Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Audio Antihero - Regal Vs Steamboat Compilation in aid of Rape Crisis

At the end of the year when I put together my list of the best albums of the year, I have a strict 'no compilations' policy.  There's no particular reason for this, except that I have extreme anal retentive tendencies and it pleases me to create systems of rules within which my obsessions can operate.  

Such a rule - which those same tendencies dictate can't be revoked without me feeling extremely uncomfortable - mean that the new Regal Vs Steamboat compilation from Audio Antihero will be denied what will surely be its rightful place as one of the best releases of 2013, unless of course somebody less constrained by psychological idiosyncrasies is willing to give it that recognition.  I hope they will.

Charity releases can, of course, be at best a double-edged sword.  Often they can be an excuse for passing off sub-standard material in the hope that people will be obliged to buy it because the cause is a good 'un.  Audio Antihero, however, already possess a better track record in this area than most.  Their previous compilations have been extremely pleasurable listening experiences and Regal Vs Steamboat, released in support of Rape Crisis, suggests they're getting even better at it.

Here, the usual AA suspects deliver to their accustomed high standard: Jack Hayter showcases a new version of the excellent 'Sweet JD', while Fighting Kites offer a frantic live version of 'Grey Starling', Wartgore Hellsnicker get impressively noisy and Paul Hawkins (above) reaffirms his position as one of our most treasured, and too often sadly underrated, songwriters.  

There are further appearances from legendary associates Darren Hayman and Jeffrey Lewis (right), which I would - in any normal circumstances - surely be hailing as the highlights of the collection.  But these are not normal circumstances: Ace Bushy Striptease, Burnt Palms and Internet Forever produce indie pop of such a sublime quality that it renders my oft-stated pleas for recognition that we live in a new golden age of such stuff barely even necessary.  New additions to the AA roster Cloud would surely incinerate the competition were it not made of such universally strong stuff while Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love are so good they make me put to the back of my mind any reservations about their ridiculous name, which is saying something.

Despite all of this, arguably my greatest pleasure has been in being exposed for the first time to the work of Helena Dukic (left), a London-based, classically trained artist who makes relatively simple music to die for, as is adequately showcased by her track 'Come Along'.  It inspired me to check out more of Helen's work here and it's a firm promise that you'll be hearing more of her in my Dandelion Radio shows in the future.

But limiting my reflections to the artists above gets nowhere near to giving you an idea of the panoramic brilliance of this collection.   To do that, you really need to get a copy.   It's available here for a minimum £3.99.  It's for a good cause, of course, but, even if it wasn't, that would be represent a considerable bargain for what is essentially just about the best sampler release you'll hear for a long time.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Fascinating World of Mark Wynn

There's always been room in my life for an acerbic singer songwriter with an ear for a great tune and a penchant for a well-time lyrical sideswipe at anyone who crosses his field of vision. I could trace a lineage through Billy Bragg, Andy White all the way through to Chris T-T and still have plenty of gaps to fill in at the end.

Thing is, though, for someone in this field to stand out you can't be too much like anyone else, which is what makes it such a tough thing to do.  The restrictions you have to work with him - often just you and a guitar - make this the musical form that's most comparable to the sonnet.  It's like someone else made the rules and you've got to work within them but still find enough space to do your own thing, say something at least occasionally remarkable and sound like no one else.

That's why anyone who emerges from the pack deserves to be celebrated.  Step forward Mark Wynn, York-based troubadour and someone who can more than hold his own in the illustrious company mentioned above. Great thing is he's got something to say and he says it a lot.  His fascinating back catalogue already four cracking releases he put out via his bandcamp site last year and the three he's racked up this year already.

I'd already decided to play something from his Social Situations album - also released as a split vinyl LP with The Sorry Kisses - in my June show on Dandelion Radio because, frankly, it's among the half dozen best releases of the year so far, when Mark directed my attention to the album he put out in January, which more than holds its own under the potentially burdensome title of Eggs, Kes and that bike I never bought you even though that I would like to.  Then, literally as I was preparing the show, out came a new EP, The Polar Bear Blah EP.

I promise I'll try to play something from the EP in the coming months, but at the moment I'm loving Social Situations so much it's hard to find room for anything else.  'Cat Smack Baby' is every bit as good as its title suggests, while 'Halloween Song' offers a whole new take on the vampire/zombie love fetish so beloved of cinema.  'I Am John 2' is as good an example of the kind of stream of consciousness masterpiece that Wynn specialises in as anything you'll hear.  I'm keeping back 'Football Love Song' for a 2014 World Cup special show I've got planned because so many people tell me they enjoyed the one I did in 2010 (thanks) and have gone for the wonderful 'Bukoswki', a song that crams about five minutes' worth of great material into two, to play in my show in June.

Of all the potential comparisons, perhaps the nearest and most appropriate is with the demiurge-like genius of Jeffrey Lewis.  Rare praise indeed, but then Mark Wynn is a very rare artist and any praise that comes his way is well-aimed.

Get Social Situations here 
And get The Polar Bear Blah EP here
And, while you're at it, get Eggs, Kes... here

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Cyclic Freeload Unit - Chronic Svelte

They entered my life in a rudely impertinent way, securing a number 10 placing in the festive fifty of 2012 and providing one of the real highlights of that illustrious chart's recent history with the relatively unknown, outside of the rarified climes of the Mark Cunliffe show, 'Bitch Chicken Flower'.

But then rudely impertinent pretty much sums up what Cyclic Freeload Unit do, and they do it pretty much better than anyone else.  Or should I say 'does', because as far as I can make out this is the work of a man called Bling Porpoise.  Quite why that fine name in itself wasn't enough under which to release these amazing, contorted, experimental and unfeasibly frantic tunes, I don't know.  But then Cyclic Freeload United are (is) nothing if not about sensory overload well beyond the bounds of logic.

Now Mr Porpoise is back (not that he ever really went away, so far as I'm aware) and 'Bitch Chicken Flower' has got another lease of life as part of a two track release that goes under the name of Chronic Svelte.   It's accompanied by 'My Ram Is Sick', an entirely surprising piece of work, partly because if it wasn't surprising it wouldn't be Cyclic Freeload Unit, but also because it manages - in defiance of all reason - to be even better than its illustrious musical companion.
Bling Porpoise

To hear 'My Ram Is Sick' is to realise that its predecessor/bedfellow, for all its frenzied electronic madness, was actually a comparatively restrained piece of work when placed next to what Bling Porpoise really has lurking up his sleeve. It's an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink musical extravaganza, allowing this remarkable sonic architect the kind of free rein he deserves to plunder all sorts of avenues of sound and pummel them together into a five minute plus cacophony of the impossibly diverse yet brilliantly crafted.

It's a track I'm featuring in my May show on Dandelion Radio, which means you've only got another five days in which to hear it.  The show that is, not 'My Ram Is Sick', which is available in exchange for a mere click of the 'Free Download' button on the Cyclic Freeload Unit bandcamp site.  In a world in which too many people go about wearing suits, speaking with impossibly controlled syntax and pretending they never go to the toilet, this is an antidote you sorely need.

Download it here

Friday, 17 May 2013

Papaya - Tennis

The Kythibong label is shaping up nicely for a serious stab at the accolade for best album of 2013.  Barely had I had a chance to digest fully the excellent release from The Healthy Boy & The Badass Motherfuckers (reviewed some time ago on this blog) than I received the second album from Papaya.  Not being familiar with what the first one sounded like, I had few clues to what to expect which is always the best way to approach anything.

Now, having had time fully to appreciate the lavish brilliance of this second album - which goes  by the rather unrevealing title of Tennis - I now find myself wishing I did know what the first release sounded like.  But not yet, because for the moment Tennis gives me quite enough to be going on with.  

Generally speaking, it's an album of instrumentals, but these are not instrumentals of the kind offered on the recent Antony Harding album (also reviewed on this blog) or those sweeping, guitar-led masterworks proferred by the much-loved Matt Stevens, Tom Sanderson and others.  No, these are instrumentals of an entirely different ilk altogether - where those other artists are smooth, Papaya are decidedly jerky; where they, at least in places, sooth, Papaya are about as soothing as something dragging their nails down a chalkboard, if rather more satisfying to listen to; where those other artists can quite easily make me happy by providing a neat backdrop while I do other stuff, Tennis demands attention in the way a torturer demands answers.

Not that the experience is comparable with that of torture.  If it were, I wouldn't be reviewing it here and nor would I, at the end of the album, be eagerly seeking to listen to it again.  I've since found out that Mric, who kindly keeps me up to date with what his fabulous Kythibong label are up to, actually plays in this band, which only serves to make me even more excited about what this excellent label might have for us next. 

You can hear 'Grapes' from the album in my May show on Dandelion Radio.  It can't really be said to be represenative of the rest of Tennis because it's got vocals on it, but then as this is an album that delights through its ability to deliver the unexpected, it's probably as good a place to start as any,

Get it and other Kythibong releases here.  If you've not done so already, I'd strongly recommend you check out that Healthy Boy album and much of the rest of their back catalogue while you're at it.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Dead Man's Tree - The Dead Man's Tree

Dead Man's Tree play rough-arsed, broken-nosed music of a kind you'd expect to find lurking under a bush in Alabama or struggling to make ends meet in a dank Louisiana swamp.  They're from the UK but the good news is this doesn't affect their authenticity or grizzled sound one bit.   Their new self-titled EP is available for free download from their bandcamp site so there's really no excuse not to go and find this out for yourself.

It's a four track affair, featuring the garage stomp of 'Ain't Done You No Harm', the dense rocker 'Discontented Man' and two other tracks: 'Station Blues', which I played late last year on my show and 'The Dead Man's Tree', which I'm playing in my Dandelion Radio show in May - it's a growling, lurking monster of a track that moves real slow, dropping sumptuous guitar lines into the deep crevices left behind by the low tempo groove.  It's become my favourite track on the EP because, I suppose, it allows the band more space to do what they do, which can only be a good thing.

That's not to say the up tempo stuff isn't appealing: on the contrary, everything on this all too brief collection is an absolute stormer.  I've found myself instinctively putting it on and then finding myself reaching next for The Band's early albums.  Not that Dead Man's Tree sound anything like The Band, but there's that same old time quality to what they do, that same penchant for carefully manicuring a sound until it sounds absolutely right rather than over-egging it until it's stripped of all individuality, which is the problem with a lot of the bands who work loosely in the very broad genre that somebody decided to name alt-blues.

Dead Man's Tree stand out precisely because they aren't just playing games with the blues: this is music that clearly comes from their souls and has a sense of reverence that makes me wish I could access their music collections.  I can't, but this EP is an excellent alternative.  

Download: The Dead Man's Tree

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Three Girls Want Me Dead

It's very much a twenty-first century phenomenon - the artist who kind of just does his thing for himself without any serious desire to be heard by anyone outside his immediate social circle, but puts the results online simply because it's so easy to do.  It's a chastening thought that in a different age I wouldn't even have become aware that there was this guy in Florida called Steve Knox putting out music under the moniker Three Girls Want Me Dead on something called Soundcloud.  And that would have been a great shame.

For decades there must have been so many unborn musical babies: mostly ugly, I admit, but nonetheless a few that, like Three Girls Want Me Dead, really demand to be heard.  I admit I didn't exactly stumble on him, but was metaphorically shoved in his direction on the word of that other remarkable Florida resident Slideshow Freak.  What I found was an artist with only a couple of followers and only four tunes on his Soundcloud page that turned out to be some of the most remarkable things I've heard this year.

All the songs on there are pretty short, but they're well-judged short as opposed to couldn't-think-of-where-to-go-with-this short, and they've all got the rawness you'd expect from someone essentially just putting his ideas out there, evidently without expecting many people to take notice.  'Fat American' is a mere 28 seconds in length but pretty much says it all on the subject of stateside obesity; the melancholy acoustic strains of 'Home' make up the longest thing on there, at just over two minutes; 'I Used To Be Dead' throws some gorgeous, unrefined 'woo woos' into its 1:14.
It's the amazing 'Brain Transfer' that I've chosen to play in my May Dandelion Radio show: primeval gargles play out a practically indecipherable opening against a backdrop of scattered beats before an organ-led sonic extravaganza that's not a million miles from what John Barry might have produced (if you'd stuck him in a lift, deprived him of food for three days and told him he couldn't come out until he'd produced the most irresistible melody he'd even managed, but on the most rudimentary equipment) takes us to a brilliant, if characteristically understated, finale.

It's true that the pre-internet years probably saved us from some unspeakable horrors.  Had such a fancy innovation been around when my band The Beached Whales were around, for instance, we might well have got around to recording something, and that would have been a mentally scarring experience for anyone involved, including me.  But if it meant a few more artists and bands like this might have got heard by even a few more people, I reckon it'd have been worth the pain.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Pocket Gods - In Search of the Divine

Have The Pocket Gods grown up?  Yes, I know, it sounds like a daft question to ask of a band who've been knocking around for a good few years now, but a daft question that their new album - In Search of the Divine - encourages nonetheless, because a band I've loved for so long for their almost innocent, sometimes whimsical indie pop have produced an album that comes across as arch, knowing and - dare I say it - even polished.

It's not that the themes are any different.  We still get the much-loved science fiction references permeating many of the titles and lyrics: you may have caught me playing 'JFK UFO' at the end of my April Dandelion Radio show, and that's in familiar company here with 'Bermuda Rectangular' and a new version of 'Someone Else Is On Our Moon', which closes the album as if to provider a reminder that, if what you've just heard has taken us off in enticing new directions, this remains, distinctly, a Pocket Gods record.

Elsewhere, though, there's a considerable broadening of the artistic palette without any compromising of quality.  The plaintive 'My Next High' finds Mark Lee in reflective mood and the track opens with an audacious harmonica solo, as if to provide a tongue-in-cheek Dylan-esque nod that, you then think after listening to the song for a few minutes, might not be so tongue-in-cheek after all.  As if to play with our preconceptions still further, 'Exorcist 3 Blues' - which, incidentally, you can hear in my May show - comes across all blues-like while occupying more familiar Pocket Gods territory of those murky corners of popular culture inhabited by the movie sequel.   And 'Sense' has what sounds like a string section, for God's sake: whether synthesized or not I'm not qualified to detect, but it scarcely matters either way because, whatever it is, it works.  As can certainly be said for In Search of the Divine as a whole.

What we have here is a band making a curious move forward, while thankfully not sacrificing any of the elements that made them so great in the first place.  Although I've liked everything else they've put out in between, it's no coincidence that this is coming across as the freshest Pocket Gods album since the glorious Lo Fi Sci Fi came out five years ago.   If a tendency to dabble with the wistfully ironic and the benignly unthinkable is going to give us results like this, the next five years of this thankfully prolific outfit might prove, remarkably, to be even more thrilling.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Antony Harding - Only Pipe Dreams in the Pipeline

Antony Harding, former drummer with Hefner and individual artist going by the name ANT has, for many years, been involved in musical projects that have maintained a remarkable consistency.  Like his former Hefner band mates Darren Hayman and Jack Hayter, the quality of his individual work has meant that even people like me - and I still include We Love The City in my top twenty albums of the century thus far - have longed ceased to mourn Hefner in favour of delighting instead in the releases of their past members.

So it's probably fitting that I'm playing a track from Antony's new album in my May show on Dandelion Radio, given that the show also features a session from Ramalama Codex & The Universal Unconsciousness, featuring Mike Seed from The Chasms, another much-loved band whose individual members are now helping to mitigate any post-split hangover by striking off in all sorts of interesting musical directions.

Whether the members of that band will ever prove that the parts can match the output of that considerable whole, we'll need to wait and see.  But Harding has long since proved himself to be worth of far more than the title of 'former Hefner drummer'.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I regarded last year's album The Birds Sing Goodnight To You and Me as the best thing released throughout 2012.  When an artist reaches such an incredible high on a single record, I tend to make the rather unreasonable demand on him that he both comes somewhere near repeating the standard as well as taking us in a very new direction.

It's a difficult thing to do, as Gonjasufi and Best Coast bore out last year, both releasing albums that registered barely a murmur on whatever scale might be devised to gauge the impact of a follow-up to a masterpiece.  Harding, however, has sent the needle off the scale: With Only Pipe Dreams in the Pipeline, he manages to astonish and surprise in roughly equal measure and to follow up the apparently unmatchable with something of similar quality.

It's a mini-album, once again released on the We Were Never Being Boring imprint, and it manages to combine the understated brilliance of last year's majestic offering with an audacious sidestep into the realms of the instrumental.  Shedding the lyrical glory of The Birds Sing..., Antony Harding finds himself, musically, naked, armed only with a bunch of acoustic instruments including his mother-in-law's old mandolin.  The mini-album is less than ten minutes in duration, but it loads so much onto its tender frame to leave me checking my watch in genuine expectation that at least half an hour will have elapsed between the mini-epic of 'When The Woodland Path Is Dry Again' and the album's celebratory closer 'Come In Spring and Wipe Your Feet'.

In between, not a single strum of pluck occurs without leaving the listener in breathless anticipation of what's to come next, so that the only realistic response in finding that your lukewarm cup of coffee has outlasted the album's densely packed charms is to put it on again.  Having listened again you realise why he's gone for a purely instrumental collection, because these are tunes which demand to be listened to in their bare, sparse brilliance and to give it words would be not merely unnecessary, but the musical equivalent of adding in too many coloured paints until it all goes brown.

Such a move requires the delicate judgement of an artist with a brilliantly refined ear, and we already knew Harding possessed that attribute.  I'm playing 'When The Woodland Path...' in my May show on Dandelion Radio.  At 2:16 it's the release's longest track and I would hope that those of you who've been responding so well to the Hungarian punk, abrasive electronica and relentless garage guitar barrages I've been shoving your way recently can find a room for this in your hearts.  If not, I reckon it'll do you good to give it a listen anyway.

You can get a copy of this gem of a release at the We Were Never Boring bandcamp site here.  Health warning - don't be fooled by its fragility: it still has the potential to take up a fair chunk of your life.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Mark Nevin - A Deeper Shade of Red (book)

So, why am I reviewing a book?  And why a book about Manchester United?

I declare an interest.  Mark Nevin and I share a fascination and a love for Manchester United that goes back to childhood.  While inevitably some people will screw their faces up at that and question our mutual allegiance to a multinational giant, Nevin's book has the answers to any objections the anti-United guide might throw in our direction.

His remit is, initially, to explore the United/Liverpool rivalry from extremely close quarters. Nevin was born, he reveals, to Liverpool-supporting parents during a time when Liverpool FC were easily the most successful team in English football, but chose to support United.  He went to school a few miles from the Merseyside boundary and, staying true to the United cause throughout, continued to be surrounded by triumphalist scousers, even finding himself at the University of Liverpool as the tide was beginning to turn in United's favour.

He is thus well-placed to grasp the true and original appeal at the heart of United - that of an outsider club who originated among the labouring classes via the Newton Heath (below right) railworkers while so many north-west clubs (including Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City) were nurtured by the established church or within the middle class privilege of cricket clubs.  United, just a few years into their existence, attained the label 'the outcasts' because of their players determination to stick to their guns over a players union and retained this identity throughout their history.  It's a pariah status fans continue to relish.

Even now, after successive clubs' owners attempts to erase their radical history, hardcore United fans remain attached to this early vision and have shown their colours in the successful campaign against Murdoch's proposed ownership in 1999 and the more recent, and rather less successful, anti-Glazier campaigns.  This book doesn't go as far into the modern age as that, but ends at the point where Ferguson has established them as the dominant force in English football in the nineties: the club attaining their greatest successes under the stewardship of a trade unionist who relishes that outsider status as much as any fan.

Nevin places the club within the context of Manchester as both source of creativity and innovation (he manages to connect, with some success, industrialisation and the Manchester Ship Canal to such artistic pioneers as L.S. Lowry, Shelagh Delaney and the Stone Roses) and radical socialism.  He sees United, despite recent attempts to sanitise their image, as culturally linked to the forces of chartism, trade unionism and even the suffragettes in an utterly unique way, much of which has set the club apart from all others in England from the very beginning.

It's unlikely anyone other than Manchester United supporters will find much to appeal here.  Indeed, it will probably irk those many enemies of the club who are much happier to accept the conventional view of United as a globalized super-entity with bloated, success-hungry fans. Nevin makes a convincing case for the opposite identity - a club deeply connected with working people, with socialist politics and with fans so loyal that, even when the club was briefly relegated in 1974, they not only remained the best supported club in the country but actually increased their attendance significantly.

For United fans, though, it's a treasure drove of information to use in the vitriolic debates that inevitably surround this great club.  How many people would understand, for instance, that there are more United than city fans in two-thirds of Manchester postcode areas?  Or that the author went through his whole school life with United experiencing the winning of just one trophy?  Or that the proudly left wing city of Liverpool only elected its first Labour council as recently as the fifties?

That it's also part autobiography and part cultural history too is a considerable bonus.   You can get the Kindle edition for just £1.53 here but it's available for download here at an even cheaper price (just $1.49 that you can convert and pay in your own currency via PayPal).  

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Fag Machine - Daylight Saving

The words 'a rock band from Wrexham' don't, in themselves, possess an especially great ring.  Nothing to do with the word Wrexham, I should add, but 'rock band' is usually an epithet to be avoided at all costs, not that there's especially anything wrong with it either, while the 'a' has a conveyor belt air about it: it might suggest something formulaic, run of the mill, drab.

Which is precisely why I'll avoid the words when attempting to describe the music of The Fag Machine, even though their bandcamp site quite happily, and unpretentiously, uses the tags 'rock' and 'Wrexham' on their bandcamp site.  I'll avoid them because The Fag Machine are different, to give the impression that they're just another 'rock' band would be an unforgivable offence.

They work, it's true, in what might be termed a standard rock idiom, but that's the only thing standard about them.  They take guitar and drums and remind you that such instruments, when in the right hands, carry a potency like no other.  They re-engage us with a line that begins, roughly, with The Stooges and takes us through primal American guitar music as delivered by the Dead Boys then through Sonic Youth and Mudhoney and on into the wild, untameable future.   These are, indeed, exalted reference points, but that's only fitting because The Fag Machine matter.

I first encountered them via their EP 'The Safety Word' a couple of years ago.  They've now taken the raw, brilliant impetus of that early promise and built a whole album around it, losing nothing of that raw brilliance in the process.  It's called Daylight Saving, it appeared on Record Store Day and it's pretty damn wonderful.  From the opening chords of 'Ivory Snow' you know you're in venerable company: there's more than a whiff of Jim Morrison about the vocal drawl, an LA Woman era swagger that most bands would look silly attempting.

The Fag Machine pull it off, you sense, because there's an honesty here: no pretence, no urge to fit in some easy category, to fulfill some marketing man's wet dream - they're about as far from those bands who get in touch with me telling me, with depressing accuracy, that 'we sound like The Foo Fighters/Kings of Leon/Green Day' as music can get, which suits me just fine.  This is never derivative - it exhumes 'rock' corpses not to praise them but to further add to their glory.   The almost-seven-minute title track doesn't use its length to parade or show off the band's undoubted technical expertise, but to celebrate and, in acting as the album's closer, ask intriguing questions about what this fine band might do next.

Despite so many interesting signposts towards future possibilities, I've chosen the older 'Formaldehyde' to play in my May Dandelion Radio show, which streams at various times during this month.  Why?  Because I still love it, because it's a tune that oughtn't to be ignored and because, in securing a place on this collection, it offers a link between that raw promise and its eventually flowering on this collection.  This is an even better than expected debut album - find out more of what this phenomenal band has to offer here

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

derTANZ - Kaktusz

derTANZ are Árpád Gulyás (bass), Ákos Tornyos (drums), and Gábor Kovács (vocals). They play harsh, minimalist music with a bleak cynical attitude, addicted to distorted bass guitar sounds, and broken drums as well as analog electronics, influenced by the chaotic post punk of The Birthday Party, the tribal rhythms of the Swans, the abstraction of Scott Walker, the noise-rock of the Jesus Lizard, or the free jazz hallucinations of Moonchild. 

Their debut album,  Kaktusz in April came out last month and was recorded live during a two day session in an empty, post-socialist community house of a small Hungarian village, Érsekvadkert.  The final result is a grotesque psychedelic trip, an inner country site dressed into drones and noises.
Clearly, Hungary has featured a lot in my recent Dandelion Radio shows, but if you're expecting something along the lines of the raw punk attack of compatriots like Mudpie or Fake Shakes (the latter also feature in my show this month), then expect again.   The fifty minutes of this collection surges and falls like a gigantic rollercoaster, combining passages of nerve-shredding speed with slowed down interludes are no less powerful.  

It's all about the energy, and again by that I don't mean an undiluted power barrange.  The consistent menace about the collection comes from its undulating variety.  It's as if the early-Ruts quake of opener 'A Statue' shreds itself and into a big-bang scatter, populating the rest of the collection like some Babel-like diffusion of chaos.  The sinister voice-over that kicks off 'Terror Mirror Terror' comes on like Vincent Price backed by early PiL at their sparsest, building into a violent barrage underpinned by a rumbling bass line that's one of the few omnipresent elements in this diverse catalogue of aggressiveness.  

'The Trap' (which features in my May show on Dandelion Radio) may initially resemble 'Holiday in Cambodia' but the similarities are soon dissipated as the bass drum comes in and a shrill siren of a guitar fizzes like a looming Molotov cocktail behind the vocals.  The energy of 'Waveforms of the Dirt' is more like that of Sisyphus trailing his rock with a purpose, raising a defiant finger to Thanatos.  This is a band that glories in its immense burden, transforming it into heavy layers of monstrous, delightful sound.

But it doesn't need to be intellectualized.  What we have here is visceral, its energy diffused throughout the collection but never reduced.  Behind it lies a deft craftmanship, the art almost of an avant film maker weaving his tales in sound.  Fittingly, the album's longest track, The Garden', is like a horror novella recorded in soundtrack-only form, with a extreme temporal variety that, like that rollercoaster, slows almost to a deathly stop in passages and builds to dramatic barrages of noise in others.

You can pick up a copy of the album for just $1 at the band's bandcamp site.  It's become a feature of my reviews to consider how the truly rewarding often costs so little, but this collection and this band illustrate that better than most.