans is a post punk-rock tribute to the absolute insanity of the ‘hater’ culture that plagues the media, social networking, and our daily lives as human beings alive in 2015. The first line of the song says it all: “I would like to learn how to kill the nicest man in the world”. Stop disrespecting each other and go run a marathon, do some push-ups, read a book, create something: get a life. Life’s too short. Guest vocals by our friend Jill Clapham, and channels plenty of feel from 80’s post punk and garage rock coupled with our usual bite.”
Rock, noise, math, indie – KEN mode offer a root to it all on Success, locating a common ancestor that’s behind all that they do and have done as a band. It’s one seriously fermented sound that pervades these recordings, a goldrush of skewed rhythms, corrosive riffs and scorching pickup abuse, so diligently pulled off and inherently important to the band. Their path first appears to be one of complex inspiration, but a lineage soon becomes clear, lighting up a way through concentric circles of legacy that encompasses Revelation Records, Dischord, Touch And Go, Sub Pop – the full spread of inventive heavinesses that fed in to the grunge estuary, and out in to the open sea of independent labels in the final decade of the last century, where KEN mode first appeared.
 Success is a funny concept; in its rawest, most pure form, it is entirely relative, and this was the subject KEN mode chose to approach their new album with. Sonically, and lyrically, a shift has been made from the classic spitting of metallic hardcore tinged vitriol, that the band has become known for, to a rawer, more mature, even humourous indie rock aesthetic. In April 2014, the band set out to pay tribute to where they’ve come from: a salute to both their Canadian Prairie roots, and a time when they first started to care about making music; the burgeoning ‘grunge’ and Touch & Go/Dischord scenes of the late 80s/early 90s, with bands like Nirvana, Big Black, Cop Shoot Cop, The Cows, Circus Lupus, and Drive Like Jehu warping their teenage minds. Lyrically, the band’s fascination with comedy spirals around classical western concepts of ‘success’ – from employment, sex, marriage, religion, socioeconomic standing, and particularly the many perceptions people have of how they, and those around them, happen to fit into the world.
Recorded with legendary engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey and so many more) to capture the material in a fully live and analog session in the band’s hometown in November 2014, brought to fruition is the most raw, rock and roll sound the band has ever put forth.

The Studeo Articles #2 : Moff Skellington – Eddodi For Beginners

Around five years ago I was introduced to a particular form of strange and wonderful music and word play called Edoddi as practised by the poet, musician and artist Moff Skellington. I had received information from Julia Adamson of Invisiblegirl  about a batch of the latest releases from the label and one that caught my eye. mainly because of the very interesting cover art, and the title Gravy On A Plate Of Food, proved to be one of the most interesting albums I had heard in a long time. Since that introduction I have gone on to be an avid collector of the work of one of the most unique artists performing in the UK, if  not the world, today.
UC  Marine Sugars- Cover
Moff, whose given name is Andy Quayle, is an iconoclast blessed with a unique talent with words and music that defies convention and operates in a separate and quite distinct time continuum to the rest of the world of entertainment. His prolific and prodigious output, over twenty albums and one DVD since 1999, offers some of the most exciting and challenging work you are ever likely to hear. Aside from his musical endeavours he is also a gifted and talented visual artist who has exhibited his unique painting and drawings in many different locations. He has recently moved into the world of video to create a fascinating marriage of his paintings and music.
The vast majority of the Moff Skellington albums are home recordings, on which Andy sings, talks and plays a variety of instruments, including accordion, melodica, harmonicas, whistles, ukulele, guitar, huttyphone, stylophone, bodhran, jaw harp, kalimba, dulcimer, metronome, tenor horn, baritone euphonium, various percussion and elastic bands.. The results are then mixed and mastered to create amazing collections of songs and poems. Everything is recorded in real-time, there is no cut and paste, no sampling, no drum machines, in fact nothing artificial at all, except perhaps the stylophone.
Moff’s manifesto is simple and quite direct
“The chosen musical form is that of Edoddi, a species of folk music which celebrates the very individual and often skewed perceptions of the world engendered by modern life. Edoddi provides a refreshing alternative to the prescriptions and formulas of mainstream and “alternative” folk music. Edoddi philosophy: nothing is arbitrary. Make it up as you go along, it’s bound to be authentic!”. 
I have been reviewing Moff’s  albums on and off over the last five years and, by way of an introduction to strange and wonderful world of Moff Skellington, here is a selection of my thoughts on a selection of the releases.
The Corrosive Norm is the earliest of the four album Eddodi cycle released on Invisiblegirl and, in context, perhaps the most “experimental” of that collection. There are perhaps more reference points, well clearer ones at any rate, to folk and blues idioms here, whereas the others evoke some of Moff’s listening to other artists. None more so than “Under the Parish Lantern”, with its wailing blues harmonica for example. The opener “Flesh Owned Joy” is a rolling instrumental dominated by the squeeze box and chittering percussive sounds, and sets the scene somewhere in a smoke filled back room of a pub in the distant rural hillocks of Yorkshire. An alien swanee whistle sound gives it away as Skellington territory as a mutant blues emerges. The musical theme continues with the beautiful “Company of Sparrows”. The tempo is taken up a pace with the insistent “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” which focuses on people with “tallow legs”, this morphs into pure psychedelia towards the end leaving this listener wanting more. There is perhaps more of an introspective, or indeed contemplative, look at life here. I for one would love to meet the “vile pearly gobshite with the scrotum chin”. Moff’s strength here is his use of language to convey perhaps mundane matters to another place where more thought is given to the stuff of life. “Cage of Lifeless Feathers” another instrumental, deals in repetition, and grunting/clattering noises, as a harmonica picks out a simple refrain, and evokes a feeling of apprehension tinged with hope – the last 60 seconds or so a unique convulsion of sounds and rhythms. “Wyndham’s Marina” is a lurching march – one can imagine large farm yard animals slowly moving in time to this mesmeric rhythm.
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Matters get a tad surreal with the multi-layered voices of “Supercigs”, dub echoes and distant whistles, and the reflective “Old Men dressed as babies” continues the Skellington schema of observation and commentary, in a doleful tone. This is furthered with a maddening waltz called “Gracie-Doll Effort”, which appears to continue the albums’ theme of older people. It is here that Moff most closely resembles the work of Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. “My House” goes somewhere else completely with its distressed harp and guitar sounds, and multi-layered and filtered voices. A simple rock rhythm kicks off the dark edges of “Epinephrine” as “vocodered” vocals take Moff up and down a couple of octaves suggesting what was to come on the  “Gravy on a plate of food” album, the rhythm is soon lost to a bubbling passage of disjointed percussive sounds as voices form a soup of aural pleasure. The mad walking bass of “The End of the World” is a light relief after the proceeding – one cannot help but smile at the joyous levity of this arrangement. The skipping “Arndale Warden” seems to suffer from the vocals perhaps being mixed too low at the start – however it picks up towards the end and the odd couplet of “Daffodills Nil – Antibiotics Five” needs some careful listening. Matters conclude with the wonderful “There’s nothing like a nice sit-down” perhaps the most radio friendly of the pieces. Of all the Moff albums this is the one that requires the most attention as there a great deal of detail within.
The dark days of January 2012 were  brightened somewhat by the arrival of a The Pukes Of A Hot Cloister album. As usual there was a feast of lyrical athleticism, Moff plucks words out of the ether and re-arranges them in a completely unique and totally compelling way. This album is particularly full of memorable “Moffism’s”, too many to mention and all rather special, there is some degree of continuity from prior releases in parts, with several references to molecules, and the usual bovine references that are scattered across the albums, and the opening instrumental “House of New Bricks” is quoted in the words/music of the  penultimate track “Four Peg Wooden Unit”. Two of the tracks “Time for Nervous Questions In The Pub” and “Confident of Pending Treats” formed part of the six song set Moff recorded for my “Reformation” radio show, the other four appearing on the previous years Embers from the Rapid Eye  album,  so there is some specific continuity between those two albums. As is usual with Moff you know what you are  going to get – the difference with each album though is how he has progressed his art and which particular parts of his “dreamscape” he is addressing in this instance.
The opening “House of New Bricks” sets the scene with a stately waltz around the accordion with bluesy harp wailing – this soon transforms into the strange and somehow beautiful “Crap and Ugly Toys” which is Eddodi in its purest sense. From there on we are gently led through a journey of fascinating words and unique music. A contemporary “manifesto” of Moff’s work, whether it be his art or his music, described a reality comprising three interacting factors – octoberness, perfection and slapstick.  Simply put these three elements , anticipation, entropy, and the essentially comedic nature of existence, intertwine to allow innovation, expression and interpretation. I am resisting the urge to release spoilers about the content of this album as I believe that the listener should absorb this marvellous work and draw their own conclusions from the text/sound. All I will say is that the other-worldliness of Moff’s output is never more apparent as it is here. He has always been unique. no one else is doing music like this – it just seems he has built on his work to date to create something rather special. Variety is the watchword here and it is all good. Comparisons, bench-marks, yardsticks etc are impossible so the listener needs to approach it from his/her perspective.
Embers from  the Rapid Eye Artwork
Thorny Conduits was the eighteenth album emerging from the hive of production at Uterus Cottage   And as with all of the previous Moff product it is both unique and instantly recognisable.  At the time Moff appeared to be a little concerned as the potential “musicality” of this latest artefact – I reassured him that, whilst there is a particular shift towards more obvious melodicism,  there was still sufficient “eddodi/moff-ness” enthused/infused into it to reveal it as a genuine Skellington album. The thing that shines through with this release  is more use of the squeeze-box , however the usual Moff home-made instrumentation is still in place creating that unique and playful sound. The use of ambient sounds, whether thorough the clicking of some alien insect or the swirling sound of a distressed synthetic wind, add colour and vibrancy to the serial nature of the riffs and melodies. Lyrically he still retains a fascinating use of language that marks his best work – whether it be “Spudback Soldiers”, “Birds Eating Berries” or indeed “A Despond Bucket”.  There are a couple of shorter tracks (less than a minute) which provide for amusing interludes. Footwear appears to be theme running through a number of the presentations, a particular and peculiar outlook on the world , you have to listen to it to understand what I am going on about here. The variety of voices he manages to use also creates a sense of  theatre which is a hallmark of the best of his work. A case in point is the utterly marvellous “Hank Marvin’s Slippers” which manages to distill a cocktail of Frank Zappa,  Half Man Half Biscuit, post-punk, klezmer and eddodi in a fantastic and maddening other worldly dance of pure magic.
The 2013 album, The Guild of Distant Relatives,  album finds Mr Skellington is in fine form again,  with his usual collection of sideways-on looks at the world. The great man advised me at the time  that he considered this album to be a 4/4 percussive “dance-o-tronic”  selection of pieces. In the most part the description is correct, we have fourteen slices of pure Eddodi varying from up tempo and bouncy,  to slowish and ambient. The use of non-traditional instrumentation is perhaps more evident than in the previous three releases, and Moff reflects a more avant-garde approach musically whilst sounding a little more accessible in terms of the words.  My immediate thoughts revolved around comparisons with Talking Heads, The Residents and Pere Ubu given the  other worldly nature of some of the material. The use of spoken word is also perhaps more apparent. This is uniquely English, and steadfastly northern, but in terms of subject matter, which varies from bags of compost, shadowy figures that inhabit moorlands, and a dead person that follows their killer around, it inhabits a range of different places in your own mind’s eye. I’m reluctant to single out specific tracks as the whole album is excellent but I will point out a few. “Bulking Up On Special Custards” finds Moff getting into a funky groove with a set of lyrics which, as usual,  defy convention, but are immediately memorable. “Shallows Windows In the Ice Reveal” enters a parallel universe where beacons of intelligent rust block carriageways and people sip Staffordshire Tea. “The Harryhausen  Bounce” has an amazing set of guitar riffs which would not have been out-of-place on “Trout Mask Replica”. The opening two tracks “My Upholstered Flask” and “Hiding from Mrs Maynard” are remarkably good also and a good place to start if you want to receive your first dose of Eddodi.   This album is in the great tradition of luminaries such as Don Van Vliet, Ivor Cutler, David Thomas, and  Salvador Dali , essential listening for people who love music and art that does not fit in with the mainstream.
As an introduction to Moff’s work the compilation album “Variety Bandstand” can be found at Bandcamp, it contains a selection of tracks from the albums Gliding Through Stone, Embers From The Rapid Eye, The Pukes of a Hot Cloister and Thorny Conduits
Thorny Conduits
Further albums can be purchased from Invisiblegirl  and Moff’s website, or German Shepherd Records.
With three new albums and an EP  recently released on German Shepherd , a trio of recent successful live performances, and a growing reputation,  the time seems right to make  a huge fuss about this unique and very special artist.
This overview hopefully marks a point in time where Moff’s genius begins to reach a wider audience.
SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY
All items unless marked are released via the Uterus Cottage label – all of the back catalogue, excluding the Invisiblegirl releases, will be re-released on German Shepherd over the next year.
  • Eddodi (1999)
  • Moff Skellington and Raildogs – The Main Road Threatening Invasion (2003)
  • Little Shoes – Ambushed By A Vacuum (2005)
  • The Corrosive Norm (2007) Invisiblegirl
  • Sperm Jingle Harvest (2008) Invisiblegirl
  • Gravy On A Plate Of Food (2009) Invisiblegirl
  • A Book Of Fretful Chums (2009) Invisiblegirl
  • Blues House and Titty Bottle (2o09) Invisiblegirl
  • Gliding Through Stone (2010)
  • Embers from the Rapid Eye (2010)
  • The Pukes of a Hot Cloister (2012)
  • Thorny Conduits (2012)
  • The Guild of Distant Relatives (2012)
  • Skegness (2013)
  • Scribnalls (DVD) (2014)
  • Villages of Bicycle Rain (2014) German Shepherd
  • Marine Sugars (Locally Glimpsed) (2014) German Shepherd
  • The Corduroy Bridge (2015) German Shepherd
  • The Corkscrew Tongue (2015) German Shepherd
  • Under The Cobweb Sea (2015) German Shepherd

The Studeo Articles #1 – Monkeys In Love

Following the decision to close the Studeo Blog I am copying over some the articles that appeared on that site. First up an overview and interview with Monkeys in Love which was originally published in November 2014.

 INTRODUCING … MONKEYS IN LOVE
Monkeys in Love are a rarity on the Greater Manchester music scene, their music and stage performances are unique, refreshing and highly entertaining. They do not sound or look like any other band you are likely to see.  Blending a theatrical flair in the visual department with an eclectic line-up and fascinating lyrics, they are one of the most important bands on the North West music scene at the moment.
Recent gigs outside of the Manchester area have begun to spread awareness about this exceptional group of musicians and writers. In a world of boring industry clones it is vital that we have bands like this one to offer variety and quality. Their live performances are always exciting, bordering on the anarchic, charmingly self-deprecating at times, but very enjoyable. Their releases to date have proved to be essential listening for lovers of fine music, and with a penchant for the quirky and imaginative, their next album is highly anticipated.
Lyrically the band focus on those things in everyday life that both frustrate and confuse, everything from gin in cans, via irritating behaviour in supermarket queues, to Rod Hull’s Emu are covered. The subject matter moves between the surreal and the every day with consummate ease.
Their music combines intricate beats, indie guitars and 60s space-age keyboards to create a whirlwind of memorable sounds. The occasional use of flute or recorder also gives them a different sonic palette to work from. The twin lead vocal line-up of the band allows for variety and creates a great aural and visual impact. The groups grasp of song dynamics, excellent riffs and chord sequences, and instantly memorable melodies, together with their theatrical performance values make them a must see band.
During a lull in the bands live activities, and with finishing touches being put to a new album,  I took the opportunity to ask the bands’ founder Steve Simms-Luddington a few questions about how they formed, their influences, and their plans for the future.
MIL4
Who is in the band – what do they play – were they in any other bands before or since?
On bass… Chris Binks
On guitar, woodwinds and stylophone… Danielle McCullough
On guitar… Eamonn Murphy
On singing… Laura Simms-Luddington
And skulking at the back, trying to look useful… me  (Steve actually plays keyboards, controls the drum machines and is the joint lead vocalist with Laura)
In addition, Andy Robertson sometimes plays percussion for us, but usually only in the studio.
Most of us have played in bands before, but they were not as fun as this one, except in Andy’s case, ‘cos he’s got a band going on where gets to sing and play guitar, which is obviously a lot more fun than shaking a tambourine.
When did you start the band?
I started Monkeys In Love nearly ten years ago and Laura joined me a few months later, after a chance encounter at a rave in a disused mental asylum. It was pretty much just us and a drum machine in those days and I suspect it probably wasn’t that great , we were usually pretty drunk when we played, so I’ve no idea. Over the next few years, Eamonn joined, then Chris and finally Danielle and I think that was the point when we went from messing around and occasionally playing gigs to actually being a band. So in a way, we’ve only really been going for about four years or so.
What have you released to date – and what have you got planned for the future?
We released a mini album through a local indie label a couple of years ago, which was called Death Jeans,  and then we put out our first full length album The Monkeys In Love Will Pet And Cuddle You on our own label the following year. After that, we recorded a bunch of tracks for an EP , which is now available on Soundcloud, and a couple of those tracks have been re-recorded for our next full length album, which is titled The Monkeys In Love Take The Biscuit. After that there’s also our long-delayed split EP with our friends Werbeniuk (due out in April, I think) and a top secret digital EP that I’m not allowed to talk about just yet, which is coming out whenever it’s ready. If the wind’s fair, there might also be another mini album coming out next autumn or fairly soon after that.
Where do you get your ideas for the on-stage costumes – who makes them?
Laura makes the costumes and comes up with the majority of the ideas for them and the same goes for the slide projections and any other assorted stage props. Occasionally, the rest of us might make a few suggestions, but at least 90% of the time they come from her fevered imagination. They’re usually based on or related to our lyrics, although sometimes it might not necessarily seem that way at first glance.
What or who influences the band musically?
As far as I’m aware, we all like Stereolab , The Fall, Kim Deal,  Serge Gainsbourg, strange 60s/70s library & soundtrack music, a couple of us are on the Trunk Records mailing list, Black Sabbath, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine, Board of Canada, krautrock and so on. As for individual members of the band some favourites are as follows:
  • Chris: Slint and The Wipers
  • Danielle: Human League and Iron Monkeys
  • Eamonn: Bo Diddley and White Fence
  • Laura: Devo and Crowded House
  • Steve: Slapp Happy and Jane Birkin in the 70s
Any gigs planned?
We’re playing with Taser Puppets and Salford Media City at the Crescent in Salford on 29th November and there’ll be a launch party for the new album on February 6th at Gulliver’s in Manchester. After that, I imagine there’ll be a bit of a tour in the spring, although we haven’t actually booked any dates as yet.
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Which current bands on the Manchester scene would you recommend?
I’m not going to list bands in case we forget anyone, or deliberately don’t include someone, and they get offended, but our favourite band that we’ve seen playing in Manchester of late was West Coast Sickline.
Some of your lyrics dwell on the darker side of suburban life – do you agree?
I’d say some of them do, yeah. That said, I can only think of one song on the new album that fits that description. There’s even a song where, if only for a moment, we eschew our trademark flippancy for something close to genuine emotion. A real “hearts on our sleeves” moment. I kid you not. But the rest are pretty snidey thistime round. We’ve got a few axes to grind. Our half of the split EP, and the mini album that follows on from it will be a bit more suburban, though.
LISTEN IN
A companion podcast to this interview with music from Monkeys In Love and the bands mentioned above is available here
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Hypothetical Continuum

CONTINUUM_Hyp_600x600

San Francisco Bay Area death metal group, and recent Unique Leader signees, Continuum, release their debut full-length, The Hypothesis, today

The brain child of lead guitarist/composer Chase Fraser (Decrepit Birth, Animosity), the band was formed in 2009 and features the current working lineup of Fraser alongside guitarist Ivan Munguia (Arkaik, Deeds Of Flesh), vocalist Riley McShane (Son Of Aurelius), bassist Nick Willbrand (Flesh Consumed) and drummer Spencer Edwards (Son Of Aurelius). Together the group provides a sound that rocks the very foundation of modern death metal.

Recorded mainly by Fraser with additional tracking and mixing by Zack Ohren (Suffocation, Fallujah, All Shall Perish et al.) a tCastle Ultimate Studios, The Hypothesis delivers a scathing math rock driven melee of engaging and abrasive compositions. Apparently the album is steeped conceptually in the mysteries of the infinite and the early but no-less-relevant and unsolved theories of the “continuum hypothesis.” This hypothesis was studied by a number of mathematicians including Georg Cantor in 1878, all of whom committed suicide before reaching a conclusion to the unfathomable question of infinity. This theme is brought to life by the lyrics of Mcshane, the artwork of Raymond Swanland (Deeds of Flesh, Psycroptic, Suffocation), and the mathematical compositions of Fraser.

A primer in progressive technical death metal, insane polyrhythmic drumming, manic riffing, scabrous dual vocalising and other-worldly lead guitar runs this is one for lovers of the genre. Highly recommended!

Track Listing:
1. Hypothesis: A Profound Discovery
2. The Epiphany
3. Hypothesis: Evolution
4. Absolute Zero
5. The Awakened Creator
6. Wasps In The History Of The Weak
7. Perspective
8. Where the Worlds Were left
9. A Surreal Descent
10. The Steppes To Ascension (featured on Sonic Attack Podcast 100)

Kowloon Walled City

San Francisco-based sludge/noise rock unit Kowloon Walled City have joined Neurot for the CD release of the band’s as-yet-untitled third full-length. The album is expected this autumn, with Gilead Media handling the release on vinyl.

Named after a now-demolished Hong Kong region notorious for its brothels, opium dens and casinos, Kowloon Walled City was formed in 2007 and has since released an EP, two full-lengths and a number of splits. Their most recent long player – 2013’s Container Ships, released via Brutal Panda Records – reaped the praise of fans and critics with Lambgoat dubbing it “their most impressive release to date” and the The Sludgelord commending the band’s “hard-hitting brilliance,” placing it among the year’s best offerings. As AllMusic says, “Kowloon Walled City take the sound pioneered by bands like the Jesus Lizard and Unsane and push it into new dimensions of heaviness.”

Further Kowloon Walled City news will be announced in the weeks to come. In the meantime, sample the band’s previous releases at their official Bandcamp page.

The aforementioned “Container Ships” is well worth investigating

Observed and improved

Tim Berne’s Snakeoil

You’ve Been Watching Me

ECM

20th April 2015

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Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Oscar Noriega: bass, clarinets; Ryan Ferreira: guitars; Matt Mitchell: piano, electronics; Ches Smith: drums, vibraphone, percussion, timpani.

Tim Berne’s third ECM album, You’ve Been Watching Me, features the saxophonist-composer again leading his latest band Snakeoil, now expanded to  a quintet with the arrival of guitarist Ryan Ferreira, whose signature sound adds greater texture and more options to the overall feel of the music.

The group’s 2013 release, Shadow Man, left Berne with some of the highest accolades of his long and convoluted career, there cannot be many more jazzmen with more ensembles to their name e.g, Paraphrase, Big Satan, Hard Cell, Caos Totale, etc , With Snakeoil he has reached a creative peak distilling his work to date with those other groups into a radical but coherent collection. Without doubt with  this new album he has greatly further improved and enhanced his work and reputation.

The music is typically “Berneian”, extremely long and complex riffs/lines snake over an energetic rhythm section in the most part. However there is a more space here than hitherto with elements of the music taking a more introspective feel , Across the album the compositions and playing move from complex jazz/math/rock into more relaxed and contemplative chamber pieces through to Middle-Eastern melodies and into visceral layers of sound. In places you might feel you are listening to Pawn Hearts era Van Der Graaf Generator, Sonic Youth in their SYR mode,  or early Dave Holland ECM outings, such is the detailed interplay between the musicians. Ferreira’s rock tones, a fascinating mix of varying styles , together with unforgiving blowing from the two horns, create a joyous dynamic building slowly to ecstatic climaxes. Relatively short for Berne compositions, which in the past have in some instances exceeded well over 30 minutes, these pieces are well structured and engage the listener with their many ideas, their development and execution.

Former Berne collaborator Dave Torn produced the album to his usual very high standards.

Berne has a rich history of challenging conventions, his music will not appeal to all, but with this album he comes very close to offering a selection which could, and should, grab the attention of the more conservative jazz listeners and get him the wider recognition he richly deserves.

Highly recommended.

Tracks from the the album will be featured on World of Jazz Podcast 126 which will be available on 30th April.