The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Gig #135: Of late 43: Caterina Barbieri, Baron Mordant, Full of Hell, Drowse, Bath Consolidated, Ben LaMar Gay, Morphoex, INTER ARMA, Kukangendai, Lost Souls of Saturn, Kevin Richard Martin, MSYLMA, UCC Harlo, Quelle Chris


Caterina Barbieri
Baron Mordant
Full of Hell
Bath Consolidated
Ben LaMar Gay
Lost Souls of Saturn
Kevin Richard Martin
UCC Harlo
Quelle Chris


Caterina Barbieri Pinnacles of You
‘The 2017 album Patterns Of Consciousness introduced many people to the modular synth-based music of Catarina Barbieri. Although she uses a mathematical approach, Barbieri’s work is brought to life by generative music techniques, which allow for an ever-changing sound within a set of strict parameters. Slight variations on a theme turn a single sequence into colourful bloom of sound. In this way, rigid guidelines become organic melodies. Like Steve Reich and the drone-centric Hindustani classical music Barbieri has cited as influential, her music is minimal and focused on repetition. 
Barbieri’s ability to tease melody from electricity is due in part to being a classically trained guitarist. “The music I’m doing now is basically guitar music but with synthesizers,” she recently told Resident Advisor. It brings to mind Laurie Spiegel, who drew from her days playing the banjo in order to compose certain parts of The Expanding Universe. But the guitar’s influence goes further. There are multiple instances on the album where Barbieri absolutely shreds.
’ — Resident Advisor


Baron Mordant Prakash Is Typing
‘There’s a commonly held view that people mellow with age, they accept their limitations and come to an understanding of their place in the world. This does not apply to Baron Mordant, who for the last nineteen years has been pushing the boundaries of what electronic music can be composed of; there has been no facet, no angle and no technique left untouched. For all of his efforts he has gotten minimal (at best) recognition for just how much innovation and daring he has exhibited in all the time he’s been not only expressing himself artistically but also running a label.’ — Santa Sangre


Full of Hell Burning Myrrh
‘FULL OF HELL make their their most explosive album to date, Weeping Choir. Dynamic, pissed, and wholly urgent, the highly anticipated Weeping Choir is a definitive statement of intent by one of the underground’s most dynamic and virulent entities. FULL OF HELL have once again culled the extreme elements from hardcore, metal, and power electronics to redefine darkness and sheer brutality. Distorted guitars, and ominous, disparate electronics grind and gnash against rapid-fire drumming, as FULL OF HELL take themes of religion, loss, hatred, and set them ablaze. Recorded by the critically acclaimed Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studio, Weeping Choir sees FULL OF HELL fully unleashed. Abrasive, confrontational, none equal!’ — Relapse


Drowse Between Fence Posts
Light Mirror falls within a lineage of overcast Pacific Northwest albums (think Grouper’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill), but finds Drowse pushing past its slowcore roots. The album’s prismatic sound reflects experimental electronic, noise pop, black metal, krautrock, and more through Kyle’s distinct song-worlds. The lyrics are ruminations on the idea of multiple selves, identity, paranoia, fear of the body, alcohol abuse, social media, the power of memory, the truths that are revealed when we are alone, and the significance of human contact. They were influenced by filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and poet Louise Glück, who both address self-contradiction. Mastered by Nicholas Wilbur (Mount Eerie, Planning for Burial) at the Unknown, the album showcases a striking maturation in sound. Light Mirror is Drowse’s most intimate and desolate work to date.’ — The Flenser


Bath Consolidated Modified Ashworth Scale
‘A millennial is someone caught in between the past and the future. This perspective naturally has a desire to be recognized. There is a fear in this generation of being lost or effaced from the canon of mythology, for example, legacy fomo. This album is copying and pasting my peers into Dante’s Inferno or the bible and seeing what happens. This sits in the background on the theme for Narryer Gneiss Terrane. The main thrust is studying the aesthetics, flow, and syntax of a mythology attempting to form a millennial mythos. I thought often in imagery rather than words. For the track medulla, I pictured a boltzmann brain appearing at the big bang with the personality of a millennial, the great filter climbing the walls of the biblical bottomless pit.’ — BC


Ben LaMar Gay Muhal
‘”Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun” is as much a ‘greatest hits’ as it is a ‘debut album’ for Ben LaMar Gay. It’s a collection of music composed, performed & produced by the anomalous Southside Chicago-born, sometimes Brazil-residing artist, compiled from 7 albums he made over the last 7 years but never made the effort to actually release. With its title taken from the mantra Ben repeats across several tracks on “Grapes” (1 of the 7 aforementioned albums), “Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun” is our effort to channel the rainbow of sonic expressions, art & poetry beaming from the ark of his unreleased catalogue into a cohesive & communicable compilation.’ — International Anthem


Morphoex Constante Cosmologique
‘Morphoex is the project of Isthmael Baudry, a musician and photographer based in Rouen, France. Beautiful synth soundscapes that fluctuate between -on one hand- the icy synthpop edge of early Mute, yet build into ominously darker, beat driven, industrial rhythms that recall Throbbing Gristle and early Cabs; though with a succinct French flavour that tips its hat towards some of the work of Heldon/Richard Pinhas via the revered sounds emanating from the Berlin School.’ — Sonic Rendezvous DCM


INTER ARMA Howling Lands
‘From the beginning, Inter Arma have been interested in grand statements: Their songs are complicated and their albums are long, and their ambition sometimes seems limited to the sprawling tone shifts in their material. So while Sulphur English is their least welcoming album, it is also their most rewarding. Standout tracks like “The Atavist’s Meridian” and the gothic, percussive “Howling Lands” indicate a band able to capture its passing moods—helplessness, rage, devotion—and shape them into something whole, merciless yet refined. With Sulphur English, they’ve delivered a cohesive vision of internal destruction, all the more explosive for everything they’ve left behind.’ — Sam Sodomsky


Kukangendai Singou
‘Kukangendai is a kick ass rock trio from Kyoto (Tokyo transplants). When I first hear this band live I was instantly transfixed by their minimalist yet illusory primitive, polyrythmic and structural, memory evoking rock narratives. Their energy is completely and transparently palpable yet handled with restraint of the pleasure of a disciplined form dealing with time and articulation. They are a power trio of bass, drums and guitar but the music they play is as much the limbic system of a forest than it is a geode. They started in 2006. They left Tokyo to Kyoto and started the cult venue Soto (“Outside”) “to listen to music they hadn’t heard yet” a few years later. They collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto last year. They reminded me of James Brown on a heavy binge of Bastro, there’s a deep current of both archaic musical tastes and the human desire for articulating that archaism in there, but you shake your ass and get the shouting in… in a punk basement … 13th century version of Breadwinner, the bare soul version.’ — Stephen O’Malley,


Lost Souls Of Saturn The Awakening
‘Epic in scope, time and space, this multidimensional mind trip is for fans of Mark Leckey’s ‘Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’, David Morales’ Red Zone dubs, Don Cherry’s ‘Organic Music Society’, The Orb’s ‘Ultraworld’ and KLF’s ‘Space’ and much more besides. This ambient house masterpiece combines flavours gathered from across the galaxy, stewing them up into a delicious primordial soup. Old sci-fi soundtracks, acid, free jazz, avant garde, musique concrete, world music and more all whirl around an underground-dance-music axis.’ — R&S


Kevin Richard Martin Too Much
‘In 2015, Kevin and I book-ended a series of concerts at Berghain for CTM festival. For his performance, Kevin debuted a new work I’d heard very little about called ’Sirens’. I remember two things distinctly about the performance. The first thing is he opened the set with a blazing passage of bass and dub sirens that instantly transported me back to those initial moments of encountering his work. The second was the feeling of absolute, crushing bass. Not before, or since, have I felt a sense of sound pressure like this. Unlike his other work with The Bug for example, the consistent bass carrying in the space was literally breathtaking and there were moments when it seemed difficult to see clearly as my eye sockets were vibrating in a way I’d never experienced.’ — Lawrence English


MSYLMA Dhil un Taht Shajaret Al Zaqqum
‘It is a rare that an album is as immediately arresting as Dhil-un Taht Shajarat Al-Zaqum, especially given how mysterious it is. The Mecca, Saudi Arabia-based producer MSYLMA leaves few traces across the internet and, aside from a notable vocal on Zuli’s Terminal album, one of the highlights of last year, there’s not much out there to know what drives this singular release, apart from a vague notion that it’s something of a coming-of-age tale that takes in pre-Islamic and Quranic poetry and culture and melds them to modern electronic and grime sensibilities. With repeated listens, it transforms into a deliriously narcotic ear-worm that can’t be avoided.’ — Joseph Burnett


UCC Harlo Áve Giove
‘One of the most striking debuts we’ve heard recently, ‘United’ introduces a patently gifted composer blossoming after many years playing on other people’s records, from early music ensembles to contemporaries such as Bill Kouligas, Caterina Barbieri and Holly Herndon. In her first solo LP Annie Garlid reconciles these opposing poles of her work without making any concessions to her art, rendering a stellar set that ties up medieval baroque, deconstructed dance music, vaulted kosmische and hauntological ambient-pop in a measured, stately and quietly breathtaking style. To us it sounds like a baroque take on Arthur Russell’s ‘World Of Echo’ treated with choral riffs.’ — boomkat


Quelle Chris Obamacare
‘“Obamacare came together just as organically as everything else on Guns. I’d been sitting on a few arrangements of two samples for a couple months. While in Oakland I was working with Chris Keys and Sean 5ill (Roger Billagio from Being You Is Great). Keys was doing an unintentional bit as an angry drum instructor that led to some amazing breaks. Once the drums existed the homeless samples basically feel into place. Keys then added his amazing piano but the real star of the song (besides my bars), the real cherry on top, the Vanjie Drag Race exit was the final edition. The bass line laid down by Keys. The rest is history. Plus I’d like to think of my music as free healthcare for all.’ — Quelle Chris




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Indeed. Happy one day late birthday to Fats Waller. Boy, was and is he great! ** Sypha, Hey, James. Nothing like a relatable artist, I think? Well, ha ha, Cherbourg might not be worth the journey — 3 1/2 hours by train from Paris — unless you either like constant rainy weather or are fond of ports. But if you ever do, Zac and I can make you special ‘PGL’ tour map. ** Steve Erickson, ‘Crowd’ plays BAM next year sometime. Spring? I can’t remember. I’ll find out. But it’s not for a while. Ah, I look forward to your review of the new Tyler album. I’m really into the album, I must say. Everyone, Mr. Erickson reviews the new Tyler the Creator album, which, if you want my two cents, is very good. Anyway, here’s his take. Webster Hall! That’s a nice venue or used to be back when. Huh. So Halsey’s either slumming or already over, I guess? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. Cool, yes, Crevel does kind of qualify, and the book’s a goodie, so … sweet. ** Huh, so quiet. Okay. Here’s my latest gig full of things I’ve been listening to and am into enough to recommend. As always, I hope you’ll test it out at the very least. Thank you. See you tomorrow.


  1. _Black_Acrylic

    I’m very into that UCC Harlo track, “a baroque take on World Of Echo” at first seems a strange description but then that really is what it kind of sounds like. It also makes me think of those 90s Global Hypercolour T-shirts for some reason, all trippy pink and blue tie-dye effects in a good way of course.

  2. Steve Erickson

    I’ve heard Inter Arma, Ben LaMar Gay and Quelle Chris before. (International Anthem has now released 4 more albums by Gay.) MSYLMA, UCC Harlo and Kukagendai are really exciting. O’Malley’s suggestion that Kukagendai sound like a mix of funk and math-rock makes sense.

    I’m having computer issues re: my laptop’s hard drive and memory, so I’m trying to download new music to an external hard drive but I fear that may cause other issues. It’s a long story.

  3. Sypha

    H’mm, 3 and a half hours by train is quite a trip… then again, when Misa and I went to NYC in 2011, I recall my train took me 4 hours or so to get there. So we’ll see, ha ha. Actually getting to Paris in the first place is the main hurdle.

    It always impresses me how you find some of these groups, Dennis. Speaking of which, one thing I like about Philip Best and also Ramleh’s Gary Mundy is that they’re always posting these album covers for records they like on Facebook, and sometimes some of the covers are so bizarre I find I just have to investigate it on my own, ha ha. Recently I’ve been listening to Wire’s late 80’s albums quite a bit, mainly THE IDEAL COPY and A BELL IS A CUP. The latter I’ve always been very fond of, to the extent I’m almost thinking of putting it on my top ten list. I use to say it’s one of the best pop albums of the 1980’s, but now I also think it’s one of the best pop albums period… I especially find the lyrics interesting, because I literally have no idea what one single song on that album is supposed to be about. Planning on re-listening to their first 3 albums soon… some of those I haven’t heard in over a decade now.

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