These introductions get harder to write each week, sat between these same four walls doing a-nothing-but-work, waiting for the outside to open up again (or an Irish pub to colonise my home). But much like the person who persists with starting each email with 'hope you are well' in vain expectation/ignorance, it's a duty i must honour. So, what is new?
There's all the usual business below and on the site, remaining ever-regenerating, though the cycle has been somewhat disrupted this week with developments on the label front - yes, WOE002 & 003 are soon for this world, the former especially imminent. Stay alert for an announcement next week. What else you gonna do? In the meantime, you can follow our soon-to-be-more-active Bandcamp here.
And that's about it for now. On to the important stuff as above, so below >>>
Various - I Stumble and Then I Fall
A Colourful Storm, 2020
Delighted to have our hands on a compilation we'd long thought was beyond our grasp. A Colourful Storm have repeatedly proved themselves masters of the emotively-titled comp, and with I Stumble and Then I Fall they not only further their credentials but also provide the first in what they describe as 'a series of intimations'. Fancy! If there's more of this kind of thing to come, i'll be a happy man. Those previous compilations explored forgotten histories of indiepop and IDM respectively, but here they're marking out future paths - the ten artists included are new (and sometimes hilarious) names to me, all of whom i'm presuming are contemporary. Sonically, it's a fairly accurate encapsulation of the ACS aesthetic, exploring the more emotive outer edges of modern electronic music and DIY composition - the Aussie styled (ala Kallista Kult, M.Quake) dream-dub of Princess Diana of Wales (lol), Lucinda's mournful afternoon reverie 'The Stars Behind Us', the intimate Editions EG pastoralism of Charlatan Prism and Dugong, and possibly at its peak, Gwydir's 'High Hearts', a shimmers-in-greyscale synth-wonder with the same maudlin soul as Carol's So Low but with an Enya like appreciation for the dramatic. Yes, Enya! Long gone at source.
Bobby Would - World Wide World
Low Company, 2021
Heavy Metal/Itchy Bugger fella Bobby Would returns with another collection of manglepop nearly-hits that keeps that dial set somewhere between murky AM jangle and what's now a trademark submerged psych bloos. There's songs for days hidden 'neath the scruff n tumble, and your man Would has that snarky turn of phrase that makes a melody into a hook and me keeping on coming back for repeated plays. Imagine this beamed straight from an alterna-universe where Total Control play MTV Unplugged In Berlin. If only this is what MES meant by Australians in Europe...Woulda coulda shoulda.
Jane Arden & Jack Bond - Anti-Clock
Low Company, 2021
"This is my anxiety survival broadcast"
If, like me, Low Company's issuing of the Anti-Clock soundtrack is your first introduction to the film (which, honestly, there's no shame in - it was only ever officially screened twice in the UK, though BEB fans may have caught it at the ICA), you might need more than a minute to get your head around it. This is dense and confusing post-Ballardian existential sci-fi that shows a hell of a lot, but tells very little. Nonetheless, such is the collaged presentation of austere dialogue and chanson-like lullaby, you might not ever actually need to watch the film (if you can, indeed, find it). This, for me, doesn't simply function in the way most soundtracks would - as in service to a wider visual presentation - but serves as a discrete document/experience in itself, an oblique critique of technology and the depressive state of western civilisation, and in that sense a strange contemporaneous sister to, say, Threads or Throbbing Gristle. Which makes sense, because this has been purposefully edited together after the fact. Arden's songs that open each side are beautiful and hypnotic, and are most likely the main appeal here, but it's the time-frazzled overlaying of psycho-exploration dialogue, dream-state guitar and non-descript television/radio broadcasts that truly drew me in. I keep coming back just trying to understand.
"History is already a foregone conclusion. But i am always too late to understand it"
Hand-numbered edition of 250. And maybe the definitive Low Company release.
Badwan/Coxon - Promise Land/Boiling Point
Tough Love, 2021
Lengthy two-track collaboration between The Horrors' Faris Badwan and John Coxon of Spiritualized/Spring Heel Jack/Treader fame, which finds a perfect midpoint between the crepuscular aesthetics of the former and more improvisatory instincts of the latter. Coxon has an incredible ear for texture and tone, and the guitar playing here is gnarled and bruising in a way we've not heard from him in sometime, an ideal foil for Badwan's hallucinatory growl. The ten-minute long Boiling Point pulses and grinds to an unresolved climax like Metal Box-era PIL and you could easily envisage it spiralling on forever more in some other universe. Promise Land, though shorter, is somehow looser, more unhinged, Coxon's free jazz interests running in tandem with Badwan's autodidactic instincts. A great 12", the kind you don't hear too often anymore. Let's hope there's more to come...
Stefan Christensen - Circular Ruins
Hangover Central Station, 2021
The hardest working man in show/no-business is back with another killer set of tripped-out guitar workouts that are better than near anyone else's tripped-out guitar workouts. I wouldn't so much say Christensen is a renaissance man, but there are a few different versions of himself out there, and on Circular Ruins he's out of New Haven and in the scorched earth late 80s NZ underground, channeling the ragged glory of Pin Group and the deconstructive surge of the Dead C. Obvious kinship with K-Group in parts, but what i love most about Christensen's music is that he always returns to a songwriting centre, the noise and swirl a texture always in service to the song. And it's these songs he never seems to run dry of. Long may it be the case. Limited as always.
Loren Connors & Oren Ambarchi - Leone
Family Vineyard, 2021
Recorded in Brooklyn in 2017, Leone sees Connors and Ambarchi combine for the first time in their ever busying histories, which is surprising given their overlapping circles and dialogical styles of playing. True to form, they seem to feed each other here. Comprising three distinct pieces, Leone begins with a long-form solo performance from Connors, and ends with a classic Ambarchi harmonic exploration; in the middle they meet in responsive (dis)harmony. Ronnel is actually a remarkably even collaboration, no one player out-doing the other, instead acting responsively in turn, exploring that dialogical relationship with instinctive ease. Situating the collaborative piece in the middle is a smart turn, as if showing where the ends meet, encouraging continuous, circular listening. No coincidence that Oren is literally within Loren... Very much hoping they can tour together at some point in the near future, whatever the near future means anymore.
Piezo ft. Sunun - Water Chamber
No Corner, 2021
"Water, I need six years worth of water" - i've heard very similar words bouncing round this house on a few blurry Sunday mornings i won't lie... Intuition tells me that Sunun isn't lamenting the same alcoholic regrets. It's a different kind of spirituality on show. Though Milanese, Piezo produced Water Chamber in Bristol, and the track vibrates with the city's history, characteristic slo-mo sub-bass opening up big yawning gaps into which Sunun pours her spoken-word observations. Abstract as it is, it's a very feminine vision being constructed here, and Sunun in fact takes her inspiration from Zulu coming of age ritual. It's in the poetry itself, which speaks to a private female energy that's both mysterious and sure of itself, while the sonic backdrop is both sensuous and tough. Big statement for a 7" this. Fans of the NAP single from late 2020 should investigate, also. Edition of 200 and another sold out at source. You should take that as endorsement.
Graeme Jefferies - Messages for the Cakekitchen
Ally, 2021 (orig. 1988)
!KEY FOUNDATIONAL TEXT! Recorded in various domestic settings across New Zealand in 1987 and originally released by Flying Nun in '88, Graeme Jefferies first record after leaving This Kind of Punishment remains a high watermark of DIY energy and creative enquiry that to these ears sounds as gripping as ever. GJ's songwriting is characterised by a distinct mix of dark curiosities, sideways melodies and cavernous melancholy, a particular skill shared only by his brother Peter (and it's still remarkable just how similar their voices are). Graeme seems to take less of the spotlight, but Messages for the Cakekitchen is every bit as vital. This Kind of Punishment, members of whom are inevitably all over this record, were always a touch more outre than the majority of their Flying Nun peers, and the Cakekitchen project, which runs to this day, is a perfect symbiosis of the folk pop foundations that shaped much of the NZ music of the time and a hard-to-suppress avant instinct. It means these songs rarely go where you expect, but they carry you there through an undeniable knotty melodicism that demands repeated plays. Accessible AND transgressive - the artist's dream!
Sun Ra & His Outer Space Arkestra - A Fireside Chat With Lucifer
Modern Harmonic, 2021
First official reissue of the one with Nuclear War on it. If you need more encouragement than that to pick this up perhaps you're not in quite the right place... Absolutely cracking line in the press release that's worth noting: "sonorities... emerge from the band as if there was no human intention behind them". That's right, there was no human intention. Something else, other... Still intergalactic, extraterrestrial and outta this world. As unnaturally brilliant as ever. Strange and remarkable how we're still picking apart the mysteries of this music decades later.