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Drahla debut album out 3 May 2019


Album release: 'Useless Coordinates' by Drahla
Release date: 3 May 2019
Label: Captured Tracks
More info: Band website

Today, the Leeds-formed three-piece Drahla have announced their highly-anticipated debut album 'Useless Coordinates' will be released via Captured Tracks on May 3rd 2019.

The band have premiered the arresting first single 'Stimulus for Living' as a taster of the album along with a video for it via The FADER where it was described as "tightly bound and inventive...a frantic and densely packed song full of ideas and angst."

Drahla describe the video as: “a visual composition that reflects the lyric content of the track. Based upon abstracted ideas and thought, challenging standardised format and perception.”

Listen/watch to 'Stimulus For Living' here.

‘Stimulus For Living’ is the second track taken from ‘Useless Coordinates’ following the release of ‘Twelves Divisions Of The Day’ last summer. The album was recorded in Yorkshire in the second half of 2018, and sees the band’s sound continue to evolve with the addition of saxophonist Chris Duffin across the record. Since finishing ‘Useless Coordinates’ the band have spent their time touring the US and Europe, including stops at Eurosonic and La Route Du Rock this winter.

Blending wiry, dark post-punk with unpredictable art-rock, Drahla have established themselves as a formidable and distinctive band across their three sold out 7” singles and 2017's Third Article EP. Formed in late 2015, Drahla quickly found their identity in Yorkshire’s fertile music scene with their minimal yet robust bass-heavy sound. Their reputation as a fervent live act is ever-growing, with the band being asked to share stages with the likes of Parquet Courts, METZ, Ought, Buzzcocks, The Cribs and multiple festival appearances - including Meltdown at the request of The Cure’s Robert Smith.

Drahla will accompany the release with a run of tour dates. Tickets can be found here.

Pre-order 'Useless Coordinates' here.

“Go inwards and be bold.” This was Harmony Korine’s advice to aspiring creatives, during a Q&A at the British Film Institute back in early 2016. For the recently-formed Drahla, his words served as something of a directive, encouraging the trio to trust their own instincts, however far removed they might be from those of their peers. Three years on, the Leeds-formed band have defined their own vital subset of art-rock with Useless Coordinates, a debut album that’s as fearless as it is enthralling.

Speaking from her current base in south-east London with bassist Rob Riggs, singer/guitarist Luciel Brown recounts the record’s somewhat chaotic gestation. “Most of last year was spent touring, so we were squeezing writing and recording in from the beginning of 2018 until end of August.” In-between a headline tour, support slots with Ought and METZ, and multiple festival appearances - including at Meltdown at the request of The Cure’s Robert Smith - Brown, Riggs and Wakefield-based drummer Mike Ainsley managed 10 days in the studio in total.

It was the unsettled nature of the period that part-inspired the album’s title. “[Useless Coordinates] summarised all of our situations,” Brown explains. “We had all these shows coming up and we knew we needed to leave our jobs and change our living situations to make all this stuff happen. So we had all these fixed points and timelines, but at the same time we felt quite lost within all of that.”

Though they felt adrift in their personal lives, artistically Drahla thrived amongst confusion. Experimentation was integral to the creative process, with Brown and Riggs continuing to swap instruments as per their live shows, while collectively they were open to relinquishing traditional song structures in favour of adopting a more instinctive approach. Another integral development proved to be the involvement Chris Duffin of XAM Duo, who played saxophone on large swathes of the record and whose esoteric musical tastes were influential.

Via Duffin, they discovered the work of Japanese synth pioneers Mariah and saxophonist Yasuaki Shimizu. These cult figures figure amongst an eclectic array of musical touch points, from Glenn Miller and Swell Maps, to L.A.-band Behavior. As per their earliest releases, No Wave and post-punk remain integral to Drahla’s musical universe, evident in Brown’s brilliantly deadpan drawl, in the Gang Of Four-esque guitars on Gilded Cloud, and in Duffin’s skronking saxophone on React/Revolt, which draws parallels with the work of James Chance and the Contortions.

The set’s sharp angles, stark tones and claustrophobic textures are reflected in the album’s artwork. Designed by Brown and Riggs - as per all previous record sleeves and promotional videos - the minimalist, mixed media creation takes inspiration from Talking Heads and Gang Of Four album art, the work of American artist Cy Twombly, and the economical, regimented aesthetic of the Bauhaus movement. “Drahla came about off the back of needing an outlet for creative expression,” Brown explains. “So the whole aesthetic is hugely important. As important as the music.”

Whatever the medium, Brown’s interests lie in looking beyond the immediate to the abstract and indefinable. Her lyrics are developed from observations, notes and poems, and the fragmented imagery is spliced together to disorientating effect. On Gilded Cloud elegant snapshots from the golden age of Hollywood are juxtaposed with abrasive guitar textures, Pyramid Estate draws parallels between Ancient Egypt and the present day, and Serenity evokes the violent energy of a Francis Bacon painting. Beneath the abstraction are a diverse array of themes, including gender fluidity (Invisible Sex), city living (Primitive Rhythm) and artistic expression (Unwound).

The result is an uncompromising but deeply rewarding debut where the internal and external, cerebral and visceral coalesce to quite startling effect.

"(Drahla) make the kind of literate punk to kickstart a revolution in your mind" - The FADER

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EuroNoize announced for May 2019


Event announcement: EuroNoize
Event date: 23 May 2019
More info: Scala website

EU funded "avant-garde Eurovision" event EuroNoize announced for May 2019. Featuring performances from artists such as Winnie Puhh, Asian Women on the Telephone, Mauraudeur, Felix Cubin, Sissy + more

On May 23rd, an “avant-garde Eurovision” called EuroNoize will be taking place at London’s Scala. A celebration of the obscure, the niche and the uncategorizable, music that runs deeper than national borders, EuroNoize was born from Pil and Galia Kollectiv’s grotesque fascination with the Eurovision Song Contest to represent the secret international fellowship of “punx and weirdos” stretching everywhere from Russia to Ireland… The event will feature 11 bands from around the world, who will perform one new song in front of a live audience. The event will also be streamed live online so people can cast their vote from afar for their favourite performance of the evening.

The event will bring an array of artists from across Europe such as Estonia’s cult internet sensation Winny Puhh, Russia’s Asian Women On The Telephone and Ireland’s hard-hitting feminists Sissy to represent their countries. Also, contentiously, despite being set in London and as a testament to the great talent pervading throughout the world and proudly representing a unity currently not felt throughout the country, the UK will not be represented at the event following Brexit. The event will also be hosted by Ruby Waters, drag alter-ego of Andrew Milk from the band Shopping and Kay Isgay of the band Homosexual Death Drive.

The promoters, Galia and Pil Kollectiv, who have previously curated events for Thurston Moore, Simon Reynolds and more have now been settled in London for several years but are originally from Israel – co-incidentally also the host nation of this year’s Eurovision. Please see a full quote from the organisers below as well as full line-up details here.

"The concept for EuroNoize was born of a grotesque fascination. Growing up in Israel, watching the Eurovision Song Contest was an exciting family event. Through a strange set of circumstances, Israel was included in Europe for one night, and a parade of bizarre performances in foreign languages invaded all living rooms around us. The music has always been mostly appalling, but occasionally, a subversive spectacle would penetrate the predictable blandness: a Finnish monster metal band, an Armenian serenading a giant apricot seed or a bunch of out of tune Israeli artists waving a Syrian flag. More than anything, these displays sat uncomfortably with the requirements on the one hand to represent an increasingly meaningless idea of national identity and on the other hand some kind of recognisably Anglo-American popular music. There was also something utterly fascinating about the spectacle of European bureaucracy that occupied almost half the night. Telephone lines, broadcasting authority committees and a complex system of awarded points demonstrated what the enlightened administration of international cooperation is all about. For us, amidst the sectarian violence and chaos of our home town of Jerusalem, it was as exotic as full orchestral arrangements and sequin dresses.

It might have been this early interest in music as a visual spectacle that drove our interest in the idea of the art band. Coming from a background in music journalism, we have always worked with musicians and incorporated music in our artwork. But in 2010, these fields began to merge in our band WE. Initially a performance piece, this project involved four masked musicians intoning the lyrics to famous songs in the plural, retaining little from the originals but the lyrics. It was through curating a series of art and music events spinning off of the band that we began considering the possibility of pursuing our interest in Eurovision further. As fans of the obscure, we had a good collection of barely popular music in diverse languages. What sort of Eurovision could accommodate the type of our weird music we were listening to and making? What would it mean to ask of this kind of group to represent its country of origin? It was also somehow obvious to us, without any real proof, that a network of likeminded individuals existed across the world, that a small group of aficionados in places as far away as Russia, Iceland or Malta might also share our unconventional taste. We became interested in understanding how this global subculture revolving mostly around Anglo-American music intersected with local identities on the periphery of the culture industry.

We set about planning an event where a selection of bands from the continent would be asked to perform one original song in front of a live and broadcasting audience who could vote for the winner. When the opportunity arose to apply for EU funding for the project, the Brexit referendum had yet to take place. However, by the time the project was confirmed, with a book, record, exhibition and conference to accompany a night of live performances, it had gained a new relevance. One decision that followed was to exclude Britain from the competition. It was also important, since we couldn’t afford to include every country in Europe, to try and represent its different regions. Working in partnership with The University of Reading, Kunsthall Oslo and ARE Prague, we set about selecting a line-up of exciting noise and outlandish presentations from a host of loud and unlikely nominees.

Our line-up reflects an attempt to present a broad, although by no means comprehensive European spectrum representing the east, west, north and south of the continent. One of the first bands we approached was Estonian cult outfit Winny Puhh. In 2013 Winny Puhh became an internet sensation for their performance at the Estonian pre-Eurovision televised competition. They performed a weirdo-punk number wearing wrestling gear and Chewbacca masks, singing in a crockery breaking falsetto and playing an electric banjo. Oh, and they had two drummers suspended from the ceiling upside down. Because Winny Puhh never made it to the Eurovision final, we felt we needed to correct a historical mistake by including them in EuroNoize. Also playing are experimental Russian trio Asian Women on the Telephone, who cross dada cult costumes with philosophical musings laid over heavily distorted beat. Our final representatives from the eastern European block are E.P.P.! from Serbia whose songs form short advertising jingles for non-existing products.

Although Germany’s Felix Kubin recorded his first master piece at the age of 12, he has continually challenged musical norms for nearly forty years with his high concept digital hardcore, retaining an uncompromising DiY aesthetic. By contrast, doom-noise metal outfit Golden Core from Norway was only formed in 2014, when its two members were 9 and 11. Representing France is Hassan K, who mixes Persian music and surf guitar. Italian garage-punk veteran Tab Ularasa is an illustrious shapeshifter who probably has more aliases and former bands than all the participants of EuroNoize put together. Hailing from the French side of Switzerland, Mauraudeur’s post-punk is the anti-thesis of the actual Eurovision sound, with its cool, detached vocals and spikey guitars. Ireland’s Sissy are possibly the most melodic entrants, but the hard-hitting feminist politics of songs like their pro-choice nod to Enya, “Sail and Rail”, belie tuneful appeal of their lo-fi power-pop. Finally, completing the line-up are Greek brothers Lakis & Aris Ionas who form the core of art-rockers and Lee Ranaldo collaborators The Callas.

Britain, following Brexit, is not participating.

EuroNoize will be hosted by Ruby Waters, drag alter-ego of Andrew Milk from the band Shopping and Kay Isgay of the band Homosexual Death Drive." - Pil and Galia Kollectiv

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Pile new album out 3 May 2019


Album release: 'Green and Gray' by Pile
Release date: 3 May 2019
Label: Exploding In Sound Records
More info: Band website

From their earliest days as the solo project of frontman Rick Maguire, Pile have followed an unusual path through a decade in which rock bands have generally receded from the cultural spotlight. Starting out in 2007, in the then thriving Boston DIY scene, the band rapidly became heroes and standard-bearers for their hometown’s music community, garnering a cultish-adoration that has only intensified as that cult has grown, expanding by word of mouth along the Eastern seaboard and across the country over 10 years that have seen 6 full length albums and 100s of shows in basements, bars, punk houses and clubs.

With their last full length, 2017’s ‘A Hairshirt of Purpose’, Pile found their widest audience to date. Hailed as a release that communicated the inimitable quality of the live shows that have made the band near-legendary in certain circles, the album received praise from all quarters, earning them a critical-acclaim commensurate with the adoration, heaped on them by their contemporaries, that has long granted them “your favourite band’s favourite band” status.

Today, Pile are announcing their 7th album, ‘Green and Gray’, which will be out on May 3rd via Exploding In Sound, and sharing the album's first single ‘Bruxist Grin’. Packed with the kind of hairpin dynamic shifts that have become Pile's hallmark, the track, with the aid of the album's engineer Kevin S. McMahon (Titus Andronicus, Frightened Rabbit, The Walkmen, Swans), opens up the space between the two poles of the Pile's sound. Showcasing Maguire's powerful voice, the track pulls from a seemingly bottomless bag of sonic tricks, shifting seamlessly from delicate acoustic guitar figures to pummeling full band rhythmic turns, relating the experience of Maguire's first panic attack with an almost psychedelic flair.

"I wrote "Bruxist Grin" when I was getting ready to move," Maguire explains. "I'd been showing people my place to take my apartment, and getting my life together to go make this record to then move two days after the session. It was a super tight timeline and I went to bed and had a panic attack. I hadn’t had one before, and I thought it came on kind of like a psychedelic experience, like when the acid starts to kick in and it’s like 'oh, here we go.' My heart was pounding and I didn’t know what was happening but I knew that there was a lot about my current way of living that was about to change and I assume it was just my body reacting to all of it. It was pitch black, and I perceived looking at myself and my position to the rest of the world, physically, psychologically and spiritually, and feeling this overwhelming anxiety, and that’s what the song’s about."

In support of the album the band will be heading out on an extensive North American tour. Full details can be found below.

'Green and Gray' will be released via Exploding In Sound on 3rd May. It is available for pre-order here.

Previous praise for Pile

"In certain parts of Boston, Pile are beheld with the kind of reverence traditionally reserved for local sporting heroes and/or minor deities...their music crackles and explodes alongside frontman Rick Maguire's over-firing neurons." - Pitchfork

"Pile is well-known as idols for their peers...The band balances the acrobatic and the annihilating as it shifts between gnarled melodies and heavy thrashing." - NPR

"Messy, loud, and rhythmically intense…the tension between softer, sadder moments and the abrasive ones feels vital." - FADER

"[Pile] have achieved the kind of mythical status typically ascribed to long-since-passed rock legends." - Stereogum

"A guitar band that doesn’t sound like a guitar band; there’s something intense and brave about them, but it feels feminine, not macho, not over the top." - Consequence Of Sound

"[Pile have] a nimble sense of timing more often associated with jazz or classical musicians, and a compositional ambition exceeding that of nearly all of their peers." - Spin

"Vivid and refined…[Pile have a] delirious energy that's inspired a decade's worth of devoted followers." - MTV

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Larry "Ratso" Sloman debut album out 5 April 2019


Album release: 'Stubborn Heart' by Larry "Ratso" Sloman
Release date: 5 April 2019
Label: Lucky Number
More info: Artist website

NYC author/writer/actor Larry "Ratso" Sloman has collaborated with some of the most dynamic figures in pop culture from Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, John Cale and Leonard Cohen. Ratso also wrote the best-selling memoirs for Howard Stern, Anthony Kiedis and more. Now at 70, Ratso announces debut LP 'Stubborn Heart' out 5th April on Lucky Number. Hear the first single "Our Lady of Light" featuring Nick Cave here.

Speaking about the new album Sloman says, “If you would have told me when I was covering Dylan's Rolling Thunder tour for Rolling Stone Magazine that forty-four years later, I would be releasing my first album I would have laughed and asked for a hit of whatever it was you were smoking,” he chuckles. “Guess I’ll take that hit now.”

For the last forty-four years Larry “Ratso” Sloman has forged an impressive career as a writer of books, lyrics and, most recently, screenplays. Credited with writing features on the likes of Lou Reed, George Harrison and Leonard Cohen for Rolling Stone, Sloman was also personally invited by Bob Dylan to join his ‘Rolling Thunder Revue’ as the tour's official scribe – leading to his first book ‘On The Road With Bob Dylan’ (dubbed by Dylan as ‘The War and Peace of Rock and Roll”), and being given the moniker of “Ratso” by Joan Baez for his dishevelled appearance. He has also collaborated with the likes of Howard Stern, Anthony Kiedis and David Blaine on their best-selling memoirs, has being personally asked by Leonard Cohen to preface ‘On Tour with Leonard Cohen’, and his biography of Houdini will soon be a major-motion picture.

Ratso has also paid his dues in the tower of song, having written the lyrics for over thirty tracks with Rick Derringer (McCoys) and ex-Velvet Underground founder John Cale - including ‘Dying on the Vine’, which became Cale’s signature solo song (inspiring not one, but two novels!) - as well as acting in films as diverse as the award winning short The Black Balloon, the horror film Satan’s Little Helper, and has a large role in Martin Scorsese's upcoming Netflix documentary on Dylan's Rolling Thunder tour, out in April.. What hasn’t he done? His own album.

Now in his 70s Ratso is releasing his debut album ‘Stubborn Heart’. Produced by his close friend Vin Cacchione (of Soft Black and Caged Animals) at his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, ‘Stubborn Heart’ blends a classic songwriting approach with a contemporary sophistication. The album features Ratso singing on eight originals (including songs that were co-written with John Cale) and what he describes as an “audacious” Bob Dylan cover, along with the generous talents of his friends Nick Cave (who he duets with on the evocative ‘Our Lady of Light’), Warren Ellis, Sharon Robinson (Leonard Cohen’s co-writer, producer and back-up singer), Yasmine Hamdan, Imani Coppolla and more.

Reminiscing on the album Ratso says, “Everything about this project was fun. And it was always about the songs. They had been lying dormant since 1984. They deserved a life.” Each track carries a significant and often astonishing history. For instance, the John Cale collaboration ‘Dying On The Vine’, was originally conceived in hotel room off Sunset Blvd. whilst trading lines with Tom Waits and Chuck E. Weiss, whereas Sharon Robinson was convinced to sing on the record in exchange for Ratso writing the aforementioned Leonard Cohen preface for free – described by Ratso as an “old school barter.

‘Stubborn Heart’ is an album that is fittingly autobiographical, harking back to various stages of Ratso’s accomplished career and life, sung by a guy who witnessed the counter-cultural explosion of 1970's NYC and birthed forty years later within the DIY confines of Brooklyn.

His Rolling Stones fan club card long gone, Ratso’s now a card-carrying member of the American Association of Retired Persons but he’s determined to ride this new career wherever it takes him. “Maybe I can be the Jewish Susan Boyle,” he muses. “The oldest best new artist ever and if that doesn’t pan out, I can always perform on subway platforms. Hey, I can get in for half-price!”

Pre-order 'Stubborn Heart' here.

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Shatner's Bassoon new album out 27 April 2018


Album release: 'Disco Erosion' by Shatner's Bassoon
Release date: 27 April 2018
More info: Band website

Steeped in malfunctioning improvisation, passive-aggressive minimalism, surreal avant-punk and free jazz trances, Leeds quintet Shatner’s Bassoon sound like little else. Since their formation in 2010, the experimental outfit’s intense maelstrom of beguiling yet disturbing noise has earned the group a reputation as a must-see live act. Now with 3 years of experimentation and refinement since their last release, Shatner’s Bassoon are set to untether their new album, ‘Disco Erosion’.

‘Disco Erosion’ captures the visceral energy of Shatner’s Bassoon’s live performances, retaining their brazen and uncompromising identity, which is not only drawn from their mesmerizing resonance but largely from its bold and direct delivery. The band are comfortable to sit on the fringes continuing down their own path without conforming to trend and mediocrity. Each member has a wide and disparate influence and approach to making music which all filters into the bands overall sound.

As menacing as it is playful, the album is built on intricate yet often evasive song structures, angular rhythms and anxiety inducing psychedelia. The distinct featured instrumentation includes circuit bent delay pedals for keyboard, a myriad of off-kilter sax, a slice of Theremin, clarinet, cowbell and a pinch of Transylvanian organ. The result is a glitchy and deranged carnival of paranoia, which blends influences from the likes of Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa, The Cardiacs, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Man From Uranus and Fred Frith.

Speaking about the new album Mick and Johnny, said “For this album we wanted to produce a more direct and immediate music whilst retaining the unique characteristics of Shatner’s Bassoon. Because our music is fringe music we regularly perform to a wide demographic of audiences (DIY, Jazz, Unsuspecting general public) - presenting freely improvised and experimental music within a different context. This influenced how we conceived, produced, presented the music for this album and is our proudest work to date.”

Shatner’s Bassoon’s aberrant amalgamation of styles, create an unforgettable spectacle, which has previously taken them to festivals such as North Atlantic Flux Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, Lancaster Jazz Festival and Beacons Festival. Similarly, the band have toured extensively around the UK, previously playing alongside the likes of Melt Yourself Down, Matthew Bourne, Roller Trio, and more, whilst captivating audiences as if by hypnosis at every outing. ‘Disco Erosion’ captures this sensation perfectly and in doing has led Shatner’s Bassoon to create their most accomplished and urgent recording to date.

Press reaction to date

“Sometimes Shatner's Bassoon are knowingly jazzy, sometimes they switch from bold melodic ideas to demonic garglings and cacklings, or what sounds like a monkey eating cornflakes overlaid by cool Fender Rhodes licks. It's all pretty out there” - the Guardian

“Leeds’ uncompromising new generation of jazz noise-making terrorists” - Jazzwise magazine

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Hypochristmutreefuzz debut album due 11 August 2017 

Album release: ‘Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia’ by Hypochristmutreefuzz
Release date: 11 August 2017
More info: Band website

Hailing from Ghent, Belgium Hypochristmutreefuzz are at the forefront of Ghent’s noise-rock scene. Other than a secret weapon for passionate Scrabble-fanatics (their name comes from an avant-garde jazz piece by Misha Mengelberg) the band, formed around Belgian musician Ramses Van den Eede, is a frontal attack to all of the senses, thanks to a crushing groove, the use of a power drill as an instrument and inconveniently lovable bone-shattering and shamanic vocals. 

Following on from a number of single releases and an EP release in early 2015, they are now ready to release their debut album ‘‘Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia’ (named after the phobia of long words, of course!). The band have previously received praise from the likes of the Guardian and the Quietus for their incredibly individual and cacophonous yet strangely danceable noise-rock, which has attracted comparisons to the likes of Jesus Lizard, Pere Ubu, Mr Bungle, Butthole Surfers and The Residents. The album is a collection of ten frenetic, fuzz-driven, unhinged and at times seemingly depraved tracks. However, whilst wild and undeniably distinctive Hypochristmutreefuzz understand that a song being intelligent and complex need not exclude it from having a raw, rhythmic energy and a strong sense of melody, conjuring up imagery of a pop-infused satanic ritual.  

This translates into their live shows, performing in total darkness with one strobe light per artist and Ramses Van den Eede frantically thrashing and gyrating around the room amongst the audience members. Their bizarre and almost ceremonial live performance is enough to get even the most unassuming and inhibited members of the audience moving. The band have played one-off gigs all over, from historic underground castle vaults in Southampton, through to the likes of Live at Leeds and Glimps Festival. Following their album’s release in August, the band are set to return to the UK with dates to be announced. 

If you’re lucky enough to have heard Hypochristmutreefuzz or have even seen them live before, and believe us, you’d know if you had, then this incredibly strong debut effort should be instantly recognisable as a consummate and direct snapshot of the devastatingly efficient unit; with instruments, ideas and personalities bouncing off each other in an audible culture of creativity. If you’re still yet to hear them, then now is your chance. Throw up your arms. Join the cult. 

Press reaction to date

“Hypochristmutreefuzz are the latest chapter in that long tome of rock 'n' roll weirdos that dates back from Beefheart, through Pere Ubu, The Residents, Butthole Surfers and Mr Bungle to the new cream of Belgian noise-rock pioneers.” – the Quietus 

“…sounds less like Led Zep than the Jesus Lizard entering a demented circus-orgy, ringmastered by Gibby Haynes of Butthole Surfers.” – the Guardian 

“…these intense Ghent-based musicians also take inspiration from chart pop, hip-hop, and dance music. You’ll be snaking your hips to their funky grooves one minute, thrashing your arms wildly around the next, and maybe ending your listening party with a small seizure.” – Bandcamp 

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Mark Springer / Rip Rig And Panic new album due 28 July 2017

Album release: ‘Circa Rip Rig And Panic’ by Mark Springer / Rip Rig And Panic
Release date: 28 July 2017
Label: Exit Records
More info: Artist website

The pianist and composer Mark Springer began his career as a soloist before going on to form the critically acclaimed Bristolian post-punk/avant-jazz band Rip Rig And Panic, featuring members from The Pop Group along with Swedish/New York singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry. When they split after three dynamic years together The Times commented that, “…their too-brief career will not have been in vain if it has served at least to launch the pianist Mark Springer.”  

Now with four releases with Rip Rig and Panic and several solo albums to his name, including a collaborative record with Arthur Jeffes of Penguin Café, across Virgin Records and his own Exit label, Springer is lining up to release his new album ‘Circa Rip Rig And Panic’. Comprised of pieces written by Springer while in Rip Rig And Panic, the CD includes collaborations with two of his fellow Rip Riggers plus a duet with the Velvet Underground’s Nico. Circa is also further testimony to the versatile talents of Rip Rig and Panic’s bassist Sean Oliver - here on cello and vocals - who went on to co-write hits with Terence Trent D’Arby. 

From the earliest part of Springer’s career his distinctive and unique sound has continued. This was born from his ability to create intense and evolving soundscapes, both through his writing or improvisation - ‘spontaneous composition’ as Springer calls it. Springer has always aimed to stretch the possibilities of what the piano is capable of doing and therefore extend the language of the instrument. This powerful physical engagement directly translates into all of his music for piano and other instruments and comes through powerfully in the new CD Circa. 

This restless, continually probing, spirit has also been evidenced most recently in April 2017 with Springer playing completely new music at a special performance in Bologna, engaging the audience in a continuous energised exchange of creation and improvisation. Thriving off the risks of the unknown in his performance, this was recorded for the BBC and will be aired later this year. 

On his latest solo album ‘Circa Rip Rig And Panic’ Springer transcends strict genre classification yet again. Whilst the album’s foundations are rooted in jazz, he also makes forays into the traditional classical world, as well as neo-classical and at times the avant-garde. Tracks such as ‘Walking Cello’ and ‘Oh Lonesome Train’ explore free jazz based ideas and fluid structures creating frenetic yet masterfully controlled melodies. Elsewhere tracks such as ‘Fuji Fuji’ and ‘I’ve Got To Two Hand It To You’ lean towards neo-classical themes (the latter wouldn’t feel out of place on an Erased Tapes release) whilst introducing gentle jazz phrasing. Conversely, ‘A Given Voice A Given Choice’, which features Nico’s haunting and beguiling vocals sits somewhere between the contemporary and experimental field calling to mind Scott Walker or more recently A Dead Forest Index or Savages.  

Speaking about the album Springer says, “My drive in Rip Rig and Panic was to shake up the Jazz world and create a new kind of music that could break down musical boundaries, redefining the possibilities of a contemporary idea of what a band could do. Through that forum and with those great musicians I was able to explore and develop my compositions in front of a live audience. This music was created in that spirit.” 

‘Circa Rip Rig And Panic’ is a testament to Springer’s creative mind and his compositional integrity, which is shown through his broad back catalogue of work from the material recorded on ‘Circa’ all the way through to his more recent solo releases, piano quintet/sextets and opera. Plus a celebration of the brilliant cohesion between the talented musicians which contributed to making the group such a force. 

Albums, and indeed songs, that span so many genres are rare, and it’s even rarer that you’ll find sounds that perfectly capture such a diverse array of atmospheres and emotions as this. Mark Springer is an artist who needs no introductions, but if you’re yet to discover his work, there is no better time than now. 

Press reaction to date

“Dazzlingly inventive extemporisations that variously channel Eno, John Cage, Satie, Roedelius, Bach, Philip Glass, Jan Garbarek’s Officium, Michael Nyman, Ludovico Einaudi and Max Richter into something that sounds fresh and original.” – Uncut

“It’s clear that Springer is at home playing jazz standards or going hell for leather in an improve context” – The Wire

“This is Steve Reich territory, only here with more dynamic tension and often romantic intent. Utterly beguiling.” – Jazzwise

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Chris Merrick Hughes album 'Eirenic Life' due 14 July 2017

Album release: ‘Eirenic Life’ by Chris Merrick Hughes
Release date: 14 July 2017
Label: Helium Records
More info: Artist website

Google the word ‘Eirenic’, and you’ll find definitions like, “tending to promote peace or reconciliation.”  

“The title and main theme for Eirenic Life came from my feelings about the recent state of things and a few unwelcomed premonitions: the ongoing wars between people, the right-wing shift, Trump and Brexit, the late-night scaremongering news, all the aggressive and unnecessary crap,” says Chris Hughes. “I wanted the feeling of something more meditative, and aiming at peace. It’s as simple, and pretentious, as that!” 

There are two sides to Chris Hughes. There’s the notable producer of others’ records, most famously Adam & The Ants – with whom he also played drums - and Tears For Fears, and other famous names. And there’s the occasional composer of modern experimental music at odds with that line of work, such as the sublime piano ruminations of his new album Eirenic Life, six tracks of deep emotional engagement, from brooding to wistful and even a little agitating, Hughes reckons; from a richly expressive 13-minute piece to a 47-second miniature, united by a desire to locate a place of calm. Lovers of Eno and Erik Satie’s work will find much to love (Hughes also names Anton Webern, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, John Adams and György Ligeti among his ‘thanks’ in the sleevenotes: a succession of visionary pianists, minimalists and classicists).  

“The album doesn’t carry much form of traditional western composition, like developed harmonic work, it’s quite basic,” Hughes feels. “They’re more like sketches, strange melodic ideas. Not complicated, not boring but hopefully rewarding.” 

Hughes’ grounding in The Beatles and psychedelia was soon upended by a ‘Eureka!’ moment when his fine-art teacher/music-buff father took the 18-year old Chris to a concert by the minimalist composer Steve Reich. It was an album of, “strange experimental electronics,” that Hughes played to David Bates, a junior A&R man, that led to producing the Liverpool synth-pop band Dalek I Love You, which led on to Adam Ant.  

Even when Hughes was part of one of the greatest pop phenomena of the last 40 years, he’d create snippets of music, “but I’d stick them on the shelf. I never felt the urge to put it all together and make a record.”  

But finally, he did, releasing the acclaimed Shift on Fontana in 1994 (reissued by Helium Records in 2008), an exploration and reworking of several pieces by Steve Reich. Hughes recalls, “At that time, I was preoccupied with pulse, tempo, rhythm and sequence. I was busy successfully producing artists and groups for major labels, so in my precious spare time and as an antidote to schedule, demands, problem-solving and unnecessary pressure, I decided to make Shift. 

“Fast forward and I’m still working away in the studio, but I decided three years ago that it was time for another solo project. Often late at night, away from phone calls, production work and schedules, and with the added freedom of knowing that my children were now old enough to burn their own toast.” 

Eirenic Life is, at heart, a very straightforward piano album. “I wanted something small and simple, and everyone understands the nature of piano,” he explains. “I didn’t want a synth record. I didn’t want mystery.” 

Looking out of his studio at the lush Bybrook Valley, outside Bath, and looking too at computer graphic images of a sunset/sky and water that became Eirenic Life’s beatific album cover, Hughes had a tranquil place to work from, as he brought different pieces off the shelf: “ambient electronics, drone, undefined tempo and rhythm, the lack of constant pulse, piano music and, once again, sequence.”  

But he eschewed the easy option - especially for a producer used to big mixing desks and budgets - of changing the provenance of each piece. “It was important to do something that wasn’t cathedral-like, with a hundred overdubs and chord progressions, things I often do in my day job. My album has purpose but it’s meandering, it’s supposed to be primitive. I did write other ambitious tracks, but I couldn’t connect with them. I’m also a huge fan of minimalism, if you can get your point across with less.” 

The only addition to Hughes’ piano is some very subtle ambience, often field recordings that bring their own energy and intrigue. Such as recording from London’s Victoria & Albert museum in ‘Girl With The Jesus Towel’. “I like the idea that the V and A is theoretically calm, but it’s actually quite noisy!” he says. “And then I bedded the piano on that ambience”. The track also features the sound of an old gate opening and closing, discovered on a countryside walk: “it made such a squeaky mechanical interruption, I recorded it and used it as a squeaky mechanical interruption!”  

In case people interpret the reference to a 'Jesus Towel’–  which Hughes says could have been a rug or cloak, as a symbol of comfort - and the fact ‘Eirenic’ comes from Christian theology (of which Hughes was unaware at the time) as religious motifs, the ‘NSV’ part of the lengthy opening track, standing for ‘Non-Secular Violence’, makes his point clear.  

“The aspect of violence, ironically, comes from within the wrong part of religion, having God on your side and righteousness, fucking over another country, race or religion, which I find repulsive. The album ends with ‘Safe Warm Sun,’ which is a the eirenic part, aiming for peace, and no bigotry.”  

‘Tenemos Historia’ (Spanish for ‘we have history’) makes the same point: “it’s reminder that human beings should be doing better than killing each other by now.” 
The Dily of ‘Dily’s Dream’ is Hughes’ cat, a nervy rescue animal who nevertheless sleeps so peacefully, “and I often wonder what she’s dreaming about. It’s a dippy, noodly tune and it’s supposed to be whimsical.”  

Likewise, ‘Exmoor Pony Gavotte’, 47 seconds of, “a strange, repetitive descending line, which wasn’t particularly good, but when I re-discovered it, it made me laugh! And it made a nice dropdown into the last piece.” 

Having waited 23 years between solo albums, Hughes is already making progress with a third, “a more obtuse record, with wobbly synthesiser, super-fast modulation and drums.” A book of Hughes’ graphic designs in also in the works. But right now, he’s on a mission for peace, with one of the most exquisite and melodic balms of this or any other year. Send it to Donald Trump, now!

“beautifully pastoral and mesmerising” – the Guardian

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Yazz Ahmed album 'La Saboteuse' due 12 May 2017

Album release: ‘La Saboteuse’ by Yazz Ahmed
Release date: 12 May 2017
Label: Naim Records
More info: Artist website

Bahraini-British performer, Yazz Ahmed, is transforming what jazz means in 2017. This trumpet and flugelhorn-playing artist has worked with Radiohead, These New Puritans and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, experiments with electronic effects, and combines sounds from her shared heritage to author a new narrative for the genre.  

Part of the new wave of artists credited with stirring up the sound, including Kamasi Washington, Yussef Kamaal, Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming, Yazz Ahmed is thrilled by the possibilities of making something new. “I feel like I’m a part of modernising jazz and connecting it with audiences today,” Yazz says. “It’s exciting.” 

Her new album ‘La Saboteuse’ is a deep exploration of both her British and Bahraini roots. Ably assisted by musicians including Lewis Wright on vibraphone, MOBO-winning new jazz kingpin Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and Naadia Sherriff on Fender Rhodes keyboard, it’s composed of undulating rhythms, Middle Eastern melody and Yazz’s sonorous trumpet lines. The record sounds like the passage of a desert caravan, bathed in moonlight.  

The theme of ‘La Saboteuse’ is the sense of self-doubt that Yazz feels when she is creating, personified in a female saboteur, an anti-muse that spurs her into action. “Giving ‘her’ a name has really helped me to identify those negative voices we all get,” she says. “I know what it is and I know how to combat it.” 

‘La Saboteuse’ will be released in four chapters incrementally, unravelling the story, before the full version is available. Each chapter has its own cover, with beautiful illustrations by Bristol artist Sophie Bass. “I feel really touched, nobody’s created art from my music before, it’s really special,” Yazz says. 

Yazz spent her early childhood in Bahrain, her paternal homeland, before moving to London with her English mother at the age of nine. There, she became fascinated by her grandfather’s trumpet playing, and vowed to learn the instrument herself. “My grandfather, my mum’s dad, was a trumpet player, and I was quite taken by him, inspired. I wanted to learn the trumpet at school.” Jazz became her chosen form of expression, because “I loved the spirit of the music, the freedom. There’s a lot of joy, mystery. I connected with it”. 

Yazz’s sound is unique. Her take on jazz weaves in Arabic melodies to evocative, cinematic effect. “I love the sounds of Arabic music. The traditional folk singing is so heartfelt, elemental and passionate. I absorbed it as a child, but only in the past few years has it come to the surface in my playing and writing. I want to embrace my culture and my British jazz heritage, the music my grandfather played to me.” 

Jazz has traditionally been a male-dominated sphere, though Yazz is challenging that notion. To start with she found it a hindrance, but has been empowered by a new wave of women musicians. “There are more female jazz musicians and attitudes are changing,” she says. “People see that women can play just as well as the men. But there are still areas that haven’t caught up with the rest of society. It’s getting better, but we can do more.” 

Future-facing and fascinating, Yazz Ahmed is part of a glimmering new constellation in the jazz firmament. And her next project is destined to take her further into the stars. “I’m planning to write a piece inspired by the ever-changing structures of the universe,” she concludes. 

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Yazz Ahmed new album 'La Saboteuse' due 12 May 2017


Album release: 'La Saboteuse' by Yazz Ahmed
Release date: 12 May 2017
Label: Naim Records
More info: Artist website
Yazz Ahmed has been making serious waves in the Jazz world after storming onto the scene with a commanding performance at Ronnie Scott’s with her quintet in 2010. With her next release ‘La Saboteuse’ Yazz looks set to join an pioneering group of artists such as The Comet is Coming (Leaf Label), Kamasi Washington (BRAINFEEDER), Yussef Kamaal (Brownswood) and Naim Records’ Sons Of Kemet who are flipping the jazz world on its head and breaking through to the forefront of the UK music scene with a vibrant and exciting approach to their art. 

Yazz has performed with creative goliaths including Lee "Scratch" Perry and Max Romeo as well as touring worldwide with These New Puritans and laying down the Flugelhorn on Radiohead’s ground-breaking ‘King of Limbs’. Her second full length release ‘La Saboteuse’ explores the creative process and the demons that can exist within. Yazz’s transformation of this into a unique blend of psychedelic Arabic jazz is intoxicating, compelling and sonically outstanding. 

Naim Records have teamed up with emerging Bristol illustrator Sophie Bass Illustration to craft a stunning visual aesthetic for ‘La Saboteuse’. Sophie’s work explores human nature and our sensual relationship with the world we occupy. Through an exploration of her Trinidad heritage Sophie developed an appetite for native art and the mythology and symbolism encompassed within, these themes are beautifully displayed in Sophie’s unique, culturally rich and symbolic style.  

With 'La Saboteuse' Naim Records will break away from the traditional model of release with the album being dropped as four chapters across streaming services in early 2017. Each chapter will have an individual cover crafted by Sophie which when combined will form the gatefold cover housing the heavyweight double LP. The vinyl and CD will be released concurrently with Chapter Four and the digital release of the full album, all landing in May 2017. 

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Myles Manley single ‘Relax; enjoy your night upon the town’ due 17 February 2017

Single release: ‘Relax; enjoy your night upon the town’  by Myles Manley  
Release date: 17 February 2017
Label: Little L Records  
More info: Artist website

'Relax; Enjoy your night upon the town!' with this utterance Myles Manley is being at once both sincere and fatalistic. "I always knew I was the best!" says the dashing and supercilious young artist with a smile, "but at certain points I realise that that might not really be the case. It is always the case though." 

Myles Manley makes idiosyncratic folk music on guitar with rhythms and colours snatched from various places, most recently Eric B and Rakim, Micachu and The Shapes, Moondog, The Clash's Sandinista, Jinx Lennon, Frankie Cosmos, etc. "I started listening to a lot of early hiphop for some reason and what I loved about it was the clunkiness of the sounds, and the excitement you can hear at a whole new world of opportunities. I bought an MPC and started making idiot beats late at night that I'd write songs to. I've always had an ear for weird rhythms and I was able to make stuff that you'd never come up with rehearsing in a room with a drummer." 

A batch of songs written in this way was then taken to human drummers Solamh Kelly and Oisin Trench and recorded by longtime collaborator Chris Barry, who added his own guitar parts, yielding the single you have in your very ears. "It is amazing to play with such musicians because they take a framework and make it come alive, add their voice to it. It starts to express a time and a place. And it starts to express my unbelievable talent." 

Hurrying through Broadstone, Dublin for another midnight session of bopping and guitar strumming at the Mr. Barry's studio Ail Fionn, the aloof, succulent Manley has this to whistle: "these are troubling times for a reluctant narcissist. You always thought you could saunter through life, gently seeking attention, a joker in the pack, avoiding beatings, harming no-one beyond mild nuisance making. There're times you wonder, are you lord of the dance or lord of the bluebottles?" 
Myles Manley was born in northern England and lived in a few places there until his family moved to Sligo, Ireland, where he became the village indie boy. "I'm in love with songs. What I am seeking in my music is naivety and deliciousness; what I find is also an escape from anxiety. And if you want to really hear it, imagine early days, running round a dead, shithole town at 4am in August, with a person you haven't kissed, want to kiss and will never kiss. No power. Night night." 

'Relax; enjoy your night upon the town' is set for release on February 17th via Dublin's Little L Records, available on 7" and all major digital platforms.

Press reaction to date

  • "The Irish singer/songwriter pulls his own "Praise You"-style dance moves across a city, his jerky movements embodying the anxiety of his folk-pop single" – The Fader

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Perhaps Contraption new album 'Mud Belief' due 3 June

Album release: 'Mud Belief' by Perhaps Contraption
Release date: 3 June 2016
Label: Grabby Claw
More info: Band website

Perhaps Contraption are a twisted 9 piece art rock brass band from London. Part chamber orchestra, part choir, part experimental marching band; their sound is something like Steve Reich meeting Frank Zappa and Sufjan Stevens in some sort of punk-jazz collision, staggering through a fairground. The troupe’s intense pop up performances have created a cult-like festival following, and won them the Haizetara International Street Music competition (Spain) in 2014 and 2015, the judge's prize at Cirque et Fanfare Festival (France) and Help Musicians Emerging Excellence Award in 2013.

Full of complex, yet curiously accessible songs, Perhaps Contraption’s new album ‘Mud Belief’ draws upon post-minimalism, jazz, contemporary classical, and blistering avant-rock, all condensed to form detailed, iconoclastic art pop.Recorded at London’s Premises Studios and mastered by Mandy Parnell (Bjork, Dirty Projectors) the album touches upon the joyous and irreverent, the dark and the savage, the oom-pah and the sublime.

Anywhere and everywhere this troupe have bellowed their massive choral harmonies and jubilant, soaring horns. They have led processions upon boats, beaches and mountains, and during the next few months will be completing a London street tour. Spontaneous performances will occur in unusual public spaces around the city (beaches and bandstands included...).

The troupe’s idiosyncratic blend of classical instrumentation with progressive rock and punk ideology has sent them to a diverse range of events including Glastonbury Festival, The London Jazz Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Bestival, Sudtirol Jazz Festival (Italy), The Royal Academy of Arts, Wilderness, CrossLinx (The Netherlands) Latitude, Artisti in Piazza (Italy), Buskers Bern (Switzerland), numerous Honk! Festivals (USA) and touring in Europe with Amanda Palmer.

Whether leading exultant parades, amplified stage shows, or fleeting street performances, Perhaps Contraption create an unforgettable sonic spectacle. Fierce, desperate, yet brimming with hope, ‘Mud Belief’ captures this sensation perfectly and in doing so the band have created their most accomplished and urgent recording to date.

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Aukai self titled album due 3 June 2016

Album release: Aukai
Release date: 3 June 2016
More info: Artist website

Aukai is a Hawaiian word meaning seafarer or traveller. It’s also used as a proper name, and people who are called 'Aukai' tend to have a mystical, philosophical, introspective nature. All of which makes 'Aukai' the perfect name for the new album and project by multi-instrumentalist and composer Markus Sieber. It’s a collection of ambient acoustic soundscapes that take the listener on an inward journey to a place of stillness and tranquil beauty. His debut self-titled album is set for a June 3rd release.

Sieber’s own journey has been an eventful one. Born in Germany, he played in bands as a part of East Germany’s vibrant ‘90s rock scene before shifting his focus to work as an actor in Berlin and St. Petersburg. A life-changing move to Mexico put him in touch with more indigenous-leaning music, awakening a new musical mission that led him to circle the globe many times. 
“This album and project has a lot to do with memories from travel,” says Sieber, “but also memories from childhood and nature. How did the river smell in summer? I wanted to create a sonic space where music guides the listener into some imaginative inner world.” 

'Aukai' was born of his desire to create a new kind of music that could work in tandem with film, video, theater and the visual arts. The compositions on the album also grew out of Sieber’s love affair with the ronrocco, a plucked string instrument from Argentina that Sieber first discovered through the music of film composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Babel, Brokeback Mountain). He began sketching out compositions while traveling the world as a touring musician. But 'Aukai' really came together in the quiet solitude of a winter spent in an isolated mountain cabin in La Plata Canyon, Colorado. 

From there, the project shifted to Berlin, where Sieber recorded the basic tracks for Aukai at Martyn Heyne’s recording studio with a variety of analog gear, pairing the ronrocco’s sonorous tone with his evocative guitar, piano and harmonium playing. “The vintage equipment gives the music a real physical quality,” Sieber explains. “You feel like you could almost touch it.” 

He then called upon an international cadre of musicians to add their own tonal colors. Berliner Anne Muller (Agnes Obel Band, Nils Frahm), played cello. Bogdan Djukic from Belgrade played violin. Sieber’s wife, Angelika Baumbach added piano to several tracks, and his brother Alexander Nickmann contributed electronic keyboards and sound design. Another key player was Sieber’s longtime musical collaborator Jamshied Sharifi, the New York musician and composer noted for his work with Laurie Anderson, Sting, Dream Theater and the Montreal Symphony, among others. Aukai was mixed in Berlin by Martyn Heyne (who engineered Nils Frahm’s Spaces album) and mastered in London by award-winning engineer Mandy Parnell who has also mastered discs by Brian Eno, Bjork, Max Richter and many others. 

'Aukai' may draw initial comparisons to the work of ambient instrumental artists such as Eno, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Goldmund and Nils Frahm, but ultimately it is an album that belongs in a category all its own—a beguiling collection of autumnal acoustic soundscapes dappled with subtle electronic touches. 

“It’s kind of an unfinished sound,” says Sieber. “Not too processed. It invites you in. This is what I think is important—the listener has a chance to go inside the music.” 

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Oranssi Pazuzu new album 'Värähtelijä' due 26 February 2016

Album release: 'Värähtelijä' by Oranssi Pazuzu
Release date: 26 February 2016
Label: Svart Records
More info: Band website

In 2013 Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu issued their 'Valonielu' LP, an album of timeless creative immensity that was met with ubiquitous praise throughout the world, and solidified the band’s position as one of the most forward-thinking and interesting metal bands. Now Oranssi Pazuzu returns with the follow-up album and fourth overall, the mind-bending masterwork 'Värähtelijä'.

Oranssi Pazuzu, since birth, has never been satisfied to stick with a formula. Each album has seen the band expand upon its previous incarnation and then, like a supernova, blow it up and transform again into something recognizable but completely new.

'Värähtelijä' continues in this vein, giving the band much more room to diverge and explore the vast regions of hypnotic progressive psychedelia and the nebulous outer limits of Scandinavian black metal. Songs explode with radiant ultraviolet color and plunge into the deep black darkness of innermost consciousness. If ‘Valonielu’ was the creation of a universe, ‘Värähtelijä’ is the magnification and expansion of its infinite boundaries.

A 70+ minute sprawling voyage, ‘Värähtelijä’ more accurately represents the stunning live presence of the band where the songs often span new and previously unheard dimensions of form and structure. Not meant for genre purists, Oranssi Pazuzu are on a trip all their own; modern electric pioneers on an expedition to unlock the keys to the hidden spaces all around and inside us. 20 Buck Spin and Svart are pleased to once again present the innovative brilliance of Oranssi Pazuzu and ‘Värähtelijä’.

"Värähtelijä is continuing where we left off with 'Valonielu'. But it plunges deeper into the pitch black hypnosis, combines progressive song structures to more free and flowing parts. At the same time, it’s the heaviest and the most atmospheric album we`ve done so far. The fusion between different ends of spectrum reveals new realities we`ve never discovered before. We really wanted this album to go to new places and to be the crossover album of genres we always wanted to do.

To further boost the idea, the album was done with Julius Mauranen who had previously done lots of Finnish shoegaze and indie pop albums. I think it’s safe to say that this is by far the heaviest stuff he has done and for us, working with a guy like him stretched our sound to way more dynamic and trippy horizons." - Jun-His

Press reaction to date

'Oranssi Pazuzu never disappoint' – Metal Hammer

'Their unique take on psychedelic, proggy black metal is totally otherworldly and even uplifting at times' – Terrorizer

'...trippy combination of space rock, psychedelic textures and controlled aggression' – Rock Sound

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Alarmist debut album Popular Demain due 2 November

Album release: 'Popular Demain' by Alarmist
Release date: 2 November 2015
Label: Small Pond Recordings
More info: Band website

Alarmist are an instrumental quartet from Dublin, comprised of Neil Crowley, Elis Czerniak, Osgar Dukes and Barry O'Halpin. Their debut LP Popular Demain is an almost orchestral expanse of colour and meandering lines, tightly wrought around a rhythmic core of double drums and guitars. 
Recorded in the Meadow studio at the edge of Ireland's Wicklow Mountains, the album is a natural evolution of from the sound established in the Dublin band's previous EPs. It carries on the genre-defying fusion of influences that has gained the band a growing international following; primitive Korgs, Casios and tape-degraded voice samples find themselves densely packed with an organic mass of winds, percussion and prepared piano, forming a soundworld that somehow finds common ground for jazz-infused math-rock, warped experimental pop melodies and brutalist slabs of pulsing electronics. 
Through the power of online music communities and word-of-mouth spread, Alarmist have developed an ever-growing fanbase in Europe, North America, and beyond, in particular since the release of Pal Magnet which since November 2013 has remained in the top 50 'experimental' releases on Bandcamp worldwide, also featuring on the site's Staff Picks. 
2015 has seen the band embark on a Canadian tour, including an appearance as the sole Irish act at Ottawa Jazz Festival, and a UK tour in April. In the same month, they gave a special 12-piece ensemble performance at Dublin's MusicTown festival together with experimental jazz groups OKO and Redivider. 
In April 2014 they were the act selected to represent Ireland at the 12 Points Festival of jazz-related music in Umeå, Sweden. Other notable festival shows in 2014 included Arctangent (UK), Out of the Crowd (Luxembourg), Down With Jazz (Dublin), along with UK/Ireland support slots with influential acts BADBADNOTGOOD (Canada) and Lite (Japan). They have been featured on All About Jazz, Guardian, the 405, Ottawa Showbox, Nialler9, The Thin Air, I Care If You Listen and Montréal's Poulet Neige Christmas Wishlist 2014 project. Radio play has included features on Sweden's national broadcaster (SR), RTE1, 2FM, Phantom FM and BBC 1 Northern Ireland. 

Press reaction to date

  •  ‘[The single's] bobbing instrumentalism struck a buoyant balance between the warped math­rock textures of U.S. band Tera Melos and Ethio­jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke. More than anything, thought, Bunda Internacionale underlined Alarmist’s status as one of the country’s finest ever instrumental acts.' - The Thin Air 
  • “In Alarmist's multi­layered sound there were the roots of all kinds of influences, from electronica and synth­pop to alt­rock and tropicana. [They] provided the biggest surprise of Down With Jazz, demonstrating that instrumental music can be challenging and accessible at one and the same.” - All About Jazz 
  • “Genres are harvested and manipulated, and Alarmist take a quasi-orchestral approach that allows their music to hover in its own instrumental space, gravitationally pulled toward a rock aesthetic but constantly implying other philosophies in a way that excites.” - Improvised Music Company

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Kirt Debique debut album Things Left Unsaid due for release 23 October

Album release: 'Things Left Unsaid' by Kirt Debique
Release date: 23 October 2015
Label: Brick Lane Records
More info: Label website

There’s the family you’re born into and the family you choose. Kirt Debique crafted his debut album, 'Things Left Unsaid', as the intersection of the two. Conceived as a series of letters to parents and partners, siblings and strangers, its eight songs delve into themes of love, family, and loss. Although a divorce and some hard realizations incited the compositional process, the specifics of 'Things Left Unsaid' took shape later on, after the Seattle resident could view his subject matter with perspective. 

'I had to look hard and closely at certain relationships in my life,' says Debique. 'But I'd gotten to a point where I felt I could reflect on them in a way that was healthy, and I feel like I'm a very different person since making this record.'

Although a specific concept and subject anchors each song, Debique intended 'Things Left Unsaid' to be digested as a whole album. “It was always going to be an overall story, and as I worked on the record the idea of speaking to these people and going on this transformative journey became clearer and clearer.” 

A self-taught musician, Debique would begin with an idea—such as a future version of himself addressing his father (“Another Time”)—then coax forth vocal and piano melodies as the words unfolded. After developing the sonic ideas and textures in Ableton Live, he refined them further with members of his chosen family: the artists of Brick Lane, the independent record label he operates.  

'I only got serious about making music about six or seven years ago,' he recalls. 'It was one of the few healthy ways of working through where I was at during a difficult time.' The act of making music fortified him, but so did the friendships that grew up around it. 'I've been around a loving community of reflective artists. People who spend a lot of time digging deep, and who hope to communicate the understandings they’ve found in a way that brings everybody forward together.'

And those musicians, in turn, helped him realize 'Things Left Unsaid'. Brick Lane artists Benjamin Verdoes (Iska Dhaaf) and Ephriam Nagler (You Are Plural) produced the record, and augmented Debique’s beats, vocals, and keyboards with additional instrumentation. Working together, they crafted arrangements that imbue Debique’s succinct songs and poetic sensibilities with added depth, reflecting the complex (and sometimes conflicted) emotions that drive them. 

The end result recalls classics such as Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine and Depeche Mode’s Violator, albeit tempered with more light and hope than either of those touchstones. 'I was trying to achieve a certain axis of tension to get the listener to pay attention to the narrative,' he explains. 'There's a lot of intimate lyricism and melodic sensibility in there, but it's surrounded by aggressive textures and noise, too. I also wanted to balance the synthetic elements with organic ones.' 

As for the music’s powerful rhythmic pull, Debique says he couldn’t have avoided it if he’d tried. 'That comes from growing up in Trinidad,' where calypso and steel drums punctuate the soundtrack of everyday life. 

Even as the songs on 'Things Left Unsaid' have prompted Debique to forge ahead with challenging but important discussions with his own family and loved ones, he hopes his record will spark similar responses in listeners. 'My dream would be if two people could actually become closer together and have these kinds of conversations by listening to, and talking about, the ideas on this record. I’d love that.' 

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The Classical re-release Diptych on 31 July

Album release: Diptych by The Classical
Release date: 31 July 2015
Label: Time Sensitive Materials 

A year after their move to San Francisco, The Classical quietly self-released 'Diptych' on Bandcamp. One month later, the album was being lauded as one of the Bay Area’s best releases of 2014. It was a strong start for The Classical, currently a duo comprised of singer-songwriter Juliet E. Gordon and free jazz drummer Britt Ciampa. And this summer, the Alameda, CA label Time Sensitive Materials (sub. of Time Released Sound) will give a well-deserved physical re-release to this formidable collection of songs.

Gordon describes herself as a “disavowed stage actor,” having abandoned that career path when, in her eyes, it lost its luster. But her dramatic training undeniably colors the content of The Classical. "Diptych", writes critic Sam Lefebvre, “is full of play, pretend, and severity, with Gordon inhabiting diverse characters such as sycophant, deviant, and spy.”

Indeed, James Bond theme music comes readily to mind while listening to 'Diptych' —“brassy, but slick” writes Lefebvre—but so does swampy post-punk and nightmarish horror soundscape. It’s anything but tame, yet it manages to unite highbrow and lowbrow sensibilities to delicious and delirious effect. In “Sicily: Catacombs,” for instance, Gordon describes a chance visit to the famous open burial catacombs of Palermo, Sicily. Pausing to gaze upon a wall reserved for deceased young virgins, she sings, “Strung up by their necks in rotten dresses/Wheezing down at their weeping fathers/Masturbating, gargling salt water…”

Elsewhere, she croons soaringly of bestiality, and confesses to revenge fantasies with outright glee. It all unfolds over a dramatic palette of souped-up pianos, synthesized strings, and the evocative punctuation of Ciampa’s drumming. The duo recorded Diptych themselves, but passed the task of mixing on to Jay Pellicci (Deerhoof, Sleater-Kinney), who made sure the songs hit with their full weight.

'Diptych' will be available on July 31st exclusively through Time Sensitive Materials. Until then, watch the official clip for “Shovel & Bevel” on YouTube

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Rubik to release new album, 'Tone Poem', on 11 May

Tone Poem

Album release: 'Tone Poem' by Rubik
Release date: 11 May 2015
Label: Domestic Records
More information / listen on: Domestic Records website

London based producer/songwriter Rubik is also known as Shaun Yule, founder of the exploratory, left-field imprint Domestic Records. Responsible for the discovery of esteemed success AxxoN N, as well as releases by the likes of Atki2, Gnaw Their Tongues and Mink Freud, he set up the label in 2007 as a way to fulfill his experimental passions without limitation. Rubik’s new album Tone Poem is his fourth album, and the 19th release on the label.

Partly inspired by Alex Ross' 'The Rest Is Noise', Tone Poem is a menagerie of samples accumulated by a deterministically random process - an exploration into the landscape of late nineteenth and twentieth century classical music via a cathartic endeavor to compose his own personal opera.  

Expressing method in perceptible madness, Rubik has long been compelled to make an album as a product of almost entirely stochastic processes. After deciding on a stylistic theme he sourced the backing tracks from a selection of 10 classical CDs from his personal collection. Assigning numerical values to specific elements of these works, he picked numbers from a bowl to determine sample length; the point in time from which the sample was taken; and CD/disc/track number sampled from, etc. All samples of a certain length would be used on the same track and thus a tempo derived. Notes were then manipulated within the samples for a more expressive and ‘musical’ result and additional instruments and solos were ‘bent’ to fit the backing track in the same way.

Initially the lyrics were meant to be sourced in a similar way, particularly via love letters. As the project progressed he used less of this in order to write from the heart, with the odd phrase taken from existing poetry or lyrics. Although he’d admit to struggling with vocal limitations Rubik embraces them for what they are and even employs them almost New-Romantically to articulate the sometimes difficult and personal nature of the album.

Lyrical themes include religion, aging, paternal relationships, death/transcendence, acceptance of self, break-up(s), masculinity (and lack of perceived ideal), alcoholism, change.. Applied to musical influences including various classical genres, pantomime, experimental music, noise, black metal, grime and torch songs, Tone Poem might be considered to be part of a group including Dean Blunt’s ‘The Redeemer’, or James Ferraro’s 'NYC, Hell 3am' – conceptually and thematically linked yet dissonant portraits of flux.

The melodic, albeit slightly off-kilter, classical overtones provide some semblance of alleviation for any challenging listening, as if Billie Holiday’s ‘Lady In Satin’ had been warped in dystopia. Consider Rubik a more mortal David Sylvian or Krzysztof Penderecki, a twisted Sondheim, or merely a contemporary of L.Pierre or Hype Williams. And consider Tone Poem a nightmarish Disney production telling of one man’s everyday existence in Tottenham.

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Vision Fortune to release "Country Music" LP in February 2015

Vision Fortune

Album release: "Country Music" by Vision Fortune
Release date: 9 February 2015 
Label: ATP
More information / listen: on Soundcloud

Vision Fortune formed in 2011 primarily around Alex and Austin Peru. In the following years the band have rotated through a cast of drummers and had material released by the likes of Italian Beach Babes(Dirty Beaches, Eagulls, Male Bonding), Rocket Recordings(Goat, Teeth of the Sea) and Gringo(Hookworms, That Fucking Tank), playing with a diverse range of artists such as Sun Araw, Oneida, The Men, Disappears, Damo Suzuki, Hookworms and an invite to play Primavera Sound. 

The band’s second LP ‘Country Music’ sees release on February 9th 2015 via ATP Recordings. Recorded during an intense two-month research residency, generously funded by the Cuatroquesos Foundation, in the idyllic yet remote region of Tuscany, Italy, Country Music is both a significant development and audible departure from the sound of the band's debut Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune. It sees the band return to their origins as a 2 piece, whilst continuing to develop their sound taking an audible departure from the droney psych built around repetition that their early output was built around. ‘Country Music’ sees Vision Fortune completely strip back their aesthetic , dropping the layers of distorted guitars and whilst still employing repetition as a key theme it instead focuses on minimal song structures built around dark electronics, precise percussion, layered vocals and haunting samples.

Confined in an expansive country villa for the duration of the project, the group soon found the breathtaking beauty of the area little compensation for the almost complete lack of wheat-and/or gluten-free products, a severely limited selection of DVDs, and minimal recording equipment. Only able to record in scant free hours, and forced to make the most of their immediate sonic environment, the group often had no choice but to forgo their simple daily routines of sampling local gastronomic delicacies and honing their horse-riding skills in order to complete the album.

In spite of these obstacles, the ever-adventurous Vision Fortune have created their most sonically inventive work to date - sparse, yet incredibly detailed and precise.


  • “I love Vision Fortune. One listen to their debut album, Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune, in a rare shaft of sunlight while waiting for a train back in March triggered a minor spiritual epiphany.” The Quietus
  • “Vision Fortune’s debut is tantalisingly restrained and thought out; paced, spaced and atmospherically imbibed within a carved-out world of ambience that they have created for themselves to exist in. Utterly Enthralling.” 9/10 - #13 Best Album of the Year - Loud & Quiet 
  • “Vision Fortune’s music harnesses with an ability not born of practice or premeditation a set of behaviours and body rhythms hardwired into our nervous system and simian-derived psyche. Theirs is the beat with which the old tribes scared their prey out of gnarly woods, and the beat with which these tribes beat on their wooden shields before heading into battle with their neighbours, theirs is the light of a storm experienced in a barren peak, illuminating what could well be the face of the God in the clouds, frowning like the knots in the bark of a tree, before she speaks with the voice of thunder. Every time Vision Fortune do their unleashing they create a demonstration pure like mathematical proof but written with sledgehammers” – 20 Jazz Funk Greats.

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