AUGUST REWIND: Experimental punks, Norwegian fusion and a St Vincent Metallica stunner – let’s check some musical heat from a cool summer.

THE ARMED – Faith in Medication

WOW. Chin up now, off the floor… there’s so much overdrive on every bit of this OTT attack that you’ll melt yourself trying to make sense of it, so don’t bother. Just marvel and be withered by the sheer insanity of The Armed’s total hyper-ness. Progressive hardcore noise with hooks buried deep in overstimulation, it’s a mind-bending blast of brutal chaos. Be scared. And happy. And scared again. Faith in Medication right here.

SPECIAL INTEREST – Street Pulse Beat

These New Orleans avant punks have just released their 2016 demos as an album. But this track, from last year’s The Passion Of, leapt out when 6 Music superfan Mary Anne Hobbs aired it the other week. Vocalist Alli Logout introduced it, saying she’d written the song ‘while feeling very lost and in the clutches of co-dependency, and realising that no-one could save me but myself. It’s a love song to the lost.’ Her narrated intro gives way to industrial windscreen-wiper beats where a thick bass throws up a wall of tone more than notes, and deft synths soften the edges to pull you in. Sparse, intense, literate, impassioned: Street Pulse Beat awaits.

HEDVIG MOLLESTAD TRIO – All Flights Cancelled

With moto-riffic pulsations from the off, this track is definitely going somewhere. But where? All Flights Cancelled can only mean one thing: ROAD TRIP – and this is the soundtrack. But when the riff drops out and Mollestad’s solo guitar moves in, it becomes a trip with tone and class and a fiery yet tasteful virtuosity. A new-psyche jam with prog-jazz muscle.

ST VINCENT – Sad But True

What do you make of Metallica’s Blacklist? Curious and wary is the early verdict here, though this is without knowing exactly what it all sounds like. Wary of the number of Enter Sandmen for sure. Wary of all the Nothing Else Mattresses, too. Wary of way too many straight covers … 53 interpretations of 12 tracks is a lot and there’s bound to be some uninspiring duds. Probably from the world of metal.

But St Vincent’s version of Sad But True is bang on. In keeping with her shapeshifting wont, it’s not like the warm 70s analogue of her (excellent) Daddy’s Home album. No, this Sad But True struts a seductive industrial funk groove like a sexy Nine Inch Nails. And the guitar solo? Owned. More like this please. Looking forward to whatever Kamasi Washington does as well.


It’s this week, September 3rd – a great chance to support our musicians even more.

’til next time!

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind
amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind



If wild instrumentals are the way to blast those Jan-Feb blues, check this trio of wordless other-worldlies and set your radar to stun, scorch and shift. Verse-chorus-verse they are not. Don’t know anything about the bands (yet) so excuse mon ignorance and lack of detail, just feel the buzz instead. Much to trip on.

HEDVIG MOLLESTAD TRIO – First Thing to Pop is the Eye

STUN. Heavyweight new-jazz post/prog artillery from Norway. Dazzling. HM3’s First Thing… fairly fires up a wintry night with urgent, hypnotic bass loops and guitars that strike with small-hours cool. Musicianship absolutely not in question, neither is the r.o.k. attitude, and that’s more than enough to keep us happy BUT… check the drumming. Is that a player or what? New album Smells Funny is out now on Rune Grammofon.


SCORCH. OK, not new – 31 years not new, since you ask – but reissued right now on Southern Lord and, of course, Casper packs the same ferocious intensity on guitar as dad Peter does on sax. What comes to mind? A splatter of King Crimson Red to start maybe, but mostly a Killing Joke wall of fury roughed up by free-forming six-stringer squall. Primal psssyche out.

SONAR – Vortex

SHIFT. Why? Because of the mood. Because of the tension lurking from the opening Tortoise lope. Because of the pristine dark urban space conjured by metronomic polyrhythms, slow-rising urgency and part-glitch percussive energy. Get a shift on – enter the vortex with Sonar right here.


By leftovers, we mean the 2018 music bought late last year – like ace albums by Clutch, Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Donny McCaslin and Pijn – that have fed the new year and which we’re only just digesting. And for some moody atmos on grey-day hibernations like these, you can do a lot worse than sink into these two highly-recommendeds. First, Magic by Anna Von Hausswolff. Drones, possession (spiritual) and pipe organs (massive) from Sweden make for a gothic mood piece that signals a storm’s arrival, though it never does. The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra comes close, but its rock-solid haunt is more of a summoning. File next to your Sunn O)))/Ulver crossovers. Or Myrkur. Or your pipe organ collection. Or maybe even this lot …

.Low. Can’t get enough of critics’ favourite Double Negative at the moment. Even when you flick your hype-alert switch on after the gushing reviews, all that talk of noise, crackle and avant is just too seductive … can Low really be pushing it that far out, this far into their career? So you give it a go. And nothing prepares you for just how outside Double Negative is. Something very special, disorienting and rare at work here … semi lucid states, heavy distortion and fractured warps, cloaked by unshakable Low-floating harmonies. In and out of focus. One for dark nights, immersion and submission. The beauty is buried deep.


Friday 1 February, 2019 – Drore and Desert Storm at the Bullingdon, who needs a headliner? Not them, but there is one anyway: Conjurer, on the Holy Roar label. Metal Hammer have said good stuff about their Mire album, let’s see what they’re all about.

’til next time!

P.S. Desert Storm and Drore review done, see next post

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind