Monday, November 24, 2014

Smegma, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, Snotnosed, Skaters, Vibracathedral Orchestra, Matthew Bower [and probably a few others]. Termite Club. Royal Park Cellars, Leeds 25th April 2006

[even more from the archives]

Hardly has my liver had a decent rest than its back to Leeds to see what state the Undermeister’s shirt is in. The beard is longer, the eyes are redder but the shirt’s still in the same state it was in Glasgow four days earlier. Its good to know you can rely on some things in life. At least he’s smiling, as is main Termite man Mike Dando, the venue is full.

A week earlier I’d seen him taking money at the door of a KK Null/Zev gig at the Brudenell and I almost felt like giving him the Samaritans number. Punters were thin on the ground. The bar and gate ticks on the paying in sheet wouldn’t cover the taxi fare home. It was a depressing sight. But what a difference a few weeks make.  The punters of Leeds have come out in force to sit in a smoky cellar bar and see Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock for the first time in ten years and Smegma for the first time in ever. They’ve also come to watch a football match in the upstairs bar which seems to freak out some of the Americans in the party and isn’t that a Mosque over there? Some things take a little explaining. But at least the drone supergroup amalgam that’s filling the tiny stage don’t need any explaining. The bobbing heads and bow driven electric guitars compete with the tribal drums and effect boxes and its kind of messy and hairy and all over the shop but at least they enjoyed themselves and didn’t carry on for two hours which, if reports are to believed, is the length of time they managed to keep it up for in a private residence the previous evening.

Snotnosed are the light entertainment of the evening. Speeding off his tits the big bald fella’s Hanatarash tribute band begins by destroying a galvanized steel bin using a sledgehammer, then a machete and then his bare hands. He breaks records over his head, dons a Peter Sutcliffe mask [au natural] and throws himself onto the floor screaming and waling and thrashing about like a kid with a Ritalin deficiency. His accomplice sits behind some kind of gadget chain smoking roll ups and looking on like he’s seen it all before. The debris he’s managed to scatter is impressive as are the beads of sweat running all over his cue ball noggin. Performance and exercise. Nice touch. This turns out to be the final Snotnosed gig ever.

Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock bemuse, delight and outrage the Leeds audience with the same show as in Edinburgh. One punter is so freaked by having Joke’s pig mask shoved in his face that he actually pushes him away. He comes and stares at me but I’ve been drinking in Batley and am not scared.

For one number Smegma will play with Herb Diamante. Herb, who I have to admit has passed me by, turns out to be the alter ego of John Godbert an artist and artiste from Stan Laurel country. And after an opening spell in which Smegma really rock the boards with a killer ten minutes noise set, Herb joins in singing in a really fine deep voice. His green suit and red wig mis-match imperfectly his wing backed shades. He fits in well with the Smegma team. I don’t recognize the song but it’s a good one for Herb’s voice and after it’s finished everybody is slapping each other on the back and shaking hands. The audience are whooping and applauding like they’ve not been let out for six months. Breaking their set up into three separate parts Smegma roll about everywhere from loose fifties rock to avant garde bells and tinkles. When voices appear from the crackles on old records everyone backs off to listen intently. Guitars are played with circuit boards, toy keyboards are plugged in, rubber bands are stretched across mouths, trombones, clockwork toys, I’ve never seen a band go through as many instruments. Theremin like structures emit strange bubbles and then we’re off again with a Cramps like stomp.

That Smegma seem genuinely happy to be on these shores only adds to the fun element of the night. Everybody seems to be having a great time; audience, bands and even Steve Underwood who’s sold many a ticket and sold lots of merchandise. The sooner Smegma and R&G return the better.

Sudden Infant/Alan Tomlinson/MK9/Sunroof!/Corsano-Flower Duo. Final night of the 2005 Termite Festival - Sunday November 27, 2005

[From the archives]

Noise gigs don’t normally take place in swanky venues. Most noise gigs I attended in this country take place in smoky rooms above pubs, at the back of pubs, in the cellars of pubs.

The final night of this years Termite Festival was no exception. So, jammed in next to someone chain smoking a mixture of dried privet leaves and bindweed your hearing takes a battering and your glass runs dry and then you realize that the bars packed and its going to be twenty quid in a taxi home and tinnitus for the rest of the week – and you keep coming back because there’s nothing else quite like it.

These smoky rooms throw up some memorable evenings. Once again its praise be to the Termite Club for putting on four nights of eclectic entertainment - after last years debacle of having almost no festival at all [due to circumstances beyond their control] this years ran to four nights to make up for it. Alas, a huge bout of apathy on my part [and the fact that funds were at an all time low] meant that your roving reporter could only make it to this the last night.

The Cardigan Arms is the prefect template of how Leeds Tetley pubs used to be; rooms tucked away in every corner, lots of wood, etched glass and marble floor tiles, a big enough bar that you can shout over to your friends in the next room, a bog you could have a gig in [take note Sudden Infant] and an upstairs room that you locate via a windy staircase that has a door with a glass window in it that says ‘Harmonium Room’.

The Harmonium Room is host first to Sudden Infant and its originator Joke Lanz. I saw Sudden Infant earlier in the year at the Entr’acte gig in London and he was stunning. With a contact mic in the palm of each hand he held his hands to his throat and let rip primal screams – later in his set he held his hands on other people’s throats picking up pulses and gulps. Tonight he’ll be let down by equipment failure when half the PA refuses to work but despite it all he still gives a stellar performance of vocal angst before a decent sized appreciative crowd. Silence, church bells, brief blasts of industrial pounding, screams, Lanz prowls his territory rubbing his contact mic’d hands up and down his legs and over his head, producing scarred and fractured templates on which to impale yourself. Dangerous bursts of frenzy juxtapose with stand stock still do nothingness. An impressive performer who in conjunction with his Schimpfluch Gruppe compatriots produces some of the most stimulating, fresh and original sounds to be found.

Trombone players are usually good entertainment and Alan Tomlinson is no exception. Watching a short bloke with a beer belly roll his sleeves up, sweat buckets whilst taking his trombone apart and put it back together again whilst making all kind of noises that you thought couldn’t come out of a trombone in the first place, is a good enough reason to turn up next time he’s on the bill. Tomlinson has studied the trombone for years and I dare say he could hold his own in Kenny Balls Jazz Men but tonight he strips down his instrument rebuilds it, closes doors with it, sticks stuff down the end of it and along the way produces everything from low end buzzes to twittering coughs and tweets. Sandwiched between Sudden Infant and MK9 he’s the lighter side of tonight’s show and the nearest thing we’ll get to a laugh.

I miss half of MK9’s set due to bar congestion and get back to find members of the audience sitting in the half of the room sectioned off for the artists with the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’ stuck to them. MK9 is Michael Nine, founder of the legendary power electronics outfit Death Squad. Who I caught the last time they were in Leeds when they scared the shit out of everybody with a spot on Gulf War tirade. Tonight he’s barking into a megaphone to a backtrack of what sounds like overlapping military airwaves chatter. He stops his rant to let the back track build and pulls ‘A’s’ and ‘B’s’ off people [then making them leave their spot] but seeing as how his rants are indecipherable [to me at least] and the A & B thing makes no sense to me either it’s a cold performance lacking in the energy of his earlier work.

Matthew Bower gives us twenty minutes or so of screeching feedback [which is also blighted by equipment failure] before the highlight of the night take up their cudgels. Chris Corsano [Six Organs of Admittance, Sunburned Hand of the Man] on drums and Mick Flower [Vibracathedral Orchestra] at first on some kind of Indian dulcimer and then on electric guitar build some head spinning walls of eastern tinged drone fuzz. Dunno if it’s the first time these guys have played together but should they get together regular enough they’ll build up a decent following. Any live product resulting from this all too short set should be snapped up without hesitation. Maybe they’ll have thought a name up for themselves by then too. The Toddmeitser nods his approval and announces that it’s the best thing of the weekend which makes me feel a little better for having missed the previous three nights.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


[One from the archives]

The small, cramped, sweaty, low ceiling cellar bar that is the Royal Park Leeds witnessed one of its most memorable nights as a lunatic audience stuffed to the gills on dodgy lager and cheap drugs saw Whitehouse rip to shreds any notion that they’re washed up and finished with a performance so intimidating and drenched in animosity it made a random act of violence seem as insignificant as a stubbed toe.

But to get us in the mood it’s Milovan Srdenovic and his perverted Mexican gravedigger blues. Milovan takes to the stage wearing a wrestling mask, black Stetson and an orange nappy. The crowd look nonplussed. Proceedings get off to a flyer with an a cappella version of Islam Uber Alles – ‘Robbie Williams Paki Englebert Humperdink Paki Father Abraham Paki’. The audience lap it up rolling about in three inches of spilt lager and tab ends ruining their black tights and tight bodices. For his first solo gig in three years he treats members of the audience to a rousing version of Drink Myself Sick accompanying himself on nothing but a bullhorn, people sing along bolstered by piss weak lager and the sight of Milovan’s skeleton tattoos. Hell Hole Billy Goat sees the appearance of the Thirdreichalele with its cute swastika sound hole, he strums it like his life’s depending upon it wailing that sick mantra blues country cross ended muzak as he attunes himself to the evenings vibe. Milovan dons various guises including false beards and bad perms as he chicken walks his way to fame and fortune whilst belting out crowd pleasers such as ‘16 Fanny Rags’ with its ungodly refrain: ‘16 fanny rags!!’ After a slight technical hitch he sits down to sing Big Janice whilst playing an electric guitar across his lap with a chapatti and a fork. The crowd love him and will turn up in droves at his next engagement.

The place is filling up some and the smoky haze and reek of stale beer welcomes Anenzaphalia to the tiny foot high stage. Huge waves of low-end hertz are turning my guts to mulch and the PA guy fears for his equipment as the Anenzaphlaia duo give a solid performance of industrial noise ambience. Call it what you will it’s ideal ear warm up for what is to be the night’s coup de grace.

Whitehouse eventually appear clutching handfuls of bottled beers; Bennett is lithe in his leather trenchcoat, bare chest and wrap-around shades. Best looks demonic with shaved head inciting the audience to riot with screams and shaking fists but its Sotos who scaring the shit out of everybody. He stares into the crowd as if daring anybody to start trouble – there’s been a message posted on the internet offering £20 to anybody brave enough to chin Bennett mid performance and it looks like Sotos has taken it personally. He flicks a switch and the room fills with the deafening sound of Tit Pulp.  Some pissed up arsehole at the front of the stage is seig heiling Bennett and making a total prick of himself - Bennett takes a big swig of his beer gargles with it and spews it into his face. Arsehole takes this as a compliment and goes wild in deluded gratitude - Bennett signals to Sotos to take arsehole man out of the equation. Sotos dwarfs him and has to stoop slightly, then grabs him by the neck and slowly drags him to the back of the room where he’s dumped unceremoniously like a bag of sodden rags. Sotos returns briefly to the stage and the pressure builds as Best takes hold of the mic and starts screaming like a demented banshee. Things are hotting up. Sotos is looking really pissed off eyeballing anybody who looks like they could mean trouble and then spies some lifeless drunk who’s decided to take in the show sitting on a buffet three feet from the stage front. Sotos leans over him and pulls his buffet out from underneath him sending him sprawling into sea of spilled beer and crushed fag ends. Rock and Roll sneers into view and Bennett’s spewing beer everywhere, Sotos shoves the drunk around as Best goes absolutely fucking mental. Sotos is really losing it now and goes back to his post to alter some imperceptible dial and smashes a bottle in a mad fit as it fails to respond. There’s broken glass everywhere and some of it has found its way into his hand. After a couple of minutes it’s clear that he’s losing quite a bit blood, it’s running from his clenched fist as his eyes glaze with unfettered malice. He stomps around for a while then decides to call it a draw and disappears. Bennett, sensing that something is wrong goes after him and we’re left with a baffled looking Best, swigging beer, altering dials, wondering what to do. After a couple of minutes Best too exits stage right leaving whatever it is they utilise to carry on its wail. Some punters decide enough is enough and call it a day. Eventually the noise subsides to an imperceptible whine, people are looking at each other shrugging their shoulders.  Then Best reappears pulling on a fag and cranks things up again. Sotos like samples of abuse accompany Whitehouse like squawl and for the next ten minutes it’s a Best solo show. He laughs at the crowd lapping up the chaos, grinning like some malevolent imp and then finally Sotos and Bennett reappear to a huge cheer. They take their stations and immediately rip into the most ferocious version of A Cunt Like You you’ll ever hear. Its sheer unadulterated venom. Bennett and Best are fighting for the mic in a bid to expend their frustration. Best loses and flails around in frustration baring his manic rictus. Sotos is still bleeding and spraying blood everywhere. Bennett starts making cut throat signals and amid the chaos the plugs are pulled and that’s it.

Outside Arsehole man is rolling up his trouser leg to show off a huge scratch that runs the full length of his shin. It’s seeping blood and already scabbing over. ‘See that’ he says to his mates ‘see that? Peter Sotos did that to me he did!’ He was proud dammit.

A special mention must go to the Termite team and Mike Dando in particular for getting this gig on. Making little if any money and taking big risks for little, if any thanks - these guys are the real heroes of the night. Frequent your local Termite gig and see some real entertainment.

Astral Social Club - Fountain Transmitter Medication. Ambarchi/Flower/Campbell - Live at TUSK.

Astral Social Club - Fountain Transmitter Medications

Ambarchi/Flower/Campbell - Live at Tusk Festival 2013
Tusk LP/DL

A Friday spin into Leeds for a Wharf Chambers love-in provided an ideal opportunity to give the CD part of Fountain Transmitter Medications its first outing. Climbing in to the limo I inserted said CD, cranked up the volume and gripped the steering wheel for a journey that ended up being some kind of psychedelic version of Death Race 2000. By the time I was half way up the M62 I was beginning to think I’d inserted the wrong CD and was instead listening to the new Merzbow. Not having listened to any Merzbow since a long time ago I wondered if the lithe Masami was now putting out noise drone anthems that not only assailed the ear drums but had the ability to pin you in to your seat like an astronaut on lift off. By the time I’d pulled off the M621 to follow the inner city loop road I felt as if I’d gone three rounds with Mike Tyson. My body was weak from the assault. I feebly turned down the volume hoping that my innate sense of direction would lead me to the NCP behind Leeds market from where I could stagger to the WC escaping with naught but a couple of bleeding ears and a whacked out equilibrium.

It was a few weeks later before I dare get the LP out but when I did I found that things were, in some ways, pretty much as you’d expect them to be in ASC land, swooping beats, glistening glissandos, pumping electronic nodes, the dance thing, the noise thing, the whole bit. But that was just side one, after that things really took off. There are four tracks on side one that you could pretty much nail as ASC but the on the second theres an audible throat clearing before a wailing wall of jarring electronica hits you like your iPhone has just exploded at the side of your head. From there on in its a seat of your pants ride and you best come prepared.

Take away the first side of Fountain Transmitter Medications and what you have left are four tracks that each run to around the twenty minute mark. Its these that give you those small ‘what the fuck’ moments. ‘Diamonds in the Dreich’ dysfunctional electroblasts have Campbell intoning words over them like a Benediction, words that only become clear once the tumult has given way to a celestial shimmer, which in itself gives way to one of Campbell’s biggest orgasm’s yet, a ten minute freak out full of rolling drums, stiff armed power chords and squealing frequencies. ‘Sun Still God’ kicks off with an ever escalating, digital information overload cacophony before opening out into an ever expanding vista. Perhaps the most ‘out there’ track of the lot is ‘Erotic Meditation’ a 26 minute epic rammed with pulsing malfunctioning robot communication, various shards of Kaoss and the sounds of Dewsbury market, at times it had me in mind of Faust’s Krautrock in the way that it has two pulses going at once, one slightly delayed from the other, one in each ear. Yet more orgasms. The whole thing climaxes with not one but two pneumatic drills and Campbell washing his face in the sink. ‘Squeegee Anthem 3’ is the chill out track that mutates into rock-a-geddon where you get to float on heavenly fluffy cotton wool clouds before ten searing guitar solos, all going at the same time, become buried under an avalanche of spasmodic glitch-a-tronics. Fucking hell.

There may be those who dislike Campbell’s more noisy and fractured direction but I cant for a minute think why they would. FTM has more rapture, ecstasy and joy within its folds than anything this side of a pre 70’s free jazz album and I dare you to find anything thats been recorded today that matches it.

‘1 Hour and 47 minutes of Free Ecstatic Sound’ it says on the blurb and they weren’t kidding.

‘Live at Tusk’ meanwhile finds Campbell joining forces with Oren Ambarchi and his more regular traveling partner Mick Flower for a further 30 minutes worth of ecstatic free improvisation. By all accounts this set at last years Newcastle staged TUSK festival had the audience at the stage’s edge urging the trio on to even greater and greater heights. What makes this free rolling psych trip even more remarkable is the fact that the trio had only met up minutes before the performance and didn’t really have any clear idea of what they were going to do. What they did do was show that when three like minded people get together you don’t need and any fixed idea, you just go for it. Side two is where the drums come out and the thing rises and falls like a thrashing Godzilla. Flower’s guitar is an ever changing one, strings going up, trashed chords, harmonics strung out, notes fluttering and ringing, Campbell is all electronic squiggle and bleat whilst Ambarchi drumming lurches from rolling thunder to a sustained barrage. First side is all build up with no drums in sight but even that doesn’t take long to achieve lift off. Here I’m presuming Ambarchi layered on more of the electronics giving it a wider sound which Flower uses to fling his guitar about. The rapturous applause at its conclusion, by a no doubt well lubricated North East crowd is, it has to be reported, genuinely wild and raucous.  And so it should. These coming togethers don’t happen nearly often enough and when they do they deserve to be recorded, pressed and given a Karen Constance cover. Another one for the Death Race 2000 trips.


Fountain Transmitter Medication

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cicada Dream Band

Pauline Oliveros/David Rothenberg/Timothy Hill - Cicada Dream Band
Gruenrekorder/Terra Nova Music CD

[Gruen 149/LC 09488/TN1410]

The Magicicada, the North America species of the cicada, has a life cycle of seventeen years most of which it spends underground getting old and fat. When they emerge, as they did in the New York Metropolitan district in 2013, Pauline Oliveros, David Rothenberg and Timothy Hill played a series of concerts that incorporated their ubiquitous buzz, the results being that rare thing, a beautiful recording that weaves together both man made sounds and those of the natural world.

But don’t think that this is three improvisors doodling over insect chatter. It is far from it. On ‘The Longest Song in the World’ we have the sounds of Humpback whales, on ‘All Creatures Get It’ Latvian frogs, two tracks have blackbirds for accompaniment, even termites get a look in. Three tracks are plain improv and beautifully done improv at that. All of this being the end result of over three and a half hours worth of live audio edited down to the hour and a bit we have here.

Over the course of eleven tracks the mood is a sombre and serene one where Hill’s vocals, sometimes a panting dog, sometimes a Tuvan shaman, sometimes a deep cycling overtone drone, sit cheek by jowl with both Rothenberg’s fluttering clarinets and Oliveros’ eerie electric V-Accordion.

I suspect that David Rothenberg may be behind all this. He’s the man who plays the clarinet to whales, writes books on how we get our natural rhythm from insects, he’s also the man behind Bug Music, another Gruenrekorder/Terra Nova release in which Rothenberg and friends improvised to the accompaniment of various insects, Hill was also involved in that project and for me it was his vocals that stood out and its the same here. In a Paul McCarthy way he growls, moans, drones and in general uses his voice to terrific effect. Especially on ‘Information National Forest’ where his rapid pants play out to flickering accordion and the sounds of both French cicadas and the Icterine warbler.

What makes this such a remarkable release is the way all three of these musicians gel. Rothenberg’s clarinet is at times a haunting one, a lonesome sound, sparse, fluttering like a bird. Hill manages at times to reach such low vocal drones that you imagine he must have an oil drum for a chest, when they interact with the lonesome call of Humpback whales the results are gaunt and profoundly sad. Oliveros meanwhile is an enigmatic presence one of prodding finger end stabs of her electric accordion, maybe thats her with the muted gong sounds or is it Rothenberg’s Ipad?

Three tracks have no apparent insect sounds, that is they have no subtitle explaining which insect/animal it is thats being mixed and appear to be pure improv which leads to the greater question; was all this improv? If so I’m even more impressed.

My only slight gripe is that the lack of information here. A booklet recounting how all this came together, the gigs they played, a few live pictures would have been illuminating. It may also have told us what that iPad was doing. Updating? Taking pictures? Tweeting? But this is small beer and hardly detracts from what is a remarkable coming together of three like minded people.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Turbulent Times 10

Turbulent Times 10 [The ‘bag bag bag issue].

60 page A5 zine,  8 page A5 insert, 2 x postcards and a one inch button badge with the words Degenerate Waves on it [black 70's computer font on yellow background - not shown].

At least we didn’t have to wait for fifteen years for another issue of the excellent Turbulent Times to appear. That was fifteen years between issues eight and nine in which editor John Eden decided to spend more time with his cabbage patch than with keyboard and pen. The wait is now down to a year which suits me fine.

I heaped praise on issue nine and I heap praise on issue ten. The reason I heap praise is because John Eden has the jaundiced eye that every zine writer needs. Not for him the enthusiastic yap of a wide-eyed teenager whose just been to his first noise gig and is now busy scanning eBay for cheap guitar pedals. Eden even reviews records he cant find anymore. This is more like it. Seat of your pants zine writing with plenty of the self and none of the psuedo wankery, dodgy font shit that ruins many a publication. It almost makes me wish I still did a zine. Well, almost.

In issue ten you get two enlightening interviews with Simon Morris of the Ceramic Hobs who despite being forever associated with mental imbalance always comes across as the most sensible person you’ve ever met. In the eight page accompanying booklet he holds forth on fascism/anti fascism in music and in the main zine on The Hobs. Both are worth your time.

There’s further interviews with now ex noise artist Elizabeth Veldon which highlights just how Neanderthal some noise fans/artists can be when faced with someone who has a brain and Pete Um who just can’t seem to make his mind up. Concrete/Field and Jah Excretion bring in the rest of the field and lets not forget the impossible to be dull artist Dr. Steg who gets an outing in a piece written by Pete Coward.

Its in the review section where Eden shines brightest though. His pieces on The Extreme Rituals Festival may be two years after the event but who’s complaining? As far as I’m concerned I was glad of the reminiscences and being enlightened as to the bits I missed. Trevor Wishart, The Residents and events at Bexhill Pavilion involving experimental electronic artists of a European bent also get a mention. Best record review goes to a spelling mistake of a band called müllGRMM TÜTEsk whose record he cant find. Its the kind of personal touch you just cant find in mainstream publications. The Wire should give him a job pronto but I dare say he’d tell them where to shove it.

£4 UK - £6 EUR - £7 ROW post paid




Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Sophie Cooper - Our Aquarius

Sophie Cooper - Our Aquarius 
Wild Silence. CDR

Sophie Cooper left London for Todmorden in a hooped caravan pulled by a clippetty cloppetty Shire horse with ribbons tied in its mane. Maybe not. The reality probably involved the M1 or the East Coast main line but for a minute there I thought of 'Our Aquarius'  as being an album that captured Cooper's travels from the smoke to the wilds of Tod, lyrics written on parchment using a goose feather quill, whimsical chords strummed out on a battered acoustic guitar as butterflies landed on her head and foxes ran in and out of hedgerows Vashti Bunyan stylee.

Todmorden is the moor top town thats either in Lancashire or Yorkshire depending on which council's redrawing the boundaries this year. A down to earth kind of place that's the rolled up checked shirtsleeves and hobnails boots to down the road Hebden Bridge's denim dungarees and Crocs. Its the sort of place that inspires people. Unlike London which eventually just pisses people off. Its here that Sophie Cooper and partner Jake Blanchard have set up camp and with it Tor Press [the label] and Tor Fest, the 2014 version being a resounding success by all accounts. I've been to their gigs at the magnificent deconsecrated Unitarian church that stands alone on the edge of town and have enjoyed myself immensely. Since arriving in Todmorden Cooper and Blanchard have been busy in many artistic endeavors. Have you seen Jake's poster work?  Good things come from Tod.

But back to the album. Which has very little to do with Vashti Bunyan and Jog Along Bess and more to do with drone, ethereal vocals and gently plucked acoustic guitars along which a sustained electric guitar feeds back. As witnessed on the first track 'Blessing Angel and the Roses' where Cooper's looped voice is slowed to a slur before being fed into a harmonium drone thats just plain old dreamy. Not a caravan in sight.

The most rewarding material here is that which leans furthest away from basic song structure.  ‘Wistanentone’ is an example in point, an eight minute long instrumental where the simple acoustic guitar melody is accompanied by a drone and an electric guitar that teeters on the edge of feedback. 'The Moon Hit Me in the Face' is a ghostly affair with Cooper's vocals buried under a mound of blankets as various things rattle past. On 'Palengam Hantu' the twin guitars interweave to a field recording containing the voices of Tod residents, here we get Cooper's vocals going though various effects again masking her voice. Sleevenotes mention ‘with help from Jake Blanchard’ whether this is in the form of that electric guitar I know not. The open string alternations on 'Finger Trace Song [For AB]' are the perfect balance for Cooper's gentle voice, when Cooper sings 'I know you've had a bad year' to a coda of plucked strings and panning drone, my heart swooned. Yes really.

This collection of songs is obviously a deep and personal one [all the tracks are dedicated to Alison Blanchard] and one that wouldn’t have that same ‘lost’ feel had they been recorded whilst in the capital. Of this I’m sure. The next time you’re in Todmorden [and I urge you to make that journey, it really is worth the trek] you could do a lot worse than play this while on your way.

Our Aquarius is by no means a flawless release but the way it captures a mood, a walk on a moor top with Stoodley Pike in the distance perhaps, is something to admire.

Wild Silence