Friday, 17 April 2015

PREMIERE - Sonic Explorer Andrew Tuttle Constructs The Post Meridian With Matmos


It's been six weeks, but Sonic Masala (the blog) is back! We have plenty to speak about, shit on about, brag about and listen to. We haven't been idle - the sixth entry into the Sonic Masala Records stable, Dollar Bar's third LP Hot Ones, is now out and smokin' hot; the second annual (that's right - watch out 2016!) Sonic Masala Fest kicked arse in Brisbane, Australia; and just last Saturday we had our first live showcase right here in London, featuring Giant Swan, Yaws, mnttab and TOOMS - officially an international concern!

So I thought the best way to come back into the written form is with a bang - so here is the premiere of 'Post Meridian Construction', the new track of Andrew Tuttle's second proper release Slowcation, out on Room40 cassette imprint A Guide To Saints. Featuring Matmos' MC Schmidt, it is a soft melt, the drip filter of whiteout afternoons, where the sun is out but colour drains from the canvas. A netherland of overt emotion, it provides the perfect platform for reflection, rumination and regrowth.

The album itself perfectly encapsulates the fervent yet awestruck fever one gets when in the presence of a positive energy that Tuttle embeds in all of his work. The A side was created while Tuttle toured the States, taking in such diverse outsider fare as the Goldrush Festival in Denver and hanging out with Matmos and Dan Deacon; while the B side was created back on home soil, with the vacation turbines still winding down. Starting with that familiar warm cut up tone of Tuttle's trusty banjo, 'Vernon City Limits' glistens with an eternal shimmer, like solar flares on a slowed-down Super 8 video of a car journey through an innocent past (with the aid of Christopher Fleeger). There is always a percolating sense of innocence and hope in Tuttle's work (dating back to the early days of his Anonymeye guise), yet on Slowcation there is a innate confidence in his efforts to splice and reorder sonic structures entwined with a subversive joy in overlaying bucolic whimsy and happenstance over synthetic currents that sets this above and beyond what he has put to tape in the past. Even the pinging fray that opens 'Wave Triplet' explodes into cascading colour, aural sparks of kaleidoscopic wonder. Tuttle has become an artist in displaying the computer as a expansive palette, a conduit to further realms for more organic instrumentation, and Slowcation is further proof, if any was needed, that programming and hard edits can provide transcendental epiphany.

Slowcation comes out at the end of the month - pre-order it here. Tuttle has a series of shows coming up to showcase the release, so make sure you get along to one of the below and say g'day - he will definitely say g'day back and have a beer and talk cricket if you are into that sort of thing:

• 23.04.2015: The Bearded Lady, Brisbane. with No Magic + Feeding Fauna + Blank Realm x Monopoly Child Star Searchers DJs. 138 Boundary St, West End. $10, 8pm. Facebook

• 03.05.2015: Pretty Gritty @ 107 Projects, Sydney. with AFXJIM + Monica Brooks + CORIN + Samuel James. 5:30pm-9pm, $10/8. 107 Redfern Street, Redfern. Facebook.

• 04.05.2015: Mundane Mondays @ The Old Bar, Melbourne. with Carolyn Connors + Brite Fight. 8pm, $5. 74 Johnston St, Fitzroy. Facebook

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

MUSIC FROM SLOVENIA (a new segment from Ziga Jenko)

(PHOTO - Matthias von Stumberger)

HIIIIIII! It's been a while, I admit. Things happen. Festivals happen. New label releases happen. All of this will be discussed in due time. But let's get on with it. Ziga Jenko plays in Slovenian free improve band oOo - they are pretty damn rad. He also writes for Hrup magazine over there, and he interviewed me for it last year. We are going to swap stories - five bands each from our respective countries. Here is his first batch:

I was surfing around and looking for great music blogs one night. I’ve visited few and mostly they offered generic global music that everybody is writing about. And so my eye caught a great name: Sonic Masala. It promised a great mix of everything. So I clicked the link and couldn’t be happier with the diversity of music and a lot of Australian bands that I had never heard of. I was always a fan of Australian bands such as Cosmic Psychos, Beasts of Bourbon, The Saints, Tame Impala, The Necks, The Birthday Party, X, Dirty Three … Here I am one year later trying to give you a piece of Slovenian music as Brendan will do the same at our web music magazine Hrupmag. So let me pick first five for you. 

Incurabili - Fair Enough (ZaložbaRadiaŠtudent)

Incurabili is a dirty blues duo. Two great vocalists have joined their forces. Bruno Subioto who played before in garage band like The Spoons, Hic etNunc, Matchless Gift and still is in Roger N. Out. Well Roger N. Out was founded on the ashes of band Dicky b. Hardy, former Niko Novak’s band. Niko and Bruno have recorded 4 albums together as Incurabiliand Fair enough is a great album with atmosphere which is greatly represented in the cover photo. They play all instruments also live at the concerts and they do not do any dubbing while recording songs for album. But not on this one, they made a step further and gave to the songs even more power with dubbing their strongest attribute, the voice. Both of them are great interprets so while listening you get drifted into a dark world of alcohol, sex and wild life. 

Moveknowledgement – See (Beton Records) 2014 

See is their fifth album. It has been selected as one of the finest of year 2014 at almost every musical media here in Slovenia. It had really great impact when it came out. I don’t remember for long time that so many folks would wait for promo album concert of home band which is on the edge between underground and mainstream. Even the national TV had recorded this gig. The most known and active band member is singer, who is the best freestyle battle rapper in Slovenia. He works under the name N’toko making some great music with social critical lyrics. His skills with words are obvious also at album See. See is mature album of a band who knows what they want and how to do it. I’m sure you will enjoy it.


Nina Bulatovix - Jate (Kapa Records) 

This is not a conventional trio. It consists of bass, drums and vocals. They play great music that you can dance to while thinking of lyrics that are great reflection of time. They sing in Slovene and they are calling you to wake up and fight against politics without any holding back. They want you to start thinking with your own head! This one is the album of 2014 at Hrumag and is their second album. They started band as an answer to uprising against local government at Maribor which is second largest town in Slovenia. Jate means Flocks in our language as a metaphor for crowds we are gathered around different political ideas. Even if you will not understand anything, this is a great way to meet our quite complicated Slavic Slovenian language. 

Vid Drašler - Kramljanja (Zavod SPLOH) 

Vid Drašler is a drummer. He learned his skills at Zlatko Kaučič percussion and drums school. Well Zlatko Kaučič is one of the greatest Slovenian artists known internationally as an uncompromising improviser and composer. Vid has been taking his lectures even further. With his imagination he succeeded to create really a great album just with drum kit and few add-ons like hanging wrenches. It was published at SPLOH records, where you can find a lot of great Slovene improvised music. 

Matthias von Stumberger - Rockundrollmusik (self-published) 

This one is a DIY pearl. Mathias is a garage rock enthusiast who recorded all instruments at his living room by himself. He did it out of the boredom and for their friends. He has used his cheap effects which I must say sound like a garage rocket. He wanted to hire a singer but he rather drunk few beers and did it by himself. This music is bursting with energy. He even was discussing it to publish it at Slovenly records but well… beer happened. You don’t need to be only a garage rock fan to love this one.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

PREMIERE - Primary Colours Keep It Basic With Compact Disc (VIDEO)

Today I kiss the ground of Australian soil for the first time in nine months - AND IT FELT SO GOOD. Ill be offline for a few days as I lose myself in the Victorian countryside (and head to Golden Plains too), so let's welcome each other into a warm embrace by premiering the new Primary Colours video, 'Compact Disc'. It's their scrappy post punk nonsense, which gets heady and serrated if suitably loose, but the looped, VHS faded, cartoon cigarettes, smiles and starts-imposed clip is its own streamlined beast.

Primary Colours are about to embark on a tour to launch their Compact Disc/Services Rendered 7" release:

March 14th @ The Phoenix Pub Canberra w/ Bare Grillz 
March 20th @ Black Wire Records w/ Sadfaces + Twin Rover 
March 22nd @ The Grace Darling Hotel for Minimum Wage w/ Orlando Furious.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Hits From The Box #98 - Antique Roadshow Blues

You know when it gets into this twilight zone period on Sunday afternoon evening when it suddenly dawns on you that you are back at work the next day and it fills you with dread? My girlfriend calls it the Antique Roadshow blues, because as a kid she would see that come on the TV and it was an instant reminder that the weekend was on the wane. I'm having that right now. Need to liven up the last few hours of freedom...

Diet Cig is a duo intent on dishing out indie bounce and young adult ephemera a la Speedy Ortiz. Their new EP Over Easy is a playful expulsion of overt emotions, whether it be the freedom of being in your first apartment ('Breathless'), the painful expositions of hipsters ('Scene Sick') or the anger at Ivy Leaguer arseholes ('Harvard'). It's all innocuous, bubbly, and as Alex Luciano puts it, it just makes you want to dance.

I spoke recently about San Francisco band Happy Diving. One member of that band, Samuelito Cruz, is also in Never Young, a four-piece that slam into Les Savy Fav territory in their new self-titled EP, imbued as it is with mood, menace and a heady degree of melody. 'Ur A Front' in particular holds up to the LSF comparison, while the rest of the EP keeps the noise evenly calibrated with icy precision. These guys are definitely ones to watch. Race out and grab this 12" now.

This one is super old - 9 months is kinda old, right? - I Im Eye My's 7 Transmissions though is pretty great. Out through Not Not Fun, the Philadelphia duo's release is a blast synth oddysey (emphasis on odd) - feeling both a narcotic drag through perpetual Blade Runner nights, and a narcoleptic heart murmur synthesised psychomania. It's an overblown, overpopulated overriding of the senses. There is such a heady mix of genres, styles, modes and moods that outside of 'Momentum' maintains the heat and cybernetic intensity - when they final track is titled 'She's On A Different Trip', I couldn't agree more.

Toronto outfit Prom have a pot pourri of influence swirling about in their veins, having taken the National way of constructing propulsive emotive rock and combined it with shoegaze histrionics, heightened post-rock expulsions and elegiac malaise on their Dumb Summer EP. They rightfully describe their music as "bummer jams", so you know this isn't going to be a buoyant bucolic ride into the sun, despite the above band photo. My favourite track on here is 'Park Moods', even though that avoids Daniel Wilson's baleful baritone.

Heading to Australia now - Sydney in fact - and Claire & The Cops. The trio have just brought out Lounge Lovers on cassette, and the EP is a blase exercise in garage surf-scuzz. They manage to marry the laconic spazz of Dune Rats, the glam immediacy of King Tuff and the balls-to-the-wall noise of Straight Arrows. It's not just fun, but there is meat in the sound that really hooks. This is gooooood.

Back in Toronto to finish up with Terrorista. The duo have been putting out a series of colourful tapes since September, and Green Tape is the third in the collection. The band churn out doleful loud rock fare that has slowly refined over the course of these three tapes, right up to second song 'Sean Drums' that holds precariously onto a cracked melody that supersedes the scabrous sonics and ventures into emotive rock territory. To hear the evolution I have put all three releases below for your perusal.

Happy Sunday everyone!


When I mentioned French band Cowbones late last year, I mentioned that I was very excited about their upcoming album, Vox Populi Polux. This anticipation was based on the above photograph and one track only, 'New Cobonnies'. I compared them to Grinderman, Jon Spencer and other rampant psychobilly misanthropes - and that comparison still stands. But Cowbones are a much stranger beast than this acknowledgement. Opening with the staccato drum machine and organ combo with warped vocals of 'No Law', we realise that these punks are unique in their derangement. 'Cramp' seems devoted to The Cramps/The Mummies et al, thus the name, but then there is the sparse, distorted dance-punch of 'Honey' or the syncopated belch of 'My Room'. 'Pink' whips out the Theremin and takes us down into the sordid Underworld. Most of the lyrics whether Gallic or English are delivered from a megaphone made out of rusted aluminium and razor wire. It's a special brand of hell that I for one subscribe to wholeheartedly.

You can grab Vox Populi Polux (out now through Casbah Records) here.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

This Lamentable Au.Ra

Back in 2011-2012 I mentioned an artist from Sydney who went under the name Colours. That guy, Tom Crandles, pointed me in the direction of a lot of Sydney bands (such as Day Ravies, Unity Floors and Bachelor Pad) that I have since become massive fans of. Tom hasn't been sitting idly though - along with Tim Jenkins (Parades), he has transformed into the discombobulated pop of Au.Ra. Launching their debut LP Jane's Lament through felte Records, Au.Ra construct woozy soundscapes that envelop and entrance - the psych laced drift of 'Morning'; the jangle and drift of 'Sun'; the somnambulist float of 'You're On My Mind'. There are echoes of other lo-fi dreamers such as Beach Fossils in some of these tracks, with a lick of electronic sheen sliding in and out of the ether. The cover art is fairly indicative of what the album conveys - a seductive, flowing darkness, delivered with a slickness and vibrancy often found wanting elsewhere. Great stuff.

Grab Jane's Lament here.

LAPD Let The Water And Wine Flow

Another day, another Los Angeles Police Department release it seems. 'Water & Wine' is the flipside to Ryan Pollie's incoming Insecurity 7", and it is a quieter but no less contemplative rumination of the Self, something Pollie is incredibly adept at producing. It drifts on the gentlest of breezes, a soft touch, and its simplistic beauty is alluring. Pre-order the 7" (out next week through Fat Possum) here.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Friday Cover Up - Giving Cattle Anthrax

Just a quick post to finish the week. I have been putting together a lineup for the first Sonic Masala show here in London, so I have been listening to a lot of new stuff for that express purpose - and I happened to stumble across this pretty great, slightly bonkers cover of Gang of Four's seminal rant 'Anthrax' by sludge lords Cattle. This led me to checking out their EP which is pretty amazing too - Leeds truly is one of the best grimy noise dens in the country. Hoping to hear a hell of a lot more out of these clowns this year...

The Blue Period

Brisbane-based label Ruined Smile is pushing some interesting releases. I spoke about Moral Straitjacket last week; I will be talking about Hutt River Province and Feature next week. But to be honest, the release I have enjoyed the most thus far is this reissue of Nottingham's The Blue Period's And Suddenly The Days Draw Long Like Light-Years EP. With such an unwieldy and verbose title, I was thinking this would provided skeletal post-rock trappings - instead this is a intricate sojourn through the tetchy, fidgety indie fare that The Promise Ring, The Album Leaf or Jets To Brazil revelled in back in their day. So emo when it reference emotions, not a sub culture, then. The interplay between Celia McDougall and Chris Moore is understated yet impressive - their harmonies plaintive, sometimes schoolyard-shouty, sometimes bedroom-whispered. These guys know when to let a simple spidery lead echo out without altering direction, letting the lyrics colour the edges, and when to break out of contemplation and into playful interaction. It's 2015, so I am sure there will be those of you that will shelve this before you have listened to a lick of it - but And Suddenly The Days... proves that any genre can break out of the wintry embrace of its time capsule when the essence is distilled as creatively and fervently as this.

You can grab the EP here - it's a good'un.

Thursday, 19 February 2015


Swedish punks RA are preparing to launch their blistering debut album Scandinavia on us (through Adrian Recordings in March) which can't come soon enough. The Malmo four-piece tear into a propulsive black hole of white noise, drums of the colossi, relentless basslines, and the commanding bellow and roar of Simon Mino, resting somewhere between Ian Curtis, Disappears' Brian Case and fellow Scandinavian reprobate Elias Bender Ronnefelt. But unlike the nascent disdain that coloured Iceage's first releases and the measured temperament of their 2015 guise, RA expel a fervent energy that comes from enervation, desperation and finely-calibrated dissent, coalescing forth in a miasma of spat mantras designed to enrapture and hypnotise rather than eviscerate. While the singles 'These Days' and 'The Void' have more nihilistic pulse propelling them out of the darkness, songs like 'The South' has a pop buoyancy swirling under the opaque surface, and the title track feeds into Gothic march synth-punk futurism. All in all, a heady and heavy album that nonetheless crackles with energy.

Scandinavia can be pre-ordered here.

Video Vacuum - METZ, This Will Destroy You, Johnny Telafone, Food Court, The Ocean Party, The Body & Thou

I'm trying to mark 120 assignments on my holiday, so here is a six-pack of A/V viscera to take my mind off it - come, sit down, take a load off, enjoy.

METZ is back! The Toronto noiseniks have a new record on the way, imaginatively titled ii, and are cooking up a special treat in the form of 'Acetate'. A pancake artiste puts his special spin on things, throwing dice, marijuana, pine cones and a glowing anal egg to create a incredibly tasty dish, with added product placement (I definitely want that MAD ripoff tee).

Still heavy but in a mellowed ambient sense, we have 'New Topia', another cut from Texan titans This Will Destroy You's Another Language album of last year. The psychedelic animations combine well, bleeding into each other to make this a mind melter of infinite value.

Melbourne's premiere underground crooner Johnny Telafone has smashed it out of the park with his dour 'Inferno', a lurking lounge number that wouldn't be too out of place with Dean Stockwell lip-syncing this into a lightbulb. As it stands, you have washed out apocalyptic fare swimming across a sheet while Liam "Snowy Nasdaq" Halliwell (The Ocean Party) cracks out a stellar guitar solo on an unplugged guitar. I know a lot of people don't get Telafone, but for everyone's sake, try. This is the real deal.

Speaking of The Ocean Party, they also have a new video out - 'Floodlights', one of the best tracks on their brilliant fourth album Soft Focus. Seeing Snowy wandering around the countryside is bemusing enough - seeing the others take Venetian splits as they wander the Melbourne streets heightens the laconic meander.

Up to Sydney and down by the river with Food Court. It's typical rollicking fare from the four-piece, the kind of marching forth frivolity that comes from getting daggy down on the water, faffing about on boats you have no idea about, with nothing to do and no place to be. It's a perfect ramshackle jam into the sun.

But we can't always have sunshine and lollipops - and that's where The Body & Thou comes in. Their grainy B&W video for 'Beyond the Realms of Dream, That Fleeting Shade Under the Corpus of Vanity' plays out like a VHS serial killer video diary. Combine this with the bands' typically annihilating industrial noise, and you have a feverish nightmare that just won't quit.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Mooning Weird Jack

Jack Name (touring guitarist for White Fence) has brought out a new album, Weird Moons, and it is pretty weird. It has a plethora of touchstones, both past and present. I can see why Castle Face Records were drawn to the record, especially seeing as they also recently put out King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard's latest LP. The woozy opener 'Werewolf Factory' could have come out of that band's think tank, with references to Ariel Pink, Thee Oh Sees and Warren Zevon mashed into the cracked centre. Its a seriously warped melange of sounds - the warble of 'Lowly Ants' reminds me of Air if they had lowered themselves into a Pink mire; the opening of 'Running After Ganymede' sounds like a stomach wind; the spectral swagger and stagger throughout 'Waiting For Another Moon' holds in thrall. In fact this entirely bizarre album holds one in thrall throughout, whether there is a glam rock blast-out, like King Tuff strung out on Numan's supply on 'Watcher Talk', the sun-warped sci-fi yacht rock of 'Io' or the maudlin introspection of maximal minimalist 'Lowly Ants'. This is an album that is made out of time and out of mind, and deserves to be huge. It won't be - but it deserves to be.

Grab Weird Moons here.

Another Lash Of Bloody, Acidic Spray Paint

One of my favourite bands of the last few years has been Austin angular misanthropes Spray Paint. Their self-titled record on SS Records was an unheralded sucker punch of a record; and at the tail end of last year they followed it up with a great 7" on London's Upset The Rhythm label in Cussin and a new album in Clean Blood, Regular Acid. I have spoken about this excellent record already, but feel the need to mention it again as it is being released in Australia this month (through the excellent Homeless Records via Monofonus Press) and it inexplicably slipped through my fingers first time around.

Suffice to say that Spray Paint's third album is a tour de force of rusted and warped guitar, slow yet incessant drums, a fetid heartbeat bass and barbed, deadpan lyrics chanted with narcotic-numbed nonchalance (Homeless' head honcho Richie claimed it as his album of the year in 2014). Kicking off with the discordant twangs of seemingly incompetent musicians, the uneasy metronome that develops into a mordant urgency on opener 'Wet Beer' is maintained for the entirety of the album. 'Texas Talking Powder' comes across like Supersuckers boiled to their basest elements and lit with bare wires; 'Threesomes Can Wait' takes some of the anodyne precision of Disappears, flays it open with the brutality of a drunken butcher while The Cramps and B-52s beat each other to death with their own shoes on the crackling, blood spattered wireless radio.

There is a rich seam of American rock music at the moment that maniacally latches onto the literate outliers, intent to amuse and unseat, to entice and endanger. Parquet Courts are the light; Pile lurk in the dappled shadows; and Spray Paint twitch and mewl in the darkness, seemingly lost of faculties, ranting pitch black platitudes, all the while luring you closer and closer until you wake up, a jittering soothsayer, covered in filth, viscera and arcane words spiked in Nikko. Buy Clean Blood, Regular Acid here - you'll thank me later.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tuesday Cover Up - Thank God The Captain's Still Breathing

Normally I do covers on a Friday, if I do them at all. But on Friday something awful happened - an idol of mine, Slint guitarist David Pajo, attempted suicide. He survived. He called out for help via a heart-wrenching note on his social media feeds. Nevertheless it makes you realise how close people can be yet how far away they can seem to you, and vice versa, unless you remain emotionally close to them at all times. I don't often put super faithful covers up here, but Ex-Breathers did 'Good Morning, Captain' the other night, and its pretty much unfuckwithable, so it stands. I'm thinking of you Pajo, and all those who feel alone - you are never alone.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Hits From The Box #97 - UnValentine's Day

I haven't had to celebrate Valentine's Day for over five years, which is great. My girlfriend's birthday is February 14, so I celebrate that. The thing is, it's so difficult doing anything nice for her because everyone else is getting shitting corporate bullshit gifts; and every restaurant is boosting the cost of dinner to be part of a set menu that mostly have cloying fringe crap like hearts and glitter and other chokable pap. Which means we usually stay home and watch movies and eat chocolate on that day, and head out before or after - which still works out for me at any rate, but it still sucks. So here are six tenuous links to this most hated of corporate days (seriously, love your other every day and make it special, and stop rubbing your faux happiness into singles' face on February 14).

1) For when things become too much or too weird, you need the twisted garage punk rock of Icky Boyfriends. The veteran SF trio have just put out one of the Live in San Francisco records that Castle Face Records love pumping out, and it's a veritable shit tonne of gangrenous fun. This is the kind of gig that if you took your better half to as a date, and she came away loving it, then you have a keeper. Equal parts rock, roll and stagger, all parts sloppy fun. They play the hits and then some - including this.

2) For when things happen off the cuff, you can dive headlong into the fuzzy lilting doo-wop pop of Impulsive Hearts. The Chicagoans try their hardest to keep things light and spontaneous - their music evokes "swimming after dark, beaches and dance parties" which can sound naff but on a day where manufactured love can go wrong, a bit of sepia tinged rock whimsy can't be a bad thing, can it?

3) For when the choice between a cuddly puppy and a bubble-bath of chocolate is too tight to call, call Pets Or Food. These Swedes call themselves "no romantics" - their new album is called No Romantik in case you thought they were joking - which fits perfectly here, and their sax skronk no wave blitzkrieg scours the Valentine scourge from even the lightest touch of love suckers. It's an atonal blast, and while they stand out like a sore thumb on this particular hit list, Pets Or Food are a great band much deserving of your time.

4) For when the one by your side is still sexy even after they fart incessantly...yep, we're talking about Best Friends there. It's taken a little while, but the four Sheffield lads are about ready to bring out their debut, suitably titled LP, Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane., through FatCat Records. Here is their taster, 'Fake Spit', and it's as raucous and silly as you'd expect - great, then.

5) For when the post coital rest is awkward thanks to a climax that shook the walls but also sounded like slightly "human sacrifice"...we have Detroit's Ritual Howls. Their second album Turkish Leather came out on felt Records last year and I missed it, but thankfully am picking up the slack due to this video for 'Zemmoa'. There is a pagan intensity to the echo on the vocals, and the incessant drum beat and apocryphal guitar lines add a feverish layer to proceedings, ebbing and flowing like the release of blood.

6) Finally, for when there is no one to be your Valentine - you may as well do it for yourself. Free Yourself is the new record from Flesh Lights - perfectly named, I'm sure you will agree. These Texan punks are all about injecting punch into their pop - there is nothing fake about this, it's just unadulterated fun for all concerned. And if you have thrown this on in the darkness of your room, all alone - why shouldn't you be able to indulge in a little fun me time? You're just about due...

Happy UnValentine's Day, everyone!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Painting Sundays In My Dreams

The reissue revolution continues, and within you find things you didn't even know you missed. case in point - 80s art punk denizens of Woollongong, The Sunday Painters, whose three EPs have been brought together into one LP called In My Dreams by What's Your Rupture?. The trio's love of VU and Television are pretty obvious, but what is even more endearing about these tracks is the drum machine, the rudimentary technology being reamed to their absolute limits, the kneejerk jump from one style to another so as to feel like you are listening to a mixtape from song to song (augmented by the blasted-apart cover of Bowie's 'Rebel Rebel'). Its such a bizarre and beguiling time capsule that, while Im glad I didn't grow up in Woollongong in the 70s/80s, I wish I could go back for just a taste of the demented pop these three slung out to the wanton few.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Wett Nurses Having A Hissy Fit

Ongakubaka has been a blog about psych noise rock that I have followed and enjoyed for some time now, and like Sonic Masala (and other blogs before us), they have gone out and started their own label. The first release to come from their stable is Hissy Fit, the new EP for Portland loose psych dwellers Wett Nurse. The organ imbues the Thee Oh Sees heavy work with an authenticity and baroqueness that is endearing and eclectic - it lends songs like 'Spook It' a otherworldly kitsch that aligns it with 50s B-movie madness. And I love 50s B-movie madness.

Bizarrely I haven't warmed as much to Ongakubaka's second release, the self-titled cassette from paisley-psyched German duo Lovebyrd - but it has been getting some great reviews, so definitely check it out here.

The Fire And Brimstone Rocketship Of Ragtime Frank

Leighton Craig (Primitive Motion, The Deadnotes, Kindling House) told me about Ragtime Frank just before I left Australia in 2014. He also sent me his album, I'm A Rocketship For My Lord, a few months ago - but it's only been the past week, when I was laid up with the good ol chest infection, that I finally slipped myself into these corroded blues, and I have no idea why I waited so long. With Craig helping out on drums and some vocals, the album focuses primarily on the unhinged fuzz brew that percolates unsteadily from Frank's guitar, and the gravelly sermons that spit from his lips. With his "cats" and "dig" calls, you still aren't mistaking these serrated lo-fi devolutions as jazz locutions - or even gospel proclamations - even though the vehement delivery is that of a rabid, blues-drenched evangelist. It's a cacophonous maelstrom, always threatening to fall apart but resolutely, belligerently staying off-kilter yet forever upright, and Frank's battered preacher's yowl and guitar-as-crucifix-and-Bible is slammed maniacally into your soul. Incredible.

I'm A Rocketship For My Soul is out through Little Chief Records now.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Entoomed On These Crystal Shipsss

Let's whisper in the white noise of the weekend twilight with some outlier music from two European explorers...

Jacob Faurholt continues to mine sepulchral waters as Crystal Shipsss, with latest track 'Metal' (the precursor of a mysterious new album due later in the year) being no exception. A low hush emanates for 20 seconds before a deep bassline seems to herald the end of times...but an industrial apocalypse is eradicated with the drum machine and the high-pitched, aloof vocals that take us into Bauhaus' lair, even if we remain wallflowers at this Gothic ball, unable to fathom the machinations of what is at play. Crystal Shipsss have caught the support of Nadja in their hometown of Copenhagen in March - nice one guys!

Back in 2012 I wrote about a UK artist called Silver - you can read and listen here. The artist, Molly Macleod, has changed her name to TOOMS (I'm desperately hoping in reference to one of the best TV villains/monsters, The X-Files' Eugene Tooms?), and she is back into the looped pedal blues with new EP Misophonia. The industrial crawl that permeates these tracks produces a palpable dread, a creeping knowledge that the spectral guitar drone and haunting, layered vocals/moans is drawing us inexplicably to a definite truth of being that our minds are incapable of comprehending. The sawing opener 'Aeolian' in particular is cathartic and haunting in the darker sense; the closer 'Flesh & Veins' a folk lament from the bowels of the earth. It's a richly seductive siren call into the moors of lament and regret, a supernatural sworl, a churning elixir of dawning, ecstatic horror. Brilliant.

Sweet dreams...

Hits From The Box #96 - Ding Dong The Dick Is Dead (Happy Times)

I'm still flying high people. This week has been a pretty big one - first we saw the ousting of utter stain Campbell Newman from my (for better or worse) beloved state of Queensland in Australia. I had a birthday. The next two releases for Sonic Masala Records' test pressings came through. The next couple of SMR releases are falling into place (with some massive updates to come very soon). The SM Fest and its sideshows are pretty much locked down (so pumped for the inclusion of Dead Farmers!). Saw the brilliant Disappears. And listened to a bunch of great new records, including Hey Colossus!, Chook Race and Lightning Bolt (!). I finished up with some birthday drinks last night. And although I am still fairly riddled with flu, the world has shown itself to be an OK place after all. Here are seven more reasons to get excited about the world we live in.

First up, I have to apologise for not writing about Californian band Moral Straitjacket's self titled album earlier - the cassettes (put out through great little Brisbane label Ruined Smile, of all people) is sold out. Don't worry - I missed out too. There were only 23 copies of the damned thing! That said, it deserves to be heard - a punk rant of destitution and desolation. The A-side is more 'straight up', in that the songs are familiar tropes of tortured rock of the working class - a lo-fi undertone of The Nation Blue perhaps? The B side plays with form though - with spoken word, ambient space and crackling tape, albeit with the same gut punch.

Calypso is a trio from Asheville that like to stretch out sanity to breaking point. Oracle is a psych mutation - a mutant of an EP that surreptitiously eats up its influences (The Raincoats, 13th Floor Elevators, Ariel Pink, et al) and spitting it all out in a glistening, quivering chimera of its own personality and awe. Oracle is a truly beguiling trip well worth everyone's time - you can grab it here.

Foot Hair is a five-headed toxic punk attack from Northern England, haunting the moors and terrorising the locals with the nascent noise and slack jaws. Their self-titled album is intent on swirling around the drain of despair and self-hatred, but without the self-harm - in fact these guys revel in their self-imposed darkness, a seedier Pissed Jeans. 'Cool Runnings' is the standout song as far as levity is concerned - with titles such as 'King of Scum' and 'Send Us Your Blood', you know we are scraping the bottom of the rust-caked barrel here. Out through Box Records, who have also released the likes of Gnod, Richard Dawson and Blown Out, so the brutality is in good hands.

New York's Surrender The Spirit remind me a bit of early Architecture In Helsinki, a bit of Mates Of State, and a lot of early Dan Deacon. The duo have stepped back from the rock oriented backwaters that they are more familiar with, and their fully-fledged launch into the glitchy kaleidoscopic waters of this saccharine pop mantra is confident and freeing.

Now to laugh in terrified hysteria as Haust take the Pop 1280 launch into the dank depths of punk despair, and open the gates of both MC5 and the sickest of Gorgons. The Norwegian four-piece are as heavy and ridiculous as you might expect - taking some of the basest (and therefore brilliant) punk rock noise and lathering it with the guttural screams of a black metal banshee of darkest nightmares. Yet it is all done with a modicum of humour and self-referential nuance.

An active member of Canberra bands Spartak (who played our inaugural Sonic Masala Fest last year) and Agency (who you will hear a lot more from in the very near future...), Shoeb Ahmad has a solo track that is floating around the ridges at the moment courtesy of London label Mystery Plays' singles club. 'Horses (A Coda' is a lilting, haunting track that feels like it's blown in somewhere in that ethereal hour between the end of the night and the beginning of the dawn, where everything is less than black yet not truly light, the frost crunching underfoot, the shadows nebulous and breathing. It's a subtle beauty - more please.

Let's finish these proceedings with Chimes, a bunch of NY psychic slackers that bring the noise on current record (and appropriately named) Psychic Slack. It's deliciously frenetic far - 'Total Sunflower' is a Wooden Shjips jam, condensed into a compact capsule and infused with a motorik growl and a liberal dose of Tabasco. 'Rinso' is a flange-flayed floater in the river, heavy on the numbness, light on the light. Deep and dark, Chimes are pretty fucking great.

Happy Sunday everyone!