For most people, British progressive rock band Curved Air are known for two things: being the first band to ever issue a picture disc and for the having the legendary Stewart Copeland having occupy their drum stool in the mid 70s. Considering that vocalist Sonja Kristina had previously been an important part of the London theatre scene in the late sixties – appearing in Hair – and Curved Air actually scored a UK top five hit single in 1971, you’d expect them to be more widely celebrated. Perhaps the reason they aren’t is due to lots of their classically- and jazz-derived music being very hard going. Their earlier work often values complexity over obvious hooks – something that makes the funky ‘Back Street Luv’ single seem like something of an anomaly – and the way they switch between different moods from track to track can, at first, be disorienting. They are very much a band that requires a lot of time and patience before most of the listening rewards become obvious.
At the beginning of 2019, Falling Stacks broke a long silence with the ‘Sarcastic Clap‘ EP. A collection of angular post-punk sounds that looked to the past for inspiration, it still played in a way that seemed challenging in the present. It would be fair to say that EP wasn’t for everyone. Released just eight months later, ‘Sin Bin’ offers another selection of noises set to thrill lovers of ugly, spiky, guitar driven artiness and frighten the bejeezus out of everyone else.
As before, you won’t find any actual songs here…but if you came to Falling Stacks hoping for hooks, melodies or in any way an easy ride, you were misinformed.
Wizard Rifle are a two piece noise rock band from Portland, Oregon. They began thrilling (and terrifying) audiences in 2010. This self titled release from 2019 is their first for Svart Records (home to Witch Mountain, Harvest, Brutus and various bands with Scandinavian sounding names), but despite making the leap from DIY recordings to signing a cult metal oriented label with a keen fan-base, Wizard Rifle haven’t become any more commercial. Their self titled record features just five tracks, but within those lengthy arrangements you’ll find sections of music which seem bolted together and huge slabs of music created from mangled riffs and sludgy sounds. Always with an ear on sculptures more than songs, it’s tiring…but also brilliant. Hearing Wizard Rifle for the first time is like experiencing Buzz Osborne from Melvins jamming with the now defunct That Fucking Tank while disturbed people shout randomly. With every listen after that, something new comes through; new noises, new howls of pain…but you’ll never forget that initial experience. And it is an experience.
Formed in 1993, Larsen are an experimental band from Italy. Their members have managed to keep a fairly low profile over the decades, but that didn’t stop their 2002 LP ‘River’ achieving critical acclaim in both Europe and the States. In 2008, the band were joined by Ann O’Connor (aka Little Annie, aka Annie Anxiety Bandez). Little Annie, a New York performance artist – formerly of Asexuals and known for collaborations with Current 93, Nurse With Wound and Kid Congo Powers – gave the band an extra dimension when adding spoken passages to their disjointed sounds.
Eagerly awaited by fans, their 2019 EP ‘Tiles’ ends a three year recording silence. Its four tracks teeter between darkly gothic and just plain difficult, but it’s often it’s more than possible to understand where this avant-garde/art rock collective are headed.
For most people, Eddie Jobson will be best known as an electric violin player who made his name in the seventies as a member of Curved Air and Roxy Music, as well as being a founder member of progressive rock supergroup UK.
Jobson has had a long and varied career, which will be celebrated on a series of compilation discs – each one covering a separate decade. The first of these, ‘The Band Years: 1971-79’ features a well curated selection of tracks including solo material and some of the bands with which Jobson made his name, including a broad overview of UK’s two studio albums.