Tagged: noise

Planet X will Destroy Earth

Sun Ra / Merzbow
Strange City
UK COLD SPRING RECORDS CSR228CD (2016)

A pretty overpowering blast here from Masami Akita as he applies his “remix” and noise skills to the music of Sun Ra. I’m really not sure if I like it or not. I’ve been enjoying the music of the Sun Ra Arkestra from a long time now, and it’s encouraging (though slightly bewildering) to find how his music has somehow become fashionable, especially with younger broad-minded listeners, after being despised or ignored by many jazz purists during the man’s lifetime. And of course we’ve also supported Merzbow as the supremo Rolls-Royce maestro of precision noise pretty much since we started this magazine, and Jennifer Hor is one who has enthusiastically stepped up to sing his praises in the noise arena. Today though we’re dealing with one of those post-modern hybrid experiments, informed by a reckless try-anything spirit that delights in forming melds and mergers between incompatible genres, perhaps in the name of breaking down barriers and broadening the taste horizons of a thousand young polymorphous listeners. Although since those same listeners now have such a glut of music to enjoy, perhaps this kind of excessive noise-jazz chimera is the only way we can get their attention, or just make ourselves feel anything.

It’s not exactly a collaboration between Merzbow and Sun Ra. When Merzbow collaborated with Richard Pinhas or Genesis P. Orridge, he teamed up with a living musician and they made sounds together, often live and in real time. This particular release is more like a collaboration with Irwin Chusid, who licensed tracks from the Sun Ra archive for Merzbow’s remixing purposes; Justin Mitchell of Cold Spring Records may have been involved in the negotiation process to get the tapes into Masima’s mitts. I may be splitting hairs, but Merzbow is working exclusively with recorded music for this one; members of the current Arkestra have not been personally involved, as far as I can make out. Were they even asked about the project? As to the provenance of the source materials, this isn’t crystal clear; some say it’s derived from Strange Strings and The Magic City, hence the album title which merges them into a single line. But the press release states “rare and unreleased tracks” were involved. Strange Strings and The Magic City may be rare records, but they were not unreleased.

On the CD I have in front of me, there are two long cuts over 30 mins each – ‘Livid Sun Loop’ and ‘Granular Jazz Part 2’ are fantastic titles, and remind us that Merzbow has kick-started (or put the boot in to) free jazz records before, such as on the groovy record Door Open At 8 AM from 1999, which sampled Tony Williams Lifetime and John Coltrane. ‘Livid Sun Loop’ could almost be a Sun Ra title, but it’s two-thirds Masami Akita; you know how much he loves to refer to his method (looping) and to the use of excessive adjectives to make the music even more threatening than it already is. ‘Livid Sun Loop’ sounds like something from outer space that would give you an incurable disease, an unstoppable cancer that changes the colour of your skin to a mottled grey. That may be the idea. The music he wreaks on this track has the same relentless quality of an invasive disease. I suppose you could say he’s captured the energy of the Arkestra, and perhaps hinted at the sheer weirdness of Sun Ra himself. But whatever free jazz has survived is buried in a thick wodge of noise, much like diamonds in clay. Admittedly, fragments of Arkestra music are recognisable in the few gaps of breathing space that are left us, but here again it’s two-thirds Masami Akita, as he occupies and colonises every available inch of the ether. Sun Ra Arkestra horns, strings, and piano fragments leak out in among modern, digitally-crunched, metallic harsh noise; the jazz parts feel like ancient archaeological fragments, barely daring to assert their significance in today’s uncaring world.

And yet, I found myself enjoying the futuristic electronic swoops that Merzbow belches out of his follicles so effortlessly, and wondering to myself if these noises didn’t count as an authentic update on the outer-space, space-travel, sci-fi themes that Sun Ra made his very own. In places, ‘Livid Sun Loop’ could take its place among the strangest recordings in the Ra discography, including Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy. I have no doubt that Merzbow has heard and loved every known Sun Ra recording, and more besides. On the other hand, he clearly has no desire to replicate the subtlety and ellipsis of the 1960s work, nor any interest in leaving gaps in the continuous tidal wave of noise. I also miss the percussion, which was one of the group’s strongest skill-sets; I think a few precious moments of Arkestra drumming may surface, but not much. However, Merzbow (who used to be a drummer) knows about rhythm, and it’s not too far-out to think he’s set Sun Ra music to a complex, intense and multi-layered beat, and it will take us several spins to truly get to the groove.

‘Granular Jazz Part 2’ is even more overwhelming, rushing past at such high speeds and overlaid with so much debris that eventually it becomes a blur; I’m unable to make out any Sun Ra presence in this tornado, but his serene figure may be sitting somewhere in the epicentre of the storm. It’s like Metal Machine Music on speed; buried melodies and pulsing rhythms thrashing it out against non-musical feedback and electronic swoops. The entire El Saturn catalogue overlaid with itself like some multiple-exposure movie. Masami Akita may see free jazz as an all-out explosion of wild, inchoate energy; that’s certainly what comes across on this spin.

If you enjoy this and find yourself hungry for more, you need to buy the vinyl edition as well as the CD; though the covers are the same, the contents are completely different, and only by buying the black or yellow vinyl edition will you hear the other three parts of ‘Granular Jazz’. Beautiful cover art is by Abby Helasdottir. From 17 October 2016.

Wings Of Fire

Loopy electronica, wild noise, insane illogical beats and coarse sounds abound on Phoenixxx (PLANET MU RECORDS ZIQ383), a sprawling experiment which comes to us from the East, concocted by three youngsters from Russia and the Ukraine calling themselves WWWings. Heck, the oldest member here is 25, so they seem largely untroubled by draggy things like fitting into categories or providing any kind of continuity with the past, and in places seem intent on applying a punk rock-inspired tabula rasa attitude to everything they do. It’s also notable that the band seems to have come together through the internet and social media networking, rather than more conventional old-school methods.

WWWings are massively disaffected and frustrated by everything they see around them, and given the state of the world today, who can gainsay them? “Struggle with real life in almost totalitarian countries affects us,” they snarl at the world, in between mouthfuls of a dead rat they’re roasting over a makeshift campfire in the middle of a bomb site. “I think that’s why most of our tracks sound disturbing and depressive.” This alienation, and it’s not too strong a word, carries over into their personalities and prompts them to work under alias names which distance themselves from the so-called “real adult world” and bring them closer to a cyber-world of tags, avatars and forum names, a world which they own and understand, and have completely colonised, hence ‘Lit Internet’, ‘Lit Eye’ and ‘Lit Daw’. To say nothing of the colourful characters who collaborate on the tracks, with names like Born in Flamez, Gronos1, Chino Amobi, Endgame, Ebbo Kraan, and DJ Heroin.

The game plan for the modern world proposed on Phoenixxx is a simple one – burn everything down and (probably) don’t bother to rebuild it. This is reflected in track titles issuing simple instructions such as ‘Pyro’, ‘Ashes’, ‘Melt’ and ‘Ignite’. I can get that, for sure. While the name Phoenixxx implies a rebirth from the flames, I don’t think WWWings have written that part of the plan yet. Until they do, grab that can of gasoline and box of matches, and get stuck in. From 3rd October 2016.

Banished from Time: an intense immersion into a particular hell

Black Cilice, Banished from Time, Iron Bonehead Productions, Germany, CD / cassette IBP321 (2017)

“Banished from Time” is a very intense and thundering work, often repetitive, and always frenzied and feverish. The album is the fourth by black metal act Black Cilice, whose home country is Portugal, and about whom little else is known, not even whether the band is just a lone-wolf solo act or a group. The project does boast a huge discography of cassettes, split releases and albums.

From start to finish, the music is constant assault on your senses and consciousness, with a lot of cacophony and howling, but within the noise and non-stop shrieking there are definite melodies and riffing. The sound, flooded with reverb, is noisy and cavernous, all-enveloping until you feel that your head is completely filled up with even more music pushing its way in with all that non-stop intense percussion thudding and you’re in danger of drowning in such overwhelming noise and mental torment. The first track “Timeless Spectre” is a good example of what to expect: high-speed pounding drums, steaming fuzzy vibrato guitars, banshee vocals howling trapped within the depths of the noise reverb, with melodies and actual riffs and rhythms passing in and out. The following track “On the Verge of Madness” has more of the same except that the music seems more streamlined and focused with one constant rhythm banging out its heart and growing more intense and urgent. The third track has a good galloping groove that goes into a hysterical frenzy as the song progresses amid the noise and anguish.

On and on it goes … yes, the music sounds like the proverbial flood that, once set free, never stops pouring and overflowing the levees and plains. Yet there’s actual structure carved out of the sound and noise that gives the album some direction and brings out its message of absolute despair and total alienation. The last couple of songs on the album bring something new to the usual screeching: the fourth song “Channeling Forgotten Energies” has an additional layer of sharp-ish drone and the final track “Boiling Corpses” has as much fury and aggressive, destructive drama as it does desperation and inner torment. For the first time, the anger seems to turn outward away from attacking its owner and towards the source of torment with single-minded obsession. Some signal of hope, of a light shining into the darkness, now becomes apparent and there’s the possibility of inner peace and healing.

This album is more of an immersion into a particular kind of hell than it is a collection of songs or a soundtrack – its intensity will put off most people and only those who may have had similar depressive experiences will appreciate it for what it is and represents. Beneath the layers of noise, confusion and agony can be found music of overwhelming emotion that in its own way possesses unearthly beauty.

Esoterica

We have not encountered the work of sound artist Manuel Knapp before, but this Vienna and Tokyo-based fellow has a few scattered releases of electronic noise to his name dating back to around 2008, some of them in conjunction with Tim Blechmann. His LP Azoth 1 (VENTIL RECORDS V0004) does indeed contain some powerful blasts of ear-splitting, scorching noise, but he does it in a very structured and composed way, tempering the extremes with other textures, layers, and moments which are almost melodic in their approach. In this instance, he’s working entirely within the computer, radically departing from his analogue noise roots to experiment with the digital realms. Azoth is realised with freeware plugins for manipulating digital audio, by which I suppose is meant filters and processing tools and digital synths, some of which might even be downloadable from the web. It’s Knapp’s plan to push these tools to their limits, using them for purposes which their authors did not intend.

I’m happy to report Knapp does a very good job of this. While the opening moments of Azoth’s side A were rather irritating – where the limitations of the puny digital tools were clearly exposed – by the end of Side A, and throughout Side B, he’s cheerfully demolishing the world around him as we wallow in a gloriously wild and unfettered orgy of bombistas. Manuel Knapp certainly has his own authorial signature, which is not easy when we’re dealing with the many variant poisons of harsh noise that glut today’s market; it may have something to do with his attention to structure, the use of extreme dynamics, the deliberate programming of musical elements and root-note drones, and a very adventurous spirit when it comes to manipulating these chunks of digital audio and freeware tools. He’s like a bull in a paintbox, a kid in a Play-Dough factory, and a pair of eyes without a face.

I’d like to recommend this album as a product you can rush out and buy, but I’m not sure if I can. To begin with, it costs 666 Euros, a high price which reflects the fact that there are only 15 vinyl copies available for sale. Each one does have a hand-made work of art for a cover, but even so…and why invoke the “number of the beast” for a record which, although noisy, has no discernible satanic connotations? At the hour I write these lines, 5 copies of the vinyl are still available, though I’m mystified as to why the label wish to tell us that this particular pressing and retail deal was their “fastest break-even ever”. Why the heck should we care about their business plan? For those of you disinclined to spend such a high figure on one record, it is possible to hear some of Azoth on their Bandcamp page. Peter Kutin, who is well represented on this label, assisted with the mixing and mastering. From 3rd October 2016.

  1. “Azoth” is an alchemical term. See also Our Glassie Azoth, the superb Welsh noise-drone act whom we interviewed in 1998 and whose records are highly recommended.

Contusion

On Zashomon (HYBRIDA 06), we’ve got an exciting team-up between Miguel A. García and Japanese player Seijiro Murayama. Seijiro used to be the drummer in Absolut Null Punkt (or A.N.P.) in the 1980s, performing with the ferocious guitar monster K.K. Null, to produce some memorable LPs of experimental rock noise. He’s also performed with Keiji Haino, Fred Frith, and Tom Cora, and more recently teamed up with contemporary French improvisers and composers, including Jean-Luc Guionnet, Eric La Casa, Stéphane Rives, and Eric Cordier. Zashomon plays as a continuous 40-minute piece, although the track titles indicate a four-part structure to the work, including the intriguing third episode ‘One Perjury’…both players credit themselves with “electro acoustic composition”, and in places it does feel quite pre-arranged; the work is full of carefully managed changes and shifts in tone, allowing for quieter events to contrast with the continual stretched of rich electric drone-noise.

Early on there’s a fantastic piece of interplay between drums, synths quietly pulsating and buzzing, and what may be an electric guitar plucking occasional notes; the dynamics here are astounding, real moments of tension and vast gaps of white space in the puzzling music. After the duo settle for a slightly less bold exploration of textures and drones, but there’s still a lot of air and space in the music (especially compared with García’s default position which is to try and occupy as much space as possible), and there’s a taut mystery in the air. Murayama shows his mettle; he has that iron discipline that allows a musician to create a stern, unwavering sound, and keep the emotional register carefully in check. Consequently, his minimal percussion stabs ring out like hailstones on a wintry day, and his alien voice – a bullfrog’s murmur slowed down to the rate of a creeping snail – add a terrifying dimension to the record. At times, García is almost relegated to the position of an admiring acolyte kneeling before the feet of this high priest of minimal improvisation.

The bulk of the record presents a close-up and intimate study of…something, perhaps the craggy face of a lost tribesman or the details of an ancient monument, but it ends with about ten minutes of glorious release which creates a near-epiphany; off-centred drumming, an eerie but uplifting layered noise which may be erupting from the clouds like mutated thunder, and twisted vocal whoops from the Japanese half of the act. A very strong combination and collaboration, packed with strikingly original sounds and bold playing. Limited to 99 copies. From 19th September 2016.

Crude Cassettes

Herewith one large envelope of Miguel A. García-related material from 19th September 2016.

The cassette tape Harigams (CUT#35) comes to us from the Polish label Wounded Knife. The story of it is that Miguel A. García was touring Europe with the French saxophonist Sébastien Branche, and during the Warsaw leg of the trip they recorded a studio set with the drummer Wojtek Kurek from the experimental duo Paper Cuts, and Mateusz Wysocki (sometimes called Fischerle), armed with his laptop of sound samples and field recordings. On the A side, an understated but dense cloud of smeared, fizzy, electro-acoustic noise was the result, a rather subdued and slow drone where it’s hard to say where the saxophone leaves off and the electronic elements begin. The musicians seem to be hampered by uncertainty, but at least their efforts create a fairly pleasing trance. At length, a more restless note creeps into the day’s work, and attempts are made to coarsen the surface with harsh electronic whines and bubbly, crackly emissions from the bell of Branche’s sax. Things improve somewhat on the B side, where the abrasive textures continue and the general flow of the music is subject to more ebb and flow. There’s a nice sample of some vocal music thrown in by someone, but it’s done tentatively, and you wish it could last for longer. The noises are generally pretty good, but the performers are not organising themselves. There’s a general lack of spirit and courage that prevents this music from really catching fire.

Another cassette tape Crudo (NYAPSTER 019) was recorded by García with Carlos Valverde. García and Valverde have performed and recorded together as Cooloola Monster, and their Canciones Del Diablo is an all-time classic in the blasphemous / supernatural noise stakes. On this occasion (as far back as 2011) the harsh pair locked their noisy antlers together and recorded a piece at Radio Bronka in Barcelona, under the general rubric of “Fuck The Bastards” – not sure if this refers to a regular broadcast on that station or a music festival or what, but it’s a good piece of anti-social hate-mongering, not unlike the sort of slogans employed by Crass and Flux Of Pink Indians in the 1980s, except they did it in an anarchist context. The word Crudo is of course entirely apt for this burst of coarse filth, and for about 23 minutes you’ll wallow in scads of black feedback and ugly electronic scabrousness. That sense of nagging insistence, like being attacked by a remorseless sewing machine or other torture implement, is one of García’s strongest characteristics, and in Carlos Valverde he has clearly found a kindred spirit who shares his sadistic tendencies. The cover art – a single word written in black – is spray painted on through a stencil, and the cassette is issued in a Poly-Frosty-Flexi case.

The split tape on Rypistellyt Levyt (RL-016) is not exclusively a Miguel A. García item, but he’s on the B side. At time of writing, this small Helsinki label only offers three releases on its Bandcamp page, but it’s been active since 2009 or earlier, starting out with CDRs but then specialising in cassettes, and has been home to such Finnish obscurities as Neue Haas Grotesk, Supermasters, and the jazz group Horst Quartet. The A side was recorded in Helsinki in 2015, and features our good friend Ilia Belorukov, the ubiquitous Russian, wielding his sax and electronic setup in the company of Lauri Hyvärinen, the Finnish improvising guitarist. The label describe this noise as “slowly unravelling acoustic and electric sounds”, and point out that it was recorded in a concrete bunker, as if that really made any difference. It’s a dud in any case; the duo’s attenuated electric whines and clattering junkyard scrabbles completely fail to cohere for me, but it sounds as though Lauri Hyvärinen has a unique approach to playing the guitar.

On the B side, Miguel A. García is doing it live in Mexico with Héctor Rey, about a week after the Helsinki gig took place. Rey from Bilbao is not unknown in these quarters as he runs the Nueni Records label, which every so often sends us a CDR missive containing obscure and challenging minimal / improvised music. We haven’t heard much of his own work, but his Myxini from 2012 (on the comp Radical Demos #4) impressed us, because of the utter seriousness with which he approached the problem of simply plucking a string. It was as though his very life depended on him sounding the right note. On this Live At Umbral set he’s playing violin and percussion while García supplies electronics, and it’s an extremely subdued set punctuated with much silence and hesitancy. There’s that same sense of deliberation (some might call it paralysis) that I recall from Myxini. When the duo do manage to make a noise together, it’s as if they’re looking at each other with doubtful expressions, asking each other “is this okay?”, as though they were questioning their very right to make improvised music before an audience at all. The duo “work on their sound from a sculptural perspective” according to the label blurb, which may be their way of trying to express in words the deliberation of this stilted approach to playing, likening the musician to a sculptor carefully chipping away at a large slab of marble. They manage to stretch this shilly-shallying out for 17 uneventful minutes, and you’ll need a lot of patience to get to the end of it. Limited edition of 50 copies was released in March 2016, and has already sold out.

The tape Absquatulate Azimuth (BC023) is an old one from 2015, and long sold out. Bicephalic Records is an American tape label and many of the releases feature cover drawings by the owner, August Traeger, who also appears on this split. On the A side, García turns in three variations on a theme he calls Stripes (For Windowpane)…probably one of the most unsettling and confusing sets I’ve heard from the man. It’s got the familiar sense of obsessiveness and the determination to explore an unknown area, but he’s really pushing against the limits, particularly on the spooky third part. Feels like something that members of Nurse With Wound would’ve welcomed in the late 1970s…a real creepster. Apparently the work is derived from “original raw sound sources by window pane”, if that means anything to you.

August Traeger is a new name to me, but he’s a video artist as well as a musician, and also trades under the name Somnaphon. His two contributions are no less creepy than the A side, and ‘Eating Borrowed People’ has a spooked cinematic vibe which I attribute to the sound effects of echoing footsteps and suspenseful chords in the background. But the footsteps are irregular and troubling; no human has ever trod the pavements of the world and created such an unnatural rhythm. I preferred this contribution to ‘Logistic Maps (Subset 2)’, a rather routine bit of glitch and scrambled low-key techno which barely hangs together, but even so Traeger has a nice line in producing synth tunes in the background which make the flesh creep with their queasy, off-centred nature.

Fields Of Debris

Source: http://farpointrecordings.com/mcs/fergus-kelly–shot-to-shreds/

Welcome return of Fergus Kelly, the Dublin-based sound artist, with his new cassette Shot To Shreds (FP057) on the lovely Farpoint Recordings label. Last heard him in 2012 with his album A Congregation Of Vapours, noted as a fairly noisy and raucous entry in the electro-acoustic arena, and we’re pleased to say his interest in ugly electronic crunchery, nasty feedback, semi-industrial gruntings and lumps of metal continues on this tape. The A side is a suite of seven abstract bursts under the heading Debris Field, a title which instantly conjures visions of a junkyard, a trash pile being remade into art in some way. Even the collage cover art, with its daubs of paint smeared over newsprint sheets, could be read as the sort of thing we’d find pasted to the hoardings near this imaginary junkyard, or scraps stuck forlornly on the corrugated iron walls around the compound. The label describe this side as “a tactile and disintegrating landscape of fractured spaces and skewed geographies”, implying strongly that Kelly continues to layer field recordings into his work. On this occasion it’s a glorious maximal bash, one that both celebrates and decries the grime and grit of urban concrete hell that continues to blight parts of the UK (and Ireland, evidently), hemming us in with its unfinished building projects, broken walkways, and unkempt roads. It’d be cool to think of Kelly as a subversive lover of the “derive”, but he doesn’t wander around these scapes like some French intellectual, and instead he takes them for what they are, producing sprawling noise with no clear beginning and end, much like the piles of trash that clearly inspire him.

The B side is more cerebral than the punk-rock inflected A side. Four diverse pieces, including ‘Impact Spatter’, ‘Discrete Oblique’, ‘Cored’ and ‘Closing The Circuit’ are more recognisable as collage and cut-up works, often using musical elements to make their ambiguous statements, and making judicious use of “time-stretching” to slow down certain layers. Taken at a sitting, this B side produces strong hallucinatory and dream-like states in short order. The cut-up voices on ‘Discrete Oblique’ border on nightmare, otherwise innocent and everyday remarks taking on a horrific tinge as they’re juxtaposed with absurdist fragments of musical snatches and chord ripped out of context. The lovely ‘Cored’, a personal favourite of mine, is dominated by a grinding heavyweight drone of metallic feedback that all but crushes the skull under its mighty weight. The “relentless sonic snowstorm”, as the press notes would have it, is a remorseless exercise in piling on an excess of noisy content, almost like Merzbow in slow motion. It includes a slowed-down sample from ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’, one of The Beatles’ finest attempts at rendering the onset of the apocalypse in music. The grotesque noise of that 12/8 guitar figure, awash with white noise from George Harrison’s Moog synth, is to a noteworthy statement of sheer doom, better even than the end of ‘A Day In The Life’. Here, in among Kelly’s intense stew of digital violence, it has found a proper home. The programme of side B – it is a well-sequenced album, for sure – means that we end with ‘Closing The Circuit’, a seven-minute composition supposedly making use of “vacated spaces”, and intended to provide aural relief to the battered listener after the onslaught of the 13-minute ‘Cored’. But it doesn’t relieve us of the sense of foreboding or doubt, and we leave the world of Fergus Kelly freighted down with more sorrow and uncertainty than before.

Multiple methods and sources were used to create this fine record, including feedback, tapes, e-bowed strings, amplification, field recordings, electronic music, and music samples. From 29th September 2016.

The Purge: Anarchy

Fine blast of art-noise with a punky edge from the Peter Aaron / Brian Chase Duo, an American pair of seasoned players who only met up a few years ago in 2013. On the same occasion as their first live outing, they also booked a recording session at an old church in Hudson NY and recorded Purges (PUBLIC EYESORE 134), an intensive set of vigourous music created by means of guitar, drums and electronics. The longer tracks with names like ‘Space’, ‘Rolling’ and ‘Swirl’ are more easy to locate in the improv-exploratory noise zones, and they are sandwiched in between the numbered ‘Purge’ blasts, which are short punky guitar explosions usually around a minute in length – clearly the players intending to “purge” themselves of all bodily poisons with a voiding, puking action.

It’s impressive to hear this much confidence and swagger on a debut, but the pair have long histories; Peter Aaron, from Cincinnati but known in New York and New Jersey, was the guitarist and singer with punk band The Chrome Cranks in the 1990s, whose records are described elsewhere as “Garage Rock” and are hopefully edgy and nasty affairs of angrified electric bombardment. Chrome Cranks were pretty successful, with eight albums, lots of tours, and an MTV appearance. Aaron was also in Sand In The Face, who made one hardcore punk LP in 1986. As for Brian Chase, he’s the drummer with Yeah Yeah Yeahs (New York alt-rock band since 2000), and has duetted with Alan Licht, Andrea Parkins, and made an experimental drumming-drone record for Pogus Productions. I’d like to think that it’s these credentials that make Purges such a compelling listen, a thrilling combination of raw punk attack with ideas about sound art and improvisation…the label is equally enthused, emphasising the loud volume of their sets, and the “rare uncanny telepathy” that the two share, enabling them to set up and start playing without any fussing over sound checks and balancing levels.

The digipak sleeve includes a photo of the boys in action, confirming once again you can always trust a guitarist who wears a suit. The front cover may look a bit of a mess, but it’s an image of a broken lightbulb (a motif picked up on the other artworks) which, along with the acidic colours of the printing, does much to suggest the violent power of this music. Very good. From 21st September 2016.

Hearing Voices

We are quite keen on Star Turbine, the duo of Sindre Bjerga and Claus Poulsen, whom we last heard on their album for Attenuation Circuit which came out in late 2013. Here’s another six tracks of their craft on Nothing Should Move Unless You Want It To (FROZEN LIGHT FZL 043) on the Russian label usually dedicated to sinister dark ambient music. The pieces here represent snapshots of the duo’s live work between 2014 and 2016, captured in various European and UK locations (I make the distinction advisedly). I think they do it with electronics and radios and perhaps some amplified objects, and what emerges is a low-key chatter and hum sound, but one which is rich with layers, detail, and textures. It’s strangely affecting and enjoyable to get these disembodied, fractured voices drifting out across a gently lapping sea of non-descript noise. Far from being aggressive or loud, Star Turbine propose that we float for a while in this semi-abstract space and use our ears to explore. As I may have said before, this is one rare instance where the unfinished, meandery approach to sound generation really pays off. Limited and numbered edition CD. From 7th September 2016.

Secret Reproductive Plant

Enjoyable set of entertaining distortion, noise, electronics and rhythmic pulsations from The Miz’ries, on their EP Complete Control Of Your Vehicle (BELTS & WHISTLES B&W005). They’re pretty much a trio operating in New York, featuring Quinn Collins, Jeff Snyder, and Leila Adu, though on this outing they’re joined by Crosslegged who I think is Keba Robinson from Split Level Records and is known as a mover and shaker in Brooklyn music circles. Miz’ries create a nice surface sound, using loops and malfunctioning turntables pushed through pedals and distortion effects, and their own brand of cracked electronic blurpage some of which was invented and built by Jeff Snyder – he even calls it Snyderphonics, perhaps in homage to The Simeon of Silver Apples.

On top of their barely-working layered stew of avant-pop rhythms, Leila Adu adds her poised and mannered soprano vocals – now singing, now humming background tunes, or in one instance muttering snippets of nonsense in the studio, which have been further cut up and redistributed as needed around the track. She’s also pretty mean with her drum pad playing, deliberately missing the beat and contributing lopsided time signatures. On paper, this may sound like a recasting of the Portishead set-up, but in a less polite and more angstified arty mode; The Miz’ries are certainly darker and troubled, sometimes with a vaguely political edge (Adu’s songs are supposed to contain elements of politics and ballads, though I can discern neither), and will never settle for anything that resembles a familiar sound, note, or vibe in their quest for surprising aural goodiness. They also see themselves as a pop band, working within three or four minute boundaries, instead of extending these workouts into something three times the needed length (which PAS Musique, fellow Brooklynites, would not hesitate to do).

As to their intensive working method, which involves improvisation in the studio, much distortion and effects, editing and composing from tapes, it’s clearly paid off in this instance, even if some of the experiments misfire slightly. The press notes compare this method to Miles Davis (presumably they mean Teo Macero rather than Miles, but fair enough) and Can, but if we’re namechecking krautrock bands I think Faust’s method is more apposite…From 22 September 2016.