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Archive for May, 2006

From the desk of the diskant Overlord – 27 May

Posted: May 27th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

Things I can’t shut up about at the moment:

Nintendo DS Lite
I have almost pre-ordered one twice now but the Friday launch date and letterbox size/grumpy postmen scenario makes me think getting one delivered is not the best option. If I have to spend the launch weekend knowing my new DS is at my work or at my delivery office I will probably cry (or claw my way into either building). Obviously Animal Crossing will be my first game purchase. I’m currently deciding between Wario Ware and Zoo Keeper as my second. The choice would be easier if I could work out where the hell I put my GBA and games when I moved house. Sigh.
[Update – I found them under the stairs! WarioWare still rules.]

iTunes
The program too, but mostly the Music Store. It’s like eBay to the power of Amazon. Not only can I pick up random pop songs I hear on the radio and continue to avoid having to purchase CD singles to get the remixes or b-sides, I can buy just the good (PSB produced) half of Dusty Springfield’s Reputation album and Girls Aloud videos. At 79p a track and with a credit card tie-in that beats even PayPal for the illusion of free money, they’ve even got me buying stuff twice – once on vinyl for the house and then MP3s for my iPod. Pure evil genius, I tells you. In a similar vein, I am in awe of PlusDeck, a cassette player for your PC so you can convert tapes to MP3. I want one of these rather badly – make a Mac version!

Crowded Teeth
These all involve shopping, don’t they? Crowded Teeth make wonderful Tshirts, hoodies, patches etc. for girls and guys and I am loving them. I have already bought Tshirts with bunny flowers and bears going Grrr! and now she has a SALE on I have succumbed and ordered more. Fuzzy apple prints!

Current listening: Dusty Springfield, Gay Against You, Econoline, Otterley, Pet Shop Boys, :(, Park Attack.

diskant interview slackness stats: Interviewees: 2, Me: 3

Mi Valentino Bloody

Posted: May 26th, 2006, by Simon Proffitt

Best. My Bloody Valentine cover version. Ever.

A bunch of short reviews

Posted: May 20th, 2006, by Dave Stockwell

Okay, okay, I never have time write on this thing any more, and reviews get written about once a century with the free time I’m afforded these days. So I figured I’d rip off Joe’s post from last month and cut ‘n’ paste a bunch’f very short synopses about records that have been getting at my goat (in a good way) in the last couple of months. These were mostly scribbled at whilst poring over some boring spreadsheet at work, so apologies for any incoherence involved. There’ve been some goodies so far this year though…

Corrupted – “Llenandose des Gusanos” 2xCD (HG Fact)
Whatta band. For the uninitiated, Corrupted are a Japanese sludge/doom metal band who sing in Spanish for no discernable reason. Oh yeah; they’re quite possibly the slowest, heaviest band in existence. What’s more: this album may be their finest hour. Slower, grimmer, more dramatic and soul-sapping than anything else I’ve ever encountered. In short: fucking amazing.

Anton Batagov -“The Wheel of the Law” 3xCD (Listen Different)
A huge slab o’ work by this young Russian modernist pianist & composer. I can’t find out much info on him but I think he previously collaborated with Morton Feldman. Nice. This is an extremely minimal set of pieces performed by just three or four instruments – organ, glockenspiel, xylophone, piano and sometimes percussion all stick their heads up at various times. Apparently this work is based around the Buddhist quest for nirvana, and it’s certainly beautifully beguiling and wonderfully paced music that slowly lulls you into calm and meditation. I’m still getting to grips with the less lush and more ‘difficult’ middle piece, but the first and last movements are jawdroppingly good.

Liars – “Drum’s Not Dead” (Mute)
Good to have the Liars back and confounded some expectations after “…We Drowned” got so pilloried. This one seems to have received a much warmer reception, and is definitely a lot more straight-forward whilst retaining some of the last album’s ‘out-there’ spirit. Nice DVD with three visual interpretations of the album included too. For some reason, I still I think I kinda prefer “..Drowned”.

Flower Travellin’ Band – “Satori” (Radioactive – reissue)
A weird one: ’70s psych-riffing madness from Japan, apparently influenced in equal measures by Sabbath, Deep Purple and Can (well, their singer’s as out of control as Damo Suzuki anyhow). Dunno if it’s hippy-swinging fun or just bullshit right now. I think I gotta be in the right mood. Hasn’t happened yet, but you never know.

Andrew Chalk – “Blues Eyes of the March” & “Shadows from the Album Skies” (both on Faraway Press)
Now these are the fucking bollocks. Andrew Chalk has been making elegiac drone music from murky depths for years now, but these last couple of releases really hit the spot for me. Gorgeously vague shimmerings by instruments rendered almost unidentifiable by the extent of gauzy treatment smeared all over them. For me, this is as close to perfection as I could dream of. Sumptuous packaging on the man’s own label too, adding to the luxuriant atmosphere throughout. Best listened to whilst lying down on a hot day, bathing in the sunshine. You might need to wait until June for this to actually occur, given recent conditions.

AFX – “Chosen Lords” (Rephlex)
The Aphex Twin bounces back six years after a lot of people got confused/disappointed by “Druqks”. A return to analogue wibbling and more straightforward drum-machine manipulation, this collection of selected tracks from his recent flabbergasting run of “Analord” 12″s should be more than enough to restore any doubting Thomas’ faith in Richard D. James’ huge melodic and inventive programming talents. A real crowd-pleaser of a comeback that is as reassuring as it is just plain enjoyable to listen to. Even if (or because?) it all sounds like it could have come out at any time in the last 15 years.

V/A – “The Invisible Pyramid” 6xCD (Last Visible Dog)
A staggeringly thorough compilation of pretty much all the major contributors to the last few years of the burgeoning “freak”/”lo-fi drone”/”ambient”/”etc”/”whatever the fuck you want to call it ‘cus I can’t be bothered” movement, giving us gems by such established gods as Vibracathedral Orchestra, Birchville Cat Motel, My Cat Is An Alien, Charalambides, and even Bardo Pond; but also introducing us to a ton of people you’ve never heard of, whose contributions sometimes outweigh the usual contenders – check With Throats As Fine As Needles, Area C, Matt De Gennaro (okay, he’s actually pretty established but I’d never heard him before), Alligator Crystal Moth, etc. There’re seven and half hours of music to be found here, so needless to say I’ve barely scratched the surface of this sucker, despite getting it last year. I’ve got a feeling it’s gonna sit in my LISTEN TO THIS SHIT pile by my stereo for a good while longer yet. Essential listening if you’ve got any interest in drone elegy or any of the artists currently operating near the fringes of musical exploration.

Seht – “Federacy Boot” (PseudoArcana)
Seht is one increasingly prolific man from New Zealand called Stephen Clover, who specialises in tweaked-out dronescapes and experiments in layers of manipulated and time-stretched sounds. This is one of his latest, and as good as any of Clover’s others. My personal favourite so far is the church organ-driven pileup of “Nova Bonalbo” that came out on musicyourmindwillloveyou a month or two back, but this one’s just as worth tracking down. He’s also on the Invisible Pyramid box.

Paul Flaherty & Chris Corsano – “The Beloved Music” (Family Vineyard)
Three heart-stoppin’ sax/drums free jazz workouts here, recorded live in all their gut-bustin’ glory. Two modern jazz deities playing together at their best: Flaherty’s a master of his instrument, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to see Chris Corsano drum in one of the myriad of projects he’s embarked upon since moving to Manchester last year, I suggest you do so as soon as possible. There is some real joyful hammering going on here, and it’s just as good as their last one together, “Last Eyes”.

Steve Baczkowski, Paul Flaherty & Chris Corsano – “The Dim Bulb” (Wet Paint)
Flaherty and Corsano are joined by a baritone sax blower here, with Flaherty switching between tenor and alto sax as complement. This one is wilder and maybe harder to get to grips with as there’s so much going on. Still gloriously headswimming music though; well worth checking out if you’ve heard and enjoyed any of these fuckers’ other stuff. The last track’s almost half an hour long and will bust your skull open with gamma-ray intensity if you’re not careful. On Flaherty’s own label to boot.

Steve Baczkowski & Ravi Padmanabha – “Tongue Rust & Lead Moth” (Utech)
Here is Baczkowski collaborating with a fascinating drum/tabla player who takes a far less cacophonic and pounding approach than Corsano; instead taking the opportunity to explore gentler/abstract territories, whilst still finding time to rip shit up now and again. Whilst the two releases above mostly deal with 10-15 minute blowouts, this CD features far more concise and exploratory affairs. Perfect for when “The Beloved Music” has been blowing your brains out through your ears just a little too hard recently.

V/A – “Sound Surrounds Us” Vol.3 (musicyourmindwillloveyou)
Latest volume from an excellent underground label that collects disparate bedroom-based dronologists and freak-folk, uh, freaks and sticks them together to show beauteous harmony resonates around the world. 4 long-form pieces on display here, featuring the latest great white hopes of New Zealand-based oddness, the Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood (two siblings make spontaneous and really rather pretty murkscapes); the UK’s own promising ambient conquistadors, Rameses III (who have previously trod a thin line between prettiness and cheese but do a lovely 20-minute slab of groaning beauty here); some new crazed Finnish kids on the block called ffehro (more drug-crazed rituals in thick forests of broken instruments); and finally Foxy Digitalis honcho Brad Wood turning up in what might be his most musically aggressive outfit yet as part of Ajilvsga (just plain fucken wierd).

Dinosaur Jr – “Where You Been?” (Blanco Y Negro)
Okay, this is far from new or even recent, but my Dinosaur knowledge is potted at best and I saw this old ‘un on my flatmate’s shelf, so I had to nab it for a few spins and an update. Some amazing Mascis blowouts/solos on here, hoppin’ that fine line between cheese-fest and fuckin’ ROCKIN’ out. The best thing about this album is definitely the falsetto backing vocals though – so fricken sweet.

Jesu – “Silver” EP (Hydrahead)
In some ways this is a real turn-up for the books; in others it’s still the genius of Justin K. Broadrick enduring as he explores new pastures. The same huge downer grind of the first Jesu album remains, but the first two tracks on this EP will shock you with the amount of melody and unprocessed, actually sung vocals. The second track, ‘Star’, is even pretty fast, and almost sounds like mid-’90s post-hardcore straight outta the better output of Jawbreaker or something of that ilk. Except with supremely heavy guitars lathered all over it, of course. Christ, this is almost pop music. Whatever the case, it deserves to spend all summer at number one, with Broadrick’s guitar amps flattening the Top Of The Pops studio audience week-in, week-out. Really, really fucking good – if you’ve had any interest in Godflesh/Jesu/Broadrick in the past, you HAVE to hear this.

Moss – “Cthonic Rites” (Aurora Borealis)
I’ve never encountered a band’s self-description that’s quite so apt: “Nihilistic Extreme Doom”. Massively downtuned, bowel-scrapingly slow guitar and drums back some unearthly shrieked vokills for two songs in the space of about an hour. Impressively heavy considering they don’t have a bassist, and probably the most depressing record I’ve ever heard: really sucks the life out of you. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends entirely on your attitude.

James Blackshaw – “O True Believers” (Important)
Blackshaw’s only been around a short while, but with every release he’s been getting more and more impressive. This could be considered to be his first ‘proper’ CD album, and yet again it’s a winner. Blissed-out 12-string guitar ragas extend their tendrils into your soul and bathe it in light, with each of James’ dextrous fingers plucking your heart’s chords until you reach ecstasy. Well, something like that anyway. If you’ve been hearing about or digging folks like Jack Rose or Six Organs of Admittance, this guy is the one you should hear. [Plug alert:] Conveniently, James is playing the Oats & Groats Festival in a gorgeous country park Leeds this July, which sounds like extremely salubrious conditions in which to experience him. Check out www.oatsandgroats.co.uk.

Jonathan Coleclough & Lethe – “Long Heat” (ICR)
Coleclough is king of drone texture/manipulation if you ask me – previous work such as “Period” and “Beech for John and Miho” are evidence of such – and this is his latest collaboration, recording and processing some cavernous reverberations of Lethe working with pieces of metal in a huge room. The album proper is a surprisingly dramatic work, sporting ominously deep drones and some unexpected shifts and stops in sound that will shock anyone used to nodding out to previous Coleclough zen-like hymns. The second CD included with the limited ‘special edition’ is far more serene however, and I think I actually prefer it for that.

Steven R. Smith – “Kohl” (Emperor Jones – reissue)
Smith might be better known as part of the Jewelled Anter collective; or a member of the fantastic nature-driven droners Thuja; or by his Hala Strana project of reinterpreting old Eastern European folk songs; or possibly by his old rollickin’ psych-rock band Mirza. He’s also done a boatload of solo recordings down the years, usually in stupidly limited numbers. Thankfully, Emperor Jones have followed up their release of the third(?) Thuja album a couple of years back by making one of Smith’s most celebrated releases available for the masses outside the CDR fanclub; and boy, is it a doozy.

I find it difficult to describe Smith’s music to any satisfaction because I find his playing so evocative and affecting. When he plays under his own name it almost always is him playing an instrument solo – usually a guitar that may or may not be affected with distortion and/or delay, and always with a patience and lyrical style that immediately draw you in. Though he may not be as flashy or have the chops of someone like Rose or Chasny, I find myself far more emotionally involved with Smith’s carefully-chosen sparse pluckings, and this is sublime stuff. Oh yeah, Smith pops up on that fiendish Invisible Pyramid box too. The Bastid.

Sonny Sharrock – “Black Woman” (Four Men With Beards – reissue)
If you ever get the chance, ask Chris to tell you all about how amazing this album is. Awe-inspiring guitar-driven free jazz with some startling vocals by Sonny’s then-wife Linda, it really needs to be heard to be believed. Sometimes I think it’s a bit of a shambling mess; others I think it’s one of the greatest records ever made. The second half especially is flabbergasting, containing my favouritest bit of solo guitar playing in Sharrock’s signature tune ‘Blind Willie’, and the triumphant storming of heaven in the closer “Portrait of Linda in Three Colours, All Black”. You must hear this record, which has thankfully reissued onto some satisfyingly heavy vinyl with liner notes by Byron Coley. Get it.

Magik Markers – “For Sada Jane” (Textile)
Got this newest splurge from the Markers last week, and it’ll bewilder whether you’ve heard previous efforts or not. It’s still great stuff – four murky K-holed hymns of alienation, only one of which is performed by the “classic” line-up of Elisa, Leah and Pete. Numerous guests abound, and two songs are even acoustic ferchrissakes! Less Confusion Is Sex and more super-damaged outsider folk, I’m told. Pretty danged awesome though.

Stuckometer/Milk Teeth – split c30 (Hearing Aid)
Brand new and some hot fucking shit from two outfits currently laying waste to ears all over Manchester, which was never lucky enough to have such excitement when I lived there. Stuckometer have been going since last year and rip out a furiously insistent jam of heavy-hitting clattering drums, heaving bass and two splattering dischordant guitars going batshit on their side – if you’d seen them do this live you would’ve sworn they piss all over any other “free improv” (or “post-lightning bolt”, as I once saw them described) rock bands you might’ve seen in the last year. Really inspired/chaotic shit. Milk Teeth are a collaboration between Barry of Stuckometer and Smear Campaign (aka Stuart) doing some really fierce power electronics experimentation that comes across like a hot poker caressing your spine. I was really impressed by how harsh these fuckers are. Great stuff, and the spray-painted cassette comes in a hand-stitched denim sleeve to boot. Viva le Manchester renaissance!

SONVER – SonVer (Disconnected)

Posted: May 20th, 2006, by Andrew Bryers

SonVer (yes that’s how they spell it) are Joanna Quail and Ben McLees. She plays cello, he plays guitar, they both do funny things with computers and they’ve played the Royal Albert Hall, apparently, which is frankly more impressive than anything I’ve ever done. In their publicity picture they look well moody.

This, their debut album, is a dense atmospheric, instrumental affair, using layer upon layer of gloomy acoustic and electric cello, chiming guitar, deft touches of electronica and the occasional skittery beat to conjure up images of dark forests and half-remembered nightmares. Sometimes abstract, atonal or ambient, always weirdly unsettling, the music at times recalls, the spooky bits in A Silver Mt Zion/Godspeed… tracks, and at others captures that instinctive sense of wrongness in Aphex Twin’s ambient stuff. There are touches of baroque and celtic, and moments of transcendental wonder, like when “Last Thursday” bursts forth into peals of jubilant melodic noise and you know that it’s doing that post rock thing of wiring directly into your emotional centres in a way that no skinny kid with an acoustic guitar ever could.

The other thing about this album is that it’s a unique opportunity to ascertain your own personal cello saturation threshold. Mine, alas, is about two thirds of the way through when I catch myself longing for an oboe or, well, anything to break the pattern. Nevertheless, this is an accomplished, enthralling and occasionally startling album. Go sit somewhere spooky, dim the lights, stick it on, and give yourself a weird-on.

SonVer’s Website

I wish I was at ATP

Posted: May 19th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

Well, not entirely but I’ve just been doing some of the tedious re-keywording of the entire diskant archives (oh the fun of an Overlord evening) and re-reading our ATP round-ups with much nostalgia. Those truly were “the days”.

Anyway, looks like Barry Hogan has been keeping an eye out as I see we predicted both Sleater-Kinney and Mudhoney as future curators back in our ATP 2004 round-up. Go us.

Can someone buy me this please?

Posted: May 18th, 2006, by Chris Summerlin

Link

Thanks!

GAY AGAINST YOU – Gay Against You (self-released CDR)

Posted: May 17th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

Gay Against You know the meaning of entertainment, and fun. Their recent support slot for Lightning Bolt was so entertaining that we barely stopped laughing throughout the duration of their half hour set. COSTUMES OVER CONTENT boasts their Myspace, a slogan worthy of OXES Rowdyism at its best. When we saw them, this involved 80s PE kits, homemade bandanas and covering their faces with multicoloured sticker dots. Despite this claim, our fears of the content of their CDR being unlistenable nonsense were completely unfounded. Instead it is well-constructed enjoyable idiocy. The CD also comes in a variety of neon coloured sleeves. Mine is pink.

The undeniable highlight of this release is a song called Gay Unicorns which is about, well, gay unicorns and mainly involves chanting UNICORN! UNICORN! over ridiculously dinky keyboards. Plums de la Mer is possibly my favourite though with a catchy tune trying to push its way over the glitchy distorted casio backing, a toy keyboard having nightmares of a hundred toddlers with sticky fingers. Elsewhere, Ppanda is basically a minute and a half of yelping and squealing and general spazzing out. They bookend this CD with Hello and Good-bye, both of which feature what can only be described as a synthesised saxamaccordian. When they played Good-bye live they managed to endear the entire audience into waving at them for a good couple of minutes.

Gay Against You are part of a fine mentalist tradition that spans Atari Teenage Riot, Denim and Diamonds, Les Savy Fav, Devo and, er, Dweeb and are a breath of fresh air in the often po-faced pretentious Glasgow noise/improv scene. Anyone want to put on a FUN, ELECTRONIC version of Subcurrent? Thought not. Anyway, they’re touring in July and have some proper records out then too so look out!

Gay Against You at MySpace

GET HUSTLE – Rollin’ In The Ruins (31G)

Posted: May 15th, 2006, by Chris Summerlin

My friend Phil and I have a joke that always gets delivered when coming out of a record store:

“What’d you buy?”
“Oh (insert names of really good, weird, interesting contemporary records)…
….never gonna listen to them”

It’s true. So much music exists purely as a fetish item, an object divorced from it’s purpose – to be listened to. It’s why people buy unplayable lathe cut 9.5 inch records or CDs encased in packaging that has to be broken to be played. Playing it is not the point, owning it is.

I don’t want to be presumptious to the people who buy their records, but I reckon the Get Hustle are a good example of this. In fact, Phil himself said he hadn’t listened to their debut album Earth Odyssey in a while now. But get this, they shouldn’t be. They shouldn’t exist in that chasm of bands who sell more belt buckles than records.
Earth Odyssey is a cracking record, I wore it out listening to it when I got it. But this new stuff is something else. The warning sign was shot like a flare with the Who Do You Love? 7″ a while back, that reduced Bo Diddley’s sexual brag to a series of terrifying throbs and grunts that genuinely seem from another planet.
Rollin’ In The Ruins takes that and just makes it even stranger but yet somehow more euphoric. It’s more showy, more entertaining, still as minimal in the instrumentation but yet massive in sound. They always had this thing for a crescendo and a crash and an extravagant gesture but now it’s like a hyped up circus Barnum-gone-wrong witchdoctor hocus pocus overwhelming BLOB of sound.
WSTP especially is giant, I would kill to see them do it live (c’mon folks, UK tour?) and in Valentine they have a genuinely unsettling, commanding frontwoman. I don’t know who to compare it to: Ike & Tina Turner? Sun Ra? Birthday Party?
I don’t know. I’m not going to tell you to buy it as I reckon loads of you already have, I’m going to tell you to break the seal and listen to the damn thing.

LIGHTNING BOLT – Glasgow’s Grand Old Oprey, 15-05-06

Posted: May 14th, 2006, by Alex McChesney

I’m just home from this gig. My ears aren’t ringing as much as I’d anticipated, but man, my face is sore from grinning.

I nearly saw Lightning Bolt at ATP 2004. Something was clearly happening behind that whipped-up throng. Something loud and interesting, but something I was a bit disconnected with, partly because of the crowd, partly because I was a bit noised out by that point. I still bought a copy of their album “Wonderful Rainbow” at the merchandise stand, though. As I did so, a bystander looked at me, his eyes burning with a kind of religious mania. “Track three, man,” he said, indicating my new purchase. “The only song you’ll ever need.”

That track, “Dracula Mountain”, is pretty ace. A rich, thick slab of grotesquely melodic noise and hyperkinetic drumming. I continued to listen to other songs, and other albums, however, only revisiting that CD occasionally, remembering, for a while, how good it is, and putting it away again until my ears had cooled.

I did, however, continue to wonder what I was missing behind that wall of heads, so when I heard that they were playing Glasgow I was keen to see them. And even more so when I found out that they were playing at the Grand Old Oprey, a venue more used to Tuesday-night line-dancing classes and pretend shootouts between Govan cowboys, than extreme noise bands. Realising that if we stayed downstairs we were likely to have similar difficulty in actually seeing the band, we headed up to the balcony and secured a good spot.

First, though, Gay Against You, two young lads wearing their PE gear who scream about unicorns and the pains of being lactose intolerant to the sound of cheap Casio beats turned up to deafening and distorted volume. What could turn into a lot of awful, pretentious performance-art nonsense is saved by being tremendous fun, handing out cakes to the audience, and being carried around on the backs of (rightfully) enthusiastic fans.

Of course, they play on the floor surrounded by the crowd, as Lightning Bolt eschew stages and the Oprey’s is curtained off, leaving the bands to perform under the twin confederate flags mounted above it. This is good for Gay Against You. They like a bit of audience participation, and this particular audience, while a little bemused, are generally game for a laugh. After their set I descended to floor level to buy a cheap CD and a round of drinks, and noticed an unusually smiley atmosphere about the crowd.

This good mood carries through to Lightning Bolt’s set, but the uneducated observer might have seen the pushing, elbowing mass that formed as soon as the first distorted bass chord was struck as an angry mob. Not a bit of it, of course. Where the support act still had room to move, the space around Lightning Bolt contracts whippet-fast. The lone bouncer, looking, in his nice smart coat and tie, more like a school headmaster, tries gamely to keep order, but surrenders about ten minutes in. Inter-song requests by the band themselves to give them some breathing room have a bit more power, but as soon as they start playing, the crowd moves in again, particles excited by the energy of the Lightning Bolt, subservient to physics more than anything else. The hardest of the hard-core invite physical injury in addition to hearing loss by placing their hands over Brian Chippendale’s cymbals, drawn like moths to the flame because while Lightning Bolt hurt it’s only because life hurts too and reminds you that you’re still breathing and…

Oh, I’m overanalysing.

All you need to know is that Lightning Bolt are fucking awesome, man!

And they are the only band you’ll ever need.

Lightning Bolt
Gay Against You

Need a designer?

Posted: May 14th, 2006, by Simon Minter

In case anybody is in need of a designer (for record sleeves, flyers, posters, websites etc) I’ve just put a load of my work online to see – mostly music-based but some other things in there as well.

www.nineteenpoint.com

Enjoy, and drop me a line if you need a designer to make your things look right nice.

(ps. I’m not trying to go head-to-head with Chris in the design playoffs here… it is a coincidence!)