Monday, 31 January 2011

Weekly vs.DiS vs. NFRBlog

Can't write anything today.

Except to say that Chelsea Wolfe is prety listenable and lovely and has a blood curdling scream and noise blow out moment somewhere among her EPs, so two thumbs up there. And also, anyone who likes dirty subterranean Blackened Doom - get some MVLDE into you:

01. The Soft Moon - 84
02. Karkwa - 48
03. MVLDE - 37
04. Chelsea Wolfe - 30
05. Demdike Stare - 27
06. WHITE FENCE - 21
06. Cedar Senior - 21
08. Balaclavas - 18
08. Perfume Genius - 18
10. Scuba - 16
10. Gnod & White Hills – 16

REVIEW: The Mekano Set - Maastricht EP

The Mekano Set and me go way back, to the dawn of NFR (Check out this t-shirt in the photo below!...if you can make it out....), but Milk has a longer history with his own music, honing his skills with years on the floor as a knob twiddling noise manipulator then in the production chair for years more poring over the details in his own band, The Mekano Set

A band who surely missed out by a matter of mere months on being included in the thrust of Grave Wave iconography of last year, they now have a fully produced ep up everywhere - Spotify, iTunes, EMusic, and my favourite - Bandcamp.  I'm calling out the likes of The Soft Moon and Mekano Set as potential pall-bearers to the the aftershocks of the neo-electro-goth industrial-pop they produce,and Mishka championed at full pelt in 2010. I'm all up for more darkness this year, especially when it comes dressed as beguilingly as these tracks.

There's a duality of grim undercurrent and glittery propulsion here, in the same way a New Order always shouldered something dark, in spite of their disco exhortations; the vocals lean into the shadows pulling the light in with them but the basslines and synths intertwine in an upward spiral propelling the songs towards a lighter sphere - like hot and cold currents passing past each other the result is a swirling sucking vortex that's a little disorienting at first but once acclimatised (and who wouldn't be by now, after a year of darkwave-electro-drone wytch hause, ja?) you get caught in the stream of consciousness and punched along with the rush of its creator. This sound is similar to that found in several of the Disaro bands on the Isvolt compilation, but where there's a lot of dischordant claustrophobia in those bands Mekano Set diverge at that point with a looser more spacious production, like White Ring, Modern Witch, or Light Asylum, into the thrusting glitch of Dirty Hand Job and the solar planing Don't Eat The Sweets - The track I've posted below. It's a reworked version of one I used to play out regularly in DJ sets - if we ever had staples, then this was one.

Buy the six track ep for just £5 from Bandcamp

REVIEW: Women / Cold Pumas / Fair Ohs / Friendo - Split 7"

Released on the 10th January by Faux Discx, this four track 7" houses some smart bands and sharp sounds - Women's track Bullfight has been going round the magazines and blogs trailing this, and if you'r at all tuned in to brittle affecting guitar noise then you'll already be in love with them so it's Cold Pumas from Brighton that really take the lead on this record - and I'm not just saying that because we share a town. Theirs is one of the meanest instrumental sounds in the city - all that anarchic post-punk energy that dissipated around 2003 (when The Rapture slid from view and Liars traded in their pyromania for conceptualism) has reformed here with a renewed aggression and frothing intensity.  You can get their sold-out Cyan 7" split with Male Bonding for free download from Faux Discx Bandcamp HERE
Back to the record in hand.  Fair Ohs take on the jagged Vampire Weekend deck-shoe shod cow-bell shuffle that leaves these ears cold and turned inward, but the final Friendo track is a lovely warm and muited showegaze affair that slides along on a silky bassline, really pretty and comforting after the more unyielding tones of Women and Cold Pumas.

Stream the full ep from Bandcamp, and then go buy the physical record to hold in your hands from the label HERE

Friday, 28 January 2011



Mvlde is a German solo blackened-doom artist who has put out three demos in relatively quick succession - the first, Towers ep, being posted in September, the most recent, titled III going up on 17th January. The name is a German word that means variously basin / cavity / hollow / depression / shallow pit / recess - all evocatively soily and subterranean terms for a sound that echoes - cavernously - from those places, somewhere deep underground where the heat never feels and the light never touches.

The tracks are all pretty short for this type of music, usually anything remotely sludgy takes its time to crawl across the speakers, slowly suffocating like a snake constricting the air out of its prey. But Mvlde not only reaches his climax and moves on a lot quicker he does so by hitting quite a few different peaks in the shorter time too, so across the albums and multiple listens he reveals himself as an artist who isn't so easily defineable as it might first appear.  The overall sound is dark and noisy with a dense lurch to many of the tracks'momentum but there's also a lot of movement buried in there. For example, the single track Pyre sounds like the tortured ghost of I Wanna be Your Dog, its descending three chord riff oozing down the fretboard, but so distorted and submerged under the thick earthy tones it comes out like a grotesque exhumed corpse - and that's a good thing, obviously.


No real reason to post this other than there's an impending full length coming at some point this year, so I thought I'd prick up your senses to this band.  Montréal based five piece Ensorcelor rip bone-chilling spite right out of the Earth's beating chest like it's going out of fashion.  Canadian bands always seem to add that extra level of nastiness that isn't heard anywhere else in the world - the most brutally feral aspects of WOLD, the coldness of Menace Ruine....REVENGE! (who also have a new album this year).

Their three track Urarctica Begins ep from last year showed their hand as deft conjurors of grim brutality and atmosphere - eleven minutes into the final track, The Even Doom, after all the plunging and stifled soaring of the build up, after the ragged mass of raging flesh has pulled itself together, drawn up it's energies inside a period of introspective calm it bursts forth in a monumental wave of hedonistic euphoria, an unbridled energy lashing out from it's confinement. It's a beautiful moment then keeps rushing back up and rolling away, in and out of the speakers until it's a boiling sea of foaming noise. Incredible band.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

DOWNLOAD: Ozmotron - 10th Anniversary Special Edition

About four months ago (almost to the day actually) I posted an entry about The Ozmotron Remix Project organised by my good friend Weejay.  The project has finally been finished and is now available to download from, Mediafire or Megaupload.

Dnld contains the five original tracks and seven remixes of all kinds of musical persuasion. So hard to to believe that this album was recorded ten years ago - One night to record, ten years to mature. Or something like that anyway.  I seem to be having a pretty friend-centric week on the blog this week, and this is the most personal of them all, not least because my remix finishes off the album.  Also very hard to believe that one half of the gruesome twosome that made this is a concert-level multi-instrumentalist. He hides it well.  The other half fires lazers into peoples faces for a living, and is famously good at it.  Exactly what they've gifted upon the world with this album still remains a mystery, but a gift it is and an effect it will have on you, no doubt.

 Press DOWNLOAD to hit yr head with the full effect!



C V L T S will be releasing a split ep  on Collective Crowd Records, with italo-horror influenced electro artist Umberto in February - whose Prophecy of the Black Widow album gets a lot of plays around here, and whose main band; metallicised kraut-psych-drone combo Expo 70 gets even more.   

have have thrown up this remix off the forthcoming record as a preview track. It's pretty brief, but manages to squeeze in atmoshphere and release into its two minutes - a nice gauzy intro that pops out into a slightly sunnier softly whipcracking bounce that gets garbled into an ending. You can hear all that for yourself:

In Elevators

In Elevators are a garage rock five piece from Louisiana, New Orleans led by the excellently named Billy Hawk.  We met over a mutual love of the man John Dwyer, which is almost all the credentials you need on someone. Think Jay Reatard, Times New Viking, Oh Sees....then think no more - you'll get nowhere with this kind of racket trying to sweat brains out of it - it's not your mind it wants to challenge, it's your body so hook this pair of jump leads into your cortex, crank up the dial and get cooking.   

They have a self-released debut 7"arriving in the world imminently.  Keep an eye on their Bandcamp or for news of the record dropping any day now.


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Sea Monsters starts tonight - Stream the beasts now!

One Inch Badge Records massive five-day Brighton-band extravaganza SEA MONSTERS kicks off tonight at the Albert!! I'll see you there tomorrow and Friday, but tonight I'll be playing this to ready my head - the Sea Monsters compilation album. Available from next week on CD, stream it all now!

PREVIEW: Alchemy @ Palihouse, Hollywood (Tonight!!!)

Here's a last minute preview for all my Californian readers. Alchemy is a multimedia night of occult ghost drone drag and witch house related performance put on by my good friend and able master of ceremonies Clint Catalyst. This is the second event he has put on, the first getting the dance club pick of the week in LA Weekly, and all for free too - Cosmotropia creating visual carnage, Robert Disaro doing his thing and Zoetica Ebb telling fetishitic stories of her life over the top. Sounds like an interesting event, as out of the ordinary as you should expect from a genre of music as multifarious as the wytch hauze.

STREAM: Tom Williams & The Boat - Get Older (Golau Glau's Voice Of Man Remix)

Terrifying!  After their shimmery pretty Christmas album Golau Glau have produced this remix of Tom Williams & the Boat track Get Older.  The grizzled storytelling Tom Waits reference is there for the taking; Menlo Park were another band that did that recently and they were pretty good at it too.  This remix annihilates the original in a grim pall of electronic mist, pitching down the vocals, stretching thema little to make them loom larger and darker over the crackling bones of what's left of the guitar, a leathery thump all that remains of the drums; echoing piano and squaling noises set off creepier chills. The reverberating sample over the top makes it into a Hammer Horror radio short; excellent recontextualisation. Something totally different.

On top of that Golau Glau have their very own new track called Tiny Satellites, freshly posted onto Soundcloud which you can play, repeatedly to yourself glorying in the intimate beauty of it. The kind of sound you really want to keep to yourself so no one else dirties it.

STREAM: White Stag - Shhooopeey Shoop Mega Tuff House Remix

This is an album that appeared in my top 50 last week, but I thought I'd highlight this one track again, and because in writing up my list I noticed the 12" is still available.

Stag Hare
teams up with White Rainbow to form the regally named White Stag duo to produce a technicolour disco-drone collaboration that takes the rustic elements of the former weaves them into the transcendental psychic rays of the latter then scrubs some insistent house beats all over the shop and blasts the thing into the italo-cosmos. Beautiful stuff.  Go to Marriage Records and get the limited 500 edition hand painted/screened vinyl version (comes with digital download)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

STREAM: Esben & The Witch - Violet Cries

Brighton's black fairy tale post-rock troubadors Esben & The Witch release their debut record Violet Cries at the end of this month through Matador, and they have made it available for streaming in it's entirety, and allowed everyone to host it on their sites. So nice! (They are, all indeed, very nice people as this will attest).  They are also incredibly talented and have produced a record so tangibly otherworldly, mediaeval and ornate that it seems as if it has been crafted in some darkly romantic tryst between the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christen Andersen. Not easily ascribable to any one genre the songs flit through ideas like shadows through forests, castign shapes upon the bark and your wide eyes, leaving lasting impressions upon the mind with space for you to fill in some interpretations of your own.


There are also two remixes available to download - those shadows having been interpreted thusly by two excellent revisionaries - the worriedaboutsatan one will be on repeat for me for a while, I can feel it:

Marching Song - Snorkel Remix

Skeleton Swoon - worriedaboutsatan Remix

Beautiful stuff.

And yet on they still come, with offerings for your senses: they have served you up this video to Warpath, in anticipation of the physical release,which you can feast your ears and eyes on here:

They're playing the Pavillion Theatre, Brighton on 1st February, with plenty other dates around the UK and Europe  - see HERE for details.

REVIEW: The Soft Moon - The Soft Moon

Since the moon is hanging high, bright and full enough to read by tonight (at least it was when I wrote this) it seems pertinent to post about a band called The Soft Moon.

My KINGS buddy tipped me off to these; an excellent San Francisco band whose self-titled album was released on Captured Tracks (home of Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils and Thee Oh Sees), in November, pressed on suitably blood red vinyl.  If you felt cheated out of the last Interpol record, or thought they should really be stepping it up, The Soft Moon have strode in to overshadow your distress. The band seems to be the creation of one Luis Vasquez, but live shots look like they're a duo. Luis Vasquez is a perfect name for someone producing music as lean, mean and leather clad sounding as this.I think it's safe to say that they're going to be one of the bands of the year to keep an eye on. You can almost hear the volume and intensity screaming out of this shot:

The album is a darkly aggressive mix of Neu! and Joy Division, echoing each of those bands in equal measure - krautrock envisioned as chamber music.  Adding shades of Factory Floor in the industrial motorik pulse their tracks thrust along to adds an extra level of aggressive texture, and the swathes of noise that eat up the instruments (Primal Eyes, Dead Love..well, nearly all actually) add more than a shade in fact, some of the tracks could go strobe-to-strobe with the Londoners nihilistic peaks and I'm wondering whether I can handle two bands like that in my life at once - three bands if you add to that list shoegaze revivalists A Place To Bury Strangers, which the bassline to the intimidating opener Breathe The Fire and echoing snare of Primal Eyes reminds me of as much as the firestorms of feedback and distortion that follow it. 

Guitar and synth tones regularly swap places, eating in to each other in one track, flying side by side in streamlined unity in another; vocals buried into the mix distorted through a veil of delay and reverb recall the gothic heartbeat of the most fiery Bunnymen tracks - my first response to their name on hearing the music was Killing..... , then the added banshee wailing backing vocals that emerge when the tracks start tearing themselves apart, voices from the other side stream through the rifts (When It's Over, Dead Love).  There is never too much vocal in any of the tracks, their appearance kept to a minimum that enhances the creepiness when they do rise up out of the musical carnage - especially the heavy panting in Sewer Sickness which also borrows the grimy street synth of Suicide, consuming itself in a howling storm of feedback and fx just the other side of the centre of the record  - a deadly place to drop a track like that, a real boost where lesser albums serve up a lull.

The tri-colour geometry of their Mondrian and Bauhaus inspired artwork stamps their foot unceremoniously into the artrock camp, but that's no dig, this is music much too guttural and dirty, lowslung, and feral to be housed in glass. There's a starkness about the sound, a severity that drags something primal out of the listener in response to the challenge of it, and I'm pretty certain their live shows will be spectacular.

This is the video to accompany the mesmeric pulse of Circles. Got clap beats, got bassline in yr face, got tornado of noise in the breakdown, then pops back out nastier than when it went in. The video only serves to enhance it all. Incredible.

Monday, 24 January 2011

DOWNLOAD: NFR Guest Mix 01: Vision Air

NFR Guest Mix 01: Vision Air
(NFR Mix 07; January, 2011)

Been very excited about this moment since the idea was first hit on and now it's finally here.  The first NFR mix this year has been specially made for us by Vision Air.  I wrote about their incredible A Vision ep in December; a deeply textural cosmic trip around vintage tones which is still available for download, so go get it.  Before that, get this.  Richie and Niall have put together a mix of their influences and current favourite recent listenings, including remixes and friends - exactly the kind of thing I approve of!  To give you more info about the music and insight into their own minds they've included some notes about each song to convey why they picked them, and artwork from their friend.  The artwork at the top is by NFR's designer-in-chief band buddy Chris Prewett. So here you go, The first NFR Guest mix: VISION AIR



Mariah - Shisen 
A couple of years ago, our friend Ross stumbled across a track from Mariah called Shinzo No Tobira. when we heard this Japanese band from the '80's we were fascinated by the uniqueness of their sounds esp. the drums (how do they make that sound??) also by the static beauty of their arrangements. before christmas last year we got the whole record and it lives up to the high watermark set by Shinzo No Tobira. it feels like they were a band in tune to the future and past and their ritualistic  pop still hots up the heart. 

Forest Swords - Visits 
Along with Demdike Stare, Forest Swords are a new outfit that we really admire. the use of reverb and again ritualistic rhythms has been quite overdone recently but with Forest Swords there is a longing and sadness within that really resonates. this music seems to ask pertinent questions.  

I Am The Cosmos - In Her Vision
I Am The Cosmos is a friend of ours from Dublin. the word we always use to describe his songs is 'surprising'. you never really know what kind of tune he will come up with but it always keeps your attention from start to finish, as demonstrated by this ballad from the stratosphere - In Her Vision

Blondes - Spanish Fly 
John from Solar Bears first played me this song a while ago and to see how it enraptured him was infectious. there is one point about two minutes into the song where a stabby organ/key riff comes in and he played along in the air in perfect time to the stabs, I've been trying to copy this but can never get the air keyboard rhythm right. I really like the kick drum sound in this song, the languid celestial feel of the drooping vocal samples and the hypnotic phasing. 

Nosaj Thing - Fog 
Having seen Nosaj Thing play an Akai controller with a laptop live it should be the kind of thing purely electronic bands aspire to. Nowadays it seems like the biggest problem electronic musicians have is trying to translate their sounds into a live setup that is actually worth watching. after a lot of trial and error the answer for us is that as long as you are controlling the elements of the track and can manipulate them and add feeling you will be okay. I used to have a strict no computer rule for live shows, but now I see that that was closed minded, watching Nosaj Thing perform was the tipping point for my conservative viewpoint.  Sometimes a fog makes you realise how crucial it is to appreciate when it's not there. 

Zomby - Digital Fauna 
The thing about Zomby is that his production is always exciting. there is a serious edge to what he does and both he and actress have this strange ART feeling that goes with their music. The change in time from 4/4 to 2/4 in this track (which he gave away for free when he had a Twitter) is head-lifting. 

Prefab Sprout - Desire As 
Produced by Thomas Dolby for their Steve Mc Queen album this track is a fantastic border where technology and song-craft meet. Paddy Mc Aloon delivers the perfect opening line and the song happens away in the background. There was an interview a while back where he was talking about God and mentioned that although Richard Dawkins doesn't believe in God, Bob Dylan does, and Richard Dawkins is never going to win an argument with Bob Dylan. This is such a beautiful truth and listening to the questioning lyrics against the forceful and assured synths we are reminded of it. 

The Blue Nile - From Rags to Riches 
The second half of this Blue Nile song is really something, it's really quite astounding the choice of synth and drum machine sounds considering when this was recorded. in a way it sounds like three musicians doing completely different things but everything works together to make this tense and longing piece coherent. 

Strands - Chow Bell (Vision Air Remix) 
We got asked to remix this track by Steve from Strands, we tried to keep the first three quarters of the remix quite regimented and then the end section much freer to give it a lift and maybe make you get some kind of goosebumps. It worked with us anyway.

Demdike Stare - Hashshashin Chant 
Demdike Stare would be a band we have only discovered recently but we've both been listening to them a hell of a lot. they are a band that really REALLY click on headphones walking around outside. So go and take a walk. 

Thanks a lot for listening to a mix of our favourite tunes at the moment. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 
Richie and Niall

VIDEO: Light Asylum - Dark Allies

Neon-neo-gothic, strobescopic video for nu-Grace Jones-like scary-lady fronted two-piece Light Asylum. It's one of the more aggressive tracks off their EP and shows off Shannon Funchess’s range pretty comprehensively, though it's even more intimidating to know that she does have plenty more in her arsenal across the rest of it.  She has that kind of rich, classic sounding voice that instantly connects - she does owe a huge debt to Grace Jones and it's kind of weird having two of the stalking the Earth simultaneously, but then it's a voice that brings a certain kind of sci-fi to mind, of futuristic film-noir, of underground decadance and deviance.  I wouldn't be surprised if some evil uber-fan mastermind has vats of trial clones at different stages of success, and this is the one he's unleashed on to the surface to wreak havoc has the original's evil double.  She's sung on tracks by Telepathe, !!! and TV On The Radio, but I don't remember being confronted by her presence anywhere near as dramatically as she makes herself felt here; in her own band with synth player Bruno Coviello.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Last .Fm Thread

Once more unto the DiS last fm thread twin post:


Low numbers for another week; iTunes still insists on restoring my ipod to factory setting every time I plug it in which is annoying because A) it takes a little while to reconfigure it every time I plug it in, and B) No goddamn scrobblessszzzz!!!11!!

01. The Soft Moon - 35
02. Voyageurs - 31
03. Gnod & White Hills - 29
04. Velvet Davenport - 24
05. Ducktails - 22
06. Iibiis Rooge - 18
07. Solar Bears - 15
08. Minks - 12
08. Ghost Animal - 12
08. Cosmic Church - 12

1 – Best new band of 2011 for me. Album was released at the end of November, I heard about them on Monday, been on constant repeat ever since. A gentler Place To Bury Strangers, got some Suicide street synth attitude, stabby Joy Division bass and a great minimal use of vocals, that are all nicely tricked out in FX when they do appear. (more on these next week!)
2 – Get Off the Coast posted their new album, they've got 3 free on Bandcamp. Pretty cool cosmic vibez.
3 – But not as cool and cosmic as this coupling. A lot of listening whilst finishing up my albums of the year list.
4 – The more I listen the bigger a progression on from their last album this is. Got a meaner streak to it. Travelling in the opposite direction to the Kinks then.
5 – Starting to see a lot of high praise for the new album. High five to that.
6 – High Wolf & Astral Social Club collaboration. This soundtracked my EOYL a lot too. Only a few long tracks on last years s/t album, so 18 equals a lot of listens
7 - going to be listening to this album a lot.  Still many things to get out of it.
8a – listened to this after the thread about Soft Moon and Minks in the week, but it's not in the same league as Soft Moon. Not worthy of sharing a post. Although that might be harsh first critique.
8b – Why are more people not talking about Ghost Animal?
8c – Finnish black metal. Say no more.

Track of the week:

Absolutely, unquestionably, TOTW, track of the month, track of the year so far – it should STOP you in your tracks:

Saturday, 22 January 2011

PREVIEW: One Inch Badge Presents: Sea Monsters


Brighton's most awesomest label and promotions crew One Inch Badge have thrown the city a 5 night showcase of their pick of the most crucial Brighton bands next week, all at the Prince Albert, Brighton for just £4 each night, or £15 for a full 5 night pass with an 18 track compilation featuring tracks from all these bands and more.

The series of shows are the live counterpart to the label's very exciting new CD and Download release ‘OIB023: SEA MONSTERS’, an 18 track compilation of the very best bands of Brighton in 2011.

Here's more details from the OIB mailout:

Across the 18 tracks you’ll hear the cool surf-rock of The Squadron Leaders and the Sticks; the slick pop perfection of Pope Joan and Nullifier; the enveloping folk-noir of Sons of Noel and Adrian and Birdengine; the 8-bit brutality of Drum Eyes and Soccer96; and the harsh garage rock of Illness and Cold Pumas; alongside a whole host of other artists and genres.

The CD will be available exclusively from Resident Music,  Rounder Records and Edgeworld in Brighton from ther 31st January, then international CD and Download from 4th April.

Tickets for the festival are available from these places - and on the door each night: // // // Resident Music (01273 606312) // Rounder Records (01273 325440)

Full-colour programme detailing the schedule and artist descriptions:

Gig list details:

>>>> Wednesday 26th January

SALTER CANE – 10:15pm
Salter Cane deal in tales of whiskey-soaked madness, bloodied hands and long dark nights of the soul. Variously described as melancountria, gothic country and folk-noir, Salter Cane fall somewhere between Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, or Joy Division and Johnny Cash.

Relative veterans of the local post-rock scene, Crowns on the Rats Orchestra remain without a doubt one of the most exciting bands around, part A Silver Mont Zion and part Gogol Bordello, COTRO are creating something very special indeed

Born out of the Ashes of Fission Ignition (an experimental fusion of electro, surf guitar & BeBop Brass) came The Squadron Leaders, a group of true instro/surf originals, 2010 saw the release of The Squadron Leaders debut album ‘In Which We Surf’.

>>>> Thursday 27th January

DRUM EYES – 10:15pm
Arranged around Shigeru Ishihara (better known as DJ Scotch Egg) and E-Da (ex-Boredoms drummer), Drum Eyes combine duelling drums, cornets and game boys to form a devastating and mind expanding live show. 2010 saw the release of debut album ‘Gira Gira’ to mass critical acclaim.

COLD PUMAS – 9:30pm
Cold Pumas specialise in pounding, motorik repetition that grabs the groove for deal life. These three spirited men combine cyclical, harmonised guitar riffs, impressionistic vocals and interwoven rhythms to great effect. At times recalling the metronomic tendencies of Abe Vigoda and the extended, mesmerising pulse of !!! or Boredoms.

THE STICKS – 8:50pm
The key elements of the trio’s unique sound are undoubtedly drawn from the rudimentary ideas found in the more inept efforts of mid0sixties teen bands such as The Chimney Sweeps and The Keggs, as much as their modern day equivalents The Black Lips, The Coachwhips or The Hospitals.

– 8:20pm
Scratchy, ambient pop music, layering detuned guitars, samples and percussion over playful song structures and unsettling arrangements. New on the scene and already an all-time OIB favourite.

>>> Friday 28th January

POPE JOAN – 10:15pm
Falling somewhere between the kinetic playfulness of Les Savy Fav, quirky pop of early-era XTC and the sonic spectrum of TV on the Radio, Pope Joan are a band that demand serious attention and have quickly established themselves as part of the new wave of exciting and experimental UK art-pop.

NULLIFIER – 9:40pm
Recent signings to OIB Records, Nullifier deliver perfectly formed infectious hyper-pop tunes on the subject of space, waves, girls, and the Armageddon associated with all of the above… ‘Most Evil’ – out Spring 2011.

HIND EAR – 8:50pm
Hind Ear are an experimental technicolour rhythm band who utalise guitars, electronics, voices and drums to fuse hearts to feet and headphones to dancefloors. Like Black Dice on a diet of Chicago House and Fleetwood Mac.

ILLNESS – 8:15pm
Illness are an electric guitar and drums two-piece who create fast, catchy, and abrasive noise-rock. Their sound is equally raw, fast, abrasive and very heavy. Think Lightning Bolt meets Pavement!

>>>> Saturday 29th January

MARY HAMPTON – 10:00pm
Delicate and sparse folk-noir from a true Brighton legend of the scene. Over the past few years Mary has continually captivated audiences and critics around the world with her beautifully harrowing poetic tales.

Jane Bartholomew writes delicately crafted songs of quiet beauty with the subtle precision of a surgeon’s krife. Making use of a travelling string section to powerfully compliment her voice and acoustic guitar, Jane’s music is elegant, hypnotic, and totally enthralling.

CURLY HAIR – 8:30pm
Taking Brighton (and the rest of the UK) by storm, Curly Hair are a prominent part of the infamous Willkommen collective and create self-professed “thrift-hop-pop” that sounds like a very fun, kitch and particularly British version of Jeffrey Lewis and The Moldy Peaches.

>>>> Sunday 30th January

Stuart Warwick is a writer and artist, but when engaged in neither of these artistic pursuits he entertains small crowds in dimly lit venues with his blend of dark, ethereal, melancholic pop music. Over the past decade Stuart has released many influential albums under the guise Jacob’s Stories.

Us Baby Bear Bones are Daisy Emily Warne and Puff Gandolfo. Creating often ethereal sounds, they combine uncomfortably honest lyrics, sweetened vocals and flights of fancy, with sounds akin to Why?, Pinback and Broken Social Scene. The most exciting new band in Brighton?! Perhaps!

Birdengine is a Brighton hero and a true pioneer of the freak-folktronica scene. His trademark haunting melodies and dark lyrics transport you to another realm, a unique place where kings are trapped in glass jars, feral children run amok and dead mermaids litter the sea shore.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Top 50 Albums of 2010

Two thousand and ten is officially dusted my friends!  Without too much extra preamble, here is my year that was 2010 in album form.  This was probably the hardest year of writing end of year lists that I have ever had; a phenomenon I would attribute to the ever expanding boundaries of the musical universe.  The more bastardisation and cross-pollination goes on, the harder it is to define anything incontrovertibly, but in spite of that, here it is a massively disparate selection of records from a year that was wall to wall individuality with hard-lined categorising numbers beside them. You will see that I have taken the contraversial step of slamming a couple of albums together into the same place on occasion. this is a slight remnant from my original idea of completely reconstructing the nature of an end of year list, but it starting edging too close to genre-fication and that isn't what I intended. maybe next year you will be viewing a brand new paradigm but right now you get this half-cocked version in which I get a couple of records that can be tied together bundled up with the barest of threads. Works for me.

50. Clair Cassis – I (Full Moon Productions) / II (Starlight Temple Society)
Perfectly executed olde school Norther trance black metal, from Velvet Cacoon's Josh – with the temerity to keep the tracks below three minutes a piece. Shocking.

49. Sleeping Peonies – Rose Curl, Sea Swirl (Khrysanthoney)
Using the romanticism of their local coastlines to inspire an album shrouded in the sounds of salty sea spray, siren calls, dense mists and lowland fog, this two piece produced an affecting record with a ragged core. No matter how many times I say it, I will never tire of the term Norfolk Black Metal.

48. Magic Lantern – Platoon / Sun Araw – On Patrol (Not Not Fun)
The former is the steamy tropical screaming wah-quake full band blues behemoth, the latter is the solo sweat lodge endurance trial before enlightenment, possibly in a spaceship, possibly not – both spun from the effervescent mind of Cameron Stallone.

47. The Steven Lasombras – A Diamond Eye Shines In Failing Light (Wise Owl / To The Neck Recordings)
Industrial pop from a Portland based solo artist who recorded part of it during a year in Indonesia learning shadow puppetry - a beautiful metaphor for the music within as ballroom song structures are outlined in noise and pure tone viscera.

46. Drudkh –
Handful Of Stars (Season Of Mist)
Ukranian forest metallers returned with another  in their regular series of blazing bark-thick riffed minimalism that puts torch to sky and fans the flames as the Heavens burn.

45. Twin Stumps – Seedbed (Fan Death)
Ultra overdriven violent nihilism roared and smashed out from the bodies of a band howling their sickness right back into the faces of anyone who might had had the slightest involvement in creating the dystopia they are setting about destroying.
  If you mourned the passing of Mayyors, Twin Stumps will be the band for you.

44. Winterfylleth – The Mercian Sphere (Candlelight)
Leading the heathen Heritage Metal wing of the UKBM scene overground with a combination of Cascadian and Scandinavian riffs and undulating song structures, emboldened with a rich narrative of ancient British folklore, this was an album thatmarked its territory in more ways than one.

43. Stag Hare - Sand Paintings (Moon Glyph) / White Stag (Marriage)
Last year's
Liight Being Traveler and Black Medicine Musics set the scene for the environment Stag Hare's follow up rolls about in, colouring in the details that were outlined on the previous ventures; from scrubland psych to diving deep into the emerald waves coral reefs, this tape shifted the landscape to one richer in life, a real advance deeper into the heart of one man's soundworld. The second album, White Stag is a collaboration with White Rainbow that blitzes these kinds of tropical drone and White Rainbow's more cerebral resonance into a throbbing disco flux with the massive twenty minute Shhooopeey Shoop Mega Tuff House Remix.

42. Swans –
My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky (Young God)A massively unexpected triumph for Gira's 75% reformed Swans as they resurface with a record that forged a new future as strongly as it recognised their past. If anyone was nervous about hearing this 'comeback' (*spit*) album then they were fucking terrified by the time they got to the end of it. Intimidating enough, even without Jarboe's presence, the involvement of children on a Swans album would surely always be enough to chill you to the bone.

Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier – Tropical Malady (I Had An Accident)
Definitely something about Portland - this French artist, relocated to Belgium via Portland, dragged a psychic net behind his travels, capturing a dreamscape of late night television frequencies, the ebb and flow of the ocean, hypnagogic volcanic drone bottled up whilst star-gazing over a roaring ocean. Some kind of far out trip and then some.

40. Weapon – From The Devil's Tomb (Ajna/Agonia)
Second release from one Bangladeshi born Canadian occultist who brought tropical Satanism to bear over the ritual bodies fo Black and Death metal.  Dense, claustrophobic, complex yet following some grim, ancient logic that locks its talons into the skin and pulls the listener into its very very violent course.

39. Castevet –
Mounds Of Ash (Profound Lore)
Hardcore reformed Black Metal off the streets of New York that led with the backline - bass and drums pushed way out, heavy on the rhythm, guitars that tremeloed in reference to their history, everything else a post-rock crescendo of hammer blows right up to the horn section that blows you away every time.

38. Ikonika –
Contact, Love, Want, Have (Hyperdub)
Streets of Rage was pretty much all Sara Abdel-Hamid had to do to win a place in my heart, but that fact that she dropped it into the highly emotive, atmospherically resonant depths of her individualised take on dubstep and produced an album of consistently nifty beats took her to the next level.

37. †‡† -
CDr (Disaro)
Disaro's finest contribution to the Witch House cannon this year, an occult inducted hex on techno and bleak trance overcast with a sinister pall - spine chilling atmospheres juxtaposed an upwardly spiralling mental state that frequently spiked into full on warehouse euphoria.

36. High Wolf – Shangri L.A. (Moamoo) / Iibiis Rooge - Iibiis Rooge (Dekorder)
French based deep jungle trance and cosmic radiation drone with earthen clatter to stamp your feet in circles to. High Wolf is the lone incarnation - a looser, more primitive beat-based urgent sounding instance of the same mind striving for transcendence. Iibiis is HW plus Astral Social Club - a telepathic entity that seduces beats from the ether of its own making, moulding tone into rocking pulses and trickling an almost incomprehensible mix of effervescence into the mix. Heavy heavy, trippy trippy, deeply deeply ppssyycchheeddeelliicc.

35. Actress – Splazsh (Honest Jons)
The efficient minimalism of the cover art belies the level of detail and business of the tracks inside this album - almost like an ariel view of a city, each track formed a block, set out a shape and sound defined by it's own clinically segregated tones - yet the more listens I gave it the closer I zoomed in on it until I was at street level, face to face with the characters in each track and able to see more clearly the smooth transitions between them and the ways in which they interacted. 

34. Horseback – The Invisible Mountain (Aurora Borealis / Relapse)
Black Metal slowly borne from a world of ambience, if ever there was an album that sonically captured the growth of organism from the primordial fog and sludge of the first days at the microbial level, all the way up to the scaly roar of full grown sentience then this was it.

33. Ghost Animal – Summertime In Heaven (Self-Released) / In Your Room (AMDICSC)
An album and an EP from these one-time LA residents, now relocated to..Portland. So yup, this is some scuzz soaked perfection that's got played ad infinitum. Formed in April this year, the mind melts at the idea of their tunes when they hit the 12 month mark.  Tracks formed from the ghosts of New Order, shadows of Joy Division and the spectre of the Cure; influences that mooch attentively at the back of the class as Phil Spector gives them a lesson in the Wall of Sound, all shredded, rolled up and smoked in youthfully hedonistic form.

32. Jack Rose –
Luck In The Valley (Thrill Jockey)
The final album before he died well before his time saw Jack combining his impossiblly accomplished understanding of stomping ragtime American Primitive with the sonorous patience of Eastern ragas in a record that almost displayed his full hand or at least outlined it, tying up the threads from all his previous projects into a neat package that pointed towards so many paths, some of which may never get opened up by anyone else.

31. Women – Public Strain (Jagjaguwar)
Updating their sound with a second album of slanted melodies, Women threw down a set of landsliding sound that swept their influences off the rock-face in a torrent of distortion and atonal scree. Public Strain is one of those rare albums that subtly transcends it's influences; when you start to hear Silver Apples in China Steps, they soon follow it up with a sideswipe of detuned Sonic Youth guitars to level the field; Velvet Underground bob up into Venice Lockjaw but the awkwardly uplifiting harmonising dissolves it into something else, and by the first peak of Eyesore you'll have already decided on your song of the year and that's before its moebius strip of interwoven melody and harmony that reworks itself through peak after peak of hauntingly beautiful repetition.


30. Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In (Planet Mu)
pushing those vintage sounds right out there, holding on to their vapour trails until they solar winds blew them out of their hands, Solar Bears set their controls for deep out into the cosmos to produce this album of retro-kosmiche pulse, technicolour drone and psych electronica; and if those weren't enough they also set about tricking their textural space cruise out with some post rock dynamics, prog riffing and at least one Balaeric sunset comedown.  Maybe there was more sounds than were needed to fill out one album, but what it lost in narrative cohesion it more than made up for in songcraft.

29. Eleh – Location Momentum (Touch)
From something ethereal to another, equally intangible but one formed from a sense of cognisant deliberation rather than free flowing improv. Apparently Eleh has many many releases, but I am not sure I want to sully the stark, diamond cut perfection of this.  The intricacy with which every sound is crafted on this, and the fine granular detail in which they are cast into the mix and moulded is mind melting, moves the body to a different place to the head and disloacted time and space. And then the bass kicks in.

28. Loscil –
Endless Falls (Kranky)
An album shrouded in mist and moisture, light refracted, sound subdued, muffled by the environment, and album that lifted something between listener and artist, between the music and the listener. From the opening rainfall there was something alive and fresh sounding in this, and it wasn't until the end that its exact nature was revealed, in the voices the rise during the final moments; a personal warmth, the pulse of life amongst the abstract landscape. An album far beyond the sterility of what Ambient may perhaps signify, Scott Morgan melted the biological energies of neo-classical instrumentation into the electronic undercurrents of his previous work and produced his most intimate and affecting work to date.

27. Autre Ne Veut –
Autre Ne Veut (Olde English Spelling Bee) / Games – That We Play (Hippos In Tanks)
Two more inseparable albums from separate entities as far as assessing the year goes, but both occupying the same place in the musical timeline and/or nostalgia/reminiscence curved hypnagogic bubble. Both reconfigure an era I have never been able to tolerate, let alone enjoy, so whether that means I should throw myself on the sword of hipsterism for falling so hard for them I don't know; all I know is that there's tangible atmosphere tied together with more emotional and musical hooks within these tracks than I sensibly know what to do with, so I've had to step outside myself to understand it.

26. Gnod & White Hills - Gnod Drop Out With White Hills II (Rocket Recordings) Manchester's multi-headed psychedelic rhythm band Gnod team up with US psych-rockers White Hills to create the greatest space rock album of the year. Reworking tracks from both their catalogues in a truly intuitive collaboration, this album weaves it's own eternal tapestry of eight smoked-out meditative forays through fractal kraut and tribal rhythm, building sky-high space jams that spiral into the stars.

25. Heavy Winged – Fields Within Fields (Three Lobed) / Sunspotted (Type)
One of my favourite bands ever took to using multi-track studio recording for the first time this year, first on
Fields Within Fields – a set of pieces they had been aiming to give the full recording technique to for a couple of years, then later, Sunspotted appeared on Type – both albums fully engaging the listener from their opening bars with clearer definition and thicker, heavier production that highlights all the previously murky brilliance. The slowly coalescing rumbles that build to jet engine screaming peaks, howling vortexes and yawning abysses of sound; the switching of bass and guitar over fore- and back-ground confuses the shit out of the senses and leaves them prone to the mercies of Jed Bindeman's gargantuan drum kit. Heavy Winged produce rock music out of pure sound then pull it apart in slow-motion explosive force.

24. Deathspell Omega –
Paracletus (Season Of Mist)
The concluding chapter of their trilogy,
Deathspell relaxed their grip eve so slightly to allow slivers of light to bleed into their pitch black metal and offered the listener the most rocking experience of their career. Replacing hyperspeed technicality with hyperspeed groove lost them none of their violent brutality with many of the tracks providing the most memorable riffs of their canon and for me, their greatest achievement in the tortured post-rock climax of Abscission

23. White Medal –
Agbrigg Beast (Turgid Animal/Seedstock)
Crust influenced black metal, like a UK rescrub of Bone Awl's spiteful malice, George Proctor offered up an album steeped in English heritage, singing in his Yorkshire dialect, and being wholly incomparable. Downtuned atonal riffs bounce up to major keys in On't Borough and The Last Days adding a shockingly fresh melodic buoyancy that provided a vital sound through fresh violent minimalism.

22. Infinite Body – Carve Out The Face Of My God (Post Present Medium)The previously harsh noise artist Kyle Parker created a second album or lush melodic fuzz that layerd on the dense gauzey beauty like Birchville Cat Motel or Belong, in even softer focus. The field recordings submerged into the shoegazy rhythmic ebb and flow add a sense of life similar to the ending of the Loscil album, and probably give it all 6 places of edge over it in this list; and this album has a greater twist with the almost imperceptibly subtle shifting guitar figure in A Fool Persists – the kind of meditative bliss that I just cannot rate highly enough.

21. Balaclavas –
Roman Holiday (Dull Knife)
nfuckable force to be reckoned with in one of 2010's best savage guitar missives that shifts through as many genres as you could possibly handle in one hyperblast fast sitting, burning a sense of macabre noir through the hearts of some kind of noise/punk/new wave arête that straddles an elevated understanding of the effectiveness of minimalism. So, layers of polyrhythmic drumming and distorted guitar overcoats get blown about into ultra moody backlit shapes over six episodes until the final track where cosmic disco label Italians Do It Better signees Twisted Wires get their hands on Vuitton and send an electric shock through it that jumps it into another dimension altogether - some pretty intelligent tracklist design to finish the album on it, like one final knockout blow to send you spinning, right round to come back for more.

20. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Modular)
It took a lot of listens for this album to really sink in and when it did it wasn't so much a sinking feeling as one swinging right at my head and bowling me for six.  On a level with Dungen for psychedelic rock experiences, far-out, far-off out of focus shimmering and some Sabbath heavy slabs of real life 60's patchouli metal kitted out with one of the best drumming performances of the year and strung together with a Lennon-influenced vocal style that I didn't want to punch in the face. Quite an achievement.

19. Drekavac –
Drekavac / Grave Dirt and Blood (Self-Released)
A relentless, light-less two-piece whose take on the genre sucks up and spews out energy like they're the Heavy Winged of USBM.  Over two demo tapes this year they have put out a form of black metal that has little regard for anything else going on around it. A blizzard of noise howling in off some inhospitable mountain range. The drumming is like a freight train, heavy and full of momentum, the guitars have the spiteful blown out wrongness of old Vlad Tepes or other Les Légions Noires bands – a sickly caustic fury muffled within the skins of rats (not literally....allegedly). Pretty hard to tell quite what is going on with the riffs underneath it all but they leave an imprint on the speakers and your ears that proves it's not what you do but the way that you do it.

18. Gkfoes Vjgoaf – Light Weaving (Ace Of Tapes)
One of my favourite discoveries of last year who put out a slew of self-released tapes that were like some epic psych jumbalaya drone, stewed up and strung out over a backwoods campfire – Skip Spence time-stretched into modernity along side the likes of Peaking Lights.  Previously there was a chaotic sense to the tracks, like a survival instinct had gripped them, so when Light Weaving came out in the summer I wasn't quite prepared for the beautifully measured, all enveloping slowly revealing majesty with which his drone has become.
17. Gr†ll Gr†ll – CDr (Disaro)
Until Salem and Dream Boat came along Gr†ll Gr†ll were the only witch house affiliated artist/s to have anything resembling an album; for a long time back there they were unique in having a full set of tracks that flowed through each other, creating a whole worldview and range of sounds that offered a widescreen view and vision of someone producing these sounds, and with this Cdr they fully delivered, blurring the edges of their degenerate collages, screwing down a Lil Wayne solo piano track that transcended the beauty of the original tracks then flipped that by torturing the ghost of Kurt and kiddy cartoons, scrubbing elements of glitch, drone, and noise deep into the 16 wounds they carved into this disc. Two fingers up. What more could you want?

16. Cosmic Church - Arcana Dei (Kuunpalvelus)
Trilogy of tapes crushed together onto one CD reissue of primal Finnish noise that ate the deathspell album alive in terms of subterannean Satanic might; this was a scream into the heavens from the deepest recesses of the Earth, and the recording sound like it's buried underneath a tonne of soil too - not one for loves of fidelity, this is the some of the rawest sounding music in existance; yet as is ever the Truth within the most transcendent strains of the genre, there are skeins of euphoric trance submerged within, the shapes of the riffs oozing seductively through the muck; the transfiguration from Darkness to Light, the co-existance of ugliness and beauty.

15. Wild Nothing –
Evertide (Warmest Chord)/ Gemini (Captured Tracks)
One more solo artist to add to my list of one man bands producing perfectly crafted pop music; every one filtered through a romantic hue of nostalgic (I'm thinking Washed Out, Twin Shadow, Atlas Sound).  Not many albums had as naggingly beautiful hooks as these, with the pillow soft edges of Slumberland shoegaze melted into Cocteau Twins textural harmonies.
Drifter, China Town, Rabbit Feet – Jack Tatum sure can write them.

14. Gonjasufi – A Sufi And A Killer (Warp)
I truly do not know what I would have done without Gonjasufi this year. My summer would have been much darker had it lacked the psychedelic positivity and radiant effervescence of this album..  Really not what I was expecting when I first heard it – from the Turkish garage psych to the drippy hippy lyrics (all of which I can tolerate, even
Sheep) and now so many months and spins later I am still discovering new magic in each listen.

13. Forest Swords – Dagger Paths (Olde English Spelling Bee) / Rattling Cage 7” (No Pain In Pop)
Hypnagogic Pop continued its mutable coalescence across several forms this year, one of which was the characteristically indistinct form of Forest Swords; a producer whose two releases created their own unique space across a venn overlap between H-Pop, dupstep and all manner of atmosphereic genres.  If Dagger Paths felt claustrophobic and murky - underlined by the huge Dead Flag Blues sample imprinting its apolcalyptic overtones into the centre of the album - the 7” shone a beam of light through the fog and burned a bit of clarity into it with one of the most arresting vocals of the year and a shuffling beats that makes my ears prick up on impact every time.

12. Fell Voices –
12” (Human Resources) / Tour Split (Self-Released) / Ash Borer – Rehearsal / Tour Split (Self Released)
Combined here not just because they toured together in the summer, but because both revel in their chosen aesthetics (or lack of) to the same degree and have produced works that co-exist in the same limnal space, slipping from the transcendental Cascadian path during an illuminated peak in the storm, a backlit flash of inspiration that in both cases translates to seemingly telepathic communion in producing music that defies genre and drops jaws to the floor.

11. Dream Boat – Visions / Fevers (Amdiscs)
This band had an incredible year putting out several singles, splits and eps in 2010, culminating in the full album Visions, all of which I could list here together as they are all infallible extensions of the  Dysphoric vignettes of hallucinatory aggression conveying an unease that was Lynchian in tone, twisting a sordid tension up through each track, drum machines building and layering up against synth tones and distorted vocals; voices inciting violence, lust, projecting sexual energy and vibrating with dark malevolence.

10. Salem – King Night (Iamsound)
Nothing this year sounded like
Salem, outsiders even within the scene they helped create, Witch House would be nothing without them but they created an album that stands are above and beyond everything that genre has offered up.  For an album pinned to the mechanical signatures of programmed beats King Night sounds loose and dangerous, those cold kicks and slaps like boots to the head and slaps to the chops, the different voices and vocal styles chopping the album up switching about tone and pace, the overall atmosphere conveying a grim pall of dense, airless and claustrophobic might – an album that sounds like the substantiated form of experiments in black magick.

09. Inquisition - Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm (Hells Headbangers)
Transcendental olde school black metal that doesn't fuck with the formula just blazes it up in a towering inferno of perfection. Inquisition are one of the old guard back from hiatus with a new album in years and it's as if the silence charged up their energies and increased their potency.  I've said it before but it bears repeating – why is it so many metal bands get better as they get older, yet all other kinds of rock groups go to shit?

08. Yellow Swans –
Going Places (Type) / Pete Swanson – Where I Was (Self-Released)
Yellow Swans bowed out at a peak; pretty hard to call anything out from their huge catalogue as the definitive high point, but Going Places definitely felt like one final mass expending of energies until it drew the well dry. An enormous overwhelming record of pure sound manipulation.  The story isn't ending there, as Pete Swanson continues to produce commanding performances on his own: 
Where I Was collects tracks from Swanson's first four cassette releases and sews them into a seamless boiling mas of tarpit drone; molasses thick and an equal in every way to his main band's swansong.

07. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (4AD)
If this album is not Deerhunter at their creative peak then the only way they can go is with a Kid A style reinvention of style and produce something incomparable. The inextricable link and feedback loop relationship between the theme of this album and the way it is musically realised, the listener's reactions to it and real life invasion are actually mindblowing – the creation of a garage band and the ensuing lifestyle that lets the human slip out of reach, accompanied by soft focus slow motion dream-pop culminating with a song honoring the (pretty torturous) life of a recently deceased garage rocker.

06. A Forest Of Stars –
Opportunistic Thieves Of Spring (Transcendental Creations)
For their second album, the most distinguished and discerning
gentleman of Black Metal created an aggressively dreamy psychedelic trip that blends completely non metal aspects such as woodwind, tribal polyrhythmic percussion, and vocoder, with a more obviously BM blast beat backed virulent spite, bridged by cosmic influence in both outlook and ambiance that wouldn't necessarily have worked if it wasn't for the masterful crafting of the songs themselves. Six movements, sweeping across grand vistas, leading the listener on a merry dance, each traveling further down the rabbit hole that is this album, churning up seismic conundrums in their wake.  It's rare that a black metal album has such a simultaneous sense of joyful abandonment attached to its violent streak, but this is a record so agile and skillful in the conviction of its creation that the only thing left to question are all the old flat lifeless albums you once thought great, staring with mute force at you from your shelves.

05. Gayngs – Relayted (Jagjaguwar)
Their own strapline of 'sex music for sex people' says it all; if this album didn't give your ears a wide-on from the first beats then you're dead between the legs and numb in the head. Get feeling.  Masterminded by dance producer Ryan Olson featuring a lineup of over twenty five of his cohorts and unlikely interested parties this album takes blue-eyed soul and jazz pop and really doesn't do much to them other than replicate the sounds of it's inspirations perfectly; that would be Godley & Creme and
10cc's I'm Not In Love.  There's some mysterious allure sewn into this, the way it is all seductively segued together, the myriad subtle production tricks it employs and the steady pulse quickening, pun intending 69bpm.

04. Twin Shadow – Forget (Terrible)
2010 was the year in which we happened upon the new incarnation of Prince in the form of Twin Shadow, aka George Lewis Jr, the most ridiculously talented solo artist of the last twelve months, if not longer, who with the help of Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, produced the album that Pop Music is on a permanent aspirational journey to achieve.  Taking the personal and turning it into something that can be owned by any listener Forget's nuanced vocal performances nonchalantly dropped the heaviest of lyrics into the catchiest couplets, featured the kinds of basslines people build dancefloors for plus the machine beats to match them, reintroduced hedonistic guitar licks and killer glitter-bomb crescendo solos with the foil of a perfect heartbreaking ballad to stop the show.

03. Demdike Stare – Forest Of Evil / Liberation Through Hearing / Voices Of Dust (Modern Love)
A trilogy of albums that conjured a genuinely unearthly trance from a combination of occult hauntology,  radiophonic workshopping and exotica, evoked ritualistic and religious texts and gloried in the musical properties of spiritual mysticism as much as the more physical aspects of electronic manipulation and magic.  A preternatural album that stylised itself best with the third album's cover of a seductively gloved medium casting runes towards the listener; the final play in enshrouding the listener in an umbral world of dark incantation and conscious elevating drone.

02. Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
Fourth full length from this band surpasses all that has come before and all other metal albums this year; a year in which I would consider Metal to have had some kind of renaissance or illumination, with so much invention and interesting records being released. Above them all stands this album; one that takes the Earth and bends it to its will as the most empowered Black Metal should, and in doing so refracts every element of Nature through it's prism. It features some beguilingly subtle and beautifully finessed instrumentation, overlapping acoustic passages with electrical storms - echoes of the ancients ringing into modernity. The guitar work is slides gracefully between raggedly harsh  intimidating aggression to beautifully evocative tones using an almost never ending supply of luminous riffs; the drumming from Ludicra's Aesop Dekkar expands and contract in perfect synchronicity with the changing moods of the guitars, all complemented by the year's most accomplished vocal performance; The result is a record that already has the well worn warmth and lived in feel of a decades old classic album.

01. Emeralds – Does it Look Like I'm Here? / Mark McGuire – Living With Yourself (Editions Mego)
Two sides to one story which I just cannot separate from each other; Emeralds is part which takes place in the ultra kosmiche, blurred out night world, a psychedelic hall of mirrors that shifts focus from the pulse to the drift, the ebb to the flow; their entire body of work honed in on, zoomed in on to reveal the most finely grained detail.  In reducing the track lengths they have emphasised everything about them, increased the density of the experience by evaporating out the extraneous to leave an utterly powerful elixir. Mark McGuire's solo album is a beautifully perfect foil to the fizzing noise of his full bandl; a lifetime's reminiscence that happens wide-eyed and out in the sunshine, focus pulled out to reveal a range of human drama in huge widescreen encompassing social landscapes and human occasions, personal, and warm. Serving as the bare bones that lie underneath the Emeralds tracks, the music in Living With Yourself comes as a revelation akin to lifting the veil over your brides face and being able to see the raw beauty in the flesh.