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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Krallice - Years Past Matter

Bought this last week as soon as I heard it was available. Waited a short while to let the album sink in. Been playing it almost non-stop though.

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that it's the best Krallice album so far. That's a tough call considering how great all the other Krallice albums were.

Still nowhere near getting my head round all the twists and turns of the riffs. Strange melodies suddenly appear out of atonal chaos. Everything shifts constantly. Completely incomprehensible. Utterly detailed. Pure genius.

There seems to be a slight pull towards the Orthrelm side of the band rather than the Behold The Arctopus side. I'm not sure, kind of less black metal. Not that Krallice are really a black metal band. Whatever black metal is. I think this is something that's still waiting for someone to coin a phrase for it.

Whatever you want to call it, this album is essential.

No doubt I'll be picking up the vinyl when it comes out. Bit of a collector when it comes to Mick Barr stuff:-

And that's only some of it. Still need to get the Krallice flexi that came with a copy of Decibel magazine so get in touch if you want to trade or something.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Swans - The Seer

Of course everyone knows this came out yesterday, as Swans are, like mine, your favourite band ever, correct? Well this album also throws up another pro-FLAC digital download argument. To qoute Mr Gira himself:
Paradoxically, the best way to listen to this from beginning to end is digitally because then there's no breaks in it. Even on CD, it's two CDs. It's a strange thing because I'm not a big fan of digitized iTunes experiences. But I think the best way is if somebody can get high-quality files from the music they buy, I emphasize, then listen to the entire album through their computer in a stereo system, or something like that. ~ blogs.browardpalmbeach.com
An album being defined in length by the storage capacity of a music CD (~80mins) is redundant when distributing it via a digital download format. The Seer (which is amazing, btw) is 120 mins in length and, as Michael Gira suggests, is best listened to in one uninterrupted experience in as high fidelity as is possible. This means FLAC. Even if you buy the CD, the best way to then listen to it would be to rip it to FLAC and play the whole album as one piece via a computer.

Something to consider... also, buy The Seer, obviously: http://boomkat.com/downloads/565260-swans-the-seer

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

V/A - Frustration Incorporated (Anthony Nolan charity benefit)

Bombed Out records who put out the Wooderson album recently mentioned this benefit compilation on that twitter today. Wooderson are on it as well as a bunch of other punk/indie type things. Bird Calls do that 'proper' emo thing. I recognise the names Onelinedrawing and Jeff Caudil.

The digital version is just a quid so worth it.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Hårda Tider - Gatan Kallar

First listen to this lot and it's sound good. They're coming over to play the excellent Means To An End Fest at the 1 in 12 Club, Bradford in October. The home of DIY punk rock in the UK if you didn't already know.

Anyway, a few people I knew were quite excited about Hårda Tider getting added. Never heard of them but thought I'd check em out. Thankfully they're on bandcamp so it's easy enough.

Not quite the d-beat crust onslaught I was expecting what with them playing that fest and being Swedish. This is more like fast hardcore with a ton of NYHC and crossover chucked in. I could imagine 'dudes' getting 'siked' on 'losing their shit' to this. It's almost purposely written for circle pits and pile ons. No bad thing.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Ghosts Of Bush

Discovered this via the great Belbury Parish Magazine, the home of Ghost Box Records.

I've only just started listening to it so I can't verify how good it is. However, the idea is fascinating enough that you need to give it a listen regardless.

Ghosts Of Bush’ was created entirely using the natural acoustic sounds of Bush House, the iconic home for the past seven decades of the BBC World Service which will shortly be closing its doors for the last time. All of the sounds were captured in the small hours of the morning in empty offices, corridors, stairwells and other hidden corners by a Studio Manager working overnight. These recordings were then dubbed onto quarter-inch tape in the basement studio deep in the bowels of the South-East wing using two of the surviving reel-to-reel machines.

Adjusting the playback speed of the spools and ‘bouncing’ the recordings between the two tape machines lead to the discovery of a number of interesting phrases and sound textures which were then looped, layered and fashioned into rough compositions. Over time the tape would start to degrade and alter the nature of the sounds, while occasional echo was created by recording and playing various loops simultaneously, feeding the sound back into itself. The entire album was produced using these simple methods, and no other effects or studio trickery have been used. Thanks to the sonorous quality of Bush House’s Portland stone walls and high ceilings, the natural resonance of the space was all that was needed.

When talking of historic buildings it’s become something of a cliché to say ‘If these walls could speak…’ I like to think that on ‘Ghosts Of Bush’ we come close to hearing them sing!

I hope that this album not only captures the size and the grandeur of this now largely empty building, but also a sense of its history too. As well as being produced in a rapidly disintegrating studio using equipment that was decommissioned years ago, buried deep within the mix are call-signs or ‘idents’ from a number of the BBC’s Language services, many of which have also closed down in recent years. By working in this way I wanted to create a sense of poignancy in the gradual winding-down of Bush House’s facilities, the emptying of its spaces and the departure of its people, as well as commenting on the passing of time and the impermanence of all things.

This very personal project was created partly to mark the dying days of a bygone era, as a last hurrah for obsolete equipment and a studio that will soon fall silent forever. It’s the sound of many sleepless nights spent isolated in a labyrinthine basement surrounding by a crepuscular soundtrack of creaks and crackles. It’s an attempted homage to the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop who crafted the most incredible of sound-worlds from the most basic of sources. But mostly it’s my way of saying goodbye to a building that I and so many people have loved. A former hive of industry that now stands almost deserted. I really hope that on this album the listener gets a sense of all these things.

Stratus - As The Crow Flies

Pye Audio Corner make up half Stratus so you know it's probably going to be good. There's some real instruments thrown into the mix with the synths. The words folk and psychedelic are mentioned and that's fair enough. Perhaps if the last Belbury Poly LP went a bit Stereolab.

The psychedelic stuff is quite restrained and pleasant. Controls being set for the heart of the living room with a nice cup of tea rather than the centre of the sun.

I can't quite place what other bands this reminds me of. A good thing I suppose. Occasionally it sounds like old film music but not quite to the point of being library music. The fuzzy guitar bits sometimes sound like the really mellow bits on a total funk OST.

Their owns words seem to explain things quite well:-

Stratus are Mat Anthony and Martin Jenkins, two English gents whose love for warped soundtracks, fuzzed-out psychedelia and analog aesthetics is distilled in the bittersweet harmonies and wistful bliss of their songs, taking in everything from sublime pastoral electronics through to string-laden cosmic rock.

Their long-awaited second album 'As the Crow Flies' is the follow-up to their acclaimed debut 'Fear of Magnetism' (which spawned the epic single 'Uplink') and was recorded over the past few years with both parties taking time out along the way - Mat producing psych edits and surf noir for Vintage Rockers and Martin making solo releases for Joakim’s Tigersushi label and the haunting synthesizer transcripts of the Black Mill Tapes trilogy as Pye Corner Audio.

A fascination for French cinematic composers of the 60s and 70s such as Francois de Roubaix and Jean-Claude Vannier was fuelled after remixing Serge Gainsbourg in their early days as a production duo and these influences weigh heavy in lush orchestral arrangements, stripped psych rock rhythms, enigmatic synths and music-box melodies. Fragments of guitar and piano combine with celestial strings while occasional vocals swirl through with pedal steel, driving brass and organ drones drenched in worn spring reverb. As the Crow Flies offers a glimpse into hidden places at the edge of memory... an unhurried, bittersweet soundtrack that revels in elegant disrepair and bucolic delight.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Get Human - Ready Aye Ready

New Yorkshire melodic punk band. They namecheck bands like Naked Raygun, Snuff and J Church. Sounds about right. It's kind of got singing and pop tunes rather than the gruff Leatherface/No Idea thing Leeds is currently associated with. Easily sounds like it could have been from an old Crackle or Speedowax 7". If that's a bit obscure for you then it's the kind of pop punk that John Peel would have played on his show.

Recorded in two sessions in 2012 this is our first release. We decided to refer to it in terms of 'Side 1' and 'Side 2' not because we are trying to be 'fashionable' (most of us are too far gone for that) but as they were recorded in two sessions and have different sounds we though it best to highlight.

Please download this for free if you want, we just want folk to hear it. If you did want to throw us a bone (financially speaking) then we really appreciate it and will spend it on Mojitos (of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variaties).

We have spent ages making a really nice CD version which comes in a recycled brown card sleeve with hand-screened covers, a full colour properly duplicated CD and an A4 poster with lyrics on the back. There will be pictures of this CD up soon at gothuman.wordpress.com. If you donate £3 or over here then we will send one of these to you or come get one at a gig.

Merci Beaucoup

Nurse With Wound - Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella

Well, we've already talked about Nurse With Wound in this post.

However, they've now uploaded their debut album, Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella. It seems there's 1 or 2 other albums uploaded since I last looked as well.

I remember going up to London one weekend when I still at school and spending over a week's paper round money on a CD of this.

You can head over to wikipedia and have a quick read up on a lot of the background to this record. Interesting stuff.

This album also contained the infamous Nurse With Wound list. I remember reading an interview with Nurse With Wound in 1997 and being absolutely fascinated by it. The awesome Brainwashed have the full interview up online to read.

Basically, this is an essential one for folk into experimental stuff.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Arctic Flowers - Procession

Gloomy anarcho post punk goth stuff. Fairly simple mid-paced tom heavy drumming, bit of reverb on the guitars, woman half singing miserable lyrics. They've got a bit of a knack for subtle hooks and keeping the songs interesting. Yeah, it's a dirge but it's not a bland, unlistenable dirge.

There's been a bit of a revival of this kind of stuff in the past few years. The forgotten bit of the early 80s where the anarcho punk scene bled into goth. I'll be honest I didn't even know about it until this stuff started coming out. There's a fairly detailed article about these news bands and their influences here - http://souciant.com/2012/08/the-year-goth-punk-broke/

I know my MRR reading friends have been raving about this lot and it seems justified. Definitely makes a nice break from what seems to have been an endless onslaught of d-beat from the punk scene.

Also, really cool that they've made digital available. Most of their contemporaries who are dogmatic vinyl purists unfortunately.

Update: Yes, let's have a postscript on this. I've just bought the FLAC of this. I listened to it. I liked it. I'd downloaded one of their previous efforts for free and quite enjoyed it. I was happy enough paying what worked out as about £3.50 for a 12" worth of music. I did this while I had Soulseek running and also downloading something else from mediafire.

I was also checking out other stuff from that Year The Goth Punk Broke article. That Dekoder band sounded interesting. There's no way of hearing their album online. They've got some demo stuff up and that sounds alright. The only way of getting the music is to buy the LP. I'd be paying way over £10 just on postage. And that's for something I haven't even bloody heard.

And that's the whole point I keep trying to get across about why it's a good thing for DIY bands to offer their music digitally. Dogmatic vinyl purism actively denies the vast majority of people access to your music. That isn't 'punk'. I don't mean that it denies me access to the music as if it's some horrific burden on my existence. Yeah, I'm fully aware that it falls under that horrendous (& actually quite offensive, when you think about it) phrase "first world problems".

There's a small chance the LP might turn up in a distro at a punk gig I might attend at some point in the future. But it's a small chance. Even then, unless I'm friends with you or you have a superlative history of putting out awesome records, I'm not going to buy something I haven't already heard.

Maybe I'll notice Dekoder on a blog with a mediafire link at some point. Or maybe a friend will rave about them and I'll be reminded that I thought I should check them out. Alternatively, I could have listened to them tonight, really enjoyed them, bought their music and banged on at my mates to check them out as well.

I dunno, it just reminds me of when I first managed to track down a copy of Maximum Rock n Roll (one with Misfits on the cover from 1995 i think). Some of the stuff sounded awesome. Walked into my local indie record shop and tried to order some stuff but they couldn't get hold of the stuff as it wasn't distributed. I bought something on Epitaph/Fat Wreck instead. Thing is, now labels and bands don't need to go with a big distributor. A couple of minutes work (and a bit of time for the music to upload) and they've got instant global distribution at no cost whatsoever with virtually every penny going to them from sales.

This rant is getting kind of rambling so I'll finish up. Just seems that Arctic Flowers way is the better approach. And their stuff is still on vinyl and going through all the usual diy punk rock channels. It's all win-win.

Neon Piss - s/t

Class bit of tuneful punk rock here. Obviously love a load of old 80s stuff like The Wipers. In fact, they sound quite a lot like The Observers who produced possibly the best tuneful punk album in the noughties. Do yourself a favour and check them out too:-

Some of them do a new, equally good, band called Red Dons. they chuck in a threw Observers songs. saw them a few years back and they played that banger.

Anyway, back to Neon Piss. Unfortunately I missed them when they came over a few months back. Not by choice though. I'd been playing the hell out of this album and the songs had really got under my skin. (NB I nearly typed "gotten" then. Sweet jesus)

I imagine it's the kind of thing that Maximum Rock n Roll are all over. If you're like me and only dabble in the MRR world but enjoy a decent punk record every now and again then this will probably do the trick.

Oh, and well done for Deranged Records for putting a load of their releases on bandcamp. It's pretty much exactly how diy labels should do it - http://derangedrecords.bandcamp.com

Monday, 20 August 2012

xMan Diamondx - Rock Suite Vol 1

A loving tribute to the smooth studio session jazz rock fusion beloved of old American TV theme tunes. And not even the programmes that have stood the test of time.

We're not even into yacht rock territory. Cheap suits, bad moustaches and occasional outbursts of unnecessary muso wank.

Put the image of the very worst 'uptown' restaurant/night club scene from an 80s tv program in your mind. This is what's playing.

It's obscene. I love it.

xMan Diamondx has embarked on an instrumental rock crusade of the old American TV themes. Waves of digital keys and laid- back stone grooves, retarded screaming and shouting, forced cadences and a very strong sociopolitical message. Put barbed wire into your left ear and pull it out from your right ear. Enjoy the feeling.

Direwolf - Beyond The Lands Of Human Existence

This is a little-known belter of a record; a solo project from Mike Lerner who is the guitarist for Behold... The Arctopus  doing even more crazy guitar gymnastics with a a massive Nocturnus/Pestilence influence. It's daft but awesome; you should love it if you liked all that sci-fi influenced death metal with synths/samples and weird guitar effects from the early/mid 90s. I think it's brilliant.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Cash Music - Open Source Tools for Musicians

Basically, these folk are building a load of open source software for musicians to use. Much as I think Bandcamp is great it's still a very much 'for profit' outfit. People have invested millions into it and they'll be wanting a return. Fair enough but open source stuff puts it all in the musician/label's hand.

Go and have a look at the site which explains how it all works - http://cashmusic.org/

They say it best in their own words:-

What Wordpress did for bloggers, we're doing for musicians. We're building a free and open platform that’s available to all artists, designed in partnership with artists and labels.

CASH Music is a nonprofit organization that builds open source digital tools for musicians and labels. Our mission is to help educate and empower artists and their fans to foster a more viable and sustainable future for music.

And from their About page:-

Everything in this business starts with musicians, but with all the money around music they're often the last to see any. Most of the artists we know are working so hard just to keep their heads above water.

The whole Internet thing was supposed to make things egalitarian, but it hasn't. It's mostly startups with big money and major labels making weird deals and everyone else working extra hard to just stay afloat.

Entire companies are being built around the idea that if they can finally make the Internet work for musicians then they can get rich. Some are making things better. Some are making things worse. But they're all doing it backed by millions of dollars on the promise that they'll deliver billions later — and in their world it's consumers (fans) and content (music, more specifically music copyrights.)

So we've built a lot of tools that actual, working musicians need and can use - we know because we're building them directly with artists and labels. Also, what we're doing is different because we're building it in the open where it's all totally free and doing it as a Nonprofit so someone else can't just buy it all up.

It'll be fascinating to see exactly how far they manage to get with it all. I know bollock all about coding but it sounds like a great project.


Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Dead C - Harsh 70s Reality

I wish it was Driver UFO I could put up there as the song to check out but strangely no-one has put it on youtube. Ah well, you'll still get the idea.

If you love noisey guitars then you probably know it's very much in the canon. A bona fide classic.

Taking the noisiest, free-est parts of Sonic Youth, these New Zealanders jumped off into a whole other world. A world where Sonny Sharrock is treated as a true guitar god and his Black Woman LP went platinum.

I think they had something to do with the whole Flying Nun label New Zealand indie scene (which I'm only just getting into) but not too sure. People in the indie scene talk of Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine being noisey. These guys were off the hook.

Semi-improvised and you can kind of tell. Maybe on your first listen you'll be all like "yeah, it's just some random noodling and scraping. So what". It'll crawl under your skin though. You'll keep returning to it and begin to understand why people rate it so much.

Strangely enough, it's only relatively recently that I've heard it. Well, in the last 5 years or so. After the cambrian explosion of blogs and soulseek and youtube and everything else meant you could actually get to hear obscure underground classics easily rather than just reading about them.

I remember reading about them in hushed tones in DDDDD/Canister/Bananafish zines. Bands would get compared to them in Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers distro catalogues. Naturally there wasn't a hope in hell that my local independent record shop would be able to get hold of a copy. Perhaps Rough Trade might have had an import CD in stock but that would have been at least a fiver on the train and £15-£20 for the CD. Adjust that for inflation from the mid-90s and you'll never complain about the cost of a record again!

But yeah, eventually heard it and it was awesome. Got to see them at ATP a while back and they killed it live. They played last one evening so by that point I could barely even stand up. Slumped myself in a chair at the back and just let waves of guitar feedback wave over me. Great stuff.

You can now pick it up at the click of a button over at Boomkat for £8.99. I'll be honest, that is kind of past my 'fair price' point for a digital release but not past my 'you, sir, are taking the fucking piss' price. Anyway, here's the full link - http://boomkat.com/downloads/555864-the-dead-c-harsh-70s-reality

Heatsick - Deviation 12" (Pan)

I'm slightly amazed that all these sounds come out of an old casio keyboard.

Wait, got to start the review again. Made the classic error of playing the record at 45rpm rather than 33rpm. Took a while and then there were some chipmunk vocals. "Wait a second" i thought......

Sounds good at either speed though. Always the sign of a good record! It's kind of outsider techno. Someone from the experimental leftfield doing techno so it's got a weird and woozey feel to it that straight techno doesn't. It's all very intricate and thoughtfully constructed though. Like all techno it's building blocks are repatitive motifs of drum machine and synth parts. But it's all from an old casio keyboard which gives it a very unique sound although not one you'd immediately associate with casio keyboards. At some points it's got a sound reminiscent of the initial 80s electro stuff when the rules of techno hadn't been set in stone. Kind of a more on-the-fly i-wonder-what-this-button-does ooh-that-sounds-good thing.

It's on Pan Records who are becoming an experimental label you can really trust to put out quality stuff. None of that thrown together in 20 minutes shitty noise CDr thing here. They always have great packaging too. This Heatsick 12" looks like some kind of giant mint with the white vinyl and the green design screened onto the clear sleeve.

You can also get a FLAC version of it from Boomkat for the very reasonable price of £2.95 - http://boomkat.com/downloads/547979-heatsick-d-viation. And this is what they had to say about it:-

Berlin's Steven Warwick aka Heatsick brings his sultry, sexy hypno-disco back to PAN on this kaleidoscopic four-track EP. An exercise in making the most of what you've got, 'Déviation' explores all of his Casio keyboard's moistest functions to create glistening lo-fi dance tracks that glow with a smudged rainbow of influences spanning Fela Kuti to Todd Terry while reminding of everyone from his peer Design A Wave, right thru to Omar Souleyman. That title track finds pure pleasure in tweaking the Casio's basest Caribbean rhythms until their dry frictions drip, evolving from a skeletal Dancehall-Disco grind into slow-motion synth cascade with illusive sleight of hand. This is followed by the perambulating 'C'était un Rendez-vous', a slack-hipped strutter locked into a lather of decelerated House chords and walking bassline creating a balmy atmosphere for your boy's drawled vocal and smooth-to-free sax licks from André Vida. Flipside they boost the BPM's by ooh, at least 10, for the grubbily mesmerising 'Stars Down To Earth' and the concluding jack of 'No Fixed Address', the 12"'s most obvious nod to Todd Terry's blocky party jams. For fans of 100% Silk, Ron Hardy or Jamal Moss, this is just on-it.

There will probably be more stuff getting reviewed with links to buy it from Boomkat. The electronic music world seems to have it's shit together so much better in terms of having independent digital shops.

Rough Trade

Ironically, this brief exchange popped up in my twitter feed whilst I was in the middle of writing an anti-itunes article. One of the main points in it is wondering why the indie music scene hasn't created a digital equivalent of Rough Trade.

It begs the question as to why on earth music shops don't sell digital versions. Rather than lol'ing on the internet that someone wants to buy music on one of the most popular formats they could have sold him a card with a download code on. Regardless of recession & financial crisis stuff record shops are closing left, right and centre. But the last bit says it all "our business (selling records)". Notice they didn't say "our business (selling music)". In Hank Hill's voice I hear "we sell polyvinyl chloride and polyvinyl chloride accessories".

Anyway, these ideas will be more fleshed out in forthcoming "why i don't buy from itunes" and "why don't touring bands sell downloads on the merch table" pieces.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Blut Aus Nord - The Work Which Transforms God

This is again one you'll probably already know about, but it's an absolute fucking masterpiece and now it's available to buy via Bandcamp, so it's worth checking out again.

Blut Aus Nord are, IMHO, the best Black Metal band, possibly ever. Everything I look for in music (heaviness, darkness, experimentalism, progression, evolution) are key components in their music. Every release they put out is a progression from the one previous. "The Work Which Transforms God" was the album which really made these guys stand out from the crowd. Like nothing that had come before, the warped, twisting, slithering, bleakness which oozes from this record is almost inhuman. If you haven't already heard this, you really really need to right now!

Candlelight have also stuck quite a few of their releases on Bandcamp now, so check out their other stuff while you're over there. Absu's self titled album is great, as is Hellfire by 1349 and the Winterfylleth albums.


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Why FLAC? - Format

OK, when I started to write for this blog I intended to write some posts about the mechanics of what I feel are the correct distribution methods for music using today's technologies. There are many different topics to cover to explain why we feel so passionate about this, so I'll start with a basic one which most people will probably know about anyway, but it's a way to get started.

Why FLAC? What's wrong with MP3s?

Well, there isn't anything inherently wrong with MP3 as a music format, but one significant factor which, for me personally, means I do not wish to pay for MP3s and require a FLAC download option is compression.

Both FLAC and MP3 audio files are compressed audio formats. An un-compressed 44.1kHz 16bit WAV master file of a track is compressed to either FLAC or MP3 to reduce the file size so that the file may be more easily distributed via the internet. For example a FLAC file may be roughly 50% smaller in file size than the master WAV, whereas a 320kbps MP3 would be roughly 15% of the original WAV file size. So why is FLAC better than MP3? Well, it's because FLAC is a lossless compressed audio format, where as MP3 is a lossy compressed audio format. This means that the FLAC file, although it is compressed to be smaller than the original WAV file size, retains 100% audio information and quality. An MP3 does not; information is discarded from the file and the audio quality suffers. The FLAC operates like a ZIP file; it reduces the file size, but it can at any time be uncompressed to restore the original bit-for-bit perfect WAV file.

So to summarise the audio-quality of each format:


OK, now since we are talking about digital music distribution being a very viable and, to be honest, a superior successor to selling people CDs, it's important that you sell people the music in an equal audio quality.

Audio CDs are bits of plastic which contain 44.1kHz 16bit WAV audio files. Today, selling these WAV files on bits of plastic is pretty redundant since we can just download the files via our super fast internet connections. Since it takes only a little more time to download these files in FLAC instead of MP3, we shouldn't settle for anything of lesser quality than we have been getting for the past 20 years when buying CDs. Since WAV=FLAC in sound quality and MP3<WAV then we should not settle for buying MP3s.

That's my logic anyway. I've been listening to CDs for the last 20 years and I do not wish to take a step back in sound quality just because I'm buying my music digitally these days. I want it in FLAC.

YMMV of course (perceivable audio quality difference between high bit-rate MP3 and FLAC is often minimal) and if you're not bothered then fair play, but it is important to give people the choice. Again, this is where Bandcamp have got it utterly sussed by offering any format you want up to the best audio quality possible (while also offering OGG, AAC etc). This is also why iTunes fails.

Not everyone listens to music in the same way, be it via CD, cassette, vinyl or whatever, and if someone chooses to buy their music digitally they shouldn't be given a shittier option for audio quality as there is absolutely no reason for it anymore. Give people more format options and more people will buy your music, it's that simple.

Nurse With Wound - Homotopy To Marie

Nurse With Wound are one of the classics of British experimental music. Often lumped in with industrial as they were from the same era and their paths crossed quite often in the whole early 80s noisey tape release thing. However, they were slightly more 'arty' or 'highbrow' or at least they weren't into the whole shock value/let's be extreme as possible thing.

It was all tape cut ups and sound experiments from people who'd immersed themselves in experimental music in the 70s. The Nurse With Wound List is an infamous list of obscure experimental music that was included in their first album. It's now almost a '101 Things You Must Hear If You're Into Experimental Music Before You Die' book.

Homotopy To Marie is their fifth album I think. It was one of the only ones Nurse With Wound had put on their bandcamp that I'd actually heard so that's why I'm posting it. It's as good an example of their stuff that you'll come across so worth checking out.

It's also good to see older independent musicians who may have been old-fogey-ish embracing digital stuff. It's also good that the money will be going straight to the artist as I believe Nurse With Wound got shafted when World Serpent Distribution collapsed.

Nader Sadek - In The Flesh

You love Death Metal, right? You've already got this album, right? Well, now it's on Bandcamp so you can chuck these guys ten bucks if you just snaffled the MP3s from Mediafire.

For those not in the know, this is what Steve Tucker did after leaving Morbid Angel. The last Morbid Angel album was so brain haemorrhagingly awful it almost made me give up on life, but thank Lucifer for Nader Sadek as this destroys pretty much everything Morbid Angel have done since Domination. Just listen to that dive bombed/finger tapped solo at the end of the last track and tell me you didn't weep with joy! Oh yes!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Forward Strategy Group - Labour Division

Apologies but I'm not that good at describing techno. If my description fails to convince then let it be known that this album is my favourite techno thing in ages and I've been listening to it constantly for the past month or two. It's essential stuff.

It's got a stripped down industrial feel to it. I think I first read about Forward Strategy Group in an article describing them as bringing in elements of old industrial music and bleak British post-punk stuff. It's a fair point. Coil, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and all that other good stuff. Inevitably that'll also bring up comparisons with the likes of Surgeon and Regis and all that Birmingham techno stuff but that's a compliment in my book.

At points it almost sounds like the clanking and scraping of machines making the sounds. It's incredibly well produced though and does that magic thing that the best techno does of being utterly complex without you realising it. It's definitely not from the recent scene of harsh noise heads dabbling with making techno. It's definitely folk who know exactly what they're doing.

As I said, I'm shite at describing techno but this is bloody brilliant.

Metal Bandcamp

Just stumbled upon a blog called Metal Bandcamp. Basically, it's loads and loads of metal on Bandcamp. Full reviews of everything too. Covers everything from your Mayhem's and Fear Factory's to underground stuff. Covers all types of metal as well. It's just metal, metal and more metal as far as the eyes can see.

Great idea. Here's the link again - http://metalbandcamp.com/

Man Hands / L̶i̶c̶h̶ split 10"

Let's have a quick mention about how good the music is before we have a wee chat about how it's 'close, but no cigar' on the digital distribution front.

Man Hands blast through 7 tracks of tight, fast hardcore. A similar velocity and direction as Drop Dead or Hellnation. Riffs are interesting but there's none of that power violence fast-slow rhythms. Full speed ahead all the way.

Lich are great too. You may remember some of them from Battle Of Wolf 359. They've slowed the tempo down a bit and probably tuned down as well. Battering sludge fuelled brutality. One Eyed God Prophecy and Cattlepress and all that horrific savagery. Totally kick your head off live.

However, you can't hear their side. Well, you can hear one song here - http://lich.bandcamp.com/album/split-10-w-man-hands. But you can't hear the whole record.

You can buy half of the record digitally as Man Hands have got theirs up for 'pay as you like' but you can't buy the whole thing. And that's why it's 'close, but no cigar'. If you've read the description and had a quick listen then you should have come to the conclusion that it's something you'd want. However, unless you're a record collector, you can't buy the whole thing.

NB Bandcamp can now handle complicated tagging stuff for splits and compilations so it'd be an easy thing to change.

If you are a record collector here's the details on how to get a copy:-

Thanks to Robert/Adagio 830, Will & Lucy/Win Htein, Dr Tim/Dingleberry Records and Sam & Derek/Parade of Spectres the LICH/MAN HANDS 10" is finally out. We'll have it at shows, as will Lich, here's a bunch of links to buy it or trade. 7 songs from Man Hands, 3 from Lich. 500 copies.

Parade of Spectres - paradeofspectres@yahoo.com http://paradeofspectres.blogspot.co.uk/
Win Htein - winhteindistro@gmail.com http://winhteinrecords.blogspot.co.uk/

Bis Aufs Messer - http://bisaufsmesser.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=22369
Adagio 830 - http://ww.adagio830.de
Dingleberry records - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dingleberry-records-and-distribution/118743564850504

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Cloudkicker - Fade

So if you like rock/metal and have been exploring the bandcamp thing properly you have probably already come across the sensation which is Cloudkicker. Cloudkicker (aka Ben Sharp) is the reason I've been so incredibly inspired by the whole bandcamp business model in the past year. This guy is doing it ABSOLUTELY right: making music purely for the love of making music, having no care what-so-ever for commercialism, utterly DIY down to the wire and using the "pay what/if you want" bandcamp thang to get his music out to anyone and everyone whether they wish to pay him for it or not. Apparently donations for the last couple of releases he's done have paid for a couple of new guitars and some new home studio gear. Brilliant! He also uses the digital download sales to pay upfront for getting CDs and vinyl manufactured for those wanting it physically. THIS GUY GETS IT! Check out how he's releasing his music and be inspired for how music can and should be released from now on.

Anyway, not only do I dig how he releases his music, I REALLY dig his music full stop. Plough through the whole Cloudkicker catalogue; every release is a gem. By "The Map is Not the Territory" he had utterly nailed the Prog Rock/Metal djent Meshuggah with soul and big fat riffs thing. Beacons is just perfect, pisses on anything else doing poly-rhythmic djent from a million miles away. The last couple releases have seen him get more into Mogwai style Post-Rock and the new one, Fade, takes that direction and shows off a lotta love for Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins. It's still instrumental, it's still complex and poly-rhythmic, but it now sounds like it was produced by Butch Vig. Amazing!

Everything about Cloudkicker rules. Go listen and learn, now!

Dyess - Keepsakes

The excellent SHINY GREY MONOTONE blog has just given this a quick review. It mentions Quicksand, Big Black and Drive Like Jehu and finishes by saying "vocals that sound like a pissed off Page Hamilton covering Cherubs songs". Of course that piqued by interest. Had a couple of listens and I'll probably listen again. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Dead In The Woods - The Sign Of The Son Of Man LP

"His Hero Is Hawkwind" according the band. Whne they played live you got a whole lot of the crushing His Hero Is Gone thing. Maybe beefier and more doom rock. On record the Hawkwind comes out more with spacey synths and theremin action happening.

You know how those crazy Finnish folk Circle stuck a bunch of Judas Priest into that extended Kraut rock jams? Dead In The Woods kind of the do the same but with crust punk. Less of the extended jamming but they do like to spin out a groove on occasion.

Maybe it's what late Black Flag would have sounded like if he had persuaded the whole band to turn on, tune in and drop out to Grateful Dead.

Or if 'epic' d beat post-Tragedy bands (or lounge crust, as this lot term it) had the circular Gong - Camembert Electrique design on their t-shirts rather than circular Crass ones.

They seem to shift gears between the space rock stuff and the uptempo punk riffage with ease. It's hard to spot where it changes. One minute you're nodding along and then your fist starts pumping in the air seemingly of it's own accord.

It definitely seems a step up from their split with Diet Pills that the man from Tombs put out on his Black Box Records. Sadly it's also their final statement as they are no more. There's a new band called Nadir rising from it's ashes, I believe, and members are also active in Endless Grinning Skulls and Moloch. But Dead In The Woods have been put to bed. Thankfully they finish on a high.

Here's some info from the labels if you want to buy it on LP:-

This is now available to order from me. Dirty Apparatus will have copies soon. I (Viral Age) also have a handful of DITW shirts left going cheap Let me know if you want one and I'll get a price.

Ltd pressing of 320 copies on black vinyl.
Full colour sleeve and inner lyric sheet, download code included
First 50 copies come with extra poster from the final DITW gig.
Please send paypal gift payment or add 5% for fees.
£-10 ppd (UK).
£-13 ppd (EUR).
£-16 ppd (WORLD).

Email for wholesale/trades;
Viral Age - thrash_cowboy@hotmail.com
Dirty Apparatus - thirteenthirtytwo@hotmail.com

Here's the blurb:

The Sign of the Son of Man is the final output of Dead In The Woods. Formed in 2008 with personnel from Army of Flying Robots, The Blueprint and Moloch among others, Dead In The Woods ’music has evolved from the down tempo, crust influenced metallic hardcore of their debut split LP with Dietpills to a looser, space rock influenced take on heavy music.

The Sign of the Son of Man is a document of Dead In The Woods as the band was in its final moments: five songs and three improvised jams creating thirty seven minutes of heavy, theremin-infused hardcore, metal and psychedelic rock.

These songs were written during some very chaotic times (both good and bad) in our lives and represent five friends attempting to make sense of that chaos with music and words. As it became clear that the band was going to be geographically scattered, we managed to converge to Stuck On A Name studios one last time and record all the material we had, five songs recorded in a live setting, capturing a looser, more energetic side of the band’s sound and adding to this a recording of a series of improvised jams which had become an inherent part of the band’s live set.

Hark - s/t 7" (Super Fi Records)

I could well imagine having seing a video of this on Noisey Mothers and running down to the record shop on Monday lunchtime to pick up the single. It's got a fair few influences from the more respectable end of 90s alternative metal stuff. I'm hearing touches of 'Plastic Green Head' era Trouble, Only Living Witness, Kyuss, some of that post-NYHC Revelation Records stuff that got a bit more MTV like Quicksand, non-twatty Alice In Chains, Handsome and whatnot. You know, the stuff you can still listen to today and genuinely enjoy. It's not a retro exercise as there's also some Torche and Mastodon things going on. That thing where it's totally heavy but dead tuneful as well. At other points it's almost blazing heavy metal twin guitar solos.

I think I might be making Hark sound like some godawful Kerrang band. They're really not. You may well remember some of them from Taint and they haven't fallen too far from the tree. Basically, a ton of heavy riffs but perhaps more tuneful this time. I mean, there's a lot of complex things going on if you want to enjoy it on that level but it's not overbearingly 'technical' as you're head will happily be nodding along while listening.

It's even worth picking up just for the packaging. It's nice to see some real effort and thought gone in. There's a faily elaborate card envelope that has been screenprinted by hand with original artwork. It looks and feels really good.

You'd have to be pretty foolish not to pick this one up.

Uzala - s/t

Any normal year and this would win doom album of the year easily enough. Unfortunately for Uzala, Pallbearer decided to drop their masterpiece this year. Nevermind, you can still buy two great doom albums in one year can't you.

The vinyl is out on At War With False Noise and is an example of exactly how to do an LP. Proper old-style thick card sleeves like they used to do in the 50s/60s. Super heavyweight vinyl. Thick innersleeve and great artwork which has been drawn specifically for the record. Oh, and great tunes too.

Musically I think doom might not be an accurate description. I think we can go back to heavy metal for this lot. For the most part they kick along with the Sabbath but there's also occasional hints at fuzzy black metal, NWOBHM and almost straight up punk. Wardrums, which kicks off the second side, even has hints of Killing Joke. It's all one sound though and not just disparate parts glued together. It all fits.

The sound of the recording is also great. It's got that warm but raw sound of proper old metal. All the instruments are completely clear and it's not muddy at all but there's no horrid studio polish thrown everywhere. I wouldn't be suprised if you told me they'd got a wizened old analogue recording expert to drag a vintage 8 track recorder down to the practice room.

I like the way that the male and female vocal parts complement each other as well. She's got a bit of gravel in her voice and he's not just barking.

The tunes also get stuck in your head and have loads of hidden ideas that appear after a few listens. First time round it didn't quite grab me but then you quickly get it. Certainly not a one-dimensional doom band just throwing out the standard obvious riffs for cheap kudos. It's fully steeped in underground guitar music history and Uzala will still be talked about (and, no doubt, the members will still be digging underground metal) long after the current crop of sounds-like-a-copy-of-current-popular-metal-band bands have departed.

Pye Corner Audio

Well, I'll be damned. I've always read their name as Pye Audio Corner but it's actually Pye Corner Audio. I guess it must have been some hauntological trick their music has played with my mind.

Now I haven't bought this digitally but that's because I've got the rather splendid limited double LP on Type Records. I think it might be hard to track down now though.

Pye Corner Audio exist in a similar space to all the Ghost Box stuff like Belbury Poly and The Advisory Circle. Kind of 70s library and synth music but very British. The name Black Mill Tapes makes me think of Yorkshire. Perhaps the soundtrack to a public information film about Shipley Market.

Sadly, I think that sign has now been removed. *angry fist waved at local councillors*

You know the rest of the deal - school television programmes, local radio theme tunes and warning films about drowning in reservoirs or electrocuted in substations. Actually, scratch the radio theme tunes because Pye Corner Audio don't go in for the chintzy melodic thing.

Basically, if you're into the whole Ghost Box thing then it'll be right up your street. I believe there's an LP on Ghost Box in the offing. Splendid stuff.

Here's a quick description from Boomkat who are also still selling the vinyl if you're that way inclined:-

His spellbinding works, now numbering two whole tapes, are spoken about in hushed tones by Moon Wiring Club, Ghost Box crew, Simon Reynolds and The Wire, and it's very easy to hear why. His music occupies that liminal nether zone at the peripheries of Hauntology and occult sonics, conducting wyrd experiments in the arts of electronic synthesis and memory transcription to create phantasmic Krautrock grooves and unheimlich, hollow drone spaces haunted by flickering tonal apparitions. It's often a lot less cute than the Ghost Box material, and by turns chillingly spooky, recalling bleaker ambient practices akin to Deathprod or Kevin Drumm, albeit with an Eldritch atmosphere siphoning the spirits of Mordant Music. Respect to Further Records for putting this out, it's an excellent release and should be hunted by any hauntologists.

.....they consume the senses with a cool-handed grasp of cinematic narration and mystical analogue production values at once evoking the soundtracks of mid-'60s Doctor Who, half-remembered Giallo missions and the home-smoked ambient techniques of early Boards Of Canada. There's also an underlying propulsion that pushes this collection forward, just perfect for narrowed-eye night drives (you'll want to listen to this alone; put a turntable on the passenger seat); learned and low slung rhythms which almost subliminally motor forward while faded melodies intimate a deeply layered personality which reveals new secrets with every listen. As anyone who knows this sound will cosign: it's an all too often imitated and hackneyed style. But we can sincerely say, this one really is a little bit special.


Yes, I know it's juvenile.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Past Tense - demo

Burly pissed off fast pissed off hardcore stuff. A mate just posted it on Facebook. Had a listen. Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Grace/Tide Of Iron split 7"

Ok, I bought this 7" at the first opportunity I could. Two of the best new bands in the UK punk/hardcore/blah scene. Grace are more metallic hardcore while Tide Of Iron are noise rock. It's out on the ever reliable Super Fi records. Both bands kill live and the recordings do them justice. Recommended with two thumbs up.

Grace have some of that 90s metallic hardcore that's a bit chaotic but a bit melodic in their blood. Unbroken, Botch, Mean Season, Coalesce, Harvest, Converge and all that jazz. They're not stuck in the past and it's not exact copycat stuff but it's just vaguely where the sound lies. It's not a million miles away from one of their previous bands, Thirty Seconds Until Armageddon. They're also ex-Jinn but aren't quite as fast and deranged as that post-Ebola band. It's more controlled and mid-paced.

Tide Of Iron sound like they're a bunch of grizzly, bear soaked noise rockers in some crazy gun-toting redneck town in 90s America that Tom Hazelmeyer discovered for Amphetamine Reptile. I guess witnessing an episode of Geordie Shore might explain things. Basically, if you love all that Am Rep stuff and Keelhaul/Today Is The Day/Unsane/Glazed Baby and all the rest of the riff-heavy 90s noise rock stuff then this will be right up your street. They're also ex-Marzuraan who were one of the most relentless far out guitar bands the UK produced this millenium. No 10 minute drawn out dirges but more quick punches to the face.

Well worth your time.