Thursday, 15 November 2007
It's been a full 18 years since punk mavens and Shackleton favourites Savage Republic offered up a full-length recording of new material, but here it is: 1938, the main course to the hors d'oeuvre that was the Siam EP from earlier on in the year. Like Einsturzende Neubauten, Savage Republic became known for their desolate scrap metal percussion and confrontational performance strategies, and thankfully there's plenty of evidence for those sorts of dark energies on this album. Even devoid of high tempos or conventional instrumentation, the passive-aggressive empty factory soundscapes of 'Breslau' co… Read more
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
It's finally here, the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy covers record, or as it's become known, the record where our protagonist takes on R.Kelly's 'The World's Greatest'. He does too, and what's more he comes out relatively unscathed, something that's proven quite difficult to most alternative artists in the last few years. The novelty cover has been something of a fixture in the current musical climate, what with Jose Gonzalez going head-to-head with Kylie, The Nouvelle Vague attempting to 'lighten' just about anything and Susanna Wallumrod taking on Kiss (among others) but you should know th… Read more
Drumming legend Steve Reid returns to Domino with an ensemble of Senegalese jazz musicians backing him, plus a certain Keiran Hebden, who Reid clearly hasn't been able to shake off since their Exchange Session LPs. Although the album was recorded in Africa (under the musical direction of keyboardist Boris Netsvetaev), Reid entrusted the record's production to the Four Tet man, and Hebden's influence on the album is respectful but very much audible. In general terms you get the impression that Hebden's trying to steer the record towards a rich, vintage sound, and you can certainly hear that ef… Read more
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Jesse Hackett originally released this debut Elmore Judd album on his own label back in 2005, even going so far as to peddle copies of the CD himself outside Camden's Rhythm Records. Since then Honest Jons snapped him up, releasing the latest Elmore Judd album Insect Time just a couple of months back. Considering Angel Sound was made largely as a one-man operation, there's an impressive level of finesse and polish to these productions with a kind of slow grooving digital hip hop bent that brings to mind Prefuse 73 or Dabrye on 'Intro To Judd World' and stuttering synth funk on 'You Said You Were… Read more
Monday, 12 November 2007
Cult Australian experimentalists The Necks return with this follow up to last year's wonderful Chemist album. While that album proved to be a break in form for the band, wit the disc divided into discreet tracks, this new work returns to their more customary format of single, lengthy pieces. Townsville begins with a few tentative bass figures, paving the way for fluttering, sensitive cymbal textures and the introduction of Chris Abrahams' always-impressive piano improvisations. Starting with this fairly conventional jazz trio format the group avoid the more obvious route of wandering freeform elabo… Read more
Anyone who makes an album of solo banjo recordings and then calls it Deliverance is just asking for trouble. Presumably Metzger's larking around with us a bit there, because in truth this is no porch-mounted rocking chair noodle-fest, but rather a measured, meditative study of Metzger's own self-modified 21-string banjo performances, which have more in common with the revamped ragas of John Fahey and his fellow Takoma luminaries than any traditional, countrified usage of the instrument. Metzger takes his music far closer to the source than most open-tuned raga explorers, with some far-flung eas… Read more
Country outsider Henry Flint assembled this weirdo fusion masterpiece between 1974 and 1975 with the assistance of a full-on rock band. As ever, Flynt's distinctively off-kilter guitar and fiddle sounds teeter on the brink of lunacy at all times, but the band help make some sense of the racket by switching from free jazz to funk to all-out garage rock at a moment's notice. The presence of Paul Colin's articulate sax work makes for a solid counterpoint to Flynt's more outlandish violin caterwauling on the opening 'Conga', while Communist anthem 'The International' is reconfigured as a … Read more
The Family Elan is the solo venture from Glaswegian Chris Hladowski (of Scatter and The One Ensemble) who showcases his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and scholar of mediaeval folk disciplines. Hladowski lays down some accomplished lute rags on 'All Around', which sit nicely alongside some sprightly fiddle work and a line in percussion that has more than a hint of maypoles and morris dancing about it. Hloadowski calls upon Hanna Tuulikki, his bandmate in side project Nalle, for some supplementary woodwind on a couple of tracks. Particularly effective is Tuulikki's contribut… Read more
Thursday, 08 November 2007
This six-track EP from Birmingham noiseniks Beestung Lips is one of the most energised, bracing ventures into alt. metal and sludgy rifferama to grace these pages for some time. Throughout, the band clearly have no problem charging through unabashed heavy rocking song shapes without having to give too many nods to the underground. Only the band's fashionably frazzled taste in distortion pedal settings (and a bit of stray cowbell on 'Sick History') gives them away as hipsters: 'Men Not Worth Their Weight In Words' blasts forth with a guitar sound akin to Jack White soundchecking his way through the Pantera back-catalogue. Ace.
Bloc Party are the latest band to release a single in conjunction with the NME, and this CD format is the accompaniment to the remix disc you get with the magazine. Here, you get the original version of 'Flux', a version recorded live at Madison Square Garden and B-side 'Emma Kate's Accident'. The A-side is one of the most electronically enhanced songs the band have ever produced with a thumping 4/4 beat and a rampaging synth bassline. It's interesting listening to the live version immediately after all this studio trickery, it somehow sounds far more energetic and impressive. Finally, 'Emma Kate's Adve… Read more
The Birmingham-based Capsule label, curators of the Super Sonic Festival released this disc as a companion piece to the event itself, back in 2006, featuring such impressive contributors as Zombi, Circle, Alexander Tucker, Michael Rother and the John Carpenter/Halloween referencing Haddonfield Illinois. Also of note is the inclusion of one of Michael Gira's all-time greatest songs, 'My Sister Said'. Great selections all-round, even if it has reached us a tad late in the day.
Marcel Duchamp's Musical Erratum stems back to 1913, and forms the basis of his artwork La Mariee Mise A Nu Par Ses Celibataires Meme (that's The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Batchelors to you and me). The piano piece is based around the central premise that the piano keys are played in a sequence determined by randomly selected numeric sequences, and is a wilfully awkward and clunky thing: A very useless performance, in any event." as Duchamp imself would have it. This disc includes two different versions of the piece: one standard interpretation (if that's an appropriate t… Read more
The Sublime Frequencies audio colonialism carrack docks into South America, having fully exhausted Asia's musical resources. The focus of this latest compilation is Latin America's psychedelic rock and pop music, mainly from the '60s and '70s. The tracks have been collected from a host of lost and discarded LPs sourced from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Isle De Pascua (Easter Island) and vary wildly in style and genre, at times sounding rather folksy and traditional while at others coming across as dow… Read more
One of electronic music's most versatile voices, Marcus Schmickler is able to alternate between his dream pop persona as Pluramon and cutting edge contemporary electronic composition work like this, under his own name. Schmickler's instrument-based electroacoustic works have always been among the very finest within the genre, with releases like Param and Demos (Music For Choir, Chamber Quintet and Electronic Music) finding Schmickler every bit as adept within academic circles as he is in the electronic pop elite. This latest collection of music marks Schmickler's first solely electro… Read more
Wednesday, 07 November 2007
This adventurous album is a tangle of odd electronic tones, cello, acoustic guitar and very strange song structures: the extended noodlings of 'Arm's Length' turn into an extreme case of hiccupping staccato only to collapse into the neon excess of synthesizer noise and airy, vaporised vocals on 'Fraternal Noon'. The band start with a bang and gradually wind down into a more steady state of being, shifting towards the gorgeous, effect-laden hush of 'For Beauty' after the spluttering noise of 'Bag Of Bags' in all its drum-fuelled electro-psych glory.
The second LP by the intriguing Bobb Trimble gets a reissue under the supervision of the Secretly Canadian label. Harvest of Dreams came two years after the odd, inventive jumble that was Iron Curtain Innocence, and in some respects Trimble sounds more at ease with himself: both the writing and the performances seem more fluent and self-assured, with firm-footed melancholy ballads like 'If Words Were All I Had' sounding at once vulnerable and theatrical, needing far less adornment than the often confusingly busy debut album. You'll find plenty of upbeat numbers amongst the thornier, noctu… Read more
Secretly Canadian give Bobb Trimble's long lost, unreasonably rare LPs a reissue, starting with this hoard of buried treasure from 1980. Iron Curtain innocence sounds quite unlike any other singer songwriter: partly because his voice has an odd intonation somewhere between Geddy Lee, Kate Bush and Marc Bolan, and partly because his compositions far exceed the sort of simple acoustic structures that dominate the genre, instead referencing the borderline prog of Pink Floyd or the theatrical flamboyance of early Queen. Heck, even the album sleeve harkens back to a better time: Bobb's wi… Read more
Monday, 05 November 2007
The eponymous debut album by Canadian songwriter Barzin gets the reissue treatment from Monotreme Records, who released the quite wonderful follow-up "My Life In Rooms". Like that record, this first full-length explores an aesthetic of incredibly warm slowcore country sounds, with slow flickering waves of tremolo guitar and vast pedal steel slides. While the elements that make up the album are fairly simple and the pace never really exceeds 'glacial', the album has moments of enormous emotional weight, carrying a kind of restrained, graceful force throughout. This is especially true of the sublime 'Pas… Read more
Can't Wait Another Day is the first album to be released by Elephant 6 band The Ladybug Transistor since the untimely death of San Fadyl, who passed away earlier this year. Fadyl still appears on this record however, playing drums throughout, and the ambitious, often very lavish bittersweet pop the band specialise in makes for a poignant tribute. 'I'm Not Mad Enough', for instance, is a supremely elegant piece of indie pop, with just the right amount of strings poured into the mix to sweeten things up. This same formula is applied to slow jam 'Terry', which sounds like some… Read more
New York psych-noise loons White Hills unleash a follow up to their Glitter Glamour Atrocity album with this release for the UK's own Rocket Recordings. Regulars on the CD-R circuit, the band have already received a weighty endorsement from Julian Cope, but are bound to find themselves on the receiving end of far wider reaching endorsements from here on. Heads On Fire mixes the acid-trip propulsions of Hawkwind with the fuzzy aggro of The Stooges, resulting in some of the heaviest old-school rock manoeuvres around. These guys have one foot in the garage and the other on the moon, laying down k… Read more
Although 'Dr. Octagon' wasn't released until 1996, KutMasta Kurt was busy producing music with Kool Keith as far back as 1993. A few of these tracks have been floating around on fuzzy tapes over the years and even a few have wound up on bootlegs, but now we officially get a chance to hear these archived tracks as intended. The CD is a 2,500 copy limited edition digipack, each individually numbered, including 12 page lyric sheet and is an essential companion for any fan of the 1997 release.
Mani Neumaier has been a part of Krautrock experimenters Guru Guru for some 35 years now, although more recently he's made a notable guest appearance alongside the Acid Mothers Temple crew on the Psychedelic Navigator album (also released on Important Records). Sketches has been a work in progress for the past couple of decades, taking the form of a kind of audio journal culled from countless expeditions across Asia. Neumaier incorporates his own inimitable free drumming style into field recordings and indigenous percussion sounds such as gamelan and bamboo marimba. There are a few instances of Neumaier's… Read more
While the term 'freak folk' has been largely abandoned, that's precisely what Daniel Higgs' ancient Americana lunacy brings to mind - not because he affects a kooked up vocal intonation, or because he has a particularly outlandish beard (although that he can certainly lay claim to that), but simply because these four extended songs sound downright nuts. There's clearly a link to the American primitive references you'd hear in John Fahey's ragas or even the outsider wailing of Jandek, with Higgs alternating between impressive instrumental outings and vocally charged apocalyptic… Read more
A great new four-piece set from arch American psych travellers Jackie O Motherfucker, who are in top form right now - 'form' being an appropriate term; there seems to be an increasing gradient of cohesion to the band's work nowadays, with strong song structures now firmly a part of their arsenal. The title track strays into a kind of campfire spacerock, at once referencing plucked Americana and Spiritualized style tripped out repetition, with some phosphorous bands of synth darting through the mix. 'The Tree' is even straighter, occupying a concise two-and-a-half minute folk structu… Read more
I suppose this was always going to be good wasn't it? We fell in love with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis's soundtrack to the stunning Aussie western (interestingly enough also written by Cave) 'The Proposition' and this is in many ways the sequel to that record taking many of its core elements but just refining them enough to make this a superior piece overall. Sadly I haven't seen the film but heard on its own this is still an intense and coherent listening experience, and seeing as a good proportion of albums I listen to are allegedly soun… Read more
Thursday, 01 November 2007
Cult Belgian new wave band Digital Dance were formed in Brussels back in 1978 and quickly found themselves a following thanks to support slots with the likes of Joy Division and airplay from John Peel, who responded particularly favourably to the band's 'I Sleep On The Waves' single which came out at the beginning of 1980. That track and it's B-side, the equally ace 'Faulty' are included on this set, as are all the other key singles and studio works by Digital Dance. The material here is far too good to be consigned to the vaults, so props to the LTM label for reintroducing the band to modern audiences.
The idea of a soundtrack to some new Sam Raimi-produced horror movie doesn't necessarily seem Boomkat-compatible really, but this Brian Reitzel OST to 30 Days of Night is quite a piece of work. Reitzel might be best known for his work on Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and Lost In Translation soundtracks, but here he proves he can strike up some terrifying noise outings with the best of them. Sure there are one or two more conventionally musical sequences here, but at times you'll swear you're listening to KTL, Lustmord or Wolf Eyes, with an abundance… Read more
Monday, 29 October 2007
The completion of this latest album from Castanets coincided with something of an annus horribilis for main player Ray Raposa, who came out of a period of incapacitating depression after 2005's First Light's Freeze. That album's follow-up In The Vines is a fittingly sombre affair, but not one which mopes or sounds weighted down by anxiety, instead there's a certain air of catharsis about the album. Raposa gets by with a little help from his friends, namely Jana Hunter, Nonhorse (of Vanishing Voice), Viking Moses, Matthew Houck (aka Phosphorescent) and some bloke called Sufjan Stevens, all of whom… Read more
Nova Scotian hip hop impresario Buck 65 (aka Richard Terfry) returns with album number eleven. Situation is a far cry from his days on Anticon when Terfry wowed audiences with the advanced, Metallica-sampling productions and adventurous linguistic extravagances of Man Overboard. Situation is a rather bigger, more coherent sounding album which still finds Mr. 65 on fine lyrical form but the production is more recognisable as modern hip hop with upbeat scratch exercises like 'Way Back When' sounding as poppy as they do articulate. '1957' provides an early highlight, hinging upon a minor-key piano loop a… Read more