Alan Bishop is a true musical maverick, who spent years playing, touring and recording with Sun City Girls, one of the most thrilling and versatile bands to emerge from the American post-punk, post-hardcore scene. Based in Seattle, constantly going off in several directions at once, Alan Bishop (bass), his brother Richard (guitar) and Charles Gocher (drums) celebrated musical freedom by diving headfirst into wild improvisations, world music explorations or rocking noise. They fully embraced the traveling lifestyle, too, and it was during travels through Africa and Asia that Alan Bishop laid the foundations for his label Sublime Frequencies, by recording hours and hours of music, announcements and static from local radio stations and collecting countless tapes and records from stalls, taxis and stores along the way.
Now nearly 50 releases into its existence as a label, Sublime Frequencies represents a musical parallel universe where Thai surf music and Burmese radio stations meet Syria’s folk/pop hero Omar Souleyman and Sahara giants Group Doueh. It is through his work for Sublime Frequencies, that Bishop met and became friends with Lebanese improvising musicians Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet), Raed Yassin (double bass) and Sharif Sehnaoui (electric guitar), who have operated collectively as free jazz unit “A Trio” since 2003. In 2012, during a trip to Beirut to participate in the annual Irtijal Festival for Experimental Music, Bishop entered the studio with Kerbaj, Sehnaoui and Yassin, to lay down the first rough sketches of the “Burj el Imam” album. The album was eventually completed a year later, during another one of Bishop’s frequent visits to the Lebanese capital.
Entirely recorded at Tunefork Studios, a highly esteemed recording studio located on the outskirts of Beirut, “Burj el Imam”’s five tracks include three largely improvised numbers, a loose reworking of early Sun City Girls track “The Imam”, and a cover of traditional Americana song “Gently Johnny”. The album displays remarkable coherence, for 4 musicians coming from such different backgrounds. True to their habits, Kerbaj, Sehnaoui and Yassin create acoustic improvised drones that range from insistent, chiming resonances with emergency alarm bells, to low thrumming hums – evoking helicopter gunships hovering overhead, or bulldozers demolishing bomb-blasted apartments.
The three musicians largely avoid conventional technique, instead using what sounds like motorized devices to generate rattling, metallic vibrations, building a mechanistic backdrop out of which the instruments’ true voices occasionally arise. Perched above the ambient din, Bishop is in fine form, and alternates between gentle crooning and malevolent whispering.
1. Howling Sheep
2. Burj al Imam
3. Smoking Elevator
4. Folk Machinery
5. Gently Johnny
Tough Love Records
“I don't have any repressed emotions that I know of. The world I write about is a jaded version of reality, but where it comes from isn't quite apparent to me yet”
Following the release of two self-titled EPs over the past 12 months, AUTOBAHN announce details of debut album, Dissemble, out on 21st August via Tough Love. Dissemble was recorded with Matt Peel at The Nave, a hometown studio situated in the wholly appropriate setting of a disused church. The band co-produced the record with Peel over six intense weeks at the start of 2015, dedicating all of their time to the studio and taking potentially unhealthy cues from the legacy of notorious obsessive, Martin Hannett. The result is an album that pushes the band through various degrees of light and shade, but ultimately into new, unexpected sonic spaces.
“You need to remember all of this world I write about is a warped reality of people I've known or experiences I've been in. I think you can just tell when a bands from Leeds, can't you?”
Motivated by the encouragement of a supportive local scene, AUTOBAHN formed in Leeds in early 2013, and immediately began playing live across the north of England. Those early forays across the Pennines were vital in not only helping the band form their own sound, but also hold a symbolic role in understanding their genesis. The North as both idea and identity is integral to what AUTOBAHN are, where post-industrial landscapes intersect with sudden wide open spaces, a place where community is central, but loneliness can be palpable. There’s a dark, oppressive edge to their music, but a hopefulness too. Sisters of Mercy, yes, but also brothers in arms.
“The first track was intended to be a link to the past records. We leave the past behind after that.”
AUTOBAHN first came to the attention of Tough Love via a local support slot with Tampa romantics, Merchandise, and reached the wider world with the release of two now sold out 12”s. Those first recordings suggested a classic modern punk band with a penchant for death and glamour, and an impatience to be heard. Time and touring has afforded them the ability to shift gear significantly, and the renewed ambition of Dissemble stands as testament to that. The band were immediately a thrilling live force, but on this album they’re wider, more urgent when they want to be, more thoughtful when required. Dissemble is an appropriate title (meaning to conceal one’s true motives), because there’s something canny at work here. The surface suggests despair, but scratch deeper and the lyrics display a lightness of touch that skewers the over-earnest and overly-serious.
“Dissemble is a twisted romantic view of how AUTOBAHN think: don’t take life too seriously”
Life is a joke, but AUTOBAHN aren’t laughing. How could they?
New Heavy Sounds
With Black Moth's upcoming tour with Amplifier about to take off, New Heavy Sounds are offering a very special, super-retro flexi disc of 'Looner' taken from the Moth's latest album "Condemned To Hope.'
This will be available by mail order only, limited to 150 clear flexi discs with a one off screen printed illustration by vocalist, Harriet Bevan herself, who only had this to say about it:
"Dolly greets us with a vacant stare, her mind stuffed with foul, desperate gulps of somebody else's air. The ultimate sex object: perfection in plastic. A flawless vision of femininity. Manufactured, made up, blown up only to be used, crushed and ultimately deflated at hands of a stronger entity. But don't worry, she isn't real."
Available on limited light Blue Double Vinyl and CD.
“Her darkest, heaviest and most personal album yet . . . a haunting, doomy exercise in loud-quiet dynamics.” Rolling Stone
Sleep paralysis plagues singer/songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, and that strange intersection of the conscious and the unconscious has inadvertently manifested itself within her work.
Across the span of her first four albums, there is an underlying tension, a distorted and nebulous territory where dark shadows hover along the edges of the sublime and the graceful.
But until now, Wolfe’s trials and tribulations with the boundaries between dreams and reality have only been a subconscious influence on her work. With her fifth album, Abyss, she deliberately confronts those boundaries and crafts a score to that realm she describes as the “hazy afterlife… an inverted thunderstorm… the dark backward… the abyss of time.”
Chelsea Wolfe’s material has always felt intensely private, from the almost voyeuristic bedroom-production aesthetic of her debut album The Grime and the Glow to the stark themes and atmospheres of 2013’s Pain Is Beauty. “Abyss is meant to have the feeling of when you’re dreaming, and you briefly wake up, but then fall back asleep into the same dream, diving quickly into your own subconscious,” says Wolfe.
To conjure this in-between world, Wolfe continued her ongoing collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and co-writer Ben Chisholm and drummer Dylan Fujioka, with Ezra Buchla brought on board to play viola and Mike Sullivan (Russian Circles) enlisted to contribute guitar. The ensemble traveled to Dallas, TX to record with producer John Congleton (Swans, St. Vincent).
In the back of her mind burned the words of designer Yohji Yamamoto: "Perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion.” The resulting eleven songs reflect that philosophy as they smoulder with human frailty, intimacy, quiet passion, anxiety, and deep longing. “Sleep and dream issues have followed me my whole life,” remarks Wolfe as she revisits notes from the writing and recording sessions. In a way, these issues have become a part of Chelsea Wolfe’s identity, for whom the notion of sleep as an escape has been subverted.
Abyss captures this dichotomy, this battle between the soothing and the upsetting, and demonstrates why Chelsea Wolfe has become one of the most intriguing songwriters of the decade.
1. Carrion Flowers
2. Iron Moon
3. Dragged Out
5. Grey Days
6. After the Fall
7. Crazy Love
8. Simple Death
10. Color of Blood
11. The Abyss
At the Dojo
RE-ISSUE OF CLASSIC FU!
After a bit of a break from albums, not counting the Return to Earth singles compilation, Fu Manchu fully fired up and took off again with King of the Road, an album that doesn't so much follow on from The Action Is Go as flat out continue it.
Hill has a touch more bite to his vocals this time around, but otherwise there's little to differentiate the two records -- and that's very much meant as a compliment. With plenty of touring and other things under their belts, the lineup has fully jelled and sounds it, Bjork's bad-ass drumming (and occasional cowbells, of course) and Balch's insane lead guitar crunch possibly even better than ever.
Together it's all one megariff and nasty, slamming rhythm after another, and face it, anyone expecting anything else from Fu Manchu really needs to find another band.Joe Barresi co-produces with the band, and while there's no extra keyboard/organ weirdness this time around, it hardly matters.
In as much as there's a theme to King of the Road beyond the basics of driving, drugs, and that demon rock & roll, it's driving -- there's a reason why the cover and internal art features a slew of great '70s-era photos from a massive van rally.
The one shot of the fully leather-covered interior of one mobile love nest, complete with black curtains, about says it all. Then there's the megachugging title track ("King of the road says you move too slow!"), "Hell on Wheels," "Boogie Van," and so forth -- call it a concept album that doesn't waste time with elves and yogis.
As with the last album, a punk/new wave nugget gets the cover treatment here -- none other than Devo's "Freedom of Choice." Needless to say, now it sounds just like a Fu Manchu original.
Tough Love Records