CHALKY VORTEX

Morning, and huge apologies for intruding on your wknd>>>>

Yeah it's a bit late VERY LATE out of the silo, this week's newsletter, thanks to last-minute tax return dramas plus overexcitement at Sanjay's return from the mutti-land plus a flash-bout of mystery illness (feeling much better now but for some reason can't stop hiccupping. It's very undignified.). 

Anyway, life goes on...and on and on and on. 

And now that the fun part of the year is over, we wish you well for the true slog that lies ahead (hic)
xx


 

SHIKEN HANZO
THE CENTIPEDE

A14 | 12" | £8.99

 

Four bullets to the head from a shōgun assassin with roots in dnb but fast evolving his own custom strain of minimalist sound-murder. ‘The Centipede’ wears its junglism lightly, but is heavy in all other respects: a kind of low-slung, paranoid gangster-tekno, ultra-dread and dub-cratered, driven by churning subs, batwing-flapping snares and acres of negative space...yeah this owes as much to Skull Disco, duppiest early DMZ and Raime’s Hennail as it does to drum ‘n bass. ‘Menpo’ and ‘OathKeeper' are just as murky and prickly-palm tense, but stretched and flexed and primed for the dance - bass-drones flaring up like mardy cobras, beats fashioned from some impossible alloy of bamboo and hanzo-steel – before all shackles are shaken (shiken?) and total blast-off is achieved with the airtight breaks and teetering death-star synths of 'Oni'. Still living in the hope that Vincent Ward’s insane abandoned treatment for Alien 3 might yet one day be filmed – er, xenormophs vs a brotherhood of 14th century monks orbiting the earth in a wooden space station – and this would be the perfect soundtrack. But let’s not overemphasize its darkside: The Centipede traffics in suspense rather than doom, its violence is carefully portioned, it goes about its biz with stealth rather than brute-force. Execution-style… You’re dead before you know what hit you.


GRAUZONE
LIVE AT GASKESSEL, BERN - APRIL 12, 1980
NO LABEL | LP | £21.99
 
Summat special this… LP of mystery provenance capturing Grauzone’s initmitable brand of death-ray NDW / uptight funk at its powerful, pistoning best, live in 1981. Whilst what you both DO and DON’T want is a collection of ‘Eisbar’ encores, what is forced upon you is an untamed document of the thumping, unhinged Swiss power house slugging through their signature, high velocity, ultra-frigid synth-punk with a ferocity and vitality that no studio recording could match, a performance probably only beheld by few but part of a legacy that changed the game for so many. If you know..you know. Once these are gone, they’re real gone, don’t say we didn’t warn you. 
 

DANIEL VALLANCIEN / PHILIPPE MATE
DANIEL VALLANCIEN / PHILIPPE MATE

SOUFFLECONTINU | LP | £16.99
 
TOP tier sound exploration from saxophonist  Philippe Mate and Daniel Vallancien; Mate submitting his beloved saxophone to a thorough sieving and steaming by his pal DV and his maverick engineering prowess - Vallancien, a seeming lynchpin of the whole 70s French / BYG debacle and all round control room IDEAS GUY, finding himself plonked behind the glass for a TON of heavyweights - Dharma Quintet, Don Cherry, Brigitte Fontaine ++. This particular session sees his sonic know-how being brought very much to the foreground and allowed to fully hallucinate - rolling, playful progressions on tracks like “Sanza Sallee” sounds like three marimbas in a house of mirrors, or a dubbed out Daniel Schmidt LP, one of a few uplifting percussive daydreams that are scattered throughout, before the guys sombre up and descend into paranoid brainstorms like “Campus” - ol’ Mate’s saxophone set free to slowly lose it’s mind and make up the general studio mood - vicious, absorbing free-jazz melters that totally blow the beard off so much else from that world. Another DEADLY reissue that we’ve been scrambling to get our hands on for quite some time - highly recommended.

 


CÉLINE GILLAIN
BAD WOMAN

DRAMA | LP | £17.99
 

“Movement is too expensive / breathing is cheap…for now.” Surreal, theatrical, crypto-autobiographical and unexpectedly SLAMMING techno-pop meditation on gender, work and the fraught and perma-compromised act of mere BEING in the late capitalist pleasure-palace/prison. Tons of fun but with a simmering rage just below its surface, Bad Woman seems almost too good to be true – how has Céline Gillain gone from one (admittedly ace) 7” on Lexi Disques to this full-bore future-classic LP which, from its amazing/'orrible Snapchat-filtered cover art and oversharing lyrics on down, speaks to and embodies the present condition in all its garishness and confusion and awfulness while also, somehow, being GOOD.

Gillain's vocals, delivered in a vinegary and volatile English (managing to sound vulnerable and feral and vampish and alien-nation WISE all at once...Grace Jones came to mind a few times) are a joy, performing (and parodying and dismantling) at least half a dozen typical “female” roles along the way, but honestly, like Phew's first LP (!) or Lolina's The Smoke, none of this would land so well if the production wasn’t as staggeringly on-point as it is. Spiritually it harks back to that early 2000s sweet-spot when front-line minimal techno and electroclash converged with a mutant/art-pop impulse in the work of people like Safety Scissors, Soft Pink Truth, Gudrun Gut, Felix Kubin - but updated with 2019-calibre rhythm/bass weaponry and armour-plating … seriously these tracks are heavier, sparser, steelier, GULLIER than you'd ever expect – euro-dance mascara running to reveal the kind of ruff, succinctly psychedelic soundsystem-techno stylings you might expect from, I dunno, a Batu or a Heith. BAD WOMAN indeed. Such a killer, listened to little else all week, don't say we didn't tell ya>>>>>>

 

 


DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE
ISSUE #6

ZINE | £6.99
 
Issue #6 of Jay Hinman's zine out of San Francisco. Features on Brannten Schnure and our very own Carla dal Forno, a very welcome post-Garbage & The Flowers discography, guides to Velvet Underground bootlegs and LA punk compilations, plus reviews and more. 44 pages. A right good read.

 


BRITISH MURDER BOYS
FIRE IN THE STILL AIR 

DOWNWARDS | CD | £11.99

CD in deluxe 6 panel gatefold digipak. Whatever you think you know, don't underestimate how original and insurrectionary Regis and Surgeon's initial run of British Murder Boys 12”s and live aktions were, before their first break-up. At a time – hard to imagine now – where techno and industrial/noise/scum-punk couldn’t have felt more at odds, BMB married genuine performance BOTTLE – that is, a pissed Regis barking cult-leader/drill-sergeant commands (Jim Jones by way of Windsor Davies) and semi-murmured self-loathing non sequiturs at typically unsuspecting and generally outraged dancefloors – to roiling, dubwise, heavy-as-a-death-in-the-family but devilishly SWUNG and syncopated rhythms. They smuggled a then much-needed dose of discomfort and negative energy into the club, and what they played passed the acid-test of avant-garde dance music, which is to say, people didn’t know HOW to dance it, but felt compelled to try (couldn’t tell you, but I imagine pogoing at Fabric is as rare a sight today as it was 15 years ago). BMB essentially answered a (seemingly mad) question that Surgeon’s DJ sets had been asking for years: what if Basic Channel and Whitehouse were in fact the same band????

It’s 2019 now though, and as the way of things, their innovations, and incitements to riot, have been largely assimilated. Production-wise, a whole new generation of producers across the techno and dnb spectrum have ransacked them for inspiration. The sight of a man shouting garbled obscenities into a mic over sheets of metallic noise and sledgehammer breaks is no longer reason to call security and have him ejected from the club. And yet and yet--

Fire In The Still Air is a ferocious reminder of how out on their own BMB always were, still are. It gives a far more satisfying account of their music, and the havoc it can wreak, than any of the 12”s (or, indeed, the 2015 retrospective boxset), those dense, monolithic productions gleefully, mercilessly ripped up and reconstituted for maximum aggro/ecstatic effect. Info about the disc is deliberately scant, but whether it’s a recording of a live set or composite of several or a premeditated studio session, it doesn't really matter...for us it kinda functions as a kind of greatest hits, subtly updating, and in a couple of cases radically overhauling, their back catalogue, making you hear classics like ‘Hate Is Such A Strong Word’ and ‘Don't Give Way To Fear' afresh, and also showcasing recent/new material in the best possible context. The kings of chicken-in-a-basket techno cabaret are dead...long live the kings.  

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