Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beard's Rites of Spring

Our March edition bulges with beauties! Waulking songs from Barra, blissed out bearded dudes singing about honey, gorgeous Iranian ballads, sound poetry, blackened bass, Italian soundtracks, sepulchural organs, West African guitars, and cosmic freakout jazz.

Children in Djounhan - Bellula; Ishilan N-Tenere (Sahel Sounds / Missipssippi Records)
Intriya Ag Babo - Taliat; Ishilan N-Tenere (Sahel Sounds / Missipssippi Records)
Akron/Family - Silly Bears; S/T II The Cosmic Birth and Journey... (Dead Oceans)
Miss Mary Morrison and her chorus - Lathat siubhold beinne dhomh; Waulking Songs From Barra (Tangent)
Bob Cobbing - Interview; The Order of Things (Aeolus/pocketbooks)
Raime - This Foundry; EP (Blackest Ever Black)
Tim Hecker - In The Air II; Rave Death 1972 (Kranky)
Iron Knowledge - Showstopper; Chains & Black Exhaust (Memphix)
Larry Young - Khalid of Space Part Two; Lawrence of Newark (Sanctuary)
The Haxan Cloak - Burning Torches of Despair; ST (Aurora Borealis)
Nino Rota - Aria Di Roma Main Titles; LSD Roma (Cherry Red)
Dariush - Cheshm-e Man; Pomegranetes (Finders Keepers)

Enjoy! We'll be back on 18 April.

In the meantime, here's some bonus beats, featuring Larry Young

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Godspeed ATP pt 2

That's all folks! I was only commissioned to do a handful. Best ATP I've ever been to. As bold and brilliant as the Thurston Moore one was in 2006, it was a little heavy on the dude-rock-noise axis. Godspeed brought beauty, harshness and weirdness, and they gave us something to dance to as well. Job's a good un.

Flower-Corsano Duo

Chris Corsano is one of this festival's heroes, manning the sticks for mighty power trio Rangda and sitting in on Oneida's epic 10-hour jam, but it's his improvised set with UK underground godhead Mick Flower that takes him closest to Satori. I'm always wary of epithets like 'greatest drummer in the world' but really, Corsano is on another plane, his hands a blur as they dart around the kit, summoning forth a sublime polyrhythmic storm. His style is an avant-punk take on free jazz drumming, all rapid-fire rolls and low-end rumbles, with every nuance of the kit explored. He rarely locks into a regular groove, but somehow he is able to create momentum while pushing the music in multiple directions. Flower is less hyperactive, allowing the shimmering tones of his japan banjo – a modified electric dulcimer - to float serenely over the percussive mellee. Before long, however, he's bent over his instrument, rocking back and forth as he conjures a swirling mass of ragas and drone. The combined effect is truly psychedelic: ecstatic music to liberate body and mind.

The Dead C

It's tempting to apply images of bodily decay and post-industrial waste to New Zealand's premier noise-rock trio– the twitching corpse of garage rock being dragged through a yard of burning tyres, guitars corroded with battery acid etc – but there's a graceless beauty to their sonic muck that resists notions of nihilism or violence. Without an ounce of self-conscious cleverness, the Dead C deconstruct rock. What begins as slow, hypnotic and murky becomes utterly compelling as Robbie Yeats's drums drive Michael Morley and Bruce Russell's gloriously fucked guitars to series of climaxes and collapses. Primitive half-riffs are formed out of the fuzz and junk, fragments of song stumble wearily amidst squalls of feedback and it sounds gorgeous.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some reflections on the Godspeed ATP part 1

Some belated reviews of the fantastic Godspeed curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival that took place in December 2010. I did these for a major music site, but unfortunately I was the only person who submitted in the end, so they couldn't publish them. Part two tomorrow, featuring Corsano-Flower Duo and the Dead C.

John Butcher

On one level John Butcher's pieces are demonstrations of his staggering technique, but so unusual are the sounds emanating from his saxophones that the process becomes fascinating. There is a scientific quality to the way Butcher approaches the instrument (he once was a theoretical physicist) but the thoroughness of his acoustic investigations is matched by a playful and intense musical spirit. Mind-boggling moments abound, from the flighty soprano reels achieved through athletic feats of circular breathing, to the metallic split-tones which sound like Daleks and Cybermen getting it on in the Radiophonic Workshop. Most remarkable, and beautiful, is his manipulation of a feedback tone through his tenor. Holding the bell up to a microphone, he traps the feedback in his horn, releasing it by opening valves and tapping keys so that the drone is transformed into a ripple of percussive pops and clicks. Every so often he'll let the sound escape, letting it resonate in the air for a few seconds before being snatched back into the belly of his horn. A true master.

The Ex

A set of new material? In front of a festival crowd? Sheer madness! Not a bit of it. They may have been around for 30 years, but these Dutch post-punks surge ever forward, revitalised by new singer Arnold DeBoer. The lack of old favourites is never an issue, because ultimately it all comes down to the rhythm. Eschewing conventional punk attack for afro-motorik grooves and spiky, scratchy guitars, The Ex are rock's greatest dance band. Flanked by greying riff machines Terrie Hessels and Andy Moor, the boyish DeBoer is a commanding frontman, delivering breathless satirical rants and making his guitar sound like Konono No.1's electric thumb pianos. The moments where they lose themselves in the groove and run at each other like duelling stags are thrilling. But it is Katherina Blomefeld who is the true star. She's an inspired drummer, combining loose-limbed African polyrhythms with inexorable Krautrock momentum. It's fitting, then, that she should step up to the mic for the encore of 'Hidegen Fujnak A Szelek', a Hungarian folk song and longtime fan favourite. 'Theme from Konono' completes a peerless set, the band's righteous energy spreading througout the crowd.

Maher Shalal Hash Baz/Keiji Haino

On first impression Maher and Haino seem to represent two extremes of the Japanese underground: the former sweetly naive, the latter uncompromisingly dark and abrasive. But in fact, the two acts share a commitment to their individual visions, and have collaborated in the past. Maher's set is surprisingly loud, with the band joyfully stretching their charming pop tunes into lengthy Modern Lovers/Velvets workouts, all relentless rhythm guitar and parping trumpet. Throughout, Tori Kudo's skewed Syd Barrett via Beefheart guitar solos cut through the sweetness, consigning any whiff of tweeness to oblivion. Tame stuff, nonetheless, in comparison to Haino's set, which begins by subjecting a desolate blues lament to a harrowing onslaught of noise and bloodcurdling screams. Fed through four Fender amps, his guitar creates a ferocious wall of sound, vicious trebles and piercing feedback cutting through a blaze of distortion. A terrible beauty is born. The second half presents Haino as the dark prince of noise, manipulating tone generators and pedals into a raging invocation of sublime forces. Monstrous bass frequencies and thunderous drum loops rattle the rib cage, while Haino waves his hands and flails his long grey locks over some kind of Kaos Pad/theremin hybrid that brings down the Apocalypse in a tempest of swooping tones and howling white noise. A punishing set, but utterly thrilling and cleansing with it.

Stewart Smith

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Beard Radio goes to Instal

This week we're previewing Scotland's leading experimental music festival, Instal, which takes place at the Tramway, Glasgow, from 12-14 November.

We interview curator Barry Esson about how the festival has evolved over the years and what to expect next week. There are tracks from festival performers, including Catherine Christer Hennix, Florian Hecker, Ian Campbell and Christopher De Laurents.

Unrelated to Instal, we bring you new tracks from Sun City Girls, Ensemble Economiques and James Blake and classics from Bongwater, Sister Mary Nelson and David Sylvian, featuring Derek Bailey.

Listen here!

Sun City Girls - Ben's Radio; Funeral Mariachi (Abduction)
Florian Hecker - Acid in the Style of David Tudor 3 (Editions Mego)
Ensemble Economique - Real Thing; Psychics (Notnotfun)
Jean Luc Gionnet & Eric La Casa - Maison Glasgow Lisa (Arika)
Ian Campbell - The Golden Boy Eats
James Blake - Only Know What I Know Now; Klavierwerke (r & s)
Bongwater - Psychedelic Sewing Room; Too Much Sleep (Shimmy Disc)
Sister Mary Nelson - Judgement; Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music Vol 2 (Folkways)
David Sylvian - The Good Son; Blemish (Samhadi Sound)
Christopher De Laurent - Our Streets
Catherine Christine Hennix - The Electric Harpsichord (excerpt) (Die Schachtel)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beard's Halloween Hour of Terror!!!

Cower before the diabolical orgy of terror that is the Beard Radio Halloween Hour of Terror!!!

Featuring Anton La Vey, St Vitus, Inflatable Boy Clams, Rick Wakeman, a very odd David Bowie number, and much, much more. Can you handle the evil?

With special, blood-spattered thanks to my fiendish co-conspirator in evil Satanic Sean Welsh, and our henchmen in diabolis Murderous Matt Evans, Neil "Necromancer" Jacques, Reuben "The Ripper" Kay and Ghoulish Gary Thoms. May your souls rot in hell!

Black Sabbath - Supertzar; Sabotage (Sanctuary)
Rick Wakeman - Hell; Lisztomania OST (A&M)
King Horror - Loch Ness Monster (Trojan)
Inflatable Boy Clams - Skeletons (Subterranean Records)
Meco - Werewolf (Loose in London); Phonograph
Sebastian Peabody - Grave In The Desert; Wavy Gravy for Adult Enthusiasts (Beware)
Beherit - Goat Worship; The Oath of Black Blood (Emetic)
Anton La Vey - Satan Takes A Holiday (Amarillo)
David Bowie - Please Mr Gravedigger; S/T (Deram)
Caldera - Christ, When I Leave This Life; Capitol
Jack Lucifer - I Am Living Death (Kotzaak)
Riz Ortolani - Cannibal Holocaust (Main Theme); Cannibal Holocaust OST (Lucertola Media)
Ruth White - Spleen; Flowers of Evil (Limelight)
Louvin Brothers - Satan Is Real (Capitol)
St John Green - Goddess of Death (Flick Disc)
St Vitus - Zombie Hunger; St Vitus (SSt)
The Vampires of Dartmoor - Tanz Der Vampire; Dracula's Music Cabinet (Finders Keepers)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beard Radio 30.9.10 with special guests TIME

Transmitting not-quite-live from Mile End, we welcome our very special guests Frances Morgan and Mark Dicker of glorious psych-folk-doom duo TIME, who will be playing us some of their favourite records. Frances also plays with Morgen Und Nite, is one of the finest music writers around and was editor and publisher of the lamented Plan B magazine. You may know Mark as guitarist in the mighty grindlords Trencher. Tune in for Turkish folk, Finnish electronica, French prog, Kosmische, harsh noise and an EXCLUSIVE new Trencher jam. Essential listening!

Fabio Frizzi - Falling For Emily/Beyond Emily; The Beyond (Dagored)
Pan Sonic - Corona; Gravitoni (Blast First Petite)
Omar Souleyman - Li Raja Behawakom; Jazeera Nights (Sublime Frequencies)
Secret Chiefs Three - Vajra; Book M (Web of Mimicry)
Erkan Ogur & Ismail H Demircioglu - Pencereden Kar Geliyor; Gulun Kokusu Vardi (Golden Horn Records)
Popol Vuh - Engel Der Gegenwart; Heart of Glass (Brain)
Trencher - Vlad Tapas; All suffering... soon to end (White Label)
Archaia - Soleil Noir; Archaia (Private Press)
Spacecraft - Surface; Paradoxe (Spalax Music)
Zen feat Murat Ertel - Mazhar Neyzen ve Kopegi; Bakirkoy Akil Hastanensinde (Ada Yayincilik)
Whitehouse - Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel; Bird Seed (Susan Lawley)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Unknown Is Best: The Return of Beard Radio 16.9.10

We return with some beautiful new tunes from Afrirampo, Swans and Antoni Maiovvi and pay tribute to free jazz legend Noah Howard and poet and all round hero Edwin Morgan. There's some Bollywood proto-acid, sound poetry, cosmic disco, Moroccan electric banjo jams and a very, very odd unreleased Beach Boys tune. Shout outs to Chris Storey for the Jemaa El Fna recommendation, Katie Pope for the Edwin Morgan ASLS CD, and Frances Morgan for the Beach Boys bootleg. The Aeolus Morgan recordings come from a CD that comes with Ken Cockburn and Alec Finlay's wonderful anthology of Scottish sound, pattern and concrete poems, 'The Order of Things': well worth tracking down, as are most of the titles in Finlay's brilliant Pocketbooks series.

Afrirampo - Miracle Lucky Girls; We Are Ucho No Ko (Rock Action)
Edwin Morgan - Canedolia: an off concrete Scotch Fantasia (Aeolus)
Antoni Maiovvi - This is the beast; Thorns of Love (Caravan Recordings)
Mancingelani - Vana Vasesi; Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa (Honest Jons)
Swans - No Words/No Thoughts; My Father Will Guide a Rope From The Sky (Young God)
Edwin Morgan - The Day The Sea Spoke (Aeolus)
Chanjirit Singh - Raga Lalit Bombay; 12 Ragas to a Disco Beat (Bombay Connection)
Beach Boys - My Solution; Landlocked (Bootleg)
Noah Howard - Space Dimension; Space Dimension (America)
Edwin Morgan - At 80; 23 Poems of Edwin Morgan Vol 2 (ASLS)
Amal Saha - Lahmami; Ecstatic Music of the Jamaa El Fna (Sublime Frequencies)