Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Godflesh - Hymns

Godflesh - Hymns

For many, quite reasonably, “Hymns” is the album that provides the bridge, for those interested in the career of Justin Broadrick, between Godflesh and Jesu. The songs on “Hymns”, it could be argued, are beginning to lose some of the ferocity of previous releases and are taking on a more ethereal quality more reminiscent of the characteristic Jesu sound.

Originally released in 2001 as a follow up to “In All Languages”, this reissue, remastered by Broadrick, gives those familiar with the album the opportunity to hear it with more clarity. And with the benefit of a number of demos, and the track “If I Could Only Be What You Want”, an unreleased track from the original sessions, the chance to consider the cultural history of Godflesh.

Possibly some of the clearer indicators of where Broadrick is going with Jesu are on “Anthem” and “Voidhead”. The voice here displays a purity and minimalism that was later to become a feature of that project. The vocals are still however riding on those gorgeous guitar riffs that are simultaneously luscious and melancholic, yet menacing and foreboding. The aggression has not totally been forgotten nevertheless, as tracks such as “Tyrant” display a hostility and danger that is adored by many, whilst “White Flag” lumbers along with the percussion very much in the foreground, again, arguably, a key indicator as to what was to come with Jesu.

Godflesh – Hymns

“Antihuman” evolves as a repeated opening phrase mutates into the basis of the arrangement. There is a mesmerising quality to this music as a whole which is achieved through repetition and wraithlike vocal. The final track “Jesu” is pregnant with a dark momentum and is characteristic of this repetitious trait. A tension is built which gradually dissipates into the electronic ether. Again, some may say the ideal swansong for Godflesh....

Read the full review at This Is Not A Scene

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Coilguns - Commuters review

Coilguns - Commuters

Honing their craft on two European tours and playing support to Nasum, Dillinger Escape Plan and Baroness, Coilguns “Commuters” release is a lesson to any artist who painstakingly manipulates their productions to reach aural perfection. Each song was recorded live in one take, and the result is a gloriously feral mix of organic tunes that authentically allow the listener access to the territory they create. Featuring members of progressive metal band The Ocean, Coilguns are essentially Jona Nido on guitar, Luc Hess on drums and Louis Jucker on vocals. Several musicians were invited to contribute to a number of the tracks however, including Keijo Niinima of Nasum and Rotten Sounds on ‘Minkowski Manhattan Distance’. Apart from the vocals, no edits or overdubs were used to generate these pieces, and, according to the press release, up to five guitars may feature at any one time.

With the production of the album in context, the opening ‘Commuters Part 1 and 2′ bristles with energy and controlled chaos. The vocals are hostile and frantic and the mix is equally as belligerent. ‘Part 2′ slows the pace and mood and extends the space within the song but is no less menacing and untamed for that space. Over its eleven minute duration ‘Commuters Part 2′ builds in intensity and ferocity, the vocals becoming increasingly frenzied and abrasive.

Coilguns – Commuters

‘Hypnograms’ and ‘Machines of Sleep’ incorporate fascinating chord progressions around brutal riffs and a variety of vocal styles to create bewildering yet coherent arrangements. ‘Plug-In Citizens’ and ‘Submarine Warfare Anthem’ are fierce but remain technically complex and dense. Over six minutes, and using that space to extend its themes, ‘Minkowski Manhattan Distance’ features passages of desolate guitar and percussion, uncultivated vocals and the raw, live production values to create an atmosphere of suspicion and disquiet....

Read the full review here at This Is Not A Scene

Monday, 21 January 2013

Dementio13 - “Last Test” review

Based in Cardiff, Paul, producing this release as Dementio13, cites influences as disparate as Aphex Twin, Neu!, Delia Derbyshire, Arthur Baker and The BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Each one of these voices however can be heard throughout his latest release “Last Test”. The opening groove of “A Beat Called Don” will have any Krautrock devotee who has even a passing acquaintance with Neu!, salivating with joy, whilst “Pemberton Colliery”, through a series of tones and electronic textures, takes the listener on a journey through the history of electronic music over the past fifty years. Delicate keyboard textures and drones inform “Pen Y Fan” evoking not only the composer’s interpretation of that specific location but the spirit of ambient music in general. Eight minutes of “Really Far Away” are swept along with the momentum of mesmerising pulses and dark, yet not unfriendly, washes of sound. Again the characteristic “Apache Beat” or “motorik” groove underpins the ride and carries the willing participant across a vista of sound including abrasive electronic shards and a seemingly wordless female voice drifting soulfully through the mix.

Almost dreamlike yet delerious vocals bubbling gently underneath the music are a distinguishing feature of “Cycle Energy”, whilst “This Is My Mid Life Crisis and You’re listening To It” is playfully simple, yet deeply evocative of a life once led. “Zenit” may please the listener, who remembers and appreciates the 8-bit technology reminiscent of 1970/1980’s computer game music. The influence of characters such as Aphex Twin may be felt on pieces such as “Fruitfly”, “Bonnie Dog” and “Last Test” which oscillate wildly between abrasive electronic noise and solid driving rhythm with confidence, whilst aficionados of The BBC Workshop and John Baker may recognise the composers acknowledgment to those artists and the electronic composers of the 1980’s possibly some of the early work by The Human League. Some of the passages here would not appear out of place as incidental or soundtrack music to a dystopian vision of the future. There are moments when one almost feels they are listening to the sound of a fax machine or out of date modem being manipulated into the productions. The geometric cover art to this release goes some way to reinforce this aesthetic.
“Last Test” closes with “Version 3” which in some ways blends all of the previous influences into one cohesive piece whilst at the same time displaying an almost “hauntological” admiration for music of an innocent time gone by. The contrasting music that collectively makes up this latest release from Dementio13 is in no way fractured, indeed “Last Test” is a cohesive work that acknowledges the music that has gone before, and uses that history to create something at once respectful and inspirational. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Friday, 11 January 2013

Blockheads - This World Is Dead

Blockheads - This World Is Dead

Recorded in 2011 in Geneva, “This World Is Dead” is the fifth album release from French stalwarts of intensity and passion Blockheads. Formed in 1992 and raised on a diet of Napalm Death, Carcass and Bolt Thrower, Blockheads skilfully channel the aggression inherent in their music into social and political awareness. Making explicit their views on pro-lifers, exploitation, sexism and fascism through music as enthusiastic and painstaking as this should be applauded and given the attention it deserves. Twenty five tracks over 40 minutes give the listener some idea as to what to expect from the outset.

Opening with “Deindividualized”, which enters on soaring guitar riffs before descending into trademark blast beats and guttural vocals, the listener is swept away into their own personal mosh pit of ferocity and camaraderie. “Already Slaves, “Born Among Bastards” and “Final Arise”, each at barely a minute long, slam the listener to attention. Although brief, these tracks are razor sharp in their delivery and production, and provide a template for how music of this ferocity and directness can be achieved.

Blockheads – This World Is Dead

“Human Oil” opens with a cry for the future of humanity before it begins its 36 second assault on the senses. Not every track blisters the ears with its venom, “Poisoned Yields” alters the pace and mood within its 90 seconds with admirable effect whilst “Crisis is Killing the Weak” is a virtual express train of momentum and exuberance. The use of an assortment of vocal styles within the same brief tune, such as on “Digging Graves” and “Pro-Lifers”, chanting, screaming as well as the familiar growls is an effective tool for narration and delivery.

The final piece, “Trail of the Dead”, at a “progressive rock” 7 minutes in length, closes the album with an unwieldy battery of percussion, scorching feedback and lumbering guitar motifs at a much more sedentary, but no less commanding, pace. The effect is remarkable and in a sense provides a poignant conclusion to a collection of personal beliefs and attitudes to a variety of issues important not only to the band, but to mankind in general....

Read the full piece here...