originally posted in 2011 via losing today…….
soft priest, scumbag philosopher, hotels, balladonna feat michael nyman, obn, dore alpert, kaye stevens, the playmates, jerry channing, zaimph, j graf, dead skeletons, soft hearted scientists, dungeon acid, The Chanteuse and the Crippled Claw, maybeshewill
‘After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music’ – Aldous Huxley
Soft Priest ‘enjoying moths’ (akoutik anarchy). It’s been a fair old while since a Soft Priest release was found worrying the hi fi in our gaff. In fact its been so long that a few months ago we were at the point of sending in a complaint and issuing a missing persons report. However having read the accompanying press release it becomes all to apparent as to why Charles Bayley (Soft Priest) has been absent from our radar. It seems – and it saddens me to have to relay this – that last year he was diagnosed with a very rare and incurable form of cancer. Words cannot express my sadness at his plight. And given such shattering news it’s a remarkable feat indeed that Mr Bayley has between hospital visits managed to see this release through to conclusion. For those familiar with Soft Priest releases of old – and here I’m thinking the ‘done it’ EP and that limited split offering with Islands at Sea (whatever happened to them we wonder) – you won’t need me telling you that this promises to be an audiac excursion into the beyond. Notwithstanding that it promises high grade impish carnage on the most bonkers level with the images, the sounds and the general all round crookedness coming at you fast and furious, you may well be forgiven for thinking amid all the party hard quirkiness that at the heart of all this lies a most talented aural alchemist whose measure of say Dan Deacon on one hand and perhaps Cornelius on the other cannot be overstated,. Due to the surrounding aforementioned climate / events to which it somehow arrived formed and ready to tangle with your turntable its no small surprise to hear Bayley refer to ’enjoying moths’ as ‘happy doom core’ by way of utilising every form of sonic trickery to hand Soft Priest has sculptured and chipped a most infectious lysergic carnival of sound that seemingly hoovers up reference markers and absorbs, recalibrates and spews them forth into a tripping dream weave of 70’s kitsch cooled celebration that one suspects may well be unearthed .and dusted down in thirty years time and reclaimed, hoisted and hailed as a master class of impish melodic mimicry flippancy by vault viewing labels of the future following in the footsteps of the likes of Trunk et al. ’enjoying moths’ is for want of a better description a parallel panoramic pop vision of what the complex coiffure mindset of the tigerbeat6 collective may well have sounded like had they dared to re-align their talented trickery to sounding less out there. here you’ll be treated to overheating analogue keys in varying stages of meltdown spiked upon a gloriously skewed kaleidoscopic smorgasbord of kooky kitsch manoeuvres, opulent operatics, celestial chorists and orbiting cosmic promenade grooves, a head expanding journey clipped with freaky frequencies and wickedly wired with an innately astute and clever cut n’ paste mastery arranged and teetering to cascades of skittering beats, trip wiring mashed up mirages and chipped with a scatter logic approach. Amid these jumbling jamborees of whacked out and woozy sonic contra-flows and demented test card salvos Bayley navigates the cosmic heavens with each of these 15 cuts tutored and drilled such that they could in their own right spearhead a whole new club trend, imagine Joe meek on mind warping hallucinogens orchestrating a spacey and clearly out of it Radiophonic Workshop (see track 10 ’night soil guy’) or perhaps a seriously chilled Cuban Boys surfing the galactic scapes of Stereolab’s lunar lounge area found within ‘cobra phases’ as ’retardis’ clearly alludes. while elsewhere ‘I wish I could sing‘ nibbles delicately around the funky timbre of Meri Wilson‘s ‘telephone man‘ and those of you with keener may be deserving for spotting the audible strains of Manfred mann‘s ‘pretty flamingo‘ being chopped diced and summarily flung through the ether blender on ‘hands knees and bumps daisy. However its not all playful tomfoolery in Soft Priest world – ’enjoying moths’ best moment by far arrives with ’deep . pockets’ which to these ears appears to have Echoboy re-imagining and rewiring the 70’s modular matrix of Jean Michel Jarre whilst inviting in Add n to X to add a sense of graceful grandness. Kind of essential if you ask me.
Scumbag Philosopher ‘scumbag philosopher’ (words on music). Fairly certain we mentioned this lot in passing via our delayed Xmas missive, used to be Fuck Dress who as you all should recall had of its day (and that year to be honest) in ’suburban Nietzsche freak’ the most important debut on planet pop. There’s an album apparently simmering with ill content entitled ’it means nothing so it means nothing’ due to worry record emporium counters shortly and a second single following this debut and primed for hot pursuit is the impishly titled ’god is dead so I listen to Radiohead’ (a very HMHB title I’m sure you’ll all agree). And strangely enough the Half Man Half Biscuit references aren’t lost on us for ‘scumbag philosopher’ is pitched with a mischievously impish deadbeat nonchalance that grizzles and gouges away at this their debut outing, framed and coiled by a deep locked grooved twang and cowed by a hitherto quiet menace the Scumbags pitch their tent with an eye for the Fall and an ear for I, ludicrous, heap in some waywardly numbed John Cooper Clarke motifs, add a pinch of the Cravats and the angular poise of a youth Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones and maybe a smidgeon of David Cronenberg’s Wife and you have yourself a decidedly uneasy and wonderfully warping world weary and wired wannabe.
Belladonna feat Michael Nyman ‘let there be light’ (belladonna). Here’s a little something special we should have mentioned ages ago and would have had the blighter not got itself mislaid – well that’s our excuse and we are sticking rigidly by it. Belladonna and Michael Nyman – indeed – stop rubbing your eyes – you did indeed read right the first time. Story goes – the much admired and hotly tipped Italian rock combo Belladonna (two previous albums under their collective belts ‘metaphysical attraction’ and ‘the noir album’ both earning them admiring glances from NIN, Korn, the Mars Volta and Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden fame) communicate with Mr Nyman via face book and invite him along to their London show. Thing is Mr Nyman attends and so enrapt is he by the band he hooks up to collaborate the fruits of which are finally realised and released. ’let there be light’ (reworked from the soundtrack to ‘the piano’) runs the full sonic spectrum / gamut between the turbulent and the tender, all at once majestic and mercurial and yet colossal and calamitous, Nyman’s trademark key canters imparting an elegantly measured and calming centre point amid Belladonna’s dark / light conjuring fractured raging storm scorched passionate inferno. Epic stuff.
Hotels ‘the bat watusi’ (hidden shoal). Those chaps at Hidden Shoal certainly have an acquired ear for a tasty tune or three, released just ahead of their forthcoming ‘on the casino floor’ full length ‘the bat watusi’ sees Seattle’s hyper galactic pop princes Hotels embark on cosmic adventures to constellations afar. pierced and drilled upon a heads down no nonsense tunnel vision drive hard matrix this effervescent galactic gem is draped and decorated in all manner of woozily dream weaving lunar lounge wisps and shimmers as it embarks on a star hugging aural flight path tweaked, turned and tuned to an old school spacey futuristic styled frequency to which admirers of soundtracks adorning Gerry Anderson’s puppetry pageants of yesteryear will swoon to. Mind you all said or is it just me but do our ears detect the Meek melodic intricacies of the much missed Pluto Monkey zapping the groove lines.
OBN ‘Panicdote’ (phat phidelity). A welcome return to these pages for OBN – or to give them their full unedited name – Ocean Bottom Nightmare – this time armed with a new single and by the sounds of things a new sonic direction – (those with long memories may well recall us fondly musing over this lots ‘we are serious’ way back at missive 200). ’panicdote’ is just what it says on the tin a seizure inducing slab of panic stricken jabbing and jarring groove, this blistered mutant metal funk livewire arrives removed of its former fractious apocalyptic doom groove and in its place is served by a loose limbed bastardised cauldron like dislocated dialect that’s bleached and blitzed with a festering thunderous and grinding road kill growl that’s moored upon an acutely punctuated and frenzied contortionist drill which by our ears sounds like a manic Jesus Lizard love child with a rocket up its back passage. Damn near essential by our reckoning.
Various ‘teenage memories – volume 1’ (teensville). Time to dust down that neglected dansette and dig out your best bopping frocks for those among you with an ear and a fondness for early 60’s beat breezed bubblegum pop will do well to grab yourselves a copy of this simply sterling compilation from Aussie imprint Teensville. ‘teenage memories – volume 1’ – sub billed as 30 teen, Belgium bubblegum and girl group rarities from 1961 – 65 is a gathering of shimmer toned easy pop to which should appeal in the first instance to admirers of the likes of Darin, Sedaka, Valli and Vee. Featured amid these grooves you’ll find some obscure little heard treats from the likes of Herb Alpert – here found masquerading in his pre success guise as Dore Alpert on ‘tell it to the birds’ which sounds strangely like Jan and Dean while Frankie Valli adds considerable support on Tobin Matthews ’don’t make faces’. Okay we’ll admit some of it is a little cheesy yet that aside it delivers exactly what it promises on the tin, teen troubles, the hopes thrills and innocence of adolescence, the aching trials of heartbreak and the feel good radiance of loves first fruits (the dainty dreamsville lilt of the kitsch kissed Jay ’how sweet it is’ and the string swirled la la femme fancifulness of Kaye Stevens’ ’yes’ offer such ear candy lessons in). the set comes replete with a 8 page liner insert with short discussions on each of the featured treats being offered by Kyler Schwartz. As said its a dandy little comp whose grooves conceal a fair few nuggets such as the Coasters meets Bobby Vee buzz of ’busy’ by Chuck Sedacca, the hip shimmying twang of the Playmates ‘I’ll never get over you’ replete with nifty Shadows rumbles, the slinky ‘beauty school drop out like’ Avalon meets Barry Gray tortured trappings of ‘she’s my date’ by Pepe la Staza, Dickey Lee’s ‘me and my teardrops’ doing a spot of dance hall dashed Cochran-isms – phew – a sharp intake of breath – then there’s Georgia Gibbs whose ‘you can never get away from me’ is courted with a Susan Maughan sound a like aura while Deanne Hawley’s amazing ‘she’ll be there’ is clipped and possessed of a forlorn splendour that points the way to the Beach Boys in more introspectively tender moods whilst casually offering something of interest to lovers of all things Bacharach, Van Dyke Parks and the Bee Gees. Further along you’ll trip across ‘little girl in a magazine’ by Jerry Channing who according to the liner notes set made a considerable career over in Japan wherein he was known to record in Japanese. Add in a touch of the Monro’s on Danny Evans’ cosmopolitan kitsch ‘the truth about Ruth’ some Spector styled death disc sh bop from Anita Gordon courtesy of regretfully weepy ‘tommy’ and the Shangri La’s like ‘I want more’ by Nancy Thomas not forgetting to mention the clipped strut of Jimmy Borges’ ‘the earth stood still’ with its tingling string tip toes and brass fanfares and we here are already counting down the days to Volume 2’s appearance.
Zaimph / J Graf ‘split’ (ideal). Deep deep joy in our gaff was had when three – yes count em – three Ideal releases broke cover and found their way onto our hi-fi. Been such an age since we sampled the delights of this most impressive Swedish imprint, alas we appear to have missed the Mats Gustafson and Carlos Giffoni cassettes however our disappointment was tempered with the arrival of the strictly limited to 100 copies clear wax split featuring Zaimph and J Graf both of whom – we must with much embarrassment admit – were prior to the hearing of this release previously unknown to us. Alas no oodles of information on the artists in question other than to say they hail from New York and Baltimore respectively. Cultured and sculptured with an obvious ear for Roy Montgomery and Bruce Russell, Zaimph serves up ’infinite higher demons’ – a glorious slice of choral drone invested and impressed with a dust ravaged harmonically parched majesty which beneath its scorched scarring sonic omnipresence greases the atonal skree with an arabesque flavouring whose only cause for complaint is its rudely abrupt ending. Those however preferring their listening space graced by something altogether more waif like and mysterious may well find themselves smitten by J. Graf’s flipside offering ‘gnawing the root’. Through the shrill piercing of spectral glazed petrified opines a disorientating though clearly demurring pastoral purr shimmers on the horizon, both ghostly and dream like its lull is coaxed and gently guided into focus by an enchanting albeit off balanced and lysergically tweaked siren-esque detailing of the type to which admirers of such labels as beta lactam ring, autumn ferment and reverb worship may well swoon with fondness to.
Soft Hearted Scientists ‘sampler’ (self released). Typically disorganised as we are we’ve managed to mislay the email that preceded and indeed prompted the receipt and delivery of this promo from the much missing in action of late from these pages Soft Hearted Scientists. However that said I‘m fairly certain there was mention of the Cardiff collective being currently unsigned and about to set up their own label with a view to releasing their 4th album – tentatively titled ’Wandermoon’. now god forbid that we prompt, prod or in some way encourage such practices but I’ve a sneaky feeling that Soft Hearted Scientists are the kind of weirdly wayward magic mushies munching minstrels whose unreal and freakish hallucinogenic grip on a melodic mood long gone would be ripe for the picking by say – the Fruits de Mer imprint (yes yes yes loads of delayed write up’s about this most finest of labels latest turntable teats in the next missive). But enough of the match making and back to record reviewing – thanks incidentally to Nathan of SHS for sending over albums 2 and 3 and more is the point for allowing us a sneak peek of two sampler cuts from the bands forthcoming 4th full length ‘wander moon’. now long term subscribers to these ramblings will need no telling of our fondness for these dudes, appearing on our radar during the early part of the decade a handful of EP’s via My Kung Fu (notably ‘the Wendigo’ and ‘Bethesda’) had our ears a-pricked by their sheer astute grasp and turn of a tunefully timeless tapestry ushered by tales of fairy tale enchantment and clipped amid garlands of luxuriant mystical melodies. To the sampler then – two untitled tracks feature within – for the sake of argument we call them ’untitled #1’ and ’untitled #2’. ’untitled #1’ kicks off proceedings (naturally) – refreshing and indeed a relief to find they haven’t lost their magical mojo – opening to clockwork chimes, features mind arranging ascending / descending chords that impart a loosely trippy motif much like a kooky circus parade which soon dissipates into dreamily lysergic interludes which have the overall effect of drawing the invisible dots that tie together the kaleidoscopic English eccentricity of the Floyd (with Barrett of course), the Purple Gang, the Murmurs of Irma, Freed Unit and the Giant Paw (whatever happened to them). ‘untitled #2’ is an altogether different beast, taking its cue from a mid season McCartney / Beatles career and possessed of a quietly lights low introspection, this off centred and engaging love tipped treat comes framed within a deceptively demurring detail that abridges to its kooky cloak the sepia twisted music hall grandness of ‘your mother should know’ blended and fleshed out by the mellowed lolloping melodic flair of a ‘something else’ era Ray Davies pen. Perfection in a word.
Dead Skeletons ‘dead mantra’ (a records). Ready for some swamp dragged dragster psyche. Ah thought so. Appearing on Anton Newcombe’s (brian Jonestown massacre) an imprint (last featured in these pages I believe with that awesome ’smoking acid’ double wax set), this killer kut arrives pressed upon 10 inches of wax – one side of which features some nifty eye catching engraving type stuff (well in truth its just the bands name and little all else) while on the other a mind expanding 10 minute space stoner drone colossus. Already hailed in some circles as the 21st C’s answer to the Velvets this psych soaked collectives number includes Nonni Dead, Henrik Bjornsson and members of the Monks of the Dead Temple who gathered together quite frankly deliver a death drilled bleached buzzed and fuzzed stonking smoke screened slab of psychotronic groove that should appeal first hand to admirers of the Black Angels albeit that‘ll be the Black Angels reframed by a stoned and chilled ‘Jesus built my hotrod‘ era Ministry, amid its dust ravaged throbbing hypnotic grind comes the unrelenting charge of mind evaporating locked groove dread drone dialects, chanting mantras, disembodied nursery rhymes and the doom dipped clanging chime of a dying mystical orders ceremony. Any questions?
Dungeon Acid ‘warm and damp’ (ideal). More essential eargear from the Ideal sound factory. With a name like Dungeon Acid and armed with the prior knowingness as to Ideal’s want for sounds off radar and decidedly out there we half expected this baby to tear arse out of the grooves with malicious intent and have us pinned and pressed upon our listening wall through the sheer brutality of the sounds locked upon its wax pressed casing,. So you can imagine our surprise when instead it was not some blood letting slab of disturbed ear shredding power electronics but some deeply hypnotic techno trance minimalism. Dungeon Acid is the alter ego of Jean Louis Huhta of Skull Defekts fame, recorded live in the studio this black vinyl outing comes pressed as a 200 only limited edition and features two cuts of prime lined hypno groove. ’warm and damp’ is finitely cut with a seriously sparse techno hand all minimalist manipulations underpinned by precision toned casual beats to which whilst listening with pen in hand we’ve sub consciously drawn what resembles a pulse monitor reading which I deeply suspect you might to if indeed you should happen across this oscillating oddity. Between you and me I reckon Mr Huhta switched on the monitors and crept out for a crafty fag. Flip the disc and you get the same cut rephrased in its far more accessible and looser limbed ‘damp and warm’ persona, a busier recalibration on this occasion and decidedly funkier in texture – well I say funkier as its been refitted with a svelte looping grooved liquid like texture and grafted upon a deeply curvaceous mind morphing Detroit crafted deep house chassis, there’s a whole full length of the stuff currently tripping out in record world via the same label entitled ’live at fylkingen’ which I’m itching to hear – like yesterday.
The Chanteuse and the Crippled Claw ‘are you one?’ (arms controller). Seduction literally peels from the grooves of this sassy little seven inch. Think I’m right in saying the debut outing for the excellently named the Chanteuse and the Crippled Claw who are essential Candie Payne backed by various members of the kings have long arms and all seeing I. ‘are you one’ tip toes longingly with a sepia framed torch caressed sultry 60’s styled shimmer, perfect listening for those mourning the missing in action on a prolonged sabbatical Stereolab and very much cut, cured and charmed by a 2000 era Mute output sophistication, all lights faded smoked filled slickly suave down tempo electronics clipped with a softly flecked by a jazz-tronic flavouring more becoming of Pram and swooningly cached by a sumptuously sexy and trippy motif that recalls the frost chilled elegance of Musetta and the Shortwave Set – faultless in a word. Over on the flip side awaits ’exit the chanteuse’ – a slice of kooky minimalist electronic groove is what’s on offer which unless our ears do deceive should find itself appealing to admirers of both Pop Off Tuesday and the Frank Chickens.
Maybeshewill ‘to the skies from a hillside’ (field recordings). What can I say other to describe this simply as epic. Last featured in these musings when they shared wax space many moons ago with Her Name is Calla, the Leicestershire based quartet have in their brief life garnered admiring acclaim from the critical press courtesy of two well received full lengths, much like the Workhouse before them Maybeshewill navigate a sonic flight path that literally orchestrates the very harmonies of natures ever changing moods. all at once momentous, mercurial and magnificent ’to the skies from a hillside’ arcs and soars between the beautiful and the brutal, the tranquil and the turbulent, the euphoric and the embattled, a crushing slice of tear swept blood rushing symphonia to whose bosom is cradled a freewheeling panoramic floorshow that dips, swerves and swoons with adept artistry between the divine and the desolate as it switches in the blink of an eye between corteges of undulating pastoral eloquence steering to stratospheric heights to fragmenting and buckling into moments of rage fuelled fury. Over on the flip you’ll find ‘sputnik-2’ or more precisely ’sputnik-2’ but written in Russian – darn computer wouldn’t copy and paste the correct title – anyway sputnik 2 was in case you were wondering the second spacecraft launched into – er – space (obviously) in 1957 I do believe. Takes a while to kick in does this, twittering electronic scratches and roving bass lines usher in the mellowed arrival of a softly defined organ motif which for the best part of two minutes deftly shifts into focus all the time assuming mass and definition and instilling a sense of forward movement towards some defined point which of course its reaches it true dramatic style with the onset of sunburst halos wherein everything goes spectacularly stellar in the form of cascades of sky illuminating riff struts and then as quick as it arrives its exited stage left. Quite tasty all said. Just around the corner lurks the ’critical distance’ 7 inch with a planned March release date – a copy of which we’ll try and nab for review in a future missive.
And that’s your lot till next time (tomorrow). As ever thanks to all those who’ve made these ramblings possible whether they be labels, musicians, press people etc….and of course to you for dropping by and taking the time. As to submissions and correspondence we are now on face book http://www.facebook.com/thesundayexperience where you post comments and recommendations on the wall…….
All that leaves me to say is happy hunting and take care of yourselves.