Sunday, September 28, 2008

Approximately Infinite Universe

Fri 26th - the Cube, Bristol. Presented by Qu-Junktions

...Arrived half way through some films from Fonal label owner - Sami Sanpakkila. Powder-flake snowscapes, an erased face running through the white, trees nebula like to the sky, drawing slow mo circles, then moving on to explorations of Kemialliset Ystavat burning the midnight oil - All available space littered in wires/pedals and vintage musical debris, the music a reflection of the chaos... Looking round, Paul was falling into a coma to my left, as Kek morphed into the fabric of the seat (like one of his photoshopped smears); his hat giving out scarecrow shadows as he explained that one of the KY collective was using glasses of water to complete the sound circuits...

DreamTriangle - a Skaters / Tomutonttu combo, gave out a dense swamp of interlocking and overlaid textures that collapsed to brief interludes of syrupy tabla, gossamer flute or pointed keyboard. The sound switching it's direction, amassing activity around ever new counterpoints, no one person seemingly in control, everybody happily improvising off the flow, as half perceived vocals chanted and moaned from inside a droning belly. Infinitely strung out, overloaded speakers nibbled at the inner ear – a mix of pain and pleasure, synchronised to diodes blinking in the near darkness… hints of crackling vinyl escaping the fx-labyrinth fizz.

The Islaja, Blectum and Lubelski fusion were a less abstract affair. I must say, I’ve been smitten by Islaja’s voice for quite a while now and it's probably the only Finnish act I can actually safely pronounce. Here, the instrumentation just fell around her vocals beautifully, like bell jars full of flapping colour, with Blevin Blectum throwing across digital chasms caught up in Lubelski’s melody and a bassy backbone (think the bassist was a member of Islaja’s live act?). Sometimes this broke out in poptastic rashes, other times much looser, embellished in toy-like rhythms, latex owl screams and rumbling Korg thunder.

Kemialliset Ystavat
and Axolotl, a slow burning incense of sound; coaxing you in, tuck you up with its detuned graces... Axolotl injecting shattered glass percussion and distorted violin snakes into the pared down hypnosis of the Finnish contingent… oh, this could have bled over to the small hours, I wouldn’t be complaining...

Another interval was filled with more Finnish projections. A cracking blend of the surreal and humorous from Jonna Karanka and Pasi Myllymaki left me in awe of their collective genius and blinding simplicity... as they shamed most conceptual video art for the boring uninspired navel gazing it often is...

The last act - Es and Fursaxa …were all vocal loops, twilight bells and classical garlands of fx wash, breaking into sunset flame… Sami and Tara in duet, synthesized lines erased then re-written, voices caught in the folds of some solidifying ocean, changelings clinging to branches in slipping contours. What a fantastic paring, like the rest of the evenings acts...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Stolen Groceries - Gang Wizard

Gang Wizard never fail to put a massive smile on my face, not to mention the bizarre wire wool animal fights they fill my head with. This teeny disc available from Phase! captures a 22 minute snapshot of incendiary and insightful primitivism from the band, recorded live in Holland back in June 2007. Entitled, The stolen groceries, it’s how live recording should sound - a riotous free fall that blindly goes where it feels it needs to, and makes no apologies for doing so. Those fucked up convulsions of drumming, grafted to overfed squeally death throes are priceless, tuneless explosions peppered in dents of narcked-out eagerness, somehow they grasp at a crooked notion of melody, buried under all that white eyed mania. Churning up plenty of abnormalities from their bruised and battered instruments, the band carve up the place in a post-apocalyptic fury, as screaming fills your ears with incoherent garbage, like some lab animal foaming through its muzzle…even the quieter bits shake with a simmering insanity that verges on the delightfully scary - gorgeous packaging too...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nurse Fan with Wound

ooooh, feels like tiny cigarette burns...

Elite Barbarian - It's only when you get to the end that it all makes sense

picture by Rach Hunt

Some electronica can leave you feeling decidedly chilly, coming across like a machine academia deforested of emotion – nothing wrong with that I suppose, jeez I like COH for just that reason… but I always crave a bit of the human equation mixed in with the data swirl, and with Elite Barbarian you get plenty to connect with, even if the vibe is, at times, playfully wrapped in a veil of semi abstracts.

The opener, Going Down is really satisfying. Its dubby rotors catching the light, causing fluttering shadows in a pulsing regularity… Lots going on here, blanketed by a humming undulation, and a fuzzy / flanged vibe that’s eager to please, blotched in a sizzle of cauterized hiss… Carpets of differing textures fed off each other like ink blown spindle spiders, riding on a dark sub-current of key motifs. The sliding aqua lung beat and other slivery undercurrents stapled to a submerged punch, a counterpoint a spill in tasty tensions.

Less Words relishes in a more reflective vibe, with its harboured twilights falling through space, flanked in predatory shadows, highlights that bleed in the drone, like saturated sugar, with all the sweetness of uncertainty. In a similar vein, Woods is full of branch strung mobiles, sustained bells that twist into key slurries and diaphanous frowns... just like an epitaph to fading memory. This, of course, is balanced with the pleasure centres of Tropic, with its beaty electronic fondue of intercoms, sliding between the slamming doors of chipped melody. The squash racket plush of Clips with its IDM scuffles brimming in colour, shape and direction continue the sense of adventure. Loops inside loops fight for your attention, as edgy beats hole punch their way through.

The execution is just seamless, full of skilful transitions and unexpected blends, worthy of its place along side the likes of Jaga Jazzist or the more textural experiments of the Pan Sonic crew / early Magnetophone (this album certainly possesses the former’s playfulness), but without sounding too derivative. With most tracks, the content is subtly morphing, shifting around quite happily, the stasis of a looped safety blanket, added to or subtracted from … the tracks expected path always diverting off into interesting introspective examination / expansions, the drama unfolding in changeable lighting conditions. Sometimes the track finds a niche and sticks with it, as with Soft Remind or with the repeated piano blur of Shore that brings to mind Mr Reich’s early trifles with minimalism, the tracks foamy creases, a lapping tide falling slowly out of sync. Others, the repetition is the hungry machine breakdown, an itchy and kinetic infusion, like the album’s 16 min finale Let’s go back to Morse code. It comes across like a live exploration, a glitched malfunction strung along a dronic corridor, the loop’s bounciness bathed in washes of interstellar matter, distended grids that are flung off into the distance. A key choral flux weaved in waves of static, which miraculously re-emerges as an amputated hybrid of the tracks rhythmic core. This fills up the space in shearing sounds then collapses, returning as a ghostly echo of its former self, edges fried and indistinct, dissipating to the album’s close.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Winkstock 2008

Port Mahon, Oxford 13th Sept presented by Permanent Vacation

Arrived half way through Clara Kindle’s set, interestingly, he was a man! He worked some exciting looped textures, over which delicate songs emerged. Eyes, all pavement searching; lyrics, a rich early smog-like poetry, all shot through the obliqueness of a dusty shop window.

Joey Chainsaw was a spectre of noise with drumsticks jammed into his guitar strings. An outbreak of broken limbs that produced some truly evil {evol}, super-percussive kollaps… A litany of sonic decay, baked in the shadowy crows of feedback, pecking out the eyes in echoed machine skuzz. His show ending as all his strings fell about the floor, uselessly spent… Always a joy to behold, and the only band I knew on the bill!

House of John Player – Wow this guy had a decisive strumming style, trapping portions in his looper and over working them with a pacy delivery… reminded me of that Finnish chap, who's name escapes he – really physical, you could literally bottle the energy, cut it from the air ---- like it needed an exit …Wrapped in a slow soak of extended delay…

Half way through a plate of wedges, above us exploded in bouts of massive drum action, a foot village vibe that forced the abandoning of food as we shot upstairs...

American Gods they were called, the sound a stop/start assault on the senses… jutting shapes that had a crazy, sometimes perverse logic of their own. The bass a meat rack of Bauhaus churn, the hammered drum kit smashing the air in flurries of energy, lead guitar curving up the roasted corpse, lyrics hopelessly lost in loudness…

...Turn into demons was more classic rock signatures, but no less enticing. With their lock-groove eagerness and guitar fx- saturated snakes, the group’s momentum marred slightly when the second drummer put his foot through the bass drum. The first drummer looking the spit of a 16th Century Witchfinder General’… Half expecting a chorus of ‘Wit-ccccc-hezzzzzzzz buuuurn’, but it never materialized as it was all in my head.

Chops – a crazy,crazzzzy mangled pop, squirreled through gong sax, fx smeared keys, melt banana tempo switch-a-roos, and fits of absolutely mental drumming… Trying to describe their sound is just pointless, it’s just something you need to experience for yourself...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

White Hills - Glitter Glamour Atrocity

Well Glitter Glamour Atrocity is a gem of an album, straddling space psych, rock riffage and drone entrenched sample-delica with ease. That insistent drum beat nailing your attention, those solid guitars and sleek vocal fruits curling your ear... There’s too much to love about this release, the re-sampling of Bush as terrorist/bumbling antichrist brought about a satisfying grin... there’s even a hauntingly beautiful acoustic lilt in there too...

Love the boot camp rock of Passage, with its zombie chorus sounding like a bunch of hypnotized bunnies off to the slaughter - A nice comment on military leadership, in whiny guitar, and a Cylon vox aptly devoid of humanity.

The journey ends with a 14min coaster ride of Circle(ish) proportions, maybe not as flesh shearing as I’m accustomed to, but still packs quite a punch never the less. Those Goblin-like whispers itching your subconscious, as a meaty bass skuzz and drum combo opens out to a Heads type freak out, all fringed in suitable amount of space twirl and pre-recorded stitching. Extra fuzzy guitar etch-a-sketch, stirring it all up with extra spice coming across like a scratched news reel that suddenly burns out from the centre making an oasis for a calm and reflective fade out.

Blatantly anti war, Whitehills have successfully avoided all those preaching clichés to give us a satisfying listen that has a depth that lingers even after numerous replays. A thrill packed 50mins and fabulous neon artwork to boot...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Girl on a Motorcycle

£1.99 down the local Tescos! A bit of a cult film in its day, it hasn’t aged well... a slice of another time, when attendants served you petrol and pipe smoking was considered sexy...


One of my favourite Tangerine Dream LP’s ever, lots of delicious shots of scuttling percussion, overbearing organ drama and the odd vocal bubblewrap amongst beaded twilights and synthy salamanders. It’s like a Radox bath for the ears, from which you suddenly awaken startled and cold...
...Just look at that pin mould and lichen wrapping their stern faces, imagined soil tucked under their fingernails, heads full of sonic budgies gnawing at their cages.