Tag Archives: Poulomi Desai

February 2019 – upcoming London eclectic/multicultural gigs at Poplar Union – Grand Union Orchestra (22nd February); Mishti Dance (23rd February) with Conspirators of Pleasure, The Tuts, Kapil Seshasayee and Soundar Ananda

15 Feb

I don’t go down to Poplar that often, but despite its more confusing aspects – the hurtling convergence of the eastern motorway routes out of London; that strange dislocated/disassociated/dispossessed neighbour’s relationship which it has with the glittering towers of Docklands to the south – the place has always felt welcoming; from the wry hardiness of its shopkeepers to the gentle courtesy of the djellaba-clad pair of Muslim brothers (one twentysomething lad, one eight-year-old kid) who spotted me wandering (a lost, bald, bearded middle-aged white bloke) all nonplussed by the Limehouse Cut, and were kind enough to redirect me to Poplar Union.

PU still feels like a beacon for the area’s future – enthusiastically aspirational in its bright, clean, modern bookishness but also happily embedded in the area’s colourful swirl of cultures; decidedly unshabby but also entirely inclusive. Here are another couple of gigs coming up there this coming week.

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Grand Union Orchestra, 22nd February 2019

Sporting a thirty-plus roster of musicians from all across the world, Grand Union Orchestra have spent two decades playing and personifying an ethic of joyous multicultural cooperation onstage. With a tradition of creative diasporan work, and with an additional set of roots in left-wing community theatre, they’re a living rebuttal to British insularity. Usually there’s about eighteen of them on stage, drawn from a flexible roster of around thirty top-flight musicians from a variety of cultures and generations. You’ll see Bangladeshi, Chinese, English, Turkish, Caribbean, Roma, Bulgarian, Mozambiquian people and more, from striplings to grandmothers, all playing together, long accustomed to assembling rolling caravans of sound into which assorted musics – Carnatic and Bangladeshi classical, salsa, jazz – can be folded.



 
You can pick out the various components (even a quick dip will turn up players like Jazz Warriors trumpet veteran Claude Deppa, Carnatic violin virtuoso Claude Deppa, Roma accordionist Ionel Mandache, guzheng star Zhu Xiao Meng and a poly-hued battery of singers with backgrounds including fado, jazz, opera and Bengali classical) but you’re better off just enjoying the sweeping palette. Just looking at their gig flyers reminds me of the happy, souped-up neighbourly multiculture festivals in and around my primary school. It makes me want to bare my teeth against the chilly white monocultural wind that’s blowing from the future, from Brexit and from the surly side of Englishness; or – if I can’t do anything else – to at least turn up my collar, turn my angry back against the freeze and head for the lights, the warmth and the rhythms.

GUO’s current, workshop-driven project – ‘Bengal, Bhangra and the Blues’ – is helmed by tabla ace Yousuf Ali Khan: it leans back towards the music of the Asian sub-continent with classical ragas, Bengali songs and the aforementioned bhangra at the heart of it. Various young participants, having already enjoyed the previous week’s free instrumental youth workshops incorporated into the project programme, will be joining the main band for the concert.

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Mishti Dance featuring Conspirators of Pleasure + The Tuts + Kapil Seshasayee + Soundar Ananda, 23rd February 2019

I know Grand Union Orchestra, but I’m less familiar with PU’s Mishti Dance evenings and their Asian club/dance initiative. The idea strikes a fond chord of memories stemming from the Talvin Singh Anokha nights I’d occasionally attend in the mid-‘90s, in which all of the sounds I’d been vaguely aware of during an upbringing in multicultural Haringey suddenly seemed to grow up and stream together. Anokha, though, had its road laid down for it by the bhangra grooves and post-rave dance culture of the times, and while you could skulk up to the chillout room to listen to Shakti if you wanted to, it was predominantly about immersing yourself in sub-bass, remix chops and tabla frenzy.

Mishi, however, looks like a much looser bag: admittedly hung on the same British Asian peg but more tenuously, with room for just about anything and anyone with a Asian connection and in particular those who are following their own path out of the immediate cultural confines and bringing their innate cultural qualities to question, alter and enrich other spaces. The closest Anokha-type dance exemplar in this month’s gig looks as if it’s DJ Soundar Ananda of Indigenous Resistance, a French-Asian “conscious beats” deliverer, promoter and compilation curator working with “cutting-edge, futuristic, nu-skool, Eastern electronic music influenced by dub, dubstep, d’n’b, breakbeat, jungle, reggae.”

 
The Tuts, on the other hand, are a long way from Anohka beat culture, although I think Talvin and co would have appreciated their ethic. A fiesty, witty, self-propelled female throw-forward from the all-too-brief days of ’70s post-punk inclusivity, they’re a young DIY pop-punk trio of “proud Caribbean, English and Indian/Pakistani origin” and an immediate, salty working-class attitude of immediate self-assertion and street wit. Full of chop-and-change musical sharpness and girl-group zest (they’ve happily covered Wannabe, though there’s as much Fuzzbox or Slits to their vigour as there is Spice Girlhood), they’ll be inspiring girl moshers and wallflowers alike from Wolverhampton to Leicester, with little for old white gits like me to do but gently get out of the way, smiling as we do so. Bluntly inspirational.



 
The remaining two acts take us into delightfully eclectic and weird experimental pop and noise terrain. Bringing the majority of the weird noises are headliners Conspirators Of Pleasure: multi-media artists Poulomi Desai (who’s been in here before a few times over the year, toting her polydisciplinary stage shows and their festoonings of gizmos and collated contradictory content) and onetime Pop Group/Pigbag post-punk/funk/dub bassist Simon Underwood (once compared by Dennis Bovell to a white Robbie Shakespeare). Their adventures together have included helping to set Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ to music, and touring with Stewart Lee and other restless upsetters in the ‘Usurp Chance Tour’. Using repurposed tools of the cultural trade (Poulumi’s context-yanked sitar played with everything from an axe to a massage vibrator, Simon’s prepared bass guitar) plus assorted noisemakers, drone-sources, toys, stylophones and radios and a battery of makeshift audio-visual, they’ll spend their time onstage forking over textures and flotsam, touching on the industrial, on dance culture, on noisy improvised chaos and on the voices and ideas which emerge from this conflation.


 
Glaswegian-Asian singer-songwriter Kapil Seshasayee has parked himself on a junction where a variety of different ideas and approaches are coerced into meeting. He takes his beats from hardcore machine punk and Arca-ian experimental electropop; his guitar choices from a superimposition of Carnatic traditions and skinny-wire Hendrixian note-bending, crashes and hammer-on blues; his song structures from the kind of improvisational bardic rock which itself is drawing from griots or the ecstatic traditions which bubble away in various cultures despite having been vainly tarmac-ed over by Western rationalism.

His voice… well, I’m not entirely sure where that comes from. A beautiful Western/Indian rock clarion with hints of boy angel, Quwalli pronouncer and open-ended Beefheartian abstractioneer, it barrels up out of a position of assured strength only to lyrically splatter itself across parts of the landscape you’d not even noticed before. I could wave in Tim Buckley, Thom Yorke, Nick Harper and Van Morrison as whiter comparisons; I could point to some of the fiery ecstastic pitches and timbres of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, or toward youthful bluesmen with an axe to sharpen; but I still wouldn’t get it across to you or do it the right kind of justice.

Bald and impressively bearded (beating me on both counts, in fact), Kalil additionally decorates his wrenched-cable music with electronic fizz and spookings plus the eldritch acoustic wails he can scratch out of a waterphone. As for his songs, whether they’re upended experimental blues or club-leaning avant-pop abstractions (and often they’re both), they sound like distracted revelations in train marshalling yards, Kapil as a spasming, pointing Blakean figure continually spotting and sweeping the hidden numinous into his narratives and fracturing them into cracked landscapes. Somewhere inside Kalil there’s a bloke who wants to sing straightforward young-man songs about love gone wrong. Fortunately, his own brain continually waylays him in between impulse and expression.



 
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Dates:

Grand Union Orchestra: Bengal, Bhangra and the Blues
Poplar Union, 2 Cotall Street, Poplar, London, E14 6TL, England
Friday 22nd February 2019, 7.30pm
– information here and here

Mishti Dance presents:
Conspirators of Pleasure + The Tuts + Kapil Seshasayee + Soundar Ananda
Poplar Union, 2 Cotall Street, Poplar, London, E14 6TL, England
Saturday 23rd February 2019, 7.00pm
– information here and here
 

July 2016 – upcoming London gigs – Douglas Dare, Left With Pictures, Stranger Stranger and Joel Clayton at Daylight Music (2nd), Georgina Brett’s ‘Eclipse Collaborations’ (3rd); Yuki Kaneko, Naomi Motomura, Yumi Hara and Poulomi Desai work together at IKLECTIK (6th)

30 Jun

Three more upcoming shows in the Smoke, with various degrees of artiness…

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Daylight Music 230
Arctic Circle presents:
Daylight Music 230: Douglas Dare + Left With Pictures + Stranger Stranger + Joel Clayton
Union Chapel, 19b Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN, England
Saturday 2nd July 2016, 12.00pm
– free event (suggested donation: £5.00) – information

Erased Tapes piano balladeer Douglas Dare has been labelled as “one to watch” by Mary Anne Hobbs. His Daylight Music debut appearance gives those of us who’ve missed out on his music over the last three years an opportunity to judge for ourselves. See below is a song from his 2013 debut EP ‘Seven Hours’, followed by a sixteen-minute small-room performance from Paris, showcasing a live blend of shimmer-rolling neo-classical keyboard work, jazz-weather cymbals and occasional threads of electronica. His delivery (full of emotional focus and rising intensity) involves heartbreaking folk swoops, edgings of Celtic soul and what at first sounds like a stream of post-Radiohead angst: it ultimately reveals itself as being more akin to a Schubert lieder with a window on both James Blake and ‘Astral Weeks’.



 
A classically-trained trio of Stuart Barter, Rob Wicks and Toby Knowles, London pop ensemble Left With Pictures operate in a similar area, offer a rippling chamber pop with solemn, cavernous grand piano, strands of ecstatic electronic dance and folk instrumentation. Along the way, they manoeuvre along a line which divides the crowd-pleasing piano-pop of Keane, the weightless swoon of a momentary Morrissey and the compelling ancient-futurist folk of Eyeless In Gaza (Stuart’s lovely edge-of-the-ritual vocal often coming across like a gentler, more pop-polished take on of EIG’s Martyn Bates). I’m not absolutely sure what to make of them, and sometimes feel that they’re a little too polite for their own good – but, if so, they also sound like politeness briefly overwhelmed and catching its breath, revelling in the moment of freefall.



 
What’s known (or spun) about Stranger Stranger is that they’re the husband-and-wife duo of Philip Solari and Marinda Lavut, that they’re Canadian, that “they have bossa, they have jazz”, and that they were plucked from a life of pavement busking after being discovered outside the Montreal Jazz Festival by two of its owners. They immediately won a place at the following year’s festival on the strength of their musical skills. It’s like a reality TV rags-to-fame fairytale, done right. This year, they’ve been resident in London while recording their debut album with Laura Mvula’s producer Steve Brown, and it looks as if they’re going to be playing a whirl of low-key-but-hot-ticket gigs around the capital, for which this is an early taste.

Stranger Stranger also seem to be one of those increasingly rare entities – a growing word-of-mouth sensation, eschewing multimedia methods. They seem to have entirely avoided the latterday rash of Youtube cellphone footage; they’ve not engaged in teaser campaigns of embedding tracks in superblogs: they don’t even seem to have any kind of a homepage. I’ve got no clips, I’ve got no video, so I’ve got little choice other than to simply add to the growing wordpile. The buzz around them seems to be entirely made up of speech and text, as if we’d all headed back to the ’60s or the days of print’n’paste fanzines… and it’s strangely refreshing.

As ever, there’s a Daylight interval act as well – this time, it’s the return of Sunday Driver’s Joel Clayton on sitar, providing “Eastern sounds with a grungy twang.”

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Georgina Brett etc @ Tuesday's Post, 3rd July 2016

Tuesday’s Post presents:
Georgina Brett:”The Eclipse Collaborations” launch party
New River Studios, Ground Floor Unit E, 199 Eade Road, Manor House, London, N4 1DN, England
Sunday 3rd July 2016, 6.00pm
information

‘The Eclipse Collaborations’ is a thirty-minute video accompanying voice-looper Georgina Brett‘s new album. Although the video made its formal debut when it was played online and transnationally back in June (as part of the 2016 Solstice event) the formal launch party is taking place at New River Studios (the new home for Georgina’s ambient/progressive Tuesday’s Post night). It includes a full screening of the video, a bar and DJs, interactive visuals provided by Tuesday’s Post regulars Hanzo and Rucksack Cinema, and an appearance by speculative writer Greg Sams (who amongst other things has presented the idea that our sun is a “conscious, providing entity…”).


There will also be a set of improvised music performances making full use of a 7.1 surround sound system. The impressive lineup includes Georgina herself, Martin “Youth” Glover (Killing Joke), guitar/electronics/clarinet cosmaximalists Darkroom, multimedia composer Hems, Steve Finnerty of Alabama 3 and Junk Deluxe, Andy Bole of Bonfire Radicals and Daevid Allen’s Glissando Guitar Orchestra, Jono Podmore of Kumo and “analogue electronic cabal” Metamono, and French experimental/electronic/progressive/jazz looper The Lucid Brain Integrative Project.





 

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Yuki Kaneko + Naomi Motomura + Yumi Hara + Poulomi Desai @Club Integral, 6th July 2016

Club Integral presents:
Yuki Kaneko + Naomi Motomura + Yumi Hara + Poulomi Desai
IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Waterloo, London, SE1 7LG, England
Wednesday 6th July 2016, 8.00pm
information

Descriptions taken from the Club Integral press release, with additions and augmentations from me…

“A one-off Club Integral event featuring four of the finest women contemporary improvisers working today.

“In the late 1990s, Nagoya musican Yuki Kaneko was a psychedelic rock guitarist working with Acid Mothers Temple associates Floating Flower. A decade-and-a-half ago, she changed tack to retrain as a violinist and now plays both acoustic and electric instruments in a mixture of styles. Initially training and working in Indian Hindustani and Carnatic violin styles, Yuki has since incorporated synthesizer and laptop into her musical resources: she’s also reincorporated her psychedelic roots in order to explore ambient music, electronica and improvisation. Yuki’s recent projects have included a duo with fellow experimental violinist Yuji Katsui and recurring work with an ensemble led by former Taj Mahal Travellers vocalist Tokio Hasegawa.


“At around the same time that Yuki was becoming involved with Floating Flower, Naomi Motomura was playing guitar with the final 1990s lineup of the long-lived Japanese band Zelda, an all-female new wave/multi-genre group which drew on multiple approaches (including punk, funk, reggae, roots and experimentalism) to form their particular brand of pop. During the twenty years since the end of Zelda, Naomi absorbed various other musics. She resurfaced in 2013 with a solo album, ‘Whole’, which displayed her undiminished guitar skills, her mastery of looping pedals and her knack for a melodic and experimental reshaping of her earlier rock ideas.

“Tokyo-born but a longtime London resident, singer and multi-instrumentalist Yumi Hara has been performing improvised jazz based/prog-tinged/eclectic-experimental music for many years, with her work drawing on everything from Terry Riley and Rock In Opposition to funk and Japanese lullabies. Once a member of cult-pop favourites Frank Chickens, she established herself in the mid-’90s as a determined art-music curator by helming the Bonobo’s Ark music evenings (which drew in contributors including Charles Hayward, Roger Cawkwell, Clive Bell, Kazuko Hohki and many others.).

Yumi has since gone on to work in a variety of situations with a variety of musicians. Her collaborators have included Canterbury/Henry Cow/Faust veterans such as Hugh Hopper, Daevid Allen, Jean-Herve Peron, Geoff Leigh, Chris Cutler, John Greaves, Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson; bands and projects which have sprung out of these associations have included the trio you me & us, post-Cow quartet The Artaud Beats, Faust/Cow hybrid Jump For Joy! and the Lindsay Cooper repertoire band Half The Sky. Yumi is also active in plenty of other projects – both solo and in collaborative duos and ensembles – and is an established experimental composer in her own right.

“A self-taught outsider/multi-media artist since 1980, Poulomi Desai has spent nearly four decades exploring different kinds of work from her London hometown, Born in Hackney and an early practitioner of street theatre, she’d set up the Hounslow Arts Co-op before she’d turned fifteen and has gone on to divide her time between graphic design, curation (she’s run Usurp Art in Harrow since 2010) and multimedia performance art. The latter incorporates text, photography, live electronics and a sitar played with bows, kitchen knives, axes and massage tools, augmented by distortion pedals, modified cassette decks playing field recordings, circuit bent toys, optikinetic instruments, slide projectors and broken banjos.

Poulomi’s live work embraces elements of noise and industrial sounds as well as complex explorations of chance, challenge and subversion; with the sitar playing in particular being a conscious response and reaction to the idea of ‘authenticity’ (seeking to break the rules and expectations of how a ‘sacred’ instrument should be played, including the strictures and assumptions put upon the player and her identity).

“The evening will feature performances by two duos (a violin-and-electric guitar performance by Yuki and Naomi; a set combining Yumi on piano/harp/vocals and Poulomi on sitar and electronics) followed by a quartet performance of all four musicians together.”

December 2015 – upcoming London gigs – the 2015 London Contemporary Music Festival part 1 (sounds for and from London, West Coast America and the time continuum)

6 Dec

Friday this week sees the start of the London Contemporary Music Festival, which (as if it were part of a conspiracy theory) is lurking in a giant underground bunker near Baker Street…

LCMF 2015: ‘Collective Capital’

LCMF 2015: ‘Collective Capital’ (London Contemporary Music Festival 2015 @ Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS, England, Friday 11th December 2015, 6.30pm) – £11.25 – information – tickets

London takes centre stage in our opening night, as we celebrate the exploratory fringes of the city’s music scene and the collective imperative that has been a spur to some of the capital’s greatest experiments. The proliferation of collectives among young musician-composers is reflected in new commissions from some of the most adventurous of these musical laboratories. The night will include premieres from Charlie Hope and Jamie Hamilton (a.k.a. Topophobia), Neil Luck (performing with his Squib Box ensemble) and John Wall & Tom Mudd (Utterpsalm and Contingent Events). We hear recent work by composers Edward Henderson (Bastard Assignments), Shelley Parker and the artist duo Claudia Hunte. We welcome an iconic figure and chronicler of London’s musical edgelands, David Toop, and offer a live improvisation from Poulomi Desai (Usurp), who started the Hounslow Arts Co-op at the age of 14.

We also offer a world premiere from artists Richard Wilson and Anne Bean. In the 1980s, Anne, Richard and Paul Burwell formed the legendary Bow Gamelan Ensemble, enthralled by the aural poetry and parallel visions of the Thames. Now, Wilson and Bean enter the territory as W0B. Theirs is a world that cracks and splinters and grinds into being as it races backwards and forwards through friendships of forty years. ‘NALEMAG’ becomes the totemic incarnation of their endless scrabbling around boat-yards, scrap-yards, gas depots, pyrotechnic munitions, voyages on many rivers in countless vessels and a frenzy of carrying, welding, investigating and making across the planet. The trajectory culminates with a landmark new AV performance from south London’s Visionist, whose singular language emerges from the fragmentation of dubstep and grime.

Programme:

David Toop – Many Private Concerts
Anne Bean/Richard Wilson – NALEMAG (world premiere)
Poulomi Desai – Vermillion Sands (world premiere)
Neil Luck – Via Gut (world premiere – LCMF commission)
Jamie Hamilton/Charlie Hope – New work (world premiere)
Edward Henderson – Tape Piece
Claudia Hunte – The Elephant In The Room Is Afraid Of Dying
Shelley Parker – Live set
John Wall – Live set
Tom Mudd – Live set
Visionist – Live set (AV)

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The second LCMF night, on Saturday, sees the series take a broad stylistic and historical sweep across twentieth and twenty-first century California (with one digression to Alaska, so it’s not all sun.)

LCMF 2015: ‘West Coast Night’

LCMF 2015: ‘West Coast Night’ (London Contemporary Music Festival 2015 @ Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS, England, Saturday 12th December 2015, 6.30pm) – £11.75 – information – tickets 

The second night of LCMF 2015 is dedicated to the music of the American West Coast, an exploration of 100 years of musical non-conformism, from the piano insurrections of Henry Cowell to the deep listening of Pauline Oliveros (performing her own music on v-accordion). Oliveros is joined by another founding legend of the pioneering San Francisco Tape Music Center, Morton Subotnick, who presents a solo Buchla set and the UK premiere of a 1960s Tape Center composition with a film by Tony Martin. Another composer associated with the Tape Center was Terry Riley, whose ‘Keyboard Study No. 2’ gets a rare outing.

Alongside this we zig-zag through the experimental landscape, calling on John Cage‘s concussive ‘First Construction (In Metal)’, which premiered in Seattle in 1939, John Luther Adams‘s monumental ‘Among Red Mountains’ and Catherine Lamb‘s subterranean ‘Frames’. We excavate two gems from California’s 1980s computer music scene, Maggi Payne‘s ‘Flights Of Fancy’ and Carl Stone‘s ‘Wall Me Do’. On the fiftieth anniversary of the Watts Uprising we present an extremely rare performance from Otis O’Solomon, whose collective The Watts Prophets emerged from the rubble of that uprising and helped lay the foundations for hip-hop.

Programme:

Henry Cowell – The Banshee (for piano) – performed by Gwenaëlle Rouger
John Cage – First Construction (in Metal) (for percussion ensemble) – performed by PERC’M and Serge Vuille
Morton Subotnick/Tony Martin – PLAY! No. 3 (1965) (UK premiere)
Terry Riley – Keyboard Study No. 2
Maggi Payne – Flights of Fancy
Carl Stone – Wall Me Do
John Luther Adams – Among Red Mountains (for piano) – performed by Gwenaëlle Rouger
Catherine Lamb – Frames for cello & bass recorder (UK premiere) – performed by Anton Lukoszevieze/Lucia Mense
Otis O’Solomon – Selected poems
Pauline Oliveros – Pauline’s Solo (1992)
Morton Subotnick – solo Buchla set


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On Sunday, the third LCMF event has a polycultural and temporal feel:

LCMF 2015: ‘Five Ways to Kill Time’

LCMF 2015: ‘Five Ways To Kill Time’ (London Contemporary Music Festival 2015 @ Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS, England, Sunday 13th December 2015, 6.30pm) – £11.75 – information – tickets 

Time is stretched, bent and finally dissolved in ‘Five Ways To Kill Time’. Sound artist Ellen Fullman opens the night with a UK premiere of The Watch Reprise, which will be performed on her 50-foot Long String instrument that one writer compared to “standing inside a giant grand piano.” Ethiopian composer, pianist and nun Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou makes her first visit to the UK to perform a selection of her intimate piano miniatures that seem to drift through space. Plus Minus Ensemble, meanwhile, offers up the intricate and disorientating world of Bryn Harrison‘s ‘Repetitions In Extended Time’ (conducted by Mark Knoop and featuring strings, organs, piano, guitar and clarinet). Mixing spoken text and music, theatre maker Tim Etchells (Forced Entertainment) and violinist Aisha Orazbayeva offer a set of fragmentary improvisations in ‘Seeping Through’, a work fresh from a critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe. We end with a time-obliterating live set from doom pioneer Stephen O’Malley, whose work within and beyond his seminal group Sunn O))) exists in a kind of transcendent stasis.

Programme:

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou – selected piano works
Bryn Harrison – Repetitions in Extended Time
Tim Etchells/Aisha Orazbayeva – Seeping Through
Ellen Fullman – The Watch Reprise (world premiere)
Stephen O’Malley – live set

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