Zement – Werk

zement So, my way around using that descriptor of music that I really don’t like* is to use a different one – or two, or three, or many – instead, because I just love when genres get divided and subdivided and so on. But stay with me on this.

“Krautrock” (the last time I will ever type that word) can arguably be said to comprise of (at least) two elements – motorik and kosmiche. So, without further ado, I hereby tag this particular music motorik, because it has that driving rhythmical quality to it so prevalent within the field. I would argue that it isn’t particularly kosmiche – I personally am more likely to ascribe that quality to the output of Ash Ra Tempel, Gunter Schickert, etc. But that doesn’t mean this music can’t transport you, it is heavy on repetition after all, and repetition rocks. When done well, anyway. Though I suppose an argument can be made to call it something like industrial drone. But I’m not going to do that.

Other reference points for this include but are not limited to Minami Deutsch, Follakzoid, a more up-tempo Appliance and there’s also a riff they use quite often that can be found on Hey Colossus‘ magnificent Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo (those of you familiar will know what I mean, it’s on the track English Flesh).

*just to clarify, because the sentence is not all that clear, it’s the descriptor I don’t like, not the music. If I didn’t like the music it wouldn’t be here.

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The Soundbergs of 2016

You know, I don’t think this is the best time of year to be saying what my favourite albums of last year were. I mean, I have literally just tried out a bit of the Heron Oblivion album, and my first instinct is that if I’d have got on that when it came out, it would be vying for a place in the list below. And my list last year didn’t give anywhere near enough prominence to Pridjevi and Anna von Hausswolff, mainly because I’d not long got on them – they were to dominate my early 2016. Maybe I should do it at the end of the academic year instead?

We humans do seem to like lists, though, especially those that seem to quantify things. In fact, I suggest a hypothesis – we love lists all the more if their subject matter is inherently subjective and unquantifiable (which is waaaaay more things than you may currently believe).

A funny thing happened to me in 2016. Well, lots of things happened, but this one in particular was that after I put out my album in April, thus finishing a series, I stopped listening to heavy music. Just wasn’t in the mood. There were exceptions – Hey Colossus released a wonderful EP that I mentioned in my summer chat post that isn’t an album but is good enough to be on some sort of year end so at least I’m mentioning it now, and there were a couple of later releases mentioned below, and now that I think about it, Anna von Hausswolff.

This may seem like an order, but it is malleable. Take it all with however much salt you deem appropriate.

Our Solar System – In Time. This album is perfect. Jazzy-Funky-Mellow-Spacerock. Most played album of the year from this year.

Karina Vismara – Casa Del Viento. Acoustic female singer-songwriter isn’t usually my thing. Only, this is wonderful. The vibe is magnificent, as is the songwriting.

Fire! Orchestra – Ritual. The meat of this album is staggeringly ambitious, but doesn’t lose sight of its tribal nature. The sort of trance-like jazz that just doesn’t happen often enough.

Horse Cult – Daydreams and Nightmares. The top 4 of this year could easily all be the winner in their own right, and this is another acoustic one. Like a more medieval/folksy Espers, but again with brilliant content behind the style.

Menimals. In a way I’m using both albums for this entry, saving me repeating it below, because one was pre-this year but I discovered it looking for the later one. Dark and menacing but not depressingly so.

Jon Mueller – Tongues. Another two track album and another with ritualistic drumming and chanting. Pounding trance music.

Narcosatanicos – Body Cults. As mentioned above, not much heavy did a lot for me. This was an exception, and I loved it because it is so very much like their first album, and at the same time it isn’t. I love it when bands do that.

Black Bombain and Peter Brotzmann – Free-jazz meets improvised psych-rock, with frequently brilliant passages.

Zulus II – Loud and in your face. They’ve got hella groove considering the nature of the music they play, really hard to do as well as they do. And Gemini is a drop-dead classic, as agreed by my boy.

Scroll Downers – Hot Winter. Sort of grungey indie-rock, I suppose. I realise that doesn’t sell it. They call themselves both ’90’s’ and ‘not 90’s’ so I think they might have trouble with a description, too. However, it is yet again the songwriting that does it, and it also sounds like they had a blast making it.

City of Djinn – Ether and Red Sulphur . I was going to just miss this out because I was worried it was still a bit too fresh but I listened to it again and it was blissed out brilliant, trance music.

Just missed out:

Muy Biien – Age of uncertainty;  Heavy Moon 7;  Sula Bassana

From before 2016

Pridjevi – For me, 2016 was utterly dominated by Pridjevi, helped also because my now 10-year old son has got with the groove on 2 of their tracks as well, and car trips went through a phase of him playing Pozuri Polako on repeat, which must have spent roughly 3 months in the summer going around my head non stop. Far more preferable to his other taste at the time, Goblins From Mars.

Anna von Hausswolff – The only album that came close to the dominance of Pridjevi in the first half of 2016. Not a concept album but sounds like one because of its wonderful atmosphere. That organ sound is transcendent. I keep forgetting how heavy this actually is.

Sungod – One of those all-over-the-map kind of artists. Kind of a less proggy Ozric Tentacles, if you want an inacurrate but lazy easy comparison.

Big Blood – This band have such a huge back catalogue, and this year has seen me mining the earlier years of it, which were just as good as the later years, but a bit different, naturally. They don’t seem to have done much this year. I noticed on their blog about an album coming out on Turned Word records, but that’s been up for ages and there seems to be no sign. Also, where are Turned Word records? They seem to have no presence since 2012.

Phil Cohran & Legacy. This thing took me by surprise, but probably shouldn’t have. It is stunningly beautiful music.

Pharoah Overlord – Lunar Jetman. Mainly because of the second track, which appeared via a Dusted magazine listing, but the whole album turned out good too. They seem to have finally got with the idea of easier access to their albums though the discography is incomplete.

Bitchin Bajas – Vibraquatic. Really mellow and meditative, and amongst the most regularly played albums of the year.

Gram Rabbit – Braised and Confused. Reading my original post, I’m struck by how much I seem to want to justify the fact that this album is fun. It is fun. But that doesn’t need justification.

Death Blues – Non Fiction. Part of Jon Mueller’s ongoing project, which I’d completely forgotten about since the first Death Blues album came out, so I’ve been trying to catch up when I get the chance. If anything, I like this even more than Tongues.

Fela Kuti – I returned to Fela Kuti, particularly Zombie, and have been playing his stuff regularly since the summer. It was brought on by the B-side of a single by Goat which had a really snaky groove but was only 3 and a half minutes long. I was instatntly reminded of Fela, and had a hankering for that kind of groove, but not the shortened version so I’ve been a regular visitor ever since. I also bought He Miss Road which is frankly wonderful.

Nudity is God’s Creation – This issue came out this year, but the music is from mid way through last decade. Yet another reason year end lists are crap, and yet here I am writing one which is taking me a lot longer to write than it will take you to read. Another reason I didn’t put it in the main list is because I didn’t like the bonus tracks much. They were obviously unreleased for a reason.

So. In conclusion, that’s it.

 

 

 

Narcosatanicos – Body Cults

bodycultsI’ve been looking forward to this, having been properly into their debut, so much so that they’ve been one of the few acts I check in on every now and again to see when something might be coming. This does not disappoint me, being more of the same but more so, and also a bit different. It is continuing proof of my conviction that the merger of brass and heavy guitar freakouts is a thing of great beauty.

I referenced Monoshock and Puffy Areolas first time up, and they still hold true. But I would also add a strong Stooges groove, occasional Hey Colossus sludge, an occasional veer into Bad Seeds-esque territory and they sound familiar with Swans recent work.

In other words, it is loud and it is aggressive, it is not for the faint hearted, and, oh yeah, I really, really like it. Also, it was available to buy a week before the date on the page, because that’s when I bought it.

 

 

Sargent-Major Waffle

Or: here are some things that are not albums, or maybe they are.

athalcSo, we likes Hey Colossus, we do. And earlier this year they did something right out of the 90s, they released a single backed with 2 ‘remixes’ (strictly speaking, ‘versions.’) And what versions they are – the version of In Black and Gold is like a deconstructed drum’n’bass / free improv mashup, whilst the 11 minute re-take of Wired Brainless is pure repetition bliss, with added electronic noises (I can’t tell whether some of the added noises are vocals that have been very harshly treated).

Oh, and the actual single track isn’t half bad either. Go here and listen.

Rise of the Echo Drone seem to be largely doing Ep’s. Since I last mentioned them, another couple have hit the wires and they are definitely worth checking out. sotdThey seem to have camped in a field which touches on psych, shoegaze, dreampop, electronica, tribal rhythms, that 90s techno that included people like The Orb, and sensual vocals. Needless to say, I’m a bit hesitant of trying to reduce them to one sonic label. I also want to draw your attention to this track off one of the ep’s for two reasons – Milo used a shorter excerpt of the same Lennon speech on the second Patterns of Faith album (which I can’t currently link to because it’s no longer available anywhere), and secondly because seriously, listen to what he is saying. It is really very simple, a bit scary, and very liberating.

nunsValerio Cosi seems to have dug out many collaborations and older works for his Bandcamp. You won’t like everything unless you happen to like every single instance of recorded sound, anywhere, ever, or maybe I’m just narrow minded. My favourite is the split single he did with Fabio Orsi (their collaborative album is also worth your time). Sadly he has yet to put up Heavy Electronic Pacific Rock – maybe he is not at liberty to. One of the greatest albums ever made, that is, to this mind, but if you like that kind of mind-bending psychedelic-jazz  featuring saxophones with tribal rhythms – and who doesn’t? – then you’ll also want to check out Pulga Loves You.

iiiAlso, Rakta.  When I first typed this paragraph, I typed ‘They have also not yet done another album but have put out some songs.’ So I go to do the links, and the page for III – which was roughly two songs long when I bought it –  now describes what is either an album or a long EP. Ditto, Intencao had one track and now has two, and there’s Rakta em Transe as well. Odd marketing. However, the Rakta energy is still very much present, and they still tag their cavernous sounding tribal post-punk as ‘World Music.’ Love it.

 

zeissElectric Moon – two and a half hours of live psychedelic jams. Technically it’s an album, yes. You are no doubt different to me, but I am unlikely to listen to it all in one go, because two and a half hours, and that’s why I’m not treating it as an album. Anyway, I didn’t write this post to be argued with. Just go and listen to it. Whilst I’m on the subject of Electric Moon, bass player and graphic designer Komet Lulu put out this song, and this also comes with a hearty Soundbergs recommendation.

mnmlsAlso, when I did the Menimals post, I mentioned that there may be another album with the same title and opening track and yet be a different beast altogether? That there is. It is also very, very good, and I invite those of you who enjoyed the first of their self titled albums to go and listen to the second.

Little tidbit – I did my first ‘general chat‘ type of post on July 28th 2015, the second one not long after. This here third instalment is brought to you by July 29th 2016. This was not consciously intentional. I wonder if it’s a time of year thing?

Menimals

Well, now, here’s a thing.

menimalsAfter being hat tipped by the mighty Heathen, I went to the Riot Season bandcamp, I did, and checked out the teaser tune. And I quite liked it, but wanted to hear more before deciding whether I wanted to buy it or not. So I rooted around (alright, then, I looked slightly further down the results page) and found the Menimals original bandcamp page which also has a self titled album on it, with the same opening track. And the whole damn thing was listenable, and the whole damn thing was mighty fine indeed.

But here’s the aforementioned thing: apart from the opening track, the tracklistings on these two self titled albums do not match. Are they actually different albums?

I hope so, because self titled number one is just so darn good. Dark and menacing, to be sure, this isn’t an uplifting set of music. Not guaranteed to break the ice at parties. Imagine The Bad Seeds doing the mid-90s Bristol sound – Tricky at his meni2most menacing, perhaps. One of the songs had me thinking of Underworld doing The Bad Seeds with the latter’s instrumentation, and the final song becomes really intense, a bit like Hey Colossus in their sludgier days. I also find myself reminded of the intersection of jazz with electronica and trip hop, for example The Lifeforce Trio and Triosk, although that may be more due to atmospheric reasons.

Anywho, I’ve embedded the original one since you can listen to all of that. And if you look at the artists description on the page…

The Soundbergs of 2015

So, by and large, I’m excluding albums I only discovered the last couple of weeks. But not consistently. Also, I’m going to go on about older stuff that thoroughly rocked me this year, so the aforementioned stuff has a chance for next year. Also, confining stuff into years is arbitrary, because years themselves are a bit arbitrary the way we count them nowadays, although they do represent a real cycle. Also, there is no ‘order’ to this list except for the fact that I ordered it into existence because I am a ruthless bastard like that. Also, this paragraph just gained an extra sentence that added nothing to it except extra letters and words.

So: Stuff released in 2015.

Hey Colossus – In Black and Gold : Having just written that this is in no order, this is most definitely the album that brought me the most joy in 2015. I played it incessantly. My subsequent time with their back catalogue brought me just as much joy. And they played a brilliant gig in September. For such a heavy band, they have an incredible way of making their music swing.

Laughing Eye Weeping Eye – Once Was You : This is an album that is utterly unique. It sounds like nothing else, ever. Unless it does, in which case it behooves someone to tell me what that something is. Eerie, droney, a world of its own.

The Myrrors – Arena Negra : Meditative, spacious, at times ecstatic, and they were just as good live.

Les Sorciers Du Theil – Polyte Deshaies : This album came out of nowhere. I think that I may have to give a hat tip to the person who does the psych round up at The Quietus as to where I discovered it. Four heavy and at times insane songs, all bliss.

Follakzoid – III : Kosmiche meets techno, although very heavily in favour of the former. Pulsating, driving, relentless, and very high quality.

Black Bombain – Live at Casazul : Heavy-psych improvisation at its best, with added saxophone. Nuff said.

Alif – Aynama-Rtama : Middle eastern music with an ear for rock-style arrangements. Some of the riffs, the rhythms and arrangements are just mindbendingly good.

Rob Mazurek : Alternate Moon Cycles : Pure, meditative drone. Insanely relaxing.

Big Blood – Double Days II : They actually released two albums simultaneously. Double Days I is a very rare beast – a Big Blood album I’m not overkeen on. But Double Days II is as good as ever, and they finish it off with one of their very best songs. Apparently they’ve got another album ready to go but I see no evidence of it out yet.

People of the North – An Era of Manifestations / Oneida – Positions : Two albums in one entry? I must be having a larf. Essentially the same masterminds though, which is how I justify it. The POTN album has a more jazzy feel, whereas the O album is closer to their classic sound. Both are essential in my life.

Pharoah Overlord – Circle / Circle – Pharoah Overlord : Wot, again? Well, when masterminds use different monikers, it would just be indulgent of me to give them separate entries in a year end list, n’est-ce pas? Repetition, repetition, repetition. It’s what they do best, and it’s what I like best.

Pridjevi – Pridjevi : I never got around to posting about these, and I should have done. So I may still do. This is sunny psych-pop from Croatia, nearest reference point I can think of is Jefferson Airplane, but sunny psych-pop isn’t usually my thing so you may think of more appropriate references.

Anna Von Hausswolff – The Miraculous : Another album I didn’t post on, only bought it in December. She’s brought a band with her this time, as well as an epic church organ. Droney and heavy, and I do like her voice.

Favourite non-2015 music:

Big Blood – The Wicked Hex : Still processing their mighty back catalogue. This is most similar in style to the incredible Unlikely Mothers, and probably as good although Unlikey Mothers contains ‘A Watery Down part 2’ which, if pushed, I’d probably name as my favourite ever piece of music.

Selim Lemouchi & his Enemies – Earth Air Spirit Water : A very varied album featuring probably one of my favourite ever songs in ‘Chiarascuro’ which is probably best described as ecstatic darkness, especially given subsequent events.

Dahga Bloom – No Curtains : There was a time in late Feb and much of March when I barely listened to music due to bad-sinus induced discomfort. This album was one of the few I did, which is odd because it isn’t exactly mellow…

Hey Colossus – Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo / Happy Birthday / RRR : This has been their year as far as I’m concerned. All three of these albums got some very heavy rotation, heavy being the operative word.

Verma – entire discography : I went through a phase in the summer of playing a Verma album every night, without an obvious favourite emerging, so I simply kept rotating them because it is all THAT good.

Follakzoid – II : I now consider this superior to the successor. This is very high quality up-tempo driving kosmiche.

Espers – II : for years I only thought their debut album was really all that good. in 2014 I finally got the follow up, and continued getting it in 2015. I still haven’t quite got the third one; maybe that will come yet.

Puffy Areolas – In the Army / Dishonorable Discharge : although I’ve known the albums for a few years, it was actually this year that they really grabbed my throat, possibly an echo of my discovery and love of Narcosatanicos.

Malayeen : Middle eastern psychedelia at its very best, ecstatic, trance-inducing.

The Wharves – At Bay : this album completely ruled January 2015 for me. Outrageous harmonies supporting great songwriting.

I haven’t included every single thing I’ve posted about, because this is quite long enough as it is. 2015 was an odd year for me in many respects, but absolutely brilliant for music – why else would there be an album from Thee Oh Sees that is as good as ever but doesn’t make the year end? I absolutely luxuriate in the sheer amount of high quality stuff there is out there, and in that respect 2016 has already got off to a superb start.

Early Mammal – Take a Lover

With a hat tip to my friend for putting them in his 2015 playoffs and then knocking them out in the first round…

em

If you cross Hey Colossus at their sludgy prime with Team (no. 2 in that list on the link) then you might get something like Early Mammal, although they are pretty distinctly themselves. Like so many great albums, it has the feel of a journey, a ride into regions you didn’t realise were there. I understand they recorded all of this over a 2 day period, hence the sonic cohesion to it.

My favourite tune is the fabulous ‘Glad is Night,’ even though they fade it out (fade out is a crime! alright its not a crime. I just don’t like it) – it has a feel not unlike Kyuss. I like the whole damn thing, though, and I’m beginning to think I need to spend some quality time with Riot Season records seeing how many great bands have had releases on this label.

And of course, a sound magician is a Mighty God. But you knew that already.

There’s been an absolute glut of music in my world, coinciding with reduced time to listen to it all. Even Maximum Rock’n’roll have got their best of 2015 list out a month early, and I thought that no matter how late I got mine out, I’d get it out before them. Ho hum. It will be with you maybe next week.

Or not.