A little sunday afternoon constitutional? How about an agreeable hike with the world’s cuddliest black metal legend and vice-councilman of Oppegård, Fenriz? If we’re going to have black metal aerobics then black metal hiking actually makes a lot more sense. Forests is all the way TRVE CVLT and that. Anyways, this is a calming and enjoyable piece off Norwegian TV from the end of last year in which Fenriz takes a female presenter off into the forest and you don’t, even for an instant, worry he’s going to sacrifice her to the dark lord. They just talk about hiking and how great the forest is and how everybody should come out and enjoy nature and so on. A little bit like Countryfile but with more AC/DC and Ozzy references.
Also, if no-one has yet started a black metal band called ‘The Vice-Councilmen of Oppegård’ they really should get on it right away. Really, whoever is behind this 8-bit cover of the title track of Darkthrone’s last album should use it and get out on the road . . .
Sunday morning liturgy and pause for quiet reflection. Not sure how this slipped under my radar on the recent round euro jaunt, new on Low Point (and new to me too), Swedish duo Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet’s third album ‘Hafvet’. The title means ‘The Sea’ but there are no crashing waves or nautical drama contained within, rather four 10-20min long drones of stately, meditative calm. I thought this might perhaps suggest they were from way up on the Baltic where the sea gets frozen over for half the year, deep waves and currents beneath a deceptively static surface (this would be perfectly complemented by that 10 hours of an idling polar icebreaker that’s been doing the rounds). However, their hometown of Arlöv is just north of Malmo, making it pretty far south in Swedish terms. Not that geography is everything of course but it often plays a more prominent role in this kind of music. About that music then, it’s subtle and slow moving, beautifully layered and crafted out of the holy trinity of modular synth, processed electric guitar and field recordings melting into one another. As I mentioned at the start, it’s not eventful stuff, you do have to sit with it and give it attention to get to its hidden depths, otherwise there’s the perennial drone curse of it sounding like the white goods in the kitchen humming in the back of your mind. Still, if you make that effort it repays your attention and, let’s face it, who doesn’t need a little ocean of calm in their day? I guess, if we want to have another crack at the title as metaphor, staring out at a fairly calm sea, constant but never still, makes more than enough sense. If you want something with more going on they seem to be fairly prolific on the pod-castery business too, here’s a new one coming by just now, cloud of gulls trailing in her wake. . .
If you’re home on the internet on Saturday night you can probably afford the price of a drink for this and it’s well worth your money too. Ace London promoters Baba Yaga’s Hut have put this collection of hot tunes together to help Amanda Moss, the co-owner of Corsica Studios, raise some cash for her treatment for a rare form of Ovarian Cancer. Handful of names in there I don’t recognise yet but if they’re anything like as good as the rest then there are happy new discoveries to be made here too – Gallon Drunk, Shit & Shine, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Casual Nun, Gum Takes Tooth, Tomaga, Lower Slaughter etc etc etc . . . GET ON IT
aaaaand finally, here come the Belgians! So, I guess we had to wind up in Brussels, administrative epicentre and continental byword for wrongheaded micromanagement. In unrelated news it’s also home to wonky techno chap Mauopo Mazzocchetti, who appears to be in flagrant contradiction of some EU edict about adding surplus letters to one’s name, the tinker. He’s not much of one for observing genre rules either, more into wandering around giving free rein to his own curious imaginings. This EP is a clutch of endearingly odd little adventures that hold onto the techno tag somewhat absent mindedly. Submerged voices are slowly drowned out by slightly awkward space age bleeps and clonks on first track ‘Infinity A’. The pick of the bunch is ‘I Would Prefer Not To’ which is like some kind of Kraftwerk/Pram hybrid voiced by a speak and spell. Okay, yeah, it is like Modified Toy Orchestra. Although at the same time, it’s not. ‘Gelatin Liposuction Candy’ is a disturbing title and the track buzzes and pulses like some cheerfully awful machine subjecting you to a medical indignity. This is the ungodly robot surgery they have planned for us if we don’t quit the EU and destroy the NHS as quickly as possible. Mark my words.
Almost home then. Girl Band were always going to be the Irish stop off on this little jaunt. Probably I should investigate further and find someone/something else. Ah, well. Here’s a free download of some older stuff with a suitably europhile title. A few weeks ago I finally got to see them play the rescheduled dates they cancelled last year. They were absolutely fantastic. Alarming white jacket and all. Although, plainly, not actual girls, they’re probably the best looking and youngest noise rock band we’ve yet encountered, could go far. They’re a pleasing blend of post punk awkwardness and 90’s noise bands and they’re also the only one I can currently think of who have managed to remove all heavy metal trace elements from their sound. It makes a nice change to be honest, there’s a blessed abscence of machismo. They kicked off with ‘Um Bongo’ and ‘Pears for Lunch’ before Dara gets his jacket off and then stuck in the sleeve of his shirt. Yeah, drink may have been taken. I’m pretty sure they played a couple of decent new numbers during the night although no mention was made of it. ‘Fucking Butter’, as on the album, is too damn long and threatens a slump in proceedings but they came back strong for the home stretch. I wasn’t really expecting them to do ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’ but it was incredible, stunningly fierce and still funky at the same time it took the set (and their recorded version) up a couple of notches. They ended on ‘Paul’ which was also overloaded and intense. If you’ve never watched the video clip for it, do that, it’s wonderful. Looking forward to their return with new recordings.
Latvia is the last remaining of the more mysterious, far flung corners on this queasy spin around the European Union. Let it not be said that the Latvians lack humour. Unholy Satan is just under ten minutes of two mates, probably wasted on cheap liquor and glue, deciding to make a satanic black metal record with a tape recorder and an acoustic guitar. It is infantile, debased and hilarious. Lead track ‘Let Satan Speak Through Your Anus’ should leave you in tears of joyous laughter or a fog of utter incomprehension. ‘Satan Is Vegan’ doesn’t quite live up to its amazing title, closer ‘Woods Of Satan’ has some crappy horror organ and amusing growling but despite the brevity of the EP it tails off a bit and I doubt we’ll be eagerly awaiting their album. but for those first two and a half minutes it’s absolute greatness.
Chomsky Chess Club is a sort of funny name. To me anyway. Their music isn’t particularly funny though. Taking a break from all the techno, field recordings and childish noise of the last few posts they’re an actual band with actual songs. As is so often the way, clues can be gleaned from the cover – a flash blown artless family snap of a sleepy child rubbing his eyes. Could be a Sebadoh record. Chomsky Chess Club are indeed a 90’s alt-rock type of deal. Pretty good at it too, the songs are well constructed, well played and recorded and never painfully derivative. I certainly bought worse examples of the genre at the time and I can’t help thinking how well they’d be doing through the established channels if they were from London not Riga. I would probably hate them for it too. Anyway, ‘Knife’ is a pretty good tune.