Writing

A collection of writing. Mostly reviews.

New Oren Ambarchi interview

My interview with composer and multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi (whose records are ace) has been published at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s an excerpt:

“I’m chasing a feeling I get from some of my favourite musics. Something that’s transporting, otherworldly. Ecstatic free sound. I’m searching for something that is almost unknown to me, until I find it, that is. Some kind of beauty.
“I know it when I find it. Somehow everything falls into place – hopefully – at a certain point. I’m happy for this to take a while, so it’s a journey.
“There is some perfectionism but I’m trying not to be too anal about it all. I don’t want to suck the life out of it from refining, refining, refining. It still needs to retain a rawness, an unpredictability. There’s a fine line there, and I have to watch it.”

You can read the rest here.

New Zeitkratzer review

My review of a live disc of Zeitkratzer performances of Whitehouse songs has gone live (a little while ago, now) over at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample.

Zeitkratzer are a great ensemble. Their acoustic mastery is undeniable, and the sounds they recreate without access to a bunch of broken boxes and fucked electronics are spot-on. But somehow the execution of the task seems almost redundant: there’s as much enjoyment to be had by the idea of a bunch of traditional instruments covering Whitehouse as there is from having the end result in your hand.

You can read the whole review here, if you like.

New Oren Ambarchi review

My review of Quixotism, Oren Ambarchi’s new album on Editions Mego, is now live at Cyclic Defrost.

(Spoiler: it’s really good. )

Here’s a sample:

There’s a cold feeling to some of the composition – ‘Part 2′ touches on the ground Gavin Bryars walks upon – but it’s leavened with the joyous humanity of ‘Part 5′. Organ notes, muted guitar picking and tabla are joined with swooning strings in an elegiac celebration. It’s humanity writ large, and gives the piece narrative – this burst of sad joy seems to tell the story of a machine gaining sentience, a soul, before relapsing.

You can read the rest of the review here.

New Howard Stelzer review

My review of Howard Stelzer’s Brayton Point album has gone live at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample.

The album consists of manipulations of field recordings taken from around the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts. The station is to be decommissioned in 2017, so Stelzer’s recording acts as a kind of memorial to the site; a document which initially captures working sounds of the area before transforming into a thrumming, windy meditation on the limitless potentials of power. The industrial grime of the power station is strongly present, though it’s not in the jackhammer way which one would associate with an Eraserhead ethic.

You can read the rest here. 

New Bruno Sanfilippo review

Another of my reviews for Cyclic Defrost has gone life. This time, it’s a look at Bruno Sanfilippo’s ClarOscuro album.

The music is uniformly quiet in a way you’ll be familiar with if you’ve heard Nyman’s The Pianosoundtrack (‘Absentia’), or perhaps the piano works of Gavin Bryars (‘Luciana’), Yann Tiersen (the titular opener) or (in her quieter moments) Elena Kats-Chernin. It’s lyrical and there’s alot of sustained notes, stretching into decay. There’s touches of the rainy-afternoon Erik Satie or Claude Debussy about the work, but I feel that’s just in terms of emotional association rather than in terms of execution: the sound of the piano played this way makes the listener feel this way, almost regardless of the content. It could be library music.

You may read the rest of the review here.

New A. Dobson review

My review of A. Dobson’s Lost Broadcast has just gone live at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample:

Everything is so honest a tribute to synth-heavy, jazz-kit almost-prog-but-a-bit-cooler, Kraut-it-yerself music (crossed with a little Atari ST magic, perhaps) it’s easy to imagine the album has been stuck behind someone’s couch for a couple of decades. There’s a couple of non-period sounds on the tracks which keep the ear alert – it’s not all heated-dust synth action, as the dub-squelch-cum-Barry-Adamson swing of ‘Don’t Trip’ shows – but this is as close-to-source retro for this genre as you’ll find. This thing breathes angles and neon.

You may read the rest of the review here.

I really recommend this album, especially if ’70s soundtracks are your thing. It’s available as a download only (here) and the other Rotary Tower releases look just as appealing.

TaikOz Future Directions, 14/6/2014

Disclaimer: I learned taiko with members of TaikOz for a number of years.

It’s taken a while to write this. I’ve felt conflicted, as I am a TaikOz tragic and want them to succeed and grow – but I’m also a gig-goer with limited time and limited cash. And I like to spend my time (and money) accordingly, and to feel some kind of reward – not always in the form of back-slapping woo-consuming-arts! kind of way, either – for the investment of both.

Unfortunately, the Future Directions gig was one of the poorest shows I’ve seen from the ensemble. There’s been member injuries to contend with – artistic director Ian Cleworth was not on stage – but I feel Kaoru Watanabe‘s guest artistic direction didn’t provide enough cohesion to the performance to pull it off. (more…)

West 78: American Girl (2002)

FILL ME IN MANThis is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. 

I’d like to apologise in advance for this review. I am sure that no matter how much I plunge through the dictionary, and no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to find words succinct enough to communicate to you exactly how awful, how dog-humpingly insipid American Girl is. (more…)

Mark Lanegan Band: Bubblegum (2004)

Click to visit his homepage.This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word. Again, it’s a long ‘un. A decade ago I obviously wasn’t into precision. 

Until now, most people who’ve been aware of Mark Lanegan’s solo career have been die-hard fans. His solo work – a brace of pared-back albums that provide distinctly uneasy listening – is more noted for its barely-restrained menace, rather than the volume-heavy terror of the singer’s turns with Screaming Trees or Queens Of The Stone Age. His work over albums like Field Songs and The Winding Sheet contained a starker, (more…)

Jamie Hutchings: The Golden Coach (2002)

Click to buy on Bandcamp.This is an older review of mine, presented here for archival purposes. The writing is undoubtedly different to the present, and the review style may differ between publications. Enjoy, if that’s the right word.

Bluebottle Kiss have, over the course of the past ten or so years, become stalwarts of the Oz indie rock scene. The Golden Coach is the first solo album from BBK mainman and prime mover Jamie Hutchings, and as such is a more restrained affair than his other works — certainly, it’s a little less histrionic than audiences have come to expect from the purveyor of intelligent chug-rock, though there’s still some floppy-haired pain to be found here, writ large. (more…)