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Pozi

Smiling Pools

    Pozi are the sort of band to tackle the creative cycle of deconstruction and rebuilding with relish. Second album ‘Smiling Pools’ is testament to that. An LP that sees them at their most expansive yet, it follows a gradual swelling of their sound across two EPs proceeding the urgent, self-enforced minimalism of their debut album ‘PZ1’ in 2019.

    The trio of Toby Burroughs, Rosa Brook, and Tom Jones quickly established something of a foundational template on that first album: a hyper-skeletal sound palette of drums, bass and three distinct vocals disrupted by Rosa’s churning violins, from which emerged biting social observations and political angst – debut single and angry retort to the 2017 Grenfell tragedy KCTMO still takes pride of place in their live set.

    These hallmarks haven’t fully gone away over time but from that urgent energy there has emerged greater confidence and a playful desire to push further out from the loose genre tag of post-punk they were initially saddled with.

    “We want our music to evoke a feeling and emotion rather than just being a commentary. I feel that the tracks on Smiling Pools demonstrate that we’re taking our music to a different place and we want to bring the listener along on that journey.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: While PZ1 was a statement piece from a band determined to make an impact (and make an impact they did), 'Smiling Pools' shows a development that could only come from a band at ease with their process and inter-band chemistry. It's bold, melodic in parts and yet still true to the moody post-punk adjacent noise we've come to love from them. a stunning and endlessly deep work.

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. What You Came For
    2. Slightly Shaking Cells
    3. Failing
    4. Pest Control
    5. Somnambulance
    6. Through The Door

    Side B
    7. M6 Toll
    8. Heavenly
    9. Faulty Receiver
    10. Shut Up
    11. 24 Deliveru
    12. A Walk In The Park

    MF Tomlinson

    We Are Still Wild Horses

      "a pleasing baritone allied to intricate fingerpicking and interweaving trumpets, cornets and flutes elevates candid storytelling to a higher plane" Mojo Magazine

      London-based, Brisbane/Meanjin-born singer-songwriter MF Tomlinson returns with a new project We Are Still Wild Horses.

      Where MF Tomlinson's breakthrough debut full length Strange Time documented a world in turmoil, with Tomlinson feeling cautiously optimistic about what was to come, his EP We Are Still Wild Horses finds him lost in isolation, embarking on a journey into the self in search of hope and catharsis.

      The carefully plucked notes that introduce “Winter Time Blues” are the songwriter’s first tentative steps into his psyche. Like a Leonard Cohen or Richard Thompson completely shorn of hope, Tomlinson describes his daily drudgery, his voice audibly sagging at his powerlessness to carry the weight of the world’s issues. Spooky synth swells, tense strings and twirling brass leer up out of the shadows like psychedelic spectres welcoming him into the grotto of his unconscious - as he sinks into a depression caused by the cold and lack of light - "After all, for Christ's sake I'm an Australian".

      Uniting the symphonic complexity and lyrical acumen of Lee Hazlewood, the freedom and sonic exploration of Tortoise and Yo La Tengo & the high concept edge of David Byrne, the album draws on a swathe of psych influences - from his contemporary heroes Cate Le Bon and Weyes Blood, to acid folk legends Trees & the Canterbury folk scene (Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers) and the equivalent movement in Japan (Haruomi Hosono) - all welded together, forming arrangements that blend progressive rock and jazz á la King Crimson, making the eventual leap towards modern composition and ambient music in the vein of Brian Eno and Phillip Glass.

      TRACK LISTING

      A1 A Cloud
      A2 Winter Time Blues
      A3 End Of The Road
      B1 We Are Still Wild Horses

      Sniffany And The Nits

      The Unscratchable Itch

        Sniffany & The Nits are a deranged, genuinely troubling punk band from London featuring members of Joanna Gruesome, Ex-Void & The Tubs. Drawing a through line between the British post-punk of The Fall and the new wave of insolent hardcore typified by bands like Lumpy & The Dumpers, The Nits have developed a knack for writing unhinged punk earworms.

        But it’s Sister Sniffany, and her singular lyrical and performance style, who elevates the band beyond the sum of their influences. Her lyrics inhabit the same world as her ‘macabre, visceral’ (It’s Nice That’) cartoons- a world of hidden humiliations, girl abjection, crumpled lager cans, clam chowder and lumpy, over-stuffed dollies. Over the course of The Unscratchable Itch, Sniffany ventriloquises a cast of pathetic, unbalanced characters: A secretarial administer tails her Casanova husband to a suburban swingers party: "I can smell him from here: a mix of vaseline, foot cream and Stella beer". A poor old grandmother's glasses fog up as she chastises her granddaughter: "You self-entitled selfish little twat! / Left me to die in a popcorn-walled flat! / Spotty little smelly little prick! / Making your poor grandmother sick!"

        But these characters aren’t detached, impersonal creations. As Sniffany explains: “In Sniffany & The Nits I like to exorcise and exhibit the deeply shameful parts of myself that I see as the toxic aspects of my own femininity.” These are confessional songs about love addiction, jealousy, possession, self-loathing and “egg smashing-fury”. Though occasionally they are literally just about Sex & The City, red-pilled incels or grandmothers.

        O Williams (Drums), Max ‘Wozza’ Warren (Bass) and Matt Green (Guitar) have been entrenched in the UK DIY scene for years, having played in the aforementioned bands, as well as countless others. Warren also runs the influential left-field label Gob Nation- a home for ‘egg punks’ across the country. As such, the band veer between atonal no-wave guitar assault, straight-up hardcore, goth/anarcho or whatever takes their fancy, while remaining identifiably Nit-like. Always grounded by a pounding, pogo-ing rhythm section, The Nits provide the perfect backdrop for Sister Sniffany’s wild, relentless live performances. 

        TRACK LISTING

        1. The Unscratchable Itch
        2. Chicken Liver
        3. Good Boy
        4. Piggy Bank
        5. Clam Chowder
        6. 1000 Hours
        7. Frogs Legs
        8. Pearl Rope
        9. Grandma
        10. Dolly

        Group Listening

        Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works, Vol. 2

          Group Listening’s brilliant first album, ‘Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works, Vol. 1’, was a haunting, meditative and lovingly considered selection box of musical reworkings. It featured rearranged tracks by the likes of Arthur Russell, Brian Eno and Robert Wyatt. But it was also much more than that. In making this record of reimagined musical works, Stephen Black (clarinet) and Paul Jones (piano) were two musicians doing what all music fans do: comparing favourite tracks, turning each piece over for new meaning and developing a musical understanding of each other in the process.

          Fast forward a couple of years, a remix album of ‘Vol. 1’, 12” ‘What’s A Girl To Do?’ - featuring a re-work of the Fatima Yamaha club staple - an EP of rearrangements with Cate Le Bon from her LP ‘Reward’ and a remix of Lambchop’s ‘This Is What I Wanted To Tell You’ and the pair started ‘Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works Vol. 2’ from an altogether different vantage point.

          “We’ve done a lot more work together now and so have developed certain ways of working. Because these processes have become norms, it’s spurred us on to push things a bit further and to avoid repeating ourselves,” they say.

          Whereas their first record was put together over an intense three-day period in a hired-out studio, ‘Vol. 2’ saw the pair having to work around various pandemic lockdowns. This meant taking over Jones’ living room, where they gradually put its ten tracks together between September last year until March of this. They would record one or two songs over a couple of days then pause for the week, building and ruminating on ideas; it allowed the music take on a more ambitious nature - albeit within the chosen pairing of piano and clarinet - but also took in all the bits of chat, traffic noise and other creaks and squeaks of a home recording.

          “I like to think that ‘Vol. 2’ starts where ‘Vol. 1’ ends” Black says. “Paul and I allowed ourselves the time and freedom to explore and experiment with the recording process and the song selection itself.”

          Taken as a whole, there’s a gorgeous ambience to the record but that shouldn’t be confused for ‘Vol. 2’ being an ambient listen. The organic understanding that Black and Jones have of each other’s processes as musicians means that the music sounds incredibly fluid, but the overall tranquillity of the record is made up of dozens of small nuances. It’s a puzzle that’s been put together just below the surface as the duo react with a warm emotion to the songs they’ve chosen.

          It’s in the way that Group Listening are able to prod, probe and contort the self-defined parameters that they’ve set themselves that makes ‘Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works Vol. 2’ such an intriguing listen - and it’s the love and care they’ve taken over it that makes these versions entirely their own.

          TRACK LISTING

          Sunset Village
          Blue Crystal Fire
          Y Cwsg
          Hollywood Dream Trip
          Take Care
          Camberwick Green
          All Of A Sudden
          This Was Us
          Five Hundred Miles
          Sealand

          Pozi

          Typing EP

            The nightmare continues. Last summer, Pozi’s 176 EP came out just as the coronavirus pandemic was offering us its first false dawn. Fast forward twelve months and another devastating wave later, we’re still a disorientated, shell-shocked mess; moving once again towards normality, but with the energy-sapping tension of continued restrictions. A grimly perfect time then for the south London three-piece to return with new EP ‘Typing’ on PRAH Recordings.

            The five tracks here reflect another stage in Pozi’s evolution. Since coming out of the gate they’ve been a bristling, frenetic presence, toeing the line between dissonance and pop sensibility. As the 176 EP was a refinement of what they did on PZ1, Typing sees the trio becoming yet more comfortable in their relationship as a band and increasingly confident in how far they can push their sound.

            Typing isn’t a lockdown record, but it has been informed by it. More importantly, though, it’s yet another significant step forward from a band who’ve so far felt like something of an underground secret, despite being championed by BBC Radio 6 Music and in various places by contemporaries such as Sleaford Mods, Squid and Sports Team. Once restrictions do finally lift, that may no longer be the case.


            TRACK LISTING

            1. Detainer Man
            2. Free Day
            3. Typing
            4. Sea Song
            5. Cover It Up
            6. First Thing

            Falle Nioke & Ghost Culture

            Badiare EP

            Following the release of his "Marasi" EP with sir Was last year, Falle Nioke returns with his second collaboration with Ghost Culture in the form of "Badiare EP". Falle Nioke is a singer and percussionist from Guinea Conakry, West Africa. He sings in Coniagui, French, English, Susu, Fulani and Malinke, and plays a range of cultural African instruments to accompany his voice (gongoma, Bolon, Cassi). Since arriving in the UK three years ago, after a period travelling around West Africa, singing with a troupe of musicians and learning different cultural rhythms, the 34 year old has been making music with a number of producers, including Johan Hugo, Congo Natty, Sir Was and Ghost Culture. Collaborator Ghost Culture (James Greenwood)’s masterful use of electronics portray a beguiling musical landscape, one inspired equally by Arthur Russell and Elliot Smith as much as LFO or Aphex Twin. Nearly five years since its release via Errol Alkan’s Phantasy Sound label, his debut LP still proves to be a hugely satisfying and charismatic trip. Celebrated as Critic’s Choice in The Guardian Guide, it earned similar plaudits from outlets including The Observer, The Times, Mixmag and The Quietus, who hailed it as 'one of the best and most confident debuts in years.' He continues to have a wide impact on the culture of UK electronic music, owing to his ongoing production work with artists such as Daniel Avery and Kelly Lee Owens.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Leywole
            2. Jaarama
            3. Spiritually
            4. Ayekouma

            Robin Richards (Dutch Uncles)

            The Earth Asleep // Birsdsong

              Robin Richards' "The Earth Asleep // Birdsong" comprises his modern classical soundtracks to two eponymous films: Clara Casian’s documentaries about the 2011 Japan tsunami and 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, respectively.

              The Earth Asleep (2021) addresses the ways in which our exposure to extreme live-trauma in the form of rolling news and citizen reportage has resulted in an inability to process grief at a manageable, human scale. Film, poetry and live music intertwine to conjure a pathway by which the human soul might navigate unseen astral dimensions. As the earth sleeps, past and present merge in this live rhythmic montage. The soundtrack features members of two Mercury Prize-nominated bands: Chris Illingworth of GoGo Penguin on piano; and Michael Spearman of Everything Everything on drums and percussion.

              An amusement park in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat was due to be opened on the 1st May 1986, but the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred just a few miles away on 26th April. The park’s owners opened the park for a couple of hours the following day for the people of Pripyat before the city was evacuated. Eerie images of the deserted Pripyat Amusement Park now permeate the visual representation of the city’s desolation. Combining the immediacy and energy of live musical performance with the visual impact of film, Birdsong: Stories from Pripyat weaves personal and scientific narratives filmed within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Combining the immediacy and energy of live musical performance with the visual impact of film, Birdsong: Stories from Pripyat aims to revisit a dramatic and devastating historical event using personal and scientific narratives to draw out the tensions and truths at play in our collective, cultural memories of this unfathomable event.

              Robin Richards, principle composer in the band Dutch Uncles announces Castel, his debut solo EP. A stunning six pieces, Castel draws on everything from Gregorian chanting to Steve Reich-esque minimalism and rhythm-led musique concrète. Robin Richards: ""Toompea" is set during the Estonian fight for independence, and is an exploration of the impact political that Soviet oppression in the Baltics had on native artists in the 70s and 80s. It's written in three movements, and named it after the ancient castle which houses the parliament of Estonia."

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Matt says: We always knew Robin Richards was one wacked-out quirky weirdo (in the best sense!), but this proves it! Completely uncategorizable but genius in every way!

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Cofi
              2. Arvo
              3. Gefail Yr Ynys
              4. Toompea
              5. B-R
              6. Llongau Caenarfon


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