Various Artists – Singles and EPs

Finger-picked arpeggios fall with the regularity and impersonal melancholy of rain, offset by a vocal delivery that is hesitant not in its phrasing, but in its timbre. The sound of this four-song EP is intimate, extremely close to the listener’s ear, and it is formed from the kind of performative gestures in which the proximity of the musician is most pronounced: this is sound as embodiment, its aesthetics rooted in an erotic of human frailty. Lyrically and melodically it is concerned with the concrete, with particulars, but it is an idea of the concrete that is as ephemeral as smoke and as fragile as eggshells – Calming River’s voice

Mechanimal – Mechanimal (electronic rock)

Produced amidst the collapse of Greek civil society and the evaporation of its economic certainties, Mechanimal looks outwards, fixing its gaze in particular on America and Germany as the source of its musical materials, and by implication (not to mention common consent) significant contributors to the social ills afflicting Mechanimal’s native shores. ‘America, America/ I’ve got your fucking blues’ intones vocalist Freddie F. in ‘Funny’, while the deadpan automated insincerity of the lines ‘You know/ I’m devastated by the way things turned out/ I’m really sorry’ occur in a song titled ‘Motorik’, a term for the characteristic…

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

Positive vibes abound on this perfectly formed EP produced by the estimable Rich Huxley, whose main gig Hope And Social sits in exactly the same affective territory; clear-sighted optimism is the order of the day, and because the songs are notably lacking in trite sentiment or spurious closure the effect is genuinely uplifting. The musical engine that drives the feeling is a light but deep acoustic groove, which swings hard with an upbeat lift on even the most laid-back of the tunes. The band is locked in so tightly that it’s hard to credit how relaxed they sound, and the dynamics are shaded and weighted with real sensitivity; the mix strikes a perfect balance between separation and integration, or more to the point, it has a shedload of both, so although

Grindlestone – Tone (ambient)

When music has no lyrical content, its titles become gnomic and mysterious, intentionally or otherwise. ‘Our Floor With All Its Beliefs’ could be taken in so many different ways, but to be honest I think it’s best not to take it at all. Unless there is a very clear relationship between the musical themes and title it’s safest to assume it’s some kind of private joke or reference, and concentrate on the sound instead: and surely the point of music which refuses, not only verbal language, but the established tropes of musical narrative, is to present itself to the auditory cortex abstractly, as sound, in just the same way that the stone reproduced as the cover of Tone presents itself to the visual cortex.

Kylie Minoise – Die Yuppie Scum! Love Quest Ov Sick Shock Disco Destroyer! (noise)

Noise, and the way it is employed in music, invites a whole array of speculations on the coherence and incoherence of communicative acts, and of the relationship between the meaningful and the meaningless, the carrier signal and the message, the form and the content. The word ‘noise’ is frequently used to label irrelevance, the continual influx of sensory stimulation of no direct value to the receiver, or scientific data of no importance to the experimental result, for example. In music, it is impossible to make a clear distinction between the medium and the message, and we must assume that everything we hear in a recording or performance is an aspect of its meaning: what it sounds like is what it means.

Melted Cassettes – The Real Sounds From Hell Recordings (electronic noise rock)

Apparently (I read in the press release, in a rare fit of journalistic research) The Real Sounds From Hell Recordings refers to a project to record the sound of deep plate tectonics, which is rumoured to have accidentally recorded Hell. I would imagine that plate tectonics sound a lot lower and slower than this, and as for Hell, I imagine it to sound a lot more like Perry Como. These sounds are pretty damn harrowing however. They are, by turns, angry, dark, ominous and brutal; they are however far more complex and considered than most sounds that visit those places.

Caustic – The Golden Vagina Of Fame And Profit (electro-industrial)

The difference between the electro-industrial and powernoize genres can sometimes be no more than the degree of distortion involved. Much of this album’s beats and song structures could have sat quite happily on Matt Fanales previous Caustic release …And You Will Know Me By The Trail Of Vomit…