Death Metal, Electronica, Aural Terror and Manchester Pop

I have to admit I have found it hard to sit down and write stuff over the last few weeks. Apart from the intense heat, there’s been the distraction of several cricket matches to attend, plus the Manchester Jazz Festival –  however the last 48 hours has seen a cascade of new material to talk about so I thought I’d better something down before I get so far behind i’ll never catch up with myself.

Anyhow – first up some exciting news – the excellent Dope Body , from Baltimore, have a new album out on October 21st on Drag City. It’s called “Lifer” and if the preview track below is anything to go by it should be a bit of a corker…..

San Antonio’s black death metal  band, Hod, release their long-awaited new full-length on 9th September  via Arctic Records. Titled “Book of the Worm” , the follow-up to last year’s “The Uncreated Demo”  teaser, which was likened to a “snake eating itself and a bigger snake eating the smaller snake, a kind of infinite and horrifically malign Ouroboros,” was produced by Dennis Munoz (Solstice), features the recording line-up of guitarist Necron, vocalist Vladibeer Reebs, bassist T.A. and former drummer Dennis Sanders and boasts eight blasting tunes  Comments the band, “Finally, it  is finished! Through Hell and back we went to get this completed. Comrades fell. Labels failed. Studios changed. But we soldiered forth with iron determination and it is done. Blood, sweat and sacrifice are the ingredients”. Listening to it on a hot summers night was a delightful experience. Here’s the aforementioned teaser which will give you a sense of what to expect – I will feature a track on next weeks Sonic Attack podcast

After just over a year of waiting Borland have finally released part one of their “Omar” self styled quadrilogy, and it’s been well worth the wait, and is remarkably refreshing. All of the usual Gregg/Breen things are here but it kicks off with a haunting piano ballad which is light years away from their usual output, I say a piano ballad it soon develops into something a little more than that,  with some remarkable tonal shifts, and trademark laminal morphing. After that it’s the usual attention to orchestral detail that sets them apart from the usual purveyors of electronica. Particularly notable is the chilling “Valentine” which manages to balance malevolence, eerie vocal utterances, and delicate tendrils of sound – coming across like a mutant version of Sigur Ros.  As with track one the excellent “Idea Diamond” takes the piano as it’s core instrument and builds a serial repetition of notes under a distant collection of voices – both epic and emotional. I await, with some anticipation,  the remaining three parts of this release.

You may remember radio show favourites Da Mutts who morphed into Boxhead & Gloves , and who released a remarkable concept album called “Soldier” which I featured on the podcasts. Well they are back with a couple of tracks “Naughtiness” and “Parades” – the former a mind-flipping switch in direction into motorik  electronica, the latter more of their usual output, with a delicious piece of Manc Pop which quotes Percy Shelley and reflects the rich musical heritage of the northern capital with echoes of 10cc. I ran into Stan from the band at Steve Hanley’s book launch the other week and I am pretty sure we had a good conversation about what they were up to, but a combination of cider and red wine on the evening appears to have wiped that from my failing memory.

Taser Puppets have sorted out their new line-up, and have a set of mostly new tunes to share in a live setting according the latest reports from Mr Maxwell.  As a bridging transitional type thingy they have released “The Ralph McTell Must Die Album” which features a bewildering array of tunes from across the recent history of the band – mostly acoustic, but notably the excellent “Revolution Wall” which is a blistering piece of pop-psych-garage, and another version of the cover of Bowie’s “Five Years” featuring itinerant troubadour and all round genius Dusty Moonan on guest vocals. Well worth checking out.

I’m slowly working my way through the aforementioned Steve Hanley (auto) biography which is called “The Big Midweek” – it is highly enjoyable, well written, and it does confirm some of my already well embedded views about life inside The Fall. As co-author Olivia Piekarski said at the launch it comes across more like a novel, there are some interesting hitherto unknown revelations which are remarkable in the context of the output of the band. Even if you are not a fan of The Fall the book is well worth a read in respect of understanding the internal dynamics of a band and the balance between “real life” and life in the music business. I am particularly impressed that it does not trade in on nostalgia but instead provides an effective perspective of the world of independent and alternative music over the last twenty plus years.

And finally – the second full-length release from Pig Heart Transpant — the solo works of Jon Kortland of Iron Lung — will be released this September, as a conjoined release between 20 Buck Spin and the band’s own Iron Lung Records. The album entitled “For Mass Consumption”  and is composed of twenty-eight tracks, each approximately forty-four seconds long, each song bearing a four-letter word. Electronic manipulation, no wave guitar noise, abrasive hammering and eerie synthetic ambiance remind me of early Swans on tracks like “Film” or “Pigs,” the pulsing throb of Brighter Death Now and IRM on “Coma” or even Robert McNaugton’s soundtrack work for Henry: Portrait Of Serial Killer on “1970” or “1980.”
Devotees of early Swans, SPK, Test Dept, Bastard Noise, Pharmakon, Godflesh and of course, Iron Lung, will enjoy this one. Again I shall feature this on next weeks Sonic Attack.

spin066_PHT_For_Mass_web

 

 

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Some things to look out for……

I’ve been hiding away at a Lancashire match for the last four days and inevitably a lot of things have come in while i’ve been out getting frozen……so here’s a round up of stuff in no particular order……

Tara Jane O’Neil plays the Castle, Oldham Street, Manchester on June 9th – this is from her album “Where Shine New Lights” which is very good……

The Reads have a new album out – they were in my top 30 singles of 2013 with Galaxy Egg – the album is called “Lost At Sea” and comes out in June – the lead track is called “Spitting Feathers

The legendary BL’AST play Star and Garter, Manchester on 25th June and the similarly legendary POISON IDEA play the same venue on 12th August

Death To The Strange are releasing a final cut from their EP – the very moreish “Openshaw Blues”

Recommended albums which are out now or due soon…….

NOMEANSNO – DANCE OF THE HEADLESS BOURGEOISIE (WRONG RECORDS) – re-issue

OUGHT – MORE THAN ANY OTHER DAY (CONSTELLATION)

THEE SILVER MT ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA – HANG ON TO EACH OTHER EP (CONSTELLATION)

RUDIMENTARY PENI – DEATH CHURCH (OUTER HIMALAYAN/SOUTHERN) – re-issue (I don’t think the mix is as good as the original but it’s still an essential album)

USA OUT OF VIETNAM – CRASHING DISEASES AND INCURABLE AIRPLANES (AURORA BOREALIS)

HISS TRACTS – SHORTWAVE NIGHTS (CONSTELLATION) – out 12th May

TORCH RUNNER – COMMITTED TO THE GROUND CD RELEASE (SOUTHERN LORD) – out 12th May

FRIEDEMANN – UHR VS ZEIT (EXILE ON MAINSTREAM) – out 19th May

STEPHEN O’MALLEY, OREN AMBARCHI & RANDALL DUNN – SHADE THEMES FROM KAIROS (DRAG CITY) – out 19th May

NIGHTFELL – THE LIVING EVER MOURN (SOUTHERN LORD) – out 26th May

BUZZ OSBORNE – THIS MACHINE KILLS ARTISTS (IPECAC) – out 2nd June

AMENRA – LIVE II (MY PROUD MOUNTAIN) – out 30th June

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – CELESTITE (ARTEMISIA RECORDS) – out 7th July

and finally BORLAND are back with a preview track from their forthcoming album Omar

 

Doom Electronica?

Borland

Thrancis

Bandcamp

5th February 2013

They have made us wait for this – a whole year – but it’s been worth it.

Regular readers will be aware of my affection for the work of Gregg and Breen. They have not disappointed with this latest release.

In the first few minutes the sound flies between visceral granular sweeps, heavily reverbed vocals, chittering percussive sound,  and speaker crumbling overtones with the memorable “Lucifer” which comes across as the antidote to the recently demised WU LYF via para-glitch electronica.  As a statement of intent  it works very well indeed.

Matters turn towards Germany with the epic beats of “Seven Sisters” which builds around a bass n drum (sic)  surge into a motorik cut-up with bits and pieces flying around the sound-scape with some degree of abandon. Hypnotic and with some reference back to early Cabaret Voltaire via Cluster the piece dissolves, in its’ second section, into a slow laminal ambient orchestral piece which I’d best describe as doom electronica.

The title tune is a mutated funk beat thing with hanging melodies that introduces a vocal performance, from I assume Mr Breen, which veers, arms akimbo, towards a pop sound, we could be back in 1985 when the clothes were a lot fancier and the eye-liner was in abundance – albeit it’s 1985 in a parallel universe where a slightly different aesthetic is in play – Enoesque with a dash of Dusty Springfield. Very lovely indeed. The Borland boys can’t resist a lengthy coda and it surfs over analogue waves into the sunset.

“Dream Horse Reflection” takes three chords (without big boots) and floats off towards Düsseldorf with Ralf und Florian via some Froeseian patches with a nod towards Tim Blake – unexpectedly short for a Borland piece I thought.

“Paris” starts in an utterly wacky fashion with heavily processed vocals and then takes off with choirs of synths to the troposphere surging over a slow beat which holds a line until the piece changes to a delightful piano piece which reminds me of “Before and After Science” era Eno. Some serious attention has been put into creating the layers of sounds as an incandescent vocal performance – think Sigur Ros (in a slightly lower register) and you are nearly there – builds through a mist of reverb to create a majestic sound.

“Necromancer” continues the orchestral/vocal feel with some serious fx being added in this instance – a lovely bass sound just below the ear threshold and little trinkets of glassy sound fall into place – there may or may not be some guitar in their somewhere – it’s hard to tell – but generally the overall effect is stunning as the piece both builds and  breaks down as it develops little offshoots of sound which are quite unique.

Back to doom electronica territory for “Stained Glass” which has a real tension to it from the outset. What sounds like a morphed bass patch rumbles away as the usual layers of synths scurry around the edges until they break through the surface to deliver a sombre melody which is completely counterbalanced by a faux marimba melody line. Some echoes of TNT/Standards era Tortoise come into play as an infectious drum pattern kicks in about half way through. Once again the duo demonstrate their uncanny ability to build pieces organically to create a mammoth sound. The typical Borland structures are here – create the tension, build to a climax and then melt away slowly throwing in a few curve balls as you go. Probably the best thing on the album for me.

“Precious Hugs” closes matters in reflective mood – back to Eno land – albeit with a particular Gregg/Breen stamp.

All in all a marvellous piece of work.

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Music Diary #24 – and Salford Music Scene 24th January 2012

Busy today but a lot of what came in was not up to scratch – the highlights of which were…..

Received a handful of tracks from Berks/Bucks band  Kieland Ridge  who have a good gritty sound – impressive.

Just taken delivery of the new Guile single “I Walk Alone” and very good it is too – of you sign up for their newsletter you can get it for nowt. Twangy guitars, scribbly guitars, plectrum worrying guitars and Cash-like vocalising. Also The King Blues single “Does Anybody Care About Us” made it’s way onto the dansette – not been too keen to listen to these guys because of all the hype but this is quite good.

Liverpool band Tone Puppets have been sent in our direction before – and they have new things to hear which are a good listen.

On this weeks show the emphasis is on a couple of upcoming gigs – the Salford City Radio Music Night at the Kings Arms on Thursday, and the Section 25/AAAK gig at Gullivers on Saturday…..also new band Hellbound Rebels, more from Ruby Tuesday and Long Hat Pins and another track from that new Borland release…… listen here

1 AAAK Any Kind of State Exclusive pre-release
2 Section 25 Colour, Movement, Sex & Violence Colour, Movement, Sex & Violence
3 Kill Pretty Brown Eyes Demo
4 Hellbound Rebels Vulture Demo
5 The Hymek Manoeuvre Find It Yourself Demo
6 Sandells Jewels Session Track
7 Ruby Tuesday Automatic Demo
8 Long Hat Pins Hurricane Compilation Album
9 Borland Polar Bears Romantic Animals
10 Ruby Tuesday Heartbeat of a Heartbreakr Demo
11 Factory Star Cheetham Bill Enter Castle Perilous
12 Factory Star Away Dull Care Enter Castle Perilous
13 The Fall Blood Outta Stone The Dredger

Music Diary #17 – 17th January 2012 – Salford Music Scene

The arrival, in the post, of a new Moff Skellington album cheered me up considerably. It is called “The Pukes of a Hot Cloister” and it is rather marvellous, as we have come to expect with Moff’s work. He advises me that the website will soon be updated to facilitate access to his back catalogue and the new one.

Ronin, the Italian avant garde quartet heavily inspired by Morricone, who blend country, psychedelia, jazz noir and americana  can be heard on their new release “Fenice”. The album’s opening three tracks – “Spade”, Benvenuto” and “Selce” – are a pure mix of country-pyschedelic, almost as if the soundtrack to Jodorowsky’s masterpiece “El Topo” had been played by Ry Cooder.

And so it’s time for Salford Music Scene again……the show is dominated by the new release by those cheeky ailurophiles Breen and Gregg aka Borland who have weaved  their magic to create a stunning new slab of electronic loveliness (reviewed elsewhere on this blog) ……i’m also introducing a couple of hitherto unheard bands Conquer Rio and Ruby Tuesday…..and delighting in the sound of Taser Puppets…..playing a couple of requests (I know it’s the slippery slope to being the hairy cornflake) and another excellent tune from Long Hat Pins.

On the show for today therefore …… and you can hear it here……

1 The Tapestry Rode Your Luck Single
2 Hunting Bears Routine Inebriation Demo
3 Kill Pretty Ace Tone Demo
4 Borland Wildlife Romantic Animals
5 Taser Puppets Wasp Demo
6 Ruby Tuesday Spirit and Soul Demo
7 Conquer Rio Down from Mars Demo
8 Long Hat Pins An Understanding Light Compilation Album
9 Borland Fire, Ice and Dynamite Romantic Animals
10 Taser Puppets James Bond in Drag Demo
11 Conquer Rio Stay A Little While Demo
12 Borland Moondog (Radio Edit) Romantic Animals
13 The Fall The Joke Cerebral Caustic

Music Diary #9 – 9th January 2012 – the boys are back in tone…..

And so today there was, at long last, a new release from Borland.

It is called “Romantic Animals” and is released on Gulf Records via Bandcamp – here

Matters kick off with a sumptuous reworking of “Wildlife” which, if I recall, first saw the light of day on a Mind on Fire Compilation. A Bartonesque organ patch gives way to waves of synthesis and reverbed percussion – a fine reinterpretation of a great piece.

The motorik “Delphi” is classic Borland – all busy percussion and muttered sampled voices lost in a fog of laminal synthesis.

“Fire, Ice and Dynamite” drops the speed a  peg or two and offers the well known stately Borland progressive model – almost God!Speed like in it’s approach and with a delicious closing section of chittering percussion.

Things get a tad jazzy for the off-kilter “Polar Bears” with its scattered piano sounds lying under a bed of cheeky synthesis which morphs Floyd-like into banks of choral sounds floating ethereally through some sort of cosmic fog.

The closing “Moondog” continues in the same vein over an insistent Neu! like rhythm and a repeated piano phrase, all analogue-y and gorgeous and a nod towards a Chicago (Tortoise) sound with its various  bits and pieces. The signature Gregg howling windscape closes the album.

It’s been a bit of a wait for something new from Breen and Gregg but it’s been worth it.  It is rather fine indeed and moves on nicely from the trio of EPs which came out in  Spring 2010 and last years split with FTKOSQ.

Don’t leave it so long next time chaps!

Aural Delights Radio Show – 29th June 2011 – Electronica/Ambient Special

Well I’ve been promising this to various luminaries round these parts over the last six months so it’s about time I got off my bottom and put a show together of this nature. The genre specification is a tad obtuse here as some of the things on the show are outside of the broad boundaries of Electronica/Ambient but i’ve generally kept pretty close to the brief and in doing so I’ve managed to incorporate quite a bit of “local” stuff.

  1. Cabaret Voltaire – The Voice of America/Damage is Done – The Voice of America : the masters of electronic ambience with the opening track from their second album. Most of this was analogue which demonstrates the need to junk all this digital VST tomfoolery and get back to playing source instruments. They were never as good after Chris Watson left and the first three albums still hold up as classics. This music had a great affect on me post-punk and built on my love of industrial/electronic sounds.
  2. Borland – Hot Orion – Supernova Lovers  : The aim was to ensure that local acts got a good look see on the show and who else would I include but the mighty Borland who I have been championing for nigh on 3 years now. A new set of tunes is promised when Breen and Gregg can drag themselves away from their other projects (see later in the show) so in anticipation of that a track from the trio of releases from last year which are still available for nowt on Bandcamp.
  3. Borland (Vei Remix) – Clockmen – from the added twiddly bits that came out of the first release on Gulf we hear the Jonn Dean take on the Borland sound with his own unique stamp on the music. Edgy, thought provoking and utterly mesmerising.
  4. The Black Paths – A sneaky preview of a remix of ‘Plan it’ by caro snatch! – thanks Anthony. From Salford tha’ knows. More please Anthony!
  5. Archaeopteryx Eloigns Ichthyosaur – The Actual Cartographer – Sings Paeans To Euphoria And Destruction : I got this in the post from the other side of the world. Streaming on the link at the moment. A fascinating album. The creator of this artefact wishes to remain anonymous.
  6. Toxic Idol – Spooks – Quarter Life : a product of the increasingly mysterious Captain Malibu from the nether regions of Blackrod. Watch this space for more illuminating aural delights in the near future.
  7. Day for Airstrikes– How Do You Know Anything? – Adam, Wez, Ian , John, Danny, Rita, Sue, and Bob too : a marvellous album – available from Bandcamp. A one-off for the band but perhaps one of their greatest achievements. Discuss.
  8. Claw the Thin Ice – Witches at Dusk – Sleep is not for us -Are you quoting Floyd here I wonder Mr Breen? As featured before a debut solo project for one half of Borland with another one following swiftly I am advised.
  9. Hey Colossus – Teased From The Nest- RRR : the promo quite astutely says – “the seventh album for Hey Colossus, and the third for Riot Season. RRR is definitely more varied than previous Colossus records and it explores more subdued, quieter passages. Such moments of calm are not the only varied thing about the new record, Hey Colossus also explore the swooping filmic sounds akin to many a film score, think along the lines of Taxi Driver and Spaghetti Westerns. Some Krautrock-esque mantras also come into the fold, combined with a Nurse With Wound / DNA influence. Alongside this, ‘The Drang’ keeps up the one riff, one tune – like Sabbath done through NEU! That HC are heavily influenced by. There is a choice Berlusconi baiting Can inspired clangathon, ‘I Am Bunga Bunga’, with a rant that is buried but audible. The result of all of these amalgamating sounds is a Hey Colossus album unlike any other, out with the old and in with the new. RRR is the perfect soundtrack for the spring and summer months, assuming you like the idea of the Butthole Surfers manning the BBQ, Faust cleaning out the pool, and GG Allin manning the bar.”
  10. Pikacyu*Makoto – Loid Mlinikata – OM Sweet Home : We Are Shining Stars from the Darkside – I can’t say more than this rather revealing promo –  “An alliance between two figureheads of underground Japanese psych/pop, the musically promiscuous Kawabata Makoto (most famous for his leadership of the legendary Acid Mothers Temple), andAfrirampo’s Pikacyu. No strangers to one another, the pair have not only gigged together with their respective bands but also recorded together, when these two outfits temporarily fused in 2005 to become Acid Mothers Afrirampo (releasing an album of the same name). Now they have distilled their collaboration, all other players being stripped away to leave the core of Pikacyu’s manic drums and vocals, and Makoto’s schizoid guitar conjurings. OM Sweet Home: We Are Shining Stars From Darkside is unlike anything either culprit has produced before, both structured and freeform, tuneless and beautiful. Pikacyu’s drums pummel, jitter, crash and stumble, but steadfastly refuse to groove. She layers her voice several times, competing with maniacally pitch-shifted versions of herself to bring you what is, in their words, “a story about the cosmic shaman Pikacyu vs the master of the darkness Makoto… including the full love from the universe!!”. Makoto attacks his guitar, cloaking himself in reverb to produce a wall-of-sound, alternating between melody and noise.”
  11. Tangerine Dream –  Circulation of Events – Atem : from one of three early albums which are infinitely superior to the mid 70s stuff and beyond as heard played by Fluff Freeman on the Saturday back in the pre-punk days when the summers were hot and the music was cool.
  12. Perplexa – Tribal – Gone Beyond : as introduced by the Outlier lot to our Tony and then passed onto me. Tony and I both reckon this is going to be one of the albums of the year. Marvellous laminal stuff.
  13. The Church of Frozen Tears – Nightmares of a Damaged Brain – Primary Invocation – another Borland side project, or is it adjacent, or even parallel?  Rob Gregg with a chum (not sure who) doing interesting stuff….slight remix by me to allow radio play due to the heavy bass going on in parts.
To listen in click on the link below……