Dog's Dinner (revisited)
Lost for words this week, so exhausted am I, poor flower. Probably no more exhausted than you. But still… exhausted. Busy week at home, busy week on the floor (fading sunlight, shopkeeper’s delight). Weekend self-destruct can’t come quik enuf.... and I trust for many of you it's already begun.
Thanks to everyone who played at our in-store last week, especially James Singer, Meg and Jim… enjoyed that a LOT. Roll on the next month, make the most of summer’s scrag-end eh, details soon. Oh and we're putting on a gig down the road at Cafe Oto on September 20th, date for your diary perhaps, will tell more next week.
The Low Company show returned to NTS earlier this week, in its new monthly Monday DRIVETIME slot. Kiran hosted this one (Kenny returns in September!), it includes new/forthcoming bits from Brannten Schnure, Gossiwor, A Happy Return, Enchante ++. You can listen here, the tracklist is missing a few bits but you’ll live.
Loads of new / still warm stuff in-store not mentioned below, check the site for more and if you're in London come see us.
A HAPPY RETURN
A HAPPY RETURN
SPILLAGE FETE | LP | £15.99
Astonishingly beautiful private press LP from Mat Fowler, Aimée Henderson and their daughter Agnes Bell. Sketches of innocence and experience recorded before and after Agnes’s birth on January 27th, 2017, in their living room on Sprules Road. A Happy Return glows with the promise and optimism of new life but it is not a straightforward document of domestic bliss (can you imagine anything more insufferable?!)... I mean, it would be overstating the case to say that any meaningful/authentic celebration of life must also at some level be about the Other Thing, but let’s just say that this record feels fully engaged with the provisional and temporary nature of all things...our changing relationships to time, to our selves, to each other... the mysteries of the human chain!
Anyone familiar with Fowler’s collaborations with Kevin Cormack, BONS (also with Matthew Hunt) and Jam Money, will recognise his MO: poignant, evocative instrumental miniatures that seem to disperse almost as soon as they’ve arrived, but never before they’ve left their mark. Arcadian chamber-folk instrumentation (guitar, violin, woodwind, hand-percussion) meets hermetic, disorienting tape loops, spacey minimal synth textures and strange little ecologies of found-sound. With its mix of vérité and concrète, its taste for the uncanny and for strange juxtapositions, and its underlying collagistic, ambient pop impulse, A Happy Return variously recalls the work of Graham Lambkin, the melancholic pastoralia of Woo and Plinth, the bedsit economy of Young Marble Giants and Flaming Tunes, and the thrift-psych zone-outs of Pram and Movietone. Disquieting often, beautiful and haunting always.
BLACK POOL LEGACY
HARBINGER SOUND | 2LP | £25.99
HEAVYWEIGHT retrospective of a band that truly deserve the oft-bandied assignation “underground” - even if it has (I mean it definitely has) become less and less of a FEELING and more and more of a marketing technique, a genre, ultimately just a stupid meaningless WORD. Ceramic Hobs have been stuck in reverse this whole time, hurling impulsive, liberating cut-ups of caustic punk, loner-psych, ADHD-drone (what!?), drug-addled folk (the one true kind) and bastard synth-pop. Would it be ludicrous to call them Britain's answer to Smegma?!
By all means follow the long and winding breadcrumb trail of limited CDrs, LPs and cassettes to get the truest and fullest fix of the Hobs - you certainly won't regret it. But butter me lazy when a collection Black Pool Legacy materialises, compiled and presented in spot-on fashion by a label that has worked with the band for nearly 20 years.
Lager-for-breakfast lyricism and deranged yet compassionate songwriting powers this unserviced roller-coaster, turning your stomach and cracking your ribs as it tosses you from the wide-eyed and spiralling, FX-drenched longing of 'Flower' to the stark recital at the end of 'Oz Oz Alice' (which paints a putrid picture that makes even the most eh, PROBLEMATIC Brainbombs skits feel as tame as an episode of Cash In The Attic).
While the band have touched on a plethora of subjects and issues throughout their career - kung fu disasters, chips and curry sauce, drug habits or common misconceptions of the mentally ill - arguably the only consistent point on the Hobs manifesto is encouraging people to feel like they can be themselves (uh-oh!), and THAT, surely is their most empowering, important, and ur-DIY statement.
"I can no more change my madness than I can my ethnicticy or my sexual orientation, so I am proud of who I am…”
'MON THE HOBS!
Double vinyl + (gawjus) gatefold sleeve and 12-page booklet with lyrics and madman scribblings aplenty.
KASHUAL PLASTIK | 12" | £13.99
Intense tone-poems and f**k-the-lot-of-you techno satori from Japanese duo Group A. A couple of tracks are arranged around pointedly sparse, broadly club-compatible rhythms, but A's work is at its most interesting when there's more of a jazz-informed looseness and dissolve at play, when things get a bit madder and a bit vaguer: the opening track, 'Disobeyed Flute' (hell hath no fury like a disobeyed flute, I'm told) is a mesmerising cyclical piece that feels like it was sprung from some excruciatingly rare and w****d-over Japanese pastoral ambient side (in a good way!), flying high on fumes of Toru Takemitsu, John Cameron's Kes score, and late '70s ECM; the garbled vocals, atonal whines and broken drum loops of 'The Devil To Play' fall somewhere between Fluxus auto-exorcism and dead-eyed minimal techno; and the suspenseful drones and distant percussion of 'Float' would sit nicely on the soundtrack of the art-house conspiracy thriller of your dreams. Lovely hand-assembled, screen-printed sleeve too. Edition of 300, these won't stick around long.
UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE | 12" | £10.99
Swoit second 12” from Uncertainty Principle - their first, from FFT, still enjoying heavy praise round these parts - with new recruit LARRY firing four more thundering, microtonal techno torpedoes our way.
The A-side is packed with high-res, pressurised rave mayhem, the lead track 'systems_hyperthread' descending into a full blown wall-shaking tantrum halfway through that makes you feel like you’re in a sinking submarine, unsure whether your lungs or your eyeballs will burst first. Side B refers back to more of what we heard on the FFT 12” - its tracks maintaining that club urgency but altogether sparser, stealthier, more sophisticated, with the kind of committed VELOCITY, deep 'n deadly subs, and tension-ramping arrangements that stand out a mile from the swarm of weekly blah-techno offerings we have to wade through. Banging 12", big tip for fans of ZULI, N1L, Ø ++
PHOBIZA 'AMOR FATI' VOL.3
AMOR FATI | LP | £17.99
More smoked-out hypno-house and fourth/next world fantasias from RAMZi, offering up the first release on her own newly minted Amor Fati imprint following those rightly celebrated Total Stasis, 12th Isle and Mood Hut sides. Apparently it's a journey "through the arcane archipelago that RAMZi calls home, a place where animals, children and wild spirits share territories and cooperate in harmony in their plight to protect these ancient islands from the ceaseless threat of the Great Grey Invasion." But don't let that put you off!
Yeah, as with her previous work, if you can suppress your kill-all-hippies instinct (I know it's hard, real hard), your tolerance will be rewarded: the Canadian producer's languid, quasi-tropical/Balearic 'scapes are richly imagined, lovingly rendered things, teeming with detail but somehow open and airy with it, and their third-eye-dazzling properties are unquestionable. Fetching wee bat on the sleeve too, looks like my Auntie Sue.
BACK IN STOCK
NEW GAMES / RHYTHM & SOUND
EM | LP | £16.99
Not to be confused with the Swedish geezers who dress up like total bell-ends, THIS particular goat (SMALL G Y'HEAR) is an Osaka-based outfit led by one Kishiro Hino, who you've might've come across through his solo, techno-compatible (but wilfully skittish and grid-melting) rhythm experiments as YPY - album on Where To Now?, good 12" on Nous, etc. goat have been around a while apparently, but this is the first time their music has appeared on vinyl, and unsurprisingly it's EM who've made it happen. Skimming tracks from the band's two CD releases, it attempts to translate to the studio their intensely locked-on and dead-eyed live show - with sax, bass, guitar, and drums - and does a grand job. No wooly business, but rather driven forward by a fanatically precise and remorseless rhythm section that feels like some kind of a missing link between Moebius & Plank, Nissenenmondai and Konono No.1... tracks range from hectic, high-velocity outrock paroxysms that feel aligned to the oldest and best traditions of Cope-cornered Japanese psych, to more spacious and unmistakeably contemporary-sounding, dub-cratered excursions which - a bit like the space-time-warping mbalax of Ndagga and Ernestus - feel at once otherworldly and rootical. Stunning record!
LES EDITIONS JAPONAIS | 12" | £10.99
High expectations for this label from Japan Blues - the pretty unambiguously named Les Editions Japonais. First release exceeds them. Kufuki is a Tokyo four-piece formed in 2010; Dodome is their attempt at electrifying - that is to say electronicizing - minyo, or traditional Japanese folk music. It’s interesting and immediate stuff - especially ‘Torobayashi’, Kufuki’s deft overhaul a song first released in the early 60s by Masao Suzuki, as part of the original wave of popularised minyo. Beseeching vocal (well, it SOUNDS beseeching…obviously I’ve no idea what he’s actually saying) is strapped to a tuff, Jammy-style rhythm with a FAT computerised bassline rolling off it. Japan Blues amplifies that digi-dub/dancehall flavour and dials down the vocal for his ‘Torobyashi In Dub’ version, coming over like Equiknoxx by way of Smith & Mighty. If you dug that recent Emerson Kitamura 12", you need this. Bangers!