Huey and the New Yorkers – The After Hours EP (groove rock)

Fun Lovin’ Criminals were a major part of the sound of the ‘90s for me; this was the decade in which I had my 20s, achieved my ambition to become something tangentially similar to a professional musician, met my now wife, and became, to my lasting amazement, father to the most intellectually impressive entity I’ve ever encountered (although that didn’t become apparent until she’d just been the loveliest person I’d ever met for a few years). In other words, I have good associations with FLC. My 20s weren’t all good, but the period in which their first two albums came out was one of the …

Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman – Finger Painting (improvisation)

Steve Lawson has spent much of his career exploring the front edge of musical and technological possibility, in terms of the sounds that one bass player can make, the ways that musical recordings can be constructed, the ways that musicians can talk to listeners, and the ways that recordings can be distributed to them. He’s not the only one out there ahead of the curve: much independent hip-hop is released straight to YouTube, making the actual audio file something of an irrelevance, and poverty has been a great impetus for innovation in various parts of the world, with mobile phones…

Various Artists – Album Roundup

When we get to the fourth track, ‘Womb’, we learn that Cthulhu Detonator is capable of changing tack. There is still noise, in the sense of forcefully stochastic elements within the timbre of the music, but the principal sound is tonal, sonorous and enveloping. ‘Blinding White Light’ takes a similar approach, as does the mid-section of ‘Transmit.Disintegrate’, but most of the rest of the record consists of much harsher noise based compositions, with an avant-gardist structural approach that eschews any easy aesthetic options. It’s hard going, demanding listening, but it’s very creative stuff, and well worth the effort.

The Inner Road – Ascension (progressive rock)

Steve Gresswell is a prog auteur of the old school, producing music that is not particularly progressive stylistically, but which makes use of a sophisticated and complex approach to composition and orchestration. I’m familiar with two of his projects, this one, and Coalition, a band with a similar sound that incorporates vocals; in both cases he is the principal actor, although he clearly prefers to work with collaborators, and all tracks on Ascension are credited to him and Jay Parmar, who plays guitar on the album. The previous record, Visions, was a collaboration with guitarist Phil Braithwaite on apparently similar terms. Despite his variety of collaborators, there’s a singleness of vision to all of the recordings I’ve heard featuring Steve Gresswell, probably aided and abetted by the fact …

These Curious Thoughts – Building Mountains From The Ground (roots rock)

The internet is full of interesting long distance collaborations; since everyone got broadband, audio files have been flying back and forth like nobody’s business. Obviously digital music production is most amenable to this approach, but it’s equally feasible for an ensemble recording to be assembled from separate performances in the participants’ own studios/bedrooms/wherevers. Mixing, and particularly mastering, have often taken place at a remove from the recording process, but now that nobody has to shuttle physical media around it’s commonplace for low budget projects to go through those processes in far flung locations. Things have changed, a lot. These Curious Thoughts are a collaboration of a relatively unusual sort, however, at least as far as I’m aware; although …

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

What I know about Alun Vaughan is limited: I reviewed a very nice solo bass performance album of his, and an EP in a similar vein, and I gather he gets up to quite a lot of jazzy malarkey. This short EP bucks that trend just a little bit. The dominant sound is a raw, punky rhythm guitar, but it gets put to a fair old variety of uses. The opening (title) track is a brief hardcore thrash, punctuated by the ‘Clumpville Borstal Boys Choir’ shouting the title (the only vocals on the EP) and some entertaining instrumental breaks. ‘2013’ retains the instrumental timbres, but it’s much more of a modern prog/math rock affair, with tricksy rhythmic interstices, and plangent lead guitar melodies. ‘Heart Shaped Bruise’ opens with more lead guitar prettiness, against some upper register bass chords…

Jez Carr, Simon Little & Mike Haughton – Foreground Music, Vol. I (jazz)

All that Simon Little, who seems to be the member of this trio with principal responsibility for promoting Foreground Music, Vol. I, has to say about this music on his Bandcamp page is that ‘[i]n November 2012, three musicians came together to play freely improvised music and recorded everything.’ Freedom, it should be noted, is a big place, and a statement like that gives little clue as to what the results might sound like. What are the parameters within which the musicians improvised? Is the music consonant, dissonant, tonal, atonal, serial, aleatory, or some combination of these and other approaches? Is it metrical, arrhythmic, calm, frantic or what? Do the musicians concern themselves principally with pitch, timbre, texture, dynamics …

Luminous Monsters/ Guanoman – We Go Wandering at Night and are Consumed by Fire (drone/ math)

We Go Wandering at Night and are Consumed by Fire is a split release, split in the same sense as the protagonist of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club’s personality. Both of the projects contributing to this release are the sole work of one musician, although they possess quite distinctive characters; Guanoman is described as a ‘purveyor of doom-prog and math-noise’ (also as ‘avantelectrodeathspazzmathcore’, which is more amusing, but less illuminating), while Luminous Monsters is summed up as a ‘majestic creature, appalling and bewildering to human senses, its golden scales ablaze in the sunshine, its coils tumescent with sublime strength, its countless claws and horns crackling with crimson energies formed from the transmuted migrant souls

Various Artists – Album Roundup

Worlds collide in Dementio 13’s latest release, albeit without the biblical histrionics and cataclysmic consequences that usually dance attendance on such events in fiction. There has always been more to Dementio 13 than the electronica with which he has populated his records, and he has always been a musician of unusual erudition, drawing his language from a huge range of sources across a selection of decades (roughly the last four) which have witnessed an unprecedented frenzy of musical innovation and invention. Those that read his frequently updated and always interesting blog will be aware that distinctly electro-acoustic devices have been appearing in his studio of late, such as bass guitars (always a welcome presence to my…