Wednesday, 31 March 2010

VIDEO: Yoga - Encante

I have been trying to find a video for Fourth Eye, but it doesn't exist - you can stream the full track on but that ain't he same as me posting it here. No matter, every track of Yoga's Megafauna album is incredible in its own way - Black Metal like you never heard it before; Chillwave to give you chills - GrimWave. The lack of clarity and focus, that half-lit, hypnagogic state is the same but its coming up from the earth instead of down from the clouds. When they gave it Record Of The Week Aquarius Records described it as "Tim Hecker or Philip Jeck, filtered through a grim black bedroom black metal aesthetic."

We simply describe it as ESSENTIAL.



DOWNLOAD: Junk Disrupt - NFR Mix 01:10

So here we are; big post number 100!

To mark this momentous occasion we are starting off our new monthly download mix series with a unique combination of basslines and contact mics:

Junk Disrupt
NFR Mix March 2010


Certain musics lend themselves well to each other in concept, but whether that means they should ever be put together in reality is another matter entirely. For this mix I combined textures from across the tracks – the clean and elegant timbres of soul intoned dubstep with the soil rolled dirt of electrified feral atmospherics. Plus a mind-flipping twist in the middle hopefully. It’s taken me a long time to realise that I could blend these together, and there are a few places where it works better than I could have hoped – the grimy sawtooth frequencies of Family Battle Snake that puncture the Untold track; the way the violins in Endless Falls tie Pangea and Joy Orbison together, adding a melancholy hum that enhances the soul elements of both tracks further. We didn't save this for our hundredth post for no reason! Now, if only I could properly beatmatch I would be dangerous.

Thanks for downloading. Enjoy!


Demdike Stare - Suspicious Drone (Symbiosis, Modern Love)
Aaron Dilloway - Chain Shot (Chain Shot, Hanson)
10-20 - Hallow (Island, Highpoint Lowlife)
Pantha Du Prince - Welt Am Draht (Black Noise, Rough Trade)
Family Battle Snake - Mirrored Earth/Papaver Somniferum (Astro And Family Battle Snake Split EP, Hanido Sounds)
LV & Untold - Beacon (Beacon, Hemlock)
Floating Points - Vacuum Boogie (Vacuum, Eglo)
Belbury Poly - From An Ancient Star (From An Ancient Star, Ghost Box)
Band Of The Taoist Association Of Wudang Mountains - Palace Of Sanqing (The Mysterious Charm Of Wudang)
Loscil - Endless Falls (Endless Falls, Kranky)
Pangaea - Why (Pangaea EP, Hessle Audio)
Joy Orbison - The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow (The Shrew EP, Aus Music)
Yellow Swans - Foiled (Going Places, Type)
Forest Swords - Miarches (Dagger Paths, Old English Spelling Bee)
Beard Closet - Holding Tight My Favourite Stalagmite (Amputated Orchestra, Self Released)
Grunt - Sota Ilman Pelisaantoja (Petturien Rooli, Freak Animal)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

VIDEO: Fenech Soler - Stop And Stare

Here's the new video from old NFR favourites Fenech-Soler. As cliched as it is to say, we loved their odl demos way more than the tracks that followed them, but this is oen of those odler tunes buffed up, given BBC Radio 1 airplay no less, and now has a shiny video from Luke Bellis

They're playing the Great Escape Festival on 13th May and go onto our ones to watch list along with Ganglians, Best Coast, Wild Beasts, Esben and the Witch and Warpaint. There's loads of bands we've ot heard of, so we've got a bit of catching up to do before May!

p.s. This is our 99th post - next one will be something special for our big 100.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Peaking Lights Video on Vice TV

Vice TV/VBS' new SOUND BUILDER series started last week with a video following Peaking Lights around on their tour. Amazing scenes from the band that made Imaginary Falcons, one of our Top 5 albums of 2009.

Visit the site over HERE, or just watch it here (but I did leave a nice and insightful response to a misguided commenter, which you'll obviously want to go and read):

Here's the Vice intro:

"We travel to Madison, Wisconsin to visit Peaking Lights, a married musical duo famed for their pulsating looped-rhythm tracks composed on re-purposed scraps, stereos, and lo-fi gear. We watch as husband and wife prepare for tour by paring their studio down to the bare essentials needed to produce Peaking Lights’ distinctive sound.
While we were hanging out, we got a peek into Aron’s completely untechnical, yet highly rigorous process of Frankensteining long forgotten consumer electronics. Using the most unassuming hunks of wood, metal, and plastic, Peaking Lights produce surprising and highly personal results."

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Matrix Metals - Ray Ban Meltdown

Since the Pocahaunted album came out last Friday I've been having a bit of a Not Not Fun rinse out. Matrix Metals has mached my head the hardest so far - The tropical shimmertone chillwave of Washed Out / Small Black / Memory Tapes et al blown out a bit harder and stretched out even longer, tweaking the samples just at inch at a time, slowly teasign the tension and release out of you. Boomkat described it as "LIKE ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER CROSSED WITH ARIEL PINK".


Flamingo Breeze is the track people are caning, but it's 12 minutes with no full videos online, so you'll just have to overdose on the equally awesome Ray Ban Meltdown:

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Top 50 albums of 2009

Finally, I can put the year behind me. This has taken me far too long to finish, but I really had to do it to purge 2009 from my system. It hasn't taken months because of the painstaking work that's gone into the writing, it's just taken a hell of a long time! Having said that, the order went through so many slight revisions that I am pretty confident this is what it will look like if you asked me in another 3 months from now.

As ever, there is no small number of words to sum up 12 whole months - a year that started with Animal Collective and for many people never really got any better according to many end of year polls. 7 of my top 20 albums were released right at the start of the year and I am still listening to them now, but that isn't one of them. Black Metal and dubstep in their myriad guises were still the reliable constants for me; each a field of increasing invention and textural subtlety in it's own right – plus the similarities between the manifold yet intrinsically linked sub-genres, the loner bedroom producer Vs. live/club elements make them parallel entities for me. Drone and soundscaping kind of stuff also dominated my listening year again – always a place for slowing down and expanding my mind; then against all that came that dreamstate technicolour deja vu from the future - Hypnagogic Pop (or Chillwave or Glo-Fi or...insert suitably washed out alternate genre here). Joseph Stannard also astutely equated the centrel tenets of Glo-Fi to the aesthetics of Black Metal in this month’s Wire magazine; an inspired and perceptive connection.

After that crystallised it all went nuts, right?

So here it is. This was my 2009 in album form.

50. Plankton Wat - Our Solar Beings
Dewey Mahood (of Eternal Tapestry, Edibles, Bikerblood) solo outfit is a kaleidoscopic riot of all the sounds from one man’s acid-frazzled mind. Two massive multi-segmented tracks that shift from grizzled drone to hi-melody folk to buzzed up minimal songscapes. A West-coast sun-baked trip way out into the backwoods – pretty smooth and easy going on the way out, things get a bit twitchy and eerie once your way gone, with the way back the freakiest part.

49. Velvet Davenport - Happy Ending / Lemon Drop Square Box

SHDWPLY / Moon Glyph Tape
Americans redo British 60’s psychrock through the filtered ears of 2 generations who never got to try brown acid. Specifically, The Kinks and Syd Barrett get speedballed into the one entity of stiff mashed acidjangle with a stiff upperlip. Five or six piece band that sound like a lone casualty to where the first few listens I was wondering what the hell all the others were doing in the songs - then I realised they're just along for the trip. Nostalgia for a golden age of British psych-folk that only ever existed in the filtered eyes and ears of kids that were never there.

48. Cloaks – Serene
Students of Decay
Two tracks of muted piano swirl and ghost guitars. The main half hour ‘Dream Tape Number One’ track is similar in mood to Saito Koji's Beautiful - a haunting meditation on a simple aching refrain of humming prettiness, while the second foil to it is the appropriately titled ‘Improvisation For Guitar And Piano’; a 5 minute aquatic honkytonk comedown.

47. Falty DL - Love Is A Liability
Planet Mu
Sketchy, twitchy bursts of electronica soul, post IDM p-funk, a twist of two-step and a whole lotta bass. Lightning bottled bubbles of glitchy effervescence that bulge, flicker and burst across the speakers. Happiness mashed.

46. Crocodiles - Summer of Hate
Fat Possum

Early on in the year it looked like 2009 was going to be all no-wave-gaze and krautrock and while it promised a lot it sort of never coalesced into anything too profound or dramatic Until Summer of Hate showed up, like that shady guy who rocks up at a part and makes the guys stiffen and the girls soften – nasty, poison-druggy drone-rock tricked out with a neat set of Velvets melodies and rhythms. More New York deathgaze than Rugby shoegaze.

45. Silver Bullets - Free Radical

Hyper psych, Italo-fuzz blown, super-cone-stoned swatches of swimming ambience, spikes of bombed-ed out kraut-drone and gamelan funk - plus a distorted fish-bowl warped club track that sounds like the Star Wars cantina tune.

44. High Wolf - Animal Totem / Incapulco / Supermodern Temple
Not Not Fun / Winged Sun / Krayon

Three sprawling haunted forests of tangled vine tone to snake into your mind through its third wide open eye. Ritual beats offered up to sun gods and blood drinkers - This band's whole being has as dark and creeped out a vibe as it has melodies sunk into it's exotic soup.

43. Eternal Tapestry - Palace of the Night Skies / The Invisible Landscape
Three Lobed / Not Not Fun

Pedal to the metal with the wah wrenched out of it. The moment Rock wrestled the riff back off Metal, these are two releases that that grind out freestyled head down fretboard exploration exploitation like it was going out of fashion. Always a danger.

42. Mountains – Choral
Thrill Jockey

A rich warm blanket of deep undulating melodic drone. An album of tone baths that wash against each other; relatively rugged and dirty guitar lines breaking through the surface like rocks against which the rolling liquid breaks. The mechanics of the music are unrushed, unhurried, yet there are multiple layers shifting in and out of focus at a speed incongruous to the audible drift - a disorienting effect that has keep it interesting all year.

41. Barn Owl - The Conjurer
Root Strata

Again, it's all about depth of tone and with Evan Caminiti's Barn Owl. Together with Jon Porras the duo hew thick dark tracts of earthy drone from guitars and dusty drums. It's a violent apocalyptic vision, yet the movements are full of slow motion grace, like Godspeed, though more minimal in execution, and at time more devastatingly powerful.

40. Converge – Axe To Fall

Ridiculous. Didn’t really get into the last Converge album, didn’t think I’d get this one either, but I have, and then some. Not sure what I missed the first couple of listens – it’s instantly enjoyable from the very first notes, mind-blowing from the first riff then shows itself to be way more than just jaw-dropping guitar patterns.

39. Wooden Veil - Wooden Veil

Industrial-Kraut-Volk. That’s about as apt a ridiculous genre I can invent for this band. Taking a similarly dystopian/post-punk view of Folk music as a band like Der Blutharsch, it’s a racket of wooden distortion and oily euphoria, coughed up on DIY casio-skronk kitchen label Dekorder.

38. Diamatregon - Crossroad

Progressive French Black Metal concept album about The Blues released on the label that brought the world Weakling, with sharred members of cave occultists Aluk Todolo and psych screamers Gunslinger. Some mystical arete of magickal intestity that one. Takign off from the blown out thrash of 2002's Blasphemy For Satan, 7 years later Crossroad arrives, squeezing all that pent up intensity into brutally sparse chords, roughed up and released with cascading eruptions of treble scree then coil it up into high tension again. Repeat. Cassette comes rolled in parchment.

37. Volcano Choir – Unmap

Justin Vernon and members of Collections of Colonies of Bees make their experimental folk-tone-post-rock album a reality of an alternate kind. Distant, gauzy washed out sepia images, rushes of noise and the most awesome use of autotune committed to tape.

36. Belbury Poly - From An Ancient Star
Ghost Box

Vintage medieval English hauntology simmered in intergalactic radiation. Cosmic with a few piston cranked fetishistic old time ideas and effects to keep the sense of nostalgia gnawing at its core. Like Add N to (X) carved from oak.

35. GREYMACHINE – Disconnected
Hydra Head

Because every Jesu release since Silver has been as disappointing as every Isis release. Aaron Turner and Justin Broadrick team up to produce a creepy, throbbing noisefeast of aural terrorism as uncompromisingly bleak as anything by Godflesh. Plus, We Are All Fucking Liars has a sequence of bass riffs that is note for note the same as one of mine I wrote years ago. Weird. Scary. It’s all the correct context.

34. Slagmaur - Von Rov Shelter
Osmose Productions

“Let’s have an end to this Nordic face-off shit”. Just like Darkthrone calling out the kvlt imitators, Slagmaur call out everything to smash it with a volatile and dangerous misanthropy. Unhinged chaos with Wagenerian string samples, industrial machinery and queasy sound effects, it’s a real cinematic horrorshow of an record.

33. Fever Ray – Fever Ray

I never really got into the Knife when they released their albums but I do like this album a lot. It was the hook of the ambience rather than any more tangible hook that really got me. The Knife slowed down to the speed of hibernation. It has a sense of bathos to it that grounds the more flightly elements of the music, but this album isn’t so much about the lyrics for me – it’s the music and vocal delivery – the layered hallucinogenic voice manipulations, the surreal tundra of frost glittered synth tones.

32. Ecka Liena - Orb Night
Phantom Channel

Brighton based solo drone artists with an exquisite ear for what makes ambience deeply affecting and attention grabbing. Suspending time with liquid drops of instrumentation, the ripples from each delicately placed note course though the pool of humming drone and melt gently into it before being stirred again in their next luminous incidence.

31. Shackleton – 3 Eps

This album sounds pretty much where you would say future music would be at this point. Dubstep embodies pretty much all of it – in the future we’d have cars constructed of beautiful lines that made no sound. The tracks here echo that, so sleek and minimal yet attention grabbing- Every beat, click, bassline, vocal ghost and melodic shadow are perfectly toned, honed and timed to perfection to create an incredible combination of otherworldy urban twilight, sinister grim menace and out-of-step future timelessness – that same eerie feeling of nostalgia that made Dummy and Blue Lines such contemporary classics.

30. Elm – Nemcatacoa

Dark and dusty, cavernous and open, this is doom like no other, from the hands of Barn Owl’s Jon Porras. Nemcatacoa is a weighty, somber tome of a record, recalling the widescreen slow motion cinematic panning of Earth and the hypnotic psychedelic ragas of Om, Parras takes those elements and drags them through dust storms of noise, then shifts it way back to the sepia toned melancholy American Primitive of John Fahey.

29.Aluk Todolo – Finsternis

Following up their hermetically grim cave recorded debut ‘Descension’, this French BM band produce an almost kraut-drone inspired single-minded rhythm track that increases in density and complexity as it courses through the five tracks it’s cut up into. It ends in sheets of sulphurous white noise razing the other instruments into the background, but it starts with a minimal lope of feedback and beat, a cold form of psychedelic ritualistic improvisation that begins to bleed dysphoric magick into it until it strands the listener in it’s sea of squalling violence.

28. Partli Cloudi - Rotten Wood

Smoke signaled commune across the astral plains of desert minds and cosmic wanderers, the sacks of these psych nomads filled with loops and sonic debris, hand stitched into comfort, warmth and weaponry as their will takes them. 14 tracks limited to 25 CDr copies in burnt wooden cloud sleeves. This is the reason I love to dig so deep into the underground.

27. Blues Control – Local Flavour

Where freeform backyard jam coalesced into centre stage rock hard…well, rock. The Queens duo (plus horns courtesy of Kurt Vile) kick up an expanding set of sonic duststorms from the off with the piano hammering Good Morning and aforementioned Vile stabs of brass punctuating the key beats and guitar flange, right down to the locked-in flickering ambience of the fourth and final track's never ending outro.

26. William Fowler Collins – Perdition Hill Radio

Set against a background of decaying ambience, through bursts of radio static, silhouetted spires of dead transmitters leak weak signals into a dying landscape – an America of the future, an America stalked by wraiths of blackened metal buzz, cursed shadows dragging the rusted chains of grim history from their dusty ankles. A bleak soundscape, an inhospitable vista, a compelling hour of dramatic cinematic sound.

25. Carrion Wraith – Carrion Wraith
Ars Magna Recordings

Alongside US Black Metal its Canadian counterpart has been travelling a parallel path, shadowed from the mainstream with no scene-leaders like Wolves in The Throne Room to rally around, but more importantly, it ha a harsher, frostier, more formidable sound. Carrion Wraith is the pinnacle of this colder, savage northern trance. The musical conception and recording of the album was limited to a 7 day period of spontaneous writing, meaning the entire thing is almost a free solo jam session with a lot of parts conceived and set down on first take. It is totally devotional Burzum worship interspersed with the samples of natural environments, drilling its naturalistic point home pretty hard through the use of birdsong, riverbanks and of course, forests and wolves. Beautifully composed drum machine patterns shift through tempos and underlay the textural guitar work (which has that frosty buzz down dead cold) with a perfect balance of elegance, aggression and hypnotic momentum, underpinned by basslines that really get the grooves moving and throw some uncharacteristic and hugely effective shapes.

24. Dark Castle - Spirited Migration
At A Loss

Two piece stoner doom band, conjured by a girl on guitars/high vox, guy on drums/low vox and an album cover like a Franz Mucha picture of a horse-borne, wind-torn black robed woman. Stoner doom with class and super heavy, heady smoke blown riffs that groove and weave through the murky hues of descending dusk – the kind of setting that only true doom can aptly soundtrack.

23. Ben Frost - By The Throat
Bedroom Community

Iceland based Australian born Ben Frost is no stranger to massive, imposing environments – the heat of the south, the cold of the north. Extremes is what his music has always been about, and its the balance of the two, plus a whole geological strata of middle ground tying them together that makes By The Throat such a complete album of environmental noise. Gas escaping fissures, geysers, magma, collapsing glaciers, parched desert – its a record that evokes natural phenomena for good reason, then on top of that, it takes noise music into a totally new realm of form and structure.

22. Atlas Sound – Logos

Bradford Cox is our generation’s Bryan Ferry – he is an exacting songwriter, an individual unphased and uninfluenced by anything around him, yet producing a music that is lifting, inspiring and confusing his peers. With Deerhunter, his childhood friend and musical counterpart Lockett Pundt are a Brian Eno/Bryan Ferry double team of glam, trance rock sound explorers, but in Atlas Sound the cosmic chamber pop gets pushed further into an otherworldly realm of untouchably sublime soundscaped songcraft.

21. Lotus Plaza - The Floodlight Collective

Lockett Pundt, guitarist of Deerhunter - sound engineer and sonic sculptor for a generation. He is the modern Eno – the textural foil to Cox’s Ferry. I am stuck on comparing Deerhunter to Roxy Music and I’m not going to drop it soon – On his own, as Lotus Plaza, Pundt has made the Music For Airports for 2009, if not the whole millennium. It’s a shimmery, landscaped sound edifice, a monument to modern music design and effects manipulation, reverb heavy, washout out in Brill Building nostalgia and a few doo wop stomping beats and basslines too.

20. Ilyas Ahmed – Goner
Root Strata

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, raised in New Jersey, Ilyas Ahmed is out there amongst all the other drifting New Weird Americana loners, amping up his rootless blues, cutting it with something several stripes more potent and dosing it with overdrive and a loose yet insistent rhythm. It’s a blues record only Bill Orcutt can smash to pieces, but I only just heard that, else it may well have been way up the top of this list. What Ahmed does is quite different to that, building his intensity from a linear drone rather than frantic scrabble. Its hypnotic mantric raga like feel is imbued with a sense of melancholy – that blues drift, the dust across the plains, the sand across the desert.

19. Thee Oh Sees – Help
In The Red

John Dwyer’s psychedelic garage band released their finest moment to date this year with Help. It’s totally derivative sure, but any negative connotations that may have are totally annihilated by the sheer visceral honesty and natural sense of abandon that roars out of each track on this record. Coming from a man whose also played in Death Metal bands and noise punk outfits, his experiences add an extra sense of danger and tension that are absent from the pre-paranoia 60’s bands it owes a debt too (though perhaps the darkly cryptic rollercoastering of 13th Floor Elevators is the closest reference for that). Right down to the flute break in Meat Step Lively, Nuggets era rama-lama skronk rock, perfectly executed without a flicker of self-consciousness or affected stylings.

18. Broadcast & The Focus Group…Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age

Electronic-Neu-Wave band Broadcast combine with hauntology oriented Ghost Box label owner Julian House in a séance to summon the spirits of Delia Derbyshire and the radiophonic workshop (as anyone writing about his album is obliged to describe it). A creepy grainy paranormal album of night time activities; the sounds of the unseen and things that go bump, clang, shckk shckkscssshhhhh, skronk, strum und dang, clank whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrr………s p o o k y......

17. Oneohtrix Point Never – Rifts
No Fun Productions

Collecting together Daniel Lopatin’s recent cassettes, Rifts, is a re-release of sorts, with the tracks being resequenced and given a rich remastering to create a galactic odyssey of tone and oscillation. Embedded within the 27 lush synth vistas are stories of an alien planet, a Russian spaceman’s voyage into orbit and the telling of his memoirs on his deathbed. For an album with no lyrics these narratives are surprisingly well realised, and the narrative bridges the tracks forming a cohesive and absorbing whole across the two CDs, not least when Format & Journey North breaks into the sounds of birdsong and running water to ground the album in a recognizable reality and environment.

16. Awesome Wells - The Highs And Lows Of De Witt A Stanton
Red Deer Club

An album recorded by traversing the wilds of the UK with a microphone picking up the ambient sounds of city streets, riverbanks, graveyards, abandoned farmhouses and collaging them together along with samples from the likes of Grizzly Bear and Beirut adding in more exotic clips from further afield such as a dictaphone recording of a Ukranian train station at dawn. An English country garden subversion of Girl Talk, this is some kind of intricate, compelling and seamless mash-up of folk and found sounds that forms a privately walled world, locked in by ivy and as balmy as a high summer afternoon. Or like the man says himself “Music you should defiantly listen to whilst sitting on a train to Oxenholme, eating pickled sandwiches”

15. Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer

Spencer Krug’s fourth album as Sunset Rubdown is, for me at least, by far his greatest invention. It’s a mediaeval epic with parallels, even wormholes, into the modern world. I’m sure there’s clever literary techniques that I could name if I knew them for the devices he employs to continually fluctuate between the two, flipping between references, people, situations on a continuum of narrative that is as spellbinding as the album title suggests. It’s so full of emotive, cinematic lyrics and musical passages that it is as visual and animated as any swords&sandals film you could name. Almost the album of the year, for a long time back there in the summer.

14. Oneida – Rated O
Jagjaguwar / Brah

The second installment of the Kill Your Parents trilogy came as a triple CD set – somewhat unnecessarily, but if it were on two discs it would have the same conceptual impact. These clowns. I totally forgot to put the smoothly Teutonic linear drone of Preteen Weaponry in my top 50 last year. Shame on me. I rectify that, and Oneida utterly trump it with Rated O. An absurdist kaleidoscope of avant-rock, riddim-dub, deep-psych, cosmic-ragas, guitar-trance and foot-on-the-monitor stadium rock. It’s a messy mix but it’s Oneida, so this kind of shit hangs together like it w3as meant to be. Just. If the listener is unsure as to whether any of this is a joke on them, then take my angle and just throw caution to the wind and believe in every second.

13. Washed Out - High Times / Life of Leisure
Mirror Universe Tapes / Mexican Summer

Shimmertone glitterwave, hypnogogic chillwave – this album and EP have given me the most satisfaction in making up stupid genre names, and has provided hours of listening entertainment. Easily the coolest records I heard all year, they exude insouciant style exacerbated all the more by briefer than brief running times. Like the profound flash of a warm and giddy memory of a distant care-free childhood summer, Ernest Greene’s balmy distillation of technicolour nostalgia into the 15 tracks of these releases combines samples, hazy melodies and sweetly crunchy beats to produce two addictive bite-sized records. Released in runs of 200 cassettes, natch.

12. Worriedaboutsatan – Arrivals

Leeds based duo Gavin Miller & Tom Ragsdale have produced a second album of absorbing IDM, post rock and electronica – seamlessly blurring boundaries no one considered crossing, stitching everything together with the finest minimal techno thread. A record that transcends it’s laptop origins, to sound alien, organic, ethereal yet wholly substantial. The space and ambience can be chilling, but never cold, such as the moment of the drop in pressure in All Things Are Silent But You, when the air lock doors open and all the air rushes out just before that beat comes in. A beautifully realised, truly epic sounding album.

11. Emeralds - What Happened
No Fun Productions

Cosmic hypnogogic psychedelic space drone. Released in January, this has kept me going all year, evolving in it’s own astral petri dish, throwing up new constellations of incandescent, neon textured rhythms with every new listen. It’s a fizzing psychoactive trip that offers little in the way of intellectual insights, but provides a profoundly affective spiritual transfiguration and a total realigning of the senses.

10. Pissed Jeans – King Of Jeans
Sub Pop

Cerebral morons Pissed Jeans up the ante of their previous two albums with a grungy (although I don’t think this is what the broadsheets had in mind when they said it was back), filthy ripped knees racket of a record. That it had misanthropic yet endearingly humane and honest lyrics made it all the more entertaining and connected that much deeper. It’s full of the pestilent characters that infect society’s underbelly and spews burning ire over the futility of trying to claw your way any higher up the food chain. Inspiring, energising stuff.

09. The Antlers – Hospice
Self-Released / Frenchkiss

It’s almost impossible to listen to this album without choking up just a little bit – it’s the story of lovers torn apart by terminal illness. With the shadowy hand of death hovering over it, the fear sadness, fragility and impending loss that feature as central lyrical themes bury themselves into the deceptively melodic and uplifting post-rock-indie for comfort and escapism,where lightly brushed structures build into towering Spector-esque edifices of sound. The album succeeds in making juxtaposition light and dark a real challenge to the listener in songs like Two, a track that sounds like some kind of Christmassy single so optimistically chiming and light is it’s skipping melody, but is actually about child abuse, detailing the permanent despair and crippled emotions that continue into adulthood. The kind of thing Mike Leigh might make if he were a band.

08. Pyramids & Nadja - Pyramids & Nadja
Hydra Head

Texan psych-Black Metal from Pyramids and glacial bliss-drone from Toronto’s Nadja. Put them together and your mind will melt. Less a collaboration, more a rare fusion of two bands with visionary approaches to music making that happen to collide and fuse at just the right moment in a spark of creativity gone supernova. In honesty, it is a project involving far more than just those two bands – way more; featuring Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins performing bass, Albin Julius of Der Blutharsch and Chris Simpson of Mineral performing vocals, Colin Marston of Dysrhythmia and Behold the Arctopus provided some production and the modern studio genius who is James Plotkin of Khanate, Khlyst, O.L.D. Phantomsmasher and more mixed and mastered the entire album. Not surprisingly, the record’s range of dynamic techniques in shifting the pace, texture and tone of the tracks is overwhelming, repeatedly takings me by surprise and wowing me again each listen; until the final track whose every moment is utterly entrancing.

07. Alva Noto - Xerrox Vol.2
Raster Norton

Using samples from heavily accomplished sound-as-visionaries Stephen O'Malley, Michael Nyman and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carsten Nicolai’s Xerrox project’s second record opens out the scale of his venture to a widescreen panaroma with microcosmic detail. The nature of the sounds are given a more feral, emotional, affecting character than previously, so that the digitally reconfigured tone washes and electronic symphonies sweep across the senses in elegant slow-motion delicacy or overwhelm and disorientate with the sounds of some vast star collapsing. Truly a futuristic melding of the analogue and digital, the human and machine; a feedback loop created through original material, electronic manipulation, out of the speakers into human ears for the following course of flesh manipulation and emotional manipulation, then reaction back into continued assessment of the sonic scenery.

06. A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

Previous releases by this band have been intimidating ear bruising tonal assaults on the senses; what they lacked in subtlety they made up for with sheer weight of volume. With Exploding Head, APTBS have produced a perfectly balanced album with the same overwhelming sense of power and scale, but a more finely attuned control of noise, a fiercely keen ear for tense nervy rhythms and a sinister line in melodies. Annihilating the shoegaze template they were formed from, the loose Spacemen drones tighten up into adrenal showers of ragged, rattling Link Wray homages and close, darkly urban claustrophobia. The kind of album that gives you a new favourite song every week.

05. Peaking Lights – Imaginary Falcons
Night-People / Not Not Fun

Analogue tape fuzz out-pop gauze ambience love-in project of the recently married Indra Dunis of Numbers / Rah Dunes and Aaron Coyes; also of Rah Dunes and more. Recorded to tape, live in a barn, there’s a starlit, mossy dampness to this that feels like the outside; an intimate and absorbing record that unfurled layers of suffocating bliss, landscaped them into ethereal textures of pulsing patchwork casio tones, quilted pillowy clouds and frayed hems, haunted harmonic drones shifting down banks of glowing sands interwoven with that ever present 2009 constant hypnogogic nostalgia, peaking with the haunting mirage of 50’s Spector shimmer evoked in ‘All The Good Songs Have Been Written’ and that jungle moonbeam groove of ‘Wedding Song.’ An album that can hold you close whilst being totally far-out.

04. Teitanblood – Seven Chalices
Ajna Offensive

Quite simply the most disgusting record I have ever heard, with similarly, unparalleled, disturbing artwork to go with it. It is a complete album from start to finish, from the inside out. It’s not Death metal, not Black, not Thrash – it’s some unholy trinity of the three, debased, defiled – d-everything-ed until it’s a stinking jellified sack of Satanic matter, spread across several languages in order to open as many gates into the underworld as possible. Guess you could say it’s pretty Spanish like that. Or it could only be Madrid’s Teitanblood This kind of visual Metal rhetoric is actually tangible in the sound and tone of the instruments themselves, the structure of the songs is used more to paint in the details that the sonic aesthetic has already alluded to. The music was recorded around two years ago, with the final segues, interludes and artwork taking another year to complete. That it concerns itself with an utterly relentless torrent of airless gore and violent occultism should not detract from the horrifying truth that this is an album that transcends its apparent primitivism to the form of a visionary considered work of art.

03. Saito Koji – Beautiful

One long unblemished cycle of sustained beauty. A monumental composition of modern music fusing pure technology and pure music into an uncompromising work that has haunted me all year. For such a repetitive piece, the themes never lose any sense of the alluring mystery and romanticism they immediately evoke and the course of the record is like being sensually seduced and teased by a silvery liquid sonic elixir. Like Eric Satie’s Vexations, whose introduction states which says that “it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, and in the deepest silence, by serious immobilities", it is possible to take this more seriously than is necessary, but ready yourself and actively absorb the full harmonic nuances throughout its 43 minute course, or have it as compelling accompaniment to your diverted attention and it will be a richly rewarding experience either way.

02. Cobalt – Gin
Profound Lore

One long unblemished cycle of sustained violence. A monumentally uncompromising record that has haunted me all year. This was released right at the start of the year it has been a constant through the last twelve months. I couldn’t imagine how Cobalt could improve on Eater Of Birds, but with Gin they have intensified the levels of every aspect of that record to a devastating and definitive modernization of black/thrash metal; Even saying that, this album defies such a casually ascribed genre technically agile yet uncomplicatedly so, a direct visceral experience of unadorned complexity. Some call it War Metal. That’s never sat comfortably with me, even if Phil McSorely is in the army, but still, it doesn’t quite nail that feeling this album evokes – that it endows upon the listener. It’s drunk on power, loaded on liquor, yet retains poise, technical agility and imperial dignity, whilst always imposing the sense that you are in the presence of something seriously fucking awesome.

01. Wild Beasts – Two Dancers

For me, Two Dancers went from being a contemporary sounding Indie album to the most profoundly affecting, consistently enjoyable and versatile record of the last twelve months. Slow build, slow burn – it’s the essence of the album itself. It worked its way into me song by song, first the opening 'Fun Powder Plot' and its unique theme of paternal frustration and aggression (plus sexual innuendo); then 'Hooting and Howling' with it’s humorless jackbooted protagonists, the sexual provenance of 'All The Kings Men', the backalley street sex of 'Still Got The Taste……' and on through each song, collapsing any ideas that this was just a follow up album to the pretty interesting, showy vocalled cabaret band that Limbo Panto set them up to be. Two singers who can actually sing with heartstring tweaking intensity, a band with the interplay of an actual band that has a sound that sounds deep and naturally developed, lyrics situated somewhere between the worlds of Alex Turner, Morrisey and Serge Gainsbourg; Wild Beasts play out some dark fantasies, dirty secrets, gritty reality, harsh truths, sensual emotion, loves longing and poignant melancholy. It’s too much to all be in one album at one time.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

New SwännS))) Download

Here's another slightly self-indulgent post! The second instalment of the ongoing 'transparent band' project SwännS))) is on the internet. We had another rehearsal the other day, taped it up and uploaded the choice track to to stream or download:

We called it HRSH MRLD SHRKS. You can find it here:

This one will be condensed a bit I expect, and the levels are a bit off, but it’s a good noisy fun fest!


I added a new post to our ongoing DiS thread HERE.

We also put some artwork/pretty pictures on the page too. How nice!


Monday, 8 March 2010

Boy & Rabbit

Alone in the office again today - speakers out, dial set to:::

SwännS))) – Second Rehearsal
Kuedo – Dream Sequence Ep
Peaking Lights – Imaginary Falcons
Pyramids & Nadja - Pyramids & Nadja
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
Pyramids & Nadja -Pyramids & Nadja
SwännS))) – Second Rehearsal (again)
Burzum – Belus
The Delta Mirror – He Was Worse Than The Needle He Gave You
Alexander Tucker & Decomposed Orchestra – Golden Dome
Alva Noto – Xerrox Vol 2
DVA – Natty/Ganja
Joy Orbison – The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow

Friday, 5 March 2010

Anji Cheung & Sequences - free album download

Vessel of the Earth is collaboration between Anji Cheung of aquatic dreamscapers Island of Raiell who we've mentioned before and dark ambient artist from Belgium who goes by the name Sequences.

They've put this 24 minutes one-track album out as a free download available HERE. A fusion of light and shadowy tones, this is for fans of shimmery ambience with a heavy undertow - a fluid contemplation between the mossy narrative soundscapes of Anji and the darker, cavernous moods that run deep through Sequences solo work.

Individual tracks from both Anji and Sequences are also featured in the new compilation from ambient/drone/doom/sludgerock blog Droning Earth. Free download available HERE.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

New Pocahaunted Album & Preview Track

The first full record from 5-piece Pocahaunted is almost upon us - the album is called Make It Real and will be released on Not Not Fun in the near future - and they've put out Save Yourself (It's Nice) as a jungle dream trip teaser of a free track to download.

We've been waiting for any kind of recorded output from this new incarnation since last July, which in Pocahaunted release months is about 7 years! Too long in other words. Understandable though, as jamming stuff out as a duo is a different thing entirely to 5 members getting tight - especially when you are including the wild buzz baked organ psych king Cameron Stallone aka Sun Araw in your ranks.

Immediately in stark contrast to the languid murky throbbing of old, this preview track immediately jumps into life as a twitchy groove with flailing guitars and ripping organ flourishes, winding down over its 8 minutes into an ethereal cosmic stew of drum flurries and organ pulses.

As you can see for yourselves, the album art is an ultra fried headfuck.

DOWNLOAD - Save Yourself (It's Nice)

And for all our our readers lucky enough to be hitchin' over to SXSW this year, the NOT NOT FUN showcase show is Friday 19th March at The Hideout, with these bands.

Yeah, our third eye popped out it's socket seeing that line up too.

Monday, 1 March 2010

VIDEO: Esben & The Witch - Lucia, At The Precipice

Brighton's most elegant post-rock/avant-pop band released this super limited 7" which sold out instantly, leavign us with only this video floating in the ephemera. I say 'only' - there is nothing slight about the majesty of this track.