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Saturday 16 March 2019, 7.30pm

Low Company presents: Ilta Hämärä + Cucina Povera + XVARR + Malvern Brume

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Join us as we leave the safety, comfort and, er, CONFINES of our four walls as we once again plunge in to the ocean of LIVE music with five of our favourite sound explorers. With all of this lots’ music having come through the shop to much fanfare, below are some of our bewildered natterings on a few of their releases.

Ilta Hämärä

Ilta Hämärä - Velloa (Meeuw Muzak)

"Dark magi Timo Van Lujik and Bart De Paepe join forces for a short-form tour de force of punishing, baddest-trip psychedelia and haunting outsider concrète. The involuted, noise-strafed guitar dirge of ‘Velloa', split across two sides, feels like an exorcism, a purging; the collective DRY HEAVING of your innermost demons (stay down!). Somehow, in spite of its overwhelming sonic density - all manic shut-in shredding, shrieking dissonance and perfectly out, pagan-wedding percussion - its overall movement is shadowy and wraith-like and not quite of solid form… yeah it gives us the CREEPS, and serves as confirmation, unneeded, of Timo and Bart's mastery of texture, tone and space. Imagine a less oxygen-starved version of Skullflower's ’3rd Gatekeeper’, or just imagine how YOU might see, hear and play if you'd been trapped in a subterranean bunker for three weeks, listening to nowt but Taj Mahal Travellers at 78rpm. While all this might sound a world away from van Luijk’s more pastel and pastoral work on La Scie Doree and with Andrew Chalk in Elodie, it shares something of the smacked-out fin de siecle decadence of Af Ursin classics like Aura Legato, and, for all its ferocity, it's an incredibly poised and otherworldly performance. An end-times essential!"

Cucina Povera - Hilja

Cucina Povera - Hilja (Night School)

"This debut LP from Glasgow-based artist Maria Rossi is a perfectly judged and executed marriage of stoic, so-sparse-it’s-barely-there minimal techno, leaky bedsit field recordings and her own sublimely hymnal vocals. Combining choral, quasi-ecclesiastical uplift with a glottal surrealism at times reminiscent of CDF’s work in F ingers (or maybe just an awks exchange in the Black Lodge), Rossi, who is originally from Finland, sings in a tongue of her own devising – a language, as Night School put it, for some mythological Fourth World we’ve yet to create. It is, ultimately, a record that transcends language, communicating something pure and ancient and BEYOND.

Rossi’s voice is versatile, dextrous and multi-layered, but she doesn’t show off with it, doesn’t allow herself to be seduced by it – no, she uses it with precision and restraint. Her tone is pure, her phrasings spare, at times channelling Alison Statton and Angela Conway’s jaded choirgirls – the gloomy drum-box, walking bassline and can’t-stand-the-rain ambience of ‘Avainsana’, which eventually lock into a funereal house rhythm, is like YMGs / AC Marias by way of Mille Plateaux – but on the O-Superman-at-sea sway of ‘Kupariumpu’ and ‘Electra’ she admits a more soulful inflection into her voice's grain, one that takes us away from post-punk affectlessness and into a warmer, blissier realm.

There is not one dud track, each one feels unique and also an essential part of the whole, but special mention must go to ‘Huhuilu’ (with its space-age bossa pulsations, and a vocal take that recalls Jessika Kenney’s Javanese-influenced stuff, it sounds at once crisply futuristic and as old as time itself) and to the cold, Terminator synth/folk-scape ‘Totean’, which sounds like Ksiezyc washed up at the Hague and cut a track with Sammy Osmo. Unbelievably good.

Cucina Povera refers to the proud southern Italian cooking tradition that’s all about simplicity and making-do - it's an apt handle for Rossi, who throughout Hilja coaxes minimal elements into jaw-droppingly maximal effect. Released in an edition of 300, in screen-printed sleeves, Hilja is top-to-bottom beautiful, a DIY tour de force - and further evidence that we are living in a GOLDEN AGE."

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XVARR - Beyond Illuminism (Thuluth Records)

"Consummately executed - considered, grown-up, sincere - ritual electronics from a London-based child of Thule, Zaheer Gulamhusein - inspired by "The Crooked Path, Lycia, Osiris, Sekhmet, Oblivion, Shunga, Paranoia." For years Gulamhusein has been passing private CD-Rs of his recordings - all heavily informed by his study of Western esoteric spirituality - to friends and acquaintances, but this LP is on another plain, really. It combines a Coil-esque decadent, world-weary disinterment of the city’s occluded/interdimensional energies with a refreshingly direct and wide-eyed line of psychedelic inquiry. In the end, Beyond Illuminism sounds like nothing but itself, but it’s obviously aligned with the grandest sidereal tradition: ‘Temperance’ is our dreamweapon of choice, an accumulation of bowed and scraped tones that sigh and sway like Spacemen 3 in full flight (cf. Cale and Conrad), while ‘Quasi-Hypnotic’ combines the planet-curdling, arpeggiated fizz of Pulse Emitter or recent Ashtray Navigations with the opaque, quasi-gothic intensity of noir-est Detroit techno. Throughout all this Xvarr, like Ashtrays, Astral Social Club, even TG and Legendary Pink Dots, yolks together a quintessential UK underground/industrial severity with a sensuous, tactile drone-logic and thirst for ecstatic auto-annihilation that transcends place and feels as old and unarguable as time itself. But there are moments too of a more acute and earth-bound romanticism that caught us off guard: ‘Gemini Tree’ in particular is a beautiful piece of piano-led pastoral ambience that sounds like Plinth relocated from the Dorset countryside to the steps of Elephant & Castle shopping centre at first light. An amazing record, all the more powerful and remarkable for its purism and total indifference to current trends (whatever the fuck THOSE are). "

Malvern Brume - C.C.S. Ear-Well (Septic Templ)

"Low Company hard kru gets it’s hands on some of the most abundant “demos” we’ve heard in a loooong time, a recalibrating collection of hermetic sound collage and suspensive beat cycles that form the far-reaching, street-lamp sonics on “C.C.S. Ear-well” - the first outing of London based shut-in Malvern Brume and the maiden voyage on a cobbled together, in-house, hand scalpel’ing, carbon based farce / tape label.

A near sixty minute long Greenwich Tunnel Dive, “C.S.S...” is a set of lost transmissions on MB’s fading vitality and experiments in sun-starved, solitary fitness. From the off, the opening track “Pedestrian Movement” feels like a last legible journal entry, a pensive and melodic inquisition before rasping, Diesel Guitar-style drone descents and inaudible S.O.S. signals take hold and tracks become fully shrouded in a malnourished distortion, dusted with fluttering memoirs of the real-world via some rickety, smoke stained London field recordings.

Side B morphs into more paranoid, beat-sequenced skeletons - “Tascam 1081” and “Ebb” feeling like hissing inversions of the German Shepherds’ “Music For Sick Queers”, whilst “Unrooted Drum” and “Mud Lap” take the shape of an unidentified strain of slickly modulating, claustrophobic techno - like something you might find on Morphine - an erratic yet intuitive tekno-primitivism, Brume going mad in captivity and simultaneously developing an acute understanding for his craft. "

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