A rare pink meadow grasshopper was recently spotted in inner-city Salford by Dr Luke Blazejewski, an independent film-maker and urban wildlife specialist. I can only imagine the excitement he must have felt that day, knowing it’s discovery could be an important piece in understanding, documenting and protecting our environment. It gives us a fascinating insight into how, when left alone, a small ecosystem can be a breeding ground for life at it’s most magical and unique.
When I think about it, what Dr Luke and I do isn’t all that different. For the past 8 years, I’ve tried to document Manchester’s music scene, with it’s sprawling diversity, hidden secrets and ever-changing landscape. Undoubtedly a new name to most, Tom Hardwick-Allan is my latest find, every bit as beautiful as a rare pink grasshopper. From the early raw bedroom demo’s of ‘Li’ and ‘Unwritten Confession 2’, where Tom’s baritone vocal crackles and glows into near oblivion, to his more recent experiments with drone and industrial noise on ‘Cold Clear Sky’ and ‘When You Die I’ll Think Of You As The Sky’; it’s clear to me that there is something special at work here. Still only a teenager, and at times bringing to mind Dean Blunt at his most understated and emotive, these developing ideas are fragmented but undeniably affecting.
‘Snakes Fucking‘ is a bleak but darkly euphoric introduction to his world, with it’s chiming guitars and bellowing trombone, seemingly unsure of itself but unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Using google translate to dehumanise his voice, the unnatural patterns of speech are at odds with the track’s lyrical content, which reveal a painfully intimate cry for help. All too aware of it’s contradictory nature, it’s hard not to find yourself disappearing into Hardwick-Allan’s lonely post-modern depths with relative ease. The video only enhances this experience further, with it’s minimalist and clinical grey room, in stark contrast to the private self-reflection on offer. As the track progresses, a Pinocchio-esque long nose is revealed, perhaps hinting that the lines between the real and the unreal are often closer than you think.
Tom Hardwick-Allan releases debut EP ‘When Waiting’ in August via Tru Luv https://truluv.bandcamp.com/
The Tri Angle label (ran in Brooklyn by British expatriate Robin Carolan) has certainly established itself this past couple of years, having built up a formidable roster of talent that includes Holy Other, Forest Swords, The Haxan Cloak and Evian Christ. As an overall vision it works beautifully: a collection of dark atonal noises, atmospheric textures and songs that are habitually sampled, slowed down and transformed… each artist is distinct in their sound and ideas, but share a mutual love for electronic experimentation.
Having recently announced ‘Idle Hours’, the debut EP from Manchester’s 21 year producer Boothroyd, my ears were just about ready for another Tri Angle fix. Lead track NYC doesn’t disappoint, populated by discordant sonic clouds and pulsating strangulated beats, but always retaining a certain ambience and melody; Boothroyd has found his perfect home.
‘Idle Hours’ is out Sept 29th digitally and on limited edition 12″ which comes with a poster exclusively designed by David Rudnick.
I’m not sure if it’s because they’re putting something in the chips, but there seems to be a growing collective of interesting electronic producers inhabiting the Brighton area at the moment.
Japanese Sweets consists of approximately one half of ambient-pop-noisesters Speak Galactic, namely Owen Thomas. In his current incarnation, Thomas deploys exploratory electronics to investigate a variety of textures and moods. While any existent melodies are implied or masked beneath more liberal auditory pleasures, we’re still not in the vicinity of outright noise. There’s nothing particularly vicious about the sonics, in the end it’s only as obtuse and challenging as you decide to make it for yourself. Certainly, if you have a stomach able to withstand the less rhythmic movements of Harmonia, the more ambient degrees of Mouse on Mars, or the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s “Blue Veils & Golden Sands”, you’ll find much here to dissolve along to.
Just relax into a comfortable shape, think of it like head music for the not-yet-quite-exploded.
If anybody reading this has experienced any unexpected potato based hallucinatory episodes on the south coast recently, let me know. Or just listen to Japanese Sweets. Yeah, that’s the one.
It wasn’t so long ago that a band called Embers emerged in Manchester. Embers are about to release stunning new single ‘Part of The Echoes’ to universal acclaim, and headline a sold out Now Wave show – their progression to this level seems to have happened overnight but the reality has always been that they worked very hard behind the scenes and deserve every bit of success they go on to achieve. It leads me to wonder if they might have opened the gates for a band like Edits to burst through? They certainly share similar visions, both creating noise that pounds against the ear as much as it tickles.
Standout track Where Nobody Elses Goes taken from EP Dusk/Dream/Dawn is as beautiful as it gets: it’s hard not to think of Regine Chassagne and the early brilliance of Arcade Fire. High praise indeed.
Edits are an intriguing proposition right now, they have so much potential but need to push themselves, be brave – because their dark and brooding post rock deserves a wider audience. This is a band that needs to reach for the heavens.