Kevin Drumm, Necro Acoustic (Picadisk)

Necro AcousticKevin Drumm

Lasse Marhaug’s Picadisk label seems to be on a mission to release great box sets which showcase the work of some of the leading proponents of noise. Not content with devoting 4 discs to Government Alpha, 10 to Incapacitants and 4 to Lasse Marhaug himself, they have now issued this 5 disc set which collects together some rare and unreleased material from the oeuvre of Chicago’s Kevin Drumm. Necro Acoustic spans the whole of Drumm’s career, with recordings from 1996 to 2009, and covers the full range of styles he has excelled in, from the brutality of his Mego work to the dark glistening of the recent pair on Hospital Productions – and much more.

Probably the earliest thing on here is the full version of Organ, an abridged version of which appears on Comedy. Recorded in 1996 by Jim O’Rourke, this is an intense and sludgy piece of keyboard drone which through room shaking bass and relentless repetition seems to prefigure the work of Sunn O))). The early and comparatively fragmentary Decrepit mainly covers 1998-99; “Blistering Statick” sounds as good as you’d imagine given its title, the ruptured torrent of noise signposting the direction Drumm would explore to jaw-dropping effect on Sheer Hellish Miasmah. Yet a track of the same title turns upon Lights Out, a new collection of unreleased material from 2006-08, but it is wholly different – far quieter, just a malevolent hiss and pulse, bridging the gap to more recent material like Imperial Horizon. Of the new material on Necro Acoustic, the prepared guitar noise on the No Edit CD is particularly fascinating for the mixture of frequencies and textures that Drumm wrings out of his instrument, and for the intricate way he knits them all together. The two tracks on this cover an astonishing range from fast-paced slices of crunch and crackle to sections of 303 acid squelch, from screaming high frequencies to, well, screams. At times you can hear the hum of an amp, or something clanging against a metal string, but for the most part it is entirely unrecognisable as guitar.

Freedom Of The City Festival 2010 Day 2, Conway Hall, 03/05/10

John Butcher

And so this two-day long event, with the finest exponents from all over the world, drew to an exciting finale in front of an extremely knowledgeable crowd. Yes, I’m still talking about the world snooker final, when I should be talking about the Freedom Of The City festival. Twelve hours of snooker, er, I mean, improvised music may be quite a daunting thought, but there was enough variation in the programme in terms of instrumentation and approach to keep interest levels high throughout both days. Continue reading

Freedom Of The City Festival 2010 Day 1, Conway Hall, 02/05/10

London Improvisers Orchestra

The Freedom Of The City festival is now as traditional a part of London’s May Day bank holiday celebrations as sitting in a dark pub watching the snooker world championship final on the big screen. OK, so maybe that is just me. Since 2001, percussionist Eddie Prévost and saxophonist Evan Parker have been putting together lineups containing some of the finest improvising musicians from all over the world, and the 2010 edition may well be the strongest yet. Curatorial duties this year were shared with Spring Heel Jack/Spiritualized’s John Coxon, a man who through his Treader label and related performances is as responsible as anyone for the current healthy state of improvised music in the capital. Continue reading