Archive for September, 2015

Anger Management: DrAlienSmith

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

Al Smith deserves some kind of reward for services given to underground music. Since the early 90s he’s toiled away with Bergerk Studios (originally Death Rooster), working with a heap of bands and artists. With an ear for punk, metal and the left of centre, Al has recorded/mixed and engineered bands diverse as the scuzzy punk of Rupture, legendary black/celtic metallers Samain, doom overlords Drowning Horse, The Devil Rides Out, Claim The Throne, Extortion and Bamodi. But far from an elitist, he’s also lent his talents to more indie artists such as Abbe May, The Leap Year and Andrew Ewing.

In between his recording and mixing work, Al has always dabbled in bands and projects. Swapmeat was a delightfully weird and catchy combo that evolved from some home demos to playing, and I quote, “hard-edged guitar-driven groove rock type tunes sprinkled liberally with our influences of industrial metal and cheese rock.” Al has also collaborated with Cat Hope on the dual bass/drone/noise outfit Lux Mammoth, James Smith on the soundscapey Smidirin, and hugely underrated guitarist Steve Matzkov on the dark post-rock of Matzal. He also ran an awesome short run label Sound Gallery which focused on some of the aforementioned artists.

Al’s first solo release came last year under as DrAlienSmith. Under Songs was an excellent mix of Jesu-styled guitars and dark, industrial soundscapes. Phosphorus takes these elements further with five excellent tracks. “Clover” opens the album sounding like you are walking through a haunted house: a ghostly piano plays from an upstairs room while a Godflesh and Four Tet mix CD skips over the P.A.. Second track “Phosphorus” gives a dark industrial chug but an unexpected highlight comes in the form of third track “Something Sun” with its lush guitar layering it is an uplifting soundscape with just a hint of darkness.

As you would expect, the production on this is outstanding. Everything coming through loud and clear and the songs never outlive their welcome. Worth tracking down in every way.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

Noiseweek: John Peel, Space Bong, Erasers, KEN mode, Deerhoof

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

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


How John Peel created our musical world | The Guardian

“Eleven years after his death, Peel still hovers above our record collections, silently guiding the opinions and judgments of the generations who grew up listening to him. When Brian Eno gives the BBC Music John Peel lecture at the British Library on 27 September, he’ll doubtless begin by citing the importance of Peel in his own life. It would be good to hear him talk about The Perfumed Garden, Peel’s psychedelic fantasia on the late-night airwaves of the pirate station Radio London, where teenagers in 1967 were introduced to the avant-garde sounds of the Velvet Underground and the Mothers of Invention. Eno will surely mention Roxy Music’s session for the strangely named Friday Night Is Boogie Night in January 1972 – it was their radio debut – which Peel offered them before they had a manager, a record deal or more than a handful of fans. And if Eno’s speech flags a little and he needs a laugh from the audience, all he has to do is recall the night in December 1973 when Peel played a reel-to-reel tape of the new Fripp & Eno album (No Pussyfooting), backwards without noticing. All 39 minutes of it.”

Ed Rodriguez (Deerhoof) Talks the Whole Illegal Downloading Thing | The Talkhouse

“If you’re like me, you feel powerless sometimes. The world seems out of control. But we have more control than we know. A sad truth is that you wield a lot of power with your bank account, no matter how modest it is. Spending money on what actually means something to you not only helps those who are making it, it lets the whole system know your vote. There have been times when, for brief moments, record companies stopped trying to tell people what they should like and instead began scrambling to give the public what it actually wanted. For instance, no one thought the world would freak out and embrace Nirvana like we did, so for a time, record executives were unsure of what was happening, and they were signing everyone who was “alternative,” hoping to find the next big thing.”


Space Bong — Slow Spring

Adelaide’s drabbest take things very, very slow on the first cut from the forthcoming Deadwood To Worms. And why wouldn’t they — Space Bong are the kind of band whose music unfurls itself like a snake shedding its skin — by the end, a fresh beast has emerged. That reptilian theme carries through to this song’s frankly evil vocal deliveries, which, for those heavily reverbed segments, sound as if they’re being screamed from an isolation cell. Yes, this is doom at its most dark and dreadful, just the way we like it. Deadwood To Worms is out October 13 through Art As Catharsis.

Erasers — Stem Together

There’s a ritualistic quality to Erasers’ new record, the way each element of percussion and melody emerges, surges and returns. It sounds almost generative, this strange mix of the synthetic and the organic, and it’s lifted up by Rebecca Orchard’s ghostly, heavily-reverbed incantations which seem to exist simultaneously apart from and woven into the fabric of songs like“Leaves” and “By Your Side”. Stem Together is available now through Pouring Dream.


KEN mode — These Tight Jeans

Jesse Matthewson steps into the ring for the first video from KEN mode’s killer Success. These Tight Jeans is probably the most unusual cut from the trio’s noise rock reinvention. Matthewson’s done some legitimate MMA sparring, and this clip cuts between throwing fists and shouting the song’s rally cries with the song’s guest vocalist Jill Clapham. It’s a welcome way of injecting one of the year’s best sleeper records back into the limelight. If METZ can be a huge deal, there’s no reason these Canadian neighbours can’t achieve the same dizzying heights.

Brian Eno explores John Peel’s record collection

That previous John Peel article was published in the leadup to the BBC Music John Peel lecture, to be delivered by Brian Eno at the British Library later today. Below is another short piece from the BBC, where Eno explores Peel’s record collection, reflecting on how revolutionary Peel’s championing of The Velvet Underground was, as well as the time Peel played Eno & Fripp’s record No Pussyfooting, backwards, without noticing.

Drowning Horse — Sheltering Sky

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

In the early 80s, I spent four years living in a tiny camp high in the Andes in the deep south of Perú, atop the crest of a fertile valley where a river barely struggled its way through the most arid region of the world. Across from this scar of emerald laid as a challenge through something that seemed lifeless from afar stood Cerro Baúl, an epic watcher amidst the rift made powerfully distinctive by ancient geological forces. To get anything beyond the bare necessities required a three hour drive from that place, down roads fraught with precipitous danger and out through the Atacama Desert. It was though an ocean had snapped instantaneously through transmutation into golden dust during a cataclysmic storm, with tremendous waves of nothingness as far as I could see.

It is certain that this is where my heart became such fertile ground for the experience of doom. These scores of journeys placed one in a deep meditative state, inescapably an insignificant and fragile lifeform within such immense and awesome manifestations of nature. More than a decade later, it would be exhilarating to relive this experience through sound. It never ceases to amaze me how persuasive particular artists are at invoking the sense of those places and those journeys. Over time, it would be one of the greatest surprises to witness that one of the most powerful examples of this in the world of doom was in my own back yard.

Those of us who have seen Drowning Horse live know what it is to have your breath expertly stolen, to experience the small confines of a dark venue open up into a world where mountains rise and explode before you, where fierce and unrelenting wind reshapes the sands of vast deserts as though they were waves of liquid sent crashing upon exotic shores. Their volume and intensity are legendary, yet would be nothing without the musicians’ phenomenal ability to patiently construct the means to fire a focused listener across a pneumatic trajectory. There are not many bands around who can take you to the core of your inner self like Drowning Horse can, provided you are ready to let them do so.

With such a gift for live performance at their disposal, one of the great challenges that a band like Drowning Horse is presented with is to translate this power across to the studio. Their first (self-titled) full length release through Heartless Robot demonstrated that they are capable of this, but over the years since that record was made, the band’s sound evolved and broadened a great deal, renewing the question as to whether the impact in the venues could be matched on a record. Sheltering Sky answers this question as assertively as Drowning Horse possibly could.

Whilst the self-titled album walloped you with high intensity brutality at nearly every turn, Sheltering Sky is an exhibition of dramatic refinement and elemental cleverness. This does not mean that the new album is not as heavy as the last. If anything, rolling back the compression on the mix and adding more movement to the way the songs progress (as well as stand alongside each other) enhances the magnitude when Drowning Horse go full throttle now. For those who have had their taste already through the single, “The Barrow Stones”, this should be quite obvious.

The cloud of black smoke that permeates the album’s mood is as delightfully suffocating as ever. Even in its most rustic moments, Sheltering Sky oozes with ruminative dread, proving the point that the best doom takes far more than volume alone to best express heaviness. The album’s second track, “Echoes”, exemplifies this to perfection. To say it is instrumentally simple and sparse belies the cerebral dexterousness of the song’s arrangement. “Echoes” is the quintessence of that aforementioned “elemental cleverness,” a mantra with vocal variation between ghostly monastic chants and gloom-fuelled bellows magically intensified by adroit instrumental dynamic shifts throughout the song.

Such an acquired wealth of dynamic gear changes suggests a wide range of influences within Sheltering Sky’s oppressive sound. Many will point readily to pioneers such as Neurosis, Sunn O))), and Earth, but as always, there is far more to it than the obviousness of those who brought the hallmarks of other artists before them into the form of heavy music. In many discussions on Sheltering Sky, names like Godflesh, shades of Russian Circles, the Melvins, and even one big stretch to rhythmic hints of the first Butthole Surfer albums have come up. The hardcore background of Drowning Horse’s members remains clear through the vocals and swarming drones of feedback. What emerges from all of this is that, saddled with the tags of the oversaturated such as doom and drone, Drowning Horse have made an album that makes them distinctive and appealing across underground musical cliques. Whatever follows on from here, when this band’s music plays you won’t have to go through a list of names to figure out who it is.

Sheltering Sky proves a point often mentioned when it comes to those who know Drowning Horse’s music and performances well: they are, at the very least, a world class doom band. For all the qualities cited as to what makes this kind of music great, they are a band that should be at the forefront of any discussion of who the best doom and drone bands might be. Deeply invested in nothing other than their creative expression, this probably matters little (if not at all) to Drowning Horse. The purity of spiritual pursuit evident in their music speaks to this. It serves no purpose other than the sincerity of the journey it seeks to take players and listeners alike on. Regardless of whether or not it may matter to them, Sheltering Sky will propel Drowning Horse firmly to the heights of respect amongst doom lovers around the world and ignite a yearning for a taste of the spectacular experience of the band’s performances. If not, then it could only be that said lovers lack something genuine in their own musical convictions.

Sheltering Sky is out October 22 through Art as Catharsis and FalseXIdol Records.

Ought — Sun Coming Down

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Ought’s second album Sun Coming Down is a deeply nihilistic release, but more in the way that Nietzsche talked about it his books than the way it’s often used by music critics to describe a sense of hopelessness or existential dread. Ought are aware that life lacks an accessible meaning, and instead of simply being sad about it, they want to use it as an excuse to smash down or ignore the dominant hierarchies, most of which are based upon some pretty shaky rational foundations. They sum it up in the final track, the cynically titled “Never Better”, where pseudo-optimistic lyrics like: “This is the high watermark of civilization,” are at odds with the violent energy and apocalyptic sound of the guitars. The mood is one of apathy and insanity, of a world that’s coming to an end. But the song itself is entirely different, strong in its convictions. And when taken as a part of the world that it describes, this satirical, progressive track can be seen as a little self-defeating, especially when it’s placed within the context of a year with a number of other innovative, high quality musical releases produced by other bands who, like Ought, are neither apathetic, nor willing to give in to despair. Ought describe the present state of things to turn against it, using it as motivation to create a better world. This focus is reflected by their music, which doesn’t really fit the mould of any pre-existing genre category.

Ought’s sound can be compared with Suicide for its rambling, narrative lyrics, Television for its vocals and guitars, even Talking Heads for its satirical, observational wit, but they don’t sound like any of those artists. “Men for Miles” bears a stylistic similarity to that energetic, semi-traditional post-punk of Australians like Soviet X-Ray Record Club or Gold Class, but the chorus is weirdly upbeat, and what semblance there is of structure emerges slowly, almost randomly along its 5 minute run time. “Passionate Turn” could almost be a pop song, with its bright guitars and catchy, rising choruses, but its melodies are atonal and repetitive and its vocals strange and alienating, making it difficult to imagine the song being satisfying to any kind of mainstream audience. The closest Ought get to a traditional structure is in the very long single track “Beautiful Blue Sky”, a mix of hypnotic repetition, ringing guitar tones, and introspective lyrics bearing close resemblance to “Once in A Lifetime” by Talking Heads. But it’s almost the singular example of a track that sounds like anything we’ve heard before. It doesn’t quite fit the mantle of post-punk, it’s too bleak for new wave, and too psychedelic for you to really call it punk.

In fact, the only thing it sounds like is Ought’s debut album, More Than Any Other Day. Sure, the sound is better, the structure of the songs is more precise, and there are some refreshing bursts of digital noise and lo-fi synths on “The Combo” and “On The Line”, providing evidence that the band are looking beyond their guitars to build a bigger version of their sound. But conceptually, the albums are the same. Ought are leaving post-punk altogether, assuming they were ever there to begin with, and moving out onto a separate genre that’s related to, but fundamentally different from, the ones that came before. They are a force unto themselves, a sound without a name, and while spiritual connections might be made with the soul-infused agitprop of Algiers, they don’t sound much like those bands either. But even if it doesn’t have a name yet, the sound Ought are making here is incredibly engaging, and they do it even better than they did on their debut. Who says there’s nothing new under the sun?

Sun Coming Down is out now through Constellation Records.

Noiseweek: My Disco, Ought, Heat Dust, Black Wing

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

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


Hit Charade: Meet the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts | The Atlantic

“Millions of Swifties and KatyCats—as well as Beliebers, Barbz, and Selenators, and the Rihanna Navy—would be stunned by the revelation that a handful of people, a crazily high percentage of them middle-aged Scandinavian men, write most of America’s pop hits. It is an open yet closely guarded secret, protected jealously by the labels and the performers themselves, whose identities are as carefully constructed as their songs and dances. The illusion of creative control is maintained by the fig leaf of a songwriting credit. The performer’s name will often appear in the list of songwriters, even if his or her contribution is negligible. (There’s a saying for this in the music industry: “Change a word, get a third.”) But almost no pop celebrities write their own hits. Too much is on the line for that, and being a global celebrity is a full-time job. It would be like Will Smith writing the next Independence Day.”

The slow death of music venues in cities | The Guardian

““It often starts from a relatively benign decision. The Troubadour in London is up for sale because they had a noise complaint related to their use of the garden. Kensington and Chelsea borough said they couldn’t use it after 9pm, their drink turnover went down substantially, and now there’s no guarantee it’ll be a venue in future. Someone wants to build next to the Fleece in Bristol,” he continues. “Bristol city council have fought hard for them, but they don’t have any support in law and flats are going to be built 20 metres from the main stage. In the next couple of years there will be noise complaints that will cost the Fleece £12,000 to £15,000 to handle, and it’s not making that in profit. The Point in Cardiff: they installed £68,000 worth of acoustic baffling to stop the complaints from a new development, and servicing the loan put them out of business. These little things just build up.””


My Disco — 1991

The second single from My Disco’s fourth album is the opposite of what a single is supposed to sound like. 1991 sees the trio exploring the same sparse sonic territory hinted at on Severe’s first single, King Sound, but here, that aesthetic is taken to its extreme. While Little Joy was all sunny, mid-ranged guitars, 1991 suggests Severe is ritual music — ominous, reflective and reverent, made not just to be heard but felt in the flesh. I can’t wait to see this new material live. Severe is out through Temporary Residence on October 30.

Heat Dust — I Warm My Hands

I’m putting it out there: The Flenser is the best record label in the world right now. No one else is putting out such a diverse swathe of exciting music, from extreme black metal to conceptual doomgaze to genre-bending electronica. Take a look at that stellar roster: King Woman, Black Wing, Planning for Burial, Sannhet, Kayo Dot and Wreck and Reference. Heat Dust are one of the more conventional additions to the venerable collective, but by the sounds of the brooding, cerebral post-punk on I Warm My Hands, they’re an ideal fit for such quality company. Heat Dust is out


Black Wing — Luther

This one’s all kinds of fucked up. Agent Cooper and Laura Palmer become pawns for a Windows Media Player visualisation filtered through a conspiracy theorist’s fever dream in the clip for the opening track of Black Wing Is Doomed. There’s nothing more to say about this one.

Ought — Sun Coming Down

The title track from Ought’s second full-length album is all jarring rhythms and discordant guitars, so it’s fitting the video match that mood with narrative dissonance and uncomfortable lightning cuts. Three girls ride bikes on suburban streets, shooting heavy looks over icecream and milkshake breaks. Shattered plates and glass flash in time with the beat. It’s uncomfortable and unknowable yet somehow welcoming, much like everything we’ve heard from Ought so far. Sun Coming Down is out now through Constellation Records.

Ahab — The Boat of Glen Carrig

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

“…there came to me out of the immensity of weed that lay to leeward, a far distant sound that grew upon my ear, rising and rising into a fearsome screaming and shrieking, and then dying away into the distance in queer sobs, and so at last to a note below that of the wind’s. At this, as might be supposed, I was somewhat shaken in myself to hear so dread a noise coming out of all that desolation…”

Written by William Hope Hodgson at the turn of the 20th century, The Boats of the Glen Carrig is the account set in 1757 of shipwrecked survivors and their fearful tribulation drifting upon the open sea, eventually encountering a mysterious island whose implied sense of salvation disintegrates through a series of encounters with bizarre “monsters”. The topic and narrative style make Hodgson an obvious precursor to and influence upon the writings of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Like many of the stories written by the more famous writer of those two authors, the value and evocative imagination of The Boats… is sifted from beneath a crust of challenging and archaic narrative style, a single narrator’s journal entries that at times go into even the most mundane level of detail. And, sure enough, beneath this jarring and often trying writing style, there is a dark and dramatic world that provides perfect inspiration for a brilliant album of doom metal.

The German band Ahab have, as their name might suggests, made it their conceptual modus operandi to draw inspiration from nautical literature that delves deeply into the effect the ocean has upon character. In terms of sound, Ahab are often referenced as one of the groups who have had a defining influence upon funeral doom as a whole. In fairness to musical history, their beginnings did come a good ten years after bands such as Unholy and Thergothon were at their peak; however, in terms of their themes and how they have both evolved and produced at such a consistently high level of quality as musicians, Ahab have certainly shown it is possible to stand out with aplomb from amidst a saturated stylistic mass. It is, therefore, reasonable to speculate that their effect on other doom musicians has been a powerful one, one great example being the Canadian band Sea Witch (who, whilst also aiming to create the sense of the sea, have sought out and established distinguishing characteristics for their sound that clearly set them apart from their peers).

If you had not guessed yet, for Ahab’s newest and fourth album the story the music is set to is Hodgson’s tale of The Boats of the Glen Carrig. For those familiar with both the short story and this new album’s predecessor (The Giant), the tale is an ideal opportunity for progression of that direction in which Ahab began to head back in 2012. Like The Giant, The Boats… instrumentally shifts between tranquil, bewitching calm and unforgiving storms of heaviness. The difference this time is simply that it flows in a more refined and effective manner, conveying the narrative dynamic of the album’s concept more organically and powerfully. Matching the story’s lulls and explosions of terror, the patient delivery of peace and beauty on the album lends greater impact to its heaviness, imbuing the latter with a greater feeling of escalating tension and subsequent invocation of the narrator’s spirit in the face of alien provocations of terror.

As the instrumental aspects have a more masterful handle on the dramatic transitions this time around, vocalist Daniel Drost has all that he needs to be permitted to articulate the story as brilliantly as he has ever been able to. Deft changes between clean vocals and phenomenal bellows brilliantly convey the transformation between the narrator’s musings at engagement with his fellow survivors, with their subtle lingering dread, into sheer panic and fright at confrontation with the hitherto unknown lifeforms of the island. The clean vocal parts are particularly wonderful, and serve greatly to further distinguish Ahab from their peers. In particular, the harmonized vocals over the top of such a beautiful guitar passage in the beginnings of “The Thing That Made Search” are as enjoyable as anything from a doom band you’ll hear this year.

With such a natural feeling developing to their stylistic transitions, The Boats of the Glen Carrig should gain them plenty of new lovers from outside the band’s previous niche. The Giant was, as all of their albums have been, a great listen. However, The Boats… creates a more well-thought-out and emotionally dynamic context in which The Giant begins to sound like an incomplete search for something, somewhat forced rather than a polished vision. If that is a valid opinion, then Ahab has now discovered its coveted fountain of conceptual storytelling, with flawless ebbs and flows that engross the listener and continually draw you back to experience the tale again. On this island of exotic horror, this band gels like it never has before.

Ahab’s The Boats of the Glen Carrig is out now through Napalm Records.

The Black Captain hosts RTRFM’s Out to Lunch Thursdays at 12pm (+8GMT) with Dave Cutbush.

Anger Management: Iron Maiden

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

When the “human air raid siren” Bruce Dickinson returned to Iron Maiden in 1999 along with guitar hero Adrian Smith, the band was totally rejuvenated. Given an energy boost that was sorely lacking during the two albums of the Blaze Bayley-era (1994–99; poor Blaze was an OK singer with impossible shoes to fill and some lacklustre/boring songs to deal with), the band bucked the trend of legacy acts releasing dodgy later period albums. On the contrary, some of Maiden’s best work has been in the past 10 years: Brave New World, Dance Of Death and A Matter Of Life And Death were all fantastic albums that showed there was still a lot of fire in the beast.

More recently, there have been some concerns that the band might be hanging up the axes. The title of 2010’s The Final Frontier raised a few alarm bells and Bruce’s admission that he was dealing with treatment for a cancerous tumour on his tongue was extremely concerning. Thankfully he was given the all clear in May and now we have the new double album, The Book Of Souls.

The 11-song double album has already gone to #1 in the UK charts and #2 in Australia, a very rare achievement for a band playing this type of music. There’s a lot of synth work in these tracks, which is surprising given the 3 guitarists, but it thickens out the sound and works well. Although there are quite a few tracks that push 7+ minutes duration, the songs all work well and never feel boring. Neither disc feels as laborious as Virtual XI.

“The Red And The Black” is a highlight, seemingly a love letter to the fans as it contains every Iron Maiden trope in a 13-minute epic. The second disc closes with the 18-minute “Empire Of The Clouds”, a micro-symphony written by Dickinson which doesn’t always work throughout, but is a pretty grandiose effort and makes me wonder what the band could do if pushed more in such a direction.

Some may bemoan the lack of a faster, punchier track (such as “The Trooper of Running Free”) but the longer tracks work much better here; the shortest song. “Tears Of A Clown”, is actually one of the album’s lesser tracks..

Lead single “Speed Of Light” is a cracker, even with its slightly out of place (more) cowbell and has an excellent clip that retro gamers will love. Up the Irons!

The Book of Souls is out now.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

PREMIERE: Perth’s Skullcave burn slow on How To Tell You’re Winning

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

It’s springtime in Australia, which means twilight walks on the beach, lazy (lazier?) afternoon siestas and distortion-soaked doom with a sunnier disposition. “How To Tell You’re Winning” is the first single from Perth’s riff-revering power trio Skullcave from the forthcoming four-track Climbing EP. This recent doomgaze fascination has led to some killer records this year, but where Skullcave stand out is in their particular attention to the almighty riff — that guitar hook on the verses “How To Tell You’re Winning” is major key and massive, coming off like the product of some orgiastic love-in between Black Sabbath, Sleep and Nothing. Could there be a more perfect union?

Skullcave launch Climbing at Jimmy’s Den in Perth on October 16

Noiseweek: Black Sabbath, Jessica Hopper, The Warriors, Caspian, METZ & Windhand

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

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


Guitar hero Tony Iommi — Why Black Sabbath tour will have to be our last | Birmingham Mail

““We’ve been doing this for getting on for 50 years now,” says the guitarist whose innovative technique has influenced countless others. “It’s about time we draw the line, don’t you think? It’s been great but it’s time to stop now. Don’t get me wrong, I still love gigging. It’s all the travelling and the exhaustion that goes with it that’s the problem. That side of things has a big impact on me. Yes, we may fly in luxury, stay in the very best hotels, ride in the most comfortable limos but there’s still a physical cost to touring. Even when we build in rest breaks – I have to have blood tests every six weeks – I find it tough going. You take a long haul flight, arrive somewhere at five in the morning and book into a hotel. There’s the soundcheck, the promotional work, the gig itself, then you’re back at the hotel to collapse into bed. Then next day you get to do it all over again. I love being up there onstage, playing with Sabbath. What I don’t love is all the other stuff necessary to enable that to happen. None of us are getting any younger, you know.””

Meet the Man Behind the Distinctive Soundtrack of The Warriors | The Village Voice

“Barry De Vorzon has always enjoyed creating music; he certainly never expected to be revered for it. It was quite the shock, then, when the musician, composer, and songwriter found himself being fawned over like some kind of rock god at the music conferences he’s attended for the past three decades. “My gosh, I was treated like a hero!” De Vorzon, 81, recalls of his fellow musicians’ praise for his soundtrack work on the gritty 1979 film The Warriors. Adding to his surprise was the fact that the film was in many ways a critical and commercial flop upon its release. “I said, ‘Wow! How did that happen?’ ” De Vorzon recalls with a chuckle. “But it did! The film just became this cult classic.””

How Japan’s New Nightclub Laws Threaten to Decimate Their Club Culture | Pitchfork

“Japan’s fueih? (or “entertainment business control law”) code governs everything from dancing, to drinking, to sex work, to nightclubs. Since its inception in 1948, the set of laws has technically forbade the existence of nightclubs under 66 square meters in size to allow dancing or for any sized club to allow dancing after midnight or 1 a.m. (depending on the area). For decades, officials turned a blind eye to the code, but in the last five years, police began enforcing the laws, leading to the closure of many dance halls and clubs. That, coupled with factors like the aging of Japan, threatened to decimate the country’s clubbing culture. Fearing extinction, several promoters and club owners in the scene organized—through a coalition called Let’s Dance—to use the 2020 Olympics as leverage and put political pressure on the government to update the laws. After several failed attempts, they finally forced the government to rewrite some of the code earlier this summer. This revision loosened some of the dancing restrictions and now allows for certain clubs to be open past midnight or 1 a.m. (provided certain stipulations, like having the requisite amount of light in the venue, are met).”


Caspian — Arcs of Command

Caspian are never going to be one of those bands to break the post-rock mould, and that’s perfectly fine: they don’t really need to when they’ve developed a knack for wielding its tropes in the best possible way. Arcs of Command from the forthcoming Dust & Disquiet doesn’t get going until about halfway into its 8-minute runtime, but that build-up fields necessary as waves upon waves of riffs alternate between crushing and uplifting. At the end, the noise gives way to that crushing crescendo that Caspian do better than just about anyone else. Dust & Disquiet is out in Australia through Hobbledehoy Records on September 25.

Windhand — Grief’s Internal Flower

Windhand give a masterclass in rhythm on their third record. Grief’s Internal Flower isn’t your typical doom record — for one, it boasts Dorthia Cottrell ethereal vocals, offering a ghostly presence amongst the plodding riffs that drive songs like Hyperion and Two Urns. But there are fascinating interludes folk interludes here that recall Mark Lanegan’s post-Screaming Trees reinvention. Doom metal’s a genre prone to homogeny, but Windhand prove there’s still plenty more aesthetic territory to mine with gloomy and gargantuan instrumentation. Grief’s Internal Flower is out September 18 through Relapse.


METZ — Live on KEXP

No other organisation has crammed as many amazing, loud and vital bands into a tiny space as Seattle radio station KEXP. A Place to Bury Strangers, Built to Spill, Swervedriver, Nothing and Speedy Ortiz just scratch the surface of the station’s long list of alumnae. Here, Canadian noisefuckers treat listeners to a four-song set featuring Wait in Line, The Swimmer, Spit You Out and Acetate. How did a group of nice Canadian boys come to sound so mean?

Jessica Hopper’s Keynote at BIGSOUND

Don’t let the hour-long length discourage you; Jessica Hopper’s keynote this past weekend in Brisbane for BIGSOUND is vital viewing for everyone involved in music. Whether you’re working in the industry, playing in a band or going to shows, you need to watch this. Hopper — who’s been working in music for almost two decades, is currently a Senior Editor at Pitchfork and recently published The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic — addresses the systemic misogyny she and countless other women encountered in her 20 years in music. She details her conversations on Twitter — which she projects behind her during her speech — with women around the world who’ve shared the same experiences — sound guys fucking with female musician’s sound because of rejected sexual advances, women having their interest or involvement in music constantly called into question by men, as well as countless instances of death threats, condescension and sexual harassment. Hopper’s message clear: these issues are not isolated to one sector of the industry or one country: they run deep in every aspect of the music business, and that it’s on men in music to address them. That means listening to women’s experiences of misogyny rather than doubting them them or justify the abhorrent behaviour of perpetrators, calling other man out on their bullshit, and understand your role to make sure you’re not a part of the problem. I can’t emphasize enough: this is required viewing.

Gold Class — It’s You

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

From the opening seconds of “Furlong,” with its tin-can drums, brooding bass and clattering guitars, I knew this album would be something special. When Adam Curley’s vocals kicked in several seconds later — a combination of Morrissey’s pleading moans and Ian Curtis’s raw, commanding energy — I knew that I was hooked. This is probably the best post-punk album recorded in the last few years, beating out Savages, Nite Fields, and even Wire to the title, with its retro-sounding minimalist production married to an impossible union of UK and American references. It sounds like it could have been made in the 1980s, but its laser focus on disparate regional styles of post-punk, with complementary shades of British goth, is all 2015, taking full advantage of the far-reaching vision of its genre that the modern version of the internet allows.

If you believe that any of that is hyperbolic, you mustn’t be familiar with Melbourne’s Gold Class. In 2015, their early singles received almost daily airplay on 3RRR, helping to establish stratospheric expectations for their debut release. That album came out at the start of the month, and it’s every bit as mesmerizing as expected, with its bleak, hypnotic guitar riffs, pounding drums, and relentless, driving energy. Curley is the most like Ian Curtis that the current stage of the post-punk revival’s ever seen, with the same unique mix of confidence and nervous energy. The authenticity and character of his performance is the first and most exciting feature that you’ll notice on the album. Evan James Purdley’s Television-inspired guitar riffs will probably be the second, and it’s them that really help to differentiate this from the crop of similar post-punk artists drawing most of their inspiration from the British scene. Put simply, it’s an amazing new release that expands upon, and even exceeds, the exciting example set by their early singles, and almost every track is vital here.

“Life as a Gun” was the most memorable of their pre-album releases, with its fast tempo, hook-laden guitar work and commanding foghorn vocals. But it’s not even the most exciting song you’ll hear here, with gothic dance-floor filler “Bite Down” competing for the spot of most infectious single on the album. “Perverts” is dreamlike and accusatory. You’ll lose yourself for hours in its swirling guitars. “Half-Moon Over” sounds like a dream collaboration between Television, Joy Division and Sisters of Mercy that should have been on Marquee Moon. “Pro Clank” dives a little into Algiers territory, with its soulful vocals and stuttering jazz beat, coupled with powerful, inspirational lyrics (“Nothing can stop me / I’m ten million strong”), whereas “Michael” is nostalgic and sweet, with a narrative focus and a soaring, melancholic chorus: “And it all falls down, when you don’t want it to.” Couple that with gripping tracks like “The Soft Delay” and “Athena” – with its thunderous drums and dissonant guitar work – and round it off with the beautiful piano-driven “Shingles,” and you have something close to the perfect album. It stands proudly alongside its influences and its contemporaries, an inspiration for the future and an evocation of the past, both ground-breaking and traditional. Melbourne seems to have a lot of post-punk inspired bands making awesome music lately, but It’s You establishes Gold Class as one of the best.

When Total Giovanni and Mangelwurzel finally release their debut albums we might have a fight on our hands, but until then Gold Class are in a league of their own. Australia often gets overlooked when it comes to post-punk and new wave, so it’s inspiring to see so much of it, of such competitive quality, coming out of the country lately. And that’s not even touching the booming local shoegaze scene. If you’re interested in post-punk, trad goth, or local alternative music, don’t let this album pass you by. It’s the best debut to come out of Australia this year.

It’s You is out now through felte and Spunk Records.