Listening Post: The All Seeing Hand/Nine Inch Nails/Run The Jewels/Miss each and the Travellin' Bones
The Sunday Star-Times weekly wrap of new music.
The All Seeing Hand
Sand To Glass
You will not remain unmoved by this Wellington trio's fourth album. Whether you're left thrilled or deeply distressed is another story, or both, perhaps, intermittently within the same song. Turntable legend Alphabethead, drummer Ben Knight and throat singer Jonny Marks deal in a sort of take-no-prisoners audio ambush that might scare off anyone not weaned on hardcore punk and techno, industrial music or metal, such is the level of noise, speed and visceral intensity on many tracks. Their second album Mechatronics made me a fan, albeit a wimpy one who could only listen once or twice a year with the doors locked and all the lights on. Sand To Glass is better still, with a far broader sonic palette- the menace offset by more reflective minimalist passages, the bludgeoning beats and dive-bombing electro riffs leavened by the occasional- gasp!- acoustic guitar. A dystopian sci-fi epic unfolds before your startled ears, spanning a civilisation's troubled history, lurching from bone tools to black holes as some sort of malignant master race makes a power play. Jupiter's Moons and Silicon And Synapse may well be the most marvellous collisions of turntable, throat and drums you ever hear, by turns tense and lovely, like intergalactic folk music knocked out by angry aliens. Lizard Brain is primeval punk. And Cro-Magnon Corp? Truly terrifying. I'm writing this review while hiding under my bed.
Nine Inch Nails
Not the Actual Events
(The Null Corporation)
NIN fans were in for an early Christmas present on December 22 with this surprise and stunning EP from Trent Reznor and long-time collaborator Atticus Ross. The result is 21 minutes of the industrial Gods' purest pre-millenium form. His last few releases may have been relatively innocuous but Not the Actual harks back to the beautiful abrasive nature of 94's magnum opus The Downward Spiral. This is exemplified on Burning Bright, possibly NIN's best track in over a decade. It hears a wall of noisy guitars burn ferociously with ethereal vocal melodies that attempt to break through a brilliant sonic onslaught - all evoking a raw sense of desperation. Great electronics can be heard on Dear World while She's Gone Away grinds with industrial power, grit and repetition. Age never really damaged Reznor's spark but this is a return to an era fans probably thought was done and dusted.
Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels 3
2014's critically acclaimed Run The Jewels 2 had the alternative music press talking like they'd found hip-hop's new golden boys. Originally a side project of New York producer and rapper El-P and Georgia rapper Killer Mike, the pair delivered hip-hop that was aggressive, energetic and crass. RTJ3 follows in a similar vein, a collaboration crafted in hip-hop heaven, the two consistently complementing each other's dexterous delivery. The effort at times here feels a little more smooth, tracks such as Down and 2100 have an almost calmer, more accessible approach. And it works brilliantly. Produced almost entirely by EL-P, this is production that's stands alone sonically and could be released as an instrumental record. RTJ3 is a distinctive and intense breed of hip-hop - the consistency of the combined powers of the duo is a feat rarely heard in the genre. Undoubtedly one of modern hip-hop's most effective and progressive groups.
Miss Peach and The Travellin' Bones
Let's face it unless you know an artist personally, what their story is and what motivates them it's all guess work in putting their artistry into context. In the case of Miss (Jodie) Peach, her debut album Sand, with the Travellin' Bones, conjures up so many different images that you wonder whether this free spirit even knows herself the path that lies ahead. Sand, in many respects is like Cupid's arrow, hits you in the heart or doesn't. Miss Peach has the outward persona of a wild (American) west vaudeville madam - someone who might have kicked up their heels for seductive value while searching for a place to lay their weary heart. There's a playfulness, intimacy in songs such as Sea Of Hope and Spectacular, powered by a voice that's alluring and full of passion which makes Sand a sheer delight.
- Sunday Star Times