Various Artists – Singles and EPs

Twelve minutes is a respectable length for an EP, but with eight tunes on this disc they’re still pretty much crammed in, none of them clocking in closer to two minutes than one-and-a-half. If you think that makes this sound like a sampler, you’d be very wrong: although these bands clearly have much more to say than can be heard here, these eight songs are perfectly concise and self-contained distillations of energy, political rage, atavistic catharsis, humorous aural vandalism or whatever the appropriate term may be (and I’m sure it’s different for each song). What the eight bands collected on Without Kibou …

Karda Estra – Mondo Profondo/ New Worlds (avant-prog)

It’s far from unusual for me to beaten to the scoop on the music I’m sent to review, for various reasons, but not least because I like to spend a good deal of quality listening time trying to get inside the music before I set dactyls to chiclets and start spouting off. Little surprise, then, that Classic Rock Presents: Prog beat me to the punch on the Mondo Profondo review, giving me the opportunity to rip off any pertinent observations they may have shared. ‘Unclassifiable’ isn’t a characterisation with which it’s hard to concur, nor is it news to me (or anyone with a functioning pair of ears) that Richard …

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

A combination of electro-acoustic and programmed sounds are used here to create a sound that pays clear homage to African polyrhythmic percussion music, unpitched attacks mingling with sounds similar to idiophones or lamellophones, although they might come from almost any source. Then there are the synths, guitars and lo-fi samples… No Security Through Numbers is far too complex to glibly summarise with a juxtaposition of stylistic labels or a list of other bands I think you might have heard of. Towards the end of ‘Super Symmetry’ a series of fusionesque stabs appear

Tom Slatter – Three Rows Of Teeth (avant-prog)

Tom Slatter likes steampunk; he likes it enough to have used it as the thematic touchstone for all three of his albums to date. Now steampunk is not a musical style (Abney Park notwithstanding) but a genre of fiction, and a large body of visual culture derived from it. If you want a watertight definition you’ll have to go and dig one up yourself, but science fiction based on Victorian technology is not a bad shorthand, and Slatter’s brand thereof tends to incorporate a powerful element of the macabre, as well as elements of fantasy. To write and record music that is ‘in’ a literary genre obviously suggests an unusual approach to songwriting; the compositions on Three Rows Of Teeth are not the usual explorations of commonplace situations and …

Buke And Gase – General Dome (indie rock)

Buke And Gase armour themselves in symbols; the inquisitive listener’s eye, probing the album’s packaging for keys to the music’s meanings may find some affective affinities between its appearance and the sound (that’s a matter for their own aesthetic conscience), but its gaze will be reflected, denied admission by the obviously meaningful but unyielding glyphs that adorn it. The duo have announced that clues to assist in the decoding of their bespoke graphical alphabet will be meted out on their website once the record is on general release, but in fact everything you need to crack the code is right there on the cover (I have to thank my daughter for spotting the album title, from which everything else fell into place) …

Thumpermonkey – Sleep Furiously (progressive rock)

Injunctions to sleep in a particular manner crop up from time to time as album titles. Hope & Social’s last album length release was called Sleep Sound, which is perhaps the kind of sleeping to which most of us are accustomed; either that or badly. Furiously is another matter altogether: normally, a high fever is a prerequisite for such an approach to somnolence, although once, when I was eighteen, I dropped a tab of transcendentally strong acid immediately before going to sleep, and I have to say my repose was, if not precisely furious, decidedly frantic. Is Sleep Furiously a comparable sort of experience? Well, it’s definitely disorientating, and I don’t get the impression that helping their listeners to orient themselves is one of Thumpermonkey’s central priorities

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

Schoolday nostalgia seems to be a current in many branches of music nowadays. It’s by no means a new thing, but it’s definitely growing. It’s curious how it lends historicity and distance to times that probably don’t seem at all distant to a greybeard like me; my theory is that it represents a re-appropriation, a staking out of territory in which an artist can feel rooted. It’s definitely not the dominant theme on NAM KYO, but it’s an important presence, and not just in ‘Were Still The Same’, where it is explicitly referenced. We live in an era where history is fragmented and recycled, and individuals are as disenfranchised from historical agency as from political agency. Asserting the significance of personal biography is one way to reclaim that agency …

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players – Lost And Found (anti-folk/ art-pop)

Hot zowee! This long player is really a gas, boys and girls! If the family that plays together stays together, then The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are one fantabulous bundle of cosmic togetherness: these three way-out cats are as groovy as a corduroy overcoat and as hip as a coxa (that’s Latin for hip). The sounds they bring us are so far out they’re in, and they’ll put a smile on the face of everyone who knows the score.

Sissters – There’s A Party In My Mouth But You’re Not Invited (post-punk/ noise rock/ art-punk)

The word experimental is over-used in descriptions of avant-garde music, and is not always meaningful: who are we as listeners to judge whether an artist is conducting an experiment, or whether the sounds we hear represent their mature practice? However, experimental or not, There’s A Party In My Mouth And You’re Not Invited contains a feast of invention. From start to finish there is no recognisable ready-made rock gesture that has not been transformed, re-purposed and re-imagined.