Review
Gianluigi Marsibilio 



Big Thief ‘Two Hands’
LP/ 11th October 2019


U.F.O.F. introduced the Big Thief to a cosmic, celestial dimension, in which everything was quiet and melancholy static: it was like being in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. But with Two Hands, Big Thief instead return to a more earthly and frank dimension that, within a year, reaffirms the Brooklyn band and elevates the poetic universe of Adrianne Lenker.

Also, in this case, the voice of Big Thief is based on the delicate atmospheres that have the ability to transcend space and time. The delicacy of songs like ‘Wolf’ or ‘Forgotten Eyes’ is an important key to understanding an album that is the best proof of the band.

With Two Hands there is less DIY, a less crude construction, the search for sound starts first of all from a poetic dimension, from the need to narrate a story. The goal achieved is in the construction of a sound zone where Big Thief have become, not merely recognizable, but unique. The structure of the songs play on balances of sensitivity: the slight inputs of the xylophone, the melodic intersections, the rhythms that settle down and come to life between the words of the songs, are a very precise poetics of the band that now has a well-defined sound. The semantic field of the record is very clear and works with the themes of U.F.O.F., making them earthly, tangible. The idea that Two Hands is an earthly twin of the previous work is interesting and in focus. The sounds of Lenker’s guitar and voice build a rough anatomy of perceptions; everything can be touched and becomes extremely corporeal. The most abstract forms become clear when meeting Adrianne’s voice, a line like “The wolf is howling for me” actually becomes a symbol of this textual and poetic research.

Two Hands has the corporeity of a performance by Marina Abramovic, but also the noble crypticity of a live performance by Bon Iver. The lyrics are a bridge that crosses very wide poetic universes, Adrianne Lenker is like Walt Whitman in his Passage to India; there is a dimension of renewal, construction and humanity that unfolds throughout the work.

Two Hands is a gateway to a universe, which represents us and makes us feel good.




Playlist
Compiled by Dominic Valvona with contributions from Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Gianluigi Marsibilio.
Graphics by Gianluigi Marsibilio.








Reflecting the Monolith Cocktail’s tastes and favourite choice tracks from the last few months, the Quarterly Revue is a diverse musical journey; an eclectic international playlist of discoveries. This is a space in which you are as likely to find the skewered Gary Wilson meets Brian Wilson stained-glass psychedelic songwriting of the Origami Repetika creative hub as you are the conscious transportive jazz of Horace Tapscott. Brand new tracks appear alongside reissues and recently uncovered nuggets as we move through funk, jazz, hip-hop, post-punk, shoegaze, desert blues, techno, psychedelic, acid rock, space rock, and the most experimental of musical genres.

 

Behold…part three…


Tracklist::

Snapped Ankles  ‘Three Steps To A Development’
DJ Shadow  ‘Rosie’
Kid Acne/Nosaj/Spectacular Diagnostics  ‘Crest Of A Wave’
Gang Starr/J. Cole  ‘Family and Loyalty’
Danny Brown  ‘Best Life’
Bronx Slang  ‘More Grief’
SAULT  ‘Let Me Go’
clipping.  ‘Nothing Is Safe’
Bloke Music  ‘Everything On’
Seaside Witch Coven  ‘Splutter’
Trupa Trupa  ‘Remainder’
Stereo Total  ‘Einfach’
Los Piranas  ‘Palermo’s Grunch’
Baba Zula  ‘Salincak In’
Abdallah Oumbadougou  ‘Thingalene’
Grup Dogus  ‘Namus Belasi’
Taichmania  ‘See Ya at Six or Seven’
Kota Motomura  ‘Cry Baby’
Baby Taylah  ‘Reclaim’
House Of Tapes  ‘Melted Ice’
Camino Willow  ‘Hollywood’
Callum Easter  ‘Only Sun’
Junkboy  ‘Waiting Room’
Elizabeth Everts  ‘Contraband’
Bloom de Wilde  ‘Soul Siren’
Badge Epoque Ensemble  ‘Milk Split on Eternity’
Chrissie Hynde/The Valve Bone Woe Ensemble  ‘Meditation on a Pair of Wire Cutters’
Swan/Koistinen  ‘Diagnosis’
Sirom  ‘Low Probability of a Hug’
Koma Saxo  ‘Fanfarum for Komarun’
Matana Roberts  ‘Raise Yourself Up/Backbone Once More/How Bright They Shine’
Die Achse/Ghostface Killah/Agent Sasco  ‘Baby Osamas’
U-Bahn  ‘Beta Boyz’
Occult Character  ‘Half-Wits and Cultists’
Asbestos Lead Asbestos  ‘Shrimp Asmr’
Repo-Man  ‘Evan The Runt’
Issac Birituro & The Rail Abandon  ‘Kalba’
Nicolas Gaunin  ‘Vava’u’
Mazouni  ‘Daag Dagui’
Mdou Moctar  ‘Wiwasharnine’
Aziza Brahim  ‘Leil’
Resavoir  ‘Resavoir’
Purple Mountains  ‘All My Happiness is Gone’
Babybird  ‘Cave In’
Adam Green  ‘Freeze My Love’
Catgod  ‘Blood’
Frog  ‘RIP to the Empire State Flea Market’
Pozi  ‘Engaged’
Roi  ‘Dormouse Records’
Origami Repetika  ‘Winged Creatures’
Horace Tapscott  ‘Future Sally’s Time’
A Journey Of Giraffes  ‘September 11 1977’
Jodie Lowther  ‘The Cat Collects’
Equinox/Vukovar  ‘Lament’
Kandodo 3  ‘King Vulture’

ALBUM REVIEW
Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio




Frog ‘Count Bateman’
(Audio Antihero/Tape Wormies) 16th August 2019


Frog are a kiosk by the sea, on a suburban beach.

The essence of their work is gathered in a search for intimacy that is expressed in DIY and lo-fi passages; a very successful sound universe touched by Bon Iver, Daniel Johnston and other such sacred monsters.

Their flame is lit on Count Bateman. The new album in fact captures the peak of a clear path and placed lo-fi sound. The interweaving of stories on this record are a safe place that puts us at peace and in dialogue with the idea of Frog’s music.

The ability of the work is to go down, and at the same time transcend, in a strongly psychological dimension, but there is no Freud or Jung, but simply a dose of sharpness and freshness that make us feel good, almost inexplicably.

The guitar landscape of songs like ‘It’s Something I Do’ or ‘Black Friday’ is uncontaminated, a walk with Christopher McCandless. The sound is light; it’s a wave of fresh water, an immersion in a style very close to that of Daniel Johnston.

In Frog there is the rediscovery of a low profile attitude, which must be understood and studied in the light of a historical moment in which the ability to remain in the dark, with the light off, has been lost, even in more indie environments.

Frog are like Matisse, painters of windows and fixtures that open in an expanse of neighborhoods, cities and stories. Count Bateman is an open window from which air enters and often there is also a hurricane breeze; in fact the second part of the record is full of unusual sounds and more driven, electronically, for the duo.





Live Revue
Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio



Thom Yorke Live
Rome 21st July 2019


The stage is an icon, Thom Yorke a mirror.

Here’s the consideration that a metaphysical set like this leads you to do, but there’s more and then I tried to make a small setlist of short and ramshackle thoughts about Thom Yorke live in Rome.

 

Thom Yorke is a genre in itself

Yorke moves with a cinematic attitude, and the movement on stage is an ode to the dance of Suspiria. This is a meeting of the many elements, developments and musical paths undertaken over the years. Thom Yorke’s live performance in Rome is the closing of a cycle and, at the same time, the opening of another. Thom is, finally, a multidimensional being, who can musically make genre by himself, expressing at best a crisis of many ideas and visions: some, even very different from each other.

 

The concert is an iconographic tale

You could follow the concert from an artistic point of view, and tell how the digital painting that moves on video walls is a condensation of an artistic research that also includes graphics and visual art.

We could play to tell the live in three paintings, I choose, in doubt, “Number 11” Pollock. The idea of graphic contamination has served.

 

Anima is a pure germ

The new solo album Anima is a real art-attack. A light and structured breath on a homogeneous and not confusing storytelling, Anima is a solo peak in Yorke’s career, because it has a whole series of elements that are perfectly connected with the idea of drawing songs in an extremely scenic, told and cinematographic way.

 

Suspiria was a blessing for Thom

So let’s close the film, consistent with the live set. The clear element is that: Suspiria has done well to Thom’s work and creativity. Being under creative and artistic pressure is a test that every artist has to undergo, the cinema is a machine that eats and incorporates but Thom has been stronger than on any other destructive push, and has pulled out a genuine music score. Calmness is the virtue of the dead, creativity needs chaos and the work with Luca Guadagnino, also built on the strong common vision, has helped Thom to build and solidify even better.






PLAYLIST
Compiled: Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver
Art: Gianluigi Marsibilio









From an abundance of sources, via a myriad of social media platforms and messaging services, even accosted when buying a coffee from a barristo-musician, the Quarterly Revue is expanding constantly to accommodate a reasonable spread that best represents the Monolith Cocktail’s raison d’etre.

As you will hear for yourselves, new releases and the best of reissues plucked from the team – me, Dominic ValvonaMatt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Gianluigi Marsibilio (who also put together the playlist artwork) – rub shoulders in the most eclectic of playlists, with tracks as geographically different to each other as Belem and Palermo.

Digest and discover as you will, but we compile each playlist to run in order so it feels like the best uninterrupted radio show or most surprising of DJ sets.



ALBUM REVIEW
Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio 




Holly Herndon ‘PROTO’
(4AD) 10th May 2019

A digital kingdom in which it is possible to establish a pact between man and machine, a maternal connection that gives a precise identity to a record that becomes human, android, cyborg, consciousness.

A continuous and hypnotizing dialogue between Holly Herndon and Spawn (the name given to the digital creature) that lights up in PROTO through a vocal that uses the voice as “an instrument rather than a lyrical vessel”.

The characteristics of spoken words are deeply influenced by the human touch, deep or graceful, of a voice that communicates to us, through its confession, a state of mind. The reflection contained in the minutes of the duration of the record does not really deserve a review but an entire vocabulary, and not only from a musical point of view. There is a universe, a new ethical impulse that seeks new paths, in places where there are not yet beaten grounds.

In “Proto” there is a study, a flow built on a voice that doubles and accentuates its presence in a series of virtual choruses.

The idea of a vocal riff built by an AI is a perverse geometry that connects as much to the ideas of Mozart as to those of Radiohead or the Aphex Twin. “Proto” is a transversal work that focuses on a founding theme of the next, probably 100 years (except after our extinction).

The rationality, or rather the scientificity of the work, is submerged by the poetish spectrallity of songs like ‘Crawler’ or ‘Birth’.

The global regularity is an explosion of inventiveness that connects Holly Herndon to visionaries such as Steve Wozniak, Kevin Kelly, and links her to an artistic tradition that starts from a Space Odyssey and also a dialogue with Laurel Halo or Oneohtrix Point Never.

On the album there is a universe of reference: “Proto” is a cultural and germinal space that connects to the “Digital Stone Age” recalled by Krista Stevens in the New York Times.

The only flaw in this record is in the deep, perhaps extreme, hermetic syncretism of Spawn, which proves it can talk to each other, but still in Morse code. After all, Spawn is just an “AI Baby” who still needs to take some important steps before developing a clear and more complex language; meanwhile we have to rethink humanity and our idea of A.I.

In the beautiful book of Jeff Hawkins, concerning the theme of A.I., he reminds us how: “If a new song violates these principles – in reference to the common canons of western music -, you know immediately that something is wrong. Think about this for a second. You hear a song that you have never heard before, your brain experiences a pattern it has never experienced before, and yet you make predictions and can tell if something is wrong. The basis of these mostly unconscious predictions is the set of memories that are stored in your cortex. Your brain can’t say exactly what will happen next, but it nevertheless predicts which note patterns are likely to happen and which aren’t.”

Holly and Spawn don’t completely break the rules but they skillfully play with them in an artificial waltz.





Album Review::Gianluigi Marsibilio 



Aldous Harding ‘Designer’
(4AD) 27th April 2019


Escaping any form of classification with a measured and completely tailored style on the vibrations of your soul, “Designer” is the perfect creature of Aldous Harding.

In ancient Greece the poets who dealt with epics, took the stories of the incredible heroes and mixed their tangible existence with legend and fantasy. Aldous Harding has shaped a record that describes, tells and immerses us in an epic of pain, a bittersweet story of a unique artistic life. The singer-songwriter’s faith and hopes cannot be strengthened even in paradise. In three verses: “Breathe in and out/ Kissing The Doubt/ And Whisper softly” she hides the essence of a veil of Maya, still unbroken and that will remain there to make us contort by doubts. A narrated, sung and lived track in which the coordinates of being are lost.

Designer feeds on doubts and acts of faith, moments of contemplation and intellectual depth.

Everything goes hand in hand with a series of atmospheres that are cured and varied, with the incredible touch of John Parish, songs like ‘Treasure’ or ‘Weight of the Planets’ use a register that draws a way of writing songs that I would call “oneiric pop”.

Interestingly the record features the minimalist pinches of guitar and the simplest of Stornelli, both of which intersect in a definition of aesthetic research precision.





Women in music don’t need any #MeToo, the most beautiful and profound message of truth is given by powerful records like this or by the work of Weyes Blood, Stella Donnelly and Phoebe Bridgers.

Designer is a record that speaks and tells the creation on the one hand less mythological, less biblical. Aldous Harding is a wandering goddess who makes mistakes, collapses and precisely for this reason takes on dreamlike connotations, enriched by a deep humanity.

 

This record interacts in the closest way to a contemporary definition of creativity, in fact the explosion of sounds, ideas and atmospheres does not start from a pure idealization of a thought but rather from a profitable interaction with Parish, who with loads of loop stations, etheric sounds and dreamy voice, has drawn an imaginary, much more precise than in the past, on an artist who felt the need.

Despite the fact that the female author’s panorama is full of projects rich in contemporary and interesting sounds, a Gothic and slightly blacker chaos was missing. Designer is a record that corresponds to the description, philosophical, of formativity (“formativity”) that indicates “a doing that, while doing, invents the way of doing” (Un fare che mentre fa, inventa il modo di fare).

Everything is full of a creativity that rhymes with intimacy; Designer is a feminine universe that narrates a new genesis, a beginning.





Album Review: Gianluigi Marsibilio 



Ty Segall ‘Deforming Lobes’
(Drag City) 29th March 2019


The gun that killed Van Gogh will be sold in early summer. But if you don’t have the money to hurt yourself, figuratively speaking, listen to Deforming Lobes by Ty Segall; a concentrate of wickedness that will leave you lying in bed and breathless.

The record is taken from a series of live shows, so well built that it looks like a jam session in the studio, its production is incredible and can connect, even through digital support, each listener, to the room in Los Angeles where the concerts were held.

The record is, in the endless production of Segall, already essential because it allows everyone to get a precise idea of who it is, what it does and how it lives.

In a beautiful piece in the New Yorker on David Baker are these words, taken from the poet: “The only conclusion to be drawn is that “there are so many, too // many of us”; and yet “the world keeps making – this makes no sense – / more”, Ty Segall, plays with polysemy, with the sense to give meaning to the impossible.

The noise of the crowd, even if it’s a live show, is eaten by the infernal sound of the instruments that travel on stage and splash on pieces like ‘They Told Me Too’ or ‘Breakfast Eggs’. The record really gives a new meaning to Segall’s complete production and for the first time, after listening to a live record, I didn’t get bored and indolent.

The enigmatic and shining The Groundhogs are a point of reference and then the cover of ‘Cherry Red’ is fundamental, to immerse us, once again, in the record and in the world of Ty.

The record is subaqueous, in the sense that it makes us descend, layer after layer, to an area near the Marianne Falls.

Smoothing and gliding over new ideas for one’s musical future seems to be the intention of this record: A sort of scale to understand where to shift the weight of unpredictability for the near future.

To get the work he’s done with the Freedom Band is essential to the launch of Deforming Lobes, which is already a fundamental step towards understanding the elastic and eclectic madness of Ty Segall.

You want one last reason to launch yourself into this record: it was edited by Steve Albini, who between a poker tournament and the other, gives us these wonders of accuracy.





Playlist: Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver




I’ll be brief – less chat, more music please – as you want the goods, but the Quarterly Revue is our chance to pick out choice tracks to represent a three month period in the Monolith Cocktail’s output. New releases and the best of reissues plucked from the team – me, Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Gianluigi Marsibilio – rub shoulders in the most eclectic of playlists. The full track list is awesome, global and diverse and can be found below.



Tracklist in full: 

Abdesselem Damoussi & Nour Eddine ‘Sabaato Rijal’
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba (Ft. Abdoulaye Diabate) ‘Fanga’
Foals ‘Cafe D’Athens’
Kel Assouf ‘Tenere’
Deep Cut ‘Sharp Tongues’
Royal Trux ‘Suburban Junky Lady’
Ifriqiyya Electrique ‘Mashee Kooka’
39 Clocks ‘Psycho Beat’
The Proper Ornaments ‘Crepuscular Child’
Swazi Gold ‘Free Nelly’
Eerie Wanda ‘Magnetic Woman’
Julia Meijer ‘Fall Into Place’
Mozes And The Firstborn (Ft. PANGEA) ‘Dadcore’
Lite Storm ‘People (Let It Go Now)’
Downstroke & Gee Bag ‘Ooh My My My’
Errol Dunkley ‘Satisfaction’
Old Paradice/Confucius MC/Morriarchi ‘Sunkissed’
Black Flower ‘Future Flora’
Santiago Cordoba ‘Red’
Dexter Story (Ft. Kibrom Birhane) ‘Bila’
Houssam Gania ‘Moulay Lhacham’
Garrett N. ‘Avant’
Sir Robert Orange Peel ‘I’ve Started So I’ll Finish’
Gunter Schickert ‘Wohin’
Defari & Evidence ‘Ackknowledgement’
Eddie Russ ‘The Lope Song’
Oh No & Madlib ‘Big Whips’
CZARFACE & Ghostface ‘Mongolian Beef’
Greencryptoknight ‘Superman’
Choosey & Exile (Ft. Aloe Blacc) ‘Low Low’
Little Albert ‘Gucci Geng’
The KingDem ‘The Conversation (We Ain’t Done Yet)’
Wiki ‘Cheat Code’
Dear Euphoria ‘Push-Pull’
Tim Linghaus ‘Crossing Bornholmer (Reprise, Pt. II)’
Station 17 (Ft. Harald Grosskopf & Eberhard Kranemann) ‘…And Beyond’
Heyme ‘Noisz’
Clovvder ‘Solipsismo’
Ustad Saami ‘God Is’
Louis Jucker ‘Seagazer’
The Telescopes ‘Don’t Place Your Happiness In The Hands Of Another’
Blue House ‘Margate Jukebox’
Tempertwig ‘Apricot’
3 South & Banana ‘Magdalen Eye’
With Hidden Noise ‘The Other Korea’
Beauty Stab ‘O Eden’
Coldharbourstores ‘Something You Do Not Know’
Katie doherty & The Navigators ‘I’ll Go Out’
Mekons ‘How Many Stars?’
Graham Domain ‘Farewell Song’



Album Review: Gianluigi Marsibilio




Royal Trux ‘White Stuff’
(Fat Possum Records) 1st March 2019

An underground civilization always develops thanks to the tunnels, the galleries and the sedimenting of a tradition capable of not seeing the light, even for two decades.

The Royal Trux have returned, without great proclamations and arrogance to put themselves to the test with a music scene completely revolutionized since the early 90s, in fact today we cannot talk about ghosts and institutions like Kurt Cobain or Frank Zappa.

The duo from New York, even today, is able to immerse Dinosaur Jr. in a strange psychic substance; they bring out a work that manages to be a right counterbalance to the word underground. The underground is a wonderful place where you can appreciate the purest soul of things and also of the duo, which while not having the same success as other bands, such as White Stripes or related stuff, has maintained a coherence, which after 20 years we feel deep flowing like lymph in “White Stuff”.

The Royal Trux have maintained the avant-garde drive and the desire to be something else, completely different from whatever the word Rock means today, because even if important projects such as The War On Drugs, The National or others are easily indicated in one vein, the Royal Trux remain other, but not only in terms of sound, their choice is an aptitude that deeply distances the duo from any other band.

“Twin Infinities” (1990) could be a good problem, such a monumental work of historical impact, can lead to comparisons, further comparisons, but in the end an album like “White Stuff” also touches important peaks in songs, like “Sic Em Slow” or “Under Ice”. The psychedelic progression is preponderant in tracks like “Purple Audacity #2”, and the dreamlike wandering that lasted about 20 years offers a solid and iconic cue. The Royal Trux live on their mythical image that is not cumbersome, on the contrary it manages to be decadently fascinating.

Hagerty and Herrema show that they can complete themselves extensively, but above all they can make up for each other at the limits of the other, hiding personal and non personal smears and imperfections: it’s clear that the tumultuous journey that ended in 2001 is an example of what it means to complete, wander and start again.




Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio

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