Album Reviews: UK Label Catch-Up (1)

There are countless numbers of amazing labels putting out a handful of brilliant releases every year. Globally these all add up to a massive output of music that, frankly, it is easy to drown under if you are trying to give as much coverage to as many of there as possible. In an attempt to keep up, and help you to keep up, here are a few shorter reviews of some recent releases by UK labels… one per imprint, but I urge you to look at what else they are bringing out because it’s never, ever, less than interesting. Part two of this here.

Le Sacre Du Lièvre by Terminal Cheesecake (Box Records)

I first came across Terminal Cheesecake after they reformed in 2013, they were previously active in the late 1980s and 1990s. Their subsequent album ‘Dandelion Sauce of the Ancients‘ was terrific, an experience that was capped for me when I saw them live on the subsequent tour… a performance which totally blew me away.

The band are now back with a new album which once again has exceeded my expectations in its breadth and depth. Deep as we now are into this ‘psych’ revival, I am finding two divergent trends: an increase in the same old thing on repeat, and new investigations of the genre. This album definitely falls into the second category. It is always heavy and unyielding, but not at the cost of genuine innovation and diversity which means that I would definitely be pulling this off the shelf to play in years to come. In short: another stand-out release from Terminal Cheesecake, on the ever reliable Box Records!

Death To False Motorik by vert-x (The Weird Beard)

A band that have had a much shorter hiatus than Terminal Cheesecake are vert-x, who have returned with a new line up; and a much heavier sound than on the previous release ‘from now to now‘. Channelling the likes of Hawkwind, The Stooges and NEU!, the band launch into a series of tracks which are both intense and high octane. Coupled with this is a cover featuring the tower at what to me will always be known as Forton Services on the M6 motorway… on a stretch that was the first such road in the UK.

It is a place that for me is redolent with memories as I frequently called there as a child on my way to my grandparents house in Cumbria and marvelled at the stylish architecture of this structure. As a result the combination of this imagery with the ceaseless and unrelenting beat of vert-x is perfect for my remembrance of this modernity… of a Kraftwerk-esque inspiration, an ‘autobahn’ for the North West… on the highway to the fells.

‘Death To False Motorik’ is available now on The Weird Beard.

The Silence That Follows by Stereocilia (Drone Rock Records)

Stereocilia is Bristol-based composer John Scott, whose second release on Drone Rock Records (the first was ‘Hive Mind‘ in 2017) is once again an amazing amalgam of cinematic emptiness… a series of tracks that engender vast topographic soundscapes in the mind. Scott’s use of guitar together with analogue synths are key to the organic feel to his music, yet there is also an otherworldliness here that acts as a catalyst to send the mind on vast journeys through sonic deserts and over waves of reverberation… while at the same time never leaving you far away from reality.

The result is that you come to the end of this album and feel weirdly refreshed as if you have been exfoliated by the music, somehow reflecting the smooth washing of the synths with the more abrasive sound of Scott’s guitar. All in all then an experience that is both thought provoking and relaxing.

‘The Silence That Follows’ is available now from Drone Rock Records, but hurry there’s only the purple vinyl version left now.

No You by Rainbow Grave (God Unknown Records)

When I reviewed Vol 3 of the brilliant God Unknown Records Singles Club, one of the stand out bands that were showcased there was Rainbow Grave. On that occasion I described the them as:

…the sort of heavy band that I imagine when you stand in the middle of their native Birmingham on a dirty night you completely get (that’s how I first understood Black Sabbath by the way). Rainbow Grave are the sort of band that are just relentless, pummelling away until you just have to give in.

I see no reason to alter my judgement of them having now heard their debut album on the same label. This is a relentless assault on the psyche as the band hammer their way through a series of tracks that distort their way around a skeletal, yet highly effective, rhythm section taking in generations of near-the-knuckle metal/ punk/ noise/ sludge (you decide) as they go. This is not an album that subtly suggests itself to you… it head-butts you in the chest… again and again and again. So if you like wading waist deep through waves and waves of distortion while at the same time feeling actively engaged with the music… well this album is for you.

‘No You’ is available to pre-order now from God Unknown Records.


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