Archives by month/year

Welcome to Freq in 2014

Freq has been online in various forms since 1998, and this iteration has been around since 2010, with an archive of older material available too.

Please scroll down and on for the most recent reviews; see also the archives index for 1998-2009 below while there is also an A-Z index of everything posted so far.

The bulk of the record reviews 1998-2008 are in the following pages:
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Earthling Society – England Have My Bones

Riot Season

Earthling Society - England Have My BonesThis is full hippy in every good way. Hyperdrive hippy. Hippy in excelsis (not in Excel). Godz-driven, primal, ballistic-psychedelic, balls-to-the-wall, throttled/throttling. It’s the hippyish, proggy album that other people think they’ve made. There’s a massive meandering Alice Coltrane cover on here that sounds like it could be/should be terrible but works brilliantly. There’s devastating stoner stuff, a beautifully placed and ever-building soundworld which swirls and ebbs and pushes into you. There’s awkward movements in just the right places. This attempts to blow you away and achieves it in a way that most albums couldn’t even dream.

I’d never heard anything from Earthling Society before and assumed this was going to be one of the those half-heard, half-liked albums that occasionally squeezed its way out of shuffle and caught me unawares in the middle of

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Gum Takes Tooth – Buried Fires

Endtyme

Gum Takes Tooth - Buried FiresBlending shimmery blurs of electronics with West African-derived polyrhythmic loops and swerves, this taster from the forthcoming album from drum-loving noiseniks Gum Takes Tooth shimmies and shakes with a deftly-assured sway, ripples of synth and coasting vocal drones layered sparsely over and around the hypnotically-intertwining beats. If this is anything to judge by, then Mirrors Fold should be quite the LP to both satisfy the body and befuddle the brain.

It’s also no great surprise to find that singular exponent of harsh industrial grind turned rhythm enthusiast Cut Hands remixing the track on the the flipside of the 7″ vinyl either. Here, William Bennett applies his own particular brand of faux-Afro-futurism to the track, drawing out booming bass and metallic clangour from the get-go, delivering a track which surges and shudders on siren wails of

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Nurse With Wound and Graham Bowers – ExcitoToxicity

Red Wharf

Nurse With Wound and Graham Bowers - ExcitoToxicityIt’s hard to get a handle on this word wise; I was really tempted to leave this as a three letter review – just “wow,” with maybe a few exclamation marks for good measure. Indeed I think this impression was cemented in the first two minutes and didn’t seem to waver in the slightest for ExcitoToxicity‘s whole duration. I know I’m incredibly biased towards Stapleton and Co. (I think he’s notched up a 25 year obsession for me already), but the studio dexterity on display here is so good at hijacking your lobes, blancmanging expectations in swerving colour and sleight of hand, you’d be foolish to pass on the experience.

Continuing Stapleton’s recent collaborations with fellow din denizen Graham Bowers, this recent offering brings to mind (for me at least) Spiral Insana‘s mouldering

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Zombie Zombie – Loubia Hamra OST

Versatile

Zombie Zombie – Loubia Hamra OSTFor my first few listens of Zombie Zombie‘s soundtrack to Narimane Mari‘s film Loubia Hamra, I very deliberately didn’t make any attempt to find what the film was about, so I could do an experiment with myself and see what images the album brought to mind. Turns out it’s either a stunningly inappropriate soundtrack (which I doubt, somehow) or I’m just stunningly bad at judging films by their soundtrack, as it’s actually about children during the Algerian War of Independence, and not, as I had suspected, about either robots or beer, or possibly robots drinking beer. Perhaps I’m bringing too much baggage to this.

Suffice it to say it’s a bit of a departure for Zombie Zombie — well, to an extent, in that the synths perform a much less bouncy and retro-futuristic role than

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Robert Curgenven – Sirène

Recorded Fields Editions

Robert Curgenven - Sirène Subtitled Selected Pipe Organ Works 1983-2014, Robert Curgenven‘s LP finds him pushing the instrument (with the aid of a few others) in all kinds of intriguing directions. As Circle and Mamiffer ably demonstrated on their recent album for church organ, it’s quite amazing what sounds can be drawn from one in the right hands with a sense of adventure.

Presented as four pieces over the LP’s two sides, Sirène works well as a complete album, especially considering the timespan of the recordings and that some of them are excerpted or remixed from extant pieces and/or releases yet to come. This is in large part thanks to the fact that while the pipe organs which provide the source for each piece were all recorded at various locations in Cornwall over the last few years, Curgenven has

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Time Attendant – Bloodhounds

Exotic Pylon

Time Attendant - BloodhoundsBloodhounds is folk poetry. Paul Snowdon is reclaiming the machines of technology from the cultural elite, the bright and polished megastar DJs and superslick mnml producers, ensconced in their citadels of expensive outboard effects, to create a rural ritual evocation of a youth spent in northern England.

Let’s look at that word: folk. As in, of the people. As in, opposed to academic or art-house music. It’s the things that you hear around you; your actual life and environment. Folk songs are routinely associated with a particularly region, a dialect, a strain of people and their daily lives. Still, when most people think about it, they think about heritage festivals and “Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore”, disassociating from their own lives, their own traditions (or lack thereof).

The thing about folk music is that everybody can do

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Boris – Noise

Sargent House

Boris - NoiseBoris. Where does one start with Boris? Well, maybe with a water cannon to the face, the floppy-haired posh twat. Oh, not THAT Boris? OK, so which Boris, then? The sludgy stoner rock merchants of Absolutego fame? The spooky doom band behind that Sunn0))) collaboration? The magnificent rock band that gave us Heavy Rocks and Smile? Or the bizarre yet immaculate J-pop metal band behind New Album?

It gets a bit confusing when you start talking about a band as eclectic and mercurial, so let’s just simplify things, square the circle and divide by zero, and say “all of the above.” Because that’s what we get with their latest album, Noise. The opening track, “Melody,” kicks off like any one of a dozen heavy goth rock acts from the ’80s until a few bars in when Boris turn

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James Blackshaw – Fantômas: Le Faux Magistrat

Tompkins Square

James Blackshaw – FantômasRight from its first publication in February 1911, the novel Fantômas was a phenomenon. In the words of post-modern New York über-poet John Ashberry it was “a work of fiction whose popularity cut across all social and cultural strata. Countesses and concierges; poets and proletarians; cubists, nascent Dadaists, soon-to-be Surrealists: Everyone who could read, and even those who could not, shivered at posters of a masked man in impeccable evening clothes, dagger in hand, looming over Paris like a sombre Gulliver, contemplating hideous misdeeds from which no citizen was safe.”

As Ashberry here makes explicit, the singular success of the novel – put together by two hack journalists Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre in response to a commission by publisher Arthème Fayard – was characterised by its complete transcendence of any notions of high and low culture.

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Richard Youngs – Primary Concrete Attack

Fourth Dimension

Richard Youngs - Primary Concrete AttackWhen invited by Fourth Dimension man Richo to do something outside the ordinary, Richard Youngs accepted the challenge of making a dub album from the perspective of someone who doesn’t like reggae. So, with the aid of boxes of tricks borrowed from occasional collaborator Luke Fowler, he set off on an eight track odyssey into space echoes and spring reverberations to produce Primary Concrete Attack.

The most obvious thing encountered on first listening to the record is that this is not a dub reggae album by any stretch of the imagination; there’s frequently no drums to speak of and while there’s plenty of low end, what rhythms there are may either be more imaginary than intended, or so deformed as to hardly qualify. As the title hints, what emerges here is an album which draws

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Troum – Dreaming Muzak

Zoharum

Troum - Dreaming MuzakDating back to a tape release in 1998 and a later CDr edition from 2005, Dreaming Muzak has now been given the deluxe re-release treatment by Zoharum and arrives in a lovingly-produced three-panel gatefold CD sleeve, remastered, like the recent Maeror Tri (which includes Troum‘s Martin Gitschel and Stefan Knappe as two of the trio) editions, by Łukasz Miernik.

Sometimes oppressive in the extreme, if Part 1 of Dreaming Muzak doles out what Gitschel and Knappe’s sleeping imaginings are like, then perhaps they might more resemble nightmares for others. Put this on — as intended — on repeat at night in a darkened room while sleeping and the huge rumblings and drones will doubtless provoke some startling imagery behind closed eyes, the pulsations and shuddering low tones enough alone to send horripilations over the body’s hairs and

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Babymetal (live at The Forum) – a review and a riposte

London 7 July 2014

Kev Nickells went to see Japanese kawaii-rockers Babymetal live in London, and loved it. Barnabas Y, however, offers a riposte to the popularity of the genre-bending phenomenon. Pictures by James Sting.

The review

You should probably be aware of Babymetal by now. I first came across them when “the hard man of Harsh Noise Wall” Clive Henry put a link up to it. It ticked quite a few boxes for me — stylised in a way that didn’t quite make sense and seeming to be the axis of two very imagey genres – metal and J-pop. Now, I know the average metal purist will tend towards saying that metal doesn’t have anything to do with image but they are a dick who has no idea how ridiculous a Flying V looks. There’s a good reason that high street fashion and corporate graphic designers picked

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Cardiacs – Sing To God

Alphabet Business Concern

Cardiacs - Sing To GodSaw the Cardiacs back in the ’80s when music TV as a worthy proposition. A university challenge spotlight highlighting bruised and bloody faces like a visual rewrite of “Bohemian Rhapsody” oozing with insane carnival colours. The kind of memories that stick with you in crooked smiles and water-squirting lapel flowers, the music as arresting as the spectacle glaring with zombie-esque madness replete with jerky arthritic motions.

Numerous years later I’m surprised to see they’re still at it, unlocking the archives as they go. One such gem is Sing To God, originally released back in 1995, the band seemingly slimmed down to a foursome (well if you don’t count the added extras). It’s a massive 19-track magus opus, originals of which command high prices on the secon- hand market; and listening to this reissue I can

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Dieter Moebius – Nidemonex

More Than Human

Dieter Moebius – NidemonexThis latest transmission from Moebius finds him pushing further at the boundaries of an idiosyncratic take on electronic rhythm-based music which have often characterised his solo recordings and rummaging deeper into the swirling vortices of synthesized experimentalism that he helped pioneer in the ’70s as part of Cluster. “Inmedin” is the piece most resembling the former output, all twinkling electronic bells and chimes over a ponderous bassy rhythm which slurs ominously among the desertified synths which glide around and above with more than slightly sinister intent. It’s beyond ambient and into the atmospheric, an ominous lurker winding up like a shaman setting up for a long haul ahead at the rumbling threshold of consciousness.

Bleakest of all is the ponderoulsy squittery dub yet not-dub of “Zytos,” the shivers, rippled samples and splatters of distended and dirtified

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Plastikman – Ex

Mute

Plastikman - EXIn a world inundated with live recordings and DJ mixes, what makes a release stand apart from the barbarous hordes?

The fact alone that this is mnml mastermind Richie Hawtin‘s first record under his Plastikman guise in a decade, since 2003′s Closer, means that people will be paying attention, no matter what. The question is, does this record stand on its own merit, or does it flourish in the shadow of Plastikman’s famous stick figure? Right off the bat, let me say: this is probably not the new Plastikman record yr waiting for, although it is comprised of all-new material. Hawtin was invited to perform at an international gala at the Guggenheim Museum last year, and ambitiously decided to cobble together a set of brand new material for the occasion.

EX is a live recording of what went down

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Teeth Of The Sea/The Cosmic Dead (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Teeth of the Sea Live at Baba Yaga's Hut Corsica Studios, London 12 July 2014

It was the day of the flying ants. The humidity in London was building and it felt like a storm was about to break any minute. Before hitting the venue I went to the local pub to have a beer and cool down after the heat of London transport. People who sat outside were being assailed by ants and for a brief few seconds a shower hit that washed some of them away. Then the heat rose and steam made its way upwards from the pavement. These were the omens, the portents of what was to come as my ears were about to be aurally assaulted.

Corsica Studios were hot and sticky and the air con didn’t seem to be doing its job well. But as the dry ice

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