July 31, 2014
Once again our most recent addition Ayfer Simms, lays it on with another adroit, lyrical, literary review; entertaining the brand new single from Greek psych blues rockers, Cyanna Mercury.
Cyanna Mercury ‘Ode To An Absent Father’ Available Now
Spyreas Sid and the band Cyanna Mercury are the Greek Nosferatu, the Erebos, god of darkness and shadow, the father of things crawling in the basement of the Acropolis and entering the stage with a devilish alto-voice proposal. The “ode of the absent father” starts with a church-like organ, and leads us with boosted guitars to the dark and twisted mind of a demonic figure offering fatherhood, a dangerous proposal from which there will be no return. The music’s metallic edge, a softer version of System Of A Down, is honorably balanced with a melodic oriental vocal that welcomes you in the forsaken father’s fragile world: After two thirds of the track, the all-powerful creature of the darkness is suddenly the victim of his own desires and falls in a plaintive desperate howl where the absent one becomes another: the daughter remains silent and leaves the disowned father to his own “angel-less” world amid perturbing whispers and vibrating hellish psychedelic guitar in the background. By the end of that track, the strong figure is crippled down unable to quench his hunger pangs and left “feeling lost” in his doomed temple. The shift of the demon’s personality is left unexplained, we do wish more hints about what brought on such despair, however the track manages to pleasantly transport us into a world of melodic and controlled rage.
This track, “close to the album’s concept” is likely to figure in the soon to be released vinyl album, but will leave out the single’s B-side, ‘Dirty Things’: a track that “works great live” says the vocalist. Indeed that is probably a good decision as Dirty Things has the allure of a big classical rock piece: we imagine a man with a distorted mouth playing confidently on a giant sweaty stage and swinging the instruments with disheveled arm movement to a relaxed and enthusiastic crowd, far from the broody dangerously vulnerable father figure of the other side which we want to know more of.
July 30, 2014
Along with a myriad of equally fine and independent music/cultural blogs, the Monolith Cocktail is now hosting Universal Horse’s ‘Alternative Top Forty’ chart.; as chosen by you.
The Alternative Top 40 is a monthly music chart shared across multiple music blogs, and a great way of discovering music you might not have heard elsewhere. You can contribute to the #AltTop40 by simply naming your favourite tracks of the moment – for full details of how to nominate music, see the latest post about the chart at Universal Horse. Here’s this month’s edition:
1. Jack Adaptor – Get It Right First Time
2. Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni
3. Hazel Winter – YDFLM
4. Swans – She Loves Us
5. Lana del Rey – West Coast
6. Parquet Courts – Bodies Made Of
7. Rabit – Red Candles
8. Jemima Surrender – My Little Brother
9. St Vincent – Your Lips Are Red
10. Kogumaza – NB / Kолокол / Ursids
11. Patrick Duff – Thought Birds / +
12. SJ Esau – Frustrating / +
13. Fingersnap – Blackbirds / +
14. Tune-Yards – Gangsta / +
15. Alicia Catling – Mighty Fine / +
16. Laurel Halo – Supersymmetry / +
17. Sia – Chandelier / +
18. Julie Fowlis – Ged a Sheol Mi Air M’aineol / +
19. Bob Mould – The War / +
20. Marilyn Manson – Disposable Teens / +
21. Happyness – Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste the Same / +
22. Daisy Victoria – Macbeth to my Lady / +
23. Tape Waves – Looking at the Sun / +
24. Roddy Frame – Postcard / +
25. Steve Mason – All Come Down/ +
26. Robert Plant – Little Maggie / +
27. SJ Esau – Soul II Skull / +
28. Carla Bozulich – Lazy Crossbones / +
29. FKA Twigs – Two Weeks / +
30. Jemima Surrender – Anathema / +
31. Michael O’Neill – Cheetham Hill Speed Scene / +
32. Melt Yourself Down – Fix My Life / +
33. Mankind – Blood Sugar / +
34. Shacklock Meth Party – Johnny B Goode/ +
35. Manic Street Preachers – Europa Geht Durch Mich / +
36. Patrick Duff – Maria / +
37. Tune-Yards – Left Behind / +
38. Path – Apocalyptica feat. Sandra Nasic / +
39. Camper van Beethoven – It Was Like That When We Got Here / +
40. Archie Bronson Outfit – In White Relief / +
Follow the Alternative Top 40 on Facebook and Twitter. #AltTop40
July 28, 2014
ZED aka Bernard Szajner ‘Visions Of Dune’ (InFiné Music) Released 25th August 2014
Sealed with an excitable descriptive, cosmic dreamy, forward and minimix teaser by DJ and renowned anthropologist of the most odd and obscure music from across the far flung reaches of the globe (and sometimes, so out there as to sound from another dimension), Andy Votel, a case is enthusiastically made for the resurrection of the French artist, inventor and composer Bernard Szajner’s 1979 homage to Dune.
Esteemed by Votel as a ‘Gallic-magnetic conceptual synth-pop classic’, Szajner’s manipulated Oberheim sequencer led flights of fantasy was essentially a work in progress, its creator self-taught, learning on the job so-to-speak. Under the neon-flickered, Boorman-esque, mystique of ZED, Szajner’s visionary series of loops were produced in a short timeframe: reliant to a point on borrowing equipment from friends, originally requiring an Oberheim for eight days along with a Revox two-track tape recorder, and when that had to go back or had served its purpose, was replaced with and Akai four-track. Transforming his intuitive sense of exploration and experimentation further by introducing the prog-acid-rock journeyman drummer Clément Bailly and Magma’s vocalist Kluas Blasquiz to the mix, the minimalistic Krautrock style synths and vaporised sizzling sonics moved into the realms of space rock and futuristic jazz.
Spending his formative years both designing and performing lights show spectaculars for The Who, Gong and the already mentioned Magma, the conceptual artists Szajner couldn’t help but absorb and channel some of their spirit, though he would also find a certain affinity with the cerebral ambient soundscapes of Brian Eno too.
Remastered by the adroit specialist Rashad Becker from the original tapes (of course), Visions Of Dune conceptually occupies the space between the lunatic Chilean auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky’s epic, if messy, unrealised film version and David Lynch’s mid-eighties space operatic/esoteric soap opera effort.
Of course we only have one of these soundtracks to actually go, though Jodorowsky’s surrealistic magnum opus envisioned a soundtrack that would feature bands such as Pink Floyd. Lynch chose, rather bizarrely, Toto to compose his soundtrack; compensating by offering Eno a solitary and suitably soul-searching ambient ‘Prophecy Theme’ to break up the agonized pomp rock and classicism.
Szajner’s epic was sourced from Frank Herbert’s Dune trilogy of sci-fi novels: a metaphoric futuristic paradigm of Lawrence Of Arabia’s instigated Arab revolt, the Bible and Koran, Zen Buddhism, the fight for resources (oil replaced by the made-up spice mélange, though the sanctity and scarcity of water is echoed in the stories central and most important location, the desert planet of Arrakis) and the all too obligatory intrigues of competing Empires. A subtle amorphous theme is created for the stories most important characters – be it the House Atreides who spawn a messianic liberator or the miscreant maleficent led House Harkonnen -, rituals and notable plot lines, whilst a repeating desert theme permeates throughout. An almost uninterrupted soundtrack, each passage bleeding into the other, only demarcated by the track titles themselves, the main electro gliding, whooshing magnetic charged foundations signpost Tangerine Dreams own nebular voyages – especially their acid-trance elegiac Phaedra. The opening quartet of ‘Dune’, ‘Bashar’, ‘Thufir Hawat’ and ‘Sardauker’ flow from ponderous exploration via the retro/futuristic generator pulses of the Forbidden Planet powered soundscape, used to represent the foreboding Imperial Guard, to the staccato style rolling drum breaks that kick-in as we’re introduced to the calculative super brain Mentat.
By the end of the first of two acts the mood alters, growing ever more ominous as the spice world of Arrakis’s monstrous sized ‘Shaî Hulud’, sand worms, prompt a squirming and looming otherworldly response. The fateful ‘Duke’ is accorded a shadowy, almost ghostly eulogy style augur of impending doom; his eventual fate alluded to by a hidden snarling beastly presence.
Act two continues with wave after wave of algorithms and arpeggiator patterns, tubular chimed rings but adds menacing alien breaths (Blasquiz’s distorted and masked vocals no doubt) and Goblin style horror show prog.
Tame and enervated by a flood of similar sequencer-manipulated soundtracks, both before and after Visions Of Dune, it beggars belief that Szajner’s label, Pathé Marconi/EMI, were worried that two of these tracks (the previously mentioned ‘Duke’ and ‘Spice’), were ‘too futuristic’; a crazy reaction, even for in the 70s. Initially left off the original pressing, they’re both included for the first time in this new repackaged, adorned with ‘reimagined’ artwork by Barcelona-based designer Arnau Pi, classic.
Obviously resonating with the recent attention and re-examined Jodowsky project and arriving, perhaps a little too soon, before the 50th anniversary of Herbert’s novel in 2015, Visions Of Dune is certainly a more favorable soundtrack than anything that has gone on before or since, faithful to the wondrous, and sometimes trippy, mystery and evil present in the interstellar epic expansive plot without the bombast and over-indulged operatics.
July 25, 2014
Latching on to the Commonwealth Games with any tenuous cultural or musical link we can, the Monolith Cocktail celebrates the host nation’s music scene with an appropriate play list of bands and artists we’ve either featured or alluded to on the blog. It’s also a good opportunity to bring attention to the recently released From Scotland With Love soundtrack, composed by Fife’s lo fi troubadour King Creosote, for the BBC 2 archive footage documentary of the same name, aired on June 22nd 2014. To coincide with the Games, this subtly attentive suite moves between touching ernest reflection and joy without resorting to saccharine and chest-beating romanticism.
From the Caledonian Moby-esque marriage of atavistic Scottish tradition and dance music, so beautifully craft by the revered, and sadly gone before his time, Martyn Bennett, to the beaten out of shape and jilted jazz fusion hardcore rock of the Super Adventure Club, we cover a myriad of musical styles and themes: without a self-aggrandized Rod Stewart in sight.
King Creosote ‘For One night Only’
The Scottish Enlightenment ‘Little Sleep’
Josef K ‘Sorry For Laughing’
Aztec Camera ‘Oblivious’
Big Country ‘In A Big Country’
Ivor Cutler ‘Here’s A Health For Simon’
Edwyn Collins ‘Losing Sleep’
The Associates ‘Party Fears Two (Live @ The Pavilion, Glasgow)
The Jesus and Mary Chain ‘Darklands’
Cocteau Twins ‘Peppermint Pig’
The Incredible String Band ‘Bridge Theme’
Teenage Fanclub ‘About You’
The Pastels ‘Get ‘Round Town’
The Phantom Band ‘The Wind That Cried World’
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