‘One of the most progressive no-wave metal bands ever to come out of Italy…Zu often sounds like a hundred bands in one, although the way they piece together their wild sonic jigsaw is unique to them alone.’PITCHFORK

For over fifteen years, ZU’s modus operandi of straddling and abusing musical genres has resulted in over fifteen unique album releases across labels such as Ipecac, Atavistic and Headz (Japan).
Their experimental amalgam of metal, math, no-wave, noise and electronics, led acclaimed composer John Zorn to describe their sound as “a powerful and expressive music that totally blows away what most bands do these days”.



Luca T. Mai, Massimo Pupillo and Tomas Järmyr began as composers and players for theatre performances then formed this atypical trio of drums, electric bass and baritone saxophone to begin their voyage of musical mayhem.

In the running for the title of ‘the world’s hardest working band’, ZU have performed over 2000 shows throughout Europe, US, Canada, Asia, Russia, Mexico and even Africa, touring with the likes of  Mike Patton (as the Zu/Patton quartet), sharing the stage with Faith No More, Fantomas, The Melvins, Lightning Bolt, Sonic Youth, The Ex, etc.

They have also collaborated with a vast number of musicians including Mike Patton, The Melvins, Dälek, Jim O’ Rourke, FM Einheit (Einsturzende Neubauten), Peter Brötzmann, Steve MacKay (The Stooges), The Ex, Thurston Moore,  Stephen O Malley, Damo Suzuki (Can), Mats Gustafsson, NoMeansNo, Joe Lally (Fugazi) and our very own Supersonic fave, Eugene S. Robinson (Oxbow) also performing at the festival this year.


‘Zu are still on top form when blasting arse-loosening sax cries over grinding math-metal structures…unassumingly loud, and intensely physical, wrestling with the listener in a swarm of noisy sax blasts, gnarly riffs, and often surprisingly catchy math themes.’ DROWNED IN SOUND

Five years since their last full length on Ipecac, the critically acclaimed Carboniferous, and following a three year hiatus, ZU returned in May 2014 with the release of a brand new EP, Goodnight Civilization (Trost Records) featuring Gabe Serbian of The Locust on drums, and subsequently with an album with Eugene Robinson of Oxbow on vocals called “The Left Hand Path”, also on Trost, and the 2015 full length “Cortar Todo” on Ipecac.

Recorded in the countryside near Bologna, Italy, in the summer of 2014, the album features very special guests including keyboard player Joey Karam (The Locust), Italian guitar maverick Stefano Pilia (who plays with the likes of Mike Watt, David Grubbs and Rokia Traore) and perhaps most unexpectedly a field recording of an indigenous Shipibo medicine man recorded by Massimo during his travels around the Amazon forest.

For a review of Cortar Todo from Line of Best Fit click [here]

And for an interesting article on the intrinsic and fascinating link between indigenous maestros and album, Cortar Todo, click [here]


Cortar Todo revealed new dynamics from the band, the album is more direct, sharp, focussed, more intense and musical than previous Zu releases. And now they’re back with a brand new album. ‘Jhator’ shall arrive on the label in March 2017 followed by an extensive European tour – just in time for Supersonic!

A statement from the band reads: “In making this album we have tried to affirm life, beauty and mystery. We refocus the vision in another direction far from the Western point of view.” The result is an album that “could be the beginning of a new musical direction for Zu, or perhaps an isolated album capturing a particular essence.”

Jhator follows Zu’s brilliantly primordial Cortar Todo, and it’s available for pre-order on CD and coloured vinyl over at the House of Mythology store right now. A new promo video for the album features a short clip of new music. What a tease!


“Wonder is the beginning of philosophy”Wittgenstein

What wonders will Zu bring to our Supersonic audience this year?

Make sure you’re there to find out.





A Quick Introduction To Bohren & der Club of Gore


It’s an honour and a total privilege to be able to witness the breath taking Bohren & der Club of Gore at this year’s Supersonic. The self-styled “doom jazz” masters haven’t graced these shores since 2008 and there’s no guarantee they’ll be returning anytime soon, so fans of their elegant, captivating sound are understandably freaking out right now. If you’ve yet to become acquainted with this stunning four piece, then allow us to introduce you to your new favourite band…

1994 – Gore Motel

On ‘Gore Motel’, the band’s debut, the Club of Gore adhered to a more traditional rock structure of guitar, bass and drums (oh, and mellotron, naturally), and this startling album comes across like a jazzy Earth, juxtaposing ominous downtuned dirges with subtle jazz flourishes. The band would mine similar territory with their 1995 double album, ‘Midnight Radio’, before embarking on an even darker, jazzier direction…

2000 – Sunset Mission

Losing a guitarist can be a crippling blow for many lesser bands, but after six-stringer Reiner Henseleit had bowed out, the Club of Gore recruited the inimitable talents of saxophonist Christoph Clöser and delivered one of their greatest records, the stunningly beautiful ‘Sunset Mission’. A richly atmospheric journey through dark city streets, this was film noir jazz at it’s most gripping, slowly enveloping the listener in it’s sumptuous soundscapes and smoky, late night ambience. The word ‘masterpiece’ is oft abused in this day and age but this is one record that truly deserves such an accolade; mandatory listening for both jazz and ambient fans!

2002 – Black Earth

After the stunning ‘Sunset Mission’, the Club of Gore were clearly on a roll, and delivered their break-through album ‘Black Earth’ just two years later. After catching the attention of musical maverick Mike Patton, ‘Black Earth’ was reissued on his Ipecac record label, bringing the beautiful sounds of Bohren & der Club of Gore to a much wider audience. Musically, ‘Black Earth’ shares many similarities with ‘Sunset Mission’, but pushes the material in an even darker direction; this is a progression, rather than a sequel.

2008 – Dolores

If 2005’s ‘Geisterfaust’ had hinted at a more ambient manifestation of the Club of Gore, ‘Dolores’ was where the band wholeheartedly embraced the minimalist ideals they had toyed with all along. Evidently this move paid off, with the quartet managing to evoke a vibrant cornucopia of emotions with some of their starkest music to date. This was Bohren’s sound reduced down to it’s bare skeleton, allowing the sombre and beautiful core of their music to ring out between the sparse, isolated notes, and it was no less gripping for it!

2011 – Beileid

Never a band to conform to expectations, their last album ‘Beileid’ saw the Club of Gore recruiting the vocal talents of Mike Patton for an utterly bizarre yet strangely beautiful cover of the German hair metal band Warlock’s ‘Catch My Heart’, mutating the song into a melancholy jazz ballad and stretching the notes out to dwell in the spaces inbetween. ‘Beileid’ may be Bohren’s shortest record, but it packs no less of a punch, as the band continue to expand their sound and subtly branch out into new territory. Where they progress from here is anyone’s guess, but it’s going to be a pleasure finding out!

Bohren & der Club of Gore will perform at Supersonic Festival on Saturday 20th October.


Stian Westerhus – ‘The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers’ Reviewed


Norway’s finest avant-garde guitar virtuoso Stian Westerhus has just released his new album ‘The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers’, which has been garnering rave reviews across the board so far. John Kelman of All About Jazz was one of the critics who found themselves floored by Westerhus’ talents, claiming that –

Conventional constructs hold little sway in Westerhus’ music. Whether striking the strings with his bow, sawing them vigorously, or somehow creating both a sustaining sonic wash and unexpected melodic motifs in real time, these nine pieces— without any hat-hanging hooks or predictable form—manage to be moving and memorable. It’s hard to imagine an artist evolving this rapidly, but taking the frog leaps of Pitch Black Star Spangled over Galore, and now the stunning The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers over Pitch Black, it’s hard to imagine what will come next. But it’ll be worth the wait.

You can read all of Kelman’s review here. Stian clearly likes to keep himself busy, and in addition to finishing off this album and preparing for his appearance at Supersonic Festival, he’s somehow found the time to release a collaborative record with singer and fellow Norwegian Sidsel Endresen, entitled ‘Didymoi Dreams’. The Guardian’s John Fordham awarded the album 4 out 5 stars, describing it as being –

A set that unfolds lyrical confessions like wordless folk ballads; quiet, speech-like musings; spooky gabbles and gasps; and a guitar palette of astonishing depth.

You can read the rest of Forham’s review here, and stream tracks from both of these records over at The Wire’s website. Stian Westerhus will be bringing his otherworldly guitar playing to Supersonic Festival on Saturday 20th October, an essential opportunity for fans of experimental music!


Warm Digits



Warm Digits is the krautophonic blizzard-wave duo of Andrew Hodson and Steve Jefferis, based either side of the Pennines in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Manchester. Warm Digits make a semi-improvised brew of metronomic rhythms, snowstorm guitar and radiophonic electronics, dual-laptop electro, swathes of no-wave guitar and frantic free jazz drumming, taking their cue from the hypnotic repetition of Neu!, the textural overload of My Bloody Valentine, the glacial otherworldliness of Emeralds, and the sensuous modernity of cosmic disco; there are hints in the mix too of Eno, Giorgio Moroder and Holy Fuck.



Stian Westerhus


“The sense of menace is generated with huge energy by the belligerently brilliant Norwegian guitarist Westerhus who coaxes a plethora of tortured sounds from his axe, bowed notes elongating into harmonic dismemberment of epic proportions. (…) This is heady, sometimes heavy, otherworldly stuff, fuelled by jazz but never hindered by it. Welcome to the new century of improvised music.” JazzWise Magazine


This performance is produced in partnership with Jazzlines http://www.jazzlines.co.uk/


Bohren & Der Club of Gore



BOHREN (English translation: Drilling)

If you enjoy it slow and low, Germany’s  Bohren & Der Club Of Gore will very likely do the trick. In fact, with each subsequent release the German quartet’s music grows increasingly refined.

Bohren are often dubbed doom-jazz, though this hardly defines the sound. Consider, maybe, the recent crop of jazz-oriented Rune Grammofon releases, then remove 1/2 of the notes and replace any and all folksiness with foreboding minimalist dirge and a Sunn 0))) streak. Now, mix in some John Cage, because Bohren & der Club of Gore are masters of silence, using space and shadows to create (and maintain) dynamics. They appeal to listeners of black metal as well as drone. But for all of that gloom/doom, one  could also see them appealing to fans of minimalist ambience and spare electronics, as well those who enjoy adventurous “out” jazz. But regardless of your genre identification, you’d do best to concentrate, and let it work its way into your head. Time is on their side.



Birmingham Improvisers Orchestra directed by Mike Hurley


Birmingham Improvisers Orchestra directed by Mike Hurley

BIO aims to create a focus for creative music making in Birmingham and the wider Midlands area.  It will be made up of musicians who are concerned with improvisation regardless of their particular chosen area of musical activity.  Although at the heart of its activities will always be improvisation it will also seek to encourage composition initially at least in the form of BIO-Activities provided by members of the group and a pool of pre-existing classics.  It will also seek to generate creative partnerships with like minded people from across a broad range of disciplines whether they be musical or from art forms.



Supersonic live Q&As



Supersonic live Q&As

We’re pleased to present two live Q&As with acclaimed artists at Supersonic this year. Following in the footsteps of Michael Rother (Neu!) and the Fear of Music panel at Supersonic 2010, Tony Conrad and William Bennett will be taking part in two separate Q&A sessions.

William Bennett will be discussing the influence of West African sounds on his own work, his new Afronoise project as Cut Hands and his music’s inclusion on the Vice film ‘The Vice Guide To Liberia’. Meanwhile, Tony Conrad will be in conversation at this year’s festival with the help of the ever inquisitive The Quietus, discussing his cross artform  approach, moving between the world of visual art, film and sound.






A Heathen gang who draw in your borders and fold them out…One bass disintegrates in the other’s repetitious friction, then feigns attention…The drums collapse, the drums lock…The words are a strange frame…Drunk Songs for the drunk, music for young lovers, music for fuckers, music to polish brass to…



Meet FIRE!


Meet FIRE! (+ Oren Ambarchi)

This is a real coup for Supersonic 2011 and we’re immensely proud to bring these artists together.  Operating in a free zone that’s not afraid to groove, to open up space or to pummel the senses with frantic assault, FIRE! are a living, breathing organism.  An organism that at Supersonic will be joined by the minimal guitar composer Oren Ambarchi.  Who, then, are FIRE!?

1. Mats Gustafsson – sax/electronics
Gustafsson is a sax player, improviser, live electonics manipulator and composer who sounds as if he’s melded with his instrument.  Born in 1964 in Umeå, Northern Sweden, he’s been seen in the UK most recently as part of the Brass Unbound collective playing with legendary Dutch DIY team The Ex.  But he’s also worked in projects with the likes of Peter Brötzmann, Sonic Youth, Merzbow and Otomo Yoshihide, and is seems to be never afraid of what each situation will bring.  If that wasn’t enough, he’s also a producer of international festivals and concert tours as well as running his own record labels Slottet, OlofBright Editions and Blue Tower Records.

2. Johan Berthling – bass
Johan Berthling was born in Stockholm 1973. Since studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm (1996-1998) he has worked as a freelance with jazz, improvised music and more. One of his main projects is the minimal, experimental pop outfit Tape, of whom The Wire recently said, “Tape organically blend balsa-light acoustic textures (guitars, percussion, winds and brass) with a range of organs and a gentle yet firm digital pressure.”

3. Andreas Werlin – drums/percussion
Born 1982 in the vast snow of northern Sweden and later on raised on the small west coast village Strömstad, Andreas Werlin is best known for the inventive electro-percussive band Wildbirds & Peacedrums that he shares with his wife Mariam Wallentin. Their 2007 debut album saw them awarded the Swedish Jazz Act of the Year award, which gives you some idea of just how varied and original Andreas’ work is.  With improvisational music at the heart of his playing, he is today a part of many acclaimed bands like Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Dan Berglund’s Tonbruket and Loney Dear. Werlin has also written music for theater and film.

4. Oren Ambarchi – guitar
In his own words when asked what people can expect of his collaboration with FIRE!, Ambarchi says:
“In all honesty I don’t know what to expect as the Supersonic show will be the first time we’ve worked together. Additionally I’ll be flying all the way from Australia for 30+ hrs, landing at Heathrow, driving straight to Birmingham and hitting it immediately so…it should be awesome, hahaha.”

There you go.  Don’t worry about FIRE! – it’ll just be awesome.

FIRE! site


Supersonic theme of the day: bowed strings


Theme of the day: bowed strings

We’re always making links between the disparate worlds of artists here at Supersonic and today we bring together three unique artists who all share a simple common bond.  Pekko Kappi, Tony Conrad and Agathe Max all use bowed instruments in their music, all with very different techniques and to different ends, each highly skilled.

Finland’s Pekko Kappi plays the Jouhikko, the ancient Finnish-Karelian bowed lyre.  He got involved with the Jouhikko in 1997 in the Ala-Könni–institute of Kaustinen and ever since has been studying the tradition with the master players of Finland, Estonia and Sweden.   This particular lyre was played with a bow as early as in the European Middle Ages although in the area around the Baltic Sea there is evidence of both bowed and plucked lyres. In Estonia and Eastern Finland the Jouhikko remained in use until the beginning of the 20th century.  Kappi is one of a number of players investigated this instrument and bringing it alive for new generations.

Tony Conrad is a legendary figure in both film and music for many people.  He was an early member of the New York-based ensemble The Dream Syndicate alongside La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and John Cale, using continuous tones to create what they called ‘dream music’.  Conrad’s first musical release was 1972’s ‘Outside the Dream Syndicate’ collaboration with Faust (check out our Spotify playlist for a track from that) but he released very little work until a series of box sets in the past decade.  His film work is justifiably lauded too and his early piece ‘The Flicker’ is considered a landmark of the late 1960s structural film movement.  One more fact?  His father was Arthur Conrad who worked with Everett Warner during World War II designing dazzle camouflage for the US Navy.

Agathe Max
is a violinist from Lyon, France.  With an elegant command of melody and a strident use of rhythm, Max creates dynamic, fast-flowing loop pieces that encompass noise, post-classicism and krautrock with nods to the High Lonesome Raga as filtered through Henry Flynt.  Her current album ‘This Silver String’ has been really well received in many places.  “Agathe Max delivers a drone to keep the earth turning on its axis, with a keen and romantic sense of swing. Everything you need to have a good time” – Jonathan Kane.

Check these three unique artists below.

Agathe Max @ Grrrnd Zero (Lyon, France) from S etant chaussee on Vimeo.


Teeth of the Sea Q&A


Supersonic Q&A no. 5: TEETH OF THE SEA

From London, Teeth of the Sea play a wild, mixed-up strain of what sounds like semi-improvised jams.  Structures are amorphous, reference points are redundant as they switch modes from song-to-song – noise-rock, electronics and dubbed-out trumpet all get a look-in.  As DROWNED IN SOUND said in their review of current album ‘Your Mercury’ (Rocket Recordings, 2010), the band create “a steamy, light-starved jungle of tangled electronics and feral distortion occasionally punctuated by startlingly lucid bottom end.  For the most part Teeth of the Sea’s second record defies any worries about genre categorisation, a hermetically sealed unit with such a strong sense of self that comparisons to other music seem perverse.”

1. Which five words describe what you know about Supersonic?
Jimmy: An embarrassment of sonic riches.
Mat: Great method of karma scouring.
Mike: It goes up to 11.

2. What can people expect of Teeth of the Sea at the festival?
Mat: Manifold contact highs. Seeing us should lead to elevation. Being down wind of us should lead to inebriation.
Mike: Hair raising, teeth grinding, ear bleeding, knob twiddling, move busting, figure hugging, fist pumping, face melting, load blowing, psyche fucking rock.
Jimmy: It’ll be a bit like that climactic scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, only with four skinny blokes instead of the seraphim, a total absence of the Third Reich, and the added bonus of just about being able to survive to tell the tale afterwards.

3. Why make music – what does it do for you that nothing else does?
Mike: We’d have to hand over to philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist Friedrich Nietzsche here, with his celebrated quote “Without music, life would be a mistake. Besides which, whenever I hear the sound of a needle hitting wax I get as hard as a diamond in an ice storm.” I think he speaks for us all.
Mat: Seriously, it’s the art form that allows for the greatest breadth of thinking and technique. Approach it from any angle and you can still make it dance. Which is what Supersonic is all about, right?
Jimmy: Music. Makes The People. Come Together.

4. Who else on the bill are you hoping to see?  (And why?)
Mike: The fact we’re on the same bill as Zombi is making us collectively weep tears of joy and blood. Also looking forward to Alva Noto + Byetone quite possibly ripping a hole in the fabric of space and time above the Custard Factory.
Jimmy: I’m pretty excited about withstanding Astro’s cosmic assault, but there’s literally nobody on the bill I wouldn’t pay to go and see at their own show. Plus Electric Wizard as headliners are going to be one unholy rite.
Mat: I’m already upset that I won’t be able to see everything, but I’m really excited about seeing Circle again. Mainly because the rest of TOTS have never seen them and I want to be there when THE GREATEST LIVE BAND IN THE WORLD tear them all fresh ones.

5. Finally, your essential ‘surviving-Supersonic’ items are…
Mike: all essential. Trust me.
Jimmy: We’re still trying to secure lucrative sponsorship deals with Ginster’s Pasties and Anadin Extra, so I should probably say those. The only problem with Supersonic in my experience is that I end up so thrilled by the whole shebang that I’m a mess by about 10PM, but far be it from me to suggest something as vulgar as pacing yourself.
Mat: The Bat Belt will be equipped with nerve agents, tranquilizers, military issue med kit, Tescos coupons, guitar picks and holy water. As standard.



Fire! with special guest Oren Ambarchi


FIRE! is a high calibre allstar combo from Sweden featuring Mats Gustafsson from The Thing (saxophone/rhodes), Johan Berthling from Tape (bass) and Andreas Werliin from Wildbirds and Peacedrums (percussion), now with added firepower on this special run of dates courtesy of Australian drone lord and Sunn O)))/Gravetemple alumnus Oren Ambarchi (guitar/electronics). Their sound is a frenzy of monolithic rock textures, scorched electronics, kosmiche grooves and
an all-channels-open free jazz spirit, all amped up at blistering psychedelic voltage.

FIRE! released their debut album “You liked me five minutes ago” through Rune Grammofon in 2009. A new LP featuring Jim O’ Rourke on guitar is on the way. They keep good company and coax a sound that engulfs your expectations and stretches taut grooves into endless panned-out vistas and back.


This performance is presented in partnership with Birmingham Jazz



Chrome Hoof


Initially formed as a duo by brothers Milo and Leo Smee, the band has grown into a large-scale troupe of multi-instrumentalists, including a horn & string section, a choir and Lola Olafsoye, the singer out of Spektrum.  Taking influence from the likes of Sun Ra, ESG, Goblin, Parliament-Funkadelic and Black Sabbath, it moves from soulful stadium rock, to drum machine electro minimalism which makes like James Brown at a Goblin gig, to the virtuoso disco funk of Grace Jones.  They sound like nothing you’ve heard before; or rather, they sound like stuff you’ve heard before, just never played all at the same time.  They’re a really awesome live band; they’re worth checking out for their Pavement meets Gnaw tinfoil space traveller outfits alone.


[jwplayer config=”video mainpage” mediaid=”1827″]


Steve Tromans and Dan Nicholls


This duo between two keyboard players, Steve Tromans and Dan Nicholls, provides an intriguing collaboration in the great tradition of Supersonic duos.  It has two players playing Fender Rhodes pianos, interacting with each other and improvising around compositions scored by Dan.

“Fearlessly exploring the margins of regular jazz and free-improv.”
John Fordham, The Guardian


In association with Birmingham Jazz

[jwplayer config=”video mainpage” playlistid=”1656″]


Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides


[jwplayer config=”audio sidebar” playlistid=”1281″][jwplayer config=”video mainpage” playlistid=”905″]

Flautist Kelly Jones performance veers seamlessly from Anthony Braxton styled free playing to a haunted elongated droning style akin to Isnaj Dui. Pascal Nichols, the percussive element of the duo, splatters sporadically in a fractured rainfall, faintly disrupting proceedings to begin with, then forcefully propelling the musical structure into steadier rhythms. This primitive structure is forced in amplified rackets via free jazz techniques and improvisation.




[jwplayer config=”audio sidebar” playlistid=”1391″]

Multi instrumentalist Martin Dosh creates layered and looped electronic based sounds that would be described as ambient if it weren’t so joyous and danceable. In 2003 Anticon proudly released Dosh’s virtuoso debut, Dosh, a loop-building collage of shimmering organ, atypical drumming grounded in groove, field recordings and spontaneous performance. Dosh continues to impress with his phenomenal live performances involving extensive percussion including the mandatory pots and pans

[jwplayer config=”video mainpage” playlistid=”851″]




[jwplayer config=”video mainpage” playlistid=”880″]Jailbreak feat. Chris Corsano + Heather Leigh
Jailbreak is the duo of pedal steel/vocalist Heather Leigh and drummer Chris Corsano. The name foregrounds the kind of outlaw violence with which the two reformulate rock/roll instants by bringing free jazz fire power to amp-humping sex beats. Jailbreak play improvised music that dispenses with traditional notions of call and response or dialogue in favour of a profound simultaneity that would birth instant forms from the application of high energy strategies. Leigh’s steel mainlines sanctified slide guitar sources and deforms them with overdriven electricity, playing a form of future-blues exploded by super-charged currents. Corsano detonates time, literally blows it to pieces, in favour of a profound polyrhythmic feel that would confuse past and future. Yet the whole thing rocks like it hasn’t a braincell to spare.


[jwplayer config=”audio sidebar” playlistid=”810″]