Posts filed under ‘UK post-rock’

Post-Rocktoberfest: Main – Reformation (in More Than One Sense)

From Robert Hampson’s Facebook page:

“OK, so you won’t be entirely surprised by this from my recent posts. After much anguish and deliberation, I am resurrecting MAIN. I know it seems like going backwards, but I promise it won’t be. Yes, it will feature guitars for starters and yes I know the name is old, but I can’t find a new one I like…”

“Of course, I will still be releasing solo material as Robert Hampson, but the new Main guise will be full of surprises, hopefully some of my friends will come along and join in too… (?) Sort of a collective so to speak (I hope). Anyway, let’s see where this all leads eh? A new adventure, but never forgetting the path…”

Thanks to Last FM user FeedTheCollapse for the tip-off. Thanks Brett!

Main – “Spectra Decay”

Main – “There is Only Light”

October 10, 2010 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

Post-Rocktoberfest: Kevin Martin is God (Among Other Aliases)

Kevin Martin is a real survivor. It’s genuinely  hard to think of another musician with such an extreme and personal viewpoint who’s managed to build a decent-sized audience, through sheer persistence, without compromising one iota. Apparently oblivious to the dictates of fashion, genre exclusivity and (occasionally) good taste, Martin has continued to follow his star for more than a decade and a half.

Doubtless, much of this time was spent as an outsider – wilderness years of poor sales, audience bafflement and critical neglect. In recent years, though, things have really started to look up. It’s been great to see Martin’s recent work – particularly the albums he’s released under his alias The Bug –  gaining such a warm reception from critics and record buyers alike.

K Mart is a monstrously eclectic musician, producer, label head and music critic, so it’s impossible to tie him down to a single genre. Still, his relevance to the original post-rock scene is undeniable. It’s a simple historical fact: his God, Ice and Techno Animal projects were among the first musical endeavours to be lumped into the nascent post-rock genre. At a deeper level, his music has always been saturated with the questing, barrier-breaking spirit of the original UK post-rock.

Aside from that, the main hallmark of Kevin Martin’s diverse discography is his trademark intensity. While his current work might reasonably be seen as an offshoot of post-acid-house electronic dance music, he got his start at the most extreme fringes of avant rock and metal. The deep, dark intensity of his early work is still very much present in his current work.  Even the recent Kind Midas Sound album – easily Martin’s most accessible LP to date – is loaded with oppressively heavy bass detonations, from start to finish.

It’s an inspirational story, really. Kevin Martin, the Bubblegum Cage III salutes you! As a tribute of sorts, this here blog would like to present a quick guide to the great man’s best (or at least, his most significant) albums. So, without further ado…

God - The Anatomy of Addiction

God - The Anatomy of Addiction

God – The Anatomy of Addiction (1994)
The project that first brought Kevin Martin to public notice in the early ’90s was God, a jazz-metal behemoth with a membership often pushing double figures. Notably, this line-up included Martin’s long-term collaborator, Justin Broadrick, of Godflesh infamy.

Whereas early God releases were highly organic and chaotic, The Anatomy of Addiction, saw Martin experimenting with digital editing techniques to create dense payloads of cathartic fire-power. The multi-part “Body Horror” is a superb show-piece of this post-production-as-composition approach.

Anatomy is far darker, heavier and more intense than any of the other classic British post-rock albums (even Scorn’s Evanescence) and yet it is still definitively post-rock in terms of the specific influences and techniques it encompasses. The dub-rock pulse of “Bloodstream” should be enough to convince you of that.

Techno Animal - Re-Entry

Techno Animal - Re-Entry

Techno Animal – Re-Entry (1995)
One of Martin’s more long-term projects, Techno Animal was a studio-centric duo with Broadrick. This project represented a move away from God’s rock-band format, to something more purely electronic. And with it’s mix of slowed down hip-hop beats, spooky samples, dub FX and mind-evacuating noise Re-Entry is perhaps K Mart’s most definitively post-rock project.

In its own way, this album is just as intense as Anatomy. Stretched across two CDs, Re-Entry is weighted down by its monomaniacal commitment to hypnotic monotony. All of the tracks on CD1 are heavy, repetitive and long, long, long – culminating in the mind-blowing 19 minutes and 15 seconds of “Demodex Invasion”. CD2 delves deep into the dark ambient sound that Martin helped to define when he compiled the legendary Isolationism compilation for Virgin in ’94.

Ice - Bad Blood

Ice - Bad Blood

Ice – Bad Blood (1998)
The Ice project existed in a middle ground somewhere between God and Techno Animal – mixing live instruments with electronics and – crucially – dubwise mixology. Martin made his obsession with dub reggae explicit when he compiled two volumes of Macro Dub Infection compilations for Virgin. Both volumes explored at length the influence of dub on mid ’90s avant rock and electronica, with K Mart’s own contributions being among the most convincing.

It’s the dub influence that really makes this album work. An apparently failed experiment in mixing hip-hop vocals with industrial rock aesthetics (guests range from Blixa Bargeld to Priest from Antipop Consortium), Bad Blood isn’t generally considered to be one of Martin’s better albums. Many people would point to Techno Animal’s The Brotherhood of the Bomb as a more successful mix of the same elements. However, where Brotherhood relies overly on sheer heaviness, Bad Blood uses dub magic to open a portal into a more spacious realm – a realm that K Mart has moved into rather more comfortably with his recent work.

“X-1”, featuring Nosaj from the underrated New Kingdom, is a pretty thrilling opener but things really peak with “Trapped in Three Dimensions” featuring the then-relatively-unknown El-P. Bad Blood is patchy but it’s definitely worth hearing, partly as a precursor to Martin’s more popular recent work but mainly because its peaks reach as high as anything in Martin’s mountainous discography.

The Bug - Pressure

The Bug - Pressure

The Bug – Pressure (2003)
Pressure was K Mart’s real commercial/critical breakthrough. At the time, one might have assumed that Martin was a mere relic from a little-loved era of British avant rock. However, taste-makers like the Aphex Twin and Kid 606 were fans, which was enough to get Pressure prominent releases on both sides of the Atlantic.

The album itself applies Martin’s trademark hardcore sonics to the template of dancehall reggae and ragga. The results are absolutely explosive, especially when Daddy Freddy steps up to the mic for “Run the Place Red”. Oh and “Killer” is pretty aptly named – as one-supposes is the track’s guest vocalist, He-Man.

Pressure is as concise as Anatomy, as unrelenting as Re-Entry and as spacious as Bad Blood but rather more accessible than any of those albums. A winning formula, all round.

King Midas Sound - Waiting for You

King Midas Sound - Waiting for You

King Midas Sound – Waiting for You (2009)
It has been noted many times that contemporary dubstep explores a great deal of the same sonic terrain as the dark-side of UK post-rock – particularly the work of Scorn and Techno Animal. Martin (like Scorn’s Mick Harris) has shown himself to be very comfortable sharing this common ground. King Midas Sound is, broadly speaking, K Mart’s dubstep project and Waiting for You is possibly the best thing he’s done since the Anatomy of Addiction.

In most senses, tracks like “Lost” and “Meltdown” could hardly be more different from the likes of “Body Horror”. Waiting for You is as influenced by early-’80s UK lovers rock as it is by dubstep and almost all of the tracks are fairly straightforward love songs. But there’s a common thread linking Waiting to Martin’s mid-’90s creative heyday.

In those days, K Mart worked closely with Justin Broadrick under any number of guises. Most of his more recent projects have seen him working solo, with guest vocalists dropping in. One of his regular vocalists, Trinidad-born poet Roger Robinson,  has essentially become the lead singer of KMS and seems to be taking up the position vacated by Broadrick in the late ’90s. While Martin and Robinson are, on the surface, ridiculously different characters, they are clearly very much of one mind. Reading the interview they gave for FACT magazine last year, you get the impression that they’re at the finishing-each other’s-sentences stage of friendship and artistic collaboration.

As previously mentioned, the other thing linking Waiting to Martin’s old work is his continued commitment to heaviosity – although, in this case, the heavy weight is located entirely in the bass range. Turn this bastard up loud and it’ll make the foundations shake. The vocals, the samples, the beats even… they’re all just tiny boats tossed hither and thither on a titanic ocean of BASS. Apparently, the world at large is finally ready for this level of turbulence.

That’s what you get if you stick to your guns.

October 7, 2010 at 9:00 am 3 comments

Post-Rocktoberfest/The Re-Ups: UK Post-Rock Vol. 1

UK Post-Rock Vol. 1

UK Post-Rock Vol. 1

You’d be surprised how often this here blog gets asked to re-upload previously posted rarities and compilations, the links for which have long expired. Well, the time has come to institute a program of RE-UPS! Over the coming weeks and months, a bunch of old favourites are going to be uploaded to a permanent, non-expiring Mediafire account, for your downloading ease and pleasure, dear reader.

By popular request, The Acid Folk Remix Project Vol. 2 has already been re-upped. Click here to download The Acid Folk Remix Project Vol. 2. Now, throughout the month of Post-Rocktober, the legendary UK Post-Rock compilations will be made available once again. Or as many of them as it’s practically feasible to re-compile and upload, anyway. Obviously, we’re starting at the beginning, with UK Post-Rock Vol. 1. Click here to download UK Post-Rock Vol. 1 and take a look at the tracklisting below, to see what you’re in for.

UK Post-Rock Vol. 1
1. Disco Inferno – “Summer’s Last Sound”
2. Butterfly Child – “Nymphs Sing the Blues”
3. Insides – “Darling Effect”
4. Laika – “Marimba Song”
5. Moonshake – “Your Last Friend in This Town”
6. Flying Saucer Attack – “Feedback Song”
7. Bark Psychosis – “Street Scene”
8. Scorn – “Silver Rain Fell”
9. God – “Bloodstream”
10. Main – “Reformation (Expansive)”

October 4, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Post-Rocktoberfest: Seefeel – Faults (Warp) 10″

Seefeel - Faults

Seefeel - Faults

This year’s Post-Rocktoberfestivities were going to a open with a review of One Little Indian’s official re-issue of the Disco Inferno Five EPs bootleg, which was supposed to get released in September. Unfortunately, the street date for that long-awaited compilation has been put back until November (shockingly, with no vinyl edition planned at all!!!)

Well, that makes Seefeel’s Faults EP the most exciting UK post-rock release of the year so far, doesn’t it? Anticipation for this 10″ has been sky-high ever since Warp dropped a streamable preview of the title track. So… does the rest of the EP live up to the promise of “Faults” itself? Well, yes and no.

First of all, the tracks are, in and of themselves, absolutely bloody fantastic. Honestly, this is probably the best material Seefeel has produced since its classic debut album Quique – and yet the new EP doesn’t really sound very much like Quique. In fact, it doesn’t sound very much like anything else, which is precisely why it’s so exciting.

But Faults isn’t actually a very satisfying EP because it’s rather lacking in variety. Really, it’s more of a single. The distinction may seem slight but it is significant. The song names are a bit of a give-away. The track titles on side B (“Folds” and “Clouded”) seem like mispronunciations of the track titles on side A (“Faults” and “Crowded”). It’s a pretty good bet, then, that the second two cuts are remixes of the first two – particularly as fragments of the vocal from “Faults” are clearly audible on “Folds”. In fact, “Crowded” is actually pretty similar to “Faults” – so maybe the last three songs are all remixes of the title track.

Of course some would argue that, just because a record happens to consist of a series of remixes, it doesn’t mean the record won’t work just fine. As Dave put it on the UK Post-Rock Group: “The thing with the ‘remixes’ just reminds me of how Quique is basically a series of variations on one sound… they’ve just changed that sound now!”

Anyway, if anyone could shed light on the precise relationship between these tracks, this here blog would be terribly grateful. The thing is, there’s just enough variety that you can’t be sure about it. “Clouded”, in particular, takes the EP’s glitch-dub formula into an extremely abstract realm – an ear-tricking soundscape of surely-impossible textures.

Which brings us back to the key point: there’s never been anything quite like this. In theory, the elements are all recognizable: digi-dub bass, glitchy beats, dreampop vocals and highly processed guitar. But listing these elements doesn’t really do justice to the intricately wrought sonic material that’s used to build them.

Here’s the kicker, though – because Faults is so brilliant and yet somewhat unsatisfactory as an EP, it really, really leaves you wanting more. Album, please. Sooner rather than later!

October 1, 2010 at 9:00 am 1 comment

New Seefeel Material Soon

Seefeel 2010

Seefeel 2010

Good news: on September 21st, the newly reformed, reconfigured version of legendary UK post-rock act Seefeel will be releasing a four-track 10″ via Warp records. The EP is called Faults and you can already stream its title track on the Warp website. Now, here’s the great news: the track is fantastic. Crisp glitchy beats are anchored by a righteous digi-dub bassline and topped off with some gorgeous processed vocals and free-form guitar licks. Even given the excellence of the band’s back catalogue, this is unexpectedly, uncannily beautiful. If the rest of the EP is even half as good as this, it’s going to be one of 2010’s best and most important releases. Welcome back!

Seefeel – “Faults”

August 23, 2010 at 9:00 am 1 comment

A.R. Kane – Green Hazed Daze

July 28, 2010 at 9:00 am 6 comments

Good News!

A not-entirely-gratuitous Joanna Newsom picture

A not-entirely-gratuitous picture of Joanna Newsom (honest)

One
Just a few weeks back, this here blog encouraged y’all to lobby for a vinyl release of Klimek’s excellent 2009 album Movies is Magic. Well brothers and sisters, your prayers have been answered: Anticipate records recently announced the release of an extended vinyl version of the album, which even adds vocals to some of the tracks! And guess what? You can already buy it from Forced Exposure.

Two
There’s a new Oval record coming out!!! Actually, more than one: an EP, followed by a double CD set. Yep, Markus “King of Glitch” Popp is back and – if Thrill Jockey’s blurb for the Oh EP is anything to go by – he’s as wilfully eccentric as ever. Long may he wibble!

Three
The Five EPs by Disco Inferno is finally getting an official release!!!
DI fans will know that this collection (formerly a widely-circulated bootleg) compiling the legendary UK post-rock group’s best work has been in the pipeline for a long while. This time, though, it looks like it’s actually going to happen.

Four
Joanna Newsom is coming to Vancouver!!! See, told you that picture wasn’t entirely gratuitous. The show’s at the Vogue Theatre on August 5th. Oh and it turns out that Have One on Me gets better with every listen and might just contain the best song she’s ever written…

Joanna Newsom – “Does Not Suffice”
I will pack up my pretty dresses.
I will box up my high-heeled shoes.
A sparkling ring, for every finger,
I’ll put away, and hide from view.

Coats of boucle, jacquard and cashmere;
cartouche and tweed, all silver shot–
and everything that could remind you
of how easy I was not.

I’ll tuck away my gilded buttons;
I’ll bind my silks in shapeless bales;
I’ll wrap it all on up, in reams of tissue,
and then I’ll kiss you, sweet, farewell.

You saw me rise to our occasion,
and so deny the evidence.
You caused me to burn, and twist, and grimace against you,
like something caught on a barbed-wire fence.

Now, you can see me fall back here, redoubled,
full bewildered and amazed.
I have gotten into some terrible trouble,
beneath your blank and rinsing gaze.

It does not suffice for you to say I am a sweet girl,
or to say you hate to see me sad because of you.
It does not suffice to merely lie beside each other,
as those who love each other do.

I picture you, rising up in the morning:
stretching out on your boundless bed,
beating a clear path to the shower,
scouring yourself red.

The tap of hangers swaying in the closet–
unburdened hooks and empty drawers–
and everywhere I tried to love you
is yours again, and only yours.

April 17, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Broadcast & The Focus Group – “I See, So I See So” Video

April 8, 2010 at 9:00 am 2 comments

Deadstock – Deadstock (Internal) LP

Deadstock - s/t

Deadstock - s/t

Deadstock was a mid ’90s UK post-rock/electronica combo featuring Ian Hicks aka Baron Mordant of arch hauntologists Mordant Music. Those of you who enjoyed Mordant’s excellent 2009 album SyMptoMs would be well advised to dig up a copy of Deadstock’s one and only LP, from 1996.

Essentially, SyMptoMs expands upon “Fallen Faces” from  Mordant’s previous, mostly instrumental album, Dead Air. Like “Fallen Faces”, SyMptoMs prominently features Ian Hicks singing scabrous couplets of Internet-age ennui and anomie. Much of Deadstock prefigures these developments.

The album is divided between instrumental and vocal tracks. Deadstock’s instrumentals haven’t stood the test of time terribly well, bearing many dated hallmarks of the “intelligent techno” featured on those early-’90s Trance Europe Express compilations.

The tracks with vocals are another matter altogether. Songs like “Monophonic Man” and “Nobody” are strongly redolent of Bark Psychosis’s electronically-enhanced swan song, “Blue”. These are infectious urban nocturnes, which powerfully evoke the mood of their time, not just its lesser musical trends.

Deadstock is worth picking up just for highlights such as these. Luckily enough, you should be able to get a cheap copy of the LP via Discogs Marketplace, without too much trouble.

February 18, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

r3vR3nd R-50n15X5 – “Untitled Live Improvisation Winter 2009” (CSAF) download

CSAF Records

CSAF Records

Well, it finally (kinda) happened. After what seems like months of coaxing and cajoling, CSAF Records has (sorta) managed to persuade Papa Sprain to (somewhat) come out of retirement.  r3vR3nd R-50n15X5 is a strictly temporary, one-off improv configuration consisting of Cregan Black, Gary McKendry and Richie Reynolds. As far as this here blog knows, that’s the core of the classic Papa Sprain line-up.

“Untitled Live Improvisation…” will definitely appeal to fans of Papa Sprain’s one Peel Session, as well as those of you who were suitably amazed by the band’s stunning Live at The Marquee 91 bootleg. You can download this new track for free from the CSAF website.

February 16, 2010 at 12:03 am 2 comments

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