“As he pulled out onto the ring road Jim pushed the headcleaner into the tape deck and turned the volume up full, pleasing waves of droning, grinding sound filled the car”


J.G. Ballard’s former Shepperton home is on the market. Reasonably modest three bed semi, almost half a million quid – that fact alone a dystopian window into our housing crisis and the desperate failure of infrastructure that haunts our immediate future. Seems a reasonable excuse to plug this Drivetime/Headcleaner mix again as it got rather left behind in the wake of the Black Friday gloomathon. This is a lot more fun, much shorter too. Click on the title here for a download.


God Bullies – Peace and Love
Whores. – Bloody Like The Day You Were Born
Giant Swan – Bring Back Fives
John Carpenter – Abyss (JG Thirlwell Remix)
Public Enemy – By the Time I Get To Arizona
New Kingdom – Mexico or Bust
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Low Yo Yo Stuff
PJ Harvey – Hip Shake (live)
Rattle – Sorcerer
Helen Money – Leviathan
Killdozer – I Am, I Said
Bongwater – The Power of Pussy
The 180 Gs – Christianity Is Stupid
People Like Us – Drive Carefully
Xiu Xiu – Audrey’s Dance
Einstürzende Neubauten – Headcleaner/Das Gleissen/Schlacht
Breeders – Drivin’ On 9

Is the worrying state of the world and your own sorry excuse for an imagination getting you down? Is the rain running down the windscreen a mirror of your soul? Do you need the inside of your fizzing, polluted mind scouring? Let hickeysonic get you back on track – Air guitar! In your car!! What could be better than smacking the steering wheel and joining lustily in with a bit of Neil Diamond? Not much people that’s what, here’s an overstuffed hour of recent diversions featuring all the best anthems to keep you entertained on those long drives, ease those teethgrinding commutes to work and drown out the little angels on the school-run! J G Ballard, J G Thirlwell, PJ Harvey, John Carpenter, Giant Swan, Rattle, Public Enemy, Captain Beefheart, Einsturzende Neubauten, Killdozer and more

* does not contain ‘Warm Leatherette’, ‘Cars’ by Gary Numan, ‘Crash’ by the Primitives or ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. Sorry about that.

* bonus game – play ‘spot the Beatles’


also, from earlier in the year, in a ‘High Rise’ inspired outburst . . .

The Music From The Balconies Nearby




Hark, the Heavenly Morphic Collider


Today in the advent countdown conundrum two chunky slabs of mind melting, tape warping, sound collage. Free/pay as you like from that nice Stuart Chalmers chap in collaboration with Autotistika. It’s not one to play when you get the neighbours round for a mince pie, much more musique concrete than that lovely Portland Vows tape although it has plenty of delicate moments too. Quite how it has been created I’m not clear, does it matter? Chalmers tends to use a plunderphonic approach and there are certainly moments of stolen voices and so on, but a lot of it could be hardware, have they improvised this in an afternoon? or made it by file swapping? It really doesn’t matter does it? Not that I can see. Have a listen, go along with them. Whether it ever reaches a pitch of actual ‘Ecstatika’ might depend on how loud you play it and how drunk you are at the time but it’s definitely fun and surprising and occasionally disconcerting. Much like December then I suppose. Chin. chin.



Red Triangles/Blue Circles/Portland Vows


Tardiness is really kind of my forté, (if I might just get in on the fancy french accented é bandwagon a moment) but if I don’t step lively I’m going to miss the bus out of Preston’s elegantly brutalist station here. Concrète Tapes  is a little over a year old, we have mentioned them before but not often enough I feel. This Portland Vows release is, by common consent around Hickeysonic manor, the best thing they’ve put out so far. It’s gentle, charming and gorgeous but it’s hard to say much about it that the precis on bandcamp doesn’t already have covered –

Debut album by philosopher and electronica obsessive Bob Plant: 6 tracks of lush ambience, by turns mournful and haunting, hypnotic, uplifting and euphoric – cerebral, minimalist soundscapes that reward close listening.

yep, it’s all that. and evocative and sort of comforting too. There’s no jarring, clanking or scraping business here, no scratchy field recording or such like, just a warm blanket of synth sounds to doze off under. It’s very, very good indeed basically. Originally available on this year’s must have redundant format – cassette tape – for a bit but they’re all gone by now. You’ll just have to have some soulless files like some sort of despicably modern space future type person – ugh, you disgust me. It has lovely printed red triangles on the cover. They are not christmas trees though. Just as well. Nonetheless, the current disastrous attempt at a last 50 days of 2016/advent countdown/best of the year/post a day whatever would have been well served by it appearing for Dec 1st. but here we are. A jolly wee elf tells me we may see more from him in 2017. which’ll be nice. You could watch this space but I expect watching their website or following them on bandcamp would serve you the information more punctually.

Today, Concrète are involved in a splendid looking event, a couple of performances of Steve Reich’s ‘In C’ at the Harris Museum in Preston – you’ll need to be quick or local if you want to be there but I’m hoping recorded evidence of somekind will appear later in the week.

they also, being staffed entirely by jolly wee elves, have a christmas party coming up look HERE featuring Yehoshua of their most recent-ish release renown…


Kate ‘n’ Theresa (+ Clare. And Wednesday)

Before The Dawn, Out Now!!!

Before The Dawn, Out Now!!!

If you’re the sort of delicate flower that has been more than just disappointed, but actually psychically harmed in some inexpressable way by isolated millionaire Kate Bush expressing a vague support for Oberführer May then let us ease your pain slightly. If you also spent a half-goth youth floating pale, sullen, and enigmatically along to This Mortal Coil then so much the better. Embrace your dark heart and inner Wednesday. For Clare Brentnall of Manchester dream pop duo Shield Patterns has that kind of voice. Those magic-ethereal-hippy-goth girl voices. She and partner, label boss Richard Knox, have made an absolutely splendid record here, experimental and melodic in loosely familiar vein. Damn near impossible to write about, deep breath…

“A stirring thrilling intimate and touching album full of emotion gorgeously haunting vocals /an ethereal experience/ the beauty of a glacier/ something very, very special /spectral memories and somber incantation/ Haunting, hypnotic and disquieting a deeply moving haunting experience/ Hypnotic and enveloping impressionist strokes of sound…
“angular chamber music with dream-pop variations”

did we say haunting? As much as I can’t help mocking that cut up of reviews from their site really does capture it, and it’s good too – so enjoy.

Brentnall also teams up with the restless Aidan ‘Nadja’ Baker for a forthcoming release ‘Delirious Things’ to kick off 2017. Also on Gizeh as part of a ‘Dark Peak’ series. Here Baker abandons his trusty guitar to tinker with a synth and his effects and she brings the lovely floating haunting vocals. It’s a little reminiscent of Cranes. Remember them? I bloody loved Cranes me.


Untied Kingdom


We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but The Wolfhounds have put Joel Goodman’s remarkable Hogarthian snapshot of last new year’s eve in Manchester on the front of their album and it’s hard to see how it could be more perfect. The parentheses in the title ‘Untied Kingdom (…or how to come to terms with your culture)’ drive the point that the shabby state of things in our beloved homeland has been getting under Callahan’s skin even more than it used to. He always did cast a caustic eye on proceedings and his gift for words has matured and grown stronger. The cover we shouldn’t be judging them by is the ‘old blokes reform their moderately succesful 80’s indie band for a bit’ one, because their record is far better than that. It’s pretty vital and inventive. Like the recently mentioned Blue Aeroplanes and That Petrol Emotion, The Wolfhounds were an 80’s band of awkward buggers who never really fit in very well at the time. Their return as something still smart and hungry has been a joy. Opening with a ghost of Victoriana looming up through Callahan’s mobile the record wanders through vignettes and ruminations on what, for the sake of argument, we’ll call Britishness. ‘Now I’m a Killer’ sounds very much like The Wolfhounds of old, ‘My Legenday Childhood’ brings in Terry Edwards for some pleasing brass stabs and, by Wolfhounds standards, a shiny pop hit of a tune. Golding’s scratchy, textured guitars and Callahan’s scathing whine always made them an abrasive listen and throughout they sound like the same band while still stretching out their sound in all directions. ‘Fire In The Home’ is built on a clunking piano rhythm and full of spidery, needly, guitar. ‘Oppositeland’ seems to be just vocals and guitar recorded in a wardorbe, which it might be, the whole record having been recorded in the bands’ homes. ‘The Comedians’ is a pretty classic Wolfhounds breakneck pop tune with a lyric that bends and rejects old gags and attitudes from 70’s TV comedy and takes us into the closing ‘Across The River Of Death’ a stomping, wide ranging, parade of human frailty that comes in just under eight mins without ever dragging. It’s a great record, both current and somehow the sort of thing no one ever makes anymore.



Is that just me being a middle aged grump?

Protomartyr remind me a bit of The Wolfhounds, but they’ve never been as good.

Dean Blunt heads over to Benidorm


Dean ‘wtf now Dean?’ Blunt has a typically gnomic new video piece up to amuse and provoke us. ‘Benidorm’ certainly shakes off the winter frost with an apparently sunny demeanour. A slightly imposing seven minutes long the track is made up of a series of short mood pieces, like a soundtrack or library music suite and it’s accompanied by a series of images from wiki how. So far, so random. A note claims it will not be on ‘Black Metal 2’ nominal follow up to his 2014 album. It packs a surprising amount into those seven minutes, feeling short by the time you get to the end. The images come from tutorials on how to remove and create dreadlocks. The repeating window and vent images are slightly Lynchian, the zooming in on still drawings just the vaguest little bit Studio Ghibli. We see a black guy remove his, followed by a white screen for a full segment of the track and then a white girl dread her hair. Not that gnomic then perhaps. There’s some Spanish guitar, maybe that’s why ‘Benidorm’. Perhaps he’s a big fan of the TV show? Or it could be the town is synonymous with the very crassest ‘little englander abroad’ behaviour, and our relationship with Europe is, hmmm, strained? very much at the forefront of thoughts this year? something.





from Jeanette Baxter –  J.G. Ballard and The Contemporary

Ballard’s ‘The Largest Theme Park In The World’ was first published in The Guardian in 1989, it is collected in ‘War Fever’