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Mike Shiflet

Sufferers

    Ohio-based noise upsetter Mike Shiflet has amassed an enviable amount of releases in the last decade. Tapes, vinyl, cdrs – you name it, he’s done it, but it’s taken until now for Shiflet to weld together what he regards as his defining work. The first in a series of two ‘proper’ albums, ‘Sufferers’ takes the listener to the very heart of Shiflet’s sound – through the abrasive noise heard on his early releases all the way to the shimmering ambience that made up his breakthrough album ‘Llanos’.

    A deeply patient and rewarding record, Shiflet uses his long-practiced skills to lay waste to a gaseous collection of source recordings, bringing a chattering, disturbing resonance to what sounds like whirring hospital equipment. It is always difficult to reframe US noise music without the punk, tape-destroyed aesthetic – but like Kevin Drumm before him Shiflet manages to push his sound into high fidelity effortlessly. Each frequency is picked meticulously for maximum effect, and trust me when I say that if you listen on headphones you are treated to an entirely different experience.
    Whether reducing the listener to an opium-fuelled coma on the shimmering ‘Axle Grease’, or treating us to the kind of intensity Fennesz last exhibited on ‘Endless Summer’ with ‘Blessed and Opressed’ there is a sense that Shiflet has an ineffable control over his plethora of techniques and ideas. A rare gem in a mire of half-hearted records, ‘Sufferers’ grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the final creak. And this is only the beginning…

    TRACK LISTING

    1. (Sufferers)
    2. Sufferers
    3. Axle Grease
    4. Blessed And Oppressed
    5. No Sanctuary

    Killer debut album from Altar Eagle, possibly the poppiest release on the Type label to date.

    Highly Recommended to fans of Cold Cave, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine.

    Brad Rose (aka The North Sea) is probably the last person you’d expect to see at the helm of a pop album. A folk record - maybe, a noise record – sure, but pop? Probably not. Yet that's exactly what he and his wife Eden Hemming have done with "Mechanical Gardens". The Altar Eagle sound might not come as much of a shock for those cassette collectors who have managed to source copies of the duo's now rare debut EPs, but for the rest of the world it should serve as a radical change in direction for one of experimental music's most valuable sons.

    The ear-splitting noise that enticed listeners on "Bloodlines" is all but forgotten as Brad and Eden pick through shimmering dream-pop and cold-wave electronics with the greatest of ease. The quality is assured within minutes of the gorgeous Slowdive-esque opener "Battlegrounds". Anchored by Eden's humming, ethereal vocal tones, the song is a glorious statement of intent and while the band go into clubbier directions on the second half, this song is a gateway to their sound.

    Possibly the biggest surprise on "Mechanical Gardens" is the sound shift which occurs mid-way through the record, as the bubbling bliss of "B'Nai B'Rith Girls" gives way to the abrasive electro growl of "Monsters". Influenced in part by Eden’s long-time love affair with techno and Brad’s recent obsession with synthesizers, the duo strike a perfect middle ground between crumbling experimentation and pop excess. This is rarely better explored than on "Spy Movie", a track that somehow combines the supposedly warring sounds of Juan Atkins and early My Bloody Valentine.

    On "Mechanical Gardens" Brad and Eden have created an album that revels in its grab-bag of influences, but somehow they have managed to emerge with a sound that is totally singular. It’s pop music for sure, but un-cynical, atypical and hugely enjoyable.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Battlegrounds
    2. Honey
    3. You Lost Your Neon Haze
    4. B’nai B’rith Girls
    5. Monsters
    6. Spy Movie
    7. Breakdown
    8. Pour Your Dark Heart Out
    9. Six Foot Arms

    It is hard to believe that five years have passed since Sylvain Chauveau's last 'proper' album. Of course there have been re-issues peppering the years since 'Down To The Bone', as well as more than a few collaborations and soundtrack appearances, but Sylvain has purposefully waited to allow his ideas to come to fruition. On mentioning his new album a few years ago, Sylvain commented that he didn't think it would appeal to everyone and that he wanted to take a fresh direction. The Depeche Mode songs he had explored on "Down To The Bone" had given him ideas he felt he needed to explore, and "Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated)" is his attempt at an album of 'songs'.

    In many ways, "Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated)" is constructed the way albums used to be – it is compact and filled with vocal hooks and melodies, yet Sylvain has deconstructed the musical forms he grew up listening to and reduced them to their base level. Vocal snippets fall through the stereo field and his signature piano motifs splutter and cough through processed digital hiccups. As Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto deconstructed classical music, Sylvain attempts here to study and dissolve the roots of popular music. Each piece feels like it could have started as a three-minute pop sing-along before the accompaniments were stripped away and the component parts reduced to merely a backbone.

    "Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated)" is a daring and challenging listening experience. The widescreen theatrics of Sylvain's previous work have all but disappeared, leaving an album that is stark and incredibly beautiful. It is an album rooted in a love of art and music, both minimal and mainstream and celebrates Sylvain's influences. One listen might
    only reveal surface details, but listen again and you will find much, much more.


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