PANIC AND CAROUSELS: March 2015 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Panic & Carousels was on gardening leave in January – there is no P&C garden as such, but other things needed tending and who the hell releases music in January anyway? But here at the beginning of March things are getting fantastically hectic so best crack on, there’s a lot to get through…

First up, an update on the IX Tab album I raved about in the first P&C column back in November. All too typically, this astonishing release has been plagued by the same sort of frustrations that seem to dog IX Tab’s every move. But at last, you can buy R.O.C. directly from IX Tab himself and here’s a reminder of why you should:

From the sublime to the objectionable: local indie Box Records has chosen March 16th to launch the debut album from Foot Hair into an unsuspecting world. Made up in part by members of the endlessly rotating Tyneside stoner-doom-noise scene, this self-titled album (example track title King Of Scum) is defiantly ugly, bilious and relentless, each track starting with a piercing feedback whine and going downhill from there. Imagine Big Black or Jesus Lizard fronted by a malicious hobgoblin and you get the idea. The Take That ‘cover’ is particularly disgusting, the sound of Barlow feasting on the flesh of his fellow tax-evading pop moppets. It’s wonderful, basically, and you can order it here.

Emerging from the same Geordie quagmire are Blown Out, who’s Drifting Way Out Between Suns was a big hit with P&C last year. You can read a full interview with guitarist Mike Vest in this month’s Narc Magazine, but you should definitely check out the new Blown Out album, Jet Black Hallucinations, released by Golden Mantra on March 23rd.

The other key Vest release this month is a vinyl reissue of the 11 Paranoias album Stealing Fire From Heaven, out on Ritual Productions. By the time you read this, however, Vest will have recorded another 8 albums in 5 different bands. When does he ever sleep? Meanwhile, another of Vest’s bands, Haikai No Ku (who also feature members of Foot Hair. See?… ) support the mighty Anthropoph at the Head Of Steam on March 19th, another essential bill from those lovely Leave Me Here folks (for a review of their last bill which saw Hey Colossus tear the roof off the Head and other tortured metaphors, check this month’s Narc).

Just out on Southern Lord is The Cliff EP, a new four track from reliably essential postrock / mathrock / ROCK outfit Pelican. The title track – originally on 2013’s undervalued Forever Becoming – appears three times. The lead track features a vocal from Allen Epley that actually manages to diminish the original, a rather generic rawk croon that gets in the way of the track itself, while the AH/BCM ‘Palms Mix’ does a good job of turning the track inside out but remains a curiosity. Of course, it’s all about the Justin Broadrick remix, the Brummie wizard bringing his dubby, shoegazey hugeness to bear on a gorgeous 7 minutes of freefalling noise. New track The Wait seems like a soothing coda till the riff kicks in halfway through and it tickles your synapses in a fine style. Buy it for the Broadrick, stick around for The Wait.

In keeping with our mission statement to deal in the best of electronica and bass music, there’s a couple of bona fide club releases this month. If you go to the right clubs anyway. First up Japanese three piece Nisennenmondai get two tracks from their N album – one of the most essential releases of the last couple of years – remixed by Shackleton, an artist who appeared with his Skull Disco label back when dubstep still sounded like the future, but quickly set off in all manner of percussive directions. His reworking of A1 (Nisennenmondai like to keep it minimal) covers a lot of ground in its 15 minutes, from techno chug to a dubbed out wobfest to menacing organ-stabbing throb, and back again.  B1 is similarly immersive and closer perhaps to some of Shackleton’s own work, the percussion (the eerie chimes in particular) to the fore. Unless you’re lucky to hear this on a ridiculously good sound system it’s one for headphones and deep listening and it’s available from Hardwax now.

Straddling the divide between electronics and the ugly noise in which P&C likes to wallow is the new album from Shit & Shine. 54 Synth​-​brass, 38 Metal guitar, 65 Cathedral (out through the ever-more essential Rocket Recordings on March 16th) is perhaps the best distillation yet of Craig Clouse’s valiant and long-running effort to be the Butthole Surfers you can dance to. (To be clear, I have danced to The Butthole Surfers many times but the comedowns were awful). Unlike the clumsy but loveable attempts at making house music that the Buttholes attempted with their Jack Officers project, Clouse is really good at this shit and knows his way round a beat. Even if he then pairs those beats with chaos, noise and glorious  ‘what does this button do?’ eruptions. I really can’t recommend this album enough.

The mighty Drag City label has a couple of releases out right now that both come freighted with curious back stories. Hexadic sees Six Organs Of Admittance dealing in unique tuning systems and numerology to interrupt and reconfigure traditional compositional forms, or something along those lines, but for the most part I’m afraid the album sounds like rather unfocused shredding. That said, their Supersonic Festival slot in June should be intriguing.  Far more rewarding is Tangier Sessions, an album of hypnotic and explosive acoustic guitar improv genius from former Sun City Girl and all round dude Sir Richard Bishop. Saturated in flamenco and North African styles this is utterly hypnotic, Bishop finding the perfect balance between technical excellence and just plain showing off. In this case, the back story – of an antique and mysterious guitar – adds to the album’s power.

Finally this month, on March 16th Jonny Mugwump’s Exotic Pylon releases Epicotyl Red, an intriguing and original album from Portia Winters. At times it sounds like a bedroom project on a grand scale, at others an ambitious and confident avant-pop behemoth. Winters manages to hint at everyone from Bjork to Jenny Hval, Gazelle Twin to our very own Bridie Jackson, her mesh of vocals – by turns delicately folky or strident and confrontional – and dense electronic backing covering a lot of stylistic ground but never dipping in quality or consistency. Occasionally Winters’ slightly mannered vocals remind you she is, among other things, a singing tutor,  but this album is an absolute joy and in the utterly compelling Revolution (hints of Lesley Rankine’s marvellous Ruby) Mugwump could have a bond fide pop hit on his hands.

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