New Weird Britain In Review For July By Noel Gardner

Psychedelic noizegaze and fractal deathyowl electro! Air-thinning drone immensity! Basslines they should store in old phone boxes in case the defibrillator doesn’t work! It could only be the return of your regular New Weird Britain roundup, courtesy of Noel Gardner

Maud The Moth and Trajedesaliva

In a move that might even be described as ‘subversive’ if I’d stuck my head entirely up my arse and/or fancied a laugh, July’s edition of New Weird Britain opens with three examples of music that is not, in its entirety, ‘from’ Britain. Summer holiday time, yeah?

Two Form A Click v Horacio Pollard are a duo plus a solo. I dimly recall Horacio – Leon Barnett – as a mid-00s associate of the Wrong Music stable; 2FAC, as they sometimes abbreviate to, are Gretchen Aury from Guttersnipe/The Ephemeron Loop etc and Sydney Koke from The Courtneys, Slaylor Moon etc. So this tape, Backpfeifenphaseshift, is what happens when a Spanish-born, Berlin-resident Briton, a Welshwoman in Leeds and a Canadian in France catch the ear of a Dutch/Belgian label, Futura Resistenza. What also happens is 38 minutes of form-fucking post-proto-tekno heat!

Backpfeifenphaseshift isn’t a maximalist or lavish recording, but there is an extraordinary amount happening most of the time, all these stabs and jabs and kicks and ear drum buzzes; things that repeat unto the horizon, things that pop up before vanishing. Where vocals occur (‘Non Consensual Tessellation’, ‘Band Of Reflection’) they are subject to processing of the harsh-sibilance type I associate with both of 2FAC. You could dance, in a club, to the beatier sections of ‘Thick Strand Universe’, hell maybe you’d try and rug-cut to the bouts of industrial funk, psychedelic noizegaze and fractal deathyowl electro the trio kick out here. It’s your world to get lost in, do what feels good.

Andrew Nolan first played in northern English hardcore bands nearly 30 years ago and has since embellished that with a vast discography further encompassing powerviolence, noise, hip hop and metal. For a majority of that time he’s lived in Toronto, and on that basis said he didn’t think his latest LP, Radiophonic Dub (Phage), qualified for New Weird Britain when alerting me to it. So why am I choosing to dismiss that belief? Well, in his telling its eight instrumental tracks are a callback to 1980s Leeds, or rather the young Nolan’s “favourite sounds” while growing up there: Doctor Who effects, mid-80s hip hop, kids’ TV, dub, Beatles. Not very New, no, but it strikes me these formative experiences can hold sway on one’s psyche as much as cumulative years of later ephemera, and I’m endlessly interested in other people’s. Also, the album is a glorious beastly thud.

Radiophonic Dub is more obviously dub than Radiophonic, to my ears, though if you stripped its intensely slow and elephantine drums out it might be a very different story. There’s dub-technician echo and reverb, squarewave distortion, spacey synth fragments and basslines they should store in old phone boxes in case the defibrillator doesn’t work. You can draw a clear enough line to other projects featuring Nolan such as Intensive Care and Column Of Heaven, but under his own name he’s pretty singular, though fans of Techno Animal or SPK are for sure directed here.

Bordando El Manto Terrestre (Time Released Sound / Woodford Halse) is a collaborative album by Maud The Moth and Trajedesaliva – both Spanish, with Maud (Amaya López-Carromero) living in Edinburgh. Scott McLean, also of UK black metal bands including Ashenspire, took on a studio role that rendered him sort of an extra member. Themed around the life of Spanish painter Remedios Varo, Bordando…’s dark folk, prog rock and choral music can be intimately prickly or grandly gestural.

The foundation of these eight songs tends either to be a droning, spiralling organ or a strangely detuned string instrument – left that way, claim the musicians, on the grounds it must all be part of some deity’s great plan. López-Carromero sings, Trajedesaliva’s Una Vena contributes spoken parts, and though both can unquestionably stir, closing instrumental number ‘Hilos De Fantasia’ – air-thinning drone immensity, like a glitchy deconstruction of Kali Malone – is an out-of-pocket highlight. If these musicians happen to be planning any live shows as a unit, Dead Space Chamber Music from Bristol would make for a great double bill. As would Dead Can Dance, though I imagine that’s a little less likely.

Food People are from Nottingham, with no gerrymandering or forged passports needed to get them in here. Feeding Tube, the label which has released Many Glorious Petals (the band’s vinyl debut after a small handful of CDRs and tapes), are an American concern, though. Most often, Food People sound rootless: a sort of very addled psychedelic folk that hangs on all and no nations’ particular folk idioms, or carbon monoxide-cloudy free rock with a highly permissive approach to rhythm.

Again, you could often (certainly not always) call this music minimal, with a spartan guitar or organ figure wending its way, but strange layers of sonic detail – percussion? Tape fuzz? – flourish just below, like a mycelium network. Staraya Derevnya and Triple Negative (two bands with a geographically broad personnel, which may or may not be germane) are doing loosely similar things in the UK, though Food People rarely if ever come as close to quote-unquote rocking out; the hypersurrealist sonic grubbing of The Shadow Ring is in this ether, certainly on LP closer ‘Played The Ghost’, and the folkiest bits remind me of The Incredible String Band in a mostly non-literal way.

Closer to the ‘folk music’ your kipper-chomping uncle might recognise, though still not that close, as Lure Of Tropics Frank Minoprio plugs in, unplugs, gets on the blower to a blower and generally colours outside the lines with a tape of eight psychedelically hairy instrumentals. Loose Union is Minoprio’s third album under this name, and you might have heard many things that resemble its component parts before, but these are frequently combined in unusual, clever ways.

Repetition and freeness are afforded equal weight, often concurrently: ‘Blank Gathering’ drills down on a blithely circular electrified guitar part while Minoprio and guest clarinettist, London improv scene geezer Tom Jackson, enjoy the musical equivalent of a go on the bumper cars. Jackson’s contributions, especially his pastel-hued playing on the opening and closing numbers, arguably upgrade this album from good to great. There’s a fair whack of wah pedal on Loose Union, although it lends more of an exotica feel than a grot-movie soundtrack one, and the Robbie Basho-type acoustic part on ‘Decoy Lake’ is augmented by Antonio Arca’s shaker percussion.

Shack In The Barley Productions is, or was, a Blackpool-based nanolabel that may have commanded too small an audience for the no-audience underground, in the course of nearly 20 years and 200 releases. Most of those were by, or featured, label founder Jamie Azzopardi; I don’t know if Dodo Resurrection II is one of his, as there is basically no info out there about this band/person/project, but it looks like A Treatise on Ceremonial Magic is to be Shack In The Barley’s last ever artist album. A blistering outsider-prog basement burial it is too – my pick of the month, in fact.

Four wordless wigouts, each between eight and ten minutes long, offer an eye-of-providence triangulation between vintage Afrofunk, Canterbury scene turtleneck rock and Atomic Rooster-type moustache thud. When the percussion is at its least ‘rock’, as per that first part of the equation, A Treatise… is maybe at its zenith – skip to about 1:40 of the severely-titled ‘Rosicrucian Grimoires (Paris, 1620)’ for that – but I love the squeaky-clean keys (Mellotron?) on ‘Nostradamus’ Requiem’ and the doomy Crimson vibe that emerges in ‘A Burial Of Dodo Bones’.

Biting down harder on the horror-organ bit with As Sparks Fly Upwards by Newcastle’s Lone Pilgrim. Another album-length four-song cassette, it comes via the Industrial Coast label in their trademark white card envelope and is their – and I think this column’s – first foray into the funeral doom subgenre. Lone Pilgrim is Mark Wardlaw, who also makes noisy dance music as Kenosist among other ventures, so while I’m certain his metalhead credentials are legit (noting the Confessor hoodie in his Bandcamp profile pic) his take on the form is far from generic.

‘Four Thousand Winters’ is a pretty stunning 11-plus minutes of music: elegiac strings give way to a dungeontastic MIDI synth section before the emergence of a riff that towers, yet seems ready to crumble, and Wardlaw’s vocal comes and goes, possessing a faltering gothic dignity. (On ‘Kedron’, he places himself much further upfront in the mix, and sounds a little… underwater.) And then there’s the quarter-hour ‘As The Sparks Fly’, which does that thing long closing songs sometimes do of synthesising everything that preceded them, and then some. The riffs come thick and slow, swamped with slasher-flick organ and bristling distortion, before chucking in a wee folky interlude just as I’m getting my ‘Burning Witch and The Dead C covering Goblin’ spiel hacked out. Truth is Lone Pilgrim is out on its own limb – VERY high recommendation!

Last spotted in NWB in 2020 – also on Industrial Coast – under their related-but-different alias 1-800-ICEMAN, Luke J Murray and Henry Rodrick are back as Iceman Junglist Kru. They’ve given Brachleigen Tapes a 17-minute track, ‘You’re Like A Scalpel, I’m Like A Flick Knife’, and reasonably enough, their production steez is significantly more junglist here. Droney techstep moodouts rule the roost early on, and later too, but on around six and a half minutes the breakbeats kick in, and it’s consummate snare-rush chaos – all filtered through a noise aesthetic which kicks off the track in positively scouring fashion, then works with and around the rhythms. Plenty have forged links between noise and jungle before – Digital Hardcore alumni like Christoph De Babylon; more breakcore producers than I care to list – but IJK have their own way with atmospheric abstraction.

On the other side of the cassette, in-house Brachliegen entity Degradation remix ‘…Scalpel’, calling it their ‘Surgical Dub’. Blistering as Degradation’s debut LP last year was, I didn’t pick up much of a ‘dance element’ from it, but they keep that angle in play, albeit pitching down the drums and pitting them against a nasty-frosty power-station-at-night analogue hum. Later on, there’s a repeated rhythmic motif that reminds me of a goblin with a tracheotomy breathing down the phone, if you can imagine and/or have experienced that.

Josh Thompson, whose current production alias (of I believe three in total) is FFT, is described to me as “elusive”, and indeed I’m not fully certain where he lives at present, though I think it’s either London or Bristol. Latest FFT 12-inch E7H Ritual is released on the Bristol NormCore label: one doesn’t need to fit any part of that name to record for them, it should be noted, and on these six wavy digital moodswingers Thompson is more ‘core’ than ‘norm’.

It’s a gnarlier experience than previous FFT product, such as the EP and album recorded for Glasgow’s Numbers, with crispy clusters of post-‘ardkore percussion (‘Stillness’) and creepy, dragged-out synth parts. Yet this tendency also manifests itself as calming, aquatic ambience (‘Prayer’) and pliable sound design that seems to swallow and regurgitate itself in five-minute bursts (‘Transformasjon’, ‘Heaven’). The transitions from bitcrushy abrasion to melodic swell is very late-90s Warp Records, and if you’re of the view that today’s deconstructed club music is essentially a revival of yesteryear’s IDM, millstone-like name and all, then E7H Ritual will back your theory as it bridges that divide.

Disruptive Frequencies (Nonclassical) is a double-LP compilation (with more tracks on the digi version, fair warning) of new experimental music by six Black and South Asian artists. It might be instructive, not least to me, to note there isn’t any focus on ‘Britain’ in the album’s attendant text, but that’s where everyone involved seems to live. Amit Dinesh Patel, who features as Dushume, is its primary creator, the concept – a wish to counter the noise scene’s default-mode whiteness – hatched as part of his work at the University Of Greenwich. Dushume’s record of achievement skews in general towards the academic, but don’t go expecting his contributions, ‘Chakria’ and ‘Avartan’, to be haughty artshow opening fodder, because there are moments of lethal greyscale rumbling power electronics within.

Some seasoned heads feature on the record, too. Poulomi Desai, who bookends Disruptive Frequencies with two pieces of fluid collage, anxiety-trigger electronic tones and call-to-action spoken word, is in her late fifties and has been doing ‘stuff’ since the 1980s. Dhangsha goes back about that far, too, and you might know/recall him as Dr. Das from Asian Dub Foundation; here, he contributes a brace of juddering bovine noizedub mutants whose bass sounds like it’s belching illegal levels of smoke into the ozone.

Gary Stewart, as Bantu, has a two-parter of ultraheavy, barely penetrable bass minimalism, ‘Dark Energy Live Stream’. NikNak has a neat line in sampladelic microstitching that might not be turntablism per se but shares a sensibility and sound with it, and Nikki Sheth offsets a phalanx of bird calls and other animated-sounding animals with (presumably) manmade creaks and drones, with lush results. Great premise, rad sounds, unless you’re Amit Dinesh Patel you’re basically guaranteed to discover someone new: that’s what it’s about.

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