Dirty Beaches, aka Alex Zhung Hungtai, has been peddling his own peculiarly murky brand of outsider analogue driftpop and reverb-drenched Suicidey paranoia for a few years now, reappropriating minimal analogue and rock’n’roll traditions into weird passages of blurred lo-fi nostalgia and intangible meditative darkness. Now on this sprawling double album he drops much of his crackling lo-fi guitar textures in favour of a more analogue synth-focused collection.
The first LP ‘Drifters’ is full of largely beat-driven material, often with Hungtai’s Alan Vega-ish mumblings very much in the fore over a pulsating analogue synth backing. I see that half the songs on this LP were made with Shubhayan Roy and Bernardino Femminielli, his live backing band, so in general it’s a much more propulsive set with a slight industrial pop murk which brings to mind The KVB. In contrast, ‘Love Is The Devil’ is beatless and mostly instrumental, focusing on hypnotic arpeggios, wistful piano melodies and gliding synth drones, as well as bits of meditative solo guitar like the contemplative ‘Alone At The Danube River’ (whose chiming but muddy guitar tone is strangely reminiscent of an early Battles EP track I can’t put my finger on). My personal highlight of this album is the emotional ‘I don’t Know How To Find My Way Back To You’, with synth strings and choirs conjuring a lonesome and emotional melody which is really resonating with me.
It’s an epic double set, certainly the most ambitious work he’s done to date, but to my ears it’s also the most complete, with two distinct halves which both flow together in a pleasing and intuitive way, with so much material included that it’ll take you weeks to absorb the whole thing. Very impressive indeed.
This is a picture disc which comes in a picture sleeve (and a very cool postcard as well) - you’ve got to admire the effort but an opaque sleeve does render the picture disc a little bit pointless. Still, who’s to quibble? It looks very nice, the price isn’t stupid, and what’s more it actually sounds good too! SQÜRL is Jim Jarmusch’s new band, a stoner-psych trio also featuring Carter Logan and Shane Stoneback, who mix slow, doomy drumbeats with crackling sheets of molten sustained guitar fuzz on the cinematic opener ‘Pink Dust’ with a churning intent, before ‘Dead Naked Hippies’ quietens things down and brings in vocals for a dusky Americana-doom slow burner somewhere between Mark Lanegan, Earth and Om.
Over on the other side ‘Little Sister’ is slow, soulful, drunken blues like Harvey Milk gone country, or S ND Y P RL RS playing a Teenage Fanclub song, the bright melody tempered by a slow, distorted guitar which sounds like it’s in the process of giving up on life. Excellent. Then to close there’s ‘Some Feedback For Jozef Van Wissem’. I won’t describe that one so it can be a surprise. There’s four minutes of it. Very good EP!
Our weekly fight is over. Here's the decision.
Dirty Beaches, aka Alex Zhung Hungtai, has been peddling his own peculiarly murky brand of outsider analogue driftpop and reverb-drenched Suicidey paranoia for a…view full details.
This is a picture disc which comes in a picture sleeve (and a very cool postcard as well) - you’ve got to admire the effort but an opaque sleeve does render the picture disc a little bit pointless. Still, who’s to quibble? It…view full details.
Fans of minimal electronics will be wetting themselves about this one. Andreas Tillander has collected together a load of classic Roland gear for a selection of tracks whose titles are simply a list of the equipment being used, such as &…view full details.
Here’s William Basinski’s first album of new solo material in four years, ‘Nocturnes’. You probably already have a good idea of whether or not you like Basinski, who has ov…view full details.
The superb synthpop soundtrack to 2011’s ‘Drive’ has been a resounding success and a strong seller here over the past year or two. It’s already made a mino…view full details.
First Jim Lowe, The Cramps then Shakin' Stevens and now Laurel Halo is having a thing with the green door. I think it's probably safe to say that gigging with…view full details.
IDM legends The Black Dog return with a new album, now consisting of founding member Ken Downie along with Richard and Martin Dust of Dust Science R…view full details.
I was a little unconvinced by The Fall’s recent ‘Ersatz GB’ long-player, with some of its chunkier rock aspects coming across a little cumbersome for my tastes (although I’ve sti…view full details.
This might just be the record Forest Swords would have made had he been on a really bad trip while the prince of darkness was pushing his face into a meat grinder. 'Primal Spheres' kicks off wi…view full details.
The ever-prolific Sic Alps are back once again this week, this time spreading three tracks over a 12” for Drag City. They’ve got Chris Woodhouse reco…view full details.
The infamous Father Yod and his Ya Who Ha 13, or The Source Family, were an enigmatic cult who self-released a series of nine albums recorded over an eleven-month period in ‘73-’74 which mel…view full details.
Here’s the sixth album from confessional indie songstress Scout Niblett, who has always provided value for money in the past with her intimate fingerpicked guitar and bold, raw vocal deliv…view full details.
It’s always a worry when I arrive for reviewing day and am presented with a potential Album of the Week without having heard it. The Focus Group’s previous effort was the collaboration with…view full details.
I tell you I almost shit myself when news of this came to me through the cables. I completely fell in love with Frederick Charles Judd's posthumous 'Electronics Without Tears…view full details.
Cold Cave are back! I’ve always had a soft spot for this lot and their relentlessly chilly synthpop stylings. The press release says it’s for fans of American Nightmare and New Order. I…view full details.
Noise-skronk fans will be delighted (and ‘80s pop fans dismayed) to learn that this new LP from Corsano and Orcutt is in fact completely unrelated to the Fin…view full details.
Back in 1987 Nik Bullen and friends were responsible for a musical revolution with Napalm Death's debut album 'Scum'. Later he would contribute to early Scorn M…view full details.
I’ve got a lot of rather difficult records to review this morning. There’s an LP full of new agey drones, an LP of recordings of frogs, and a head-mangling double LP from improv splatter giants …view full details.
Here’s an exciting record which we probably won’t have on our shelves for very long - it’s a one-sided white label where two very different modern bass music icons meet head-to-head as …view full details.
Glasgow’s excellent Clan Destine have been at it again, this week sending us this 12” of nocturnal emissions from Ohio’s Petra Schelm (aka Mollie Wells) and Vancouver’s //Z…view full details.
A big shout out to all my Norman faithful out there, it’s time to weekly update! You know how we roll by now. Here in Leeds we’ve been entertained by live shows from Matt Berry and RA the Rugged Man this week as the gloomy climate sleepily begins to shake off what’s left of the winter. And whatever’s going on, we’ve always got our steady stream of new sounds to ease our angst, anyway. Here’s what’s been coming in this week.
Many of you will be excited to learn that The Fall are have dropped the chunky rock of the last album and are back to their hypnotic best on their latest, ‘Re-Mit’, while on Ghost Box The Focus Group are back with their latest haunty library masterpiece, and Clan Destine have sent us an excellent split LP of sexy future-murk from Petra Schelm and //ZOO as well as the latest repress of the much-sought-after coldwavey mumblings of The KVB’s excellent ‘Always Then’, on blue vinyl this time. All sorts of modern day synth types have paid tribute to FC Judd on Public Information’s ‘Interpretations On FC Judd’ compilation, Californian composer Michael Pisaro assembles a nine-piece group including Julia Holter for a stunning, slow and playful album of haunting post-pop, and those of you who love your darkness slow and murky should get stuck into Dirty Beaches’ ambitious new double album of noir futurepop or zone out to the finely detailed new decaying piano loops of William Basinski in his first album of new material in four years, or grab the new Robedoor LP of cavernous creaking doom or the multi-instrumental mystical dronings of New York duo Messages, or you could let harp-and-looper specialist Mary Lattimore whisk you on a sensual journey on her debut LP for Desire Path, or even submit to the musique concrete of Yannick Dauby’s new LP, which melts together field recorded amphibians and modular synths to therapeutic effect. Another one that’ll relax you comes from Machinefabriek & Sanja Harris, and something that probably won’t relax you at all is the new live LP of blazing free skronk from Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt!
If indie songwriters are more your bag, not only do we have Mac DeMarco’s insta-classic ‘Rock & Roll Night Club’ debut back in stock, but ex-Arab Strap Malcolm Middleton’s debut sees its first vinyl pressing in a lovely 3LP deluxe edition, Ireland’s The Dudley Corporation return after five years’ silence with a sprightly new LP of post-punky power pop, Scout Niblett has her sixth long-player of intimate guitar pop, and The National and Daft Punk (who also release a ‘Daft Club’ set of live tracks and remixes and stuff from their heyday) ride unrealistic waves of hype with new LPs which some of you may like, so I’ll keep my opinions to myself. It’s a very strong week for reissues as The Byrds’ pre-Columbia recordings are collected in a beautiful 3LP box, The Talking Heads’ classic ‘Speaking In Tongues’ and REM’s ‘Green’ are back on vinyl. NWW list spotters take note: We have not one but SIX reissued albums from classic ‘70s occult-prog-neoclassical visionary Igor Wakhevitch (‘Let’s Start’, ‘Nagual’, ‘Les Fous D’or’, ‘Hathor’, ‘Logos’ and ‘Docteur Faust’), there’s some ‘70s library goodness from Zanagoria, cool collections of Italian library fun which explore the work of Nino Rapicavoli, Alessandro Alessandroni and Daniela Casa, a couple of titty-shakin’ 10” Spoonful comps - ‘Katanga!’ and ‘Ahbe Casabe’, and Back From The Grave volumes 4 and 7 as well as the superb 3LP ‘Kenya Special’ collection. Not only that but there’s a CD of unearthed Joe Meek, and Drag City have a collection of classic jams from Father Yod & The Source Family which soundtrack an imminent documentary on the cult cult. Other albums I don’t have time to tell you more about include The Shouting Matches, dieb13, Nicholas Bullen, Anonymous, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Ian Boddy, The Black Dog, Nancy Elizabeth, Section 25, Come, Monitor, Coyote Clean Up, Russell Haswell & Yasunao Tone, Walo Stahan Gwari, Cindytalk, COH, Lorenzo Montana, King Tubby, Tully, Wanda Group, Wampire, Shannon And The Clams, Saturday Looks Good To Me, Immolation, The Baptist Generals, Little Boots, Co La, Akira Kosemura, Peter Delaney, Tieranniesaur, Net Shaker, My Home, Loch Lomond and Aufgang!
As for the singles, we’re really impressed with Jim Jarmusch’s new psychedelic doom band Squrl, who’ve got a top-notch debut LP of slow and fuzzy guitar crackle, Sic Alps have recorded their most radio-ready EP to date with three garage-psych-pop gems, a Prurient-less Cold Cave impresses with a brand new 7” of gothy synthpop, there’s an incredible James Blake remix of Mala’s ‘Changes’ on a one-sided white label 12”, Om have another of their dub plates, The Replacements reunite for an EP to help a compadre in need, and the other singles are by Koreless, Die & Addison Groove, Kirk Degiorgio, King Garbage/Kuxxan SUUM, Clouds, CK Mann & His Carousel 7, Flying Ibex, Jon Hopkins, Condominium, Vondelpark, Royal Canoe, The Virgins, Nadine Shah, George Fitzgerald, Pearson Sound, Photek, Archie Bronson Outfit and Dirty Projectors! Oh, and if you want something to read we’ve got the most recent Wire and Personal Best, too.
Don’t forget to bring a towel!
Mikeface Killah and the Norm Tang Clan