Music Criticism

Reviews | Pissed Jeans

Pissed Jeans have always elevated their Jesus Lizard leanings and Flipper-worship into a self-deprecating yet oddly assured vein of rock and lurch. This, their sixth album, does little to buck that trend. However, where recent releases have found them peddling sludgey doom trudges (with the occasional dabble in breakneck pyrotechnics), Half Divorced is packed full of pep. They’ve stomped on the gas and it burns along like a raging forest fire.

Industrial Coast - The Tape Label Report, January 2024

Welcome to The Tape Label Report, where we introduce you to five cassette-focused labels you should know about, and highlight key releases from each.

Industrial Coast is a fiercely independent, proudly Northern, and socially conscious noise and experimental label run by Steve Kirby out of Middlesbrough in the UK. His releases regularly raise money and awareness for people in dire situations. “Poverty, homelessness, human rights, domestic violence: I reckon that’s above politics, it’s just about trying to help people less fortunate than yourself,” says Kirby.

Reviews | Lea Bertucci

The impacts of climate change on music have been visible for some time now. Whether its in discussions of coloured vinyl’s oil consumption, electricity usage for vast farms of streaming servers, or last week’s reports of widespread fainting and the death of a fan at Taylor Swift’s Rio concert, the fact that the Earth’s climate is changing is increasingly difficult to ignore for those involved in either creating or consuming music.

Album Of The Week | Hot Flob Time Machine: Prisoners of Love And Hate By Apostille

Back in 2018, I wrote an unpublished novel featuring a scene in which a schoolboy is washed away on a river of phlegm after falling into his school’s “Gob Pit”. Christoforos, objectively the best chip shop in Worthing, is located just around the corner from the house which I grew up in. The patron of that particular establishment happens to be the father of one Michael Kasparis. Fast-forward five years and Kasparis has released his third album of ecstatic synth-pop under the Apostille moniker, on which, three tracks in, the song ‘Spit Pit’ appears.

Reviews | Speaker Music

“Seemed to me that drumming was the best way to get close to God.” – Lionel Hampton

Best known as the ‘King of the Vibraphone’, Lionel Hampton was also a master of the drums, performing jaw-dropping stick-juggling routines without missing a beat. Hampton died of congestive heart failure on 31st August 2002. Just a few days later, James Stinson – one half of Detroit Techno luminaries, Drexciya – also succumbed to a heart condition.

These events may be unrelated but their synchronicity is eerie.

Brachliegen Tapes - The Tape Label Report, July 2023

Run by George Rayner-Law and Dom O’Donoghue from their respective homes in South East London and Deal, Brachliegen Tapes initially launched in 2018 as a vehicle for releasing their own output. In 2022, after a slow start (fittingly, the label’s name translates from German as “lie fallow”), the Brachliegen roster expanded rapidly, picking up inventive artists such as Knifedoutofexistence, Sun Yizhou, and Axebreaker. With new releases from Distraxi, Stonecirclesampler, and a follow-up to the sociopolitical decay of Like Weeds’s first tape are on the horizon.

Reviews | Guided By Voices

As it’s been thirty years since Robert Pollard jacked in his teaching job, you'd think that people would stop bleating on about his previous role as an educator. Yet here I am, listening to his twelfth album in four years, contemplating what that output would look like if his creative opportunities were stalled by school holidays. Not that Guided By Voices were particularly sedate during that era – they still churned out seven albums in as many years.

Album Of The Week | Contact Buzz: Full-On By Klara Lewis & Nik Colk Void

At a friend’s 21st birthday, back in the giddy year of 2006, I made an ill-advised narcotic miscalculation. Already pumped up on a brazen cocktail of MDMA, fairly rubbish cocaine, and my own foolish bravado, I gamely hocked down three small tablets of ‘herbal highs’ misrepresented to me by the birthday boy's sociopathic flatmate (whose increasingly erratic behaviour would eventually lead to his attempted sectioning).

Reviews | V/Z

Suono Assente (the English translation of which is “I’m Absent”) is the first release under the V/Z moniker from Vanishing Twin bandmates Valentina Magaletti and Susumu Mukai (aka Zongamin). Veering away from the psychedelic pop of VT, V/Z leans more heavily on influences from hip-hop, dub, post-punk, electronica, and, at times, oozes a similar sensual energy to Lucretia Dalt’s magnificent ¡Ay!, throwing in increasingly inventive touchstones along the way.

Knifedoutofexistence Interview

Feedback, photocopiers, and Leonard Cohen. My midwinter chat with Dean Lloyd Robinson (the main man behind Knifedoutofexistence and the experimental noise label – Outsider Art) is finally seeing the light of day. Fortunately, Dean is no stranger to time’s tricks. The ticking hand of father time has appeared as a motif recurrently throughout his musical career. He has distorted it, manipulated it and fought it. Let’s rewind the tape back to December 2022 when this conversation took place.

Reviews | JAAW

I don’t know if you remember the music video for Björk’s 1995 song ‘Army of Me’ but it’s a fun Michel Gondry-helmed romp with tanks, teeth, diamonds, and gorillas. That noise-rock supergroup JAAW have decided to close their debut album Supercluster with a cover of said track, albeit inflicted with Deftones ooze and the sort of scuttling breakbeats that you’d usually find adorning a Squarepusher release, tells you a fair amount about their approach.

Features | Album Of The Week | American Cyclo: 2222 And Airport By Shit & Shine

Shit and Shine is, as Meghan Trainor would have it, all about that bass. He wields it as a weapon. It’s a constant force that drives his music onward, never daring to slow to a dawdle. Ceaseless movement seems to be essential to what Shit and Shine does. You can witness this play out in the life of main man, Craig Clouse. He’s a keen mountain biker, hitting the trails three or four times a week and, musically, he’s prolific to the point of intimidation.

Reviews | Alexander Tucker & Keith Collins

“Sometimes the pain of feeling no grief is worse than the pain of grief” – Keith Collins

Fifth Continent (and the accompanying anthology, Fifth Quarter) is a vast, encompassing work grown out of grief and missed opportunities. It ties Alexander Tucker’s sonic language to Keith Collins’ carefully spoken words and also to the pens, prose, and imagery of so many other collaborators, admirers, and tQ regulars including Jennifer Lucy Allen, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Stephen O’Malley, Simon Fisher Turner...

Reviews | Deathprod

Following in the still reverberating footsteps of last year’s world-clobbering opus Sow Your Gold In The White Foliated Earth, Compositions might initially feel a little flat. Backwards looking, even. And, in certain respects, that case might be made. The attacked strings and explorative scales that propelled 2022’s ode to Harry Partch out of Deathprod’s usual sonic cul-de-sac, for example, have been set aside as swiftly as they appeared to arrive...
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