Cigarettes last longer than this mini EP. So this is how it goes. We all stood outside the fire exit to the music factory chuffing on tabs. Looking at the puddles that had collected from the morning’s rain, I could see little prisms of light. Everyone was pretty much the same this week. I wondered if this little scene shot through some grainy black and white camera might bring some chic to the toe. A bit of Beverly Knight and a little Barry White. This EP evokes lounge jazz and this was all just a passing thought.
Outputmessage is not one of the most captivating pseudonyms thrown at me in the last few months but is nevertheless the misnomer that 22 year old Virginian, Bernard Emmanuel Farley (I probably wouldn’t use his real name either) rolls with when delivering his mix of house, techno and general electronica. Nebulae is Farley’s debut album and seeks, in his own words, to focus upon melody whilst blending film-sound track inflected scores. Not great news for those of loose mouthed variety of techno stompers, but for myself with techno and house being neither really my cup of tea nor my kettle of fish I wondered whether this record would indeed see me drinking the proverbial herbal whilst smoking the mackerel.
Following Saturday night’s tribute to legendary jazz guitarist Derek Bailey, avant-garde composer and musician John Zorn continued his weekend residency at London’s Barbican and also his acknowledgement of his major influences with a programme influenced by Aleister Crowley. The evening consisted of the performance of two compositions based on the work of the British occult master, and also a screening of the film The Man We Want To Hang, directed by another follower of Crowley’s, Keneth Anger, shown with accompanying sounds played by Zorn.
Greedy Baby is the exiting new collaborative package between longtime techno duo Ed Handley and Andy Turner, formerly of The Black Dog but more recently and commonly known as Plaid, and video artist/director Bob Jaroc. The audiovisuals have already played live and to impressive reception — being asked back after their performance at Ether Festival, and also being chosen to open the proceedings at the first ever Optronica festival of music and film at London’s IMAX.
Entheogen marks the band’s uneasy pigeonholeing, as they carve out a route through atmospheric wastelands and thrashing hardcore terrain with a passion for crazed math and a disregard for generic classification. It’s not simply a template quiet/loud doomy post-metal sound a la Isis, Pelican or Neurosis, although there is a definite debt owed to these bands and their own experiments in both the thoughtful and extreme regions of heavy music.
Final Relaxation is certainly an interesting record — “Your ticket to death through hypnotic suggestion” states the back sleeve, also advertising it as “The most unusual album ever sold!” Indeed it is unusual and most intriguing, however, does it live up to it’s promise? Is it as interesting as it sounds? Does it lead to the death of the listener? Well, I listened to it, and i’m still alive, and I have to say, i’m slightly disappointed.
This is a return to form for the Brooklyn-based Radio 4 after a well received debut (Gotham, 2002) but then a lacklustre second Stealing Of A Nation two years later. Like those previous efforts they invest a political angle to many of the songs (the US Government’s abject failure to deal with the aftermath of hurricaine Katrina is considered on a couple) and maintain an urgent and dynamic groove throughout, but this is the first release on a major label – so the pressure’s on.
Prolific producer Venetian Snares, AKA Aaron Funk, unleashes his first bought of breakcore for 2006 and brings with him more delightful melodies to accompany his harsh beats. For a man accustommed to releasing numerous albums in a year, for Cavalcade he has drawn on the classical influences present for Rossz Csillag Alatt Szuletett (Planet Mu, 2005) to give a lush sound to the electronic layers that the strings offered on Csillag.
This gig was a rare appearance of The Dodge Brothers in Southampton, one of few outside Lymington, away from their residency and core fanbase at the Thomas Tripp. And the intimate Platform Tavern on Southampton’s Quayside rose to the occasion, filled by an incredibly receptive audience, who at points even flowed onto the pavement outside.
This was much more than a gig, or a concert it was an event. For a start we’re talking the Royal Albert Hall, not just any old venue. We’ve got a huge crowd and you’d expect nothing more — this is Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil leading a band playing some of the most powerfully complex compositions of his father, one of the defining figures of twentieth century music. This was not any old band either but included legendary Zappa collaborators Napoleon Murphy Brock and Steve Vai!
The marketing-dream prophecy that the world would end on 06/06/06, or at least serve up some spawn of Satan for mankind to battle, provided the perfect excuse for Planet Mu heavyweights to unleash an unrelenting barrage of gabba on Brighton, providing its sinners with a fiendish night of hellish fun. This was not for the feint-hearted as the robe-wearing electronic music artists did their best to bosh dancers into submission.
Thousand Natural Shocks describe their music as “essentially new wave with a bit of art-rock going on, played with the energy of punk. But there’s also a big emphasis on making it dance, big beat and fast funk.” Steady on lads! Leave some genres for your seventh album change of direction!
It is tempting sometimes to think that the British indie-pop market has become a ‘no-brainer’ for our US counterparts. They make it melody based with a steady rhythm section, they mention the weather and pine about distant girls (all Brits are prudish), they make sure it references an easy box of canonical rock nostalgia (Beatles, Smiths, Oasis etc) and they bring their own clothes over from New York (cos the British still don’t know anything about fashion). Oh, and they make sure that the NME know who the hell they are. I’m looking at you The Killers, Maroon 5, Panic at the Disco et al. Well, at least we Brits have still got sarcasm, hey Jeeves?!
This is the debut release by Triple Burner, aka Harris Newman and Bruce Cawdron, but is by no means the first fruits of their combined efforts as Cawdron has already appeared on Newman’s Non-Sequiturs (2003) and Accidents with Nature and Each Other (2005). The journey to full collaboration has taken a few years of live performance and like those previous releases Triple Burner has a very live-sounding feel.
The Drift is a masterful album, having the feel of being pieced together over a number of years. Scott Walker’s last album, apart from the film soundtrack to Pola X, was Tilt back in 1995 and it is quite conceiveable that The Drift has been taking painstaking form since then. Holding nothing back, it’s an oppressive, beautiful, stark album, sometimes dense, sometimes desolate, with the power to shock in its changes between the two and remaining forever impacting. The emotive pieces are often incredibly cathartic, sounding so both for the artist and for the listener.
Have You Seen Lucky? is described by the artist as “a cross between everything I’ve done over the past twenty years” and sure enough comes across as a familiar pop/punk/indie/rock hybrid, comparable to Dando’s The Lemonheads and bands like the Foo Fighters. It’s an album which is very easy to listen to, not challenging too much but with a strong focus on a melodic songwriting underpinned by a rock feel. The album is quite middle-of-the-road, perhaps testament to Kastner’s older years, but he’s not really that old and the album picks up speed and rocks a little harder intermittently, stopping the album from easily paling away into college rock obscurity.
So, Jack White’s flirtation with evil behemoth Coca Cola. What do you think? Is the stalwart purist of retro rock a corporate shill or is he right to use the advert as a platform to spread his message of love? If he is aiming for a more commercial side to his music then he could find one with this debut album by his new band, although ironically he still may not end up playing the same stadium venues with the Raconteurs as the White Stripes have in their weird rise to popularity.
Matmos are no strangers to concept albums. Its what they do. Since their self-titled 1998 debut, they’ve become domestic housewifes in creating a whole album, Quasi Objects (1998), out of domestic appliances, squatted hospitals to record an album of sounds obtained from medical procedures, A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure (2001) and most recently for Civil War (2003) scoured the archives to administer an album documenting that very title, specifically the 17th Century British Civil War and the North and South American Civil Wars. It puts Matmos, made up of Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt in the ‘sound artist’ bracket and their latest offering The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast sees them move even closer to that sound artist context with an album made up if ten biographical portraits of different heroes within the Matmos spectrum.
Plume carries on from the live context of the previous album, whereby a loose electronic seed, that tends to be a quietly torn synth or lightly pummelled drip, is initially bled into the song only for other samples to flicker in and out — all while ebow guitar, rhodes and vibro/xylophone players take it in turns to improvise micro-melodies or riffs over the processed foreground. Primarily, the objective here is to inject human qualities into what essentially tends to be an android culture — we all prefer a dusty book to an electronic pacemaker. The live instrumentation also serves as method of breaking up the usual formula for ambient electronica and the consistent structures to each track create a recognisable flow to the album.
Some of us were lucky enought to get to the Koko last Autumn to see the awesome line-up of The Melvins, Deerhoof and Part Chimp performing in the first season of ATPs Dont Look Back gigs. With the second run steadily approaching it is fitting how we are offered example of how the whole DLB concept is a pure joy, not just bringing some near perfect moments in itself but it in sowing the seeds for things such as this — the matter in hand — the new live recording of (possibly) the best album by (possibly) the most influential band of the last two decades. But bearing in mind the fact that live albums are often none too exiting I shall build on those (uncertain) hyperbolic statements and try to point out what might make Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust a worthwhile addition to a record collection.
After producing yet another brilliantly eclectic, innovative and downright great album in Heroes to Zeros in 2004 the Beta Band decided to call it a day. Following the demise of the Betas, John and Robin hooked up with one of their old comrades — the song writing genius that is Gordon Anderson (aka Lone Pigeon) — and formed The Aliens.
The Paper Chase deal along the blurred lines of eccentric tragic-comedy and Now You Are One Of Us is a concept record of sorts based around the classic zombie films of George A. Romero. What proceeds is a kooky rock opera that combines tongue bleeding out of cheek Nihilism and an obvious love of trash to form a record that is at times entertaining and quirky, but ultimately ends up sounding laboured and kitsch.
These two NYC bands have toured together consistently, share a label (in the UK), guest on each other’s records and they seem quite close emotionally and sonically. TV on the Radio were the headliners in this case, but both complemented each other and members of each band cross pollinated with percussion and vocals throughout.
Their recent limited 7” single collection Fab Four Suture gave forth three tracks, the perfectly crafted introspection of “Whisper Pitch”, “Eye Of The Beholder” with it’s urgent thrash of a chorus and “Excursions into Oh A Oh”. On record “Excursions…” is a neat slice of sixties psychedelia but live it becomes a sort of cosmic disko, bringing an addictive bassline and twin horn attack of trumpet and trombone (it was preceded by Laetitia asking “Are you ready to dance?” We were very soon).
Pink is Boris’s much talked about latest import offering album and is purportedly their most accessible yet. The talk suggests that Boris’s previous noise excursions into drone metal, doom and hardcore have been reined in; this is no longer the North Pole but from listening to Pink it’s only just a little closer to the South of France.