Something has come to my attention just recently. Although this humble blog has the tagline “reading books, playing records”, I have so far neglected to write very much about music. I don’t why this situation has developed, I listen to music constantly – I’m listening to some as I type these very words. So, in a bid to remedy this lack of editorial equilibrium I am proposing to write an article each month listing a few of the platters which have entered heavy rotation on the unsubscriber hi-fi during the preceding month. Here’s the first such piece;
Electric Wizard – Come My Fanatics
1996 – Rise Above Records
This LP was described to me as the “heaviest shit of all time” and therefore I had to investigate. I’m not a metal freak by any means but what goes on at the fringes of all music interests me greatly. Opening track ‘Return Trip’ is indeed about as heavy as a lead elephant – a ten minute wallow in growling, glacial speed Sabbathian sludge. On hearing this album I promptly tracked down everything this band has recorded and have been playing it all pretty much constantly since although this one is possibly the dirtiest, fuzziest, heaviest shit of them all.
William Basinski – Melancholia
2005 – 2062 Records
Basinski is one of my touchstones. I have so many of his albums and they all manage to capture a fragile, fleeting moment of sadness in their disintegrating, hissing tape loops. There’s a reason why this LP is titled melancholia. I suppose this could easily be treated like ambient music – it’s there but it isn’t – but it’s too heart wrenchingly sad to disappear into the wallpaper. Fourteen perfectly trimmed loops of fuzzy piano-based classical music which legend has it were taped from a commercial radio station onto cassette before being given the William Basinski scissor treatment as the ferric particles began to crumble away to dust. Bleak but simultaneously warm.
Loscil – Submers
2002 – Kranky
Another album which I seem to pair with the William Basinski LP, there are definitely some parallels between these two records. The title refers to the overall sound which is distinctly subaquatic, individual tones blending together to form otherworldly drones whilst sparse beats work like audio sonar inside a submarine. Once again I’m a huge fan of Scott Morgan and his work as Loscil, his extensive back catalogue is most certainly worth delving into.
Fennesz – Bécs
2014 – Editions Mego
The last time Christian Fennesz released an LP on Editions Mego it was the groundbreaking Endless Summer back in 2001. Comparisons have been made and the usual talk of “follow-ups” has ensued but Bécs is definitely it’s own record. It’s more immediately ‘musical’ if that means anything, the glitchiness of Endless Summer has been replaced by electric and acoustic guitars and walls of subdued fuzz coming over like an ambient MBV. The centrepiece track Liminality is heart stoppingly sublime.
Melt Banana – Fetch
2013 – A-Zap Records
The duo of Yasuko Onuki and Ichirou Agata are one of my favourite noisecore bands of all time. They released Fetch last year and I came back to it in preparation of seeing them live (twice) this month. On record they are a dayglo, hyperactive mesh of triple speed guitars, stuttering drums and strafing electronic effects. Live, they are a sheer ball of energy who unleash a neon wall of sound which nestles up to your internal organs in a barrage of scattershot time signatures. I was so happy to have met Yasuko after the gig in Leeds and have my picture taken with her too! Here’s a shot of my ugly mug next to the wonderfully accommodating Yasuko;
If you don’t know this band and are the noisy, adventurous type then dig in as they haven’t made a bad record yet – and fetch is number nine.
Album Of The Month – May
The Soundcarriers – Entropicalia
2014 – Ghost Box
New signings to the fragile, hauntological world of Ghost Box. My first listening had them pegged as a little bit of Broadcast with a dash of Stereolab at their most groovy but as time went on I discovered far more going on within this seriously good record. I suppose the references will be made due to their retro sound and the fact they have a female singer which is a bit lazy really. It’s like they’ve taken a huge portion of the sixties end of my record collection, put it in a blender and baked me a big psychedelic cake. The swinging drums have that perfect pitch, the bass is clear and high up in the mix, the female/male vocals are beautifully harmonic and say “la la la” quite a bit. There’s even a long spoken word track toward the end of the LP which almost sounds like a funky Interstellar Overdrive complete with flutes and Hammond organ. I’m absolutely hooked despite only having this record a single week so far but it’s been played on repeat every single day so I have no trouble at all awarding it my inaugural Album Of The Month award. Huge recommendation for this one!