Articles by Michael Baker
Shedding the guitar trappings that have characterised Blonde Redhead, Kazu’s debut album is an immaculately constructed puzzle box; and whilst you train your ear to hear the mechanism, you can easily miss the world change around you with every twinkling sound.
Discordant rhythms and warm fuzz keep an unpredictable depth to songs which bubble with a deeply ingrained pop sentimentality. Theirs is a sound that echoes 60s experimentalists and Tom Waits, fed through Top of the Pops reruns and an air conditioning unit.
There have been arguments about the legitimacy of Babymetal since they were jettisoned into the stratosphere, but those are arguments are both reductive and redundant. They are what they purport themselves to be – a highly manufactured hit machine oiled with a killer song-writing team behind them and wired with a solid-gold gimmick.
Haru Nemuri draws from the wax of classic hip hop, spitting emotion, and hazy dreams to a warm turntable in a similar way to dälek or Melt-Banana. This is pop music for the weird generation; Britney Spears for the vaporwave crowd.
MØL excel at turning extreme, narratively rich music into digestible bite size chunks that work – they manage to distil the essence of Deafheaven and Alcest into condensed glistening sweat upon petal fields on a dying earth.
The album doesn’t so much as reach for its short runtime, but barrels towards it with the dignity and grace of a studded elephant a few trunks down at the saloon.
Gone are the reversed power fantasies of ‘Perpetrator Emasculation’, replaced by maleficent mediations on violence committed on the vulnerable. From the very first notes our birth and conception becomes a suffocating violent combat.
It’s complete sensory overload, but the moment the adrenaline injection and eye crossing confusion starts to wane you start to see that this is music with melody, rhythm, and poise at its beating heart with every element pushed to its most extreme.
It’s contradiction mixed with contradiction, with cognitive dissonance strife with reckless abandon – and it’s utterly intoxicating.
Before their show at London’s The Lexington, Michael Baker caught up with Belgium’s Cocaine Piss and they were kind enough to talk to him about collectivist ethos, positive punk, and cornering the poker market.
For London’s self-proclaimed ‘anxiety pop’ group Flirting. and their debut This Would Be Funny If It Was Happening To Anyone But Me this introduction is an erratic, melancholic, and infinitely fascinating glance from the night time veranda of a bar. It’s a stare that will leave you uncomfortable and disconcerted – but you’d dare not look away because its so infatuating in its iridescence.
The Black Queen is an important project, not just for the willing catharsis of any listener who may choose to engage with its neon cloaked form but as a clinically needed outlet for its creators. Its a darkly warm and death obsessed romantic that is renown to frequent the trendiest clubs in the city and the darkest recesses of the mind at home.
Whilst not quite as immediate as some of its predecessors best, the album is a love letter to stadium rock and classic Prog – where any meandering and experimental noodling is soon brought into focus with Vennart’s mastery of chorus and melody.
There are artillery barges of blast beats and groove, before relenting with doom laden passages that allow you to momentarily breath and take in the damage before the next aural assault. It’s the breathing ebb and flow that works as the backbone of the album, where Jesus Piece show enough confidence to relent and leave you bleeding.
The harp has a long tradition of being depicted as an instrument of heaven. It is Natalie Evans’ lyrics that bring those heavenly connotations to earth, and make everyday things sound sublime in a fashion that draws comparisons with Joanna Newsom. Even the plight of being stuck in a tree is given a great innocent splendour as if the experience is the height of life itself.
‘Stranger Fruit’ is very much a natural evolution to ‘Devil Is Fine’, expanding on the sound and style, but along the way there are some gloriously unexpected mutations.
You can feel throughout that Queen Kwong isn’t interested in wasting time. Songs are butchered and cut until only the heart remains, the hooks are given all of the room in the world to amplify and dig in – whilst experimental synths and psych guitars scream out before being brutally silenced.
‘Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It’ is the release that their 13 year young career has been leading up to.
Key to their success is vocalist Asami who not only has a voice that exemplifies the best in over-the-top power vocals, with some showstopper wails placed in, but a natural stage character that had the crowd eating out of her hand.
Vuur is a competent vessel for Anneke Van Giersbergen to shine but ultimately its globetrotting adventure leads it to a tour of progressive metal that never finds itself its own city to call home.
‘Sterilize’ is an album with a singular dead end destination and nihilistic purpose, but with many ways of taking you there.