With January and related taxing matters (sorry) dispensed with, there's been little to be miserable about round these parts. Sure we could find summat but in the interest of time let’s ignore the shop's minor flooding (again!) and the outrageous price of rail travel in the United Kingdom AMONGST OTHER SHIT. The past week's highlights a news article about the powers that be sending penguins into a care home in Berkshire, and Dennis Tyfus’ 20 minute sing-a-long extravaganza at Cafe Oto... discreetly sliding into self promotion: we’ve got our next night at Oto SORTED, kind of. Either way it’s on Saturday March 16th and will no doubt be the best night of your life, a Fyre festival for fans of the mystic Belgian drone underground. Save the date++++++
PENULTIMATE PRESS | LP | £17.99
Harder-than-post-hardcore headstretcher / dream-stealer that owes nothing to no-one - feral youth-rising with a discordant, modern day psychosis that runs riot on the streets of Brisbane, slinging ten burning trash fireballs through your windows in a frantic denouncement of, er, EVERYTHING. Penultimate Press via Aimless Wonder cough up a triumphant and disorientating take on the confines of hardcore punk, “Old Thread” goes at it tooth and nail, our main man rasping over his clattering bandmates like he’s just snorted a line of fire-ants on “Cope” and “Site”, before the whole unit get drowned in a rippling puddle of the muddiest bass-drones and distortion in closing minutes of “Worship The Surface Pt. 1” - tones so dense and contorted they’d freak the squatting population of a Den Hague bunker into cleaning their act up. Despite all the rag-dolling - what stands out most on this recycled, lino-cut, hand pasted (out to the poor c*nt on the assembly line!) slab of D.I.Y. anguish, is the ‘Flats ability to snag a “groove” and ride it out, but with NAE frills. Not any kind of rolling, kosmiche repetition - this stuff is skeletal - strung out suspensive passages feel like the dismantling perceptions amidst a sleepless night - unable to gain control of the flailing, repetitve thought patterns that barge around up in the ol’ dim and restless attic. Zero pretence or anything-sensibilities on offer ‘ere - wild dog business. 100 rough n’ ready copies, comes with wee book detailing their journey into madness / lyrics and a picture of some kiddos holding a mangled rat.
KOKA | CD | £11.99
Pellucid, visionary, shatteringly beautiful deep-space folk/art-song from Ukrainian seraph Svitlana Nianio, available again for the first time since its initial release in 1999. Some of you will be familiar with Nianio's privately-released 1996 tape Lisova Koleciya, thanks to Skire’s revelatory reissue a couple of years back. Here, as there, the diaphanous purity of her melodies and vocalisations suggest ancient Slavic folk roots, but in fact the only tradition Nianio is wedded to is 20th century American minimalism: cycling, cellular compositions, Riley-ish keyboard arpeggios and tone-clusters, repetition as xpressway to the sublime. That time-stopping, otherworldly voice is perfectly poised between affect and affectlessness, exuding both girlish wonder and the gravitas, and melancholy, of someone who's lived for a thousand years. It’s a voice you would follow anywhere, a key that opens up a wide and contemplative space in your heid where you long to remain indefinitely. Using Casio MT-200 synth, harmonium, flute, piano, Fender Rhodes, all self-played, plus the medieval guitar patternings and barely-there percussions of Serhii Hotyachuk, Nianio creates skeletal yet astonishingly vivid settings for her magic-realist, death-preoccupied lyrics; ‘Trzęsienie Ziemi (‘Earthquake’) is the show-stopper, opening out into languid, lunar but every so slightly spiky jazz abstraction that gestures in the direction of Ruedi Hausermann, Karl Lindh, and John Taylor’s most postal contributions to Azimuth. Cut at the aptly named Impossible Sounds studio in Warsaw, Tadeusz Sudnik’s recording is exemplary, crisp as an ECM, and Koka’s CD reissue is also on-point – its sleeve made, like the original issue, from rough-hewn papers, with an 18pp booklet of lyrics and liner notes, and an inner pocket containing several small art prints. Can’t quite get over how in love with this wee disc we are.
DIFFUSION IS A FORCE
LATENCY | LP | £16.99
Feel like we are completely daydreaming in the present with these unpredictable, imaginative compositions of computerised sound-art / sampler-symphonies and vocal manipulations - deftly judged, artfully assembled pieces that couldn’t feel more like SONGS of modified lament from a planet untouched by the storm-troopers of computer music or coding or whatever that stuff is, “Diffusion Is A Force” borrowing the hisses and creaks of the real world and letting them paint a background for breath-taking, pitch shifting computer soul / bedroom blooz movements. Full, vibrant articulation of the harmony and dissonance of everyday life’s integration with technology, feeling like the emotional content of the planets most heartfelt e-messages escaping their cold, binary confines - coming to life and developing a new, real-world tangibility, or something. You seen that film where Joaquin Phoenix fancies his computer? Aye, me neither.
Didn’t really know where we were after Side-A had ended (on the floor, as it happens) but now we’ve flipped it over - “Diffusion..” just doesn’t let up, the B-side offering more astounding, emotional-futurism - digitised glass-bead games dance over low end mechanics and delayed, female whispers on “Classic Intense” before rolling into Innovative Communication style synth / guitar skylines of “Anarchy For Her” and “Movement In Mono” - ending on the most innocent, internalised moment of ecstasy via some sorta hardcore / UK-rave reduction - “Opening”.
Hard to bosh out a description of something this fertile, so full of ideas with all that is going on at the shoppe just now - but there is a great sense of longevity here. “Diffusion Is A Force” has really floored everyone aboard this sorry ship and this will surely not be the last you hear of Martina Lussi and this very special record. Highest possible recommendation.
SUPER HEXAGON | 12" | £9.99
Liquid-crystal braindance splackers from our boy FFT. Delivers all the can-crushing dancefloor G-force of his 12” last year Uncertainty Principle, but also expands into more abstract and melon-twissing digital-ambient climes - sci-fi tekno very much fit for the 21st century displeasure-palace. Woof.
Years of following him and we’re no closer to pinpointing what exactly Andrew Chalk’s hushed musical creations are… daydreams, landscape paintings, elegies, prayers? Ever since exorcising his noisier demons as Ferial Confine in the mid-80s, his works have become – ostensibly - ever calmer and quieter, the dense dronal fog of Mirror and ORA begetting a kind of brittle, blurred, bucolic chamber-music eternally on the brink of erasure. Its ambient qualities are obvious, but it could never be dismissed as merelyambient… it has the nebulousness and restlessness of free improvisation, and despite the delicacy and pastoral prettiness of the instrumentation, there’s pain in it…Circle of Days 1, originally released as an LP in 2014, traverses high-lonesome, deathly-sparse guitar-blues a la Loren Connors or Roy Montgomery and eerily sustained keyboard nocturnes. Circle of Days 2 and Circle of Days 3, both released here for the first time, consist of recordings made between 2004-2008. They pick up the textural cues of the first volume, but also stake out ground of their own: plangent violin-drones and reverb-slathered synthscapes with an edgeless, endless quality that surely speaks to, and of, the flatlands of the Humber estuary where Chalk has lived and worked his whole life. Each tape works as a discrete entity, but there are also interconnections, recurring motifs, and a consistency of tone and mood across the three. Issued via Chalk’s own private Faraway Press, each hand-dubbed by the craftsman himself, and with exquisite artwork as we've come to expect.
Limited reissues of sumptuous and sought-after earthworks from French double-basscadet Henri Texier.Varech, originally released in 1977, sees him conjuring hypnotic, undulating, modal dream-scapes / arabesques from a complex, virtuouso but completely intuitive-sounding weave of wordless, chant-like vocals, minimal percussions, and his supple, ultra-textural acoustic and electric bass pexhora. Astrally-inclined, but with soil under its fingernails, there are parallels with countryman Areski’s folkwise flights and, more tangentially, Arthur Russell’s whirls of echo. Amir, released a year earlier and a little less widely feted, is every bit Varech’s equal; the vocals here are dialled down, the overriding mood is starker, less celebratory, and more potently noir - so, so good. In both cases producer Jean-Marie Salhani (tellingly, a bass player himself) creates an atmosphere of almost supernatural intimacy - you feel as if you’re listening from a wee nest within Henri’s beard - and paradoxically, a sense of infinite space. Scorchers.
DEAD TO YOU
DEAD GODS | CS | £9.99
DEAD GODS | CS | £9.99
SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT
DEAD GODS | CS | £9.99
URN AND ORGAN
DEAD GODS | CS | £9.99