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Staff reviews this week

Good or bad, here's what we think of this week's crop of new releases.

Please note: All views expressed are those of individual staff and not Norman Records as a whole.

Michael Head and The Strands
The Magical World of The Strands

14 people love me. Be the 15th...

10/10 according to our Clinton on 29th July 2015

It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for for months. A record so brilliant that I’m already preparing perfect conditions for myself pre-listen. I’m fed, I’m watered, I'm toileted and I’m sat in a comfortable position at my keyboard. Let’s go.

So Michael Head has some history. He was in parping Liverpool poppers the Pale Fountains when he was nobbut a youth then he later formed Shack with brother John Head and released several acclaimed albums. The NME in a moment of clarity described him in a front cover feature as 'our greatest ever songwriter', yet he is still relatively unknown. Fortunately the passing of time proves that the good will out eventually and Mick Head will get his day.

‘The Magical World of The Strands’ is surely his greatest work. For the uninitiated, imagine a scouse scally cross breed of Nick Drake and Arthur Lee given a string section and carte blanche to do what he likes for 40 odd minutes. The album is exquisite throughout, from the foggy, folky finger-picking of ‘Queen Matilda’ through the sweeping strings of ‘Something Like You’ to the La’s-like beat pop of ‘X Hits the Spot’, the quality never lets up throughout. Its two year gestation period allowed the band (basically made up of Shack people) to work at their own pace and unlike the Shack records it sounds completely free of record company interference. There’s a heavier folk influence in this than any of his other records - songs often sound like shanties dredged up from the sea-shore. There are lovely interludes - ‘Undecided (Reprise)’ can’t fail to put a smile on your face -- and there’s a Wickerman feel to certain tracks (‘It’s Harvest Time’). You also get a lovely drifting piece from Mick’s brother and partner in crime John (‘Loaded Man’).

As I flick through the album my guardedness about giving top scores is slowly eroded away as every track reveals itself to be majestic. Late in the album comes ‘Hocken’s Hay’ in which banjos pick and cascade over glorious melodies and my mind is made up. I’m aware that it’s easy to give higher marks to re-issues such as this which have had years to sink into your consciousness and are tangled up with your own memories but fuck it. Here Mick, have a 10.     

Danny Elfman
Nightbreed

3 people love me. Be the 4th...

Review this item for us? Best review each week wins a £10 voucher!

Waxwork Records and Morgan Creek are proud to present the deluxe LP re-issue of Danny Elfman’s score to CLIVE BARKER’S NIGHTBREED. Long out of print and prohibitively expensive, the original soundtrack release of NIGHTBREED has become a sought after collectable LP for horror fans and vinyl soundtrack enthusiasts alike. Waxwork Records and Morgan Creek have partnered to release the NIGHTBREED soundtrack as a deluxe re-issue …view full details.

Spotlight Kid
Ten Thousand Hours

3 people love me. Be the 4th...

8/10 according to our Clinton on 29th July 2015

Phil commented quite correctly that there are no good bands with the word ‘kid’ in their name. I’d also like to add that there aren’t that many great bands who have taken their name from a famous album. So Spotlight Kid are 2-0 down before the needle even goes on the record. Luckily they start clawing things back pretty quickly - the flute samples on ‘Sugar Pills’ recall My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Soon’ but the drums are heavy and compressed and the female vocals punchy and distinctive.

Just at this precise moment our ‘90’s throwback Ian walks into the room. How could he know? In further pleasing news for him ‘A Minor Character’ features the lyric ‘catch the breeze’ but if he thinks this is some kind of Slowdive wish-wash he’d better get ready to rock baby as these guys have the power rock chops. It sounds more like the heavier thumpier end of shoegaze like Curve and they add a hand waving chorus too which you can’t help but find infectious.It’s a confident, strident album best exemplified on ‘Can’t Let Go’ where Kathy Heath’s vocals twist and turn over each other until you are forced to give in to their charms.

The record will probably most appeal to fans of the brash nu-gaze of Pinkshinyultrablast. Derivative? Yes but the songs are as strong as girders.

Jon Collin
Early Music

3 people love me. Be the 4th...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 30th July 2015

I’m a 'pop' man at heart so I find it hard to write about records like this. The opening track is basically Collin picking away at a guitar like you’d pick at a scab. It’s very enjoyable but I’m finding that when he gets really excited and the needles start pushing into the red, it gets a bit intense for early on a Thursday morning.

Each of the first two tracks consist of a similar style - he doesn’t so much play the guitar but claw at it. The second pair of tracks are much more lo-fi and sound like he's playing live in an art gallery whilst a dictaphone was placed in a nearby toilet. It’s a really fractured take on folk that recalls the strung out pastures of Sir Richard Bishop and his ex Sun City Girls. The record is more of an atmosphere piece rather than anything else  - it’s oblique and cut up yet it's an enthralling listen. Some of the slide and pick particularly on track 6 is gorgeous. He certainly has his own style - something akin to John Fahey sliced into several pieces, turned into glass and re-assembled in the dark.  

Lone Wolf
Lodge

9 people love me. Be the 10th...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 30th July 2015

Prone to over-sharing in press releases and blogs, Paul Marshall aka Lone Wolf has done the right thing and locked himself away in a studio and made an extremely personal album that speaks more than a billion web words.

I’d venture that since his last record Marshall has been listening severely to Talk Talk and These New Puritans. This is the sort of record that recalls Wild Beasts or Elbow having a mid-life crisis and finally doing something truly in the name of art. I don’t fully get on with Marshall’s voice (it’s too Garvey with many a hint of the high Wild Beasty) but I like where he’s headed musically. ‘Alligator’ is an early highlight that strikes in the exact mid-point between melancholic Radiohead, Wild Beasts and Talk Talk. The muted trumpets that appear throughout hint towards the latter but even without them this is good stuff. ‘Give Up’ sounds like one of the more solemn efforts on Wild Beasts lovely ‘Smother’ - it features a nice build up that I feel is just a bit too earnest to be truly effective.

My general feeling that Marshall will be better the weirder he gets is exemplified on ‘Mess’ where some gorgeous piano chords collide with a sweet vocal, and the pulsating ‘Taking Shapes’, which is stripped back to bass and drums. The customer review below rightly compares ‘Token Water’ to Robert Wyatt’s ‘Gharbzadegi’  - it's very, very similar sounding and has a lovely intimate feel. Its subtly building melancholy is probably the highlight here.

I now read on his blog that Marshall is retiring the Lone Wolf moniker. Sometimes music takes a while to seep into people’s consciousness and everything takes time. ‘Lodge’ certainly needs investment - its best bits are where Marshall disappears into the ether so lets hope he can balance doing that with continuing to make records. 

  • Available on:
    LP £18.69
    CD £12.69

Tengui
Transference

3 people love me. Be the 4th...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 30th July 2015

Soothe me... someone please soothe me. This release by Tengui is kind of soothing in a completely mashed up way. It's techno I suppose but doesn't really use beats. Instead it gathers together a myriad of sounds and mucks them all up into a big smudgy mess where everything crackles and appears to be chewed up by tape. Synths whirr in and out of the mix as oscillating keyboards flit between speakers. It keeps developing too, with big walls of drone appearing and taking over the murk. I really like how it all fits together and keeps evolving. It flaunts imperfections in the sound and has obviously been tinkered with for a long time... lots of patience required.

It does feel important; it has the feel of the best underground dub techno but with more of a sound collage-y atmosphere. It soundtracks things you don't really want to think about... yet its easy to get lost in its mega drones.

  • Available on:
    Cassette tape £5.99

Presents For Sally
Wishawaytoday

8 people love me. Be the 9th...

7/10 according to our Clinton on 29th July 2015

‘Wishawaytoday’ is the type of title that could have been used by any shoegazy indie band between 1988 and 1992 before Britpop killed shoegaze with idiocy. But now it’s back back back, baby, and where are Oasis now? Yup.

Aaaanyway, being really old, I’ve heard all this type of stuff before -- but it’s certainly not without merit. It chugs along lazily with a nice melody that you’ll have to remove from your head with an enormous pair of pliers. It has shuffly ‘Loveless’ type drums and scratchy guitars. Reminds me of The Telescopes and of Revolver. Overleaf ‘Hits Like Kisses’ (™ the shoegaze book of songtitles) is a driftier, hazier affair that recalls Slowdive circa ‘Pygmalion’.   

Ghedalia Tazartes
La Bar Mitzvah du chien

1 person loves me. Be the 2nd...

6/10 according to our Clinton on 30th July 2015

Look at the sleeve. It's a naked, bearded man on all fours. Ghedalia Tazartes is a 'legendary' name in the European experimental community. The sort of man whose recently re-issued records had our former scribe Mike dishing out 9/10s as if they were confetti.

I find it hard to critically assess music like this so I'll simply describe it instead. The opening track consists of Tazartes half singing over what sounds like a fairground and a distant choir. At certain times the rhythmic movement of the choir creates a pleasantly disorientating effect. The second track is wailing over a hopeless funk track, the distorted harpsichord on track three is not meant to be user friendly. Comparatively the spoken word mayhem that follows it is relatively straight forward. Overleaf (and this could be the A side I dunno) is the sound of a troll (in the old sense of the word) muttering before picking up a jaws harp and twanging it.

Incomprehensible and almost impossible to listen to, it's not for me to decide as to whether this lives up to previous work. That said I really rate his coughing solo.    

Shit & Shine
Chakin

4 people love me. Be the 5th...

8/10 according to our Jim on 1st August 2015

Shit & Shine go all out jazz for this double LP, which was originally put out as a cassette on Astral Spirits. 17 minute opener ‘Denim Do’s and Don’ts’ starts up with a rolling groove overlaid with syncopated snare trills and krautrock-filtered, Sun Ra style keyboard meanderings. The thing that really grabs the attention though is Pete Simonelli (of The Enablers)’s spoken word narration, told from the point of view of an anthropologist bartender in some dead-beat neighbourhood bar somewhere in the US. Almost like a Bukowski short story, his disillusioned drawl sketches rough portraits of the broken characters who frequent the bar, like ‘the Corpse’ for instance, a pasty alcoholic with impeccable manners. The music and narrative go together perfectly, with a frayed-edge production that atmospherically conveys the decay and cracked existentialism of the subject.    

Most of the rest of the LP is taken up with live session tracks from the ‘Chak’, some of which were recorded directly for broadcast on YouTube. These vary a fair bit and are usually based around a repetitive loop over which double bass, guitar (courtesy of Butthole Surfer King Coffey, as far as I can gather) and Fender Rhodes jostle for space. The most startling of these tracks is ‘TJC 17’, with a dramatic, stop-start, late-night acid-jazz groove that wouldn’t be out of place on Giles Peterson’s radio show.

Perversely, the album culminates with the entropic ‘Jump On The Feeder’, in which yawning bass creeps queasily out of tune and bit-crushed chords float around and bump into each other almost randomly- it somehow reminds of Autechre’s ‘Confield’ album. Over this we get more narrative, this time all distorted and riffing off Henry Miller’s disdain for modern American culture, spilling over into a seriously dark revenge fantasy. Nice.  

Luxury Apartments
Luxury Apartments

3 people love me. Be the 4th...

7/10 according to our Jim on 1st August 2015

Luxury Apartments was a solo project of David Tyack, the German born, Derbyshire raised Twisted Nerve prodigy who tragically died in 2002. Apparently these recordings were completed shortly before his untimely death, and show an all-embracing adventurousness in the scope and emotional range of the music, which ranges from brooding dark-ambience, improvised folk and dreamy DIY electronica.

As with his long-standing band Dakota Oak Trio (D.O.T.), there’s a certain rough-hewn, rustic sensibility to the music, with each section developing and segueing into the next organically- giving the whole thing a somnambulant, drifting feel. In the same way the playing and arrangements often feel exploratory and playful rather than the product of painstaking post-production, so even at its most abstract and oceanic, there’s always a human touch and sense of intimacy to the sounds.

Obvious comparisons would be Brian Eno and maybe even some Black Dog, both in terms of eclecticism and the kind of sound worlds Tyack inhabits. Getting this out has been a real labour of love from Demdlike Stare and Andy Votel’s Dead-Cert label, with full support from Tyack’s family –and so it feels like an extra privilege to have the chance to enjoy this music that could’ve so easily disappeared into obscurity.

Aisha Devi
Conscious C*nt

2 people love me. Be the 3rd...

9/10 according to our Laurie on 29th July 2015

Here we have a 12” of electronic wonderment, complete with an aggressively alliterative title. Hide this one away from yer kids, Mr. Cameron. In short, this record is amazing. Aisha Devi has created a whirling melancholic semi-techno noisescape featuring bold synthwork, raspy beats and spaced-out samples.

The opener ‘Kim & the Wheel of Life’ features 3am rhythm cycles interspersed with some pretty complex textural shifting, with melodic breaks acting as breathing space. Our descriptions machine Tom described these as “dominating electronic productions” and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. ‘Aurat’ takes a break from introspective thwacking to do some introspective musing in an ambient electronic setting of one of Kishwar Naheed’s poems, the voice morphed through vocoding and the silences between the words filled by detailed synth bursts. Things get downtempo on the final tune, some more post-club vibes coming through (pitched down vocals n all), but with some completely punishing beats and barely a hint of timidness. Devi’s attention to detail gives the whole thing a relentless feel, with new electronic washes emerging constantly. Killer.

John Carpenter & Alan Howarth
Escape From New York

7 people love me. Be the 8th...

8/10 according to our Laurie on 29th July 2015

More '80's soundtrack worship from Silva Screen. I know, I can hear your scream of “OMG THIS ISN’T JUST ANY SOUNDTRACK” because it’s John Carpenter who is a man that provides music, mostly for super tense slick (and completely outrageous) action/horror things. He’s joined by Alan Howarth to tackle the monstrous task of soundtracking a classic film. I mean, most of this stuff sounds like an '80's disco club, I guess with a certain level of badassery no doubt inspired by Carpenter revelling in a certain serpent.

Snake Plissken. Now that’s a name. Plisssss, hissed out like a real snake. Kurt Russell’s most famous performance cemented the archetypal ‘Kurt Russell character’, dropping ridiculous one liners and generally being a nonchalant but troubled coolguy throughout the film. The music’s really all about him, theme to Snake, Snake’s mean walk, Snake runs (away from) this town. Dramatic synth lines weave in and out of pounding idiosyncratic pop/rock beats, playing with intensity and drama. Clint says “it’s all over the place”, and he doesn’t lie, perhaps because the film is too. There’s some guitar that joins in parts for rawk cred, and you even get some snappy quotes from the film in there too. Now you can scratch with the famous “the survival of the human race, Plissken. Something you don’t give a shit about” line. Cool huh?

The The
Hyena

8 people love me. Be the 9th...

8/10 according to our Laurie on 29th July 2015

Gotta love the level of spook here. As with most Death Waltz OSTs, I’ve never seen Hyena, but it sounds dark ‘n’ uneasy as you’d expect. On this one, The The is main man Matt Johnson doing it all solo, building atmospheres of criminal suspense to reflect the main character’s descent.

Johnson’s usually doing one of two things here. On one hand he’s lazily & hazily thwacking on chimes, guitar strings and synth keys, sparsely placing sound objects in a cavernous echospace as if recorded in a sewer under our beloved capital. ‘The Invisible City (Reign)’ is a highlight from the deeper tracks, with distant distorted washes rearing up and crashing down like that recent FIS record. But there’s also thumping 80s funtimes too, which you reach at track 4 with ‘Blondes Before Bedtime’, continued with ‘Blue Eyes’ and ‘Fear Porn’ but getting increasingly more tense and foreboding. ‘Take Me Away From This’ is a nice borderline between melancholy and impending fate, presumably the main guy’s fed up by now and the music shows.

This is one of the better things I’ve heard come from the Death Waltz label, Matt Johnson’s sounds going far beyond most of the old soundtracks that they unearth. Sorry DW, I was born in 1991, as Ian would say, I wouldn’t understand.

  • Available on:
    CD £15.29
    Double LP £23.79

Evol
Flapper That

2 people love me. Be the 3rd...

7/10 according to our Laurie on 29th July 2015

Drums? Who needs them. Just because it’s on Powell’s label doesn’t mean that it has to be banging, and Evol’s synth alchemy skills prove that you can drive people crazy with just a single oscillator flexing and wobbling away for minutes. It’s an obvious study in minimalism, the A side focusing only on changing pitch and timbre in a repetitive, gradually-changing way. The result is a sort of electronic didgeridoo bouncing off the floor like a rugby ball - you think it’s gonna settle into a loop, but it bounces off to its own tune. Over to the B and the synthesised ode to the aboriginal continues, this time slightly more regular and constant, showcasing some squeaky acidic high frequencies with that unchanging low drone anchoring you down. I’m all for minimalism and the algorithmic crowd, but for some reason a monophonic synth alone isn’t catching me - expand your mapping, yo. Maybe you’re different, you oddballs.

Moon Pool & Dead Band
MEQ

3 people love me. Be the 4th...

7/10 according to our Laurie on 29th July 2015

With the Death Waltz-esque cover, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is another dusted-off soundtrack to an adventure film where a man hunts cybermoths on a planet full of foliage rooms. Nope, that’s all image, but the music on MEQ is reminiscent of such things - after coming off a review of Escape from New York, it’s an easy thing to notice. And easy is good.

The beats are lo-fi and muffled and the synths are many. Shoddy machines pulse out an electro plod with varying speed, following the intro-build-breakdown-build again format of good house and techno. Some even get a disco feel going on, with Michael Dykehouse’s remix of ‘MEQ’ sounding like a techno robot jamming with Chic. I’ve just realised that these are all remixes of the original ‘MEQ’ tune, all 7 of them! The originals steady pace is maintained by Patrick Russell, but injected with some lazergun synth lines and additional stutter on the beats. JTC brings this into full on acid territory, the 303 squelching away amidst 808 pulses. Watery synth layers enter later, but it’s hard to see how this relates to the original.

BMG’s ‘Interdimensional mix’ explores a dark, industrial morphing of dub techno that sounds a bit like a muted version of that noisy buzz tone that emerges from speakers when you forget to plug things in. ErNo summons noise ghosts come his turn, with the drums taking a more tribal, hand-whacked feel, resulting in one of the best on here. Ice Cold Chrissy turns it into cosmic techno funk or something, sort of in line with the feel of the original. Things fall to bits during the final remix from Nate Young, one of the orig. creators, and it’s a weird semi-rhythmic noise collage that is a nice way to end it all. Kinda get the feeling that most of the tunes on here aren’t unified enough to be considered a full release, despite all stemming from the same point. But as an exploration of the possible directions of the original, it works well.

crx091081gb
Becoming The Camracid

3 people love me. Be the 4th...

9/10 according to our Robin on 3rd August 2015

This cassette comes lovingly pressed by another human tasked with the responsibility of being named Robin. I wish him a merry Christmas well in advance. Robin Price is his name, but crx091081gb is his unintelligible alias, a non-word that sounds like a computer crying. Last year we were treated to a belching tape of acid in the form of ‘Trago Acid Mills’, but Price seems to have slowed the tempo for ‘Becoming the Camracaid’, retaining the swabs of dubbified ambient electronica for an altogether more gentle release.

The tape begins by swapping throbbing beats with gentle, twinkling melodies before switching to those cyborg synths pioneered by nostalgia futurists Boards of Canada -- big gloops of archaic sound echo gorgeously as extra notes search for an overarching melody, a droning figure holding it all together. Price can’t stay well enough away from beats or basslines, something to get the blood rushing, and this tune gets bolstered by a booming half-groove before it ends. Overall, though, this first side feels as close to serene as acid-flecked ambient can: the field recordings that wash in with “Pastorale” evoke that landscape of early morning outdoors that few electronica artists can take us into.

There’s more of the same on the B side, with a more propulsive take on the Boards of Canada meandering in “Skunkworks”, a track blending firm beats with skittery sewer snaps. A watery ambience not dissimilar to Dolphins Into The Future creases into an absent-minded slice of percussion on “Sealoom & Birds”, while a bright shining drone is smacked with reverberating metallic objects on "Non-Aligned Church", recalling Boris circa 'Flood' and showing off Price’s ability to diversify minimalism on the fly. This is gorgeous and inventive stuff, basically, and I’m not just saying that because his name is the same as mine. That’s right. I am also called crx091081gb. It’s something I’ve come to terms with.

  • Available on:
    Cassette tape £6.99

Pleq and Giulio Aldinucci
The Prelude To

2 people love me. Be the 3rd...

8/10 according to our Robin on 3rd August 2015

The drone beautification squad are in office again. Social butterfly Pleq hung us out to cry with the gorgeous but sorrowful ‘A Thousand Fields’, on which he enlisted Offthesky, a fellow of similar textural aspirations, as his sidekick. This time around, and in keeping with the cosy cronies affiliated with Home Normal, he brings Giuilio Aldinucci into the mix. Together they create the relaxing version of a tense album.

If you’re familiar with Pleq then you know the deal: at times there’s an homage to neo-classical, but it’s moderated by an obsession with building refusing walls of sound. The record begins with a near-melodious track in “The Prelude To” before rolling into a steadfast organ drone which eventually gets incorporated into a soft bout of pink noise; the two sounds run together as parallel lines. He and Aldinucci are crafting long, patient works here, and shifts in tone only happen as building blocks; there’s no knocking down this drone.

On “Middle Point”, the two artists profess their love for field recordings, bringing in a cantankerous mess of natural sounds before seemingly lifting off in a plane and leaving us to this mortal coil. The way they flow from these raw sounds into a synth-washed drone is unfathomably organic: there’s no cut in proceedings, just one long take in which percussive recordings melt into a long, drifting sustain. Beyond their impressive and seamless exhibition ambient, there’s three remixes to enjoy, including a humanising, vocalised take on "The Prelude To" by the Green Kingdom and a version of "The Joy of Loneliness" by the minimal but dramatic Olan Mill. If this album was a car wash then it’d have what they call the works.

The Myrrors / Cult Of Dom Keller
Fuzz Club 10" Split Single No. 7

5 people love me. Be the 6th...

8/10 according to our Robin on 29th July 2015

If you are reading this please feedback it. It’s The Fuzz Club, friends, back to spoil us for the seventh time with another one of those slightly smaller inched but no less waxy records. This one brings together the culprits of much slow-roasting psych rock, the Myrrors, with the extremely fussy and uncompromisingly experimental Cult of Dom Keller. Together at last! If you like your psych rock taking the scenic route and then just deciding to live there instead of going home, this split couldn’t be anymore perfect: it treats the genre like a building block.

The Myrrors’ side of proceedings moves lethargically, aesthetically caught between a dizzy downtown drone and the intro to a stoner metal album. The drums keep time sluggishly but precisely as noise creases in and out with tickles of flutes, abstracted guitars and yawned distortion. There’s no endgame in sight, for these dudes: rather, the piece writhes through pastiches of jazz, psych and avant-garde before fading hopelessly into the black.

Flip it over and Cult of Dom Keller honour their pals’ with a soundscaped bit of psych that does the record’s conceptual symmetry justice: it’s measured and heavy, but also forceless, its drums crashing onto a shoegazed seabed. Both sides of this split have a woozy beauty, but the Cult go one better by trading distorted vocals with short, sweet backing refrains -- you know, because everyone secretly wants to make pop music. It’s just that the Pop Club sounds kinda rubbish.

The Machismo's
Brit Pop Fucked My Wife

3 people love me. Be the 4th...

7/10 according to our Robin on 3rd August 2015

Ah, the Machismo’s. Silly, lazy, barely writing songs, this married duo plus extra friend create what is best described as flimsy jangle pop. Their tunes are snappy and suffer happily from lo-fi production; often they struggle to keep up with tempo requirements. If you listen to ‘Brit Pop Fucked My Wife’ and wonder why it sounds cut out of another time, it’s because these recordings have been dug up from the ‘90s themselves. Here’s another band being nostalgic that we can get nostalgic about; inspired by Beatles ripoff rock, they sound trapped in the early days of indie.

‘Brit Pop Fucked My Wife’ is a nice messy sprawl of half-baked pop tunes, exchanging forceful bits of distorted muk for tunes that integrate acoustic strums, Pixies-esque riffs and loose cannon drumming.  Though they never took themselves seriously, it’s the sombre Machismo’s that I’m drawn to, the one writing dejected lyrics around minor keys: on “Death of a Friend”, a languishing chord sequence plays out as Sam Marsh hums like a less collected Fran Healey. “Jilt” sounds like Elliott Smith trying out for Guided by Voices; it’s brief and fleeting and takes on some interesting guitar figures, but ultimately the song moans and drones around its sorrow. Straight after that the band remind us of their Tough Shit mantra: they kill the vibe with an instrumental of shredding, thrashing garage punk.

I have a thing for these indie rock bands who didn’t know how to keep a song going after the two minute mark, but the Machismo’s can make a proper song too -- they just don’t often feel like trying. Hearing “Good Things About To Happen”, though, is an example of a band who can shine when they put the effort in. Around an indelible vocal melody that’s barely harmonized on, they roll through a well told story that still practices what they preach: nimble acoustic riffing and ramshackle drums and the spirit of a rock band who aren’t quite a rock band.

Olan Mill
Cavade Morlem

4 people love me. Be the 5th...

7/10 according to our Robin on 30th July 2015

Olan Mill are a drone duo rather than an obscurely named lower division football club, and ‘Cavade Marlem’ is their latest offering of supremely minimalist, Youtube-playlist appropriate ambient. Earlier this year, Laurie fell into a blissful and smiley sleep while taking in the sounds of the band’s ‘Half Seas Over’ record on Home Normal, and this release for Dronarivm doubles down on the quiet ecstasy: these tones sound like a landscape disappearing in high definition.

Much of ‘Cavade Marlem’ came from live performances which were then traced back from and sampled; live processed violin appears, as well as organ drones and vocal fog, each discombobulated by an anonymous framework of sound. It’s hard to tell apart different fragments of the band’s sound when all we hear is the sheen from each processed instrument, rising and falling like Stars of the Lid tucking in Chihei Hatakeyama. As far as Olan Mill records go, this is the least epic, fleeting by in subtle layers and requiring little patience in its seamlessness.

Choice moments see Olan Mill make the kind of gorgeous, epiphanic moment we’ve come to expect, like the screeching sounds of “Byruck”, which recall Julianna Barwick’s beautiful arrangements on ‘Nepenthe’: slicing through the ether of drone to deliver a message, the song eventually backs down and lets the record float on. Floating is pretty great; y'all should try it.



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Timestamp: Tuesday 4th August, 08:20:35