originally via losing today in 2011, this archiv features –
linda perhacs, serena maneesh,wooden shjips, moon duo, basil kirchin, jonny trunk, shindig, endless trip, nme, poly styrene, festive 50, the decembrists, infinite body, no age, gnod, robedor, the go team, frankie rose and the outs, elephants, avey tare, sam prekop, scumbag philosopher, stellarscope, lil lost lou, oberhofer, trembling bells feat mike heron and bonnie prince billy, an indiecator christmas, dolfish, huckleberry in the kingdom, journey to the plugged in state of mind, hafdis huld, sunday girl, joan of arc, superimposers, love parry III, John ralston, vegas fame index, floating points ensemble, panda bear, the satelliters, classic rock presents AoR, classic rock presents Prog, jim noir
missive 276 pt1
Seasonal Singled Out
Mislaid merry Missive – 276
‘ear candy epistle’
Twas the night before Christmas and not a sound could be heard except for the slow tingle of the falling snow flakes and they cradled the earth, none did blink neither man nor beast, and through the air came a gentle breeze of artic invite in its trail frost garlands it festooned. Winter was upon the land and each and all lay snuggled sound asleep unperturbed as the temperature dropped upon the ice capped outside.
Aw bollocks to this it’s the delayed in snow, frozen on the tracks and addled by apathy bumper singled out – nearly never happened at all when in two freak near disaster accidents – the first involving the house cat Dylan accidentally sitting on the laptop keyboard and managing to unhook (and losing) four of the letter keys before near proceeding to rest his paw on the delete button. One near disaster partially averted though the jinx wasn’t done just yet, there was I scribbling away when the delete key jarred thus ensuring a fair amount of the script was jettisoned into the cyber trash can.
Okay so how are you – fine I hope – me – oh yea – getting by you know – apologies for the delay in this – what was intended to be a pre Xmas ramble – but – well I’ll be honest with you – we just fell out of love with music for a while, no great shakes – it happens you know. Anyway we are kinda back on track mainly thanks to a fruits de mer Xmas promo – which is basically volume 2 of that very excellent ‘a phase we are going through’ set and a new album via Jesus Factory featuring Ruby Trouve by Tape Cuts Tape – both of these releases will be featured favourably in the coming days – in fact FdM will be subjected to their own missive along with a few other psych related odds n’ ends.
All that aside apologies (again) for being slack with these updates and replying to emails – we’re still caught up in crap following our move a few months ago – sorting out work, sorting out defaulting and thieving ex landlords – you get the drift. Its not been a good few months. And glad as I am to be back in my birth city – after several years of absence it breaks my heart to see how much the city has gone down the nick. Jobs are none existent and apart from investments into the shopping centre – notably Liverpool One – the expression ‘fur coat and no knickers’ comes to mind, what with plant machinery left idle and rubble mountains dotting the landscape literally 2 minutes from the city centre the BBC’s recent and dare I say timely re-showing of Bleasedale’s ‘boys from the blackstuff’ drama has identified depressing parellels between the militant Liverpool of the early 80’s and the post Capital of Culture city of today.
And so to the annual end of year festive missive
Linda Perhacs ‘parallelograms’ (sundazed). At long last getting the much overdue Sundazed treatment, an album that has been the cause of many a feverish whisper among the chattering classes of psych folk collecting community for some four decades is Linda Perhacs’ debut (and incidentally only) full length ‘parallelograms’. Getting a much deserved issue on wax and assuming its rightful place among a wider listening populace it seems only fitting that ‘parallelograms‘ should be given its moment in the spotlight given the recent rediscovery of Vashti Bunyan and Karen Dalton whilst not forgetting to mention the current re-appraisal of Sandy Denny and the continuing interest in lost folk fancies from the late 60’s and early 70’s. However as much as Bunyan’s ‘just another diamond day’ and Dalton’s exquisite ‘its so hard to tell who is going to love you the best’ are defining markers in their own right, they pale when sat along the translucent beauty to which ushers from the grooves of Perhacs’ ’parallelograms’ – in short this is ’the’ holy grail. As with Bunyan and Dalton (and even Nick Drake and a great deal of other lesser observed and cherished musicians) ‘parallelograms’ was largely ignored on its original release in 1970, that said it left its mark on all who heard it and over the years its legend grew with it and its songwriters absence serving to drive up speculation and interest.
There have of course been CD re-issues over the years – Ace of Discs’ first stab at matters was a recording taken straight from a mint copy of the original album and largely suffered a reduction in listening quality though several years later determined to rectify matters they managed to track down Perhacs herself and from her own master tapes where able to issue said album in an extended form to include a handful of previously unheard demos and alternative studio takes.
Listening forty years from its original release ’parallelograms’ has stood the test of time, the passing years have done nothing to diminish its seductive beauty, if anything had it been released today many listeners and critics now would no doubt point out its curiously out of step and almost left field strangeness (the deftly scribed psych, jazz and torch traits) and with that in mind imagine how it must have sounded way back then. Of course its bound to find an adoring kinship amid the Mellow Candle (best evidenced on the timeless tapestry unfurling around ‘call of the river‘), Fairport Convention, Bridget St. john and Vashti Bunyan (tune into the lulling and drifting sepia framed ‘morning colors’ with its string arranged woodland flutters) patrons but scratch aside the obvious folk enchantment (which incidentally at times pre-dates Paul Giovanni’s defining ‘wicker man’ score (just listen to the spell crafted archaic aural detailing of the title track pre-empting the insulated Bronte obsessed wonderland that Ms Bush would carve for herself less than a decade later – its spectral fairy tale aura assuming a daydream dimpling mid way through wherein everything goes all woozily mind expanding and trippy) and simultaneously sits in the same aural locale as Krzysztof Komeda’s ’rosemary’s baby’ soundtrack) and you’ll hear something free spirited in her artistry that refuses to pin its colours to any given generic camp – it was by her own words an attempt to describe in song her experience of ’sound synaesthesia’. none more so does this reap rewards than on the opening ’chimacum rain’ – armed with a softly alluring sway its definition becoming more focused with each oncoming wave, a radiant gem rears into view sprinkled in fairy dust and sumptuously harnessed amid a surrendering swell of siren-esque opines which in terms of both being enchanting and eerie could give Serafina Steer, the Smoke Fairies and moomlooo a serious run for their money.
elsewhere that elegant and bruised shyly retiring lilting pastoral tremble that was something of a trademark turn on Nick Drake’s work rears into view with a sweetly stressed hymnal ache on the divinely mellow ’dolphin’ though compare this with the sparsely coded subtle fusing of arabesque and woodcraft prairie lysergic trimmings applied to ‘moons and cattails’ which unless our ears do deceive offers something of a pointer to Bjork. Then there’s the superbly sassy and sleekly smoked hip hugging and hiccupping dislocation of the shimmying mountain grazed Latino blues groove of ’paper mountain man’ with its rootsy inclines and harmonica shrills. Whilst on the upbeat ‘porcelain baked over cast iron wedding’ there’s even room for a spot of pure pop of the hippy 60’s to be had. Struck with such evidence ’parallelograms’ is all at once ghostly, mercurial, romantic (especially on the sultry sea breeze of the exotically tinged ‘sandy toes’ with its delicate flotillas of tingling riff shimmers and the faraway fashioned intimacy of the tenderly vulnerable ‘hey. Who really cares?’), haunting and indeed – yes you guessed – ethereal – as unreal and outer worldly now as it was then.
Serena Maneesh ‘diwswttd’ (4ad). You’ll be happy to know that we’ve got absolutely got bugger all information about this release, saw it in the racks of a local record emporium, intrigued and taken by the weird and slightly disturbed sleeve caricature of a Dali-esque minimalist sketching of what can only be described as a sternish and wired looking headmistress, additionally noted that the on lengthy sabbatical Stereolab had been roped in and frankly just wanted the blighter. Anyway part of – I believe – a limited run of special twelve inch mixes – this one comes plastered on white wax and has the aforementioned Stereolab, Melchior and Lindstrom getting busy rewiring the spaces between the grooves at the behest of Norway’s Serena Maneesh. Now the name is familiar and I’m fairly certain that the Serena Maneesh’s have featured in these pages at some point but I’ll be buggered if I can nail any reference to such events, that said Stereolab and Melchior are set the task of heading off ’dressed in white she walks through the door’ and calibrating it in their own imitable style which we have to say of Melchior’s re-trim had us casually double taking to ensure that our copy hadn’t been miss-pressed given that they appear to come out of the mix sounding more Stereolab than Stereolab themselves albeit here treated with a more throbbing glacially space bubblegum groove to the Lab’s delectably motorik enhanced cosmic popcorn. All said though its Lindstrom’s retracing of ’Ayisha Abyss’ that proves to be the sets best moment – a stonking 9 minute mind wired odyssey of deep trance tailoring wrapped in seductive swirls of disco mirror balls, complex and intricate interweaving rhythms and space consuming panoramic effects whose heavy duty funk kissed workouts had us very much in mind of something Moroder inspired – had of course Moroder sought to consort with Squarepusher and the Future Sound of London.
Wooden Shjips ‘Auld lang syne’ (sick thirst0. First of many stonking psychotropic stocking fillers to be featured in this extended end of year soiree comes courtesy of a killer 12 inch from the Wooden Shjips. With a strictly limited 1000 only worldwide pressing (and by all accounts shifting like snow off a hot shovel) and available in a choice red wax / green sleeve or green wax / red sleeve variants – ours being in the superior sounding latter choice of the two, both ’auld lang syne’ and ’oh, tannenbaum’ will be familiar festive fayres for long time admirers of the band given they initially appeared on a cassette many many moons ago that was issued to close friends and family type persons. Anyhow two slabs of locked down stoner groove is what you get for your trouble, ‘Auld lang syne’ rendered unrecognisable – hurrah – always hated the thing so depressingly – er depressing – yet left in the capable hands of the Wooden ones gridlocked and herded into a mind fusing and frazzled melee of deep trance hypnotic repetition festooned with 60’s keys, dissipating chords squalls and woozy echo delays and which not for the first time in this particular missive sounds like Suicide albeit that’ll be Suicide shimmying up alongside ? and the Mysterions with a certain Mr Meek hiding in the back room twiddling with the psychotropic controls and n o doubt enhancing the fracturing and freakish meltdown that ultimately ensues. Totally out there. More keeping with the festive theme though is ‘oh, tennenbaum’ over on the flip – a gloriously haloed and spectral slab of dream weaving mesmerics laced with chiming bells and a healthy dose of fairy dust and sounding for all the world like some sort of celestially chilled kraut kruising Hawkwind hooked up to ice tipped shimmering garlands blissfully serenading the stars and adorning the dark cosmic recesses with twinkling light fixtures or some such gubbins – fires up splendidly at the parting 60 second mark wherein everything goes foot to the pedal and strut seized.
Moon Duo ‘silver bells’ (holy mountain). And its back with the Wooden Shjips – well Ripley Johnson to be precise who it seems has a thing for ye olde Christmastime here teamed up with his missus and dragging out his minimalist and back to basics moon duo persona to quaff and tuck in at the yuletide roast and mulled wine mini bar. Admittedly a bit more upbeat and in keeping with the seasonal merriment than the aforementioned Wooden Shjips twelve inch, ’silver bells’ – an original Johnson penned treat has an air ’dream baby dream’ era Suicide about its snow crusted wares, the minimalist motorik loops and the chime chirping shimmers endow it with a shade adorned Velveteen psych glow much recalling of a Spacemen 3 meets Silver Apples hybrid whilst simultaneously bathing your listening space in a fuzzy felt like tingling feel good like warmth. Flip over and you’ll find the Stones ’winter’ given a ghostly ice tipped furnishing, sounds to us like a smoked sepia trimmed apparition like visitation framed within a touching introspective and hymnally phrased slice of cool as you like country tinged psyche which again – no prizes for guessing – sounds like a ringer for those Suicide dudes though here fronted by a superbly chilled and detached Johnny Cash. Comes adorned on green wax and as usual very limited in nature.
And while we try and nail ourselves a copy of the recently re-released Basil Kirchin soundtrack ‘primitive London’ just a note to say that Trunk head honcho Jonny will be briefly featured doing a 20 minute spot on Radio 3’s ‘between the ears’ on Christmas Night (which by the time this is posted will have been aired and off traversing the ether chilled corridors of time – though don‘t fret as you‘ll be able to re-tune to it via the BBC I-player at http://www.bbc.co.uk) – promises lots of BBC sound effects extracted from vinyl artefacts emanating from the Radiophonic Workshop in the 70’s – among the array of everyday sounds you’ll hear parking meter noises, crowds in Woolworths, petrol station pumps, football turn styles, a triumph motor engine, a kettle being filled, a teapot being filled and many many more besides – how quaint. Further details about the show can be found via http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wlg7y
Of course boy Jonny now has a regular spot in Record Collector wherein he navigates the kool and kitsch of record world mainly highlighting the must have soundtrack releases currently doing the rounds – RC #284 sees him giving the thumbs up to Light in the Attic’s release of ‘winter’s bone’ on their library off shoot Cinewax as well as mentions for ‘bedazzled’, ‘wall street – money never sleeps’, Bernard Hermann’s ’outer space suite’ from ’57 which we must admit is high on our wants list as well as Vampisoul’s most excellent and highly recommended ’flipper psycho’ compilation which will be mentioned in greater detail somewhere in this missive. This particular issue features the Smiths adorning the cover and finding themselves featured inside as the RC crew examine the recorded live output of Manchester’s most famous foursome decrying the lack of official live releases though happily revealing details for the more discerning of performances quietly tucked away on cyberspace. Elsewhere curator of the by all accounts mighty fine ‘dirty water – the birth of punk attitude’ compilation Kris Needs chews the fast about his extensive record collection – you can of course hear Mr Needs on fnoob.com every Wednesday evening while there’s talk of a $15,000 rated early White Stripes currently causing sizeable record collecting frenzy and criticism via the online auction houses. Queen are to be the subject of an exhibition throughout Feb and March next year at the Truman Brewery – the event will coincide with EMI’s re-issue of the bands first five full lengths in expanded variations. Tucked between the year end selections of the staff writers Argent fans are treated to an extended spot while Philly sound fathers Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble look back on a rich 50 year heritage leaving the oft overlooked Half Man Half Biscuit to hog two deserved pages. Add in all the usual reviews, label spots and various gubbins and that’s your lot in terms of RC fayre until the end of January which promises to be a Bowie ’station to station’ special.
Elsewhere the season greeting year end edition of Shindig has proven as always essential reading with issue 20 sidling up to round off the year. As ever packing in a sizable bevy of yesteryear masters – among the roll call for this particular edition the Soft Machine, the Holy Mackerel, the Lemon Tree and the Children, whilst the impeccably squeaky clean TinTin has his dark side revealed, there’s also a glowing tribute to the recently passed on horror femme Ingrid Pitt as well as a celebration of the work of the Action / the Boys Reg King who also sadly passed away earlier this Autumn. There’s an extended spot on Jack Boswell’s quietly acclaimed Allied imprint while vinyl art selects Herb Alpert’s ‘whipped creamed and other delights’ (didn’t thev Wire or Classic Rock or someone do a similar spread earlier in the year). As ever throw in the copious amounts of well heeled stereophonic selections – amongst which the complete series of circus days, the o bando re-release and the chinese rocks 60’s garage compilation have been added to my own belated Santa list.
And pausing for a second to give a brief heads up for a new tome due in the New Year from ‘Galactic Ramble’ author Richard Morton Jack. Available via foxcote books (www.foxcotebooks.com) ’endless trip’ is the follow up to the highly enjoyable and authoritative ’galactic ramble’ and focuses on the US and Canadian pop, rock, folk and jazz scenes throughout the period 1965 to 1974, acting as a perfect partner for the aforementioned ’GR’ and not to mention deserving of prized shelf space next to all those Vernon Joynson ‘fuzz’ / ’tapestry’ related tomes, this publication comes as a weighty 800 pages reading featuring over 3,000 reviews made up of original write ups and renewed perspectives on key releases – add to this a wealth of top 10 lists and a foreword by Lenny Kaye – ’endless trip’ may well prove to be the essential reference publication for the era. For further information and page shots go to http://www.endlesstrip.cc
And so we now turn to the Christmas bumper sized NME which at one time proved to be something of a biting slice of seasonal satirical merriment and was indeed – when it had half decent competition (Melody Maker, Sounds and Record Mirror) – a rip roaring read crammed with writers of eloquence, insight and bitterness, the festive forays providing a positive who’s who in the cooler sphere of pop, if you weren’t in it you didn’t count. Alas that was a time of Christmas Past, these days the demise of those aforementioned publications which sharpened the competition has left the NME to navigate the weekly news stand fixtures alone, at best like an indie X-Factor at worst a musical Best pandering to the egos of a seasonally turned host of talent, the NME is by year on year a paler imitation of its former self, its name alone carrying its status – evermore a Daily Oasis of sorts, which as it happens its with no small mark of surprise to find adorning the cover of this their latest forgettable festive foray a Gallagher – notably Liam – who inside pipes on about his latest band Oasis Mk II or is that Beatles Mk III – oops sorry Beady Eyes. Cheers for the warning – oh sorry – heads up. Now I feel that we are all friends here and can talk candidly about such things – but the once mighty Xmas NME was ideal bathroom reading – buggering hell – wouldn’t be out for days as we laughed, cried and wheezed our way from cover to cover. Wish I could say the same of this overpriced advert – scarcely half way up the stairs and we’d finished. What that’s it – amid the third of the issue that isn’t adverts there’s Glasvegas, the xx, biffy clyro, grinder man, a festive q and a, a crossword and the obligatory quiz and a fab (yawn) poster featuring Muse and the Libertines. Bah hum drum…….
missive 276 pt 2
All said one thing we did eye in the disappointing NME seasonal soiree was their heads up for the Poly Styrene download ’black Christmas’ which goes a lot like this….
The single billed as an alternative Christmas feast was inspired by news reports of a Los Angeles killer who dressed up as Father Christmas, the release features Poly’s daughter Celeste and there’s news of a new album ‘generation indigo’ in the offing currently being baked for release for March next year with Youth at the controls. The single ’black Christmas’ is available as a free download in return for signing up to Poly’s mailing list – as to the actual song well let’s just say it’s a gorgeously warped slice cockle warming calypso, trippy and highly addictive, kind of ’Christmas Wrapping’ re-imagined by the Native Hipsters – if you hook up to http://www.poly-styrene.com you can also download a killer (and dare we say far superior) remix of the cut by Kahn which strips away the original palette and adds a superbly chilled and down tempo glitch glazed dubtronic groove to the proceedings.
Keeping in with all things seasonal and year end – Dandelion Radio are currently counting down the 2010 Festive 50 – the Festive 50 of course was for many years a transistor gathering event under the irreplaceable tutelage of the late John Peel, with the exception of 1991’s selection – famously to be known for all time as the phantom festive 50 when in a fit of petulance brought on by what he considered an unrepresentative selection that favoured Nirvana over the more experimental dance scene he refused to broadcast the chart to air his disappointment – from 1976 to 2003 Peel presided over the nations alternative choice of listening pleasure. The mantle was briefly bestowed upon the Radio 1 team until eventually the honour fell upon the Peel dedicated Dandelion crew in 2006 where its remained since. The current countdown is being aired at various times of day among the stations schedule and will continue to be transmitted until January end. In fact their counting it down right now – so no excuses – go to http://www.dandelionradio.com/
Shindig Annual – #3 – just can’t get enough of that hippy dippy jive eh – just as well really – not content with lunging in shy of Christmas with a rapidly turned issue 20 – between you and me I reckon they weighed in with that one so that tastes wouldn’t stray and in the festive mist you’d avoid being hoodwinked into buying the lesser musical publications on offer during the seasonal down time. And so along comes the third Shindig annual – essential of course – pricey perhaps – but quality has no price does it not. Housed in a rather eye catching silver foil sleeve this hardback taste tailored page turner gathers together a mix of long out of print articles unearthed from the vaults of Shindig issues long gone as well as two specially commissioned pieces on Tales of Justine’s David Daltrey while Daragh O’Halloran peaks being the magician’s curtain to relive the Irish garage beat scene notably by way of Eire Apparent, the Orange Machine and Andwella’s Dream. Elsewhere there are mind warping visitations from the Pretty Things, the Flamin Groovies, the Strawbs, Procession, Alice Cooper, Kevin Ayers and a superbly written extended feature on the Floyd led 14 hour Technicolor Dream celebration. Indispensable stuff.
The Decembrists ‘january hymn’ (rough trade). Been a fair old while since the dulcet tonalities iof the Decembrists threatened to disturb the serene sleeping lumber of our hi-fi but we did happen across this cutie on a recent record emporium visit and just had to have it. Culled from their forthcoming ‘the king is dead’ set and perfect for the time of year – the clues really is in the title for ’January Hymn’ is a lulling and lilting gem, crushed and disarmingly generous in its forlorn introspection, the sounds frail and roving cascade to the sweet haloing of winter crested harmonies and the tumble trip of acoustic rambles all beautifully carolled into a heart heavy though surprisingly optimistic country soul soiree. Flip the disc for a Grateful Dead cover no less – ’row Jimmy’ perhaps edges it in the favouritism stakes not least because it sounds somewhat inebriated and off kilter as its lazy eyed mellowed and mulled Americana stumbles and fumbles with a smoked and out of it warming glow but then that could be down to our over indulgence of neat JD – purely medicinal you understand.
Here’s the Decembrists ‘rake song’ as animated by St Martins college of Art Students….
Two exceptional singles currently doing the rounds and previously only available via the labels subscription only service the Bored Fortress singles club though now being made available in strictly limited issue – first up –
Infinite Body / No Age ’split’ (not not fun). Housed in specially commissioned artwork sleeves which really do look very eye catching this release pairs together West Coasts Infinite Body and California’s No Age. Infinite Body open proceedings with a deeply alluring trance psych gem ’between you can crawl like this is the end’ – all at once melancholic, detached and distant and yet strangely euphoric and uplifting, dream dronal ambient landscapes rippled by fuzzy distortions and looping chime cascades – sounds almost regal neigh church like, its chilled almost stilled atmospherics assuming a quietly stately stature. In marked contrast No Age stump up ’wintry kk’ a grizzled though strangely serene shot of pulsing distortion which once finding its feet glows and pulsates with an alluring and dare we say panoramic and lulling jubilant calm much like an early career Flying Saucer Attack unless of course our ears do deceive.
Gnod / Robedoor ’split’ (not not fun). The second of those ultra limited bored fortress singles club releases features two bands who have featured at one time in these very pages in some capacity or other, Gnod contribute ’a very special request’ – a truly out there and off their faces slab of stoner dub, oodles of echo effects, spacey calibrations and lysergic trip lines – hell – the blighter is so woozy that you’ll believe you can fly just being in earshot of the bugger. Robedoor who last split our skull courtesy of their ’burners’ set for important weigh in with the seismic ’solid state’ – a psyche shimmering monolith of some merit replete with disembodied harmonies, heavy hammered beats and a vibe reverberating with mind altering portent.
Also floating around in record world though were yet to rest our mits on copies are splits from Ducktails / Rangers, high wolf / the savage young tater bug and wet hair/ peaking lights – copies of which we‘ll endeavour to nail for future mentions.
The first of a shed load of releases from the esteemed Memphis Industries crew sees the return to these pages of…….
The Go! Team ‘buy nothing day’ (Memphis industries). Not officially out until well after the new year, ‘buy nothing day’ is the first cut to be culled from the new GT full length ‘rolling blackouts’ – a tingling popsicle lovingly laced with a pristine pop flair that daintily nibbles away with an addictive soft shimmer that embraces the crystalline ear candy c-86 buzz fuzz of the Primitives, Darling Buds and Strawberry Switchblade and heaps upon it sugary kisses that unfurl to blossom a joyously jangling jamboree. Flip the disc for a drop dead gorgeous cover of Betty and Karen’s ‘I’m not satisfied’ – so finitely cut with the hollowed haloing of honey dusted harmonies and a feel good fluffy beat grooved hue that aside making you all a swoon and a hearts a fluttering it’ll neatly find a perfect spot in your record collection between those essential hi-fi wares of the Manhattan Love Suicides and the Soundcarriers.
Elephant ‘ants’ (Memphis industries). Duo Amelia (vocals) and Christian (guitars and computer) met and formed Elephant in the early days of Spring this year, ‘ants’ is the debut fruits of their meeting, a sweetly lulling chill toned overture that plays peek a boo with your senses as it slowly unpeels and gently prises apart your well guarded defences with its measured and tip toeing almost sleepy headed tag team of softly mellowed harmonics and curvaceously crested minimalist pop palettes themselves found teetering and bobbing with an coolly extracted isolationist iciness, quite a sweetie if you ask me all said.
Frankie Rose and the Outs ‘girlfriend island’ (Memphis industries). Culled from their much admired debut full length, don’t be too fooled by the opening shriek of a clanging detuned feedback rasp for ‘girlfriend island’ quickly emerges from the hazy distortion to serve up a sub 2 minute 30 second master class in cool as you like shade wearing fuzz drenched bubblegum pop, festooned with la la la harmonies and shimmying handclaps aplenty this forlorn shimmer toned 60’s buzz bomb draws the dots connecting JMC with the Shangri-La’s. nuff said.
Avey Tare ‘lucky -1’ (paw tracks). More Animal Collective chaps caught doing a spot of extra curricula work on the side (Panda Bear lurks with intent amid these pages somewhere), culled from his debut full length ‘down there’ (is this thing out yet – top researching skills at work here eh?) ‘lucky – 1’ is a fairly sedate offering it has to be said, okay there’s still that unworldly trippiness attaching that links it to that trademark early career AC pop formula you know the one where everything goes woozy and fluffy, disembodied vocals, floaty fog bound atmospherics, hypnotic loops and the general feeling of light headed dream states though here enhanced by trains of celestial garlands and a pulsing buzz saw effect that for all the world sounds like some distress like communicative marker transmitting from the dark depths of the cosmos.
Trash kit ‘teenagers’ (upset the rhythm). Again another release that’s been nagging away inside our head since coming within earshot, this lot hail from London and by all accounts are turning heads aplenty on the underground scene having released their debut full length earlier this year which alas we here missed. Non album cut ‘teenagers’ is a curiously off kilter affair, bent out of shape in its primitive and primal despatch, its something that finds its reference signposts all the way to the Au Pairs, Slits and the Creatures altogether telling and irrefutable, its DIY minimal trace lines and needle picked riffage beat out a tribal Afro mantra which you’ll find almost impossible to pass on. Flip the disc for the readily more robust and ramshackle serving of ’how do you do’ which comes neatly augmented by wiring and fractured chord motifs, shouty punctuated vocals and a seriously time slipping and head jarring mutant melodic rout.
Sam Prekop ‘the silhouettes’ – culled from Sea and Cake-r Sam Prekop’s solo electronic full length ’old punch card’ on thrill jockey here’s a rather beguiling and beautifully crafted animation by Jordan Kim to accompany the track ’the silhouettes’ – very vintage 70’s children’s tv don’t you think – haven’t a clue what’s going on but its irresistibly cute – the music ain’t bad either very early ISAN-ish……
Scumbag philosopher ‘dingdong dingdong’ – captures our mood perfectly – found this ‘un hiding in our neglected inbox – a note from Adam warned of drumming turkey’s, jay-z and a little baby Jesus….oh yea and swearing – those with humour bypasses and an intolerance to bad language can fuck off now…..ooops….
Those among you wondering what to spend the book tokens that Santa left under your Xmas tree may well be encouraged to seek out a host of books just out –
Touch n’ Go – the complete hardcore punk zine 79 -83 (brazillion points). After much hoo-ha as to where you could nail copies of the blighter with various book emporiums denying its existence the blighter is finally out and about, this tome gathers together all 22 issues of the Touch and Go fanzine as curated by Meatmen’s Tesco Vee and Dave Stimson, an in valuable account of the mood, the vibe and the scene of the era from a fanatics perspective – unforgiving in its sarcasm and biting humour – it was the essential read of its day, there’s a ultra limited £200 tagged box set of the publication which gathers together all 22 issues faithfully reproduced with the original binding. Also included a copy of the 999 fanzine which kick started the whole thing along with a book including rare Midwest hardcore flyers of the day and a CD all housed in a slipcase.
Go to http://www.bazillionpoints.com/touch-and-go-magazine-the-complete-years-by-tesco-vee-dave-stimson-and-steve-miller/ to hear Tesco Vee and Steve Miller chatting about the publication.
‘Fuzz acid and flowers – revisited’ – Vernon Joynson (borderline). Another essential book shelf curio is the latest updated reprint of Joynson’s acclaimed ‘fuzz acid and flowers – revisited’ – now mushroomed to a hefty 1400 page breezeblock of a book – apparently this print comes limited to just 2500 copies worldwide and is for now only available in its soft back variation – so be warned nail your copy now as occasions have proved that these things shoot through the roof in terms of value once they‘ve been deleted. The time line has been extended to mirror ’tapestry’ – 1963 to 1976 – and well frankly if you need me to tell you how important or as to what music and styles this covers and relates to then be honest with yourself – are you visiting the right web page. Essential of course.
Special Sound – the creation and the legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Oxford Music). Scant information about this publication – guess I’ll have to wait until the postman delivers it which hopefully should be before the week ends given the snow has now been washed away. That said according to the press release it promises an exhaustive and detailed trawl through the archives taking account of the producers, composers, directors and engineers and their ultimate bearing and relevance in the shifting of popular cultures perception towards electronic sounds.
Seasons they change – the story of acid and psychedelic folk’ – Jeanette Leech (Jawbone). A perfect partner for the recently published ’electric eden’ tome – Leech uncovers the mystery and origins of acid folk in the late 60’s a movement spearheaded by the likes of ISB, Bunyan and Comus, investigates its brief radiance and short lived rise, its eventual decline, hibernation and general neglect throughout the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and its newfound rebirth in the last few years at the hands of Newsom, Espers and Banhart.
http://www.myspace.com/stellarscope – so we turn to Pennsylvanian psych-ists Stellarscope who I’m certain we’ve featured with fond words at one time or another within these despatches though trying to find accurate reference markers is proving ever more difficult these days since my space chose to unwisely revamp our web pages without so much as a by your leave. Anyway enough grumbling for if you log onto the Stellarscope my space page you’ll be treated to their quite spiffing version of ‘silent night’ – which momentarily arrives treated in what can only be described as a fuzz crested pulsar emitting through the galactic fog bound ether before rearing in to crystal clear view upon waves of feedback halos clipped by a seriously divine like hazily dazed druggy vibe the mood being disrupted and channelled by star lit lilts and riff rupturing sonic squalls, strangely reverential and trippy – oh yea and spacey and spiritual to boot like a shoe gazed choir made up of Spaceman 3, Flying Saucer Attack and MBV types.
Lil lost Lou ‘merry Christmas (here I come)’ (jezus factory). Another email we found loitering in our inbox and so far apologetically ignored was a note from Jezus Factory head honcho Andrew giving us the heads up on a festively inspired charity release by Lil Lost Lou who you may recall walloped our turntable affections a year or three ago with her rollicking ‘bad bad girl’ – this time of asking she’s daubed herself in tinsel, hoodwinked a sizeable chunk of the Stones ‘sympathy for the devil’ and gone all country death prairie pogo on us for ’merry Christmas’ is a rodeo ripping slab of moonshine swigging rust licked road blues laced aplenty with a healthy side serving of the finest harmonica playing this side of the blue ridge mountain. Over on the flip you’ll find ’scaredy cat’ a rooting tooting barnstorming cowpunk nugget awaiting acclaim and a scene of its own – think Violent Femmes and the Orsen Family meet Yip Yip Cayote – well classy. Meant to say – the charity in question is Shelter from the Storm.
Oberhofer ‘away frm u’ (inflated). Must admit to being a tad bit partial to this though even with and despite the mere threat of lasting harm from the poking of sharp sticks I’d still be buggered if I could tell you exactly why. One of those tracks that’s best described as being all over the shop and something which both annoyingly and admiringly appears to shift shape and direction just when you think you have the measure of it. ‘away frm u’ starts out sounding like a very distant cousin of John Fahey, from its opening bars your already reaching for the JD for comfort and ready to take in the smoked though distressed mountain corralled delta blues detailing, but then the pace picks up and the perspective alters abruptly, what was first seen as distressed soon becomes decidedly ramshackle as though its fixtures are loosening fast, between the whistles, the yelps and the fast / slow dynamics it soon freefalls loosely touching base between slacker-esque motifs and an enlightening euphoria, and once the dust has a chance to settle and you’ve gathered your senses a hybrid concoction of equal parts youthful Animal Collective and ‘the wagon’ era Dinosaur JR has just exited stage left and with it won over your affections. Flip side features ‘dead girls dance’ which bears their obviously debt to Animal Collective in the opening moments though once fired up sounds not unlike the Werewolves 9the new york ones who had that killer ‘ES’ ep out on bns sessions) which as you all know is no bad thing which reminds me what the hell happened to those blighters.
Trembling Bells ft. Mike Heron and Bonnie Prince Billy ’feast of Stephen’ (honest jon’s). An absolute diamond of a release and perhaps all said our favourite of all the yuletide discs currently roaming the seasonal record racks. Again seriously limited in nature and decked out in a rather festively decorated sleeve this darling of a seven inch features on one side the Trembling Bells teaming up with the Incredible String Bands Mike Heron while on t’other Bonnie Prince Billy is invited in from the cold to serve up some thought provoking reality checking. Mike Heron collaborates to bring the somewhat lighter side to proceedings for ‘feast of Stephen’ is a glorious uplifting Dickensian overture of sorts, metered out with a traditionally vintage seasonally trimming its roving folk indent spirals and parps amid the concerted celebration of a rousing chorus line twinned, turned and tailored by the driving feel good fanfare of brassy pillows which when coalesced and intertwined light up the bleak ice chilled air to bathe it in a fuzzy euphoric glow. Flip the disc for the solemnly touching ’new year’s eve the loneliest night of the year’ – an alternative anthem for the year end soiree – traced and framed by the melancholic sweetness of sympathetic strings Bonnie Prince Billy cuts a trembling and majestic hanged hymnal dash with a touch of the SAD syndrome, without doubt up there with ’fairytale of New York’ in terms of cutting through the trimmings and the surface wrapping to reveal the depressing reality of the festive season and the forlorn optimism that entails – will cut you wide open, leave lasting scars and have you left humbled in its
An Indiecater Christmas (Indiecater). Many apologies to the chaps at Indiecater well Kevin to be more precise – we did in fact download this cutie a few weeks back and then in time honoured fashion forgot to do the write up things on the blighter. Available via http://www.indiecater.com – ’an indiecater Christmas’ is an 11 track yuletide compilation featuring a host of talent so familiar to us (Paisley and Charlie) and some (well the rest as it happens) not so. The set kicks off with Utah husband and wife combo Adam and Darcie who armed with the gentlest of vocals, Harmonium and a guitar do a delightfully frost tipped and serenely faithful retread of Joni Mitchell’s ‘river’ which might just break a few hearts. Blending the dainty, the dinky and the delirious its always a treat to hear a little Paisley and Charlie sweetly escaping the confines of the speaker and succulently serenading the listening space, their sounds always guarantee to lift the mood and bathe you in a warmth filled radiance no matter what the weather outside might be, cutely attuned with an enviable knack for the sub three minute slice of pristine pop, ’snow blitz’ is demurringly dinked with all manner of crystal tipped Dubstar and St Etienne charms as it sighs, coos and snuggles its way into your affections. Must admit to being somewhat taken by Natalie Prass’ ‘no better time’ with the Tennesseean doing a mighty fine take on a becoming and romantically sweet open fire roaring slice of sepia trimmed vintage 50’s sh-bop that tingles and shimmers with all manner Day and Hepburn dimples – it’s a similar line of appreciation taken up by Alli Millstein on the softly coiled retro polka dot pop lovely ‘white white Christmas’. Those up for a spot of Nashville hued steel pedals and some thigh slapping honky tonk will do well to seek out the perky porch pouter ’not on Christmas eve’ by Boca Chica while Thee SPC stars Standard Fare rustle up a nifty spot of Go Betweens meets the Lucksmiths on the retiring delight that is ‘a flicker of snow’. in typically time honoured fashion we here alas know bugger all about Dolfish save to say they hail from Columbus, Ohio – home – if I recall rightly – of the much admired though worryingly quiet of late Moviola – anyhow the lo-fi induced ’I’m proud of you Joanna’ is one of those slow to grow cuties which in a parellel universe might well be the sound of a youthful Suzanne Vega fused with Rickie Lee Jones and found demo-ing for K Recs. Lighters on standby for the chest beating and arm waving quietly anthem like ’snow angel’ by Kate and After – and talking of lo-fi they don’t come more frail and stripped to the core than on Royal Forest’s ‘sweat shoppe hands’ which aside pricking the conscience may fill you with an overwhelming desire to hunt out your Decoration and HMHB records – mind you we did neglect to mention that there’s a somewhat subtly maudlin Beatles-esque mantra underpinning it all. Back to a more familiar festive footing with the gorgeous colours ‘hurry up childen, Santa’s coming’ which arrives complete with all manner of seasonal salutations, sleigh bells, chimes and whistles – me thinks the chaps have been a tad merry on the mulled wine which leaves the very most to round up matters and see us out with perhaps the sets best cut – ‘Christmas in july comes earlier each year’ – a gloriously hymnal cascade of sveltely spectral electro symphonics arrested with a simplistic sensitivity becoming more of ISAN and an ice sculptured frosted majesty of a ‘garlands’ era Cocteau Twins.
And while we were off trying to get a little on Dolfish – ose track ‘I’m proud of you joanna’ featured on the aforementioned Indiecater compilation – we did happen upon a comment left by one Andrew Rahman advising those who cared that he’d uploaded a new track in the shape of ‘wanderer’ under his alter ego the sleepy sound’. described by Andrew in passing as a spot of noise gaze knocked up in half an hour amid a moment of sleeplessness this fetching slab of feedback scalded buzz pop has by our reckoning a spot of Flying Saucer Attack about its wares in so far as the way it scratches, scrapes and buries beneath a ton of fuzzy skree what is essentially a lilting shoe gazed math pop treat radiantly sun bursting beneath the surface. http://soundcloud.com/andrewrahman/wanderer
Huckleberry in Kingdom ‘A huckleberry Christmas’ – in truth we thought we’d already mentioned this festive foursome in passing though what with one thing or another it was only when we were tying the loose trimmings to this bumper missive that we noted with much embarrassment that we’d neglected it. Shameful I agree wholeheartedly. Available via the bordellos my space site – the bordellos being the bigger brother operation of matters with the Huckleberry side project being just Brian and Dan in a stripped down form – the four track EP can be downloaded for free via http://www.msplinks.com/MDFodHRwOi8vd3d3Lm1lZGlhZmlyZS5jb20vP244NnVnYTZhNXVuYWE5dA== – alas there have been glitches with the link as the new revamped my space seems ill at ease with just about everything – so if the blighter fails to kick in we suggest you send a message to Brian via http://www.myspace.com/the bordellos – that’s assuming you can navigate the woefully unfriendly my space revamp. Anyhow enough of the waffling to the four track EP – those familiar with previous HiK recordings will be all to aware that though essentially its the Bordellos at heart – this project offers a more down cast and stripped to the bone lo-fi tonality to the Shea creative bow, aside the expressing of deep concern that there’s been an element of resignation creeping into the bordellos song bow we here are still convinced there’s an element of Simon Joyner and Elliott Smith attaching to the previously noted Jad Fair / Palace Brothers and Daniel Johnston references that flow throughout the broken and head bowed artistry of these dispirited gems. From the crushed melancholic lilt of the souring love note ‘its snowing outside’ to ‘a snowflake fell’ – the latter of which you suspect could be despatched with a brooding and damning intensity where it applied with a fulsome orchestration – these numbing nuggets tear and scar with an unrepentantly blanked and hardened intimacy, it’s a hollowness that briefly lifts on ‘bring me the head of Justin bieber’ only to be replaced with a spiteful agitation the like more prescient on records adorned with the name of the Auteurs. All said best of the quartet by some distance is the reflective realisation that peels solemnly amid the bruised and broken outer layers of ‘chase away the sun’, winsome and wounded its bled to the distractive dour detail of a casually strummed riff whose lackadaisical minimalist whisper very much shivers like a ‘igglegoo’ era Freed Unit which frankly does it for us. Rumours are abound of a Bordellos compilation album touted for release this year via brutarian – fingers crossed.
‘journey to the plugged in state of mind’ by Dave Henderson (Cherry Red publications). A thoroughly absorbing read and something that since arriving in our gaff we’ve had a fair amount of trouble putting down. Former Sounds (among the plethora of titles he’s contributed to) writer Dave Henderson has gathered together an invaluable list of key note releases whether albums or album cuts centring on the use, the experimentation, the development and the eventual acceptance of electronics in this thing we happily airbrush with the description of pop music. Culled from various review cuttings and personal comments, Henderson deliberates on the moods, the foibles and the fashions of sounds synthetic – some 250 plus releases are summarily exhumed and thrown into the melting pot for examination – albums whose merest mention will no doubt divide reader ranks between those rewriting wants lists and causing something of a feeding frenzy amongst obsessives on various online auction sites to others who’ll question the inclusion of this and that ahead or instead of such and such. To coin a famous quote loosely – pleasing the majority or something such. For the rest of us not so hung up on pub arguments and one-up-manship what ’journey to a plugged in state of mind’ provides for is a more than handy one stop reference manual. navigated through seven sections or if you like seven seasonal changes, this tome chronologically reflects on the phases and changes of electronic mediums upon the construction of sound – from the early instigators and known building blocks at the turn of the 1900’s through to the 60’s and extending beyond the rise of the Moogs and ambience to the sample sourced soundtrack culture of the 80’s and latterly the house / techno culture of the 90’s and the blips and squeal deconstruction of post 2000. From the architects of sonic means (Cahill, Moog), the shape shifters (the Italian Futurist Movement) to the acknowledged godfathers of electro music Raymond Scott, Wendy Carlos, BBC Radiophonic Workshop (whose life began compiling jingles and aural oddities for the Goons), Kraftwerk, Stockhausen, Cage, Henry and Reich through to Autechre, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Shy Child and Metronomy to name just a few – Henderson guides the listener through this most intricate of melodic mazes signposting along the way the struggles, the suffering and the general ignorance and apathy of record buying populace overtly conservative and safe in their listening choices and ultimately its inevitable acceptance and claiming back from the high brow and arty set. Within you’ll be warmed by the Varese obsessed Zappa stalker story and the vast changes in the hardware – from equipment that took up residence in not just one room but ‘a 32 room labyrinth’ as was the case with the multi talented composer / arranger and electronics obsessive Raymond Scott. From the fanciful junk shop parade of novelty ‘switched on….’ and ‘moog’ related rewires from the late 60’s and early 70’s – a kind of kitsch music for pleasure meets unbranded top of the pops albums for the cheesy electro set to the branded and considered future seeing imprints of the 90‘s such as Warp and Mute – all excesses are catered and deliberated upon. Amid these pages the bizarre (tonto’s expanding head band, morton subotnick and Michael Koenig) and the beautiful rub shoulders (vengelis, gold Rapp, omd) each in their own precise and unique way responsible for providing electronic music to exist both outside and inside the accepted doctrines of sound with the parting inclusion of the Buddha Machine giving Henderson cause to openly conclude and posit the question for consideration as to whether its sonic dronal manipulation has drawn things to a full circle and harked directly back to the genesis of the music machines.
Hafdis Huld ’silent night’ (red grape). Long standing readers (all two of you) won’t need telling or reminding of our unwavering fondness for former Gus Gus lady Hafdis Huld, blessed with a vocal that sends tingling shivers down our spine aside we more than a tad smitten by the fact that she completely nuts and unfailingly cute with it – as will both the videos for ’tomoko’ and ’action man’ as well as her pixie spotting blogs on you tube will attest. So as you can imagine a wry old smile formed on our snow chapped features when we received an email offering a chance to download two yuletide treats from the kooky one in return for signing up to her newsletter service, so off we popped to http://www.reverbnation.com/tunepak/artist_312428?eid=A312428_6711577_ where indeed for the simple exchange of an email address we got in return ‘silent night’ in Icelandic and a jolly little cutie called ‘jingle bells’ – but the festive treats don’t end there for if you visit her web page at http://www.hafdishuld.com you can hook up to a typically bonkers Christmas kitchen message as well as details of the delectable Ms Huld doing a special and intimate gig from the homely setting of her kitchen with friends and family in attendance – recorded 21/12/10 – which you can find posted in two parts via you tube……
alas the videos are no longer online……
Joan of Arc ‘meaningful work’ (polyvinyl). I’m fairly sure we’ve had an email from Polyvinyl in recent times that had downloads for their latest releases attached which at present we appear to have mislaid – fear not though for it will be tracked down, read, attachments played and indeed scribbled about no doubt somewhere within this end of year extended festive missive malarkey. This perplexed thing comes on wax coloured black (1000) and green (500) variations – no prizes for guessing which ‘un I got here – why oh why do I always miss the limited edition versions – puts me in a bad frame of mind I can tell you. Joan of Arc should need n o introductions in these musings given we’ve featured there wares on admittedly seldom occasions when as it happens its been our good fortune to trip over one of their releases. Now following the line of economic prudence the Chicago troupe have been stripped back to a basic core trio with ‘meaningful work’ similarly providing a sonic redux into the bargain, its minimalist framing looped web like math noodle structuring giving it a serious back to basics mid 90’s Touch n’ Go loving groove as though like a old recently recovered Billy Mahonie track stuck in the groove. Mind you we here are more than a little smitten by the flip side offering ’the thing in things’ which approaches in a similar textured lo-fi medium to it’s A side starring sparring partner though which manages through its repetitive looped locked grooved yarns to weave a curiously spell crafted and winter toned mellowing meditative mantra. Does it for us anyway.
Sunday Girl ‘stop hey’ (Geffen). Cute as a button and adorable with it, this dinky and disarming creature isn’t out until after the festive season though such small details don’t deter us from flagging up what is in short a sublime slice of crystalline pristine pop. Decorated in all manner of star steered siren like retro 80’s electro haloing swirls and dutifully threaded and bowed by the shyly retiring and sighing vocal caresses of Jade Williams (the Sunday Girl in question) ‘ stop hey’ purrs with euphoria and effervescence, amid its frost bound contours and Teutonic turned tingling tail smoke a fastidious feel good vibe unravels with demurring deception from whose seductive tug the feinting of swooning hearts will fall in its wake. Resistance is probably useless. http://www.wearesundaygirl.com
The superimposers ‘Christmas again’ (wonderful sound). One of those limited download only affairs I’m afraid in the guise of a yearning yuletide lounge love note from those ever lovable chill toned chaps the Superimposers. Packing up their belongings, leaving a note for the milkman and vacating the Superimposers HQ for a festive break in their absence they’ve entrusted the keys to the sound shed to a certain Mr Shawn Lee who whilst keeping a diligent eye on matters (while Messrs Copeland and Solo head off to no doubt sunnier climes) has stumbled across an assortment of homely harmonic nuggets left orphaned (or so it would seem) on the tinsel treated mixing desk and with that has set about adding in all manner of festive fairy dust and Christmas cheer to turn in an endearing open fire gathering 5 track seasonal greeting. With hinted references (some tongue in cheek we do suspect) drawn from Ronnie Lane, George Michael and Bonanza (can you guess the red herring – of course – Ronnie Lane – only japing), Spector and Wilson-isms aside amid these frost chipped sepia trimmed baubles you’ll find the odd old gem from yesteryear in the shape of ‘the love came trickling down’ which older listeners may well remember originally making its appearance several Christmases ago on strictly limited quantities of seven inch vinyl while another certifiable classic from the Superimposers melodic arsenal (‘would it be possible’) is dusted down, tailored and furnished with a tingling music box parade and revisited as ‘would it be Christmas’. somewhere else – is it just me or is there amid the sumptuously trippy and sighing contours of the daintily flecked and celestially chill traced tonalities of ‘chasing Christmas’ (incidentally the best thing here) the feint willowy waft of that traditional tinsel toasted fayre ‘little drummer boy’ weaving through the enchanted ether. Those preferring their seasonal delights somewhat warmer and less frost tipped ought to investigate the south pacific shimmy of the dinky ‘Xmas in Hawaii’ while ‘Christmas Again’ is a vintage chocolate box assortment of twinkling waltzes, chiming charms and heart warming seasonal sentiment.
Here’s a video type thing of them doing ’the beach’……
missive 276 pt 3
John Ralston ‘Jesus Christ’ (24 hour service station). We’ve got very little information on this other than to say it’ll be appearing just in time for Christmas pressed up on limited quantities of red and white vinyl (300 in fact). ‘Jesus Christ’ is a bit of gem all said, the draping of looping drone chimes endow it with an enchanting quietly epic demeanour that sounds for all the world as though through the silent flurry of blurring snow drifts an oncoming cavalry is navigating the frost tipped landscapes homeward bound whilst despatched amid a sonic coda that not for the first time (and I suspect not the last) in this missive loosely coils itself delicately around a melodic motif subtly threaded from ‘little drummer boy’ – that said we here are thinking that long time admirers of Cheval Sombre and the like should lap this up. Flip the disc for the utterly adoring and disarming honey toned countrified traits of ‘a marigny Christmas’ – a softly tendered swaying strum drilled nugget tempered and turned with just the right requisite amount of smoked and stoked homebound and heart heaving warmth as to have you stopping dead in your tracks and sparing time for a moment of reflection. May break hearts.
Love Parry III ‘The race for the poison chalice’ EP (dekalog). Devilishly catchy and one we suspect perfect for those of you to whom the thought of all these 80’s revivalist tours doesn’t leave your blood running cold and send you fleeing to the hills for safe sanctuary. Debut release from former Hot Puppies dude Luke Taylor sees him cooking up what sounds like a meticulously woven big hair and glitter balls dream weave that’s undeniably threaded with reference markers that point towards the likes of Rockwell and Nic Kershaw with the formers ’somebody’s watching me’ in particular seemingly proving to be an inspiration on the loop laced clipped funk carnival like lead out cut ’draw’. mind you that said the chill-tronic nuances of ’toy box’ – incidentally the best thing here – has something of a mid 80’s Peter Gabriel about its wares albeit as though visualised through the eclectic lenses of a certain Thomas Dolby. While elsewhere despite the furnishing of the off kilter funk follies, the femme harmonic backdrops and the squelching electro trimmings there’s no doubting that ’the fabulous ones’ owes more than a fair old debt to Bowie’s ’up the hill backwards’. add in a Hans Zulu Black Kat and you have yourself a one stop 80’s party pack.
The Vegas Fame Index ‘square eyes’ (nr one). Another release currently causing hearts to flutter around our gaff is the forthcoming three track affair from the Vegas Fame Index. This lot hail from Norwich and could well in time with some carefully tuned exposure be the dark horses of 2011 for with a flick and a huff these dudes pout, prod, twist and tear with a purposeful late 70’s new wave pallor of a youthful Elvis Costello in a head on scuffle with Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson and Jonathan Richman. Mind that alone doesn’t really tell the full story for amid the jabs and jolts propping the outer abrasive skin of these energetic nuggets there’s an irrefutable pop heart pining in the background, it’s a pop heart that loosely reveals itself in the off kilter melodically hook able detailing, from the rampant and battle rousing ‘disappeared’ with its discernible nods to Blue Oyster Cult to the beat grooved strut of ‘hammer the headlines’ so knowingly familiar with the early catalogue of the Bluetones, the Vegas Fame Index avow themselves of an unerring ability to spar, shimmy and saunter across the well trodden path of abruptly despatched three chord ear candy. All said best of the set is the lead out ‘square eyes’ – a button down and astutely acute jerky and jolting slab of smack you in the face distressed power surged Pere Ubu inspired prickly pop. More of the same please and make it soon. http://www.nrone.co.uk
Floating Points Ensemble ‘post suite’ (ninja tune). Fully fledged debut release for the expanded Sam Shepherd led Floating Points Ensemble. Pressed up on limited quantities of 10 inch wax this sumptuous slice of uber sophistication should find itself high on the wants list of all you lovers of lights lowered atmospheric chill tonalities for lead out cut ’post suite’ is a gloriously eclectic morphing of slinky soul scarred torch trimmings framed within a cornucopia of melodic mosaics whose sonic spectrum embraces elements of eastern mantras and roots dialects into its terra-forming palette, add in the slyly detailed tug of trippy symphonic washes whose reference markers touch base with the down tempo smokiness of the early 90’s Bristol scene and you have yourself an ambient adventure whose scope sees it lying somewhere on pop’s multi layered aural axis between the broadway project and musetta. Over on the flip looms ’almost in profile’ – you want chic, classy, charmed and chilled – then this sweet thing has it in spades – again plundering the svelte noir pop contours of Musetta – the delicate balance of shifting string serenades much like a lovelorn Debussy enthralled Stereolab entwining with demurring delight the 70’s styled smoothly smoked chamber pop jazz elegances make for a tenderly trimmed turn in pristine detailing to which translates and beautifully blurs the multi lingual aspects of pop’s vast hybrid of library lounge tongues.
Panda Bear ’last night at the jetty’ (fat cat). Third of four specially detailed 7 inch singles from Animal Collective’s Panda Bear sees him making a momentary return to the Fat Cat imprint. As with the previous two releases and the one to come – these outings are strictly limited – this one coming numbered as a one time only 3,000 worldwide pressing. All these cuts are – should you have been unfortunate enough to have missed them so far – will be gathered up and find themselves hugging groove space on Panda Bear’s forthcoming ’Tomboy’ full length – due to see record counter action early next year. ’last night at the jetty’ is gorgeously hymnal in texture – awash in honey toned vocal loops, dub step beats and an overall sense of something warming, inviting and fluffy to the touch, its very much pitched to please older fans of the Animal Collective sound in so far as its wispy Beach Boys – esque lilts and softly centred trippyness , though scratch a little deeper and once immersed in the off kilter processional beats and that nagging sense of melodies arriving off centre and out of focus and then strangely dissipating and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Wilson had be found relocated upon an aural axis occupied by OMD’s ’architecture and morality’ and ’dazzle ships’. mind you that said the latter reference appears even more apparent on flip side cut ‘drone’ which as the title strongly hints is – well – droney – appearing as though through the haze of some fog bound wilderness, this beat less slice of minimalist synth and vocal only noodling toys summarily with both Ivor Cutler and Nico’s ’frozen warning’ with its chilled stillness sounding not unlike some panoramic mantra to daybreak. Frankly you need it in your record collection.
The Satelliters ‘shake shake shake’ (hey girl). We were fairly certain we’d mentioned these dudes at some point in the past and indeed a quick spy on that there google thing revealed we’d noted them in passing whilst peaking about at the ear wares offered by the mighty Dionysus imprint (see missive 148) wherein we eyed their Troggs meet Seeds beat pop boogie with much fondness. That said I’m fairly certain they’ve appeared on our radar more recently though tracking a citation for said printed praise is proving somewhat elusive. I mention this because through our mail box earlier this week a rosy cheeked chubby postman dropped of an album (‘outta here’ – reviewed a little later) and this dinky little seven inch (’shake shake shake’) by Frankfurt’s feral foursome. Limited to just 500 copies and pressed up on heavy duty slabs of jukebox styled vinyl all housed in an eye catching psychedelic sleeve ’shake shake shake’ is a raw and potent slice of rip it up bespoken primitive 60’s wig flipped groove, amid its dead eyed rock a boogie blues cool it literally drips lust from its vintage grooves as the fringe flicking frantic freak beat lip curling snarling and howling vocals tap out a frenzied urgency that’s stapled and scalped to with winkle picker tapping studded struts and seizure coiling twang yanking riffola a la Standells – freaky stuff. Something a tad more sedate looms on the smoulder like ’gonna get away’ over on the flip which just between you and me sounds not unlike a coolly chilled studio mash up between a youthful Stones and a laid back Troggs – which in all honesty completes a twin pronged platter that no hipster hi-fi can do without. http://www.myspace.com/heygirlrecords
Classic Rock presents AOR #1 – first there was rock. Then there was prog. And now – AOR. Seems those guys at ‘classic’ whatever are determined to fill newsstands with all manner of publications begat from the onion skin like layers that peel from the all encompassing beast known as rock. Not merely a one off special – talk within on the cobbling together of issue 2 hint heavily that this will be something of irregular publication. Now I don’t know about you but AOR in its most debased form has our blood running cold, album orientated rock or adult orientated rock – whichever definition you care to chose and use evokes the kind of muso / wimpy / sappy / child friendly / safe radio gluttony to which – once upon a long long time ago – punk sought with a flash of no nonsense eye poking vomit venting agitated arrogance to rid. And while its true to say that amid its brief infusion of up yours bravado it did at least expel some of the excesses of early 70’s chin stroking rock – notably prog and to it attach a ridiculing pointed finger which would render it untouchable and indeed unmentionable during polite conversation until that is Radiohead said it was OK to like. However on the blind side from across the pond, radio still held the upper hand, the airwaves crackled and into the homes of middle America the softer undertow of rock’s more commercially viable and family friendly tones ushered. Inspired or insipid – depending on your viewpoint – AOR was not a new phenomena, it had lurked on the FM schedules of various drive time and graveyard shift schedules throughout the 70‘s its antecedents could in truth be found in the previous decade following rulings over duplication by the Federal Communications Commission – ignored by the critical press it had been largely left undisturbed and unfettered by passing trends and new fads – it would prove to be a perfect foil for the emerging ratings conscious MTV who would in turn repay the favour by blurring its lines to encompass glam, soft metal and many other sub generic species of rock’s vast and varied dream coat. as said – from a personal point of view AOR has my blood running cold had I professed my love for it to my first missus I’d have no doubt been murdered in my bed. But that’s just my opinion. To the Classic Rock staffers it has in the words of their editor in chief – Geoff Barton (no relation) – a chance to ‘revisit old faves such as Survivor, REO Speedwagon and Night Ranger – now I don’t know about you but I am in seriously unfamiliar territories here. As to the magazine, there’s no slacking in the content and quality of AOR afforded as it is with the same trademark music fan worshipping and well written and authoritative excellence that has become the mark of Classic Rock. Arriving housed in the usually distinctive oversized card wallet and coming replete with a 15 track CD (Journey, Moritz, Grand Design, White Window, Issa, Faithhealer and more), this 132 page occasional
And from AOR to Prog…..
Classic Rock presents Prog #12 – current issue of the very excellent Prog occasional brought for your reading delight by those lovely folk at Classic Rock. As per usual issue 12 retains the excellent and authoritative line in writing with this particular editions featured cover stars being Dream Theater who also feature in an extended centre piece inside discussing the fall out resulting from Portnoy’s decision to quit last summer. Elsewhere there’s news of a prog school up for enrolment next spring – at University of Oxford of all places – a 10 week course which aims to discuss the merits and marvels of the progressive rock genre – each weekly session will last two hours and will seek to provide an overview of some of the key movers on prog’s early 70’s landscape – Caravan, Curved Air, Gong, Henry Cow, King Crimson, Genesis, ELP, ISB, Hatfield and the North and of course – Yes. This issues rare artefact recovered via the vault age spot shines a light on Nektar’s second full length ‘a tab in the ocean’ from ‘72 while its prog Jim but not as we know it eyes Iron Maiden’s ‘seventh son of a seventh son’. further in – Alison O’Donnell briefly chats about the should have been bigger Mellow Candle while Super tramp’s ‘breakfast in America’ is this issues featured masterwork (and admittedly something of a personal guilty pleasure). the Mavericks spotlight is deservedly handed over to espouse the mercurial talent that was Sandy Denny. Fish is left to discuss the merits of artwork found adorning the sleeves of VdGG releases past and present. On the radar of the prog staffers are District 97, Pin Up Went Down, Relocator and Spirits of the Dead (who we’ve featured in these very pages – sadly the blighters never sent that alb um for review – buggers). Photographer Ross Halfin invites the Prog crew to laud over his record collection while elsewhere there are extended spots on the sadly absent from our radar of the last few years Pure Reason Revolution, the engineers, hammers of misfortune, Barclay James Harvest, Mystery, Tinyfish and (for us at least – a personal hero) Jean Michel Jarre whose extended opening side to the jazz / rumba / electro cocktail ‘magnetic fields’ was as a youth our first self found awareness as to the possibilities of space, structure and sonic syncopation modelled upon a classical detailing within an synthesized medium. Of course there’s the now familiar Prognosis dose courtesy of the trademark enclosed CD – amid the grooves selected cuts from the likes of A Torn Mind, Morild, the Windmill and Manning battle for your affections. All of this housed in a rather stunning oversized and colourful card jacket – last issue of the year arrives at decent book stands just in time for the Christmas holidays (15th December).
And blimey such is the gestation period of this particular festive season end missive that we have the aforementioned Prog #13 here in our mits – a Genesis special no less with Phil Collins screaming from the oversized outer jacket ‘I’m not the anti christ of pop’ – that so. Inside Gen fans are treated to an extended centrepiece which aside gathering the remaining members to each debate the age old dilemma as to whether Genesis are now done in terms of ever re-forming also culminates in a top 25 list of Genesis‘ most influential tracks with ‘supper‘s ready‘ claiming the top spot and the collection notably including only three post 70‘s tracks ‘duchess‘, ‘mama‘ and ‘home by the sea/ second home by the sea‘. elsewhere Nick Mason chats about cars and future Floyd while there are featured spots on the Shadow Gallery, amplifier, glass hammer and mediaeval baebes. Masterworks re-spins the un loved by Peel Jethro Tull sophomore ‘stand up’ and Its prog Jim steadies its roving eye on Nine Inch Nails 1994 set ‘the downward spiral’ while Pendragon’s Nick Barrett casts a glowing eye on the artwork adorning the work of Camel. As ever – and wrapping matters – there’s the small question of the accompanying prognosis CD – this time of asking featuring 10 cuts from the likes of Soft Machine, Grey Waters, Brainkiller, agents of mercy, Ainur and more.
Jim Noir ‘zooper dooper’ EP (JimNoir.com). Distractively catchy stuff the ‘zooper dooper’ EP may just be one of those rare releases that comes along every once in a blue moon and somehow manages to graft its wonky matrix upon your psyche. The follow up to his free to download EP ‘Melody Junction’ from last summer which we somehow managed to evade / avoid / miss (delete where applicable), ‘zooper dooper’ comprises of six cuts and acts as a taster for Mr Noir’s long promised full length (which is maybe mooted to see the light of day in 2011 that is hard drive disasters allowing). A bizarrely becoming set that all at once can be described collectively or indeed individually as goofy, dizzy, library funk, wonky psych, crooked electro pop and no doubt more besides. hitting its stride somewhere between the giddiness of the Busy Signals and the chill factor of Lemon Jelly, ‘zooper dooper’ is fashioned from star lit shanties and lysergic lullabies, these sugar toned pop portraits ooze with a detectable 70’s retro kitsch vibe that runs through each and all like words through rock, from the delightfully kooky and kute ’kitty cat’ with it fat n’ funky warped down tempo groove sounding like some recently unearthed lounge lurking lovely the type found on any number of vault emptying compilations these days looming large in record racks of well heeled record emporiums this babe in particular sounding not unlike a youthful Go Team transplanted on to a children’s TV set featuring a collective gathering of Vision On and Sesame Street types with Richard O’Sullivan navigating through the soundtrack keys. Further along the set ‘do you like games’ which aside freebasing on Cockney Rebel harmonies has the same kind of quirky downcast pop tonality that was much a part of those Andy Summers penned treats found hidden on old Police b-sides while title track ‘zooper dooper’ is in another parallel time and place Sterelolab had they tripped out on the soundtrack to ‘Hair’ and the Zodiac rather than White Noise and Free Design. All said we here a fair bit smitten with ’map’ which unless our ears do deceive sounds uncannily like a cosmically seafaring Beach Boys leaving the off kilter and strangely monochromatic clockwork electro fanfaring ’car’ to trail off into the distance and bring closure to this remarkably dinky and disarming set though not before a spot of brief parting ‘sailing by‘-esque reprising.
Have yourselves a safe and peaceful one