“have you tried just not thinking about it?”

In case it’s escaped your notice this week is/was Mental Health Awareness Week. Here at Hickeysonic House we’re long acquainted with the dark and tangled forest of shaky mental health and, while the idea of getting everyone to be more open and talkative about it is welcome and an overall positive, people are, well, twats. I’ve seen some shockingly crass and unhelpful manifestations of this playing out in people’s workplaces shared this week with the usual result that it’s those who have struggled supporting one another against the the blank incomprehension of the ‘have you tried going outside?’ types.

In the title track from Lower Slaughter’s excellent second record Some Things Take Time Sinead Young plays out this all too familiar exchange and emerges, at least temporarily, triumphant and self possessed. It’s wonderful and affirming and it absolutely kicks ass.

Brilliant tune, brilliant album. Be kind to yourselves.

Lower Slaughter are playing as part of the celebrations of ten years of Box records next month. Damn that’s a strong bill.

 

H is for… Holly Herndon

Holy Shit. Check this out. ‘Frontier’ is from Herndon’s new album Proto, in which she drags our neanderthal arses to the edge of the forest and patiently guides our puzzled gaze out across the plains towards the shining towers we can just about make out, rising from the heat haze of an unclear future. She has developed her own AI ‘Spawn’, who lives in a DIY modified gaming pc, and here she draws on her upbringing in Tennessee to teach it by feeding the majesty of a large call and response choir into it. She does this to counter the ‘dehumanising’ narrative around technology and the results are some kind of amazing Sacred Harp Singing meets self generating machine music. Space age folk music. On ‘Frontier’, it’s astounding. The video clip by Dario Alva accompanies it beautifully, fullscreen that baby and just sink right into it for 5 minutes.

I don’t want to live in a world in which humans are automated off stage. I want an A.I. to be raised to appreciate and interact with that beauty.

hollyherndon.com

H is for . . . Human Leather

Hilarious titles, gut punching racket and a fondness for chipsticks, Human Leather are clearly good people despite the queasy implications of their chosen name. It starts with a H, which is where we’re at this week but they do not feature anyone in that picture of Hey Colossus from the other day, nor are they on the bill for Supernormal, Supersonic or Glastonbury main stage this year (yet, although it turns out they are playing Woodland Gathering). Which seems a shame as they’re quite obviously the sort of people you’d want to get drunk in a park with, as demonstrated by this dumb fun video clip for ‘When You’re So Boring You Have to Impress People with Inanimate Objects’ or the other fourteen pummeling minutes of devil-may-care disaffection on their new(ish) EP Succulent.

Hickeysonic is currently being brought to you by the Letter H

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H is for . . . Haress

H is for Haress, Hypnotic, and Hallowe’en. Not sure yesterday’s meddling kids would have been fooled for long by the ghost costume here but it’s a great cover isn’t it? It’s slow, dreamy music, ghostly perhaps. Not like a kid on a swing wearing a sheet over their head. Not in the sense that it’s chilling, but spiritual or spectral. Ghostly like it’s ancient, like the music seeps out of the landscape, ghostly like moonlight on the fields. A strange blend of ambient blues, slow core and post-rock, it never becomes formless and there’s just enough there to make it warm and familiar. It’d seem odd to call it folk music but there’s a stubborn streak of folk in the circling guitar lines that gives it a very rural, very English character. It seems serendipitous that it’s may day today. Haress reminds you of Earth but if they sounded like the Welsh borders instead of the Arizona desert. It’s a gorgeous album.

This record also features someone from that photo the other day – Hey Colossus chap Chris Summerlin (also Kogumaza and Grey Hairs) adds guitar and Echoplex as part of the expanded line up for this self titled debut. The core Haress duo of David Hand and Elizabeth Still both play guitar, although, perhaps more tellingly for the feel of their music, also shruti box and harmonium. They seem more often than not to feature additional players, here they’re also joined by David Smyth on drums, Thomas House’s hushed vocals and even a splash of trumpet from Nathan Bell.

Hickeysonic is currently being brought to you by the Letter H

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Otoboke Beaver – Itekoma Hits

Holy jazz-core frenzy Batman! This is some viciously serrated, adrenaline rush, riot grrrl noise. Otoboke Beaver are a punk-rock-garage quartet from Kyoto, Japan and they’re coming to tear your idiot faces off. Right now even, having just hit the UK for a short tour that I’m, annoyingly, going to miss. If you can go, you’d be a fool to miss it. This is their tenth year, in Japanese terms they’re something like the missing link between Shonen Knife’s Kawaii garage punk and Melt Banana’s demented electronic grindcore. They call themselves a “Japanese girls ‘knock out or pound cake’ band”. I don’t really know what that means but it’s as charming and confusing as their music.

ITEKOMA HITS features 6 new toe tappers alongside a couple of re-recordings with their new drummer Kaho Kiss and their last two EP’s Love Is Short and Bakuro Book. It’s an invigorating blast of head spinning hardcore. So, while it’s not strictly an all hits collection it’s pretty densely packed. From the killer singles ‘Akimahenka’ and ‘S’il vous plaît’, through the high octane screamo pop of ‘Bakuro Book’ and ‘Love is Short’s terse riot grrrl chant.

Their songs are fierce and ecstatic convulsions, spartan post punk rigour and hardcore ferocity lashed together into fractured structures with an attention deficit compulsion. If anyone was ever going to develop a very particular art out of elegant sculptures of tightly bound razor wire, you’d have to think it’d be the Japanese. If they had, it’d be a perfect representation of Otoboke Beaver’s sound. They’ve got some great titles here too ‘6 day work week is a pain’ packs a ridiculous amount into its 2:48, ‘Binge Eating Eating Binge Drinking Bulimia’ runs under a minute. The final tune ‘Mean’ is an 18 second foot stamping screaming fit of conniption. Fantastic.

 

H is for . . . Heavy Mess

H is for HAQ123. I only popped that photo of the sweatily elegant Colossus boys into yesterday’s post at the very last minute because lurking in the back, on the right hand side, is Dave from Haq123. This not only amuses me more than it should but provides a handy link to today’s H which is the second Haq album Heavy Mess. It’s up on bandcamp now, go get it. Here too the bonkers video clip for its opening tune ‘Spirit Of The Living God’. If the Hey Colossus fellers are fed up with sharing their Four Bibles I reckon there’s a fair chance they could pick up a couple more from the Haq kids, who don’t seem to be relishing a catholic education. Nothing more metal than a bit of religion. The other biblical sounding number ‘Judas’ turns out to be a horror story about a murderous ventriloquist dummy. This kind of thing, B movie horror through a gleeful child’s eye view is their strong suit. Forsaking good sense they declare “we’ll be back” and push through that dark and creaking door to see what that unholy noise was. It was the outer limits of their sound which they explore and expand on the brilliant and weird ‘Shrink Ray’ and the epic, crawling ‘Mind Control’. They get away with it too, because they are a bunch of meddling kids.

Haq123 are playing this whopping bill alongside Bruxa Maria and Rainbow Grave – Bank Holiday Monday May 27 at The Wagon and Horses in Birmingham. (see spectacular poster below) and are set to totally own it, win hearts, tear it up and all of that business at this year’s Supernormal festival. I’m fairly sure we’ll have more to say about such things before too long.

Hickeysonic is this week being brought to you by the letter H