Old Tower ‘The Last Eidolon’

The concept of the eidola has its roots in Greek mythology. Spirit entities which temporarily occupy mortal beings to influence and dictate their decision making for desired outcomes before their eternal rest in the underworld. Ambiguous both morally and by nature, legends tell of Helen of Troy being kept prisoner in Egypt while her eidolon mimic was at the centre of the Trojan War, according to the writings of Herodotus.

The arcane energy which lies neglected under the castle ruins and centuries-old sediment of haunted Europe is a source of fascination and inspiration for Netherlands mage Old Tower. A dark ambient project born from the quasi-orchestral pieces featured in black metal, the sole creative force behind Old Tower mysteriously known as ‘The Specter’ has been crafting a series of deeply evocative and eerie synth pieces utterly immersed in the spectral reverberations of empires fallen and battles past fought, both thematically and in texture. While the murky throb of dungeon-synth certainly courses throughout, Old Tower avoids the PC loops and MIDI Renaissance silliness that can befall his/her contemporaries but instead reaches for deeper, alluring, and richer sonic alchemy.

In contrast to the weathered monochrome of previous artwork, Old Tower’s third and latest L.P. glares with a velutinous blood red, a hint of the exotic traverse of mood and space within. Comprised of three chapters, The Last Eidolon tells a story of a kingdom lain to waste by misuse of black magic and the futile reaching for past glory. Faded memories and desolate introspection pervade the entire record, ‘The Specter’ utilising subtle shifts in tone and instrumentation to convey the haunted echoes of the former dominion.

The first chapter ‘Loremaster’ opens with a ritualistic hammer of a gong crashing through the cavernous expanse. Recurring throughout as a motif albeit in differing levels of reverb and dank, shadowy drones and Gothic vocal choirs percolate deep within the stone fortifications before a sharp interruption of unearthly organs and martial drumming, the ghosts of old warning you not to tread further. ‘Shadow Over Thy Kingdom’ has an industrial clangour in its bowels, the distant pomp of ceremonial might and the metallic resonance of the swordsmith striking together around a mid-section of celestial choral intonations like the conjuring of a once great power. Final chapter ‘The Fallen One’ is a more subdued affair, a meander around collapsed archways and decrepit stone of atmospheric strings and funereal advance, the king wearily resigning himself and his empire to the slow, certain erosion of time. The track is sodden with the hissing fall of rain, the inevitable reclamation of nature that awaits all kingdoms.

Instead of merely presenting an album which provides fantastical escapism, Old Tower instead delivers a record which invites you to reconnect with the fertile aura that inspired centuries of storytelling and lore. The Trojan War, King Arthur, Norse mythology, all legends that stir man’s yearning for meaning and purpose in the short, terrible passion of life. The Last Eidolon is an authentic and beguiling soundtrack to the phantom trauma of the sins of our fathers and the buried empires they once ruled.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #13

Bristol’s 1020 Radio got wrecked with the 13th dose of synthpunk sludge that is Spit ‘n’ Static! ‘Catch the wave’ same slime same face for another hour of garbled alien interruptions and slimy dead channel fuzz!! Don’t fight it, you gotta ride it out!!! 👽 👌

Dummy ‘Comedy Rock!’

If you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Us 20/30 something’s are a stretched, inside-out bunch, pulled apart by unending labour extraction, fascist ascendancy and certain environmental catastrophe, we’ve developed an uncanny ability to have a good time in the face of such nihilism. Throw an unprecedented, global viral pandemic in the mix and our last recourse is to usher in the new wave of weird, warped and slimy egg punk for the topsy-turvy end times.

Comedy Rock! is the second release from Dummy, being one of the many projects of Minnesotan Sean Albert including Belly Jelly, QQQL and Skull Cult. Taking lo-fi DIY to its nth degree, primitive drum machines, atonal keyboards and fuzzy guitars are all handled by Albert himself, all buzzing together in a fizzy bottle rocket of corrupted energy.

Fervent punk vigour is firmly established on first track ‘Personal Panopticon’, riff attacks hack and slice then switch to jerky picking all saturated with a goop of unintelligible vocal gunge. This fungal fusion of punk urgency and psych effects course throughout the tape but Albert’s musical dexterity allows for other flavours to keep things from being one note. ‘Nights’ is a gloriously upbeat number, tinny rock infected with poppy synth melodies sound like a Cars or Cheap Trick song were it desecrated beyond recognition. Alien slacker warbles and squeals on the distorted ‘Insulated’, D.C. hardcore pummels in the fog of loops and trickery straight out of the more aggressive end of Locust Abortion Technician.

Bent, broken, and crooked, Comedy Rock! is the perfect soundtrack to our collective navigation of a world growing more farcical every day, channeling the pervading confusion in its pulverised compositions and offering a streak of cathartic verve deep within the sputtering pulp.

Moron’s Morons ‘Looking For Danger’

How does garage rock get away with it? The stripped-down fuzzy fury from The Stooges through to the current ‘Kasselfornia‘ scene via 90s revivalists The Mummies never fails to hit ‘ya no matter how little its formula is messed with. If it ain’t broke an’ all that…

The undying appeal of scuzzy R ‘n’ R has found its way to Poland, four Warsaw misfits called Moron’s Morons adding heavy early 80s hardcore with a nasty hock of punk phlegm to their garage rock swag and unleashing Looking For Danger, a debut album as raw ‘n’ rattling as it gets.

Barely touching half an hour, Looking For Danger is the product of a band that wanna tear your face off. Lawless Dick Stingher’s opening bass attack on first track ‘Rise With Me’ makes things real fucking clear as to the character of this record: loud, fast an’ snotty. Like a cross between The Damned’s ‘Love Song’ and ‘Ace of Spades, frontman Philo Phuckface spits vocal blows mired within John Pauly Shores II’s chainsaw guitars and Turd Awesome’s percussive pummeling. You can’t quite make out what Phuckface is saying, but who cares when the lo-fi production is so urgent and electric.

Their love for punk’s many hybrids and iterations jostle and shove for your attention. 60s psych keys hammer away on the blistering ‘Wonderlust’ adding a touch of Farsifa style head feeding, while Pauley Shore’s shredding chops are gloriously demonstrated on the nitro-fuelled ‘Sidewalk Service’. Pure DC hardcore torches like a flamethrower on the raucous ‘Noise Addiction’, Phuckface’s screams at times kinda sounding like Bad Brains’ H.R. A little of that Little Richard ivory tinkle wears an affection for 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll on its sweaty sleeve on the giddy ‘Poor man’s Riffs and Ten Years Too Late’, a standout cut which suggests gallows self-deprecation at their worship at the altar of ‘learn three chords’ rock.

Living For Danger is garage punk par excellence. Every riff hacks, every beat kills, and their projectile gob never misses its target (your face). It’s filthy, it’s juvenile, and it’s fucking great!

Glaciers Noods Radio #14

Glaciers frosted up Noods Radio again today, catch up with the 14th helping of icy sinewaves and frosty frequencies below! 🎹❄️👌

Sign Libra ‘Sea to Sea’

Silence isn’t silent at all. Bludgeoned by the unceasing demands of our collective labour, we obediently race through life in our useless displays of ‘productivity’ desensetised to the complex aural oceans of activity bubbling away outside our puny societal constructs. Stop for a moment and you’ll hear the piercing visceral hiss of subterranean nature reminding you of its indomitable awe against man’s temporary insignificance.

The sensory ether has been explored by Sign Libra since her debut E.P. Closer to the Equator. Inspired by BBC nature programmes on the rainforest, Latvian artist and producer Agata Melnikova soundtracked the organic microcosm of the jungle with a wide-eyed wonder of liquid arrangements and airy synths. Now aiming for the stars, Melnikova has sought humanity’s fascination with the Moon’s ‘lunar maria’ as thematic guidance for her first proper album Sea to Sea.

The spiritual and mythological relationship with the heavens course throughout the record. Each track named after one of the many volcanic plains historically mistaken for ‘seas’, Melnikova uses each sea name as a foundation to direct the flavour of each track. ‘Sea of Fecundity’ suitably opens the album, a rich and euphoric stir of vocal choirs and woodwind presets, Melnikova establishes the record with an unashamed harmony of celestial reach and cheesy instrumentation. Glossy kitsch develops further with keyboard sax and big club piano, all delivered with a knowing spirit of puckish fun. It’s a song which appeals to the heart over tiresome pretensions of ‘cool’, the rest of the album following suit.

The dense interplay between percussive rhythms and Eastern Asian melodies create a beguiling balance of electronica and organic sonics similar to Japan’s Tin Drum, Melnikova adding some throat singing to add an extra layer of exotic. ‘Sea of Nectar’ features Melnikova’s treated vocals dart and flutter like Grimes across sculpted ravines of Fairlight CMI sounding production, straight out of the more buoyant cuts off Kate Bush’s The Sensual World. The chilly vibe of ‘Sea of Serenity’ provides a welcome break from the jubilant character of the album, Silent Shout style wanders of echoing whispers and nimble bass hooks that ripple in its Scandinavian tundra. Ending as it began, the final track ‘Sea of Knowledge’ is a Hi-NRG banger of majesty, a joyous jolt of giddy dance with a smattering of kitschy Prince Rama pomp.

Fluid, amorphous, and ever-changing, Sign Libra have presented a piece of work that shifts its form into enticing and unexpected patterns and creations. Sincerely igniting some ethereal electricity without tumbling into New Age po-faced nonsense, Sea to Sea is an honest and exuberant signal to an energy we could all perhaps tap into if only we stopped and paid attention.

Club Music ‘Beyond New Beat’

The most exciting thing in the American Midwest right now is Chicago Research. As much an alliance of post-punk antagonists as it is a label, it sits with Bristol’s Avon Terror Corps as one of the leading purveyors in the absolute cutting-edge of electronic mayhem and all manner of industrial racket.

Enter Ariel Motto. In addition to fronting the synth-pop project Death Valley, Motto has been decking herself in paramilitary garb and cutting some of the leanest and crunchiest EBM since the heady days of the cities Wax Trax!. Last years two E.P’s established the Club Music sound: martial basslines, cold resonance, murky vocals, a taut exercise in acrid techno and caustic grooves.

Like the foot of the T-800 crushing a human skull in the future dystopic wasteland, in smash Club Music’s first album proper Beyond New Beat. Still harnessing a laconic punch with its 22 minute length, Motto further distils her penchant for combative electronics and terse, focused production. The creeping presence of our ever ascending fascist state breathes down your neck on the icy ‘KO’, machine hit-hats and thick synths chug against screams and police sirens like some John Carpenter movie, each key omitting the sinister throb pressed with relish. Cavernous disquiet churns on the eerie ‘Mind Trader’, crisp beats puncturing weird turntable scratching and fat, slimy arpeggios.

There’s an honest to god love for sounds and textures which trigger our nostalgia for dance music of yesteryear without appearing contrived or ‘retro’, such as the orchestral stabs that jab confidently like early 90s Eurodance on the title track. You’d also be forgiven for thinking that the plinky ‘Binaural Beach 008’ wasn’t some old Warp Records compilation contribution, the frenetic ‘Battery Acid’ also feeling like the more aggressive end of IDM.

Ice-cool, muscular and razor sharp. Club Music’s debut Beyond New Beat is the prescient soundtrack to our collective hellscape that burns greater day by day, its industrial brood utterly infectious but its spirit of menace all too contemporary.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #12

The alien mind control that is Spit ‘n’ Static! has been hijacking your signal for a full year! Here’s to another year of everyone’s favourite avant-punk-synth-trash-fuck-spit from the planet Zanfretta! Keep catching that wave same slime, same faceat Bristol’s 1020 Radio! 👽 👌

International Womxn’s Day 2020

The eyes rolled so hard at the recent Bristol Sounds line-up the actual eyeballs nearly did a full 360 and revealed its’s ocular veins in true horror fatigue. With another doctored Reading Festival line-up revealing a yellow wasteland when erasing the male artists on the bill, and Slowthai’s confidently lecherous conduct on live TV clearly shows a disappointing amount of work still needing to be done within the music community regarding equity and representation.

To quote Cheshire’s Hell Hath No Fury Records, ”…stop making fucking excuses because they are BULLSHIT!” The only difficult part of compiling this years IWD playlist was to boil down all the womxn/womxn fronted artists which have soundtracked my previous 12 months to just 25 acts, such is the ocean of brilliant and vibrant music being made outside of the standard male and pale.

It’s a pleasure to present to you a real heady brew of tunes. Throat shredding surf punk fury from Grandma’s House, murky dystopic EBM courtesy of Club Music, Harrga‘s poltically charged sonic provocation, and the exquisite soul of Nilüfer Yanya. I hope you dig as much as I did!

There’s a myriad of ways we can ensure our practice and conduct as artists/promoters/journalists etc. help in the dismantling of male focused obstructions to diverse art. The work that still needs to be done is expressed beautifully by Bristol’s Slagheap. Slagheap are a post-spunk quartet of joyous avant-funk ESG groove which bristle with an air of spontaneity and razor sharp humour who have quickly become one of my fave acts in the city. Here’s what they have to say:

Womxn, start a band and do it badly! 

Try something totally from scratch. Something that you think it would be absurd to try. Almost more importantly than doing it, give yourself permission to do it badly, sloppily, wrong. Be bad and messy and loud. Be loose, shloopy and instinctive. Don’t even think about the outcome. Just focus on doing it. 

It doesn’t have to be expensive or long or even that involved but carve yourself a little sliver of space. And once your sliver is sorted, help someone else carve theirs. Invite other womxn to be loud with you. Share knowledge and resources and grant yourself and each other permission. 

The less privilege you hold, the less space you have to get it wrong.  Getting it wrong in a safe space is such a great way to personal and creative liberation and innovation. It doesn’t have to be public. Ever. If you don’t want it to be. But it could be? Or it might take you to something you feel like sharing. Or maybe not. That’s cool. 

The ability to make art of any kind is becoming increasing hard for anyone bar those already holding the most privilege. This is why it’s even more important for all womxn to have space to be creative. We need to work to democratise the arts and creative outlets both personal and professional even more so in the face of the current upwards syphoning of all resources and opportunity. 

Men (and womxn with lots of privilege)

Think about ways you could make some space for womxn to be creative. Got a guitar you never play? Lend it to a mate. Are you a promoter? Share some contacts with a budding colleague. Don’t put bands and artists on a bill together purely because they share a gender (or facet thereof), programme diverse and cohesive bills. Don’t use venues who don’t commit to safe space policies. Understand, consider and communicate accessibility of venues you use or frequent. Be intentional with your search for new music and make sure you buy, share and support music made by womxn. 

Please don’t continue vomiting up pernicious rubbish like the bunch of gammons at the head of Transmit or Bristol Sounds or whatever other mediocre festivals and events braying on defensively about the lack of options of female artists. It shows them to be incredibly poorly informed and bad at their jobs. And if possible, donate some cold hard cash or time to grass roots organisations promoting and supporting womxn and marginalised people in music e.g. Eat Up!/Eat up for starters (Bristol), Saffron (Bristol), Young woman’s music project (Oxford), Decolonise fest (London), DIY Space for London/First Timers, Slut Drop (Leeds), Sister Shack (Newcastle), Women’s Work (Belfast) etc…

Last but not least, don’t only think and talk about this today. Make some fucking space 365 days of the year.

FURTHER SOLIDARITY:

Make sure you tune in to Bristol’s 1020 Radio for their IWD special, a full day dedicated to shows from all their womxn residents!

Check out Riot Diet on Boogaloo Radio and Radio Chonk on 1020 Radio, two monthly shows dedicated to shows about and for womxn!

Rough Trade Bristol are hosting a free workshop for all women, people of colour, non-binary and queer individuals from sound engineer Fiona Riches in the beginnings of live sound for gigs. You’ll learn the basics of putting a show together, and have free entry to the Porridge Radio show directly after the workshop.

Check out Eat Up For Starters, a project of events and workshops promoting greater diversity in the music industry. They’re hosting a Queer Zine library at Bristol’s Exchange, come along and read zines focusing on LGBT+ issues and even submit your own!

The Grape Bath in Bath are hosting the International Women’s Day Gig, a day of female led music, spoken word poetry and warrior women movies!

That International Women’s Day Thing at The Jam Jar will be where the parties at on Sunday, including sets from Lucy Stoner, Jameela, Lady Lox, and Miss Kendal.

Dr. Sketchy’s is a fun and alternative life-drawing class that focuses on drag queens, divas, and circus performers as drawing subjects, complete with music and beer! Head to To The Moon for their IWD session!

Ann-Marie Tierney (better known by her blogger name Molly Tie) is a regular contributor to Loud Women and is currently writing a book on the experiences of women in the music industry, and asking for any anecdotes or thoughts anyone may have. Email her at tierneyred@hotmail.co.uk if you’d like to help!

Join the International Women’s Strike at 12pm from Bristol’s cenotaph, a chance to take a break from traditional ‘female work’ and highlight the invisible labour which goes unacknowledged and unrewarded.

Keep yourself up to date with Hell Hath No Fury, a DIY punk label based in Cheshire dedicated to providing a platform for womxn, non-binary and queer punksters!

Glaciers Noods Radio #13

The 13th punch of Glaciers hit Bristol’s Noods Radio once again, another hour of chilly vibez! Check it out! 🎹 ❄️ 👌