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Staff reviews this week

EP2 / newtables (Special Extended Edition)
SND

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Ant on 23rd July 2014

Rewind some 15 years and I can clearly recall the original of ‘newtables’ landing in the record shop I was working in at the time. It distinctly stood out among the barrage of loopy Jeff Mills worshipping techno fodder that was happening at that time. Baby Ford / Ifach, Mika Vainio / Sahko and Robert Hood / M-Plant had already laid the foundations for a minimalist approach to techno production but Mat Steel and Mark Fell's SND had something quite different. This was at the dawn of phrases like Clicks + Cuts/ Glitch/ Micro House being applied to techno and house and the same time Thomas Brinkmann kicked off Max Ernst.

The combination of ‘newtables’ cold austere, precise mathematical rhythms sounded like the absolute sonification of mathematics and geography. The delicate combination of luxurious, silky housey pads was perfectly executed and sounded remarkably fresh at the time. The overall sound production across the tracks is immaculate and it’s this pristine quality that makes it feel like machine music but this clinical element has the warmth of human input saving things from sounding too artificial and mechanical.

A few tracks here still sound pretty fresh although some moments also sound very much of the time and don’t have as much impact years down the line. I guess that’s got a lot to do with having absorbed what’s happened since so I think it’s important to put this record in the context of the period if you’re a virgin to this work. It’s possible to detect the seeds of where Mark Fell would later shatter and reassemble rhythm with his solo output, as well as his long appreciation of pure house music which would later manifest in the Sensate focus material. Also this is quite possibly the first stuff I can think of where Sound Art principles were being applied to house and techno, the whole aesthetic a stark contrast to the psychedelic rave culture from which it was in many ways born.

Remastered from the original DAT’s it’s been a pleasure to revisit these tracks having not heard them in a long while. Plus the real reissue gravy is the inclusion of the previously unreleased stomper B2.

  • Available on:
    Double LP £16.69
  • Artist: SND
  • Label: snd
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Radical Zoo
Lightning Glove

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Ant on 24th July 2014

Ono Tesla follow the excellent Negra Branca LP with a mighty curveball from Lightning Glove who hail from the Czech Republic. First introduced to the world at large via a cassette on parent label Tesla Tapes, which is of course curated by the North of Englands sonic explorers GNOD. It’s not an easy task writing about this record, simply because it pretty much defies categorisation.

At it’s core it’s deep, raw electronic music taking in elements of techno, darkwave, electro industrial, punk and the weight of heavy digital dub. There’s a weighty additional dimension added into the mix via the vocals with a delivery that’s somewhere between Genesis P Orridge and Shaun Ryder. Folks in the office seem to be enjoying this reminding of everything from Factory Floor, MGUN, Public Image Limited and Urban Tribe

I’ve seen this record being labeled as “Cyberpunk” which seems pretty apt, as I imagine hallucinatory neon lit dystopian Eastern European landscapes of the future. Despite dropping a few loose comparisons, Lightning Glove have a rare original sound and ultimately don’t really sound like anyone else I can think of. You just get the feeling these guys are tucked away jamming, getting lost in their sounds constructing sonic utopias and dystopias that seem to exist simultaneously. It takes a couple of spins to get there but once you’re locked into ‘Radical Zoo’ it effortlessly carries you into their vision. I can totally imagine a scene in a sci-fi flick where these guys are playing a filthy cybergoth club.

Mastered by Stephen Bishop of Opal Tapes with wraparound risograph print by Michael Holland.

  • Available on:
    LP £10.99

Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1: Nommos / Visiting
Craig Leon

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

There's been quite a bit of controversy around this definitive re-issue of Floridian producer Craig Leon's two ambient-primitive "synthesizer folk" masterpieces. Known primarily as a mastermind behind some seminal NY punk/new-wave albums in the 70s, his penchant for creating hypnotic, simple and effective new-age electro and warm cosmic grooves has not gone unnoticed. Both these albums are early 80s electronic benchmarks that will appeal to anybody that enjoys the warm analogue wonderment of, say, Chris and Cosey, early Human League and New Order by way of Brian Eno and Jah Wobble.

The back story behind his inspiration is widely reported, his close friendship with folk visionary John Fahey well documented, as the counter-culture classic 'Nommos' came out on his Takoma label. Our Phil actually got me hooked on the bloody thing at Christmas, his glowing review is to be viewed here.  Apparently, Craig was not happy with the Superior Viaduct re-issue of 'Nommos'. The label licensed it from the current owners of the Takoma back catalogue but because of Mr. Leon's disapproval (he wanted them to use his painstaking re-recording from 2009 - presented here) a stink ensued. Seems they refused and used perfectly adequate archive tapes rather than the original master (which is totally lost). The SV press sounds amazing to me though so don't go seeing it as a bootleg like some hysterical fools. It's just not "officially sanctioned" by the artist, his powers denied due to bollocksey trans-Atlantic licencing issues.

Basically, my waffle can be interpreted as a plea for you all to buy both 'Nommos' and this new lavish twin set that includes the equally mesmerising, tranquil and playful 'Visiting', an album he describes as a continuation of the themes so lovingly explored on the preceding year's début. Personal and involving music for dreamers and cosmic travellers. These RVNG anthologies are really becoming quite something.

 

  • Available on:
    Double LP £22.89

Furia
The Fates

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

One of the most obscure, rare and coveted records from the Manchester post-punk scene is actually a sweetly shambling DIY "pagan folk" album from Blue Orchids & Fall keyboardist Una Baines and a load of her (mostly female) cohorts. Numerous other B-Orchids/Mancs luminaries are involved.  I read about this briefly years ago but thought it may be a bit of a long stretch to obtain a copy. Those Finders Keepers types have done it again, Ma.

Checking this out in the cold light of day rather than the "witching hour" that I'm normally listening to things I have a keen interest in, I'm struck by how intimate and charming this album actually is. There's a certain stoned campfire feel to proceedings with tom-toms and flute backdropping the sleepy acoustic dissonance and tentative stargazing vocal of opener 'Ceaseless Effort'. 'Bridget of Ireland' follows suit with its gorgeous Wicker Man lull and red-eyed rustic warmth. The track that floored me hook, line and sinker is 'Sheila/She Beats in my Heart' which flows like The Velvets and the Blue Orchids doing Fairport Convention by way of K records. It's a beautifully slow blissed-out lollop of a thing that brings to mind the criminally underrated Scots collective Lucky Luke.

My time/word-count allowance is a bit limited to break this baby down track-by-track. But I don't care. 'Furia' is a dusty, organic heartfelt transmission from the vaults from the early 80s that is quite unclassifiable in its scope. It offers up so much comfort and intimate lure that by the time we reach the gorgeous strolling whimsy of an acoustic pop gem 'No Romance' I'm nearly in tears. How have I lived my life for four decades without having heard this album? These Fates are naive, adorable and waywardly unpredictable. 'Holy Hymn' is a church service in Anton Le Vey's circus sideshow tent. 'What Am I' is a truly fascinating piece - superb dark ambient scare-scapery overlaid with female Lancastrian spoken-word surrealism. Endearing and terrifying simultaneously. I've not heard anything like it in my life! 'Ritual' and 'Strength' conclude this mysterious record and are two similar versions of the same tune; a beautifully rousing dose of female a cappella folk.

Get this, seriously.

  • Available on:
    CD £9.89, LP £15.39

Hammer '86
The SM Corporation

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

Every week there's one remarkable twelve inch unearthed from somebody's archives, be it some obscure italo treat or an old techno/house blinder rescued from collector scum obscurity. This amazing piece of wax went straight in my bag I tell you. To say this is the first time it's actually seen the light of day is bordering on the criminal.

The original 'Hammer '86' is a fabulous electro-tech-disco stomper with a deep, strident 80's female soul vocal and some real exotic and enticing effects that lend it a darkly sensual edge. Absolutely loving the beats on this. You could not keep still if you heard it in a club. Unless you're dead. Some gorgeous searching synths and it's shivers up the spine a-go-go. I feel gutted when it ends and put it on again twice. Apparently the band recorded the track using metal workshop implements, on a cheap Yamaha keyboard with an attached microphone.

The genius big yin of Glasgow club music, JD Twitch transforms the track into a more EBM/industrial-flavoured stomper, laying bare the SM Corps original influences such as Severed Heads and Skinny Puppy. Hear him disembodying the vocal slightly, reducing the exoskeleton of the song to a ghostly echo. It's like he's fed it a big line of ketamine and watched it fly.

Finally, the Great Lakes Mystery version of 'Hammer '86' is a very radical re-working with a quite different vocal in the mix, a graceful and darkly atmospheric piece of work. It's a stunning slice of ethereal electro pop that culminates in elegiac chamber strings and near-choral male vocals. Truly a classy re-imaging. Grand, celestial and ambitious, tinged with an epic sadness.

 

  • Available on:
    12" £5.79

Lese Majesty
Shabazz Palaces

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

If there was something that I never expected Sub-Pop to start trading in, that thing was hip-hop. Now with them brandishing the second SB album, shaking it in my gormless face and the impressive Clipping. CD jammed in my back pocket, I'm now skipping down the road like a lunatic singing a stupid song about the dawning of a new age of subversive weirdo rap. There's nothing even a tad indie or grunge here kids. This is true progress!

I think these lads is from Seattle; there's tons of articles out there about SB nowadays as predecessor 'Black Up' made real waves. I know one chap was in respected outré jazzy rappers Digable Planets and the other guy's old man was a "master of the mbira", a thumb piano. That doesn't prepare you for the sultry, sharp and sonically remarkable vibes here. I'm reminded of Flying Lotus in spots, cLOUDDEAD in others.....although the difficult and somewhat alienating abstractions of many such circa millennial underground producers have been subsumed by a need to retain the funk, the groove without sacrificing pure intelligence and visionary, daring production concepts.

As a non-intellectual consumer of music, I'm merely left gob-smacked at the sheer kaleidoscopic level of invention here. The flow is immaculate, brooding and celestial. Divided into seven suites, Shabazz Palaces not-difficult second album is a cryptic maze of moody, cosmic futurism that won't piss your house guests off.

Time to bin those Anti-Pop Consortium records now. You can keep 'Ghost Lawns' though. 'Lese Majesty' is every bit as enjoyable and interesting as their lauded début.

 

  • Available on:
    CD £10.09, Double LP £16.49

$ixxx Harmonie$ Version
Killing Sound

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

Enigmatic Bristol bods Killing Sound have pinched the name of Kevin Martin's early vehicle for his Bug releases and like that noisy bearded sound system disturber they specialise in a dark, brooding bass music aesthetic. This single-sider is an atmospheric and rhythmic slice of portentous dubbed-out modern post-grime with dark ambient stylings.

You can hear Bristol's more austere musical history seeping from these doom-laden stalker-tech grooves. It's a fresh take on what was kicking off ten years ago and has all the hallmarks of a blackened party starter.

 

  • Available on:
    12" £7.89

No Time
The Soft Walls

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

The first album by Dan Reeves' Soft Walls was an instant office fave; I don't recall hearing it due to the paucity of copies actually available. Both formats sold out in two seconds flat. I've been given the task of throwing a few words about his newie on the increasingly popular Trouble in Mind, a label concerned with only the best in lo-fi psych garage rock.

Ten tracks here of rather divine spectral gloom pop rendered in a dusky DIY fashion by this Cold Pumas laddie and I can now totally hear the appeal of Soft Walls myself. This solo material is built around ragged, chiming and repetitious guitar shapes, obscured melancholy vocal wisps and clattering muffled drum machine with additional sympathetic layering of unfussy bass or woozy keyboards.

His vibe has a quietly mournful yet dream-like feel and there is plenty of scope for a variety of expression with the limited trusted tools he has at his disposal. 'No Time' does have a particularly adorable UK charm all of its own; a rare breed of home-spun introverted psychedelia that is both intimate and aloof.

I do detect a very authentic love of dingy krautrock on numerous tracks; many of these rather addictive tunes have a scratchy motorik charm which increases their worth tenfold for me. This is bedroom ghost-rock, played with an undeniable passion, the rough edges and murky finish only serving to highlight how thrilling and catchy each track is.

Hookworms legend MJ lends his mixing/production chops to 'No Time' which usually means you're getting real quality for your money. I can't pick a favourite track or two out here as I really like them all and a couple make me feel rather emotional. This way he has with minor chord changes and sad, yearning harmonies is very personable and quite affecting.

  • Available on:
    CD £11.19, LP £15.89

Futurama, Leeds, September 8th 1979
Joy Division

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

This is a bootleg. No really. It's been out before in the mid-80s as a German-pressed vinyl that now commands a lot of money. As tape recordings go from the late 70's it's really not actually that bad a listen. A bit muddied and bass-ey with the usual mild tape echo/wow and flutter/quiet crowd chatter but as a worthy document of a now monumentally important post-punk band in their violent prime it does the job more than adequately.

It feels quite a privilege to hear this spooky transmission from John F. Keenan's legendary Futurama festival at the now-demolished Queens Hall here in sunny Leeds (for once, not a trace of sarcasm there). Wish I'd have been there, they sound seriously possessed and edgy. For serious JoyDiv collectors only but just how many of THEM are there? Seriously,  I've heard so many worse live recordings from this time so it'd be an insult to merely look at the pretty vinyl and shelve it like a nob-head.

  • Available on:
    LP £19.99

Club
Para One

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

6/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

I first heard this French dude when his 'Beat Down' appeared on a Team Shadetek twelve inch years back. It was basically an astonishing futuristic French rap tune, fiercely vibrant and sharp shit. I loved it to bits, DJd with it and then, sadly, forgot about it. I forget so much me. Now I want to hear it again because his direction these days is more in the vein of compressed, punchy day-glo techno-pop bollocks like Daft Punk or Basement Jaxx. Bit more edgy on the beats front I suppose but hackneyed vocodery vocals and pompous 80's Prince synths make me feel a bit of sick in my throat.

Not saying he's a bad producer - this shit sounds particularly slamming in parts and would devastate a festival tent.....just to me 'Club' is going to be more use to the Calvin Harris crew than a jaded arse like myself. Epic, bouncy and commercial but with some rather effective lazer-trance bits that remind me what a great time I had watching Vitalic last Saturday at a festival in Lancashire. I think I'd like Para One more if I was really off my face in a field in the company of 5000 people. Not sober in my front room of a weekday.

 

  • Available on:
    Double LP £15.59

Draft Culture
Dorian Concept

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

6/10 according to our Brian on 25th July 2014

Bloody waste of time one-sided twelve inches. Put more music on the thing you tight cnuts. The world IS slowly dying you fools? Is there 500 people who really want this? Who the flange are Dorian Concept anyway? What A SH*T NAME.

Rant over, this isn't a bad tune remotely to be fair. Post-dubstep/FlyLo skippity-hop grooves with a nice bright summery lollop to it, 'Draft Culture' has everything pleasant in place. It's the Children's TV presenter of bass music. Field music for Bonobo fans to skank happily to? Bit safe and one-dimensional maybe... Won't set the world on fire but definitely a nice mood piece for the radio on a hot day. I want a glass of ice cold Reisling now for some reason. It is lunchtime!

 

  • Available on:
    12" £7.49

Arranged Waves
Stephen Steinbrink

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Clinton on 23rd July 2014

An office favourite which has not been off our stereo especially on all these sunny days. Then when I get home I just crank up the boombox and play it again- its the gift that keeps on giving. Lovely summery Real Estate/Elliott Smith hybrid bedroom pop. What Jim says x 1000. Essential listening.  

  • Available on:
    LP £14.89, CD £8.79

Lampenfieber
Matthew Swinnerton

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Clinton on 25th July 2014

Loads of new titles on ace London label Trestle this week and we’re all chipping in to ensure you hear about them. This album of krauty guitar instrumentals is the brightest and most upbeat of what I’ve heard so far.

Following an an opening ambient piece, the album bursts into life with a severely lovely meditative guitar exploration called ‘A Night Out With the Lads’. As Neu-ish drums pound away, Swinnerton adds layers of tight, precise guitar, its laid back sunny day vibe recalling American Analogue Set or Dylan Group. The title track too is gorgeous with nicely reverbed guitar picking out eerie patterns over the odd distant rattle. The album drifts between ambient interludes, Yellow 6-like low key blissed out pieces and upbeat kraut-jams  ‘Keep On Trucking In The Free World’ is very much in the latter camp with guitars strummed this time and gently layered synths added.

The spectre of Durutti Column appears on the very brief ‘Hafenstrasse’ but the superb ‘Viking Sunrise’ is very much a highlight and much thrall to early Tortoise. I’m also reminded of the dusty sun-dappled guitar twang of Pell Mell. Great stuff throughout.       

 

  • Available on:
    CD £9.99

Dream Tempest
36

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Clinton on 24th July 2014

There’s something very ‘Tubular Bells’ about the opening title track of this latest opus by the mysterious soundsourcerer known as 36. It has a new-agey mystical feel only enhanced by the use of 70’s sounding synth sounds. ‘Neon Sunset’ is the ultimate in relaxathon music with its billowy foggy pools of ambience, you can almost visualise a view across a misty resort as the sun either comes up of goes back down again. Reminding me a little of the better BVDub stuff,  its a beatless voyage into dream-like bliss.

The album continues this theme, I’m reminded of Aphex Twin ‘Selected Ambient Works’ on the slowly descending notes of ‘Sun Riders’. What I love about the album is that there is no dissonance, sometimes with ambient music there is a tendency on behalf of the artist to not make it too nice, to strike a note of dischord but this is purely easy on the ear throughout, providing a becalmed, dreamscape that could settle even the most active of minds.  

My favourite pieces are those which keep things simple, use undulating dreamy synths fading in and out of the mix, ‘Play’ and ‘Enshrined Exit’ being particular highlights, I’m a little less keen on some of the tinkly, music box type pieces that crop up from time to time but  overall this an album full of gorgeous sounds.

 

  • Available on:
    CD £9.69

Everything's A Thread
The John Steel Singers

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Clinton on 24th July 2014

Phil sees the word ‘Australian’ and the word ‘pop’ on the same page and immediately sounds the Clinton klaxon. I was hoping to dislike this just to prove him wrong but nah...he’s right.

The first main track here (there’s a little intro piece that precedes it) is a wonderfully technicolour slice of pop music. Its full of stacked 70’s harmonies, fizzy synths, funky bass and choppy guitar. One half Cowtown, one half Tame Impala. Its going along quite nicely thank you but then your ear really catches light when it bursts into a brilliantly descending chorus, all soft and playful like, the track building crazily, drums akimbo. ‘Happy Before’ has the same trick up its sleeve, its full of busy post punk arrangements but the slithers of melody when they come are great. They are certainly Devo ish but there’s a soft rock element at play too with lots of juicy harmonies. They can play a straight bat too, ‘Everything’s a Thread’ has alternative radio hit written all over it, the production is great throughout with lots of compressed drums and stereo-panned slightly distorted vocals.

In short these are people who know exactly what they are doing. Which takes me all the way back to Tame Impala. There are certain obvious similarities between the two bands, a love of tuneful psych pop and a keen ear for Jeff Lynne/Dave Fridmann-influenced production. John Steele Singers are a little less obviously psych-rock and have more new wave thing going on. The album comes with a bonus CD of a live performance featuring the handsome and talented Robert Forster and the marginally less handsome and certainly less talented Everett True.

  • Available on:
    CD £9.79, LP £14.69

Horsebeach
Horsebeach

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Clinton on 24th July 2014

Horsebeach first came to my attention via the superb ‘Faded Eyes’ 7” earlier this year. Its lovely melancholic faded polaroid beauty caught me right in the middle of my post Real Estate ‘Atlas’ comedown. In fact, the band is best summed up as a rainier overcast answer to Real Estate with the trembling suburban poetry of The Smiths ingrained deep within their dna.

Many of their songs conjur up an image of days gone by, sitting on a Lancashire hilltop overlooking the houses and factories below. Stop me before I get too ‘Saturday Night Sunday Morning’ on your ass. Their influences can easily be summed up by listening to the first couple of tracks,  the aforementioned ‘Faded Eyes’ perfectly recreates that Real Estate ‘Days’ summery jangle whilst ‘Yesterdays’ at a push could be the early hesitant Smiths.  The credits confirm that all tracks written and recorded and mixed by Ryan Kennedy alone. Quite an achievement but it also signals the albums only weak point, the playing (and in particular the drums) is at times rudimentary and hesitant sometimes holding back slightly some of the livelier tracks. Still, it gives the album a naive bedroom pop charm and what it may lack in proficiency it makes up in evocative northern songwriting. Kennedy has a way with spidery Johnny Marr-like guitar lines and melancholic vocal lines best exemplified on the superb ‘Dull’, a delightfully breezy ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ re-write which (like a certain other band) eerily brings up images of lost days in a decaying Victorian Manchester.  

There’s no getting away from The Smiths influence but regardless this is a beautiful and completely essential album for fans of dreamy 80’s melancholic jangle pop.

  • Available on:
    LP £14.19, CD £10.29

Transparency
One Circle

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7/10 according to our Clinton on 25th July 2014

I like these Gang of Ducks releases. They are sealed so as always I’m reviewing them off sound clips but from what I’ve heard this sounds like another quacking (sorry) release. The opening track has some deep sub bass, clattering electronics which seques into a kind of chattering keyboard with some full on synth sqwark. As usual with Gang of Ducks stuff there’s something slightly disconcerting about it all. When they veer into dub techno there’s still lots of fart synths on offer and the whole thing appears to be falling in and out of time. I can hear a few almost Happy Hardcore type sounds on here, its not every day you can say that but in general its oddball, off-the-wall electronica with lots of bloopy synths.

Definitely a label thats at the beak of their game. (Don’t worry, I’m going home soon)



  • Available on:
    12" £10.89

Song Reader
Beck / Various

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 24th July 2014

Here is an album of interpretations of Beck’s ‘Song Reader’ album by many and varied artists including Jack White, Laura Marling, Sparks, Jarvis Cocker and many, many more.

You may remember that this is the album Beck released purely as sheet music. A cursory listen to a few select tracks reveals that these are classic sounding Beck tunes full of his distinctive melodic instinct. The only shame is that with one notable exception its not Beck himself performing them. Each artist brings their own personality to the songs for better or for worse so yes, despite them being Beck songs it has more the feel of a compilation album. There are some odd musical theatre style moments especially from Sparks and Jack White the latter sounding strangely like They Might Be Giants on his second offering.

Hopefully when Beck has a bit of time/has writers block he’ll get round to recording these songs himself and it might be easier to interpret how good these songs actually are.

 

  • Available on:
    CD £12.39

Tell Me I Belong
Jim-E Stack

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7/10 according to our Clinton on 24th July 2014

Tempted by a gorgeous soundclip on some website or other I was pretty excited to hear this record although it took until track three for my ears to really prick.

It opens swith some sweet synth that would fitted perfectly with the 36 album I’ve just been listening to. I’m less keen on the scattered drum machine and vocal of ‘Run’ and spent my time waiting for a melody that never arrived. ‘Below’ though is the first moment where the album lives up to expectations with some garagey two step beats joined by a vocal sample and some gorgeous drifting synths. This is what I’m talking abaaaaart. Like a Burial on happy pills the track utilises a simple three note synth pattern adding some gorgeous sounds along the way. Truly great. ‘Reassuring’ the track I heard earlier  - nice simple piano notes are joined by slo-mo vocal sample on some lovely clipped downtronica which will appeal to fans of the early vocal-less James Blake stuff. This San Francisco producer has a background as a jazz drummer before turning his attention to the electronic world and the instrumental jazzy loveliness of the likes of Flying Lotus and Taylor McFerrin are in evidence particularlyon the cuts towards the tail end of side one.

There’s a couple of harder edged tunes on the B side that I’m not feeling quite so much, ‘Without’ edges towards Disclosure territory, with the dreaded autotune in evidence, closer ‘Wake’ stripping everything back to bring back the haunting Burial moments of the A side back into view. The album is a mixed bag I feel, a handul of killer tracks are littered with some off piste experiments that just don’t hold up to the better moments. A frustrating but promising first effort.      

 

  • Available on:
    CD £10.79, LP £13.49

Conversations
Woman’s Hour

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7/10 according to our Clinton on 23rd July 2014

I’d had Womans Hour down as a whole lot of nothingness, a smartly conceived, immaculately produced slice of nothing. Bland as a bowl of Butterscotch Angel Delight. But last night, as the setting sun glinted through the blinds I found many things to enjoy in this their sleek debut.

Like Wild Beasts and British Sea Power they are from the Cumbrian town of Kendal. A craggy rough and ready place at odds with the glinting 80’s influenced wine bar soul-pop on view here. They have more in common with Wild Beasts but take that groups recent synth heavy workouts kicking and screaming deep, deep into Sade territory.  Which is absolutely fine by me. The tracks that work, like those of similarly scrubbed yacht pop 80’s practitioners such as Blue Nile and Prefab Sprout, tend to have great tunes amidst the sophisticated soundscapes. The album falls short only when they forget to add a tune and so you are left with an expensive nothing.

Opener ‘Unbroken Sequence’ is a good example of where they go right, beginning with a rainswept Blue Nile synth pattern, the female vocals are like cut glass, the arrangements understated, synth heavy but with evocative synth much reminiscent of Kate Bush ‘Hounds of Love’ era. Its trump card is its chorus which bursts out of nowhere, beautifully managed. There are plenty of other moments to enjoy, ‘To the End’ is minimal with simple muted electronics under the crestfallen vocals. Again, the track bursts into life hitting ‘Diamond Life’ paydirt in a heart wrenching chorus.

At its best this is great cinematic sweeping pop. You need to give it time, you need to pretend you are in a wine bar in 1986 and you need to accept that it finds it very hard to maintain the quality of the first few tracks and it does bland out towards that nothingness I mentioned earlier as the momentum drifts away.  

 

  • Available on:
    CD £9.89, LP £14.79, LP £14.99

Molten Gold
The Chills

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7/10 according to our Clinton on 23rd July 2014

Oh why must concerts start so late. The Chills will be hitting the stage at 9.15 tonight. Relatively early by Leeds standards but it means that I have 5 hours to wait until Martin Phillips and co rock the Brudenell Social Club. I wonder if they'll play this, their new single? It will probably come at the time of night where Martin says "seriously folks you've had the hits but we're not all about the past, I hope you can bear with us whilst we play some new material" and everyone will go yeah its fine but its no "Heavenly Pop Hit" or "Doledrums" or "I Love My Leather Jacket". All the requisite elements are there but the killer tune. And they'll play "Pink Frost" which appears in a new spangly kraut-rocky version on the flip side here and I'll wonder for the millionth time why it sounds like no other song ever written. So glacial, sparse and spindly and mysterious.    

  • Available on:
    7" £4.79

She Is There / Special Day
Motorama

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7/10 according to our Clinton on 22nd July 2014

Lovely heartfelt indie pop from somewhere in France we think. It matches a chocolate brown Tindersticks-style voice with jangling guitars, drum machine and a synthy chorus. This sounds like any number of tracks off those tape compilations of indie pop I used to buy with my pocket money. Sounds very much like Bradford's finest the Applemoths.  For a more contemporary comparison try Wild Nothing

  • Available on:
    7" £6.69

ODSM
Space Girl

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

6/10 according to our Clinton on 23rd July 2014

On Various Production. This 7" has been played on Gideon Coe, Rob Da Bank and Mary Anne Hobbs radio shows, that latter would surely be fuming if she found out they'd spelt her name completely wrong on the press release. The main track is a quirky clattery bit of stuff, reminding me of Tuneyards and Neneh Cherry. The vocals are very laconic and laid back, the music the oddball junkyard rattle of Tom Waits. The B side is slower,  an ok-ish minimal beats 'n' vocals thing stuttering into life eventually but I'd file it under 'a bit underwhelming' if I was being forced at gunpoint. The single is ok  - its fun but didn't send me into raptures. 

  • Available on:
    7" £6.99

Transitions I
SBTRKT

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

4/10 according to our Clinton on 24th July 2014

Intrntinlly rnwnd sprstr SBTRKT rtrns wth sries f thr 12”s whch ...(ah fck t) apparently document his creative process and return to the sound he had before he started bleating all over his records. In other words its almost comically amateur acid/techno/garage that sounds like it was produced by a 16 year old with his first access to garageband on his phone. Limp beats, forgettable instrumentation so bland I found myself checking the BBC news half-way through.

The B side is marginally better with some kind of atmospherics amongst the bargain basement beats but its going nowhere, utterly nowhere no sense of dynamics or of how a track should build. Even pumping the track high in the headphones I’m getting no sense of energy from it, the ideas have all been done before and it sounds unfinished. There are two more of these 12”s this week. They have to be better than this surely.  

  • Available on:
    12" £6.29

Second
Tout

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Ian on 25th July 2014

After receiving a fantastic sampler from relatively new London label Trestle Records I’ve been champing at the bit to say a few words about one of these new releases, I’m thrilled to bits to get my hands on this second full length from Tout cuz it’s right up my street. The label itself is aimed specifically at experimental instrumental music of many different varieties, there’s minimal ambient, electronica, math-rock and neo-classical, Tout are of the folk tinged post-rock persuasion, there’s all sorts of elements to their sound with a little Rachels here and a sprinkle of State River Widening there and I’m definitely reminded of Tara Jane O’Neil’s old band The Sonora Pine.

This is full of those lovely dusty country vibes that make you think of lonely old desert highways strewn with tumbleweed and the hot sun shimmering from the tarmac, gently fingerpicked guitars acoustic and electric flutter along with only a viola and a little Rhodes for company, as just a two man outfit of Jonny Fryer and Nick Downes (and a few other friends along for the ride) they create a sound much more than the sum of their parts, both orchestral and minimal but with a back to basics rock sound and no real studio trickery it’s so refreshing to hear music this honest these days.

 

  • Available on:
    LP £12.99

Spiríti
Mohammad

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Jim on 23rd July 2014

Super limited triple LP box set of a Mohammad album that originally came out in 2011. Needless to say it comprises yet another utterly compelling set of deeply solemn, resonating chamber music unlike anything else you’ve ever heard. The tracks featuring cello, contrabass and oscillator are interspersed here with more abstract ambient tracks with Eleh like drones combining subtly with field recordings.

The chamber music pieces are relatively restrained compared with more recent releases, allowing a more melodic, slightly gentler side of the group to emerge. While the austere sound palette and dirgelike quality remains constant throughout, the restraint of the playing brings the richness of the timbral dynamics to the fore, with the group moving from a barely-there whisper to dense monolithic slabs of sound. The combined effect of the ambient drone tracks adds to the desolateness of the album as a whole; with the mechanical rumble of the oscillators making me feel like I’m in the engine room of some deep-sea vessel lost in the fog. I have to admit that, because I find the chamber pieces so engrossing and so poignant, I find myself enduring the drone tracks, eager to get to back to the bowed instruments; but even that kind of anticipation adds to the asceticism of the trio’s allure.   

  • Available on:
    Triple LP £36.99

Foxfur & Rarebits
The Iditarod

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Jim on 25th July 2014

This is a new collection of material by psychedelic folk group The Iditarod that was originally spread out over short run cdrs, 7"s and various compilations between 2000-2003. Now often viewed with the benefit of hindsight as a precursor of the so-called ‘Freak Folk’ movement, they developed quite an idiosyncratic version of folk music that combined sparse song structures, spectral vocals and experimental arrangements and atmospheric sound textures. Their combination of disparate influences are apparent across this record, with Carin Sloan’s vocals bringing to mind Shirley Collins’ work with the Albion Band or the spookier side of Cat Power and the music sounding like a slightly catatonic Pentangle one minute and The Dead C jamming on some found acoustic instruments the next.

Overall, its a dark, slow burner of an album and the tracks work well together, even though they were never originally intended to be presented as an album in this way. The intimate, home-recorded feel of the tracks adds to the deeply personal and atmospheric nature of the music while the sometimes sketchy structures make the songs seem all the more ghostly and elusive.This would be a good one to come back to in the winter.

 

  • Available on:
    LP £12.69

A Still From The Film
Karina ESP

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our Jim on 25th July 2014

An album of guitar-based ambient music from Chris Gowers, who incidentally also runs Trome Records and is one half of Lowered. Side A consists of one long piece (‘Low Red Room’) that develops subtly, starting of with a warm static crackle out of which sombre chords fade before a gracefully plucked nylon stringed guitar marks a segue into a more sustained drone of ethereal modulating tones. Gowers’ mellow, clean and sustaining tone and the slow drift of the music here brings to mind players like Oren Ambarchi or early Taku Sugimoto.

Side B starts with a stripped down song for nylon guitar and Gowers’ hushed, distant vocals. Then we have a reprise of ‘Low Red Room’ where the intensity of the drones and static is gradually built up and dissipates before it gets too uncomfortable. We’re back to the nylon guitar for the final track ‘Distant Light’, this time joined by bass guitar, drums and Gowers’ distant, depressed monologue. There’s a real grace to the restrained playing here that reminds me of another antipodean experimentalist, Dean Roberts. As the cyclical chord progression subtly amasses layers of ringing drones, every small nuance of Gowers’ manipulation of his sustaining guitar becomes prominent in how it affects the delicate balance of the piece.

 

  • Available on:
    LP £12.69

Twisted Souvenirs
Hayvanlar Alemi

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

10/10 according to our Mike on 25th July 2014

I haven't come across Hayvanlar Alemi before but Turkey's premier instro-psych rockers have already got an LP out on Sublime Frequencies that our Phil liked a lot so I'm interested. I'm spinning their new platter 'Twisted Souvenirs' right now and it's proper down and dirty instrumental rock with a nice mixture of Melvinsy noise sludge, hypnotic East-meets-West rhythms, psychedelic riffing with some Dick Dale-ish sounding Eastern melodies delivered in chunky, filthy noise rock tones.

A ripping fuzz guitar overhaul of Mulato Astatke's'Yekermo Sew' which opens the second side is an instant highlight, with a bouncing snare groove and buzzy guitar tone that seems almost like a nod to Japanese eleki legend Takeshi Terauchi but with a modern muscularity and thickness to the production. Although it's the kind of weirdo instrumental rock that'll probably never reach as big an audience as it deserves, but this is right up there with The Unsemble and Belfi/Grubbs/Pilia in the instrumental-album-of-2014 stakes.

An indulgently listenable combination of brutal tones and assured musicality, I'd like to listen to this all day but alas I have other records to write about.

  • Available on:
    LP £18.79

Commune
Goat

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

10/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Finally, Goat's "difficult" second album is upon us. Their debut 'World Music' catapulted the mysterious Swedish voodoo-psych outfit onto the world stage with its mixture of wah-fuzz riffing, energetically chanted vocals and mystical polyrhythms, with colourful and hyper-kinetic live rituals to match. The pressure is on, then, for 'Commune' to be something a bit special.
 
Thankfully this is a band with ambition to match their hype, and 'Commune' is far from simply 'World Music' part two. I've spent the weekend letting it settle in before writing this but I still feel like I'm getting my head around it. All the signature moves from the first album are still present, but the emphasis here is much more on repetition, drones and deeply danceable psych-fuzz indulgences, often showing a darker and angrier side than we've previously heard.
 
Opener 'Talk To God' is based around a twiddly Eastern-sounding riff that builds and recedes in hypnotic fashion for nigh-on seven minutes with plenty of that trademark chanting, while the next three songs feel like an exercise in tension building, with some Link Wray-ish vibrato chords shuddering through the trance-like 'Words', wah-psych afrobeat vibes with strained vocals in 'The Light Within' and then the hazy Eastern shuffle of instrumental 'To Travel The Path Unknown'.
 
It's here that things really get interesting though, with 'Goatchild' providing the first big surprise with a boy singer doing some call-and-response with the two girls who handle most of the vocals, a booming, snarling hybrid of Michael Gira and Jim Morrison. It has a weird detached, raga-ish drone rock feel with a bassline that cycles around in 3/4 over the 4/4 vocal line.
 
'Goatslaves' which follows is one of the album's instant stand-outs, an explosion of righteous fury full of whirling woodblock percussion, crunching riffs and angry vocals. "Too many people live on their knees," they roar. The guitar solo here is a smeared, backwards howl over the dense percussive assault. It sounds like the single.
 
From here 'Hide From The Sun' has a guitar line a little bit 'Paint It Black'-era Stones with some unison vocals and nice crunchy fuzz when it hits, then Bondye is an hypnotic jam with meandering fiddle/guitar interplay that takes the jammy direction they've been hinting at in live performances to its natural conclusion by removing all the formally structured song bits.
 
They go out with a bang with 'Gathering Of Ancient Tribes', the only track besides the opener to pass the six-minute mark. It takes a more positive angle than the other highlight 'Goatslaves' in its pleas for harmony - "Let us be reborn," they shout, "Go tell everybody you need everybody. Go tell everybody you love everybody." It's joyous and explosive and repetitive and strangely moving, an exasperated primal howl for unity that descends into soaring, crunching guitar abuse that eventually burns out to reveal the skeletal drones that underpin the track.
 
If you couldn't be bothered reading that and have skipped to the end, in a nutshell it's less poppy and more repetitive and danceable than 'World Music', but also more diverse, and feels more like it's supposed to be listened to as a whole rather than a collection of stand-alone songs, but most importantly they still have the vitality and originality that made that album such a runaway success. This lot are the real deal.
 

  • Available on:
    LP £15.99, CD £11.49

Brainded warrior / So Stoned
Zig Zags

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 25th July 2014

Oof! I think the Zig Zags are ruddy great, me. Right from that first 7" their obnoxious stoner-fuzz garage has been hitting all the right buttons for me. Here's a 7" of one of the highlights from their debut LP (awarded a rare 10/10 by yours truly just the other day). 'Brainded Warrior' is a snarling mixture of hair metal indulgence, dirty stoner loucheness and pacey riffs in a gut-punching neanderthal blast that'll clear your ear-tubes right out.

Overleaf is the excellently titled 'So Stoned', which starts out with a sample of some stereotypical Cali stoners talking about going to the beach before they kick into a filthy broken blues ripper with gang vocals and sarcastic vocals drenched in echo. It shudders along filthily enough and the snottiness reminds me of early Beastie Boys mixed with forgotten novelty rockers Surf Punks. These guys rule!

  • Available on:
    7" £5.99

Jivaro Witnesses
German Army

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

Super prolific industrial/darkwave/post-dub weirdos German Army are back again already. How do they keep up this work rate? There's all sorts going on here - Suicidey electro-punk with grinding rhythms rubbing against spaced-out synth drones, with vocals processed and echoed and buried under layers of synth-loop and drum machine sensory overload, but always with a stumbling gloopiness like a thick oily sheen over everything.

Some of the highlights come in their quieter moments, and overall this album does have a much more chilled-out feel than their previous offerings. A case in point is the excellently-titled 'Sexual Cycle of Human Norms', a stripped back tapestry of writhing cosmic synths, subtle twinkling melodic loops, glacial bass guitar and vocals processed down into a deep shivering crackle. It's strangely detached but still overtly emotional. It's hard not to mention Boards of Canada (a reference I also find myself reaching for on side B's 'Smooth Voice'). 'Stone Walls' is another highlight, with a twitchy beat and some '80s suspense-movie synths and vocals which are as close as this band ever gets to singing.

Despite initially sounding almost chaotic it soon becomes apparent these songs are tightly structured and generally pretty short. Vocals are draped over the tracks as textural padding in their decaying post-punk synth tinkering. They draw you into their world in search of the songs that you know are buried in this sprawling robotic crunch'n'smudge dreamscape. This is the most genuinely futuristic-sounding thing I've heard in a while. Hearty thumbs up.

  • Available on:
    LP £15.89

The International Vicious Society Vol 7
Various

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

Here's the seventh volume in the International Vicious Society comp series, a reliable source for forgotten worldwide trash/exotica/rock'n'roll nuggets. Think 'Pebbles' but with more of a worldwide scope. This collection's got numbers from Thailand, Italy, Panama, USA, Mexico, France, Morocco and Puerto Rico, for example.

Despite being on their seventh volume, the Vicious Society's well of often hilarious dance-craze novelties and one-of-a-kind oddities shows no sign of running dry. Highlights here include the opening one-two shot of the slinky Thai surf rock of Jimmy's Guitar and the ludicrous Italian mariachi space twist 'Twist Dell' Astronauta'. There's a bouncy gospel/barbershop number called 'Atom Bomb' which claims that God's going to hit ("boom") back ("boom") the atom bomb when he comes lord when he comes, which had me in stitches. The two Moroccan tracks are a riot too.

If eccentric forgotten novelties and international trash culture interest you, this whole series of comps is essential listening, this latest instalment being no exception.

  • Available on:
    LP £18.29

The Moon & Antarctica
Modest Mouse

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

I'm enjoying a nice nostalgic start to a long day's reviewing with this newly-reissued Modest Mouse gem. Their third album proper, this was the one where they really started polishing their rough and visceral countrified indie rock into the more refined and measured alt-pop that's earned them the household name status they enjoy today...I kind of see it as the one where they stopped trying to look like they weren't trying.

I recall when this album came out I was a bit disappointed by the softening of their harsher edges, but with hindsight they were simply moving from one good thing to another. Tracks like 'Paper Thin Walls' and 'Alone Down There' tether a barely restrainable venom with clinical studio precision that nicely exacerbates the tension and frustration in Brock's wordplay, but they do let their hair down a bit at the end with the ferocious and slightly Husker Du-esque 'What People Are Made Of'.

There's a lot of his most memorable lyrics here, possibly in part because several songs still employ the mantra-like repetition that they were so fond of early on. What's most notable with hindsight though is how ambitious and varied this album is, mixing swooping country balladeering with wonky indie rock and hypnotically repetitive passages of twisting guitars and yelp-chanted vocals. It all reaches its peak in penultimate track 'Life Like Weeds', which does all the above things and makes them sound easy, with a mastery of emotional manipulation that brings to mind the first couple of dEUS albums. It's aged very well I think, if anything it sounds better than I remember.

  • Available on:
    Double LP £21.89

An Electric Storm
White Noise

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

It's a challenging morning for me today. First I had to tackle the much-anticipated sophomore effort from Goat, and now I've got this head-scratching reissue of a 1969 album by White Noise, an experimental pop band notable for the presence of such radiophonic luminaries as Delia Derbyshire within their ranks.
 
The story of the record's genesis is a fascinating one too, with initial recording taking place at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop itself, out of hours and without the BBC's knowledge. The final results of these clandestine recording sessions are very much an LP of two halves, with side A comprised of more conventionally structured pop songs with a dreamy, playful feel that's sonically somewhere between Stereolab and Joe Meek, with simple melodies and refined electronic tomfoolery.
 
On side B however, the trip gets much darker with two lengthy tracks titled 'The Visitation' and 'The Black Mass: An Electric Storm in Hell'. These are full of all sorts of hallucinatory weirdness. The former has spooky speech samples and haunted fairground folk drifting in and out of twisted tapestries sobbing and heavy breathing and screams and ominously pulsating electronic ambience, while the latter wallows in weirdly phasing drum textures with slicing electronic swoops and nightmarish yells.

In short, it's pleasant on side A, challenging on side B, but interesting and stimulating and a little bit unhinged throughout.
 

  • Available on:
    CD £7.59, LP £21.69

Meat Puppets
Meat Puppets

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Here's a welcome return to vinyl for the Meat Puppets' incendiary self-titled debut LP. This is where their ramshackle rough'n'ready country-punk started, and they've thrown in a load of bonus material from the era to sweeten the deal.

'Meat Puppets' still sounds as arresting as when I first heard it - while their sound did get more refined later on, the early recordings really encapsulate the throwaway intensity that the band are best loved for, their virtuosity masked behind hammy shambling. 'Melons Rising' is a babbling proto-hardcore blast but this sharp, tight punky approach is tempered by a slovenly looseness and mumbled vocals.

They often sound like they're playing as fast and loud as they physically can and everything could fall apart any second, but then there are moments like 'Our Friends' where a sweet country-rock jangle is hiding under those grotesque lo-fi guitar tones, or the comically incoherent 'Meat Puppets' which sounds like The Cramps trying to jam whilst too drunk to stand. In short, this record still sounds just as nasty and great as it ever did.

  • Available on:
    CD £13.09, LP £16.69

Spent The Afternoon
Full Ugly

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 25th July 2014

Here's an LP from the questionably-monikered Full Ugly, the brainchild of Melbourne singer-songwriter Nathan Burgess, who was previously linked to Michael "Scott & Charlene's Wedding" Caterer before he upped sticks and moved to the Big Apple.
It should come as no surprise that 'Spent The Afternoon' is a collection of laid back, personable indie-pop that mixes S&CW's classic Aussie shamble with a sun-kissed slacker pop haze of bands like Triptides or Real Estate. Right from the start the songs have a shimmering, jangling warmth that's as welcoming as a nicely-worn-in pair of trainers. The vocals are faltering and naive, giving a nicely human quality to the big pop hooks Burgess keeps throwing out.

If you're into your classic jangle-rock from down under then you could do worse than giving this guy a go.

  • Available on:
    LP £17.39

A Waste Of Time And Space
Man At Arms

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

The sticker on the front of this CD says it's "recommended for fans of The Minutemen's 'Paranoid Time', Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' and Space Ghost Coast to Coast"...that's a six-minute-long record, a book and a cartoon for stoners. The post-it left by a colleague gives more of a clue as to the sound, saying "noisy twist rock". Having put the CD in my player I'm fairly confident that's as in twisty-turny math rock rather than "let's all do the twist".

It's fun stuff, tight and choppy with cool automaton monotone vocals along with repetitive stop-start guitar twiddling that sometimes brings to mind Don Caballero but the grooves are more driving and less confusing, often with a moody Poison Arrows-ish churn and an interesting mixture of tangy trebly Minutemen-ish guitar tones and some thicker and more heroic ones. They achieve a nice mixture of earthy physicality and robotically repetitive jazziness here that's challenging at times but more often quirky and very listenable.

  • Available on:
    CD £11.59

But Blood
Hockeysmith

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

Here's a short but sweet EP of dreamy electronic pop from Falmouth-based sisters Annie and Georgie Hockeysmith, who apparently recently upgraded their living/recording quarters from a caravan to an old tour bus. Living the dream indeed.

Anyway there are four tracks on this EP and it's a kind of feverish, slightly experimental electronic pop that's not a million miles from Grimes. A post-it stuck to the front backs me up on this, saying "Sounds amazing nu-gaze/disco/Grimes hybrid". Proceedings open with a short instrumental 'Phantom Whistle', a pulsating, twitching synthscape that subtly builds in intensity before we head into the throbbing minimal synth-funk of the title track, laced with silky vocals and cheeky distorto-loops that bend the sound in a slightly industrial direction, building up with some tasty modular synth bloops twisted into acidy squiggles alongside squealing, crunching trails of electric guitar. A crescendo climax that doesn't descend into cliche. Very cool.

Over on the other side are two more conventional bits of electronic pop, although these are also pretty cool with soulful vocals and subtle textures. They're good at dropping in little bits of guitar just where it'll be the most effective while their cold robotic pop chugs along single-mindedly, although I have to admit that while pleasant, closer 'Meanwhile' takes some wind out of their sails with its plodding pace and blurry ethereal dream-drones. I'm particularly enjoying the title track but there's plenty of good ideas going on here.

  • Available on:
    12" £7.49

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Batman Theme Return
Various

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

Here's the second instalment of obscure covers of the Batman theme from 1966, with a mammoth 17 versions of the 8-bar classic. If you missed out first time, never fear, here's your chance to own an LP of just the Batman theme. Here's what I wrote about that long-sold-out initial instalment:

"Here’s one for collectors of the Caped Crusader! 1966 have put together this limited red LP (just 300 copies!) containing 16 different renditions of the famous ‘Batman’ theme, all but two of which were actually recorded in 1966. The majority of these are blazing surf rock’n’roll cuts (Link Wray’s probably being the best of these), although the superb Boston Pops Orchestra version is a highlight too with stomping percussion and booming brass giving it an almost ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ kind of vibe, superb fun. The spy movie chug of Italy’s Ettore Cenci Guitar Trio is another high point. It does get a little bit samey once you get through 16 versions of the same eight bar blues and you’ll probably find a couple you end up returning to more than the rest but these are fun versions and with it being so limited I’d imagine dedicated Batfans will snap this one up pretty quickly."


This new LP is great and slightly irritating for just the same reasons, but this time has less recognisable names on its tracklist, but I think that ends up working to its advantage as the pieces here are more diverse and eccentric than the first collection, romping through slinky surf rock, huge brass arrangements and lively honky-tonk piano in the first three tracks alone before hitting Wade Denning & The Port Washington's superbly jerky garage rock interpretation full of awkwardly stabbing guitar, organ and trumpet. And so it goes from rock'n'roll to marching bands to light orchestras, all trying to imprint their personalities on one of the world's most recognisable tunes. Les & Larry Elgart's pacey high-drama take full of reverby trumpet stabs is worth pointing out as another highlight. Better and more unpredictable than the first volume, but it's still an LP full of the Batman theme so non-nerds may find it a bit repetitive!

  • Available on:
    LP £21.69

Postcard To My Sewing Circle
The Delicious

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

The sticker on the front of this says breathlessly, "complex, sincere, light-hearted and freakishly disjointed blend of experi-indie-art-pop...with elegantly constructed, cerebral power-pop anthems". Sounds promising! Let's have a listen...

This is indeed quite clever, fast-paced indie pop with ideas pinging around all over the place, bolstered by a rumbustuous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah-ish enthusiasm and some nice wonky stop-start touches that bring to mind the likes of Menomena or the Notwist, while the restlessly twisting melodicism is reminiscent of Of Montreal in their prime around the 'Sunlandic Twins' era.
The five-song EP feels like it's over in a flash but it's strangely exhausting, a non-stop parade of colourful tones and melodies, and it's nice to get a little breather in the middle in the shape of downbeat chugger 'Cryptozoological Allstars', which has a nice Pinbacky plod to it. Imaginative and vibrant indie-pop business, basically, not bad at all.

  • Available on:
    CD £11.49

Sikknastafari Slash Crasstafari
Sewn Leather

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

"Minimal proto noise" says the post-it note stuck to the front of this new Sewn Leather LP. I've not come across this chappy before but I'm enjoying this LP. He plays nasty power-electronics full of harsh distorto-loops, unsettling drones and cold Suicide-esque minimal beats.

Sometimes there's harshly processed vocals but most of the time the focus is on rotted dance beats and pummelling bursts of dirty synthetic noise. Some of the tones here are truly filthy but the simple rhythms keep everything driving forward relentlessly and hypnotically no matter how chaotic and fractured everything else is. There's an almost ritualistic feel to a lot of the tracks, mixing that cold Suicidey pulse with an almost Raccoo-oo-oon-ish free-expressive stream of consciousness noise meditation side which is somehow loose and playful but also often confrontational and intense.

A wild and nasty racket but an entertaining one too.

  • Available on:
    LP £18.89

Unlikely Mothers
Big Blood

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

Fresh from appearing on Swans' 2012 epic The Seer, Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella are back with a new double LP adventure from their prolific Big Blood outfit, who've put out more handmade CDRs than you've had hot dinners. They've recruited a drummer this time round, and apparently Colleen was listening to a lot of Sabbath, Zepp and Dead Moon at the time, so it's fair to say that this is closer to a "rock album" than I've heard from this band previously.

It's still only rock music in a fairly broad sense, though, steeped as it is with '60s psychedelia and raga-ish drones, a dense textural fog over which Caleb's country twang and Colleen's Zola Jesus-meets-Janis Joplin howl sit prominently and clearly. It's woozy, heady, earthy drone rock that sometimes drifts into slow-oozing almost Black Mountain-ish plod-psych riff'n'warble. It's easy to see why Gira gave these guys a call because they're very good at feeling of dirge-like heaviness and filthy grandiosity, and I'd say this is probably their most immediate and solid statement I've heard from this pair to date, moving from neofolk-inspired weirdness to droney, earthy trance-rock without breaking stride.

  • Available on:
    Double LP £23.49

Watch_Dogs Original Game Soundtrack
Brian Reitzell

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

Since being drummer for Redd Kross, Brian Reitzell has kept himself busy with soundtrack work, with big titles like 'Lost In Translation', 'Stranger Than Fiction', 'The Virgin Suicides' and '30 Days Of Night' on his impressive CV. Lately he's also been branching out into TV work, scoring the 'Boss' and 'Hannibal' series, and games, first with 'Red Faction: Armageddon' and now with 'Watch Dogs', an open world hacker thriller set in an alternate version of Chicago. He also brought out a solo album on Smalltown Supersound last month. Busy lad.

Anyway, this game soundtrack I'm listening to now has lots of coolly throbbing synth textures and slick dystopian atmospheres full of slicing metallic swoops and fragmented, hinted melodies along to the drone-like pulses and simple skittish beats. I get the impression that this is a game which is quite futuristic and suspenseful. Sometimes all the drones and pulses get quite shivery and intense, sometimes they're more contemplative, but the melodies, when they do appear, tend to be slow to unfold. 'Elevated Trains' does offer a minute and a half of tranquil solace in the middle, but for the most part these are tense electro soundscapes constructed with the assured lightness of touch of someone who's done this before.

  • Available on:
    LP £16.59, CD £11.59

Water Near a Bridge
Krakatau

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

The on-form Trouble In Mind drop this tasty morsel of Antipodean psych-prog from Krakatau this week. This threesome employ drums, bass and organ in their pursuit of cosmic new-age meditations and surprising jam rock diversions.

When they do head into the more ambient cosmic side of things like on 'John Stoat' it's deeply hypnotic, all layered drones and infinitely cycling trance loops with a bit of tape hiss and a fat bottom, really floaty stuff. When they get into a jammier mode it varies from thoughtful puttering drums and cyclic Popol Vuh-ish melodies through to twisty-turny cop show funk. It's a pretty intriguing mixture and all the individual elements are very well executed. If you like spaced out drones and guitar-less psychedelia, check it out.

  • Available on:
    LP £15.69

A Waif’s Rent
Bronze Teeth

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

After a little digging I'm finding out that the 12" that I'm listening to right now is by Bronze Teeth, but not just any old bronze teeth. This Bronze Teeth is in fact the super-team of Dominic Butler from Factory Floor and Richard "L/F/D/M" Smith.

There are three tracks of repetitive post-techno action going on here which mix Butler's modular trance-outs with Smith's more acidy techno for a heavy and primitive bit of synth abuse. On side A is 'Albion Pressure', their 13-minute paean to West Brom, which drives pacily along with a repetitive kick drum and a droning synth pulse fed by rhythmic flutters and stabbing melodic wobbles. It's robotic and kinetic and a bit cosmic.

The two tracks on the flip are a bit more laid back and less overwhelming, making more use of negative space and subtle microrhythms in comparison to the pummelling intensity of the other side. Of the two I'm liking the bleeps and boops subtle drones of 'Cut Bronze' the best because closer 'Tephra' has some pretty nasty buzzing drones that are testing my patience a little. Those aside, though, if you're a fan of either of these artists' other output then I'm pretty confident you'll enjoy this too.

  • Available on:
    12" £8.39

Chameleon
Sam De La rosa

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Led Er Est singer Sam De La Rosa goes it alone for the first time this week on this mini-album for Burka For Everybody. Pretty cool it is too, glacial synth-led pop with wistful vocals and a robotically pacing feel to its icy grooves and foggy ambience.

Some tracks, such as 'Erase Blanco', are instrumental meditations (or at least any vocals are submerged and processed into unrecognisability), the aforementioned track mixing smooth gliding synths with ominous distorto drones and crumbly audio scree to build up a Fuck Buttons-ish intensity, while 'Fungus' which follows it is all 'Clangers'-ish tweets and hums.
Elsewhere he lets his vocals take the fore with varying results from the mumbly dreampop of side A's central track 'Chameleon' to the mysterious wibbly psych moodiness of closer 'I Cannot Meet Today'. Plenty of good ideas here, realised with real class and subtlety.

  • Available on:
    12" £14.99

Twee Blues
Colin Clary

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Here's my second offering from Weepop this week - Colin Clary's 'Twee Blues'. Much like the other one I had to write about, this collection isn't as cloyingly twee as I'd feared (particularly since the word even features in the title) but instead is a collection of simple sentimental songs, deliberately written to be easy and fun to play.

It's a beautifully packaged LP, too, with an elegant sheaf of lyric cards which come complete with chord progressions in case you want to have a stab at playing the songs yourself. There are elements of both the twee and the blues but it's really just simple, thoughtful songwriting with a charming delivery, uncluttered arrangements and Clary's breathy and unobtrusive vocals hanging likeably over the top. Thoroughly pleasant.

  • Available on:
    LP £9.99

Your Flaws Aren't Picturesque
One Happy Island

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

I've got a couple of tweepop LPs from Weepop in my review pile today, the first of which being this one by One Happy Island. I'm appreciating the no-bullshit approach that's been taken here - the 14 songs were recorded live over the space of two days last August and are wordy but economically arranged bits of low-key psych pop with plenty of acoustic guitar (as well as touches of brass, stylophone, xylophone, etc, keeping things interesting). The sound quality is perfectly adequate, especially considering it's a live recording.

What it's reminding me of the most are the early Of Montreal recordings when they were a bit more acoustic-based. The songs are sweet and quirky but the stripped back approach means they avoid many of the cloyingly syrupy tweepop cliches that many contemporaries fall into. There's no faux-naive gang vocals to be found, just thoughtful anecdotal songsmithery.

  • Available on:
    LP £9.99

Blues Pills
Blues Pills

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our Mike on 23rd July 2014

Here's a Scandinavian quartet who've decided to mix soulful diva anthems with pummelling '70s hard rock riffs. Their album comes in a luxurious gatefold sleeve with proper retro-style artwork, and sound-wise they're quite a lot like the Alabama Shakes crossed with musical theatre staples like Jesus Christ Superstar or Hair or Godspell.

The emphasis here, as with that band, is on soul-pop. The songs have huge choruses and the vocals are belted with no small amount of vigour, and the riffs are cool too - lively classic metal stylings that often bring Cathedral to mind. The high energy soul-rock-opera revue style is a bit hit and miss...fist-pumping when they get it right, mildly embarrassing when they don't. It keeps reminding me of Matt Berry's affectionate homage to that era of musical theatre 'AD/BC'. Silly but fun.

  • Available on:
    CD £10.79, CD £9.79, Double LP £14.69, Double LP £14.69

It’s Not Unusual
D.O.A

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

2/10 according to our Mike on 24th July 2014

The press release promises that D.O.A.'s cover of Tom Jones's 'It's Not Unusual' has "enough rasp to make even the most hardened punk fan cringe", but let me tell you it's not just the rasp that's making me cringe. This is of course a snotty sub-Snuff pop-punk take on the staple, bolstered by some punchy Less Than Jake-ish brass, mysteriously reissued after originally coming out way back in '93.


It raises the question, just how much crap can one band get away with just because they were innovators? These guys are due respect for being one of the very first hardcore punk bands and their early records are worth anyone's time but this is truly an embarrassment. There's a decentish Suicidal Tendenciesy effort on the other side called 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' but the damage done by the cheeseball atrocity on side A cannot be reversed. Makes their recent 'We Occupy' cash in with Jello Biafra seem like a clever idea.

Leave this well alone and dig out your old copy of 'Hardcore '81' instead.

  • Available on:
    7" £3.99, CD single £3.99

My Skeleton
Claude Speeed

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

9/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

Promising post-it on this one - "Interesting pulsy Glass-y instrumentals from what I hear" says someone else in the office, although I'm listening to it now and it's wildly varied, from cosmic electronics to windswept '80s movie synths, patient droning to warm repetitive beatmaking to soulful cosmic drift. As an added point of interest, most of these songs also contain field recordings and were made on Mr Speeed's netbook during his travels "on far away buses, trains, airports, cities, parks, temples, forests and jungles, floors, hotels, hostels, friends’ sofas".

An early highlight is 'Some Other Guy', which blends some abrasive, buzzing tones and heady earth's-core synth hums into a strangely moving dentist-drill chord sequence that defeatedly recedes into fluttering, broken ambience before unfolding hopefully delicate shimmering twinkles and ethereal synth tranquility before plunging headfirst into a digitised almost black metal-like guitar crackle.

The following track 'Tiger Woods' is another highlight and presumably the Philip Glass one mentioned earlier, a bouncy loopscape of jaunty clarinet parps and vocal drones that owes an obvious debt to the minimalist master. The whole thing is brimming with imaginative tones and heartwarming chord sequences and unexpected diversions, with the field recordings woven into the music in very subtle ways, as an element of the music itself rather than something added on top. I'm impressed.

  • Available on:
    CD £9.89

Arashi
Akira Sakata / Johan Berthling / Paal Nilssen-Love

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

Legendary free jazzer Akira Sakata teams up with regular Gustafsson-collaborators Johan Berthling and Paal Nilssen-Love as his incendiary rhythm section on this fierce display of honk'n'putter virtuosity from three trusted names. With Nilssen-Love at the sticks you know things are going to get clattery, and the drummer is matched step for step by his two lively collaborators, with Sakata's squeaky sax howls and urgently honked shapes stumbling and spiralling over the wash of rhythmic effluent like a panic-afflicted acid casualty on lengthy opener 'Arashi (Storm)'.

Sakata isn't just saxing though, but also clarinetting and providing some unique vocal howls and grunts to proceedings, ranting gutturally through 'Ondo No Huna-Uta (Rower's Song Of Ondo)' like Damo Suzuki possessed with the wildman spirit of Ghedalia Tazartes. I'm particularly enjoying it when they take the intensity down a notch on 'Dora', breaking into a gentle mid-paced jog full of melodic twists and turns that have a bit of Don Cherry about them.

  • Available on:
    LP £16.49

Dog Day Morning
Ross Downes

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

We've got some ambient business in from Trestle Records this week. You may be thinking, "Aren't we supposed to be boycotting Trestle?", but don't worry, that's Nestlé. These guys are fine. The one I'm listening to right now is Ross Downes' 'Dog Day Morning', a twisty collection of electro acoustic instrumentals which owe as much to soundtracks and post-rock as ambient atmospherics, taking cues, so the press release says, from Tortoise, Papa M and Do Make Say Think. Each track has a person's name, with no explanation why.

It's an intriguing album, shifting from warm electronics to silky Mark McGuire-ish guitar to cold Wray/Morricone-esque twanging to dystopian dronescapes littered with field recordings and clanging distortion, radio static, Black Eagle Child-esque delay pedal bliss outs and meditative cosmic synths. However there's always at least a thread of musicality binding it together so despite its almost schizophrenic mood range it never feels like hard work to listen to.

This is really nice stuff, thoughful and understated and personal but also quite sonically ambitious.

  • Available on:
    CD £9.99

First
Tout

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

Here's the second of three Trestle Recs offerings I have to write about, the first of two albums by Tout. I'm not sure if that's from the French for "all" or the nasty scalper types who stand outside sold-out gigs trying to sell you tickets for inflated prices. I hope it's the former because those twats piss me off.

Anyway, what I gather from this CD is that Tout has a core trio of three guitarists, Neil Cain, Nick Downes and Jonny Fryer, who are joined by buddies on viola, piano and drums where they feel a little extra padding is required. There are eight tracks here of sleepily intertwined folky fingerpicking, loosely themed on Billy The Kid, which despite there being three guitars is still quite spacious and intimate sounding, with a communicative, intuitive and economical style.

There's a mixture of Fahey-esque acoustic tracks and swampily trudging electric ones like 'Of A Bloodthirsty Ogre' which remind me a little bit of a more tentative and atmospheric take on Earth's mystical minimal heaviness...maybe like if Earth did something with Jim Jarmusch, those kind of vibes.

It plods along at a measured pace with field recorded interludes separating the tracks. Evocative stuff.

  • Available on:
    CD £9.99

Fuse Editions 001
BJ Nilsen

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

I've found a couple of colour-coded Fuse Editions cassettes up my tape-hole this week and this first one (Fuse Edition 001, no less) features two live performances by veteran sound artist BJ Nilsen - one practically on my doorstep in Bradford, the other all the way out in Marrakech.

It turns out that whichever continent he's on, Nilsen plays a beguiling mixture of drones and field recordings and subtle distorto-fuckery that can be a bit slow to get going but soon ascends into trance-like layers of flickering static, delicately throbbing drones and processed field recorded sound textures, with a strange push-and-pull between the angelic and demonic aspects of the subtle soundscapes. There's nearly an hour of his mysterious noises on the tape so you really get your money's worth here too.

  • Available on:
    Cassette tape £8.39

Hassan Falls To His Death
James Johnston

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

I love the macabre matter-of-factness of this album title, 'Hassan Falls To His Death'...it's got an almost Gabriel Garcia Marquez-ish quality to it, doesn't it? Here's three of three from my Trestle table for the day, and it's only bloody James Johnston from Gallon Drunk (not to mention stints with the Bad Seeds, Faust and Lydia Lunch). As a great admirer of the 'Drunk I'm intrigued to hear what he's doing solo.

I'm listening now and it's good, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) very different from his band, offering a mixture of curiously arranged soundtracky instrumentals and smeared layers of ambient drift. Opening in relatively conventional territory with the Morricone-ish melodica and windswept fiddle drones of 'A 281', it's not long before Johnson has sucked you into his languorous world of obsessive texture experiments. He'll draw you closer with a weird distant clicky guitar strum before whacking you sideways with a big ol' church organ, or layer snippets of crunching guitar feedback and field recordings into a dizzying robotic sound collage. The title track is good too, all wavering, faltering, weeping strings like a dronier Dirty Three. Good stuff.

  • Available on:
    CD £9.99

Oscillations
Cosines

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

Here's the first full-length from Alice Hubley's latest outfit Cosines, offering us an appealing take on twee-pop from a strangely krautrock-ish angle, with the rhythms and synth lines often lending a Kraftwerk/Stereolab feel to their catchy, personable pop songs in amongst some more straightforward quirky indie fare that's not a million miles away from the Seven Inches.

It's a clever combination, since the nostalgic, robotic elements help scour off a little of the syrupiness that makes twee-pop a bit of a slog sometimes. I'm particularly liking the 'Look Around You'-ish library synth runs in 'Walking Away'. Overall it's a jaunty collection of bouncy and tuneful pop songs with a cool head-noddy kraut edge. Twee-pop can often be a bit too sickly for me but I'm finding this dead charming.

  • Available on:
    LP £12.69, CD £10.79

Tar & Feathers
Trzaska Mazur Pand

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

8/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

From one skronk to another, I've just written about the Sharrock/Brotzmann set that's been unearthed by Trost and now I'm moving back to the present day (ish) with this CD which records the first meeting of three Hungarian musicians - on sax and clarinet Nikolaj Trzaska, on acoustic bass Rafal Mazur and on drums Balasz Pandi.

It's a muscular free jazz rumble but made fairly accessible by the lively East-meets-West melodicism, hypnotic cyclic patterns and droney honks of Trzaska while the twin rumble of Mazur and Pandi often takes quite a jazz-rock fusion feel, with the drummer (who's worked with the likes of Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson and Venetian Snares) building up an impressive head of steam with crisp snare work and wildly splashing cymbals.

As far as free skronk goes this is a pretty listenable and light-hearted offering.

  • Available on:
    CD £10.09

Fuse Editions 002
Star Turbine

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

And so I reach the final review of a long week with this mysterious Fuse Edition by Star Turbine. I just did one by BJ Nilsen and I think I'm starting to see a pattern emerge. That one had him performing at the Fuse Art Space in Bradford on one side and Marrakech the other; this has Star Turbine at Fuse on side A and in Edinburgh on the other.

I've not come across Star Turbine before but they're making a weird kind of broken ambience here with faltering machines buzzing and whistling around ghostly vocal croons and weird, slightly gross mouth noises, raspy rumbling drones and scratchy twitters and walkie-talkie hisses build up a mounting paranoia...I had thought it might be some kind of silky cosmic niceness to round off my day but actually it's pretty intense dark ambient experimentalism full of crumbling machinery and ritualistic tape abuse. Don't have nightmares, kids!

  • Available on:
    Cassette tape £8.39

Ela Stiles
Ela Stiles

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

I've been putting off writing about this record for a good couple of days, all thanks to just two words on a post-it stuck to the front. "Entirely acapella" it says with ominous lack of judgement. While they are an emotionally brave move, I often find acapella albums awkwardly intimate and uncomfortably personal.

Thankfully Songs/Bushwalking warbler Ela Stiles has an interesting style here, mixing an Alasdair Roberts-ish plainsongy delivery with some subtle atmospherics which often employ processed vocal drones. There's even a wordless song which is in fact just called 'Untitled Drone', with angelic hums layered over one another to create strange psychoacoustics as if strings are mixed in with the voices. The more stripped back lyrical parts sound like they were recorded in a big reverby hall and are delivered loudly and confidently, which also helps alleviate the awkwardness, and the seven tracks are over well before boredom or irritation set in. This is much more meditative and likeable than I had feared.

  • Available on:
    LP £17.19, CD £11.59

smll hnd / dcftfl hnd
Phil Maguire

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

Here's a tape from Phil Maguire, 'smll hnd/dctfl hnd' (pronounced "smell hand/deceitful hound") which features seven tracks of static drones. Now from my experience static drones can be some of the hardest drones to write about because they are, well, static. More of a meditation tool than a journey to be documented.

There's only 50 of these tapes, which are the product of the Huddersfield sound designer playing a series of "sound games" with sounds derived from such everyday objects as boilers and hard drives. The result is a collection of oozing, granular textures that hum and shimmer laced with tiny melodic details. It's late night deep listening stuff to zone out to.

  • Available on:
    Cassette tape £4.99

untitled#290
Francisco Lopez

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

This is one of those CDs that you put on your player and then think "Is this CD actually playing?...And where's that weird noise coming from?", opening as it does with the muffled rumble of distant thunder, but before too long Lopez's serene drones start to materialise in the soundfield like abandoned panpipes playing themselves in the wind.

This is the 290th numbered piece from prolific sound artist Francisco Lopez and all five tracks here are created entirely from mutated sound material recorded in Rotterdam in 2011, having been commissioned for the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2012. It's quite a meditative and peaceful listen, but the sound sources themselves can be a bit of a guessing game, having evolved from their original form into soft industrial drones and weird boinks and dinks and rumbles. They're morphed into immersive, otherworldly atmospheres with an interesting mixture of menace and softness.

Fans of ambient sound designers like Machinefabriek will enjoy this.

  • Available on:
    CD £13.99

Whatthefuckdoyouwant
Peter Brötzmann / Sonny Sharrock

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

7/10 according to our ReviewBot3000 on 25th July 2014

Skronk fans rejoice! Here's a live recording of Peter Brotzmann and Sonny Sharrock freaking the fuck out for ages way back in 1987. It's from Brotz's own personal archive and it's a pretty clear and crisp recording, with 11 tracks running to well over an hour of listening pleasure.

These two are both pretty big names on the free skronk circuit so you've probably got a good idea what to expect. Sharrock busts out some expressive crunch'n'mangle on a harsh, gainy guitar while Brotzman screams and wiggles around on his saxophone, carving colourful honking splatters in the air like sonic fireworks.

There's no denying that the glee and vigour with which these two approach their instruments, combined with the sensitivity of their interactions, makes for compelling listening, but it takes a certain kind of person to listen to more than an hour of this without feeling like their grip on reality is loosening. I made it about halfway and then started to feel a bit queasy, but if you're shopping for a Brotzmann/Sharrock record in the first place you're probably the kind of person that relishes such a challenge.

  • Available on:
    CD £13.99