Sunday, 10 June 2018

HARD LEFT


























"we are hard left"
Year:    2015
Country:    US
City:    Oakland
Label:    Future perfect
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    20
Time:    37 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Oi!










Passionately political Oakland Mod and skinhead outfit Hard Left release a new fourteen tracks album in 2015, so big fan Glenn Airey fired a few friendly enquiries across the pond. Hard Left exist at a gloriously rowdy collision point for Oi! music, class politics, pop art and skinhead stylings. Their debut album "we are hard left" was packed with insurrectionary Oi! anthems, and snatches of bootboy terrace chants of the kind last heard echoing around England’s long-crumbled post-war football grounds. Perhaps the least predictable aspect of this socialist street rock package, however, is that they’re doing it all out of Oakland, California: a pocket of resistance in this ever-more gentrified region at the heart of late tech-capitalism. The band’s terrific new 4-track single "strike" is also available now, so it seemed a good time to ask them about the possibilities and contradictions posed by their paradoxically populist yet confrontational approach. Rude voice, short songs, few distorted guitars and mid-tempo street rock which can to remind Cock Sparrer, Cockney Rejects or even Angelic Upstarts at the same time. Veteran musicians with mature and intelligent lyrics too. Highly recommended.
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Thursday, 7 June 2018

JON HOPKINS



























"immunity"
Year:    2013
Country:    UK
City:    Surrey
Label:    Domino
Format:    CD
Tracks:    8
Time:    60 min.
Genre:    electronic
Style:            Ambient            Techno











Jonathan Julian "Jon" Hopkins (born 15 August 1979) is an English producer and musician who writes and performs electronic music. He began his career playing keyboard for Imogen Heap, and has produced or contributed to albums by Brian Eno, Coldplay, David Holmes and others. Hopkins composed the soundtrack for the 2010 film Monsters, which was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award for Best Original Score. His third solo album, Insides, reached no. 15 on the Dance/Electronic Album Chart in 2009. His collaborations on Small Craft on a Milk Sea with Brian Eno and Leo Abrahams and Diamond Mine with King Creosote both reached no. 82 on the UK Albums Chart. In 2011 Diamond Mine was nominated for a Mercury Prize, which is annually awarded for best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Immunity was also nominated for the 2013 Mercury Prize. Jon Hopkins was born in 1979 in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey and grew up in nearby Wimbledon. He first became aware of electronic music after hearing early house music on the radio at the age of seven or eight, and also became a fan of Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys. These records inspired an early fascination with synths. At the age of 12 Hopkins began studying piano at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music in London, where he continued until age 17. The composers that were greatly influential to him whilst studying were Ravel and Stravinsky, and he eventually won a competition to perform a concert of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with an orchestra. For a time Hopkins considered becoming a professional pianist, only to decide classical performance was too formal and unnerving to pursue full-time.





As a teenager he also listened to acid house, early hardcore, grunge, as well as electronica artists such as Acen, Seefeel, and Plaid. When Hopkins was 14 he got his first computer, an Amiga 500, and started programming MIDI material. By the age of 15 he had saved up enough money from winning piano competitions to buy a low-level professional Roland synth, and on this he began creating his first full-length electronic compositions.





On March 6, 2018, Hopkins announced that his 5th studio album "Singularity" would be released on May 4, 2018 via Domino Recordings. Speaking about the album, Hopkins told Exclaim!, "Now that Singularity is done, I can look back on it, and it's almost like some sort of living thing that's purifying itself over the course of that hour. By the time it gets to the end, it's in the exact opposite place, and yet it ends with the same sound — the infinite simplicity of that one note. I like that idea."
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"singularity"
Year:    2018
Label:    Domino
Format:    CD, 2 x LP
Tracks:    9
Time:    60 min.
Genre:    electronic
Style:            Ambient            Techno












Jon Hopkins is playing perfect. That much is clear as soon as “Singularity,” the lead and title song on his first album since 2013’s Mercury Prize-nominated Immunity, shivers into being. A ferrous wasteland of synthesizer overhung by evaporated strings and guitar merge into a remarkably complete sonic landscape — the land and sky of a new world, with its own alien physics, its own genesis and apocalypse. Hopkins keeps hanging these strange planets in wobbly orbits throughout Singularity, forming a universe that pulses with deep consciousness and a sense of endless discovery. Hopkins was known as a hired hand for Coldplay, Brian Eno, and Imogen Heap, with a sideline in tasteful IDM records until Immunity promoted him to noted techno auteur. Like that breakthrough, Singularity is a beat-music odyssey pitched between acid house and introspective ambient bliss, constant change and eternal return, sublunary and sublime. It also combines many other opposites into thrillingly unstable wholes. The producer’s distinctive techno is coarse and granular, as if electricity were a solid you could grind in a mill, yet it flows in a graceful stream. It squelches like muck and shines like crystal. It beats like a body, but it moves like a mind. Singularity begins with a three-song voyage through a realm that’s recognizable from Immunity epic “Open Eye Signal,” one where much of the rhythm occurs in negative space. For a techno producer, Hopkins has a counterintuitive way of treating sound as something huge and immobile, then scything crop circles into those heavy frequencies to create a sense of motion. His beats are blanks, and his tracks feel unbound from the metronome. “Emerald Rush” climbs a ladder of Laraaji-like arpeggios and mountainous chord changes to some hidden summit of consciousness. The track features additional drum programming by Clark, another tailor of the fabric of spacetime—something Hopkins turns inside out at the drop on “Neon Pattern Drum" (*Review by Brian Howe ).
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Sunday, 3 June 2018

PALBERTA


























"bye bye Berta"
Year:    2016
Country:    US
City:    New York
Label:    Wharf Cat
Format:    CD
Tracks:    20
Time:    30 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Post Punk












The sound of trio Palberta evokes the post-punk era’s great experimentalists, with overloaded glee and delirious energy. The 20-song *Bye Bye Berta is their first attempt at doing so longform. alberta take joy in confusion. Formed in New York’s Hudson Valley at Bard College, the trio of Lily Konigsberg, Anina Ivry-Block, and Nina Ryser has spent the last few years baffling audiences in the Northeast DIY scene with brief blasts of broken rounds, abstract nursery rhymes, and jittery haphazard rhythms that speed to cartoonish extremes or slow down to a crawl seemingly on a whim. Despite the anti-hero virtuosity that they each demonstrate on guitar, bass, and drums, Ivry-Block has said in interviews that she’s “never really learned how to play songs on the guitar or really any of the instruments.” Consequently, their sound is largely in line with the post-punk era’s great experimentalists—This Heat’s rattlesnake coils of toxic rhythmic interplay, Sun City Girls’ prankish melodies—but they approach these sounds with a sort of overloaded glee, crashing and careening through styles and sounds for little more than a couple minutes at a time. Then, they’ll awkwardly trade instruments before barreling through another sub-two-minute track. They’ve released a couple of tapes and splits—most notably 2013’s *My Pal Berta *and 2014’s Shitheads in the Ditch—that attempted to bottle their delirious energy, but at 20-songs long, *Bye Bye Berta *is their first real attempt at doing so longform. The effect, even through just the first couple of bite-sized pieces, is jarring and deliberately so. Within five minutes, Konigsberg, Ivry-Block, and Ryser tunnel through dazed chorales (“Why Didn’t I?”), discordant speed blues (“Acoustic Rollup”), bracing noise rock (“Jaws”), and narcotized concréte (“Bells Pt. B”). The stylistic hopscotch is unsettling, but playful, something like attempting to hop onto a speeding carousel. Even as you start to feel sickly, you can’t help but hang on tight. Compared to some of the more outré experiments they’ve slipped onto singles and splits since Shitheads, the sounds that make up *Bye Bye Berta *feel especially well-considered. It’s a strange thing to say about a record that has an intentionally misremembered—and largely off-key—rendition of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin Alive,” but it’s clear that Palberta are giving real thought to the diverse textures they can wring out of their instruments. “She Feels That Way,” for example, is presented first as a sparse, unplugged ballad. It’s then followed by a noisy, rumbling version of the same track—the original’s toy piano plinks are scoured by the brillo-tough, barely-in-tune guitar lines. These two versions of the same loose, spectral melody show it plainly, but Palberta never really repeat a specific sound between songs, even with their limited instrumental palette. It only adds to the euphoric disjunct of the record as a whole (*Review by Colin Joyce ).
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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

LITHICS



























"mating surfaces"
Year:    2018
Country:    US
City:    Portland, OR
Label:    kill rock stars 
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    12
Time:    38 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Post Punk













Mating Surfaces is the second full length release, and first for Kill Rock Stars, as well as a couple of EPs from Portland, OR band Lithics. The band like to keep a little bit of a mystery to themselves as they have very little online presence outside of some local independent articles, and that carries over to the music as well. There are many shifts and turns that can happen at the drop of a hat and every once in while vocalist/guitarist Aubrey Hornor’s usually detached vocals are sprinkled with emotions. There are some touches of some classic post-punk influencers like early Fall and Sonic Youth, but more-so in the sense of some fearless and wild abandonment in the name of experimentation. The record starts off firing on all cylinders with “Excuse Generator” with stuttering rhythm guitar and slicing staccato leads piercing through a strong and danceable rhythm section. Hornor’s slight sneer in the vocal performance is quite forceful as she repeatedly asks “Can I be myself?” rhetorically.





 “When Will I Die” is propelled by a bouncing bassline that is right up front pushing the tempo along only to occasionally be pierced by sharp trebly guitar slicing through until imploding towards the end of the song. “Specs” is all angular and jutting in it’s approach and playful time signatures and Hornor's vocals do a great job of furthering the tension that is taking place between all the instruments and outside forces. “Glass of Water” is full of wildly brittle guitar leads and some strong and forceful drum-fills that are a little reminiscent of fellow West Coast garage art punk band The Intelligence. “Home” is a track filled with some quite intense anxiety exemplified by it’s fast tempo and trebly leads as Hornor somewhat frantically intones “Home is anywhere you are”. "Home" is definitely a standout on this release due to its claustrophobic soundscape fueled intensity and its exploration of the feeling of never really belonging and the isolation that goes hand in hand. “Dancing Guy” bookends the record in appropriate fashion with it’s unusually danceable discordance that eventually collapses into itself.





Mating Surfaces is a record that is filled with tension and walks on the border of full on breakdown that it never really succumbs to until it’s fitting ending. For a record that plays on jittery soundscapes and emotions it can be a quite intense listening experience as there isn’t much of a let up track to track. Hornor and company have made a record that is also full of contrasts between its sparse staccato guitar attacks and some interesting interplay between the rhythm section throughout its 28 minutes. Even though the tone of the record is one of intensity and anxiety, it is very compelling throughout and it is a record that deserves repeated listens and the ears of anyone looking for something new and exciting. It would be in a lot of people’s self-interest to seek Lithics out for themselves and indulge in the experience. (*Review by Kris Handel ).
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Monday, 28 May 2018

THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON


























"lifeforms"
Year:    1994
Country:    UK
City:    Manchester
Label:    Virgin
Format:    2 x CD, 2 x LP
Tracks:    19
Time:   92 min.
Genre:    electronic
Style:            Breakbeat            Leftfield            Ambient













The Future Sound of London (often abbreviated to FSOL) are a prolific British electronic music band comprised of Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans. The duo are often credited with pushing the boundaries of electronic music experimentation and of pioneering a new era of dance music. Although often labelled as ambient, Cobain and Dougans usually resist being typecast into any one particular genre. Their work covers most areas of electronic music, such as ambient techno, drum and bass, trip-hop, ambient dub, acid techno and often involves extreme experimentation; for example they have, since the turn of the millennium, experimented with psychedelic rock under their Amorphous Androgynous alias.
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"dead cities"
Year:    1996
Label:   Virgin
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    13
Time:    71 min.
Genre:    electronic
Style:            Breakbeat            Leftfield            Ambient




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Saturday, 26 May 2018

THE YOUNG GODS

























"TV sky"
Year:    1992
Label:   PIAS
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    9
Time:    48 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Industrial Rock



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"only heaven"
Year:    1995
Label:    PIAS
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    10
Time:    50 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Industrial Rock



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"second nature"
Year:    2000
Country:    Switzerland
City:    Fribourg
Label:   PIAS
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    9
Time:    52 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Industrial Rock











The Young Gods are a Swiss industrial rock band from Fribourg. The band's original lineup consisted of a trio composed by a vocalist, a keyboardist/sampler operator, and a drummer. In 2007, a fourth member joined the band. Their instrumentation often includes sampled electric guitars, drums, keyboards, and other samples. AllMusic refers to them as "electro-noise terrorists." The lyrics are written in English, French and German. Their name is taken from an early EP by the no wave/noise rock band Swans. Artists influenced by the Young Gods include Pitchshifter, Mike Patton, Sepultura, The Edge (as stated in U2 by U2), Devin Townsend, Ithak, Econoline Crush and David Bowie; asked in 1995 if his album Outside was influenced by Nine Inch Nails, Bowie answered: "The band that I was actually quite taken with was three guys from Switzerland called the Young Gods... I’d been aware of them previous to knowing about Nine Inch Nails." Roli Mosimann of Swans has worked with the group as a producer. In 2007 they did a Take-Away Show acoustic video session. Notable hits are: "Did You Miss Me?", "Envoyé!", "Longue Route", "Skinflowers", and "Kissing the Sun". In December 2012, the Young Gods gave a small series of concerts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first album (1987). The group will play songs from their first two albums ("The Young Gods" and "L'eau rouge"). The line-up will be Franz Treichler (vocals), Bernard Trontin (drums) and Cesare Pizzi (samplers). The group supplied original music for the 2012 animated short film, Kali the Little Vampire, which went on to win over 20 international awards.
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Saturday, 19 May 2018

ELWAY


























"for the sake of the bit"
Year:    2018
Country:    US
City:    Fort Collins, CO
Label:   Red Scare
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    12
Time:    34 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Indie Rock













Elway is an american punk band from Fort Collins, Colorado. Their sound is a unique and inebriated take on a time-tested formula: aggressive punk rock with soaring melodies coupled with lyrics ranging from that of the sad sap to the indignant atheist with a bevy of homespun dick jokes. Biography. The original name of the band was 10-4 Eleanor. As 10-4 Eleanor they release an album. ...Too Bad..., and an EP, Words Cannot Express How Much Fuck This Band. Delusions, the first album released under the name "Elway," was released via Red Scare Industries in 2011. Elway released Leavetaking on June 25, 2013 via Red Scare Industries.
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SWELL MAPS


























"a trip to marineville"
Year:    1979
Country:    UK
City:    Birmingham
Label:   Mute
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    18
Time:    60 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Post Punk











Swell Maps were a british punk group of the 10s from Birmingham, that foreshadowed the birth of post-punk. Influenced by the disparate likes of T. Rex and the German progressive outfit Can, they created a new soundscape that would be heavily mined by others in the post-punk era. Despite existing in various forms since 1975, Swell Maps only really came together as a musical entity after the birth of British punk rock. Consisting of brothers Epic Soundtracks (real name Kevin Godfrey) and Nikki Sudden (real name Nicholas Godfrey) two Solihull based teenagers, plus Richard Earl, David Barrington, John Cockrill and Jowe Head, the band cut the single "Read About Seymour" as their debut in 1977, soon after the brothers left Solihull School (also home of Spizzenergi). It is widely considered one of the classic punk era singles. Epic's drumming mixed with Nikki's unique melodies crafted over the assorted threads cast by the six musicians set the band apart from the others. After recording their first John Peel session Swell Maps went into WMRS studio to record their first album A Trip to Marineville, which was released in 1979. With hard rocking punk numbers like "H.S. Art" interspersed by ambient instrumentals and other experimental interludes like "Gunboats", the album marked the band out as innovative non-musicians. The album went #1 on the new Independent chart.

The band cut one more album, The Swell Maps in 'Jane From Occupied Europe', in 1980, which pushed further into post-punk territory. They displayed their ingenuity for creating everything from industrial surf instrumentals like the opener "Robot Factory" to perverse ballads like "Cake Shop Girl". Even while they were falling apart during these sessions they were pushing the musical boundaries beyond what punk originally had to offer. They sought to release much of their early forays in lo-fi experimenation in the compilation, Whatever Happens Next..., before splitting up.

Since their split the legend of the Swell Maps has grown, through their influence on the C86 bands, lo-fi, and other pioneers like Sonic Youth and Pavement. Individual members of the band (especially Nikki Sudden, Epic Soundtracks and Jowe Head) went on to solo careers. The band's catalogue has recently been remastered and reissued and further dips into their archives can be expected. An EP of especially zany tracks was released under the name of the Phones Sportsman Band in 1980. After an interval of over 25 years away from music, the Phones Sportsman Band has now reformed in January 2008.
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"in jane from occupied Europe"
Year:    1980
Label:    Mute
Format:    CD, LP
Tracks:    13
Time:    50 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Post Punk




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