Michael J. Hex, Johnny horse/The hiss explosion (Noseflute) both CD

"Johnny horse" consists of 20-odd (mainly) 4-track compositions recorded at a variety of locations over the three years 1993-1996. Mr Hex favours the scratchy, fragmented demo qualities of, say, Portastatic, with his understated tunes struggling through magnetic tape residue and gently picked guitars that wash extra layers of fuzz into the mix. But what tunes he's got! "Nizzybobbins" is best, it's Pavement on a greased roundabout, the band sliding closer to the centre in ever-decreasing circles until, at the centre of the spiral, the foregone conclusion is reached and the song abruptly halts.

"The hiss explosion" repeats the trick, but in a more coherent, focussed manner. This time the songs are drawn from a single year, 1997, and thus share a common thread, but no less hiss. They comprise a slower, more contemplative set, introspective but still experimental: take "Drone" and "Loop" which are self-descriptive bumbling, muddy flashes of brilliance. You need both of these albums really: 18 Peterborough St, Christchurch, New Zealand

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