The first month or so of any given year is always slow when it comes to new releases and so I’ve mainly been spending my time becoming familiar with some of last years gems as well as reacquainting myself with the odd golden oldie. It’s a varied batch as usual so let’s dive straight in and find out what’s been spinning this month at unsubscriber towers…
Omnichrom by NeoTantrik
2014 – Pre-Cert Home Entertainment
I suppose you could call NeoTantrik a supergroup of sorts counting as they do such luminaries as Finders Keepers head honcho Andy Votel, Sean Canty from Demdike Stare and synth supremo Suzanne Ciani amongst their ranks. Not that this effort is an overlong, overblown affair stuffed with aimless noodling as other such outfits seem to produce. Instead what we get is a shimmering haze of drifting drones and sun-bleached ambient interludes. The flute and synth waft of Sun Environment on the A side is utterly beautiful in a dreamlike, lost in a desert kind of way – so good in fact that I pinched the original sampled version for inclusion in my Rural Weird mix which is still available for download here. The title track on Side B is awash with cymbals and hand percussion before the final track pitches eerie electronics and free-form drums against babbling voices and tape manipulations. There are three planned instalments in this series beginning with the Blue Amiga LP which sneaked out a few months ago before being snapped up by the heads. I’m loving this one and most definitely can’t wait to hear more.
Lucien Goethals by Lucien Goethals
2014 – Cacophonic
Belgian composer Lucien Goethals sees a timely release of this compendium of works after time spent working at the Flemish division of the Belgian Broadcasting & Television System then later later as a key producer in the division known as IPEM (Institute for Psycho-acoustics and Electronic Music). These three rare pieces showcase compositions scored for combined orthodox instruments with magnétaphone – a kind of reel to reel tape recorder. The longest piece, Difonium uses saxophone to great effect against sparse electronic splutters. On the flip, Cellotape is a cosmically inclined minimal free jazz workout whilst the final track is purely synthetic, an analogue bubblebath. It’s great that important experimental records like this are still being released by a few tiny, brave labels. Long may they continue to do so!
Reek of Putrefaction by Carcass
1988 – Earache
Back in 1988, the late John Peel played three tracks by a band called Extreme Noise Terror and I was hooked immediately but it wasn’t until I picked up this LP that the grindcore micro-genre finally coalesced into something that ENT always promised to be. From the stomach churning mortuary photo collage on the cover to the track titles – vomited anal tract anyone? – this is still an exhilarating listen even today. It has all the ingredients we know and love from our favourite grindcore bands; Tracks played at ludicrous speed, a drummer hammering out blast beats and barely intelligible guttural vocals. The tracks come at a fast pace too, each one lasting an average of around a minute and a half so no time to catch your breath until the whole album spins to a halt. It’s amazing just how life-affirming something so entrenched in death, decay and gore can be. Nothing left to do now but bang your fucking head and breathe in the putrefying reek until you have to wretch. Yeah!
Sovrapposizione Di Immagini by Daniela Casa
2014 – Finders Keepers Records
A pioneering work of experimental themes, wigged out jams and spacey interludes by Italian synth goddess Daniela Casa. This collection is culled from various library music labels by Finders Keepers Records and is being made commercially available for the first time since it was recorded in the early 1970s. One of the things that astonishes so much is the breadth of stylistic cues touching every base from incidental film music through skewed takes on jazz and pop to scuzzy rock workouts. Another amazing fact is that Casa recorded all of these tracks in her home studio and even constructed some of the equipment she needed to produce them. It’s about time some credit was given to this tremendously creative and fiercely independent woman, kudos to Finders Keepers for being on the ball here.
From Out Here by The Advisory Circle
2014 – Ghost Box
Ghost Box stalwart Jon Brooks returns with his third LP of retro-futuristic peans to technology, industry and that certain childhood nostalgia we all feel from time to time. The album was described by the label as “a Wyndham-esque science fiction story, where bucolic English scenery is being manipulated and maybe even artificially generated by bizarre multi-dimensional computer technology”. Intriguing stuff, but it all fits together beautifully. I can well imagine these songs being manufactured in a 1970s laboratory rather than been merely written at a keyboard. Once again I hear traces of ‘Music For Schools’ and ‘Open University’ weaving their way indelibly though proceedings like DNA but this LP is far more than the sum of it’s parts. There’s a warm glow shining deep in these valves which somehow manages to imbue the whole album with a more human feeling than on previous outings despite it’s prevalent electronic construction. Jon Brooks and Ghost Box don’t seem to be capable of putting a foot wrong, another essential release in an already impeccable back catalogue.
Album Of The Month – February
The Summoner by Kreng
2015 – Miasmah Recordings
It’s been three years since Pepijn Caudron released the mighty and infernal Works for Abattoir Fermé box set which has enjoyed constant airplay here at unsubscriber towers. This then is a much anticipated release and holy shit is it worth the wait. The first track alone is enough to give you nightmares playing on an almost silent drone for some minutes before erupting into a cacophony of strings. Caudron has changed his approach to composition on The Summoner by ditching all sampled material and utilising a dozen string players instead. The effects are truly devastating. Second track Anger is brooding and tumutulous in equal parts, strings slashing through the blackness until pent up fury boils over and obliterates everything. The album is based around 5 stages of mourning, and was prompted by the death of several close friends. This fact alone imbues proceedings with a hushed gravity and caustic bleakness which the music mirrors perfectly. But it’s on The Summoner that this sonic shift away from the past is most apparent. Caudron weaves his black strings around doom metal band Amenra whose blunt riffs, organ and funereal drums sound perfectly at home in the swirling miasma. Final track Acceptance is a chink of light through the preceding gloom, strings hover low in the mix as a piano plays a simple, plaintive phrase. It’s probably the most beautiful thing that Kreng have ever recorded and manages to bring a lump to my throat every time it plays. Power doesn’t always have to be dark. This is nothing short of a stunning release and one which I’m sure I’ll be playing for many months to come and beyond. If you’ve never heard of Kreng, this is a perfect way in to their haunted, charnel house existence. If you are familiar on the other hand, stand by for the sweeping changes to their sound and prepare to be blown completely away. MASSIVE recommendation for this one.