hyper-zonal

We’re pretty excited about Kevin Martin and Justin Broadrick’s new project launching at Supersonic . . .  Joking aside, Kev ‘n’ Justin have made so much remarkable music together and apart over the last 20-30 years it makes my head hurt to think about it and my ears feel old and beaten. Their various aliases could probably fill the whole festival bill and they’re going to be kicking off another one Zonal. Having officially ended Techno Animal, Zonal is whatever comes next although so far there’s no hint what it might be I can’t help think it’ll be loud and intense, even if it’s ambient. Last time he was at Supersonic The Bug played live with Dylan Carlson for the first time launching the now world beating The Bug vs Earth project. A bonus tune here from the album features, guess who? JKB putting some vocals over ‘Snakes Vs Rats’ for ‘Dog’. By the time this performance rolls around Justin will have just put out a second album from his own trans atlantic collaboration with Sun Kil Moon, while his JK Flesh stuff has abandoned the guitar altogether for dysfunctional industrial techno. So, probably not like any of that. Maybe they’ll try their hands at electro swing or something.

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Panic & Carousels

The Panic & Carousels column for Narc Magazine was supposed to be regular – monthly, even – but by the end of 2015 it was dead in the water. Life, eh?

Panic & Carousels Narc Mix - Feb 2016

Anyway, all being well it should get back to at least  being fairly regular this year, and kicks off 2016 with a look back at 2015. You can take a look here. There’s reviews – or mentions, at least – for Workin Man Noise Unit, Early Mammal, Laura Cannell, Karen Gwyer, Kemper Norton, Supernormal and Tor Ist Das?, Woven Skull and The Cesarians, Shape Worship, Coil, This Heat, Harmonia. Mogwai, The Bug, Terminal Cheesecake, Denver Broncos UK, Oneida, Mamuthones, Capra Informis and Was Ist Das?‘ Noise In  The Woods compilation.

There’s also my Hickey-friendly end of year chart:

jon

  1. = Hey Colossus – In Black & Gold (Rocket Recordings)
    = Hey Colossus – Radio Static High (Rocket Recordings)
  2. DBUK (Denver Broncos UK) – Songs One Through Eight (SCAC Unincorporated)
  3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet & Other Distress (Constellation)
  4. Woven Skull – Lair Of The Glowing Bantling (Penske Recordings)
  5. Sleaford Mods – Key Markets (Harbinger Sound)
  6. Low – Ones & Sixes (Sub Pop)
  7. King Midas Sound & Fennesz – Episode 1 (Ninja Tune)
  8. Grey Hairs – Colossal Downer (Gringo)
  9. Blown Out – Jet Black Hallucinations (Golden Mantra)
  10. Teeth Of The Sea – Highly Deadly Black Tarantula (Rocket Recordings)
  11. Henry Blacker – Summer Tombs (Riot Season)
  12. Jenny Hval – Apocalypse Girl (Sacred Bones)
  13. Shape Worship – A City Remembrancer (Front & Follow)
  14. Wire – Wire (Pink Flag)
  15. EEK & Islam Chipsy – Kahraba (Nashazphone)
  16. Luminous Bodies – Luminous Bodies (Box)
  17. Workin Man Noise Unit – Play Loud (Riot Season)
  18. Steve Gunn & Black Twig Pickers– Seasonal Hire (Thrill Jockey)
  19. Bad Guys – Bad Guynaecology (Riot Season)
  20. Shit & Shine – 54 Synth Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral (Rocket Recordings)

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s an all-too-rare mix, of releases from the column or from the chart and some other bits and pieces.

Here’s what’s on it:

  1. Luminous Bodies – Stay Dead
  2. Workin’ Man Noise Unit – Yeah, I Was Hypnotised
  3. Teeth Of The Sea – Animal Manservant
  4. Mamuthones – Symphony For The Devil
  5. Shape Worship – Heygate Palimpsest
  6. Laura Cannell – For Sorrow Salt Tears (Karen Gwyer Edit)
  7. Raime – This Foundry (Regis Version)
  8. The Bug – Krak Teng
  9. E.E.K. ft Islam Chipsy – El Bawaba
  10. This Heat – 24 Track Loop
  11. Hey Colossus – Heaven Blows
  12. Oneida – All Data Lost
  13. Mogwai – The Sun Smells Too Loud
  14. Harmonia – Walky-Talky
  15. Bird People – Calder Valley Rockaway (Live At Tor Ist Das?)
  16. Woven Skull – Ananda

 

Supersonic 2015

Supersonic is just about the best isn’t it? Are we all agreed? Can we dispense with the opening paragraph of brief history/description then and just get on with it? I think we should…

suopersonic kazelle twin

Friday

Unable to choose between Free School and Ravioli Me Away we conspire to cleverly miss both in a frenzy of rain avoidance, beer drinking and wristband acquisition. This means that nominal headliners The Pop Group (certainly the big name draw when tickets first went on sale) are our first band of the weekend. Perhaps we aren’t in the mood just yet because they aren’t really raising the roof. No, it’s the sound. The sound is bad. We move to the centre near to the mixing desk but it’s still muddy and the sound guy appears to be off his cake. Mark Stewart looks a bit like Morrissey as played by Simon Day, the lighting is stark and moody. He’s a big lad and he casts a long shadow, as does the name of his band. He’s also well aware of the importance of what we call things and how it affects how we see them, probably has a lyric or two about that. So why reform The Pop Group? It seems like the time? Sort of, but they also seem out of time, outrun by it. There’s no doubting his belief in what they’re doing now, and I’ve heard they’ve been brilliant but tonight it’s just not connecting. Obviously as something more than a nostalgia turn there’s new material but they suffer the familiar problem of it not being quite up to their legendary early stuff. Still, ‘She Is Beyond Good And Evil’ is the tune I find playing in my head all week afterwards…

Over in the ‘new’ venue The Crossing, a wonderfully equipped space belonging to South Birmingham College, late addition Ela Orleans is onstage already doing her thing. Her ‘thing’ being a kind of blurry, off kilter, experimental pop music. 2015-06-13 00.01.45She calls it ‘movies for ears’ and composes for theatre and film as well which perhaps helps her steer clear of over familiar cinematic clichés in her own songs. The set up is familiar, black and white film projections, a table full of wires and boxes, a laptop, a single performer. She’s not actually tiny as she first appears though, her kit sits atop an oversized table allowing her to perform in comfort. I don’t know who is responsible for this strikingly obvious development but musical knob twiddlers should rejoice and chiropractors surely curse them. Like her songs her performance repays the amount of attention you give it and although I like her, it’s not quite casting the spell on the hall that it needs to, we’re not quite as lost in her soundworld. This is unfortunate but presently another slight young woman is about to stomp out on the same stage, crush those clichés of live electronic music, grab the crowd by the throat and take the festival by storm.

 Gazelle Twin is astonishing, a revelation, a hot, sharp blast of newness and greatness. All the hype, all deserved. Honest. We’ll confess to not having even heard of her before she topped last year’s Quietus ‘best of’ list either but I’m happy with that as it seems she has morphed steadily into her current strange form. Creating a very striking image from simple clothes and bold colours, the stocking mask an old but still incredibly powerful trick submerging external identity to pour out the interior. ‘Unflesh’ really is a great album and she comes out and performs it in a totally commited and physical way. Save for a few vocal effects pedals the knob-twiddling is delegated to a guy in the back and she leaps about the stage a bewitching mix of performance art, modern dance and aerobics class. The set just builds and builds, real, raw emotion pouring out of someone who we can’t quite make out but who has us all transfixed, the mask making her creepy and universal at the same time somehow. I can’t help thinking of The Knife as a leaping off point, not that it really sounds like them but more that she has adopted similar tricks and techniques in realising her own unique vision. This is what you come to Supersonic for – to have someone you hardly ever heard of blow your mind, excellent.

Supersonic Gazelle

after that we pick up our collective jaw from the floor and trundle back to the more familiar grubby warehouse of Boxxed for the familiarly grubby sounds of Sex Swing. Apart from having a crap name their other main problem is not being Dethscalator (the remarkably visceral noise punk mess two of them used to be in and whose break-up still seems like a shocking waste). On the upside they aren’t a pale version of their old band, they’re a different thing entirely, a droning, grinding, lurching beast. An earth-bound form of space rock, the photo of a poor entangled beast that accompanies their one online track so far seems to perfectly visualise their sound. They have a saxophone and I know this upsets some people but it’s fine and good, really, it is. Waves and blasts of honkingly great baritone sax. It also causes some folk to attach the word ‘jazz’ to them which seems a little wide of the mark although it’s unclear how much improvisation, if any, is going on onstage. Sex Swing are exactly the sort of slightly formless expressionistic racket you expect from an experimental music festival and they do it very well. Great things (or a swift demise) are expected of them. We’ll be paying close attention. sausage

Saturday

“…is Tiswas, never a day to miss ‘cos…..”. Eternal Tapestry turn out to be the tedious hippy noodling I feared rather than the pleasingly pastoral psyche they could be. Six Organs Of Admittance are more straightforwardly ROCK! and much less annoyingly twiddly than I remember – if this is what Chasny’s new Hexadic system of composition means then I’m all for it, although I didn’t go to his talk and haven’t bothered reading into it as I firmly expect it to be annoying twaddle. As ever, I failed to make it to any of the talks which is a pity but despite being discreetly programmed to avoid much overlap or clashing of stages the festival is still quite exhausting to attend. Maybe we aren’t match fit.

 Holly Herndon brings all the shiny new tech and high brow ideas about what it all means to the ergonomically correct table and smiles sweetly at us like she’s selling us lemonade and cookies. Inkeeping with her schtick she communicates by typing messages that scroll out on the screen behind her. This works well and she brings up the festival’s facebook event page and starts clicking on various people’s profile pics, my own included. This raises a smile and a cheer in our party and amongst various people’s mates throughout the crowd. Whether it’s meant to show our interconnectedness or be a stark warning about how exposed we are in the online environment isn’t clear, maybe it’s both. These selections don’t seem to feed into the weird back projection which looks like a primitive video game environment and you sort of hope is therefore being fed with information and shifting and changing in real time rather than just a film playing out because to be honest, it’s crap. It shouldn’t matter that much but that’s kind of her thing right? Still, ideas about the digital landscape to one side because the music isn’t dry and conceptual like that, Holly remembered to bring along some bass thump to ride under her pretty, glitchy, bright electronic smears and dabs of sound. In what seems a very old school way – if you stop thinking too much it all makes sense. She’s bloody great.

2015-06-13 22.52.15

Liturgy meanwhile are a massive disappointment on just about all fronts. I’d originally expected some comedy value hipster black metal but then they went and made a truly odd/mental and experimental second record and it suddenly looked like they might be an intriguing prospect. In the event they are neither amusing nor bracingly forward thinking. Considerable technical prowess is brought to bear creating a blank wall of noise and as best as we can tell, that’s it. There’s a tall and remarkably drunk guy in front of us dancing wildly and clearly getting a lot more out of it though, so perhaps we’re missing something. No corpse paint neither, goddamn hipsters.

2015-06-14 01.30.41

Dylan Carlson Vs The Bug is a curious thing, a wonderful but odd thing. This is the first time they’ve set up this as a live event having failed to make it happen for various reasons before. Dylan is looking incredibly dapper. I can tell you this, as I did him, because I saw him outside beforehand, onstage you can’t see anything for the dry ice. The music they make is a kind of semi-industrial drone, loud and textured. It’s something other than just the sum of their parts. It’s great stuff but it seems the wrong time for it, the crowd feels anxious. It’s saturday night and everyone knows Dylan is eventually going to leave the stage and The Bug is going to bring the noise and that knowledge slightly overshadows what they’re doing, turning it into a ludicrously extended intro. Those of you thinking “isn’t that what Earth do anyway?” go straight to the back of the class and think about what you’ve done. But, yeah eventually Flowdan looms up out of the fog to start yelling at us and the two of them bring down the pure fyah and all of that stuff. It is phenomenally good. Raucous, danceable and noisy as all hell, a totally overpowering live experience and a perfect saturday night headliner. Louder, Louder, LOUDER, LOUDER!

2015-06-14 01.17.29-1

Sunday

In yet another example of how Capsule care for their audience Sunday is a smaller scale affair with less tickets available and early finish for the unfortunate to make it back home for a monday morning workday of misery. Today it’s just the one venue and all programmed by folk sensation Richard Dawson. Three years ago he opened the day on this stage with a hangover even worse than ours and he’s been at every Supersonic since in some capacity (last year as part of Khunnt). He delivers with a perfect selection of gentler folk(ish) acts to wind down the weekend. Regular Dawson collaborator Rhodri Davies is an improv harp player and very little like you might imagine that to be I expect. Abstract, distorted, shifting. It’s not easy listening but it’s not off puttingly difficult either. Czech street musician Jiri Wehle starts with a few harp numbers too, it’s a little more trad than Rhodri. It’s his first time here and he apologises for his English which, inevitably, is pretty excellent. His songs seem to largely tell folk tales and I’m helplessly reminded of Krtek the animated mole who loomed large in the world of bafflingly great Czech animation we used to get on telly when we were kids. I’m sure I’m doing him a disservice but, to be quite clear, I loved Krtek. Pretty shortly he breaks out the hurdy gurdy and obviously that’s a great thing. Last up Afework Negussie, an Ethiopian now in London. It might just be that the last couple of performers played sitting down but he seems remarkably tall, he plays a one stringed instrument called a Masenqo and gets a remarkable range of sound out of it while singing gloriously over the top – here’s a clip of him playing with The Ex. Humble as ever, Dawson puts himself on in the middle of the bill. He offers he might do some songs he doesn’t so much anymore and so skips his ‘hit’ ‘The Vile Stuff’. The performance is amazing, how he manages to sustain the level of complete commitment to each song he does is a mystery. Only two in and he’s out of breath, spinning a surreal tale about cats to regain his composure, the shift from sweet everyman telling slighty odd jokes to being totally lost in the songs is a curious one but always a wonder to watch. Highlights are just about all of it but ‘We Picked Apples In A Graveyard Freshly Mowed’ is truly lovely and the version of ‘Ghost Of A Tree’ breathtaking. Supersonic then, once again the whole thing was absolutely brilliant – roll on 2016.

2015-06-14 17.11.44

 

sausage dog