Thursday, 9 April 2015

White Hills "Walks for Motorists" (Thrill Jockey)

"Do we dare to call ourselves creators?" ask creators White Hills, dreaming "in defiance of god" on the musical mutation that motors up an unexpected change in direction: "No Will" threw me at first as it doesn't sound like any other White Hills song at all. A friend mentioned a similarity to Bauhaus, but White Hills sound more angry and natural. But what is natural? Although nebulous, the "worst fears in flesh and blood" expressed on "No Will" make me think of genetic modification, cloning, artificial intelligence, the very probable evolution of a group mind as the human race replaces flesh with machine, neurons with wire and circuitry and animal mutates first into machine then pure information. There's a break from such philosophical pondering with the propulsive chug of "£SD or USB" but the title implies the increasing hallucinogenic potency of the internet. White Hills' heavy psychedelic rock of old takes up the battle for freedom from authoritarian control on "Wanderlust," almost a manifesto for the relentless touring that takes them far from New York. "Lead the Way" gets temporally cosmic with a riff that sounds like Loop's "Collision" dragged through a swamp of dark splatter, and Ron Asheton style wah-wah splurge. The big shift in sound is due to songs born of Ego Sensation's bass lines and keyboard melodies rather than Dave W's formerly dominant guitar. Instrumental "I Nomad" typifies this move, all glacial descent and burbling ice melt. The use of keyboards and synthesisers is nothing new for White Hills, as their masterpiece "H-p1" was awash with them, but there guitar still dominated. Maybe the less guitar heavy direction has been influenced by their friends and collaborators Gnod who have themselves completely abandoned guitars. "We Are What You Are" is more redolent of their previous album, and not just in title, opening with apocalyptic guitar menace. Its anthemic build seems to give a more positive spin to the gothic doom of "No Will." "We are the light that sets you free?" Then again maybe its just another ego sensation? "Automated City" hums on a motorik pulse, corrupting Kraftwerk's "Neon Lights" into a dystopia watched over by "big black shining eyes." Note the similarity if the word 'motorik' to the word 'motorists.' The title track "Walks for Motorists" walks similar new terrain but is more Star Wars than Blade Runner. Penultimate tune "Life is Upon You" breathes rotating bass line oxygen and is fed by discordant chunks of distorted keyboard drone, with Ego's almost pop backing vocals adding a questioning counterpoint. Whilst this doesn't surpass their previous album "So You Are... So You'll Be" it is still a great album. Just be prepared for less guitars!

This review was written for Optical Sounds zine.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Wire by Wire (a band and an album called "Wire")

I'm worried, there's cause for concern. I lit the touch paper and it started to burn. Oh no no no! Is it too late to change my mind? A total eclipse arrives now and something snapped. His last mortal remains reflect; that's how many came to grief. The road ahead looks quite uncertain. Rethinking strategies to free your mind and break your neck: HArpooned!
The last song on a Wire album often has an apocalyptic aspect, and this tradition, only completely rescinded by "Red Barked Trees," continues here. The last song "Harpooned" is the one to mention first as it's better than all the other songs on Wire's fifth studio album since their second rebirth put together. It made a monstrous set closer for the last few gigs I saw them play prior to recording. Musically it recalls the brooding ominous doom of "Reuters" from their debut album "Pink Flag" and the relentless percussive onslaught of "Over Theirs" from "The Ideal Copy." Lyrically it seems to be cut from the same cookie  as "Ally in Exile / Doubles and Trebles." The protagonist is worried and hears voices echoing down in his shell, waiting some imminent catastrophe. In both songs the paranoid atmosphere is well justified as certain doom is just around the corner, just out of reach? "Harpooned" also gives the first vague hint that the deranged technoid circles of mania inscribed by their masterpiece "99.9" might not have been completely abandoned upon the exit of former guitar-artist Bruce Gilbert. "99.9" did suggest an alternative to the 'beat combo' set up that currently serves Wire's purposes very well, a parallel universe that they have yet to navigate further. Maybe it wasn't a dead end after all?  More than any other album this sounds like primary melodicist Colin Newman has taken the reigns. There is much less of Graham Lewis' voice, and this is the first Wire album since "Pink Flag" with no lead vocals from him, maybe because he'd used them all up for his recent album on Mego, "All Over?" His most prominent vocal is the repetition of a single word, "Delay" on the snappy "Octopus," however the best songs are the ones I'm guessing had more of his cryptic lyrical word play, especially the intriguing "Joust and Jostle" (formerly titled "Nocturnal Koreans" when played live) and the flying Dutchman chasing "Swallow." It is these songs plus the upbeat hymn to the pervasive consuming religion of the internet "Blogging" which opens the album and the ponderous ode to unity "Sleep-Walking" that form the backbone of an album over-powered by the "Harpooned" brain. "Sleep-Walking"  actually comes across as the less brutal little brother of "Harpooned" and these five key songs are also the ones extensively road tested on tour before recording began in Wales. The rest of the album is lighter and mostly lyrically more direct. "Shifting" and "Burning Bridges" are rare things for Wire, love songs, but pulled off without the corny cliche that so often marrs such endeavours. "Burning Bridges" could possibly be a tribute to Colin's father who died recently. Matthew Simms' guitar effects on "Split Your Ends" recall Mike Thorne's keyboards on Wire's third and best album "154"  and reviewed, it seems about half the songs sound as if they were born in the shadow of "Map Ref" and "The Fifteenth." "In Manchester" gives a possible clue as to the next location of Wire's Drillfest, wherein they curate a week or so of gigs in a particular city. Although this is far from their greatest album it does include one future classic track and does nothing to detract from their formidable legacy. The one major cause for criticism is the unimaginative eponymous title: the narrowest vision often has the widest appeal?

This review was written for "Optical Sounds" zine.
Now look at for the lowdown.

The First Three Months of 2015...

...have found me listening to these new albums and I highly recommend them all:

The Pop Group - Citizen Zombie (possibly their best album!)
Wire - Wire
Enablers - The Rightful Pivot
White Hills - Walks for Motorists
godspeed you! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
Mugstar and Damo Suzuki - Start from Zero
Anthroprophh - UFO & Anhedonia tour CDR
Last Harbour - Caul
Groves - Give it Some Thrape

and a few from late last year:

Edvard Graham Lewis - All Over
Einsturzende Neubauten - Lament
Thurston Moore and John Moloney: Caught On Tape - Full Bleed
Githead - Waiting for a Sign
Pine Barrens - Kingmaker
Mugstar / Cosmic Dead
Be My Weapon - Greasy!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Music I Listened to in July

This is the new music was listening to in July 2014:

1.7 Black Bananas promo stream from Mutante 
out 23.6.14 on Drag City Records

3.7 CDs from Vinyl Exchange
Ultravox! - Ha!-Ha!-Ha! 1977
The Young Gods 1985
Thela - Thela 1995
Bruce Russell - Gilded Splinters (tape works 1995-2005)
The Body - Christs Redeemers 2013
The Baptist Generals - Jackleg Devotional to the Heart 2013

3.7 Two LPs from Piccadilly Records
The Night Marchers - Allez! Allez! 2014
Mudhoney - Live at Third Man Records 2014

4.7 Two promo CDRs given to me by Brett Savage of Dead Sea Apes at their gig at Kraak Gallery with The Oscillation
The Oscillation - Cable Street Sessions 2014
Anthroprophh - Precession 2014

10.7 Two CDs from King Bee Records, Chorlton
J Church - The Drama of Alienation 1996
J Church - The Ecstasy of Communication 1997

13.7 Three LPs on Golden Lab Records bought from Nick Mitchell direct on returning from our trip to Liverpool to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura - Dieter Dierks Jerks 2914
Chalaque - Switching Center 2014
Howling Hex - Rogue Moon 2009

15.7 Two promos delivered to my friend David Armes, guitarist of Last Harbour, as my mail sometimes gets stolen by a skunk addled idiot son of an alcoholic woman on the floor below or his stupid friends
Black Bananas - Electric Brick Wall (Drag City) June 2014
Trans Am - Volume X (Thrill Jockey) released 11.08.14

17.7 CDR given to me by Rob Allen of Robot Alien at their gig at The Castle supporing Claw the Thin Ice
Robot Alien - Putdown EP

18.7 Two song CD single given away at Dulcimer gig
The Creature Comfort - Sauce

21.7 Three 50p bargain bin promos from Vinyl Exchange
Shield Patterns - Contour Lines 2014
Ovo - Abisso 2014
New War - New War 2013

23.7 I exchanged nine records and nine CDs in Vinyl Exchange and brought home
Makoto Kawabata - Inui 3
Okkultokrati - Night Jerks 2014
Emma Ruth Rundle - Some Heavy Ocean 2014
Ed Kuepper and the Kowalski Collective - Jean Lee and the Yellow Dog 2007
Kim Salmon and the Surrealists - S/T 1995
Nirvana - Nevermind 2CD remaster 1991/2001
Minor Threat - First Demo Tape 1981/2003
Oneida - Come On Everybody Lets Rock 2000
Hugo Race and True Spirit - last Frontier 1998
Phantom Tollbooth and Robert Pollard - Beard of Lightning 1988/2003
Go Back Snowball - Calling Zero (Robert Pollard) 2002
Velvet Monkeys - Everything is Right 2011

24.7 After Ex-Easter Island Head played a mind-blowing afternoon free gig at St Ann's Church I bought two LPs from them
Ex-Easter Island Head Large Electric Ensemble
Ex-Easter Island Head - Mallet Guitars Three
David Armes gave me a promo CD of the fourth release on his Little Crackd Rabbit label
Black Walls - Communion
Later I went to Fopp and bagged some cheap CDs
Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Life 1987
Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door 1970
Neil Young - A Treasure
Damon and Naomi - False Beats and True Hearts
Savage Republic - Varvahios
The Wire magazine with Wire Tapper 35 compilation, an "epiphany" by Graham Lewis of Wire and an interview with Trevor Wishart   

28.7 I took some CDs, books and records to King Bee Records in Chorlton and bagged two LPs
The Seeds - Fallin' Off the Edge
Lydia Lunch - 13:13
and five cheap CDs
Richard Thompson - Amnesia
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
The Damned - Final Damnation
Stiff Little Fingers - Hanx!
Neil Young - Silver and Gold

Later at the UV Race / Sex Hands / Dinner Party gig at Kraak Gallery I bought the very last new music to be played in the flat I'm moving out of and that was the Dinner Party Live tape.

However the very last song I played in that grotty firetrap was "Sedan Delivery" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse (Year of the Horse live version): Gotta get away! Gotta get outta there!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Records and CDs for Sale

I have a lot of duplicate LPs and CDs and many CDs I have no desire to listen to ever again. Here is a list of some of  them. If anyone wants any of these then email me to let me know how much you want to pay for them, or if you have another record or CD you'd like to swap for them, and I can bring the LP or CD along to a gig. Some of the CDs I will even give away, so you might get lucky!

12" VINYL:

Gumball - Special Kiss (Don Fleming)
New Christs - Distemper (Rob Younger of Radio Birdman)
Babes in Toyland - Fontanelle (red vinyl)
Breaking Circus - Smokers' Paradise (Tod Trainer of Shellac drums)
Big Audio Dynamite - No 10 Upping Street
Ellen Foley - Spirit of St Louis (with some songs written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones)
Fifteen - Lucky
Ultravox - The Collection
Ultravox - Vienna
Rises - Little Low EP

Bob Mould - The Silence Between Us

Dirty Three - Whatever You Love You Are
Nirvana - Nevermind
Nirvana - In Utero
Sonic Youth - Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No Star (no cover)
Come - Eleven: Eleven
Ground-Zero - Plays Standards
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Machine EP
Penthouse - My Idle Hands
Read Yellow - Radios Burn Faster
Read Yellow - Read Yellow EP
Guided By Voices - The Best of Jill Hives EP
Magic Dirt - What Are Rock Stars Doing Today 2CD
Dymaxion - Dymaxion x 4 + 3 = 38:33
Pascal Comelade - The No Dancing (featuring "Love too Soon" with PJ Harvey singing)
Laymar - In Strange Lines and Distances
Helmet - Betty
Ramones - Road to Ruin promo CDR of remaster with ten extra songs
The New Year - Newness Ends promo CDR

John Zorn plays the music of Ornette Coleman - Spy vs. Spy
Ramones Mania
Agent Orange - When You Least Expect It
REM - Reckoning (w/bonus tracks)
Parts and Labor - Stay Afraid
Tarwater - Animals, Suns and Atoms
September Collective
Blood Red Shoes - Box of Secrets
Bloc Party - Silent Album
Adult - DUME
Adult - Why Bother?
Mothlite - The Flax of Reverie
Aquaserge - Ce Tres Cher Serge (w/Makoto kawabata)
Murcof - The Versaille Sessions
Martin Klapper and Roger Turner - Recent Croaks
Health - Health
Breathless - Green to blue 2CD
Adrian Crowley - Long Distance Swimmer
Her Space Holiday - XOXO Panda and the New Kid Revival
Greg Weeks - The Hive
Benjy Ferree - Come Back to the Five and Dime
Skeletons and the Kings of Al Cities - Lucas
Ginferno - Extra Ale
Paul Curreri - California
Low Res - Blue Ramen
The Ruby Suns - Sea Lion
Aufgang - Istiklaliya
Teddy Thompson - A Piece of What You Need
Red Jetson -Other Arms
Anticon label sampler 1999-2005
Trwbador - Trwbador
Soledad Velez - Wild Fishing
Niagara - Otto
Seth Nehil / J Grzinich - Stria
Cremaster - Infra
Beat Milk Jugs - 10 Years of Hangovers
Stumbleine - Spiderwebbed
Wild Honey - Big Flash
Mantler - Monody
Edible Woman - Everywhere at Once
KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope
Andrew Pekler - Station to Station
Mira Calix - 3 Comissions (no cover)
Cliffordandcalix - Aperture
Laki Mera - Proximity Effect
Midas Fall - Wilderness
Alla - Es Tiempo
Richard Warren - Laments
Richard Warren - The Wayfarer
Nedry - Condors
Nedry - In a Dim Light
The Visitors - Above You
Laroca - Valley of the Bears
Echoboy - Echoboy
El Perro Del Mar - From the Valley to the Stars
Le Loup - Family
The Spores - Not Now
Jokers Daughter - The Last Laugh
Black Cab - East Jesus
Puerto Muerto - When I Was a Swallow
The Films - Don't Dance Rattlesnake (no cover)
Gauntlet Hair (no cover)
Imani Copolla - The Black and White Album (no cover)

Promo CDR
Leila - Blood Looms and Blooms
The Clientele - Bonfires on the Heath
Digitonal - Be Still My Bleeping Heart
Artery - Civilisation
Marconi Union - A Lost Connection
Snowblink - Long Live
Yacht - See Mystery (DFA)
Sam Thomas - Blind Theatre

Fucked Up - Year of the Pig
Gold Chains - The Game
Skunk Anansie - Charlie Big Potato
Asobi Seksu - Walk on the Moon
Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground
Gold Blade - Black Elvis
Gold Blade - Strictly Hardcore
Gold Blade - Who was the killer?
Empire of Sponge - 6th Finger
El Perro Del Mar - Dog / Shake It Off
Capitol k - Pillow
Clor - Outlines
Merchandise -Swallowing Curses
Mise En Scene - Hey Velvet
Laki Mera - Clutter
Still Flyin' - Travellin' Man
The Sundays - Cry (one song)

Ultimate Killing Joke Setlist

My ultimate Killing Joke setlist:

Blood On Your Hands
Money is Not Our God
Corporate Elect
Empire Song
Seeing Red
Fema Camp
Night Time
Pole Shift
Follow the Leaders
Fresh Fever from the Skies
The Wait

The Death and Resurrection Show
In Excelsis

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Thalia Zedek interview

I interviewed Thalia Zedek for Perfect Sound Forever.
Read it here