avant . leftfield . post-rock . drone . experimental


Genre pick of the week Cover of Love Machine by Zone Six.

Zone Six

Love Machine

    A full Eleven Years after their last LP -and openly admitting to being “lazy bastards” - Zone Six finally reconvene for a new full length for Deep Distance; in the process delivering the third LP for The Great Pop Supplement / Deep Distance labels’ extended Electric Moon family over the last six months or so.

    “Love Machine” contains 4 mind shredding kraut / psych extended slow burners and feature the bands’ mesmerising, trademark metronomic bass and drum backdrop to formidable swirling, oscillating synths and guitar freakouts.

    This is a monster, both in name and nature... the musicianship is outstanding from all concerned, the 'freakout' level is on a permanent, reassuringly acid drenched high and essentially what we have here is a blistering collection of psychedelic, kraut-infused space rock; and, once again, Deep Distance has a real winner on its hands.

    Dressed in a beautiful Lulu Artwork sleeve and on coloured wax in a pressing of 500, Everything from both label and artist goes in the blink of an eye so to snooze etc….


    Ltd LP Info: Pressing of 500 on coloured vinyl LP only.

    Manchester's most forward thinking, anything goes imprint follows up the industrial punk sludge of Cargo Cult with a completely different kettle of fish from Joe Snape and Another Contemporary Music Ensemble. By now, you should know that each release on Michael Holland's Ono imprint is buy-on-sight rated brilliance, and this expressionistic selection of experimental compostitions from Manchester's best and brightest is no exception. Taking an approach that's as fearless as it is fun, Snape and Co push their instruments to the extreme, working with synthesiser, prepared piano, double bass and anything else they found lying around the Brodsky lobby, to create an otherworldly racket that's at once soothing and energising, uplifting and unsettling. Vocals, strings and keys are warped and repitched, setting the digital processes of modern technology in contrast with the analogue whirr and clunk of  a reel to reel. Invoking musique concrète, accidental composition and a Fluxian sense of fun, "Fleck" sounds like a much more listenable and accomplished Group Ongaku, embracing musicality with idiosyncratic charm. 


    CD Info: Limited 100 copy CD in screen printed wrap around sleeve.

    Circuit Des Yeux

    In Plain Speech

    Haley Fohr’s music strikes a unique balance between the personal and universal. As Circuit des Yeux she creates music that embodies the complexity of human emotions, juxtaposing tenderness and grief, ecstasy and horror, using sounds as representations of the emotional spectrum that we all experience. Fohr’s striking voice, an impassioned baritone, is the music’s centrepiece and guiding force.

    On ‘In Plain Speech’ Fohr is joined by some of the most progressive musicians in the Chicago music community; Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas), Whitney Johnson (Verma), Rob Frye (Bitchin Bajas), Adam Luksetich (Little Scream), and Kathleen Baird (Spires That In The Sunset Rise). Fohr cements her reputation as a fearless songwriter and inventive arranger with this stirring collection of songs that are both gorgeous and emotionally potent.

    ‘In Plain Speech’ represents the start of a new, more collaborative chapter for Circuit des Yeux. While previous works were solo affairs, not only in performance but emotionally tied to a sense of confinement and place, these new songs were composed after a move to a collective living space, giving Fohr an opportunity to break free of the isolation that informed her previous albums.

    ‘In Plain Speech’ continues her collaboration with Crain but it is her first recording with a full band, who are all leaders in Chicago’s new wave of creative musicians. Her songs, while always potent when delivered solo, shine in this new band context.

    Extensive touring after Circuit des Yeux’s acclaimed 2013 album ‘Overdue’ (praised by NPR, Pitchfork and Tiny Mix Tapes among others) influenced the making of the album in several ways. On that tour, which stretched for months throughout Europe and the US, Fohr toured solo, no band, no tour manager, no driver and in that solitude learned to commune with the audience in a way that she hadn’t ever before. That connection sparked in her mind a conversation with the audience, and many of the lyrics on ‘In Plain Speech’ are directed at you, the listener. She also became acutely aware of disquiet, a pervasive anxiety, which permeated society in almost every city she visited. “I felt an uneasiness that superseded phonetic communication,” she writes. “Something dim is in the air, and it is looming large.” This anxiety crept into songs like ‘A Story Of This World’, which is a call for change of priorities and values among the world’s leadership.


    LP Info: LP pressed on virgin vinyl and packaged in an old tyle tip-on jacket with artworked inner sleeve and free download coupon.

    CD Info: CD version in 4 panel mini-LP style gatefold package.

    Steve Gunn

    Boerum Palace

      Boerum Palace is Steve Gunn’s second album, originally released in 2009. The album starts off with a headlong rush into the hypnotic “Mr. Franklin”. Gunn’s fluid playing style, especially as portrayed within this track, provides ample space for the development of infectious musical themes. The track ends in a dextrous duel between Gunn’s guitar and guest Marc Orleans’ (of D. Charles Speer & the Helix, Sunburned Hand of the Man) vicious pedal steel.

      The album mixes Gunn’s long-form blues / raga / psych explorations alongside briefer cuts that equally display his songcraft. These tracks, such as “Variation II” and “Jadin’s Dream,” demonstrate that Gunn is equally confident with shorter or longer compositions. Gunn’s voice is joined by an ethereal turn from the Vanishing Voice’s Heidi Diehl on the album’s central and haunting “House of Knowledge.” The track opens with a building central guitar theme.

      This theme allows Gunn to layer on further guitar explorations. The tone set by these musical themes builds into the duo’s vocal delivery that delivers volumes despite being uttered in gentle tones. Other highlights include “Cryin’ Eyes,” an inspired reworking of J.J. Cale’s “Crying Eyes” featuring backing instrumentation from Marc Orleans, and the richly textured album finale “Mustapha’s Exit.”


      Ltd LP Info: Third Pressing On BLUE Vinyl. Included is a free download card and insert.


      Sarsfest / Blank Flag

        Sweltering groove oriented post-rock featuring Alex Edkins from Metz, Brian Borcherdt from Holy Fuck and Doug MacGregor from The Constantines. LIDS might seem like an unlikely pairing on individuals at first (Alex Edkins of Metz on bass and backups, Brian Borcherdt of Holy Fuck on guitar, vocals, beats and sounds and Doug MacGregor of The Constantines on drums) but the concept for LIDS has been in development in the back rooms of Toronto basement bars for over 3 years. Between hectic touring schedules, LIDS have managed to pump out one of the most original debut singles we've heard in years. If you like your jams heavy, driving and full of so much texture that they mess with the fabric of time than LIDS are a band for you.

        Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson, Balazs Pandi, Thurston Moore

        Cuts Of Guilt, Cuts Deeper

        How did renowned Japanese noisemaker Merzbow (aka Masami Akita), Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and Hungarian drummer Balazs Pandi follow up their majorly intense statement made on their tumultuous debut album, Cuts, which was released in 2013. By adding another ingredient to the volatile mix, in the person of skronking guitar hero and Sonic Youth founder Thurston Moore they’ve taken things up a notch or two on the Richter scale on their RareNoise Records follow-up recording. With Gustaffson’s roaring baritone sax blending with Moore’s shriekback guitar, Pandi’s intensely throbbing beats and Merzbow’s subversive white noise barrages, it all adds up to a sonic pummelling of epic proportions on the remarkable two CD-set, Cuts of Guilt, Cuts Deeper.

        For Cuts of Guilt, Cuts Deeper, the four kindred spirits went into the studio and came up with four extended tracks. Part 1 is comprised of the 20-minute “replaced by shame, only two left” and the 18- minute “divided by steel, falling gracefully.” Part 2 contains the dynamic 21-minute jam “too late, too sharp -- it is over” and the extreme anthem “all his teeth in hand, asking her once more.” Drummer Pandi calls it ‘mystery in sound.’ As saxophonist Gustafsson said of their purely improvised session, “We had no game plan. That usually does not work so well. It all depends on the day, the energy and of course the room. And oh boy, that room was freakin’ spectacular! It actually had a skateboard ramp! It was a truly spectacular recording. It went super-fast -- just a wall of noise-poetry with layers and perspectives changing all the time. And to have Thurston Moore in the mix just added colours, layers, energies and sound. It was a very inspired sharing with the others.” Pandi provides a bit of history on the evolution of this Cuts quartet. “There is a legendary Roskilde live recording of Sonic Youth with Mats and Masami called ‘Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth’ and as a combination of that record and my longstanding duo with Masami, the idea came to try and play a quartet. Those were the days of the last couple Sonic Youth shows in South America, around 2012.

        Following that, Masami, Mats and I continued to work as a trio. Meanwhile, in 2013 I got invited to join Porn for a string of gigs. Porn masterminded by Tim Moss and Bill Gould from Faith No More and for the London shows Thurston joined us on stage - it was great fun to play together. When we hung out backstage, we were talking about trying to hook up a quartet session sometime with Mats and Masami again. We already had a gig planned with the trio in London, where Thurston currently lives, so we figured the only day he is spending around that time in London is the one we had for recording the follow album up to Cuts. So he was on board immediately.” As for how this new Cuts project with Moore may differ from their first Cuts outing, Pandi remains philosophical. “From my side, I can’t really talk about differences. I don’t approach anything differently. There are no tactics, concepts, nothing. Only deep listening and playing accordingly. I learned that from Masami early on. The night of our very first show, I approached him backstage, introducing myself. As it was the first time we met, I thought we would sit down and discuss any concept he may have wanted to talk through. But when I asked him about it, he only said one word -- ‘improvisation.’ That’s how it always is with Masami. And that’s how we approached this new recording in the studio.

        Musicians: Merzbow (Masami Akita) : Noise Electronics
        Mats Gustafsson : Reeds And Live Electronics
        Thurston Moore : Electric Guitar
        Balazs Pandi : Drums

        A new remastered edition of the wonderful ambient and experimental work by composer Terry Riley, 'A Rainbow in Curved Air'. One of the great modern musical works, Riley composed this influential piece utilising tape loop recording in 1967, performing every instrument himself.

        A pioneer of modern music, Riley’s all night performances of his work were ground breaking experimental events and influenced composers such as Philip Glass. Released as an album in 1969, 'A Rainbow in Curved Air' brought Riley to a wider rock audience. The British band Curved Air took their name from this work and Pete Townshend of The Who was inspired by Riley’s music to create the seminal songs 'Baba O’ Riley' and 'Won’t Get Fooled Again'. 'A Rainbow in Curved Air' remains a highly influential creation.

        This Esoteric Recordings reissue is remastered, fully restores all original album artwork and features a new essay.

        Recorded at home over the course of a year, Nature evolved as a collaboration between Honey Owens, Fauria, and drummer/bassist/keyboardist Mark Burden. The album finds the trio crafting enveloping layers of guitars, synthesizers, and reverb to create a shimmering, wide open sound.

        It's a restrained, direct style, but tying it all together is a lulling, dreamy melodic sense that is distinctively Valet. At the center stands Owens' ethereal voice, which has transitioned from evoking trippy fantasies to creating space for honest contemplation. 

        Informed by Honey Owens early musical life in the 90s Bay Area underground music scene, Nature slyly synthesizes the DIY spirit of punk, the expansive guitar whirl of shoegaze, and the propulsive rhythmic drive of dub.

        For Valet, Nature's sound is a change in style, but not substance. From the haunted blues of 2006's Blood is Clean to the Fourth World free fusion of 2008's Naked Acid, Owens and company have always demonstrated a mastery of bringing together disparate musical genres into a unified musical whole.

        Vatican Shadow / Cut Hands

        Azar Swan Variations

          Super-limited, one time pressing of 400 only for the world. 180gm, thick jacket, poly-lined collector sleeve.

          Vatican Shadow is Dominick Fernow (Prurient, Hospital Productions). Cut Hands is William Bennett (Whitehouse). The importance of these two sound innovators cannot be overstated; the pair on the same 12” is a landmark for collectors and noise aficionados.

          Mastered by Kris Lapke (Alberich)

          Azar Swan released “…And Blow Us A Kiss” in 2014 through Zoo Music (label owned by Brandon of Crocodiles and Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls). the original files used by Vatican Shadow (a: we hunger) and cut hands (b: for last and forever) are selected from this album and reworked into beat-driven melodic noise compositions.

          Vatican Shadow has previous works on such labels as Modern Love and Blackest Ever Black. Cut Hands has previous works on Blackest Ever Black and Susan Lawly


          Barricade 3

            ZNR was the French duo of Hector Zazou and Joseph Racaille (hence, Zazou ’n’ Racaille) active in the mid to late ’70s. Their 1976 debut, Barricade 3, is an anti-pop masterpiece that truly defies categorization; it makes perfect sense that ZNR appears on the infamous Nurse With Wound list.

            Featuring an array of seemingly dichotomous instruments (piano, synthesizers, woodwinds, electric guitar and more) as well as genuinely bizarre vocals, the album is composed of fifteen odd experiments using a loose framework of analog electronics, avant-garde rock, jazz influences, and post-structuralist études.

            As The Shadow Ring’s Graham Lambkin writes, “The debut ZNR LP has long remained one of my all-time faves. A collision of eccentric Satie-esque miniatures, strange keyboard / synth explorations and the occasional song, delivered in a mixture of French and Spanish tongues. I always think of the creepy, over-ripe vocals on ‘Seynete’ as one of the LP’s most memorable moments, but there are many.” Despite its schizophrenic mystique, Barricade 3 is very witty and surprisingly accessible with hints of Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Perrey-Kingsley. This long out of print vinyl reissue reproduces the original gatefold design including illustration by Don Van Vliet.

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