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More London gigs, third week of October (12th to 18th) – an art rock blitz with Sax Ruins/Richard Pinhas; new classical music with Darragh Morgan & Mary Dullea; William D. Drake/Bill Pritchard/Bill Botting make a trio of songwriting Bills for Daylight Music; Sex Swing/Early Mammal/Casual Sect make a racket; Laura Moody and a host of others play at Match&Fuse

7 Oct

And October rushes on…

Sax Ruins + Richard Pinhas @ Baba Yaga's Hut, 12th October 2015Sax Ruins + Richard Pinhas (Baba Yaga’s Hut @ Corsica Studios, 4-5 Elephant Road, London, SE17 1LB, UK, Monday 12th October 2015, 7.30pm) – £11.00

Ruins (in both their original configuration and their various spinoffs) are among the best-known and most influential of Japanese experimental rock bands, with their complex rhythmic ideas and expression stretching across progressive rock, Rock in Opposition, jazz and punk. Founded in 1985, their stretchy, power-flurried drums-and-voice/bass guitar/nothing else approach has been described as “a palace revolt against the established role of the rhythm section” and set the initial format for any number of loud-bastard bass-and-drums duos. Since 1994 they’ve also run assorted noise-rock and improv collaborations including Ronruins (a romping trio alliance with multi-instrumentalist Ron Anderson) and longstanding hook-ups with Derek Bailey, Kazuhisa Uchihashi and Keiji Haino. Post-2004, Ruins has given way to Ruins-alone: a solo project in both practical and actual terms, with Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins’ drummer, jabberer, main composer and only consistent member) opting to tour and record solo as a drums-and-tapes act.

Active since 2006, Sax Ruins is yet another iteration of the Ruins concept – a musical tag team in which Yoshida spars happily with Nagoya-based saxophonist Ryoko Ono of Ryorchestra (an all-round improviser steeped in jazz, rock, funk, rhythm & blues classical and hip hop. Their recordings are “extremely complex with irregular beats, frequent excessive overdubbing, and restructured orchestration. The result sounds like a big band playing progressive jazz hardcore. For live performance of Sax Ruins they make hardcore sound like a huge band by full use of effects, also incorporating improvisation. Their shows unfold as a vehement drama.” For further evidence, see below.

Composer, guitarist and synthesizer player Richard Pinhas has often laboured under the reductive tag of “the French Robert Fripp”. This is unfair to him; he may have begun as an admirer of both Fripp and Brian Eno, but whatever he’s learned from them he took in his own direction. Starting out in the early ‘70s with a Sorbonne philosophy doctorate, a keen interest in speculative science fiction and a brief stint heading the post-Hawkwind psych outfit Schizo, Pinhas went on to lead the second-generation progressive rock band Heldon for four years between 1974 and 1978. Geographically and conceptually, Heldon sat bang in the ‘70s midpoint between the artier end of British prog, the proggier end of British art-pop and the chilly sequenced robo-mantras of German electronics. Initially inspired by King Crimson, Eno and Tangerine Dream, they also shared both musicians and ideas with Magma, and at times squinted over the Atlantic towards Zappa and Utopia: no passive followers, they always brought their own assertive, inquiring spin to the party. (A late ‘90s revival version of the band brought in the psychedelic punk and techno imperatives of the dance movement).

Since Heldon, Pinhas has pursued an ongoing and diverse solo career. It’s taken in collaborations with Scanner, Peter Frohmader, Merzbow, Råd Kjetil Senza Testa, Wolf Eyes and Pascal Fromade, plus assorted words-and music projects involving speculative writers and philosophers such as Maurice Dantec, Philip K. Dick, Gilles Deleuze, Norman Spinrad and Chloe Delaume (these include the cyberpunk-inspired Schizotrope). When performing solo, Pinhas uses a loops-layers-and-textures guitar approach which parallels (and to some ears, surpasses) the densely processed and layered Soundscapes work of his original inspiration Fripp. I guess it’s most likely that he’ll employ this at Corsica Studios on the 12th (although as Tatsuya Yoshida has been another of Pinhas’ collaborators over the years, perhaps you might expect another spontaneous team-up…)

Up-to-date info on the concert is here, with tickets available here.

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During the midweek, there’s a set of new or rare contemporary classical pieces being performed in Camden Town.

Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea, 2015

Picking Up The Pieces: Darragh Morgan & Mary Dullea (The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Wednesday 14th October 2015, 7.30pm) – £10.00/£12.00

Here’s what the Forge has to say about it:

Described by BBC Music Magazine as ‘agile, incisive and impassioned’ violinist Darragh Morgan and pianist Mary Dullea are renowned soloists of new music as well as members of The Fidelio Trio, one of the UK’s leading chamber ensembles. ‘Picking up the Pieces’ explores new and recent repertoire, much of it written for this duo, by a diverse selection of composers. Among the program items, Richard Causton’s ‘Seven States of Rain’ (dedicated to Mary and Darragh) won the first ever British Composers’ Award; while Gerald Barry’s ‘Midday’ receives its world premiere alongside other London premieres from Camden Reeves and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly.

Programme:

Richard Causton – Seven States of Rain
Gerald Barry – Midday (world premiere)
Benedict Schlepper-Connolly – Ekstase I (UK premiere)
Dobrinka Tabakova – Through the Cold Smoke
Kate Whitley – Three Pieces for violin and piano
Sam Hayden – Picking up the Pieces
Camden Reeves – Gorgon’s Head (London premiere)

Here’s the original premiere recording of Darragh and Mary playing ‘Seven States of Rain’.

Tickets and up-to-date information are here. This concert is being recorded by BBC Radio for future transmission on Hear & Now.

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On the Saturday, it’s a triple bill of Bills at Daylight Music. Now that’s cute, even for them. Here are the words direct from the top…

Daylight Music 203, 17th October 2015

Daylight Music 203: William D. Drake + Bill Pritchard + Bill Botting (Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN, UK – Saturday 17th October 2015, 12.00pm-2.00pm) – free entry, suggested donation £5.00

For his fifth solo excursion, former Cardiacs keysmith William D Drake takes us on a serpentine path through the inner regions of ‘Revere Reach’, a part-imagined landscape composed of memory and fantasy. At once heart-felt, hearty and absurd, its heady reveries blend ancient-seeming modal folk melody with an obliquely-slanted rock thrust.

Bill Pritchard is a beloved cult British-born singer/songwriter. You may remember. You may not. He started writing songs for various bands at school but it wasn’t until he spent time in Bordeaux as part of a college degree that his style flourished. He did a weekly show with two friends on the radio station La Vie au Grand Hertz (part of the burgeoning ‘radio libre’ movement) and was introduced to a lot of French artists from Antoine to Taxi Girl. In 2014 Bill released – Trip to the Coast (Tapeste Records). He’s recently resurfaced with a cracking new album, the songs of which are classic Bill Pritchard. Guitar pop, hooky chorus’, melodic ballads and personal everyday lyrics about love, loss, and Stoke-On-Trent.

Our final Bill is Bill Botting – best known as the bass player from Allo Darlin with the encouraging face, or as one half of indie electro wierdos Moustache of Insanity. Bill returned to playing his own music sometime in 2014. What started as a solo act has now grown into a complete band featuring members of Owl and Mouse, Allo Darlin and The Wave Pictures. A 7-inch single out later in the year on the wiaiwya label has a country slant but an indie heart.

Up-to-date info on this particular Daylight Music afternoon is here.

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On the Saturday evening, Baba Yaga’s Hut is running another gig, much of it apparently based around the noise-and-sludge projects which record at south London’s Dropout Studio in Camberwell. I’ve got to admit that I’m quite ambivalent about the hit-and-miss nature of noise-rock – I suspect that it’s too much of a haven for charlatans, and if I can’t drag out anything interesting to say about the noise they produce bar a slew of reference points, then what am I doing if not reviewing my own boredom? – but I like BYH’s omnivorous, ambitious and sharing attitude as promoters, so I’m happy to boost the signal on this one.

Sex Swing + Early Mammal + Casual Sect (Baba Yaga’s HutThe Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Road, Islington, London, N1 9JB, UK, Saturday 17th October 2015, 8.00pm) – £7.00

Sex Swing + Early Mammal + Casual Sect @ Baba Yaga's Hut, 17th October 2015
Sex Swing are “a drone supergroup” featuring South London noisenik Tim Cedar (one of Dropout Studio’s owner/producers, previously a member of both Ligament and Part Chimp), Dethscalator’s Dan Chandler and Stuart Bell, Jason Stoll (bass player with Liverpool kraut-psych band Mugstar) and skronkophonist Colin Webster. On aural evidence, they inhabit a post-Can, post-Suicide hinterland of hell, spring-echoed and tannoy-vocaled – a sinister quotidian landscape of blank anomie and oppression; a Los Alamos penal colony haunted by uranium ghosts, ancient Morse telegraphs, metal fatigue and the zombie husks of Albert Ayler and Ian Curtis. (Well, that’s certainly someone’s perfect birthday present.)

Described variously as raw power, psych-blues, primitive lysergia and threatening backwoods jams, Early Mammal are another Dropout-affiliated Camberwell band. They’re a stoner rock three-piece who’ve drawn further comparisons not just to latterday stoner crews like White Hills or Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, or to predictable perennial touchstones like Captain Beefheart and Hawkwind parallels; but also to broody Harvest Records psych (Edgar Broughton and the ‘Obscured by Clouds’ Pink Floyd), Irmin Schmidt and (a rare and welcome cite, this) the grand dramatics of Aphrodite’s Child (the late-‘60s Greek prog band which skirted the 1966 Paris riots and served as an unlikely launch pad for both Vangelis and Demis Roussos).

Past incarnations have seen Early Mammal stir in some “Turkish-flavoured synth”, but the current lineup is a power trio of ex-Elks guitarist Rob Herian and 85bear’s Ben Tat and Ben Davis, adding baritone guitar and drone box to the usual guitar/bass/drums array.

I’m less sure about the south London/Dropout associations as regards Casual Sect, who seem to be north-of-the-river people; but, armed with their own hardcore noise-punk, they’ll either clatter away like wind-up toys or belly-sprawl on great bluffs of surly noise. They seem to love both citing and mocking conspiracy theory, so I’ll let them yell away on their own behalf – see below…


 
Up-to-date info on this gig is here, and tickets are available from here.

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Laura Moody’s captivating cello-and-voice songcraft (which edges along the boundary lines of avant-garde classical, art pop and heart-on-sleeve folk music, while demonstrating a daunting mastery of both vocal and instrument) has been a favourite of mine for a while. On this particular week, she’s performing as part of the Match&Fuse Festival in London on 17th October, which I’d have made more of a noise about had I cottoned on to it earlier. She’ll be following up her London show with a date on 20th October at Leeds College of Music: unfortunately, this concert (which also features a talk) is only for LCM students/staff, but if you happen to be attending the college, grab the chance to go along.

There’ll be more on Laura shortly, as she’s embarking on a brief British tour next month which dovetails quite neatly with some other brief tours I’d like to tie together in a post. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, I might as well provide a quick rundown of the Match&Fuse events. This will be a short and scrappy cut’n’paste’n’link, since I’m honouring my own last-minute pickup (and, to be honest, because I exhausted myself listing out all the details of the Manchester Jazz Festival events earlier in the year).

By the sound of it, though, the festival deserves more attention than I’m providing. Even just on spec, it’s a delightful bursting suitcase of British and European music; much of which consists of various forms of jazz and improvisation, but which also takes in electronica, math rock, accordion-driven Tyrolean folk-rap, vocalese, glam punk, the aforementioned Ms. Moody and what appears to be a huge scratch ensemble closing the events each night. It’s spread over three days including a wild triple event on the Saturday. Tickets are starting to sell out; so if you want to attend, be quick.

Match&Fuse Festival, London, 2015

Committed to the composers and bands who propel, compel and challenge, Match&Fuse turns it on and ignites the 4th London festival in October. Dissolving barriers between genres and countries, it’s a rare chance to hear a spectrum of sounds from underground European and UK artists. On Saturday 17th October our popular wristband event will give you access to three Dalston venues and about thirteen artists and bands. Strike a match…

The Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, London, N16 8AZ, UK, Thursday 15th October 2015, 7.30pm – £9.90

Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London E1 6LA, UK, Friday 16th October 2015, 7.30pm – £13.20

The Vortex/Café Oto/Oto Project Space/ Servant Jazz Quarters simultaneous event, Saturday 17th October 2015, 8.00pm – £11.00/£16.50

Café Oto/Oto Project Space, 18-22 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL, UK

Servant Jazz Quarters, 10a Bradbury Street, Dalston, London, N16 8JN, UK

The Vortex Jazz Club/Vortex Downstairs, 11 Gillett Square, London, N16 8AZ, UK

Full details of Match&Fuse London 2015 are here and here, with tickets (including wristbands) available here. There’s also a playlist available – see below.

 
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More October gig previews coming up shortly, plus some more for November…
 

REVIEW – The Strzebonsky Noizescene: ‘I Think We’re On To Something’ EP, 2011 (“a zigzagging wall of brown sound”)

4 Sep
The Strzebonsky Noizescene: ‘I Think We're On To Something’

The Strzebonsky Noizescene: ‘I Think We’re On To Something’

Like Death From Above 1979 and Lightning Bolt before them, Belgian punk duo The Strzebonsky Noizescene are guitarless. Throughout most of their debut EP, hollering drummer Bert Jacobs plays his kit straight off the fuzzed-up scrunch of Stijn Preuveneers’ bass guitar, and nothing else. Influences aside, perhaps they like each other well enough not to bother with bandmates; perhaps they prefer the uncluttered guttural bounce of four fat strings and a drumkit.

On some of the tracks, it doesn’t make much difference. Often the Noizescene just play like a standard punk rock trio stretching out to cover a night when the guitarist never turned up. Stijn’s chorused tone is broad, fuzzy and high-toned enough to carry the songs alone – played straight and medium-paced, The Zetea Letters easily carries the buzzing irritation and sour-chew urgency of mainstream punk. Similarly, Keep On Dreaming and You Might Think You Know Me cover many of the usual punk sentiments and moves, fanning out across a variety of styles from the straight-ahead pound-away to the side-to-side flail and choppy one-word-at-a-time yelp.

Though their Death From Above 1979 influences hang heavy, sometimes the Noizescene’s boyish shout and growl recalls the flinching swagger of the guitarless, multi-bassed British trio Monkey Boy. On There Is No Plan B, a zigzagging wall of brown sound skates forwards in alternate rushes and swung jitters while Bert takes aim at a despondent quitter: “Holding your head, you’re as good as dead… / just stay in your heaven of misery.” What the Noizescene can also bring to the table is a little of the hot-space awareness of a band that sometimes remembers that it’s a rhythm section, and one which doesn’t have to hold the time down for anyone except themselves. Street-chanting punk vocals aside, Bert and Stijn are more outrightly musical than many of their peers and they sometimes allow themselves to spread out into more interesting sounds. When it’s not covering an abrasive stamp of riff, the bass occasionally swells up and deforms as if it’s been wrapped and smeared around a giant church bell.

In spite of this, the Noizescene need extra elements to really pick up the music, which becomes more interesting when they have something or someone to play against. In Cult Of Personality, their sparring partner’s the bristling ghost of Richard Nixon. The band plays against and around a defensive snippet of the beleaguered President facing a convention of newspaper editors just as Watergate was unzipping and unravelling him. “In all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service,” grits Tricky Dicky. “I welcome this kind of examination, people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I have got.” Meanwhile, The Strzebonsky Noizescene work away noisily like a squad of intrusive builders, wobbling the scenery and spoiling the shot. Mockingly, they sing back at him – “Let me build you a cult of personality – / you will love me, nothing to doubt here… / The point is to listen and don’t ask why / all the worst is missing.”

While neither Bert nor Stijn own up to playing them, the addition of hooting, squirting cheap-synthesizer parts open up the Strzebonsky noise even further. On When The Curtain Falls their conventional slam-along of fuzz bass and chuffing drums is draped in minimal post-punk keyboard padding and then overtaken by a cheeky bombastic keyboard line which wraps around it like a brightly coloured cable round a pipe, while the band run junk mail snippets through a speech synthesizer. In the final track – The Strzebonsky Ravescene – the band go enthusiastically dance-punk, remixing themselves into a stew of driven chemical beats and a host of wasp-like analogue synths. For a band pushing at the form, it sounds like the way forward.

The Strzebonsky Noizescene: ‘I Think We’re On To Something’
The Strzebonsky Noizescene (self-released – no catalogue number or barcode)
Download-only EP
Released: 4th February 2011

Buy it from:
Bandcamp

The Strzebonsky Noizescene online:
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REVIEW – Kabul Golf Club: ‘Le Bal Du Rat Mort’ EP, 2012 (“brutal flying bricks of riffage”)

27 Jul

Kabul Golf Club: 'Le Bal Du Rat Mort' EP

Kabul Golf Club: ‘Le Bal Du Rat Mort’ EP

A self-styled “pretty young Belgian band” with a penchant for wearing carnival heads, Kabul Golf Club aren’t quite your standard hardcore punk outfit. It’s not just the occasional headgear – even on their debut EP, they butt against the limitations of the form, just as any free-thinking punk should, but not enough do. With Shellac in their lineage of long term influences (and with Lightning Bolt and Blood Brothers in the more recent set) we should expect no less.

Admittedly, they’re not reinventing everything. Singer Floky is still restricted to three degrees of the same top-of-the-lungs hardcore screech. To give him credit, he does manage to inject a little more character into it than most: mastering a tinge of despairing vertigo or the horrified yell of a man falling off the sun. But in many respects his voice is just another rhythmic instrument, its verbal interjections of frustration, resistance and bellowing introspection functioning like an additional cymbal hit or another blind-corner snarl of snaggy bass. The rhythm section of Mattes and Sweeckhoorn pin down the rest of the hardcore content – the jumps and sallies of rhythm, the brutal flying bricks of riffage.

This leaves Floky and the band’s other guitarist, Jeandana, free to charge into a wallowing thresh of disjointed, expressive guitars. It’s here that Kabul Golf Club excel, flinging around a series of wails, roars and hardware noises reminiscent of a lusty scuffle between Hendrix and Tom Morello (or between Sonic Youth and Adrian Belew). While bass and drums hold the band together, the guitars stretch it like taffy, and it’s this that provides the interest. Over the machine-gun riff and buzz-bass of Bits of Freedom they squeal and nose into places they shouldn’t go, shaking the song ever more feverishly as the pace becomes more and more frenetic.

Fast Moving Consumer Goods is a King Crimson-ish march along an atonal scale, minimal in conception, maximal in juddering aggression. Occasionally a Floky vocal becomes intelligible – “just let it go… rats on a sinking ship… wasteground… love has left, love has left.” Beyond his jerky codes the whole story is in the guitars as they scream and fold, balanced precariously on the jouncing riff like surfers in an earthquake. Floky may screech “no sense of urgency” in Minus 45; but everything in the song belies this, from the precision bounce of the ever-changing, ever-dodging rhythms to the warping screeches of the instrumental lines. Somewhere in the middle there’s even a robotic burst of Autotune, before the final collapse into chaos: a grumbling sagging bass drone, plus jingles and swerves of broken-down guitar. Even after the song’s tumbled off its own pulse to lie twisted and sprawled on the ground, an inventive fury continues to twitch the corpse.

If anything, the music gets even more frantic as the EP progresses. 5 Minutes 2 Midnight sprains its own time count, loses itself in a grinding, spasming bounce and inflammatory sprays of noise. By the time we arrive at Demon Days, it’s as if the guitars are sprawling in sheer resistance: Jeandana and Floky yank them violently off-pitch to hit the mood. The resulting trapped riff screams across the soundfield like a gutted tin can, wrapped around the ear.

Assuming that you can take noise rock, ‘Le Bal Du Rat Mort’ is full of rewarding, jagged surprises, and becomes more and more intriguing every time you replay it.

Kabul Golf Club: ‘Le Bal Du Rat Mort’
Uproar for Veneration, UVF007 (5419999105439)
CD/download EP
Released: 10th February 2012

Buy it from:
CD from Rough Trade Benelux: download via iTunes.

Kabul Golf Club online:
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