For The Departed by Holy Boredoms vs El Hombre Al Agua
I first came across the work of El Hombre Al Agua (the solo project of Moths and Locusts’ Dave Read) last year, finding his bleak meditations to be very affecting. Here he teams up with Holy Boredoms (Brendan Holm) for what is actually a second outing, the first being ‘Ghosts That Inhabit the Fog‘ released in January last year. This equally affecting 20 minutes single track release is a very moving elegiac reflection that draws you in, with Holm’s swirling electronics coupled with Read’s guitar effects each in their own way excavating what must be very personal memories of those who have passed. Despite this there is something seamless about how they combine here resulting in what feels like a single strand of consciousness that becomes more beguiling as you get deeper into the drones and eddies of the music. This is really one to listen to alone in a darkened room and conjure your own spirits of those you have known.
‘For the Departed’ is available from Noiseagonymayhem on download and extremely limited CD release here.
Luke Mawdsley by Luke Mawdsley
In many ways this solo album by Luke Mawdsley (Cavalier Song, Mesange and Mugstar) is a really good companion piece to Holy Boredoms vs El Hombre Al Agua in the way that he is also working with existential themes through his compositions. There is a bleakness and emptiness to these pieces which allow the listener to flood their consciousness with their own thoughts and ideas, and while each track here is self-standing there is something of a cumulative effect here when you put them together. They provide a coherent and moving listen. Not only that but Mawdsley seems to gradually up the intensity as the album progresses. These are not small increments of a ‘frog in boiling water’-type but significant steps forward which appear to issue challenges for the listener to take up. This means that this is often not a comfortable listen, but one that can ultimately be rewarding.
‘Luke Mawdsley’ is available to download from God Unknown Records here, the cassette version is sold out.
With Dim Light by Minami Deutsch
Minami Deutsch are one of those bands who have built up quite a reputation over the last couple of years, first from their outstanding debut album, and then through a series of excoriating live performances that left those who witnessed them in need of new nerve endings such was their ferocity. This second album sees the band take something of a different turn with a noticeable softening of their sound in essence letting the sun in (‘Tangled Yarn’) and with more jazz influences (‘Concrete Ocean’). Elsewhere the album is really chilled out with the totally laid back ‘Bitter Moon’ which is somewhat reminiscent of ‘House in the Tall Grass’-era Kikagaku Moyo, while ‘Don’t Wanna Go Back’ is perhaps their most psychedelic offering here with a deeply ingrained beat really hitting the mark. For those who may miss the motorik of the first album the two central tracks ‘Tunnel’ and ‘I’ve Seen A UFO’ hit the mark, but overall this is a more wide-ranging and varied album that will probably not be the instant hit of the first one with many but will require more time to fully appreciate.
‘With Dim Light’ is available on vinyl, CD and download from Guruguru Brain records here.
The Lawn by Asteroid Deluxe
This is an album that I’ve been meaning to cover for a while but somehow have never found the right moment to review, so here goes. I think that the reason for this is because it’s such a difficult album to pin down, which in my book is a good thing. There are all sorts of narratives and influences here that are perhaps best described by the band themselves:
The two part suite involves interlocking pieces juxtaposing overtly lyrical themes with melancholy and a creeping sense of dread. Musically sitting somewhere amongst a psychedelic melange of early 70’s Floyd, Serge Gainsbourg, Folk Horror, Air and Portishead. The album climaxes within a maelstrom of tribal rhythms and a devastating synth led barrage. The intended effect is to leave you gasping from breath.
In this sense the album fits well with the first two reviewed here. There’s something bigger going on as you weave your way through the different musical ideas which seem to take you along in a manner that feels seductive and convincing. It also, in a strange way (and I’m not fully sure how this works yet), feels like it is pulling in the same direction as two other recent Bristol albums (Asteroid Deluxe hail from there) from The Final Age and Anthroprophh since all three deal with dystopian themes is a different yet connecting way. Listen to them all in a sitting starting with this and ending with Anthroprophh, and find yourself in a very challenging yet totally rewarding place.
‘The Lawn’ is available from the band on vinyl and download here.