Author Archive

INTERVIEW (2002): LFO Low Frequency Opportunist

themilkman on Oct 13th 2014 09:02 pm

Tonight, Monday 13th October 2014, the news of Mark Bell’s untimely death, apparently from complications following a medical procedure, has been confirmed by Warp Records.

Mark contacted me a good few years ago, completely out of the blue, to tell me he liked themilkfactory and to encourage me to ‘keep up the good work’. I was so taken back that I couldn’t believe it could in any way be THE Mark Bell, but I soon got confirmation from Warp that the address the email came from was indeed his. I plucked up the courage to ask him for an interview, which he very kindly accepted. I sent him a bunch of questions, and he replied very quickly, and generously, and sent a picture of him playing with a robot dog, which his girlfriend had taken the weekend before. A few weeks later, he invited me to come to a big Warp part at Electrowerks 2, where he was playing. After his set, I got to meet him, and we ended up chatting about quite a few things, including sailing on lakes around Leeds. Mark Bell was an extremely generous and kind artist, and although themilkfactory is no longer around, I am reviving it briefly today to republish this interview. RIP Mark, you are a true legend, and a true gentleman.

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STIAN WESTERHUS: The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers (Rune Grammofon)

themilkman on Sep 27th 2012 09:36 pm

Stian Westerhus: The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers

The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers
Rune Grammofon 2012
09 Tracks. 40mins04secs

 Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD

Listening to Stian Westerhus’s solo work gives little clue of what exactly is his instrument of choice. Dark, complex, broken, his soundscapes are haunting to say the least. Perhaps the recurring presence of bowed strings provides something of a clue, but nothing clearly points to the electric guitar, yet it is the instrument which Westerhus uses, and, crucially, it is the only instrument used on this album.

Westerhus’s taste for experimental guitar sounds stems from seeing Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock interpretation of Star Spangled Banner on TV when he was just thirteen years old. This prompted the young Norwegian musician, now aged thirty one, to explore the possibility of the electric guitar and dare go beyond the conventional approach to the instrument. Continue Reading »

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PHILIPPE PETIT: Extraordinary Tales Of A Lemon Girl Chapter 2: Fire-Walking To Wonderland / Chapter 3: Hitch-Hicking Thru Bronze Mirrors (Aagoo Records) / Una Symphonia Della Paura (Utech Records)

themilkman on Sep 27th 2012 01:53 am

Philippe Petit: Extraordinary Tales Of A Lemon Girl Chapter 2: Fire Walking To Wonderland Philippe Petit: Extraordinary Tales Of A Lemon Girl Chapter 3: Hitch-Hiking Thru Bronze Mirrors Philippe Petit: Una Symphonia Della Paura

Extraordinary Tales Of A Lemon Girl Chapter 2: Fire Walking To Wonderland
Aagoo Records 2012
05 Tracks. 44mins45secs

Extraordinary Tales Of A Lemon Girl Chapter 3: Hitch-Hiking Thru Bronze Mirrors
Aagoo Records 2012
10 Tracks. 44mins23secs

Una Symphonia Della Paura
Utech Records 2012
05 Tracks. 44mins42secs

Earlier this year, Philippe Petit released Oneiric Rings On Grey Velvet, the first in a trilogy of releases collected under the generic title of Extraordinary Tales Of A Lemon Girl for US-based imprint Aagoo documenting the imaginary story of a mysterious girl character inspired by Italian crime fiction and the various wanderings of Homer, Lewis Carroll or James Joyce. With the second and third chapters in this series of releases, Petit continues to experiment with processed classical music and electronics and creates a particularly complex and dense series of sound worlds which, whilst all more or less related, all have their individual identity. Divided into movements, reinforcing Petit’s connection with classical music, Fire-Walking To Wonderland and Hitch-Hiking Thru Bronze Mirrors are uneasy affairs to apprehend. Continue Reading »

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CHRIS DOOKS & MACHINEFABRIEK: The Eskdalemuir Harmonium (Komino Records)

themilkman on Sep 25th 2012 01:36 am

Chris Dooks & Machinefabriek: The Eskdalemuir Harmonium

The Eskdalemuir Harmonium
Komino Records 2012
04 Tracks. 34mins57secs

Chris Dooks is, amongst other things, something of a documentarist whose sound work has often been centred around collecting snippets of films and documentaries which he recontextualises through processing. Following a couple of electronic releases as Bovine Life over ten years ago, he published a record built entirely from sound excepts from films and documentaries sourced from the Northern Region Film And Television Archive, documenting a hundred years of culture in the North of England. The same preservation purpose serves this collaborative effort with Rotterdam-based sound artist Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt). Based on recordings of a crumbling old American harmonium which Dooks found in a farmhouse near Lockerbie in Scotland, the album is articulated around four textural pieces which incorporate melodic components as well as mechanical and environmental noises. The second piece, Betamax And Dictaphones, also features excerpts from the vinyl pressing of a radio documentary. Continue Reading »

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SINNER DC: Future That Never Happened (Mental Groove Records)

themilkman on Sep 14th 2012 01:33 am

Sinner DC: Future That Never Happened

Future That Never Happened 
Mental Groove Records 2012
10 Tracks. 48mins48secs

Amazon UK: CD

After a stint on now defunct AI Records, Geneva-based trio Sinner DC are back on home soil with their seventh album, Future That Never Happened, published on Mental Groove Records, an imprint located in the band’s home city. Formed at the tail-end of the nineties by Julien Amey, Manuel Bravo and Steve Mamie, Sinner DC released their debut album, Panoramic, on Noise Product in 1998. Originally a relatively conventional pop/noise outfit, Sinner DC have since progressively turned to more a experimental sound, infused with electronics and driven by club music rather than traditional rock. After publishing records on Spirit Of Jungle, Polaris or Tritone, the trio landed a deal with AI Records in 2006 and went on to release the rather brilliant Mount Age (2006) and Crystalized (2009) albums, as well as one accompanying EP for each album.

Since Mount Age, the trio have been refining their warm blend of analogue electronics, processed guitars and breathy vocals, and Future That Never Happened very much picks up where its predecessor left off. Continue Reading »

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VALGEIR SIGURÐSSON: Architecture Of Loss (Bedroom Community)

themilkman on Sep 12th 2012 01:51 am

Valgeir Sigurđsson: Architecture Of Loss

Architecture Of Loss
Bedroom Community 2012
10 Tracks. 38mins02secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP US: CD | LP

Musician, composer, arranger, producer, curator, label head… the range of activities covered by Valgeir Sigurðsson is pretty extraordinary. This has led him to work with artists as diverse as Björk, Hildur Guðnadóttir, CocoRosie, Maps, Feist, The Magic Numbers or Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, but it is the small cluster of like-minded musicians and composers (Nico Muhly, Sam Amidon, Ben Frost, Daníel Bjarnason) he has gathered on Bedroom Community, the imprint he set up six years ago in Reykjavik, Iceland, which constitutes the most exciting and rewarding part of his work. Bedroom Community has always functioned like a collective of artists rather than like a standard record label, resulting in each artist substantially contributing to the work of his stable mates.

Architecture Of Loss, Sigurðsson’s third album, following Ekvílíbrium (2007) and Draumalandið (2010), was originally conceived as the score for a ballet of the same name by American choreographer Stephen Petronio Continue Reading »

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ANIMAL COLLECTIVE: Centipede Hz (Domino Recording Co.)

themilkman on Sep 11th 2012 12:54 am

Animal Collective: Centipede Hz

Centipede Hz
Domino Recording Co. 2012
11 Tracks. 53mins36secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Once upon a time, Animal Collective were little more than a bunch of American indie kids with a particularly pronounced taste for unruly lo-fi leftfield pop music which they recorded wherever they could or fancied, and that could include recording a whole album under a porch, protected from the street by a plastic cover, using only a handful of minidisc players. Nowadays, Animal Collective is arguably the biggest underground experimental outfit around, capable of selling out big venues from the West Coast of the US to London, Paris and beyond. They haven’t actually been ‘underground’ for quite some time of course, but the term still probably qualifies them best.

Whilst their first records were self-released or appeared on labels such as Catsup Plate or Paw Tracks, an imprint set up by Animal Collective as an offshoot of Carpark Records, landing a deal with Fat-Cat in 2004 seemingly coincided with their profile rapidly rising, not only with college radio networks but also with the European public. Continue Reading »

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themilkman on Sep 10th 2012 11:04 pm

Dear friends,

At the end of September, it will have been thirteen years since themilkfactory first appeared. Along the way, I have met many people who have become friends, and discovered some amazing music and artists, some of whom are now amongst my all-time favourites.

themilkfactory has been a huge part of my life. I have spent many an evening writing until way past my bed time, just because I wanted to publish a review; rushed home after a gig so I could try to capture some of the essence of a performance, and generally devoted a lot of time to a site I have loved, often to the detriment of my life, and to my long-suffering partner.

Thirteen years is a long time, and it seems as good a moment as any to put the site to rest and move on to other things. It hasn’t been an easy decision to make, I have put it back many times, and I know I will be missing it dreadfully, but I also know it is the right decision. I will continue to publish reviews until the end of the month, and after that, the site will remain entirely accessible for the foreseeable future, but it will no longer be updated.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the artists, record labels and PR agencies for all their incredible support and help over the years; the contributors to the site who have kindly shares their passion and broaden my horizon, and that of the site; but mostly, I want to thank you, the people who have come to this site either occasionally or regularly, and made it all worth while.

Thirteen years is a long time, yet it feels like it’s all happened in a flash.

Thank you


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NICO MUHLY: Drones & Piano / Drones & Viola / Drones & Violin (Bedroom Community)

themilkman on Sep 6th 2012 01:21 am

Nico Muhly: Drones & Piano Nico Muhly: Drones & Viola Nico Muhly: Drones & Violin

Drones & Piano
Bedroom Community 2012
05 Tracks. 13mins36secs

Drones & Viola
Bedroom Community 2012
04 Tracks 13mins24secs

Drones & Violin
Bedroom Community 2012
04 Tracks. 11mins02secs

Drones & Piano
Amazon UK: DLD US: DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD
Drones & Viola
Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD
Drones & Violin
Boomkat: DLD

Born in Vermont, Muhly grew up in Providence, Rhodes Island, just north of New York where he now resides., Muhly graduated from Columbia University before receiving a Masters in Music from the world-famous Juilliard School in New York eight years ago. An incredibly talented musician and composer with an insatiable thirst for creation, Muhly has since worked alongside Philip Glass, a composer he admires, and has composed a number of pieces, some of which have been released on Icelandic imprint Bedroom Community (Speaks Volume (2006), Mothertongue (2008), I Drink The Air Before Me (2010)), and more recently, Decca (A Good Understanding (2010), in partnership with Bedroom Community,  Seeing Is Believing (2011)). But what makes his career truly remarkable is that Muhly doesn’t compartment his work, and he can as easily be found arranging orchestral parts for artists as diverse as Antony & The Johnsons, Björk, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Grizzly Bear or fellow Bedroom Community friends Valgeir Sigurðsson, Ben Frost or Sam Amidon.

Nico’s latest venture is a three-part digital release based around the concept of drones around which he develops harmonic structures. Continue Reading »

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SPILL: Fluoresce (Monotype Records)

themilkman on Sep 4th 2012 01:39 am

Spill: Fluoresce

Monotype Records 2012
04 Tracks. 64mins58secs

For over twenty years, Tony Buck has provided, with bassist Lloyd Swanton, the rhythmic backbone of Australian improv trio The Necks, but he has been involved in many other collaborative works since, the latest of which, with Berlin-based experimental pianist Magda Mayas, comes under the name of Spill. Earlier this year, Mayas and Buck released a first album, Stockholm Syndrome, on Beirut-based imprint Al Maslakh, quickly followed by this second opus, Fluoresce, on Monotype. Mayas is herself an accomplished performer in the fields of improvisation and composition, and has played with a great number of musicians from all over the world.

To Buck’s regular panoply of drums, gongs, bells and other percussive devices, Mayas ads prepared piano, clavinet, tiger organ, Harmonium and objects. Continue Reading »

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WAVES ON CANVAS: Into The Northsea (Psychonavigation Records)

themilkman on Aug 31st 2012 01:23 am

Waves On Canvas: Into The Northsea

Into The Northsea
Psychonaviation Records 2012
12 Tracks. 57mins21secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

Everything on this records, from the Vaughan Oliver-designed artwork to the music, atmosphere and contributors, is imbued with the spirit of mid-eighties 4AD, more specifically Ivo Watts-Russell’s seminal This Mortal Coil. The project of Sardinia-born and bred Stefano Guzzetti, Waves On Canvas presents an intriguing blend of ethereal art pop and electronica which, following a handful of self-released digital albums and EPs, has landed a spot on Dublin-based Psychonavigation for his full length debut.

Into The Northsea pays a reverent homage to the shaded cinematic atmospheres of This Mortal Coil, and to 4AD’s often enigmatic and beautifully crafted releases. Continue Reading »

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NATHAN FAKE: Steam Days (Border Community)

themilkman on Aug 29th 2012 01:30 am

Nathan Fake: Steam Days

Steam Days
Border Community 2012
11 Tracks. 48mins51secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

It has been almost ten years since a young Nathan Fake caught the attention of DJs with his debut EP, Outhouse, published on Border Community. Since, the Norfolk native has released countless more EPs and two albums, Drowning In A Sea Of Love in 2006 and Hard Islands in 2009. After the definite techno influences of his early releases, Fake’s first album showed a much more varied and pastoral approach, yet with Hard Islands, he was once again firmly focusing on the dance floor, this time in a much more concentrated and minimal form. With Steam Days, Fake is once again taking a more liberal and playful stance as he brings dreamy electronica, lo-fi techno and bucolic house together. Continue Reading »

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