Heat Spells

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From the French label who brought us the unstoppable and abrasive (and impossibly great) Sister Iodine, comes this remarkable LP called Osaka Fortune (PREMIER SANG PS007). Yes, it’s another noisy blaster, one that leaves permanent scars, but filled with subtlety in the performances if you can just get close enough to the hand-grenades and bazookas fired in your face. Incredibly it’s a team-up between Lasse Marhaug and one of his many noise heroes, the redoubtable Jojo Hiroshige of Hijokaidan, the man whose guitar doubles as a flame-thrower and who is often called upon by the Japanese authorities when a building firm’s wrecking ball is unavailable for some reason. This lovably obnoxious duo of energised power noise – Marhaug receives a simple printed credit for “The Noise”, as though it’s something that emanates from his body – are joined by two drummers, Paal Nilssen-Love (Norwegian free jazz basher), and Pika of Afrirampo and various incarnations of the Acid Mothers cabal. Six tracks, but in reality the LP is two sides of non-stop music, each a 15 minute coruscating tornado of solid cast-iron that can cleave a man in twixt, apart from a brief respite on side two’s ‘No Drums This Time’ which is one of the few intervals we get, i.e. not everyone is flailing their intestines out and rolling on the floorboards all the time. A reliably intense powerhouse of grim but exciting proportions, with superb cover artworks by Crazy Steigen. Released 2013, arrived here Jan 2014.

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From 16 January 2014, Map 71‘s (FOOLPROOF PROJECTS PRJ032) self-titled release is an unusual release of poetry meets electronics with drumming…Lisa Jayne is the poet (also visual artist) who recites her plaints and litanies of grumbling in her distinctive Essex tones, while Andy Pyne supplies stark percussive effects and clipped electronic drone or noise contributions. Everything follows a loose-limbed, free-form approach, adapting the sound for whatever fits the tone or theme of each poem, and it’s a great mix of sounds from these Brighton-based performers. Lisa Jayne has the kind of insistent speaking voice you can’t ignore. If she’d been performing in 1978 I’d venture that she would have given Poly Styrene or Danielle Dax some pretty tough competition. There’s a chunk of solid lino in every syllable, which she cuts into squares using her scissor-like teeth. I also like the fact that her poetry contains a lot of concrete images, centreing on everyday and commonplace things in the house or on the street, and these images become in her mouth metaphors and symbols for urban decay, frustration, broken relationships, or just a general sense of disaffection. Using strong images is infinitely preferable to spewing out wimpy self-centred poetry about abstract “feelings”. Jayne’s fractured barks and streams of disconnected images do a lot more to convey her emotional condition and show the clarity of her vision, even when it’s a very stark clarity. Single-syllable words, and lots of vowels, also help to propel each piece forwards and provide a lot of the dynamism to every track. At certain points it’s almost like the entire audience is being accused of doing something (or of doing nothing, which is probably why she exhorts us to “wake up!” on one piece), and this slightly vengeful dimension is why she would have made a terrific punk rocker type. As for Mr Pyne, I certainly like the inventively primitive sounds he’s making, and can see why the label is proud of the sonic resemblance, in places, this record has to early industrial music (and Throbbing Gristle is cited by way of example). But I don’t sense the duo are quite in synch enough; Pyne doesn’t appear to be listening closely to the words or grooving with the inner rhythm of the poetry, Lisa Jayne sometimes has to shout to make herself heard over the clamour, and you can feel her speeding up against her will when the drumming is picking up pace in a race to the climax. However, this is a very minor flaw and won’t spoil your enjoyment of this record, which is a very strong and honest statement. Even poetry-haters will dig it.

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Another lovely irresistible item under the Felix Kubin name is Bakterien & Batterien (LADO ABC LADO A/12). This record is just plain adorable. One wishes that more musicians could exhibit the droll and knowing humour of Kubin, and what’s more he never kids around at the expense of the music he makes, which is always a topnotch polished production. For this project he’s joined up with Mitch & Mitch, an astonishing big band from Warsaw…they too are not lacking in the rib-tickling japes department, and have carried a sense of fun over into everything they do – their image, their music, their tours and their personal history…we should stress that Mitch & Mitch are not a duo, and may in fact be a five-piece at time of writing, but there’s a list of auxiliaries, former members and hangers-on as long as your arm. Like Louis Jordan’s Five Guys Named Moe, they’re all called variations of the name Mitch, with some personal favourites of mine being the names Serious Mitch, Mad Mitch, Big Boned Mitch, Ghost Mitch, and Half-Mitch Half-Ape. With a personnel roster as surreal as that, you just know your record is in good hands. This particular release is a thrilling mix of synths, keyboards and multiple percussion instruments – including drum machines and vibes – to create wonderful jazz-lite ditties, TV theme tunes that never were, quirky oddball instrumentals from other planets, and more, all performed with a deft light touch that makes each airy tune fairly swing among the stars. Fans of The Residents, Ptose, Morricone and Piero Umilani are advised to prescribe themselves a dose of this particular “bakterien” immediately. A joint release by the Polish Lado ABC label and Kubin’s own Gagarin Records.

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