Horrid

Horrid LP
Pinot Grigio Records

“Stanley is always trying to get in a word alone with an extremely intelligent young thief seeking revenge over the death of his brother. Yet despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum the banker transforms into a green skinned, zoot suited fireball determined that Rocky be given the same biker gang chances after his dog is transformed into a manic super-hero when she wears a mysterious mask.”

How is that for a press release? Not bad. Not usual. There is certainly something dark and strange about this lot and, apart from that terse press release, little is clear. When they play live they wear sacks over their heads with eyeholes cut. They seem to be somewhere else, almost like a farmer’s version of The Residents, which is not a bad thing when you play music like this. This is space rock. The more I listen to it, I can almost hear an aboriginal influence with the use of drones and shapeless and sparse vocal snatches that creep in and out of the tidal arrangements. There is something of early Can or Faust about them, but also a more industrial aspect, like Test Department. Either way, they have defined their sound and are mining that seam with élan.

With the right lights, Horrid would make a great live show. At times it seems they are trying to summon up some godhead figure, adorning their sparse record art with mystic symbols. This is great ritual music, something dark that we will try to understand but cannot. I do not know who your god is, but this is music for the celebration of the darker and more fun things of life. There are some dangerous minds at work here. Are they cult nihilists? Who cares? What I like is that BBC 6 would never play this.

Dave Jones

Charles Hayward

Anonymous Bash
Samarbeta

Artist residency. What do the words mean to you? To me they conjure up images of wiry people wielding paintbrushes and decorating the walls of an ex-industrial space with blasts of colour from a purpose-built paint bazooka, who later write an accompanying brief explaining how it represents the cruelty of late capitalism. Perhaps I’m stereotyping, or perhaps I’m wrong, but I can assure you that I’m not wrong in saying that Anonymous Bash, kindly presented by Charles Hayward, is the most exciting album to drop into my inbox in a long time.

Straight out of Salford’s Islington Mill, this is the product of a new type of artist residency, one where the wiry people wield equally wiry guitar necks and not-so-wiry drum kits. This is an artist residency for musicians. Created by Rivca Burns (Sounds From The Other City) and Emma Thompson (Fat Out Till You Pass Out), the Samarbeta label intends to address the UK’s lack of residency programmes for musicians, so Anonymous Bash comprises Charles Hayward and the 20 or so musicians he worked with on a month-long stint at the venue. The entire album was recorded and mixed in around two weeks and the whole process, from conception to printing, was completed on site, meaning this is one of the truest ‘local’ albums produced in a long time.

The sound is eclectic, jumping from hints of tribal drumming on the introductory ‘Title Track’ to trip hop beats on ‘Postcode Sam’ and leftfield techno on ‘Wrong Again’, showing the variety of influences within the Anonymous Bash crew.

Listen to it, love it and look out for more. This won’t be the last we hear of Anonymous Bash or Samarbeta.

David Ewing

espher

Insular EP
TRU LUV

Mancunian producer espher presents his latest selection of tracks on a new EP, Insular. Opening track ‘To the Sky’ is hands down the strongest of the three and wholeheartedly deserves its place at the top of the tracklist. Managing to encompass obsessive loneliness alongside fanciful wanting, the track is carried along by a solid, no nonsense techno beat and builds at the perfect pace, refusing to be rushed whilst still keeping its listener engaged.

But if you’re after an out-and-out techno EP this is not for you. The pace is slowed to a crawl with ‘When Me and You Collide’, which is far too jolting. It appears out of place and would be much better suited to opening proceedings or closing them, or not being on the EP at all. The sorrowful, opening piano chords drain the energy ‘To The Sky’ blessed it with, lowering the mood far too much. That is not to say that the track is poor – far from it – but it belongs elsewhere.

Further showing the alien nature of the second track, ‘Still’ opens with a shuddering, almost dubstep pulse whilst off-beat snare drums evoke a dystopian, futuristic hip hop. The accompanying vocals give us an idea of what might have occurred if Ian Curtis had ever grabbed a synthesiser and lived to follow the rest of his bandmates in forming New Order, with espher’s voice sounding similarly lost and hopeless in the sea of sound he has created.

David Ewing

Sangy

Introspection EP
Room 2 Records

Introspection is Sangy’s second release of the year, following on from the well-received Paving the Way mixtape. The Mancunian rapper is one of a growing number of articulate young MCs who write with humour, pathos and wisdom that belies their years. Such local luminaries tend to collaborate on each other’s tracks and this mixtape is no different. The sonic fingerprints of Kydro and Pro P are present, illustrating why they’re such highly regarded producers, and Blind Mic, Dubbul O and Afro Sam also make appearances with voices distinctly their own.

The opening track, ‘Deadline Day’, is a humorous tale of wheeling and dealing with a likeable amount of braggadocio, but this is where similarities with Sangy’s first release end. His puffed out chest soon deflates and the introspection begins.

‘Making It’ and ‘What’s Money?’ are a welcome riposte to the gangsta illusion peddled by white major label businessmen, and ‘Mirrors, Highway’ and ‘Like Me’ are songs of sincerity, unafraid to show blind sides and insecurities. When so many young men are suffering in silence with their mental health, Sangy embraces it head on with a steam engine delivery powered by a fire in the belly. When flanked by his friends it almost seems like group therapy and the effect is liberating.

Through Introspection, Sangy looks set to escape his postcode and find some national recognition that has so far escaped his more vocal contemporaries, reinforcing the notion that it’s always the quiet ones you should watch out for.

Nathan McIlroy

Racker&Orphan

Twalif X
A Year in the Country

Around 12 minutes into Twalif X there is a cymbal crash that one pleads will signify a shift in the sound towards something more interesting. It doesn’t. Field recordings are rarely that musical. Instead they often attempt to conjure a space in the listener’s mind. With this in mind, Twalif X is an unbelievably weak collage of field recording babble. The rustle of leaves and dissonant gongs that make up the majority of the sound certainly doesn’t have any transformative quality. An attempt to bring closure to the nauseating 50 minutes, when some aimless arpeggios are plucked on an acoustic guitar, is likewise pointless. The vision of the project is described by the record label A Year in the Country as “an audio-logical journey through one night”. It’s a baffling claim given how amateurish the sound of Twalif X is.

As far as the visual aspect of this release goes, the packaging is similarly thin on the ground - black and white, low definition pictures of some birds flying. As with the audio of this project, the listener is left having to invent the substantial ground omitted between the actual project and that grand audio-logical journey A Year in the Country promises. Field recordings are an acquired taste at the best of times, but there’s niche and there’s lazy. When a product claims to do so much and is executed as poorly as this, it is hard not to define Twalif X as some of the most meaningless dross imaginable.

Racker&Orphan packaging

Tom Dixon

Tear Talk EP

Ruins EP
War Room Records

Tear Talk is a band I’ve been following since their inception, so I’ve been able to see their sound and music grow from humble beginnings. Their new EP, Ruins, represents years of progression that has seen them develop from fairly standard dream pop to sophisticated noise, going beyond their fairly shoegazey roots towards experimentation that bristles up against dance music.

The tracks are laid out perfectly. ‘Decades’ and the title track are the standout tunes, sandwiched between a beautifully slow start and even slower ending. I can imagine shaded figures dressed all in black, shrouded in smoke and shifting awkwardly to ‘Decades’, the mechanical, almost industrial drum track along with the earworm guitar hook forcing them to move in a way they haven’t experienced since New Order.

The title track is a slightly different affair, one that resonates at first through spacey keyboard backing and sparse guitar before the drums kick in, moving the track along, the guitar gradually becoming more apparent. The entire song is drenched in a melancholy I find hard to shake off after every listen, something I always find impressive in a song.

Also noteworthy is the lyrical progressions made by the band. Previously it seemed like words were just thrown on top of the music, but now they have dark meanings and sound like they stand for something. Of everything, it was the lyrics that were following me once I stopped listening to a song.

Jacob Ormrod