ORGAN: Five Music Things – Alex Ward has a new album, new Phew, another freshly mix VdGG classic, A new EP from Ren Schofield AKA Container, Wet Leg…

Harvey and Worrall – Starz, Chips, What Would Joan Jett do? – Shipton Street Gallery, Columbia Road, East London, November 2019 –

The five thing again? Already? Five more? Again?. Again and again and again (and again). Five more, same as last time (and the time before) five more musical things to explore, another five? Already? Alright already? You never did answer the question, shame about Cuffed Up last time around, where’s did we put the plot? Dive? Five? Five more pieces of earfood? Shall we do it again? Back to back to back being back to the five musical things thing and the fractured music portal yet again (and again and again) and yeah, we did say all this last week and the weeks before and blah blah blah while the whole world window and no, we never do and the proof of the pudding and all that proof reading. It doesn’t really matter if it was a television fizzing and going off and things back then when we first heard of the Window going off and things. and like we did ask last time, does anyone bother reading the editorial? Does anyone ever actually look down the rabbit hole or is it all just method acting? Cut to the chase, we could just cut ‘n paste the editorial from the last time, there’s loads of music further down the page, well five or so pieces of music, cut to the damn chase, who needs an editorial? Who needs any of this?  Who needs it, who needs iit, just cut t to the chase… 

1: Alex Ward has a new album, it kind of feels like he always has a new album, this one, Gated, is out on Discus, this one feels like a big one. An album that bridges many musical island, an album that is distinctively Alex Ward, his finger print is all over it, almost instantly recognisable, that urgent way he has with whatever he happens to be playing, that  composed insanity that has caused many a jaw to drop (his soundchecks are a thing of legend), all the right notes and always in the right order, many many notes, that experimental avant guitar that always flows, that never sounds like the showing off of most guitarise who can play like this. It is about the composition, the challenge, the places he wants to go, his constant insatiable musical ambition, his going off and things….   

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“Conceived and realised over an 8-month period of intense solitary work, “GATED” is Alex Ward’s most ambitious musical statement to date. The ten pieces employ all of Alex’s instrumental resources as a performer, featuring clarinets, saxophones, guitars, keyboards, electric bass and assorted software instruments; and furthermore they draw on everything he has learned during his three-decades-plus of activity as a free improviser, composer/bandleader and sideman. The result is a dense and multi-layered array of detailed compositional structures, headlong improvisational flights and deft studio manipulation.

As the conception of the album progressed and Alex resolved to let his ideas develop in a manner unfettered by anything other than his own aspirations and abilities, he strove to create a work which would inhabit a wide-open stylistic and sonic terrain without succumbing to the pitfalls of pastiche. The range of instrumentation and attack deployed throughout the album might at various points suggest any number of strands of avant/experimental rock, AACM-and-beyond traditions of creative music, or post-Darmstadtian chamber rigour; but rather than generic signifiers being employed as decoration or even tribute, in “GATED” every musical element is mined for the most fertile and least standardised possibilities it can yield. Despite the album’s startling diversity of sound and atmosphere, a consistent set of compositional and aesthetic principles underlies its entire contents”.

Harvey and Worrall – Starz, Chips, What Would Joan Jett do? – Shipton Street Gallery, Columbia Road, East London, November 2019 – SeanWorrall

2: VdGG – Now it may only be a new mix of an old piece, but what an old piece it is, surely one of Van Der Graaf Generator’s finest, and that is a fine new mix, at least I think it is? Is that too much of a remix? Things are clearer, but are they meant to be? Opinions are varied in terms of these new mixes (there’s bee nfour now) and I did love the way the original started, nah, this is excellentr, of course it is, great mix “VdGG’s classic 1975 track “Arrow” has been re-released with a new stereo mix (by Stephen W Tayler) for 2021. From the upcoming (and massive) VdGG box set being released by Virgin/Universal, “The Charisma Years 1970 – 1978”. More about the box set and what’s to be gound in that (big) box here – ORGAN THING: A new Van Der Graaf Generator single, all the box set and re-issue news and notes, well a new mix and a rather beautiful one, Refugees…

3: Phew has announced details of a new album – her first for Mute since 1992’s Our Likeness – and shared the first track, hear it and indeed watch it right here. ‘Into the Stream’. New Decade is out on Mute on 22 October 2021

Rising to prominence with the art-punk group Aunt Sally before her first solo release in 1981, recorded at Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, Phew isn’t about to go soft on us. “I wanted to exclude sentimentality,” she says of New Decade. “With the situation at the moment, I’ve got it lucky. Last year, in particular, just being alive was kind of a lucky state of affairs. Being able to openly express how you’re feeling, in spite of all that, is a sort of privilege you have as a musician or artist, and I felt like I shouldn’tabuse it.”


This has been a guiding principle for Phew in recent years, as she has amassed a body of solo work that melds her signature vocals with febrile, droning synthesisers and drum machines. Already well accustomed to working in isolation at home, keeping her voice down in order not to annoy the neighbours, New Decade is a stark and haunted album, populated by voices that intone empty pleasantries in English and Japanese or manifest as wordless shrieks and groans, against a backdrop of fractured, dubbed-out electronics.


Phew explains that there’s a loose concept running through the album, relating to the perception of time. “During the ’80s, and up until the ’90s, things progressed along a line from past to present to future, but I think thats changed, especially since the start of the 21st century. Personally speaking, Ive stopped being able to see a future that extends from the present.”


This is reflected in the unplaceable character of her current work. It’s not deliberately retro in the manner of many analogue synth revivalists, nor does Phew waste time trying to catch up with the latest trends. It’s music out of time, resonating to its own peculiar frequency.

More details of the Phew album here or more phew via Bandcamp

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4: Container – This just in, it sounds rather good to us – Drone presents ‘Creamer’ – the new EP by primo noise-cruncher Ren Schofield AKA Container, here’s the video, created by Zarabat

“On August 27th Drone presents ‘Creamer’ – the new EP by primo noise-cruncher Ren Schofield AKA Container, who across four sinewy beasts of electro-punk energy uses noise and distortion to create a cathartic, primal frenzy. Although already garnering high praise from the likes of Pitchfork, The Quietus, Rolling Stone and Resident Advisor, the vanilla and faint-of-heart may find this record intimidating. But we recommend closer inspection, as the blistering racket belies a precise and careful craft, like a finely tuned Formula 1 engine.

“The basic idea of the track ‘Creamer’ was rustled up the day before what would turn out to be my last gig for a long time — an appearance at the Static Shock Festival in London in March 2020. Although normally I would spend quite a bit more time refining a track before I’d do it live, I was excited to play what was written of it at this show, as I find sometimes that the ‘test’ of playing something new in front of people can be a good way to find out immediately if it sucks or not. Luckily it felt great to play it and I couldn’t wait to finish writing the whole thing. Restrictions and lockdowns followed shortly thereafter and I found myself without a place to work on music like I’d used to, and also a lack of time to work on it since I’d now started working a regular job after having all foreseeable live shows cancelled… and so the song went unfinished.

Months of creative frustration followed until after a bit of bouncing around between studios and a jarring run-in with law enforcement I was able to locate a permanent space just two minutes from my house and finally get settled and start working on things properly again. The four tracks on this EP are the immediate result of that, of spending a long stretch of time pent-up musically and then finally being granted a release.


This is also the first Container record not made with the Roland MC-909, a piece of gear which I had loyally used for a solid ten years previously and then savagely turned my back on in favour of a new era with the Digitakt. This change presented a new series of both freedoms and limitations to work with, as well as a bit of a learning curve, but is overall (to me at least) a breath of fresh air. My intentions and goals for this record were to make it way more ‘rock’ oriented than ‘techno’, almost as if it could be a band or adapted by one (albeit a rather non-traditional one), and I wanted to incorporate some potentially awkward sounding time signatures, but do my best to disguise them as something digestible and not without a groove.” Ren Schofield

More on Bandcamp

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5: Wet Leg – well this is going to get stuck in your head for months and months (and monthis), is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign… Wet Leg

Harvey and Worrall – Starz, Chips, What Would Joan Jett do? – Shipton Street Gallery, Columbia Road, East London, November 2019 – Sean Worrall

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