04 June 2015

A miscellany of odd packaging

Having been involved in putting out a CD packaged in skip-reclaimed plywood, I naturally have a prurient interest in odd/daft ideas for packaging releases. Here's a non-comprehensive, rolling list of items that have crossed my attention:

Knurl - A Hail Of Blades [Impulsy Stetoskopu]
Nicely conceptual (in that the sounds on the disc were made from steel circular saw blades), the jewel case is bolted between two steel plates.

[Image courtesy mimaroglu]

Archive Box #001 [Sacred Tapes]
Outstanding handmade concrete box release for the first six tapes from this Manchester label. I dread to consider the postage costs.

[Image courtesy Sacred Tapes]

Rene Kita/Kek-W - SUITE TWOth
Typically bold sideways move from Kek-W (he of the plywood handmade Concrete/Field package alluded to above) - the initial release of his re-working of Rene Kita's "Suite Two" comes only on a hand-painted/decorated mobile phone with a smashed screen which displays glitch patterns when connected to a PC to get the 1s and 0s off.
[Image courtesy 19f3]

19 May 2015

Research Notes: Sub-Saharan Metal

Been slightly obsessed in recent times with searching out metal bands from sub-Saharan Africa. Here are a few that have piqued my interest. I've deliberately avoided "white dudes who like Cannibal Corpse", as the world is full of them, and veered towards stuff which has more local cultural influences. Obviously this selection is skewed towards my particular tastes, so is more towards the death/doom end of the metal spectrum and is not afraid of, ahem, 'outsider' approaches to playing and songwriting, shall we saw.

Major players in the Botswana metal scene (the most active scene outside South Africa, which has played host to film crews from CNN & the BBC), Skinflint have a tight, catchy sound which brings to mind early Iron Maiden, except with lyrics based in indigenous mythology. They released their 4th album "Nyemba" towards the end of 2014, and this track "The Pits Of Wydah" has been a total earworm for me:

Official Skinflint site

Also from Botswana, Crackdust are pure quality death metal. They only have the one album that I know of ("Dented Reality" from 2007) which starts off in a chuggy Florida death style, but about half way through some clean guitar manifests on an instrumental and a bit more of a melodic style rears its head. I notice a lot of the songs are reasonably brief (in the 2 - 3 minute range) which I approve of: they're not short on ideas, but they don't muck about in getting to the point either.

Wrecking Tanganyika
Sadly split up, if their FBook bio is right, this lot (one of very few new bands from Zambia) were a seriously bizarre proposition. The one EP they have available has a fucked-up mash-up of industrial, death and black metal noises in the mix and they call themselves 'African Progressive Deathcore'. Some of the sick noises and vocals even reminded me a little of GGFH. Could have been something pretty special, let's hope they return in some new form.
Stream/download "the Witchcraft Projekt EP"

Before Crush
Describing themselves as metalcore, which is a genre whose borders I'm not really clued-up enough to police, they've got a brutal, polished sound full of twists and turns. They're from Angola and sing mainly in Portuguese about "personal struggles,wars from our country,and positive thoughts". If you check out the video to "A Bruxa", they also seem to have the kind of funky moves that made Attack!Attack! so popular...

Reverbnation site

Vale of Amonition
Uganda's number one "dark/epic...progressive/doom/folk metal" band. They're certainly not short of ideas, and tend to fire them at you one after another over the course of each prog doom epic. Most recent studio album "Those of Metal Afar" (from 2013, they put a compilation out as well) includes the 13-minute "Egypt After The Chasm" which features spoken word, King Diamond screeches, piano, organ, 70s doom metal, out-of-tune guitars and an 'unconventional' approach to song structures and timekeeping. It's not an easy listen, but you can't fault their ambition.

They released a 7" through Legion of Death (France's premier purveyors of World Metal 7"s) in 2012, which - in contrast - included an opening track that featured more traditional 'African' guitar and almost a reggae swing to it at times:

African Doomhammer
Not far away from the above are African Doomhammer, who feature musicians from Kenya, Namibia, Mauritania and Uganda (including, on occasion, Vickonomy from Vale of Amonition) but seem to be steered by a Namibian musician by the name of Cloaked Indarkness. They explicitly blend metal with "the musicians' own heritage and roots in local music" and have tagged themselves on FBook as "Epic Doom. Afroheathen Tribal metal". It's early days (they formed in 2013 and have one EP out), but some interesting stuff is coming out of this project.


That'll do you for starters. I will continue to report back my findings as my research continues... 

15 April 2015

Black Revisit/Black Classical/The Revenant Sea

Black Revisit - Dragkt [Terranean Recordings]
A short but life-affirming trudge into electronic sludge territories. Lots of lovely crusty hiss and crackle nailed to the floor by massive almost tribal beats. There's a lot of po-faced "dark" techno around these days, but this is head and shoulders above that crowd with its driving brutality and even hints of acid on "Horns of Jericho" (which fades out far too soon). "Silence" is total Chrome-era Techno Animal, but things get even dirtier when label head Luke Lund joins the fun for "Trogk" and a remix of "Atropos" which add massive tons of filthy industrial guitar to the mix. More please.

The Revenant Sea - The Visitation [Sector 12/12]
So Sector 12/12 challenged Matt AKA The Revenant Sea (AKA Wizards Tell Lies AKA 50% of Isobel Ccircle~) to produce some music inspired by 90's drum and bass and this is what he came up with. Obviously it wasn't going to turn out like LTJ Bukem, but there is definitely a dub sensibility and hints of Pan Sonic and early Autechre to the results. Lots of uplifting synths and skittery rhythms, in contrast to the more unnerving sounds usually associated with Revenant Sea releases. Is there nothing this man can't turn his hand too?

Wizards Tell Lies & The Revenant Sea & BKCLX - Communion EP
And here he is again, reworking the track "Communion" originally written by BKCLX/Black Classical into four new pieces according to the different aesthetics/practices of both WTL & TRS aliases (epic post-rock and noisy dark ambience respectively, if you want to be reductive about it). The first three tracks are credited to WTL and start out with the pretty classical soundtrack piece "Communion (First Light)" which is then extinguished by the distortion drenched guitar epic "Communion (Cleaver Shade)" which in turn is replaced with "Communion (Arc Tract)", another shorter tune starting all crackly but turning a bit Pink Floyd in the guitar department. The quartet is wrapped up with a version credited to The Revenant Sea which stretches out into a reverberating cave of crackle, creak and extended drone. So something for all the family then.

New :M:1:9: and forgotten Concrete/Field

It was back in August last year that the heroic 19f3 Records released the third "proper album" by Concrete/Field. You can purchase the download or CD from them (and read Kek-W's glowing write-up) here. I've have also uploaded some audio for you to stream on Bandcamp:

More recently, I put out a collection of varied noise tracks from the last few years as :M:1:9:
Downloads and very limited black CDR are available from Bandcamp:

Obscure Gems of Bandcamp

ILL - The Housewives Trilogy/Kremlin/Cock In My Pocket/etc
Having seen the name ILL around on local gig listings for a while, I finally got around to researching their noises. And promptly kicked myself hard in the leg for missing these gems. After the first listen I had "Secret Life" stuck in my head for days, such is its catchiness. "Hysteria" and Jubilee anthem "Eat Swans" are no slouches in that department either, but they're not all about the bouncy post/punk anthems: 10 minute soundscape/piano/drum/bass piece "Serotonin" and the inclusion of sound artist Rosanne Robertson in their lineup points to other directions/influences as well.
The sporadic nature of their releases implies that maybe they don't have as much time to devote to ILL as to other projects, but I recommend keeping an eye on them for sure and hope to hear more from them soon.


Jonny and the Paracetamols - Mean Spirits
All credit to Kek-W for spotting this one. All scratchy, straggling post-punk angles and "Northern Surrealism". Sure: the sounds, the broad Lancashire accent, the weird ideas and NW England lyrical references are going to make lazy-minded people shout "The Fall", but Jonny and his friends have a snottier punk/scally attitude and even drier cynicism taking them into their own areas.