originally posted in May 2011…….via http://www.losingtoday.com
sweetheart, permanent clear light, of montreal, james mckeown, Tecumseh, john barry, elephant patch, spontaneous combustion, causa sui, the astros, the times, tv personalities, william d drake, andrew liles, outer minds,
T minus 9 and counting……
Sweetheart ’the avenue’ (good fortune). Admittedly we are totally smitten by this dinky little darling. However pause a second because somewhere amid this glowing critique there will be mention of the Spice Girls -not that we here have anything against the Spicy ones – however we are mindful that certain elements among you will scoff at such comparable mentions and will no doubt be flicking sprays of holy water upon you persons for us having mentioned who you probably consider to be the anti Christ’s of pop (my vote goes to U2), not that we here hold out and condone such snobbery – but there it is I’m sticking with it so if you don’t like it tough. ‘the avenue’ is the debut record by Southampton kick botty combo Sweetheart and marks the first of a series singles club outings they’ll be releasing this year which at some point will all be gathered on to a handy all in one place long player. Skittishly skirting amid the aloofly acute glam pout of Suede albeit as though wrapped seductively around the pimply underclass outsider travesties of Pulp and faintly kissed with the bubblegum twist of cooing Cockney Rebels harmonies, this babe coils with unnerving immediacy subtly tinkering a melodic motif first countered on the Spicy ones ’too much’ as though re-aligned with the spiked undertow of an avenging Jonny Cola and the A grades while wetted by an appeal so saccharine and sweet it’s guaranteed to rot your sonic teeth with repeat plays. Equally adept a spanking the earlobe is ’the beast’ over on the flip – a glorious slab of erstwhile Victoriana music hall curiosities dimpled a waltzing motif much recalling the Stranglers ‘golden brown’ and cut with the kind of subtly trained edginess as to make those Lupen Crook dudes proud. The frantic ‘I don’t have the arms’ draws a close to proceedings not before scalping the would be listener with its insidiously frazzled finger jabbing contortions which at various points see it splintering between teen spirited new wave verve and panic stricken moments of angulated meltdown – all said reference wise try imagining the Dandy Warhols and Ben Folds 5 in a headlock.
Permanent Clear Light ‘demos’ – mentioned recently in despatches when we ran the thumb rule over the latest offerings from the esteemed fruits de mer imprint wherein they followed up their acclaimed appearance on the awesome ‘a phase we’re going through’ set with a return spot for the ‘annual 2011’ twin set with the frankly perfect treatment of Clifford T Ward’s lost gem ‘wherewithal’. the band hailing from Helsinki in Finland got in touch recently – well Markku from the band did to be more precise – and sent over two demos – one a cover that they hoped would make the cut on the recent ‘roqueting’ set the other an original composition – via email with a note. The cover version – a rather sublime rephrasing of the Waters penned ‘Cymbaline’ which as Floyd heads will quickly tell you appeared on their OST set for ’more’ and was latterly covered by space rock Gods Hawkwind. Applied with shimmer toned effects and a more than becoming sweetly glazed lazy eyed demeanour in PCL’s hands ’cymbaline’ is delicately despatched with a murmuring and mellowing craft that to these ears sounds not unlike a spaced out ‘crystal clear’ era Mighty Lemon Drops embraced by the High and perpetually floating amid a cosmic cloud of corralling dream weaved crystalline chime motifs. Perhaps still touched and turned by their exquisite rendering of Mr Ward’s aforementioned ‘wherewithal’ which we’ll say again has to be heard to be believed ’Cried’ is moulded with a classical pop eye, rejected by the FdM guys for being ‘too poppy’ – I kid ye not – sung part English / part Italian (the Italian parts by Paolo Taglioferro) ‘cried’ may not strictly fit into the psyche / kraut remit necessitated by the bracken boys yet don’t let that detract from what is essential a gorgeously woven celestial love note cradled amid washes of AOR baroque pop and spiked ever so delicately by trace elements of easy listening prog to which within loom the succulent harnessing of gliding string tweaked overtures set off at approx 2.25 in by onset of whirling Meek-esque lunar mosaics. Best experienced with lights dipped by the way.
Of Montreal ‘the controller sphere’ EP (Polyvinyl). Now I’m suspecting that what both me and you might stretch to considering calling folk wildly differs from that of Of Montreal-er Kevin Barnes. billed as ’a folk album’ by their label it’s something much concurred by Barnes himself though as you’d expect with a twist. This is Of Montreal don’t forget – when have you ever known them to play the game other than ones played to their own rules. Admittedly its been a fair old while since we’ve had the pleasure of Of Montreal worrying our listening space, in fact far too long for last time out – some 10 years ago – they were proving to be the archetypical imps and secret weapon of the E6 collective – all at once demented and delirious not to mention wired and wayward with their surrealistic trip wired take on sunshiny psych pop providing an ingenious form of hallucinogen served through listening experiences upon which once connected the very realities of the (shall we agree on say) victims mind were sent scrambled and skewed to places beyond all normality. ’the controller sphere’ – incidentally comprised of 5 cuts and clocking in at 23 minutes – is the final part of a musical trilogy first embarked upon with 2008’s ’skeletal lamping’ and was furthered on last year’s ’false priest’ full length. Admittedly a most curious and crooked release that seemingly takes upon a lunar odyssey upon which you’ll encounter the cosmic funk of both ’holiday call’ and ’l’age d’or’ – each traced by the spectre of Rick James the former as though grooved with an out of it and wasted Animal Collective with the latter seductively pairing James with Gary Wilson – while elsewhere the parting ’slave translator’ taps deftly into the fried symphonic psyche orbit of the criminally undervalued mirror mirror. All said it’s the opening brace that caught our attention – with the sore thumb off radar ‘Black Lion Massacre’ and ’flunkt sass vs. the root plume’. the former proving something of a live favourite of late and perhaps their darkest moment yet, dysfunctional no wave accents trimmed with the industrial curdling of clanging rhythms and manic motorik beats which combine to jarring and grating effect to cast an impenetrable austere chill the time of which you’d imagine birthed by a gathering of test dept, front 242 and DAF types one wouldn’t wonder. ’flunkt sass vs. the root plume’ (no I haven’t a clue either) on the other hand is a wonderfully slice of radiant albeit skewed lysergic pop that indelibly reveals its Syd affections pinned clearly on its dream woven clock – a garment once worn many moons ago by a youthful Bowie and latterly dusted off of its moth balls and hung in the sunlight by the rejuvenated Psychic TV.
James McKeown ‘s/t’ (negative drive). Recently mentioned in despatches when ‘dark sky park’ caught our ear and hitherto beguiled us with its breezy bewitchment and in turn provided one of the highlights to Fruits De Mer’s ultra limited rare as hen’s teeth fan only ‘a phase we’ve been through’ set at the tail end of last year. Mr McKeown is perhaps better known to the more informed among the underground cognoscenti as the guitarist for the formidable Hi Fiction Science (whose debut full length incidentally has been wowing all and sundry here since being discovered on the door mat begging attention) kindly got in touch via email (indeed we do occasionally answer / reply to them) and sent over a copy of his extra curricula solo work. bedded upon a richly vivid aural canvas that freewheels to the seductive opine of soft psyche trimmings and the undulating and breezy whisper of honey spun pastoral motifs (and the occasional snake winding gruff blues frug as on ‘poachers feet‘). this set comes comprising of 9 cuts which aside providing a demurring bliss kissed lazy eyed aura dips delicately between lulling laments, serenely sculptured love notes and hurtful introspection. The tonalities spectral and fragile are indelibly traced with the spectre of Lennon and McCartney’s more intimately touched sonic skin and dimpled it with the lolloping lonesome lysergic lilt of Nick Nicely (none more so is this in evidence than on the hollowing ghost like summer fading ‘storm’) into which is woven to this tender and shy eyed tapestry the essence of Bevis Frond and the striking solace scarred skin pinching hurt of Steven Wilson (note the statuesque forlorn grace of ‘stars’). from the crystalline trip wired afterglow of ‘from nasa to none’ to the forlorn hymnal translucence of the sweetly barbed ‘stars’ McKeown weaves a mellowing spellbound dream cortege that bridges the emotional divide between the helpless and the hopeful, here lie gems in waiting ready to be discovered the aforementioned ‘dark sky park’ leading the pack as it softly seduces the day’s end to the combined sensual sensitivity of a sparing Vini Reilly and Johnny Marr while ‘days were to joy’ is silvered with a tempting hymnal intone which draws a loose comparison to Donovan. Parting shot ‘40,000 full moons’ may well find admirers among the Floyd fraternity as it re-imagines the post Barratt Gilmour / Waters sonic cruiser marshalled by Peter Green. Though all said and by far the albums centrepiece and most monumental moment is the spectral entrancement afforded by ‘bones’ – a murderers lament recounting a killers past catching up with him, starkly numbing and served with a hollowed haloing that diverts and replaces maudlin and grim subject matter with an obliquely disturbing reflective glow that all at once taps into the song craft psyche of Beatles ’a day in the life’ and ‘she’s leaving home’ as well as the Smiths ’suffer little children’ and Suede’s ‘the next life’ and picnic by the motorway’. essential.
Tecumseh ‘return to everything’ (beta lactam ring). From the dark side of the drone, something wicked looms with brooding intent this way. Named perhaps after the Shawnee chief Tecumseh who legend has it cursed all presidents to be elected to office in a year ending with zero to die in office – 6 presidents succumbed until Reagan broke the spell. Well I say named perhaps – in truth there’s bugger all information to be had about Tecumseh aside the fact they are fondly referred to (by discog.com) as a doom metal ensemble from Portland who number three in their ranks (though on this occasion have expanded operations to invite along three acquaintances) and to date have issued two previous full lengths for Anarchymoon and important. Of prime interest one wouldn’t wonder to admirers of Kranky’s early career catalogue – and here I’m chiefly thinking Tom Carter and Growing – this set recorded some two years ago (March 2009 if you need to split hairs) is in essence one complete 25 minute suite split into three sub plots (does that make sense) – ‘when we loved’, ‘apophis’ and ‘oakca’ are their names / titles. Best experienced through headphones with the volume cranked up to the max so that you get the full added effect of feeling as though your at the epicentre of an Apollo jet system preparing for a countdown sequence. ’return to everything’ burns with unforgiving intensity, clearly informed by the loud / quiet noise axioms as laid to bare by New Zealand’s late 80’s underground scene – the Dead C, Bruce Russell and Roy Montgomery et al – the album opens playfully to what sounds like a psychotropic chime collage that soon dissipates to usher in mechanoid mistrals opening up communication channels and transmitting through the ether an intelligible language from across the deepest realms of the galaxy. From therein the onset of the hulking skull top lifting Roy Montgomery-esque stricken fuzz fired drone riffola takes centre stage endeavouring to pummel you out of existence with its primordial beatnik lunges, the leviathan like low end drone curvatures glower menacingly with white hot intensity only to withdraw and subside in a cavernous haze of celestial choral opines. The storm now having passed over brings with it the relative meditative calm of ‘oakca’ which for all its rasping frenzy an almost trance like sereneness prevails that’s indelibly tutored in a sand blasted archaic Tibetan like spiritual calm and which by our ears makes this release worthy of sitting betwixt your treasured full lengths by Robedor and that excellent John Mueller and Z’EV head to head from a year or so ago.
Tunes to break up the boredom or give your eyes a rest…….
John Barry ’vendetta’ – my mum always reckoned that this was one of the best things ever committed to TV in the 60’s and always maintained the theme tune was near perfect – ’persuaders’ fans among you will note it was an early incarnation obviously revisited when ITC, Curtis and Moore came a calling…..by the way has this series ever been released on video – info is scarce to say the least….
Two cuts from a curio recommended in the latest edition of Acid Archives by elephant patch….
Some trippy dippy psych…….causa sui ‘visions of summer’
Spontaneous combustion ‘freaky girl’
The Astros ‘space walk’
The times ‘I helped Patrick mcgoohan escape’
Television personalities ‘I know where Syd Barrett lives’
William D. Drake ‘the rising of the lights’ (onomatopoeia). Being named after a Victorian malady seems about apt for this the latest melodic expedition captained by the goodly crooked and wired aural alchemist known as William D. Drake. ‘the rising of the lights’ comprised of 12 alluring suites is a feat of intricate craftsmanship that weaves upon a genre bending canvas an adept artistry that all at once shoehorns in moments of Cambridge folk, noir tweaked trims (the head bowed and mournful ‘ornamental hermit‘), beguiling baroque braids, skittish psych, Victoriana music hall, prog, Elizabethan motifs, opera, rainy afternoon bandstand squiggles (particular ‘Ziegler’ which should have admirers of both Vernon Elliott and the Trunk imprint slavering in swooning formations with its kooky 70’s children’s TV motifs) and more besides. Had Drake been born of another age he would have no doubt have been a dandified piper leading and heralding the arrival to town of some exotic circus of curiosities or else an impish courtyard jester. Like Legendary Pink Dot(er) Edward Ka Spell, Drake embraces the surreal and the abstract, by extracting the nectar of that most rarefied detailing of ye olde English eccentricity his creative mindset pens landscapes drawn and coloured in styles that cast favourable comparison with the likes of Syd Barrett, Vivian Stanshall and latterly And They Came from the Stars. Possessed of a more identifiable classically aired focus Drake navigates a musical odyssey that swells and sighs to an ornate tapestry stitched elegantly in the past and yet tenderly tweaked in the now, it’s a intrinsically and lushly informed melodic vocabulary that makes for a most rewarding spectacle of pristine harmonic perfection that has it located on an axis removed far from the fads, fashions and flirting fancies of current listening concerns. Equipped with an armoury of vintage instrumentation – a hurdy-gurdy, a melodica, a mellotron, a moog and a phillicorder among the symphonic strange sound sorties – ’the rising of the lights’ temptingly caresses with a richly laced romantic tug, neo classical suites smoulder aside the vampish twists of penny dreadful operas and lost shanty riddled with ghostly familiars.
Long time Cardiacs fans needn’t fear for he’s lost none of his impish persona for admittedly ‘the rising of the lights’ trades for the best part with a more sensitively sensual and beguiled kiss yet anything with signed the Drake handicraft wouldn’t be right if it omitted the odd moment of erratic schizoid psych / art / prog operettas – and so enter the fried demented time signatures of ’super altar’ and the lysergic soft psych music hall musings of ’ant trees’ both intended originally for Drake’s post Cardiacs collaboration (Sea Nymphs) with the ailing Tim Smith – and dare we forget mention of the skewed contortions of ’the mastodon’ which scored to an acutely raging wig flipped prog accent may well have the beards and beads of older VdGG and Crimson stalwarts falling out amid bouts of jaw gaping stunned admiration. The impish psych pop heads among you will do well to fast forward to ’wholly holey’ which indelibly weaves a deliriously dinky Purple Gang-esque persona playfully soldered with childlike kookiness and unhinged time signatures.
Best moment of the set though in our much humbled opinion is the touchingly shy eyed romance of ‘in an ideal world’ – cradled as it is by the demurring cortege of fulsomely longing string swells and swoons lushly set to an undulating landscape pepper corned by pastoral flurries, Brontean florets and Elizabethan garlands. though should any of you care to find yourselves still rooted on the fence wondering whether to jump in or not would do well to fast forward through the credits to unearth the epic parting shot ’homesweet homestead hideaway’ which in essence offers something of a hand held casual ramble into what is essentially an extended albeit crookedly crafted snapshot of this most becoming weirdly wonderfully adventure. File under precociously peculiar and perfect.
Andrew Liles ‘as if punk rock never happened’ (dirter). This is the much touted ‘offensive’ picture disc type thing that was doubly intended as a record store day must have release as well as an impish commemorative artefact to celebrate the recent royal wedding. Alas due to wimpy politically correct pressing plants refusing to do the business – for fear no doubt of a strongly worded letter to the Sun from an enraged ’anon of Tunbridge wells’ (off with their heads we say) – this blighter managed to miss it two intended key dates for release making it something of a damp squib. Even the so called ’offending picture’ (you can check it out via normanrecords.com – albeit personally I’ve witnessed worse on old Boney M records) has been censored which aside raising the age old argument of freedom of speech etc….indeed proves that as a country we appear to be no further forward that we were in ’77 – nanny state, prog rock, U2 and a bankrupting recession. As to the record itself – well it ain’t gonna persuade anyone to put their foot through their TV let’s put it that way – featuring a noisy side and a quiet side – ’as if punk rock never happened’ is a nifty spot of freakishly wasted noodle doodle trip wiring beatnik squall kind of Buttholes on acid type malarkey. Over on the flip a defaced – well okay cannibalised ’never mind the bollocks’ Virgin label – looms from the turntable – impressed upon the grooves a little ditty titled ’pretty vague cunt’ wiles away liltingly to a loop grooved lulling sweetly finger plucked guitar motif that’s cradled by the merest of ivory incantations – someone whispers cunt at the beginning and from therein this loving lullaby yawns, stretches, yawns again and peacefully turns back to sleep, quite quaint really in a ’bag puss’ meets cul de sac type way.
Outer Minds ‘bloodshot eyes’ (hozac). Another of those jukebox pressed 7’s which alas we can’t play at present because we’ve only gone and mislaid those plastic middles you insert – spiders I think they’re more commonly called – mind you it had to happen soon mainly due to a) since moving last year we are still as yet to unpack most of the untouched boxes kicking around one of which has all the turntable related gubbins in it I.e. stylus’, spindles, spare mats etc… and b) because we’re so stupid and lazy we’ve managed thus far to loose our stash of ‘spiders’ – well I say loose – in truth they are still in the records – its just finding which records – we had prided ourselves on the fact that we‘d been using the same one for ages without loss – this being due to the fact that its bright yellow and glows in the dark – I know what you are thinking – what a loser. And so to turn a rather long story even longer we feared we wouldn’t be able to play this release until that is we stumbled upon mp3’s of said cuts on the boomkat site – now let me press upon you that we are not normally in the market for advertising records – incidentally we got this from Probe – but what with mentioning Normanrecords a second or so ago – it only seems fair to give them a deserved plug. Okay the sound quality may be diminished somewhat but its good enough to give you a fair idea of what’s about on this three track 7 inch. As per usual no information on Outer Minds – this release comes as a strictly limited black wax 500 only outing with a further 200 arriving stamped on gold vinyl. Lack of info aside Outer Minds do a nifty line in effervescently sunshine radiant paisley pop, ’bloodshot eyes’ trimmed to a sassy sub two minute gem is succulently shimmied in all manner of 60’s drilled beat grooved struts that ooze seductively beneath the fanfare of swirling Hammond keys and honey dipped harmonies. ’ordinary’ – perhaps edging matters in the favoured cut of the set stakes is dinked with chiming corteges and a rather nifty lysergic tipped garage glow that recalls the finest moments of the Elephant 6 collective which reference wise should have you seeking out your prized Minders and Clock Strikes 13 wax slab from yesteryear. Over on the flip side looms ’until you’re dead’ again bespoken with Autumn Leaves – esque chiming mosaics though here dinked with something of a killer wood crafted and crystalline psyche folk beauty that teeters along a mystical melodic path previously ventured by the likes of Doleful Lions, Animal Collective, the Byrds and a ’diamond dogs’ era Mr Bowie. Heartily recommended as is I guess – based on band name and title alone – ’terds’ by the Subtle Turnhips – an album just begging for serious hi-fi action one wouldn’t wonder.
…sticking with hozac – here’s the vid for the new wax idols single – rest assured we will enquire further…..
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