caramac decisions: joe murray on nnja riot and nephew

April 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Nephew – After School Special (tape or download, atrium tapes, ATR06)

Nnja Riot – Glitch Jungle (self-released download)


Before we start the ritual unpicking can I offer you a peak behind the curtains at Midwich Mansions? Our esteemed editor will occasionally gnash his teeth and mop his brow and rustle his beard and send us scriveners a telegram stating:

The review pile is dangerously high and leaning like a wonky monument – (stop) –  Take  a gander at this enclosed list and pick out some hot discs to ponder on – (stop) – Don’t delay – (comma) – I’m drowning here – (stop) – And stop fidgeting! – (stop)

We all have our own methods of picking discs.  As a fan of the selection box I tend to go for a mixture of the familiar (a reassuring Mars Bar) and excitingly new (an exotic Caramac).  Nnja Riot and Nephew were a Caramac-decision, a leap into the sugary unknown.

First up is Nnja Riot, an evocative name that’s summoning up kick-ass thoughts in my little head.  My curiosity is repaid with some very bright and shiny semi-improvised songs, kick-ass for sure but without the shuriken to the forehead. In fact this Ninja’s more likely to rustle up a milkshake with their hidden Nutribullet than threaten painful revenge.

As dense as LA smog, as furious as a dropped ice-cream; this brief disc houses the most eccentric electric bongos that I’ve heard in a long time.  The amazing bongo is err…bongo-ing all over the place as the sound of the electronics (from the Pepsi generation) are splashed in rainbow patterns.

Twisting through the slippery sheen of processed guitar and keyboards Nnja Riot does an unexpected nod to the goof-poetry of Adam Bohman as instructions are read out (for super glue or something) in a sing-song voice underwired with a hint of menace.

I’m rubbing my temples at ‘Velcrow Hook’, a more guitar-laden piece until the jigsaw snaps into place and I’m minded of the much-missed Spacemen 3 and the slow build of their indie-hit ‘Revolution’.

It’s all well dandy, and dare I say it… a refreshing Spring listen.  You dig that Justin Marc Lloyd and his day-glo empire?  Dig in.


A little breathless I crank up the cheap-o laptop for the mysterious Nephew and the innocent sounding After School Special.  While Nnja Riot was ripping with the delightful instability of glitch and itchy improvisation this particular Nephew has their charts clearly marked and a steady hand on the tiller.

Each track (on this download ) is short and individually contained but snaps and cracks together (like Optimus Prime) into a 12 minute side!

There’s an almost Boards of Canada feel to some of the sepia-tinted ambient hums.  These floating pieces area all decayed trumpet pre-sets played on thick Bakelite keys… the sound of unreliable memory?  But that doesn’t stop them sidling up comfortably against rugged and granular music concrete (going ‘krrrrriicccccc’ and ‘skkkkkeee’) like wasps at a picnic.

An occasional piano shines through the incense and cuts like a knife through speed-of thought, university-style, music concrete that folds gridded graph paper into an origami swan.  But this After School excursion is never dry and academic.  The quickness of the movement keeps things in the moment and alert.  It’s certainly a ‘listening’ music, one that demands attention and it’s perfect for the warm afternoon on which I’m tapping away, sky bruised overhead.  It looks like rain.


Nnja Riot

atrium tapes [Editor’s note: at the time of writing the atrium Bandcamp site seems to have disappeared.]

sweet electric gravy: joe murray on shredderghost, dominic coppola, amalgamated, homogenized terrestrials

November 11, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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SHREDDERGHOST – Golden Cell (tape, Power Moves Label, PML 011, edition of 50 or download)

Dominic Coppola – Vogue Meditations (tape, atrium tapes, edition of 20 or download)

Amalgamated – Solve et Coagula (tape and booklet, Aubjects, Aujx – 4, edition of 35)

Homogenized Terrestrials – Shadows Think Twice (CD or download, Aubjects, Aux – 6, edition of 250)

shredderghost - golden cell

Shredderghost – Golden Cell

In a pre-VHS video North East (Miners’ Strike era) it wasn’t uncommon for people to have a massive, twin-keyboard domestic Wurlitzer in their front rooms.  These were big things with fat, smooth plastic keys and came with a hundred ‘voices’ to pump and pummel.  Loads of folk had them.  But of course no one I knew had music lessons so these things pretty much collected dust until a bright spark invented the Breville Sandwich Toaster.

But the combination of boredom and bad summer weather meant every so often we would pull off the obligatory polythene cover, hammer the ‘flute #1’ preset and tape down the keys to produce a marmalade-throbbing drone.

I’m not sure where Shredderghost spent their childhood but ‘A Soi-Meme’ has that same sepia-tinted fuzz I remember back from long summer holidays spent doing nothing in particular.  Of course Shredderghost (a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference perhaps?) are/is adding some 21st century sophistication to this mix and the itchy glitch of a single guitar note adds the accent of a rhythm to keep the heart beating with regularity.  Some brittle magnesium chimes tinkle like the good cutlery (saved for special occasions) but apart from these interventions things drift like a daydream for nine sleepy minutes until there is the briefest of sound-drumlins, a milk-like boil of dusty Hammond organ swell, to nail things directly into a memory-gong.

The pad gets more Space Age on ‘Among the Flowers’; an evolving pulse flickering like an orange candle flame in a draughty corridor.

It’s the physical juttering of the sound itself rather than individual sonic timbres that become the main listening toe-hold here.  A micro-glitch stutters and pulses.  If I could draw it I would sketch out something similar to a smooth dogtooth check.  The remorseless flutter ranges from ‘angels dance on the head of a pin’ to ‘coal shovel scooping out black-diamond dust’ until the acoustic guitar reveals itself in a lazy riff, all stumbling and drunken.  Devendra Banhart seems to be locking his fingers round that ‘Little Yellow Spider’ song but rather than it annoy me until my teeth rattle it causes a relaxation in the shoulders, a snap in my fingers and…what’s this?  A smile!


Dominic Coppola – Vogue Meditations

My slow mind wakes up and asks the blindingly obvious:

Meditations on Vogue as in Vogue magazine Dominic?

This certainly has the flesh-like gloss of high fashion mags.  It’s thoughtful, inward-looking music that is so weighty and thick, I can almost feel it between my fingers.

The working method is clear, uncomplicated but effective: simple breathy phrases are repeated like some vanilla-scented vape smoke gushing out a red-lipped pout.  At times I’m picking up a Vangelis sandwich but it could equally be a 90’s dope track or a fridge door sighing as the vacuum is released.

Overlaid, on occasion, is the electric fuss of data files crashing – a tinny fizzing wasp around this glass of sweet lemonade.   Check out the track ‘Eyelash’ for crystalline spun-sugar shatter!

A generation of Shoegazers have dumped them guitars (such a pain the lug about) and mash their soft riffs via laptop magic now. Aphex Twin harmonies are now sliding slickly out of perfume adverts.

In another universe the NME would be all over this, now it’s us at RFM.  That’s progress. [Editor’s note: I love this album.  That is all.  Back to Joe…]


Amalgamated – Solve et Coagula

These heavy bass vibrations (amplified concrete springs?) reek of diesel fumes and hot dripping grease.  Crushed whale-aching is paired with a high-tech synth wash and spluttering electric bubbling. This is not music for birdwatching!

On the lengthy side A the Amalgamated band (there’s four names but no job titles on the accompanying booklet*) tease us with 10 minutes of blocked plumbing – a heavy night-soil jam.  But slowly ‘something’ emerges, a sparky repetition sounding like lunar gravity modelled in crumbling red brick.  It clicks into place well enough but you know you’re going to get filthy.  The last third of this piece gets the deeply desolate sci-fi treatment; splashing breathlessly through damp corridors, pursued by crackling phaser fire and concussion mines.

Side B starts off in an altogether different hemisphere as it fires up the sun-organ with an ecstatic kaleidoscopic fluttering spilling buttery light all over everywhere. The zoetropic repetitions make like a Gysin Dreamachine experiment developing a crunchy cough. At roughly the 10 minute mark we are in Boredom’s Vision Creation territory and I feel the urge to raise my fists aloft towards the distant pulsars and magnetic dust clouds and shout


It takes me a couple of days to put my finger on what this reminds me of, the round peg it fits in my square head.  Oh, of course… this could nestle comfortably on the Discogs page of the very much missed Striate Cortex label.

Does that paint a clearer picture?

* This comes with a twenty–page booklet of stark black and white photography and drawings that sort of blur the mechanical and organic, Tetsuo style.  Well worth checking out for the artwork alone!


Homogenized Terrestrials – Shadows Think Twice

Introducing true sizzle-sound.

No one likes to be boxed in, yeah, but for descriptive purposes I sometimes have to find a shortcut… a way to cut right through the airwaves; from my firm pink ear to your grey crenellated brain.  And this time I’m using sausages as a medium.  Personally, I pledged allegiance to the veggie lifestyle 20 years ago but there’s one thing you can’t deny…the dizzyingly rich sound-patina of a crispy banger!

The US-based Homogenized Terrestrials carefully introduce a whole palette of gentle sizzles, tinkles and clunks into their sedative music.

Things happen on two levels.  The high-end crackle splutters away with great greasy energy but beneath, where the ear often falls first, are s-l-o-w clatters and resonant gongs.  ‘Defective Extractor‘ is an excellent example of this double-layering and adds a third runway of mournful grief-strings and field recordings to proceedings.

But fear not travellers… this is no static music, it has real movement.  Using tricks learned from Ska and Reggae things move forward with a regular-lurch; the off-beat upstroke.   These pull rather than push; cajole a dreamy bimble rather than the sharp-elbowed scrum of a city commuter.

Taking this slow, confident approach usually means we’ve got a long-timer on board; a guy or gal who knows their onions.  A brief internet search shows that HT is (at the minute) just one Phillip Klampe, an Illinois native who’s been doing this sizzle for 29 years!

So aim your mouse at the well-stocked Homogenized Terrestrials Bandcamp and soak up some sweet electric gravy.


Power Moves Label

atrium tapes


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