Saturday, 29 October 2011

Fuck the Facts – Die Miserable review

Celebrating their tenth anniversary, Ottowa’s Fuck the Facts album “Die Miserable” sees them push the envelope further from straight ahead grind into more complex, multi-layered compositions, that, for want of a healthier word, could, for fear of kick starting another discussion, be considered “progressive” or eclectic. “Census Black” is 7 whole minutes in length, and shifts from a vigorous introduction that somehow maintains a sludge temperament, into a landscape of space and angularity, all within that space of time. It is not grindcore’s answer to “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis, but neither is it an unadulterated grindcore album.....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Mastodon – The Hunter

Mastodon - The Hunter

Mastodon have never been afraid to take risks, embrace the concept of the concept album and to explore avenues as potent as Moby Dick and Rasputin. They have never been afraid to embrace the 10 minute multi chapter epic and explore their themes with grandeur and ceremony. “The Hunter” then is a radical departure in terms of song structure and concept. Gone are the 10 minute masterpieces, to be replaced by 13, 4 minute masterpieces......

Shining – Live Blackjazz review for This Is Not a Scene

Not to be confused with the Swedish band of the same name, the Norwegian Shining on “Blackjazz” miraculously managed to fuse the ethic of punk, free form jazz, progressive rock and industrial into an extraordinary combination of violence and aggression within the context of multifaceted and intelligent arrangements. “Live Blackjazz” as the name suggests features many of the tracks from those sessions in a live setting. To attempt to recreate the robot like precision and aggression of “Blackjazz” would itself appear to have been inhuman. But the live DVD that accompanies this release is visual proof that Shining are more than up to the task.......

Shining - Live Blackjazz

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Merzbow & Balazs Pandi – Ducks: Live in NYC review

From the opening salvo of hammering drums and searing white noise the listener can make up their own mind, do I stay for the duration or return to familiar ground and leave this sort of “music” to the elitists? The noise that is traditionally found being made by Masami Akita (Merzbow) can be challenging, there can be no argument regarding this. Hungary’s Balazs Pandi is currently highly in demand for a percussion style that encompasses European free jazz to grindcore. These two disparate figures have come together on this live recording, and produced, quite frankly, one of the most exhilarating and agreeable  recordings to come out of a area of music that is often ignored or openly vilified........

Monday, 24 October 2011

The House of Capriorn Interview

Following on from an Alternative Matter review I put together on New Zealand’s The House of Capricorn’s latest album “In the Devil’s Days”, Marko Pavlovic from the band agreed to answer a few questions. The responses are enlightening and comical, particularly in response to my description of his vocal technique....
Outside of metal, what other influences have helped to shape the “House of Capricorn” sound?
I was about to answer this with a tonne of aesthetic-based responses, then re-read the question and saw it was specific to ‘sound’. As they always taught us in school, ‘always read the question’......

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Wormskull – Sound of Hell review

“They’re coming to get you...”, essentially a collaboration between Bong Ra, Ad Noiseam, Kilamanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble associate Jason Kohnen, Mike Redman ( AKA Deformer), Balazs Pandi (Merzbow, Venetian Snares) and turntablist/guitarist Eni-Less, Wormskull’s “Sound of Hell” is exactly what you may expect to hear. Frantic drumming, fragments of ethereal dubstep and sinister electronics lay the foundations for a collection of tunes that excite and disturb in equal measure and utilising fragments of movie dialogue to expand the sound, sends the listener deeper into the maelstrom. “Beyond this gate lurks an experience that will touch a fear you’ll never knew you had”.....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Muskox – Invocation/Transformations review

Toronto based Muskox have in “Invocation/Transformations” released an intriguing album which from the opening few moments of “Lutonian Knights I” signify a creative force that is not afraid to take risks with instrumentation. The textures throughout the album are intricate, subtle and anchored by time signatures that defy the conventional framework. To use “Buff Stop”, the second track on the album as an example, following the opening fanfare, the listener is driven along on abrupt changes, keyboard passages that are reminiscent of the early 1970’s Canterbury scene and intricate banjo lines that inspire intrigue and intelligence in equal measure...... 

Dr Terror's Mix of Horrors

In time for Halloween.....

To prevent yourself from passing out, keep repeating to yourself......."it's only a's only a's only a mix"
Forbidden Planet, Intermission, Screaming Lord Sutch "All Black and Hairy", Intermission, Bert Convy "The Monster Hop", Intermission, The Cramps "Human Fly", Intermission, Ronnie Cook & The Gaylads "Goo Goo Muck", Goblin "Suspiria", Humanoids from the Deep, The Frantics "Werewolf", Intermission, The Horror of Dracula, The Birthday Party "Release the Bats", Woman Hunt, Zombie Zombie "Halloween Main Theme", Intermission, "Ho Ho Laughing Monster", Night of the Demon, Intermission, Magnet "Festival/Mirie It Is/Summer Is A-Comen In".........
..."Oh No...Oh Jesus Christ!"

Monday, 17 October 2011

Heartless – Hell Is Other People

Taking their album title from Jean-Paul Satre’s line of dialogue in “No Exit”, “Hell Is Other People” opens with a fanfare of scorching feedback which gives the listener a very good impression of what is to come. Hailing from Pittsburgh, this is Heartless’ debut for Southern Lord, and shows them in brutal, unforgiving form. Each piece is a torrent of raging guitar and thundering beating. Even the album cover, by Brian D’Agosta, gives the poor listener no respite, with its bleak, tormented, grey washed imagery...... 

Dead in the Dirt - Fear

This 11 minute EP, “Fear”, on Southern Lord by Dead in the Dirt, from Atlanta, GA, grabs the listener on the opening track “The Screaming Wind” and through a series of exhilarating, frenetic guitar riffs, frenzied but intelligent drums and feral, viscous screams, does not let go until the final “Fear”. There is nothing contrived or mechanical about the material here, and indeed the brevity of each piece, and “Dead in the Dirt” as a whole, would not allow for anything else other than honesty and zeal. Music with such candour and solid production values engages with its target audience and is refreshing to experience in a market so driven by false values......

The House of Capricorn – In the Devils Days

The House of Capricorn, from Auckland New Zealand, on their second full length release “In the Devils Days” on Swamps of One Tree Hill, have come up with a collection of tunes that vary in mood, tempo and humour to the extent that they could have been in danger of appearing schizophrenic. What is on offer here, however, is a range of styles and textures that demand the time to adjust, but do overall repay the time spent, with interest.  Tracks such as “Veils” and “Les Innocents” have a slower, arcane doom laden feel, whereas “Arcane Delve”, ironically, is a straight forward acoustic vignette that, although infused with a doom sensibility, provides gentle reprieve......

Ptahil – For His Satanic Majesty’s Glory


From Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Ptahil here release their first full length album “For His Satanic Majesty’s Glory” on Wraith Productions. Ptahil are Mhaghnius (from Typhus and Dethroned) and Luathka (ex-Fog, Hordes of the Lunar Eclipse, The Lurking Corpses) and, in their own words have emerged from the Temple of Da’at Studios with this release. From the first listen through what is evident is the musicianship and layers of texture that are put on show throughout. The listener cannot, whatever their predisposed judgment towards Satanic Gnosticism and music, be captivated by the integration of darkness, isolation and furious punk attitude......

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Mike Patton - The Solitude of Prime Numbers review

Mike Patton - The Solitude of Prime Numbers

Based on the book by physicist Paolo Giordano, the film “La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi” directed by Saverio Costanzo in 2010, tells the story of Mattia (who is a mathematical prodigy) and Alice, whose tale of traumatised childhood and teenage isolation, forms the basis of the title of the film, they are like “twin primes”, feeling alone, but close to each other, detached by an even number, their lives run in parallel, but never intersect. In the book, Giordano himself explains, “Prime numbers are divisible only by one and themselves. They stand in their place defiantly in the infinite series of natural numbers, squashed in between two others, but a step further on than the rest...”. Titled “Music from the Film and Inspired by the Book”, Mike Patton has perfectly captured the feeling of isolation and introspection that informs the storyline.....

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Planks - The Darkest of Grays/Solicit to Fall review

Another in a series of offerings on the Southern Lord label, this, by Planks from Germany, features two of their 12” releases, “The Darkest of Grays” and “Solicit to Fall”. Planks certainly know how to tread that fine, fine line between fierceness and subtlety of dynamic. There is fluidity to the ferocity in these pieces which takes remarkable courage and skill. Rage is tempered with melody, and this can be seen to remarkable effect on “The Dead Return to War”. Thunderous bass and a jagged guitar line support the authoritative vocal, that changes gear throughout its’ duration to give an unsettling, discordant sensibility. The almost emaciated guitar refrain that peppers the track lends a distant, ethereal feel......

Thursday, 6 October 2011

My favourite by the author.....for National Poetry day

This has been my favourite poem ever since, like many other people at the time I suppose, watching Michael Caine read it in Woody Allen's marvellous film "Hannah and Her Sisters". Not only is this my favourite poem, but "Hannah and Her Sisters" for me, captures Woody Allen at his most poignant, and has to be his greatest film.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Opera North at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park: Autumn

Four Seasons Autumn Concert at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Saturday 1st October 2011 19.30 performance

On an unseasonably warm Saturday evening, as the sun was fading and the magnificent sculptures of Jaume Plensa were coming to light, the Opera North’s programme of seasonal concerts at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield continued with their autumn offering. The walk down from the Visitors Centre towards St. Bartholomew’s Chapel, now converted into an exhibition space, as the light faded, was assisted by a series of lanterns which helped bring about a sense of expectancy, particularly as we discovered the chapel itself was illuminated on the outer surface by a projection of moving flames. Inside the chapel itself the mood was further enhanced by a series of well placed branches and leaves, which, under the subdued candle light, left audience members mesmerized for what was to be tonight’s performance. Due to the intimate surroundings, and the relatively small audience space available, the mood was one of being engaged with the performers, to the extent that both the audience and musicians were integral to the occasion.

Under the direction of Matthew Sharp, David La Page (violin), Nicola Sweeney (violin), Lisanne Melchior (viola), Oliver Wilson (viola) and Clare O’Connell (cello) performed a series of pieces, interspersed with readings that did nothing to dispel the ambience created. The theme for the evening was clearly “autumn” and the first piece, “Autumn” by Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla was the ideal soundtrack to set the pace. Sometimes unfairly compared to Vivaldi’s “Le Quattro Stagioni”, Piazzolla’s piece is part of his “The Four “Buenos Aires” Seasons” and proved tonight to be lively, but with a bleakness that reflects the season perfectly. Mathew Sharp’s reading of a recipe for pumpkin and Claire Lilley’s interpretation of Pablo Neruda’s poem “Ode to Wine” bridged the gap between Piazzolla’s “Autumn” and Vivaldi’s familiar “Autumn-2nd Movement, Adagio Molto”. A remarkable inclusion to the programme were Sharp’s poignant versions of Kurt Weill’s “September Song” and Jacques Brel’s “Chanson des Vieux Amants”, sung with fervour and sentiment, they shone clearly and showed Sharp’s effusiveness and passion for the pieces. Tchaikovsky’s “November-Troika”, part of the composers selection “The Seasons”, is often seen as the most demanding due it’s swiftly moving flow and strident outbursts, and tonight appeared mischievous, amongst it’s multitude of emotions.

The centre piece for the evening could be argued to have been Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night” and the poem by Richard Dehmel of the same name. Dehmel’s poem describes a man and a woman walking through a dark forest at night, and the woman’s revelation to her lover that she is carrying another man’s child. Schoenberg’s score equates closely to the poems narrative and discourse, and is comprised of an assortment of musical phrases, which in this performance were executed elegantly, and led us into the final two pieces of the evening, a reading of “Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves” from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and Sharp again in regal voice on Freidrich Ruckert and Gustav Mahler’s “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” (I am Lost to the World) from their Ruckert-Lieder song cycle.
The long march back up the slope to the Visitors Centre was scattered with lanterns, a fire and a more intensely lit Plensa sculpture to help illuminate the way. Despite the stumbling and muttered protestations over the uneven ground, Opera North at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park again proved to the participants that art in unusual places is to be celebrated.