Saturday, 23 November 2013

Soundtracks To Life - Holiday Listening

Was mooching around the music shelves and came across this superb cassette length track Mindflight by Matthewdavid which I was listening too constantly whilst away on holiday in Pembokeshire this last Summer. This lovely release was a constant companion on my walkman whilst perusing various prehistoric chambers, tombs and mounds, and added a delightful ambient summery vibe to the various places I visited. Think KLF - Chill Out, Think aborted Jimmy Cauty proto Orb offering Space, Think distant african tribal drums carried on the wind, Think half rememberd snatches of sound or dialogue and your in the right ball park. The B-side of the cassette is the A-side in reverse, a rip off you may think, but it really works as a sepearate recording in it's own right.

Have a listen to the A-Side Here.

On a slghtly different tack, I used to own a tape copy of Capt. Beefheart's Abba Zaba that did something similar to Mindflight. The B-side would bleed through onto the A-side during playback, and vice versa making an out there album even more of an 'out there' experience.

And of course, this is just an excuse to show a few 'megalithic' holiday pixs well.

Llech Y Drybedd - Nr Trefwrdn Uchaf
As Above
Carn Menyn - Original Quarry of Stonehenge Bluestone, Preselli Hills
Burial Mound atop Carn Sian, Preselli Hills
Bedd Arthur Circle (Elipse), Preselli Hills
The 'Airforce' Blue of Bluestone
Carreg Coetan Nr Newport Sands
A Rather Sterile Pentre Ifan
The Wicker Man (Castell Henllys)
Castell Henllys Iron Age Fort (reconstructed on actual footprint of fort/buildings)
Pentre Ifan - Mirroring The Skyline
Wogan Caves below Pembroke Castle (no Terry out today)
Bluestone Assemblage eroding out of sea cliff Nr Whitesands Bay - Tantilising proof of ancient journey?
(probabably not)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Jhonn Balance - In Memorandum

In memorium, 13th November 2004

We are a few days past the anniversary of the death of Coil founder and prime agitator John Balance. It's hard to believe it's been nine years since his passing. Johnns final years were a troubled time for him, but I sincerely hope he has found the peace he so richly deserved, and that his beliefs in life have come to fruition.

As artists, I miss them very much, and I've yet to find anyone to fill the musical and mystical void they left in their wake. The music and mythology they created has been a great help and solace to me this year, which has for many personal reasons been a very difficult year.

I met and spoke to both Jhonn and Peter on several occations. They couldn't have been more accomadating in conversation when asked daft, geeky questions by a slightly awkward fan, and Johnns quick wit and humour quickly made me feel at ease. For all the buff and bluster that surrounded them, they were very genuine and likeable people.

In view of the anniversary, I thought I'd post a few Coil related bits and bobs as a virtual remembrance of these two extraordinary individuals.

Great overview of band to 2001 from Fortean Times

Review of gig supporting Foetus - first time I witnessed them live.

Jhonn reading the1983 Coil manifesto on Dutch radio 4 show in 2001.

Dutch Radio Interview with music from Coil, broadcast 2001

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Perhaps my favourite performance of theCSO  Live Box series, Coil - Live Thessalonika, Grecce, 10-05-2002. This performance finds Jhonn in quiet form, but definately channeling something. Some blistering electronics and truly unsettling shrieking during this performance make it one Coil's most rewarding. Outstanding.

CSO9 Thessalonika Live (self edited version)

Coil - final concert - Dublin City Hall 23rd October 2004

Friday, 15 November 2013

Yesterday's Hauntology or Seminal Compilations Part II, III IV and V.

In a recent previous post I raved about the wonderful Outer Church compilation, and used the rather lazy tag Hauntology to describe the varied but unified, eclectic range of sounds and artists within.

In the post I also mentioned a couple of (for my day, in the circle's I ran with) seminal left field complitions, The Elephant Table Album, and The Afflicted Man's Musica Box. Whilst trawling the intertwat, I also came across a couple of other compilations I'd owned, lost or sold and since forgotten - L.A.Y.L.A.H Antimusic - The Fight Is On , and also the Life At The Top LP.

Inner sleeve for The Fight Is On on L.A.Y.L.A.H. antirecords

So why have I come to consider these artists as befitting a place under the Hauntology banner. Well, let me explain... at the time many of the artists were considered industrial, an easy catch-all for musick listed as difficult in the music press of the time'. With the luxury of hindsight/ re-appraisal many of the bands it seems to me covered similar territory to the current crop of Ghostbox and sundry artists who sedem to fall under the musical hauntology umbrella (you may be familiar with many of them: Mordant Music, Advisory Circle, Belbury Poly, Demdike Stare, Position Normal, Focus Group to name just a few).

Many of the acts on these early compilations were also primarily electronic in nature, occul' fixated and part of a select group who saw themselves as holding a black mirror to the mainstream. Most acts were willfully obscure, difficult and obtuse, and much of the music was challenging and unsettling, and in the odd case, almost unlistenable. Many artists operated on a financial shoestring, having only the most primitive in electronics and tape machines, often sharing equipment between friends and artists. Bands that have now become almost underground legends (COIL, Nurse With Wound, Tuxedomoon, Lustmord, Legendary Pink Dots, Current 93 to name but a handful) were seen as dangerous and subversive in the music world. Indeed the L.A.Y.L.A.H records compilation actually incorporated the 'antimusic' label as a call to arms, a concious pointer that what you were about to hear was not ordinary music.

Jhonn Balance (COIL) 

Much was informed by earlier music, for example you could argue that Lou Reed invented power electronics with his Metal Machine Music suite. Acts such as Whitehouse would use this template to terrorise audiences with viscious sonic assaults at deafening volumes, and with a deliberate antaganistic and confrontatoinal approach to performing. You really could leave a gig with blood on your face as the audience they attracted were as extreme themselves, looking for release in this kind of extreme sonic confrontational 'entertainment'.

Metal Machine Music

Other acts such as Lustmord or Nurse With Wound would look to the Kosmische/ Dada-ist approach, releasing beautiful sub ambient soundscapes, and absurdist tape 'cut ups' as records or cassettes. It was easy to become po-faced and precious about these artists, with many of us failing to see the humour in the musick, even though, as with Nurse With Wound, and with hindsight, it was often blatant and obvious.

NWW Debut LP Cover -  Chance Meeting On The Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and Umbrella

Coil and Current 93 to name but two bands, embraced the dark occult apocalypse. They gave voice to the Manson generations psychotic remeberings Coil released songs such as Sicktone, a series of fast flanged, repetitve drum patterns, the intention implied was to bring about 'heightend' states off conciousness through submission to the musick. The EP, How To Destroy Angels, was a baffling aray of slowly struck gong reverberations, bull roarers and simulated sword fighting, the tag line on the EP's cover described using the record as a meditative tool, a fascilatatetor for the 'Accumalation of Male Sexual Energy'.

Current 93, dabbled initially in crude and dark industrial meanderings, eventially settling into a dark apocalypic style of folk on the 'Swastika's For Noddy' LP. Tibet continued in this vein for quite some time, only later going back to collaborations in drone and ambience with Nurse With Wound and other contributers.

Current 93 / NWW Bright Yellow Moon

Now whilst modern Hauntological musicks don't claim these kind of extreme mission statements, and dabble only in the imagary world of the occult, much of it does take the listener on a disjointed dark journey's. Maybe it's through the collation and replication of half remembered jingles and idents from a lost/forgotten world of childhood of TV, radio or other media, or just through the route of unsettling yet familiar sounds and imagary. A re-imagined structuring of a past that never was, challenging our recollections of how we were and who we've become, and how we recall that perceived and recall that safe former world.


Anyhow, I'm going on a bit, and this is really just an excuse to post several of these 'out there and difficult' compilations from a dark yester year.

Life At The Top

Devestate To Liberate

The Elephant Table Album

An Afflicted Man's Musica Box

Monday, 11 November 2013

Psychic Teens - Come .... Mucho Diggage!

Stumbled over these babies whilst checking out reviews for the new Necks album Open.

Psychic Teens comprise three hombre's straight outta Philly, making a riteous, rawkus, post punk infected din, not a million miles from Sound Mirrors other current post punk fav's Pop.1280 Though  Psychic Teens seem to have less bombastic drumming, and a lilttle more grunting. Grrroooovy!

Come apperars to be the bands Sophomore, with Teen being their (as yet for me unheard) debut. Seemed to garnrer some favourable reviews around the web. You can pick up the CD containing not only Come, but their debut Teen from their Bandcamp ($10) or SRA Records page ($8), Superrbb Bargain!!

Anyhoo, you can stream a couple of tracks here.

But here's a brief sampler of their skuzzed out racket.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

And Soon The Darkness

Cracking little thriller from 1970 that turned up on Horror channel the other night.

Basic premise is two English girls (Michelle Dotrice and Pamela Franklin) take a cycling holiday in France. After an encounter with an unknown male on a scooter, one of the girls decides to hook up with him further down the road. They get into a fight over the possible liason and one of them storms off and then disappears. The other is left flundering in a country where she doesn't speak the language, trying to get uncoperative police and locals to help out. The frustration is tangible, and whilst the outcome may come as no surprise, it's a tense journey to get there/ Highly recommended.

There was a U.S. remake in 2010, where the action is shifted to South America. Nt terrible, but lacks the tension of the original.

Friday, 8 November 2013

New, Not New.

A bit previous for an end of year round up, but thought I'd cobble together a compiltion of highlights of the year from my point of view. Not all new relaeses by a long straw, but most are new to me, so in effect are 'new'. I'm sure with just under two months to go, there will be a few tasty bits and bobs yet to come, but here's a few of my personal faves/ discoveries.

Download a CD length Compilation HERE. Or just peruse the post for a flavour of what's floated my boat.

Destruction Unit - Deep Trip

Fantastic nosie rock from longstanding collective, once home to the almost legendary Jay Retard.
Think Chrome, think Helios Creed, Think prime 80's Amphetamine Reptile, add a dash of space rock phase and your in the (outer) regions of Deep Trip.

A Place To Bury Strangers - Strange Moon

One of those slightly expensive Record Store Day releases, but price can be forgiven for the low down and dirty garage punk grooves contained within.  I gotta say, I think this is the best record they've ever released. They've come a long way from those early wanna be Jesus & Mary Chain infected grooves of the first two albums.

Pop. 1280 - The Grid EP

Named after a novel by legendary crime writer Jim Thompson, Pop. 1280 more than fit their namesakes sleazy criteria. Treble Skuzz Birthday Party-esqu guitars and drums sit alongside hollered and spat vocals/lyrics of distopian reverie and demise. Anyone whose perused the blog to any degree will know my love of this collective, debut album The Horror was one of my albums of the year in 2011. The Grid isn't a new relesae, insdeed it's from the period just prior to the release of The Horror, but it still contains enough bile and vitreol to recommend it. Sadly, the most recent album Imps Of Perversion seems to tread similar ground, whilst pulling back on the reigns somewhat. As yet it's not gotten under my skin to the same degree as previous releases. Maybe the next one will fan the flames a little higher.

The KVB - Immaterial Visions

Another band who I've followed for some time.  Debut release 'Always Then', was a firm fav' back in 2011, now getting a lush whie vinyl repress, well worth picking up if your a fan of My Bloody Valentine-esque sheets of noise. New album Immaterial Visions takes the MBV template and runs with it adding textured synth and the odd motorik beat. Deffo one to watch in the future.

Cave - Psychic Psummer

Psychic Psummer was an album I bought years ago, stashed in the racks and promptly forgot I had. How the hell that travesty was allowed to happen is quite baffling, but I stumbled across it again this Summer, and it's not left the turntable since. Absolutely stunning piece of post rock/ kosmische/kraut/drone. Really, this is deffo one to track down if you don't own it. Originally released in 2009, this should have been on everyones end of year list, but turned up on only a few.

Acid Mothers Temple - In Search Of The Lost Divine Arc

AMT release cohesive 'normal' album shocker. This record is a blast, All the trademark AMT 'tricks' are in place, but with most tracks coming in at a mind numbungly short 5 or 6 mins. Of course there are a couple of strung out freak outs, but this is da bomb, plain and simple.

Lumerians - The High Frontier

Superb slice of acid fried psyche from San Frans resident spaced out stoners. Not quite as out there as the drawn out jams of Transmissions From Telos, but still a great cohesive trip of a record.

VÅR - No One Dances Quite Like My Brother

This stunning and unsettling debut by Ice Age offshoot VÅR (trans. Spring) gives me goosebumps in much the same way as Scatology by Coil still does. They both share an under current of  the uncanny, of something left unsaid, with sounds that at times make me quite nervous. Though recorded in a fairly cramped bedroom, the sound is full almost of wide open spaces and horizon like vistas.  There is a tense almost homoerotic undertone that's hard to explain, and singer Elias Ronnefelt adds a slightly mournful vocal to many of the songs.  Though a recent recording, this could have been released at any time during the early eighties, it has that  D.A.F.  like teutonic sound, everything is very stripped back and glacial. Marsha drums pepper the pace of a few songs adding to the brooding, almost militaristic air .

Death and Vanilla - From Above 7" Single

See Previous posts below....

Silver Pyre - Frozen Tropic

This is one of my fav' tracks from the awesome Outer Church compilation. It has an almost balaeric ambience to it that's at odds with much of the dark matter contained over the two discs.
Sat watchnig a stunning sunset on Cleeve Hill to this on repeat recently, was a sublime (if cold) experience. See Post for Death and Vanilla for brief Expo of Outer Church Compilation.

 The Afternoon Exchange - Shamen

Side project of noise terror meisters Prostitutes (a.k.a. Jim Donadio). This cassette release is a different barrel of fish altogether. Soothing analogue drones and tones transport you to hushed inner oceans of tranquility. Each track novelly named after a 90's 'indie' dance act, the songs bear little resemblance to their namesakes. More akin to drawn out Conrad Schnitzler ambient pieces. Listened to this on holiday whilst crawling amongst the rock stcks of Carn Menyn (original quarry to the Stonehenges bluestones) and had a delightful afternoon.  A Wonderful  happenstance discovery. Out on the never less than wonderful Foxy Digitalis label.

Verma - Salted Earth

Originally released in 2010, this review of Salted Earth explains the album more succinctly than I ever could. Awesome record (Plus it's a free DL from Bandcamp along with Verma II). If you enjoy, put your hand in your pocket for Coltan, it's equally imressive.

Bent equally on bristling psychedelic squall and driving motorik, Verma emerged in the wake of an experimental improvisational collective. Blending a wide range of influences from proto-metal, minimalism, electronic, space rock and drone, the group constructs and explores cinematic sonic landscapes. Verma is amoebic in nature, coexisting with the mechanical. The driving rhythm section creates a solid architecture for swirling guitars and haunting vocal melodies, all beneath a haze of sweeping synthesizers. This repetitive dervish of sound rises from dark roots to a meditative plane, at once the atmosphere of metamorphosis and cerebral introspection.

Algebra Suicide - Recalling The Last Encounter

Feminine Squared is the long overdue reissue of 80's DIY unit Algebra Suicide entire catalogue on vinyl.Simple guitar, Vox, and drum machine tarry with super sarcastic vocals delivered in that inimitable 'bored' style. Great discovery, and a wonderful record. Sadly, singer Linda Tomkiw passed away in 2007.

Savages - City's Fall

Uk band Savages do a pretty great reproduction of Post Punk, almost too good you might say. Savage Siouxsie-esqu vocals cut across glass treble guitars, tribal drums and ominous bass. Hell, I love it. Takes me back to many of my fav' bands of the 80's, Bauhaus, Joy Division, Banshees, Wire et al. My only concern would be that the artifice is a little too authentic, even down to the stark black and white imageary. There seems to be not much of themselves and plenty of everyone else on this record. Still, it's not been off my turntable, so comes highly recommended.

Fuck Buttons - Red Wing

This is a great record, a digital/industrial amalgamism of the first two Fuck Buttons albums, Street Horrrsing and Tarot Sport. Industrial strength beats force your attention to the wayward and distorted undercurrents of sound that fight for your attention. Took me a while to plough thrugh the depths to appreciate this recording, but it's an effort that's ben well rewarded. They might as well give up now, they'll never better this.

Camera - Skylla

Fluctuating German Kosmische Kollective Camera (phew, there's a gob full!) have been plying the Berlin underground with their unannounced Geurilla gigs for some time now, but when they finally commit their sound to vinyl, it's like a lost artifact from the great days of German underground rock. The LP Radiate! is  every bit as impressive as Can, Neu, Amon Duul etc. When I stumbled across this release I died and went to heaven. Part motorik beats, part cosmic drone, part trance inducing repitition, this is a thing of absolute beauty. Do yourself a favour and bury yourself in it, you won't surface for weeks. Skylla is a non LP track released on the System Solaire EP.

Follakzoid - Trees

Taken from the LP Follakzoid II, more Kosmische grooves and Neu! tinged guitars. Superb record on my label of the year Sacred Bones. I've bought more music from this label than any other over the past few years, they seem to put out the kind of noise/psyche/folk/drone that has a hotwire to my heart and soul. Keep it up in 2014, and I'll have to sell the house to fund my addiction. There is a rather nifty Follakzoid remix EP too. Psychic Ills and Moon Duo take on the task admirably.