ALBUM: Liar, Flower – ‘Geiger Counter’

Released via One Little Indian Records, Liar, Flower‘s new album Geiger Counter – the latest project from KatieJane Garside (Daisy Chainsaw, QueenAdreena, Lalleshwari) and Chris Whittingham – is a collection of songs that blend honey-sweet vocals with dreamy, beautifully produced instrumental soundscapes.

Opening track ‘I Am Sundress (She Of Infinite Flowers)’ is a hauntingly beautiful offering that gives way to the hypnotic rock concoction of ‘My Brain Is Lit Like An Airport’. The angry soundscape then transforms into the psychedelic, deconstructed ‘9N-AFE’. Its robotic, glitchy sonics make it a stand-out track on the record.

The rock-tinged stylings of ‘Mud Stars’ juxtaposed with melodic ‘Broken Light’ teases your brain with its varied range. Following track ‘Even The Darkest Clouds’ is an off-kilter banger that uses lacerating guitars and booming beats with raw vocals, throwing Geiger Counter into complete tortured disarray; essentially making it a cacophony of mismatched musicality.

In comparison, next track ‘Blood Berries’ is a slow lullaby with a foreboding touch. The pair’s brilliant production skills are shown off proudly on the post-punk sounding ‘Little Brown Shoes’. The tail end of the record is sunshine after a storm, as the instrumentals begin leaning away from the tinges of gloom, lust and loathing which have remained front and centre for most of the LP.

The sultry, seductive ‘Baby Teeth’ flawlessly blends into the country-tinged ‘Hole In My Hand’, while the light touches of title track ‘Geiger Counter’ provide a simple, yet memorable melody. Final track ‘Doors Locked, Oven’s Off’ is the perfect closer that brings together the darker sounds of the album with its airy corners, ending the record with the strongest instrumentals thus far.

A disorienting combination of loud violence and gentle caresses that keeps listeners on their toes throughout; Geiger Counter is as meditative as it is nightmarish, as mysterious as it is all-knowing. The record grows on you with each track and by the end of it, you’re ready to play it all over again.

Listen to Geiger Counter by Liar, Flower on Spotify

Malvika Padin
@malvika_padin26

ALBUM: Hilary Woods – ‘Birthmarks’

Both an aural purge of insecurities and a powerful exploration of self-autonomy; Hilary Woods‘ second album Birthmarks is darker and sharper in sound compared to her debut album, Colt. Set for release on 13th March via Sacred Bones, the Irish musician has collaborated with Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, and together they’ve crafted a new set of cohesive, shadowy soundscapes that smolder with quiet intensity.

Written & recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks feels like her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by field recordings, the images from post-war Japanese & wet-plate photography, and the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so transcendent.

Opener ‘Tongues Of Wild Boar’ is a foggy, captivating exploration of intense discomfort. From its scratchy dense opening, to its gentle blend of orchestral and electronic elements; it’s a primal, intuitive track that scars and soothes in equal measure. “My body knows I can’t make it out” Woods sings on ‘Orange Tree’, tentatively trying to make peace with her physicality and her surroundings. This need to face her inner fears underscores the record, making it an unsettling, but genuinely liberating listen.

The tender ‘Through The Dark, Love’ feels like an intuitive guide through an ambiguous, tumultuous relationship, whilst the sparse instrumentation and the rhythmic humming on ‘Lay Bare’ feels intensely comforting. Woods’ songs have a confessional, meditative nature; ranging from gentle to gritty all within a few short seconds. ‘Mud and Stones’ is much like this; with its stretched out saxophone sounds, changing tempo, and whispered lyrics.

‘The Mouth’ is one of the boldest tracks on the album. A fleshy, twisted lullaby about personal hesitation; it’s a somber yet powerful listen, laced with melancholy strings, saxophone, and distorted drone noises. Though fueled by uncertainty, it’s a carefully constructed song that provides space for healing and acceptance. The denseness of ‘Cleansing Ritual’ is unexpectedly soothing too. Purely instrumental, its layers of drone noises and distortion could cauterize the deepest of wounds. The eerie, persistent tapping of one key alongside Woods’ hushed voice on ‘There Is No Moon’ could feel desolate, but instead it feels restless; as if she is keeping herself awake with the urgency of that repeated note.

Though quiet in terms of volume, Birthmarks is an abrasive, primal, charged offering that allows Woods the space to navigate emotional territories, and proves her strength and resilience as an artist.

Pre-order Hilary Woods’ new album Birthmarks here (released 13th March via Sacred Bones)
Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright 

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Katie Gately – ‘Loom’

Both a piercing cry into the gulf of grief, and a collection of dark lullabies that provide momentary distraction from it; Katie Gately‘s second album Loom is a poignant ode to her late Mother, who she lost to cancer in 2018. Set for release via Houndstooth on 14th February, the electronic musician & producer has channelled her grief into eight new songs.

Gately created Loom in the aftermath of her Mother’s cancer diagnosis, thus giving the record it’s dark, melancholy, intensely sobering feel. She used real earthquake recordings in her productions; as well as samples of peacocks screaming, pill bottles shaking, and heavily processed audio from her parent’s wedding to reflect the void left by the loss.

Loom opens with the quiet, hypnotic ‘Ritual’. Layers of Gately’s beguiling vocals ring out over cautious electronics that gently rise and fall in time with her voice. The at times claustrophobic ‘Allay’ personifies the cancer that stole Gately’s Mother. Even without knowledge of this context, it’s still an unsettling listen, with its severe electronics and dense beats.

Inspired by Leonard Cohen – one of her Mother’s favourite artists – ‘Waltz’ is a haunting, powerful call to arms encouraging listeners to dance, even in the midst of overwhelming grief. Gately wrote it after listening to Cohen’s track ‘Take This Waltz’ on repeat for an entire day, resulting in five minutes of dark, energized sound. Following track ‘Bracer’ is a powerful, ten minute eerie epic. It’s also worth noting that it was Gately’s Mother’s favourite track on Loom. 

Along with ‘Waltz’, Gately describes these songs as being about the same thing: “They’re about being disoriented and wanting to check out with a substance. I used whisky.” Both tracks have a manic, kinetic quality; as if the whiskey that fuelled their formation is flowing through the veins of her listeners, encouraging them to perform a contorted dance to Gately’s soundscapes.

Much like opener ‘Ritual’, ‘Rite’ provides a few minutes of breathing space, before dense beats and a menacing blur of sounds on ‘Tower’ make the hairs on the back of the neck twitch. Here, Gately inhabits the medicine that confronts her Mother’s cancer. For the first four minutes, it’s abrasive and severe, but it switches for the final two; with Gately’s soothing vocals acting as a tonic to the toxicity.

The startling, cathartic sounds on penultimate track ‘Flow’ ring out for six powerful minutes. Written from the perspective of her Mother, this track is one of the strongest on the record. Final track ‘Rest’ is announced through Gately’s poignant vocals, closing an album that’s both shocking and soothing in equal measure.

Gately has said that the process of creating Loom is “blurry” to her now, perhaps repressing some of the darker, more desperate feelings that must have permeated it. Whilst her discomfort and grief are audible throughout the record, the fact she confronted her complex emotions proves she is both a genuinely talented musician, and an incredibly brave woman.

Pre-order Katie Gately’s new album Loom here.

Katie Gately UK Live Dates 2020
March 31 – Manchester – The White Hotel
April 1 – London – Cafe Oto (with support from Hinako Omori)

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Katie Gately – ‘Waltz’

Inspired by one of her Mother’s favourite artists, Leonard Cohen; Katie Gately‘s new track ‘Waltz’ is a haunting, powerful call to arms encouraging listeners to dance, even in the midst of overwhelming grief.

The track is lifted from Gately’s upcoming album Loom, which is set for release via Houndstooth on 14th February. The record is dedicated to Gately’s Mother, who passed away in 2018 due to a sudden onset of a particularly aggressive form of cancer. The electronic musician & producer has channelled her grief into these new songs, and ‘Waltz’ is one example of how transformative this can be.

After listening to Leonard Cohen’s track ‘Take This Waltz’ on repeat for an entire day, Gately was inspired to write ‘Waltz’. The accompanying video directed by Samantha Shay was shot at an abandoned Catholic convent, and features modern dancer Bobbi Jene Smith opposite Gately, who appears in her own video for the very first time.

“When you see me, I am already gone” muses Gately at the beginning of the track, as Jene Smith performs her primal, urgent, crooked choreography around the stark walls of the convent. Speaking about the track, and the accompanying visuals, Gately explains further: “When I listen, I see images that correlate to a zebra on a bad LSD trip. But I feel that its absurdity honours the chaos of losing someone you love more than time, space or measure. And so perhaps my message is: it’s okay to feel like a drunk zebra when your heart is breaking. Or, to quote the far greater poet Leonard Cohen: “When things get really bad, just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig. That’s about all you can do.””

Gately’s admirable outlook and bravery in writing and recording the video for ‘Waltz’ didn’t go unnoticed by Director Samantha Shay. “When I work with a musician, there is a wide spectrum to feelings about being filmed or photographed, and Katie expressed that she didn’t feel comfortable on camera,” she explains. “The day of the shoot, I asked Katie if she wanted to be challenged as a performer or not, and she practically demanded it of me. What resulted was absolutely magnetic. She wilfully and bravely let her walls collapse in front of us, and this video, to me, is a powerful portrait of her.”

And what a beguiling, intense portrait it is. Watch the video for ‘Waltz’ below and follow Katie Gately on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Katie Gately UK Live Dates 2020
April 1st – London’s Cafe Oto

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Gazelle Twin & NYX Electronic Drone Choir to perform ‘Deep England’ as part of EFG London Jazz Festival

A unique artist with razor sharp vision and uncompromising creativity; Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) has paired up with the NYX electronic drone choir once again to perform ‘Deep England’; a hair-raising transformation of her recent album Pastoral, which exhumes England’s “rotten past” and questions its uncertain future. The performance will take place on 20th November at Southbank Centre, as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

The collaboration was first commissioned and performed in December 2018 as part of a collaborative series at London’s Oval Space, but now Bernholz’s operatic voice will be displayed in all its glory alongside the equally as powerful voices of the NYX choir in the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Together, Bernholz and NYX use their voices, acoustic glitching, polyphonic overtone and ambient textures to bring Gazelle Twin’s Pastoral vision to life. The unique choir explore and test the limits of organic and synthetic modulation to explore the entire spectrum of collective female voice as an instrument. Their veiled Handmaid’s-Tale-esque silhouettes are a formidable sight on stage, so expect to be blown away by the power and the glory of their live show.

GIHE will be at the show, and we urge you to grab a ticket for it here.

For more information about EFG London Jazz Festival events, click here.

LISTEN: Susanna – ‘Ecstasy X’

A cinematic soundscape haunted by a bewitching vocal: Norwegian artist Susanna‘s latest single ‘Ecstasy X’ is an unusual, beguiling listen. Taken from her upcoming album Garden of Earthly Delights (set for release on 22nd Feb via SusannaSonata) the track features church bells on a cassette, accordion, and heavily processed voices that claim ecstasy is only achievable if we follow the goddess of darkness.

Inspired by the surreal in medieval Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch’s artwork, Susanna has created a selection of experimental songs on her new album with the help of a team of musicians called the Brotherhood of Our Lady. These artists have worked their magic on ‘Ecstasy X’, intoxicating listeners with their subtle and strange sounds and concepts

Susana’s new work is a thought-provoking, considered listen that ensnares the senses and questions the pain and pleasure of being human. Listen to ‘Ecstasy X below and follow Susanna on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order Susanna’s upcoming album Garden of Earthly Delights here.

Photo credit: Signe Fuglesteg Luksengard

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut