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Strange Bones release new single and video Deathwish

Strange Bones

Strange Bones, the Blackpool tune bombers are back with another burst of sonic power which they’ve made their own and it’s a blast of fierce raw electro rock, as in your face as usual, the way they normally do. The excitement is building for their much anticipated debut album England Screams which follows soon along with a blistering set of tour dates. Read on…

Frontman Bobby Bentham explains, “Nobody is getting out alive. Deathwish is about feeling trapped by your surroundings and understanding the restraints that we have are put in place by nobody but ourselves. I have a strange relationship with Blackpool, UK, the dystopian Disneyland sea-side town that time forgot, the good and the bad of this place and how it has influenced me is portrayed in the song”.

A mutant creation spawned from a year of experimentation and pushing personal boundaries, forthcoming album ENGLAND SCREAMS is Strange Bones’ most authentic and ambitious work to date. With Bobby at the helm on writing, production, mixing and engineering, the record is a seismic, bone-crushing sonic escape. He explains “The idea for ENGLAND SCREAMS came from trying to understand the relationship between order and chaos, the two factions that fly different flags but create balance when they meet in battle. I want to be honest with myself about the obscurities of life and the mind. I’m not afraid of taking things to extremes, which aligns with the highs and lows of not just songwriting, but life in general. It’s where I feel comfortable when creating, completely outside of my comfort zone, which is fucked up, and asks the question if there was ever a comfort zone to begin with. The album also looks at the devil inside, and finding that balance between light and dark”.

Here’s hoping the live dates below go ahead. A top as fuck double header with label mates Calva Louise!

LIVE
(w/ CALVA LOUISE)
27 Jun – Key Club Leeds
26 Jun – The Ferret Preston
24 Jun – Sugarmill Stoke-On-Trent
23 Jun – The Horn St. Albans

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Words by Wayne Carey, Reviews Editor for Louder Than War. His author profile is here

 

The post Strange Bones release new single and video Deathwish appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Peace Flag Ensemble: Noteland – album review

Peace Flag EnsemblePeace Flag Ensemble: Noteland

(We Are Busybodies)

LP|DL

Released 18th June 2021

Pre-order on Bandcamp

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 3.5

 

Canadian experimental jazz collective, Peace Flag Ensemble, introduce themselves to the world with an extremely worthy debut. It’s elegant and spacious and technically excellent. Louder Than War’s Gordon Rutherford reviews. 

Saskatchewan. The land of the living skies, with its rolling prairies and golden wheat fields. It majestically proclaims its easy tranquillity and beauty. That magnificent Canadian province is home to experimental jazz collective, Peace Flag Ensemble and it shows. Just like those vast plains, their debut album, Noteland, released on Canadian label We Are Busy Bodies, is one without boundaries. Furthermore, there are moments on this album where Peace Flag Ensemble’s imagination and creativity appears to be as never-ending as those Saskatchewan skies.

The genesis of the band occurred when pianist Jon Neher met producer and multi-instrumentalist Michael Scott Dawson at a local book club. Rock n’ roll, huh? That intelligent bookishness seeps through much of Noteland. Most of the songs on the album follow a similar pattern, one in which Neher’s elegant piano prepares the canvas. The other band members are then free to approach and apply their own unique stamp on the work. In less proficient hands such a strategy has the potential to get messy, but Peace Flag Ensemble pull this off proficiently and with methodical diligence. It never becomes a scruffy free for all. In fact, one of the most endearing aspects of Noteland is that phenomenal sense of space; just like their home province, it never appears to be too busy. In fact, it never appears busy at all. Another really interesting characteristic of Noteland is its irregularity. It’s certainly not a conventional piece of work, but that’s one of the things that makes it so admirable. Within the songs, Peace Flag Ensemble are comfortable to improvise and innovate, and it’s extremely refreshing to listen to a band with the confidence to attempt that on their debut.

As a collection, Noteland feels stronger in its earlier stages than it does in the latter. A great example of how they set their stall out nice and early comes in the form of the hypnotic debut single, Human Pyramid. Neher’s exquisite tumbling piano arpeggios immediately grab your attention and when Travis Packer’s resonant bass quickly joins, you are hooked. That, however, is merely the hors’ d’oeuvre. The song really catches fire when Dalton Lam’s glorious trumpet kicks in. Lam’s performance, incidentally, is outstanding throughout Noteland. He has this incredibly distinctive sound which has this capacity to seem faraway yet very intimate at the same time. His timbre is soulful and a little forlorn, but one could listen to it all day long.

The album’s highlight, Woke Up Like The Room, Tarzana, follows. Again, we have Neher and Packer, perfectly synchronised; again, Lam meanders in with that heavenly horn, as charming as Orpheus strumming his lyre. Then we get a teasing glimpse of Paul Gutheil’s saxophone, drifting in to add another texture. This particular tune evokes Tom Waits’ music for Coppola’s One From The Heart. It has that very regretful, very resigned aura, one that summons memories of drinking alone in a strange city at 3 a.m.

The Right To Silence maintains the standard. It’s an incredibly laid back composition that comes across as though the band members are in a room somewhere just ambling through their material, letting their creative instincts come out to play. That’s another facet of the entire album. Throughout, it feels unhurried, effortless; seemingly improvisational without ever seeming incomplete. Yet another recurring theme is the clarity with which each and every instrument pierces through. They are all superbly played, technically dazzling in fact, but the production is just as much a star here. The aforementioned ambient artist, Michael Scott Dawson, was on production duties for Noteland (as well as contributing electronics, guitars and field recordings) and he has done an outstanding job in producing an album with such a distinctive sound.

However, despite the brilliant production and the technical brilliance of the musicians, Noteland does flag a little in its second half. Those latter tracks play out in a similar vein to all that has come before and I found myself willing them to conjure up something a little bit different, something to jolt me out of my reverie. I was hoping for them to extend that appetite for risk-taking and innovation a little further. There is one really interesting moment towards the end of the penultimate track, No Police In The Parade, when it sounds as though someone has pulled the plug on the record player and, like Dali’s clocks, the music melts, before someone thankfully puts the plug back in. It’s a tiny thing that is over in seconds, but it cleverly serves to pique your attention again. If only there was a little more of that in the latter stages.

Notwithstanding that, Noteland is a very worthy debut from Peace Flag Ensemble – one that is absolutely worth checking out. This is clearly a collection of musicians who are incredibly adept and, thankfully, not afraid to take risks. There is no doubt that they can (and will) go much further. I’m already licking my lips at the prospect of the follow-up.

Peace Flag Ensemble are on Twitter and Instagram.

We Are Busy Bodies can be found here. They are also on Bandcamp, TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

~

All words by Gordon Rutherford. More writing by Gordon can be found in his archive.

Gordon is also on twitter as @R11Gordon and has a website here: https://thedarkflux.com

The post Peace Flag Ensemble: Noteland – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Field Kit: Field Kit – album review

Field Kit

Field Kit: Field Kit

(Nonostar Records)

LP | CD | DL

Released 4th June 2021

Pre-order at Bandcamp

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 3.5

 

Two worlds collide on Field Kit’s bold debut – classical and electronic. It’s mysterious, intriguing, experimental and full of surprises. Gordon Rutherford reviews for Louder Than War. 

Music comes in all different shapes and sizes. It can make us feel elated to the extent that we dance around the place like whirling dervishes. Seconds later, it can have us crying rivers. Sometimes it relaxes us, sometimes it heightens us to a state of readiness for the biggest night of our lives. What shape is Field Kit? That’s not an easy question to answer.

Field Kit is led by German violinist and composer Hannah von Hübbenet and for this album she collaborated with her compatriot, the pianist, composer and producer, John Gürtler. You are now getting pictures in your mind. Classical, perhaps? Yes, it is a little bit, however, it’s not quite that straightforward. Sometimes the strings and piano sound like you would expect them to, but, more often than not, they don’t. Distorted to within an inch of their lives, those conventional warm timbres are fused with the icy harshness of electronics to create a dramatic bricolage. Like a palimpsest, there are glimpses of the orthodox faintly visible underneath the manufactured. My initial reaction was to think of this collection as a continual struggle between elements. Acoustic and electronic. Warm and ice cold. Good and evil. But actually, it’s not. They are not struggling. They are conjoined or, like Jekyll and Hyde, two halves in one whole. Bold and incredibly innovative, this is an experiment in sonic manipulation; as though Einsturzende Neubaten had got together with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson to imagine what music would sound like in the year 2050.

This constant juxtaposition between classical and electronic, warm and cold, human and artificial, runs throughout. Two distinct worlds coalescing in beautiful harmony. The perfect example is the first track to be released from the album, the outstanding Downward Rising. There is sheer poetry in the form of von Hübbenet’s sweeping violin and Martin Smith’s cello. The strings unify magnificently with Gürtler’s stark electronics, his mournful synthesiser glissandi bringing an eerie sense of doom. Strings that are beautiful and dramatic; synthesisers that are sombre and unnatural. Classical and futuristic. Downward Rising reminded me of that wonderful visual and sonic feast from the early eighties, Koyaanisqatsi.

Not all tracks fuse classical and electronic simultaneously. There is a spectrum. Some veer towards the warm, some to the cold. And you are never quite sure what is coming next. This is perfectly illustrated in the album’s first half. The album’s opening track, Distant Approach, introduces us to Field Kit by beaming out waves of otherworldly sounds. They feel far away, as though they are coming from a distant star in another galaxy. There are bleeps and glitches, adding to the futuristic, sci-fi vibe. An electronic bass throbs like the sound of distant thunder. Ominously, second-by-second, the sounds increase in volume, creeping up on you, until it’s right here in the room with you. The rising tension is classic horror movie/thriller stuff. Hold that thought. That cold, portentous atmosphere is shut off in a stroke by the opening bars of Counterfeit. Delicate pizzicato from von Hübbenet combines with Gürtler’s harmonic bells to deliver a warm, embracing quality. Gürtler’s piano chords take it on, then we get a surprise when a heavenly voice, that of von Hübbenet, soars in.

The minimalist, robotic Motorized Piano follows. This is engineered, industrial music. It feels very Germanic, with hints of Kraftwerk. The key motif repeats over and over again until Nando Schaefer’s electronic drums come pounding in, battering out rhythms. As the intensity increases, there is a sound like heavy breathing and it sounds like it’s right on your shoulder. There’s that ominous feel again. But, repeating the pattern, the following track, Substance, reassures again. It feels as though Field Kit are playing tricks on us. Like a great thriller writer, they keep taking us to the precipice of fear before throwing a comforting arm around us.

Human Behaviour returns us to that territory of horror. It’s like a giant trawler pulling out of harbour, creaking and groaning under the strain. It is quite impossible to figure out how Field Kit are getting these sounds from their instruments, because a straight combo of cello, violin, trombone, bass clarinet and double bass has never quite sounded like this before. It’s as though they have been recorded, distorted, played backwards and distorted again for good measure. The track builds anticipation and the cinematic feel is amplified when von Hübbenet’s breathing is audible. The brilliant String Drift is something quite different again. Reminiscent of the Paris Texas soundtrack, it has a gorgeous faraway feel. Ry Cooder with strings. And distortion. It has that aura of the great plains and massive infinite skies. Lune is lush and sweeping, with fragile chimes ascending and descending behind von Hübbenet’s sweeping strings.

Never predictable, Field Kit is a cerebral album full of surprises and left turns. However, the biggest surprise is held back until the end. Final track, Don’t, is epic synth-pop, so much so that my first thought was that the stream I was listening to had rolled into a song by another artist. It’s conventional, by Field Kit standards. It’s reminiscent of that brilliant eighties single by The Passions, I’m In Love With A German Film Star, and is utterly dazzling. There’s no doubt it could fly as a single in its own right. There are two incredibly impressive things to take from Don’t. Firstly, Field Kit’s willingness to deviate so sharply and take such a risk. That’s incredibly welcome in these vanilla-flavoured, bland times. Indeed, that praise should be lavished on Field Kit for taking risks throughout this album. Secondly, quite incredibly, Von Hübbenet sings Don’t as a regular vocalist would. Having just listened to an album’s worth of experimental music, that conventionality comes as something as a shock, but it’s a pleasant one. In fact, her voice is quite jaw-dropping, so much so that you wonder why she doesn’t sing all of the time.

Field Kit is a very good debut from an exceptionally gifted and imaginative group of musicians. It’s complex and kind of mysterious and you are never quite sure what’s coming next, but that’s precisely what makes it so compelling. And I’m still not sure what shape Field Kit are.

~

Photo credit: Benjamin Kahlmeyer

Field Kit are on Facebook and Instagram.

Nonostar Records can be found here.

~

All words by Gordon Rutherford. More writing by Gordon can be found in his archive.

Gordon is also on twitter as @R11Gordon and has a website here: https://thedarkflux.com

 

The post Field Kit: Field Kit – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Primitive Knot: A New Ontology Of Evil – album review

Primitive Knot A New Ontology Of Evil COVERPrimitive Knot: A New Ontology Of Evil

(Deathbed Tapes)

DL | Cassette

Out Now!

BUY HERE

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 4

 

Manchester’s Primitive Knot are back again with an obscenely heavy new album full of riffs, sludge and dark spirituality. Andy Brown gives A New Ontology Of Evil a listen for Louder Than War.

If you’ve been reading my Louder Than War reviews then you may already be familiar with the one-man, riff-making behemoth that is Primitive Knot. For the uninitiated, A New Ontology Of Evil will serve as a particularly brutal and curmudgeonly introduction to the work of the ever-mysterious Jim Knot. Knot always has a number of wonderfully esoteric projects on the go: from his recent electro-industrial album as SV8 to collaborations with Joan Pope, Meghan Wood and The Wyrding Module. Primitive Knot blends industrial-metal, noise-rock and sludgy riffs into a deliciously heavy sonic stew.

Knot’s music often explores themes of power while simultaneously pushing the music to be as bludgeoning as possible. It was only back in February that Primitive Knot was channelling political anxiety and dystopian dread into something extremely heavy yet hopeful with the excellent Fight The Future. A New Ontology Of Evil takes things in a far murkier direction; exploring power, death and philosophy with a near-religious fervour. A typically uncompromising exploration into the nature of evil itself. If the Cenobites in Hellraiser had headphones on then I’m pretty sure they’d be listening to this.

A monstrously heavy riff rips through the silence and we’re unceremoniously thrown head-first into the dark brutalism of Neolithic. I close my eyes and I can almost picture the apes in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey gathered in awe around the black monolith, “stone and earth/ stars and sun”. The title track comes next; a gargantuan monument to noise and the power of a heavily distorted riff. “Despised/ taboo” intones Knot in hypnotic, half-spoken tones, “reviled/ unbidden”. Echoing the deliberately simplistic language of early Swans albums; Knot uses words to paint a bleak yet incredibly potent image.

Knot’s trusty Roland drum machine is working overtime on the driving Leviathan; the track’s repetitive and highly effective riff flattening everything in its path. The onslaught continues unabated with Of Death; a ferocious and relentless dive into the abyss. Intense primordial doom. It feels like we’ve reached the dark heart of the album as Knot chants, “powerless/powerless”. Fear, hopelessness and existential dread never sounded so good. Crucified then proceeds to drag us even further down into the depths with 6 oppressively atmospheric minutes of slow, sludge-metal riffs and wailing feedback. I haven’t heard anything this magnificently dark since I last listened to Khanate.

Liminal Erotica greets us with 5 minutes of noise; a wall of static that acts as a strangely mediative breathing space between the albums many riffs. The utterly immense Goddess, Destroyer throws us straight back into the fire with snarling bass and some superbly sleazy riff-worship. The track feels like blissful surrender: accepting your fate as you bow down to the goddess of cosmic noise. Black Leather Lips is a huge, devil horns aloft rock track featuring some wonderfully satisfying guitar tones from Knot. The guitar work is distinctive and dominant throughout the album; vicious riffs complimented by some brilliantly addictive and catchy lead.

A remix of Black Leather Lips by Salford Electronics brings the album to a close by dragging us into some dungeon-based club with a punishing electro-industrial banger. A New Ontology Of Evil is a dark, twisted and thoroughly evil trip into the void. While industrial-metal acts like Godflesh are certainly a big influence, Primitive Knot remains a law unto itself.

You can find Primitive Knot on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and via their website.

Goddess, Destroyer video by Joan Pope aka Temple Ov Saturn.

~

All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.

The post Primitive Knot: A New Ontology Of Evil – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Spiritualized: Lazer Guided Melodies – vinyl re-issue review

Spiritualized

Lazer Guided Melodies

Fat Possum Records

Vinyl (standard or limited edition white)

Available here

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 4

Spiritualized re-release the classic Lazer Guided Melodies that was the stepping stone away from Spaceman 3 and a startling opus from J Spaceman which kick started a new wave of space rock that has produced some amazing music along the way. Wayne AF Carey goes all nostalgic…

The first time I saw Spiritualized live was on the back of this debut. A night at The Boardwalk in Manchester in the early nineties which I’ll never forget. There were people sat on the floor with their legs crossed and I thought, what the fuck is this all about? A Spaceman 3 thing apparently. Jason Pierce was having none of it, commanding everyone to stand up and enjoy the sound. Believe me they did. The venue was drowned in a spectacle of noise I can’t describe. Beautiful noise that got me hooked and still has me hooked today.

This album is all part of The Spaceman Reissue Program which sets to see the first four Spiritualized albums released on vinyl which is a collectors dream. The original artwork has been overhauled in the loving memory of Nicholas ‘Natty’ Brooker and it’s great to see the beauty of the white vinyl spinning on your deck. Here’s what Jason had to say about the original artwork:

“The artwork was done by Natty (Brooker), who I used to live with in Rugby. He used to wake up in the morning and start his day with mushrooms. Like days and days, he would have all the dried mushrooms under his bed and do these amazing drawings, and he kind of lost himself in his art. He’d done a couple of things for Spaceman 3, so when we did our first album I asked him if he’d do the artwork for that. I suppose when you start bands you involve everybody, as many people who want to get involved who aren’t pissed off that you’re going to be traveling beyond the town. So he did that, and then somebody at the label said if you’re taking a photograph for a toothpaste ad, somebody makes a model of the toothpaste to take the photo with. I’d always been in to artwork, but the idea that you can get the record company to pay to have this drawing made in to a three-dimensional image, it suddenly clicked with me that we didn’t have to settle for the given standards. My line was always “We’re making beautiful music here. We shouldn’t be packaging it like the cheapest junk we possibly can.”

Everyone bangs on about Ladies And Gentleman as being the monumental Spiritualized album yet after listening to this I tend to disagree sometimes. The beautiful intro track You Know It’s True just glides in with perfection, mellow as honey with J’s smooth vocals backed by his then partner Kate Radley to great effect. If I Were With Her Now shimmers and shines and the bass line is awesome. The spaced out vocals and the trumpets that slide in are really hypnotic and it floats in and out with so many instruments involved. I Want You picks up the pace and is probably the most accessible track here. A real blueprint of an anthem that soars and gives you a clue of what J is building towards.

Run is a real psych classic that echoes and fades and gives you a proper acid laden feeling with that tribal fusion of noise that thrills. Smiles is a stoned sounding drug induced track that floats in then disappears in a two minute mogadon rush, as is the Step Into The Breeze which tickles the senses with those smooth laid back vocal tones that J is the master of. Some great guitar textures fill the room in your head. Symphony Space is what it says in the title. The strangest track on here that messes with your senses. It’s so laid back it’s horizontal. One for the LSD crowd without a doubt. Take Your Time is seven minutes of chilled out beauty that still gets me to this day with the slowly picked bass line and the great psych hazed organs floating around.

Shine A Light is just beautiful and still sends shivers up me spine today. A hint of J’s love of gospel on this which is a spring board to the later stuff. The bass line is fuckin’ epic and the guitar sounds are amazing. Such a great song that stands out and sounds timeless. Epic. Angel Sigh continues with the beauty. A simple yet effective bass line with some smooth sounding bongos going on in the background and those fazed out vocals until it goes psych mental with a myriad of sound that bursts the bubble. Very clever stuff. Sway is just pure beauty yet again with it’s 8 minutes of stunning instrumentation from the mind of the Spaceman. A real nod to the Velvet Underground and a proper spaced out mantra that covers you in a warm cocoon like an electric blanket. Album closer 200 Bars is just stunning. Kate Radley counts to 200 over a warm backing of mellow psych that chills you out with the repetitive sounds from the ethereal warm noise that emanates from the mind of J Spaceman. I used to put this on to help me sleep at night and it worked every time. A soothing ending to an experiment that ended up producing one of the best bands our fair isle has ever produced.

 

Words by Wayne Carey, Reviews Editor for Louder Than War. His author profile is here

 

The post Spiritualized: Lazer Guided Melodies – vinyl re-issue review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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SAD MAN: The Man From S.A.D. – album review

SAD MANSAD MAN: The Man From S.A.D.

CD | DL

Released 23rd April 2021

Pre-order from Bandcamp

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 3.5

 

The prolific and enigmatic SAD MAN returns with another album of off-kilter electronic pearls. It’s unconventional and, in parts, discordant, but there’s never a dull moment. Louder Than War’s Gordon Rutherford reviews.

Throwback Summer is almost upon us. There will be no jetting off to Mediterranean beaches or cities of bling this year. No siree. After decades of neglect, Summer ’21 will be the one where we return nostalgically to the Great British seaside resort. It’s all about kiss-me-quick hats and cavity-inducing sticks of rock; reclining on deckchairs at the end of the pier with knotted handkerchiefs protecting our thinning pates and soaking up the inimitable sound of a man playing a big organ (saucy postcard humour, missus?). That’s the picture painted by the seventh track on SAD MAN’s latest album, The Man From S.A.D. Giuoco Piano (which literally translates as “I play slowly”) opens with that end-of-the-pier organ, instantly catapulting us back to hazy childhood memories of Blackpool, Brighton and Bognor. For a very fleeting moment, it is utterly blissful, then it goes nuts. The pace accelerates and the sound intensifies until it reaches a point of downright zaniness. The poor organist is playing to his own time signature whilst the beats are doing something else entirely.

Giuoco Piano is anything but conventional and, in that sense, it perfectly exemplifies this album. Of course, it does. There is very little that is predictable or straightforward about the work of SAD MAN. Here’s a track which translates as “I play slowly”, where he does anything but. Furthermore, the notes in the song do not appear to be following in any kind of logical sequence. The organist is on acid. The music of SAD MAN was recently described by Electronic Sound Magazine as “wonky jazz bangers”. And it is.

If there were Olympic gold medals for being musically prolific, the enigmatic SAD MAN would be Michael Phelps. Sixteen – SIXTEEN – albums in just under five years. He makes the post-Warners version of Prince look lazy. I’ve referred to him as enigmatic (it seems a common description), but I’m now going to pull the mask away a little and talk about the person. Because that might explain why he makes music like this. The guy behind the SAD MAN moniker is producer and composer Andrew Spackman. I don’t know how he does it, but he seems to operate on a different temporal dimension from the rest of us mere mortals. To begin, we have the aforementioned sixteen albums and, musically speaking, he has also had several pieces of work commissioned for numerous cultural events all over the world. On top of that, he is an outstanding graphic designer and illustrator. Oh, and he has a day job as Senior Lecturer in Illustration at Coventry University. Plus family. I can only conclude that there are thirty-four hours in Andrew Spackman’s day. There have to be points where things seem to be unravelling, spinning out of control. On the outside, it may seem chaotic, but, in reality, Spackman is always in control. Coordinated chaos.

Let’s return to the frenzy of Giuoco Piano. As I referred to earlier, that skew-whiff, off-kilter vibe is not exclusive to this particular track. In fact, it is virtually a trademark to The Man From S.A.D. It runs through the album just like the words run right through a stick of Blackpool rock. We have the anarchic conflict of album opener, The Vulcan; the crazy chords of The Shark that play tricks with your mind; the random techno of Project Strigas, a track that feels like you are on the waltzers, with so much going on that I’m not sure the human brain can adequately process it all.

Then we have the outright discord of Double. This is a tune which is built upon a series of electronic pulses that resemble a game of pong recorded at quadruple speed wrangling against a really soulful Hammond organ laying down a funky melody. It’s like the battle for Helm’s Deep as the armies of sound crash into one another. Spoiler alert: the console wins.

It’s not all chaos. Interspersed are moments of clarity, where things are, relatively speaking, conventional. Take the stunning Quadripartie, for example. Here’s a track that will induce you to get off your ass and hit the dance floor hard. A scuzzy synth combines with a rippling hi-hat to create something infectious. Crystalline droplets enter the fray, overlaying another delicious texture. However, SAD MAN cannot resist and as the tune enters the final lap, it breaks down into discordance. Plus ça change.

And then we have the album’s highlight. Finny Foot is probably the most straightforward track on the album. It is also quite sublime, with an opening melody to die for. If I wanted to show the world what a superb composer Andrew Spackman is, I’d play this. As the track unfolds, other electronic instruments join the fray, but unlike many of the other tracks, they do not seek to derail what’s currently going on. Instead, they complement and augment and develop the track further. For an additional treat, the accompanying video ladles bucketloads of exuberance on top.

The Man From S.A.D. is not a perfect album. Most of the time it works brilliantly, but not always. It feels a little overlong to me and the longest track, The Green Opal, didn’t do quite enough in its (almost) seven and a half minutes to augment the collection. Notwithstanding that, this is a big album with a big sound. It never hides. Yes, it’s often disjointed (deliberately so) but it delights and engages and keeps you thinking. And amidst the madness, it contains many wonderful melodic moments.

SAD MAN is a risk-taker, he embraces the avant-garde and always endeavours to produce something interesting that will make the listener sit up and pay attention. The Man From S.A.D. is the perfect example of that. Never dull nor predictable, it absolutely pushes the boundaries. Too many artists today play it safe and, as a consequence, everything becomes vanilla. As a genre, electronic music suffers greatly in that regard. Differentiation is at a premium. Therefore, we should be grateful for artists like SAD MAN. The world needs more like him because he is to electronic music what Captain Beefheart was to rock.

You can find SAD MAN’s Bandcamp page here. He is also on Twitter.

~

All words by Gordon Rutherford. More writing by Gordon can be found in his archive.

Gordon is also on twitter as @R11Gordon and has a website here: https://thedarkflux.com

 

The post SAD MAN: The Man From S.A.D. – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Christine Ott: Time To Die – album review

Christine OttChristine Ott: Time To Die

(Gizeh Records)

LP | CD | DL

Released 9th April 2021

Pre-order now available from Gizeh Records

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 4.5

 

From portentous darkness to fragile, shimmering beauty. Eight astonishing compositions that push the boundaries of modern music. Christine Ott’s Time To Die is an epic album that will live long in your mind. For Louder Than War, Gordon Rutherford talks about hearing things that people would never believe.

Like some dystopian, futuristic version of High Noon, Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece, Blade Runner, ends with a showdown. Cop versus Replicant, playing out the black hat/white hat roles. Spoiler alert: things look bleak for Harrison Ford’s character, as he clings to the edge of a skyscraper’s roofline. The Replicant, Rutger Hauer, stands over him, triumphant. Then, in an uncharacteristic volte-face, Hauer grabs Ford by the arm and pulls him back on to the rooftop. What follows is one of cinema’s most moving and memorable soliloquies. In the finest moment of his long and illustrious career, Hauer delivers his “Tears In Rain” speech, climaxing with three words, “Time To Die”.

Those three words bring us to Christine Ott and her fourth album. The album is named Time To Die and the opening title track pivots around that Rutger Hauer monologue, here narrated by Casey Brown, framed by a tempestuous and ominous maelstrom. “I’ve seen things you people would never believe”, intones Brown. Massive timpani hammer out a portentous beat as a belltower chimes in the distance. Mirroring that Blade Runner finale, the music is atmospheric and dramatic and you can almost feel the rain lashing into your face. It is a jaw-dropping introduction to the album.

You get a sense that Christine Ott isn’t one for conventionality or working in straight lines. It’s evident that Time To Die (the track) is a follow-up to the closing track on her 2016 album, Only Silence Remains. That particular piece, the beguiling Disaster, also features a Casey Brown spoken word passage inspired by Blade Runner’s powerful images. Seems logical and linear enough, except since Only Silence Remains came out, Ott has released another solo album, Chimères (pour ondes Martenot), plus an original soundtrack, Tabu. Moreover, last year, the French composer, pianist and multi-instrumentalist sprang to the attention of UK audiences as one half of chamber duo, Snowdrops, whose album, Volutes, was one of The Guardian’s ten best contemporary music albums of the year. Therefore, whilst Time To Die is a follow-up, it’s one that has come about in a relatively circuitous route.

Let’s return to that solo album from last year, Chimères (pour ondes Martenot), because it also gives an insight into Ott’s originality. The ondes Martenot is a quite unique instrument. This quirky curiosity, invented in the 1920s, is part-theremin and part-synthesiser. It is claimed that the instrument is so challenging to learn that fewer than one hundred people have mastered it. Ott is one of them (Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is another) and her proficiency on this strange instrument with a totally unique sound demonstrates her penchant for experimentation and avant-garde. Let’s be clear – this is not an instrument that you will hear on many other albums this year, although it doesn’t have such a prominent role on Time To Die as it did on Chimères, which was recorded using multi-tracked ondes Martenot.

The instrument is to the fore, however, on two tracks in particular – Comma Opening and Pluie. On the former, the ondes Martenot brings an otherworldly, spectral feel to the stunningly moving piece. However, this particular track is interesting, not only because of the musical content, but because it carries yet another thread from Ott’s recent past. This is the third version of this composition that has been released by Ott in the past twelve months, with the predecessors coming on Chimères and Volutes. There is very little to find fault with on this album, but if I was being critical I would highlight the fact that there isn’t really quite enough of a differential between this version and the previous ones to merit another inclusion. Notwithstanding that, if this is your first exposure to any of the Comma triptych, you will not be disappointed.

Christine Ott 2

Pluie is Time To Die’s final track and by way of a beautiful bookend, that Blade Runner-inspired rainfall and the distant chimes of the belltower we experienced in the album’s opening make a return. An eerie backdrop to the exquisitely sparse piano is provided by the ondes Martenot. It’s like an antique music box, with a feel as fragile as delicate porcelain.

Quite frankly, there is not a single weak moment on this album and it confirms Ott’s place in the pantheon of great current composers. Furthermore, it substantiates that as well as being an accomplished and imaginative writer, Ott is also a versatile and gifted musician. We have already covered her prowess on the ondes Martenot, but there’s so much more than that on show here. Take the elegiac, minimalist piano of the album’s second track, Brumes, for example. Or, as a demonstration of versatility as well as virtuosity, she takes the same instrument and makes it sound like it is battling against an electrical storm on Horizons Fauve. At the beginning of this particular track, her precise and studied playing summons the spirit of her great compatriot, Erik Satie. But it then fluctuates between spacious and paced to a veritable frenzy. At the heart of it, all is Ott, controlling all around her like a world champion matador. Then, on Landscape, she brings her operatic, soaring voice on top of the piano. When you hear her sing you will wonder why she doesn’t do it all the time. Chasing Harps is more experimental as Ott takes to the harp and creates a sound that is like shards of crystal.

Time To Die is an out-and-out tour de force, the highlight of which comes in the form of the stunning Miroirs. It’s probably the simplest track on this collection, built around a plaintive piano. But sometimes it’s the simplest things that stay with you longest. On Miroirs, each and every note arrows through your speakers and pierces you right in the heart. It’s a composition that carries a ton of sorrow with every strike of the keyboard.

Ott describes Time To Die as “a sensory journey between the living and the dead”. Literally, time to die. And as you listen, absolutely enrapt, you do get that sense. Throughout, the music exists in that surreal space between life and death; shimmering in the crepuscular half-light. So much of it is unearthly and shadowlike, other parts are tragic and delicate. But it always feels incredibly alive, as if it is infused with electrons dancing in the gloaming.
What depth of imagination is required to conceive of a body of work such as this? The boldness to imagine it and the skill to execute it. We should celebrate such daring, praise the risk-takers who embrace the avant-garde and seek to go even further. Because it is them, artists like Christine Ott, who bring vivid colour to our mundane lives.

There are moments on this album where I felt my heart would burst at the sheer magnificence of it. There are passages that quite literally took my breath away, like on the simple beauty of Miroirs or on Horizons Fauve when the piano deviates from calculated picked notes to rippling frenzy and back again. It all brings us back to Blade Runner, which is essentially a story of human triumph over technology, but only when the Replicant finds a very human emotion – compassion. This is undoubtedly a human album, prompting very human emotions.

Finally, I love the quote attributed to American videographer, Fredo Viola, who describes this album as “something beautiful, but unfathomable, just out of reach”. That seems like the perfect synopsis of this astonishing album.

~

Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Rosenkranz

You can find Christine Ott’s music on Bandcamp. She is also on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Gizeh Records can be found here. They are also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

~

All words by Gordon Rutherford. More writing by Gordon can be found in his archive.

Gordon is also on twitter as @R11Gordon and has a website here: https://thedarkflux.com

 

 

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Listen To This! New Primitive Ignorant track ahead of upcoming EP

Primitive Ignorant by Naeem BawanyPrimitive Ignorant combine disturbing reports of racism and violence in Brexit Britain with experimental electronic pop on latest single, Last In The Riot (ft. Le Junk). Andy Brown gives the track a spin for Louder Than War ahead of the upcoming EP, Infant Joy On Midnight Streets.

BUY HERE

Last year former Eighties Match B-Line Disaster bassist Symren Gharial released his debut album as Primitive Ignorant. Sikh Punk captured the “sound of rebellion, empowerment and resistance in Brexit Britain” and received an eye-watering yet fully-deserved 5 out of 5 when I reviewed the album for Louder Than War.

Gharial returns this month with the first fruits from the upcoming new EP, Infant Joy On Midnight Streets. A fantastically fresh and wonderfully unexpected leap into electronic pop, Last In The Riot reveals an artist who simply refuses to be pigeon-holed. Vocals come courtesy of regular collaborator and London based multi-instrumentalist, Le Junk. A blissful atmosphere laced with melancholy, the track floats along with laid-back beats and bubbling synths. The bright electronica disguises the songs troubled heart; the lyrics written in response to a horrendous racist attack on a Sikh boy in Telford last year.

Gharial very clearly pours his heart and soul into everything he does; this latest track offers an inspired glimpse into his next full release. Brexit Britain can seem more hellish by the minute sometimes, making artists like Primitive Ignorant more vital than ever.

Here’s the full press release for the upcoming EP:

“This diverse EP is a hyperspace jump on from debut LP, Sikh Punk. Musically and lyrically it speaks to the energy and power of community while considering what havoc the forces of division will wreak if left unchecked.

There is a palpable tension in a wounded 2021 London. The demands for, and benefits of, stiff-upper-lip optimism swirl into undercurrents of anger and resentment. The cruelties of 2020 re-opened deep wounds in our society.

Infant Joy On Midnight Streets lifts its title from two William Blake poems. A reminder than London was always a tinderbox. It touches on the difficulties of staying positive. Sym received Death Threats towards the end of last year after exposing his struggle to comprehend his identity as a South Asian Sikh compelled by punk and anarchic western living.

That Death Threats are an everyday by-product of Social Media speaks to just how fucked up things are, below the surface.

The songs expose a city on the edge after Brexit; suffering vicious and corrupt Tory rule; the horror of Coronavirus; the unfathomably hostile response to BLM and the short-sighted contempt meted out to the workers who hold the country together, to artists and to anyone not fixated on wealth creation.

Across this EP, a contrary state is envisioned. A progressive city of sunlight, freedom and joy, where people can focus on the future rather than protecting what little they have. Building on what we share and always believing that the sun will rise. We must manifest change through the power of art, community, education and constructive protest. And we must learn from our past mistakes.

LAST IN THE RIOT (ft Le Junk): Written in reaction to the young Sikh boy who was attacked in Telford last November; emphasising the need to feel pride in your identity no matter who you are and where you come from.

SCREAM ON A RAZOR (ft Bess Cavendish): Inspired by courage of the Black Panthers and BLM, this song discusses using art, music, education and speech to challenge racial hierarchy and stereotype.

TOMORROW is mostly the work of Elias Johnson; the ten year old son of a social media friend. Two people from different generations who have never met collaborating is a beautiful thing. It’s Elias’ first ever piece of music and it bottles the optimism of youth.

DRESS LIKE ME (ft Leonore Wheatley of International Teachers of Pop). A young Sikh boy, growing up on a west London estate, compelled by rock’n’roll and confused around his identity, tries to integrate into British society. The VIDEO alludes to London as an unexploded mind on the verge of revolution that resolves into a city of harmony where all cultures can live in harmony.

WORSHIP ART (Body In The Thames Grit Bins Mix). A delicious remix from another internet friend. A Balearic Weatherall-esque strut through one of Sikh Punk’s highlights. Close your eyes and remember the hug of a crowded dancefloor”

Full tracklist:

Infant Joy On Midnight Streets EP

09/04/21 via Something In Construction. Digital only.

1. The Sun Does Arise
2. Last In The Riot (ft Le Junk)
3. Invisible Storm
4. Scream On A Razor (ft Bess Cavendish)
5. Tomorrow (ft Elias Johnson)
6. Dress Like Me (ft Leonore Wheatley ITOP)
7. Worship Art (Body In The Thames Grit Bins Mix)
8. The Sun Does Arise II

~

You can find Primitive Ignorant on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Article photo by Naeem Bawany / featured image by Steve Gullick.

Words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.

The post Listen To This! New Primitive Ignorant track ahead of upcoming EP appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor: G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! – album review

Godspeed You! Black Emperor G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! COVERGodspeed You! Black Emperor: G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!

(Constellation Records)

CD | DL | Vinyl

Released 2nd April 2021

BUY HERE!

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 4

In the midst of growing civil unrest and an increasingly dystopian landscape, post-rock titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor return with an appropriately dramatic soundtrack. Andy Brown gives G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! a listen and shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.

The sky is blue and the sun shining, yet I’m stuck inside self-isolating. I can’t think of better conditions in which to give the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album a first listen. The perpetually mysterious post-rock icons return with G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!: the Canadian’s first album since 2017’s Luciferian Towers. It’s clear from the unfeasibly long song titles and the expansive and uncompromising music that Godspeed aren’t here to mess around. I mean, come on, you weren’t expecting three-minute pop songs, were you?

Godspeed You! Black Emperor are the kind of act that leave an impression. I still remember hearing the unsettling, post-apocalyptic doomscape that is The Dead Flag Blues via a free NME CD in 1999. It was an edited-down version, yet the six or so minutes of music that oozed from my speakers were quite unlike anything else I’d heard. I’d had my first exposure to Mogwai around the same time and I swear a tiny portal in my brain opened up. It would be quite a long time before I fully explored these tantalising glimpses into post-rock but the seeds had most certainly been sown. Both bands are often credited with taking instrumental rock into the homes of a generation of unsuspecting listeners, Godspeed occasionally peppering their recordings with suitably apocalyptic spoken word.

The sky appears to get a little darker as the strange, unintelligible voices and radio static that introduce the album seep into my living room. The guitars and violin finally come in; weeping, distorted and seemingly unstructured. Spine-tingling riffs and urgent organ work their way into the arrangement and it’s around this point that the whole thing takes flight. It’s called A Military Alphabet or to give the track it’s full title, A Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind) (4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz) / Job’s Lament / First of the Last Glaciers / where we break how we shine (Rockets for Mary). I told you the song titles were long. The track gradually evolves into some beefed-up psychedelic jam from the dark side of the sixties: monolithic drums, brooding strings and strung-out guitars envelope the room as the track unfurls over 20 mesmerising minutes.

Fire At Static Valley comes next, opening with howling winds and distant sirens. The track crawls forwards with a spacious, breath-taking arrangement of drones and clear, purposeful guitar lines backed by the slow, subdued funeral march of the drums. An orchestra playing its most melancholic suite as the world is set ablaze. The music feels layered while never becoming cluttered or overwrought. Emotional and consistently engaging, this isn’t a code that can be cracked with one listen. Much of the album was written while touring before being recorded in the bands hometown of Montréal in October 2020, yet that sense of travel, movement and live spontaneity remain key to the recordings.

Next, we get Government Came or, as the full title says, Government Came (9980.0kHz 3617.1kHz 4521.0 kHz) / Cliffs Gaze / cliffs’ gaze at empty waters’ rise / Ashes to Sea or Nearer to Thee. When it comes to punctuation, Godspeed You! Black Emperor are an editor’s worst nightmare. The track fills me with an overwhelming urge to see this music performed live; to be stood in the centre of the oncoming storm and be swallowed up by the emotive, euphoric and unexpectedly ecstatic noise. Yes, the music here gets dark and ominous but when the light shines through the cracks it’s utterly, utterly magnificent. The fourth and final track, Our Side Has to Win (for D.H.) might just be the most beautiful piece of music I’ve heard in the last 12 or so months – an aching arrangement of droning strings that feels mournful, thoughtful, heart-breaking and thoroughly transformative.

For a predominantly instrumental band, Godspeed have always had plenty to say. The message comes through loud and clear within the press statement that arrived via Constellation: “This record is about all of us waiting for the end. All current forms of governance are failed. This record is about all of us waiting for the beginning, and is informed by the following demands = empty the prisons, take power from the police and give it to the neighbourhoods that they terrorise. End the forever wars and all other forms of imperialism. Tax the rich until they’re impoverished”. The band’s uncompromising and defiant punk spirit has been central to their aesthetic and approach since they began.

Godspeed handily remove any sense of ego or self-importance by consistently putting the music and message centre stage. With only two official photos of the band in 25 years, they’re unlikely to end up in the gossip pages of a tabloid newspaper. Unsurprisingly, they don’t have an Instagram page. I went in half expecting something unremittingly bleak, yet the album is a rich, emotionally complex and deeply rewarding listen. It’s always going to be difficult to replicate that nigh-on revelatory feeling I got from hearing those early recordings, yet the album remains a pure, powerful and moving expression of the here and now. Providing hope amongst all the chaos and uncertainty, Godspeed You! Black Emperor return in the nick of time with their skinny fists raised in defiance.

~

Godspeed You! Black Emperor have never had social media accounts or a website but you can find their music via Bandcamp and the Constellation Records website.

All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.

The post Godspeed You! Black Emperor: G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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FilthyDirty: The Rise And Fall Of Blasphemouth – album review

FilthyDirtyFilthyDirty

The Rise And Fall Of Blasphemouth

Cracked Ankles Records

Vinyl/DL

Available 1st April

Louder Than War Bomb Rating 4

Just when you thought the lockdown could save your ears from the crimes against music of Evil Blizzard. No rehearsals? YES! No refunds? Of course not. The glammed up weirdo FilthDirty gets a bit bored, finds some unreleased Blizz tracks that didn’t quite work at the time, fucks around with them a bit, dusts off his bass / electric drum kit and finds his way around some mental abrasive sound that blasts it way well over eleven. Wayne AF Carey gets an ear battering…

The weirdness sets in straight away with Disease starting off like a horror soundtrack that kicks in with a massive fuck off riff that chugs and chugs, then Filthy wades in with his raspy vocals to compliment. Think a menacing Killing Joke fuelled up with sonic noise that unblocks your ears. A master blaster to start with an abrupt end. The dub kicks in with All My Friends (Are Cunts), a slow sinister number that name checks his many friends. Sonic stuff with a menacing riff lurking in the background and unnerving vocals that sound like that phone call you don’t want from a would be kidnapper. “Wobbly Bob, Furtive Dave, Curtains McGinty, Paraffin Jane, Tony Giblets, Shiny Grifter, Phoebe Drainpipe, Terrible Steve, all cunts, best avoided, all cunts, all the same…” Funny and disturbing…

All Of This For Nothing continues the misery with whispered vocals, a slab of evil repetitive bass and some cracking effects that are dark as fuck. Every now and again it explodes into abrasive sonic guitar that blows you away. A proper Blizz moment that has hints of Sacrifice in there. Top stuff. Don’t Trust Me I Don’t Trust You starts off with the horror theme again and just explodes into a proper slow dub number, sinister warped vocals and some mental headsplitting scraping guitar effects that bang your senses. “Fuck with me I’ll fuck with you” say Filthy as he hits those supernatural sounding keys that un-nerve the senses. Straight To Hell is a top builder that comes in with a slow rush to the head, whispered vocals, paired down production, addictive bassline. Then the bar is raised and it ramps up a gear in style. A slice of mad sonic metal that thrills. He even namechecks fellow bald bastard Telly Savalas. Who doesn’t love you baby…

It Wasn’t Me, It Was A Ghost has a massive dirty riff that rocks the fuck out. Sonic effects that blast the eardrums with the industrial noise that’s close to some of Ministry’s best stuff. It’s a powerhouse of startling noise that slays you. One Last Drink In The Last Chance Saloon is the closest Filthy gets to a late era Fall track with a menacing crunching bassline and matching distorted vocals. A little guitar chug rolls in and the crunch of effect pedal mania tops it all off. A dirty bastard that sounds like Mark E Smith on acid, especially the evil chuckle at the end. Closing track Monolith is a deep down horror soundtrack that conjures up the image of something not very nice down in the cellar. A doom prog psych piece that makes you want to reach for the lightswitch. Uneasy listening not for the nervous. If you’re looking for Abba then look away.

If you’re missing Evil Blizzard then this is like a glimpse into the future of the next chapter. An evil experiment to keep us going until they unleash the misery in a town, city or dungeon near you…

Pre order here.

Words by Wayne Carey, Reviews Editor for Louder Than War. His author profile is here

The post FilthyDirty: The Rise And Fall Of Blasphemouth – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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