CHOICE MUSIC FROM THE LAST MONTH: TEAM EFFORT

The inaugural Monthly Revue playlist of 2023; a choice selection of tracks from the last month on the blog. Curated by Dominic Valvona with Matt Oliver on the Rap Control once more, and music from reviews by our latest recruit Gillian Stone plus Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea and Graham Domain. Expect to hear the unexpected.

TRACK LIST//

Mentrix ‘Be Mahsa Be Nika’
Meadow Argus ‘No Company’
Anton Barbeau. ‘Dollis Hill Butchers’
Guided By Voices ‘Wild Kingdom’
The Wot Nots ‘Oi!’
Wings Of Desire ‘Runnin”
The Gangsta Rabbi ‘Ana’mika (138the Entr’acte)’
Neon Kittens ‘Chalk’
Smuts ‘Kalashnikova’
Dyr Faser ‘Life Form’
Earth ‘Rocker’
Xqui Ft. Bettina Schroeder ‘I Have A Knife’
Flexagon ‘Fort Saumarez: MP2’
George Winstone & Ben Monder ‘Part I’
Liela Moss ‘Empathy Files’
The Good Samaritans ‘Onughara’
Phil Ranelin & Wendell Harrison. ‘Genesis’
Fliptrix/Onoe Caponoe/Ramson Badbonez ‘SM58’
Masai Bey/BMS ‘I.a.a’
Micall Parknsun/Jazz T ‘Still…’
Dexter Dine ‘Sunshine In A Can’
Elise Preys/Marc-Antoine Perrio ‘Petites Heures’
Bjorn Magnusson ‘Everybody’s Got Something’
Designers ‘Moulindjek’
dal:um ‘Dot’
Clamb ‘Glittering Watermelon Oracle – Live’
Justo The MC/Axian ‘Autopilot’
Skyzoo/The Other Guys ‘Bodies!’
Carlos Nino & Friends ‘Drum Solo +, “Sounds Like Memory…”‘
Ghostwoods ‘Terminus’
Kety Fusco ‘2072’
Raul Refree ‘La Plage’
Esbe ‘Coventry Carol’
Sara Noelle. ‘Blooming Yucca’
Kahil El’Zabar And The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble ‘Harvest Time’
Beats & Pieces Big Band ‘Op’
Galactapus ‘Radio Kolossos’
Oddisee ‘Many Hats’
Upfront MC/Badhabitz ‘Stay Afloat’
Your Old Droog ‘Here’s Johnny’
Onoe Caponoe ‘Pet Cemetry’




















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The second part of the Monolith Cocktail teams favourite albums of 2022.

A recap in case you haven’t yet read part one

Well was I wrong last year when called 2021 the annus horribilis of all years. It has been soundly beaten by the shit-show that is 2022. The invasion of the Ukraine, cost of living crisis, another hideous wave of Covid – which even if the jabs are being rolled out, and the deaths rate, hospitalizations is nothing like the first wave back in 2020, is still causing major illness, absences and disruptions to a society already facing a heap of doomsday scenarios -, strikes, activism, fuel poverty, looming austerity, and the continuing horror show of a zombie government being just some examples. Yes 2022 qualifies as one of the most incomprehensible years on record of any epoch; an ungovernable country in the grip of austerity point 2.0, and greater world untethered and at the mercy of the harridans on either side of the extreme political divide, the billionaire corporates and narcissist puritans.

And yet, it has been another great year for music. Despite the myriad of problems that face artists and bands in the industry, from a lack of general interest to the increasingly punitive costs of touring and playing live, and the ever encroaching problems of streaming against physical sales and exposure, people just can’t quit making music. And for that we, as critics – though most of us have either been musicians or still are – really appreciate what you guys do. In fact, as we have always tried to convey, we celebrate you all. And so, instead of those silly, factious and plain dumb numerical charts that our peers and rivals insist on continuing to print – how can you really suggest one album deserves their place above or below another (why does one entry get the 23rd spot and another the 22nd; unless it is a vote count) –, the Monolith Cocktail has always chosen a much more diplomatic, democratic alphabetical order – something we more or less started in the first place. We also throw every genre, nationality together in a serious of eclectic lists: no demarcation involved.

The lists include those albums we reviewed, featured on the site in some capacity, and those we just didn’t get the time to include. All entries are displayed thus: Artist in alphabetical order, then the album title, label, who chose it, a review link where applicable, and finally a link to the album itself. 

This year’s picks have been chosen by (Dominic Valvona), Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Matt Oliver, Andrew C. Kidd and Graham Domain.

M.

Machine Girl  ‘Neon White OST-The Wicked Heart’  ACK


Billy MacKenzie  ‘Satellite Life’ (Cherry Red Records)  GD

Mai Mai Mai  ‘Rimorso’  (Maple Death Records)  DV
Review

Nduduzo Makhathini  ‘In The Spirit Of Ntu’  (Blue Note)  DV

Marlowe  ‘Marlowe 3’  (Mello Music Group)  MO

Luke Mawdsley  ‘Luke Two’  (Spine Records)  DV
Premiere

Simon McCorry  ‘Scenes From The Sixth Floor’  DV
Review

Brona McVittie  ‘The Woman in the Moon’ (Arts Council of N. Ireland)  GD
Review

Amine Mesnaoui & Labelle  ‘African Prayers’  (Lo Recordings)  DV
Review

Milc & Televangel  ‘Neutral Milc Hotel’  (Filthy Broke Records)  MO

Modern Nature  ‘Island Of Noise’  (Bella Union) DV



Tumi Mogorosi  ‘Group Theory: Black Music’  (Mushroom Hour & New Soil)  DV

Montparnasse Musique  ‘Archeology’  (Real World)  DV
Review

Mount Kimbie  ‘MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning’  ACK

Muramuke  ‘S-T’  (Accidental)  DV

Ali Murray  ‘Wilderness of Life’ (Dead Forest Records)  GD
Reviews

N.

Nicole Faux Naiv  ‘Moon Rally’  (Bronzerat) DV

No Age  ‘People Helping People’  (Drag City)  DV
Review

No Base Trio  ‘II’  (Setoladi Maiale)  DV
Review

Noah  ‘Noire’  (Flau)  DV
Review

Che Noir  ‘Food For Thought’  (TCF Music Group)  MO

O.

Old Fire  ‘Voids’ (Western Vinyl Records)  GD
Review

Open Mike Eagle  ‘A Tape Called Component System With The Auto Reverse’ (Auto Reverse Records)  MO

Orange Crate Art  ‘Contemporary Guitar Music’  (Somewherecold)  DV
Review

P.

The Paxton/Spangler Septet  ‘Ugqozi’  (Eastlawn Records)  DV
Review

Peace De Résistance  ‘Bits And Pieces’ DV

Penza Penza  ‘Neanderthal Rock’  (Funk Night Records)  DV

Le Pietre Dei Giganti  ‘Vetie e Culti’  (Overdub Recordings)  DV
Review

Plastic Candles ‘Dust’  (Paisley Shirt Records)  BBS
Review

Plop & Junnu  ‘S-T’  (Fiasko Records) DV

R.

Revelators ‘Revelators Sound System’ (37d03d records)  GD
Reviews

J Rocc  ‘A Wonderful Letter’  (Stones Throw)  MO

Robert  ‘Orange is the New Black’  (Antelope Records)  MO

Scott Robertson  ‘Footprints In The Butter’  (Subjungle)  BBS
Review

S.

Salem Trials  ‘Love Joan Jett’  (Metal Postcard Records)  BBS
Review

SAULT  ‘AIR’  (Forever Living Originals)  ACK
Review

Say What  ‘S-T’  (We Jazz)  DV
Review

Shabaka  ‘Afrikan Culture’  (Verve/Impulse!) DV

Ignacio Simón ‘Old Friends’ (Bandcamp)  GD
Review

Širom  ‘The Liquefied Throne Of Simplicity’  (Glitterbeat)  DV

Sis  ‘Gnani’ (Native Cat Recordings)  GD
Review

Silverbacks  ‘Archive Material’ (Full Time Hobby)  GD
Review

The Soft Pink Truth  ‘Is It Going to Get Any Deeper Than This?’  ACK

Spygenius  ‘Jobbernowl’  (Big Stir Records)  BBS
Review

Staraya Derevnya  ‘Boulder Blues’  (Ramble Records)  DV
Review

Stepbrothers featuring the Honourable Ted  ‘S/T’ EP (German Shepherd Records)  GD
Review

Shepard Stevenson  ‘Man Down’  (Somewherecold)  DV
Review

Stereolab  ‘Pulse of the Early Brain’ (Duophonic and Warp Records)  GD

Robert Stillman  ‘What Does It Mean To Be American’ (Orindal Records) DV

Carl Stone  ‘We Jazz Reworks Vol. 2’  (We Jazz)  DV
Review

Gillian Stone ‘Spirit Photographs’ DV
Review

STS & RJD2  ‘Escape From Sweet Auburn’  (RJ’s Electrical Connections)  MO

Misha Sultan  ‘Roots’  (Hive Mind)  DV
Review

Sweeney  ‘Stay for the Sorrow’ (Sound in Silence)  GD
Review

T.

Team Play  ‘Wishes And Desire’  (Soliti) DV

Mauricio Takara and Carla Boregas  ‘Grande Massa D’Agua’  (Hive Mind)  DV
Review

Tone Of Voice Orchestra  ‘S-T’  (Stunt Records)  DV
Review

Trupa Trupa  ‘B Flat A’  (Glitterbeat)  DV
Review

V.

Various/Solidary  ‘Blue And Yellow’ & ‘Yellow And Blue: Help For Ukraine’  (Binaural Space)  DV
Review

Various  ‘Live at WOMAD 1982’  (Real World)  DV
Review

Various  ‘Mensajes del Agua: Nuevos Sonidos Desde Peru Vol 1’  (Buh Records) DV

Various  ‘Music For Ukraine’  (We Jazz)  DV
Review

Various  ‘Pierre Barouh And The Saravah Sound: Jazz, Gumbo And Other Hallucinatory Grooves’  (WEWANTSOUNDS)  DV
Review

Various  ‘Spirit Of France’  (Spiritmuse)  DV
Review

Vera Di Lecce  ‘Alter Of Love’ DV

Violet Nox  ‘Eris Wakes’  (Infinity Vine)  DV
Review

Vukovar  ‘The Body Abdicator’  (Other Voices)  DV/BBS
Review

W.

Wish Master & Axel Holy  ‘First Nature’  (Official Recordings)  MO

Ethan Wood  ‘Burnout’  (Whatever’s Clever)  DV
Review

Billy Woods  ‘Aethiopes’ & ‘Church’ (Backwoodz Studioz)  MO

X.

Iannis Xenakis  ‘Electroacoustic Works’  (Karlrecords)  ACK

Z.

THE Zew ‘IFI1IFO’  (Numavi Records)  BBS
Review

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com 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 https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

CHOICE MUSIC FROM THE LAST MONTH
CURATED BY DOMINIC VALVONA

The very last monthly playlist of 2022 is a bumper edition of eclectic choice music from the last month, with a smattering of tracks from upcoming December releases too.

This month’s picks have been collected from Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Shea’ Bordello and Graham Domain. The full track list can be found below the Spotify link.

The monthly will be back in the New Year. Until then absorb this behemoth of a selection, and next month, ponder and peruse the blog’s 140 plus albums of 2022 features.

TRACK LIST IN FULL

Black Market Karma/Tess Parks  ‘The Sky Was All Diseased’
Enter Laughing  ‘Met Me When I landed’
Salem Trials  ‘Man From Atlantis Is Dead’
Humour  ‘Jeans’
Cities Aviv  ‘Funktion’
Vlimmer  ‘Mathematik’
Gabrielle Ornate  ‘Phantasm’
Dead Horses  ‘Can’t Talk, Can’t Sleep’
Lunar Bird  ‘Driven By The Light’
Mui Zyu  ‘Rotten Bun’
Thank You Lord For Satan  ‘When We Dance’
Pozi  ‘Slightly Shaking Cells’
My Friend Peter  ‘When I Was’
U.S. Girls  ‘Bless This Mess’
Sofie Royer  ‘Feeling Bad Forsyth Street’
Surya Botofasina  ‘Beloved California Temple’
Edrix Puzzle  ‘Shadow of Phobe’
Let Spin  ‘Waveform Guru’
Etceteral  ‘Gologlavka’
Juga-Naut  ‘Camel Walk’
The Pyramids  ‘Queens Of The Spirits Part 1’
Illogic  ‘Nowhere Fast’
Planet Asia/Snowgoons/Flash  ‘Metabolism’
Dabbla/alone  ‘Adept’
Karu  ‘Spears Of Leaves’
Neon Kittens  ‘Nil By Vein’
Renelle 893/King Kashmere  ‘My Demons’
Mount Kimbie/Don Maker/Kai Campos Ft. Slowthai  ‘Kissing’
Homeboy Sandman/Deca  ‘Satellite’
Uusi Aika  ‘S-T’
Gillian Stone  ‘The Throne’
Raw Poetic/Damu The Fudgemunk  ‘A Mile In My Head’
Boldy James/Futurewave  ‘Mortemir Milestone’
Arthur King  ‘Dig Precious Things’
Tom Skinner  ‘Voices (Of The Past)’
Trans Zimmer & The DJs  ‘Wind Quintet No. 3 In E Major, Second Movement’
George T  ‘Dub On, King’s Cross’
The Dark Jazz Project  ‘Great Skies’
Noémi Büchi  ‘Measuring All Possibilities’
Russ Spence  ‘Spectrum’
Seez Mics/Aupheus  ‘Cancel The Guillotine’
Dezron Douglas  ‘J Bird’
Fliptrix/Illinformed  ‘Eden’
Apollo Brown/Philmore Greene  ‘This Is Me’
Illogic  ‘She Didn’t Write’
Milc/Televangel Ft. AJ Suede  ‘Ronald Reagan’
Vincent/The Owl/Nick Catchdubs  ‘Fade 2 Black’
Shirt/Jack Splash  ‘Cancel Culture’
Clouds In A Headlock/ASM/Daylight Robbery  ‘3D Maze’
The Strange Neighbour/Leolex/Bobby Slice Ft. DJ Sixkay  ‘Keep Your Head Straight’
Kormac  Ft. Loah & Jafaris  ‘Bottom Of The Ocean’
A. O. Gerber  ‘Walk In The Dark’
Ben Pagano  ‘Hot Capital’
Hög Sjö  ‘Love Is A Gamble’
Kinked  ‘Introduzione Alla Fabula’
Årabrot  ‘Going Up’
Old Fire Ft. Julia Holter  ‘Window Without A World’
Meg Baird  ‘Star Hill Song’
Susanna/Stina Stjern/Delphine Dora  ‘Elevation’
Rita Braga  ‘Nothing Came From Nowhere’
Orchid Mantis  ‘Endless Life’
The Zew  ‘Come On Down’
Ocelot  ‘Santa Ana’
LINN  ‘Okay, Sister’
Sanfeliu  ‘Grassy Patch’
Young Ritual  ‘Ages’
Yermot  ‘Leaning To Lie’


Dominic Valvona’s Albums Revue For November
Unless stated otherwise all releases are now available to buy

Edrix Puzzle ‘Coming Of The Moon Dogs’
(On The Corner Records)

Looping string theory jazz particles to a rocket ship bound for a deep space cosmology of titan referenced stellar sets, the Nathan “Tugg” Curan led Edrix Puzzle ensemble find a musical freedom amongst the stars of an alien concept world on their newest trip, the Coming Of The Moon Dogs.

Reimaging Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi transferred to the made-up body-locking Afro and futurist jazz planet of Battagon, Curan and his astro crew of Martin Slattery (on bass guitar, clarinet and saxophone duties), Tom Mason (double-bass), Oli Savill (percussion) and Darren Berry (violin) zip and zap across a lunar environment overseen by a galactic vision of mythology’s Gia and Uranus and some of their kin: Rhea, Dione, Hyperion and Phobe.

Amongst the analog calculus, signals and bleeps an equally elastic and moon-bound tripping transformation of the Art Ensemble of Chicago vibe takes shape on an imaginative off world. It’s a world in which Afrikan Sciences break bread with King Crimson; where Soweto Kinch reassembles the late Pharaoh’s astral projections. Within that science fiction the troupe balance totally untethered chaos with breakbeats and a certain swing.

David Ornate Cherry’s organic water bowl percussion joins a celestial voodoo march on the old country resonated Art Ensemble fiddled ‘Deep In Dione’, whilst Matthew “Doc” Dunn and Andy Haas slink and waft the vapoured murk of the living, breathing ‘V11’ coded suite.

Tracks like the time changing spin around the Van Allen Belt ‘Unhuman Hyperion’ verge on hip-hop. But it’s the imbued spirit of Herb, his peers and acolytes in the space, progressive jazz field that permeate this alchemist exploration of far out atmospheres. In a constant motion throughout with the energy released in all directions, and on all planes, Coming Of The moon Dogs is an incredible survey of quickened and more floated, waning galactic jazz evocations. A solid piece of art, lit by a remote chemistry and performed with assured but always probing musicianship. Rather an escape to the planet of the breaks than an escape from it, sci-fi jazz meets the experimental, spiritual and progressive in a visceral explosion of ideas, vibes and grooves.        

Surya Botofasina ‘Everyone’s Children’
(Spiritmuse Records)

An acolyte of Alice Coltrane’s devotional embrace of Eastern spiritualism, imbued by that sagacious innovating jazz seer’s afflatus music and teachings, the keyboardist, composer and actor of some repute (from parts in Vinyl and Broadwalk Empire) Surya Botofasina bathes in his mentor’s light on this debut opus.

With the meditative, motored ascending arcs of Om Rama and such threaded throughout, Botofasina and friends set out on an astral and naturally felt work of spiritual jazz, trance, new age and ambient transcendence.

Our guide on this album of worship, remembrance and healing grew up at the Sai Anantam Ashram in the Southern Californian hills, where Coltrane led the daily bhajans, the traditional Hindu songs of praise and paean. His mother, Radha, was a disciple before him of this idyllic retreat’s guardian, a notable harpist but also pianist and vocalist herself and a one-time member of the American string band, The Spirits Of Rhythm. With such an enviable musical lineage and influence it’s no wonder that Botofasina would go on to become the Ashram’s music director and to internationally spread the word of this particular devotional form.

Encompassing all that reverence on his first fully realized album, Botofasina, aided by a cross-generational cast of guests, seeks to calmly honour but also demonstrate that faith. As a album to these enraged, divisive times, Everyone’s Children – with everything that album title’s metaphors, allusions, analogy entail – perseveres in the face of turbulence; softening and weakening the choppy waters in a blessed light of disarming but deeply felt warm suffused elevation.

With a both sentimental and yearning new age language of utterances from the Los Angles jazz singer stalwart Dwight Trible and fellow Californian indie folk vocalist Mia Doi Todd welling up and adding a certain wailed gravity, these divine acts of veneration ascend at a peaceable pace. The opening beachside temple suite running to over twenty-seven minutes as it shimmers and glistens with dappled electric piano, a serene air of the holy and washes of ambient synth.

Although often soothing with lightened touches of astral plane jazz and soul music, Botofasina’s piano occasionally stirs up outpourings of louder and harder pressed expressive emotions and serenades – as on the semi-classical and 60s jazz riptide evoked ‘I Love Dew, Sophie’

Accentuating these spells of keyboard cascades, lit-up bulb like notes and rays the Canadian jazz drummer Efa Etoroma Jnr. adds splashes and tumbles, and the New York saxophonist Pablo Calogero wafts in with a suitable longing embrace. And overseeing it all is the Californian polymath (from noted producer to radio host, poet, percussionist and performer) Carlos Niño, who resembles a counter-culture 70s Carl Wilson chic. Together on this swami dedicated odyssey they border the heavenly as successful inheritors of Alice Coltrane’s devotional magic. As a debut album it’s a grand statement of spiritualism, nature and peacefully ascendant jazz; an escape from the material world.

Etceteral ‘Rhizome’
(tak:til/Glitterbeat Records) 11th November 2022

In what is a different, unique fashion, the Slovenian trio’s musical pairing of Boštjan Simon and Marek Fakuč (in part) react to their bandmate Lina Rica’s visual stimulus to create a cosmic electronic-jazz album of interlaced networks, connectivity and environmental crisis alarm. 

Joining their fellow Slovenian compatriots, the dream-realism Širom, at Glitterbeat’s explorative, fourth world imbued instrumental sister imprint tak:til, the kosmische and organically freeform Etceteral base their new, mostly improvised album on the concept of its title, Rhizome: A continually growing horizontal underground stem, which puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals; a non-linear network that connects any point to any other point.  

With that theme, process in mind the trio reflect back a constant motion of soundscaping, rhythm and probing; balancing, at times, contemporary jazz with computer calculus, data, signals and metallic polygon shaped electronica. Yet, whilst Simon’s saxophone often drifts off into space, and his electronic effects, undulations more than hint at gravity-free zones in the cosmos, tracks such as the rolling, bounced and techno purred ‘Rome Burns’ allude to climate change and the extreme wildfires that engulfed much of Europe this year. It’s a great piece of flexible jazz that fuses Donny McCaslin and Go Go Penguin with Basic Channel to reflect an environmental angst of doom – fiddling with your suv sat nav whilst Rome burns to a cinder.

The rest of this interconnected, visual reactive album of performances and electronic augmented pulses and fusions goes through varying degrees of warping and reverberating transference. A jazz foundation is guided through a mirrored and computerised apparatus, which evokes shades of Squarepusher, Anteloper, Alfa Mist, Pyrolator and (rather handle as they share this column this month) Edrix Puzzle. Familiar echoes of rasped, cyclonic and honked sax, drum breaks and splashes receive an outer space production. Fakuč’s drums actually go into slow motion on the chrome soundscape ‘Dunno’. Etceteral turn it on and out on their improvised odyssey and contortion of activism.  And yet the rhythms often driven, progressive and on occasion buoyant or bobbing, make this a most unique sort of an electronic dance album, despite its avant-garde, free and cosmic jazz foundations. 

Karu ‘An Imaginary Journey’
(Beat Machine Music) 18th November 2022

Lost in the Karu alias of mystical, atavistic mining and reimagined absorptions and traverses, the Italian double-bassist and producer Alberto Brutti’s collaborative project transforms, transmogrifies a fertile polygenesis palette of rituals and dances and ethnography to produce a contemporary affected album of Afro-Futurism, jazz and primitivism.

Wrapped up into a musical journey across both familiar and more ambiguous, vague cultural landscapes, Brutti creates suggestive atmospheres and ceremonies; many of which are conjured from title references to old worlds, religious and mythological etymology. In that wide field of influences, inspirations there’s the Abrabic “kalam”, which can roughly be used to mean “speech”, “word” or “utterances” pertaining to the Islamic faith, but was also the catchall term to define that religion’s tenants of faith in the face of the philosophical doubters; the antiquity Hattian empire festival “purulli”, held at the Bronze Age settlement of Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna (which may well be the source of the Biblical “hosanna”); the West Slavic (otherwise known as Lechites) tribal name for the chthonian god “Nyia”; and the ancient Greek word for “breath”, or in the religious context, “spirit” or “soul”, “pneuma”. 

The first of that quartet lends itself to the album’s opening peregrination of African drums, Blacks’ Myth and cut-up Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell jazz renderings, reversals, abrasive industrial resonated sounds, Širom type otherworldly primitivism and stick choppy rhythms. Following in its wake there’s signs of Andy Haas, the esoteric, elephant trunk raising horns and the no wave sound of Mars and Milk TV. The latter title of that same quartet of wordy mentions signals a move further East, with again, vague notions of the Indian, Baul but also a soundtrack of downtempo breaks (ala Alfa Mist and J Dilla) and the hallucinogenic trance of Fursaxa (if remixed by Clap! Clap!).

‘Spear Of Leaves’ however, rearranges the bedeviled Faustus pact blues and dialogue of Robert Johnson on a palanquin caravan lumber across vapours of snorkeled saxophone.  The final dream sequence on this imaginary travelogue drifts into a hollowed-out cane spun and fluted rainforest wash; ending on a more laidback piece of South American flavoured geography and waning jazz.

Between the haunted illusionary and mysterious, a removed time-travelling worldly plane emerges. Herbs, Roberto Musci, Amorphous Androgynous and Drexciya converge somewhere in the middle of the underworld and elevated.   

The Dark Jazz Project ‘S-T’
(Irregular Frequencies) 14th November 2022

Making good on this summer’s three-track introductory EP, Andrew Spackman now unleashes a whole album of his latest regeneration creation, The Dark Jazz Project, on an unsuspecting audience.

The singular maverick electronic and art-house boffin recently hung-up his SAD MAN alias (after a splurge of numerous releases over the last five years) to crunch the codes of jazzcore.

‘100% political, 100% jazz, 100% dark’ we’re told, this latest platform for Andrew’s often sporadic leaps in electronic music and crushing techno filament cut-ups is about as removed from that jazz tag as you can get. The fact he’s also borrowed Sun Ra’s ‘Space Is The Place’ mantra too only feeds into the confusion. Any semblance to jazz is lost under a heavy tubular and granular transmogrification of the ominous, mysterious and, well, dark.

For this is the alien, sci-fi broken and fed through the Aphex Twin, Basic Channel, Radium, Rob Hood, Jeff Mills and Niereich & Shadym machine. Although the album’s opening hardline, dialed-in and pummeled beat gabbling Sun Ra lend sounds like Holly Herndon being thrown into the Hadron Collider, and Madlib seems to get trampled over, detuned and dissimulated on the bladed, driven and compressed frequency lunar ‘No Input’.

Andrews full gamut of skills, sonic palette comes to bear, as touches of primal, and even paradise moulding scores are set against more dissonant and chrome coated beats. Pins rain down on pulsating graphite spiky landscapes and imaginative darkly lit techno blocks of scrunched giant, weighted noise. A mirage or a topographic ocean; Olympus Mons or scorched earth, it all sounds a million miles away from even the most edgy and freeform ideals of jazz: not a saxophone in sight.

The Dark Jazz Project is yet another challenging move from one of the UK’s most inventive, inspired and, crucially, interesting leftfield electronic and techno composers of the last decade.    

Yemrot ‘The Sunken Garden’
(PRAH Recordings)

Who wouldn’t when faced with the despair of the modern world and in processing the deep loss of a parent want to take a giant leap into escapism and the fantastical? Looking into one such yearning chasm the Margate-based musician Jimi Tormey, acting under the alias of both Yemrot and the character Dill Dandin, finds solace in a neverworld of the dreamy and plaintive: a creeping sadness to be exact.

Unfortunately, in part, triggered by the death of his father (the gorgeous, welling-up and heavenly ached ‘Big Tree’ being the most obvious eulogy to that passing) The Sunken Garden is a both heartfelt and also psychedelic process of grief and some drama.

That process is, at times, a family affair with his mother Lisa providing the majority of emotive violin/viola, and his brother Eric offering harmonies alongside their sister Tuli, but also mixing and mastering the whole mini album. The results are achingly beautiful, yet there’s a constant deep feeling and vapour of unease, despondency and shadowy despair that swells up or looms over the magical illusions.

Canterbury scene troubadours and Syd Barrett influences wind and delicately emerge from the heavier atmospheres of Alex Harvey, Daevid Allen, Soundgarden and Radiohead. The album’s centerpiece, ‘The Ballad Of Dill Dandin’, is an eleven-minute stretching instrumental of changing, moving parts and passages. From the Floydian to chimes of Mark Hollis an almost theatrical drama and shimmer of something magical and creates a starry aura. Dill floats and tumbles across a trio of “Learning To” affixed songs that balance the soft with the harsh, the cosmic with the mournful.  

Classical forms, the psychedelic, progressive and alternative all merge to form an interesting twisting journey of loss and acceptance; a working through of beautifully heart wrenching and articulated poetic expression. In the end I don’t think that sinkhole world is an escape route, but just a more imaginative coping strategy at dealing and conveying such miserable times. The masterful, gentle ‘Big Tree’ alone will move even the most numbed to tears, and deserves a place in any list of the best songs in 2022.

The Magic City Trio ‘Amerikana Arkana’
(Kailva) Late November 2022

Finally out the other side of the pandemic The Magic City Trio emerges with the second half of their originally conceived double album package of Americana, Country and Western scored songs from 2018. If part one was consumed with death, bad luck and mental health, part two is concentrated on the themes of serenaded, romantic affairs, with disarming little tales, alms, hymns and barn dances dedicated to both unrequited and strained relationships and knockabout love.

As with the previous album, a familiar soundtrack and language, lyricism is used to convey the contemporary: something of the moment. The bell tolls and tremolo rattle snake sets of Ennio Morricone and untold Western themes rub up against Nashville, the Carter Family, Lee Hazelwood, Mariachi brass, Willie Nelson and the psalms songs of America’s Methodist Church, yet this is an unmistakably modern record. Timeless feelings, subjects nonetheless, but with a slight updated twist. 

An extended guest list joins the band’s principles, the June BridesFrank Sweeney and Annie And The AeroplanesAnnie Holder. Most notably the Nashville virtuoso John Heinrich, who lends that irresistible steel pedal quiver and upward bend to the Sweetheart Of The Rodeo if covered by Teenage Fanclub, with Orbison and The Carters in tow, ‘Our Life In Chains’, and the Red Rhodes-esque accompanied Gram and Bonnie Raitt in heartache duet ‘She Left Without A Warning’. “Record breaking” (for what I’m not sure) banjo player Johnny Button meanwhile adds his Appalachian hoedown spring to ‘The Final Day On Earth’ tale of woe and alarm. Also on that same lamentable group effort, Primal Scream’s Andrew Innes offers up bird sounds, flutes and mellotron. He’s back, playing both electric and acoustic guitars, on the Muscle Shoals Stones like, touching ‘You’re My Best Friend’ – which actually could be a Primal Scream attempt to once more ape the Stones’ spiritual washed-up tides.

Frank, when not carrying a tone and timbre that evokes both Richard Hawley and Mick Harvey, and Annie, vocally a mix of Kirsty MacColl and a rustic Marianne Faithfull, share an array of twanged, bowed and stirring and washboard scratched instruments with Jeff Mead, Matt Lloyd, Larry Saltzman, Dave Howell and others: a full panoply of the country sound.

Amongst the self-penned declarations, hungdog lovelorn regrets and outlaws-on-the-run sense of rebellious romance, the band cover the theme from the archetypal thrown-together-in-desperate-circumstances Western ‘3:10 To Yuma’ (great movie, both the original and remake) and the Wesleyan Methodist church hymn, ‘And Am I Born To Die’. The first of which, originally penned by Frankie Laine, keeps a sense of the matinee drama and atmosphere but now sounds a bit like later Crime And The City Solution bounded together with Scott Walker (At The Movies) on a heavenly aria touched dusty trail. The latter, is every bit as reverent and elegiac, conjuring up the “trembling spirit” and quivering to the sounds of timpani and the bells of judgment. It did remind me however of Rick Danko; more lovely than stoic serious damnation.

Amerikana Arkina once more sets the mood, a complimentary partner to their more moody, plaintive 2018 songbook. Souls are bared; heartache delivered with a cinematic panache, and the Americana cannon once more successfully invoked. 

Leverton Fox ‘In The Flicker’
(Not Applicable)

The gentle breeze rustling through the leaves and the sound of bracken and broken sticks underfoot in a less circumspect Sussex woodland has seldom sounded more alien, inter-dimensional and mysterious. Yet the Leverton Fox trio of Alex Bonney, Tim Giles and Isambard Khroustaliov has transmogrified the environment/atmosphere of their site-specific improvisation to beam out towards altogether more imaginative realms.

Intensified, if that’s the word, the trio of noted musicians/composers/artists in their own right attempt to sonically sculpt a 3D world with the added use of Dolby Atmos, a ‘surround’ format. Immersive being the key word, they draw the listener into lost worlds, primal soups and a more eerie lunar looming, time-travelling spheres.

Širom set-up in the undergrowth with Miles Davis at his most transient and wafting, Autechre, Tangerine Dream and Jon Hassell as ghostly traces of hidden sources merge with various aerial squiggles, zip-lines, machine purrs, occult sounds beamed from the Fortean Times transmitter, whipped up winds, clapped beats, crackles, raps, propeller and exotic sounding wildlife. A fully improvised soundscape that crosses mystical terra firma and unearthly corridors, In The Flicker takes in the most far-out, minimalist touches of jazz, electronica, dub, the dark arts, industrial, kosmische and Foley to create a certain mystique. The Leverton Fox(es) skilfully, intuitively explore and push a concept, conjuring up portals to more abstract planes; the familiar woodland site a mere jumping point for misty and bubbling invocations of an entirely different nature. 

Dead Horses ‘Sunny Days’
(Maple Death Records) 14th November 2022

Jangling to a soft-stomping flange-induced country, rock ‘n’ roll bluesy acid dirge the Dead Horses esoteric sense of despair rings loud with slackened melodrama and scuzzy, dirty wiles. Whether it’s uprooting Spaghetti Western sets or up amongst the Andean condor nests looking down on the Nazca Lines, or, wading through swamps and thumbing a bum ride to a less idealized Laurel Canyon, the shared male/female vocal Italian group add a chthonian mystique and a touch of the Gothic to their brand of wrangled malcontent and doomed romantic aloofness. 

A fair share of the new album, Sunny Days (released on the always intriguing and quality-delivered Maple Death Records label), rattles, spooks and melodically inhabits a reverberated atmosphere of Appalachian mountain songs and both languid and more heightened hysterics. A rewired Grace Slick, early Bad Seeds, Gun Club, Wall Of Voodoo and ‘Up The Hill Backwards’ Bowie flail about The Blood Meridian on the album’s opening song, ‘Can’t Talk, Can’t Sleep’, and Bosco DelRey mixes it up with the Velvets, Rey Crayola on ‘Hobo Talks’. The more mournful ‘The Cross’ has both an hallucinatory and The Kills vibe about it.

One of the standout songs however, takes a different direction. ‘Macabro’ still has that acid-folk country kick but also summons up a Latin drama, with a stirring vocal performance and Italo-Iberian stamp of bolero. Apparently this is the band’s first ever song in their native Italian tongue, and it’s all the better for it: more mysterious and hot-bloodily intense. No wonder it has become a sort of live anthem for the band.

It’s a long stretch from the Po Valley of antiquity to the Death Valley of inspired, mirage shimmered Western blues, but the Dead Horses as our guides navigate it with a flourish and macabre curiosity. If Crime And The City Solution buddying up with Aguaturbia and The Vaselines sounds like a desirable description then the rather ironically entitled Sunny Days stunt ‘n’ stomper is for you.

Biensüre ‘S-T’
(WEWANTSOUNDS)

Bringing together a mixed Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diaspora of musicians with a collective sense of belonging and yearn for their homelands, Biensüre transduces various cultural threads into a sophisticated and cool production of electro-pop, disco and sorrow.

Crossing paths in the cosmopolitan port city of Marseille, a refuge for centuries of émigrés and exiles, the group’s ranks include Kurdish, Turkish, Italian and Armenian lineages: The latter as a consequence of the early 20th century genocide. Within that gathering of cultural affiliations, and using the repurposed French expression for “of course”, Biensüre rally around the experiences of their poetically and longing yearned vocalist and saz player Haken Toprak. By the sounds of it that includes not just pining aches for his Kurdish-Turkish roots but declarations of unattainable love and serenaded exotic fantasies.

Already well into a contemporary revival of Anatolian and Middle Eastern synthesized pop, electro and disco (see groups such as Altin Gün and the Şatellites) Biensüre evoke such original trailblazers and icons as Erin Koray, Baris Manco, Moğollar and Kamuran Akkur. They augment those influences with subtle hints of Moroder, Vangelis, a throb of EDM and an unlikely bit of Nu Shooz on the drum-pad sizzled new waver Çawa’.  

Electrified misty veils hug the dancefloor, seductive movers are made, and swooned wanton vocals ache for what’s been lost on a unhurried smooth production that is simultaneously Turkish, Kurdish, Greek and Arabian in nature.  

As funky as it is clean and lush, the Biensüre LP soaks up the great Marseille exile community and comes up with the goods. Breathlessly groovy yet casting back to the language (‘Zivistan’ the Northern-Kurdish word for “winter”) and memories of their ancestral homes, a nice balance is struck emotionally and musically between the modern and tradition. In all, a great pop record of Med flavours, with a soul and purpose.

Trans Zimmer & The DJs ‘S-T’
(Artetetra)

Launched into the most bonkers MIDI sound collage of platform hopping video game music, Esperanto era Sakamoto experimentation, slacker American dialogue, kooky fantasy and cartoon classical movements, the collective Trans Zimmer & The DJs (surely a play on the notable German film composer Hans) reimagine a Ritalin-starved Wendy Carlos running amok on Candy Crush.

Within the walls of a Taito/Capcom 80s arcade a loony tunes of polyphonic pre-set symphonies and chaotic snatches of gameplay chat trample over the course of a most silly bubblegum opera. It’s Baroque on speed; the Flaming Lips colouring in classical music scores; a grand misadventure of super hyped-up fanfares and cute vocoder J-Pop, hip-hop, electronica and lemon meringue pie snacks. Even aboard the S.S. Romulus the waters are choppy, tossing us around in a strange voyage of cult library music and late 90s American psych. I haven’t a clue what’s going on: not that it matters. The whole manic, yet always melodious and fun, experience seemingly a run through of the kitsch, crazy, miss-matched playful minds of those who created it. Skidding and scrabbling on a quest inside a 32-bit fantasy, Zimmer and friends level up across a most confusing, colourful whistle and skipped aural sinfonietta.   

FOR THE FUNS

Casta ‘The Temple Of Doom’
(Bandcamp)

I suppose it was inevitable that at some point someone from the extensive late metal face villain and underground hip-hop genius MF Doom fandom would play on the Indiana Jones franchise – Indy literally escaping death in an airplane crush only to fall into the clutches of the Thuggee cult. I even named my playlist homage to the former Kausing Much Damage founder and prolific name riffing soloist, collaborator after the second Jones cinematic adventure myself. And I’m not alone on that score.

Released a year to the day of Daniel Dumile nee DOOM, Viktor Vaughn, Zev Love X’s death, the enterprising Portland producer Casta has merged the score from the Temple Of Doom with both samples and interview snippets from the MF Doom cannon: though it could have done with more Short Round quips in the mix.

In the spirit of such hip-hop mashups, with even Doom himself not adverse to sampling some cult, obscure and leftfield scores, Casta has some fun in paying tribute to a much-missed artist. From the Monsta Island Czars all-stars team-up to his work with a new breed of rap stars, such as Bishop Nehru, he leaves behind one of the greatest legacies in Hip-Hop: though his influence, creativeness, wordplay, pop culture, visuals and artwork reaches far beyond rap music, as this project proves.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com 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 https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

PLAYLIST SPECIAL
TEAM EFOORT/COMPILED BY DOMINIC VALVONA

Each month the Monolith Cocktail pool of collaborators search long and hard for the choicest of choice tracks; mixing genres and geography into an encapsulation of the last month on the blog.

That team includes me (Dominic Valvona), Matt ‘rap control’ Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Graham Domain.

You may have noticed since the summer that we’ve started compiling a Youtube playlist version, which includes extra bonuses from the No Base Trio and a seasonal treat from Escupemetralla plus some alternative tunes from the same artists on the Spotify list.

So without further ado, here is the October Revue:

And the Youtube version:

Full Track List:-

Montparnasse Musique Ft. Muambuyi and Mopero Mupemba ‘Panter’
Muramuke ‘Just One More’
Balaklava Blues ‘BEAT UP’
Marlowe/L’Orange/Solemn Brigham Ft. Deniro Farrar ‘Godfist’
Rockness Monsta/Method Man/Ron Browz ‘Beastie Boyz’
BeTheGun ‘Metropolis’
Lee Tracy/Isaac Manning  ‘Love Is Everything’
Lee Scott Ft. Sly Moon ‘THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT, THE LESS I CARE’
Voice Actor ‘Battling Dust’
Juga-Naut ‘To The Table’
Ernesto Djédjé ‘Nini’
Liraz ‘Mimiram’
Mehmet Aslan/Niño de Elche ‘Tangerine’
Underground Canopy ‘Space Gems’
Valentina Magaletti ‘Low Delights’
Carl Stone ‘Sasagin’
Tau & The Drones Of Praise ‘Bandia’
Keep Shelly In London Ft. Sugar For The Pill ‘Don’t Want Your Romance’
Librarians With Hickeys ‘I Better Get Home’
Una Rose ‘Partly’
Carla dal Formo ‘Side By Side’
Derrero ‘Long Are The Days’
Super Hit ‘Donde’
Rahill ‘Haenim’
David Westlake ‘English Parish Churches’
Cormac o Caoimh ‘Didn’t We’
VRï ‘Aberhonddu’
Tuomo & Markus ‘Highest Mountain’
Pitou ‘Dancer’ Dana Gavanski ‘Strangers’
The Zew ‘Come On Down’
Brona McVittie ‘Living Without You’
Brian Eno ‘These Small Noises’
Edouard Ferlet ‘REFLEX’
Rich Aucoin ‘Esc’
Puppies In The Sun ‘Light Became Light’
Short Fuze Ft. Dr. Khil ‘Love Letters To The Lost’
Loyle Camer ‘Speed Of Flight’
Ill Move Sporadic/Tenchoo ‘Amulet Chamber’
Atmosphere ‘Sculpting With Fire’
Ghoster ‘CRAME 4’
Clark ‘Frau Wav (Brief Fling)’
Verbz/Mr Slipz ‘Music Banging Like’
Jester Jacobs/Jack Danz ‘Opportune’
Darko The Super/Yuri Beats ‘Don’t Stay’
Open Mike Eagle ‘I’ll Fight You’ A.G. ‘The Sphinx’
El Gant Ft. DJ Premier ‘Leave It Alone’
Heavy Links/Luca Brazi ‘Complicated Theory’
Fliptrix, King Kashmere/Pitch 92 ‘Primordial Soup’
Shirt/Jack Splash ‘Death To Wall Art’
Smellington Piff/Ill Informed ‘Hard Times’



Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com 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 https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

ALBUM REVIEW
Edoardo Maggiolo

In a synergy between our two great houses, each month the Monolith Cocktail shares a post (and vice versa) from our Italian pen pals at Kalporz. This month we relay Edoardo Maggiolo erudite piece on the latest project from the pioneering composer Éliane Radigue.

ÉLIANE RADIGUE ‘Occam XXV’
(Organ Reframed, 2022)

If you have ever stopped to look closely at any textile work, you will surely have noticed how, when seen up close, the filaments of the fabric draw textures and arabesques of subtle finesse. The same can be said of music: if we play a note and let it spread in the air, we realise how in reality this is a precious container of harmonics, true filaments of sound.

Few have explored this fundamental acoustic impression like Éliane Radigue, a French composer who has plunged into the study of sound over the course of several decades: first as a student at the Studio D’Essai in Paris, the former place of choice of the French Resistance and then immediately after the war it became both the national radio centre and the electroacoustic and concrete music laboratory of the pioneers Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry; then as a precursor to the study of tape feedback, and finally he was one of the leading voices of experimental electronics of the 70s thanks to her compositions for her modular ARP 2500 synthesiser, which she tenderly baptised with the name of Jules.

Today Éliane is a fresh ninety year old who lives in an apartment in Montparnasse and who for at least ten years has discovered the way to her fourth musical life, which began with the cycle of works dedicated only to acoustic instruments called Occam Ocean. Radigue writes with a particular instrument and a particular performer in mind; she invites the latter into her apartment, the two sniff each other a little and, if they like each other, she starts the job tête-à-tête. 

Occam XXV is a composition for organ and features the French organist Frédéric Blondy as performer. Here the instrument is completely stripped of any past sacred majesty, becoming the protagonist of what appears to be an icy stasis, but which in reality, despite its bare structure, is a slow but constant emergence from dark and humid mists until it becomes ineffable flight. . If listened to with a receptive ear and not just lazily reclining, on the one hand you notice how within the timbral staff that makes up the piece there are hidden minimal rhythmic impulses, fluttering harmonics and precious subharmonics that make up the wave movement of the individual notes and that they are the real underwater vegetation of this superficially placid sound lake; on the other hand, how a melodic progression of meticulous musical indolence is slowly drawn which, with wise calm, reaches passages of concretely pure beauty. Only in this way is it possible, albeit with difficulty, to describe how in these forty-five minutes one passes almost imperceptibly from the timbral-oceanic depths of the first part to the sonic ascensions of the finale; and in this journey into the unfathomable, the organ is transfigured, looking as much a bubbling synthesiser as a string section with very acute timbres. An ascent of vibrations markedly faded with the sound that, once it reaches the top, transcends itself becoming silence.

Like a thoughtful walk, in which only when we regain the sense of reality do we realise where we have arrived, Occam XXV is the sound of small steps on an acoustic path of mysterious fullness, which challenges even the totally inexpressive form in which is presented. One of the greatest works of a composer who has lived for a lifetime in the only fundamental element of music: pure sound.

PLAYLIST
TEAM EFFORT/CURATED BY DOMINIC VALVONA

After avoiding Covid for nearly two and a half years (with periods of shielding) I’ve finally succumbed to the dreaded virus this week. And it’s hit me hard. But because I’m such a martyr to the cause of music sharing I’ve managed to compile this eclectic bonanza of choice music from the last month.

The Monolith Cocktail Monthly features tracks from the team’s reviews and mentions, but also includes those tunes we’ve just not had the room to feature. That team includes me (Dominic Valvona), Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Graham Domain.

We’ve supplemented the original audio playlist with a video version on our Youtube channel. This will feature a slightly different lineup (the electronic music collective Violet Nox’s ‘Senzor’ primer for one).

 The full track list is as follows:

Dead Horses ‘Macabro’
Grave Goods ‘Source’
No Age ‘Compact Flashes’
Etceteral ‘Rome Burns’
Al-Qasar Ft. Jello Biafra ‘Ya Malak’
Clear Path Ensemble ‘Plazma Plaza’
Antonis Antoniou ‘Syntagi’
Ocelot ‘Vanha Hollywood’
The Beach Boys ‘You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone – Live At Carnegie Hall’
Rezo ‘Soemtimes’
Blue Violet ‘Favorite Jeans’
Teo Russo ‘Novembre’
Keiron Phelan & The Peace Signs ‘Guessing Game’
Micah P. Hinson ‘Ignore The Days’
Sonnyjim/The Purist Ft. MF DOOM & Jay Electronica ‘Barz Simpson’
Salem Trials ‘Just Give Up’
The Bordellos ‘Nurse The Screens!’
Legless Trials ‘Ray’s Kid Brother Is The Bomb’
S. Kalibre ‘Hip Hop World’
King Kashmere/Leatherette ‘G-Cell’
Depf/Linefizzy ‘Rain’
Isomonstrosity/645AR/John Lenox Ft. Danny Brown ‘Careful What You Wish For’
Tess Tyler ‘Try Harder’
Qrauer Ft. Anne Muller ‘Rund’
Sampa The Great Ft. W.I.T.C.H. ‘Can I Live?’
Rob Cave/Small Professor ‘Eastern Migration’
Salem Trials ‘Jc Cells’
Wish Master/Axel Holy Ft. Wundrop ‘FLIGHT MODE’
Alexander Stordiau ‘Nothing’s Ever Acquired’
Simon McCorry/Andrew Heath ‘Mist’
Andrei Rikichi ‘At Home I Hammer Ceramic Golfing Dogs’
OdNu ‘My Own Island’
Floorbrothers ‘In Touch’
Conformist X H O R S E S ‘Heddiw’
Slim Wrist ‘Milk Teeth’
Forest Robots ‘Everything Changes Color With The Rainfall’
Noah ‘Odette’
Yara Asmar ‘there is a science to days like these (but I am a slow learner)’
Tess Tyler/Spindle Ensemble ‘Origami Dogs (Graphic Score Interpretation)’
Christina Vantzou/Michael Harrsion/John Also Bennett ‘Piano On Tape’
Yemrot ‘Big Tree’







BRIAN ‘BORDELLO’ SHEA’S REVIEWS ROUNDUP

SINGLES/TRACKS

Alexander Stordiau ‘Nothings Ever Required’
(Timeless Music Records)

‘Nothings Ever Required’ is a gem of a aural discovery; a moody piece of John Carpenter-esque solitude over five minutes of pure instrumental poetry. The kind of mood piece to soundtrack the passing daylight by watching passing strangers walk past the old coffee house window trying to read the faces, read their thoughts, lost in your memories, and hopes slowly making the coffee last, cusping it in your warms to keep in the warmth, with Alexander Stordiau gently caressing the shifting time of loneliness.

It’s Karma It’s Cool ‘A Gentle Reminder’

‘Gentle Reminder’ is a in fact a gentle reminder that pop music is a wonderful thing, as this tuneful little ditty shows three and a half minuets of perfectly formed guitar pop rock, with a Peter Holsapple guesting on keyboards – that is in fact one of the highlights of the track  – giving this perfectly formed pop rock of a song a slight new wave sense of danger.

Anxiolytics ‘S​{​R​}​[​C​]​O​[​{​T​}​[​R​]​CHED EARTH’

Anxiolytics are an experimental synth duo from North Wales and have an evil but lovingly portrayed glint in their eye I bet, this single being a strange and haunting affair that takes me back to the post punk early 80s of the Passage and Soft Cell and offers something both original and different; a song that has a cold warmness that will smother and intoxicate you with a germ ridden freshness that has not been inhaled since the passing of the great David R Edwards and the wonder that was Datblygu. Once again I am left awaiting the debut album.

Floorbrothers ‘Drive’
(Ikarus Records)

Ahh Mr Floorbrothers,Fade Into You’ by Mazzy Star is one of my favourite tracks as well. So slowing it down and making it into a drug induced waltz, adding new lyrics and making it sound like Mott The Hoople needing a good night’s sleep is a pretty nifty idea and one I stand and applaud. A good single then.

Bigflower ‘Tried To Care’

The first new track from the mighty bigflower in a few months I think, and yes, they have once again supplied a dark piece of dense guitar magic; a track to help soundtrack these dark, dark frightening days and months that lie ahead in the UK; the kind of track we need to be blasted from car radios as we head to work knowing after a week of hard slog we will still not be able to afford to pay our bills and put food on the table. Although this is not an out and out political lambasting of our uncaring and failing government it is a song to capture the intensity and hopelessness of these worrying times.

EP

Rob Clarke And The Woolltones ‘Rubber Chicken B-Sides’
(Aldora Britain Records)

This is an enjoyable little forage into the dim and distant past. Four songs that take the hip swinging beatitude of the sixties, all beat chords and “What’d I Say” riffage songs your nan would have curled her hair to in her youth before going down the ballroom to watch the local beat band. Four songs that are all enjoyable and warm sounding and with the final track, ‘Love And Haught’, being especially splendid, a track worthy of the final days of the wonderful Escorts: close your eyes and you are back in 1966 heaven. A beautiful release and only 50p to download: that is 12 and a half pence a track. Yes this EP does take you back when half a pence was such a thing.

ALBUMS

The Pixies ‘Doggeral’
(BMG) 30th September 2022

I used to love The Pixies back in the day when they first appeared, and to be honest I’ve not really listened to them much since they got back together. I’ve not really listened to them since Indie Cindy, and I think I might have been missing out if this album is anything to go by; although they are obviously missing the divine Kim Deal. But that is all they seem to be missing. They still have quite a loud thing going on (‘Haunted House’), are still masters of distorted surf guitar (‘Vault Of Heaven’), and have not lost their knack for a catchy strange pop tune, (‘Get Stimulated’). The lovely charmingly charming pop beauty that is ‘The Lord Has Come Back Today’ might just be my favourite track on this rather fine enjoyable album. They even have a whistling solo on ‘Pagan Man’, which there is certainly not enough of in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. So, the eighth Pixies album is in fact quite a musical treat.

Keiron Phelan & The Peace Signs ‘Bubblegum Boogie’
(Gare Du Nord) 23rd September 2022

What we have here my lukewarm fluffy bunny fetishists is an album of sophisticated polite pop – and we all need a little sophistication and politeness in our lives. Remember children always say please and thank you afterwards [ooeer missus]. And this album of melody rich pop could be your injection of sophistication for the day.

‘Trojan Pony’ kicks off the album with a fine Harry Nilsson like pop ditty that would not sound out of place on any of his early 70s pop masterpieces. Kieran Phelan is obviously a fan of the seventies laid-back pop as we find a tribute to the lovely gentleman and cult favourite John Howard with ‘Song For John Howard’, a lovely short piano ballad that not just recalls the music of the great man but also Brian Wilson as well, which indeed cannot be a bad thing.

The whole album is awash with gentle laid-back slightly quirky songs that have a layer of sadness and memories, and sometimes, sad memories are the most beautiful. And Bubblegum Boogie is indeed a beautiful little sophisticated bubble gum pop album.

Grave Goods ‘Tursday. Nothing Exists’
(Tulle)  9th September 2022

“Step softly into the new world of the underground” is the opening line from the opening track ‘Come’ from this rather fine post-punk album of clattering guitars and such malarkey. And it’s an invitation I would readily advise all fans of clattering guitars and such malarky to well accept. For they will be treated to seven tracks of aggressive alternative rock post-punk that takes some rather fine lyrics [which I am very taken with] and guitar riffs that put Grave Goods a step up from the usual gallop of the many many other post-punk bands. An album well worth investigation dear readers.

The Legless Crabs ‘And If You Change Your Mind About Rock ‘n’ Roll’
(Metal Postcard Records)

Thank the fuck for the Legless Crabs. After spending over an hour going through my emails to see what delights I could pontificate about and tell you lovely readers all about, I was left bereft. I had listened to loads of power pop with shite lyrics; shoegaze which in itself stands alone as why I have not reviewed it: anything that describes itself as shoegaze is enough to put me off, we all know what shoegaze is, music that reaches for the stars but very rarely manages not to leave the ground. So thank fuck for the rock ‘n’ roll un pc digs at modern life the Legless Crabs on a regular basis release. And If You Change Your Mind About Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is up to their normal high standard.

Guitars that fuzz and buzz and on this occasion form layers of pure confusion that take you back to the golden age of watching loud guitar bands in dingy clubs. ‘Piss Lake’, ‘Anti -Christian Scientists’ and every other track on this album are filled with an anger and disgust at the way modern life is shaping up.

This album is a much more serious and mature sounding album of rock ‘n’ roll. They no longer sound like the slap dash young noise merchants that overdosed on JAMC and the Cramps and Pussy Galore and now sound like they have had to grow up and get jobs. And that has just made them even angrier.

This is an album of darkness like their others, but the others came with a cheeky wink this with just a terrifying blank stare.

Salem Trials  ‘Postcards From The Other Side Of The Sun’
(Metal Postcard Records)

A triple album by the Salem Trials: well it would be a triple LP if it were released on vinyl. There are 29 tracks and each and everyone is filled with the whip snap guitar madness that the Salem Trials deal in.

Songs that echo the world we live in full of dark humour, nostalgia, darkness and T Rex riffs. ‘Black Flash’, which imagine instead of David Bowie guesting on the Marc Bolan Show you had Mark E Smith, and instead of it being in a TV studio it was on a small boat that was slowly sinking below the waves, slowly lapping around Marc and Mark E’s knees; a song of pure and beautiful magic and maybe my fave ever Salem Trials song. Pure brilliance. But there are so many. Andy and Russ are quite incapable of not doing anything that is not at least very good; they have their own sound; they have their own feel; they have their own magic.

The Salem Trials are one offs. They take their influences of post-punk, psych, seventies glam, no wave, indie pop and merge into what can only be described as a unique and rewarding listening experience.

Andrei Rikichi ‘Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness’
(Bearsuit Records)

Apart from Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness being a great album title it is also a fine album; an album that takes electronica, dance and cinematic sculptures to a new and experimental place, a place where white noise and James Bond soundtracks collide to great and unusual effect. ‘What Happened To Whitey Wallace’ sounds like monks playing on a old ZX 90 computer game and ‘Bag, Lyrics, New Prescription’ could be on a soundtrack to an Alfred Hitchcock movie set in a colourful but black and white jazz world.

Yes, indeed once again Bearsuit Records have released an album crammed with original thought-provoking music that is both experimental but also very listenable; an album to soundtrack the spin of a roulette wheel and the shadow-stained wet pavement of a neon signed littered night time street.

ALBUM REVIEW
GRAHAM DOMAIN

Tess Tyler ‘Fractals Vols. 1 & 2’
9th September 2022

Fractals is the wonderful debut album by Bristol based composer Tess Tyler. It works well, both as an artistic statement and also as a shop window for what the composer can do. Having composed already for film and video game soundtracks, the album includes dark sci-fi experimental electronic soundscapes such as ‘Overture’ and ‘Interlude 1’ and also neoclassical pieces that have an expansive cinematic quality used to conjure up a whole range of emotion. Undoubtedly many of the pieces will be used in films, documentaries and adverts and cause the viewer to wonder who has created this incredible music and hence track down the album.

Individually, there are some incredibly exciting tracks, such as ‘Sell the Sky’, which has all the energy and thrill of a Bond film action sequence but with its own individual sound and quirkiness! Most notably, the incredibly propulsive, expressive, explosive drumming that stop, starts and erupts into euphoria! It is so joyful, that it almost has its own transcendent trans-dimensional reality! Existing, as it does, outside of time and space and, only in the moment!

Beginning with processed electronic orchestral strings, ‘Origami Dogs’ is another propulsive, forward- moving, tribal, dark exciting cinematic piece that builds via sequencers and minimalist piano before rhythmically abstract drums and power chord guitars drive it to its climax.

Black disturbed noise begins ‘Not Mine’ before a minimalist piano motif and sequencers combine with sad brass and off-kilter drums to produce a sublime jazz in-flecked late night moonlit masterpiece!

Dark electronic noise gives way to minimalist piano, synth, white noise and backward drums in ‘7ero’ to produce a melodically sad refrain and Japan-like melody.

‘Instinct’ begins with drones of guitar, synth arpeggios and computer babble before a minimalist, expressive piano motif takes over, augmented by plucked strings creating an air of anticipation. The track builds with driving drums and guitar propelling the song to its conclusion.

One of the best tracks on the album is ‘The Nothing Cycle’ which begins with a cyclical, minimal Steve Reich piano and electronically manipulated orchestral noise before evolving into a Mike Oldfield type moody piano refrain with heavy guitar chords. A mad drum and pummelling bass soon kick in and build to a crescendo of noise that suddenly stops to leave just a bass and drum pulse and piano chords before a sequencer adds to the sense of drama and anticipation and rapidly builds momentum to a mad rock drum and tense guitar finale!

The studio album is augmented by a second album of one-off live re-imaginings of five of the pieces by The Spindle Ensemble with their interpretations of Tyler’s graphic score. (A graphic score being a way to represent the music outside of traditional notation, using visual symbols. Each instrument being assigned a different symbol). Thus, we get radically different versions of ‘Sell the Sky’, ‘Origami Dogs’, ‘7ero’, ‘Instinct’ and ‘The Nothing Cycle’. It is an interesting concept and one that reveals a different side to each composition. ‘Sell the Sky’ appears here as decidedly more downbeat, almost gloomy compared to the original studio version. Cello and violin are employed to bring out the melancholy in the music, which is augmented by disturbed orchestral dissonance with piano strings being hit and plucked to maximum effect! Similarly, ‘Origami Dogs’ employs violin, slow strings and piano to convey feelings of sadness, anxiety and loneliness.

‘7ero’ meanwhile, employs a descending marimba motif while a disturbed violin plays a lonely refrain, conveying feelings of intrigue and unease. When the piano comes in the music portrays feelings of alienation and mental imbalance before the marimba and bass play a single note to fade.

Violin overshot with minimal marimba provides the setting and a sense of space on ‘The Nothing Cycle’. The music resonates with a sadness almost verging on despair. The marimba conveys anxiety and resignation with its minimal note runs while a depressed violin conjures up the ghosts of regret.

In its reworked format, ‘Instinct’ is transformed into a beautiful melancholic piece with violin and one note marimba giving way to ascending piano arpeggios and two note double bass creating tension and suspense. Plucked guitar strings and ruminating marimba improvisations combine with violin to create feelings of sadness and regret – a lament for something lost, a missed chance. Beauty in sadness.

A debut album of beauty, versatility, energy and vision. Outstanding!

ALBUM REVIEW
MATT OLIVER

The Difference Machine  ‘Unmasking The Spirit Fakers’
(Full Plate) – Out Now

“Criticise me from a safe place, when you never had the courage to keep up the same pace”

Unmasking the Spirit Fakers sounds righteously, overzealously put through an 80s keep-it-real mouthpiece, though its sourcing from a Harry Houdini essay does complement Chuck D’s pronouncement of ‘no more music by the suckers’ perfectly. Fundamentally it goes for a hip-hop trope old as time itself and still one of 2022’s causes for concern – separating the authentic from the phony.

Their description as a ‘psychedelic hip-hop group from Atlanta’ doesn’t do The Difference Machine much of a service. These underdogs hide in plain sight: though the opening and closing tracks evoke burnt out rock star imagery in the last throes of the limelight (or another Public Enemy reference, ‘Do You Wanna Go Our Way???’), The Difference Machine’s reshaping of long-haired prog rockisms, is more about achieving the optimum volume to get foundations crumbling (first thought of comparison – Flatbush Zombies). For psychedelic, read a vivid shock to the senses, playing out a bad trip, Strawberry Fields becoming killing fields. On one hand you’re prompted to “take a step inside the mind of man with no time to lose” – the reality is when you’re told to “get behind the wheel and drive with no fucking fear”.

Drum welts and gut-punching synths introduce ‘Atlantis’ and producer Doctor Conspiracy, with the bit immediately between the teeth of emcee Day Tripper. Positioning himself in the eye of the storm as smoke bringer #1 (“never thought that black cloud would hover over me”), the prevalent, what’s-the-worst-that-could-happen mentality has evolved from the band’s first albums The Psychedelic Sound of The Difference Machine and The 4th Side of the Eternal Triangle, both of which made more of a jangly, moptop sound delivering Edan-feedbacked zingers. Those faking the spirit behind the peace signs have obviously tipped The Machine over the edge, DT grinding magical mystery tours to a halt (okay, the ghostly melodies of ‘Flat Circles’ appear to put the Ark of the Covenant up for grabs), by spitting with kerbside, high stakes amplification, armed with jagged book smarts, and numbness as an essential power-up. A distrust viewing everything and nothing as real, reaches the conclusion that it’s best to “fuck a half full-half empty, fill the whole cup”.

Four tracks in and DT is playing the last action hero in sweat-stained vest, brushing off chunks of shrapnel. Sure ‘Car Key’ lies on a bed of sitars and flower power, but Day Tripper’s savage stick-up shtick – “this your last chance before these bullets tap dance across your face like scatman” – is not for dressing in tie-dye. Humble enough to reveal “it all came to me one day rapping in the shower” before Denmark Vessey jumps in, DT shows his hustler’s mentality matches the next man on ‘Huckleberry Finn Day’ (“I sacrifice comfort for wonder, I sacrifice slumber for numbers”); and, like all defender of the universe appointments, a sliver of vulnerability is seen seeping under the armour.

Whereas ‘Repeater’, an epic, can’t stop-won’t stop rumble with Sa-Roc guesting (“got a cheat code embedded within me that’s infinite”) arms the charges into combat, the scuzzy ‘It Ain’t’ is where all thoughts tangle into a fiery stream of consciousness, caught wondering whether not giving a fuck is actually the safest option. The Quelle Chris-starring ‘Re Up’ is a rare simmer down, though still with nagging thoughts persisting as to riding the risk-reward seesaw. Perhaps the album’s crystallising moment is when on ‘Pulling Capers’, featuring a fed-up-as-he-gets (which never sounds quite right) Homeboy Sandman, DT nutshells his higher calling -“I ain’t ask to be a rapper, rap asked me with a dagger to my throat”.

After 38 minutes of pressure, the engaging cult of the Machine continues. It’s an interesting dynamic, of DT blazing out on his own with Doctor Conspiracy’s production acting like a Foley stage. Without really sounding like a traditional DJ-MC combo, it’s to Conspiracy’s credit that DT (dare it be said, at times channelling the new king of Glasto) sounds like he’s the figurehead for a whole squad of Max Mad musicians, rather than an MPC twisted inside out. Also marking a slightly more hard-nosed departure for Full Plate (whose entertaining acts Dillon, Batsauce and Paten Locke always do well on these pages), The Difference Machine rock cores with their unrest soundtracking the here and now – the days of the sucker are numbered.

AUTHOR MATT OLIVER: Sometime Clash site contributor, dance, electronic and hip-hop expert Matt has been offering up his wisdom and recommendations on the best rap cuts for the Monolith Cocktail for the last six years. You can find out more about his extensive writing portfolio and professional practice here.

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