singled out – missive 218

originally transmitted 24/06/2009…

Singled Out
Missive 218

For Kelly and Mark

Singled Out ‘the house of dolls’

The Rayographs ‘francis’ (everyone we know). Absolutely drop f***ing dead gorgeous is the first we’ll say about this second outing from femme trio the Rayographs though it should be said that fact being marred somewhat by the increased teeth gnashing that’s been afoot today on noticing their preceding debut ‘hidden doors’ somehow slipped through the nets. Kicks bottom big time, obviously informed in a grounding made up of Link Wray, the Gun Club types and more besides, there’s an acutely distractive coolness about the Rayographs, seriously the best thing we’ve heard around these parts since that Mr Airplane Man debut platter from a few years back, their sound a curdling primitive 60’s garage brew riddles and writhes with the scalding braid of struts, broods, purrs and prowls which splinter with insurgent mean spirited glee all the time threaded and fired with a becoming swamp blues grind that blisters amid the shimmering intones of shade adorned reverb soaked soft psych undercurrents ‘francis’ in particular is underpinned by post punk shocks that betray a nod or two to the honed zeroing oblivion chilled early career edginess of Sink and Stove’s Controller. Controller and the Vibration while simultaneously assuming the bleached out gritty sassiness of the Manhattan Love Suicides and that’s before we’ve gotten a chance to mention the sly McGeoch riff tricks that dot and dink ever so casually about it wares. Flip over for ‘yellow hair’ – as typical of these things the best cut of the set in our opinion, inescapably drawing PJ Harvey references like puss from a squeezed spot this little cutie is in sharp contrast and more darker and mooching affair, ostensibly rawer and more minimalist in approach and texture than its predecessor and dinked with the simmering psychosis of Katastrophy Wife it soon begins to pick up pace as the rhythmic tribal beats meter out darkly racked death rattling twisted blues mantra – which to us has all the trappings of some Doors / Banshees face off with Carina Round presiding over the melee. And with that beating the competition into a small well formed pulp – single of the missive hands down any questions take it up with the ladies though I suspect they’ll happy kick your arse from here to eternity and then some more. Us in the meantime are going on a pilgrimage to nail that errant debut release.

Emily Scott / Helene Renaut ‘split’ (Autumn Ferment). We’re beginning to get a tad fond of the occasional packages dropping on our mat adorned with the tell tale signatures of the much cherished Autumn Ferment imprint. it’s the little personal touches – the handwritten notes and the label postcards – indeed we are easily swayed mind you this is coming from a person who at one time considered exchanging and delivering into a life time’s drudgery of chimney sweeping and the door to door selling of beauty products of my kid brother in swift acceptance of an overwhelmingly large bag of black jacks and a copy of that season’s Whizzer and Chips Summer Special with cover mounted free gift I should add until said kith n’ kin started wallowing and wailing with such howling despair that birds where falling out of trees and small wildlife keeling over in an instant. Still me and said sibling bagged the prey and homeward bound and a scuttling offered said prizes up to ma who baked a crusty pie while tearful tot got a mightily impressive and rather bright looking spanking new tank top for his troubles – so bright in fact it would on several occasions be used to light up the neighbourhood during the great early 70’s power cuts. That’ll teach him for reneging on a deal. Of course this means we’ve gone slightly off road again as is our want and which I should add would be a more than worthy mechanism in the old pecuniary stakes where it that we were paid by the word – which incidentally we’re not and if we had been would have so far bagged the princely sum of 2 pounds and 19 new pence. Back to the review – which I’ll start again with……

Roughly here….

Emily Scott / Helene Renaut ‘split’ (Autumn Ferment). Fond tidings from Autumn Ferment, envelope with postcards and handwritten notes falling on the door mat, much looked forward to and all that (for a more detailed account see previously). This split release – incidentally not officially out for 10 days and counting (if that is you’re reading this on the 19th day of June otherwise amend as necessary) marks the first in a series of four coloured vinyl split releases that should be delighting the decks of discerning lovers of the finer shades of demurring folk pop over the coming months. The series going under the collective auspices ‘Seasonal Sevens’ will arrive in strictly limited quantities of 300 all hand numbered with this the aforementioned visitation of Emily Scott and Helene Renaut coming pressed upon grooves of yellow wax. Both artists featured here are previously unknown to us (now there’s a surprise) with the account being opened by Emily Scott’s ‘pond dipping’. Apparently this first saw the light of day on Ms Scott’s debut full length ‘long shore drift’ from a few years back, currently about to release her latest platter this little gem features guest appearances by various Incredible String Band types. ‘pond dipping’ is blessed with an affecting carefree aura, delightfully dizzy and a tad crooked there’s an idyllic albeit dusty and well worn playfulness about it that suggests its roots originally descended from some kind of South Pacific greeting chant which somehow has been relocated and recast as a centuries old mountain folk swansong sung whilst in a time honoured tradition of watching the sun slowly recline over the peaks marking the end of another day with this would be rendition cobbled around a blazing campfire sounding as though it feeling the slight effects of one too many glasses of moonshine. Ms Scott coos affectionately with the kind of
softly trimmed sepia that suggests her vocals been prized from a slab of 78rpm shellac, the melodies genteel and sleepy headed sway breezily amid the lilting and kooky touch of a penny whistle rubbing longingly to an obliging serenade of lazily lolloping banjos. Cute in a word. Flip over for Helene Renaut’s ‘bumblebee’. According to the press release Ms Renaut can these days be found residing in San Francisco, formerly of Beam she’s been known to aid and abet various recordings by the likes of the Papercuts and the 13th Moon while pursuing a solo career helped out by various members of the Skygreen Leopards. ‘bumblebee’ is a pristine slice of shimmering 60’s styled soft psych tweaked Francophile pop, the sweetly caressed vocal tonalities of Nico, Nancy Sinatra and Laetitia Sadier flirt and flicker with a seductive purr, though scratch a little deeper and on repeat plays the more astute among you may well draw your well observed references towards the general direction of Spain’s Ana D whose ‘Satelite 99’ debut deserves its accolade of being one of the great lost pop treasures of the last 10 or so years. Add to the mix the subtly effervescent sugar tipped 60’s motifs, willowy, alluring and desirably demurring and twinkle some, enchanting as though some kind of previously lost and secret studio down time note swapping meeting between Free Design and Wendy and Bonnie. A gem.

Anyone remember this little cutie….

Silas Ciaran ‘happy songs for happy children’ (small doses). Strange indeed from the excerpts we’ve had the pleasure of hearing which should you so wish – and you should – you can access by following the links via where you’ll be treated to two samples from his current Small Dose release ‘happy songs for happy children’ – a resident of Texas probably better know to the more tuned in among yo for his work under the guise of the Bicycle Sighs who does a rather fetching line in musical tricking and treating as exemplified by the aforementioned samples found adorning the Small Doses site, ‘sweetest kisses’ in particular sounding kookily kaleidoscopic whilst dinked with a effervescent albeit helium stoked 70’s glow that appears to imagine the Sesame Street gang on some serious bad acid recorded onto a cheap cassette that’s been warped through some forgetful blighter leaving it on a window sill exposed to the glare of the sun while the short burst that we heard of ‘snowman building parts’ relocates the sepia tweaked chirpy cartoon-ville to something sounding not unlike some ‘Texas Chainsaw’ styled slasher nightmare – I suspect both you and me need to investigate further before we all get any older. – And so to Small Doses – another label that we here suspect will be getting a lot more coverage over the coming months, no information alas as to where this lot are based – though its Stateside, to date they’ve put out just under 50 releases which by the sounds of the quick peek of the samples we’ve heard appear to mine the ambient / noise territories. Latest release comes courtesy of Locrian’s ’visible / invisible’ set of which there are only 93 copies up for grabs and of which the label describes as an 11 minute ‘guitar layered synth heavy drone’ suite featuring over on the flip the same cut given the reverse loop treatment – so we need this right – agreed? Anyway there’s a brief sample – well I say brief I actually suspect it’s the entire track – anyway its absolutely gorgeous – after a minute or three’s softly pulsing drone drifting the jubilant riff chimes sweetly ripple into action – momentarily anyway – in a tempting Robin Guthrie type way only to shyly step back into shadows as what sounds like an silvery shimmer like orbiting celestial mirage begins to take shape – all beautifully blissful. But quite frankly the release you really want to lay your hands on is the awesome looking ’brick by brick’ compilation – an exhaustive though wonderfully looking packaged treat featuring a bludgeoning seven collective face off of harsh noise spread across seven 3 inch cd’s all packaged in a hard plastic binder box replete with a 12 page booklet and a button badge.

Record Collector #364 July’09 – Pete Townshend leers from the cover inside an extended interview with the man himself to chat about ’Tommy’ and in particular the Lou Reizner produced symphonic version by the LSO and the English Chamber Choir a live charity rendition hosted at Rainbow Theatre which boasted an all star roll car that includes performances by Peter Sellers, Bill Oddie, Maggie Bell, Viv Stanshall and Jon Pertwee. The Sex Pistols’ ultra rare A&M ‘god save the queen’ tops this months eBay-o-meter at a vastly credit crunched deflated price of £6,000 while to celebrate the forthcoming Joe Meek biopic there’s an extended feature listing some hundred collectibles including prize of the pack the Downlands ‘lonely Johnny’ which if you’re lucky to have about your person can these days command upwards of 800 notes in mint condition. Jim Kerr trawls through the Simple Minds recording career picking out his personal highlights while there’s a price guide feature focusing on all those must have AC/DC overseas collectibles. The collector has Ghost Box’s Julian House assuming bragging rights with his extensive vinyl collection playing host to such rarities as L’Experience No. 9’s ’freak out total’ and Horrific Child’s ’l’estrange mr whinster’. elsewhere there’s the second part of RC’s extensive peek at Mr Bowie’s ’hunky Dory’ – again as with part one the usual suspects and eye witnesses are drafted in to give track by track accounts. Add to that all your usual reviews, collectors news and a rounding off with the rockin the box section taking a glance at Granada’s short lived early 70’s show’45’.

VSIS ‘26’ (Frequent Sea). More desirable trinkets from those lovely souls over at Frequent Sea records for this most curious of releases. Not I suspect named after or in honour of the Vehicle Safety Inspection Standards agency, VSIS or as we’ve since discovered – perhaps VSLS in which case ignore the previous commentary – is one of many melodic alter egos of a certain Travis Johns who it seems has been occupying his own hermetically sealed aural micro-verse comprised of cross threading frequency manipulations, orbiting oscillations and various field recordings into something he describes as an ’abstraction of reality’. Limited to just 25 hand numbered copies all housed in what can only be described as a greeting card styled sleeve – our copy happens to be #20 in case you are in a note taking frame of mind. it’s a handsome package within which you’ll find two rather lengthy micro sound suites arranged and crafted by the man himself. ’comae’ opens proceedings, a monolithic 28 minute mind weaving sonic leviathan, starts quietly mind – in fact so quietly that for a good two minutes we suspected our hi-fi had given up the ghost given the frequencies were pitched so low that they barely registered a flicker on the monitors. Apparently – and this I think is mainly for all you technical boffins – this track is tuned to 20.2Hz and 0.9Hz which we know is the frequency mapping but to us mere mortals who find light switches a complex task really serves as no aid or help at all though keep the information as you never know it may well come up in a seriously weird pop quiz. Very much pissing in the same pond frequented at one time by a certain Sonic Boom in his days as EAR, sound wise slightly unsettling, certainly not something to put on the hi-fi as your normal run of the mill ambience when the dinner guests come arriving and it should be said neither happy nor gloomy in fact we’d go as far to say its just there – pulsating away creating a presence and for all the world sounding as though someone has left the monitors on and buggered off for a drink and a game of pool. That said once the ears adjust a transcendental almost hypnotic calm comes to the fore to relay disturbing images of Karloff’s mind control appliance in ’the sorcerers’ but then to me its closest reference point is Barry Gray’s closing edit score for Gerry Anderson’s first live action sci-fi series ’UFO’, the one that back dropped the teasingly slow camera panning out shots of the solar system, a deeply tense and sombre dronal affair much in sharp contrast to his more jaunty opening credits and incidental suites, a parting theme that frankly left a morbid chill upon this scribe at a much younger age and something that in truth out weirded the Dr Who theme as it slowly shimmered building in dimension, mass and focus. Likewise ’comae’ purrs and pulses with equal un-worldliness as though Johns has somehow taken a brief portion of Gray’s template and magnified it in order to inspect its working and reveal its unseen innerspace, its silvery glassy whirrs perpetually reverberating slowly evolving and devolving amid the merest of calibrated sonic inclines constantly ascending in detail until reaching a plateau and then shyly dissipating into the ether. Stark stuff and certainly one best enjoyed with the volume racked up and the head phones donned. ’industry one’ is a little more involved and animated in contrast, again the same techniques are applied the slow upward curvatures of sound meeting some determined peak and then slowly falling away and descending into nothingness, immersed in all manner of insectoid clicks and chatters which in truth at first had us recalling the tiresome drone made by night sky lighting police helicopters but then listen again and it sounds not unlike some wasted smoke filled scene from a torched battleground through whose foggy haze the sound of the distant retreat of its antagonists can be heard. Desperately grim stuff.

GaBle ‘I’m ok’ (loaf). We must admit that over the course of several listens that we’ve become a little more than smitten by this the second full length from Normandy based troupe GaBle. Mind you we’re still undecided as to whether they are impish pranksters or just plain bloody kooky. ‘I’m ok’ – the title of which is derived by way as a cheeky response to a certain Mr Johnston’s ‘hi how are you’ – has probably been one of the most curious of listens we’ve heard in a long time. Frankly its all over the shop refusing to stay at any one given point at any given time, seemingly dragging and pulling the would be listener here, there and everywhere up and down through a never-ending maze of cul de sacs and dead ends. Twenty minutes in length it comprises of thirteen tracks with only half barely breaking (just) the sub two minute ticker tape with a fair few more lasting long enough to be out of earshot in the brief blink of a eye. Punch drunk and scuffed up lo-fi – there’s something peculiarly affectionate about ’I’m ok’ asides its wilfully kooky cocking of a snook of fashion trends and generic box holing or the fact that it sounds like an off kilter collage of ill fitting jigsaw puzzle pieces thrown up in the air that have somehow managed to land and collect together in the most becoming and slyly beautifully surreal way, it feeds on an almost childlike air as though cooked up by a frowned upon by the masters after school classroom being orchestrated by a teacher who spent the best part of the early 70’s fried on acid whilst listening to bizarre and rare world recordings in a rickety woodshed just next to the smokers corner. But then maybe the opening salvo ’queen me’ is to blame, clearly inebriated it shuffles into view to the chorus of bashed up banjo’s and pie eyed keys which gather together to cobble out a motif not so far removed from Rose Bonne’s nursery school favourite ’there was an old woman who swallowed a spider’ or is that just me. However what strikes you about ’I’m okay’ right from the instant is the rhythmic trickery at hand and the disturbing usage of ad hoc time signatures, bells, whistles, squeaks (which for those among you loving of such things should immediately check to crooked ‘arm and nose, arms and noise’ which is wonky sounds adorers wet dream) and the occasional band members grandmother not to mention the melodic phrases which alone serve to keep you constantly on the back foot. So you think I’m kidding – then consider ’sans du feu dans mes mains’ with its subtle albeit lazy eyed Gorki’s Zygotic Mynci lulls all buried beneath the haze of frantic traffic horns or ’mon cote feminin’ with its terrifying ‘jesus built my hotrod’ era Ministry rampaging at full tilt interspersed with moments of haloing bliss brought about by the onset of bell chimes and the odd sepia trimmed sample or three. Maybe you prefer the darkly macabre ’violins, riots and satan’ which after a brief moment of lucidity amid a dressage of swirling cellos manifests at its death as something distinctly Popticians in essence. Elsewhere ’old folk’ very much traverses that same slow to burn detail as found on records bearing the name Birdpen. That said our favourite moment is ’lux interior end’ which amid all the discordant chugging riffs and impromptu moments of dreamy fluffiness we swear there’s a killer slab of bubblegum loving power pop struggling to come to the surface. A most enjoyable albeit briefly evenly uneven musical curiosity.

Video time – and dare we say much loved around these parts is the Knife’s Karen Dreijer Andersson these days taking time out for a spot of solo extra curricula musical type work as Fever Ray, previous single ’when I grow’ of course enchanted the hell out of us as does this – the third cut to be lifted from her ’Fever Ray’ debut full length, entitled ’triangle walks’ we here are thinking Yellow Magic Orchestra smooching with Japan on some idyllically beset Oriental mountain top….

<p><a href=”″>Triangle Walks</a> from <a href=””>Fever Ray</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Staying with the delectable Fever Ray if you hook up to James Rutledge’s my space site at you can hear his remix of ‘triangle walks’ which word has it should see record counter action sometime mid July – the 20th to be precise. Anyhow its beautifully adorned with a gorgeously celestial montage of arresting lunar like willowy-ness caressed with an insistent seductive floor mooching motif – we’ll try and nail a copy for a full review as and when. Don’t hold your breathe though – might be a while.

Okay as we’re so lazy in not fixing our outlook glitches – the result being we can’t send, see, copy or paste emails which means we’ll have to paraphrase this news item. Ladytron – uber cool trend setting electro dandy’s and all that make their one and only live appearance at Eddy TM’s Remix All Nighter at Matter on July 17th along with Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll, Japanese Popstars, Eddy TM, Alex Metric, Punks Jump Up, Burn the Negative and Matrix and Future bound – to celebrate the event their press people have managed to sneak out of bit of a gem under the cover of darkness and made said Vector Lovers remix of their ’tomorrow’ cut available for download for gratis by following this here link – – well saucy it is to, some seriously horny hi-fi action afoot here that’s so salacious we were considering ducking it under the cold shower to cool it down, anyway some meaty electro techno fusion going on here which by rights should be smoking the speaker stacks of all the finest club floor platter spinners.

Nacional ‘on TV’ (art goes pop). Been an absolute age since we had anything from the highly regarded Art Goes Pop imprint that we feared at one point they’d either given up the ghost or else kicked us off their mailing list. So you can imagine the untold cheer and smiley type faces that greeted the arrival onto our door mat of the second outing from Glasgow groove meisters The Nacional. The cause of much frivolity amid the impromptu bouts of boogie that many an unfortunate passer by has had to witness as they’ve strolled within spitting distance of the losing today record shed (nee doubling as a paper selling tuck shop during the hours of light – well there is a recession after all – ends must meet), this twin set pairs together two audacious slabs of audio apparel with which to get your hi-fi a jangling n’ grooving like bad ’uns. From the minute ’on tv’ crackles into life you can feel the tension rising in an instant, the opening credits acutely sparse and minimal feature the angular opine of a fixed stare strummed riff and a lone sonorous vocal, a touch enigmatic in the way you get the distinct feeling of a distant cavalry charge nearing in the distance, and then biff bang pow as the drum and bass kick into life, in the blink of an eye its upon you rippling and rupturing resplendently like some fraught and frantic bastard off spring of a ’Sea Monsters’ meets ‘Kennedy’ era Wedding Present session, locked down grooves make for an insistent and persistent hip jiggling spectacle all blessed by a bracing radio romping chorus drill that may just have a fair few of you swooning in old school indie rapture in the aisles. That said far better by half is ’first killing’ over on the flip, a gloriously numbing gem succulently braided by a magnificently towering majestic demeanour which arcs and shimmers between moments of emotionally torn fracturing and a kind of stately cathedral like grandeur all sumptuously bathed in reams of tear trickling effervescent euphoria which unless our ears are seriously bunged up had us recalling some epic and brooding face off between the Chameleons, the Wild Swans and Iliketrains. We’ve also got an additional 6 track cd entitled ‘show reel’ which we deeply suspect may well be a mini album – which alas as yet we haven’t had a chance to hear but one we have along with making a few enquiries to the label for more information – will no doubt appear in some shape or form in a wordy type kind of way in these very pages. Yum yum.

As though by magic….

The Wild Swans ‘English electric lightning’ (occultation). The return of probably the greatest ‘should’ve been massive’ band ever, a band who despite critical acclaim, a massively loyal cult following not to mention packing one of the most memorable debut releases in living memory (‘revolutionary spirit’) should have garnered success just by the sheer force of will. Alas it was not to be, well not – that is, for the Simpson led ensembles first two bites at the apple (in the early and again mid 80’s). Buoyed by the acclaim surrounding a handful of retrospectives released in recent years, Simpson has again teamed up with fellow original Wild Swan Ged Quinn as well as various members of Spiritualised and Brian Jones Massacre for this ultra limited twin set return to the fray. We’ve always had a soft spot for the Wild Swans ever since witnessing poor old Mr Simpson sporting a newly chiselled hair do (and it was believe you me chiselled as though fashioned from obtuse settings found on a protractor) being ripped to shreds by a baying Bunnymen crowd, that said by the end of their support set they’d achieved the distinction of being one of a very select number of guest acts opening for Mac / Will and Co to have had the crowd demurred and quietened. No easy feat as I‘m sure all who‘ve witnessed the plights of Bunny openers from the early days will attest. Pressed on 10 inches of wax and limited to just 900 hand stamped copies ’English Electric Lightning’ is simply a stunner, peeling back the years its as though they never went away or else time stopped. Okay lets get the nitty gritty out of the way – admittedly it does nibble away at the codas from Terry Hall’s ’forever J’ and the Colour field’s ‘thinking of you’. Clipped with a gorgeously cantering wide screen aspect and dappled in all manner of lushly coloured landscaping this wide eyed sugar tipped overture loosely swirls in terrains more commonly associated these days with something akin to a less bruised and forlorn sounding Kelman as it irresistibly disarms your defences with its invigorating cresting of breathlessly sweeping emotional rushes. Nuff said our kid. Flip over for the sub 8 minute ‘the coldest winter for a hundred years’ – built upon the airy lilt of looping pastoral corteges themselves made up from twinkling keys and noodling riffs, a misty eyed autobiographical account of the early days of the Wild Swans weaves away fondly, recollecting times spent sharing a flat with the late Pete De Frietas, the odd recalling of the local music scene, its pre famous faces, the drugs, the decay and the northern chill of a grey near abandoned for dead Thatcher-ite era Liverpool.did we mention it sounds a lot like Rooney and for the second time same missive – Iliketrains. Tender, humbling – you might wanna have a hankie hanging around somewhere near. A gem. To be purchased immediately and played to the point of death.

Thanks as ever to all those who in some shape or form have helped in the cobbling together of this ramble, and to you for reading it – you brave brave soul.

Back with more at the weekend – no doubt with two of the blighters.

Until then – take good care of yourselves



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