Archive for the ‘Experimental’ Category

PBS Drive Live — Taipan Tiger Girls

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Melbourne community radio station PBS is right in the middle of Drive Live — their annual week-long celebration of live music.

All this week there will be a stack of great Melbourne artists playing live in the PBS studios from 5pm to 7pm.

Yesterday saw the most-excellent Taipan Tiger Girls put on a showcase of exceptional droney, synth-filled goodness. Check out the full 25+ minutes right here:

The rest of the week’s PBS Drive Live lineup is:

Tuesday, February 2 – Mixing Up The Medicine
The Drones
Deaf Wish
DEEP HEAT

Wednesday, February 3 – The Afterglow Radio Show
Terrible Truths
Sui Zhen
Jess Ribeiro

Thursday, February 4 – Fang It!
BATPISS
Wet Lips
Grotto

Friday, February 5 – Stone Love
Little Desert
Waterfall Person
Drug Sweat

Head to the PBS website for more info.

Tortoise — The Catastrophist

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

With the passing of seven years since 2009’s Beacons of Ancestorship, post-rock pioneers Tortoise have returned with a satisfying collection of songs that put the playful back into play. Post-rock’s most abstract band had already absorbed much of the 90s underground sights and smells, combining into a heady amalgam that’s more post-post-rock than it is post-rock; they continue to explore a sound awash with new-agey synths.

While any newcomer to the band might find The Catastrophist’s cruisy tempos somewhat conservative, any initiate into Tortoise’s soundscape knows that — as with all their albums, replete with their signature minimalist grooves — understatement is sovereign. In the majority, song lengths keep to under or around a respectable four minutes, rendering the band’s sonic excursions more ambient tasters rather than immersive transfigurations.

The album’s opener, and title track, represents the most structured and straightforward piece on the album, while following track, ‘Ox Duke’, serves as a more appropriate introduction to one of the album’s primary themes of exploration: timbral layers and textures. Rather than backgrounding or foregrounding particular sounds to elicit textures, Tortoise has the various sounds in ‘Ox Duke’ play off each other by pulling a timbre from one instrument before discarding the original sound and moving in with another. For example, the high register of the cymbal crash at about a minute into the piece introduces the next stage of the layered build into icy string synths, texturally contrasting against earthy guitar chords while rhythmically complementing them. All these elements collaborate to produce a wide palette of interconnected sounds while generating fluid, ambient textures.

Followed by a very Pink Floydian cover of David Essex’s 1973 single ‘Rock On’, the band continues with their timbral explorations on the ominous ‘Shake Hands with Danger’, featuring sharp guitar tones underlaid by their characteristic oblong bass groove and prominent percussive exotica. ‘The Clearing Fills’ depicts a serene soundscape that gradually dissolves into ambience.

As the album’s single and longest song, ‘Gesceap’ forms the centrepiece for The Catastrophist, hearkening to Philip Glass’ late 70s-early 80s output with it’s hypnotic spiderweb of patiently layered polyrhythms.

‘Yonder Blue’, another album highlight, features Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Huble’s languorously — and gorgeously — deadpan vocals over hazy atmospherics and twangy strumming.

Between the upbeat electronics of ‘Gopher Island’ and the sophisticated funk of ‘Hot Coffee’, The Catastrophist finds Tortoise making a warm, expressive, and consistently interesting addition to their discography.

The Catastrophist is out this Friday through Thrill Jockey/Rocket.

Noiseweek: RIP David Bowie

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.

Perhaps the only good that comes out of losing an icon like David Bowie is that it gives us an opportunity to reflect on and revel in his genius. That his death came as such a shock and was felt so keenly by so many, should be no surprise given his unparalleled impact on music, flim, art, fashion and popular culture. The eeriness of final album Blackstar and the accompanying videos for the title track and ‘Lazarus’ with hindsight, quite obviously a ‘parting gift’ or goodbye letter to the world he dramatically helped shape. Noiseweek this week presents a collection of the best stories, tributes, and playlists honouring his life and work.

Sales of Blackstar have soared in the days since Bowie’s death, with Spotify streams of the icon’s back catalogue also experiencing a jump of more than 2800% in the past week, The Guardian reports. Unsurprisingly, this puts Blackstar at the top of the UK charts (his 10th No. 1 there), whileBillboard reports the album is expected be Bowie’s first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Will we ever here the demos for the reported follow-up album to Blackstar he was working on? Let’s hope so.

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SXSW founder Roland Swenson has fessed up to changing the Bowie Street sign to David Bowie St in downtown Austin. Read a collection of other, more conventional tributes on social media over at Pitchfork and great obituaries at the New York Times and Wire.

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A huge tribute show fronted by long-time collaborator and producer Tony Visconti is being planned for NYC’s Carnegie Hall, featuring The Roots, The Mountain Goats, Cyndi Lauper, Perry Farrell, Michael Stipe, Laurie Anderson, Cat Power and The Polyphonic Spree over two nights on March 31 and April 1.

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Fittingly, the Starman will be forever immortalised with a constellation named in his honour.

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READ

Iggy Pop on David Bowie: ‘He Resurrected Me’ | New York Times
“A lot of people were curious about me, but only he was the one who had enough truly in common with me, and who actually really liked what I did and could get on board with it, and who also had decent enough intentions to help me out. He did a good thing.”

Henry Rollins: Bowie’s Blackstar Is On The Level Of Low and Heroes | LA Weekly
“The album is agile and nervy, challenging and masterful. It is unreal the poise and guts he displays in this collection of seven songs. Hopefully, he was able to get some feedback from fans all over the world.”

What It’s Like to Play Guitar With David Bowie | Pitchfork
“He created this atmosphere for me where I walked into the studio thinking the old way, and walked out with a set of tools that I didn’t even know what to do with. This goes to the core of things I did with Bowie that changed me forever.”

‘That was David: life and death were art for him’ – Bowie’s pianist remembers his friend | The Guardian
“Mortality wasn’t something David discussed, but he sang about it a lot. I think he saw the pain and felt the suffering in life more than most. Many of us put up filters and go into denial. I don’t think he ever did that, and that came out in his music.”

On David Bowie And Mortality | Stereogum
“We’re going to spend years figuring out what Bowie was telling us with this album. But certain things about Blackstar already seem stark and obvious in the wake of his passing. For one thing, the album’s catchiest song is named after Lazarus, the Biblical figure who rose from his grave. How could we not have seen that.”

LISTEN

The Quietus goes deep into Bowie’s discography in their ‘Beyond the Hits’ playlist.

Not sure how KEXP left The Melvins’ version of ‘Station to Station’ off their list of best Bowie covers, so here it is.

WATCH

David Bowie’s Effect on Music Videos – New York Times

Cam Durnsford’s Top 10 Albums of 2015

Monday, December 21st, 2015

LIFE IS NOISE’s editor Cam Durnsford shares his top ten releases of 2015.

To pick just 10 records in a year with so many quality releases is not an easy task – here are my favourites as it stands at the moment, with honorable mentions for Royal Headache’s High, Protomartyr’s The Agent Intellect, Chook Race’s About Time, Power’s Electric Glitter Boogie and the self-titled debut from Terrible Truths. All more than deserving of a spot in this or any list.

1. My Disco – Severe
This really was untouchable as the standout release of 2015. The Melbourne band’s fourth LP – their first in five years – is both a major departure from their previous work and a logical evolution of their take on post-punk and math rock. It feels as though the monolith on the album cover could crush you under its weight during any of the loaded pauses the band utilise so well on Severe; the rush that comes when they break these silences is truly visceral. Robert Forster once said the classic three-piece lineup is rock and roll in its purest – here the archetypal power trio plumbs new depths of sound and form.

2. Föllakzoid – III
Chile’s Föllakzoid have been doing their take on the motorik rhythm for a while now, fusing it with space and desert rock motifs that are somehow distinctly Andean. It’s on III though that they’ve really found their groove – a propulsive and hypnotic beast of a thing that stays constant across three of the album’s four lengthy tracks. These are simple, repetitive songs that chug along at a dancefloor-friendly 120 bpm – they could very easily find their way into the crates of a minimal techno DJ as much as an acid-fried psychonaut’s bedroom.

3. Floating Points – Elaenia
I’ve been a fan of Sam Shepherd’s work since first hearing his earlier bass-heavy compositions a few years back – a long string of singles, EPs and production credits spanning deep house, techno, dubstep (think Burial, not Skrillex), and hip hop, so hopes were high for his debut LP. Elaenia completely surpasses these lofty expectations, despite being quite different from his earlier work, and better suited to introspective contemplation than losing one’s shit on the dancefloor. His absolute mastery of sound and love of jazz shine through; live orchestral arrangements result in a lush and immersive suite of songs that demand start-to-finish listening.

4. Gold Class – It’s You
Every so often a band emerges fully formed, seemingly from out of nowhere, ready to capture the attention of a public that didn’t even know they were waiting for said band’s emergence. Of course, it’s never that simple – it takes years of work to be an overnight sensation and all that – but all the same, Gold Class’ debut It’s You is an assured opening salvo from a band who seem to be destined for greatness. Much has been made of Adam Curley’s commanding stage presence and distinctive baritone (with good reason), though the incredible musicianship on display is really what sets Gold Class apart. Post-punk can be so broad a term that it becomes meaningless, though there’s certainly touchstones here of moody UK Rough Trade bands in style as much as delivery.

5. Lucy Cliché – Drain Down EP
With more than 10 years entrenched in Australia’s musical underground with bands like Naked on the Vague, Half High and Knitted Abyss, and previous, more experimental releases under this moniker, Lucy Phelan’s take on live techno was always going to resonate with the punk kids. The DIY assembly of hardware she uses to do this is a welcome change from the safety (and predictability?) of the omnipresent Ableton Live, or the quantized perfection of the modern digital DJ. Drain Down owes as much to Severed Heads as it does to Sleezy D – a kind of industrial acid techno that would go down just as well at Berghain as it does at The Tote.

6. Blank Realm – Illegals in Heaven
After 2014’s exceptional LP Grassed Inn launched the Brisbane avant-pop band on to the world stage, Blank Realm’s follow-up could have easily fallen victim to ‘difficult tenth album syndrome’. Thankfully Blank Realm don’t seem to give two shits about how they’re viewed by critics or the ‘industry’ more generally – they focus instead on crafting sublime songs with psychedelic flourishes and irresistible pop hooks, while never losing sight of their experimental roots.

7. Fuzz – II
It’s been an unusually quiet year for the ever-prolific Ty Segall, with only his contributions (drums and vocals) to Fuzz’s sprawling double LP and a Ty Rex reissue to show for it. II is much more than the product of a Segall side-project though – Meatbodies’ Chad Ubovich and Ty’s long-standing collaborator Charles Mootheart (Epsilons, Ty Segall Band et al) forming like voltron and employing a collaborative approach to writing the songs for their second LP. It’s not going to win many prizes for originality, but this is as good an example as you’ll find of Blue Cheer/Black Sabbath worship.

8. Taipan Tiger Girls – 1
Australian synth pioneer Ollie Olsen makes a welcome return to a live band setting and the result is some of the most exquisite noise you’ll hear. Skittish free-jazz drumming, mountains of demented guitar feedback and Olsen’s propulsive synth combining to give us something that sounds like the Large Hadron Collider powering up, just before it banishes us all to the black hole. It’s not all nihilistic though – you could just as easily imagine the whirling dervishes wigging out to TTG’s brand of minimal synth drone.

9. Batpiss – Biomass
Batpiss further refine their sludgy take on punk rock on album number two. I hear more Jesus Lizard in there than on their debut Nuclear Winter – not just the absolutely monstrous tone of Thomy Sloane’s bass or Paul Portal’s slide-inflected guitar parts, but a similar pathos on display here too. As constants on Melbourne’s live scene, this band has become a fearful live act – if you’ve somehow managed to avoid them you clearly don’t get out much. Rectify that.

10. Institute – Catharsis
Austin’s Institute had me with last year’s Salt EP – a definite 2014 highlight. Their debut LP – yet another outstanding release on the dependable Sacred Bones label – sounds less pessimistic than Salt, with an ever-so-slight polish on this collection of songs. There’s still a sense of foreboding here, and an anxiety writ large by song titles like ‘Admit I’m Shit’ and ‘Cheerlessness’. Another slightly deranged take on the great post-punk revival of 2015.

Noiseweek: Neurosis, Baroness, Chelsea Wolfe, Primitive Calculators + More

Friday, December 18th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.

Neurosis have announced a return to Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studio to record their eleventh full length, and added more dates to their US and Europe tour schedule for 2016. Founding member Scott Kelly is also setting out on a string of solo dates with Colin H. van Eeckhout of Amenra in Europe in January.

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Speaking of Steve Albini – listen to the man himself in a wide-ranging conversation with Woody McDonald at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre last week. Great stuff.

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File under: quirky xmas presents for the hirsute metalhead in your life (see also last week’s Weedian figurines) – Norway’s Borknagar have launched their own line of beard oil. Made up of “a blend of 100% natural and highest quality jojoba, sweet almond, hazelnut, castor and hemp seed oils” Borknagar’s beard oil will be no doubt be filling stockings all over old Norse territory.

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Sub Pop’s Best of 2015 lists are pretty hilarious too.

READ

Stage fright hasn’t sidelined singer Chelsea Wolfe | CNN
“Performing was something that I had to learn. I could barely handle being onstage for the first few years, and it’s the reason it took me so long to start my career as a musician,” she said. “I started writing songs when I was 9 years old but didn’t release an album or do a tour until I was 25.”

Streaming War Pigs: Apple, Tidal, Spotify, & The Year In Music Services | Stereogum
“And with that, you’ve got the story of streaming in 2015: artist as product or artist as propaganda. Like Zuckerman’s Famous Pig in Charlotte’s Web, musicians today are being fattened either for slaughter or for show, but make no mistake: The beneficiary of all this shiny pink flesh is Zuckerman.”

The Near-Death Of Raves: The Fate Of Independent Music Venues In 2015 | The Quietus
“The pressures on independent musical and cultural spaces are also symptomatic of more fundamental threats to under-represented and marginalised groups within society. There’s the soft bigotry of rhetoric around “British Values” and the like, implying that cultural worth is singularly-defined and divergence fundamentally suspect.”

LISTEN

Baroness – Purple
Out today, making a late entry on a bunch of end-of-year lists, and streaming in full for you here.

Primitive Calculators – ‘I’m Fucked’
More snarling synth-punk from one of the originators of the genre – their trademark misanthropy and willingness to tell it like it is on display once again.

Black Tusk – ‘God’s On Vacation’

The seasonally appropriate first taste of the Georgian trio’s final release recorded with founding bassist/vocalist Jonathan Athon, who died in a motorbike accident last year. Equal parts stoner sludge and hardcore crossover.

WATCH

Deaf Wish – Live on KEXP
Melbourne’s Deaf Wish making an unholy racket on the Seattle public radio station on their recent US tour.

Baroness – Making Purple

A 11-part making-of video series in case you want a bit more release-day hype.

Noiseweek: Weedians, List-o-mania, Sunn O))), Oneohtrix Point Never + More

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.

Wondering what to get for the Sleep fan who has everything this Christ-myth? How about one of these incredibly detailed Weedian figurines? Dopesmoker cover artist Arik Roper worked with Unbox Industries to get every last detail right, down to the vape tanks. They might not ship until January, but who actually cares about christmas anyway? Meanwhile, Sleep keep adding dates to a Summer 2016 Europe tour which now includes Roskilde, ATP Iceland and Les Eurockeennes Festival in Paris in July.

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Speaking of the European Summer (almost), the mind-boggling Roadburn line-up just got a little more insane with the announcement that Converge will perform their 2001 masterwork Jane Doe in full at the 2016 festival, “for the first and last time”, as well as a special collaborative set Blood Moon “focusing on the band’s slower, more ambitious work”. They join Neurosis, Paradise Lost, Cult of Luna, Black Mountain, G.I.S.M., Full of Hell and a ton more at the festival in April.

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It’s that time of year – the lists keep coming. Spoiler alert: Windhand taking top spot on Consequence of Sound’s Top 25 Metal Albums of 2015 list; LA’s Volahn getting top spot on LA Weekly’s Top Ten and you should probably just read The Quietus’ 100-strong best of 2015 list. We’ll be rolling out our own lists from Thursday.

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READ

Enduring Love: Why Swans Are More Vital Now Than Ever | The Guardian
“Speaking as a journalist, it is difficult to ignore the amazing stories that have built up round the band over the years. Once, for example, an unfortunate sound guy made the mistake of asking the singer what he wanted the band to sound like. He replied: “Like this” and punched the hapless engineer in the chest.”

Phil Anselmo And The Business Of Heavy Metal Horror | Forbes
“A revered figure in metal who continues to draw live audiences, Anselmo gladly leverages his own brand to promote his Housecore artists by having them open for headlining tours with his own bands like Down and The Illegals. Fully aware of the effect his name has on his business, he actively strategizes how to use it to serve the label’s agenda.”

A Crushing Embrace With The Earth: Ecological Sound In 2015 | The Quietus
Sound and music also have key roles to play in this process, through highlighting the complexity, intimacy and emotional texture of the relations between ourselves and the rest of nature. In her 2015 paper Geopolitics And The Anthropocene: Five Propositions For Sound, political geographer Anja Kanngieser argues that sound makes visceral, even comprehensible, aspects of the world that normally lie beyond our perception.

LISTEN

Sunn O))) – Kannon
It’s here. And it’s immense, as you’d expect.

Extreme Misanthropy Crew – Revelations One
Featuring members of Sydney’s Making and Tanned Christ – nasty, noisy improvised post-drone.

Florian Schneider – ‘Stop Plastic Pollution’
The Kraftwerk co-founder samples a dripping tap as part of his bit to stop the Great Pacific garbage patch as part of the Parley for the Oceans campaign.


WATCH

Dinosaur Jr. – ‘Forget the Swan’
As part of a seven-night stand at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut LP Dinosaur. Guests each night have included Kevin Shields, Jeff Tweedy, Mike Watt, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo and Kurt Vile among others. Can we have a Deep Wound reunion next please?

Oneohtrix Point Never – ‘Sticky Drama’
All the end-of-year lists can be overwhelming, then you catch something you somehow slept on. Daniel Lopatin’s ‘Come to Daddy’ comes with its own prologue video.

Prologue

Video

Noiseweek: Tours and Reunions, Le Guess Who?, Miles Brown, Iommi and More

Friday, December 4th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.

NEWS

It’s one of those so-crazy-it-has-to-work ideas: British grind legends Napalm Death, Washington sludge pioneers The Melvins and Japanese noise weirdos Melt-Banana teaming up for a six-week, 35-date North America tour, fittingly named the Savage Imperial Death March. The latest iteration of The Melvins will feature Steven McDonald (Redd Kross, OFF!) on bass, with a planned 10? War Pussy in the works ahead of the tour. King Buzzo and Napalm Death’s Shane Embury and Danny Herrera have previously collaborated as Venomous Concept – who’ve just released a new single from forthcoming LP Kick Me Silly; VC3, though without Buzz in the band this time around. Got all that? Good.

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With the trademark dysfunction for which they were often known, Texas post-hardcore giants At The Drive In are reportedly reforming for Rock On The Range festival in Columbus, Ohio in May 2016, though original member Jim Ward claims the line-up announcement is the first he’s heard of it. He ran a similar line prior to ATDI’s previous reunion for Coachella in 2012, so there’s hope yet.

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A cavalcade of punk icons have pledged support of US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, with Jello Biafra, Wayne Kramer and Mike Watt all endorsing the the self-proclaimed socialist candidate. A lengthy list of ‘artists and cultural leaders’ have come out in support of the plain-speaking Vermont senator, whose policy platform includes an end to the federal prohibition of marijuana, fairer income distribution and a less-trigger happy US foreign policy agenda. With policies like that, it’s clear the Democrats and US media will never let him get elected, but it’s a nice idea.

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Finally, Radio Adelaide – Australia’s oldest community radio station – is seeking support in the form of a petition, after news that licensee the University of Adelaide is considering selling or closing the station. The decision comes after the university sold the CBD property that houses Radio Adelaide’s studios. Show your support by heading to www.saveradioadelaide.org. #SaveRadAd

READ

Le Guess Who? Proves That Experimental Music Doesn’t Have To Be Lofty And Joyless | Fact Mag

“The most refreshing thing about Le Guess Who? is how it gives a platform to more experimental strains of music without any of the associated loftiness. Faust were first to marry a challenging approach with humour. Sure, their sound was a heavy, delirious mix of magnificent acoustics punctured by industrial crashes, gas canisters and hurdy-gurdies, but Jean-Hervé Peron was yelling, “Pinochet! Stalin! Kartoffelsalat!” and three women were seated front-and-centre stage, nonchalantly knitting for the entire set.”

The Essence And The Purity: Rob Halford Of Judas Priest’s Favourite LPs | The Quietus

“For over 40 years, Rob Halford has been one of the most singular figures to emerge from the metal scene, and while some of his contemporaries have struggled to age gracefully, Halford is still out-performing many singers a quarter of his age, and his recorded output is as vital now as it has ever been.”

The Sober Proprietor Of A Bar On Avenue B | New York Times
“He started out as a roadie, which eventually turned into a job singing for the Dictators, in 1975. After the band disbanded in the early ’80s, Mr. Manitoba was part of various groups that included various iterations of The Dictators. In the early ’90s, he found himself driving a cab, addicted to heroin. He attended meetings, got clean and ripped up the hack license.”

LISTEN

Miles Brown – ‘Space Cadet’

The first taste of The Night Terrors’ theremin genius Brown’s forthcoming solo debut LP Séance Fiction blends Carpenter-esque gloom with 80s synth-pop sensibilities.

The Rival Mob – ‘Speak With Power’

Boston’s The Rival Mob carrying the mantle of classic Clevo/NYHC on this tape release being put out by Adelaide’s Nopatience Records.


WATCH

Tommy Iommi talks about his origins as a guitarist and what keeps him on stage after taking out the Q/Gibson Les Paul Guitar Award back a little while ago.

Peaches – ‘Rub’

Probably the most NSFW video since Rammstein’s ‘Pussy’. Enter at your own risk.

Peaches — Rub (Uncensored) from Peaches on Vimeo.