It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. Don’t be fooled by my absence, I’m still digging away trying to devour as much musical output from the dark depths of sound as humanly possible. Most of my time has been concentrating on my fortnightly radio show on Basic.Fm: Unknown Surroundings. It feels like a fresh way for me to share the sounds that I’ve amassed and I’m enjoying every minute of it. Other than that, I’m starting a tape label. First few tapes are in the pipeline and should arrive soon(isn). Check it out: Invisible City Record.

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Back to reviewing things for now though. This landed in my inbox a few days ago and is something I’ve been waiting an age to hear. Massive delays at pressing plants, rejected test presses and it’s finally almost ready to go. A new Haikai No Ku LP on Box Records and what a gem it is.

The northeast has a very strong, highly creative musical output and within that lies a close knit community pushing the boundaries of sound. Mooch around certain categories (Noise, Doom, Drone etc.) and certain names are bound to keep popping up. On of those will be Mike Vest as he’s played in pretty much every NE underground band worth mentioning. In Haikai No Ku he’s joined by Jerome Smith (Charles Dexter Ward) and Sam Booth (Foot Hair). There you have some pretty hefty credentials to get the ball rolling. Thankfully, it lives up to the hype i’ve attributed to it. Ultra High Dimensionality is a sparse wasteland of slow burning, primitive rhythm and maximalist guitar worship. All levels are pushed right to the top. Fuzz is turned up high and there’s a heavy handed helping of wah abuse. This all leads to a heady concoction of psychedelic noise. 40 minutes of pure, unadulterated sound that acts as the perfect way to switch off and get lost. File alongside Les Rallizes Dénudés and Mainliner. Definitely one for those who are partial to excessive feedback and traditional styles pushed beyond any conceivable recognition. Highly recommended.

Ultra High Dimensionality is up for pre order via Box Records now.
300 copies on vinyl & digital download. Due for release on 20/08/2014.

Hear a track form the album now if you need more convincing.

After a long hiatus, Dew Crux came back with two new tapes so obviously I was giddy with excitement. They’ve put out some great releases in the past (Skull Mansions and C.S.B tapes, among others) so I was eager to hear what new sounds they’d offer me. Culver I knew, but KNYF is a new one to me. Turns out they’re both fantastic.

 

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Culver gives us two slabs of low end rumble and void exploration. Those who’ve encountered this legend of the UK noise/drone underground before will know what to expect. Those who haven’t, you’re in for a treat (maybe you’ll see it that way). One side is pure low end rumble. Barley recognisable as anything other than melted down grey landscape. Super minimal. On the flip side there’s a little more movement and a different feel altogether. Opening up with soft, gentle loops that slowly get overcome by a heavy wave of hiss and static. These sounds still appear as faint whispers hidden behind a wall of rich, murky sludge. Heavy as hell and wondrous on the ears.

 

 

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The next tape is a debut release of KNYF which is Thomas O’Hopkin of Newcastle noise punks Foot Hair. Here’s another exploration of the dark recess of sounds and decay. Wrecked loops, burnt out guitars lines and massive waves of dark fuzz. Let the sharp noise pass through you and you are overcome by a calming sense of solitude. The slow repetition of hidden sounds feels like a true comfort, a real chance to cut of from everything. The tape is a mix between persistent static mess and the laid back rumblings of lost sounds. A fantastic debut release and a project of which I’m eager to hear more from.

Both tapes out now on Dew Crux. I suggested buying both tapes and as much of the back catalogue as possible as it’s all excellent.

 

Perspex Flesh LP

May 27, 2014

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I guess I arrived pretty late to the party on these guys. I first heard the name Perspex Flesh after missing them play in Newcastle earlier this year, soon to discover the joys of past releases and also news of an imminent debut album. Alas, the album was long delayed. Plenty of people were questioning if and when it was going to be released. Delays and speculation aside, it finally came out and I pre ordered my copy for it to soon be handed to me by a man in a red jacket. Straight out of the box, straight on the record player and instantly it’s heavy beauty washed over me. Hailed as being pretty much the best thing going in the current UK hardcore punk ‘scene’ it’s easy to understand why. The whole record is a huge, juicy punch in the face. The kind that you really crave. Something refreshing, a sort of anger ridden cathartic experience. Super muscular riffs are hidden among a dirty, gritty sheen where snarled vocals shine through. There’s an energy and passion that seems can seem lost or subdued in some people, but it’s prominent here. It’s a quick journey (only 26 minutes) but who wants a 2 hour long hardcore record. Quick and sufficient, it’s done at a perfect blink and you’ll miss it pace.  That being said, you’ll be playing it on repeat anyway.

The album is out now via Static Shock Records. You can download it for free (although a suggested donation of £4.00 is encouraged) but I urge you to get the LP before it sells out and you’re left disappointed. Act with haste.

Nope – Walker

May 25, 2014

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I’m excited to be hearing new music from Nope. Featuring members of other highly regarded band in the Leeds/Bradford area, Nope are a somewhat supergroup of riffs and repetition.

The basic formula for the band is Neu meets guitar crunch. There’s a beautifully meditative, hypnotic motorik drum beat that feels like a freight train, running throughout the entire album. Then on top of that there’s some mean as hell, super muscular riffs that, at times, feel like they’ve come straight from the mind of Buzz Osbourne. Exceptionally well realised and despite my basic description, still has so much depth in the 40 minute running time.

Building on sounds explored on their previous album (2012’s Revision), this is another perfect slice of a post hardcore/kraut/psych rock genre amalgamation. There’s an exciting headspace which this album invites you to become part of. The repetition draws you in, leaves you lost in the infinite wisdom and lets you bask in the glory of riff worship. of course there’s a wealth of opportunity for intense head nodding and leg shaking which is surely the tell tale sign of an infectious racket. As usual, this comes strongly recommended. It’s due out 9th June via both Obscene Baby Auction & The Audacious Art Experiment. Until then, you can stream the whole thing on Bandcamp.

If you’re from Newcastle, you can catch them playing at The Star and Shadow on 15th June playing with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs.
Facebook event here.

 

 

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More superbly heavy hardcore has landed in my lap and I’m happy for it. New split 7″ on SuperFi records with both Sky:Lark! and Meadows bringing the riffs. Sky:Lark! start proceedings with a fast, heavy racket that sits right in the grey territory between post hardcore, hardcore and a bunch of other similar genres. Classifications aside, I’m more than happy to let this blast in my ears and block out any and all feelings of calm. It has just the right amount of neck breaking, muscular guitar abuse and vocalised anger to feel utterly cathartic. Meadows side starts off in a similar vein but soon grinds to a slower, heavier pace. They are channelling stoner rock straight into your brain. There’s a perfect balance between slow, heavy guitars and a super fast crunch. It just changes all of a sudden. One minute we’re listening to some intense hardcore and the next it’s slow motion head nodding while having the hair blown off your face by an intense blast of air from the speakers in front of you. Makes me want to hunt out those old Karp records. The split is out now on SuperFi records and you can hear the full things on band camp. If you like your music loud and unadulterated then you need this in your life.

More info over at SuperFi.

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The Audacious Art experiment are releasing some absolutely essential music as of late. Every release they bring to the table seems to be exactly to my taste. This one is an upcoming split cassette release between Amorous Dialogues and Pjaro.

Amorous Dialogues fly through eight highly energetic, make you want to be there slices of hardcore gold. As you’d expect, it’s fast and shouty. At times there’s a slower, more sedate opening to a song which just feels like a chance for the band to grab a breath before they throw themselves back into the speed dirge which they’re known for. Eight songs in just as many minutes. Blink and you might miss it. Seriously can’t get enough of this band. I loved their previous split with Etai Keshiki and this just adds to that visceral, hardcore punk vibe that feels so fresh and intense.

On the other side we have a different story. Pjaro offer us two slightly less intense yet still as inviting tracks. A perfect example of alternative/math rock done right. It’s not overly complicated and it’s not pretentious but it sounds fantastic. Guitars aren’t overcooked so still have that slight bite and vocals have that ‘i don’t care, but secretly I do’ atmosphere to them. Not a step wrong. Apparently the last two songs recorded as a two piece as now they’re three. I’m treating this release as a sort of sweetener before their new album that they’re currently recording. Yep, my mouth is watering, now I just want you to stuff it with more beautifully crunchy guitar and raspy vocals.

The split cassette is due out on 1st May via The Audacious Art Experiment. I know i’ll be getting myself a copy. For now though, you can listen to both sides through the wonders of the world wide web.

www.theaudaciousartexperiment.com

Mononoké-Tom Finigan EP

April 2, 2014

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Sometimes it’s nice to revisit the past. To hear those sounds that have such a vivid association with certain points in your life and take you back to that atmosphere. It’s as much about the music as it is about how it made you feel. After giving the instrumental post hardcore genre some distance, Mononoké have allowed me to go back to it with fresh ears. It’s like rediscovering music all over again.

This EP recalls the instrumental post hardcore/math rock sound that the likes of Don Cabbalero championed. Jittery guitar notes, complex, off kilter drum beats and powerful, crunchy riffs are your points of reference here. Yes, it’s derivative and yes, we’ve heard this done quite a lot before, but I’m struggling to remember a band in recent years that has done it quite so well as to feel completely fresh. Razor sharp music all the way through. Hats off to the band here though. A sound that has a multi textural composition has the risk of feeling encumbered, but Mononoké manage to play this to their advantage as it feels almost breezy while still having such depth to the music. I’d like to listen to it again and again. I want to see these play live in the smallest possible setting at the high possible volume. I’d urge you to do the same.

Tom Finigan EP is out on 21st April 2014 as a CD & download, self released by the band.
Check out a trailer for the EP below.

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Bandcamp

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It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by a piece of music, even more so if it inspires you. The new release from Trans/Human is such a piece. It’s been on heavy repeat since I first caught wind of it and I’ve been trying to dissect it and learn from the noisy glory.

At first you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to something else. A stray radio broadcast of old country americana starts off the first track amidst a wave of static hiss. This hiss soon takes over and stays with us for the duration. Dings and chimes, tapes and fuzz all interweave into this strange melting pot of aural goodness. At times we have gentle, meditative repetition which calms and soothes your mind into a false sense of security then,  without warning, swathes of radio static and glorious feedback belt out the speakers in a thick warm hue. Within these scenes are lone radio broadcasts, seemingly lost in the static void only to find refuge at this certain point in time. There’s something strange going on here. There’s a new world being create, one full of abstraction and obscurity. It feels uneasy and frightening, but it’s almost intriguing and I want to delve deeper into the recess to find what truly lies beyond. I’m going in for another listen.

 

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Penned as a sculptural performance, this record is the attempt to transpose the art of live performance into a studio space. A very personal record that gives you some sort of insight into the strange minds that create this wondrous dirge. Repeated listens and full concentration are the ideal listening scenarios for this record to give you maximum pleasure.

The (UN)Expected  is out 7th March on The Audacious Art Experiment.

http://www.theaudaciousartexperiment.com

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Henry Blacker are made up of two thirds Hey Colossus and an additional brother. Their debut effort, Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings, is a 30 minute punch in the face. Hey Colossus’s 2013 release Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo was a personal favourite of mine. It was the perfect amalgamation of heavy riffs and strange psych air. Henry Blacker stay exclusively in the heavy riffs category. Album opener Crab House recalls dreams of driving a beaten up car around a run down city while managing to feel absolutely unstoppable. Rust and dust. I feel exactly the same way as I did when I watched the video for Wires by Red Fang. Something along the lines of “hmmmm, maybe I should stop being a pretentious shit and enjoy some beer, beards and guitars. I can listen to some obscure sound art later.” I just want to play air guitar where I hammer imaginary chord shapes rather than mime fickle guitar solos. Could there be a better way to start a new year than with some trusty noise rock? Possibly. But for now I’m content with this. Maybe pretend you’re not trying to be healthy in January by listening to this, it’s certainly better than a salad. That’s the least I can say. Go on, let the distortion explore the crevices in your skull. Let the fleghmy vocals seep into the deep recesses of your tinnitus ridden ears.

Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings is released via Riot Season Records on January 20th.

 

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This popped onto my lap the other day and I’ve been spending some time getting to grips with it. The new album from Benjamin Finger, an Oslo based artist, who was previously unknown to me.

What follows is an eleven track selection of sparse, atmospheric piano pieces combined with field recordings and other background sounds. While this could easily have been a soundtrack to any depressing, desolate film about loss, the sounds are well realised enough to tell their own story without having to use visual clues to guide you along. It’s a sound that we all know too well but never tire of hearing. Empty spaces, confused thoughts and heartache all rise to prominence here. The repetitive structure of the piano works well at the forefront which is surrounded by a soft, ambient backdrop with frequent voice overs which range from feeling unsettling to relatively peaceful and relaxed. This all culminates to an interesting listen and one that brings out my passion for the depressive nature of things. You could probably file this release next to all the others with that ‘neo classical’ tag slapped on them. I’m thinking Nils Frahm, Ludovico Einaudi, that sort of thing.

Listen To My Nerves Hum is out now on Time Released Sound. Due to finding out about this too late I missed out on the “truly over the top, deluxe limited version” which looks absolutely magnificent. I’ve always wanted to have to build my own sculpture while buying records. Have a spy here.

Here’s a cut from the album to whet your appetite.