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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.

Fit Siegel
Carmine / First Found

38 people love me. Be the 39th...

9/10 according to our Ant

We scored some copies of the repress of this gorgeous slice of Motor City techno soul...

It’s not difficult to hear why Aaron ‘Fit’ Siegel’s ‘Carmine’ topped/ was so high in many 2015 end of year lists. A simple, weeping, elegiac 303 melody, subtle phasing percussion, heart melting strings and bittersweet tinkling piano all come together perfectly to create a timeless Detroit techno tear jerker. Moody, forlorn and packed with emotion there’ll not be a dry eye on the dancefloor.

The flipside ‘First Found’ aint half bad either - a sort of bleepy Jeff Mills / Terrence Dixon free jazz inspired hybrid. Highly recommended.

Not Waving

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

8/10 according to our Ant

Alessio Natalizia showcases the full spectrum of his sound on this reasonably diverse album, that despite covering a few styles (techno/ EBM/ industrial/ ambient/ synth pop) still manages to merge right into the Diagonal aesthetic and fits the label like a leather glove.

So there’s dancefloor bangers such as the Belgian EBM flavoured ‘Head Body’ and ‘24’ (sounds like Powell) alongside introspective synth ambience like ‘Punch’ and ‘They Cannot Be Replaced’. Then there’s the stoned electronic pop of ‘Tomorrow We Will Kill You’ breaking things up, making ‘Animals’ work as an album to be consumed in full, as well as having plenty of DJ tools on there.

Attachment EP

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

8/10 according to our Ant

The third release on Visionist and PAN collaborative label PAN x Codes is the debut EP from Ling. After the recent phase of retro electronic / synth music with every man and his dog emulating old German kosmische music it’s great to finally get stuff coming out recently (such as this) that’s actually futuristic sounding - looking forward instead of backwards.

Ling’s glitched up sound collages and heavily processed samples in ‘Thuril Whir’ sound like a Cyborg’s brain defragmenting or something. Or like the chaotic sounds of data from the modern world being transported around neurons. ‘44 Blue’ sounds like three different tracks are trying to break out out of encoded data - sounds battling and rebounding off one another in a sort of organised chaos.

‘Jezmonite’ is probably the most straightforward track on the EP - but still it’s pretty complex, dynamic and mangled - like possessed machines malfunctioning emitting ghostly, icy synth trails and fractured beats. Closer ‘Canthem’ sounds like some mutant UK bass music/ vaporwave track being gobbled up by evolving algorithms. Strong stuff, especially for a debut EP.

Recommended for fans of Autechre, Rabit, TCFVisionist, The Sprawl, M.E.S.H. Oneohtrix Point Never etc.

Fatal Light Attraction

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

8/10 according to our Ant

Samuel Kerridge lands back on Downwards for his third album - a predictably intense and brutal assault of power electronics meets crumbling apocalyptic industrial techno/ noise.

Punishing, aggressive, pummeling beats - check.
Harsh/ explosive synth racket - check.
Evil sounding - check.
Nods to S.P.K. - check.
Demonic/ possessed vocals - check
Potential to cause ecstatic states/ seizures/ headaches - check.
Not recommended to be played whilst driving/ operating heavy machinery - check.
Will scare children/ small mammals - check.

500 copies that most likely won’t hang about for long.

Game Theory
Lolita Nation

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

9/10 according to our Clinton

Oh my goodness where to start with this. The most sprawlingly ambitious power-pop/pop-psyche record ever made. Me and 'Lolita Nation' go back a long way. It was a sign of my youth that when I bought it (from York's legendary Red Rhino records) that I was unable to play it straight away as I had to go on a picnic with my parents. So instead I stared at the sleeve wondering what songs such as "Watch Who You Are Calling Space Garbage Meteor Mouth"  and "Pretty Green Card Shark" actually sounded like. As well as being a bona fide songwriting genius, Game Theory leader Scott Miller was a wizard with language. Even if you don't like the music, the song titles alone are worth the purchase.

Game Theory always straddled between being a pure shiny '80's power pop band and wildly experimental sound collagists and 'Lolita Nation' is the one album they made that flits between the two. It seems improbable that an album which has the odd track that edges towards Belinda Carlisle ("Mammoth Gardens") could also contain an experimental suite of cut up collages culminating in the remarkably brilliant 'Vacuum Genesis' (a Miller song drowned out by rampant Hoover).

In between the thing is jammed full of too many wondrous pop songs. Miller has a high pitched quivering voice that he uses to compose twisting turning songs where the choruses never quite go where you expect them too thus constantly thwarting Miller's attempts at pop stardom. It contains one of my favourite moments in pop history when the skewed guitar part from pulsating rocker 'The Waist and the Knees' re-appears in the glistening R.E.M ish pop of 'Nothing New'. Maybe you had to be there but it sums up this album perfectly, constantly self-referencing, polished but seemingly constantly on the verge of falling apart.    

It goes on forever, it's like five albums in one. For review purposes I listened to it again in it's entirety. I had a shave this morning and now I have a beard. Perhaps the best thing to do is throw all your other records away and simply listen to this for the rest of your life. 

Miller sadly passed away a couple of years ago. I'm still upset about it. His later work as the Loud Family was good (particularly the bonkers 'Interbabe Concern') but this was him in his most insanely productive mode.

Hard to sum up but if you like Big StarWilliam BurroughsSparksTodd RundgrenThe Go-Go'sLet's ActiveGuided by Voices,  maybe give this a try. Ah feck it comparisons are useless. It's like nothing else on earth.  

Phenomena EP

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

8/10 according to our Clinton

Rave culture means absolutely nothing to me. When the hoards were out raving in some airport hangar I was safely tucked up at home thumbing through a good James Herriot tale.

So why does this this EP which is explicitly focussed on recalling the golden years of rave appeal so much? Maybe somehow the music seeped through the airwaves to that teenage bedroom and into my unconsciousness without me realising it. Whatever your history this is a gorgeous EP full of half forgotten rave sounds muted down as to project maximum melancholy.  The opening ‘club mix’ of ‘Final Bounce‘ is produced to sound like you have wool in your ears, the dub techno sounding synths interrupted by clear as bell vocal snapshots. Softer still is the ’Neo Image “In Contact” mix‘ which brings sad synths to the fore joined by a beautiful gurgling bassline. 

Just to confuse everyone listening they’ve changed the RPM for the B side (thank goodness for Soundcloud as a go-to checking system). The club mix of ‘Marine Drive’ is an upbeat affair with those James Brown whoops in evidence but the final ‘Internal Dub’ mix returns to the faded melancholy of the A side with devastated synths picking out quiet chords until an upbeat cheery conclusion. 


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

8/10 according to our Clinton

I’m now struggling to remember the time Woo weren’t in my life. The London experimentalists have such a magnificent sound that it is a whole genre in itself and their ‘Into the Heart of Love‘ has (ironically) singlehandedly soothed me through a recent relationship shambles. It sits there on the stereo and it plays and then I instantly feel better. What more could one ask for?
I was so sure that I was going to enjoy this new collection of unreleased tracks that I’ve ignored our new rules about never opening vinyl and have ripped the thing open safe in the knowledge it will be coming home with me. The tracks here are from 1975-82. I’m not sure if they are in chronological order but the opening couplet of ’Odd Spiral’ and ‘Green Blob’ are much further into the sound worlds of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp than previous stuff I’ve heard. That ever familiar wobbly Woo sound appears in ernest on ’The Goodies’(!) with its rubbery bass runs and affected guitar strums. The gorgeous A side closer ’Tick Tock’ again shows the jazz influences that are scattered across their records.
Elsewhere there are plenty of toy box Durutti Column instrumentals (‘Back on Track’) bleepy almost Kraftwerk instrumentals (‘Robots Dancing’) and delicious flamenco inflected summery jamzzz ’Sailing’. It might not be there best place to start (I’d suggest 'When the Past Arrives' or Into the Heart of Love) but this is another wondrous assortment of goodies.

Gold Class
It’s You

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

7/10 according to our Clinton

I don’t know about you but late at night when I’m fighting to get to sleep I like to pretend that I’m walking around Manchester in the rain.  The kind of music that would soundtrack this pretend walking would be the sort of music Gold Class make. They sit somewhere in between the Smiths and Warm Widow if such place exists. The singer has an enormous foghorn of a voice which parps all over the bands tight post punk. At times it is like standing outside a punk club whilst simultaneously a ship comes into harbour.

Put together the two disparate elements create a monochrome type of past music that’s all about hanging around iron bridges looking into the deep dark depths of the canal and wondering what it would be like to fall in. All clanging guitars, tight as nuts rhythm section and a cross between Morrissey and an air horn on vocals. I like it. 

The Pheromoans
I’m On Nights

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

7/10 according to our Clinton

Full review to follow. 

A thumb back through our past reviews reveals that we have liked this lot for some time. The problem today is that we have a new policy of never opening sealed vinyl and I only have a sealed vinyl to hand. I'm listening to the Youtube clip of the fourth track 'Cones Hotline' and it's an incredibly woozy piece of shambling electronic pop with vocals that recall Dan Treacy in depressed mode. This is what Fat White Family could sound like if they weren't so addled in their own drugged up self importance. Brilliant stuff.

Hopefully a full review to follow when we get a stream....

Suzanne Kraft
Talk From Home

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

7/10 according to our Clinton

As there are supposedly no women making good electronic music it has been up to men to take on female personas of late in order to equal things up a bit. The current vogue for female pseudonyms in this genre is getting a bit ridiculous and is pretty offensive to be honest. Here is another one. Suzanne Kraft is actually Diego Herrera who I apologise profusely to if he's not actually a man.

This is actually a lovely record. An understated seven tracker of gorgeous electronic instrumentals that have an easy listening, almost yacht rock flavour. Many of them bring to mind Eno's ambient compositions of the late '70's and are either beat less or contain simple drum machine tapping away. In fact the whole thing sounds like it was made on a casio keyboard but there are some lovely floaty pieces such as 'Flatiron' that come close to sounding like Durutti Column or Woo's somnambulant instrumental compositions.

Later in the EP electronics are abandoned altogether for minimal guitar on the sleepy 'Male Intuition' and the soften organ tones of closer 'The Result' finish a lovely record off in soothing style.  

The Wave Pictures
A Season In Hull

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

7/10 according to our Clinton

Proving that you don’t need a budget of a million and 15 years to make a record, the Wave Pictures made this record in one day using one microphone. This simple approach to recording yields an album which has an atmosphere all of its own and a sound that you could never capture in a studio environment. Everything is live so mistakes have to stay in and you know what? I’ve enjoyed this more than I have their other records. Ain’t life strange?
The sound is acoustic throughout with brushed drums and multiple backing vocals. The lyrics are much clearer so you can hear the stories ‘neath the songs. I particularly like ‘Remains’ which has a Neil Young/Laurel Canyon feel to it and includes the immortal line “if I was you I’d throw that swivel chair at my head”. Elsewhere there’s the usual mix of bluesy acoustics (’The Coaster In Santa Cruz’, ’Thin Lizzy Live and Dangerous') and Modern Lovers style acoustics. It’s the latter style I prefer, the songs just drift like a breeze across the cornfields. As the album wears on there are less of these tracks but solo David Tattersall works like ’The Pharmacy Cross’ showcases finger picked guitar and an almost Phil Ochs style about them.
One other advantage of this back to basics approach is no (or few) guitar solos. Simple, classic. 

Come to My Party

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

7/10 according to our Clinton

The improbably monikered New York band Winkie produce that rarest of thing  - shoegaze without guitars. There’s nothing in the sleeve notes to explain what instruments they actually use  - I’m guessing it’s the bass guitar making all the jagged tones and feedback.

The album starts in impressive style ‘I Will Not Weep For Any Throne You Fall From’ (oh lord), it has metronomic drum machine, lashings of fuzz and feedback and amazingly disconcerting pitch shifted vocals in what passes for a chorus. What I like about Winkie in the current world of lazy-gaze is that they are weird. They make weird noises and are rather scary. ‘Tasting My Heart For the First Time’ has pulsating bass notes and vocals higher than any record by the Cranes. On ‘Paper Tiger’ squealing noises dominate whilst vocals struggle to be heard. Their downfall is that once you get to side two everything starts to become a rather indistinguishable mush, there’s no disguising the similarity of the drum machine parts so what was initially impressive can become a bit of a background drone.

Taken on their own though there are some great slabs of noise here  - ‘Only the Night People Know’ has the visceral thrill of early Cocteaus whilst ‘At Night They Dreamed of Revenge’ is slathered in so much sludge that it’s barely discernible what is going on. This makes MBV sound like Frazier Chorus. Lots of great noise, too few really memorable moments but this will still help clear the wax out the ears of noise pop fans.

NZCA Lines
Infinite Summer

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

6/10 according to our Clinton

“The album is based around the idea of a far-future Earth, where the sun has expanded to the size of a red giant and our extinction is imminent,” says leader Michael Lovett about his second album as NCZA Lines. Batten down the hatches ladies and gentlemen we’re in concept album territory. Opener ‘Approach’ has beautiful strings kinda ruined by French spoken word vocals that you’ll not particular want to hear one more time. ‘Persephone Dreams’ is obviously the track that has been helping to gather those Metronomy comparisons I’ve been reading about. Imagine a more sci fi take on ‘The English Riviera’. Yup it's good but its Metronomy.  As is ‘Chemical is Obvious’ with its squelshy synth pop and clipped vocals.
But careful what you wish for, my whinges about Metronomy soundalikes are put into their place as the album wears on. ‘Two Hearts’ has soppy ballad verses with a pumping radio friendly chorus which reminds me of Empire of the Sun. A similarly high faulting’ band with a couple of terrific singles who descended very quickly into pastiche on their second album. The issue I’m having is that it’s too polished. Tracks like ‘New Atmosphere’ are potential summer hits in the making but are slathered with so much synth bloop that you feel that your ears are swimming through trifle to get to the melodies. To being them up one more time what makes Metronomy great is that they keep things simple and have an endearing character. They also don’t need to proclaim grand concepts to get attention. Lyrically there's nothing here that suggests that this is about anything other than the usual relationship stuff.
I’m sure there’s a chance that in a far future when they world is about to end we’ll still be bleating on about relationship gubbins but if you are going to proclaim concepts you’re going to have to back this up a bit. Instead it’s a shiny pop album with a few decent summer hits early on. Harmless if cluttered electronic pop to help tide us over while we wait for the next Metronomy album. 

Everybody’s Dying To Meet You

Nobody loves me. Be the 1st...

5/10 according to our Clinton

Flowers are that most popular breed - an average indie pop band. They have neither great tunes, a great sound, a great singer, originality or good musicianship. Instead they do just enough to get by.
They are the now version of the Parachute Men. They make the sort of fuzzy indie that was popular in 1986 and has been back in vogue for a couple of years. Their lyrics are about relationship break ups, their melodies are recycled from the past and they use the ‘Be My Baby’ drum beat seemingly without shame. ‘Bitter Pill’ will appeal to the sort of person who like Amelia Fletcher’s Heavenly, high pitched female vocals bleat out about stuff gone wrong over 60’s influenced indie. ‘Ego Loss’ has clipped and simple arrangements  - no added sugary stuff here thank God. Its more than the sum of it’s parts though and therein lies it's appeal. They even have the odd enjoyable chorus  - on ‘All at Once’ the guitarist emerges from his own personal stasis to boldly step on a fuzz pedal to good effect.
If the singer would at some point sing in a different key it would certainly help my enjoyment of this. It's ok indie    - neither good nor particularly terrible. There’s a school of thought that now mocks journalists who once slated anything with a Sarah/C86 tag but like any genre there’s good and there’s bad. It maybe heresy but maybe that 1 out of 10 review NME once gave Heavenly, if heeded, could have stopped all this at source. 

Frak / Heatsick
Live at Club 4 Reel, OCCII, Amsterdam

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

8/10 according to our Laurie

This release is like those packs of Tic Tacs where you get the orange and green ones in the same packet. Different flavours, but related, like Frak and Heatsick’s take on live house sounds, variants on the exciting thump, presented on a different colour tape. Hand percussions are rattled and tapped like there’s no tomorrow, synths fly around like assorted aeroplanes, and kick drums hang around long til after everyone’s left.

First up is Heatsick’s blue one, the starts like a Gilles Peterson Boiler Room, the kicks pounding, the funky percs all locked in, clinking along. Someone briefly shuffles on a hi hat thing, gets bored and takes to the keys instead, providing the essential jazzy chord stabs that you’d expect from house. Before you know it, the layers build and you realise that you’re actually listening to a fully-fledged house jam and the crowd’s shrieks have been long drowned out. It’s got a fairly deep housey feel, like if Detroit Swindle were jamming with Four Tet or Dan Snaith, but even grainier than their productions due to some proper lo-fi recording techniques. Not for everyone, as the whole thing is really muffled which isn’t always the houser’s vibe. Gilly P would not approve, anyway.

Over to the green Frak reel and it seems to be in a pretty odd place, some 80s streetfighting standoff stuff at first, all synths blaring, before a slowly voice bellows ‘do we have your attention??’ and a slow acid groove begins, complete with a chunky gated snare and a 303-esque buttery squelch arp. Frak’s Squelchy Life. Not sure who Frak are but they sure do smell of oddball, and sure enough a quick Discogs check shows the three of them in green boilersuits wearing a full face tin foil mask. They’ve also been releasing cassettes since the 80s so I really should know. Genuine, original acid purveyors, and you can hear it in their straight up, slinky jams.

This is a great party tape that you could just whack on and leave while people lose their shit.


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

7/10 according to our Laurie

Looking like a miniature cardboard picture frame with a door, the latest Symbolic Interaction release continues their presentation of music as Graze boxes that you can’t eat. You can try. Noam is a new sonic excursion from Kentaro Togawa, a man whose influence on the label’s output has been lasting but from the sidelines, contributing various bits toward their Silence was Warm compilations. This is a fully fledged instrumental dream-out album, a cloudy coming of age.

The opening track is the kind of guitar-led ambient post rock sound that Hammock have championed, starting with jangles that sound like sighing at the end of a long day (Explosions in the Sky?) before rising to a POWER CLIMAX with a super saturated mix. Some might call it overdramatic. Noam would also do so. He knows it is; he doesn’t care. Throughout Overdramatic you will find standard chord progressions over sparkling or challenging textures - ‘Rosy Retirement’ has a noisy mbv shoegazer feel but with clear melody shining through the fuzz. Drums stomp this fanfare of a track to its inevitable, face melting end. Is that a voice screaming out at the top of its lungs or just a ferociously picked guitar? Is that a jolly hand clap buried deep in there? There’s definitely some nice production choices in here including a mix of natural drums with machines and trailing guitars and synths.

However it is this illusion of inevitability that is the trap of many ‘nice’ post rocker types that have come before Noam. While he doesn’t care about the gratuitous use of dramaticism, many of us listeners have heard the solemn clean guitar beginning build to a distortion/drums noise-out a thousand times over. Luckily, not too much of the album rises to these obvious peaks, spending a lot of the time in guitar shimmer mode which you may recognise from Home Normal’s stuff. On it’s own, the album’s really nice, echoing catharsis through dreaminess turning to shredding, but in context some of it follows a path well trodden. Fuck you, context. Why do you have to always ruin things?

Good Willsmith
Things Our Bodies Used To Have

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

9/10 according to our Robin

Good Willsmith are improvising which is kinda what I do on the regular for Norman Records dot com in so far as I listen to records and then pretend to know what I’m talking about, but let’s pretend I do know what I’m talking about here, because I love Good Willsmith and I want you to as well. These drone pranksters have been here before, doing odd and incidental things for the wonderful Umor Rex, and the trio come together here to wind their usual collation of odd loops, icy synths and disparate voices and a plethora of sampled whines and extracts the band dabble in.

I like Good Willsmith; they fidget. Having never sat still in my life (I’m tapping my foot furiously right now, even though this song has a rhythm at half the pace), I appreciate how they’ll interrupt one of their cold ambient textures for a layer of doom chords and Earth-lite solos, or a gloopy beat, or the sound of tape being cut and pulled and torn apart. Through titles alone, you feel like the trio are talking at you, filtered none: “A Disease You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Is Killing Kids”, “Not Your Kids”, “But Someone Else’s Kids”. It’s rare improv feels this maximal, but even on something as simplistic as the setup of “Not Your Kids” -- some bleating synth lines, a laissez-faire beat and solos that do whatever the fuck they want -- it feels like they’re scorching the earth with what they got.

Like a beatless, screamless Prurient, the band spend the second side of their record locking into extended synth drones that unfold at the speed of dread. “What Goes In The Ocean Goes In You” slowly unfolds miserable melodies amidst its layers, eventually meeting a brick wall of terrified voices and dagger-stabbed synth. The band push against it with the curiously euphoric “Whales Sing Great Melodies With Fantastic Lyrics”, which again suggests their stilled ambience can be treated with a terse psychedelia. That this record comes together is a marvel, but as far as 2016 goes, this is the first record to get my blood rushing and my words gushing.

Electric Eye
Different Sun

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

8/10 according to our Robin

Bergen’s Electric Eye are doing all the traditional psychedelic things. Distorting. Hypnotising. Warping. Using sitars at random. They are who they are, and that happens to be classicists. ‘Different Sun’ is busy with references to psych rockers old and new, but between the bluster they’re able to find the things that actually matter to us: striking melodies and compelling climaxes; pretty chords and sweet voices. That is to say: if you’re wondering, ‘Different Sun’ comes together nicely.

The first sign of Electric Eye’s worthiness comes in the striking vocal lines of “Silent By The River”, plus the final-word riffs that take place when the band run out of energy for soloing. The harmonies, too, show that this band aren’t just being excessive, but are trying to flesh out music that usually walks a very straight line; they’re going vertical, too. “All Of This Has Happened Before And Will Happen Again” (heavy, convoluted stuff, y’all) tries to invoke as much atmosphere with an ambient segue and clear vocal samples that intermingle with twanging sitar. In the midst of it all, they sort of forget about the song, but it at least sounds nice -- even if the journey stops and starts.

Taken in one sitting this becomes a little much -- being drenched in the drench is all well and good, but having to go through it all over again with every new song can be a slog, considering that Electric Eye make each number on this record a separate event with its own psych logic. “Bless” is busy even in its rhythm section, which pours out drum fills amidst guitars, and a bassline that can be heard as clear as day. The important thing is that Electric Eye have engineered ‘Different Sun’ to sound nice, clear and even jangly -- things it’s hard to resist in any genre.


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

8/10 according to our Robin

I first listened to this record in my living room with Christmas lights on as me and my housemates independently read a one-hundred-and-seventy-pages long .pdf about the lore of Bloodborne. It did the trick. It’s rare that I’m infatuated with a record released under the Blackest Ever Black imprint but this gorgeous and unflinching record is everything that setting suggests: it’s luminous, it’s pitch black; it’s terrifying, it’s settling; it’s in the woods and through the black hole.

‘Eclipsed’ is Bremen’s third record in as many years, which is a good objective (Robert Pollard is about to reunite Guided By Voices for their fifty-thousandth record; these guys are getting it just right). It opens with a piano motif that digs dangerously close to the listeners ears, while the rest of the band distance themselves in a psychedelic space rawk haze of delayed chords and wah -- think Blown Out if they were assigned a mission. As the song peaks into the later stages, synths glisten, providing an overhead for the song’s wide scope. We often like to compliment bands arbitrarily for their atmosphere, but, listen: the atmosphere on this thing. It plays with light and dark and gives you the feeling that the world is actually alive and moving, even when you aren’t looking.

There’s so much to get into and so little time, so I’m going to point out some banner moments. The yo-yo wound ambience of “Helmet”, which swirls with new age renown. The ten minute galaxian baroque epic “Scorched Earth”, whose piano figure divests into synths as ice cold as Sarah Davachi’s before rumbling into guitar riffs that sound like ‘Drums & Guns’ era Low distorted into a Fuzz Club band. The way the music sounds as cold as your breath looks this February on “The Art of Non-Existence”. The sickly, twanging ghost voices of “A Glimpse At The Final Moment”. A song called “Universal” that doesn’t suck. It’s all here, packaged into one proudly epic, lonely sci-fi expedition.

White Hills
No Game To Play

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

8/10 according to our Robin

I’m sure this will be flying off the shelves with the same slow-mo enthusiasm that exists in the carousel scene of Logan’s Run, because you know: psych rock. This hard classic of honest-to-god guitar licks and far-out, faraway singsong comes from White Hills, who’ve been going since the eve of the millennium (it doesn’t sound that long ago, but the 2000s are in the rear view now). This outfit have long been exceptional at creating gliding distorted atmospheres and then laying down the steadiest of grooves, and ‘No Game To Play’ sees them properly cruising through their minimal, hands-off psychedelia.

It wails. This record’s screeching, crumpled guitars are as good as they’re gonna get, echoing the compressed fuzz of Les Razilles Denudes in their ability to make everything sound busy and chaotic underneath unmoveable basslines. White Hills are never tempted away from their hard rock schematics, and so the music becomes properly hypnotising: the rhythm section guide you almost mindlessly through whatever comes their way, be it these collapsed guitar jams or enduring and shining synthwork. On the record’s B-side, they invoke an ever-cascading riff that sounds like a perfect dctionary definition of psych: it’s one riff that sounds like a hundred, stitched together in an endless loop.

Moments of thoughtful, kosmische-tweaked ambience occasionally break up proceedings, and the band are versatile with their material: acoustic guitars fumble into view alongside spacey electronics, building up to the record’s grand finale of rocket-launched button-mashing. ‘No Game To Play’ remains a treat for those who want to zone out and then tell their friends all about it.

Roto Vildblomma

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

7/10 according to our Robin

Those familiar with Mohammad’s invented genre cello doom will know what to expect of ‘Roto Vildblomma’, their proto-drone debut. If you’re new, though, get all descriptions that go by the watchword “beautiful” out of your head: the music Mohammad make is as terse as dark ambient but as churning and uncomfortable as harsh noise. From ‘Som Sakrifis’ through to their psychogeographical album trilogy, their sound has remained steadfast and punishing, but ‘Roto Vildblomma’ shows their sound in process, rather than completion.

Opener “Vildblomma” is as you’d expect -- gnarled, slogging cello going back and forth by rote. It’s on “Skora” where the act become momentarily unrecognisable, opening with a foggier and calmer iteration of their sound; electronics fumble in the distance as a bloodlet bass drone slowly begins to rumble. “Lamane Kradoj” continues this flittering exchange of tone and gentle noise, bringing in what sounds like rhythmic field recordings before handing over to the suspiciously low key (but eventually power-noised) “Letzen Tranen”.

Listening to one of Mohammad’s records is very much like entering some grand hall moments before the doors lock; on this record, things feel more open-ended, as if Mohammad were sketching out ideas before a grand performance. These are still ominous and often scratchy drones, but you can hear slightly prettier versions of the band, ready for reduction (the actually quite gorgeous half-melodies of “Lumunis Vuori”, juxtaposed against heavy cello contact). A worthwhile listen for anyone who thought this band came from nothing.

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Timestamp: Sunday 14th February, 23:14:43