singled out – missive 222

first published 11/07/2009 – additional notes – we appear to be missing some of this one – part rescued from the hard drive vaults…..

Singled Out

Missive 222

Rainbow Arabia

Damn – it seems we missed this lot debut full length from earlier this year – in fact more precisely a month or so ago – entitled ‘la basta’ though happily picked up this forthcoming mini album set – ‘Kabukimono’ – from Cargo just the other day – and well quite frankly its kind of taken over the I-pod play list vying along the way with fellow Manimal label mates Rio En Medio for adoring listening attention. Rainbow Arabia hail from LA are a duo – Danny and Tiffany Preston – who are currently picking up appreciative nods from variously in the know critics.

‘kabukimono’ sees them returning to the fray with another bag of desirably dinky and demurring exotic sounding treats. Its easy to see why this lot are causing such a fuss for ‘kabukimono’ is a glorious seductively reclined babe, a positive cornucopia of sun glazed cutely kooky electro pop which when first heard by yours truly had us practically skipping down the street with the kind of optimism and abundantly seasoned over joy not seen around these parts since we gave our ex employer the finger and waltzed off into the sunset. Mind you strange glances where indeed flashed our way by anxiously concerned and bewildered passers by no doubt thinking that either I’d had a bang on the head or had overdosed on that days medication.

Still undeterred each of these tracks tumbled out like fleeting life affirming beams of perky radiance whispering in strange spectral tongues, melodic mantras filtered through a series of Arabesque motifs dimpled by mystical trade breezes emanating from the mysterious Orient and fed through an alluring calypso kaleidoscope and finitely framed and honed as curiously opiated spell charms. Undeniably effervescent the set opens to the delightfully dippy ’holiday in Congo’ a kind of Tom Tom Club meets …and the Native Hipsters as though relocated to some rarefied Malcolm McLaren paradise, deliriously slight and playful in texture and trip wired with the lushly layered lilt of calypso mirages and ends with a Bremner remix of ’let them dance’ – itself a skewiff and maddeningly excitable and chirpily hot wired slice of funk drunk electronics transfused with smouldering and sultry desert dwelling snake winds and skewering motifs borrowed from a mid career Black Dice. Between all this Danny and Tiffany shoehorn a positive plethora of musical languages (drum n’ bass as on the ghost on tape mix of ‘Omar K’, skanking dub-tronic drills as on the South Pacific lull of ‘harlem sunrise’ with its gorgeously tropical riff opines and the fried and trippy snake charmed middle eastern montages within ‘haunted house’ which at times glows with a curious allure of Siouxsie in her Creatures mind set reframing the Banshees ‘kaleidoscope’ full length) and cultures into a richly radiant dream weave of sound that at various points embraces elements of the Waitresses, Tom Tom Club, Go Team, Belle Stars and the Frank Chickens into its accommodating matrix. Though that said admirers of the Cobra Killer while coo and swoon to the likes of ‘Kubikimono’ and ’I know I see I love I go’ though ultimately and, mainly due to its peculiar cleverness, in ‘kabikimono’ Rainbow Arabia reveal a more than passing kinship to The Knife whilst providing perhaps the soundtrack to summer. Any questions?

Key tracks –

Holiday in congo
I know I see I love I go

The Hot Melts ‘red lips’ (epitaph). A taster peek no less culled from their forthcoming debut full length. the Hot Melts hail from the Wirral a stretch across the Mersey and an area to which I spent the best part of the 90’s living. Not officially out for a few weeks ‘red lips’ is a front loaded seizure shock of adrenalin laced stomping boogie set ablaze to an in your face rampantly honed dynamic that if your none to careful will literally blow you straight off your listening perch. A prime time slice of unrelenting and growl grooved strutting and pouting rock pop goodness replete with slavering drills of chugging riffs, pounding beats and dashed with the kind of enviably audacious feel good frontage that’ll make day time radio play lists purr with affection. Think that’s enough to be going on with.

Rio En Medio

This was prised into our palms on a recent record reconnaissance trip to Cargo. The name on the sleeve though unfamiliar to us had that telling promise of something special tenderly tucked within given the all to recognisable Manimal markings on the releases rear, a label whom we must admit have of late been found frequently being the subject of our affections what with releases from Caroline Weeks, Alexandra Hope and of course Rainbow Arabia succumbing us with their seductive raptures.

Rio En Medio is the alter ego of Danielle Stech-Hornsy a resident of Brooklyn via New Mexico. To date she’s had just one previous release under her name in the shape of ‘the bride of dynamite’ – sadly found wanting in our gaff to much perplexing anxiety – which by all accounts has floored all who’ve heard not least Devendra Banhart who apparently heard said recordings and was so blown away he asked if he could release it on his Gnomonsong imprint thus into the bargain introducing Ms Stech-Hornsy to some of the most celebrated artists currently to be found on the folk / electro scene – Grizzly Bear, Vetiver et al.

‘frontier’. what can we say. Bewitching, beguiling and beautiful. That’s the b part of the alphabet catered for then. But seriously perhaps one of the most uniquely enchanting releases that we’ve had the pleasure of hearing in such a long, long time. Far removed from the chasing pack and the hustle and bustle of pop’s ever changing fashionable parade Danielle’s sounds occupy the more surreal and spectral twilight landscapes of melodies vast vocabulary. All at once delicate, dreamy, demurring and dainty, there’s an intimate seduction afoot about these fleeting apparitions as they woo, weave and wander amid a mercurial tapestry whose rarefied language can be traced within releases by Heather Duby (the tender forlorn ache of the sumptuous though teasingly brief ‘standing horses‘); Serafina Steer (none more so than on the lightly fluffy pastoral waltz of the hushed prettiness of ‘nameless‘); Laurie Anderson; Fever Ray (especially on the dizzily fanciful murmuring of ’the umbrella’ with its cosmic waltz braiding and exquisitely enchanted siren-esque ethereal like eeriness) and Musetta (best viewed on the harp driven heavenliness of ‘the diamond wall‘ which from an initial stuttered underpinning backdrop of oriental motifs soon manifests into some celestial like revelation embraced by chilled monastic down tempo dialects and a Massive Attack like majesty).

Best enjoyed during a period of personal down time moments that way you get to feel the full effect of being immersed in the intoxicating alchemic aura of the tripping beats, the down tempo mirages, the cavernous dronal symphonics (as on the ice tipped snow globing twinkle some beauty of ‘venus of willendorf‘ and the parting ‘the visitor’ – itself a bruised leviathan like galactic beast traversing and opining solemnly throughout the cosmos), the clockwork rhythms, the rustic lulls and sepia trimmed minimalist electronics which congregate in varying degrees to create the most supernaturally celestial follies of folk you’re ever likely to hear in such an age and yet which are keenly eyed dashed with a sense of the classicist, the drama and the theatre.

The first thing you notice about ‘frontier’ aside that is its strangely absorbing willowy light headedness which at times gives the impression of something barely there as though a spectre that you’ve caught momentarily in the corner of your peripheral vision, is the way each of the tracks loosely hang together with all the finite precarious delicacy of a spiders silken web each distinct from the other yet each feeding from the same core matrix while simultaneously allowing Ms Stech-Hornsy licence to wander at will to create momentary symphonic detours, evidence perhaps best served by the utterly beautiful and spell bounding fragility of the simple surrendering ‘the last child‘s tears‘ with its unerring knack for fading in and out of view and going off radar to briefly terra form.

Elsewhere there‘s the opening ‘heartless’ with its fairy like faraway persona skipping childlike amid an arresting backdrop of noir tweaked fracturing electronics and cosmic baubles, the tripping kaleidoscopic mantra like
Wooziness of ‘Frontier’ which builds in stature and depth amid a terrain made up of warping motifs, clockwork mechanics, lullaby like rustic loops and cat meows. Its very much delirious stuff – unreal, unearthly and deeply sensuous. ’frontiers’ is simply a class apart.

Key tracks –

The last child’s tear
The umbrella
The diamond wall

Mise En Scene ‘intermittent’ (Stasisfield). Mentioned this in brief passing a few blog entries ago with the cautionary warning that we would be testing you later in the week to ensure you’d been taking notes and doing the listening homework that we’d set for you. Released as a free download single comprised of three stirring cuts of aural artificial intelligence or AAI as we like to call it in the trade – alas I’m pulling your leg there’s no such thing although I’d be keeping a careful eye on the NME because this time next wee it’ll probably be the hippest genre that week. Anyway it’s a drone type thing brought to you via the Chicago based experimental visual / sound imprint Stasisfield courtesy of Israeli sound sculpturer Shay Nassi under his chosen nom de plume Mise En Scene. Already boasting several releases via labels such as leerraum and white line, there’s also a nifty looking cassette release currently doing the rounds via mm which features a split collaboration with Audio Architecture entitled ’movements on chromatic sequences’ which we’ll have to nail before getting any older. For now though the ’intermittent’ EP which as said you can download for free via Stasisfield. Featuring three slabs of minimal micro electronics, both dronal and transcendental in texture, ‘intermittent #1’ at 10 minutes in length opens the proceedings, an ominous flotilla of sound, a hulking pulsar transmitting communication waves into the dense voids of nothingness by a series of reverberating pulse cycles, mesmeric and glacial in detail it quietly glows and radiates builds steadily with stealth like stature ascending to some sort of critical mass before slowly trailing off and sloping off into the distance. Lonesome and alien in design its nearest reference marker would be the ice cold ambience provided for the end credits of Gerry Anderson’s ’UFO’ by composer Barry Gray. ‘intermittent #2’ is somewhat lighter in contrast, still possessed of that want for mind warping ambient drone textures, it has all the air of a symphony localised to the hum perpetuated by the inner working of some giant leviathan like space cruisers snoozing engine, the glassy shimmer toned sound cycles pierced by the barely audible hustle and bustle of scratches and clicks set far deep in the backdrop while the occasional visitation of the frosted percussion endows an eerie and somewhat feeling of impending suspense to the occasion in a Budd Snr kind of way. Last up ’intermittent #3’ – perhaps the most accessible cut of set has something of a youthful Pimmon about its wares, sound manipulations, frequency wobbles, binary communications and a general all around lunar like fixation make this something of a turn on for kitchen appliances we shouldn’t wonder.

Down Review ‘anything is everything’ (hidden shoal). Okay its gorgeous, in fact frankly its sublime and its due to be released by those Australian types in the know over at the much admired Hidden Shoal imprint. Is there a pattern emerging here we wonder? Down Review is a collaborative project brought to realisation by the pairing of Arc Lab’s Medard Fischer and Near the Parenthesis’ Tim Arndt. Though they’ve never met there’s been a flurry of crisscrossing communications across cyberspace in recent months with the passing back and forth of sound files the first fruits of which will be revealed to the greater public at large under their chosen guise as Down Review via their forthcoming debut EP set ’from here, for anyone’ from which this teaser track entitled ‘anything is everything’ is culled. A beautifully snoozing dream woven treasure that had us here recalling in an instant the likes of Gnac, Landshipping and Boards of Canada, all crunchy beats, heart caressing tenderised electronic symphonic swathes applied with wide screen aspects and serviced with that kind of majestically forlorn bitter sweetness that was once the sole remit of godspeed you black emperor and touchingly daubed in frost tipped baubles of orbiting opines all mellowed magically into a tempting tapestry that to these much humbled ears had us imagining a particularly chilled Faltermayer cosying up to Manual for a spot of reclined star watching. A gem.
Bombay Bicycle Club ‘dust on the ground’ (island). No information on this lot – well in truth that’s a lie there’s loads but frankly we can’t be arsed relaying it back to you because we’re to bloody transfixed by the sounds peeling from the grooves of this killer seven inch to be bothered doing a domestics pep talk. Safe to say ‘dust on the ground’ by Bombay Bicycle Club – who else – is shot through with the kind of radiant showers of euphoria that may well have some of you seeking consoling support as you bite heavy through your bottom lip. Culled from their recently released debut full length ‘I had the blues but I shot them through’, ’dust on the ground’ is an epically panoramic heart string yanking beast, a Technicolor lightshow of eye popping star gazed beauty sweetly fed with searing shocks of swoon like effects laden stratospheric bliss all dimpled by honey combed halos of shoe gazed effervescence and underpinned with the subtle dialects of post rock. A totally consuming and crushed affair that literally bathes your listening space in beautified showers of wooing cosmic hazes which to these ears had us very much recalling the much missed Kitchens of Distinction albeit as though re-aligned and force fed through the Club AC30 viewfinder. A bit of a gem in our book. Flip the disc for the rather long winded titled ‘curl up like a dead leaf and go where the wind blows’ – a rather more quietly affecting cut on this occasion, distantly dreamy and reflectively thoughtful and bulging with your pristinely turned post rock signatures which at one point erupt and rupture momentarily before dissipating and dying away to reveal something very much considered and slightly sentimental though which manifests into something strangely tropical in a ACR ‘four to the floor’ type way towards the run out groove, overall though something which we here reckon may well appeal to admirers of the Workhouse – what ever happened to them we wonder.

Cave ‘made in Malaysia’ (important). Ultra limited – okay 500 copies – seven inch vinyl twin set from Chicago’s much admired Cave via the ever crucial Important imprint (well crucial when we have the good fortune to nail their releases that is). Anyhow this by all accounts is selling like nobodies business a more than welcome return to these pages by Cave, this nagging slab of bad boogie like its predecessors via the Trensmat and Static Caravan imprints has taken up a siege like residence on our turntable of late. Culled from their brand spanking new ’psychic summer’ full length which we really must nail before the nights start drawing in and our beard gets any longer, ’made in Malaysia’ is carved amid a insistently jarring austere post punk motif that’s done to sound like its been reared in some acid spiked stoner commune, up close and personal and about you like a rash, its an agitated blighter blessed with a thunderous locked down grizzled bass underpin that’s so heavy it loosens tooth fillings in an instant, a punishing fest of Jesus Lizard like head drilling caustic grind rewired and channelled through a bracingly monochromatic kraut calibration albeit rephrased by a youthful Gang of Four with some brief moments of proggy-ness thrown in no doubt for good measure. That said freak purists may well be advised to opt for the flip side ’boneyard’ which aside sounding well shit faced and out of it is a squalling feedback lashed galactic groove rider undertaking as were a deep mind frying cosmic trip equipped and adorned with Hawkwind space suits whilst kicking out a frankly head blowing primitively stewed slab of blistered bliss out psyche blues. Head surgeons warning note – repeat doses may cause flashbacks. Stunning in a word. Essential in another.

Sunn O))) and Pan Sonic ‘Che’ (Blast First Petite). I’m suspecting we’ve missed a fair few instalments of this years long Vega birthday celebrating covers series given that the last time we had cause to start jumping around the gaff we had both the Boss and the Horrors doing strange things to excavated gemstones of Suicide’s legendary and illustrious past. Anyhow this time of asking its seems Blast First Petite have really pushed the boat out, pressed up on 10 inches of virgin white wax with stamped sleeves featuring artwork on the inside of the cover by Coulter Jacobsen – this ominous instalment sees the mighty and be-robed Sunn O))) sharing studio space with Finnish aural alchemists Pan Sonic. Everything you could possibly picture in your minds at the prospect of such a union comes (un) joyously into fruition. Dark and brooding, monolithic and dread laden, Sunn / Sonic set their sights on Suicide’s minimalist psyche electro babe ‘che’. The original of course inscribed by a shimmering and seductive lysergic tweaked fatal beauty saw Rev and Vega at their most hypnotic, a pulsing drone dreamcoat that took its cue from the Silver Apples and until the onset of ’dream baby dream’ perhaps to be considered as their most accessible cut of the day. Left in the hands of the Sunn / Sonic ‘che’ takes on a macabre mantra like deep psyche drone demeanour, a consuming black hole of sorts that’s a bit like an omnipresent Sisters of Mercy piloting an apocalyptic storm wind withering all it touches with its oppressive glare, very chamber-esque, majestic and indeed stately stuff albeit impenetrable, Psychic Ill fans will I’m sure fall backside over bosom for this. Flip over for two additional cuts the first being a live rendition by the birthday boy himself of ‘13 crosses’ – a track initially featured on his solo full length ‘station’ from 2007, here Vega sounds like some apocalyptic preacher man sermonising from the cross roads, amid the fuzz and buzz of confused ether piercing communications and the monotonous thud of a solemnly crude Dadaist beat all set to a dust ravaged vocal that sounds not unlike a ravaged Johnny Cash fronting a seriously wasted Psychic TV. Rounding up the set a rare appearance by Head of David head honcho Stephen Burroughs who gets to tsangle with ’goodbye dear’ and brings a neatly breezy n’ stirring frail and fraught psyche folk acoustic treatment to the proceedings. Well smart. Just what any self respecting decent record collection deserves.

Windy and Carl & Heavy Winged ‘monolith : earth’ (music fellowship).

Clever little blighter this. A lovely looking picture disc with a satellite shot of the Earth on one side and some tasty Ned Clayton artwork on the other. That said there was nearly a Richard Williams inspired ‘the wedding album’ moment wherein we placed said disc on turntable and bugger all appeared to be happening. Given there was an accompanying CD we puzzled as to whether the disc was purely for presentational art effect. But damn we weren’t convinced – the fact that one side when held up in sun light appeared to reveal vaguely detectable groove lines we were adamant something was afoot that we were missing out on. So before we committed cardinals we approached the labels press blurb via their web site for further assistance. It appears that this disc has been recorded with Heavy Winged mixed to the right channel with Windy and Carl occupying the left – or is it the other way around, no I’m right because I’m standing with my back to the hi-fi and the Windy’s are definitely purring from the left. Anyway what this means is that by manipulating your speaker contrasts you can in fact blend the two tracks together or if you so wish listen to each individual cut in mono. All confusing but very clever and just a little tip to help you along the picture disc is one sided, the Ned Clayton side is the one that plays and you are best nudging the stylus about an inch or so in before things kick off. There’s also an aforementioned accompanying CD which features the two tracks in their full on stereo mix plus an optimal takes of the fused sound of the bands – does this make sense – does anyone care, are you still awake. Oh yea its strictly limited to just 500 copies which we believe are already sold out at source. Blimey.

Of course both ensembles should need no introductions in these pages, Windy and Carl are the uber overlords of all things space / drone while Heavy Winged are speaker trashing freeform noise rock imps whose ‘lost forever’ outing via the esteemed Trensmat was a thing still much talked about in hushed dignified tones around the gaff.

Anyhow Windy and Carl are first up on the inspection blocks with ’intelligence and evolution’ – a typical W&C affair – no one quite does drone like these dudes, faultless perpetual poise as though a brief momentary segment taken from a reverberating chime refrain belonging to Robin Guthrie had been frozen, magnified and expanded to reveal some secretly unseen micro verse within, tender and tranquil, a solitary and singularly hung glacial note pines away acting somewhat as a navigating pilot to the faintly drawn tremble toned shimmering murmurs that lull back in the distance, the shifts in texture are ever so slight almost invisible to the untutored ear, both pierced with a cathedral-esque like reverence and graced with a hushed elegance this quietly affecting pulsar tips the scales at just shy of 29 minutes in length. An utterly transfixing experience of bliss coaxed eloquence.

In sharp contrast Heavy Winged stump up a live recording of ‘wool and water’ captured via an appearance at Windsor in November 2007, a squalling feedback spiked slice of grizzled mind flipped swamp psyche, fractured and dislocated, this expansive jam sounds not unlike a youthful Green Milk from the Planet Orange at times, a blistered behemoth weaving and whirring amid a web of densely opaque atmospheric tension that soon ruptures and ripples at roughly the twelve minute mark into a viciously manic and punishing sledgehammer of choking cranium compressing wiring kraut skree. Damn fine stuff.

Paired together the two gathering tribes create a veritable goliath of sound, doomy and gloomy, insistent and intense Windy and Carl’s refined restraint moors the Heavy Winged want for freeform pyrotechnics into something more controlled and focused, still that said nothing can deter the inevitable brewing psychotropic inferno within from over spilling and leaking out its toxic alchemy to turn your head to mush. Immense and of course an essential release gathering two of the out there sounds finest practitioners.

Hybernation ‘greyhound park’ (rednetic). Last seen featured in these very pages way back at missive #145 wherein we ran the ruler across his 6 track ‘snow cover’ EP (and a deeply lovely thing it was). Hybernation for those of you who preferred not to take notes the first time of mentioning is the alter ego of Stuart Bowditch and this 18 minute one track release marks the first instalment of a series of experimental recordings commissioned by various friends of Rednetic. Ultra limited – though as to how many exactly – we’re assuming at least a 100 – this comes pressed up on one of those dinky 3 inch CD’s. An untreated selection of field recordings or so it would seem, collected over the course of a few months at and around the local Greyhound Park shopping centre near his Southend on Sea home. Capturing segments of conversation, the continual sound of trundling shopping trolleys, traffic and children chatter its provides for a unique document of everyday ordinary life of an urban district and its shopping mall ambience captured for posterity that only shifts in perspective 14 minutes with the appearance


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