Review: First released in 1998, the last album from the sadly missed Mark Hollis was originally set to be a Talk Talk album, scheduled to follow up 1991's "Laughing Stock". Described by engineer Phil Brown as "open, restful and at times fantastically beautiful", Hollis' only solo effort is quite the opposite of the dark and claustrophobic direction of Talk Talk's final album. Entirely self-produced, the record takes Talk Talk's pared back, emotive intimacy further into yet more minimal, private territory, of sometimes almost unbearable intensity. A complex, compelling last dispatch from an indisputable genius.
Review: Attraktors originally surfaced back in 2015 with the Future Systems EP. Made up of members of Six.By.Seven, Bivouac, The Selecter and more besides. Now this eclectic group of coldwave connoisseurs fold that initial EP into a raft of new songs to make up a sterling debut album for Vivod. It's brittle, homespun stuff that opens up a wormhole to the bedroom studio explosion of the 1980s, when lo-fi new wave was king. But there are other dimensions to this record, like the dreamy synth pop of "Mensonge Et La Chute" and the cosmic rock stylings of "Theme From Unknown". For all lovers of the early to mid '80s era, this is an album you won't want to miss.
Review: No-one could accuse the London-based duo Public Service Broadcasting of lacking ambition-after the runaway success of their debut 'Inform - Educate - Entertain', this second album, whilst still utilising their trademark mixture of archive audio recordings, krautrock and post-rock. focuses conceptually on the '60s space race, and summons up a suitably widescreen and emotionally resonant backdrop for these stirring tales of voyages into the unknown. Both playful and respectful, it's a heartfelt record whose experimental elan matches the ground-breaking nature and sense of wonder of the subject matter, with these soundscapes and grooves sounding forceful and engaging even whilst they're figuratively staring at the stars.
Review: Adding vocalist and second drummer to the already commanding Radar Men team sheet, the Dutch avant-garde noise makers return with yet another bold step for music - raw, loud, and unfettered by outdated ideas like genre, 'The Bestial Light' is a record that wants you to notice it, and does everything in its power to make sure you do.
Whereas past excursions have touched on spacey rock, drone and even industrial techno, here they navigate the blood, sweat and spilt beer of punk, an attitude that's carried through in the song titles themselves - see 'Piss Christ', if you need an example. It's not just cacophonous face-melters , though, with tracks like 'Sacred...' using slow, syrupy riffs to create far more proggy atmosphere. Impossible to ignore, damn difficult to escape from, and guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
Review: Bait E Borghi's reputation for solid darkroom dancing material isn't going anywhere given this latest stab at crafting big atmosphere from relatively stripped back ingredients. They roll, chug, build and drive a way down futurist progressive house-techno-post punk avenues, hypnotic and heavy, like the sound of a few hundred heads masked in the blue hues of stage lights. Or at least that's a running thought amid the deep moodiness of 'Entri', and when embracing the warm bounce cushioning 'North''s monstrous thud. As 'Lapena' shows, though, there's far more than that going on here. A druggy rock epic, it makes the closing space dub of 'Fa Freddo La Sera' and the King of Woolworths-esque, espionage theme-worthy downtempo spatiality of 'Cacciatore Di Prestigio' make perfect sense. In short, a treat for electronic punks everywhere.
Review: It's hard not to feel moved by Swans. To quote Wayne's World, it's not just a clever name, but rather a band every bit as graceful yet ferocious, beautiful but strong as the bird borrowed from. Take "Annaline", for example. As the first track-proper of this spellbinding collection it's a stop-you-in-your-tracks masterpiece that could force silence on a stadium despite being softly spoken, subtle and serene. It's a motif the outfit seem focused on for this, their 15th studio album. Even at its loudest, title track "Leaving Meaning" mostly plays out like a deranged sermon in some temple of experimental rock. "Sunfucker", for example, has enough reversed-out refrains to make anyone feel they might be in over their head with forces they can't see, let alone comprehend. "It's Coming It's Real" is a display of dark hypnosis. "The Hanging Garden" paints nervous abstract pictures with psychedelic-leaning guitar hooks and manic vocal cries. Put simply, it's perhaps their tensest, most introverted and spellbinding work to date.
Review: The unveiling of an Apparat album is always cause for commotion with the artist influence enough to push radio stations to stream his music 24/7 upon release. Long passages of streaming synth-textures underline the loose and sparse percussive effects of Apparat's jazz and minimalism. The artist's signature bass pulses hit the sweet spot throughout the albums entirety, always inspiring a well of heavy feeling when they do. Touches of the artist's Bpitch Control days remain as does Apparat's always inspired approach when merging instrumentation with outboard gear and technology, beat making and sound design. A sound to cherish once more.
Review: Belated vinyl issue of the excellent second LP from Musiccargo for the Dusseldorf fanatics! It may well be the seventh release on Emotional Response, but the label happy Stuart Leath will tell anyone in close proximity that the Musiccargo pairing of Gerhard Michel and Gordon Pohl were largely inspirational in his decision to start the label. Probably most widely known for the early appearance on James Holden's DJ Kicks mix of their remix of "Disco" by Grackle, Musiccargo are modern day exponents of the Krautrock sound pioneered by Dusseldorf acts like Can, Cluster and Neu. Harmonie arrives some four years after the duo's highly sought after debut album Hand In Hand and the six track album is a sumptuous 'adult kraut' delight from start to end.
Review: Once again using an ambitious conceptual framework to house a record which draws on historical texts and multimedia sources alongside their widescreen melange of post-rock, prog, dance and ambient stylings, 'Every Valley' deals with the Welsh mining industry and its trials and travails in the last half of the twentieth century. A project as mighty as the industry it chronicles, it resonates with emotive heft and atmospheric power whilst being careful not to overly romanticise its subject matter - this is fundamentally a deeply melancholic album, chronicling the slow demise of a way of life with spirit, clarity and sensitivity, not to mention musical invention.
Review: HTRK's debut album in 2007 proved to be a seminal one for fans of experimental noise. It cooks up impressively abrasive and caustic textures, crashing waves of white noise and sonorous pulses that speak of a future dystopian world. Tense and absorbing throughout, the lo-fi design and elements of post punk, post industrial and post techno makes it a modern analogy of the likes of Throbbing Gristle. 12 years later, the record sounds just as good, and arguably even more prescient in these twitchy times of digital surveillance, social anxieties and worldwide political tensions. It might be bleak, then, but that doesn't mean there is real beauty in this album's disharmony.
Review: If you're yet to come across Helen Money then now is probably a very good time to rectify that. A background in classical music - and how seriously aficionados of the canon take her - suggests unarguable talent, and her work is proof. Reverence in alternative circles shows how she has never stuck to the path well-trodden, and instead forges ahead on her own terms in pretty much every outing. This is no exception. A maestro on the cello, which leads the charge on this mystifying, brooding and exceptionally cinematic effort, it's incredible just how versatile she makes the instrument sound when you consider your stereotypical thoughts on how it is usually played. Plucked, bowed, reverberated, whatever the approach it offers new depths to the ear, from the chilling 'Coil', which utilises pianos to add a feeling if impending something, to 'Midnight''s melancholia, this is exquisite stuff.
Review: To describe "Pyroclasts" as an album would be misleading. It's certainly as commanding as any LP you'll hear this month, but running at just four tracks, and with the focus on mood rather than conventional ideas such as songcraft, it's really meant to be heard in one long, tripped-out listening session where each of the pieces meld into one huge overture. The result of a practice routine attendees of the Life Metal sessions at Electrical Audio took part in during mornings and evenings, it tells you everything there is to know when someone says "musical participants would gather and work through a 12 minute improvised modal drone", giving a chance for people to "greet each other and the space through the practice of sound immersion." Deep, guttural, distorted, expansive and riddled with discordant melodies, if you listen out for them, it stops short of white noise but guitars rarely make for such meditative scores.