MUSIC REVIEWS



Ando Lag - Miriam Transmissions [Weird Canada, 2015]
De la dent courbée de Katie Jensen (Traduit par Jason Rule)

Le petit homme vert se prépare pour le travail. Il déteste son patron, mais sa peur l’empêche d’abandonner. Que ferait-il sans argent? Il y a un message vocal de sa mère qui clignote patiemment. Il l’efface. Il ne se souvient pas la dernière fois où il s’est senti heureux. Il ne se souvient pas la dernière fois qu’il s’est senti affamé. Il sort un morceau de poisson froid du frigo. Le poisson tombe sur la tuile blanche et sale du plancher de la cuisine. Il soupire profondément et gratte la chaire gelée avec un couteau à beurre terni, gravée avec les initiales d’un amantancien. Elle ne le reconnaitrait surement pas maintenant.

Arbutus - Bedroom Safari [Weird Canada, 2015]
De la langue tourbillonnante de Katie Jensen (Traduit par Jason Rule)

Des palmiers chatouillent la plage avec leur long feuillage plumeux. Le soleil d’or s’égoutte lentement, comme un oeuf glissant d’un comptoir. Une empreinte de jeunesse flotte, piégée dans l’écume de la mer, dansant comme un jouet . Si vous pouviez revenir en arrière, où voudriez-vous appuyer sur pause? Est-ce que vous feriez sortir les rubans magnétiques par poignées, en regardant le bourdonnement des bobines de plastiques et en essayant de maculer les erreurs? Aucun hymne chanté n’est assez sacré pour purifier votre coeur.

Bears And Children - #fLEXTHEWAVE [Weird Canada, 2015]
From the continuous dream of Jason Rule

Stuck on the 400, somewhere around Bradford. Condensation forms on the windows as the faulty Gameboy you dug out of the closet sputters through you mindlessly passing the next level. That night, exhausted, frantic, unable to sleep, channel-surfing late at night, everything is imbued with interference from CKVR. You look for the lightswitch, but when the dim bulb lights up, only kosmische vapours emanate. Eyes to heaven, you get no response.

Ike Yard - Remixes 3 [Hush House, 2014]

The works of the early 1980s American post-punk/industrial outfit Ike Yard have become remix fodder for newer artists who create similarly harsh, post-punk influenced techno. The third instalment of remixes is a welcome addition to the genre, with previous entries from Regis, Monoton, Tropic Of Cancer and Arnaud Rebotini.Powell's opening remix of Half A God takes apart the very straightforward original and reassembles it into something that sounds like it may fall apart at any minute. The drums are shuffled and gated, the synth stabs and guitar loops are fractured, the vocals are sparse. Bandshell's remix of NCR turns it into noise-techno, everything becomes distorted, with added radio scanner hiss panning around the mix. At one point everything else fades out leaving just the hiss, which fades out to almost silence before everything rushes back in, jolting the listener. The original 1982 version of 'Cherish 8', from their debut on Factory America, is a throughly unnerving post-punk piece, with a military drum groove, out of tune synths and vocalist Stuart Argabright commandingly repeating his perverted intentions without passion ("I watch where you go, then I follow you home...you're so young, you're so chic"). The KVB's version retains much of the original vibe, with the drums now more restrained and distant, with the occasional firing-off of rapid 808 claps. The synths are more orchestral, the guitars looped quietly, more as part of a bed of sound and less highlighted in the mix. Vessel's remix however, takes the track to an even darker place. The vocals become growled and menacing through the flanger, the drums burst through with ferocity and retreat immediately into silence, and added feedback pierces through.

October - Planet Of Minds [Hush House, 2012]

Following up on recent releases for Skudge and Simple Records, Bristolian exporter-of-all-things-danceable Julian Smith, alias October, releases his first solo outing on his new label TANSTAAFL, named after his project with Berlin-based John Osborn. The eponymous title track is a restrained piece, with a 303 line taking a prominent place at the front behind a simple but effective 909 rhythm. The mood is occasionally switched up with a more complex drum backing and the addition of distorted chords reminiscent of Levon Vincent's early work. On the flip, 'Singularity Jump' has a more flashback house feel to it, with shuffled snares and vocal hits providing a backdrop to a particularly insistent digital saxophone over the top. The 12" is available now at Juno. Don't forget that October plays with fellow Bristolians Outboxx and Hush House residents R.Cary & J.Were at the Garage in Leeds on Friday September 21. Get your tickets here and Facebook event here.

Rawaat - Day Laborer [Hush House, 2014]

With the vogue for hazy, distorted, industrial-inflected American house and techno in the past year or so not going away soon - regardless of mixed options on the genre - it’s good to hear something which takes those elements and makes something new and refreshing. Rawaat’s release on Lobster Theremin is a solid example of this. The tracks all complement one another on the record, with the beatless atmospherics of opener Caverns Of Reflection, reminiscent of Klaus Schulze’s opening to Body Love, matching with the darker and slightly more distorted rhythms of Motion Sensor. Exp2 imagines flanged drums as giant pistons, vocals echoed and stabbed as percussion, crackled, heavily filtered synths rising out of the muck. All comes to a head on the crunched up drums and distorted pads on Day Laborer, either in its original form, or the remix by Huerco S as H.S. The latter is more insistent from the start, with jackhammer percussion and the vocals transposed down slightly in pitch. This would be a surprisingly straightforward mix for Huerco S, but as H.S. he produces in perhaps a more straightforward production style, with sharper, more insistent drum programming and sound clarity, while still keeping some of the distortion and detuning that marks his work as Huerco S. I hope to see more from Rawaat - a fine addition to the current crop of young Detroit producers - and from the London label in the near future.

Special Costello / Blond Wig - Split [Weird Canada, 2015]
Du doux bas-ventre de Katie Jensen (Traduit par Jason Rule)

Vos meilleures réflexions arrivent quand votre cerveau flotte librement derrière vous. Il bascule de tous les côtés, tout excité quand vous avez vos meilleures idées. Vous souvenez-vous quand la matière grise gelée se glissait dans une fissure éclatée, et ne voulait pas sortir? Quelque chose tirait sur la laisse, et résonnait difficilement, envoyant des courbes ondulantes de pression sur toute la longueur. Votre bouche se remplissait avec une écume de frustration amère, mais vous avaliez fort et continuiez à marcher.

Truck Driver - Truck Driver [Weird Canada, 2016]
From the peripatetic mind of Jason Rule:

Another night of endless exams, revising, staring at the wall, drowning your sorrows. Locked out of the club yet again; a red velvet curtain has smothered your senses. Sitting on a bench at 3 AM near St. Joseph’s Oratory with a pack of cigarettes, listening to your dad’s old folk cassettes. Occasionally a quiet voice rises up through interference, low organ drones, and gentle guitar riffs; other times it mumbles about how being cool is really important, warped with severe granular synthesis pulsating around the mainframe, sharp attack, no decay, no sustain, no release. It’s not your fault. C’est dans tes yeux.

Will And Ink - Wilson [Hush House, 2013]

The Dutch duo's second EP on their self titled sub-label - part of the Delsinfamily - is a welcome companion to the Fermat EP that marked their debut. The A-side has a feel indebted to the schaffel sounds popular on Kompakt, but with a much harder feel, a cavernous, echoing drumbeat and an underlying acid squelch emerging in the second half. On the flip, 'Second Wilson' is an incessant techno stormer, with a melody of synth stabs and voice fragments giving it a nervous edge. 'Third Wilson' continues this theme, but with a more scattered vibe; there's a definite nod towards the Hessle Audio aesthetic in its synth sounds if you ask us.

V/A - Future Times presents Vibe 2 [Hush House, 2012]

There has been both a proliferation of smaller start-up labels, especially in America, that are helping to fuel the revival of the 80's boogie sound and elements of classic house. Headquartered in the nation's capital, Future Timesis a prime example; with a small group of internal artists releasing music under a variety of aliases (Beautiful Swimmers, Protect-U, Maximillion Dunbar, Rhythm Based Lovers) and gaining attention from across the disco-house sphere. Their music is a grab bag of disparate influences, and it can be easily heard in the wide-ranging Vibe 2 compilation, released in September 2011 All 4 sides of the album offer completely different tracks each time, with little flow if listened to in order. Starting off with a scattered uneasy cut-up house jam from L.I.E.S. and Maximiilion Dunbar, we are assaulted with Tom Noble's 'Malaco', a slice of blown out analogue fuzz that sounds as if it were beamed from some Brooklyn basement in 1987. Alexis Le-Tan gives us some serious workout funk with 'Marathon Man', almost steel in its harsh drum grooves and military chant. On the other vinyl, Juju and Jordash's 'Musketache' is a lost brother of I:Cube's 'Falling'; both leisurely moving through a heavy synth space with 707's providing a background of low-slung beats. The always reliable Hunee gives us a good solid piece that is reminiscent of the previous 'Marathon Man' in its 909 and heavy breathing, but this track is more seductive in its approach. Most of the pieces are moderate in tempo, but there are a few slower cuts on the compilation as well; Confused House delivers a DJ-tool esque drum machine jam, Steve Summers makes a contemplative synth piece more suited for home listening, and Swimmers & Gang gives us another 80's boogie edit to add to the slew of them (although it's still pretty fine). The star piece, however, goes to 'Volatile Memory', an ethereal work by Steve Moore with a drum loop hidden under layers of almost classical synth and distant choral accompaniment, with a lone high synth line rising up out of the ether in the latter half Overall, Vibe 2 is an excellent compilation from one of the better new American labels, and is a must-have for anyone who likes variation in their house/disco/whatever. Vibe 2 is available to purchase on vinyl via Discogs or digitally at Juno Download.

V/A - HAVN COMP 1 [Weird Canada, 2016]
From the well-worn slate of Jason Rule:

Stare out the window at the steel grey skies, steel grey minds, steel grey rhymes for steel grey times. Around the corner you hear primal screams, unforgiving drones, and punked out transmissions in the alley behind the armoury. Walk down James in a haze, with overdrawn, fractured rhythms that unspool and reassemble themselves in just as much time (did I hear this in the back of the brain /// or was it just my brain?) Safe to say, I’m happy with what my friends are up to.