February stuff

February 27, 2011

MACHINEFABRIEK – Apollo CDr & Vloed – the very limited Apollo CDr consists of ‘found’ space program voices, pulses and washes – even the occasional rhythm. Reminiscent in some ways of a live set he performed in Edinburgh a couple of years back (would love to hear that again, but it hasn’t been released). Vloed is an album-length expanded reissue of pieces from around 2007/8, and has a Frippertronicky feel to it, not dissimilar to stuff on Weleer or Dauw – long, looping pieces gradually building towards a climax – although falling short of Lawine noisebath proportions. Both are excellent releases that’ll stay close to the top of the Machinefabriek pile.

UNICAZURN – Temporal Bends – bought for the Stephen Thrower of Cyclobe/Coil connection. Haunting, slow low growers, and a production that makes the cat’s ears twitch wildly. Not sure if she likes it or not. Not sure that I do either.

ROEDELIUS – Gift Of The Moment – yet another Bureau B rerelease. Seems to be a game of two halves, with what was probably the first side of the lp consisting of less treated piano works.

THE RESIDENTS – Talking Light Presents: Chuck’s Ghost Music – paid download from RSD. In last month’s update I bemoaned the decreasing effectiveness of The Residents ‘storyteller’ albums over the years, mentioning that they occasionally obscured stunning instrumental work. Seems that The Residents themselves are aware that at least some of their fans might feel the same, and so here’s a download-only album containing the instrumental backdrops to the Chuck’s Ghost Stories DVD.  Whilst the DVD is probably going to end up fairly close to the back of my Rez collection, shorn of its fripperies the music has an swooping, throbbing, swirling, meandering quality awash with forgotten memories that sets it up there with their better recent work.


Also picked up a couple more ‘vintage’ Muslimgauze releases, but I really should stop delving now – additional acquisitions aren’t delivering any variant of the Muslimgauze oeuvre that I’ve not encountered before, and I’ve no desire to become a completist. 30 is enough.


January stuff

February 2, 2011

WIRE – Red Barked Tree & Strays EP – Wire seem to be revisiting and reinventing their past with current releases. If their energetic last album called to mind a hi-tech Pink Flag, this set favours the songcraft of Chairs Missing. Here’s hoping that their next release borrows its chops from the majestic 154.

COH – Iiron – wasn’t expecting this pre-order until mid-Feb, so it’s a month early. Added to the pulses, throbs and clicks that form Pavlov’s usual audio palette are deftly recorded electric guitar riffs for this, his second ‘heavy metal’ album – mercifully avoiding the appalling fretwankery of the genre to produce yet another masterwork. For my money, this, together with his work on Soisong with the late Peter Christopherson, make him one of the most interesting avant electricians today.

CYCLOBE – Wounded Galaxies Tap At The Window – 12″vinyl release, which seems a questionable buy as I still don’t have a working deck, or space to reincorporate one into my set-up. Might be several months before I’m able to listen to this unless I track down a Rapidshare file somewhere (and why didn’t I just do this in the first place?) or also buy into the CD release, whenever that happens. I wish more artists would offer digital files with vinyl releases, though I appreciate why they might be releasing on vinyl only in the first place.

LUKID – Chord – triple vinyl. Loved the clips I heard of this and thought I’d get it before it disappears. Note to self – must find someone willing to burn all these vinyl releases to disc for me.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Tradi-Mods vs Rockers – a variety of Crammed Discs associates take on Konono No.1 material, and for the most part produce a draw. Some editing might have benefited this double set, although undoubtedly some noses might have been left out of joint.

CONSOLE – Herself – there’s a Notwist connection here, though you’d never know it. Seen a couple of undesererved critical savagings of this electronic ambient pop. It’s an undemanding listen right enough.

MUSLIMGAUZE – Camel Through A Needles Eye – although decently packaged, the bottom of the Muslimgauze barrel must surely be approaching fast.

THE RESIDENTS – Not Available – an extra six minutes over the original release – and seemingly audio-tweaked too. What’s not to love – this remains the very finest of Residents releases imho.

MICHAEL RANTA/MIKE LEWIS/CONNY PLANK – Mu – gorgeously packaged double disc and booklet, limited to 500. Allegedly seminal improv, played on and mixed by Conny Plank.

THE RESIDENTS – Randy’s Ghost Stories DVD – typically (and almost endearingly) lo-fi video effects coupled with dark ambient soundtracking – and on top of these, some ghostly stories. I’m disappointed by The Residents’ ‘storytelling’ releases (with the notable exception of God In Three Persons) – the texts of recent years simply don’t bear repeated examination, and in the case of  Voice Of Midnight, serve to bury otherwise excellent instrumental tracks. Mercifully the musical backing for this release is now available via RSD, and will likely make a much better bet.

December 2010 stuff

January 11, 2011

December is ‘traditionally’ my DVD watching month, so I’ve had less attention to pay to my ears – though I did pick up a few things…..

COH – 3 Girls Mixed Up – special very limited edition double CD, with the second disc apparently a live reworking of the album from its launch event in Tokyo, though you’d never know, the production is so good.

ROEDELIUS – Selbsportrait 1 ; Selbsportrait 2 ; Ex Animo – two Bureau B reissues, and one new release from the man. Gorgeous stuff, as expected.

SAROOS – See Me Not – associations with The Notwist and Lali Puna led me to this, and I’d enjoyed their first effort – but this seems less varied fare and lacking in ideas by comparison.

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO – Answers Come In Dreams – the law of diminishing returns applies here, for me at any rate. Was a huge fan of MBM and continue to buy, but with every release there’s less of interest. It’s not until the last track of the set, a slinky and increasingly fractured dub, ‘Chimie Du Son’, that my ears pricked up. More of this next time out please.

STEREOLAB – Not Music – diminishing return expectations apply here too.

LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY – Dub Treasures From The Black Ark –  a forgettable compilation.

SHRIEKBACK – Life In The Loading Bay – haven’t been near them for a long while but a chum told me that this was a return to form – i.e. ploughing similar territory to their first three albums. Not quite true, but although the lyrics occasionally grate and the production sounds fairly flat and uninspired to these ears, this is a decent listen.

MINOX w/STEVEN BROWN – Live in San Giovanni Valdorno K7 – love the Minox/Steven Brown album and had no idea that they’d ever played live together, so when this appeared on eBay I couldn’t resist. But I should have, the sound quality isn’t as advertised, and there’s nothing here that isn’t better iterated on the album. A disappointment.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – After Twilight – a selection of Les Disques Du Crepuscule artists revisit former glories and offer up pointers as to where, musically speaking, they are now. Mostly, a Gallic shrug seems an appropriate response.

ERGO PHIZMIZ – Handmade In The Monasteries Of Nepal/Eloise My Dolly – actually a 2008 release, but vinyl only and it’s taken me this long to track down a cd promo of it. Worth waiting for, its shorter ‘pop’ pieces coming as something of a relief after the marathon Faustus work (even if this was made before/during the latter).

November stuff

December 3, 2010

NURSE WITH WOUND/LARSEN – Erroneous, a Selection of Errors – not often I rave about things these days, but this is an incredible psychedelic odyssey, wonderful stuff.  No idea what Larsen sound like on their own, and don’t necessarily want/need to find out. My most listened to CD over the last couple of months by a long way.

MUSLIMGAUZE – Zul’m – from the early 90s, and by some measure the most tuneful/approachable of the Muslimgauze material I’ve been amassing of late. Thumbs up.

FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI – The Complete Works – monster 27-disc boxed set (46 albums on 26 cds, plus a DVD and four short booklets). I have most of these discs as single CDs already, but at the price, worth having for the seven or eight discs I lacked.  It’s not ‘complete’ either – Wikipedia points to several other (possibly unrecorded in a studio) tracks, and a mammoth and very limited Nigerian boxed set apparently contained several tracks missed here. But hey ho, this is as good as it gets.

FEMI KUTI – Africa For Africa – kinda pales into insignificance next to the motherlode above, but Femi’s faster, shorter, punchier approach to his father’s Afrobeat legacy is pretty appealing nonetheless. I don’t see any big moves between this and his previous releases – but that’s not really the point. Looking forward to seeing him live in Edinburgh at the beginning of December.

BRIAN ENO – Small Craft On A Milk Sea – ‘Humourless’, said one reviewer, which is seems to me to be kinda missing the point for this record.   Came with a limited edition unique screenprint from the 77 Million Paintings work.

OK GO – Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky – extra nice edition. Vaguely Prince-like stylings on a US indie/geek band. Decent pop for the car, if it ever gets dug out of the snow.

TABU LEY ROCHEREAU – The Voice Of Lightness Vol. 2 – Sweet voice and guitar stylings, rhumba at a pace that’s for slinky dancing rather than bopping.

October stuff

October 31, 2010

A quiet month, with work kicking in again and less time for listening……

DUBBLESTANDART – Marijuana Dreams – had a lot of time for their Return From Planet Dub double set from last year, so was curious about this new effort, promising as it does contributions from Lee Scratch Perry, David Lynch and William S. Burroughs – the latter presumably resurrected for the occasion. It’s a pleasant listen, no more.

THE RESIDENTS – Brava – although the quality of the disc label and packaging is much better than I’d anticipated from a produced-to-order cdr, the sound quality certainly isn’t. Poorly mixed and flat as a pancake. Listened to once, and filed right at the back of my Residents collection, probably never to see the light of day again.

DAVID THOMAS AND TWO PALE BOYS – I Remember Mars – a download from Hearpen.com. You can never have too much DT&2PB (imho).  This live set’s not too dissimilar to Meadville (recorded one or two years later).

EL GABINETE – Pasando Aceite – recent solo album from Nine Rain’s Daniel Aspuru. Sure the sax playing isn’t Steven Brown? I’m not.

THE ORB with DAVID GILMOUR – Metallic Spheres – double cd edition.  I think someone reviewed this on Amazon as being the perfect disc for a beach holiday. Might well be, but it falls flat around these parts.

LE WEEKEND – All Things Must Pass

October 17, 2010

So, after 13 years, it’s over.

Yup, after this evening (Sunday 17th October), Stirling’s annual new music shindig, LE WEEKEND, will cease to be – although I do hope that some kind of variant events emerge in its place.

Although in later years my attendance waned as my tastes and those of the organisers diverged, and I became less and less tolerant of the anti-Nirvana default setting (quiet/loud/quiet) of honkclacksquartwiddlefring improv that began to dominate, I never lost my enthusiasm for the event and looked forward to checking the programme each year.

After all, it’s where I took my now wife of ten years to see Hoahio on the very day that I first met her in Edinburgh. A magic day indeed.

Quite a few acts have entertained over the years, but here are those that will remain in memory as moments of absolute transportation, shows from which I emerged feeling as though I were grinning from ear to ear with sheer joy.

Otomo Yoshihide (1998)

Haco (1999)

Hoahio (2000)

David Thomas & The Pale Orchestra (2001)

Acid Mothers Temple (2001)

Haco & Hiromichi Sakamoto (2004)

and now…

Tarwater (2010)

On the ‘minus’ side, I also recall being desperately disappointed by a no-show from Deathprod in 2005.

Anyway, Saturday night I met my chum Jo for a decent home-cooking French dinner in a new restaurant in the centre of Stirling before climbing the hill to the Tolbooth. First thing we caught was a dread improv session – technically impressive perhaps, but beyond that…. let’s just say that my tolerance levels remain low.

A break in the bar and then into another session, where I was absolutely scunnered by an improv twelve-string plucker and repaired outside the venue for a whiff of cold autumn air (and a cigarette or two).

Who should be standing out there engaged in similar activity but Ronald Lippok and Bernd Jestram of Tarwater – one of the delights of Le Weekend has always been that its size means there’s always the possibility of bumping into the artists in the bar/on the roof terrace etc… Difficult for me not to appear to be a bit of a fanboy (hey-ho), but had a lovely conversation with them, discovering along the way a mutual love for Tuxedomoon. Very interesting to discover that a German label (I think) is shortly to release a compilation loosely focussing on the works of Baudelaire, and featuring contributions from both bands (TM and TW). Eyes and ears peeled for that early next year.

Tarwater’s performance was absolutely sublime, all the better for being in a comfy seated venue (showing my age here). Not sure what any improv heads still in attendance might have made of it, but don’t really give a damn either. Great to be able to leave the event on a high point!

I would have been happy to commemorate the event passing with the purchase of one of the natty ‘All Things Must Pass’ t-shirts on offer, but until organisers of such events get it onto their heads that some folk like to wear their t-shirts baggy (ie XXL, XXXL etc…), nope.

And so, a fond farewell to Le Weekend…. perhaps fittingly, the last act of the last festival is Faust, a collective who’ve spanned both popular and avant works in their time. Shame I couldn’t manage to be there two nights in a row.

September stuff

October 1, 2010

MUSLIMGAUZE – Vampire Of Tehran & Jaal Ab Dullah & Uzbekistani Bizzare And Souk – that’s it with my Muslimgauze catch-up for the foreseeable future. Nothing in these three that particularly impresses, and I have most of the material on Vampire of Tehran on another release already. Should have checked before I bought.

MACHINEFABRIEK & ITHACA TRIO – Par Avion – a highly limited split CDr. You know what to expect.

GRINDERMAN – Grinderman 2 – they ‘rock’. As per.

UNDERWORLD – Barking – if only the music were as colourful and playful as the packaging. Apparently a return to ‘form’, although I prefer their more exploratory digital-only releases over the last three years or so.

ARP – The Soft Wave – well, someone’s been thoroughly immersed in early 70s electronic music, and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the overt influences here. There’s even a stab at Eno-esque songcraft on one track. An effective homage.

ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER – Rifts – double cd reissue of ‘early’ works. Some others who’ve obviously immersed themselves in analogue synth music. Although I’ve been enjoying a fair few releases of this ‘genre’ lately, I think this is just about enough for the moment.

CHRONOMAD – Sayeh –  shades of Muslimgauze here, modern ambient and electro-Arabic stylings. Shame it’s so brief.

NATACHA ATLAS – Mounqaliba – A more laid-back and jazz-inflected album than her previous work, Natacha still questing and pushing at the limits of her craft. Utterly gorgeous stuff, and although a couple of reviewers have railed against ‘spoken word’ interludes, they’re delivered in tandem with engaging soundscapes and become one with the flow of the album.

SWANS – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky – still not listened to this yet, saving it so that I can immerse myself in it in the run-up to their Glasgow show at the end of October.

WIN – Freaky Trigger – a new expanded edition containing singles B sides and remixes. Now can we please have a similar job on Uh! Tears Baby?

ABERFELDY – Somewhere To Jump From – whatever it was that I found attractive about the first two Aberfeldy albums (and I’ve not thought too hard about this) feels absent from this one. Something to be sold on.

DAVID BOWIE – Station To Station – boxed set. The cheaper version, bought primarily for the official release of a Nassau Coliseum show that’s apparently been heavily bootlegged in the past. Underwhelming, unfortunately.

Having been entertained at his book festival appearance last month, I finally got around to reading Jah Wobble‘s autobiography ‘Memoirs Of A Geezer‘ (I’m with him on the title, it’s rank). He’s not about to win any awards for prose style, but it’s hard not to warm to him – and he’s certainly lived through a lot. Also devoured Chris Connelly‘s skimpy but entertaining first novel ‘Ed Royal‘ a chiller set in early 80s Edinburgh. It’s a strong evocation of time/place, and memories flooded back – not all of them pleasant. Decent film adaptation potential too, and I’d bet someone’s already on the case.

Late in the month I saw Antye Greie/AGF play and perform in a new version of Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando at the Traverse, starring the extraordinary Madeleine Worrall. (yes, I actually went to a theatre).

Whatever material Craig Armstrong crafted for the soundtrack Antye Greie has certainly made her own, an extraordinary versatile laptop soundworld that amusingly included the amplified scratching of quill pens as the audience filtered into the venue pre show.  Lighting design and projections were mesmerising throughout. It’s been a long time since I’ve wondered ‘how the hell did they do that?, and with seemingly minimal resources too – technology works, technology delivers. If this piece gets a tour, it’s certainly worth making the effort to go along. Fingers crossed that there might be an associated soundtrack release from Antye at some point.