Reviews 2020

A selection of reviews of some of the releases received here during the past 12 months or so. There are others to add during the next few weeks (meaning, essentially, January/February 2021), so do please keep checking. If interested in getting your release(s) reviewed, please remember we only accept physical releases (sent to the address noted elsewhere). For now all the reviews are by Richard Johnson, but several others are soon coming from Steve Pescott, too. If anybody else would like to contribute reviews to Adverse Effect please get in touch.

We will review anything from the worlds of DIY, ‘noise’, outsider, ‘difficult’, avant-garde, post-punk, electronic, electroacoustic, etc. music. We are also more than happy to review books, ‘zines, etc. that focus on any such area(s).

Blakelock Legitimate Targets II cassette (Misophonia)

Nine cuts of power electronics and heavily pulped psychedelia-inspired noise thankfully several rungs over most such music these days for the sheer avoidance of cliched imagery, tho’ the mostly buried shouty vocals might well belie this. In this respect, there seems to be some references to immigrants, refugee camps and mosques in the titles at least, but no clear messages. Just as well, really, as there’s nothing much worse than a fucking preacher, noise or no noise. My knowledge of contemporary ‘noise’, however, is fairly limited (I tend mainly stick to a few artists who first cut their teeth on Come Org. and Broken Flag, as a rule) because most ‘noise’ became dull and pedestrian decades ago. The energy unleashed here has something going for it anyway as there are some iridescent hues to be found at the edges of an otherwise largely monochromatic assault. Always welcome. (RJ)

Email: misophoniarecs@gmail.com

Capri-Batterie Tanq CD (Dirter Promotions)

Only thing I have by avant-jazz trio already is the collaborative LP they recorded with Stewart Lee, also on Dirter Promotions and released a year or so before this album. This serves a suitably mean follow-up of six improvisations using electronics, double bass, trumpet, piano and drums/percussion arriving straight from the more outwardly expressive end of the spectrum where all the players are locked into the same fiery vision. It’s not all sonic Bosch, however, as the tender or more fractured moments point to the necessary breathing spaces all such music requires. And, like the very best of it, this oozes alchemical charm and stealth attacks so readily it’s a wonder these boys can’t bottle the stuff up and sell it to those less fortunate. (RJ)

http://www.dirterpromotions.com

Collage Project Off Brand CD (New Focus Recordings/Panoramic, USA)

Modern jazz trio of bass, acoustic guitar and drums, sometimes accompanied by a sax or trombone player (or even, on a couple of numbers, electric guitar). Taut interplay underpins each piece, with a melodic slant to often jerky rhythms most might still find veering too heavily towards being ‘difficult’. Now and again all the instruments are pulled in to allow for the space necessary to emphasise rawer moments, ultimately ensuring Off Brand‘s magic spell on the listener throughout. The two tracks with saxophonist Noa Even on stand out for his blistering assault on the stratosphere, however. No idea if this is a one-off collaboration or not. Either way, it’s quite a ride. (RJ)

https://www.newfocusrecordings.com/

Werner Dafeldecker Parallel Darks CD (Room40, Australia, 2020)

Two lengthy pieces by this contemporary composer from Austria who here melds chattering metallic sounds to the kinda gyrating tones and percolated rumbles that’d make for a noise album if cranked higher and not tempered somewhat. I have no idea how these compare to his previous work, and I’m guessing it’ll stay that way, too. (RJ)

Deison/KK Null Yugen CD (St.An.Da, Italy)

Eight collab pieces between these respective prolific Italian and Japanese artists whose own work has long been bobbing on the seas of so-called ‘experimental’ music for a considerable while now. Both of them operate in the medium of digital or heavily processed sound, sometimes sourcing location recordings or a disparate selection of instruments through which to channel their own take on penumbral tones, timbres, haze and splutter meshed together to create atmospheric works sometimes cranked to white-hot levels of overload. Mostly of a more filmic or kaleidoscopic nature yet imbued with undercurrents of more imposing abstract noise, this is all pretty effective. Whether or not either Null or Deison actually bring anything to the table that the other party wouldn’t begs another question, however. (RJ)

Die ANGEL Utopien I LP (Karlrecords, Germany)

The latest from this duo of Ilpo Väisänen and Dirk Dresselhaus, the former who might well be familiar through his work with Pan Sonic. Utopien I rolls out four quite lengthy cuts of deep ambient music that’s full of dystopian dread yet thankfully sidelines nods to the predictable horror tropes of all those worshipping the altar known as Lustmord. As with Pan Sonic, there are obsidian meta-rhythms often binding things together themselves hewn from a sense of careful craftsmanship and singular vision. In spite of this, it’s not an especially accommodating listen and requires a couple of revisits before it truly starts to work its magic on you. Once there, you’ll be greeted with an intense set of digital glaze, glimmer ‘n’ gyrating tones at once crepuscular, hypnotic and powerful. To be cranked up loud, ideally after yr daily news fix to help get a bearing on why this exists in the first place. (RJ)

http://www.karlrecords.net

Doc Wor Mirran Orgastic Jams CDr (MissmanagemenT, Germany)

DWM is the name given to the sonic musings of Joseph B. Raimond and whoever else he chooses to work with. It’s a name that’s existed since the early 1980s and has now been used for almost 200 releases, ranging from cassettes and CDRs to vinyl and regular CD, encompassing all kinds of styles anchored to an attitude that might be deemed ‘outsider’ but more accurately simply doesn’t especially care what anybody thinks. In the same way that Expose Your Eyes and countless others exist, this ultimately boils down to the commitment of the artist to exorcising some kinda compulsion that really has no other outlet. Or, at least, this is how it seems. What’s extraordinary, however, is that Joseph will often work on music that could have a wider reach, as once more illustrated by the seven cuts on this album. Akin to much of DWM’s work, it is a disparate selection, though. Folk-ish melodies converge with amorphous electronic pieces, lazy snatches of ether and even something like mutant lounge dragged in from a parallel universe. An interesting mix bursting with surprising twists and turns I only feel are lost on such a microscopic release doubtlessly now long sold out. (RJ)

Email: empty@empty.de

FM Einheit/Andreas Ammer Hammerschlag CD (Cold Spring, 2020)

I once saw former Einsturzende Neubauten metalworker FM Einheit performing a pretty decent collab set with Caspar Brotzmann in London back in the dark ages. Since then, I’ve only heard his work on the one other album of his I own and cannot therefore comment on how it has developed, or where it has gone, since that one live show. All I know is that he still uses metal and other such objects to generate sound, plus uses electronics. On this collaborative album, Andreas Ammer is credited with sirens, whilst several other players utilise drums, bass, tuba and trombone together to forge a web of grizzled textures behind the reciting of a poem by Rica Blunck and Teodor Currentzis. Being in German, of course, I have no idea what they are intoning, but it all sounds like it is of great importance. It’s very effective, anyway, and becomes all the more so when a choir fleshes the proceedings out. Melodies and occasional hooks rise from the potentially cacophonous meeting of deep timbres, clatter and black ice shimmer, as does a passage in English where a statement concerning deafening the audience completely is mentioned a couple of times, but this is an uneasy ride regardless. Good stuff. (RJ)

https://store.coldspring.co.uk/

Expose Your Eyes Rest CDr (self-released)

Paul Harrison has been knocking out low-slung abrasive DIY electronics under the E.Y.E. banner since the early 1990s. He comes from a world where the likes of Smell & Quim, K2, Big City Orchestra, AMK and The New Blockaders are seen as giants few others would ever register. The same world that RRRecords and the long gone Bananafish mag wholly devoted themselves to like their lives depended on it and one which, in turn, has seen Harrison alone putting out, a break of a decade or more from 2001 aside, an incessant stream of releases which largely seem to be produced due to a virtually autistic compulsion and little else. This music doesn’t especially care about an audience and, in fact, apparently rejoices in the fact everything about it points to keeping people as far away as possible. The music is primal noise built around oscillating electronics, protean mulch, high-pitched squeals and the odd gear-shift into heavily submerged drones. It’s all rather agreeable and its carefree anti-audience stance lends it an allure not often found these days. Harrison really does operate on his own speck o’ dust and seems perfectly content with that. Funnily ’nuff, I didn’t even know he was still at it till he resumed contact in 2019 and then went on to send me a package of micro-run CDr releases adorned in handmade sleeves and suchlike. If Expose Your Eyes had been a short term project I admit I might be less forgiving, but with the project now entering its third decade (and, like the Blakelock tape reviewed above, still avoiding the usual mundane imagery) I feel strangely comforted by the fact there are some artists like this still around. Of course, anybody can upload album after album on a streaming platform these days, but the distinction here is in the accompanying ultra-limited handmade versions also being made available. This emphasises an effort and dedication many could learn from. (RJ)

https://xemporium.bandcamp.com/

Field Works Ultrasonic CD (Temporary Residence, USA)

US artist Stuart Hyatt has for a few years now been traversing (imaginary) landscapes with a particularly accessible ambient style which also draws from folk, post-rock and electroacoustic music. Ultrasonic, his latest album, is no different in the sense it brings together soft piano lines, hazy electronics, tempered field recordings and clusters of subtle melodies wafting in like a gentle breeze from a calm sea. However, it does see him both collaborating with a number of other, similarly attired, artists and, indeed, using recordings of bats in their natural habitat as a starting point. Over the course of all fourteen compositions, one of said collaborators, ranging from Eluvium and Machinefabriek to Taylor Deupree and Sarah Davachi, appears alongside Hyatt in a setting not impossible to see them nestled in generally anyway, but hopefully the spirit of likemindedness here pales next to the overall drawing of attention to a fantastic animal only too often associated with negativity. Some of the pieces assume a comparatively more dramatic position or use the sounds of bats (wing-flapping and a huge assortment of vocalisations) to fuller effect, adding up to an album far more ambitious than most in the genre. (RJ)

Email: info@temporaryresidence.com

German Army A Case Study in Neglect CD (Dub Ditch Picnic, Canada)

US group German Army seem to have been operating for around a decade or so now, having produced dozens of micro-edition cassette, CDr and vinyl releases besides some slightly more widely available CD albums. Without doubt they owe much to the nascent weird-out industrial sounds of Throbbing Gristle, early Cabaret Voltaire and perhaps even Chrome or The Residents, although everything is filtered through a contemporary glaze which at least helps matters. Songs range from what sounds like an array of disconnected electronics sprawling in several directions or virtually ambient works to more minimalist rhythmic material draped in synths and accompanied by sullen or deadpan spoken vocals that make Ian Curtis seem like Scott Walker by comparison. Whilst much of German Army’s music wouldn’t seem entirely out of place on a collection of clunky post-punk electronics from 1981, there’s something rather endearing about it as well. There’s a conviction here which shines especially bright. I don’t especially go out of my way for German Army releases, but seem to have acquired several in recent years. Always enjoy them, too. Time to perhaps pay a little more attention… (RJ)

http://dubditchpicnicrecords.blogspot.com/

Frode Gjerstad Trio +1 Forgotten City CD (PNL, Norway)

Frode Gjerstad has been one of the biggest players central to the Scandinavian free jazz circuit since the 1980s, collaborating countless times in the years since with others of a similar pedigree from wide across the international circuit. His trio, however, has survived in various permutations since the late ’80s and catches him in a typical setting of drums and double bass which his own clarinet or sax playing can feed from. On Forgotten City, the ‘+1’ to the trio is accorded by the extra double bass playing of Oyvind Storesund, which adds a sprightly dimension to the overriding compatibility of the other three. Rhythms jab and tug at a fluid course far more accessible and easy to get snagged on than most such music while the clarinet or sax cuts often deep tones wanton and derailed. As ever, Paal Nilssen-Love’s drumming shows remarkable restraint, emphasising hue and texture rather than jostling for attention. Great playing all round, proving once more that the Scandinavians remain firmly at the top of such music. (RJ)

https://www.paalnilssen-love.com/

Hiroshimabend J10C 2CD (Opiumdenpluto, Austria)

Interesting collection of thirteen pieces based on a collection of sounds originally created by the late Peter Christopherson for use by his partner in Electric Sewer Age, John Deek. These were themselves then passed on to Polish ambient artist Adam Czarnecki, who in turn collaborated with Hiroshimabend to create the material now gathered under the title J10C, tho’ I have absolutely no idea what that refers to. Quite a back story to some pieces that, akin to the other Hiroshimabend releases I have, fall somewhere amongst the (magic) dust of ravaged electronica and post-industrial sculpting of shimmering textures and deep sea drones. There’s a nice filmic quality to most of this work which serves it well, but surprisingly it’s the pieces that utilise unobtrusive rhythms, voices or a combination of both which really elevate everything to a point well worth keeping an eye (or ear) on. Solid. (RJ)

Human Impact eponymous CD (Ipecac, USA)

Debut album by a new group hailing from NYC put together by former members of Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, Xiu Xiu, Unsane and others of a similar disposition. Clearly, with such pedigree evident here it’s perhaps inevitable these guys aren’t going to be producing pop ballads or, generally, anything that falls on the lighter side of things. Rather, this collection of songs eschews subtlety in favour of tearing at your throat with a convulsive melee of razor-edged rock, shouted vocals, grizzled electronics and the kinda tribal noise once fostered so well by Killing Joke. This is guitar heavy, dynamic enough for the odd gulp of much needed air, serrated at all the industrial poised seams, and sounds suitably pissed off in a mature way conducive to their combined years at this. I’m guessing there’d have been a European tour to promote this album had the world not been turned upside down by the pandemic, but these songs sweat the blood perfect for a live show. Well worth getting yr vax jab for. (RJ)

Incapacitants Ostracized Enigmatic Conqueror CD (Old Europa Cafe, Italy)

Two studio cuts and one live recording (lasting 40 mins alone) by the longstanding Japanese noise duo who’ve been amongst the royalty of such matters since the 1980s. Like everything they’ve released, this album presents more untamed electronic splurge that’s both relentless in its pursuit of sonic overload and somehow managing to successfully temper this with a dimension of virtually psychedelic proportions. Although released in 2019 this album makes for a near-perfect summary of 2020, encapsulating only too well the never-ending tides of fear, frustration and even downright exhaustion with everything that’s unfolded throughout it. All world leaders should be made to listen to this. (RJ)

Anthony Janas Field Recordings of Mythical Beasts LP (Leicht Records, USA, 2019)

This LP (more of a 12” in reality as it is 45rpm and has a running time of less than 10 mins per side) gathers four pieces based on the idea of a long forgotten expedition to some of the world’s remotest parts having recorded mythical creatures in their natural environment. Accordingly, each of the pieces is named after the holga, griffin, hydra and phoenix and forged from a melee of swirling rumbles, animal chatter, vague knocking sounds, squeaks, scrunches, hoots and rubbing noises that, presumably, the equally credited Andrew Furse had a hand in putting together. Along the way, there are a couple of interludes by a narrator introducing said creatures in clipped English. It’s a nice spin on the usual array of releases of environmental recordings received here and by definition is elevated to the level of a genuine oddity amongst the slew of such albums apparently produced on a monthly basis. Would like to hear more in the way of this broken narration melding with the actual sounds if they do this again, too. And let’s hope they do produce another record. (RJ)

https://anthonyjanas.bandcamp.com/album/field-recordings-of-mythical-beasts

Clarice Jensen The Experience of Repetition as Death CD (130701/FatCat)

Second solo album by this cellist usually to be found at home in American Contemporary Music Ensemble, although she has also appeared on albums by Bjork, Matmos and others. The five majestic compositions here draw from choral music, kaleidoscopic drones and the kind of understated yet powerful drama sewn into Arvo Part’s Tabula Rasa or some of Steve Reich’s work. There’s a sense of timeless beauty to these pieces at once rendering them amongst the finest modern classical music I’ve heard for a while whilst still maintaining a contemporary air that should reach way beyond. Layers of Jensen’s cello politely map new shapes as they assume everything from the hymnal to the mesmeric, conjuring an array of fantastic voices, bells and organs along the way. Moody yet celebratory, The Experience of Repetition as Death is an utterly engaging listen from the first note to the very last. Incredible. (RJ)

Joyfultalk A Separation of Being CD (Constellation, Canada)

The worst thing about this is the name of this Jay Crocker-led Canadian duo, which I’m sure most people of sound mind would find at least irksome. Once past that, however, the far more enticingly titled A Separation of Being, representing Joyfultalk’s third album, proffers three lengthy enough pieces built around strings and electronics that recall early Steve Reich or even kosmische artists Neu! and Harmonia. Rich and colourful, these tracks assume an intoxicating yet hypnotic underpinning as they combine sprightly sequenced loops with a jauntiness that thankfully sidesteps overload. There’s an air of accessibility at work here which serves everything well whilst simultaneously keeping to the more ambient or atmospheric side of things than, say, Teeth Of The Sea’s similar elements being positioned towards avant-strained indie-rock. Am likewise sure this would all be pretty incredible performed live. Just cannot get my head round that name, though. And not because I’m a miserable sod but, rather, due to its being too light and fluffy for my tastes. Maybe I simply shouldn’t pay so much attention to it? (RJ)

Koenig Messing LP (Ventil, Austria)

Mashed-up electronics scrunch and hip hop, replete with proto-industrial abstraction, found sounds and, on some tracks, an array of vocals fed through a mincer from a duo founded by Austrian percussionist Koenig. At times recalls a restrained and jazz-bound Death Grips having a warm-up sesh with early Z’ev. The livelier elements are certainly far better than the restrained passages dedicated to what sounds like noodling with some old pots and pans. Would like to think this comes off better live, tho’ I guess it is more hipster fest crowd territory rather than one where there’s a risk of getting a big boot to the jaw in a sea of sweat. A beard tangler, for sure. (RJ)

Lagowski Secrets of Numbers CD (Zoharum, Poland, 2020)

Honestly didn’t realise this guy was still producing music. Used to have several albums of his back in the day that I recall didn’t sound so removed from the industrial-infused techno fare of Secrets of Numbers. If you ever wondered what pre-pandemic goths danced to when they’re all herded together away from the general public in a dingy club somewhere, then you’ll be pretty near the mark. That’s if goths and dingy clubs still exist, no less. I have no intention of finding out. (RJ)

http://zoharum.com/

La Merde Zweet Spaart Bloed cassette (self-released, Belgium)

This is the third cassette album by this Belgian duo who blend martial beats, clunky electronics and an approach to songwriting that gravitates towards that realm where dark folk-ish undercurrents ebb and flow with crude, sometimes frostbitten, proto-industrial manoeuvres. It might be the format itself, which I’m convinced was slowing down in places on the second side, but there’s a formidable homemade quality here that furnishes everything with an agreeability I personally enjoy. I was sent this after having been sent (and written about) their first tape, but am still none the wiser about them beyond this, really. They have a Bandcamp page, anyway. Time I checked it out, I guess. (RJ)

https://lamerde.bandcamp.com/

Erik Levander Inat CD (Forwind, Ireland)

Although most of his preceding releases are on cassette, this is actually the Swedish composer’s seventh album and continues his furrowing through a grandiose form of ‘psycho-ambience’. Vast torrents of synth tones converge with convoluted pulses, dramatic digital gestures and pools of intense atmospherics apparently set on the listener’s discomfort. All five of the pieces here don’t let up as they tug firmly at an unsettled, uneasy environment possibly owing as much to industrial music as to a decidedly low-slung take on those more serrated spheres inhabiting modern classical works. It’s a fine balance that could in the wrong hands fall completely flat, but Levander proves himself completely adept at sculpting sonic forms perfect for a number of settings. Let’s have some more of it. (RJ)

https://www.forwind.net/

Lonker See Hamza LP (Antena Krzyku, Poland, 2020)

Fourth album from this Polish group whose merging of contemporary psychedelia, jazzy detours and carefully hewn frazzled sections threatens to go into the weirder and wilder end of indie music yet thankfully holds back from doing so for its more knowing nods. Would like to see where they’d go if they refrained from the guitar domination of their sound, but in the meantime this makes for a fiery enough take on what once might’ve been deemed post-rock. (RJ)

Machinefabriek Amalgaam CD (Zoharum, Poland, 2020)

The biggest problem I have with Rutger Zuydervelt’s Machinefabriek project is, like so many other artists possessed of a similar disposition, just how prolific it is. Since starting in 2004 there have been over 75 albums and numerous other releases, either with Rutger collaborating with all manner of electronic musicians and sound artists or alone. To his credit, the standard of the work, however, is quite high. I have enjoyed everything on the few albums of his I own, but like other artists given to producing such a large volume of music nothing especially leaps out from them. Instead, the dovetailing of grizzled tones, immersive drifts and oscillating timbres all appear well crafted enough to pull one along for the duration of an album that simply blends in with the next, for the most part. It’s fine, but somewhat akin to the beauty of a lone tree being lost in a forest. (RJ)

Owl Mille Feuille CD (Sofa, Norway)

Looks like a one-off collaboration between improv guitarist Karl Haugland Bjora and saxophonist Signe Emmeluth who together, operating under the name Owl, also flesh the proceedings out with electronics, percussion and a recorder. Everything’s far more subdued than most improv music emanating from Norway these days, with the music often seeming breathy or, at its most dramatic, built around a series of splutters or curdled sounds not unlike those one could imagine in an alien jungle. Melodies drift in and out yet rarely settle anywhere long enough to cast shadows. Instead, like everything else here, they slowly evolve before retreating to a pool of sounds where space accords each one to occupy an imaginary field. Pleasant enough. (RJ)

https://www.sofamusic.no/

Laurent Perrier + David Fenech Plateforme #3 CD (Bam Balam, 2020)

The third entry in a series of collaborations whereby French electronics artist Perrier invites others to send him material he can then sculpt accordingly. Collaborators on the last two entries included Lawrence English, Felx Kubin and Francisco Lopez, amongst others. On this one, however, he oversees two lengthy pieces only using Fenech’s recordings. The first assumes the stance of an abstract dance piece, where the rhythms jostle with foam forming on their lips to a space where The Residents meet Neu, whilst the second meanders through a comfortable enough melding of rolling digital textures and the kinda deep space shimmers ’n’ tones found in ’70s sci-fi scores. All perfectly agreeable round here, anyway. (RJ)

Samuel Rohrer, Max Loderbauer, Tobias Freund, Stian Westerhus Kave CD (Arjunamusic, Germany)

Collectively, these players arrive from backgrounds in avant-garde, electronic, noise, improv and jazz music, as well as the various junctures these approaches cross over with each other. It is then perhaps easy to fathom that the pieces forming this album knit high calibre ambient gestures to the more outward-bound hypno-grooves one might expect from The Necks whilst occasionally detouring into alien squelch, foggy psychedelia and moody cinematic fare. Occasionally, Stian Westerhus’ largely baritone yet elastic vocals permeate proceedings and lend them an air of avant-pop rarely heard beyond some of the solo works of David Sylvian or even David Bowie’s more demanding settings too, fleshing out a dimension to the music that works brilliantly. Added to a slightly loose, semi-improvised feel to the music, Kave proves to be a valuable time investment worth revisiting repeatedly. (RJ)

http://www.arjunamusic.com

Paul Schutze Without Thought CD (Auf Abwegen, Germany)

I must concede that this is the first album by Australian ambient artist Schutze for a considerable while. Am sure I used to have some of his early albums on Extreme, even, but stupidly sold them. I say ‘stupidly’ with good reason here, too, because the over hour-long piece presented on Without Thought might well be one of the best genre albums I’ve heard for many years. Since first getting this I’ve returned to it countless times as well, completely smitten by its careful interlacing of sweeping tones, alien chirps, lolling swells and murky undertow. This music is draped in opaque gauze, slowly drifting on barely felt currents whilst broken, detached signals beep and chime in the far distance. At times I’m reminded of some of Zoviet France’s or The Hafler Trio’s work, tho’ this suggests a deep red sunset over still yet chemically-soaked waters rather than their relatively late night musings. Highly effective. Looks like I need to get some of that back catalogue again. (RJ)

https://www.aufabwegen.de/

Seasons (pre-din) Distortion of the Cell CD (Forwind, Ireland)

The oddly named Seasons (pre-din) is another project that’s existed in the world of micro-released CDRs and suchlike until now, although an LP appeared on Mystery Sea in 2009. The nine cuts here mostly span around a few minutes each and are mostly derived from a persuasive melding of fluttering electronics, primitive rhythms, buried voice samples, rumpled textures, vacillating banks of distortion and the like. Although much of this heads towards a scuffed, dirty or beaten type of ur-electronica there are strong nods in the direction of proto-industrial music, ‘noise’ and dense drone composition. The sixth cut, which like its bedfellows only has its running time for a title and at eleven minutes is the longest piece here, is especially neat. Crank up and drench yourself like there’s no tomorrow. (RJ)

The Stargazer’s Assistant Mirrors & Tides, Shivers & Voids CD (Zoharum, Poland. , 2020)

Reissue of a 10” from 2013, originally released by US label Utech. The Stargazer’s Assistant is the solo endeavour of David J. Smith, usually found drumming for London’s longrunning avant-rock group Guapo. From what I can gather, having never heard anything by The Stargazer’s Assistant till this particular release, is that the music, knocked into shape with the help of David Knight (Five Or Six, Shock Headed Peters, The Fast Set, etc.) and Michael J. York (Coil, The Other Without, Urthona, etc.) plus several guests, largely arrives from those creases where psychedelia meets drone music and electronic weirdshit. This description might well be doing this a disservice, however, because it’s actually a very endearing listen that throws surprising contortions along the way and goes further than most given to a similar dressing of ideas. First track ‘Coral Butterfly’ even had me thinking it sounds somewhat like Circle at their most outer-bound until realising it features their very own Mika Ratto on vocals. At the other end of the spectrum there are elements here that make me think of, I dunno, HNAS or some such. Of course, Guapo themselves aren’t a particularly ordinary rock group, so everything makes some kinda sense in this context. A  great collection of six tracks deserving of this reissue and, in turn, perhaps just a little more attention. (RJ)

TBC_Czepoks_Sigd Radio Gagarin Allsound Orchestra CD (Wachsender Prozess, Germany)

Three-way collab by Thomas Beck’s long-running TBC, improv noise group Czepoks, and Chris Sigdell, whose solo endeavours are usually found under the b*tong guise. There are five cuts here, all derived from one session at a studio in Hamburg, that revolve around the interweaving of hallucinatory textures, leisurely vacillations, metallic rumbles and the like which, perhaps due to the collective experience of the four musicians, is a cut above most drone-bound music. Have returned to this album a few times since it first landed, so that alone is telling me something. Neat handmade sleeve as well. (RJ)

Email: wp666@gmx.de

Tunnels Of Ah Deathless Mind CD (Cold Spring, 2020)

Sixth album from Stephen R. Burroughs, the former Head Of David vocalist who for a considerable time now has been burrowing, termite-like, through a protean yet industrial-glazed network of mulched electronics and frazzled rhythmic passages occasionally punctured by moody vocals and groans. It’s effective enough, despite being bound to the usual tropes such music is generally adorned with. (RJ)

Andrew Tuttle Alexandra CD (Room40, Australia)

Listening to what must be the fourth or fifth album in as many years by this Australian artist I’m reminded somewhat of Raphael Roginski’s work, whereby folk music meets electronics in a habitat of perfectly harmonised sonic refinement. Tuttle himself plays everything, from banjo and acoustic guitar to what sounds like a clarinet or oboe (I don’t have the notes so cannot check) and the electronics, cooking up an impressive seven instrumentals buoyed by the gentlest of melodies, carefully applied field recordings and subtle banks of sound which together take us through a series of agreeable moods perfect for the seasons that cushion winter. The folkish lilts to everything likewise range from the tenderly persuasive to an almost hillbilly twang that sketches a more pastoral atmosphere rather than anything ideal for Deliverence, but it’s precisely this which helps Alexandra completely stand out. A very impressive album from an artist deserving more attention. Shame this isn’t on vinyl as this medium makes the most sense here. It’s rare I get this excited about such music, but this is real treasure. (RJ)

Umpio + Irr. App. (Ext.) Permutable Schema 2CD (Vibora, Finland, 2019)

As one might expect if already familiar with the grizzled electronic soundworlds of Finland’s Umpio and Matthew Wadron’s long-running voyage through surrealistic spaces as Irr. App. (Ext.), Permutable Schema is not primed for the faint-hearted. There’s a lot of molten noise to wade through here, rife with scrunched chatter and metallic scree, but it gives way to more controlled states of digital ooze perfect for running adrift in. Somewhat reminded of Contagious Orgasm’s work, but that’s far from a bad thing. (RJ)

Unbite Fang LP (Antena Krzyku, Poland)

Ferocious contemporary post-punk by a German trio whose rhythmic flex recalls the likes of Bastro or even later Honor Role. There’s a thread of subtle artfulness coursing through the songs I personally always like to see expanded on, but these ten cuts are in equal measure noisy, sinewy and taut, proudly displaying a musicality that could also serve them well. Daniela’s vocals hold court with an equally wide range often recalling prime Lydia Lunch, ultimately helping Fang add up to a strong and enthusiastic debut album bursting with promise. This is how you do ‘punk’ in the 21st Century. (RJ)

http://www.antenakrzyku.pl

Ytamo Vacant CD (Room40, Australia)

This is something like the sixth album from Japan’s Ytamo in fifteen years, but I have no idea how it compares to the others. Being on Room40, however, it’s pretty much a given this will fall on the lighter side of things as the label is largely dedicated to ambient, filmic or easy minimal music. Vacant is no exception as it offers flotation tank keyboard melodies, subtle electronic signatures that merge with drifting tones, unobtrusive voices, and a soft-focus slant with occasional nods to a universe usually reserved for glitch or electroacoustic works. Although everything is pleasant enough it, akin to so much such music, is still very easily forgotten. (RJ)

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