Monday, November 17, 2014

Exhaustion : Bikers

Melbourne’s Exhaustion has come screeching and howling their way back with a wild follow up to their debut album last year.  Bassist Jensen Tjhung (Deaf Wish, Lower Plenty), vocalist/guitarist Duncan Blachford and drummer Per Byström (Ooga Boogas, Leather Towel) have written 7 new arresting songs at the band’s studio.  ‘Biker’ (Aarght!) is the result playing out deranged invocations of frayed rock touched by the experimentalism of No Wave and Industrial sounds.  The LP is built on meditative paranoia; minimal, repetitive lyrics distorted into mesmeric moans, calls and intonations.  The songs culminate in a general sense of ennui sounded out by discordant instrumentals and scrambled ruminations.  ‘Hard Left’ is a stand out track for me with its haunting piano, prowling beats and whirring, jagged guitar work.  ‘Lonely Cars’ is a percussion heavy number involving a tribal mood to the album accompanied by wiry, spiralling out strings.  ‘Silver Fog’ features ricocheted cave dweller vocals anchored by a repetitive melody focused bass and whipped beats revealing a song whereby Exhaustion incorporates structure with the improvisational approach they’re already known so well for.  To my ears at least this is the leap ‘Bikers’ makes from ‘Future Eaters’; it plays with form just as much as formlessness.   Exhaustion are back firing on all cylinders and you can get ‘Bikers’ at all good retailers now! 

Check out opening track 'Blunt Eyes' right HERE

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rodion GA : 'Behind The Curtain - The Lost Album'

In 1975 Rodion GA pioneered a new approach to electronic music from his Romanian home.  Known locally as record hoarder extraordinaire, collating music ranging from a variety of regions played a core part in how his sound evolved.  In the original line up Rodion GA was joined by Gicu Farcas and Adrian Caparu and from the outset Rodion made use of the wide-ranging equipment he’d been amassing.  Incorporating Tesia tape records, drum machines, phasers, flangers, fuzz pedals, a toy Casio VL Tone and Soviet manufactured Faemi organ, the trio forged a radical interstellar style mixing progressive rock, psychedelic and synthesized sound centred by their electronic approach.  Rodion became renowned his DIY approach by employing reel-to-reel tape recorders along with various tape machines and multi-tracks to document work.

The death of Rodion’s mother in 1987 called an unfortunate end to his musical career, and for 25 years he faded into obscurity.  That is until blogger & film maker Luca Sorin focused a piece on Rodion, the exposure opened up possibilities to revive unfinished business 25 years earlier… and it worked.  In 2012 Rodion GA returned with ‘The Lost Tapes’ (Strut Records) plus a RSD 2014 release, and he’s been going strong ever since.   Which brings us to ‘Behind the Curtain – The Lost Album’, 24 recordings spanning highpoints of his career.  The compilation gathers material from ‘The Lost Tapes’ (Strut) and 12 other albums from the late 70s and early 80s that are otherwise nigh-on-impossible to track down.  What makes this fascinating is ‘Behind the Curtain - The Lost Album’ (BBE) was recorded when Romania was still a Communist country, so artists were under heavy censorship rules.  Rodion made these songs whilst constantly worrying about being caught by authorities and had to play a ‘cat and mouse’ game to preserver with his project.  This is a great snapshot of Rodion when he was ON FIRE in the early stages of his song-writing and exhibits his far reaching influence. This resurgence of interest in his work has even seen him deliver a lecture at Bucharest’s Red Bull Academy.  Rodion GA has been recording new music so can’t wait to hear what other leaps forward he’s going to make. Lastly, and most crucially, Rodion is touring Europe and well worth your time for an evening, he’ll be right here in London at Café Oto on November 5th (that's tonight, like in a few hours...!).  Get your tickets HERE 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Elisa Ambrogio : The Immoralist

Elisa Ambrogio’s debut solo release is a boundary free record remaining in-step with the spontaneous compositional approach you might know from her work as guitar muscle of Magik Markers, whilst incorporating childhood favourites The Poni-Tales, Dixie Cups and Tiffany into 10 new songs with the assistance of Jason Robert Quever.  Sure, it’s poppier than you’ve ever heard Ambrogio before, what also comes to the fore is a penchant for folk amongst some of the places the dowsing rod navigated to...  

Right from when the album gets going with ‘Superstitious’ it suggests themes from Andre Gide's book 'The Immoralist'; desire, nature, beauty, death.  “I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t believe in thirteen, I don’t throw the tarot, I don’t follow a strategy, but I get superstitious when it comes to you and me” muses Ambrogio in this dreamy ode.  Reverberated vocals, drum machines, strings and guitar builds a lush tone underpinning the whole album.  ‘The Immoralist’ really hits its stride on ‘Stopped Clocks’; a whirling haze of wired guitar, spooked keys and amphetamine beats spiral away until the song plaintively stops dead in its tracks.  'Arkansas’ rounds things off with a sombre refrain hollowed by piano and cello arrangements.  “Sold down the river, He had his pride, A grace in trying, to fight the tide”, it just feels like this track is marking someone who swung and missed but remembering the fact that at least they tried and that made it/them count.  It's this weighty poignancy and immense positivity which are focal to the draw of Ambrogio's new songs. 

I’ll avoid the broken mirrors, cracks in the pavement and walking under ladders if it sweetens the odds of getting more releases like 'The Immoralist' any time soon, great record, out on Drag City.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flesh Lights : Free Yourself

Flesh Lights had me at track 'Crush On You' that featured on 12XU's 'Casual Victim Pile' compilation.  Cousins Max Vendever (Guitar/Vocals) and Elissa Ussery (Drums/Vocals) moved from San Antonio and recruited Jeremy Steen (Bassist/Vocals) when they'd settled in Austin to form Flesh Lights.  Early on you can see their knack for intricate structure and flare for melody delivered as considered as it is spontaneous.   So far they've put out singles for Twistworthy and Super Secret as well as their incredible debut 'Muscle Pop', not to mention this summer's 'No Longer' 7" taken from latest offering 'Free Yourself' (12XU).  Produced by Evan Kleinecke 'Free Yourself' is gritty, wild and daring forging a forward thinking power pop album.  Jaw dropping solos VS scaling guitars, riotous rhythms and gulping bass are channelled at a breakneck pace on these 12 new songs.  Straight out of the gates Flesh Lights go after it pretty hard in ‘Just About Due’.  “I’m just about due for a melt-down/don’t ask me what I'm thinking/because I’m just about due” Vendever buzzes in this assaulted opening track.  ‘Mandarin’ curiously has this Oi! vibe to it, maybe it’s just me?  Do they even like Oi! Bands?!  It mirrors that same rowdy, clomping energy yet is elevated to something that reaches beyond its influences.  ‘Free Yourself’ is loaded with electrifying musicianship that sounds utterly effortless - which only goes to show how tight this band really are.  With songs like ‘Middle Age’, ‘Time Thief’ and ‘Big Break’ one can’t help but get a sense this album is about being stuck, learning how to become unstuck and pushing on.  ‘Free Yourself’ comes out November 4th on 12XU - it’s bold, exuberant and dogged, aspects which capture the lure of Flesh Lights irresistible songs.

You can listen to 'Just About Due' and find pre-order information HERE

Monday, October 6, 2014

Balcanes : Plataforma

Balcanes are a four piece from Leon, Spain cauterizing eardrums since 2010.  'Plataforma' is their debut single which came out at the beginning of the year.  These two tracks are a cataclysm of wreckless noise and rock playing out heavy riffs and locked grooves.  Once ‘Platforma’ shows its teeth a wall of fuzz and feral vocals confronts motoric beats releasing some sort of damaged mantra.  ‘Autopista’ just swells with distortion and feedback sounding even more unstable than the A Side (if that’s possible).  I’m uncertain what’s next for Balcanes but this is a pretty fantastic start and hopefully we’ll get a fresh fix soon.

Listen at their label's Bandcamp HERE

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Maurizio Bianchi : Amen Test

Maurizio Bianchi so far has had a career intertwined with William Bennett, Steven Stapleton and Jehovah’s witnesses.  He has drifted in and out of obscurity, surfacing every now and again to rupture the ebb and flow of industrial music.  Influenced by Tangerine Dream, Throbbing Gristle and Conrad Schnitzler Bianchi began experimenting with sound in Italy during the late 70’s.  Enigmatic loop combinations are at the core of what Bianchi does, initially released under ‘Sacher-Pelz’.  Eventually he began to work under his real name once his material was more resolved in itself, sometimes under simply ‘MB’ (and once as Leibstandarte SS MB by William bennet on his label  'Amentest' is Bianchi’s most recent release involving patterns, rhythm and decay to forge locked incantative grooves.  He draws on these familiar elements with fresh approach capturing the dead line on the other end of a telephone, the static, grey areas in-between where true horrors lie.    Limited to 300 copies. Artwork by Ryan Martin (York Factory Complaint / Dais). This is out through Dias now.