Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Swarovski Mix (IMP 45, April 2009)

Like a lot of the mixes I make this has been based on me noticing a theme running through a lot of the music – usually artists names – that I have been listening to. I am making a concerted effort to be a bit more intellectual about things, but am failing dismally – the proof is clear in the title of this mix. After noticing a lot of jewels in my playlists – Emeralds, Diamonds, Crystals - I realised they were nearly all Crystals so I just went with those and came up with the most stupid, cheap name and artwork I could think of. It’s a really varied selection of music though, so I think it works. I got away with it. Just. I am under duress to stress that the Mr Crystal Face track is one of the greatest pieces of music ever created.

There. I said it.

The Swarovski Mix (IMP 45, April 2009)


01. Crystal Plumage - Three Mothers III
02. Mr Crystal Face - Polar Bears
03. Crystal Castles - Untrust Us
04. Crystal Fighters - Xtatic Truth
05. Lazer Crystal - hotpinkbmx
06. Crystal Antlers - Parting Song For The Torn Sky
07. The Crystal Unicorn - The Light The Light
08. Crystal Stilts - Crippled Croon
09. Crystal Shards - Two Hard
10. Crystal Dragon - ‘Untitled 2’

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

NFR @ NWFA Fringe Festival Weekender

Super stunning Fringe Festival weekender starring Meatbreak and Fokka Wolfe!!

These flyers say we're djing after bands, but we're on from 8 til midnight. Change of plans! Because the best laid ones.....


Brighton Fringe 22 -24 May Bank Holiday 2009


“A weekend of PostRock, Shoegaze, PostPunk, AntiPop, and loopladen soundscapes from Brighton’s Nice Weather For Airstrikes Records.”

* AT THE DRUIDS ARMS, Ditchling Road, Brighton

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


“This thread, and the other one about the PlanB article, are the best things on the music board since the minimal techno thread.”

In response and in addition to Plan B’s article on USBM and my reply post on Drowned in Sound I made my own compilation of US Black Metal to illustrate a whole range of styles of black metal that will hopefully reveal the many different facets and angles to what can be done with this genre of music - or more specifically, what American artists are doing with it, how they are interpreting the templates that already exist and how they are mutating them. I think that it is evident that even the more traditionionally indebted tracks still display a sense of progression and flair for interpretation while the out and out progressive shows scant regard for what went before other than it simply being the style of music the artists enjoy most.

No compilation will ever be complete, exhaustive, succinct or get into all the niches and dark little corners that exist and I can only ever be subjective in my selection, but what I tried to do here is cover as wide a range of sound and influence as possible, from original Heavy Metal, through traditional Scandinavian BM, to post-rock, prog-folk, doom-drone and power-electronics.

In reducing this selection down to something fairly concise and focused instead of the enormous compendium I was tempted to do I have ended up compiling 21 tracks of US Black Metal recorded since the year 2000 – in alphabetical order. It comes in at 2:22:23, which I think is nice and tidy. Shame it wasn't 22 tracks and 22 seconds, but never mind., I don't think it means too much anyway.

Also worth noting – because of the unique way black metal is recorded, the sound levels and qualities between songs are unpredictable, if nothing else.

Brace yourself.


Agalloch - Limbs (Ashes Against The Grain, The End)
Ash Pool - Origin Of Man (Saturns Slave, Hospital Productions)
Black Witchery - Holocaust Summoning (Upheaval Of Satanic Might, Osmose Productions)
Bone Awl - Culture Denied (By Ropes Through Dirt, Demo-Worship Him-Klaxon)
Brown Jenkins - Forever Funerals (Angel Eyes, Moribund)
Chaos Moon - Illusions of Dusk and Dawn (Origin of Apparition, Wraith Productions - Ars Magna Recordings)
Cobalt - Pregnant Insect (Gin, Profound Lore)
Draugar - Dust Chains Idiots (From Which Hatred Grows, tUMULt)
Enbilulugugal - Slicing The Blood Clotted Cunt Of The Rotting Virgin Angel Slut (Nun Twat Armageddon, Dipsomaniac)
Inquisition - Of Blood & Darkness We Are Born (Magnificent Glorification of Lucifer, No Colours)
Krallice - Forgiveness In Rot (Krallice, Profound Lore)
Leviathan - Fucking Your Ghost In Chains Of Ice (The Tenth Sublevel Of Suicide, Moribund Cult)
Lurker Of Chalice - Granite (Lurker Of Chalice, Southern Lord)
Servile Sect - Into The Bloom (Stratospheric Passenger, Sounds Of Battle & Souvenir Collecting)
The Angelic Process - We All Die Laughing (Weighing Souls With Sand, Profound Lore)
Velvet Cacoon - 1 (Genevieve, Full Moon Productions)
Weakling - This Entire Fucking Battlefield (Dead As Dreams, tUMULt)
Wolves In The Throne Room - Behold The Vastness And Sorrow (Two Hunters, Southern Lord)
Wormsblood - A Wolf In The Night (Mastery of Creation, Barbarian)
Wrath Of The Weak - Journey Of Many Days (Wrath Of The Weak, Bastardised)
Xasthur - Soul Abduction Ceremony (Nocturnal Poisoning, Blood Fire Death)

Thursday, 14 May 2009

USBM & PlanB

Congrats PlanB. Joseph Stannard wrote one of the best features to appear in the magazine for some time, and that's not just because the subject matter is something I am so close to. It didn’t descend into the kind of cliché or rhetoric that cripples almost every piece written about the genre, it was very even- and steady-handed and really quite thorough. At the risk of sounding a bit supercilious, I would have published something on the genre this time last year, or even the year before, when all these bands featured were already releasing records and artists like Leviathan and Xasthur were still kicking it, but the country’s still buzzing with this, so now is just as good a time as any – there’s plenty more where they came from.

I had a few thoughts on it, and here they are:
It concentrated on the more cerebral figures of the moment - or I suppose in another respect the more ‘hipster-metal’ artists - which I guess could have been either to:
a) give a coherent, focussed, narrative to the piece, or
b) to make it appear that the kinds of BM being produced in the US are all these artly crafted, cross-genre worthy strains.
There was no mention of the more base, violent, unsubtle thrashier end - No Black Witchery, Baphomets Horns, Bone Awl, Black Horns (…loads of other’s not beginning with ‘B’!). Although they got a brief mention, even Dominic Fernow’s Ash Pool are pretty down there, but deliberately so. Not too big a problem, but for the uninitiated it would be worth mentioning that the moronic Satanic sludge is not only still alive and kicking, but also producing some killer chops – just check Bone Awl’s new 7” for proof.

I guess that the foil to the more progressive side of the piece was Averse Sefira. Despite their unorthodox Kaballistic angle they are a pretty orthodox sounding BM band, more indebted to and corralled by the Scandanavian form, with a rigid attitude at odds to the rest of the bands in the article.

It felt the article didn’t quite finish off what it started in considering the lefty/liberal conundrum of musicians and the army, but it’s a real toughie for sure – For me, I want to give Cobalt my money so they can quit the army (and in recognition of their music of course), but at the same time, I wonder whether I want to give anything to the kind of person who would be in the army – that’s a superficial reaction to the idea of ‘Army’, which doesn’t consider any of the number of reasons why someone might want to join, and that’s the question I felt could have been asked of Phil McSorely, as opposed to the more patriotic angle.

The one tangible thing holding the scene together is arguably Aquarius Records and Andee Connors. In making all these records available – even down to the 10 copy tapes – in one place alongside practically every other genre of music conceivable, by listing Neu! next to Necrosadistic Goat Torture, Wormsblood next to Wolfgang Voight, The Vaselines next to Varghkoghargasmal… etcetcetc…., he’s drawing the disparate sonic elements together and providing the overarching narrative/attitude/forum that gives the idea that all these sounds can and do tie up. He would never even acknowledge that as a viable hypothesis, but the evidence is there. This is why Wrath is wrong when he says his band is “not engaged in any USBM scene” Just because this US scene is more ethereal and doesn’t revolve around a record shop…oh no, wait…

Joseph pegs it when he says that “the moment record stores added a black metal rack…the music was changed forever”, but I would go one further and say that they remain the energising, sustaining force.

It was especially good seeing Umesh Amtey get some page space - Brown Jenkins released one of my top 3 albums of 2008 and has been deserving of attention as much as more prominent groups like Nadja for combining sonic elements and moving metal forwards through a refreshing mindset.

Also, finally, Joseph must know, if not through the grapevine then personally, that Brandon Stosuy is writing a book on USBM – I wonder if he just wanted to get a cheeky little pop at it first!
PlanB, you should have stuck yr neck out and put Cobalt on the cover. The UKBM scene is coming on strong, with a few veterans…any plans for a follow-up?!