Selection 014

April 19, 2014





Five more select tracks from the Monolith Cocktail sessions and dj gigs. 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: monolithcocktail@gmail.com

The Impacts  ‘Thunder Chicken’  (Tramp)  Taken from the Movements Vol.6 compilation 2014


The Count Five  ‘People Hear What I Say’  (The Bicycle Music Company)  Taken from Rarities: The Double Shot Years 2013


Them  ‘In The Midnight Hour’  (Klimt Records)  Re-released version of the 1970 original Them LP, 2010


The Jazzinvaders ft. Dr.Lonnie Smith  ‘Song For Lonnie’  (Social Beats/ Unique)  2013 


Bhekumuzi Luthuli   ‘Banamanga’   (Earthworks)   Taken from the  South African Rhythm Riot  compilation 1999






Hauschka

Sean BW Parker waxes eloquently about the avant-garde classicism of Hauschka’s latest experimental suite, Abandoned City.


Hauschka  ‘Abandoned City’  (City Slang Records) Available Now



It’s very hard to go about discussing a deeply thought about, worked on instrumental concept album. Most value judgements fly out the window when you realise simply that it is what it is – which may be a good thing in fact.

Germany’s Hauschka composes by ‘prepared piano’, which means directly hitting the strings of the instrument with various pieces of covered fabric implements to achieve new tonality. Here, he is doing this to conjure the lonely emotions one encounters in various abandoned cities around the world, and indeed successfully reflects that desolation.

The haunted-yet-soothing, repetitive hypnosis of Steve Reich is dominant, and the more atonal, discordant adventures of John Cage or La Monte Young, while forever casting an ominous shadow over the bleak landscape, never really arrive to jar, Hauschka seemingly preferring a suggested sadness over an imposed crisis.

‘Craco’ is the album’s highpoint in terms of conventional, musical beauty, its evocative piano twinkling ephemerally at dusk, its writer lamenting the loss of families, life and vibrancy, while grass grows through the cracks in the concrete – this in itself representing a new form of life.

So, did I paint a picture? In a media world of over-produced, quick-fix, genre-ridden tripe, Hauschka insists you sit back and actually listen, while he leads you through the alleyways and past the rusting gasworks of his abandoned cities; and we become his pliant, mesmerised passengers.

Sean Bw Parker




Grace Jones Nightclubbing LP sleeve art

Grace Jones  ‘Nightclubbing: Deluxe’  (Island/Universal)  28th April 2014    

 ‘Me! I Disconnect From You’  Record Store Day 12″  (Island/Universal)  19th April 2014


Missing the chance to celebrate its more obvious and sensible 30th and 35th anniversaries, 2014 seems an odd occasion to mark and reprise Ms.Jones’ aloof 1981 classic, Nightclubbing. Garnered the full marketing department’s stately honours of an ‘expanded’ deluxe edition, luxuriantly cased in an array of physical fanboy variants, the original will be bolstered by various ‘long’ and remix versions plus the previously unreleased duo of the nautical dub paean ‘If You Wanna Be My Lover’ and the tropical swinging cover of Gary Numan and his Tubeway Army‘s synth lament, ‘Me! I Disconnect From You’. The cheerier sea breeze Jones take on that Numan track will also be released as a separate 12″ in time for Record Store Day on April 19th.

Very much a snapshot of its time yet resonating with a timeless quality too, Nightclubbing encapsulated – as did many of Jones’ recordings – the cross-pollination of art and music, at the turn of the 80s. The middle LP of a Bahamas recorded cycle – viewed as the androgyne polymaths most important and influential – the album is a sophisticated nocturnal beast. Ms.Jones prowling like a panther on heat, the sentinel chiselled android whose vocal intonation and monotone cadence (a binary mix of Édith Piaf, Eartha Kitt, Ann Peebles and Nico) proves that there is indeed a soul at the heart of the machine, slopes up and down on a deep, cool, backtrack of dub, calypso, Tango, funk and ominous skulking new wave.

Nightclubbing deluxe suite


A kind of languished dream team brought together under Chris Blackwell’s Island Records flagship, Jones’ infamous Compass Point All Stars production and session group boasted a former Wailer, keyboardist Tyrone Downie, synth specialist Wally Bardarou, guitarists Micky ‘Mao’ Chung, Barry ‘White’ Reynolds and fellow Nassau resident funksters T-Connection‘s Monte Browne, percussionist Uziah Sticky Thompson and the esteemed rhythm duo of drum and bass masters, Lowell ‘Sly’ Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare.

Continuing to cover the same brooding torment of the previous The Normal borrowed Warm Leatherette LP, this steamier volume gives the seedy Bowie/Pop original a certain dreamy gait. and bounces to a whole new dub beat; not so much dynamic and bombast, but methodical and naturally funky. Whether slinking through a poignant downpour (‘Walking In The Rain’); tripping the night fandango in a concretised Parisian espionage-lit set (‘Seen That Face Before’); or transforming a Sting number into Blade Runner futurism (‘Demolition Man’), Jones and her assembled cast turn a deadpan phrase and ponderous bass line into something erotically electric.



Leaping out like a yellow cab horn honk, the album’s most renowned – a staple of every good house party – anthem, ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, transports the action to Studio 54, via the traffic and heat of the New York sidewalks, to create one of the all time sassy grind and bomps. Good job its a class act, as there are six various degrees of pointless mixes (collected from 12″ and promotional releases, and with the ‘Peanut Butter’ mix, from a cassette), including an instrumental and countless mildly adjusted shades of the same evocative rhythm; though the ’1985 Remix’ is an eyebrow raising Wild Style meets The Beverly Hill Cop, echo heavy, highlight.

But it is the, rather meagre, offering of the left dormant and unloved If You Wanna Be My lover (more attuned and congruously suited to the next of Jones’ albums, Living My Life) and already mentioned Numan cover, Me! I Disconnect From You. Luckily both are pretty decent efforts, If You Wanna Be…the lost link between yacht pop, Bowie’s Young Americans and Ann Peebles, and the so-called futuristic disconnected distance of Numan’s world is brought back to life: an Island life.

If you haven’t contemplated or still yet attained a copy of Nightclubbing then this will be worth the price of admission. However nothing beats the original vinyl pressing except the 180g, remastered from the analogue tapes, vinyl version which will be relaxed alongside the CD specials on the 28th (April 2014) – the 81 version is fine but on a much lower grade of quality and thinner vinyl.




Here are the various track list versions:


Standard / e Album / MFiT

 

  1. Walking In The Rain  4.18
  2. Pull Up To The Bumper  4.41
  3. Use Me  5.04
  4. Nightclubbing  5.06
  5. Art Groupie  2.39
  6. I’ve Seen That Face Before  (Libertango)  4.30
  7. Feel Up  4.03
  8. Demolition Man  4.03
  9. I’ve Done It Again  3.51

Deluxe CD /e Album / MFiT / HD/Blu Ray Audio

Disc 1

1       Walking In The Rain  4.18

2       Pull Up To The Bumper  4.41

3       Use Me  5.04

4       Nightclubbing  5.06

5       Art Groupie  2.39

6       I’ve Seen That Face Before  (Libertango)  4.30

7       Feel Up  4.03

8       Demolition Man  4.03

9       I’ve Done It Again  3.51

 

Disc 2

1       Demolition Man (12” Version)  4.58 //  Issued as A-side of 12” single 12 // WIP 6673, Feb 1981.

2       Pull Up To The Bumper (Long Version)  5.45 //  Issued as A-side of 12” single //  12 WIP 6696, June 1981

3       Feel Up (Long Version)  6.14 //  Issued as B-side of 12” single //  12 WIP 6696, June 1981

4       I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) (12” Version)  5.32  // Issued as A-side of Dutch 12”  // single 600.366, July 1981

5       Walking In The Rain (12” Version)  7.25 //  Issued as A-side of 12” single //  12 WIP 6739, Oct 1981

6       Pull Up To The Bumper (Remixed Version)  7.15  // Issued as B-side of 12” single // 12 WIP 6739, Oct 1981

7       Use Me (Long Version)  6.10 // First issued on Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions

8       Pull Up To The Bumper (US Party Version) 5.00 // Issued as A-side of US promotional 12” single // PRO-A-936

9       Feel Up (Extended Version)  6.15  // Issued as A-side of US promotional 12” single //  PRO-A-985

10    Pull Up To The Bumper (1985 Remix)  6.24 // Issued as A-side of cassette single //  CIS 240

11    Peanut Butter (Pull Up To The Bumper Instrumental)  5.10 //  Issued as B-side of cassette single //  CIS 240

12    If You Wanna Be My Lover (previously unreleased)  8.00 approx

13    Me! I Disconnect From You (previously unreleased)  5.30 approx

14    Esta Cara Me Es Conocida (I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) 4.32 // Issued as A-side of Spanish 7” single B-102.587



LP – Cut at Abbey Road Studios

Disc 1-Standard Album

Disc 2

1       Demolition Man (12” Version)  4.58 // Issued as A-side of 12” single 12 WIP 6673, Feb 1981.

2       I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) (12” Version)  5.32 // Issued as A-side of Dutch 12” single //  600.366, July 1981

3       Walking In The Rain (12” Version)  7.25 // Issued as A-side of 12” single 12 //  WIP 6739, Oct 1981

4       Use Me (Long Version)  6.10 // First issued on Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions

5       Pull Up To The Bumper (US Party Version) 5.00 // Issued as A-side of US promotional 12” single // PRO-A-936

6       Feel Up (Extended Version)  6.15 // Issued as A-side of US promotional 12” single // PRO-A-985

7       If You Wanna Be My Lover (previously unreleased)  8.00 approx

8       Me! I Disconnect From You (previously unreleased)  5.30 approx

 Grace Jones




RW Live in Istanbul Sean BW Parker

 

Our inimitable miscreant critic from Istanbul, Sean BW Parker, catches Rufus Wainwright’s performance in his home city.

 

Rufus Wainwright skips up from behind the gleaming centre stage grand piano, and declares: ‘Ok, time to talk about my outfit. I’m the Big Gay Sultan!’ – resplendent in calf-length multicolour dreamcoat – and it’s clear that the man is in chipper mood.

Central Istanbul’s Kucukciftlik Park is tonight covered in billowing burgundy fabric, half the audience seated in the front half of the arena, with the plebs to the back (though no-one’s able to smoke – that job is left to the gusty dry-ice on stage).

Wainwright is seriously into family. From name-checking his sister (Lisa, who supports tonight, and joins him for a tear-inducing, spine-chilling ‘Hallelujah’), father (‘Dinner At Eight’), mother, husband missing him from faraway lands (‘Argentina’), and of course the ever-present shadow of equally-famous other sister Martha, Rufus is like some gay patriarch, elegantly preening his way through the process of holding a staggeringly creative brood together.

He toes the line brilliantly between classically-trained, high-drama, orchestral genius (though essentially solo tonight), and vaudeville light entertainer – quipping with hecklers, and bantering in scripted Turkish with his fleeting sidekick ‘Liza Minelli’ – to huge cheers, naturally.

‘I know that you guys have your…issues here’ he says during the three song encore, ‘and I guess gay marriage isn’t at the top of the agenda right now…but it will be’, again to huge applause. Through images of a phone set to ‘Vibrate’ in order to give someone complete attention, to missing someone so much it hurts (the aforementioned ‘Argentina’), to a future Facebook anthem (‘Friendship’), Rufus Wainwright in full confidence, sweetness and charm, brought the quality to town, just for one night.

 

 

Tickling Our Fancy 003

April 11, 2014

Another round-up of the diaphanous, intriguing, psychedelic, awkward, abstract and polygenesis releases.

 


the wands

Bedroom pop dreamers think big;  jungle vine swinging nouveau jazz;  Danish and Italian sepia soaked psych; forlorn new wave protestation;  kooky birdsong choral folk; and blue-eyed ragging pop soul from this lot…

My Autumn Empire,  Marius Neset & Trondheim Jazz Orchestra,  The Wands,  The Vickers,  Matt Finucane,  You Are Wolf,  flies + flies.




Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 21.17.33

My Autumn Empire  ‘The Visitation’  (Wayside And Woodland)  21st April 2014



Transducing the, often over-egged, bombastic and Beatle-esque string pop of Jeff Lynne’s ELO into something subtler, yet still radiant and sparkling with touching melodies, Benjamin Thomas Holton produces an idyllic paean to the cosmos with his own soft bulletin, The Visitation.

Under the nom de plume of My Autumn Empire, Holton who is also half of the ‘post-pop pastoralists’ epic45, follows up his previous two albums with a gentle lilting homage to the light entertainment of passed sci-fi from the 70s and 80s. This particular LP’s inspiration springs from a Doctor Who, the protagonist of which was an alien stranded on Earth. With plenty of Holton’s beautifully crafted nostalgic memoirs blending into veiled elements of fantasy, the loose concept of feeling remote in the digital era, could never sound lovelier.

 

As displayed in the opening Air-esque solar wind generated space voyage ‘When You Crash Landed’, the acoustic rhythm guitars jangle softly, the vocals uttered in a Wayne Coyne finds himself growing up in a provincial British village green, harmonise, and the electrified atmosphere of a resigned Sparklehorse lingers. From then on in it’s a diaphanous cruise through a luminous landscape, with the rousing ‘Blue Coat’, British pastoral vaporous space dreaming of the Thunderclap Newman meets The Hollies ‘Summer Sound’, and Beach Boys take a vacation with the Bee Gees (when they performed with actual instruments in the early halcyon days) on ‘It’s Around’.

As the record meanders to its nebula destined conclusion, the music shifts towards the 80s, recalling a softened mix of XTC, The Cars, Dire Straits and even The Wedding Present – especially on the title track. Hardly announced with a loud clarion call, yet no less a heralded triumph, The Visitation is one of those surprisingly wondrous records that will melt not only your cold heart but charm you into submission. Already earmarked for our 2014 choice list.




Marius Neset & Trondheim Jazz Orchestra  ‘Lion’  (ACT)  Available Now



Like expensive Swiss clockwork the aficionados and adroit collectors of Europe’s most blessed experimental jazz, ACT, roll out another series of impressive releases. From the highly successful comradely between the scenes most venerated jazz advocates and new talent, via the ‘duo’ flagship, to a steady stream of trio, big band and even classical orchestral fusion collectives, the label has been busy.

But this time around it’s the exotic world tour vibes of the Norwegian saxophonist and composer Marius Neset that caught the Monolith’s ear. His latest suite of prohibition era ‘Big Apple’ jazz brought up-to-date by the explorative tenor horn imbued spirit of Jan Garbarek and Michael Brecker, is this collaboration with the prestigious Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Boasting of a pedigree that has seen the orchestra work with such luminaries as Chick Corea, Pat Methany and Joshua Redman, they first worked with Neset on a commissioned performance for the Norwegian Molde Jazz Festival in 2011. Admired greatly by Neset that initial meeting has extended to this eight-track recording, the fruits of which result in a congruous union that flows between the diaphanous melodic, quasi-Gershwin via the Cisco streets soundtrack brilliance of ‘Lion’, to the broken-down and built back up, pecked honking fusion of ‘Golden Xplosion’. Or there’s the herd of elephants trampling through Weather Report’s impromptu street gig in New Orleans of the upbeat, experimental carnival atmospheric ‘In The Ring’.

 

Often the backing band for a litany of leading lights from the continent and beyond, each member proves their own unique ‘chops’, performing as individuals and each granted space and the bars to show off their natural and well-crafted skills, without losing sight of the, often avant-garde but harmonic, leitmotif. Tumbling their way through a rambunctious yet highly controlled landscape of both tenderly sweet city skylines in the rain and squalling Hitchcockian birds like grandeur, Neset and his Orchestra create one of the year’s jazz highlights.



The Wands  ‘The Dawn/ Totem’  (Levitation Records & Fuzz Club Records) – 14th April 2014



From the ether breathing side of the calico wall the latest in a long heritage of popsike dreamers from the northern European hinterlands, it’s time to surround yourselves in the backward whispered dirge of Copenhagen outfit The Wands.

Brought up on too much Hammond sustain and fuzz the Danish duo languor through a late 60s backwash of Harrison, The Seeds, Beefheart, The Who circa Tommy, and immerse themselves in a kaleidoscope of Gothic 80s moodiness, on their latest 7”.

Taking a leaf out of one of their many nearest sounding fellow disciples of the psych, Electric Eye, they seem entirely at ease with the pseudo perceptions of your mind language of the most overdosed acid tab lickers from a pre-Woodstock era.  It all sounds warped and bended to evoke some far eastern via the sunset stripe or UFO club indulgent trip, with the A side (as we shall call it), ‘The Dawn’ or paisley soporific, whilst the equally dreamy flip, ‘Totem’, draws out the exotic, and often flute-y flights of fantasy coated ponderous shoegaze elements.

Not quite a brave new world, embedded in the hazy work of so many others who came before, but still a capable and enjoyable trip and favourable taster from their upcoming debut.



The Vickers  ‘Ghosts’  (Black Candy Records/Rough Trade)  Available Now



Dipping a toe into very similar halcyon dazed waters, Florentine psych outfit The Vickers lose themselves in a ‘Pink Floydian’ world of mooning acid and soft-hues. Their latest album is a thickly laid on cycle of acoustic guitars, float-y kool aid melodies and esoteric organs, which lingers between slow methodical Brit-psych and the more up to date intonations of the Horrors and Artic Monkeys – the opening motoring beat on ‘She’s Lost’ almost suggest a hint of krautrock. Though even when there is a distorted drum rampage here and there, its still soaked and muffled in dripping effects to dampen it.

 

Underpinned then, by soft patted tribal beats, Sam Flex and Unknown Mortal Orchestra flange and 80s Gothic garage lament, The Vickers echo the same furrow as their comrades in psych. The fifth, sixth, seventh I’ve lost count, great revival since the days of yore, they stand out perhaps for their penchant for the 90s.



Matt Finucane  ‘Evil Empire’ 



Surly troubadour commentator in the mould of an embittered Lou Reed, Matt Finucane has been sporadically releasing wise and blissful melancholy like this attentive anthem, ‘Evil Empire’, for the last decade and more.  Both as a band member and more recently as a solo artist carving his own niche among the turgid landfill of excessive blandness, Matt has despite his talent and well crafted spite, failed to reach the wider audience he duly deserves.

This slice of new wave blues, moves elegantly through its time changes and harks at the resigned beauty of David Slyvian and Jonathan Richman as Rome burns.




You Are Wolf   ‘Hawk To The Hunting Gone’  (Stone Tape Recordings)



Nature’s daughter Kerry Andrew has a uniquely quirky lilt vocally and lyrically; sounding not too dissimilar to tUnE-yArDs’ Merrril Garbus roaming through a folkloric imagined English woodland back in time.  Masquerading under the You Are Wolf alter ego, Andrew continues to wear many colourful and evocative disguises: the choral composer/singer already involved in a trio of different acts including the a cappella trio Juice, punk/jazz outfit DOLLYman and folk-jazz sextet Metamorphic.

The opening account on this aviary themed debut, ‘Cuckoo’ has the kooky spirit of Regina Spektor and The Dirty Projectors, whilst the following aptly named lamentable ode, ‘Swansong’, wastes no time in changing the mood from awkward spritely innocence to bygone forlorn. Both sang with effortless grace and emotive prowess.

Backed by the PRS foundation for the Women Make Music scheme, Kerry’s conceptual bird themed suite is at least partly, and in some cases wholly, based on a selection of traditional British folk songs. Her narrated, strung out, siren cooed, breathless and even beatboxed adaptations take those originals in whole new directions – shared with the atavistic Scottish burrs of Alasdair Roberts, ‘Doves’ attentively merges Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ with the our very own old staple, ‘Turtle Dove’, and ‘The Buzzard’s Heart’ achingly weeps, setting the T.S Elliot poem nominee, Robin Robertson’s ‘Answers’ to stirring violins.

 

Often twee, but never saccharine or fey, the songbook gazes upon mortality and the inevitable passing of time with all the splendor of a pastoral pagan scene from the Wicker Man.




flies + flies  ‘Bad Crab Hand’   Available Now as a Single and Limited Edition 10” vinyl



From the remains of a failed ‘art project’, the London trio flies+flies have thankfully salvaged an angry, but soulful, sound template, self-consciously dubbed by the group as ‘rhizomatic pop’: a layered conceptual term coined by those fun guys of philosophy, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, to describe theory and research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation.

 

Well they certainly boast of a rich array of influences and reference points, citing luminaries from the ‘ascetic world’ like Kubrick, T.S Elliot and Isa Genzken, and basking in the imbued glow of Jeff Buckley, Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but they sound unlike any of these. And that is probably a positive, as their sound is actually far less obvious and difficult to pin down; their debut single ‘Bad Crab Hand’ sounding like a sort of electro Hot Chip and Left Of Manila playing the most strung-out and bitter lamented rage of the Cold War Kids.

 

As to be expected the Robert Glassford & Daniel Zuccco directed official video, is a symmetrically cut, pyramid correlation of the group foot tapping their way from pop to swearing outbursts of primal spite.



CAN group shot circa 75.

 

 

From the pantheon of the stellar krautrock gods, news reaches down to the mortal hoard below that we are soon to be granted the insider story of the genres most venerated and respected totem, Can.

A moiety of biography and symposium, the two volume epistles will be delivered sometime in (don’t get too excited just yet!) 2016. The announcement of these tomes, written in the most part or at least guided by Wire writer Rob Young, was instigated by the group’s sonic dashboard keys man, Irmin Schmidt on the Faber Social. It remains unclear how the rest of the surviving members feel or indeed what their co-operation is at this stage, as the book has only the most loose of details, except it will include the usual accolades from admirers and interviews with those who played a part in the Can legacy over the last fifty years.

The Monolith has itself written (and your humble editor in his contributions to a number of other blogs, has reviewed and postulated on the subject) exhaustively on Can and their role in the development of experimental music in the rock’n’roll cannon. But this latest addition to the tributary industry of adulation could be either a godsend or just another over-cooked appraisal of a band that is still relatively seen as ‘underground’, yet as had a lavish series of celebrations; commemorated every five years. Boxsets, re-releases, exhibitions, tribute albums…the list goes on and on. But as the so-called purveyors of the future ‘now’, exploration and avant-garde titans revert to visiting their most dynamic and productive years (lets not beat about the bush, we all know we’re talking about the key years in the late 60s and early 70s), they become part of the establishment of old crones and respectable rockers and lose that rebellious anti-establisment and music industry charm we so loved. Can was never meant to be contained or demarcated in a biography.

But never one to miss the bandwagon as it rolls out of town, here is our ‘choice’, perhaps dare we suggest ultimate, Can playlist soundtrack.

Selection 013

April 7, 2014

 

Future Islands cover art MC

 

The Quarterly Revue

 

Something a little different this week as we collect our ‘choice’ tracks from the last three months, and place them in a handy playlist for your pleasure.

 

Every track has been  released (or ‘re’ and ‘re-released’ again) in 2014.





40th anniversary of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs.

 


Diamond Dogs full spread eagled cover


The Monolith and Sean BW Parker celebrate the great dane of avant-lite rock’n’roll, David Bowie and his canine hybrid Orwellian nightmare on wax, Diamond Dogs. For it is just over 40 years since its release upon the unsuspecting public; the transitional interlude from Pin Ups, to the plastic soul crooning of Young Americans.



Sean BW Parker has the floor…


Future Legend – David Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs’, 40 Years On



Diamond Dogs, David Bowie’s eighth, 1974 album, opens with the ghostly howl of some kind of urban scavenger, followed by crowd noise and the legend: ‘This ain’t rock ‘n roll – this is genocide!’, before the utterly bizarre riff of the title track kicks in.

While all of Bowie’s 70s albums are constantly present in my all-time favourites, it is ‘…Dogs’ that truly lives under my skin; tales of skeletal thin Bowie in his North London townhouse with Angie and (then) son Zowie, writing a 1984 (the book) inspired piece of rock theatre in the upper floors on a grand piano, thick sheepskin rug on the wooden floor, an Aleister Crowleyian/Nietzschean/Dionysian atmosphere hanging over the proceedings like heavy, dark thunder.

The astonishing, beautiful and mesmerising triptych of ‘Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)’ follow the title track, and the crafted world of this album opens up like an Atlantis beneath the speakers waves: from ‘It’s safe in the city, to love in a doorway – strangle some screams from the door…’ through to ‘we’ll jump in the river holding hands’, Bowie’s Halloween Jack character leaps from the top of a tinkling grand piano over London rooftops with nihilistic, suicidal glee.

 

1974′s main rival in the theatrical conceptual rock stakes was Genesis‘ excellent The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, before Peter Gabriel did a runner and when they were still good. Bowie seems to be very aware of this (as presumably Gabriel was of him), and pushes the atmosphere creation in wonderful new directions, such as the haunted, Winston Smith NSA lament, ‘We Are The Dead’: Sublimely bleak organ lines conceal a broken man and his lover, lost under the eternal stamping boot of an authoritarian state, and wringing some drops of existential joy from their plight.

 

The hit singles are all present and correct of course, ‘Rebel Rebel’ and proto-disco stomper ’1984′ – but it’s the sign of a certain kind of record when the album tracks are that much more powerful than the radio singles. The album closes with the poignant anthem-like Russian march of ‘Big Brother’ (‘Don’t talk of dust and roses – or should we powder our noses?’), segueing into glimpse of rock future ‘The Chant Of The Ever-Circling Skeletal Family’, a hypnotic, demented revolver of a song, putting one somehow exactly in mind of the title, skulls blankly grinning away, before the repeat to fade ‘Bro-bro-bro-bro…’ Bowie’s elder brother Terry Jones was by now regularly in and out of mental asylums due to his schizophrenic episodes, which would climax in his throwing himself in front of a tube train nearly a decade later.

 

Ziggy Stardust two years before had been a rock and roll creation, a physical being beamed in and cranked up by The Spiders From Mars. The juxtaposing of the eye-patched Halloween Jack, George Orwell’s 1984 and Bowie’s desire to design a huge stage show (The 1980 Floor Show), led to the far more textured, layered, lyrically and conceptually deep Diamond Dogs. This album opens up below you like a Swiss alpine valley city at night, flying in just before dawn, twinkling here, howling there, but constantly, entrancedly, beautifully powerful everywhere.



And now our turn…



“As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent, you asked for the latest party…” And with that the future dystopian, biota canine, leapt from its slumber “onto the streets below”, howling for more.

Bowie never really wanted to be a musician as such. His destiny lied with the grease paint of theatre and allure of cinema. Diamond Dogs of course allowed him to create a spectacle, melding the two disciplines together.

Fate would force the original concept to morph into the achingly morbid and glam-pop genius we’ve now come to love: a planned avant-garde, ‘moonage’, treatment of Orwell’s revered novel 1984 was rebuked by the authors estate.

Still those augural references to state control and totalitarianism are adhered to throughout – both lyrically and in the song titles –, but attached to visions of a new poetic hell!

The loose, all-encompassing, metaphysical language may promise melancholy and despair, yet it also knows when to anthemically sound the rock’n’roll clarion call too.


Decreed as the leading highlight’s of the album by the majority –

Diamond Dogs (single), Rebel Rebel (single), 1984


Pay attention to these often overlooked beauties –

Rock’n’Roll With Me (single), Sweet Thing

(Originally part of a full Bowie retrospective to celebrate the release of The Next Day in 2013 for God Is In The TV. You can find the four-part survey of every album here…)








Postcode   ‘Zebratronic’   (Small Bear Records)  Available Now

Postcode are a bafflingly zebra-fixated garden-shed indie duo from the Isle of Man, bestowing upon us their third album, titled appropriately enough Zebratronic.

There is very little of the Savannah in their 1991, paisley-shirted, Doctor Martens and ink smelling sound though – the pair coming off all Sebadoh, Chapterhouse and Cocteau’s at their fuzziest.

Individual songs and lyrics are hard to decipher, penetrable by the keenest fan, the (apparently incomplete) band preferring a more hazy stew of distortion, dirty bar atmosphere and Suicide programmed beats to create their wired womb.

The vibe is indeed an ‘outdated’ pre-grunge Seattle-via-Cardiff one, but outdated is a very peculiar term these days, and the bloody minded resilience of determined, island-bound undergrounders in Gagaworld should always be encouraged.

 

Sean BW Parker




Selection 012

March 29, 2014


The Make Up



Five more select tracks from the Monolith Cocktail sessions and dj gigs. 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 dj sets or catch our residency at the Attibassi Cafe in Chichester every Sunday.

 


Third Eye  ‘Ogetnom’  (Street Jazz Records)  1994


The Frank Derrick Total Experience  ‘No Jive – Live at Fiddlers’  (PS Records)  1974


Cypress Hill  ‘Psychobetabuckdown’  (Columbia) 1991


Merchandise  ‘Begging For The Life/ In The City – Edit’  (4AD)  2014


 The Make-Up   ‘Here Comes The Judge – Live at the the Cold Rice‘   (Discord Records)  1996





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