Missive 200 (a)
For Kelly and Mark – who incidentally don’t read this and if they did they’d probably groan and roll their eyes heaven wards and deny its (and my for that matter) existence. Still love ‘em and miss ‘em even when they are rolling their eyes with deep contempt heaven wards.
the ‘just a few of our favourite things’ one and then some more one.
Singled Out – just cool shit.
We pondered long and hard trying to come up with a way of celebrating this 200th missive. Strictly speaking there have been some 250 plus missives, during that time we’ve had our eyes and ears opened to some incredible sounds and some great labels, to think that when this all started – originally as tales from the attic some ten years ago we were fed scraps – and good scraps I can tell you. Since then its blossomed into something that I’ll be honest even if I worked flat out full time I still wouldn’t scratch the surface. To say I feel deeply honoured and indeed blessed to be doing such a thing is a gross understatement.
Anyway the 200th missive, the initial idea when the losing today web site was launched way back in early mists of this decade was to post a regular fortnightly singles column. Those who’ve regularly tuned in will tell you that things just never went to plan despite the promising early outlook – wherein we were actually posting regularly at 14 day intervals – the wheels have at times come off and we’ve gone somewhat awol – sometimes for the best part of a year. These days we’ve given up on schedules and deadlines and just post if and when we feel like which when you add it all up from the debut missive way back in September 2001 means that we’ve done a fair bit better than a missive a week. Anyway I’m blabbering.
How best to mark the occasion – considerations were made of contacting a select few groups to donate tracks. Not the most original idea. And then who would I ask, would they donate, would they even read the email I’d send, then if I forgot to ask such and such would they be offended. And so the curses and tribulations continued. Then we thought how about just casually throwing open the offer and then seeing if there where any takers. Then we were struck by nightmares of the only response coming from a tone deaf Peruvian pan piper with a morbid fixation for the Scorpions which on reflection may not as it happens been a bad thing. Again we held off remembering all to well our attempt a few years ago of a loosely considered ’festive 50’ wherein the receipts added up to nil. I don’t hold grudges but I can tell you that week was one spent down at the local WI looking for tips on how to make cupie dolls – the pins I should add where not an issue we bought a shed load trade. Much grumbling of profanities ensued. Where you ears burning I wonder. Of course our over-riding problem was our crippling shyness ultimately getting the better of us, not for us the scenario of going cap in hand and anyway where would I get the cap.
So my patient and pretty ones we decided after a few other deliberations to play it safe and to catch up on all the things – well not all – I mean that would clearly be foolish and would entail me writing until kingdom come – either that or waiting for Moz to make a killer album – indeed my money‘s on the kingdom come. So here you’ll find a fair amount of stuff that’s been around for ages that we’ve been meaning to review but for one reason or another – one of them being sheer laziness – we just didn’t get around to, along with some more recent stuff and some stuff that I suppose falls in between the two. So are we okay and clear about that then. Good glad we got that sorted. So all things being well across the following thesis like musings there’ll be psyche inspired things, dust wind tales type things, a few Brigadier’s, some tip top Greek fanzines, loads of distant noise platters, some trensmat off shoot stuff, static caravan goodies, a Vernon Joynston book, and loads of other things that’ll no doubt gather together to form a huge unintelligible mass of wordy nonsense. Just you wait and see.
As an added threat these will be bundled up into instalments to be posted every other day throughout April – groan all you like but the aim is to scratch up a bare minimum 200 reviews – piece of piss eh? Those of you who are gluttons for punishment can get updates by hooking up to http://www.myspace.com/thesundayexperience – onwards then…..
the mundys, new century classics, hair and make up, quiet times, cosmic mandoliners, sonic brat, the loveburns, shugo tokumaru, antonymes, violet violent, hallowed butchery, morton valence, brian jacket letdown, the coronas
The my space bit and other stuff….…..
http://www.myspace.com/themundys – now we are usually crap at remembering band names and other such like, there’s been many a time when we’ve reviewed stuff stating the immortal ‘previously unknown to us’ only to be told ‘well in fact you reviewed a track of our on some ridiculously obscure compilation in 1842’ and off we’ve scampered and yep lo and behold the blighters have been right and we have. I mention this because the Mundys struck a familiar chord in our gaff. A quick check revealed that we did indeed mention them albeit very briefly when we reviewed a compilation put out by Best Kept Secret entitled ‘we are not alone (volume 7)’ wherein I’ve noted we commented that their featured cut ’una mujer amabile’ may well be of interest to fans of the Charlatans. Anyway they hail from Argentina are a duo – Teo and Julian and they knock out the crispest slices of sun soaked guitar pop this sound of Matinee records, obviously much informed by Big Star, add in a smidgeon of the Raspberries (especially on ’ahora soy diferente’ – the best cut here) and perhaps the hook laden power pop sensibility of the Velvet Crush or more pertinently their former incarnation Choo Choo Train. Its all affectionately effervescent buzzed up beat pop filtered with harmonies and hooks aplenty which should in the first instance appeal to fans and admirers of the early career work of the Teenage Fanclub though that’ll be a Teenage Fanclub blissing out and fully fluent with a Merseysound dialect none more so is this the case than on the radio thrilling ’la gran libertad’.
http://www.myspace.com/hairandmakeup1 – apparently there’s a cassette and a seven inch imminent from this lot which we rather suspect should be high up on the wants list of many of you out there, sadly lacking in the information stakes Hair and Make Up are a North West of England based duo – Hair / Make Up (who else) just two tracks posted so far and both by the looks of things capturing them in the flesh doing a live thing (though ‘Quidzilla’ no matter how many times I’ve tried to resolve the matter just refuses to play annoyingly cutting out after 10 seconds) and strange beasts they are. Seemingly informed by Devo and early career Pere Ubu, Hair and Teeth craft a deeply satisfying albeit monochromatic, skewiff and mildly deranged and edgy Dadaist psychosis to their ear ware. Both fuzzy and wig flipped ‘dance to the murder‘ sees them managing to shoehorn and indeed side step an insidious array of ill fitting generic pissing pools and somehow glue them together into an addictive though decidedly dislocated and skewed agit alchemy in which case don’t be to surprised if you hear the vague drills and shrills of prog, art bop, post punk and death disco dialects being wired, dismembered and cobbled together in unhinged formations by lashings of schizoid electronics and general all round fried dynamics. Don’t know about you but I somehow feel we could really love them here.
http://www.myspace.com/newcenturyclassics – perfect for those who are missing their quotient of sounds from the Workhouse – I know we are. New century classics are a quintet hailing from Krakow, Poland – a country whose underground scene we really need to hear more. They number in five and describe themselves as ‘experimental / shoe gaze’. How modest these bands seem these days none of your self gratifying look at me and how good we are (when sadly the truth is they never are). No sir. Not here. In fact we’re inclined to think that New Century Classics somewhat hide their bushel from view. There’s an EP kicking around entitled ’four rooms’ which we really must have, hear and no doubt hark about in these pages as to its merits until the cows come home. For now though we’ll have to be content with the four cuts posted on their showcase player (well three cuts in reality as ’drift motion’ disappears after 20 seconds which is a real shame because its initial impression had us thinking best thing here by a country mile). Anyway onwards. As you’ve probably gathered from the bands name New Century Classics are a classically tinged atmos – post rock combo who craft – well lets not beat about the bush here – frankly exquisite free spirited and abandoned nature bound collages that are both deceptively demurring and tender though faintly brushed with a mellowing bruised beauty. We here are more than smitten by ‘room two’ as it transfixes you with its coalescing arcs of wooing shy eyed violins and pastel shades of prettiness while ‘congratulate you where’ is dusted with warming sea breezes of south seas imported riff pines. Mind you it’s the Zerova re-drill of ‘room four’ that we advise you seek without delay – a snow globed cutie of frosted sculpturing and touching tear welling folktronics – a bit like Mum if you must ask.
http://www.myspace.com/quiettimesband – described by one person as ‘someone breaking into a car…’ which we here must admit to being slightly at a loss to agree – perhaps said scribe has either been spending a tad to much time on the magic sauce or else should consider the merits of ear canal irrigation which of course in dear old sweet blighty (what a laugh) there is no such thing though happily so in America where things like tap dancing lessons for teeth are an everyday common occurrence. Anyhow we’ve lost the trail for a second – Quiet Times hail from Sunderland and are not a them but a he – that he being David Colley – a talented and (we’re assuming) youthful young soul who seems to be the proud owner of a time machine with a somewhat faulty console panel that once operated keeps flinging him backwards in time to the mid 60’s which be honest young is no bad thing. Two tracks you’ll find here on the showcasing MS player indelibly threaded with an identifiable 60’s psyche beat wooziness about their ways, very sparse and lo-fi though undeniably courting a kind of blissed out demeanour into whose grooves the extracts of vague Barrett-esque essences shimmer with a fuzzy light headedness especially on ‘up off of’ where don’t be to surprised if you here the odd ‘piper’ inflections wafting through the ether. That said our favourite of the brace is the shades adorned subliminal flashback that is ‘turn away’ a kind of stoned JMC relocated to some mystical retreat. Need we say more. Expect more happenings shortly.
http://www.myspace.com/thecosmicmandoliners – now with a name like the cosmic mandoliners you dear listener are probably expecting something psychedelically enriching to bliss out your day. And your wondering to yourselves do the Cosmic Mandoliners stump up said goods I’m looking for. Well yes and no – is the very un-simple answer. TCM are French duo Vincent and Florian who have already by all accounts freaked the local populace with a sold out debut full length for the Centre of Wood imprint entitled ‘the gospel diaries’ (another label we must admit previously unknown to us who do a rather nifty line in packaging by the looks of things). Anyhow they are currently recording material for a second full length tentatively pencilled for 2009 release and should shortly be resurfacing with a collaboration with monks of the balhill (whose membership includes Vincent) via Canadian imprint Cloud Valley and an appearance (we think) on a compilation for the Second Mind publication (again all a mystery to us – are we slipping or what?). Anyhow TCM appear to mine some hitherto untouched daydreaming psychotropic folk drone seam that if we didn‘t know better seems to sit at a crossroads that sees early career Volcano the Bear on the left and Sunburned Hand of the Man on the right – that’s certainly the case on both ‘010210‘ and ‘030215‘ – both incidentally culled from their aforementioned ‘the gospel diaries‘ set – and both sounding like bent out of shape archaic fog bound shanties while ‘tan carniva’ once emerging from its ominous opening soon reveals itself as something of a fuzzily monastic crafted mind altering slice of deceptive albeit eerie beauty replete with gongs and looming tonal incantations that occupies a void somewhere between Komeda and a clearly frazzled GSYBE. mind you its not all doom and gloom – which it wasn’t anyway if you get my drift – ‘alp turqoisi’ perhaps the best track here is unusually crafted in the sense that it begins lushly longing and fulsome braided as it is by spectral tides of softly dissipating white noise sheens and sets about devolving becoming ever more dislocated and fractured the further it goes. Needless to say we need to hear more.
http://www.myspace.com/s0nicbrat – sonic brat is the alter ego of Singapore based composer Darren Ng who it seems has a thing for sculpturing the most delightfully demurring frost tipped and Brontean swept folktronics that we’ve rarely had the pleasure of hearing since fortdax’s shy eyed snow trod enchantment ’at bracken’ (none more so than on the quietly euphoric ‘pollen‘). coaxed with an intimate aura and teased and measured under a classically minded eye these evocative snow tipped slices of caressfully chilled ambience tweak tenderly at the work of Ryuichi Sakamoto, equipped with playful key flurries and engaging a delightfully pacifying tonality they vibrate with a wistful carefree demeanour best experienced for full impact in the stillness of night. With several releases under his belt most via furniture musique with his latest ‘quiet windows’ arriving courtesy of the Chinese net label Nephalai. We suggest you start your journey with the utterly disarming down tempo charms of ’when I used to be’ a snoozing crystal tipped gem orbiting through the cosmic voids sprinkling handfuls of enchanted dust and lulling all it encounters into states of swoon like awe.
http://www.myspace.com/theloveburns – a three piece from London town and the surrounding areas who describe their sound as ‘zombie lullabies for the darlick dancing generation’ which to be honest kind us left us speechless because there’s no where else to go as they’ve done it for us. Of course we here are better than that and loving nothing more than the rise to a challenge. Anyhow there’s a debut single kicking around which we want – entitled we suspect it may well feature ’detector’ though we’ll be buggered if we can find any details. As to the sound well the Loveburns seem to delight in concocting a crookedly wired and decidedly off kilter species of skewed rock-a-billy though not the quiff, big collars and brothel creepers kind that you’re probably more readily accustomed to, instead this brand has been rounded up, clubbed over the head and shoved in the boot of a car and dumped in a river only to be swamp dragged given a neat lesson in some fractured blues dialects and some warped angular accents. Several listens and if we didn’t know better we’d have to say that this was the work of a very youthful Half Man Half Biscuit pilfering about with discarded ditties by Mr Waits and those Beefheart dudes in fact forced to describe ’reality land’ – incidentally the best thing here by a short hair and clearly fried – we have to hazard a guess that it was Nigel and Co shimmying up to mark 1 of the Fall minus Smithy and aided and abetted by the Nightingales, mind you that said it should be right up the street of those among you admiring of the Teeth. Equally tasty ’detector’ has a pretty nifty and smoked delta side wind thing going on along with some (by the sounds of it) throbbing double bass and a wickedly distractive bare arsed and scatty mooching dynamic whose nearest comparison would be sound wise an remarkably upbeat Gallon Drunk in a face off with the Turbines. Don’t be to surprised if once you hear ’profit margin’ you have this unshakeable desire to root out records bearing the names of either the Scars or the Cravats branded on their labels while ’adoration’ is clearly spooked and kooky in a John Peel record box c.1980 type of way – did someone say the Native Hipsters. Between you and me they are gonna be the toast of the underground once word gets out. Nuff said.
http://www.myspace.com/shugotokumaru – we hooked up to this MS page late last night – you know the kind of thing – a quick trawl at a few sites seeing if you can come across anything worth viewing at closer detail the following morning when we happened across ‘future umbrella’ by Shugo Tokumaru. Now being late at night it struck a rather novel chord with us not since because it was clearly fried and kooky not to mention dippy and delightful but to us it was an ingenious Oriental take on Camberwick Green. We were as you can imagine immediately taken and spellbound. We left it there until the morning. Ah the morning, a spring fresh morn with the promise of sunshine later. We sought out the site again. Directed ourselves immediately to ’future umbrella’. indeed what we thought we’d heard the night before was not a trick or play on the imagination. Absolutely bonkers though beautifully so – and yes okay – warped and wonky and in someway recalling in terms of its delicately clockwork calibrated motions both Moondog and Raaymond Scott. Hailing from Tokyo Mr Tokumaru has to date released three full lengths one we’ve eyed being licensed to the much admired Active Suspension of France while the latest ‘exit’ made it as far as the States which seems like a logical place for it to be because there is a dizzy sense of the lysergic lemon popsicle feel of the Elephant 6 Collective about these cuts, a playful childlike flirty appeal from which radiates a glowing feel good aura both warm and uplifting. A kaleidoscopic parade of toys, chimes, keys and whatever else he can lay his hands upon, Tokumaru ploughs a rich psych pop vein, the distantly skewed lo-fi west coast kookiness of ‘mist’ is utterly loveable yet and despite the obvious allure of ‘future umbrella’ everything cowers in the shadows when stood next to the pickled effervescence of the skipping ‘parachute’ – a honey crusted babe tempered with a sun dazed affection sweetly sugar rushed with all manner of florescent soft psyche fancies that we here are thinking have been hoodwinked from the back pockets of an early Animal Collective or Busy Signals.
Here’s a little video….
http://www.myspace.com/antonymes – must admit we had to give the laptop a little shake seems there was a whole host of scratches, hisses and crackles that where generally ruining our listening experience. Mind you we did consider that maybe they were actually part of the tracks though some further delving revealed the same interfering distractions where affecting all the other tracks. Now I’m not one for being beaten so it occurred to us that maybe there was a rogue sound file on the site and off we went in search. We located one – a video. But still the clicks carried on. We scratched our heads. And scratched some more. We was the errant blighter. Aha another video in the comments was the culprit. So be warned when you do happen upon this site be mindful to isolate the two videos. Antonymes left us scant information other than a message asking us to take a peak, and take a peak we did. Venturing from somewhere in Wales, Antonymes sculptures such an exquisite alchemy. Exquisite in a Harold Budd / Charles Atlas / Sylvain Cheuveau / Max Richter type way. There’s something utterly statue-esque and graceful about these fragile and monochrome suites, a chamber like reverence, a hush perhaps that makes you take one step back and just stand in silence jaw agape. These crystal tipped opaque’s instil an all at once state of moving mournfulness and a hitherto caressing majesty, both ‘Antonymes’ and ‘grotesquely beautiful’ are daubed with the finite craftsmanship of Satie and Debussy – eloquent, enigmatic and enchanting though bruised and lonesome. ‘a light from the heavens’ is just near perfect picture box chilled ambience best savoured when the lights are extinguished with only the deathly still silence of night. Best track though by some distance is ’passing failure on the way’ – for once the glacial glaze is removed and in its place a celestial aura assumes that very much shimmers into the kind of cosmic terrains most would term dream pop / shoe gaze – an utterly divine slice of trip wired down tempo classicism softly coaxed by exotic mirages that imagines Kevin Shields shimmying up to a seriously blissed out Transglobal Underground while under the watchful supervision of Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart.
http://www.myspace.com/violentvioletmusic – happened across Jessica Gallagher’s (for it is she who is Violent Violet) MS site via a friends link on P D Wilder’s page, in truth we were initially drawn to Violent Violet because we had this fleeting notion that the name was a play on our own Norwich based spiky felines Violet Violet. Couldn’t be further from the truth, Ms Gallagher is neither violent or in any way (we assume) a spiky topped feline with a thing for Sleater-Kinney (mind you strike the last comment she probably does) instead she does a killer line in head bowed scarred and bruised lo-fi minimalist folk blues (none more so than on the creaking gem ‘lorraine’ so delicately drawn you feel fearful that your mere presence in its company will somehow shatter its porcelain fragility) the type of which you’d suspect would find a loving and consolatory home over at Olympia’s K records. Each cut here – and there’s five of them in total – each share a pathological mindset to draw you low and make you feel somewhat humbled for the experience. Accompanied by the lonesome braid of aching keys and the odd porch lit acoustic strum there’s something almost hymnal approaching some kind of redemption like gospel that attaches to these frankly deeply satisfying albeit wounded treasures not to mention a woody vibrancy that bristles and breezes amid their wares, ’under the radar’ is particularly emotionally stressed barely making its way to its conclusion while the forlorn (which disappointingly cuts out after barely 10 seconds) ’stay away’ is from what we managed to salvage albeit briefly is wrapped in a sumptuous sepia texture that to us had all the wherewithal of a faded hurt memory packaged away from sunlight in some dusty attic.
http://www.myspace.com/hallowedbutchery – those of you correctly spotting that this lot initially caught our eye by way of their name then award yourself a gold star and assume bragging rights for the rest of the evening which as I write is less than 30 minutes and counting. Be honest you’d be well pissed if a combo calling themselves Hallowed Butchery where floppy fringed fops festooning festivities with chirpy twee pop. Am I right? Well its just as well then that Maine (wasn’t that the setting for most of Stevo King’s horrors?) based doom mongers don’t do happy then. In fact by the looks of things the work of just one man – Ryan Scott Fairfield who it seems is fairly adept a crafting dread filled apocalyptic overtures, two such ritual like monastic operas feature here, ’pantheon enthroned’ our favourite it has to be said is very much bleached and brutalised by a grim reaping dark psychedelic touch and pierced by flashes of bastardised slo-core styled festering grind that punishingly sits somewhere between Nepalm Death and a youthful Slayer and happens upon moments of kaleidoscopic lucidity the type of which that wouldn’t look to out of place on an early career Porcupine Tree album. Elsewhere there’s the chilling and foreboding brute that is the black cathedral like ’the kennebec’ to contend with eked as it is by a disturbing funereal casting which we suggest is best viewed and indeed savoured once the sun is up. A debut full length ‘funeral rites for the living’ looms ominously on the horizon – our requests are already in.
Morton Valence ‘Chandelier’ (bastard). With their debut album about to venture into light the criminally perfect Morton Valence tease up the senses with this utterly desirable twin set. Of course ‘Chandelier’ the lead out track is no stranger to these pages having featured to much jaw dropped fondness way back at missive 163 wherein it was paired off with the equally arresting ’go to sleep’. Lets not beat about the bush as noted in previous despatches this is the finest slice of defence melting sub three minute pop currently in existence, like some rare heavenly revelation ’Chandelier’ is sumptuously graced with an irresistible ability to all at once crush, caress and charm whilst simultaneously restoring your faith in intoxicating allure of pop. Measured, graceful and delicately decorated in celestial baubles and an unreal tingling aura softly stressed by an unmistakable bitter sweet ache, courting a 60’s styled classicism often heard these days but never so elegantly sculptured its braided seductively with swoon filled arcs of swirling symphonics, honey dripped harmonies and a sense of something truly magical. Flip the disc for equally tempting ’hang it on the wall’ – softly bleached by a misty eyed 60’s silkiness and awash with tenderly serviced silvery sensations whose purpose it seems is to hang heavy and yank hard on your heart strings, this shy eyed babe is glazed and hazed with a lip biting introspection and purring pristine perfection the kind of which had us double checking to make sure the named ownership stamped across its hide wasn’t that of the High Wire. A debut full length entitled ’bob and veronica ride again’ approaches. http://www.myspace.com/mortonvalence
The Brian Jacket Letdown ‘white sky’ (gene pool). With a proper debut full length looming large and shortly due for release its been way too long since the Brian Jacket Letdown had our radar a wobbling in fact by our reckoning not since the ridiculously infectious ‘eat your friends’ from a few years back (see missive 106). Such periods of absence shouldn’t really be allowed at least not without a doctors note or a letter from a responsible person requesting they be excused and certainly not when you have a creative mindset at large who can kick out such disturbingly perfect nuggets as the brace of gems contained within the grooves of this frankly perfect single. Work shy fops you say – well it seems its been an absence well utilised not withstanding getting to grips with website updates via a laptop, these dudes have recently taken delivery of an ultra rare Mattel Optigan (which for those of you out there clueless to the relevance of these things is a thing for making strange woo woo noises that came onto the market in the early 70‘s a consisted of loop sampled contained on clear discs that could be played and manipulated using the optigan – if you are really keen there‘s a whole q&a thing at http://www.optigan.com/faq.html#q3 – we’re just to kind to you folk) while spending the rest of the time nailing together their debut full length proper ‘darling bit me‘. ’white sky’ is a teaser of what to expect. Between you and me sounds like a frisky Animal Collective, all orbiting sheens of woozy milky way montages (that’ll be the optigan you can hear) sweetly coalescing into light headed patterns formed from homely fuzzy felt lullaby like twinkles that strangely assume moments of hip shimmying wigginess when the onset of the slyly snazzy and soupy white funk accents appear (references if you need them Roxy’s ‘love is the drug’) by which point your consumed by the fluffy cosy toed sepia toned psychotropia festooning about your head space and trip wiring your nervous system. Too cute for its own good. Flipping the disc for ’devil in my room’ more dizzily affectionate soft topped pop though this time courting the countrified corteges of opining slide guitars, breezy harmonicas (always a good thing to have on a record by our reckoning) and fiddly diddly fiddles and much treated as where to the kind of faintly lysergic tipped and off balanced woody resonance as some of you may well have tripped across when hooked up to the likes of Panda Bear and Ariel Pink. In short a kaleidoscopic calypso carousel. Nuff said. http://www.myspace.com/brianjacketletdown
The Coronas ‘san diego song’ (3U). Doesn’t take much to confuse us these days – its an age thing I think – this one track CD promo arrived without fanfare at our gaff just this very morning. Now the Coronas have featured in these pages – and fairly recently we should add via their current ‘decision time’ single (see both missives 190 and 199). This is the Irish based combo who by all accounts have been the toast of the Hot Press crowd and have in recent times stumped up an array of chart bound sounds as well as a critically acclaimed full length in the shape of ’heroes and ghosts’. armed with that success they are now making a bid to bring their sound to the UK and Europe with said album getting an imminent re-packaging and re-release over here. ’san diego song’ is something of a live favourite, admittedly not a patch on the Marbles-esque ’decision time’ but still primed with more than enough emotion stirring calibre to ensure an easy transition into a Stateside consciousness whilst simultaneously probably proving an easy catch for the coming festival season if fans of Elbow et al have any say in the matter. Lighter anyone?
The video goes like this….
More in two days then…..