Fascinating Things : Issue 49

As you will be well aware,  if you read this nonsense on a regular basis, there is a lot of new music out there which barely gets the recognition it deserves. It is a sad indictment of the increasingly polarised music mainstream that a handful of artists dominate the media when arguably more talented folk don’t get a look in. The so called arbiters of taste peddle the promo gubbins that pluggers and labels zap their way. When I listen to some of the dross that gets peddled on so called hip radio or red buttons I get a tad grumpy.

I’m also acutely aware of the passage of time and the regular repackaging of formats so that material from across the long history of my music listening regularly reappears in what is the latest “hip” format. Following the deification of vinyl over the last year or so the CD lovers (of which I am one) have started the inevitable fight back against what must be the biggest con job the music industry have foisted on the public since 8-track cartridges. There will be several friends and acquaintances that will vilify me for calling out the great god Vinyl but I remain convinced that the great listening public have been tricked into purchasing music in a format that has inherent built in obsolescence and is horribly overpriced as well as being bad for the environment and taking up far to much space. Whatever, it’s all about opinion, if you want to  collect vinyl because it fills you with misty eyed nostalgia of a time, in the vast majority of cases when you were not  even born,  and where music was more legitimate because it was played on a  dansette, that’s fine with me. I don’t recall it being much fun picking up a copy of “Selling England By The Pound” at the shop on Piccadilly Station approach and having to take it back several times because of the skips, jumps and crackles. As things stand I couldn’t possibly afford a home that could house all the vinyl versions of the music I have collected over the years, CDs are pushing it a bit space wise but I can just about accommodate them, MP3s on external hard discs are the most convenient option as the moment.

I must reference the sad death of Keith Emerson. ELP have got a bad press over the years, and I would be the first to admit that after “Brain Salad Surgery” my interest in them waned, not helped by that completely over the top BBC feature on them and their touring excesses. Notwithstanding that Emerson’s early work with The Nice still stands up well and the first four ELP releases had some fine moments. I saw the band twice. The first time was at the Oval in 1972 when “Tarkus” had just been released; on the day they stole a march on Genesis with Peter Gabriel in his red dress and foxes head (Foxtrot had just come out), with two giant Tarkuses appearing on stage. The second gig was in 1974 -ish I think  at a cavernous Wembley Arena where the band were reduced to mere cyphers and which more or less put me off stadium gigs for life. Emerson, for all the faults of ELP at their worst, was a fine showman and his marriage of classical music, jazz and rock was innovative.

Enough of my ramblings what can I share with you this week which you may not have heard elsewhere, or isn’t getting the wider attention it deserves? :

  • Southern Lord will be bringing back the early work of Wolfbrigade (then Wolfpack) in a trilogy of reissues encompassing the Swedish d-beat hard core goups first three LPs (A New Dawn Fades, Lycanthro Punk and Allday Hell), which will be available from April 15th, as well as a boxset including the remaining two EPs released before their name change. This marks 20 years since the release of their first two records Bloodstained Dreams and A New Dawn Fades. Expect a new album from the band later in 2016.
  • Formed in Liverpool in 2014, Indie Pop/Rock band Seprona practice in an abandoned pub on the outskirts of Liverpool city centre where they have locked themselves away, writing profically. Each band member brings their own influences to Seprona’s sound, but the band agree that the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Interpol and Radiohead are their common denominators. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/seprona
  • I got sent the below with absolutely no information other than the soundcloud link, which would normally put me off, but I was impressed by the sounds so I thought I would share it and let you have the fun of finding out more. It reminded me of early Phillip Glass in places, which is no bad thing.
  • Lauren from the ever excellent Rarely Unable says “The collaboration between Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Bitchin Bajas shares a passion for arresting the moment in the process of now. Their ability to stretch time, coupled with their ability to explore and meditate on words, make them the most pertinent of partners. On Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties, they combine forces to travel down a celestial path that knows no bounds – won’t you follow?” You can watch a video at another site as I have nothing I can embed for you. It’s Will Oldham cast in a new light, which is no bad thing, and there are echoes of Neil Young in some of it, but the Bajas influence is strong and good. It’s out on March 18th and you can pre-order it here.
  • After a bit of a hiatus the eclecticians at Superstar Detroyer as back with their unique brand of math and madness. They have just released I.I.A.H.S.W.E.S EP by BRITNEY which is a riotous melange of chunky red zone bass and heavy percussion in a Beastie Boys punk soup with a sprinkling of post punk overkill and the occasional dip into manic piano distress. Fascinating and slightly disturbing. Also new on the label, on April 11th, but with nowt to embed from it, is  the excellent Polymath with an album entitled “Melencholia”..
  • The refreshingly heavy duo Rusty G’s are back with a full length album and a new single. Having got quite excited about them last year I can confirm that the band have continued their fine run of form with some blistering rock noise. A hell of a bg sound for a pair of people and well worth some of your time. They have a small tour coming up and are well worth checking out.
  • Ghold return  with a new album PYR (Ritual Productions, 7th May), which also marks the band’s first recording as a trio with multi-instrumentalist/guitarist Oliver Martin. They play Islington Mill, Salford on May 11th as part of a run of dates. More info to follow on the release but its out 7th May on LP, DIGI and CD formats, the latter comes with a bonus track.
  • I have been featuring the new Rangda release (as well as working my way though their back catalogue) over the last few podcast. I was pleased to get an interesting video of The Sin Eaters from the new one “The Heretics Bargain”.  I’ve seen a couple of bad reviews of the album which I thought were a tad mealy mouthed, this is good stuff and continues the work of some fine exponents of multi guitar rock.
  • As previously mentioned Moulettes are a Brighton based British band of Björk, Frank Zappa and Gentle Giant loving multi-instrumentalists that weave in and out of several genres with 3 part harmony female vocals, amplified Cello, distorted Bassoon, Auto-Harp, Guitar, Drums, Bass and Synths into an incomparable alt.pop/rock/folk universe. Since the success of ‘Constellations’ (No.7 Indie Charts, Spiral Earth Best Album 2014), Bajian Irish Londoner Raevennan Husbandes has joined the band on Vocals and Electric Guitar. With this new line-up the band have made their fourth Album ‘Preternatural.’ Sadly they have failed to send anything through to share but you can pre-order it in several formats over at their website.
  • Seven years on from 2009’s Afterlife EP, Amenra are to release a new collection of songs, titled “Alive”, a counterpoint to the band’s Mass series, featuring brand new compositions and cover songs, as well as appearances from special guests and additional musicians. This marks their second acoustic release, and first live release.It was recorded at Ancienne Belgique in Brussels by Hein Devos, and mastered by Frederic Alstadt. You can hear a track in advance of its release below. More details regarding tracklisting and release dates will be shared in the near future. Alive is set for release at Roadburn Festival, with all pre-orders scheduled to ship in the week following the festival. Pre-orders will be available via Consouling Sounds. Hypnotic stuff.
  • Almost three years in the making, ‘Soundtrack Doom’ band Merrin have  released their follow up to 2013’s “Doom Cinema”. “Midnight Movies! is a 6 track collection of songs inspired by late night movies. Everything from horror, to kung fu, to post apocalyptic action movies and the plain bizarre, the band have broadened their scope beyond simply rehashing Goblin scores  to deliver something more unique, unpredictable, cinematic and very much in the spirit of the films they take inspiration from. It is also the first release to be recorded with a full band present for the entire session. The result is an album that sounds heavier and more driven than before, featuring Chris Purdie on all guitars, Arturs Reirs on Drums and Misha Hering on Synth, the band sounds bigger and more epic.
  • Joy abounds with news of a new Melvins album and it sounds like a cracker. The band, who have a history of imaginative line-up changes, feature not one, but six different bass players on their appropriately titled new album, “Basses Loaded” (June 3, Ipecac Recordings).  The collection features Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover joined by Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, Redd Kross’ Steve McDonald, Butthole Surfers’ J.D. Pinkus, Big Business’ Jared Warren, Mr. Bungle/Fantomas’ Trevor Dunn (aka Melvins Lite) and Crover swapping the drum kit for bass in the Melvins 1983 iteration. Here is a taster via Rolling Stone. They will be back in Europe in the summer, the only date pencilled in so far is in Bristol but hopefully more will follow.
  • The duo of Stuart Dahlquist and Edgy59, under the banner of The Poisoned Glass, have released the video for ‘Toil And Trouble’ ahead of the launch of their debut album 10 SWORDS on April 22nd via Ritual Productions. The video uses footage of a performance of the work of Bauhaus artist and choreographer Oskar Schlemmer – the surreal costume design and faceless dancers mesh with The Poisoned Glass’ aesthetic, which echoes Peter Hammill at his most cinematic and intense. I’m looking forward to the album based on this teaser.
  • ……..and to close Richard Citroen & Stephanie B, aka Lola Dutronic are back with a new video from the excellent “Lost In Translation” album – a marvellous band.
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Fascinating Things : Issue 27

This time around a pulling together of things that have been nestling in my in-box:

Since being championed by John Peel way back in 1986, The James Taylor Quartet have set the standard for the coolest sounds in funky acid jazz. On dozens of mighty albums and at their legendary gigs at home and around the world, they’ve become a byword for distinguished British creativity. The internationally-acclaimed titans of funk will work through their considerable back catalogue as well as showcasing new material. Renowned for their live performances, this will be a treat. Band of the Wall. Manchester 17th October, 19:30

Whomadewho drummer Tomas Barfod’s returns to the  Friends of Friends label with Glory, featuring friends new and old and a sound bristling with youthful energy and slightly off-kilter dance floor rhythms. Kill J, Fine and Nina K feature as the record bounces from shimmering Scandinavian pop to dance floor numbers. A follow up to Barfod’s breakout ‘Salton Sea’ LP (FoF 2012 it releases on 16th November 2015.

Know How To Carry A Whip is the imminent new studio release from , Corrections House. A nine-track, forty-five-minute record it was captured by the band’s own Sanford Parker (Buried At Sea) alongside “recently institutionalized minister of propaganda”, Seward Fairbury, in a subterranean bunker complex in Vietnam.
Deeper, darker, and far more fluid than 2013’s excellent Last City Zero debut, Know How To Carry A Whip featurwa a guest appearance by Negative Soldier. The record finds Corrections House — Parker, Fairbury, Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod) — at their most intense.  Releases 23rd October on Neurot.

Pseudo/Sentai‘s Bansheeface is clearly the work of deranged individuals. Coming across like a mix of The Residents, Todd Rundgren  and Gentle Giant working on the soundtrack to a Troma movie. There’s also nod towards The Mars Volta and Zappa in terms of structure, dynamics and  bombast but generally speaking this is unique and very refreshing and the comparisons are merely reference points. The best current comparison is my near neighbours Trojan Horse. It is released on 16th October independently.  Check out the pre-order and while you are at it have a rummage through their back catalogue. So nice to hear a band that sounds completely unlike any of their contemporaries.

Talking of deranged the completely unhinged Die Choking have a new one out on 8th October. Eleven tracks in thirteen minutes sort of gives a clue as to what to expect. You get elements of hardcore punk and crust with  speed/grind metal. Impossibly fast and completely up and in your face. It is called III which is not unexpected as it is their third release.

Forthcoming recommended gigs in Manchester

DEAD FADER  – 01/10/15 – Salford, Islington Mill
DISAPPEARS –   24/11/15 – Manchester, Soup Kitchen
DOPE BODY – 08/09/15 – Manchester, Academy
MELVINS  – 09/10/15 – Manchester, Gorilla
OUGHT – 02/09/15 – Manchester, Deaf Institute
UFOMAMMUT  – 08/10/15 – Manchester, Soup Kitchen

A couple of digital charity singles from those busy chaps at German Shepherd records. The first Socialists (are back) is in aid of he MSF Yemen Emergency Fund, the second The Unforgiving Streets will help local homeless charities. A couple of pungent Electro Punk ditties which are most suitable for leaping around to.

Fascinating Things : Issue 22

Still busy, more news stuff than album reviews this time mind you :

Those lovely people at The Active Listener are at it again with their 35th compilation of wonderful and psyche oriented musical sounds. There’s the usual eclectic mix including this time around music from recent favourites here Zx+ , Kingdom of the Holy Sun and The Seventh Ring of Saturn. Highly recommended as a place to dip your ear into some of the better things happening at the moment,

Llama Riot say they are proud to announce that their debut single “Live. Die. No Repeat.” is officially out now via all major download stores (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play etc) the world over.  To celebrate this release they have unleashed a new video of which you can check out below. Touch of the Bunnymen I thought, nice,

Corrections House release their brand new full-length, “Know How To Carry A Whip”, this October via Neurot Recordings. The promo says the new one is darker, denser, and more despairing than the predecessor, 2013’s Last City Zero – featured on Sonic Attack 29 and my “Best Of Review of 2013“.  The nine-track, forty-five-minute audio apocalypse was captured by the band’s own Sanford Parker (Minsk) and recently institutionalized minister of propaganda, Seward Fairbury, in Vietnam. The record boasts a guest appearance by Negative Soldier and finds Corrections House – which features the  lineup of Parker, Fairbury, Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod) — at their ” most punishing, painting electronic mosaics of deviance and decadence with brushes made from bristles of the damned”.

Corrections House

The Melvins are back in Europe this September and October, with a series of live dates commencing Sept 13th in the UK in Bristol. The band will be performing as a four-piece, joining forces again with Jared Warren and Coady Willis of Big Business. Having released three full-length LP’s together, Warren and Willis also performed on the band’s “The Bulls & The Bees” EP, which was recently released as a split alongside the 2001 album “Electroretard”. This 13 song album features both releases on one CD, available for the first time as a package. The quartet also collaborated with a series of guest stars on their 2013 covers album “Everybody Loves Sausages”. The Melvins also released “Hold It” In last October, the 12-song album pairs Osborne and Crover with Butthole Surfers’ JD Pinkus and Paul Leary.

UK dates are:

  • Sept 13, 2015 – Bristol – Exchange
  • Sept 14, 2015 – Brighton, – Concorde 2
  • Oct 08, 2015 – Reading – Sub 89
  • Oct 09, 2015 – Manchester – Gorilla
  • Oct 10, 2015 – London – Electric Ballroom

I will be pulling together a dedicated Melvins retrospective podcast sometime in the near future to coincide with the tour.

Melvins
Photo credit: Kevin Willis

With the impending release of the second album from BIG|BRAVE, titled Au De La, rapidly approaching through Southern Lord Recordings, the LP-opener “On The By And By And Thereon” has premiered through The Line Of Best Fit. With five expansive movements which transmit BIG|BRAVE‘s creative sounds with exceptional production values, Au De La was recorded at Hotel2Tango with Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra) and mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market (Front Line Assembly, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, C H R I S T). Presenting forty-five minutes of luminous, exploratory, post/avant rock, the album sees vocalist/guitarist Robin Wattie, guitarist Mathieu Bernard Ball and drummer Louis-Alexandre Beauregard delivering a layered, engaging, memorable, visceral voyage. “On The By And By And Thereon,” the lead track to this auditory journey, which is one of several on the album to feature shimmering nets of violin by Jessica Moss (Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra), can be enjoyed for the first time here. Previous material can be sourced via Bandcamp here.  Here’s  a trailer for the album. Once I get a review copy I shall fill you in on more detail about this release.

 ANDREW R. BURNS & THE TROPICANAS debut ep (released May 2015 on Flowers In The Dustbin)  was featured on Aural Delights 123. The label has  announced the release of follow up ep ‘Delaydeez’. The band describe their music as “tropical dreamslop… lazy unpolished, reverb laden tunes.” The ep is out Sunday 18th October, available from itunes and all major digital stores via  Flowers In The Dustbin.  It is also available to pre-order now from their Bandcamp store with an instant download of Pop snuff-it.

Rarified Mixtures and Sad Farewells

A few bits of news before I disappear for a week to watch England play India at Old Trafford – let’s hope the weather stays dry……anyhow…..

The ever prolific Melvins return with “Hold It In”, their first studio album as a quartet since 2010’s The Bride Screamed Murder. Joining Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover for the 12-song album are Butthole Surfers‘ guitar player Paul Leary and bass player JD Pinkus. The album was recorded in both Los Angeles and Austin earlier this year, and shall be released via Ipecac Recordings this October.

Melvins New Album

Bitchin Bajas‘ self-titled new album is according to the promo  “something delicate yet definite, gradually washing over your consciousness. Something pure and natural is happening-within the sound, within the song; in the album and in you. The shifts that come, make changes in your moods and your body temperature. On one hand, it is in many ways the ultimate album; and on the other, barely even an album at all. Where these ideas meet is immediately realised in the come-to-life video for the song, “Bueu””.

Using analog, modular video synthesizers, the video for “Bueu” was created by Nick Ciontea and is the first in a series of videos planned for each and every movement on the Bajas’ self-titled new album. The rest are set for a special, digital-only release of the album, available exclusively from Drag City. Tune in and drop out and watch 12 minutes of trippy visualisations.

Portland’s furious sci-fi punks, Big Black Cloud, are back from the lab with their latest dirty bomb, the cassette EP Lessons In Fuck You 2. Tripling down on their intoxicating rarefied mix of punk, noise, psych, surf, and rock, the agita trio takes a dark trip that drives and swerves like a B-movie soundtrack through threat-level guitar attacks, groovy alien eviscerations, and goddamn-us-all-to-hell preaching.

The band is from Portland, Oregon, and comprises guitarist/vocalist Nick Capello, bassist/vocalist Soo Koelbli, and drummer Travis Wainwright. Formed in 2005, They have released two 7-inches, a 10-inch, two 12-inch LPs (Dark Age and Black Friday), and the Shitty Vibrations cassette. They channels inspiration from sources as disparate as Brainbombs and the Beatles, Dolphy and Mingus, and Italian horror and creature features into unhinged rock ‘n’ roll that hits the high marks and innovation of noise-punk greats like Pere Ubu, Circus Lupus, Dead Kennedys, Cows, and Alice Donut.

Lessons In Fuck You 2 was borne of demo sessions recorded and mixed by Andrew Grosse of Caravan Recording (Drunk Dad, Tyrants, Tiny Knives) for the next  LP, the record capturing the band in its own anxiety-fueled element, a rollercoaster ride through a collapsing amusement park of overdriven shout-alongs and untethered instrumentals. The recordings, done on location with a mobile unit in the underground lair of the The Fancy Fox, gave the ever-prolific trio a chance to work through a host of new and old ideas. Whether due to the (dis)comfort of their own space, nothing-to-lose abandon, or present states-of-mind, Lessons In Fuck You 2 finds the band in top form: frantic, pissed-off, and sinister as they further explore their own dark territory with off-balance grooves, instrumental street-race sex jams, and wild freakouts, jagged guitar and cracking drums glued together with rubbery bass overlain with can-you-hear-me-now yells.

Big Black Cloud

Los Angeles sludgecore unit, Colombian Necktie  are about to release  their debut full-length, Twilight Upon Us. Named in honor of a song by Big Black but more commonly known as a method of murder where the victim’s throat is slashed and the tongue is pulled through the open wound, the album is  produced by Erol “Rollie” Ulug (Graf Orlock) at Bright Lights Studios, is the sonic equivalent of this violent and visceral act boasting thirteen maniacal tracks of dark, riff-heavy, emotionally stirring audio menace.

Since forming in the Los Angeles in the autumn of 2010, the band — vocalist Scott Werren, guitarists Juan Hernandez-Cruz and Ben Daniels, drummer Ben Brinckerhoff and bassist Alex DuPuis — has earned a reputation for their punishing riffs and maniacal DIY work ethic. Though clearly rooted in hardcore, tracks like the syncopated, sludgy death march of “Play The Game” and midtempo thrash of “Drought,” complete with squealing synths, add a welcome dose of variance to an album that’s uncompromising in its aggression. “We don’t feel like we fit in any one genre, we just kind of slam things against a wall and focus more on how it makes us feel than where it fits in,” Hernandez-Cruz admits. “Our influences range from Cave In and Snapcase to Orchid and Page 99 so we never try to limit ourselves when it comes to what we do stylistically.”

It hasn’t been a painless ride for the members of the band however and correspondingly, much of Twilight Upon Us is rooted in tragedy as evidenced in the ten-minute opus “Kevin’s Song.” “Kevin was a close friend of ours and former bandmate who actually brought the band together. When he passed away, something came over us and we started writing differently,” Hernandez-Cruz reflects. “The tragedy was really heavy because Kevin was just driving to a show in San Francisco and we knew it could have been any of us.” Instead of falling into depression, the band used their friend’s death as the catalyst to the manifestation of Twilight Upon Us.

“So much of the record is about loss and the struggle to try to cope in a city [Los Angeles] that isn’t always forgiving,” Hernandez-Cruz continues. “The silver lining is that this experience brought us closer as friends and musically in the sense that it made us all vulnerable and forced us to really listen to each other.”

Whether it’s the progressive bridge of “Weep For The Future” or ethereal intro to “Sleepwalking,” the bond the members developed over the past two years helped them dig deeper to incorporate elements that they never could have conceptualized in a perfect world. “This record has a lot of pain on it and a lot of unpredictable moments but it also feels good if that makes any sense,” Hernandez-Cruz summarizes, “and listening to this collection of songs, the listener gains the sense that not only are they not alone but that he or she can gain strength in the darkest of moments.”

Twilight Upon Us will be released independently on August 19th, 2014.

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And it is with great sadness I mark the passing of Positronik.  The band has been a key part of my life for the last four years or so and it is regretful that their excellent tunes didn’t get the audience they deserve. MzDee who left some time back continues to work with Blue Zen, and it is has been, I think, the failure to find a suitable replacement for Danielle that has led us to this situation. Monty continues to perform bass duties for Kit B, as well as his solo project The Junta (whose first gig will be at this years Salford Music Festival). Jeff Black is working again with Carl Lingard of Pearl Divers fame. All three of  the latter group of musicians can be heard on the Salford Streets Charity album.