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 43

There are not really enough hours in the day to absorb the vast array of new musical offerings that are emerging in 2016. Because of the veritable flood of news this time around this issue is more of a series of snippets of information, and passing thoughts. rather than more considered reviews…..

Out now

Great 21 track sampler out of Portland, Oregon – a lot of variety with a good mix of garage punk and psych leaning rock, with some real sonic curve balls in the mix.

Interesting stuff out of New York on the Loveless label from Claremont. Some cutting edge use of percussion and samples, and it’s free!

I know little of AM but I really like this album. Great tunes, light airy indie pop music. Highly recommended!

Some forthcoming releases

14th February 2016 – Ten Thousand Miles Of Arteries – Even Spilled Seed Crawls Toward The Womb – Annihilvs Power Electronix label has just started out and this is another one from that stable. A solo project from label owner, NLC,  this is dense industrial noise in a supposedly a doom metal context. The execution is interesting, vast swathes of sound buried in reverb/echo is the main thrust. At 30 minutes it’s more an EP than an album and this is just about the right length as I think any more would tax the auditory canals somewhat. Perhaps a little too unforgiving for casual listening but generally a good addition to an emerging genre which blends the morbid insistence of doom with the complex landscape of industrial rock.

14th February 2016 – Whorid – Bloated Pig Carcass In A Shallow Wake – as mentioned above Annihilvs Power Electronix are on a mission to fill your ears with disturbing sounds. This one, the first release on the label is from  the Philadelphia based  “self-harm electronics” act Whorid – the solo project of Daniel Suffering, who is also a core contributing member of the excellent  Theologian. Coming across like a more unforgiving version of early Cabaret Voltaire in partnership with a noise band, the opening track alone blisters the ear drums with buried and fractured spoken word mingling uncomfortably with white noise and chittering percussion. You can file this with Merzbow and Wolf Eyes in that “difficult” part of your collection. This sort of stuff both intrigues and compels in equal measure and your average punter will be reaching for the off switch after a minute, it fascinates me.

19th February 2016 – Rangda – The Heretics Bargain – Sir Richard Bishop, Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano cooking up a storm with some great twin guitar workoutswho i. Corsano is a great drummer and maintains a perfect pulse for the two exceptional string-smiths to ply their trade. Their third studio album kicks off with Masada like klezmer before more exploring more traditional forms. Damn fine and it makes the best of the year list with ease.

26th February 2016 – Conny Ochs – Future Fables – an interesting mix of bluesy soulful alternative song-writing with Ochs clear voice demanding attention. More of an “american” feel than his previous work I feel.

Late February – Okkultokrati – Snakereigns/Night Jerks – Southern Lord re-release two albums from the Belgian band as a precursor to releasing their fourth full length. There is something remarkably  life affirming about young men with copious hair head-banging away, it’s like 1972 all over again.!

4th March 2016 – Soon – Vol. 1 – singer/guitarist Stuart McLamb and drummer Thomas Simpson of indie band The Love Language in a wholly different setting. Punishing metal sounds with epic melodic indie voices is the best description, although there is time for some folky more contemplative stuff. Working with bassist Rob Walsh (Bitter Resolve) and guitarist Mark Connor (Grohg) they create a highly enjoyable hard rock experience. This one easily makes the best of the year list. Reminiscent of the juxtaposition of rock and folk in mid period Zeppelin.

4th March 2016 – Diminished Men – Vision In Crime –  featuring Steve Schmitt on guitars, drummer Dave Abramson, and Simon Henneman on Bass with a great album echoing Naked City era John Zorn. Marvellous!

11th March 2016 – The Brian Jonestown Massacre – La Facon Don’t La Machine Va Vers I´Arrière – limited edition (500) 7″ vinyl – includes a B Side Remix by DJ Shadow – pre-order

11th March 2016 – Spazz – Sweatin’ To The Oldies/Skatin’, Satan & Katon  – my pal SD pointed out quite correctly that this band could be seen as having an inappropriate name. This got me thinking and I did some research into the potential for perhaps a different transatlantic usage of the word. The “Urban Dictionary” sort of lets them off the hook in that original nasty use of the word seems to have been adopted as more of a catch-all of general overactive behaviour. I’m not sure they get away with it but in any event what we have two albums of reissues from the supposedly influential Californian powerviolence trio which mines their back catalogue. With 64 and 67 tracks respectively  at just around an hour each the format gives you a clue of what you are going to get – short, sharp, badly recorded and intense slabs of punk. Notwithstanding the name it was all a bit too much for my ears but if you are a collector of extreme American punk you will no doubt lap this up. Out on the Tankcrimes label.

11th March – Richard J. Birkin’s – Vigils – as a brief respite from all the noisy stuff this preview from Birkin’s new album is a lovely thing. Great video as well

11th March 2016 – a sizeable pile of new things from the ever excellent Cardinal Fuzz has arrived via the ether.

Dreamtime – Self Titled/Sun – heavy psychedelic rock from Brisbane. In the spirit of the raft of new Antipodean bands doing this sort of stuff.

Shooting Guns – Born to deal in magic/Spectral Laundromat –  from Saskatoon in the heart of the Canadian prairies, Sabbath are clearly an influence but there is also a touch of kraut-rock in there as well. Copious use of fuzz pedal and long sonic explorations.

Foul Tip – Forever Driftin’ – American Drums and Guitar duo with a relentless rock sound with a touch of slacker. Apparently this is one of fourteen albums they have made. It’s got that sloppy feel that Alex Chilton indulged in at times. Great sound and in your face attitude. Well worth checking out.

25th March 2016 – The Body & Full Of Hell – One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache – as trailed in the last edition of Fascinating Things here’s a further primer from what appears to be an experiment in mutual sonic self destruction. As one commentator on Soundcloud put it “Holy Shit”. Not for the faint hearted, it is relentlessly cathartic, and violent. You have been warned!