Various Artists – Album Roundup

Quietness has been an important trope in avant-garde music since the days of Minimalism I guess, but it has been articulated in many ways, within a diversity of musical practices. The near inactivity to which some free improvisors have gravitated, or John Cage’s invitation to listen to the contextual ambience for four minutes and thirty-three seconds, or the work of many ambient composers, all exploit the signifying power of low amplitudes. Place is also an important theme in many musics; in Cage’s famous piece, the performance space itself becomes composer, performer and material, whereas ambient music usually aims either to colour a place, or to invoke one.

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

In recent years the avant-garde fringes of metal have become one of the most fertile sites of musical creativity and invention; while my central musical inclinations might be towards other areas, such as jazz or folk, and while those areas certainly harbour some radically creative minds globally, the majority of music produced and performed locally to me is pretty conservative. Earthmass is one of several bands I have the opportunity to engage with directly (attending gigs, meeting the members, building an ongoing relationship as a music writer, etc.) that pursue a radical formal agenda, and really keep their eye on the ball creatively. There is no uncritical regurgitation of the tropes of heavy music here, no taking the language as given …

Various Artists – The Deep Vain Trombonist (sampler)

Dusty Curtain Face Records is not a record label in any conventional sense of the term, or even anything that could usually attract the description ‘recording studio’. It’s a sign of things to come, a point of facilitation for independent artists that passes devastating comment on the whole panoply of the music industry circus purely by existing. It’s one man, one man equipped with some very basic recording equipment, a big pair of ears, an unusual degree of motivation and a generous nature. He goes to bands’ rehearsal spaces, records them in the circumstances under which they feel most comfortable, taking care to capture the ambience …

The Domestics – Keep It Lean (punk)

Punk didn’t come out of nowhere. Of course there’s a powerful myth in which it did, one subscribed to by its fans and detractors alike, but by the time it hit in its different ways, with its different relationships to popular culture and politics, on both sides of the Atlantic, its sounds and practices had been incubated in petri-dishes as diverse as Detroit garage and British situationist rockers The Deviants. I’m not trying to say it didn’t involve originality and stylistic innovation, just that it didn’t arrive fully formed out of the clear blue sky, and that novelty was never as big a part of what was good about it as has often been supposed.

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

A thin-sounding electric guitar (maybe a Telecaster), an electric piano, filtered through the glitchy sound of dusty vinyl, and looped in incomplete gestures that sound like a needle jumping. It’s the sound of nostalgia, the sound of distance from a desired space that the imagination is better equipped to apprehend than the senses. The uppercut combinations of the kick, when it enters, are located firmly in the here and now. That’s the heartbeat of the subject, the locus of the act of remembering. Such a simple psychodrama between so few musical elements seems a shaky scaffold to hang anything off, but when the female voice enters…

Various Artists – Singles & EPs

This three track EP seems to be Septic Trauma’s entire recorded output. A shame, as I could happily listen to a few dozen tunes in this vein. Many heavy rock bands lay claim to terms like ‘technical’ and ‘progressive’, but few have any reason to do so. Aside from the sheer ridiculousness of using a term like ‘technical’ to describe a style of music, most of the metal thusly classified makes no more taxing technical demand on its performers than that they should play fast and stay in time, which quite honestly is something any well trained monkey with a floppy pick can manage.

Shrine 69, Another Dead Hero, Meadows & Hobopope & The Goldfish Cathedral at The Northcroft Social Club, Sudbury, 20 May 2011 (metal/ pronk/ heavy rock)

The Northcroft seems to be going all out to turn itself into one of Sudbury’s busiest venues. They’ve been putting on a variety of local and regional acts from all areas of the musical spectrum, but tonight their upstairs room was hired out by some of the noisy bastards. The opening ceremony was provided courtesy of Hobopope & The Goldfish Cathedral, appearing in a duo configuration. HPATGC is Paul Rhodes’ name for some of the stuff he does, but he was accompanied by Ted Mint on guitar…