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Archive for May, 2010

SLOATH — Sloath (LP, Riot Season)

Posted: May 30th, 2010, by Simon Minter

Sloath exist in an ever-more-crowded, and increasingly tiresome corner of the musical world. They play crushing, sludgy heavy rock with the tempo turned down to a snail’s pace. As do many other bands. Crushing, sludgy, slow-tempo heavy rock is becoming the alternative band’s modus operandi du jour, because perhaps it’s the kind of music that’s often misconstrued as easy to make. It’s not, which is why so many bands fail at this stuff. Anybody can play a slow riff over and over, but not all can make doing so engaging, powerful and effective.

Sloath get things pretty right on their self-titled debut album. Three tracks only, none less than ten minutes long, the last almost twenty. What they seem to have grasped is that when you’re making this kind of noise, it starkly exposes every element, and demands of the listener an appreciation of repetition that had damned well better get rewarded. So when writing about this it’s difficult to do much beyond pointing out some of the important turning points in each track: overall, this is an album of hard riffs, slow speeds and a seemingly non-shifting sensibility, but it’s surprisingly rich and crafted when pulled apart.

‘Black Hole’ blasts in with a full frequency wall of sound. Feedback curls and meaningless vocal wails are swallowed into long howls of guitar before a glass-shattering six-string scream cuts things to an abrupt end. ‘Cane Trader’ seems almost traditional at first – a circling riff with skittering drum patterns. Five minutes in, it begins to break things apart, with the introduction of dive-bombing guitar lines which drag the tune down into a deeper circle of noise. ‘Please Maintain’ begins as almost tender, with a sweet melody turning, through three notes, into a dark place. Echoes of plucked notes are warm and comforting. Around nine minutes in, the rug is pulled and things get ramped up, get more serious. Speakers can barely contain the squall of layers that are repeatedly added (one of which is almost a guitar solo, unwound to a tenth of normal playing speed). After seventeen minutes, we reach the other side of the storm, with shimmering echoes of cymbal gradually bringing the album to a close. The in-the-red fuzz sounds of a recording that can’t really handle the volume in the studio adds a certain physicality to the album – like it’s angrily contained within the silver disc, but bursting at its edge.

Sloath on MySpace
Riot Season website

Blue Sausage Infant – Flight Of The Solstice Queens (CD, Zero Moon)

Posted: May 25th, 2010, by Justin Snow

Apparently this Blue Sausage Infant dude, Chester Hawkins, has been around the noise scene for a while, already having played with major hitters like Christopher Willits and Strotter Inst. My apologies to you all for not passing along this awesomeness sooner.

I can’t review this guy’s record and not talk about his name, so I might as well get that out of the way. Honestly, Blue Sausage Infant is probably one of the grossest band names I’ve ever heard. When he contacted me to review his new record, I almost didn’t even listen to it because I thought there’s no possible way I could like the music made by someone called Blue Sausage Infant. Luckily, I was open minded enough (and he seemed cool, writing a friendly personalized message) that I thought, sure, why the fuck not. Just give it a listen. Guys, it would have been a goddamn tragedy if I skipped over Blue Sausage Infant because Flight Of The Solstice Queens is really, REALLY fucking good.

The music isn’t as intensely fucked up or disgusting as the name implies. It’s not some twisted Gnaw Their Tongues horrorcore, it’s not Locust style hyper grindcore, it’s (surprisingly enough) some strange alchemic psychnoise krautdrone.

The opener “Gezundheit!” is about as bizarre as it gets, with a children’s TV show sounding happy time theme song playing over people fake sneezing and complaining they need more nasal decongestant. The rest of the album is a little more straightforward, by which I just mean you don’t feel like you’re tripping balls while watching Lidsville.

The songs are seriously all over the place. It’s all ambient static weirdness on “Locust Of Control.” “Ashtray Man” is just insane, a fast paced psych freakout where the guitars aren’t chugging along with killer riffs or doing the solo noodling thing, they’re just squawking and squealing like a broken electronic parrot. Fuck, maybe it is some electronics shit and not guitars. You can’t even tell.

“Space” opens with a wall of abrasive panning feedback that turns your speakers white just before they melt into a puddle of Alex Mack. It morphs into an unsettling blood boiling drone while a guy comes in spelling out some secret code, the sort of thing you’d hear on a numbers station except not numbers. Creepy as hell, let me tell you. “Radiant Arc,” one of my favorites, gets in a rad as fuck groove, somehow both chill & rocking, and stays there the entire time with droning organ melodies and intermittent squelches of electronics. I could just listen to that jam for the entire album, eyes closed, head keeping in time with the propulsive beat, and letting the CEV take over.

Flight Of The Solstice Queens was probably the last thing I expected to hear from a guy named Blue Sausage Infant but damn if it’s not better than anything I imagined. It’s super cohesive (especially for being so fucking genre scattered) and works perfectly for pretty much every situation you’ll find yourself in.

Blue Sausage Infant
Zero Moon

THE FALL – Bury (7″, Domino)

Posted: May 24th, 2010, by JGRAM

At the end of the day the sad truth/reality was that this was the only release I bought on Record Store Day that I actually wanted beforehand.  And I only got it out of good fortune when one of the Rough Trade clerks happened across some copies and did a shout out to the people in the queue to see if anybody wanted one.  I swear half an hour before this moment I had seen a man the age of Mark E. Smith carrying a pile of about fifteen copies of this record to the counter.  That should not have been allowed but in a way it all seems apt

Despite now being on their best record label for years The Fall artwork remains wonderfully incoherent, messy and looking tossed off in seconds.  There are just some things that remain reassuringly constant.

“Bury” is another great slab of vinyl.  Perversely it reminds me of a lo-fi version of “No One Knows” by Queens Of The Stone Age but it is also so much more.  We have a Bury here in East Anglia but it is nothing in comparison to this.

In many ways The Fall is a better act than ever.  Without doubt Mark E. Smith runs a tight ship and with its revolving door of musicians these days it’s not so much a band as an outfit with a squad mentality akin to the greatest football clubs.  This is the modern way of doing things, deal with it.  With this process in mind you can’t help but think in another life Smith might have made for a great football manager.  Maybe Manchester has a successor for Fergie after all (pending a reverse Tevez dose of treachery).

Wonderful distortion welcomes this song into the world which is then promptly pursued by a fine stomp and seemingly random musings from Mr Smith.  It’s all about Mr Smith.  This is the stuff of legend, it still sounds great after all these years and uses terms such as “municipal buildings” which you will be hard pressed to unearth anywhere else in music.  In a time when we need this music the most it truly comes to the plate and pays off tenfold.

Thesaurus moment: reliable.

The Fall


VILLAGERS – Becoming A Jackal (7″, Domino)

Posted: May 22nd, 2010, by JGRAM

Here is another limited edition release from Record Store Day.  By the point of this purchase I was just snapping up any cool looking or sounding release in order to bump up my goodies and prevent the people at the counter giggling at my pathetic collection of rubbish sucker releases.  I’m not so sure that this release should have made the cut however.

I have actually see Villagers and it was not an experience I would care to share or repeat.  The buzz was good with them being signed to Domino and all but the reality was trite and laboured.  For this I blame Bon Ivor and his log cabin bullshit.

Hailing from Ireland unfortunately this means Mr Conor J. O’Brien possesses a singing voice that reminds me of Feargal Sharkey gone through an auto tuner.  And we all know what happened to that guy.

It is all very impassioned and aimed (maybe cynically) at an audience experiencing a crisis and mentally drifting off into the distance as life becomes difficult for their kind.  Am I being too harsh?

Taking a deep breath and endeavouring to listen to this afresh things don’t really manage to improve as his storytelling style of lyrical narrative portrays a slow version of life that I just cannot relate to, one where a person has too long to dwell on the whimsy of life and little in the way of an arc existence.  I bet skinny people have sex to this music.

I still blame The Wicker Man.

Thesaurus moment: grandiose.





Posted: May 4th, 2010, by Simon Minter

Hey Colossus certainly know how to churn out the misanthropic, churning noise, don’t they? This is their sixth album (at least), coming along shortly after the previous one. I’m convinced that Hey Colossus were, in the past, some kind of joke and/or irony band, but now they sound totally serious. Can anybody sustain this amount of relentlessness and intensity, and not mean it?

There are eight tracks here. The two longest bookend the rest, suggesting a palindrome of a collection with the title track hovering around the centre. ‘Question’ is one long, hellish intro, with abstract guitar in the background, the occasional bass drone, and a Sunn o)))-style two-note riff chiming in to set the tone. This all seeps into a general miasma of noise in which distorted screams seem to float, everything rushing back and forward on the stereo channels. It really is somewhat full-on, and sets the tone perfectly. ’13 Millers Court’ next solidifies the two-note riff into chugging, da-da-da repetition. Then come the vocals – like Aphex Twin’s ‘Come to Daddy’ gone further south. There’s a song in here, but it’s piled underneath a metric ton of noise and derangement. It’s like Can if they’d grown up in 1970s Birmingham. After ‘Shithouse’, a random noise collage, comes ‘Pope Long Haul III’, picking up the pace to something approximating Big Business/Melvins/Karp style thunking noise, which is then slammed repeatedly into a wall. It has some sort of groove, but buried underneath wailing screams, feedback and odd tinkles of what sound like electronic noise. This finally begins to expose itself, as the track disintegrates into something similar to Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising connecting sound passages, before dropping into some kind of musique concrete weirdness.

At the album’s centre is ‘Eurogrumble’, which heads freefalling into a downward spiral. It’s got upbeat rhythm, dissonant noise, screaming and wailing, wound into a never-ending roll of energy. Out of this comes ‘Dredges’, a well-named shifting tectonic plate of a tune, with vocals become distorted to a point of disintegration. ‘King Come’ then reflects the earlier ’13 Millers Court’ – (superb) riffs and structure, but played as if from the inside of Hawkwind’s broken speakers. Finally, ‘Wait Your Turn’ echoes ‘Question’ with a strident, portentous feel: slowly, heavily played notes tracing a path through the endless feedback and reverb, eventually collapsing into the intense and repeated hammering of a single note, voices burbling in the background, squelches and electronic squeaks gasping for air, as an insistent drumbeat attempts to tie it all together. Finally, it stutters to a halt, with no extended outro, no long fade, just silence.

So are Hey Colossus a joke band? I really don’t think so, and this album makes me think even more that perhaps they never were. There’s a moment about four minutes into ‘Eurogrumble’ where a guitar line peeps out of the noise – this proves effortlessly that the band are in full control, and have crafted this stuff very carefully. It’s pretty magnificent.

Hey Colossus website
Riot Season website