ELIKA – Snuggle Bunnies (shoegaze/ dreampop)

Shoegaze and dreampop are genres that, because they are so sonically mediated, offer artists an opportunity to work in a way that is conceptually or semantically layered without seeming inaccessible. Because they offer an established language which is both amenable to manipulation, and widely understood, they lend themselves to very individual statements that are stylistically located without being generic. In other words, they are suitable venues for musical artists seeking to combine a serious, even experimental creative agenda with a pop sensibility.

Mittimus & Nix Pickler – Devices (free improvisation)

Free improvisers take a lot of different routes to a lot of different destinations, or to put it another way, improvisation can be free in a lot of different ways. When it first burst into the world it was as an avant-garde practice within jazz (although most became aware of it when it was sufficiently established to warrant an album release on Atlantic Records). At this point, what it was free from was harmony, and to a lesser extent, metre; timbre was already a subject for transformation and exploration in jazz, although early free improvisers did exploit this further, but…

Ed Ache presents The Vogon Poetry Sessions – Work For Tesco Or Die (punk/ acoustic)

Brace yourself. Ed Ache plays punk songs of such finely honed, cutting sarcasm that he’ll make your brain bleed; often very funny, always witty, usually politically targeted, his songs have catchy melodies that drive home their meanings and convince you of their truth as they get you singing along. They are performed in kinetic, driving style, often at the speed of old school hardcore, and they basically make you want to leap around and get sweaty and smash into things. All of which is enough to make this record well worth listening to as it is…

Tom Slatter – Iron Bark (progressive rock/ steampunk)

It’s rare that something truly original comes my way, something that I can’t really put in a box with anything else. Tom Slatter presents me with music for which I can find some comparisons, certainly: there’s a nuanced, psychedelic experimentalism to his compositions, reminiscent of some twentieth century classical music, that relates to some artists that I’ve previously reviewed here, such as Knifeworld, or Karda Estra. But as an artistic totality, I can safely say I’ve never heard the likes of Iron Bark before.

Monday Musings: Cataclysmic Events In The History Of Music

Every so often in the history of music, something big happens. Beethoven comes along and suddenly everyone views artists (not just in music) in a new, heroic light. Punk explodes like a thermonuclear device, and suddenly popular music is a politicised site of struggle and revolution. Miles Davis releases Kind Of Blue and suddenly jazz harmony is revolutionised. As you can imagine, if you read me regularly, I’m not about to take these events at face value: there’s a great deal of mythologising to be unpicked around these, and other, moments.

Chattabox & Rick Fury – Masta Blasta (hip-hop)

I’ve had a lot of fun listening to this album. I’m still having a lot of fun, and I expect to be listening to it for a good while yet. There’s little of the overt social commentary found on Dialect releases (or other releases this duo can be heard on), although they can’t help being political, by virtue of their fierce independence and regionalism. There’s not much that’s more subversive than musicians from socially deprived backgrounds swaggering like gunslingers, and firing off bullets they made themselves from the cast-off materials they were left with.

Hawk Horses – FALL (avant-folk)

Folk music, as a widely shared conceptual category, is largely defined by a sense of authenticity: it is culturally specific music, and it is valued by many (or most) of its fans for its truthfulness to a particular sort of shared experience. This is not usually the personal experience of its listeners, but of the social context of its production: the values and narratives that it encodes are those of a non-industrial, rural, orally constituted community, founded on ties of family and residential proximity. This is all very well, except that this sense of authenticity…