diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

diskant rewind: Freedom From Excessive Noise #1

Posted: February 13th, 2009, by Stuart Fowkes

(Originally posted February 2002)

Freedom From Excessive Noise by Stuart Fowkes

2001. A year in which one of the top selling albums was a compilation of classic lounge covers by Robbie Williams and The Strokes used the events of September 11 as a marketing opportunity (we’ll pull ‘New York City Cops’ from the album, in case any of you were worried. Go Team Strokes!). What else happened? I can’t really remember, but I expect it was good. You’ll have to make do with my vague top ten of 2001 – imagine it’s being excitedly presented by wee Gail Porter in a tiny top or something.

Starting at the top, the gold medal, bottle of champagne, scantily clad girl and place atop the winner’s rostrum goes to an EP called Morning One by a gentleman going under the assumed name of Aarktica (Ochre Records). The lead track of the three, ‘These Days Fail To Bring Me Near’, is the most involving piece of new music I’ve heard this year. It’s basically five minutes of ambient washes of noise, vocals you can barely make out and a really simple picked guitar part. And that’s it. The most pretentious thing about the EP is that it’s themed around soundtracking the moment when you wake up in the morning with your arms around someone you love (your mum doesn’t count) for the first time. Which would make me laugh in its face, apart from the fact that Jon only goes and pulls it off. The other two tracks (predictably) don’t rise to the same heights, but this has the first choice of biscuit from the Tesco Finest selection simply because I want ‘These Days Fail To Bring Me Near’ to be the last song I hear before I die, it’s that good.

No prizes for originality for choosing Confield by Autechre, but that’s not the point. Messrs. Booth and Brown have been making fantastic records for forty-nine years now, records consistently far better than anyone else in electronic music (yes, even Gary Numan). ‘VI scose poise’ starts the journey like the track Aphex Twin meant to write when he was messing about with ‘Bucephalus Bouncing Ball’, and by the time ‘lentic catachresis’ arrives, Autechre have actually smashed music to bits like petulant children with drum machines. Half of this record makes me want to sit down and write something even a quarter as good, and the other half makes me want to give up making music because Autechre are so far ahead of the game, it’s pointless anyone else even trying. As that German bloke might have said to Ned Nederlander in The Three Amigos, ‘Autechre are gods in my country.’

In the future, there’ll be a special guitar available from shops on Tottenham Court Road. It’ll be five times as ROCK as a Flying V, with six pickups, five tone controls, a built-in phaser and no volume control (volume is set to maximum). It’ll come tuned a whole step down and no matter how fast you play it, it will periodically drop into slow, horrible riffs. It’ll be called the Will Haven, and it still won’t help you get a guitar sound anything like as remarkable as that on Carpe Diem (Revelation Records/Music For Nations).

Drowningman might have a way with words, but I’m going on the song titles to tell you that. Even if it wasn’t patently ace, Rock And Roll Killing Machine (Revelation Records) would be in my top ten on song titles alone, ‘Last week’s minutes from the meeting of the secret society of your friends who actually hate you’ and ‘If God loves a winner, he’s going to want to fuck me in a minute’ being just two that are worth eating up my word count for. It’s the kind of hardcore Revelation specialise in when they’re on form, and might be the best sub-30 minute heavy album since Reign In Blood. This is the soundtrack to murder, and I genuinely believe that all five of these men have killed in cold blood. If it was any longer than 29 minutes, I think I’d be in prison by now.

Cleaning up the top ten are the trio of why?, odd nosdam and dose one, who made their debut as cLOUDDEAD this year with their eponymous album (Big Dada Recordings). Nothing about this record makes much sense: it’s like Mormons laying down abstract hip hop beats with Method Man gulping down nitrous oxide and reading aloud from James Joyce. No, really. There are 12 tracks, each forming parts 1 and 2 of the six songs that make up the album, the lyrics typed out in the inner sleeve like e.e. cummings’ suicide note. Freeform, experimental hip hop laced with remarkable lyrical stories worth reading in their own right. Basically, nobody else is making music like this.

And on to the bit of the chart rundown nobody ever remembers, numbers 31 to 40, or the bottom five of this top ten. Horror movies are great, right? And so is Mike Patton. Imagine my excitement, then, when Mr Patton’s Fantomas decided it would be worth recording some mental loud guitar versions of classic films from The Godfather to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (Director’s Cut, Ipecac Recordings). Worth buying just for the schizophrenic interpretation of Rosemary’s Baby, and a fitting testament to a life spent glued to Channel 4 at 2.00 am. Ninja Tune’s DJ Food showed up every lazy garrij anfumz compilation with the first Solid Steel mix album (Now, Listen!, Ninja Tune), dropping everything from Herbie Hancock and Boards of Canada to Art of Noise and The Beat (yes, really). Going from Fierce Panda contributors as Stumble to singles in Japan under a new name, the Intentions of an Asteroid album is going to be worth waiting for if the demo is anything to go by. Four singles and a load of live favourites like ‘Galvatron’ – there’s no reason why Ash and Muse are famous when Intentions… (terrible name aside) are far better than either of ’em. Their labelmates on Fierce Panda, Kaito (not Cato, Cayto or Kato), almost matched the greatness of their live shows with You’ve seen us…you must have seen us (Fierce Panda) (insert guff about Bis being done over by Sonic Youth here). And it’s feminist icon Kim Gordon who finds herself namechecked alongside Mo Mowlam and Simone de Beauvoir in the sleeve to Rock It To The Moon (Let’s Rock! Records) by Electrelane. Farfisa organs, ten-minute songs and an austere feminist cool mark an end to this hastily-composed, umm, record of the year. Back soon with some new bands. Bye!

Stuart Fowkes

Stuart is possibly one of the tallest people you have ever seen. He towers above your puny skyscrapers like Rodan on steroids, his blonde spikes puncturing the atmosphe re like crazed, gelled knives. In real life he is part of the Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element pop outfit, and writes for other websites as well as this one - the cheeky blighter. He favours the noisier end of the musical spectrum, with a fervour which would seem to indicate a dodgy heavy metal past.


Comments are closed.