• |_ /-\ 5 7 . |= /\/\

    13. Mai. 2012, 18:45

    01. Beach House - 36
    02. Nudity - 35
    03. Magic Wands - 31
    04. Daywand - 27
    05. Ty Segall - 21
    06. A$AP Rocky - 18
    06. Ty Segall & White Fence - 18
    08. The Advisory Circle - 17
    09. Cloud Nothings - 16
    10. Black Bug - 15

    1 – Never really got into Beach House before. I hear people say that Bloom is not as good as Teen Dream but I am liking Bloom and I never much felt like listening to Teen Dream. But that probably says more about me now than it does about Teen Dream then.

    2 – Heavy Petting is the album. It's 8 tracks of heavy garage electronics and swooshy blurs and it hits hard. It's all nubile and exciteable and just like exciteable nubiles it's totally ephemeral so get it now while it's hot. Released on AMDISCS on cassette, but also name your price on their Bandcamp: http://nudity.bandcamp.com/

    3 – I loved the ep they put out a few years ago and this is the long-overdue album. All it does it pack out the great ep tracks with underwhelming sugary chillwavey pop stuff. Bit pointless really, but nice enough to have in the background.

    4 – I went to the label Vwyrd Wurd's Bandcamp to get some mossy naturalistic black metal in the form of Nocht The Only Gouls (which I did and it's genuinely forest-is-coming-alive-to-take-you creeped out and buzzing) but I also got the only other releases they have – two albums by weirdo-electronic-avant-pop solo producer Daywand – and they're great. 0 plays / 0 listeners on last.fm. He's got 1 now and you should make it many more (7?) http://vwyrdwurd.bandcamp.com

    5 – Had a Ty Segall frenzy off the back of the White Fence collab.

    6a – itunes started playing itself, played through this and Advisory Circle. I wasn't there to hear them.

    6b – Outta sight garage psych that's got everything from sweet pop to electrical storms in its eight tracks. A whole lotta harmony, a whole lotta groove, this is how rock music should sound.

    9 – This is also how rock music should sound.

    10 – Five plays of the three track ep that came out last year. The manage to roll out an atmosphere of threatening murk in just a single minute, stretching out the dystopian gloom to an industrial strength two minutes on the title track. Not the ear shredding speed of the album from a couple of years ago – which was amazing – but something arrestingly defined all the same. http://soundcloud.com/hozac-records/black-bug-police-helicopter


    TOTW:

    Camp Newton by the Van Allen Belt, which I got off a Beko/Andrea records split from last year: Free d/l as always. It's also got some great tracks from Tropic of Cancer, Candy Claws, FNU Ronnies, Rape Faction and more.

    http://thevanallenbelt.bandcamp.com/track/camp-newton

    http://beko-dsl.com/singles/beko_andrea.rar
  • Last of the FM Heartbreakers

    12. Feb. 2012, 12:42

    01. John Talabot - 105
    02. Ectoplasm Girls - 44
    03. Turbowolf - 40
    04. Run DMT - 33
    05. Clams Casino - 32
    06. Pop. 1280 - 30
    07. Total Control - 27
    07. SPACEGHOSTPURRP RVIDER KLVN - 27
    09. Cobalt - 15
    09. Lanterns on the Lake - 15
    09. Wild Nothing - 15

    1 – Deep-house techno noise
    2 – Swedish sister noise
    3 – Hairy Bristol noise
    4 – Waking dream noise
    5 – Untouchable intangible noise
    6 – Grey dystopian noise
    7a – Australian superband noise
    7b – Can't crowbar Noise into here
    9a – Relentlessly charred noise
    9b – Pretty sleeptime anti-noise
    9c – Habitual listening ends up in the top 10. noise..

    totw:
    Talabot brings the distortion
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHNEWrMZ6_E
  • REVIEW: Ashan - To Return To (Inner Islands)

    10. Feb. 2012, 9:26

    Links and streams on the blog:

    http://nfrblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/review-ashan-to-return-to-inner-islands.html


    Sean 'Gkfoes Vjgoaf' Conrad's side project Ashan follows up last years single track Peace of Joy album with four long pieces of meditative acoustic trance. Ashan differs to the Gkfoes material in being less concerned with the physical realm, instead submitting itself to themes of love, peace, emotional tranquility and transcendence. The album is inspired by the book Ashan: The Gentle Way, a spiritual tome about "The vibration of creation, of harmony, of unification, and of love." No matter how cynically you want to view these themes, Conrad's embracing of this kind of flower power ideology is thoroughly sincere, as is the music he creates in thrall to it, and musically the resulting pieces probably work even better than the Gkfoes material because of it. The vocals in this album bestow it with a greater sense of wonder, Conrad's partner Rosa Beach-Mason and Braden McKenna contribute additional chanting and campfire lullaby madrigals to the tracks. You can imagine this being performed in a circle, the three performers locked into each others eyes and deeper, lost in an infinitely stretching moment of communion. There's a tangible resonance to the pieces that recalls Incredible String Band at their most spiritual, and these tracks sound like some of that band's finer, most elegantly concisely moments locked into spiralling patterns and repeated until trance state is achieved.

    I don't really know who's making music of a similar style to this at the moment, maybe High Wolf at a push, but his is all tropical and steamy, this just goes for the soul and there's no one coming close to producing the effect that Conrad is capable of inducing. If you're in doubt as to what any of the above means, just get playing the stream below and realise I'm saying it's far out amazing.
  • Top 50 Albums of 2011

    24. Jan. 2012, 9:20

    Here for the blog:

    http://nfrblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/top-50-albums-of-2011.html

    or here:


    50. Civil Civic – Rules
    Self-Released
    Fan-funded debut release from London based duo that dropped a slew of incessantly addictive rock instrumentals from the abrasive to the euphoric with a playfulness that belied the serious talents behind the song-writing and musicianship. The tracks tended to cavort rather than progress across their brief lengths, with no piece out-playing its own enthusiasm, conveying infectious attitude in the spirit of people like The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Andrew Wk and even a dash of The Smiths.

    49.Tree of Sores - Tree of Sores
    Witchhunter
    Trio from Leeds make epic ep of crushing shapeshifting doom. The production might need a bit of beefing to add some more weight, but it's not so necessary. The gnarly grunting basslines and sheer walls of guitar screed morph between solemn chugging and cyclones of kinetic fury with an intrinsically momentous sense of composition. No aimless drift between segments, just pure atmospheric build and howling release.

    48. The Rosebuds - Louds Planes Fly Low
    Merge
    After a decade of writing albums reflecting their developing relationship, The Rosebuds latest comes to some kind of conclusion in documenting their divorce. It's a beautiful, painful listen with the ex-couple swapping vocals over soulful guitar music and occasional flight into disco fancy as they unpack their relationship out of their hearts and minds and onto a soberly platonic plane.

    47. Barghest – Barghest
    Gilead Media
    From one of the most consistently excellent labels of the year comes the debut from Baton Rogue four-piece Barghest. An unswervingly bleak and fast storm of metal that whips Death and Thrash into a domineering eye of Blackness choking the air from the speakers as its torrid mass of aggressively writhing riffs pours forth across six relentless tracks.

    46. Gkfoes vjgoaf - The Joy of Awakening / Healing / Nature Eternal Striving (Inner Islands) / Spirit Dance (Full of Nothing) / Glacial Ways (Self-Released)
    Rustic, naturalistic and for the most part, humid, except the album devoted to icy water, this Californian born globe-wanderer has found himself addicted to the myriad faunal landscapes of New Zealand and has stopped there for over a year now. Four of these five albums were his own solo work, one with his partner but all follow the same languid path of collaged tapestries of nature recordings, ambient sounds, ethnic instruments and guitar playing into states of organic trance. There's no greatest among them, they all have distinct characters indebted to the changing landscapes around him and the landmarks he picks out of them.

    45. Dark Castle - Surrender To All Life Beyond Form
    Profound Lore
    Two-piece boy-girl doom band bring in a whole load of friends including members of Nachtmystium, YOB and [artist]US Christmas, to expand their already huge sound into a progressively constructed record with a scope the same size as their riffs. The core guitar/drum interplay is the intuitive lead to follow through a course of blackened sludge, caustic noise and flights of melody, but the almost telepathic communion between the beats and riffs expanding and contracting , clashing and complementing makes for a truly great doom record.

    44.
    Dirtbombs – Party Store
    In The Red
    A garage rock band – one of THE garage rock bands you should be paying attention to - covers Detroit Techno classics, including Sharevari, purportedly the first ever Detroit Techno track produced. Having previously released an album of Soul covers, they're no strangers to either conceptualisation or recontextualisation and the result is no gimmick, coming from Detroit themselves the Dirtbombs already own the honours to both sounds and restructure the icy electronics through amps and drum skins like they own them.

    43. Village of Spaces – Alchemy and Trust
    Turned World/Corleone
    Incredible psychedelic devotional acid-folk album from Maine based collective that laced its psychotropic spirituality with a haunting revenant atmosphere that recalls Fairport Convention and Incredible String Band. Sounds like both sides of the pond, both sides of the 60's and beyond.

    42. Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion
    Slumberland
    I get the sense that In Love With Oblivion is the album The Horrors tried to make with Skying. They tried too hard and overbaked it, but Crystal Stilts drive their psychedelic rock through a narrower stretch of darkness and come out with a set of songs that, as edgy and uncomfortable as they are, sit fluently together. The vocals are pitched perfectly with a melancholic distance that suits the reverbed bass jangle of the guitars, the retro stylings of the music flow out of the songs themselves, and it's got a grinding Velvets rip-off that must utterly destroy on stage. Nothing forced or cynically reproduced here.

    41. Matthewdavid – Outmind
    Brainfeeder
    Matthew McQueen runs the psyclobin-soaked Leaving Records but for his own album his friend FlyLo put it out on Brainfeeder, which tells you a lot about the musical territory of this album. A propulsive post-club world, drawn up from the ground with a bass-heavy bed of warped and foggy drones punctuated by shafts and shards of lighter electronic glitch and melodic throbbing.

    40. Run DMT – Dreams
    Culture Dealer
    Released on his own Culture Dealer cassette imprint after floating about between prospective labels, Michael Collins' Dreams is a very aptly titled tape as it contains his most lucid stream-of-conscious psychedelia to date. Doped out into another dimension it unravels longer episodes of faded-bliss garagey-pop with almost glitch like vignettes of loops that cut in and out of the deeper tracts like the jumps in your hypnogogic states.

    39. The Men – Leave Home
    Sacred Bones
    In taking their loosely locked down starting points from both Spacemen 3 and MC5 The Men kicked out some pensively drawn out noise-rock, swapping between roaring kinetic riffs and taut threads of tense repetition with a deadly penchant for unleashing killer climaxes out of them both.

    38. Wild Beasts – Smother
    Domino
    The UK's most sensitive mountain men makes their third progressive foray into their own unique underworld of literate, erotically charged ambient indie. With barely any hooks throughout its reflective textures it was almost the antithesis to the practically danceable debauched revelry of Two Dancers, but that was the key to its greatness. It was that close, slow, intimately swooning shuffle at the end of the night.

    37. The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This World / Leyland Kirby – Eager to Tear the Stars Apart
    History Always Favours The Winners
    The master butcher eclipses all his previous work to date by developing his soft and sensitive sides with two albums; The Caretaker's unsettling waltz of warped tea-dance with its poignant reflection on the amnesiac loop, and Leyland Kirby's less (or ambiguously) conceptual suite of degraded neo-classical ambience. Both utterly mesmerising.

    36.Holy Other – With U
    Triangle
    The preturnaturally sensual slo-motion cosmic vapours of With U cemented Triangle's reputation as a label and the mysterious Manchester/Berlin born/based artist transcended Witch House to produce a record that effected everyone it touched beyond the internet meme-machine.

    35. Craft Spells - Idle Labor
    Captured Tracks
    Beauty Above All says it all. Another wonderful album from a label that can do no wrong, this one as clear and sharp as cut diamond. No haze, no fog, no dirt, just beautifully clean pop songs loaded with gorgeous melodies and heart-fluttering hooks.

    34. Everyone to the Anderson - The Man Born From Inside Of A Horse
    Unlabel
    Brighton rock band destroys the scene with their long-anticipated full length that bridges post rock and hardcore with a twitchy sense of danger and subtlety that sounds as unlike anything else as much as it does Shellac or Fugazi. Spiky shards of guitar break low-slung bass rhythms, the beats keep their own wild signatures locked down and over it all Ben Gregory unravels dysphoria and wry observation in graceful and invigorating union.

    33. Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage
    Southern Lord
    The final album from this incarnation of WITTR, the closing chapter to a trilogy of albums is also their finest, and a fitting way to go out, disappearing back into the ground that bore them, waiting to be reincarnated in another form when the moment arises. Majestically invoking the feral, harsh, beautiful and feminine spirit of nature, Celestial Lineage Many Black Metal albums strive for this ecological, environmental connectivity but fall way short of what this band can convey.

    32. Pure X – Pleasure
    Acephale
    Summer Sun soaked harmonic pop smothered with tape noise and dredged towards the unlistenable is my kind of Pop Music. Evoking a sense of claustrophobia in wide open spaces through the combination of it's propulsively dank rhythm section and umbral take of surf riffing, the sunshine is clouded over, the joy occluded as it was with the Paisly Underground psych bands who tinged their technicolour acid trips with a dark paranoia. Recorded with no overdubs and a raw vocal performance, this is a brutally naked feeling album.

    31. Vatican Shadow - Kneel Before Religious Icons
    Hospital Productions
    Dominik Fernow has had a good year as Prurient, in Cold Cave and as Vatican Shadow (and probably a whole load more). It's in the latter incarnation that he produced his most awesome work, right at the start of 2011, and it came impressively presented too – 8 tracks across 4 tapes in a reel to reel box, in no order, just there for random assignation to your tape player. Playing games like that has me eating out of your hand, but then when you start flipping the switches down on them and a grimy minimal pulse starts oozing out the speakers, caked in the dust of collapsed industry, burning with the dystopian glow of mechanical failure, things really start to get fetishistic.

    30. The Antlers - Burst Apart
    French Kiss
    Brooklyn's Antlers second album could never hope to continue or better the crushing heartbreak of their debut Hospice, so instead they have greated an almost-equal parallel, an inverted version of that swaps the hopelessness of Mortality for that of Relationship. It's a highly sexualised record, that chokes the throat of any optimistic romanticism with bitter folly and cold-light of day realities in similar fashion to Wild Beasts' Smother, with whom it also shares a similar sense of the ambient though it eschews electronics in favour of the standard indie-rock kit.

    29. Turbowolf – Turbowolf
    Hassle
    For nearly five years I have been waiting for this band to be one of the biggest in the country, now all those demos and singles that have been keeping me alive for so long finally get underlined with a full album proper from Bristol's Turbowolf. The punk/rock/metal hybrid jams this band kick out are all impossibly infectious stadium-sized cock-rock anthems in waiting, as deadly serious as they are faintly ridiculous. 14 tracks whip past with barely a dip in the adrenaline pumping quality across them, lifted with some great song-writing twists and winding trails there is more to this album than just satisfyingly sharp riffs.

    28. Total Control – Henge Beat
    Iron Lung
    Featuring members of Eddy Current Suppression Ring and The UV Race this Melbourne based super-group of sorts has ample pedigree to be able to deliver a good record, but this is goes beyond the sum of its parts. Surfing a wave of distorted electronics and feral guitar lines as its base, the tracks blend in elements of cold-wave, post-punk and garage rock across their course resulting in a stone-cold classic in waiting.

    27. Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand + Aluk Todolo – A Collaboration
    WKN
    Leave it to a cave dwelling black metal band and an industrial folk outfit to produce the best industrial cave dwelling black drone album of the year. Unclear which band takes the lead in these four grimly tense torch-lit forays into cavernous netherworld of sound, as the eerily foreboding clanging, chanting and dissolving rhythmic patterns could belong to either act's main works, contorting and igniting ideas planted by each other in a hypnotic procession of dark trance.

    26. Hateful Abandon – Move
    Todestrieb
    Ex-Basilisk man Vin's post black metal band went through another significant shift in sonic direction leaving little trace of black metal at all, even any Metal of any kind except in the vengeful and aggressive vocals. Mixing post-punk and cold-wave together into a bleak treatise against the mentally corrosive materialist and corporate ownership of modern existence, the relentless procession of ideas that unfold out of each track result in one of the year's most overwhelming experiences.

    25. The Advisory Circle - As The Crow Flies
    Ghost Box
    Radiophonic experimentalism from the renowned Ghost Box label didn't get better than Jon Brook's second album for the imprint. A record of two halves, with the more propulsive explorations taking up a first half combining wyrd folk electronics, Delia Derbyshire hauntology and abstracted kosmiche, with a divergent set of shadowy, very English sounding ambient sci-fi soundtracking on the second, there was a lot to absorb from this – not least the fact that, public information services being core to a lot of Ghost Boxes artists, a Tawny Owl's legendary 'Twit Too-Woo' sound is in fact a Shakespearian concatenation of both its alarm and territorial calls and thus, a falsehood.

    24.A$AP Rocky – LIVELOVEA$AP
    Self-Released
    Blog-loved instant hit crew A$AP deserve all the attention their leader A$AP Rocky is clamouring for. His changeable rap-styles bear the imprints of his influences pretty heavily but that doesn't stop this album from having a character all of its own, be it from the Clams Casino instrumentals or his in-house producer Ty Beats's own seething drones and beats over which he lays down his high-living braggadocio. The other vocalists in the outfit – the awesomely named SpaceGhostPurrrp serve as foils for him to bounce off, and even though he maintains A$AP is foremost a group, the attitude all pretty much revolves around him as the main guy. The opening track is one of the biggest tunes of the year in my ears, with Brand New Guy coming up close behind it.

    23. Aosoth – III
    Agonia
    Subterranean Satanic Black Metal from France. A nation so well versed in the most ferocious forms of devotional ritual it should require little further explanation to beset the horrors upon you. Whilst including passages of misty industrial ambience and space, both those elements only serve to enhance the extremely violent and unrelentingly claustrophobic atmosphere, which is again reinforced through a murky production – progressing from the drier sounding first and cleaner sounding second albums. By taking their third full length down an even darker more airless avenue they have found a voice and style that demands attention.

    22. Petrels – Haeligewielle
    Tartaruga
    Processed strings and disfigured electronics were the raw materials used to build this retelling and homage to the story of William Walker – a man who, from 1905, spent the best part of five years swimming through the black waters surrounding Winchester Cathedral, single-handedly replacing peat with cement in order to buttress the foundations to prevent it sinking into the Earth. The near-mythological heroism of the undertaking, coupled with its futility (the sinking cannot ever be stopped) all infuse the epic tone waves ebbing and flowing throughout this album, directing their course through murky passages, shafts of lightness and cruel eddies of distortion with an ever present sense of optimism.

    21. The Field - Looping State Of Mind
    Kompakt
    Axel Willner's third album beautifully eclipses the previous two by gently widening the palette of sounds that make up his already mesmeric meditative minimal techno trance, resulting in an even deeper and more rewarding experience. Expanding the lush throbbing base of loops with the sunset atmospheres of Balearic house and gospel-tinged soul harmonies Willner's organic melding of elements has resulted in an album interwoven with a textural subtlety and density that allows the initial eye-widening impact of the tracks to slowly dilate into an even greater all consuming masterpiece.

    20. [artist]Ssalvia - Thought Has Wings
    Leaving
    A treacly nostalgic psychedelic blur of woozy, smoked-up, 70's h-pop hallucinogens blowing your third eye right out, glitter-bomb style into the cosmos, taped to VHS, converted to 8-bit rpg soundtrack. Released on the label run by Matthewdavid producer Matthew McQueen, solo Belgian artist François Boulanger's Thought Has Wings has kept me totally zoned out all year, sounding like Ferraro or Matrix Metals on a tight leash, this dropped an essential high of a loop, shimmered you briefly in the haze until you were cooked then passed you on to the next trip, nothing ever staying too long to lose its sheen. Absolutely perfect Summer album, pretty much essential at all other times.

    19. Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream
    In The Red
    Possibly John Dwyer's greatest ever Oh Sees album, this just drips Cool out of every sweat soaked pore. Everything that sounds wild-eyed and flailing is also the sound of a composed and measured creator – the looseness and spontaneity of it all belies the studied hand from which every note is dealt. Whether Dwyer conceived this set of songs during the same epiphany or held on to them over time to load into a succinctly killer album is almost not worth contemplating. Almost. Here's a guy who's totally in control even when he seems to be about to lose his shit entirely.

    18. Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2. Judges
    Constellation
    Distended, warped surrealist poly-timbral/rhythmic/textural/tonal jazz, Colin Stetson's second solo saxophone record blurs musical boundaries, limitations and expectations as much as the physical senses, and apparently the physical realm in which it is performed. Featuring Godspeed's Efrim Menuck on engineering duties and Ben Frost at the mixing desk, as well a Stetson's own inspired set up – microphones across multiple amps, on the body of the saxophone for percussion and on the keys to produce beats, on the mouthpiece to produce vocals multiplied by his circular breathing technique – the result is a constant stream of sound that totally confounds the one-man one-take live set up of this album.

    17. Wreck and Reference - Black Cassette
    Self-Release
    Old NFR indie-rock favourites Bison disbanded with one member forming this remarkable doomy black metal duo creating one of the most bleakly euphoric albums of the year, eschewing guitars to produce these jaw-dropping results with just synths and electronics. You might have to be told that the wall of roaring static pouring from the speakers comes from key-tones rather than steel string abuse so stylistically textural is the sound, yet in a similar way to how Servile Sect suck up Metal and Atmosphere and produce something alien sounding out of the familiar, Wreck and Reference also produce a parallel take on metal and subvert the pre-requisite set-up creating a thick, tense and tangible threatening presence all of their own.

    16. High Wolf – Atlas Nation (Holy Mountain) / Annapurna Illusion – Life Is An Illusion (Rocket)
    Mono-monikered Max releases his two greatest moments of the year across two projects, the former deepening his exotic explorations into equatorial trance, the latter transcending the realms of hypnagogic pop, both of which were firsts for each guise: Atlas Nation is his first relatively major release after a long string of obscuro label and self-releases, while Life Is An Illusion is his first major Annapurna album. Both records resonate with a sense of mysticism, both very heavy in their own styles. The synths from LIAI have a tangible physical presence, driven by a kosmische momentum, that make most other nu-age projects sound like pathetic hokum, and the tribal ritualism of the beat patterns circling the High Wolf guitar loops are as oppressive as jungle humidity. The true beginnings of a magical mystical tour start here.

    15. Cold Cave - Cherish The Light Years
    Matador
    There's barely one black-clad band that has not exerted some kind of influence on this album. Its heavy with the scent of kohl-stained eyes, dry ice and hairspray but it's even heavier when throwing imposing silhouettes against the walls of beautifully wrought synth tones and enormous beats. This is a huge sounding album, compressed to the max, even the subtleties forced into your face. They want you to be intimidated by even the smallest details, confronting you right in the face with their angst and disillusionment, emphasising every excess of Wes Eisold’s anthemically bleak new wave romanticism.

    14. Altar of Plagues – Mammal
    Profound Lore
    The Irish black doom combo's second album developed their sound way beyond all expectations and the output of most other bands. A heaving mass of shadowy atmospherics that includes a passage of haunting Celtic folksong that grounds the record in a human and naturalistic setting of craggy fog and bleak inhospitable landscapes. Perfectly produced with each instrument sounding unlike any in either the Black or Doom metal genres, this straddled both and went further beyond as magisterial passages peaked into raging torrents of ferocious noise. A bass tone that was warm and earthy whilst retaining a dirty grittiness for the drums to pound off – which they did with exceptional speed and ferocity, double kicking themselves into a textural blur for the guitars to tear out shades of caustic drone over the top of.

    13. The Psychic Paramount – II
    No Quarter
    The New York trio hone their instrumental mayhem into an unbridled beast of blown out psychedelic rock that starts of hard and harsh then spirals outwards and upwards in a kaleidoscope of pedal abusive riffing and pell-metal drumming. As frenetic as it is, the build of the tracks follow intuitive paths, loaded with pay-offs like landmarks amongst the dense textures that you can cling on to and hold out for when the noise is threatening to swallow you; each release hovering on the edge of climax for the time-suspended eternity of a moment and then you're in it, swallowed up and consumed in thrall to it and at the mercy of it.


    12. The Skull Defects – Peer Amid
    FatCat
    The four-piece Gothenburg noise-rock combo's latest release adds Lungfish vocalist Daniel Higgs to their line-up and his presence hangs a heavy air of Current 93 over this – providing a sense of umbral religiosity, Higg's parables come intoned from a cosmic pulpit, a preacher-man citing from the Rock vernacular. From there the music bursts into whichever direction the volcanic eruptions take it as free flowing buzzsaw riffs underscore unsettling passages of tribal voodoo, hand drums beat circles round tar-thick guitar tones, showers of fiery noise rain down from sky and amongst it all the growling, snarling roaring voice of exultant euphoria channels it and glories amongst the carnage.

    11. deathgrips – Exmilitary
    Self-Released
    “I am the beast I worship” So starts Exmilitary, with a presence that stamps its authority like Eugene Oxbow with just as much boiling violence. This is the essence of Metal burned through the back catalogue of righteous hip hop and out into the blasted wastelands of a dystopian future. Fists into the face of modernity, fighting against the slow erosion of values and integrities. But again; “Fuck where you're from! Fuck where you're going!! It's all about where you're at!!!”, and where Deathgrips are at is constantly up in yours, sonically the juggernaut beats and textures tear hot air from the speakers as they exit, stuttering for space among the airless glitches and steel-crushing gravitas of inhaled silences, sucking vacuums of power into the voids between the noise.

    10. Low – C'Mon
    Subpop
    There's an enormity to the sound in C'Mon, a vastness of space surrounding the sounds and harmonics between instruments and voice that makes the fact this was recorded in a church seem entirely natural. The haunting reverence of Especially Me, the Old Testament style vengeance of Witches, the consoling opener Try To Sleep, the choral coda to Nothing But Heart; all have a sense of hushed veneration about them despite the size to which the acoustics grow. Though they have an ecclesiatical background, the strength of this record lies not in the Heavenly, but the Earthly. It's an intimate paean to the travails of human relationships, of dark and beautiful moments and serves as Alan Sparhawk's grandest gesture not only to the listener, but to his wife.

    09. The Weeknd – House of Balloons / Thursday
    Self-Released
    When compared to House of Ballons and Thursday, The Weeknd may have overplayed his hand with his relatively featureless third album at the end of the year, but that doesn't take any of the street-grimed glamorous shine off either of these two. I see House of Balloons in a lot of charts with no mention of Thursday, but for me they are pretty much parallel in atmosphere, lyrics and hooks: That stuttering haunted euphoria of Lonely Star, the hollow-eyed metallic grind of Life of the Party, both parts of The Birds and the incredible Cocteau Twins cover. All that needs to be said about House of Balloons is that drop into Glass Table Girls. Musical moment of 2011. Ugh. Like the bass went down on itself.

    08. A Winged Victory For The Sullen - A Winged Victory For The Sullen
    Erased Tapes
    Pianist Dustin O'Halloran and Stars of the Lid's Adam Wiltzie meld their individual production skills together into a hauntingly elegant album of string tones synthesis. A blurred, slow-motion elegy to the Greek goddess of victory, it is characterised by a triumphant sadness, leading the melancholic toward a state of euphoric, enchanted drone.

    07. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath 1972
    Kranky
    Another church recorded album in my top twenty. The sonic results of Hecker's musings on decay, detritus, waste and decomposition – physically rather than musically – found their form through his recordings of church pipe organ, taken back to the studio for a secular styled celestial wash of synth tone and ambient flicker with collaborator Ben Frost. Ravedeath is anything but decomposed though it carries the fertile cloudy murk of silt heavy waters through its tantalisingly paced deliberate progression, it moves beyond beauteous drone and texture, weaving rhythm and melody into the mass of sound which, due to the core elements - the church organ being an instrument of God to instil a sense of holy awe amongst the pews – produces a genuinely awe inspiring record in the truest sense of the word.

    06. Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
    Sub Pop
    Still relevant after all these years of slow refinement, Mogwai's latest is their greatest since Come On Die Young and is the sound of a band heeding nothing but their own instincts. It feels so good to have a Mogwai album back in my top ten and this record has smashed them back into the front of my listening experiences with a hunger and power that has been somewhat lacking from their albums (yet which their live show consistently presents). Slow burning emotional tremors and seismic tectonic rock laced with vocals that are finally beginning to hold a presence all of their own, Hardcore Will Never Die is the sound of a band hitting a glorious new plane of existence.

    05. Pete Swanson – Man With Potential
    Type
    Minimal techno infused noise from one half of the disbanded Yellow Swans, Pete Swanson continues to make challenging and engrossing music that ensnares your entire being within its hallucinatory presence. Mixing ethereal, unnerving electronic elements with cables of earthy noise there's a paradoxically dreamlike and harsh reality to this record that inspires images of long deserted subterranean Eastern block clubs – faint traces of digitised euphoria pulsing inside mildewed analogue shackles. A space haunted the ghastly remnants of beautiful creatures that once writhed hot-blooded reanimated in discoloured organic hues, howling from their dislocated corporeal plane.

    04. Liturgy – Aesthethica
    Thrill Jockey
    As loose and free as it is rigid and constrained by its own dogma, Aesthetica is an album that lived up to its own hyperbole – a concept and mindset which underwent an amazingly high-profile degree of scrutiny and bore extreme negativity for their leader's positivity-laced polemic. He doesn;t need to be sat down to explain himself, he has this album as definitive proof that his musings, however incoherent in the flesh, are peerlessly visionary when pressed to wax. Challenging and non-conformist, two of the highest held values in a scene which has slowly forgotten itself, Liturgy are the brightest white light to ever blaze out of Black Metal.

    03. Austra – Feel it Break
    Domino
    This album is too long by two songs, although I am never sure which two should have got the cut – all I know is it has two endings, so the final or penultimate pair of tracks could have gone and it would have been absolutely perfect. That's my negative preamble, the rest of the record deserves nothing but exultant high-praise. A fantasia of darkly intoned psycho-analytical, psycho-sensual erotica, an 80's evoking synth-fest that sounds as futuristic as it does retro, as psychologically exploratory as it is physically inspiring, eliciting shivers of tension or elation, often simultaneously; I have to bite down hard when The Beat and The Pulse kicks in. The unsettlingly gorgeous voice of Katie Stelmanis just finishes it off.


    02. Ash Borer - Ash Borer
    Psychic Violence
    Black metal has been on another level this year, and I seem to find myself saying that every single year. It's the most rewarding addiction I've ever initiated. Epic in scale and grandeur, cinematic in scope and narrative, misanthropically violent and naturalistically meditative, this is a record that achieves and conveys so much without once concerning itself with the composed achievement of any such things. Ash Borer are a band that play outside of themselves, that creates a sound that seems just that much further from the limits of human potential than any group limited by the boundaries of physical existence could create. That's always the critical essence inherent in a truly great album, when you can drop the needle onto a record and immediately struggle to understand where any of it could have come from and how those energies could have coalesced into the form in front of you. Ash Borer is that kind of album.

    01. Peaking Lights – 936
    Not Not Fun
    It doesn't always happen, but this year my top album is also the one I have listened to the most, far more than anything else released this year. It's impossible to put this record on and get nothing out of it, it is always compelling and always affecting. No album this year could compete with the warm intimacy and exotic otherworldliness the duo produce. Snatches of circuit bent sound burst apart and melt back into a mix of beautiful analogue psychedelic successions, interwoven through each track's euphorically soporific spacial dub, with fading ripples of delay, echo heavy guitar vibrations nuancing an intimate tapestry of muted arpeggios and descending melody lines that cross each other like intertwined lovers. In 2011, this album was the divinity of sensual sonic experimentation.
  • DOWNLOAD & VIDEO: Regal Safari - Only, Triumph and Light

    18. Jul. 2011, 18:58

    full links, streams and video on the BLOG

    Here's one of the most intriguing and exciting propositions to have emerged from my Brighton city in a while: Regal Safari. One pay through the three tracks on their Bandcamp will have you besieged by contemporary comparisons; the first ones that struck me were Balam Acab (or indeed, one side to the TRIANGLE sound that isn't shaded the colour of ), Solar Bears, Caribou, Blondes, Worriedaboutsatan / Ghosting Season - lot's of dreamy and spacey artists who evoke elusive and somewhat intangible landscapes built of disembodied vocals, drifting cosmic ambience; sensuality, euphoria.

    They're playing the Green Door Store in October and supporting Gazelle Twin in November. Stalk them on Facebook too.

    Here's a brand new synapse frazzling remix of similarly awesome category-evading artist Seams' Hung Markets from their Soundcloud, stream three of their own tracks - Only, Triumph and Light - and/or download them all from Bandcamp.
  • DOWNLOAD ALBUM PREVIEW: Iron Pirate - Vortex

    4. Jul. 2011, 21:51

    Iron Pirate is back from the dead! Download, stream and more links in the blog:

    http://nfrblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/download-album-preview-iron-pirate.html

    After delivering a perverse and insanely brilliant self-titled 8-bit thrash metal album in 2008 (which you can download HERE with the full booklet artwork), a couple of squat party gigs and a show for NFR Live! he abruptly disappeared, leaving (or not) a deleted MySpace page and much speculation. Now, after years of silence the cosmic wanderer has returned with news of a follow up album titled Death of 7 Planets, a galactic saga on a grand scale involving the attacking and ultimate demise of the planets of the album title. Iron Pirate has given us a preview track from the album to offer up to you, titled Vortex. Stream or download from my own Soundcloud, Iron Pirate should have one and/or a Bandcamp himself closer to the album release.

    The track enriches the sound from his previous album, still retaining the feel of the old-school chiptune but fattening it up for greater impact. Where the previous tracks were all quite hefty 6 - 8 minute epics, for his new material he has cut them down, again to increase the impact but losing none of their sense of scale. The riffs in it are huge! There is an immense groove pulsing through the chaos that locks this track down, throwing up some exhilarating moments of classic Metal abandon, though it's kinetic enough to go head to head with real life thrash guitar fretwork. Foot on the monitor midi mayhem. Well worth the wait.

    You'll have noticed the artwork. Along with the album concept the artwork concept for the album will follow a similar theme to the first, with each track being illustrated, this time their images will be based on classic arcade shooters such as R Type and Gradius. The Vortex image is based on Hellfire, an old Megadrive game.

    I'll keep you posted on developments as the album draws nearer. Until then, press play and let battle commence!
  • SONIC ROUTER: Interview & Mix - Dalglish [Highpoint Lowlife]

    4. Jul. 2011, 21:49

    My most recent piece for Sonic Router went up recently- an interview with Scottish born, Berlin based techno pioneer Dalglish to complement his new album of granite toned electronic soundscaping Benacah Drann Deachd . It's quite a heavy one, as is the mix he sent in to go with it - a tracklist that includes Synken, Michael Rother, Sun Ra, Coil, Cluster and Leyland Kirby.

    Here's the intro: full interview, album stream and mix inside the LINK

    http://www.sonicrouter.com/2011/06/sr-mix-89-dalglish-highpoint-lowlife/

    "There’s a lot currently going on in the life of Dalglish, aka Chris Douglas, in and outside of the fact that he’s a man who has been producing confrontational exploratory noises since the techno-advent time of the late 80′s, with his first official release appearing in 1992. His back catalogue of work since then has informed swathes of genres, let alone the artists operating inside them, over two decades and he is still producing music that is capable of stopping a listener dead in their tracks. After pursuing this interview for some time, chatting sporadically to Chris as we contended with both the complications and darkness that hindered the flow of conversation; the same ominous cloud that indirectly helped inform both of us of a mutual appreciation for the psychological position from which Dalglish’s music approaches the listener."
  • REVIEW: Everyone To The Anderson - The Man Born From Inside of a Horse (Unlabel)

    4. Jul. 2011, 21:38

    More words and album stream and order links on the blog:

    http://www.lastfm.de/out?url=http%3A%2F%2Fnfrblog.blogspot.com%2F2011%2F06%2Freview-everyone-to-anderson-man-born.html


    The Man Born From Inside Of A Horse is the debut full length album from Brighton's Everyone to the Anderson. It will be released through Unlabel on Monday in a limited edition run of hand-made die-cut screen printed sleeve CDs. It will be a work of art-rock record worth cherishing. For years I have been saying this is the best band in Brighton and for years I have no real idea if anyone has been listening to me or not, yet for years I have repeated it as one of the truths that I know. Their Doodlebug EP is a flawless rush of brawny adrenalised frayed-nerved noise rock, as numbingly acerbic as it is cerebrallly exciting and vice versa. If you can verse that vica. The tracks on that were long and drawn out weighing in their peaks with a measureed build. At under half an hour the 11 tracks that form '...a Horse don't so much as blast past, they burn right through you leaving their figures imprinted deep into your synapses, so after even brief exposure the glottal breaks in the opening riff will stalk your walk. This is the kind of music you play on headphones at other pedestrian's peril as you involuntarily contort in thrall to the direction of the music, the momentum of each track will keep your feet moving as your mind and shoulders meet in unified spasm. There's a dryness to the vocal deliveries that recalls Steve Albini - there's a lot of Fugazi to the guitars. Even inside the heart-burstingly lush melody of So You're Saying There's A Chance there lies a kernel of grit that keeps it mean to the core, but the chorus keeps unfolding out in even more attractive layers like the petals of a rose attached to the idly savage thorns of its' stem, and it's an analogy that you can pull through plenty of the tracks on the album; one of the keys to its' potency a passive aggression - distortion and harshness, angularity, edge all co-existing and harmonising with unexpected softnesses, a gnarliness overlaid with prettiness; veils of shimmering delay, the pregnant hum of warm feedback, patiently held guitar tones, Ben Gregory's voice. Then the beasts attack all barking, snarling and frothing at the mouth. The build of Pocklemouse could end you up anywhere but it chooses to whip itself into an almost uncontrolled frenzy.
  • DOWNLOAD: Shaidar Logoth - Chapter I: The Peddler

    4. Jul. 2011, 21:35

    Shaidar Logoth
    Chapter I: The Peddler

    More words, download links and urls at the NFRBlog: http://nfrblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/download-shaidar-logoth-chapter-i.html

    Here is a very nice free-download black metal album for you, released in February by Minneapolis based duo Shaidar Logoth. The band is, ostensibly, a side-project for Steven Henningsgard and Adam Clemens to experiment with black metal forms, droning and atonal repetition of the kinds they don't get to use in their main death metal bandIron Thrones. The album is based on the character of Padan Fain in Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time‘ book series - this info and more interesting stuff about the recording process and inspiration of the release can be found on Henningsgard's blog HERE.
  • REVIEW: Hotel Wrecking City Traders & Gary Arce - LP

    4. Jul. 2011, 21:32

    Hotel Wrecking City Traders & Gary Arce
    Bro Fidelity

    Stream tracks and order links at the blog: http://nfrblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/review-hotel-wrecking-city-traders-gary.html

    Melbourne based instrumental brother-duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders team up with Gary Arce of Yawning Man on this huge monolithic two-track slab of improv noise rock. Yawning Man were one of the bands first making forays deep into the Desert Rock scene along with Kyuss, Brant Bjork, Karma to Burn and then some; a wealth of gnarly experience from which Arce draws on, setting his guitars down over the top of the tapes sent to him with a cool and studied sense of purpose as the two HWCT brothers (Ben Matthews on drums, Toby on guitar) work off each other building up the tracks. Toby also laid down bass parts to further define the flow of the tracks, but the initial darker guitar and drum are taped live together. The pair have a subtle and powerful way of playing off each other, locking into dense grooves and allowing each other space - a great canvas for Arce to add his extra detail on to.

    The first track slowly builds up from feathery psychedelic skeins of loose interplay that solidifies into into howling motorik juggernaut. There's a big dose of Pelican and Isis buried into this, a patient focus on developing textural elements within the improvised frameworks slowly ratcheting up the tension and pressure letting it steam out again fiercely but not quite through the kinds of huge riffs HWCT have played with before. The two tracks don't quite cut as loose and free or offer up as devastatingly hedonistic grooves of molten rock as tracks off the Black Yolk ep from 2008 did - Go check out Lakeshore Strangler and Pagoda immediately after this and buy that album up too - but it's an almost incomparable form of rock music they are playing here. Mastered by James Plotkin, the master of conjuring a sharper resolution of depth and space out of dark music, this is a record of intricate feeling, teasing out themes as the tracks progress, a Mogwai influenced sense of using repetition to create scale. The lighter guitar of Acre is contrasted by the dirty crunch and aggressive sawing of Toby but the restraint with which Toby plays is what makes the combination a success.

    The record is limited to 300 copies on a lush deep blue wax 12" including a t-shirt with tidy teardrop logo. Order your copy HERE