Archive for the ‘ reviews ’ Category

Fuck Yeah(No) Fest

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Fuck Yeah Fest was yesterday, and of course I’m still feelin’ it. As with any show/fest/what have you, there were ups and downs. Unfortunately the up was arriving at the show, and the down was everything to follow. I arrived around 1:30 to find $20 parking and a will call line six blocks long. It was a little over 90 degrees and only getting hotter. By the time I got inside, all stages were up and running. The comedy tent was full and the venue had pretty much run out of water. With thousands of visitors, most of whom were too young to wait the forty minutes to get into the beer garden and buy a cup of overpriced PBR, there were bound to be problems. The venue, L.A. Historic National park, was little more than large dirt pit and a few small half-dead patches of grass. Up until the minute the sun went down, the thing to do was find shade, of which there wasn’t much while trying to relax and avoid being hassled by the overwhelming amount of security, park rangers, and local cops (not to mention ghetto birds). Continue reading

Album Review: Godflesh – Streetcleaner (2010)

This is far from a lazy cash-in from Justin Broadrick, even if it does tie in neatly with his decision to re-ignite Godflesh after eight years. Streetcleaner never got the production it really deserved. Whilst not necessarily the finest Godflesh release (in my opinion, anyway), it’s arguably the one with the most primitive negative energy seething within it–a quality which, due to the way the album was produced at the time, could be sensed but never really felt.

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Album Review: Male – German for Shark

German for Shark passed as a big beautiful blur on first listen. Discounting the selection of remixes at the end, it’s actually quite a brief release, with big blocks of sound surging forth and fading into one another without too much pause for breath between each piece. The result is a gorgeous dreamlike montage, with vibrant snatches of ideas forming and melting quickly into something completely different just minutes later.

Male manage to fuse the various instrument components–cornet, guitar, vibraphone, saxophone, percussion, electronics, tapes–into a landscape which is both dynamically and atmospherically diverse, somehow retaining a strong sense of continuity and seamlessness all the while. Not only are these pieces beautifully arranged, but the sonic environment is also cleverly re-arranged in a manner which sustains a writhing, ever-morphing narrative from start to finish.

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Album Review: Current 93 – Baalstorm, Sing Omega

Despite only one year lying between Baalstorm, Sing Omega and its predecessor Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain, there’s a drastic difference in the sound of both albums. Aleph was an angry record, centered on harsh guitar stabs and razorblade leads – a very deliberate texture overload accompanied by an appropriately aggressive vocal delivery from David Tibet. Baalstorm, Sing Omega is much more delicate in contrast, calling upon the flow and cascade of piano and cello instead, moving in wave-like surges and nudging along Tibet’s abstract ramblings, which babble breathlessly with an epiphanic urgency.

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EP Review: Skullflower/White Medal – Split

The Skullflower contribution to this split won’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Matthew Bower’s recent output. “Great Hunter” is streams upon streams of noise, shouting down a crackling melody that just barely scrapes the surface of audibility – kind of like someone taking a dirty, bludgeoning axe to The Angelic Process. It’s riddled with the same grimy catharsis as his latest album – Strange Keys to Untune Gods’ Firmament – and makes for equally as relentless and exhausting listening as that LP.

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Album Review: Baby Dee – A Book of Songs for Anne Marie

A Book of Songs for Anne Marie isn’t technically a new album – the more avid of Dee fans may have even owned a copy of this from as early as 2004, when it was first issued on David Tibet’s Durtro label. However, this initial release was limited to a mere 150 copies and recorded briskly once through on the piano; the fact that A Book Of Songs… has now been granted a more thorough recording process and distribution means that it’s more than justified to refer to this as its first proper release.

Considering that these songs are amongst her most beautiful compositions in years, why they’ve been allowed to lie dormant for so long is mighty puzzling. The more theatrical execution of 2008’s Safe Inside the Day has been discarded in favour of the dainty romance that dominated her earlier output, with gorgeous chord cycles that loop endlessly and weave and entwine with the strings and woodwind that drift alongside. Dee’s voice has never felt more at home, rising into heartfelt climax and falling back into barely-whispered murmurs in response to every dynamic flex the tracks throw out. She is in phenomenal form here.

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Album Review: Gultskra Artikler – Galaktika

I think the fact that I knew so little about Gultskra Artikler prior to hearing this release contributed heavily to my enjoyment of it. Galaktika seems to work best when free from any prior knowledge of its conception or its creator, turning the whole experience into an intrepid exploration without any preconception of what lies up ahead.

The opening title track begins as a steady ascension away from a world of content. A hovering tremolo glides over deep synth drones that urge Galaktika boldly away from home. A hideous vocal moan breathes unease over the landscape, leading appropriately into the twisted and unsettling environment ahead. Most unnerving about the listening experience is the sense of being lost – once the second piece “Solnce” fades up, Galaktika is quick to whisk you deep into its murky black atmosphere, horrendously claustrophobic and disorientating right up until its closing stages.

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Troubled Horse – Bring My Horses Home 7″

The debut 7″ single from Troubled Horse, Bring My Horses Home, brings to mind bands of the ’60s and ’70s, and will make you wish you were living back then until you realize that, with bands like this around, you’re not missing anything!

After years of waiting (nearly three for me), the first tangible evidence of Troubled Horse’s existence has arrived and, while anyone who knows the band will have heard these two songs hundreds of times by now, this 7″ still feels new and was well worth the wait. These songs sound so much better than the mp3s on the band’s Myspace page (or even our Myspace page) it feels like you’re hearing them for the first time.

Side A’s “Bring My Horses Home” starts off our Troubled Horse journey, acting as a perfect introduction to the band. This song has everything these guys are about, from the foot-tapping rhythms to the catchy hooks that stick with you all day long to the heavy ’70s doom riffs and even some handclaps thrown in for good measure. Continue reading

Album Review: Spartak – Verona

Recorded in just two days, Verona is the music of impulse – of sporadic ideas without the relentless tweaking and perfecting of retrospect, unleashed and recorded and left relatively untouched. That considered, it’s surprising how cohesive and well-structured this album is, clearly existing as a celebration of putting faith in what feels right rather than painstaking hours spent trying to achieve glossy sonic symmetry.

After the shimmering guitar chimes of “Morning Prayer,” Verona slips into the 9 minutes of “The Waves To The Rails.” The clatter and roll of drums stutter behind guitar that loops itself into a vast blanket, interjected with jarring electronics and spoken word passages. “Tweezer” follows the same theme, retaining the reverse delay and frantic drum improvisation, with the guitars cutting back into intermittent surges.

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Album Review: Aidan Baker – Liminoid/Lifeforms

Gradually I’m becoming to think that Aidan Baker’s solo material is where his most expressive and compelling work lies. His Nadja project is tied to a trademark sound (that distinctive planetarium of fuzz and carefully woven ambient layering), whilst his music under “Aidan Baker” provides a canvas for anything and everything he’s unable to convey through the Nadja output.

The four parts of “Liminoid” present Baker at his untouchable best, with “Part 1” introducing the landscape on a tentative rise of violin and dramatic waves of cymbal wash. Seven collaborators feature on this release, providing strings, drums and guitar as well as dividing vocal duties between them, and it’s during “Part 1” that they appear to be striking up a connection, gradually crawling out of their introvert comfort zones to fuse into one entity, one seamless octet ensemble.

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