July 24, 2014
Poised to strike at the very soul and bring Morrissey‘s sneery aloof world(view) crumbling down, our very own incredulous critic Sean Bw Parker pushes his subject onto the proverbial psychiatrist’s couch as he goes to work on World Peace Is None Of Your Business.
Morrissey ‘World Peace Is None Of Your Business’ (Harvest)
I was sharpening my pencil listening to the new Morrissey album, ready to lacerate it to shreds, shoot it down like a Malaysian airliner in a gleeful, hate-filled, poison pen review…until I realised I really quite like it, because it’s really very good. Damn you Morrissey, you win this time, but you can’t run forever…
I remember at the end of The Smiths’ royalties’ trial the lonely high court judge brilliantly describing Stephen Patrick as ‘devious, truculent and unreliable’. Clearly he hadn’t realised Morrissey’s stock-in trade (who probably considered these adjectives compliments anyway, despite losing the case).
It must be horrible to be inside Morrissey’s head. Not only is his mentality so hate-filled, blinkered and prejudiced as to render his general subjects (the National Front; bullies; carnivores) positively progressive, but he’s getting more trenchant as he ages – he steamily reeks of crapulence.
All that said, he and his writing partner, rockabilly Boz Boorer also know well how to knock a earwormy tune together. The sledgehammer-like subtlety of the title ‘World Peace Is None Of Your Business’ (Morrissey after fucking aeons of complaining, finally reads a Chomsky essay) aside, standouts here are the positively raunchy ‘Istanbul’ (I wonder why he’s picking on my adopted city), and the classic Moz bedtime story ‘Staircase At The University’ about a girl so academically pressurised by her father that she throws herself down the aforementioned stairs, cracking her head open three ways.
After irritating the general public now for over three decades, SPM proves massive, unexamined narcissism is still a marketable tool in the social media generation with the astonishingly self-absorbed ‘I’m Not A Man’, the singer berating 50% of the world’s population for not being as sophisticated as he is. ‘Earth Is The Loneliest Planet’ is similarly clumsy – and what do I hear here? A wailing female backing vocal. She’s presumably sufficiently developed to make the cut (for a couple of ‘woo-oohs’ anyway.)
My friends say ‘hate the man, not the artist’. Indeed what choice do we have with someone who is so obstinately determined, Alan Bennett-style, to obfuscate the fact that psychological development is possible, regardless of the pricks surrounding? Beautiful touches of oboe here or accordion there cannot disguise the fact that music comes a distant second to his ‘caustic verve’, like some downtrodden, desperate, world-beaten spouse – but in the end the child wins out over the man yet again. Mr Morrissey, the doctor will see you now.
Sean Bw Parker
July 23, 2014
John MOuse ‘The Death Of John MOuse’ (Crocfingers) Released 14th July 2014
Criminally ignored; slipping below the deluge of far inferior, muted and outright insulting Brazilian World Cup affiliated singles and albums; the fatalistically entitled Death Of John MOuse opens with a football fanfare. An anthem suitable for any kids nostalgic memories of hoofing a footie past a couple of jumpers, used as the obligatory stand-in for missing goalposts. ‘I Was A Goalkeeper’, John MOuse’s most radio-friendly track yet, doesn’t so much celebrate the pomp and ‘circumspect’ indulgence of a bloated ceremony, as weave a tale of childhood innocence, in particular the tale of two friends drifting apart from the kick-arounds of their youth into adulthood.
The despondent Welsh mise-en-scène bard, joined on vocal duties by Gareth David of Los Campesinos!, peppers his Undertones barracking backing with a Mark E Smith rant; energetically bouncing off the walls as the fable echoes the nature of MOuse and his comrades inevitable repetition of their own failings as they once again meet up in adulthood.
The kitchen sink poetics continue, both understated and personal in its melodramatic poignancy with the heartbreakingly, purposeful, sadden enervated piano backed ‘Robbie Savage’: the album’s most subtle, forlornly beautiful, moment. Told in a monologue sepia of wrestling star metaphors, mistaken for the Welsh footballer turn glitter-ball fancy toes celeb of the song title, this etched lament describes the objects and surroundings, frozen in time, of a divorce and the resulting ‘moving on’ outcome: MOuse replacing his father as the man of the house, before a new partner once more takes on the role.
‘Those Two Blokes From Abba’ which doesn’t seem at first to have any relevance, later alludes to a stark outburst of violence, meted out to a battered wife. This comes out of the blue, jolting the listener from the farcical list of increasingly ridiculous famous people that the protagonist of the story is said to resemble.
Bittersweet indictments don’t come any sadder than with the care home pitched relationship between a retired, highly religious, ‘Teacher’ and his care worker, who find a touching moment of realization when MOuse’s character lends the old patriarch his copy of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings Vol. II album. MOuse mumbles a resigned, bleakly awkward, drama (debating if he should ask for his Cash LP back from the relatives when the teacher finally passes away; after it gets mixed up in the teacher’s own belongings), under-stated as ever, like a Welsh Alan Bennett on a zero hours contract, to an angular gnarled backing.
A penchant for the grown-up melodies of the post-punk and indie scene of the 80s permeates through the ATV loves jazz coos alongside Echo and the Bunnymen spirited ‘Your Funny Little Ways’, and the upbeat marching carpet burn chit-chat, highlight, ‘That’s Just The Way Our Love Is’. Elsewhere the signposts read PiL, on the harangued and beaten ‘Ilka Moor’; The Smiths tussling with Teenage Fanclub, on the “Les Miserable” ‘I’m Waiting For Your Girl’; and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, on the pastoral lilted closing epic ‘Once A Time In Yngsmaerdy (Will I Ever Queue Again)’.
Brought to vivid life in a series of colliery-smirched terraced house dioramas, MOuse’s prematurely declared demise entitled songbook is a poignant, and throughout laugh or you’d cry, observation of his own childhood and its impact upon the present. But if there was a common theme sufficed throughout the album’s eleven-tracks, it would in the form of a resigned augur that we are prone to repeat our own parents mistakes and failings and that we often find sanctuary in the comforts of the past, even when fraught with episodes of horror. It is what shapes us.
July 21, 2014
Sean Bw Parker finds time to appreciate, in a with-strained manner, the newly recorded acoustic compilation of ‘choice’ Richard Thompson classics.
Richard Thompson ‘Acoustic Classics’ Released 14th January 2014
God it had never occurred to me how much Richard Thompson sounds like Nick Cave. They may have been surgically separated at the throat at birth, were it not for the fact that the Lord of Darkness would rather die (live?) than be compared to a be-bereted, right-on crustie folkie hippy like Thompson, a generation older as he is.
This reality is clearest on the sublime ‘I Misunderstood’, here shorn of its early 90s soft rock cheese-pomp, and delivered as a stripped down, frustrated, angry lament – though why Londoner Thompson delivers ‘good luck’ as ‘good look’ is surely an accent-as-authenticity mystery.
‘From Galway to Graceland’ is a touching tale of a mentally unwell lady who travels to Memphis, Tennessee to be with her love, Elvis the Pelvis himself – only to find the object of her desires deceased or disinterested – it’s not too clear which.
In an impossible to qualify album – all the songs are perfectly written and played, produced and selected – it is better simply to describe. Apart from the aformentioned tracks, ‘I Want To See The Brights Lights Tonight’, ‘Walking On A Wire’ and ‘Dimming Of The Day’ are all sublime examples of post-Dylan songcraft. Listen and learn.
Sean Bw Parker
July 19, 2014
You can peruse and discover more via our Spotify account.
If you like what you hear, and wish to embrace the Monolith musical ascetic, than contact us on our email for possible gigs and events: firstname.lastname@example.org
Total Control ‘Expensive Dog’ (Iron Lung Records) Taken from the Typical System LP, 2014.
Shonen Knife ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’ (P-Vine) Taken from Osaka Ramones LP. 2011.
Cabaret Voltaire ‘Animation’ (Mute) Taken from the #7885 (Electropunk to Technopop 1978 – 1985) collection, 2014.
Dennis Coffey ‘Don’t Knock My Love feat. Fanny Franklin’ (Strut) Taken from the Dennis Coffey LP, 2011.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk ‘What’s Goin’ On/Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)’ (Atlantic) Taken from the Blacknuss LP, 1972.
July 17, 2014
In her very own lyrically distinctive purview style, Ayfer Simms explores the latest languorous, progressive psych suite from Amos Piper.
Amos Piper ‘Amos Piper’ Released 9th April 2014
In between chaotic moments, emotional upheavals, days of starvation, of struggles, wonder, overdose of happiness, daily mishaps and deeper introspective “mal d’être”, there is a moment of mellowing alternative reverie-like state that nothing can disturb.
Amos Piper is the man from earth who travelled through ages, has witnessed the metamorphoses of the lands, the vicissitudes of the hearts and all the human kind’s deeds for fourteen thousand years and has kept it all for himself, all through the dark years and the enlightened ones. He has been with the emerging human consciousness, with antique kings, as Buddha’s follower, in the skin of a Jesus without a moral intent, a Robespierre’s advisor thrown into the Bastille and rose alive. With sweat on the forehead and blood on the chest, he has met many loves, many deaths, walked many miles and gathered wisdom before landing on a high rise building in Baltimore to catch his breath: Amos Piper puts you there, making you gaze over the landscape of modern times, thinking no more of the exhausting yet fruitful surreal travels behind.
Amos Piper’s album is that moment of transition where the calm submerges all passion and the taming of the adrenaline becomes a new necessity for survival. There are many more centuriesto come and to conquer: The music has the slow dreaminess of a languish thought; the guitars reverberate along with inwardly tuned vocals which gently surf on the fringes of a shuddering cool rhythm. The music at times recalls Radiohead’s atmosphere without the irreparable deep sorrow, Kurt Cobain acoustic live performances without the ebullient sadness, and an atmosphere of its own that somehow gives you the feeling of being eternal.
The lyrics offer some insight on the inner thoughts that come flooding to the resting mind: “I know I should go now”, “Sometimes it feels like every day feels the same”. Because it isn’t ending here, while resting and feeling “cool” we are already thinking of the future: claiming independence without hurting anyone, finding a way out of the urban landscape of introspection without causing more pain to anyone.
One track, ‘Under The Red Moon’, takes the coolness to its distorted limits without breaking the peace; another makes your body quiver at the rolling enticing guitar with some remotely psychedelic notes.
The rhythm has this unavoidable haunting ambience: We are the heroes exhausted but conquering, lying for a minute on our back to watch the city’s bad clouds slid away, the abyss yet around the corner. This is the music of urban vampires, carrying the energy of eternal souls and all that goes with it: Melancholia and power, floating in a dream-like world with a ghostly electrifying presence.
July 16, 2014
Performing for the very first time in Istanbul, Neil Young and Crazy Horse‘s inaugural visit to Turkey, fails to convince and impress our inimitable critic, Sean Bw Parker.
As with the Pixies concert recently, I’m not sure if it’s the fault of the venue’s sound system, Neil Young’s crew, or the man himself; his sound sucked. Muffled, tired, lacklustre and decrepit – very much like many of Young’s eighties albums – the audience’s smatterings of applause were for nostalgia alone.
Neil Young is a bona fide song-writing genius, second to none in the rock canon. There were of course a handful of those tracks tonight – ‘Heart of Gold’, ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’, ‘Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World’ – but the Crazy Horse experience was so…disconnected as to make the whole expedition pointless.
A signature black trilby and gaggle of loyal septuagenarian musos surrounding you are not sufficient to carry this blatantly venal weight, sagging around your shoulders. Endless extended guitar solos over anonymous tracks, exploiting the same old chord changes will not convince anyone, however much they love the original songs: Assimilation by nostalgia.
The occasional light Istanbul rain and balming breeze at once carried the sound out of the arena, and reminded the obeisant audience of how transient Young’s legend can be. The singer and his Crazy Horse pals had some tight old fun together – the Turkish crowd, having spent a month’s pay to see him, watched.
Sean Bw Parker
July 15, 2014
The Bordellos ‘Will.I.Am, You’re Really Nothing’ (Small Bear Records) Released 31st May 2014
“If you don’t believe in rock’n’roll, you don’t believe in life!”
It was Blur, in one of their only true flashes of inspiration, who came closest to summing up the times with their dejected conclusion that “modern life is rubbish”. That was the early 90s, but depending on how long in the tooth, worn-down and jaded you are, every age can be viewed with the same disappointing sigh of resignation. Yet, surely the present times take some beating, at least to us, the self-appointed custodians of the past, who remember an age when the culture seemed…. well, at least exciting, linear and comprehendible, instead of appropriated without thought or context, screwed-over and manipulated for largely commercial results, and slotted in to a handy off-the-peg lifestyle choice. Pop has eaten itself, with the lifecycles of trends and music becoming ever shorter.
It is with all this in mind that The Bordellos set out their manifesto. Levelling their criticism at commercial radio and TV especially, they aim their guided missile attacks at the harbingers of the Ed Sheeran topped Urban/Black music power lists, and what seems more and more like the UK publicity wing of conservatism, the BBC. The St.Helens, via a disjointed Merseybeat imbued lineage, family affair Bordellos replace the “happy-go-lucky” lightweight and deciding suspect women’s rights champion, totem of Pharrell Williams, Will.I.Am and all his partners in floppy platitude pop, rock and folk with the arch druid of counter-cultural esotericism and miscreant obscure musical sub-genres (Kraut to Jap via Detroit rebellious and experimental rock), Julian Cope. Grinding out a dedicated epistle to Cope, the trio’s sermon, ‘The Gospel According To Julian Cope’, prompts a road to Damascus conversion to the spirit of rock’n’roll, in all its most dangerous guises.
De facto idol, Mr.Cope, pops up again on the ‘My Dream Festival’, which as the title suggests is a list of the ideal, once in a lifetime, free festival lineup; read out in a quasi-Daft Punk ‘teachers’ style bastardized litany to an accompanying Casio pre-set drum track and watery effects. The Casio rhythm pre-sets and occasional sound bites come in handy again on the jaunty, deadpan disco jolly, ‘Elastic Band Man’ – a transmogrified Human League meets John Foxx – and on the broken-up, Robert Wyatt emotional drudge, ‘Between Forget And Neglect’.
Despite going at it hammer and tongs on their anvil-beating Cope Gospel, the Bordellos latest long-player protestation is a forlorn and intimate downbeat record. They can still be relied upon to rattle off a list of grievances and opprobrious pun harangued song titles: from the LP’s play-on-words adopted Smiths song, reworked to accommodate a big fuck-you to that irritable twat, Will.I.Am, to name-checking another hyperbole anomaly of our Youtube, Google, Facebook, Twitter masters’ bidding, the no less frustratingly lame ‘Gangnam style’ viral – joining the call from last year’s Bring Me The Head Of Justin Bieber EP, for another public execution.
But it’s with a certain lamentable introspection that they also tone the vitriol down to attend to matters of the heart: The kiss-me-quick, misty-eyed ballad to love on a northern coast seaside town, ‘Straight Outta Southport’, and the Hawaiian slide guitar country rock ode, ‘The Sweetest Hangover’ both, despite their tongue-in-cheek titles, bellow a fondness for lovelorn adventures and plaintive break-up regret; proving that despite the bellicose calls for the corporal punishment of the foppish elite and its commercial pop music stars, there is a tender side to the group.
Sounding like it was recorded on an unhealthy dose of Mogadon, Will.I.Am, You’re Really Nothing is a composed grumble from the fringes of a battered musical wilderness. A last cry if you will from the pit-face of rock’n’roll.
July 14, 2014
We welcome back into the fold the music blogosphere’s busiest critic, Ben P Scott (RW/FF, God Is In The TV & Melksham Town Radio), with a review of the latest luk thang, Phnom Penh rock’n’roll, album from the Cambodian Space Project.
The Cambodian Space Project ‘Whiskey Cambodia’ (Metal Postcard Records) 14th July 2104.
When people talk about music with a “lost history”, they often refer to obscurities that were too ahead of their time to be accepted into mainstream culture or to be widely documented. However, the tragic tale of Cambodia’s musical past runs a lot deeper than that. During the Khmer Rouge’s brutal reign in the 1970s, artists, intellectuals and musicians were ruthlessly executed, and their works destroyed, leading to a huge chunk of the country’s cultural history being wiped away. With various compilations and books bringing the music to people’s awareness in the last few years, The Cambodian Space Project celebrate and feed from the country’s lost musical history, bringing the sounds and spirit back to life in the 21st century. They were formed in 2009 when Tasmanian musician Julien Poulson heard the voice of Srey Thy singing in a karaoke bar in Phnom Penh. She’s lived in a tank, she’s been kidnapped, narrowly avoided a sex trafficking ring, been a women’s rights activist and has even worked as a Good Will Ambassador for UN Women’s UNiTE, rather an eventful life you’ll agree. On their third album, the duo augment their Khmer-rock and 60s Cambodian pop with a Motown flavour, supplied by an array of musicians including former Funk Brothers guitarist Dennis Coffey.
‘Dance Twist’ is a lively helping of surf rock that kicks off this pleasingly diverse album in upbeat, feet moving fashion, before the Motown connections shine through on the psychedelia-tinged soul of ‘If You Wish To Love Me’, while ‘Mountain Dance’ dips into a bit of rocksteady. Although it’s good having players who featured on some of the greatest soul classics, it doesn’t prevent the fact that they are essentially session musicians, something all too apparent on this album, which lacks a certain edge as a result. However, there are times when that barely matters, for example the highlight ‘Longing For The Light Rain’, a moody slice of laid back groove, embellished with colourful touches of brass, a fetching sax solo, some fine percussion sounds, and a sound in which the ghost of Curtis Mayfield can be heard.
The pace slows for the yearning power pop moment ‘If You Go I Go Too’, while the cool, memorably infectious ‘Here Comes The Rain’ would be a surefire hit single in a sane world, a commanding slice of savvy soul that provides another standout. Following the Eastern-flavoured (and English sung) disco-funk of ‘Black To Gold’, the 60s pop-flavoured ‘Rom Rom Rom’ races into heavier, more urgent moods towards the end, and the mysteriously quirky earworm ‘When Are You Free’, pushes things into new gears during two bursts of tempo that break up the Doors-esque verses. Reverberating with more unsettling vibes is the climactic title track where brooding drones meet the chimes of darkly atmospheric guitars, before the slow, spacious intensity transforms into West Coast soul towards the end, finishing the album on a high.
Although those famed session players add an authentic sheen to Whiskey Cambodia, in other places their presence makes things sound a bit more ordinary than they should be. A lot of people will consider Srey Thy’s vocals to be an acquired taste as well, but her often-haunted tones are perfectly matched to the well-executed melodies and effective arrangements. For something that’s a bit less Detroit and a bit more Cambodia, maybe the first two albums are worth seeking out instead, but Whiskey Cambodia does its own job well.
SINGLES / NEW MUSIC ROUND UP
Strap in, we have a lot to get through this week; so less chat and more music as we speed through a polygenesis array of our favourite recent and upcoming singles and miscellaneous tracks.
In no particular order we have jilted blue-eyed funk, epic Gravity movie meets lit up glittery psych, Dancehall cacophonies, and a rediscovered space elegy from our roll call of Batsch, Hooray For Earth, Tara, Wild Smiles, Souleance, Kalbata & Mixmonster, Film, Andy Votel, Henri-Pierre Noel, Terminal Gods and NehruvianDOOM.
Batsch ‘Celina’ (Tin Angel Records) taken from the Collar EP, 14th July 2014.
Amorphously slinking between genres and grooves, the Batsch gravitate towards a form of 80s inspired blue-eyed funk; a more pop, math rock version of A Certain Ratio mixed with the jerk-new wave of Talking Heads and a slew of late 60s progressive psych bands, as fronted by Glenn Tilbrook – though the band themselves cite Chic and Fela Kuti amongst their influences, the first of those a given, the second I suppose in the stumbled quasi-Afrobeat and Highlife alluded rhythms and timing. Despite the noodling references, these boys can sure turn their hand to a good groove, and though we’re not exactly on the dancefloor killing it, they do tread a similar experimental path to The Rapture.
It all amounts to a very interesting and promising mix, the antithesis of say, the equally shining beacons of progressive indie, world music and electronica, Ninetails.
We’ve picked ‘Celina’ from the Midland quartets latest EP, Collar, the follow up to their, now signature ‘dark-disco’ sound, debut Tiles, as a taster. A difficult task on what is, a near-perfect 5-track jilted glitter-ball suite of innovative wonders.
Hooray For Earth ‘Keys’ (Dovecote) Happening Now.
MGMT, when they wrote some at least melodic acid-coated psych pop anthems, trailblazing through a revolving flash lighted highway with Oh No Ono, the languorous acid washed but no less highly ambitious full-on Cinerama, Hooray For Earth, unveil the latest video for their recent single ‘Keys’.
Here’s the lowdown on the dreams of a future past gleaming video:
“Keys” was directed by Beau Burrows who said, “Hooray for Earth has a wonderful ear – and, unsurprisingly, eye – for the foreign-yet-familiar and seductively strange, so when they came to us with the prospect of working on a video for their new album, we got excited….we developed and programmed a computer-controlled system of lights and motion control rigs that would flash and move in sync with the song. This allowed us the freedom to shoot different objects and at different locations while keeping the perspective and lighting consistent; It’s motion and light control, all in one. Noel and everyone in Hooray for Earth brought a lot to the table during these exploratory shoots, which made collaborating closely with the band an integral part of the creative process. We certainly had a blast shooting it, so we hope everyone enjoys watching!“
Souleance ‘Jogar EP’ (First Word) 14th July 2014.
As the First Word label head off on a sabbatical, taking a couple months leave to soak up the festival season, they leave us with a timely breezy, sumptuous salsa and samba funk soundtrack from the French producer duo, Souleance. The party maybe over and celebrations left decidedly limp for Brazil, after their less than impressive cave-n to the never-rule-out-the-Germans, but the World Cup and indeed Summer must go on.
Dipping into the extensive Brazilian music collection of Alice Duffy, the lady behind all of Souleance’s artwork, the duo at least add a spring and pleasurable hop and skip to what’s left of the summer, creating a sauntering carnival mix of esoteric synth electronica, staple South American classics, and giddy Latin soul.
Tara ‘Beast’ 28th July 2014.
Oozing with the lamentable sophistication of a pop bewailed siren, singer/songwriter Tara follows up her last dry-ice atmospheric pained trance rocker, ‘Stars’ with this equally progressive requiem, ‘Beast’.
Vocally channeling the hushed chanteuse trilogy of Siobhán Donaghy, Delilah and Sia, Tara’s welled-up travail over stunted beats and occasional rock guitar flares, evokes a less Gothic, dreary but sparkly dream-noir version of Shakespeare’s Sister: classy!
Kalbata & Mixmonster ‘Congo Beat The Drum 12”’ (Freestyle Records) 28th July 2014.
Welcome to the cacophony of cheetah calls, rollicking tribal beats, roots reggae gnarly vocals and echo-y dub dynamics that is ‘Congo Beat The Drum’; the speaker rattling, primal gut-vibrating collaboration of Kalbata & Mixmonster.
Taken from the upcoming LP of the same name, the 12” version, which also features the roaring prowess of Jamaican dancehall veteran Marshall Mackerel, includes a remix by Bristol-based producer Kahn.
Wild Smiles ‘Never Wanted This’ (Sunday Best Recordings) 18th August 2014.
Returning to the Tickling Our Fancy round up for a second time (also appearing in our playlist of 2014), Winchester’s Wild Smiles barely conceal their penchant for the dirty alternative, isolated teen rage sound of early Dinosaur Jnr, Nirvana and the Pixies with their upcoming single, ‘Never Wanted This’.
It must be said; they do this sort of revitalised nostalgia for the once defining grunge sound of a generation, really well and it seems to be a diversion from their more post punk pop experiments – their last single, ‘Fool For You’, had a touch of The Ramones about it, albeit with a warmer less aggressive glow.
Film ‘Ping Pong With Angels’ (Inner Ear) taken from forthcoming Eclipse LP, September 2014.
From the Greek label that recently brought us the drone-morose of A Victim Of Society, the latest single/video from Inner Ear signing, Film.
Formed in 2003 the Athenian avant-garde pop trio have irked and transformed their sound into a dark, mysterious mix of Moroder, Vangelis’s film soundtracks and 80s laser-shooting dystopia noir. Their latest trope, ‘Ping Pong With Angels’, is no exception; with its cascading neon synth vortex of moody nebula soul-searching and Space imbued Blade Runner fixated despondency.
Ping Pong will appear on the upcoming album, Eclipse, released this September.
ZED ‘Visions Of Dune’ (Andy Votel Minimix) Happening Now.
Condensing and outlining the overall feel and atmosphere of the Gallic electronic pioneer Bernard Szajner’s epic homage to Frank Herbert’s original Dune trilogy, the panoply-feverish excavator of lost and obscure musical curiosities and Finders Keepers label stalwart, Andy Votel, magic’s up a ten-minute teaser.
Released the end of next month under the nom de plume of ZED, Szajner’s original dystopia mind-bending trip will be granted the full honours of a review on the Monolith Cocktail. Until then, if you haven’t already come across this mix, assimilate yourself with this chilling desert requiem tribute.
Henri-Pierre Noel ‘Funky Spider Dance’ (Wah Wah 45s) taken from the forthcoming One More Step LP, 21st July 2014.
Wow! Just when you feel jaded enough to believe you’ve more or less heard every great obscure funk/Latin/jazz and disco record ever made, along comes another shock to the motherboard, as one of those selfless music archeologist labels – in this case the Wah Wah 45s label – rereleases some lost treasure.
I can’t pertain to know much if anything about the Haitian music polymath pianist Henri-Pierre Noel, other than he took his native Kompa Funk licks and rhythms with him when upping sticks to Canada.
His tropical version of Latin, disco and jazz can be heard running riot over his 1979 LP, Piano – re-released by Wah Wah in 2012 – but his follow-up, One More Step was set for the dance floor. Enjoy the feverish conga and sonorous piano funk of ‘Funky Spider Dance for starters’; a full review is imminent.
Terminal Gods ‘Cold Life’ (Heavy Leather Records) 14th July 2014.
Bit of snake-hipped Depeche Mode-esque drone, fuzz pedal morose garage for you now from the Terminal Gods. Laying it on in thick pouted spades, the Gods, bedecked in chic dirty biker fetishism, settle into a rather melodic, semi-electro pulsing, swagger that betrays an ear for a catch-y tune.
Yeah, you won’t be humming it, but despite the gloom and strobe light flickered black and white bunker footage of the accompanying video, this anvil-bashed tune is highly accessible, falling between caustic metal and shoegaze, with touches of The Birthday Party and Jesus And Mary Chain.
NehruvianDOOM ‘Darkness’ (HBU) Happening Now.
Couldn’t resist sharing this, the latest peak at the upcoming collaborative album from the rising apostle of Hip Hop, Bishop Nehru, and the inimitable, exiled in in the UK (a long story) DOOM, ‘Darkness’. Directed by the Bishop himself, the golden age imbued New York poetic – think Action, Kool G Rapp, Intelligent Hoodlum, A Tribe Called Quest – rich rap video is taken from the NehruvianDOOM project; release date still unknown.
This first morsel from the much tantalising pairing – the burgeoning relaxed, eloquent Bishop a congruous sparring partner to the legendary, highly adroit lyrical master and beat producer, MF Doom – may or may not suggest that DOOM will take a backstage role; he is missing from this particular track vocally, though he did produce it.
Bound to be, as usual with nearly all DOOM projects, at least interesting if not illuminating.
July 10, 2014
Astonished at the veracious ratchet-y blues and gospel yeah yeah of Oxford’s Huck, our inimitable Istanbul critic, Sean Bw Parker, follows up his review of the troubadour’s highly rated ‘Alexander The Great (Operetta)’ album with an interview. An obliging enough chap, Huck is also sharing with us some photos from his most recent gigs.
Hi Huck. What can you tell us about Alexander the Great: a Folk Operetta? Is this a twentieth century concept album?
At its heart, yes, it is a concept album, though I was wary that the label is a turn-off for some, so did a bit of research and found this term ‘folk operetta’, which just sounds so nice. For me, it also has an interesting double meaning: folk as in lay, and folk as in the style of music. I don’t claim to be a folk singer, though – I’m just a fan and follower of that storytelling tradition. I’m a writer as well as a musician, and Alexander the Great is my first serious attempt at fusing those two disciplines.
You have an incredibly versatile voice, and way of delivery. Has this always been the case, or have you perfected it for/on this album?
It’s something that’s developed over the years as I’ve tried to find my voice, which I’m still looking for, to be honest – hence my schizophrenic style. I’ve always been a big fan of chameleonic singers like Tom Waits and Mike Patton, who can fit a lot of character and drama into a small space, which is exactly what I’ve tried to do with Alexander, of course. The vocalists I really admire, though, are the baritone-falsettos like Tim Buckley and Antony Hegarty, who make the most of their incredible range in a way that doesn’t detract from the sentiment. I’ve learnt a lot from them, and am still learning.
For indie fans who know little of Oxford past Radiohead and The Unbelievable Truth, what can you tell us about the city in 2014?
I like to moan about the post-Foals crowd because I can’t relate to that kind of stuff, but really I can’t complain. The Oxford music scene is perpetually vibrant and busy, largely because of the ever-changing student body, and that keeps us all on our toes. And compared to somewhere like London, which chews bands up and spits them out, Oxford strikes me as a great place to get established – it’s big enough not to get boring, but small enough to be practicable, with a lot of camaraderie between artists. Plus, if you’re going to stage a polytheistic, bisexual rock opera, better here than in Bolton, I imagine.
‘Alexander the Great’ sounds very spontaneous, live, and even analogue. Is it, and more broadly how do you feel about digitally recorded guitar music?
I’m glad it sounds spontaneous – it’s supposed to be a tale of youthful abandon, after all! I wish I could say it’s 100% live, but it’s more like 50%… Analogue is cool – we used a lot of old amps and compressors, and my philosophy is that you should try not to cut corners unless you really have to. That said, recording to a professional standard is (in my experience) neither quick nor cheap, so it’s always a compromise between how much time you are willing to spend in the studio and how much time you can afford to spend in the studio. If you and your band are good and ready, though, there’s no reason you can’t get a solid record done in a weekend, which is how long Act 2 of Alexander took us. I tend to roll my eyes when bands talk about spending months in the studio – I kinda think that if it’s taking you that long, something isn’t right.
Will we see the album on vinyl?
Hopefully yes! Once we’ve recorded Act 3, we’ll group it with 1 and 2 and release them as a single remastered album with an illustrated lyric book and so on, which would be perfect for vinyl… A 3-LP set, perhaps?!
Which other artists are exciting you these days?
I am in love with Angel Olsen and Chelsea Wolfe, though both of their new albums have taken some getting used to. Angel is a bona fide poet – I really believe she is one of the best and most subtle lyricists around – while Chelsea is a master of sonics – Unknown Rooms sounds like something from another planet… I also just discovered this country singer Sturgill Simpson, who is so real it hurts… Local music-wise, I highly recommend Billy T’rivers, Ags Connolly, and The August List.
Care for a beverage?
Rather too often, I’m afraid.