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Regular writing and podcasting about music

Fascinating Things : Issue 06

A mixed bag, as usual, some interesting things came in this week:

Fuzz drenched howling hardcore punk repetition from Chicago.  Sounds like it was recorded with the lowest of fidelity. Very cathartic.

Vaguess from the “Back off Warchild” cassette released on LOLIPOP RECORDS in spring 2013.  DGAF low-fi garage-punk from the OC! from Vinny Early of Rogue Postmen, Shadow People & The Pegs!! 100 purple cassettes were pressed and numbered. They have a compilation out on Synderlin in August. Pre-order here.

Heard this lot on Dave Hammonds excellent show on Cambridge Radio. Suffolk based garage punkers who are incredibly prolific and write a good tune. All their releases are available on Bandcamp as pay what you like.

Bit of an enigma this one, an anonymous release on Iron Lung from 2013. There is some speculation about who it is. Regardless of that a totally uncompromising set of tunes which kicks off as punk and then goes all hardcore.

Got nudged on Mixcloud about playing this band, happy to comply with the request their new EP is available to download on their website – www.puloreve.com. They are a progressive post-hardcore band from the South East of England; a quintet of friends who have been playing music with one another since they were very young. Their debut LP ‘é’ will be released in September. The record is the first in a series of releases which will, the band hope, become known for the emotion and care that went into creating them.

Magic Bullet Records have announced the signing of Chicago-based Sweet Cobra for the release of their anxiously awaited new studio album, Earth.  The LP was recorded and produced by Matt Talbot of Hum and Kurt Ballou of Converge, and also features guest contributions from each artist. Earth is their first full-length recording since their lauded 2010-released Mercy. Recording was completed in late 2013 with Talbot and Ballou at Talbot’s Earth Analog Studios near Champaign, Illinois, mixed by Ballou at his Godcity Studio in Salem, Massachusetts, and with final mastering by Carl Saff.

The band says : “We are honored to be working with Magic Bullet and have always felt a kinship to the label and artists they release. Earth is a deeply personal album for us, and it was a liberating experience to explore new sounds and dynamics in these songs with Matt and Kurt at the helm capturing it.”

Founded in 2003 by former members of a wide array of notable underground acts and boasting the fury and angular qualities of their hardcore/noise-rock/metal roots with a more straightforward rock rhythm and delivery, the band toured alongside the likes of Pelican, Russian Circles, Coliseum, Black Cobra, Doomriders, The Life And Times, Young Widows and many more. They toured regularly throughout the 2000s, and released a lot of recorded material, including three LPs — 2004’s Praise through Seventh Rule Recordings, 2007’s Forever through Hawthorne Street Records, and 2010’s Mercy on Blackmarket Activities — as well as split releases with Doomriders, Get Rad, and Young Widows among other releases.

In Autumn 2009, with Mercy just completed, second guitarist Mat Arluck lost his ongoing fight with cancer. Arluck’s death left a deep scar on the entire Chicago music scene (and beyond). The band committed to soldier on as a three-piece, as they began, resulting in a transformation of the band in the following years. The members have pushed forward — playing shows, constructing new material, and exploring new sounds. These efforts have culminated in the upcoming release of Earth. The album will be featured on a future Sonic Attack podcast.

Midday Veil‘s third album, This Wilderness, is due for release on September 11th – their first on Brooklyn indie label Beyond Beyond is Beyond. The instrumental heart of This Wilderness remains the out-sized synth wizardry of co-founder David Golightly, who seems to have ingested every possible mind-altering sound from Stockhausen to Cybotron to the ‘Love to Love You’ of Donna Summer. They’re all on display here, made especially ornate by the driving percussion of Garrett Moore, the deep, submerging bass of Jayson Kochan, and the often-explosive, reptilian guitar lines of multi-instrumentalist Timm Mason. Rounding out the lineup is an all-star cast of guest spots including Bernie Worrell (Parliament, Funkadelic), Eyvind Kang and Skerik.  Here is opening track Babel.

Ahead of the September release of If He Dies, If If If If If If, their much-anticipated second LP, Montreal experimental ensemble Jersualem In My Heart are sharing a new song from the forthcoming album. “7ebr El 3oyoun” (“Ink Of The Eyes”) begins with an arresting passage of Radwan Moumneh’s mournful melismatic (the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession.) vocal work buoyed by sparse atmospherics, patiently presenting melodic themes that then reshape into a hypnotically raw, syncopated and accelerating acoustic riff, propelled by Moumneh’s buzuk and hand percussion from guest Pierre-Guy Blanchard (of Pacha). Listen to the track below.

Fascinating Things : Issue 05

There’s a degree of fuss being made about a band called Lake Malawi, and to their credit they have put together a small video to introduce themselves, which saves me having to do a lot of writing.

‘Young Blood’ and ‘Aubrey’ below are taken from their 5-track EP ‘We Are Making Love Again’, and both are available for sale and download now.

Comparisons with Split Enz/Crowded House have been made, and there is an echo of the Finn Brothers in there.

Chelsea Wolfe has released the stark black and white video for newest single, “Carrion Flowers,” (as featured in Fascinating Things 01) directed by Wolfe herself and bandmate Ben Chisholm, with all editing by Chisholm. Shot in California and New York state, Wolfe comments:

“The visuals in the video allude to the drought in California and frustration about corporations being allowed to pump out all the water, destroying environments and communities, just to sell it back. While writing Abyss, I lived near where the water is piped into Los Angeles, but the lakes were dried up and the mountains were burned from fires. During filming we were exploring cracked lake beds and washed out roads – at one point I was laying in the middle of an abandoned canyon road with no chance of a car coming, and it was very surreal and quiet. I closed my eyes for a moment and when I opened them there were vultures circling overhead like I was some exotic roadkill, so we filmed them too.

The scribbles and ropes in the video are about my own madness and self-doubt, and costume designer Jenni Hensler made me a human cocoon from this insane fabric – it represents a feeling of claustrophobia, like you just want to scratch your way out of it. And there is anger in this song; it’s got a sense of revenge for anyone who has suffered or died because of injustice.”

The track is also featured in the newly released official trailer for Dark Places, the upcoming film adapted from Gone Girl’s author Gillian Flynn, starring Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Chloe Grace Moretz and more. Watch here.
Sleep paralysis plagues singer/songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, and that strange intersection of the conscious and the unconscious has inadvertently manifested itself within her work. Across the span of her first four albums, there is an underlying tension, a distorted and nebulous territory where dark shadows hover along the edges of the sublime and the graceful. But until now, Wolfe’s trials and tribulations with the boundaries between dreams and reality have only been a subconscious influence on her work. With her fifth album, Abyss, she deliberately confronts those boundaries and crafts a score to that realm she describes as the “hazy afterlife… an inverted thunderstorm… the dark backward… the abyss of time.”
Abyss arrives August 7th via Sargent House with pre-order links on iTunes and via the label, and fans can read the full statement behind the album here.

The Deadline Shakes have a new single out on June 28th keeping up their run of fine releases. It is available from itunes and all major digital stores via Scottish label Flowers In The Dustbin. Pre-order available now on bandcamp and itunes.

 

Hailing from Chile’s capital Santiago, Maff present their debut self-titled EP, featuring 8 tracks that immerse you in a whirlwind of such genres as shoegaze, alternative rock, noise pop and indie verging on grunge, but with a dose of electronica thrown in the blend. The bands they cite as their main influences are The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pixies, Ride, Sonic Youth, and My Bloody Valentine.

Although a young band, their sound has made its way into some notable ears. Upon hearing them, celebrated dreampop duo Ummagma has embraced their music and even created a radio edit for ‘Walking on Fire’, which is premiering on The Record Stache. “It’s rare that music this good from as far away as Santiago, for instance, finds a place among your faves, but that is exactly what has happened here. This warms your skin and gives you goosebumps,” explains Ummagma.

Maff was originally founded in 2012 by Ricardo (Richi) Gómez (Vocals / Bass / Guitar) & Nicolás (Nek) Colombres (Drums), who have been friends since childhood and have previously played together in various punk rock bands. They were later joined by Martín Colombres (Guitar) and Gonzalo (Talo) Correa (Guitar / Bass / Vocals / Synth). Maff composed, recorded and produced this EP in their own studio, lovingly called ‘The Lab’ owing to the experimental output they concocted there. This album explores such themes as innocence, mysticism, true love, loss, drugs, freedom and timelessness.

 The Maff EP is available for pre-order on Bandcamp both digitally and on CD.

The cathartic reverberations of SUNN O))) have been documented and can now be accessed via their live bandcamp page. Compiled of taper and fan recordings, spanning from their 2002 show at the Blackbird in Portland up to their recent headlining show at Temples Festival 2015, these documents are presented in their raw and unedited beauty.
 SUNN O))) invite fans to contribute to this sonic archive…
 “SUNN O))) live archives. Unmixed, unmastered raw footage grabbed by underground tapers which we now present to you. We would like to invite you to also submit your own recordings of any of our concerts (even ones already posted) to this archives. If you have photos and visuals from the posted shows, please send them too.  Hail to our great fans!”
Having already announced a number of key festival appearances this summer, these offer an ample opportunity to add to this archive. Such appearances include the recently announced Le Guess Who? Festival whereby Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson will showcase their similar, adventurous musical inclinations with a very special four-day program titled SUNN O))) presents at Le Guess Who? Festival 2015. The program will include a performance by the legendary Annette Peacock, who will return to The Netherlands for the first time in over twenty tears.
Additionally, Southern Lord are repressing the following SUNN O))) titles; Black One in limited edition Clear vinyl,  øø Void in limited edition Green vinyl and SUNN O)))/Ulver, Terrestrials in Black vinyl. These are now available on the SUNN O))) store sunn.southernlord.com.
South-East (UK)s emerging commercial edged punk/rock band Miss Vincent  have a new single called  “How Much Further” out. The track is taken from their recently released EP ‘Reasons Not To Sleep’ (released through Engineer Records) and available from ITunes via this link.

 Mr Dave Graney  along with Clare Moore is re-releasing a series of his more recent albums via digital on Bandcamp. The most recent is the excellent “Keepin’ It Unreal” with Stu Thomas completing the line-up.
Originally released in 2006 Dave reflects:
“…… this was a representation of a certain type of live show we were doing around this time. “Hashish and Liquor” were albums that needed the right situations to playthem in. And Mark Fitzgibbon on deck all the time. That wasn’t always possible so we did shows in this trio style. Then we decided to record it. A way of approaching songs in a “remix” type of way but “mixing” the songs through the filters of different instruments. We did this again later with both “Supermodified” and “rock’n’roll is where I hide”.The songs came from all sorts of previous albums of ours. the earliest being ” a million dollars in a red velvet suit: from 1991’s “I was the hunter and I was the prey” and “there was a time” from 1994’s “you wanna be there but you don’t wanna travel”. we did a lot of touring with this setup. Vibes, bass and 12 string acoustic. It was very portable. Suited theatres the best.”
Contemporary with the excellent “Hashish & Liquor” album this is Graney & Moore at their very best, and well worthwhile for the great interpretations of earlier tracks and covers of Mose Allison, Suicide and M.

1000 JAZZ ALBUMS YOU REALLY OUGHT TO HEAR – 0002 : ORNETTE COLEMAN QUARTET & PRIME TIME – IN ALL LANGUAGES

Caravan of Dreams/Harmolodic

1987

Disc 1/Sides A and B (the Quartet)

Ornette Coleman – alto and tenor saxophone
Don Cherry – trumpet
Charlie Haden – double bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Disc 2/Sides C and D (Prime Time)

Ornette Coleman – saxophone and trumpet
Denardo Coleman – drums
Calvin Weston – drums
Jamaaladeen Tacuma – bass guitar
Al MacDowell – bass guitar
Charlie Ellerbee – electric guitar
Bernie Nix – electric Guitar

A historical document of some importance. Ornette uses his original quartet to revisit the sound of the late 50s the gave him his first breakthrough but uses contemporary material.  This means the avant garde aspects of the playing is juxtaposed with the extant harmolodic funk approach. This makes for an exceptional clash of styles.

The second half of the release was Ornette’s  current “double” band (two drums, two basses, two guitars) playing seven of the compositions that appear on the first half. This allows the listener to see how his approach has developed over the intervening 30 years.

The music is kept short and this allows, a rare thing in jazz,  the melodies and themes to stand in their own right and also demonstrate the power of Ornette’s writing.  The difference between the two discs is clear. The quartet has the space to work together, and apart, and recreate the magical bond that emerged in 1958.  Prime Time is denser and convoluted, not surprising given the number of musicians involved, a heady brew of interacting lines and rhythms that create a huge tension. The Quartet playfully caresses your ears whereas Prime Time slaps you around the head and get you up and dancing.

As a primer for  Ornette this is the perfect album, demonstrating where he came from and where he had got to in the mid 80s.

 

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Cinematic Pop Perfection

Artist : ZX+

Title : Don’t Drink The Water

Format : Album

Label : Play & Record Records

Release Date : 20th August 2015

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If you have been paying attention to my ramblings over the last few years you will have noticed, and I trust,  enjoyed, the musical journey of Stephen Evans. As part of the highly regarded The Planets he was a member of a mesmerizing song-writing team and quartet of excellent musicians who delivered some classic tunes. After leaving said band he began to operate as a solo operator as ZX+, as well as taking up bass duties with Twisted Wheel. Post Twisted Wheel he now works with partner Mary Joanna Coogan, as well as continuing his adventures with ZX+. At it is the latter of the two current projects that is the subject of this peroration.

He’s been a busy chap – the discography to date is as follows:

Albums

ZX+ (2010)

Sickly (2013)

Games for May (Fruits De Mer Double CD) (2015)

Singles/EPs

+Planets (2010)

ZX+ E.P. (2010)

In A Cover World (2010)

The Crazies (2014)

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So what of this new release? Entitled “Don’t Drink The Water”, a reference to George Romero’s cult classic “The Crazies” (not the dodgy 2010 remake), I wondered if there was some sort of concept or indeed conceptual continuity in play here. Stephen advises not:

“It’s not a concept album in a traditional sense, but I have attempted to write and structure the record with the idea of an album in mind, as opposed to the single, filler, single, filler, playlist approach of recent times. Don’t Drink The Water is a reference to The Crazies, attempting to imply, that if you do, then this is what’ll happen.”

As with all of Stephen’s work the song-writing is meticulous , the playing and structure of the music exemplary, and the overall feel of the album exciting and innovative. What we have here is intelligent modern popular music, which references the rich history of bands from this country.

So what are his Influences and what type of sound was he aiming for with this album?

“Musical influences are usually standard, bands like Pink Floyd, Kinks, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Beatles and Nirvana. My main inspiration when recording, is to try and make the most out of what I have. 70’s production is what I was going for, I hate high end sparkly sounding songs and preferred music before those frequencies were accessible”

The album is like a movie. It has a story, it has recurring themes, musically and lyrically  and,  a beginning, a middle and an end.

The proceedings begin with previous single “The Crazies”.   Walls of guitars, and multi-layered vocals offer a cinematic tour de force comparable with Todd Rundgren around the time of “Initiation”. With a great guitar hook this makes for a great opener. “Kurtz” with a clever interchanging structure, the lyrics reference Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”, is real ear-worm with Stephen letting his northern accent come through in the delivery.  “Something Real” echoes the structure of The Crazies to some degree, there are little musical tricks with guitar sounds that repeat through the album. There is  a nod to the 60s in terms of structures and layering, but it also remains utterly modern.

The pace increases for “Mud and Rubble” which reminds me, to some degree, of The Planets at their most playful. A breathless rush of a thing with a lot of panache. The untitled track 5 starts as a simple guitar piece and develops organically into a cinematic multi-layered affair with all sorts of fascinating sounds being utilised. It moves from a slow and stately affair into an up tempo little jig with some lovely wah-wah guitar.

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The centrepiece, and stand out track for me, is the gorgeous “Pet Sematry” referencing another Stephen of course, King in this instance. Structurally it’s a nod to Family and The Weavers Answer maybe, or perhaps that’s me just joining things up that shouldn’t be in the same cosmos?  In any event it’s a fantastic piece of music. Next up “The Desert” offers a mix of tricky guitar picking and shuffling beat with Stephen going all Syd era Floyd in haze of psychedelic loveliness. Things slow down for the beautiful “Just Like That” which is good enough to have been on The White Album or Abbey Road, or something the GIbb Brothers conjured up.  Beautiful unison guitars and a silky smooth production. Another notable track on the album.

Tempo up again for the jaunty “Up and Down the Stairs” which does what says on the tin and moves up and down the fret board in a perky pop style.  The high tempo continues with perhaps the most intense piece on the album, “The Raven”, with, again luscious slide and wah-wah in the slower middle 8, creating a great dynamic. Lyrical references to Edgar Allan Poe are in evidence. A very clever tune.

“For Him Or Her” is a mid tempo instrumental ballad with a standard changes and is pure pop sensibilities. Basic in form and structure but beautifully delivered.  “Photographs” demonstrates the album is reaching a conclusion, a reflective penultimate statement,

It finishes with an instrumental, the title track,  perhaps the closing credits to our aural cinematic journey. All in all a very fine journey indeed. The tune poses the question – so what happens next?

Alongside Stephen on guitars and vocals, and drums on Something Real, Mud and Rubble,  and From Him or Her, are Mary Joanna Coogan on backing vocals on selected tracks, and the drums on the other tracks are played by  Mark Coupe.

The album will be released on CD and download, and details of how to get hold of it will no doubt appear soon.

Highly recommended for lovers of quality popular music.

Many thanks to Stephen for providing a review copy.

Fascinating Things : Issue 04

This time around things of a metal flavour dominate the blog.

Following an extended slumber, Mammoth Lake, California-based black/death merchants, Valdur, emerge from their crypts with the infernal fruits of latest offering, lovingly titled  Pathetic Scum.

The follow-up to 2013’s  At War With full-length, Pathetic Scum was tracked entirely at the band’s Bloody Mountain Bunker, mixed by drummer Matthew, mastered by Dan at Morbid Mastering and offers up seven intense pieces of metal.   Featuring the addition of new guitarist, Vuke, the record delivers an onslaught of warring riffs, wrath-infused vocal offensives and percussive barrages. Indeed, Pathetic Scum maintains the bands place as one of America’s best kept extreme metal secrets.

The band say, “Guitarist/vocalist Samuel is still with us so to speak, but he is so busy with personal/family matters at the moment. Vuke, new guitarist, is not a replacement, but a full time member of Valdur. And for live dates this spring, Roskva will be on vocals again. And we have William on bass and Matthew on drums. We all appreciate anyone who takes the time in this world to have a listen to our music. It is built and moulded by our own hands to the form and shape that we like. With these new songs, we give you something different yet again along the obscure Valdur timeline…”

Featuring past and current members of Weverin, Endless Blizzard and Plutocracy, Valdur was formed at the turn of the century in a small mountain town located in the pulsating heart of the Sierra Mountains where the Death Valley desert lands meet the ascending Mt. Whitney and where the collective dwells without interference of fashionable scenes or rulebooks.

Pathetic Scum will be officially unveiled digitally and in digipak format via the band’s own Bloody Mountain Records on June 30th, 2015.

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Unique Leader Records have confirmed July 24th as the date French death metal band, Kronos, will release their Arisen New Era album upon the waiting world. Recorded, mixed and mastered by David Potvin at Dome Studios (Lyzanxia, Arcania, Under The Abyss etc.) in Angers, France, the band’s latest slab of audio menace features nine tracks adorned with the distinctive cover art of Pierre Alain (Withering Soul, Silentlie, Cyrax etc.).

Kronos formed over fifteen years ago and quickly established a name for themselves based solely on their musical unity of harmony and violence. Featuring a continuous textual reference to the gods of ancient civilizations, Kronos punctures ears with a heightened level of dynamics accomplished by only by a select number of bands. It all began in a small town in the north eastern province of Alsace-Lorraine. Following various line-up shifts and musical experimentation, the band recorded their first demo in 2000. One year later, they released their Titan’s Awakening debut. Produced entirely by the band, the album lead to a union with French imprint Warpath Records. By the end of 2001, Titan’s Awakening was re-released, this time with a brand new cover designed by Deather (Gurkkhas, Vital Remains, Angel Corpse) as well as a visually disquieting booklet.

Kronos later joined forces with Spanish label Xtreem Music run by Avulsed’s Dave Rotten, for the unleashing of their next two full-lengths. Second offering, Colossal Titan Strife was released in 2004 to the applause of underground critics in the proverbial know.

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Chicago-based blackened death grind unit, Immortal Bird, have confirmed the official details of their anticipated Empress/Abscess LP.

Set for release on July 14th, the follow-up to 2013’s Akrasia EP was captured by Pete Grossmann (Weekend Nachos, Harm’s Way, Dead In The Dirt) at Bricktop Recording in Chicago, Illinois earlier this year and mixed and mastered by Colin Marston (Gorguts, Krallice, Nader Sadek, Atheist, Origin etc.) at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in Queens, New York. Empress/Abscess includes a guest appearance by John Hoffman of Weekend Nachos and finds former drummer/vocalist, Amitay, swapping in her drum stool for a full-time position at the mic with longtime live drummer, Garry Naples (Novembers Doom) taking her place at the kit.

Elaborates Amitay, “I’ve stepped away from drumming duties and enlisted our live drummer, Garry Naples (Novembers Doom). Essentially, I had to set my ego aside and determine what was going to be the best for this music. [Guitarist] Evan [Berry] and I wrote some incredibly challenging material for Empress/Abscess, and Garry had been playing it live for months, whereas I’d been focusing a lot of my drumming energy on the newest Thrawsunblat album. My chops are in a very different place than they were when we recorded Akrasia and it would take me a week in the studio to do what Garry can accomplish in two days. Having him behind the kit saved us time, the finished product is stronger, and I was able to delve into the vocal performances and lyrics with my undivided attention. Will I play drums on future Immortal Bird albums? It’s entirely likely, but for Empress/Abscess, I passed the sticks over to the best person for the job.”

The band was formed by Rae Amitay and brought to fruition by cowriter and guitarist Evan Berry and bassist John Picillo. Their debut EP, Akrasia, mixed by Kurt Ballou and mastered by Brad Boatright, was released in December of 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. Decibel Magazine called the offering, “dark and twisting,” while The Chicago Reader commended the band’s “…sick and greasy black metal that does an admirable job inventing the sound of a mind tearing itself apart.” Elsewhere the sentiment echoed with Ghost Cult crowning Akrasia, “Distinctly disturbing and beautifully harsh,” This Is Not A Scene heralding, “…nineteen minutes of metal greatness,” and Last Rites noting, “these songs don’t really make their point; they insist on it.”

Following several tours that took the band across the United States and into Canada, the band entered the studio to record their debut full-length, Empress/Abscess. Picking up where Akrasia left off, Empress/Abscess delves once again into a cesspool of misery, fury, and anguish with stunning cover art by Kikyz1313 (Akrasia). The album will be released as a collaborative effort, with Broken Limbs Recordings taking charge with vinyl and cassettes, while the band will be self-releasing the CD/digital version under the moniker Manatee Rampage Recordings.

2015Press

Olympia, Washington-based 20 Buck Spin has hooked up with Denver, Colorado’s doom quartet Khemmis for the band’s impending debut LP, Absolution, which is coming together for release later this Summer amidst extensive touring from the band.

20 Buck Spin has, over the course of the last ten years, worked with the best of the best in the crowded doom genre; bands as diverse as Samothrace, Graves At Sea, Pallbearer, Yob, Mournful Congregation, Lycus, Atlantean Kodex and more. In that tradition, the label is proud to present Khemmis, a quartet from Denver, who, on their debut full-length brings components of many of the aforementioned label alumni and create a testament to what heavy doom rock is in 2015.

The six meticulously crafted songs on Absolution reveal a level of musicianship and writing skill seldom heard on debut albums. Often within the scope of a single song, Khemmis veers effortlessly between the crushing heaviness of Southern sludge and the sombre melodies of traditional doom metal, cohesively weaving the disparate styles into their own immediately recognizable form. Vocally, Khemmis also utilizes a dual approach, sometimes harsh and guttural, but generally through a stunningly smooth classic doom/heavy rock delivery that even adamant fans of Pete Stahl and Wino will applaud. The powerfully adept rhythm section perfectly anchor the towering riff mastery and colorful dual guitar harmonies, all brought together by Dave Otero’s (Cobalt, Nightbringer) pitch perfect production work.

From the album opener “Torn Asunder” to closing track “The Bereaved,” the latter of which will stand as the doom track of 2015, Absolution positions Khemmis among the highlight surprises of the year. The band is most certainly a live act and will tour at intervals throughout the remainder of 2015, including a planned West Coast US run in Summer 2015. Fans of Goatsnake, Pallbearer, Samothrace, Graves At Sea, Red Fang and Yob should keep the name Khemmis at the top of their list of bands to watch this year. The album’s fantastic Frazetta inspired cover art by Sam Turner (Speedwolf, Black Breath, Trve Brewing) is notable.

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All Pigs Must Die are bringing their blistering take on volatile hardcore/metal to the UK for the very first time in July, as part of only two European dates this year (the other one being Roskilde Festival, Denmark). The band, who are well known individually for their roles in other acts such as Converge, The Hope Conspiracy, American Nightmare and The Red Chord, will be playing London’s Underworld on July 5th, with Krokodil, Quiet Man, and the newly reformed Throats supporting.

Xibalba has issued an official video for the revolutionary anthem “Guerrilla,” one of the most vital tracks from their third LP, Tierra Y Libertad, which saw release in January via Southern Lord Recordings.
In complete DIY fashion, Xibalba basically took the concept of their classic “Cold” video to the next level, this time the overthrowing an entire neighbourhood in their hometown of Pomona, California. Directed, shot and edited by Shawn Skadburg and Matt Welch for Nine/One films, with footage by Danny Mayo and Mike Sogoff, the video for “Guerrilla” features a brutalizing live uprising filmed at a live outdoor show in a Pomona neighbourhood, utilizing the voices of their friends and family to carry the message of the track to the masses.
With new tour dates and festival appearances confirmed, Xibalba continue to deliver their piledriving death metal-infused hardcore in support of Tierra Y Libertad through the Summer months. September will see Xibalba hitting Ghostfest in Leeds and Bristol, UK on 5th and 6th of the month alongside Hatebreed, Emmure, Despised Icon, Born Of Osiris, Turnstile and more.
Tierra Y Libertad was recorded by Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues, Disgrace) at The Pit in Van Nuys, California, the LP’s forty-four minute onslaught delivers more haunting, atmospheric tones and traumatic death-infused metallic hardcore. Tierra Y Libertad is available on CD and grey vinyl LP direct through Xibalba’s Southern Lord store here, and digitally through BandCamp here, as well as through All In Merch including a t-shirt package here.

 

Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, alongside fellow Montreal artist Charles-André Coderre, returns with If He Dies, If If If If If If, a second full-length album from his acclaimed Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) project, conceived and recorded in his dual homes of Montréal and Beirut.

Known for his production and engineering work with artists as diverse as Matana Roberts (all three chapters of her Coin Coin recordings to date), Mashrou’ Leila, Ought, Eric Chenaux (with whom he also released a collaborative album for the Grapefruit Records Club) and Suuns (with whom he also released a collaborative album on Secretly Canadian in spring 2015), Moumneh has been firing on all cylinders over the past few years. He has brought JIMH to mesmerized live audiences in Canada, Europe and the Middle East since the release of his first album in 2013, following many years during which the project was a strictly Montréal-based live/theatrical happening. While JIMH continues to expand to include a larger cast of players for select engagements and commissions, the group is currently an immersive and performative audio-visual duo at its core, with Moumneh responsible for all sound/composition and Coderre creating 16mm visuals and live projections/installations.

Moumneh expands his compositional palette on If He Dies, If If If If If If, exploring new deconstructions and juxtapositions of both traditional and popular Arab musical currents, with an album that oscillates between powerfully emotive vocal tunes and instrumental works that primarily make use of Radwan’s expressive acoustic playing on buzuk as a point of departure. One of Moumneh’s finest melismatic a cappella vocal performances opens the album, followed by the uncharacteristically literal-titled “A Granular Buzuk”, where said instrument is processed, re-sampled and otherwise disrupted through Radwan’s real-time custom signal patches. “7ebr El 3oyoun” follows with languidly plaintive vocals set against a gradually accelerating riff underpinned by hand percussion, and Side One closes with a scabrous white noise intervention wherein the entire audio mix is fed through a contact mic placed in Radwan’s mouth. Moumneh continues to channel his love for Arabic pop and Casio/cassette culture on the silky lo-fi dance of “Lau Ridyou Bil Hijaz?” which opens Side Two, then pays homage to the until-recently-exiled Kurdish poet and singer Sivan Perwer on the traditional-minded, unadorned folk tune “Ta3mani; Ta3meitu”. The album closes with a tour-de-force drone piece built from Bansuri flute (performed by guest player Dave Gossage) and a delicate acoustic number set against the sound of waves recorded on a beach in Lebanon. (Song titles employ the transliterative characters used in Arabic phone texting.)

Coderre’s creation of the album artwork involved re-photographing images on 16mm film and then developing that film with bespoke chemical treatments of his own discovery and invention; the cover images result from this entirely hand-made and analog process. The album art is also an extension of the JIMH raison d’etre: the pursuit of innovative reciprocal relationships between celluloid film and live music performance, and the preservation of and experimentation with manual photographic methods and materials amidst a culture/tech industry that encourages the obsolescence of celluloid.

If He Dies, If If If If If If is an adventurous, scrupulous, impassioned and highly original work of modern contemporary Arabic music and a gratifying sign that Jerusalem In My Heart is situating itself in recorded works with the same thoughtful and dynamic intensity previously accessible only in live performances.

Much of the music described above will be featured in future editions of the Sonic Attack podcast.

The return of Pearl Divers

Back in 2009 one of the first local bands I chanced upon in my early days as a DJ was Pearl Divers.  I found my way to them via Mike Leigh, the ex Fall drummer, who had chosen the group as his way back into the music business after a long absence.

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Pearl Divers Mark 1 – Lingard, Black and Montague

Pearl Divers are the brain child of writer, singer and guitarist Carl Lingard.  His initial work with the name  was the impressive EP “The Boy Who Won The World”.   Deciding to take his work live he   formed  a trio with Mike Leigh and John “Monty” Montague on bass, and following some early rehearsals the line-up was expanded with Tony Gilbody on keyboards and Jeff Black on guitar and MIDI instruments, HIgh profile gigs at Night and Day in Manchester and supporting Martin Bramah’s Factory Star, were followed by the addition of Ben “Spilla” Doherty on vocals/rap, and a more urban/soul direction away from the initial indie feel of the material. Several attempts to record an initial album , and the addition of other vocalists, including Danielle “MzDee” Carter, lead to the creative differences emerging between band members  over the change in musical direction. Leigh left and  went off to join The Blimp and Black. Montague and Carter formed Positronik. Lingard put Pearl Divers  on hold for a few years.

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The new Pearl Divers

Roll onto to 2014 and Lingard decided to try again with the Pearl Divers project.  He recruited Gareth Johnson on guitar and Paul Greenhow on drums and convinced Jeff Black to rejoin the band, this time on bass guitar. Lingard’s desire to work with a female vocalist was realised when Nathalie Hayley joined. Lingard has been hard at work on new material and the band has played live at Salford Crescent.

Carl has always aimed to marry the Manchester Indie sound with Urban Music – the key example being the evocative “White Lines” the original band performed. Examples of the new work he has produced, and has been performing with the band, have been sent my way.

The newer material aims to continue that  indie/urban approach but some extra twists and turns have been added to the mix. . First track “Beating Heart Of England” takes that shuffling baggie Madchester heritage and brings it up to date with jangly guitars and a catchy sing along feel. Carl delivers a laid-back rap and takes us on a trip to the dance floors of Manchester during a long hot summer.

“This Life” has a great 60s feel, I can imagine Nancy SInatra doing a cover of the song. Bacharach/David came to mind when listening to the changes and the glorious move from the verse into the chorus is stunning.  This clearly demonstrates Lingard’s strength as a writer.

Lingard likes to inject variety into his sets and “Coming Home” is one that sits well in Pearl Divers world, but is completely different from the more pop oriented songs. A bluesy ramble with slide guitars and busy bass runs mixes JJ Cale with english pop elements to create a unique sound.

“Kingdom Come” goes to another place entirely, sounding like an Gibb Brothers classic delivered in a chanson style that changes into an urban chant which then morphs into a John Barry TV theme.  Rich and mellow and utterly compelling.

“Something”, which appeared under a different guise in the first incarnation of the band, is a perfect piece of summer pop, merging blues guitar licks with a great Indie sound, Hayley’s pure vocal sound floats over a funky rhythm with a memorable hook making this a current ear-worm.

So Pearl Divers are back with great tunes and for my part I am very pleased. Lingard’s song-writing talent needs to be brought to a wider audience and he has now got a band to deliver his excellent songs.

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….abstract, experimental, ambient, brittle, glitchy, and evocative.

Artist : Liberez

Title : All Tense Now Lax

Format : Album

Label : Night School Records

Release Date : 24th July 2015

Liberez LSSN031 Packshot

Liberez is British experimental industrial project from Southend-on-Sea. This is their fourth release being preceded by an untitled CDr from 2005 and two full lengths,  The Letter in 2011, and Sane Men Surround in 2013.

There is an impressive array of different sounds across the nine tracks which remind me of,  in equal parts, early Cabaret Voltaire, This Heat, Severed Heads, Throbbing Gristle, Coil and other bands of that ilk. It is abstract, experimental, ambient, brittle, glitchy, and evocative. Various instruments, including guitars, violins, percussion and electronics weave complex patterns to create a rich listening experience. Field recordings and half heard vocals make up a complex, laminal, sound.

Formed in 2003 by recording engineer John Hannon and long term musical collaborator Pete Wilkins, Liberez took their name from the cover art of a French bootleg MC5 7” which demanded ‘Liberez Wayne Kramer!,’ who was incarcerated at the time of release. This early line up (also including Mick Cain on saxophone and Kevin Hutchins on bass) recorded and self-released three CD-r albums in an improvised/montage noise rock style, Liberez 1, Liberez 2 and Paint the Light Black. In 2010, Cumbria-based multi-instrumentalist Tom James Scott met Hannon at the latter’s No Recording Studio in Essex, and soon after relocated to join the Liberez fold, his expansive style and use of space and field recordings bringing about a new direction. Close friend Nina Bosnic was brought in to the line-up on vocals, and consequent recordings based on Bosnic’s texts became the first official Liberez record, The Letter, a vinyl only release on Luke Younger’s (aka Helm) label, Alter.

Up until this point Liberez’s live appearances were seldom, but the four set out to play more live shows outside of their locality. Through connections made in Hannon’s studio, they were able to travel to France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Hungary, Lithuania, Belgium etc while keeping a low public profile. The next record, Sane Men Surround (Savory Days, Alter), incorporated numerous influences from eastern European folk traditions and genres, such as Greek rembetika, Jewish klezmer, and Bosniak sevdah, the music of Bosnic’s hometown Mostar. Scott relocated back to Barrow-in-Furness to focus on his own music, and the line-up proceeded to continue as a three piece, resulting in All Tense Now Lax.

Continuing the blend of folk and drone styles, harsh glitching electronic beats, and 9/4 and 7/8 time signatures with an added emphasis of violin textures, All Tense Now Lax is thematically focused on time, distance, and family connections. The tracks “—Of Blood” and “— Of Milk” are in reference to the heritage of both mother and father, embracing the album’s beginning and ending in their dark, cyclical melodies. The title track is a sombre linear journal of the experiences of Hannon’s father, whom during this period suffered a near fatal head injury, and subsequently spent 18 months in institutional rehabilitation. “Захвална породица” has its origins in the Cyrillic inscription on Bosnic’s grandfather’s headstone, while ‘How Much For Your Brother” is derived from a cut up tape of Bosnic’s first words spoken in English, recorded by her parents when she arrived in England from Bosnia in the early 90’s. “Stop Your Breathing” rolls in on ominous static, and is indicative of a terrible nightmare relived by Bosnic, where she plays out murderous impulses against an unsettling backdrop of ambiguous sonic plumes.

Music of this type can either be tedious and pretentious or, genuinely ground-breaking, this release falls into the latter camp, offering a broad span of impressions from the intense  to the reflective. It does not fit neatly into any genre description other than widely being described as experimental.  I’ve listened to a lot of music of this type and I can honestly say this is one of the more accomplished and innovative examples of the form.

Many thanks to Lauren at Rarely Unable for providing additional information on the group.

Pending the release of the new album you can access its’ predecessor here: