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

Author Archive

The Idealist – I Am The Fire (CD, Nosordo)

Posted: July 14th, 2009, by Justin Snow

If you don’t know, I kinda have a little obsession with The Skull Defekts. Especially their new album, The Temple, which totally twisted everything I thought I knew about rock music. The Idealist is Joachim Nordwall, who plays guitar and sings in the Defekts. However I Am The Fire is most certainly not rock music. Shit, there isn’t a beat to be found on this record. It’s all ambient noise drone awesomeness and it’s fucking grand.

I think the best way to tackle this is on a song by song basis because each one is so drastically different than the rest. It starts out with the comparatively short “The Knives Are My Eyes” and tricks you into thinking The Fire might be a shimmery blissful record. Well, you’d be wrong. The rest of the tracks are dark almost-but-not-quite doom drone. “To Make Exact Copies Of Every Mistake Ever Made” is 17 and a half minutes of throbbing, pulsing, rumbling beasts in the pitch black night, never changing course. The beginning is the same as the end and it could go on forever without you even knowing it had killed you in your wide-eyed hypnosis.

“I Am Not Here” is 100% oscillation, totally fucking with your sense of direction and perception. One minute you’re face down in the dirt and the next you’re standing gazing at the stars. The latter half of the song continues the mind fuckery but in a more static way. The kind of thing that you probably wouldn’t hear if you were in a car or train, even with headphones on.

My favorite track is “The Cranium” which is absolutely terrifying. It sounds like capital punishment via an electric room, which would be similar to the electric chair except this room would be more like a Tesla laboratory and you’d die from lethal amounts static electricity. I’m pretty sure this is what that room would sound like on the inside (minus the agonizing screams).

And then there’s the weird as fuck “The Declaraaation Of Indeeependence” which sounds like it was recorded in the ’30s by some batshit insane swamp hermit who used his swamp gas and swamp frog friends to accompany his ultimate manifesto. And there’s almost 15 minutes of that stuff. Just some guy ranting and babbling in a blown out language that I’m pretty sure is neither English nor Swedish. This is the sort of thing you’d find playing on a phonograph in the back room of a legit haunted house.

I Am The Fire finishes off with the appropriately titled “My Head Is On Fire.” Appropriate because if you are the fire, then clearly your head is also the fire. It’s a nice closer because it cleanses your aural palate from all that crazy shit you just heard. It’s the motionless thunder before the tornado hits. The white noise you hear when you all else is silent. Preparing you for round 2.

The Idealist

Ilyas Ahmed – Goner (CD, Root Strata)

Posted: July 3rd, 2009, by Justin Snow

Earlier this year I got a record by the name of Zomes and it was the solo project of Asa Osborne of Lungfish. I went certifiably insane over that record. I could not stop listening to it. It was full of short little fuzzed out drone loops, usually no longer than 2 or 3 minutes. Like a bunch of cold fresh juicy plump grapes, I couldn’t stop and always wanted more.

Well, Ilyas Ahmed’s Goner is probably the closest thing I’ll ever get to more Zomes. The songs on Goner are at times up to 9 minutes long and they sound like the Zomes bits fleshed out into actual songs with riffs, lyrics, and choruses. But everything else sounds so similar. Drenched in lo-fi echo crunch and laden with loops. These tracks have the hypnotic quality of drone while still retaining some of the traditional song structures.

The closest thing I can compare this to (other than Zomes, obv) is some sort of garage folk. Occasionally chilled acoustic Americana, occasionally sped up amplified rock tunes, but always always focused on the guitar. Ahmed has made a superb guitar record. Not like he’s trying to hide it, though. Sometimes guitarists are modest or bashful and try to make it seem like any old thing. Not Ahmed. He doesn’t necessarily brag about his skillz but it’s also fairly obvious that this guy can play.

Goner’s really got my attention on Ilyas Ahmed. Never heard of him before, even though he’s put out stuff on Time Lag and Digitalis. But now I know. And knowing is half the battle.

Ilyas Ahmed
Root Strata

Nature – Nature (CD, self released)

Posted: June 19th, 2009, by Justin Snow

This Pittsburgh duo played a noise show in Boston back in April and while they’re not anything like what I would call “noise” they’re still pretty intense and after they destroyed onstage, I had to pick up the only recording they had for sale, this short self released (possibly tour only?) CD.

Nature is mostly a guitar/drums band, although the guitarist has a plethora of electronic shit to mess around with and the drummer (at least live) does some sort of processing of the percussion. The drummer also sings into a giant pair of headphones, that reminds me of the vocals from Lightning Bolt or the occasional Neptune song where the drummer sings.

But Nature is so much better than the dime-a-dozen bass/drums duos. They’re a bit more metal and really into the groove. Lots of repetition that oozes the stoner doom vibe without being too cliche or ridiculous. But they do share some similarities with their duo brethren with some noise punk infiltrating the songs every now and then. When you take all of that and add in a dose of fuzzy industrial pounding and a blast of chaos, you got yourself an awesome record.

However, you might be thinking that you’re way past the whole drum/whatever duo. That is SO 5 years ago. But you know what? I’m totally OK with Nature doing this. Mostly because they’re so fucking great at it but also because they started doing it about 7+ years ago. Then they took a 6 year hiatus before coming back to it. That means 1) they’re not some new imitation band and 2) they’re enthusiastic and sincere about it. So any haters can just take hike.


Stillbirth / Persimmons Pomegranate Split (CS, Jugular Forest)

Posted: May 19th, 2009, by Justin Snow

I went to an amazing noise show the other night where Keith Fullerton Whitman and Geoff Mullen did another one of their stunning live collaborations and opening for them was the newly formed Boston based duo Perispirit. If you haven’t checked out their debut double cassette release, Forced-Choice Test, I highly recommend you do so because it’s absolutely amazing. But anyway, Perispirit is comprised of Ricardo Donoso and Luke Moldof, and Moldof also records under the name Stillbirth. So I found this little tape sitting innocuously in the corner of the merch table and snagged it up. After getting home and listening to it, I’m really glad I did because this is easily one of the best tapes I’ve heard all year.

The tape is made of two 7+ minute pieces, with Stillbirth’s being the more understated of the two. Soft stretched out guitar drones that breathe life into your speakers. Full of subtle beauty that compels me to stroll through an open sunny field with the breeze blowing through my coat tails.

Persimmons Pomegranate isn’t so much a new name to me but this is the first I’ve ever heard his music. His piece, “Stagnant Before A Fall,” is thick, brittle buzzing drone that rattles every hair on your body. I can’t imagine a better companion for Stillbirth on this tape. Persimmons’ side is just as subtle and beautiful as Stillbirth’s, except the delicacy is forsaken and the volume is cranked up to 11.

I can’t believe it took me this long to ever get around to hearing Persimmons Pomegranate (great name, btw). Two outstanding pieces of music that really complement each other. A perfect example of why splits are made. There are only 75 copies of this tape available so I suggest you hurry up and head to the Jugular Forest website so you can score one for yourself.

Jugular Forest

Black Hell – How The Rest Was Lost (CD, Sounds Of Battle And Souvenir Collecting)

Posted: May 12th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Sometimes I feel like certain genres are a little stagnant. With good reason, though. I mean, it’s not like it’s easy to come up with something completely new and original. That doesn’t happen very often. And when it does, it’s only a matter of time before it gets copied and redone by everyone else, essentially rendering your unique vision to become part of the norm.

Black Hell’s newest CD, How The Rest Was Lost isn’t breaking much new ground. Sure they are doing their best to mix up the regular stoner metal cliche with moments of doom, ambience and psychedelia but it only ever amounts to another awesome metal record. Which isn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.

But the thing is, no matter how much I feel like I’ve heard this a dozen times before, I’ve never heard How The Rest Was Lost. This is a brand new record. And Black Hell made it. Not The Sword (I think). And it is ridiculously fucking metal. The riffs on this are chugging and wicked catchy and the solos are white hot. It’s nothing mind blowing but I still love it and it rocks nonetheless. My final test of greatness for metal of this variety is whether or not I would like to play it on Guitar Hero. Black Hell passes with flying colors. I would love to slay this beast on Expert and look totally stupid doing it.

Black Hell
Sounds Of Battle And Souvenir Collecting

Driphouse – Sewer Mist (CS, Gel)

Posted: May 5th, 2009, by Justin Snow

I was one of the seemingly infinite number of people to join the Raccoo-oo-oon train just as it was coming to a halt. We missed out on a truly amazing band that we’ll only be able to enjoy through it’s back catalog. Thankfully, some of the members have gone on to individual projects, such as Daren Ho, who is the sole mastermind behind Driphouse. And maybe that’s the silver lining because his new project is so drastically different from Raccoo-oo-oon that it might have been necessary for them to break up in order to hear such a fine recording.

Sewer Mist is a weird ass tape oozing with warbly synths. I’m fairly certain there isn’t a single non-synthesized sound on this. But that’s OK. I’m not prejudiced against dudes who want to “fake sounds.”

I get this strange feeling whenever I listen to Sewer Mist that makes me feel like I’m driving a beat up Pinto through a wormhole. It has a filthy, spacey, down to earth feeling which I’m pretty sure I’ve never experienced listening to anything else before. The undulating drones are sprinkled with grit. Sometimes he actually adds in little flecks and scratches and then sometimes it’s just the lo-fidelity of the tape but either way it’s awesome. Too often you have these synth drone guys that go all clean and crisp. Not Driphouse. Most of the time he has his synths competing for volume with the tape hiss and he does it to such wonderful effect.

Sewer Mist will please a lot of people. Raccoo-oo-oon fans will like it just because it’s Daren Ho and then there’s those of you who will listen to as much synth drone as you can get your hands on. I’m pretty sure whatever angle you approach Sewer at, you’ll be extremely pleased with the results.

Gel (e-mail) (distro)

Realax – Apollo Guise (CD, Little Fury Things)

Posted: April 14th, 2009, by Justin Snow

When I read the description of this CD on the Little Fury Things website, I thought to myself, “Oh, that sounds like it’ll be pretty good.” It’s ridiculous how naive I was at that point. Looking back at myself those few weeks ago, I see a sad young boy who thought he knew about good music. I see a boy who thought he knew what the words “dance” and “drone” meant. I see a boy waiting to have his life completely changed by a little record with a terrible name.

OK, so maybe that’s a little dramatic. But then again, chances are you haven’t heard Realax’s Apollo Guise either. And until you do, we can just pretend that that whole first paragraph is the total truth. I instantly fell for Apollo Guise as soon as I threw it on. I fell hard. It’s fuzzy (though not as fuzzy as the crazed out fuzzsters like Wavves or Vivian Girls) and it’s droney and it’s dancey. How could I not love this to death?

I think a solid comparison would be Usputuspud’s Disco tape and Fricara Pacchu’s Midnight Pyre. Apollo Guise has similar blown out, noisey elements like the ones found on Pyre but instead of being totally fucking crazy, it takes the chill drone approach and throws down some awesome beats like Disco. When you take two of my top 10 releases from last year and tell me there’s a new album that sounds like both of them put together, chances are I’m gonna get a little excited.

Even despite all of the song titles filled with silly wordplay (“X Or Size,” “Melonaire”), this record is definitely one of the best I’ve heard yet this year. Maybe I’m easy in that if you make anything dancey and droney I’m gonna fawn all over it, getting down on my knees and hailing it as the next best thing. But I like to think I have a least a little integrity and some standards. Either way, Apollo Guise is the next best thing.

Little Fury Things

Death Sentence: Panda! – Insects Awaken (CD, Upset The Rhythm)

Posted: April 4th, 2009, by Justin Snow

I gotta get this right out there, and I know I’m not alone in this. Punctuation in a band name is mostly intolerable. There are a few exceptions both with specific punctuation (commas, hyphens) and specific bands (Godspeed You! Black Emperor is probably the only one I really have no problem with, although why they moved the exclamation point from the end to the middle is beyond me). And for some reason, I never seem to enjoy the music these grammar obsessed bands create. I don’t think I’m being petty and shallow but then again, it’s hard to tell.

Death Sentence: Panda! already has, let’s count ’em, two strikes against them but I’m doing my best to look past that and focus only on the music. Thankfully, that’s a pretty easy task with these guys. They take a generally overdone genre like noise punk and add their own skronky artness to it. Like a slightly mellower Melt Banana with horns. Or They Shoot Horses Don’t They if they took lessons from Lightning Bolt. This is in your face and impossible to ignore. It’s loud as hell and somehow only coming from 3 people.

There’s all sorts of weird stuff going on like flutes and Glockenspiels, disgusting, growling guitars and crazy ass drums, and, of course, a female singer. The songs are super short and super catchy. They don’t always have a chorus or even lyrics but there’s there no shortage of hooks on Insects Awaken. You’ll have songs like the 22 second “Progress” running loops in your head the instant you hear it.

I feel like Insects Awaken is probably objectively better than how much I specifically like it. Which is saying a lot because I am really fucking into this record. I just think that the horns (which I generally am not a fan of) and the punctuation thing are making me hold back a little bit. If that’s the case, then even those who are in the same boat as me will really like Death Sentence: Panda! And for those of you that aren’t as superficial as I am, Insects Awaken is your new favorite record.

Death Sentence: Panda!
Upset The Rhythm

The Golden Sores – Ashdod To Ekron (CD, Drone Cowboy)

Posted: March 26th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Drone is at the core of my heart. I think life is only lived fully when one embraces the drone. Music with more drone is better than music with less. And going on that premise, The Golden Sores is one of the best bands out there.

Ashdod To Ekron is an hour long densely layered drone epic that travels to all the right places and consistently takes your breath away. The instruments used are meaningless in this situation. It could be guitar, it could be a board of electronics, it could be coming from a hallucinating monk with visions of angels, or perhaps it’s a field recording of a haunted forest. The point is, it could be anything or everything. The sounds created on Ashdod are entirely unique to The Golden Sores.

Drone records are a dime a dozen these days, I know. But The Golden Sores are special, partially because they were able to create this majestic masterpiece in one take. Ashdod To Ekron is a live album (“recorded in the basement”) and the music goes from shimmering tide pools to dank caverns. That, my friends, is a serious accomplishment. The Golden Sores, you get a gold star.

The Golden Sores

A Storm Of Light / Nadja – Primitive North (LP, Robotic Empire)

Posted: March 17th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Here’s another split for all you, um, split lovers. Only this time it’s a bit more metal. Robotic Empire put out this seriously delicious double vinyl split between the unequaled Nadja and the mighty (and new to me) A Storm Of Light.

A Storm Of Light absolutely destroys their side of the record with the two songs “Brother” and “Sister” each about 10 minutes long. These are a couple of intensely epic metal tracks, sharing elements from many other of my most beloved metal acts like Big Business, Boris, Pelican, Torche, and Envy. Lead singer Josh Graham (of Neurosis, Battle Of Mice, ex-Red Sparowes) has a perfect voice for metal. It’s deep and smooth, resonates in between your ears, and it’s not too over the top. It works so well with the form of grand post metal whatever that A Storm Of Light is quickly perfecting.

For those unaware, I am something of a Nadja fanboy. I geeked out on my blog about an upcoming show that Nadja was playing in the Boston area and Aidan Baker (man behind Nadja) saw it, and consequently knew who I was at the show (aka I was famous for two seconds). I talked to him and Leah (girl behind Nadja) a bit and got Aidan to sign the book he wrote. I normally don’t do the whole signature thing (I just generally think it’s just kinda lame) but I really couldn’t help myself this time. Anyway, I thought you deserved a little backstory before I started showering this new Nadja track with sincere (but perhaps biased) praise.

“I Make From Your Eyes The Sun” is why I love Nadja. It’s just so fucking perfect. It starts out kinda lightweight and dreamy, a little hi-hat keeping time with the guitars and piano. You know how it goes, the calm before the storm. The only warning you get is a trio of drum beats, then it kicks into full blown beautiful gauzy metal. The 20+ minutes that this song lasts isn’t nearly enough for me. I could listen to Nadja’s fuzzy wall of metal forever and never think twice about what else I was missing. It moves so slowly that you couldn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) bang your head but it’s far from the funeral doom sludge that crawls at a glacier’s pace. This is the kind of metal that makes you bang your fist into your thigh with your eyes closed tight, trying not to cry because you’re fucking metal dammit. But you can’t help it. No one can. Nadja is just too gorgeous.

One of the best parts of this split is that the second LP comes with remixes that one band did for the other’s songs. And they’re just as good if not better than the originals. Coupled with amazing packaging (choice of “Glacier” or “Blood Moon” colored vinyl, yes please), this thing is a truly spectacular record. If there was ever a split to buy, this would be it folks.

A Storm Of Light
Robotic Empire