June bugs

June 21, 2009

NURSE WITH WOUND – The Memory Surface – 3-disc edition of The Surveillance Lounge. Dare I say that I’ve come to prefer the NWW who toy more obviously with song and rhythm (Huffin’ Rag Blues being the recent example to cite). Probably heretical to some, but there you go. Great audio journey, but don’t know how often I’ll be returning to it, or the bonus discs.

ALVA NOTO & RYUICHI SAKAMOTOutp_ (cd, dvd & booklets) – just bought tickets to a ‘Ryuichi Sakamoto at the piano’ solo event at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh in December. I’m sure it’ll be good – but on the strength of this, I’m already sad that Alva Noto won’t be along for the ride. Gorgeous, and cleverly packaged as ever from Raster Noton.

TOM TOM CLUB – Tom Tom Club/Close To The Bone (2cd reissue) – beautifully packaged (good job, Joe) and pleasing to hear again.

MACHINEFABRIEK – Mort Aux Vaches & Slaapzucht & Ranonkel & Gris Gris & Shuffle – a set from 2006, one from 2007, two from 2008, and one from this year continuing my catching up with the activities of Machinefabriek. Ranonkel wins from this batch. Only Shuffle disappoints.

VIEUX FARKA TOURE – fondo – The first of two attempts this month to conjure forth a summery vibe chez nous in face of the persistent cloud, damp and drizzle that marks the Scottish version of the season.

BAABA MAAL – television – My second attempt to… blah blah.

TARWATER – Donne-Moi La Main OST – their first outing for a while, and more song-based than might be typical from film score/soundtracking work

LAURIE ANDERSON – Nothing In My Pockets (book & two cds) – nicely if cheaply packaged diary of audio vignettes. Interesting project, but I began to find Laurie’s telling us what we’re about to hear before we hear it a tad wearing, and the audio snippets themselves are too brief to become immersive ‘events’ in themselves.

THE RESIDENTS – Adobe Disfigured Night – an mp3 download from their new Robot Selling Device site, an early live iteration of their Disfigured Night performance/disc. Crazy. I’m hopeful that more rarities will emerge for download here in due course, my fingers are crossed for an extended Voice Of Midnight instrumental set.


Throbbing Gristle @ Glasgow Tramway

June 18, 2009

A quick trip along a crowded M8 late yesterday afternoon nearly turned in to a disaster when for reasons unknown (to me anyway) a driver three ahead of me decided to screech to a halt in the fast lane. Ferociously jumping on my brakes and swerving, I avoided whacking the car in front by a whisker – but following drivers weren’t so lucky, and I heard the dull crunch of metal on metal behind me. Perhaps ironically prescient, this crunching echoed a similar sonic palette to early TG.

So, an unnerving start to the evening, attending what might at one time have been a vaguely unnerving concert experience me. Have to confess that waaay back before I’d first heard Throbbing Gristle, their reputation preceded them and I was unsure what to expect and how I’d react.

Same with this evening – but being older and (arguably, I know) wiser, I was uncertain for a different reason. TG as a chicken-in-a-basket retro outfit, albeit at the ‘arty’ end of the spectrum?

The venue was almost full (900 out of 1,000 ticket sold, I heard), with an adjacent MFA degree show viewing in another hall also crowding the foyer. Hard to tell one group from the other, which was encouraging – regulation paramilitary greys/blacks obviously a thing of the past for TG’s current audience.

TG emerged at half past eight for their first set of the evening, an improvised (“this is the first time we’ve done this”) score for a 40 minute short film by Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans. Band and artist had previously collaborated on a sound scuplture for the Yokohama Triennale, something I managed to take in on a trip to Japan late last year and found to be the highlight of that overall disappointing show (see earlier blog entry).

Notwithstanding an obvious confluence of intellectual interest in ritual behaviours, there didn’t seem to be much to link the slowly dissolving images of Thai and Japanese festivals with the lugubrious TG jamming accompanying it – material that didn’t seem a million miles away in scope from the Third Mind Movement album the group have released as a recent tour artefact. Not that any of this wasn’t engaging – it certainly was.

tour artefact

a tour artefact, yeserday

A half hour break followed before the band re-emerged for their ‘greatest hits’ set. House lights remained up as Persuasion oozed into being, a welcome opener, and pleasingly clear sound.

I’m not one for spewing set lists (or being able to remember them), but amongst the favourites offered up were Hamburger Lady, Almost A Kiss, What A Day, and a thumping climax with Discipline. No encore.

Not sure what happened to Genesis’ violin playing throughout – either I’ve lost a frequency in my hearing or it was well down in the mix, only occasionally audible.

So, the first TG appearance in “a wee country, but one with a lot of power” (according to Genesis) was a success – no longer (though of course they never were) the ‘wreckers of civilization”, the group maintained admirable levels of power and composure throughout, and confirmed (for me at any rate) that their reactivated sonic questing is well worthy of continued engagement.

Haste ye back.


May stuff

June 1, 2009

Here’s the merry month of May, in retrospect already……

THROBBING GRISTLE – The Third Mind Movements – released to accompany their US tour – plenty of glutinous jamming/improv. Looking forward to seeing them live for the first time at the Tramway in mid-June.

THE INNER SPACE/CAN – Agilok & Blubbo – ‘lost’ early work from the precursor group to Can. Curiousity value only, at least for me.

TUSSLE – Cream Cuts – modern krautrock from San Francisco (I think). Engaging on a first listen, and they could become something special over the space of a few more discs. A real grower.

MACHINEFABRIEK – Marijn & Weleer – I’m warming to prolific Dutchman Rutger Zudervelt and his bespoke ambient electronickery day by day. Seems I’ve got 40+ discs to catch up with. Ach weel, 3 down, 37 to go…..

BIOSPHERE – Wireless: Live at the Arnolfini, Bristol – Live ‘greatest hits’ set recorded by Chris Watson. Does what it says on the tin.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Sleepwalk: a selection by Optimo (Espacio) – A groovy Christopherson Coil remix of a track from The Ape Of Naples attracted me to this comp from last year. The rest I either have already or doesn’t quite connect.

CURRENT 93 – Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain – Bought the costly subscribers’ edition, and sad to say, I wish I hadn’t bothered. Altogether too ‘rocky’ for me, but will probably come into its own with live iterations – not that I’m ever likely to find out.