Rum Music For April Reviewed By Jennifer Lucy Allan

Jennifer Lucy Allan is back with new electronic music from Peru, wobbling organs and off kilter synths from Japan and Arizona, plus the Hardy Guidey Man doing covers of the Rolling Stones in this month’s staycation in The Zone

Les Filles de Illighadad

I feel bad for anything released in the last month or so as it has to be somehow more of ‘the sort of thing I like’ than an 11-minute long Keiji Haino cover of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. Truly, there is nothing more up my strasse than heavy rock covers by the dark lord (of tea and cake).

This broke the clouds on an otherwise disrupted month of listening for reasons I won’t go into, but I found solace and escape in the bright and enormous Organic Music Societies book by Blank Forms, who are also releasing two sets of Don Cherry recordings from this period. I feel like I’m on a personal mission to plug this everywhere I can, but it feels particularly crucial as it’s about the closest thing there is to a monograph on Moki Cherry’s work. While some of her writing, letters, early paintings and flyers are here, it only made me hanker more for a big lush book on her output, replete with massive reproductions of her most psychedelic paintings.

Having sunk myself in this tome for a week, the pile of reading next to my bed got taller and taller, there’s my latest haul of feral (and sometimes forgotten) memoirs I’ve been reading that all seem to have endorsements by John Waters; more horror manga by Junji Ito, which I recommend if you like nightmarish images that haunt you for days such as murderous floating blimps and someone being drowned in the pus of their own brother’s zits; a series of pamphlets including one by Bill Drummond, and Sound Arts Now on Uniform books, the latter of which includes interviews with Jennifer Walshe, Maria Chavez and others.

As someone just about to publish their first book I am almost certainly biased, but it does feel that it’s a golden age for books on music and sound, and that the form is opening up too. The genre that is music books is becoming better described as ‘music’ books, with many tangents to be followed. For those in London who can take more height on their stack, Café Oto has filled its fancy new shelves and has got a load of obscure and essential titles in.

Keiji Haino & The Hardy Rocks – Keiji Haino & The Hardy Rocks

Sleevenotes state: “This is the only Rock. Disclose the language I call Rock as if the seal of old documents is unlocked.” Translated from Haino, this disclosure and unlocking manifests as a slow-mo headbang and the angular abrasions of his lacerating vocals doing wild and untethered cover versions of classics including ‘My Generation’, ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’, ‘Vent Your Rage’, ‘End Of The Night’, ‘Down To The Bones’ and the (soon to be devoured) cherry on the cake: an 11-minute long version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. A chugging, nightmarish dirge, it digs and digs into a three-note riff with furious vocals and crazed harmonica. I’m prepared to go out on a limb and say it’s better than Devo’s. Haino’s band here, Hardy Rocks, includes Japanese underground stalwart Masami Kawaguchi on guitar, with a younger rhythm section of Shingo Naruke on bass and Toshihiko Katano on drums.

Moon Reflecting – Non G​.​M​.​O. Rain Dance
(Goaty Tapes/House Rules)

Something of the Sun Araw in these wobbling meandering new age bedroom keyboard trips from Moon Reflecting (aka Cynthia Montross). I was snagged by the off-kilter opening to ‘Astral Blue’, before it threatened to drop a beat and clean its act up, but thankfully it never quite stands up straight or manages to walk a straight line, and is all the better for it. I love that it’s out of time, and adore the moments Montross sounds lost to a daydream and has forgotten that she is playing at all. Best £4 I spent all month.

Les Filles de Illighadad – At Pioneer Works
(Sahel Sounds)

It’s been four years since the last full album by the excellent trio of Fatou Seidi Ghali, vocalist Alamnou Akrouni and Amaria Hamadalher, and so this live album is very welcome, more so since the rolling guitar rounds of Tuareg desert blues feel at their finest with an audience, and don’t much suit being shoehorned into studios. Recorded in New York in 2019, this set starts with the pace-setting ‘Surbajo’, picks up through ‘Eghass Malan’ to the album’s centrepiece ‘Telilit’ that crackles with constrained energies. There is much to enjoy in the control in the raptures of Les Filles de Illighadad – they are never explosive, but loose vocal flourishes or low-end percussion upon the form.

Yann Gourdon – Yann Gourdon

Yann Gourdon is a hurdy gurdy player, a member of (the band) France and La Novia collective in (the country) France. Side one of this is a glorious mind-melter of dense openwork, latticed gurdy sounds made heavy through their mass and compacted closeness rather than through bass or volume (although it feels very loud). It’s a totally invigorating listen if you can take the claustrophobia of it, and as someone who enjoys being overcome by sound, I have been immersing fully in its intensity. You don’t get a chance to breathe until side two, which is a more ambient affair with a full-frequency drone wash that sounds like holding all the keys down at once, but shifts imperceptibly as it progresses.

MIEN (YAO) – Cannon Singing in China, Vietnam, Laos
(Sublime Frequencies)

The way the voices move on these recordings has a dynamic I associate with Gaelic psalm singing – particularly ‘Kai Tian Pi Di’ sung by Deng Fu Mei And Zhang Wu Mei in China. One voice follows the other like a shadow, or the way birds move in flight together. They’re close enough to suggest something instinctual or telepathic between singers in the instant a sound is produced, or a pitch is changed, or a syllable clipped or elongated, and each line is sung in one breath, with silence held like an egg between the phrases. This, the trilling of birds in the background and the mesmeric repetition gives the illusion of loops. Mien means ‘people’ and Yao means ‘dog’, and these recordings are made with people from the Yao branch of the Mien hill tribes, who number four million and are spread over the southern Chinese provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Yunnan, with diaspora in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.

NOISE – Tenno
(Moone Records)

First time release outside of Japan for this essential 1980 record by Reiko Omura and Tori Kudo (all names and titles Anglicised here), but don’t let the name mislead you. There is no noise to be heard in its sympathetic wibbling organs, hesitant snare hits and dissonant vocals that come on like an apparition, unless you count the distortions of a little bit of lo-fi in-the-red recording. ‘Death’ in particular is like someone playing the Velvet’s organ late night after a show, and when Reiko Omura’s vocals come in that echo is amplified, as heavy-handed chords and a half-learned lyric spin out into a howling infinity, invoking all the lonely nights that have ever been and ever shall be. Don’t sleep.

Various Artists – Anthology Of Experimental Music From Peru
(Unexplained Sounds Group)

Lots of daytime office plays in my house for this compilation of contemporary electronic and experimental sounds from Peru, which feels like the beginning of a bigger dive into the contemporary Peruvian scene. This is just one in a bigger series of contemporary experimental sounds from the global south, part of a sound mapping project run Raffaele Pezzella out of Naples that includes Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico, Peru, four from Iran, and more on the way. The focus is on electronic music that incorporates traditional or regional folk music, and while some tracks here have an audible Northern European influence in their ambience or cavernous abstractions, the standout tracks are those that fuse the regional with electronics – there is much joy in the collaboration between Paola Torres Núñez del Prado & The People of Tupicocha, where the computer acts as a sort of signal scramble on recordings of fiddle and singing, as if a desktop PC has just stumbled drunk into a local party.

Various Artists – Oz Echoes: DIY Cassettes And Archives 1980​-​1989
(Efficient Space)

Earwormy cassette underground sounds encompassing forms of post punk and DIY synth pop with drum machines deployed in the execution of some tinfoil industrial, with the obligatory splashes of spoken word samples from vintage factual programming, plus excellent band names, naturally (see The Frenzied Bricks and The Horse He’s Sick). Some of these groups didn’t get off the starting blocks, a handful are pretty much unknown to Discogs, and only a couple released more than one album. I’ve been singing the bedroom-pop marching ballad by Height & Dismay all week, it ticks all the boxes and is properly brilliant. The Frenzied Bricks track starts off sounding like something from the GTA Vice City soundtrack with a Pet Shop Boys-on-a-budget chorus, and there’s also a kind of (maybe-questionable) lo-fi fourth world dub track by a band called Wrong Kind Of Stone Age. Essential for fans of Robert Rental, Chen Yi, new wave deep dives and comps like Rising From The Red Sand.

Tuluum Shimmering – The Bright Moon Emerges

Tuluum Shimmering – Emerald Trees Of Mottled Green

Tuluum Shimmering – Pitched Like A Stone into the Flowing Water

Tuluum Shimmering – Waterfall Arcing In The Still Of Night

Last but not at all least, a new batch of four hour-long immersions from Tuluum Shimmering (aka Jake Webster). The titles are exquisitely lyrical, composed like tai chi forms or a Japanese tanka, and the humble hand-printed sleeves are tactile and happy-making. I wrote a while back about a set of Tuluum Shimmering CD-Rs I bought in lockdown, and these are no different, sonic mandalas with strings, keys and soft woodwind, a slow blooming of acoustic sounds that is properly meditative, offering both mental respite and clarity. This music can hold space, and I no longer know what I’d do without it.


A couple more Franco Battiato reissues are out through Sony who must have glommed onto the resurgence of interested in this Italian odd-pop master. Soundohm has ‘em in. (Grazie mille Fabio!)

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