Escape to the Country

We seem to be drawn, these days, to soundtracks to profane rituals.  After Father Murhpy’s Requiem a few weeks back, today we enter the fog clad clearing with Aaron Moore and Erick K. Skodvin.

Put together over six years, Moore and Skodvin’s music is deeply, deeply atmospheric.  The sort of evocative sound that rips you from the horrors of this reality and, particularly in the case of today’s track Furland, place you in an equally horrific alternative.

Furland kicks things off with that tom-tom drum rolling around hour head sounds that avant-garde experimental cinema loved so much.  Or at least the memory we have of avant-garde cinema.  Disorientating, mysterious; a prelude to something fascinating yet not yet comprehendible.

Then the chanting starts, the chanting and the off key strings.  And we know, in some horrific way, that we’re home.  Bathed in the unease of it all.  As if complicit with the nightmare, surrendering to it as it envelopes you.  Over and over, the scratchy tape delayed noise swirling around your head until, a light.

towards the end of Furland we’re treated to some quite beautiful vocal harmonies and an almost Arthur Russel-esque moment of violin repetition.  Minor key waves of string instruments notwithstanding, it’s a rather upbeat way to end the track.  Which, in its own way is disturbing itself.

Aaron Moore & Erik K. Skodvin – Furland

This is taken from Aaron Moore & Erik K Skodvin’s LP, Instead of rain i bring a hat.  It’s available from Hands in the Dark, right here.


Father’s Day

Featuring : Father Murphy

Father Murphy return to the blog this week, for potentially the last time.  

It took us a while.  Their final record, Rising, was released at the end of April.  But it’s a dense, sombre record that took much turning to the light to find our way in.

Our entry was Gradual.  The third track on the album.  A parade of the dead.  A place for mud and souls.  A visceral lament for the dead Father

Theirs is a sound that seems utterly, irredeemably, human.  A merging of the voice and the organ and the skin of the drum.  Drums that seem to haunt forests.  Drums that summon the dead.  Drums that speak of hidden ritual, of finality.  Theirs is a final stand against our cybernetic future.  An appeal to a deeper power to save us from the machines.

Father Murphy – Gradual

Ritual came out on Avant! Records on April 20th.  You can get it right here.

Us will tear lovers apart

Featuring : S English

Our post about Terekke last week sucked us back into a L.I.E.S. records vortex, and we have been loving every minute. L.I.E.S. are DFA if you substitute Genesis P-Orridge for Conny Plank in the pantheon of divinities, and cover it with a mix of offal and semiconductors straight out of Tetsuo’s belly at the end of Akira. We don’t know about you, but we find this extremely topical and alluring.

So down we go again.

Another common feature of L.I.E.S. output is the lack of directionality. L.I.E.S. jams are not sequences but snapshots or shards of a mechanoid moment, febrile recordings of street battles between cyberpunks and religious cultists caught in a infinite loop, the Eraserheadish dreams that come to haunt you when you fall asleep to a scratched Cabaret Voltaire record. Every time we excise one of these jams from their shadowy company and bring them to you is a betrayal, but worth it, if only to spread the virus.

Shane English’ latest record, Eris, is a hypnotic collection of such moments. The mood is more subdued than in other occasions, melancholy even, a lover’s rock for Skynet survivors. Take The Room Tonight, for example. Its drone is what’s left of My Bloody Valentine after a long nuclear winter, strobing glimpses into the love we could have had, if only we hadn’t had to eat each other.

S. English – The Room Tonight

You can acquire Eris from L.I.E.S’ bandcamp.

Saturday mixtape: Metal Sounds Wrong Now vol. 1 (1980-84)

Featuring : Podcast

Metal sounds wrong now, but in fact, it always did.

Metal in 2018 is brickwalled, uber-compressed, each lick recorded separately, Pro-Tooled to death. But metal on record has maybe never sounded like it should.

To hear what it should sound like, we need to go back. Not all the way back to the beginning – to the first Black Sabbath record and early occult rock efforts by the likes of Lucifer’s Friend or Bang – but to 1980.

1980 was Year Zero for the metal demo scene. These tapes, which were obscure then, but priceless now, are metal how it should be heard – drowned in tape hiss and testosterone, recorded in the drummer’s dad’s garage, the bass player’s O-level art-standard homemade backdrop a magical totem presiding over this great initiation rite of (mostly – at this stage) teenage boys in fertility-endangering skintight denim and studs.

20JFG – Metal Sounds Wrong Now Vol. I (1980-84)

Sure, some of these spotty young men would go on to be multibillionaires and make slick MTV rock. Others would still be playing their local pub 38 years on. They all believed. The beautiful motherfuckers.

The music, on this mixtape – from a handful of demo tapes produced during those early fumbling years of 1980-84 are all too fast, too noisy (in fact barely audible at times), and absolutely no one can play their instruments or sing. The guitar solos are incredible.

While some of these bands would later become mainstays of metal and still draw considerable audiences, at this great equalising level of the shonkily produced first demo, they’re all just as terrible and delusional as each other.

What’s worth remembering is this was music at the cutting edge – no records sounded like this yet, but in the coming years and decades labels and other bands would catch up with this visionary assault.

If you love this unaffected, screaming noise even a hundredth as much as I do then that will make me very happy.

Pop will Love Itself

Featuring : Apostille

There’s always this weird disconnect when thinking too long about DIY pop music.  Anything DIY has always seemed destined to find small yet willing audiences.  Anything pop seems almost perverse without mass adoration.  

Yet at some point in the 80s, pop ceased to be a descriptor of sales and became a genre, allowing its tropes to be appropriated.  And not just by musicians but by equipment manufacturers with the ‘Casio presets’ and the catalogue drum machines.  

For the full pop eating itself effect see Kali Uchis’ In My Dreams.  An almost Lynchian, bubblegum pop song over what seems like a revival of early 00s Casio pop.  Complete with deadpan male backing vocal.  That Damon Albarn is responsible gets you extra Ouroborus points.  We’d write a post about it but EMI/Virgin would DMCA us faster than we can hit submit.

So we have both the method and means of production appropriated from the million dollar studios and placed in the hands of our plucky DIY heroes.  But what was missing was the hubris.  What was missing was that Diva sense of being at the centre of a universe of fans, publicists, executives and a general sense of adoration.

Which leads us to today’s track.  Apostille returns to the pages of 20JFG courtesy of the fine work of Upset the Rhythm.  And he returns with Without Me an ode to being the centre of everyone’s universe (whether they know it or not).

Apostille –  Without Me

In true alienating fashion it’s all noise and distorted vocal screams to begin with.  And also in true DIY pop music fashion it quickly gives way to a simple drum machine and synth combo that repeatedly hits you with hook after hook.  And finally, to tie this whole thing together, the lyrics focus almost entirely on Apostille’s desire to be not just the centre of his world but the literal arbiter of life and death.  the controlled of breathing, the arbiter of suicidal thoughts.  A god complex worthy of a pop star.

Without Me is taken from the (ironic / not-ironic) album Choose Life.  It’s out on June 8th and you can pre-order it right here.

A Song for Seria

Featuring : Terekke

Thinking spaceships are a common trope in hard-science fiction. Sometimes they are fully artificial like the Minds of the Culture. Others, they are enhanced humans as in M John Harrison’s Light, or China Mieville’s Embassytown. Although these ships interact with the humans inside and around them, we get the sense that these humans and ourselves can only but glimpse the profound richness of their experience. They are after all able to deploy quantum computing resources and whatever comes next to accelerate their mental processes, record them and gaze at them from the outside at different speeds or freeze them to contemplate the mechanics of their own consciousness like Matrix bullet time in hundreds of dimensions; they can absorb reality with all our senses and more. Solar winds caress their metal faces; the death of a star arrives like the final letter from a long-lost lover; slow shifts in the drone of the cosmos come and go like the selection of a religious radio station as the drive through the night eternal. They must have a mood analogous to our states of contemplation. We try to imagine them out there, exploring all these perceived moments unfolding in parallel inside their own minds, looking for meaning in the complexity of an infinite recursion. As we do so, Terekke’s l8r h8r plays in the background, like a projection of terabytes of majestic vibes in a deep perceptual space we are just about able to parse.

Terekke – l8r h8r

“The recording of Improvisational Loops began in 2012 during yoga classes at Body Actualized Center in NYC” declares the brief documentation for this record in Music for Memory’s bandcamp.

Assimilation and Ascension

Featuring : Ben Vince

Last week, nearly all of 20JFG spent their sunny Sunday afternoon amidst the utopian concrete spires of the Barbican.  Which is, of course, something we try to do as much as possible.  But in this instance it was to attend a gig, (organised by Max Richter) that answered a very important question: what would the Venn diagram look like if you overlaid people into the Avant-Jazz-Metal of Ex Eye (aka Colin Stetson’s metal band™) with fans of the overwhelming electronic dreamscapes of Caterina Barbieri.  That overlap looks a bit like us, it turns out.

Later that night, we found ourselves watching Colin Stetson videos on YouTube.  Marvelling at repurposing of the saxophone as rhythm/percussion/melody/sonic bludgeon while his Wikipedia origin story was read aloud.  Which led to the reader opining, ‘I always associated the saxophone with smooth jazz’.  Well, this week’s track is for you.

Ben Vince recently put out the five track LP Assimilation.  Aptly titled as four of the five tracks are dense collaborations; each track with a different set of artists so entwined as to be seamless.  So it feels a little weird to be presenting the fifth, collaboration-less track here but we wanted to focus on the sax.  The sax and its capability for strangeness.

Ben Vince – Assimilation

Assimilation, begins with a dizzying set of reverberating notes that draws on classical minimalism.  Yet where minimalism often evokes towering structures, complex and modern, Vince’s world seems to fly.  That it feels organic is probably indivisible from the breath in every note.

This airborne, restlessness is joined at times by a distant and bassy horn.  A harbinger of some enormous calamity.  Perhaps one that has sent the notes into the sky in the first place?  We are joined for a while by minimal percussion but this soon fades, as if movement from this place is fruitless.  Better to watch the notes ascend above.  Better to watch their strange dance with each other.

Ben Vince’s Assimilation is out today on Where to Now? Records.  You can buy it right here.