PHOTO CREDITS: Memorandum Media and Michael Rehdish

Itchy-O ‘Sypherlot/Hallowmass: Double Live 2020’
(Alternative Tentacles)  5th November 2021

At their satanic majesty’s pleasure the Denver invocation, and 57-strong collective, Itchy-O decided last year to record for posterity two of their esoteric-industrial-drive-in shows.  If you’ve never set eyes on this immersive spectacle for all the senses, the Itch both resemble and sound like a LED light show and workshop sparked carnival of Holy Mountain Alejandro Jodorowsky, Mad Max, Ministry and a drum rattling regiment from the Mexican day of the dead.

With morbid curiosity this behemoth of a performance ritual have mostly kept recordings to a minimum, with captured live activities popping up either on Youtube or exclusively streamed via a chosen platform. Across an epic scale double-album format, two such chthonian and daemonic concerts appear on wax; the first, Sypherlot, captured an August performance in the “expansive” parking lot of Denver’s Mission Ballroom, the second, Hallowmass, captured a Halloween communal cleansing at the Colorado city’s now demolished New Tech Machinery building. Both occasions took off despite the miasma and restrictions of the pandemic, and both signaled a cathartic and provocative gesture in the last year of Trump’s presidency. Above all, Itchy-O seek to “eviscerate” both old and new ideas of entertainment and live music.

Photo Credit: Memorandum Media

Like a macabre theatre in which various belief systems and deities are called forth, the masked, almost anonymous costumed cast provide a real dark arts sanctuary, which they haven’t always limited to their own pentangle spread arena, but gatecrashed various events, festivals and even appeared onstage with David Byrne and St. Vincent.

Last August’s Sypherlot show (if the recordings are anything to go by) conjured up occult forces from across the globe and time: The MGM back lot sword and sandal meets krautrock doom rumbled march of ‘Saptaloka’ even referenced both Buddhist and Hindu cosmological realms of existence. Growled distorted and fuzzed up metal wielding guitar riffs and scowls, a carnival of lost souls vision of Brazilian samba drum chaos, slithered metallic tentacles and gestured bestial menace prove the order of the day. Under a ‘Blood Moon’ atavistic rituals and mantras receive a regimental rhythmic rattle and deeper thudding bass accompaniment and a vague scent of Haiti, Africa, Arabia. ‘Gallow’s Disco’ shows some…well, gallows humour of a kind as the dead man walking swings and dances to a strange transmogrification of samba drums and whistles – a bit more of that Brazilian carnival of the dammed vibe. By the time we’ve made it through the creeps, ghouls and Biblical scale heavy metal doom rocking drama, we’re led into a primordial soup of ectoplasm grief, wails and ghostly visitations.

Photo Credit: Michael Rehdish

Originally a three-night run last Halloween, the second half of this double-album, Hallowmass, is every bit as supernaturally menacing and esoteric in scope, with its communions with the old gods. In fact, ‘Dance Of The Anunnaki’ makes reference to deities from the ancient world, from the Babylon and Sumerian to the Assyrian. The atmosphere is mystical Tibet, chariots of the gods Maya, Byzantium and alien. Mind you the opening ‘Mystrabia, Under The Lake’ sounds like Jah Wobble meets Sunn O))). With a signature chorus of taiko drummers and devilish sonics the acolytes beat and clatter away whilst tuning into spook radio.  

Monolithic sized Sabbath riffs and flamed tequila shots permeate an often surprisingly rhythmic black mass bonfire night; the meeting point for a ritual burning of the stresses, agonies of such end times. Hallowmass was an opportunity for attendees to hand over artifacts, mementos and representations to be burned and sacrificed, a ceremony to “honour impermanence” and “the loss felt so heavily” during the Covid pandemic.

The car seat audience certainly felt connected, part of these theatrical rites and magick entertainment: You can hear that with through the ad hoc applause of car horns after each mammoth track. Without the visuals, live spark it could all seem flat, disconnected, but sonically this wild double-album is as atmospheric as it gets; a bombastic esoteric circus of doom, torment but also spooked levity – put it this way, I get the impression Itchy-O don’t take themselves too seriously. Released oddly on what will be our Bonfire night celebrations, the album obviously screams Halloween – admittedly the album will be on sale at the collective’s three-night Hallowmass performance this year. Anyway, it’s a great piece of occult, and cult for that matter, musical performance to both enflame and raise the spirits.  

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.



Caught by the ghoulies (that must have hurt), creeping through the haunted vestiges of a civilization: a rotting corpse of despair, yet filled with mischievous howlers. Contacted through séance; invoked by demonic numbskulls. It can only mean one thing: it’s time for the annual Monolith Cocktail Halloween playlist.

Soft souls and those with a nervous disposition look away now; cover thy ears. For 2021 was a most frightening year of plague, war, pestilence and all together real crisis. The Four Horsemen looked to me to be circling, if not resting on the hard shoulder, preparing for a swift Armageddon, whilst those with the zillions fucked off into space to escape this wretched, cursed world– I’m only jealous.

There’s a whole lotta witch-burning going on this year, with all things bewitching from Troyka, Pointed Sticks, Sam Gopal. The Devil in his many guises appears courtesy of The Halo Benders, Drab City, Peace And Love, Raw Material, El Ritual and Last Exit. And we have macabre jazz from Leon Thomas, a funky fresh Dracula from soul force Don; and black magick invocation from Al Lover.

But don’t despair as the Gloria angels have come prepared with ‘Holy Water’ and th1rt3en and Pharoahe Monch have brought along ‘The Exorcist’.

Check out in a few days time our review of the upcoming Itchy-O double album.

Track List:

The Halo Benders  ‘Devil City Destiny’
Billy Changer  ‘Black Angel’
Walter Daniels, Oblivians & Monsieur Jeffery Evans  ‘Rockin’ In The Graveyard’
Pointed Sticks  ‘The Witch’
Sam Gopal  ‘Season Of The Witch’
Gloria  ‘Holy Water’
True West  ‘Lucifer Sam’
Al Lover  ‘Black Magick Starter Jacket’
th1rt3en & Pharoahe Monch  ‘The Exorcist’
Drab City  ‘Devil Doll’
Don  ‘Soul Dracula’
Peace And Love  ‘Against The Devil’
Univeria Zekt  ‘Something’s Cast A Spell’
Zior  ‘Vampire Night’
El Ritual  ‘Satanas’
Maria Monti  ‘Il Serpente Innamorato’
Last Exit  ‘Devil’s Rain’
The Terminals  ‘Psycho Lives’
Mister Modo  ‘Dark Ambient Theme 4’
Peter Schickele  ‘The Priest Of The Raven Of Dawn’
Sunforest  ‘Magician In The Mountain’
Raw Material  ‘Race With The Devil’
Xqui X Sound Effects Of Death & Horror  ‘Timete’
Between  ‘Katakomben’
Leon Thomas  ‘Shape Your Mind To Die’
Stefano Torossi  ‘Fearing Much’
Dogfeet  ‘Armageddon’

Also may like to tackle these grim playlists:

Halloween Playlist Special

October 28, 2020

Dominic Valvona/Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

Though 2020 has been the “annus horribilis” of annus horribilis years, we can at least come together to burn effigies, light the red candles, draw the pentagram, commune with the spirits (much more of those this year) and, well, strong arm the poor citizens of the world into giving out candy. Fear not (or do) we at the Monolith Cocktail haven’t just compiled one, but two ghoulish playlists this year for your celebrations at the weekend: Dominic Valvona’s devilish mix and Brain ‘Bordello’ Shea’s rock ‘n’ roll, garage raves from the graves selection.


The Flatlinerz ‘Channel 66’
Mr. Hyde ‘Truth Of The Beast’
The Spaceshits ‘Piss On Your Grave’
Iron Claw ‘Skullcrusher’
Rick Van der Linden ‘Witches’ Dance’
The Sorcerers ‘The Horror’
Tucker Zimmerman ‘Talking To The Demon’
Orphan Egg ‘We Have Already Died’
Tonbruket ‘Tarantella’
Bulbous Creation ‘Satan’
Peter Thomas Sound Orchester ‘Der Hexer’
Eddy Detroit ‘Evil Dark Face’
Johann Johannsson ‘Forging The Beast’
Dead Moon ‘Graveyard’
Syd Dale ‘Black Shape’
Snowy Red ‘The Right To Die’
Bat For Lashes ‘Vampires’
Alessandro Alessandroni ‘Dance Of Death’
David Liebe Hart ‘Haunted By Frankenstein’
Les Maledictus Sound ‘Monster Cocktail’
Alex Chilton, Ben Vaughn & Alan Vega ‘The Werewolf’
Night Beats ‘Dial 666’
Sunburned Hand Of The Man ‘Ritual Hex Tape’
Wall Of Voodoo ‘Dark As The Dungeon’
Sandro Brugnolini ‘Villa Polanski’
Foetus ‘Lilith’
Writing On The Wall ‘Lucifer Corpus’
Raw Material ‘Race With The Devil’
Gurumaniax ‘Ghosts Of Odin’
Dennis Farnon ‘Dark Glass (A)’
Byard Lancaster ‘Satan’

By Dominic Valvona


Dave Edmunds ‘The Creature From The Black Lagoon’
Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps ‘Cat Man’
Larry & The Blue Notes ‘Night Of The Sadist’
Daniel Johnston ‘Devil Town’
Teenage Fanclub ‘Vampire’s Claw’
Andrew Gold ‘Spooky, Scary Skeletons’
The Fuzztones ‘Ghost Clinic’
Eddie Noack ‘Psycho’
The Cramps ‘The Creature From The Black Lagoon’
The Shangri-Las ‘Monster Mash’
Magnet ‘Masks/Hobby Horse’
Vincent Price ‘House On Haunted Hill (I)’
The Bordellos ‘Whistling Through The Corpses’
Occult Character ‘Forty Million Skeletons (Can’t Be Wrong)’
Salem Trials ‘Ugly Puppets’
Julian Cope ‘Reynard The Fox’
Elvis Costello & The Attractions ‘The Invisible Man’
Billy Fury ‘Don’t Jump’
Eartha Kitt ‘I Want To Be Evil’

By Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

Dominic Valvona

Cult B-movie European soundtracks, spine-tingling schlock and spooked, chain-rattling horror fuzztones aplenty. Yes, its that time of the year again, the bewitching hour is nigh, and so another one of Dominic Valvona’s special Halloween playlists.

To accompany any freaks ball, ghoulish themed soiree, candelabra lit dinner party, macabre shindig and black mass, the perfect soundtrack of devilish nonsense. Includes the bell tolled meaning doom of Acanthus, the kool aid hell-trippers St. John Green, the rebel county seedy James Gang, horrorcore rap doyens The Gravediggaz, the despairing Gothic romantics Vukovar, bewitched folk troupe Sproatly Smith and many more.

Previous ghastly selections:

Dominic Valvona’s review roundup of new releases

As ever, another fine assortment of eclectic album and EP reviews from me this month, featuring new releases from David Cronenberg’s Wife, Kid Kin, Jack Ellister, Paul Jacobs, Quimper, Spaciousness and Paula Rae Gibson & Kit Downes.


In brief: I take a gander at new EPs from the cinematic post-rock artist, composer and producer Peter Lloyd, who releases his swathes of guitar-electronica under the Kid Kin pseudonym, and the Autumnal songbook of self-deprecating, sardonic love trysts and illusions from London’s bastions of antifolk, David Cronenberg’s Wife.

Album wise there’s the beautifully penned troubadour psychedelic folk and scenery instrumentals of Jack Ellister’s Telegraph Hill – his first LP for the You Are The Cosmos label -; the barreling scuzzy garage and synth psychedelic lo fi magnificence of Paul Jacob’s Easy; the esoteric surrealist magic-realism of Quimper’s Perdide, a new age ambient compilation; Spaciousness, from London’s Lo Recordings that attempts to praise and explore the ambient musical genre, in what is the first in a series of collections from the label; and the first, and challenging, collaboration between the experimental siren Paula Rae Gibson and British jazz pianist Kit Downes, Emotion Machine.

Paul Jacobs ‘Easy’ (Stolen Body Records) 19th October 2018


The very first sloppy collides of a track on this most fuzzy of hurtling and chaotic albums of vapour-wave pop, stonking garage and psychedelic twists and turns, could be, for all I can make out, a reversed bastardization of Bowie’s own ‘Holy Holy’. It certainly has the proto-Glam and strung-out rock’n’roll stomp of that record, but the maverick Paul Jacobs slurs and languidly warps, whatever it is, into a distortion-levels noisy Ty Segall.

Jacobs, who has already released eight albums of similar dizzying Kool Aid induced barrages (mostly on his own), indolently throws-up vague musical references throughout his latest album for the Stolen Body Records label; whether that’s turning on his best Lodger/Scary Monsters intonations and strutting messily but surely to an amalgamation of Liars and Blancmange on the cheque-cashing ‘Expensive’, or, whistling to the Native Indian backbeat of Adam And The Ants on ‘Laundry’, or, channeling PiL, the Killing Joke and Spiritualized on the Gothic spooked to deranged dreamy lullaby escape of ‘Trouble (Last Song)’. But you’re just as likely to hear passing shades of Sam Flax, Ariel Pink and Alan Vega swirling and bobbing about in the cycle wash of clattering sound clashes: It might all sound like a shamble. But it’s a most magnificent, bewildering and dynamic shamble.

Vocally Jacobs is masked under a lo fi mono-like production, which makes it difficult to catch what he’s on about at times. The odd whispered, crooned and melted lyric from these often mundane metaphorically entitled songs offer clues: a pop at the music industry here, soliloquy delivered anxiety, searching for purpose, there.

Layering a garage punk guitar with 1980s drum pad tom rolls, spacey chimes with vapours of post-punk, Paul Jacobs’ barreling, pummeling tunes are far more nuanced and sophisticated than I’ve described: Noisy of course, attuned as it is to a DIY sound, but brimming with riffs, hooks and splashes of radiant synth and psychedelic pop.

Cut from the same cloth as, the already mentioned, Liars, Ty Segall and Ariel Pink, Easy is an amazing record, a breakdown in motion, a racket that takes its core garage rock pretensions into the future.

Jack Ellister ‘Telegraph Hill’ (You Are The Cosmos) 27th November 2018


Penning a most placeable album, keeping it for the most part intimate, Jack Ellister’s latest collection of hazy troubadour balladry is turned down low and sweet, played out mostly on the acoustic guitar.

Normally associated with the Fruits de Mer label, releasing a string of singles and albums for them over the last six years, Ellister’s personable third album has found a new home on the You Are The Cosmos imprint.

An almost solitary affair, the multi-instrumentalist playing almost everything but the drums (played by long time collaborators Tomasz Helberg and Nico Stallmann), Telegraph Hill is an often lilted and twilled songbook of melodious psychedelic folk. The Telegraph Hill of that title refers to Ellister’s home studio in South East London, which can be read as an indication of his homely themes of belonging, of finding solace in the simple things and loved ones. The focus of many of these songs being the love-of-his-life muse, he expresses a joyful contentment throughout; wistfully and dreamily waxing lyrically like a lovesick Romeo.

Originally conceived as an EP bridge between albums, the nine-track Telegraph Hill is quite short in running time, and features a few instrumentals, two of which are more like passing interludes that seem to be added as padding; especially the final great American plains, Andes and Australian Outback merging, softened Native Indian stomp and gliding bird flight descriptive guitar peregrination, ‘Condor’. To be fair, the pastoral empirical ‘Maureen Feeding The Horses’, with its encapsulation of a rural scene (a moment in time) that captures a trapped kaleidoscopic sun shining through glass, illuminating this naturalistic aside, fits perfectly. ‘Icon Chamber’ however, seems an odd throwaway library music experiment from the laboratory in comparison.

Ellister is at his best when tenderly strumming a paean and singing; his fuzzy voice evoking a young Leonard Cohen on the Medieval chamber folksy ‘Roots’ (one of the album’s highlights), both Donovan and Tim Burgess on the trippy warbled flute-y and drum shuffling ‘High Above Our Heads’, and Syd Barrett on the Floydian via an enervated samba saunter ‘Mind Maneuvers’.

From pea-green seas of psychedelic nursery rhymes to 18th century inns, Ellister’s magical stirring atmospheres and folksy odes sound at any one time like visages of Caravan, The Incredible String Band, Fairfield Parlour, Spiritualized, Mike Cooper, Primal Scream and Roy Harper. Unobtrusive and unguarded, Telegraph Hill lays Ellister’s sensitive soul bare on what is, for the most part, a most assiduous halcyon earnest album of brilliantly crafted songs.

Kid Kin ‘Kid Kin EP’ November 2018


Never mind the worms the ‘Early Bird’ of the new EP from the Oxford multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer Peter Lloyd, has in this instance, caught the cyclonic glassy arpeggio rays of a multilayered crescendo instead. The third instrumental track from an EP of wide-lens anthemic post-rock visceral evocations, ‘The Early Bird’ features Lloyd’s signature ‘quiet/loud’ suffused climaxes and build-ups of various synth lines and descriptive, waning guitars.

Conceived as an encapsulation of his ‘connective’ ebb and flow live shows, Kid Kin is best experienced in its entirety, from beginning to end. Each track is separated – though ‘The Early Bird’ is followed by the Four Tet remix-esque radiant kinetic ‘Gets The Worm’, but in title split only – with no particular overlay or link. But squeeze them together into one continuous performance it would work well.

Saving his music from erring too close to Ad lands staple ideal of epic rock (U2, Coldplay), the opening ‘Jarmo’ vista sounds like a lost Mogwai soundtrack. The swelling, mindful but lifting towards the light ‘War Lullaby’ (which also features a strange 8-bit pinball ricocheting moment of electronica chaos) isn’t more than a fjord’s distance from sounding like Sigur Rós: a good thing in this case.

Confidently soundscaping post-rock panoramas, Peter Lloyd’s synthetic swathes and resonating layered guitar mini opuses are missing a documentary film. So descriptive is the drama and narrative. If immersing yourself in an ambient cinematic rock vision of moody and stirring expanses sounds right up your proverbial street; if you’re tired of post-rock’s old guard, then take a punt on the Kid.

Quimper ‘Perdide’ October 10th 2018

Curious oddities from beyond the ether and surface of Stefan Wul’s sci-fi paperback world of Perdide (the planet immortalized in the French author’s cult The Orphans Of Perdide) permeate the latest surreal musical séance from the beguiled Quimper duo.

A timely release for the bewitching hour, summoning up, as it does, vague vapours of Eastern European art house magical-realism, and imbued by both the 1970s library music and British horror soundtracks favoured by the Belbury Poly, The Advisory Circle and Berberian Sound Studios period Broadcast, Quimper once more occupy the esoteric heights.

Lynchian, peculiar, innocence turned into something otherworldly, the John Vertigen and his apparition vocalist foil Jodie Lowther (who also illustrates all their various releases) duo float, waft and shuffle around the most mysterious and kooky settings.

A whispery translucent cooed lullaby about the ‘Lovely Bees’, can eerily take on a most unsettling feeling, as Lowther’s vocals, or rather the most distant traces of them, channel a childish-like Japanese spirit to the accompaniment of a sinister dreamy sounding Roj. Elsewhere on this claustrophobic haunting soundtrack, Quimper imagine Mike Oldfield and John Carpenter communing, on the shivery spirit conjuring ‘Skin Without Size’; transduce an enervated vision of Richard James’ Polygon Windows through a ghost’s dissection, on ‘Vivisection’; dance to a mambo beat whilst a 1920s magic show opens a trapdoor to some snake god on ‘False Serpent Opens Doors’; and enact mellotron-mirage bucolic worship on, ‘Christ In A Field Of Caravans’.

They do all this from behind a gauze-y film of soft, wooing reverberation; only the essence, the air-y remains of what was once concrete, have been captured; broadcast, it sounds, through a Medium. Lynch should rightly love this stuff, especially Lowther’s untethered, so delicate and lingering as to not exist at all, nursery rhyme like siren calls. Perdide is one of the duo’s most interesting, realized albums yet, an illusionary surrealist world of creeping dreamscapes.

Various ‘Spaciousness: Music Without Horizons’ (Lo Recordings) 2nd November 2018


Tainted in part by its reputation for pseudo-hippie idealism and penchant for irritating whale song and the sounds of the rainforest – the soundtrack to countless holistic day spas -, new age music summons up a myriad of less than flattering connotations. Of course, as this first in a series of showcase purviews will prove, there’s actually much more to this often-maligned musical form.

In partnership with former Coil member Michael J York and musician/writer polymath Mark O Pilkington’s Attractor Press platform, Lo Recordings are here to celebrate its resurgence and more aloof, spiritual and philosophical highlights. As part of a wider project that will include writing, still and moving images and live events, the overlapping, multi-connective Spaciousness compilation provides an audio lineage; balancing peregrinations from both new age (but also embracing deep listening and post-classical) music’s progenitors and rising stars.

A leading luminaire, the divine styler of radiant transcendence, Laraaji, has by happy accident given this double-album straddling selection its title. Laraaji, who has himself, enjoyed a renewed interest in the last few years, especially for his ties to Brian Eno, and of course spiritual ambient quests, pops up partnering the Seahawks on the suitably aquatic undulated ‘Space Bubbles’ tribute to new age inspiration, dolphin-whisper, floatation tank and mind expanding drugs evangelist, John C Lilly. Another of the pioneers, Lasos, appears alongside the contemporary artist Carlos Gabriel Niño (one of the new guard, bridging the gap between the new age, the meditative, jazz and free form; signed to David Matthew’s – more of him later – expletory Leaving Records). The pair plays around with light on their majestic searing, glistening panoramic finale, ‘Going Home’. Lasos alongside another great doyen of the genre, Steven Halpern, were among the first artists to subvert and work outside the perimeters of the mainstream music industry; circumnavigating it by dealing direct with their audience through mail order cassettes.

Two of the already mentioned catalysts for Spaciousness, instigators behind Strange Attractor Press, also appear (under the Teleplasmite nom de plume) paying homage to a visionary muse, Ingo Swann. Propounding ‘remote views’, an artist and psychic, the duo construct a suitable Kosmische vaporous evocation on the roaming ‘Song For Ingo Swann’. Posthumous tribute is also paid to the late composer Susumu Yokota, with an ‘inter-generational span’ remix by DK of his dissipated ‘Wave Drops’ exploration; a soundscape of horse snorts, abstract saxophone, steam and Far East moorings.

The second wave of this new age movement is represented by artists such as MJ Lallo, who’s venerated, and equally expansive 2001: A Space Odyssey like, traverse, ‘Birth Of A Star Child’ is featured. Written originally for the Vatican in the 1980s, this version has been borrowed from a recent compilation of her home studio recordings, Take Me With You (1982-1997), this monastery in space choral eulogy was made by processing computerized drums, synth and Lallo’s voice through a Yamaha SPX 90 digital effects unit to produce an otherworldly, ageless sense of ominous awe.

Possibly one of the better-known figures of the last decade or more in his field, the renowned musician/producer and Tangerine Dream affiliate member in recent years, Ulrich Schnauss, partners with Lo Recordings founder Jon Tye on the jazzy desert wandering ‘Orange Cascade’. The duo’s diaphanous lulling visionary textures explore the intersection between live instrumentation (wafts of saxophone, sitar and flute in this case) and synthesized sound.

The most contemporary wave, so to speak, is represented by Matthew David’s (as Mindflight) Jon Hassell resonant stratospheric hymn ‘Ode To Flora’; Cathy Lucas’ ‘mating song of quarks’ primal soup bubbling and vague jazzy translucent ‘Chatterscope’; and Yamaneko’s ‘one big stare out of a bedroom window at 2 am’ sanctified, page-turning, mysterious ‘Lost Winters Hiding’. All these artists add to, or share, the vastness of space with their new ageism and cerebral ambient forbearers; a sign if any were needed that we could all do with a pause and a deeper purposeful meditative break from the divisive-ratcheted noise of our times.

In waves and cycles, the transcendent and deeply thoughtful search for peace and new horizons is gathering a pace. And what better example of its reach, scope and lineage (and future) than this inaugural Spaciousness purview; a collection that will do much to illuminate as push forward the limits of the new age and its various ambient sub genre strands and astral flights of fantasy. A great start to a wider investigation.

Paula Rae Gibson & Kit Downes ‘Emotion Machines’ (Slowfoot Records) 2nd November 2018


Amorphously set adrift into the abstract, untethered in compositional serialism, renowned photographer and experimental siren Paula Rae Gibson and collaborative foil, the acclaimed, award-winning British jazz pianist Kit Downes set out on a most challenging travail on the new album, Emotion Machine.

Already deconstructively – though also at times melodiously flowing – applying both equally stark and diaphanous vocals to a quartet of albums, Gibson’s minimal, but often striking, voice is in its element up against and submerged beneath Downes’ fine layering and often attenuate arrangements. Neither strung-out jazz nor avant-garde cabaret, the duo’s inaugural collaboration together is more conceptual sound design and dissonant drone than musical, with the odd flurry of neo-classical piano, some transduced cello and a splash of brushed-shuffled drumming offering the only traces or recognizable instrumentation throughout.

Re-translating their Delta Blues, Icelandic art-rock and early musical inspirations in a frayed somber and emotionally retching environment of uncertainty, they inhabit a miasma of toil and pained expression. In this gloom of uneasy, sometimes plaintive, surroundings the pauses, resonance and spaces are just as important as the minimalist instrumental accents and stripped-down-to-their-refined-essence-of-understanding fashioned lyrics: Gibson’s mix of concomitant couplets, stanzas and one-liners are left hanging in the expanses whilst Downes quivery, motor-purring snozzled and waned backing fades, dissipates or stops dead.

From the ethereal to the contralto, beautifully gossamer to ominously discordant, Emotion Machines is an efflux between the timeless and contemporary. Conceptually and artistically pushing the musical boundaries, as much a performance piece as cerebral exploration of the voice, Gibson and Downes interchange their disciplines to produce an evocative suite of poignant expressive heartache and drama.

David Cronenberg’s Wife ‘The Octoberman Sequence’ (Blang) 26th October 2018 (Download)/ 2nd November (Ltd. 12” Vinyl)


Weaponizing sardonic wit and despondency with élan, the antifolk cult London band, David Cronenberg’s Wife, offer up a signature serving of slice-of-life anxiety-riven and cross-signaled love derisions on their Autumnal EP.

Featuring a doublet of previously unrecorded resigned romantic numbers but fronted by the ‘live stalwart’ ‘Rules’ – two versions in fact; the single edit, a safe for the dour risk-averse airways, omits the only swearing word in the song: “Fuck around” -, The Octoberman Sequence is a most generous release from the DIY scenesters. ‘Rules’ itself is a galloping anthem that builds momentum and just keeps rolling on, pouring a hearty scorn on life-plans, the anguish life choices of the hand wringing middle classes, and Hollywood’s false platitude perfections as a strutting backing track of ? And The Mysterians/Sir Douglas Quintet organ stabs and proto Stooges (as fronted by Ian McCulloch) plows on. It’s easy to hear why this has become a live favourite. For one thing it dismembers the bullshit, spits out the unthinkable (the rules for s stress-free life, “Don’t marry”, tick, “Don’t have kids”, tick, being the first of the DCW’s seven-rule commandments), but above all, sounds great.

As for those previously unrecorded songs, the slumbered voice-over ridicule with lulled female accompanied ‘You Should See’ sets up our misdirected protagonist on a awkward date: So awkward in fact and indecisive, our lead’s inner monologue and own assured boastful knowledge of literature prompts him to spill the sexual predilections of Marcel Proust, before shuffling off home to “Masturbate over films made in the Czech Republic”. The other song, ‘The Dude Of Love’, is a 1960s good ol’ Freebird Southern boogie with a Kinks style chorus semi-stalker ditty. A rich, seedy, tableau of delusional creeps on the London Underground – one, a Lynyrd Skynyrd reject, the other, our awkward, but still egotistical, friend who seems to have totally misread the signals.

Nestled alongside these are the more serious intoned appendage love muscle punned ‘Love Organ’, and dour counterculture meets lamentable country blues troubadour ‘Song For Nobody’ – a kind of Dylan-as-pinning-cowboy paean turn disgruntled love rat finality that ends on a sour note.

Corralling the ditsy platitudes and unrealistic expectations of love in the age of #MeToo, DCW with wicked relish rattle and roll to their own unique post-punk, post-country and antifolk bombast on what is another clever and candid realized songbook of self-depreciation and protestation.



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