on Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A long time favourite of mine, admittedly I jumped onto her bandwagon when her I Conjure Series EP came out and therefore am a fan of her rawer, more stripped down material. As such it took a while to get used to some of the more alt. country stylings of her last album This Fool Can Die Now, strangely enough those songs are now my more preferred on the album and so the stripped down sound of The Calcination was somewhat of a disappointment initially. Repeated listens have however shown that Scout as ever is one special girl. The only disappointment is that many of these songs are not new, saying that the fantastic opening tracking Just Do It , rather than being the new Nike theme tune, previously appeared as a BSide to her Dinosaur Egg single and yet I have no recollection of this wonderful track so its good to have them collected alongside the new tracks.

Reading into her lyrics she seems worryingly disturbed, "and the voices said just do it/ and i think i agree/ cos someones gotta do it/ and it might as well be me"
Both the title track and Cherry Cheek Bomb see Scout at her heaviest, a fine mix of quietude and raucous noise as previously cooked up on tracks like No Ones Wrong and Lullaby for Scout in Ten Years.

Stripped with Pluto is so fuzzed up its only a stones throw from sounding like a collaboration with Emeralds Steve Hauschildt.

Its another wonderful addition to the musical archives that reiterates in my mind just why Scout is fighting with Grouper as the most listened too artist in my Last Fm collection.

Scout Niblett - The Calcination of Scout Niblett mp3 care of http://haoneg.com
Scout Niblett - Just Do It mp3 care of TSURURADIO

1 Just Do It! 5:28 (apareció originalmente en el ep "Dinosaur Egg", mayo 2007)
2 The Calcination of Scout Niblett 3:31
3 I.B.D. 4:34
4 Bargin 4:54
5 Cherry Cheek Bomb 6:28 (original en la recopilación "Comes With a Smile #8", agosto 2003)
6 Kings 4:38
7 Lucy Lucifer 1:51 (originalmente bonus track digital de "This Fool Can Die Now", octubre 2007)
8 Duke of Anxiety 2:14
9 Ripe With Life 5:32 (original en la recopilación "Eye of the Beholder II", octubre 2002)
10 Strip Me Pluto 3:06 (originalmente bonus track digital de "This Fool Can Die Now" -titulada "Pluto" y en versión instrumental, octubre 2007)
11 Meet and Greet 9:01 (original en el single "Kidnapped By Neptune" -titulada "I am a Prince", mayo 2005)

What The Line of Best Fit Said :
One of the hardest things about The Calcination of Scout Niblett- the singer’s first album in three years- is that it is so difficult to describe. Yet, it is precisely this fact that makes it so good in the first place. Staffordshire-born Scout Niblett, now based in Portland, manages to merge influences so effectively that the sounds become her own, rather than a re-moulding of revered predecessors. The grungy sounds of Sonic Youth and Nirvana are evident, the guitars on Kings sounding particularly Cobain-esque, but the singer-songwriter has so firmly taken hold of the quiet-loud dynamic that her songs remain individual.

Opening track ‘Just Do It!’ sets the tone, quiet Shellac-style electric rumblings underlying Niblett’s clear, folk-learned vocals, intriguing accent and pronunciation. The pure yet untamed feel of her voice brings to mind a more raucous Cat Power or early PJ Harvey. Lyrically, Niblett swings from brutal honesty to apparent nonsense, each as effective and complimentary to its accompaniment as the other, ‘Duke of Anxiety’ coming off as especially witty. The title track carries the lines “Welcome to my self-made sweat box. This is where I take it all off”, highlighting the record’s theme of exorcism.

‘Cherry Cheek Bomb’ shreds itself open with one gargantuan wave of riff, harking back to classic Smashing Pumpkins’ tones (before egos got the better of everyone), then retreating again to more introspective meanderings. The simple, stripped back drums and howls of “hallelujah” are heart wrenching, illustrating the intimate, lonely feel of Niblett’s music at its best. The nursery rhyme melody of ‘Lucy Lucifer’ is similarly haunting. Niblett’s long-term collaboration with Steve Albini makes sense, his penchant for gain-centric instrumental mess music and sporadic drums placed prominently in the mix perfectly complimentary to her style. The overall feel is awfully reminiscent of his and Harvey’s Rid Of Me, each space purposefully utilised to counterpoint fuzz-driven chords and guttural vocal lines

Whilst Niblett’s fifth album is unlikely to result in any kind of mainstream crossover, the typically unstructured nature of the songs perhaps unapproachable to some, Calcination… is incredibly visceral and gripping. There always remains a powerful, otherworldly quality which the listener can’t quite put their finger on. Admittedly keeping carefully close to the minimalist sounds she has been making for a decade, it is a format Niblett has now distilled into an art form, wasting never a searing note or unsettling fill. Tense, raw and skeletal with a soul, Niblett has perfected her ability to nip delicate emptiness in the bud with delightfully harsh soundscapes and acerbic lyrics and, for that, let us be thankful.
on Sunday, 7 February 2010
I remember back in the day when Warp was one of my staple label,s alongside Domino, Geographic, Too Pure and Kindercore, ever reliable for IDM and playful melodic electronica like Plone. Sadly like other labels i adored at one time FatCat and Leaf, they seem to have slipped out of my circle of listening, maybe it was Maximo Park, who knows.

I really didn't know what to expect from this but the simplistic boy-ish cover was enough to make me curious and I'm so glad I did. This is like nothing I've heard before or even remotely within my normal radar of musical taste but its simply amazing, this is where its at.

Coming on like Lee Hazlewood or Buck 65 stealing the mic at a Bhangra karaoke night, "Cowboys and Indians, Real Cowboys and Real Indians...I'm turning John Wayne into another John Doe" Awesome, maybe too good, Sheep from the forthcoming album is maybe better still, a completely different kettle of fish but genius all the same.

on Thursday, 4 February 2010
Although not as instant as the two excellent releases last year care of Smallfish and Under the Spire (those labels names alone should really tell you enough, you're almost guaranteed satisfaction) Tom Whites latest on the up and coming label Hibernate is still most worthy of your attention.

Slightly conceptual in manner, the tracks are inspired by the photograph that serves as the albums artwork and carry an icy winter cold feel to them, On Sundays is all crackles and cold winds, its almost chills you just to listen to it. Slight echoes of Godspeed slip in toward the end of the track, though they should in no way be used as a main reference.

It's a slow burning album, but things really pick up come track A Pardon and the two tracks that follow, delightfully liquidy in sound and reminiscent of The Fun Years organic wash of a sound, crackling embers over running water, a real delight.

The almost title track, Visibility, finely mixes the field recordings with a gently churned out melody, squeezing it self out like a bulb sprouting from under the snow showing the first sign of new life following the bitter winter.

It'll take a good few listens, even now i'm only just appreciating the quality of tracks such a Moredon Cooling Towers. I've said it before and i'll say it again, Tom White is very much one to watch.

Arriving in the midst of a bitterly cold January the Hibernate label could hardly have timed this release any better. 'In Poor Visibiity' positions itself as an ode to your wintry woes, sporting a sleeve image that could have been snapped outside your house this very morn. It wasn't, incidentally; as it turns out the cover-mounted photo is a found picture that electronic composer Tom White took as an inspirational starting point for his music. The evocative imagery of frost, snow and ice continues to be of great inspiration to ambient and microsound composer types, as the list of blizzard-pummelled soundscapes grows ever longer: in the past we've had the likes of Thomas Koner, Bernhard Gunter, Taylor Deupree, Lawrence English and White's Hibernate labelmate Ian Hawgood all revelling in the bleak midwinter, and In Poor Visibility is a notable entry into this fine tradition. Beginning with 'Global' as a kind of overture, White fires his album up with some magisterial drone work and a collage of various natural sounds, all filtered through a soft-focus, blurry recording aesthetic. Starting to pick apart his soundworld, 'On Sundays' finds White reducing down to scratchy panning noises, minuscule twitches of guitar and a brooding, bassy swell of background tones, and 'Cecil Andrew' further delves into more textured terrain, sounding a little like a Gas recording caught in a downpour of sleet. The album cleverly avoids sounding too pastoral, throwing in one or two coarser sonic constituents as time goes on (you'll hear a fair amount of distortion and feedback circulating in the outskirts of the mixes here) meaning that you're never fatigued by sugary sweetness. Even in the most serene moments - during the excellent 'Visibility' for instance - there's always an undercurrent of dissonance close by to keep you on your toes.