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.