Boris - Heavy Rocks (CD)
This is the old Heavy Rocks… The original 2002 album and not the 2011 album of the same name. It’s taken me a while to get this one, despite being one of my favourite Boris albums. Being a Japanese CD it’s almost always quite expensive… It popped up on ebay the other week for about £12, which is still far cheaper than getting a new copy from Japan. So I bid, won and received it the other day. This is their fourth studio album. Boris are quite a mixed bag it’s fair to say, but this release (as the title might suggest) is very much a heavy rock album. The sound here is quite consistent - some Boris albums seem to flit between slow droney tracks and fast punky ones, the mix for each of which sound totally different. This one sticks to its guns and sounds extremely consistent. It does the slow heavy riff thing pretty much the whole way through. It’s certainly the one that will appeal to fans of stoner rock, heavy riffs, Black Sabbath and that whole kinda thing… Or fans of the colour orange. It’s really orange. There are a few guests on here, but their contributions are subtle in the grand scheme of things… None of it disrupts the flow or sound of the album. It’s a great album and well worth getting, but it really deserves a worldwide release!
Boris - Heavy Rocks (CD)
Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies CD
I fancied listening to some spacey, shoegazey psychedelic stuff and from what I’d heard it sounded like these guys were the band to listen to… They’re a band I’ve been aware of for a long long time but never got round to listening to. I had a listen to Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space and on the strength of that I ordered both that album and this one. It sounds a bit like pop songs dipped in tie-dye (but not quite as ‘hippy’). There’s lots of spacey and whooshy sounds which I like a lot but there is something that doesn’t sit quite right with me… I can’t put my finger on it. It might be the songs themselves, or it might just be that it sounds too polished overall. I’m not sure. It might well be a combination of those two things or something else entirely. It’s likely that whatever it is will stop bothering me at somepoint though. I can see myself listening to this album a fair bit and I can see it growing on me. It’s solid overall - there aren’t really any weak tracks, but there aren’t really any that stand out either. Again, with repeated listens favourites will probably present themselves, but it’s quite a subtle thing.
Mike Patton - Pranzo Oltranzista CD
The second of Mike Patton’s solo works, and very different to the first… This features Marc Ribot on guitar, William Winnant on percussion, Erik Friedlander on cello, John Zorn on saxophone and of course Mike Patton himself on vocals and electronics. That’s an extremely talented bunch of musicians… This album has a culinary theme (I think the sub-title is ‘Banquet Piece For Five Musicians’) and it’s very avant-garde. There aren’t really any songs; it’s more of a concept summarized in sound. Quite difficult to explain… It’s not easy listening though. I found it has taken quite a few listens to appreciate, much like Adult Themes For Voice did. While both albums are extremely conceptual and avant-garde they’re both extremely different. I find this a fair bit more enjoyable than Adult Themes For Voice - probably because of the variety of sounds. The cello and sax really shine at certain moments… Particularly the sax on I Rumori Nutrienti. I think the only thing I can really liken it to is Mr. Bungle’s Violenza Domestica - I get a similar vibe from it. If you’re into odd sound art or very loose sounding compositions this may well appeal, but it’s really not for everyone. It’s definitely one of the more ‘out there’ things Patton has done. I don’t find myself listening to this too often and I can’t see myself listening to it a lot in the future either… It’s pretty good for what it is, but I’m not really a huge fan of what it is. There’s not really anything that makes me want to come back to it…
Mike Patton - The Solitude Of Prime Numbers CD
The first thing that strikes you about this release is the beautiful packaging… It’s a leaf shaped case folded around the disc. The veins of the leaf are embossed, so it almost feels real. Each of the tracks only appear on the prime numbers on the disc, too. Very cool. The whole thing is very well conceptualized. The music is yet another departure for Patton - it’s rather conventional for him - it really is the kind of music you typically would expect to see in a film. The largest difference between this and most of Patton’s other work is its sparseness - there’s often very little going on, whereas most of his other music has multiple things occurring at once. This is music of few layers. The main instrumentation consists of piano and strings (synthesized I presume, since Patton apparently played all of the instruments). At times the strings work to create a background atmosphere, and at others they carry the music forward… Overall it seems to work like a less electronic version of Trent Reznor’s score for The Social Network. I can see a few parallels between the two - the sparseness, the use of piano and atmospheric sound in the background. Overall it is a good album, but I will probably not be listening to it as much as the rest of Patton’s output - I typically prefer his busier and more complex music. I’d like to see some of this music within the context of the film.
Estradasphere - Palace Of Mirrors (CD)
This is the only Estradasphere album I’ve been able to find for a reasonable price - all the others are currently out of print and rather expensive second hand. This was brand new for £5! Estradasphere are a really awesome band… Musically they lie somewhere between Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3. A few of the members have played on Secret Chiefs albums and Timb Harris (the violin/mandolin/trumpet/guitar-ist) is currently a full time SC3 member (Estradasphere are on ‘indefinite hiatus’). In fact, all their albums prior to this one were released on Trey Spruance’s record label, Web of Mimicry. So yes, that’s a good start. This album is also the first after the departure of saxophonist and founding member John Woolley - he was subsequently replaced by not another saxophonist, but a shamisen player and an accordionist. As one might expect the band sound quite different on this album. It’s slightly less humorous than their older albums. They still sound like Estradasphere though - what hasn’t changed is how good they are. Musically, it’s practically impossible to fault them. There are some absolutely fantastic tracks - especially towards the end. The final track ‘The Return’ is surely one of the best endings to an album ever… Did you know Estradasphere are the first thing that come up when you type gypsy metal into google? This track and ‘Smuggled Mutations’ should explain why. ‘Those Who Know…’ is another highlight - it really showcases Kevin Kmetz’s shamisen playing skills and is epic in the cheesiest and way. How Estradasphere pull off half the stuff they do is beyond me. This album is great start to finish, yet it still has standout moments… It’s a fitting final album for such a great band and a must listen for any fans of Secret Chiefs, Mr. Bungle and any kind of experimental or genre-defying crazy music. Mind-bending stuff. Check out The Return.
John Zorn - Spillane (CD)
I watched an interview with Zorn quite some time ago where he was talking about this album and his compositional process for it, so I’d been wanting to hear it for quite a while. I happened upon a second hand copy in London for only £4, so I hastily picked it up. John Zorn is ridiculously prolific and a lot of his output is extremely varied… He’s all over the board musically, so it’s tough to know what a good place to start would be. This is a good place to start. Of all the John Zorn projects/albums I’ve listened to this one has got to be one of the best. The title track is definitely my favourite piece on this album and fortunately it occupies nearly half of the whole album at 25 minutes long… In some ways it reminds me of the film Sin City… It’s the narration and jazzy kind of sound. It’s brilliant how it has such an atmosphere about it. The way it’s put together is really great too - the sounds, the sections. Zorn’s always got the best musicians though. It’s a really fantastic track and definitely stands out as a high point in Zorn’s sprawling catalog. The rest of the album doesn’t continue in quite the same vein, which is slightly disappointing, but all the tracks do have their own distinct personalities. This is worth getting just for the title track though.
Saade / Night - Saddest Night (Cassette)
So this is the cassette I mentioned in the previous post - the one Tomas sent me for free when I bought the first Saade cassette. These guys have got to be one of the best two-piece bands around (and they sound even better live)… The guitar sound is HUGE and the drumming’s often pretty heavy on the cymbals. I’m not actually sure where this is available to buy as a cassette since we did all dealings via email and Paypal, but it is free to download. Anyway… This release is pretty weird in that it’s both a split and a collaboration - Saade contribute three tracks on the A side with Night contributing two on the B side… But on the end of both sides is a track with both bands collaborating! Now, the most interesting thing about that is how the bands are totally different… I had no idea what Night sounded like until I heard this. I was quite surprised… I was expecting them to be a heavy, riffy band like Saade, but no. They’re a sort of electro band. Self-described as ‘progressive electro punk rock’… So the two sides of the cassette sound pretty different, and the collaborative tracks are pretty interesting because they’re such a strange juxtaposition. I have to say I much prefer the Saade side though - Don’t Look Back is a really great track. They definitely played that both times I saw them. Awesome. I don’t find Night particularly exciting, but the collaborative tracks are cool… They certainly add an odd new dimension to Saade…
Saade - Sade (Cassette)
Green cassette-only release from Czech Republic
I caught Saade twice this year on tour with Boris and Russian Circles and I really enjoyed them both times - I picked up their CD album which I enjoyed (Maybe I Fly has one of those incredible riffs which just sticks in your head) as well as a split 7” single they did with Boris. They also had a cassette for sale, which I didn’t pick up because I thought it was the same album as the CD. I later found out it was not - it’s actually their first release (when they were called ‘Sade’ rather than ‘Saade’ - technically self-titled) and not only that, but Wata from Boris was playing guitar on one of the tracks. That made me want it a little bit more… I had a look at trying to track it down and found the label in the Czech Republic who made the tape and emailed them (I couldn’t order from the site because it was all in Czech)… I later received an email from Tomas Zakopal (guitarist/vocalist) who thanked me for my interest and said he could send me the cassette plus their new cassette release for no extra cost! So yeah… It was a bit of effort to get this - googling around a few sites, emailing etc. But I’m glad I did… There’s some great tracks on here. More great riffs of course. They’re very much a riff orientated band… There’s a couple of tracks which really stand out for me - Flower Power (the track on which Wata plays guitar) and the track that comes straight after - White War. They lead into each other perfectly and White War is a great closer. The recording quality isn’t the best, and this has been referred to as a demo, but that lo-fi edge is nice. Sounds particularly cool on tape. In a nutshell; cool lo-fi fuzzy riffs and drums.
I’d seen them 2 years ago, and between then and this show I got to know their massive catalog a lot better so I was looking to this show even more. There was no support band, just a really really long wait… Considering the caliber of support the Melvins often have (Porn were fantastic last time) that was somewhat disappointing. There was also no Coady… Just Dale on drums. Having just Dale on drums really made me appreciate how damn GOOD that guy is… They were playing stuff from Nude With Boots, The Bride Screamed Murder and A Senile Animal and at no point did it ever sound like there was any drum parts missing… He was effectively doing the job of two drummers. Amazing. The band were so incredibly tight… Buzz and Dale have been playing together since longer than I’ve been alive and it really shows. All three members got their moments to shine - Jared sung at least one of the songs, and him and Dale had a noisy jam thing at the end. I have to mention how good the setlist was… It’d be hard to write a better setlist I think… There was some brilliant stuff - they opened with Hung Bunny / Roman Dog Bird! That was a highlight for me… At The Stake, Up The Dumper (harmonies for this were amazing), AMAZON, Copache, The Bit, A History Of Bad Men… Too many great songs to mention really. There’s a few other songs I would have liked to have heard, but I really can’t complain because the way that setlist worked was brilliant. I have to say I enjoyed this show much more than the last time I saw them. Absolutely brilliant.
The festival started with a two piece drone band playing tubas… In a cinema. Not the typical festival performance (which arguably is the best thing about Supersonic). It was different, for sure. They included a cover of an Earth song - Ouroboros Is Broken, which was both apt and enjoyable. While it certainly wasn’t my favourite thing of the day I’m glad I checked it out. I ended up staying for the whole set.
A chap from Finland playing a strange bowed lyre thing. He was a very entertaining and likable character… The sound he got from his instrument was pretty strange too… Was worth watching for sure.
Mike Hurley Ensemble
This was a weird one. I had no idea what to expect upon turning up to the space they were performing in. I was quite surprised when I got there… They must have been the largest band playing! There was two drummers, a double bassist, a guy on keyboards and well, just look at the picture! There was a lot of people on that stage and you can’t even see them all in the picture - there’s two guys to the right who are out of shot. I have no idea which one is Mike Hurley by the way… Anyway, when I got in they were playing some quite avant garde jazzy stuff which was quite chaotic and complex… I wasn’t really digging it that much to be honest, and then it sort of simmered down into this more sparse quiet and interesting passage which was really really great. I think it must have been mostly (if not totally) improvised and they clearly knew what they were doing… At another point the chap playing melodica got off the stage and went to the barrier to sort of direct the other musicians… That was cool too. One of the most pleasant surprises of the day for me.
These guys were pretty cool… Psychedelic jams just going on like… I don’t know. Their name is sort of a good description of their sound though I think. It was pretty enjoyable stuff. I might have to check out any records they’ve made. They had a sax player who is almost impossible to see in this picture… He was almost impossible to hear from where I was standing too…
Scotch Egg’s band… Having seen Scotch Egg earlier in the festival and having read the description of Drum Eyes I knew they would be one to watch… I made sure to get there before they were on and to get to the front and man, am I glad I did! Quite simply these guys were one of the absolute highlights of the festival… They had two drummers which is always a good start, a guitarist and a woman playing violin and a bit of synth as well as Scotch Egg on bass and synth. From that kind of lineup you can tell they’re probably going to be great to watch! Seriously though, amazing stuff… It was energetic and fun and all other kinds of brilliant. The visuals were a perfect compliment to their show too. I’d take any chance to go see them again. I ended up buying their album straight after their performance. One of the best bands of the festival for sure. Guitarist just out of shot.
I’d heard good things about Barn Owl, but never actually heard them… Upon arriving at the space they were performing at they sounded pretty boring… Just loud drones.
Loud dirty electronic noisiness with odd rhythms. Apparently inspired by african music. Peculiar, interesting and cool. I can’t really explain it too well…
Some guy playing violin. I found it pretty boring and self indulgent…
Fire! With Oren Ambarchi
It was unfortunately busy in this area… I couldn’t even see Oren Ambarchi. It sounded pretty cool once it started to get going and I wish I’d stuck around for a bit longer. I like to see a band when I see a band though if you get what I mean…
Somewhat disappointing I have to say… I’d heard good things about Envy (but not actually heard them). They were okay, but really there didn’t seem to be anything all that special about them. I wanted to like them, but it just wasn’t all that great in my opinion. Maybe I’ll check out their recordings and change my opinion on them… But I wasn’t sold based on this performance.
Ahh, this was some awesome music. Not much to watch since it was just a guy behind a laptop, but the visuals were pretty cool and went with the music perfectly. It was loud and sounded awesome. Glitchy minimal rhythmic brilliance. I’ve downloaded his latest album and I really like it. Great music. Would have stuck around longer but I wanted to check out Circle.
Another of the highlights for me… If not only due to their frontman’s hilariously flamboyant performance… I think the band’s lineup was exactly the same as Pharaoh Overlord who played the other day. The guitarists and bassist were definitely the same and I think the frontman for Circle was one of the drummers… Either way, they were totally different performances!!! This was just brilliant and over the top… Turbonegro who came on after didn’t really look all that camp after this. The singer was prancing around and sort of baptized all the other band members while they were playing… It was the most hilarious and cheesy performance ever. You just kind of had to be there I guess.
This was in the same space Fire! played earlier and it was just as busy… These guys sounded great though. It was a shame I couldn’t really see… I ended up sitting on the floor by a wall for most of their set. Cool psychedelic music though… Will definitely be checking them out…
The headliners of the final day… The last band… I was at the barrier for their set, and it was pretty cool. They certainly have a lot of pretty hardcore fans… People who probably showed up only to see them and were kitted out with denim jackets covered in Turbonegro patches (and I think there was the odd sailor hat or two). It was a pretty cool atmosphere - instead of cheering when they came on stage everyone was singing ‘ohh-woah-oh I got erection!’. Funny stuff. They were pretty entertaining and definitely got the best reaction of all the bands playing… It was a good end to a great festival.