Category Archives: Reviews

Invocation: New Age Healers present Debris

New Age Healers are like a crack Commando unit from some old war movie. And to say a crack Commando unit, that means a Commando unit that’s really good, not a Commando unit on crack. You know, some roughnecks who don’t follow orders too well get thrown together to go and destroy some Nazi installation between enemy lines. You’ve got the dynamite expert played by the posh English guy, the mechanic, the knife dude etc. Essentially, New Age Healers could be trusted to blow up U-Boat pens in Peenemunde. New Age Healers are not repeat not, a crack Commando unit, having been born too late and having a taste for Altoids (watch the music vid below), instead they turn their deadly skills to the music biz, which is less dangerous but has more villains. Debris is their new album…

‘Message From The Past’ is a pure slice of overdriven warrior psych with a huge helping of Echo & The Bunnymen, “you can’t hurt me… when I hurt myself, you can’t hate me… when I hate myself” might even be an especially mopey set of Mac lyrics.

Meanwhile ‘Hang On’ is blissed out Ride. ‘Satellites’ is pacy open road pop on it’s streamlined Velvets riff. ‘There Goes The Sun’ climbs on a hugely ascending hero riff. ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre’ hugs each hairpin. ‘I Followed A Sound’ stomps like The Black Angels.

New Age Healers have a consistent guitar sound which really helps forge their own identity. It’s a hot hydrogen inrush of noise that characterises them. The rhythm section is pacier than most shoegaze-y type music too. Speed and cruising on the highway is the order of the day. Each song zooms into the next like street lights in a tunnel. New Age Healers wanna burn and go places in cars that can really go.


The Battery Farm – ’97/91′

Doom-punk?! That inspires less confidence that all other hyphenated music genres except all the ones that include the word “jazz”. 

So it was with some trepidation when The Battery Farm start up/ pipe up. Luckily The Battery Farm’s new single isn’t some kind of horrendous metal + something else mess you find cluttering bandcamp with faux Celtic artwork.

If The Battery Farm are punk, they’re closer to Pere Ubu or some weirdy weird US shitsville punk that they’d call Proto-Punk on some fancy pants website like Pitchfork. Or, the stuttering, looping rhythm is like some mad, experimental glam. You could see Brian Eno wanting to get his hands on this, and doing a bad job of producing this lot. All these means that The Battery Farm are some Devo/ Pere Ubu breeding programme gone wrong.

So that’s the music sorted. The vocals are diatribe, punk but in a declamatory way, either John Cooper Clarke or some US Dead Kennedy’s type biz. It’s very reminiscent of Dead Sea Apes’ recent collab with Adam Stone, Warheads, which fused British dystopia with old style punk riffs. So if you liked that, you’ll like this, and vice-y versa.

The words are mysterious, open ended and more short story-esque. This is a writer more concerned in transmitting ideas than song structure and this is what makes The Battery Farm an interesting proposition. It’s more told than sung and more cryptic than flag waving.

Plus the album art reminds me of Calamity James from The Beano having a strangle wank.

Klaus Morlock – The Ascerbi Trilogy (1974-1981)

Angelo Ascerbi made 28 movies in his un-distinguished movie career, delicately balancing (some might say badly), a mixture of horror with soft core porn. An auteur panned by the critics, in one case literally, his oeuvre has passed into infamy due to the suspect nature and inconsistent quality of his work.

Three of his most notable works are Bethany’s Cradle (1974), The Three Faces of Janice (1977), and The Hermit of Lake Lugano (1981) . All three were soundtracked by Klaus Morlock, whose work was a clear influence on Tangerine Dream. Long lost, the masters were recently uncovered and released.

Bethany’s Cradle in fact was recently uploaded to YouTube. What shows is a true time capsule of 1970’s cheap skate film making, lots of wobbly CSO and grainy film segments jarringly intercut with parts shot on video. But the enthusiasm shines though, the sheer love of telling a horror story, and the sheer bare face cheek at ripping off The Wicker Man. The opening scene has all the hallmarks of an iconic horror. Tom, the gamekeeper, out in the forest with his shotgun, happens upon Mina, the daughter of the local white witch, initiating Bethany, the innocent daughter of the local clergyman into the ways of the sect, in an act of mildly risque sauciness. As he gawps with all the enthusiasm of a middle age man from the 1970s had for letching, he doesn’t notice the crab-like being that scuttles up behind him… until it rips his throat out. As Tom’s body is slowly dragged off into the undergrowth, Bethany receives a rather mild spanking from Mina… and the main credits roll! All of which accompanied by Morlock’s plaintiff, the haunting ‘Bethany’s Dream’ score.

The release of The Ascerbi Trilogy is great news for all fans of electronic music and 70s horror. Fans of John Cale’s The Academy In Peril will enjoy it, as will fans of modern throwbacks such as The Heartwood Institute.

A fitting testament to both Ascerbi and Morlock.

Aggressively forging the future: Teeth Of The Sea present WRAITH

The Scribes made many Foretelling in the days before the Ending Time. Employed by the Slavic dukes they would toil to make predictions for their masters. While the dukes dined on suckling pig in their marbled halls, the Scribes huddled in the candle light of their under-rooms. When the Foretelling arrived, the eyes of the Scribes would roll upwards in their heads and their quills would scratch ramblings and snatches of the things to come.

One such Scribe, Obseqious, saw Teeth Of The Sea in a dark Foretelling. Obseqious fell into a deep trance for many days, to the point in which the duke raged at the thought of his valuable Scribe possibly dying. When Obseqious awoke his papers where full of scattered notes on Teeth Of The Sea. He later compiled them into a vague narrative, translated by a Czech historian:

… there will come a time in which the beloved Post Rock will falter and fall… tired from an excess of mediocrity and usage in wildlife documentaries… the people will mourn and wail at the passing. All is not lost however… slowly from the embers a shape will appear… new ideas… the thing will rise… it will call itself Teeth Of The Sea, as representing an attack from the primordial, connecting to the past while aggressively forging the future… Teeth Of The Sea will start as Post Rock dies, but as the giant will fall, Teeth Of The Sea will grow stronger by taking on elements and energy from the other dimensions. This life energy will succour them as the lights go out. They will draw energy from techno and rave as they spawn MASTER, a blend of experimental electro to make a sci fi soundtrack that bruises the soul as it moves the feet… MASTER will be followed by Highly Deadly Black Tarantula in which Teeth Of The Sea will flirt with the main stream and inject it’s inky goo into the consciousness of the outside world… The people will be be-dazzled under this glammer… They will wait agog for the next spawnage… What follows will be WRAITH and the people will be surprised as it does not follow their trajectory, but what ever will with Teeth Of The Sea?? Instead the new entry will be a paranoid and demented affair… a noirish trip into soundtracked depths of the abyss. While MASTER will sound like a Philip K Dick book, WRAITH will sound like a cross between The Maltese Falcon and Trainspotting, with a smackhead Sam Spade shooting up while the black bird looks on… People will be puzzled. But they will accept that Post Rock has died and Teeth Of The Sea will be a beacon of hope in a morass of creative devolution… the people will love them…

After assembling his Foretelling he passed it on the duke who raged in anger, for he was really looking forward to Sigur Ros.

Once Upon A Time – The Raft present Abloom

Yes! It’s finally here! It’s been far, far too long since the last full length release by The Raft but here we are with Abloom, a gorgeous flowering of Phil Wilson’s brand of summer-y dreampop. Phil’s gift is writing songs perfect for long afternoon’s in a beer garden with bottle after bottle of fruity cider…

The reason for this being that Phil’s songs inhabit a golden hued world delicately balanced between joy and melancholy.

‘Light Light’ opens the track a little gloomily, rippling like a wraiths ankle socks. It’s a cathedral at dusk with Ride at the pulpit. Near the 3 minute mark light (light) is allowed to enter, with a classic shining Raft surge of sweeteners. The curtain is dropped, the walls fall.

‘The Boy With No Soul’ really kicks us off with it’s laid back reminiscence of New Order’s “Regret”. Hmm… if you could bottle the feeling of a festival in summer it would sound like this. If bottles made sounds. Whatever, vibes don’t have to make sense. Guitars make like ripened fruit on the edge of turning sour.

‘Open Up Your Heart’ is more riff-y, like something off a New Wave CD compilation. This showcases a classic Phil chorus, resplendent with backing vocals.

‘The Morning Light’ sinks in quicksand, as life flows in aftermath.

‘Joab’ (I keep thinking it’s called ‘Jump’ too) is pure early 90s. This would slide easily into a breezy comedy movie of the era. Something set in California where the main character drives a VW Beetle.

‘Xanadu’ bursts like every memory of better times, moments of glory played out on a big screen. The spoken word section, slightly too quiet to hear, tickles at you like a memory you can’t place.

‘She Floats’ twangs like a shoegaze spaghetti western and launches into another simple, bold chorus. By the time we hit a guitar solo that’s nearly power ballad territory we’re all seduced.

‘Louie And Julie’ is more jaunty, half sea shanty and half shaggy dog story.

The Raft glisten and glow, beguile and bewitch. Things in your life not going so well… Abloom will lift you up a while.

But in this world, everything rises, everything comes back around, a lot like The Raft.

Certainty in uncertainty: Celestial North presents Olympic Skies

Glacial & groovy post-punk from in which the guitars vie for your attention and simultaneously, don’t care. This is a pure slice of post-punk in that the song you wants to dance, thanks to the bouncy lead guitar and wants you to sink in a stupor, thanks to the hazy hues pitched around the outskirts. The drum beat is frisky, the vocals cool as ice. This song doesn’t know what it wants you to do and it’s that quality which grabs your attention. Post punk: the music of not knowing what to do, of certainty in uncertainty.

If you like the Bunnymen, if you like The Cure, or are are into 21st century takes on the art such as The Autumn Stones or Motorama you’ll dig Celestial North.

Ambivalence never wanted to please you so much.

Lester Bangs would have Creem-ed his pants for the Janitors

Attention all you eagle-eyed seekers of purveyors of righteous rock n roll and drone psych! The Janitors; the real deal, the heavy weight champeens of Nordic noir noise have excavated 23 deep, deep cuts from 15 years of ruling the roost as one of the best bands around. These tracks chart their progress from Black Rebel cavemen rock to epic swells of worker drone monoliths. 15 Years of Fuzz and Folköl is this barricade busting collection of rare cuts that chart the progress of this band, from heavy to dark to fuzzed up beyond recognition.

‘Stumble’ reigns supreme as the ultimate capitulation of music to ur-rock primitivism, shedding all neologisms and giving into to subterranean desires and emotions. This is where drums are clatterings and vox are grunts. This is Stooges regressed to the paleolithic era. Never mind leather jackets as uniform, this is leather jackets as skin.

‘Firefly’ s dirty machine grinds it’s trouble making rhythm, chewing dirt and spitting oil. Swans slicked in oil copulate. A harrowed voice hollers it’s rock n roll clarion call over dustbin lid drums. A call for teenage supremacy as screaming wails of attention.

‘In Love With The Riot’ bare knuckle fight smashes up as the slowest of slow riffs emerges from some medieval backwater. MC5 on ket.

‘Epileptic City’ has a slow boil start running on bass then drops the dopest, stupidest meathead riff and spits snarling vox. A chorus to kick you in the balls. Death defied. 

‘City’; dragging it’s bass like a corpse down a back alley, shows us a druggier version of BJM’s ‘Straight & Down’ and throws in dubby effects for good measure, flipping the bird to Anton Newcombe from the back window of their car.

On ‘Black Electric’ The Janitors emerge from their grubby chrysalis, having passed over their rock n roll carapace. Now, spreading their resplendent wings, they show themselves as beasts of fervent, heavy psych. The drums are war-like, the guitars reign / rain walls of abuse and the vox deep down wails of anguish. This Lovecraftian beast unfurls it’s horrific mass over the psych kingdom, immolating the lesser beings.

To talk of instrumentation sucks big ones when it comes to the way Janitors rocked. This is adolescent dreams of sex and vice. Uncontrollable ur-ges + shouts… and love came in spurts before these Voidoids killed it with noise, before they killed themselves, they killed their rock n roll… before re-emerging as the king dons; the big swinging dicks of fuzz-psych.