David Thomas Broughton - Monolith Cocktail


With her usual purview-rich critique, Ayfer Simms immerses herself in the literary  and contextually rich encapsulating timbre of David Thomas Broughton.  A vividly earthy and subtly plaintive tragedy, ‘In Service’ precedes his latest collaboration with the Juice Vocal Ensemble, the Sliding The Same Way LP, released on the 22nd September by the Scottish label Song, By Toad Records.


David Thomas Broughton and Juice Vocal Ensemble   ‘In Service’  (Song, By Toad Records) 



Lift David’s quiet voice timbre and seek refuge in it: The calm and pace of it is deceiving. David wanders in a seemingly peaceful grace with a guitar laid at his feet. His notes cadenced and pulsating as if roughly played on the side of a road, autochthonous epode salivating through his lips. David’s music is out for a walk, subtle in interrupting mundane and polite conversations, and placid enough to believe him harmless. A guitar, a soothing voice, supporting harmonious vocals from the Juice ensemble. His voice resonates like Boris Vian’s singing “Mr le President”, stirring an imperfect tone, chiseled on stage, improvised, honest, with George Brassen’s fellowship spirit, Leonard Cohen’s presence.

The lyrics then, like a torpedo under us: I deeply regret all events that did pass. I killed a man wi’ a broken glass”. Incommensurable sufferings emerges, William Blake is rocking in his chair furiously writing, words of the deepest creed are thrown on an empty stage, a road, his own empty room, with the guitar laying at his feet. David is composing, he is calm, and the factories of the industrial England are smoking above his head. The past of mothers and fathers are infused in the heavily charged atmosphere.

We are thrown to the edge of a frightening abyss, his memories become ours. He is the child. The scars, the crimes, the alcohol, the little things, the little things engraved into the child psyche, one thousand moments, details, angst. Love and love expectations. Perception beyond programing. David is a Lautreamont who has lost his romantic creed, who has left the lonely tower for the crowd, he is the fighter, the one at the bar provocative, and there are no more painful angst, David has understand what made him, he has woken to the meaning of his memories, experiences, his youth. There is a voice. There is a powerful prose, morbid at times. We are in the mid of an ocean without a shore: we may drown and we may sink deeper yet the sea is our place. David is a song writer. The guitar lays at his feet.

The backup vocals of the juice ensemble supports and harmonises David’s solemn tone, lifting the whim to an enticing warmer ground, breaking off sometimes from the tracks to pursue a life of its own. There are jazzy moments. Theatrical ones. Anthem like chanting. There is a field with working slaves. Us? Like prisoners escaping with rhythm.

David’s prose is carried on a surprising and unpredictable river that crosses many landscape all bared by a shadowy enigma and sadness.




Yates/Seamajesty - Monolith Cocktail

Singles, EPs, hell even LPs, this is the regular Tickling Our Fancy round up of  ‘choice and interesting’ music and exclusives that may have escaped your attention thus far.

 

This month’s rabble of inspiring and established miscreants, poets and dreamers includes: Seamajesty, Bo Keeney, Little Scout, Jack Adapter, Kobadelta, Dee Sada, The Wands, B4,  Zach And The Imaginaries and  David Lawrie.


Seamajesty  ‘Say Awake’  (Plain Sailing)   EP and teaser for the forthcoming Seamajesta LP, released November 2014.





A one-man Adam’s Castle crossed with just a mere hint of James Blake’s expansive instrumental loops, James Yates makes a return this month with as his celestial alter ego, Seamajesty, releasing, ahead of the Seamajestea album in November, the Monolith Cocktail featured Say Awake EP.

Adding a sampler and guitar to his repertoire of drums, vibraphone and keyboards, Yates is exploring even deeper subterranean mysteries and cosmic vistas on this three-track journey.

Motoriking down the cosmos, Yates’ loop-tatsic original version of the eponymous progressive, short but universally encapsulated, instrumental travels far during its two and half minute duration. An equally cymbal heavy drum charged live version is accompanied by a video of Yates performing (perfectly) the titular song in his sitting room turn studio – a live gig beamed straight from the Yates creative hub.

Also included in the free to download release, is the floaty trance suffused ‘Popcorn Salted’, remixed here by the pastel halcyon composer of Jeff Lyne-esque wondrous pop, My Autumn Empire.

On te strength of this teaser, the album is shaping up to be a blissfully progressive panoramic dream ticket.




Bo Keeney  ‘Long Long Summertime’  (Nipple Clips) Taken from the 7 Eleven EP, released 22nd September 2014.


Literally cycling backwards through a vintage-sepia, jilted musical backed, Californian past, the hazy drifting tripped out signatures of Bo Keeney sound indolently like some kind of glitch-y surf noir. The fact they were actually produced in a Hackney basement – shared by collaborators and friends, Flyte and Bombs – just adds another layer of obscurity to the already strange brewing Steve Miller Band of the early 80s meets psychedelic electronic soul.

Brought up in San Diego, with stays in London and now Berlin, Keeney has juxtaposed homemade-filmed like recollections of nostalgia with the themes of excessive consumption and waste, on his new three-track EP 7 Eleven. Featuring individually attuned visuals for each song, ‘Long Long Summertime’ itself uses footage from John Hodgson’s Spirit Of 77 homage to Orange County/Los Angeles.

Almost from another time entirely, lost in a vortex swirl of languorous mystery, Keeney exists suspended between eras, even though the eponymous entitled convenience store lament sounds like a funky vapourous slice of modern urbane pop.



Little Scout ‘Go Quietly’ b/w ‘March Over To Me’  (Win-Win Records)



Marking the baptism of the newly founded London-based label, Win-Win, Brisbane indie-rockers of the shoegaze pop variety Little Scout, released their first ever UK single back in August. ‘Go Quietly’ perfectly captures the band’s arched guitar shapes and toms led tribal beaten moody charm, though we prefer their second track, taken from the Are You Life LP, ‘March Over To Me’: A nocturnal growling bass and crescendo rapid-fired drum kit splashes and shakes throughout whilst the band’s calm, cooing vocalist, Melissa Tickle diaphanously and attentively soars.

Apparently pushing the envelope and moving ‘into sonically adventurous new territory’, Little Scout’s blossoming ‘Go Quietly’ single was recorded and mixed by Californian polymath Lars Stalfors, who at various times has engineered, co-produced, mixed and mastered albums by The Mars Volta, Cold War Kids and Marnie Stern. Whatever his input, it seems to have given them a vigorous, more dynamic sound.

Little Scout have grown out of a creative burgeoning independent Brisbane community that includes The John Steel Singers (whose Scott Bromiley co-wrote ‘Go Quietly’ with the band), Hungry Kids Of Hungary, Parades and Edward Guglielmino. Though they’ve been around since 2008, releasing their debut LP Take Your Light in 2011, and shared international and national tours with the likes of The New Pornographers, Camera Obscura and Sharon Van Etten, it’s only now that they’ve finally touched down in the UK. They have however, already made an impact, picked up by the blogosphere and championed by 6Music. On the strength of these two tracks, it’s no wonder.



Jack Adapter  ‘Number One Record’  Single released 29th September, appears on the forthcoming J’Accuse! LP, released 20th October 2014.



As part of the congruous collection of blogs who all host Universal Horse’s Alternative Top 40 chart, the Monolith alongside some of our readers have seen fit to vote for the disarming troubadour duo Jack Adaptor; their ‘Get It Right First Time’ track coveting the number one spot in the last edition of the chart.

From the ruins of The Family Cat, twenty years ago, singer and lyricist Paul ‘Fred’ Fredrick has paled up with songwriting partner Christopher Cordoba to form this new breezy, indie pop noir enterprise. Taken from their forthcoming LP J’Accuse! – An allusion to Émile Zola’s famous broadside open letter to the leading French newspaper of the 1890s, L’Aurore, which accused the government and army of a anti-Semitic conspiracy to frame the unfortunate Alfred Dreyfuss for espionage – this spritely Postcard era paean pays tribute in part to the late Alex Chilton, of both the perfectly encapsulated indie and collage radio titans, Big Star and before that, The Box Tops.

Not just a perfect way to illustrate Adaptor’s song title but perhaps a celebration of its endurance in the face of a digital onslaught, the video is a warming tribute to the art of the LP – whether on vinyl or CD – and the 7” single. A parade of people, all in their inimitable personal style, hold up a cherished favorite record: Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis here, a passing conspicuously held, by a cyclist, Prince album there. No doubt this homage to Chilton and poetic reflection will score highly in the next edition of the alternative chart.



Kobadelta ‘Repetition’   Taken from the Remain Distracted EP, released 26th September 2014.



Voraciously chewing up the Newcastle psych rock and pub rock drone scenes with equal voracity, the burgeoning Geordie five-piece Kobadelta have yet to nail their sound. And this is a good thing, as their latest EP, Remain Distracted will testify. From drunkenly swaggering between emulating the late Lizard King Morrison to trespassing on Kasabian’s anthem Byzantine rock, the group manages to inhabit their influences with sneering and melancholic vigor. At other times they stray into Bauhaus, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and could even be a distant relation of the recent blossoming drone scene in Greece.

Broodily launching forth from an opening Motorhead dirge riff, their hard rocking, monotonous droning ‘Repetition’ will do nicely as an introduction. Best played loud in a Wim Wenders 80s directed Berlin club, the rapid firing drum barrage signals a penchant for the hardliners vamped out on Gothic morose.

That raucous sound has won the lads some favourable festival spots recently – sharing the Stockton Weekender with the Happy Mondays and Public Enemy, and the Split Festival with Maximo Park and The Cribs – and led to an appearance on the BBC Introducing live sessions.

Staying true to those roots, Remain Distracted will be unveiled in full glory at a special launch event, held at the Star & Shadow Cinema in their hometown. Support bands will include a trio of local bands, Goy Boy Mcllroy, Schultz and Wake.



Dee Sada ‘Bells And Ships And Songs’ (Tip Top Recording) Single released 22nd September, taken from the forthcoming Fragments EP, released 29th September 2014.



Once beating out a primal yelping tribal cacophony of Beyond The Thunderdome bow-wow no-wave, with the Monolith Cocktail’s championed favorite girl trio, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, before joining forces with Billy Trivial to form the shoegaze dreamers, Blue On Blue, Dee Sada now steps out on her own to release a new solo EP and single this month.

Bringing an underlying poignancy and artful literary bent to her latest project, Dee is imbued with the poetry of both Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, and the work of outsider artist Mary Barnes – a resident of the radical psychiatrist RD Laing’s therapeutic community at Kingsley Hall in the 60s. Barnes’ extraordinary transformation from her deliberating schizophrenic condition to recovery and a career as a successful artist, will become the centrepiece, entitled The Hollow Tree, of an experimental sound piece (released later in 2014) created by Dee.

Musically, not that it is easy to tell, Dee is inspired by the German new wave band Malaria! – Band member Gudrun Gut was featured only last week on the blog, her recent project ‘500m’ with Faust’s Joachim Irmler, receiving a glowing review from us – and Indian classical Carnatic vocalist, M. S. Subbulakshmi.

Starting off with a shout and bombastic cavalcade, Sada has gradually softened the edges and taken time to create more purposeful and artfully poised music since the inaugural misspent days in AEOABITAP. Coming on in a trembled Slowdive like fashion, this Morse code reverberated malady, ‘Bells And Ships And Songs’ single is lifted from the jarred and fraught, confessional-rich break-up themed Fragments EP, and is a logical continuation of her work with both Trivial and long-term musical collaborator Billy Steiger.



The Wands  ‘Sound Of The Machine’  Released November 3rd 2014.



Though arguably Ty Segall has this kool aid acid throwback of garage, psych and Glam more or less wrapped up, it hasn’t stopped a flood of contenders from trying. Paisley floundering dope induced Copenhagen outfit The Wands were featured a while back, their beat behind the dyke The Dawn single richly soporific and washed in a Calico wall of fuzz.

From their analogue tape nostalgic HQ the duo let loose with another scintillating, ghoulish circus organ resonating accompanied trip; this time however they raise a one fingered salute to the man in true teenage shutdown angst with this VHS cheaply chic video/single, ‘Sound Of The Machine’.

Released at the beginning of November, it precedes a European tour, with the following dates in the UK.

 

07.11.14 The Lexington, London

09.11.14 The Art School, Glasgow

10.11.14 Jamcafe, Nottingham

11.11.14 The Stag And Hounds, Bristol

12.11.14 The Roadhouse, Manchester

13.11.14 The Magnet, Liverpool

15.11.14 Club Psychedelia at Lennon’s, Southampton



B4 ‘Germanium’ (Polí5)





Nestled next door to Germany the Czech Republic can’t help but have felt or been inspired by the Krautrock emanations floating over the boarder.

Yet it seems, and for at least two decades because of Czechoslovakia’s status as a satellite state behind the ‘iron curtain’, to have passed by unnoticed. If guitarist Tomáš Procházka is to be believed, his ever-changing collective, B4, is the only Czech group to actively produce and interpret the Krautrock spirit. The group has merged their Germanic neighbors much adulated sounds with an improvised hotbed of psychedelia, jazz, drone rock, industrial and the reverberations of the old Eastern Bloc, to produce an eclectic, steely and metallic crisp, hybrid.

Formed inadvertently back in 1998, when a missing band had to be replaced, the inaugural troupe first performed at the Turnov Festival. With a staple triumvirate of Procházka, keyboardist David Freudl and drummer Leoš Kropáček, B4 have mined the back catalogue of Sky and Brain records and thrown in a healthy dose of Germany’s other titans of experimental music, Einstuerzende Neubauten, for good measure, though they themselves also name check the disco producers Petr and Pavel Orm, Steve Reich and British musician Steven Stapleton’s non de plume, Nurse With Wound, as equally important influences.

Deciding many years ago to work exclusively with historical analogue equipment, B4 – holed up in their own studio base – extemporise and manipulate old effects pedals, organ pipes, synths and tape echo units.

B4’s mantra, ‘performance is the product’, maybe true, yet occasionally these performances and songs have prompted an official recording or two. In 2010 they released their debut official recording for Prague label, Poli5, the lampooned Beatles litany entitled, Ringo George Paul John. In 2011 their double LP Didaktik Nation Legendary won the Vinyl Prize for album of the year. But it is their most recent transmission from the edges of analogue adventurism that I wish to share with you dear reader.

The Germanium (released in 2013) continuum fizzles with elements of the Teutonic futurists Moebius, Roedelius, Rother and Asmus Tietchens, but by the third track, ‘100 Dollar Mititel’ we’re grooving to some Money Mark like backbeat jazz vibe – if the Beasties one-time collaborator had worked with Can’s Holger Czukay. Though mostly a collection of concomitant instrumentals, Nick Cave like vocals appear from time to time, and are either almost sinisterly reflective (‘Cesta Zpátky’) or plaintively cooed in French (on the strangely noir-pop disco, and weirdly though probably not intentional, early Pulp sounding ‘On Disparaitra’ and lamentable ‘Abend’).

Throughout it seems rather tongue-in-cheek, as tunes, all musically tight and impressive, allude or riff on famous Krautrock givens, such as the progressive, haunted and often Stereolab-esque, ‘Motorik Religion’, and Kosmiche dreamy ‘Super Cabbage Rock’. But this isn’t any homage, as the B4’s sound is inventive and eclectic enough to offer something uniquely theirs.

At times, a real nugget of a discovery crosses my path, sent to us rather than sniffled out by the blog. This is easily one of the best finds of 2014 for us and would have without a doubt been included in our end of 2013 ‘choice’ albums list.



Zach And The Imaginaries   ‘Millenium Balcon’





Threatening to actually reach some diaphanous higher level or break out from its lo-fi bedroom meandrous cocoon, Zachery Leblanc’s musical sketches often throw up some interestingly haunting and sometimes kooky surprises. The fact he is a compatriot and fellow collaborator with Theirry Larose, aka Tapeheads (who appears throughout this album as a foil), is no surprise as they both pursue a similar trajectory of, blink and you’ll miss it, alternative cheap Casio chips and amorphous pranged guitar doodles. And that he is part of the maverick label of choice for these wandering DIY mavericks, the Canadian imprint Acid Zebra Records – at the time of receiving Zachery’s email, his debut LP was still not officially being released by the label: this may change – shouldn’t come as a shock.

Under the moniker of Zach And The Imaginaries, our sixteen year-old Canadian is misspending his youth under the radar making inconsequential music that somehow comes up trumps. A conceptual LP in four stages – Nostalgia (ain’t that just the most popular of terms this month!), Curiosity, Loneliness and Fun –, Millenium Balcon is the sound of someone indolently scratching around, finding their style. Tracks like the finale ‘Worries (Peace Out)’ and ‘Loneliness – Bounce 2 (Don’t Sue Me Kayne)’ have a far higher production value however, manipulating and fucking with Hip Hop and even classicism, whilst the lion’s share of this peculiar instrumental suite sounds like it was recorded off some mislaid Betamax videocassettes, brought in a car boot sale.

In a way it might be better if Zachery doesn’t find his niche or style, keeping instead to exploring the badlands of the borderless modern music world.



And Finally

David Lawrie’s  Kickstarter  Campaign



Regular visitors to the Monolith Cocktail maybe familiar with our support for the chamber-electronic artist and poet David Lawrie, who has written some very adroit and cleverly nuanced songs over the last couple of years. Back in March we premiered the meticulously handcrafted Stas Shch created video for his cosmos opus ‘Storm Petrel’ single.

Since then Lawrie has been busy recording and producing his next album, Dorothea’s Boat and is looking for funding via Kickstarter to support the album’s release and promotion. As Lawrie explains:

‘Up until this point I have been able to record and produce the music in my own time and space, without time or money constraints. It has been a labour of love, and I really have loved every minute of it. There are, however, costs involved with actually releasing the album, of which I am sure you are aware.

It would be great to have a lovely, tangible, eye-popping 12″ vinyl record as well as a digital release because, if you’re like me, you’ll love to receive musical things in the post. Pressing the vinyl is where a great deal of your pledged money will go.

There are also costs involved with digital distribution and PR/Marketing campaigns, which are essential to make this release as far reaching as possible.’

With just over a month to go, Lawrie has secured £300 of his £1500 total. We wish him good luck, as both friends and admirers of his work. More details can be found HERE…




Selection 021

September 12, 2014

Fela Fela Fela - Monolith Cocktail


A dazzling polygenesis display of tracks from our DJ sessions and imaginary radio show.

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

Fela Kuti  ‘Ako’  (EMI)  This version (which appeared in many guises on many albums) is taken from the  Fela Fela Fela  LP 1969.



Angelo & Eighteen  ‘Flight 2′  (RAK)  B-side to the  7″ Midnight Flight 1972.



Brett Smiley  ‘Run For The Sun’  (PRM Records)  Taken from the reissue compilation  Breathlessly Brett  2003.



Slapp Happy  ‘The Drum’  (Virgin)  Taken from  Slapp Happy  LP 1974. 



The Smoke  ‘Cowboys And Indians’  (Sidewalk)  Taken from  The Smoke  LP 1968.




Fulya Ozlem


Currently residing in the indolent green pleasantry landscape of West Sussex after being deported from Istanbul recently, Sean Bw Parker‘s support and love for his former tenure home hasn’t diminished in the slightest – mainly as it was all his own fault for never sorting out a visa in the first place; living under the radar for a decade undetected until…that anecdote will be saved for another time. 

 

Following on from his instigated first volume of contemporary music from the Turkish metropolis  earlier in 2014, the second instalment of the Istanbul Dogs compilations continues the good work, highlighting – under the shadow of political and religious upheaval – a vibrantly lively scene.

 

Sean interviews just one of the many artists to feature on that compilation, the classical and traditional trained turn polygenesis acclaimed musician and singer Fulya Ozlem.

 


You have been operating as front woman for the Fulya Ozlem Band for some years now, and you’re known as one of Istanbul’s more unique (multi-octave) voices. Can you give our readers a fuller history?

Well, I started music as a child, playing the violin in the Turkish Classical Music style when I was eight. Then after a couple of years I discovered Rock and then Heavy Metal and soon found myself asking my grandma: “Hey, why don’t the washing-machines have a program for ‘blacks’? All my clothes are black!” Then I discovered Bob Dylan and the singer-songwriter scene when I was about 16 and my fascination with Pentangle, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell among many others began.

Soon afterwards, I started studying Philosophy at Bosphorus University. There I formed a couple of bands and finally settled for our little Folkfish Duo. I was singing Irish, Scottish and English folk ballads and playing the violin at Folkfish. We did a small world tour with Folkfish, we played in folkclubs in Edinburgh, Dublin, Galway and became the house band in O’Donoghues in Dublin, appeared in RTE, and such stuff. They were calling me ‘the Nightingale of Grafton Street’. Then we returned after a two-year tour in Asia, Australia and Europe and I started an MA in Philosophy while writing songs in Turkish for the first time. It was as if my childhood and its songs were coming back to the surface.

Then I recorded my first album BuzKraliçesi, my own compositions arranged by Cem Tuncer and played by many great musicians. Afterwards, I had the first depression of my life, BuzKraliçesi was a good album but nobody seemed to have heard of it. It was my first encounter with the ‘frustrated artist syndrome’ so to speak. Anyway, I had already begun to be interested in South American music, folklore and tango as I was learning Spanish. That year I went to Argentina, got some tango singing lessons and fell in love with Argentinian music and folklore in general. In the meantime, I had received my MA degree in Philosophy, so I was free to wander about the globe again. I got back from Argentina to İstanbul and started a PhD at the State Conservatory of Turkish Music in music this time.

I had the South American melodies and Nueva CancionChilenaon my mind and Turkish Makams and rhythms in my heart or vice versa I don’t know. So, I started writing songs in Spanish with South American motives and rhythms, but with a huge Turkish music influence on them. They somehow blended in really well. Then I went to a philosophy conference in Berlin in 2008 for a week and ended up staying there three years. There I met great musicians and started playing my own songs with Fulya Özlem Band, the old ones as well as the new ones with the Latin influence. In the meantime I was learning new genres, forming new bands, it was a great time of musical flourishing for me. In 2011, we formed VENTANAS with Patrick Zeoli doing renaissance music of Spain alongside folksongs of Andalucia and the like.

A short time afterwards, I met Chilean musicians in Berlin who were the musicians to play my Spanish songs with: Rodrigo Santa Maria and Luis Barrueto. They are amazing musicians and we clicked and finally they came to Istanbul last year to record my new album ALBA, the one with my Latin influenced, Turkish-centred songs in Spanish and Turkish. You will soon hear a lot about this album cos it will be released in October, 2014. So that’s about what has been till now. Oh, and I founded TaşPlakKumpanyası, an ensemble playing songs from the gramophone era, getting more and more popular in Turkey. I am always writing new songs, my newest niche is Greek music, traditional and Rembetiko since I now speak Greek and hang around in Mitilini playing oud and singing on the street.

 

What would you say are the challenges facing a comparatively independent-minded, female solo artist working out of Turkey in 2014?

Mediocrity. Mediocrity is a huge challenge. You know, when you create, you do not really create to be appreciated by others, “you don’t play for the tribunes” as we say in Turkish; it is quite the contrary: your creation is the unique expression of the way you feel. When I write a song, I write it exactly the way it is because I do not know how to do otherwise, that is how I express myself, I am not going to simplify my way of being into shorter or more understandable sentences or more repetitive melodies. Not that I write long sentences or atonal melodies or anything. But my genre simply is not similar to something known, at least in Turkey, so this “weirdness” of my music makes me all too peripheral, I do not belong to any circle, any clique, and sometimes it feels a bit lonely being a local weirdo that way.

Another huge challenge is the “music market” and the “music mafia”, so to speak, from media to musicians and the audience, it is always the same bunch of people who get to play everywhere and release their albums and play the festivals etc., if you are outside this circle, it is almost impossible to get your music heard. And after a while you get tired, you stop and ask yourself: “Hey, am I a musician or manager, what was my job, to create, to work hard to make it sound better or simply to promote?” I’ve left it to destiny now, if people hear my music and want to hear more, fine, if not, to hell with all the promotion business.

 

What is the Berlin connection?

I lived in Berlin from 2009 to 2012 playing my own music with Fulya Özlem Band and several other genres such as Rembetiko, Spanish renaissance music, Ottoman music, Tango and the like…I still have my bands active there, I go on and off to play concerts with them, I will be in Berlin in November to play some concerts with VENTANAS and we’ll do the CD release party for ALBA soon in Berlin.

 

What did the Gezi protests of summer 2013 mean to you, and particularly in reference to the current political situation in Turkey?

Oh, I get all emotional when I hear the word “Gezi”. For the first time in my life, I felt that I had a country, I felt that I belonged somewhere: in Gezi. I discovered what funny, intelligent, big-hearted, great people there are in my country. I mean, there was suddenly this solidarity, people uniting for their right to hug trees, for their right to a little fresh air in the city, there was suddenly this little piece of heaven where everyone were equal, there were almost no sexism, misogyny or homophobia, no capitalism or consumerist culture, it gave me so much hope…I have seen it happen, I know now that another world is possible, at least in the company of such amazing people.

In reference to the current political situation, then and now, democracy in Turkey has been understood as the majority’s oppression of the minority since we follow a majoritarian tradition. If from the beginning of the establishment of Turkey, a pluralist democracy had been in power – as it should ideally have been – we wouldn’t have had any of the political problems which are central to Turkey right now.

 

You have also expressed yourself through writing and journalism. How do you tie this more ‘objective’ discipline into your music?

It is not an “objective” discipline, maybe only superficially so. Writing is quite personal, I was writing quite personal columns actually, be it on culinary traditions of the world, on musicians or on ‘Urban Legends’ of Istanbul, I always wrote about what I felt like writing. And I kinda quit journalism when I got bored of it but I still do write, and a lot for that matter. I have a theory about the relationship between writing good lyrics for our songs and our background education which shapes our thinking. Here it goes: Everyone has feelings, artists are the lucky ones that get to express their feelings via an art form. If that art form is music, you need good technical knowledge of music to make good quality songs and a good theoretical background to understand the perspective through which your emotions have an impact on you. If you are gonna write a song about fear for example, your theoretical background – philosophy, sociology, physics, architecture, anything – helps you find what aspect of fear you want to talk about in your songs. The more specific the aspect is, the more personal and “catchy” your story can get. And as in any story, since your song is also a “story”, the golden rule is to tell a very personal story in a way that everyone can identify with.

 

Do you think social media has been a positive or negative influence on art and music? Moreover, what is your position on technology in creativity in general?

Well, at the beginning there was boredom. Now there is Facebook, converting all your necessary hours of fruitful boredom into strolling through Facebook. And that is bad, all the great creations happen as a matter of mind-boggling amounts of boredom. Einstein must have spent a million hours staring at the ceiling before he came up with the general and special theories of relativity. Well, I am joking of course but Social Media is not an independent medium either as most people think when it comes to promoting your music independently. Social Media also has its prime time, its rating, its own commercial rules of viral invasion of some info that would reach everyone.

Again, the same old rule applies: if you have money, you pay a Social Media specialist to manage your page, s/he does her magic tricks and all of a sudden you get all too very ‘like’able. So the same rules of media industry applies, it only helps musicians reach other musicians easily. But still, nothing compares to a good face-to-face encounter with the musicians of the world, that is my way actually, I prefer travelling to a place, learning the music there from local masters and meeting the local musicians in person. Only then I get the “organic results” I strive for in music. Well, technologically I am quite backward; I handwrite my sheet music, my lyrics and everything. I am a stationary freak; I never go out without a beautiful notebook and a pencil-box full of pencils and stuff.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I am in Mithilini, learning songs of the island of Mithilini. I have composed a lot of songs in Turkish makams lately, some more traditional-sounding stuff and retro styles such as Turkish Tango and Milonga and zeybeks and stuff. Like music of the 1930s. I want to record a new album of these new songs with my band in Istanbul: Kanun, oud, Double bass and percussion and me singing. I am quite excited about that.

 

Do you have any new musical recommendations for us?

Watch out for my new album Alba and that of TaşPlakKumpanyası, haha. Well yes, Turkish music of the beginning of the 20th century was great, one can find recordings of singers such as Safiye Ayla, Perihan Altındağ Sözeri, Deniz Kızı Eftalya, Seyyan Hanım, Sabite Tur Gülerman, Radife Erten, Münir Nurettin Selçuk and many others. This is a basically unknown genre for many people in the world, when they discover it, this genre may open new perspectives for understanding certain vocal techniques. Maqam music, and Turkish classical music can give the composers a new way of understanding cadences and modulation. I highly recommend taking a look at those.

 

Can I offer you a drink?

Sure, haha, any time

 

Thanks, Fulya

 

Fulya Ozlem’s ‘Eternity In An Hour’ (the words of William Blake set to her own musical composition) is available now on the ‘IstanbulDogs II – Slightly Off-Centre’, on Believe Digital

Details and tracks from the recently released Istanbul Dogs II compilation can be found here.

LP  REVIEW

 

Gudrun Gut and Joachim Irmler   ‘500m’   (bureau b) Released  8th  September  2014

Doyens, and for that matter mavericks, of the more cerebral and avant-garde boarders of the German music scene, otherworldly evocative organ grinder Hans-Joachim Irmler and his visual artist musical polymath siren, Gudrun Gut, join forces for a mesmerizing electronic trip.

As a founding member of the mighty irritant, heavy mentals, Faust in the 70s, Irmler’s keyboard hovered ominously between the alien and sublime. Continuing to bare the name – existing in a disconnected alter-dimensional timeline with an alternative Faust that features fellow founder members, Jean-Hearve Péron and Werner ‘Zappi’ Diermaier – Irmler founded an eponymous named studio, used by a who’s who of the German and beyond experimental electronica and classical scenes: from Cluster to the Modern String Quartet. Whilst the man himself has collaborated both wide and far, recently releasing the Flut LP with Can’s drum titan, Jaki Liebezeit on his own label, Klangbad – set up 15-years ago to originally release continuing Faust projects, but since expanded into a full-on label and festival, duty bound in ‘nurturing’ ‘genre bending’ music.

Gudrun, no less active, moved to Berlin in the mid 70s. An early member of the industrial strength Einstürzende Neubauten, Gudrun would go on to appear in and help form a number post-punk and electronic bands, including Mania D, Malaria!, Matador and also bring out a solo debut effort, I Put A Record On, in 2007. She is also head honcho at the labels Monika Enterprise and Moabit Musik.

 

Together, both artists create a collection of transient progressive techno moods. Developed in two stages, the congruous collaboration first improvised at Irmler’s lightheaded inducing Scheer, Baden-Württemberg located Faust studio – the name of the album alluding to the giddy effecting altitude of the studio, 500 meters above sea level, which gave Gudrun a constant sense of dizziness – before Gudrun refined and added her own techy, scuttling and nuanced drum loops, back in her own space. These recordings would then once again make their way back to Irmler for further exploration and tweaking.

Billed as a merger between Irmler’s ‘meandering, wistfully psychedelic organ sound’ and Gudrun’s ‘reverb-laden, whispering, breathy voice’, the results of this union obscure and abstract both. Loaded instead with vapourous and metallic waltzing veils, interchangeable programmed drum patterns (mostly caustically trebly but cut with pinpoint accuracy and among some of the most sophisticated I’ve heard in ages) and esoteric percussion.

 

More or less succinctly entitled, each track is both simultaneously a concomitant lead in to the next and an individual self-contained, evocative story of its own. Not that those titles give much away, but on occasion they allude to a rectification of some vague theme. For example, ‘Traum’, translated as ‘dream’, has a magical Freudian hallucinatory quality, and festive wintery charm: broken up by a freakish raspy and squelching noise, underfoot.

‘Noah’ on the other hand may or may not bare any relationship to the Biblical flood survivor and great God hope for the future, being more of a ritualistic gaze at shooting stars and passing satellites. However, Irmler adds some extemporized gabbling speech, delivered by a remote transmission affected, introverted megaphone – you can even hear Gudrun off mic, laughing or encouraging Irmler, from the sidelines. ‘Früh’ translates as ‘early’, but early for what exactly we can’t quite tell, the rotor-bladed intro cylindrically bringing in a chain-reaction of busily interchanging particles and tight delay mechanics, all heading down a highway marked ‘the future’.

Always moving somewhere, either skywards from a subterranean vault or as with ‘Auf Und Ab’, ‘to and fro’ between the kinetic beats of Detroit techno, circa Rob Hood’s Metroplex days, and a sort of moody decadence. Upward and onwards then, 500m travels on the solar winds and elevates from a reverent esoteric organ produced sanctum into another great mystery.

Inhabiting a musical realm, nearly all of its own making, Gudrun and Irmler’s successful collaboration can not be termed as dance music – though it can certainly buzz, tinkle and kick with its pounding rhythms – nor is it long-winded and indolent enough to be called trance or ambient. There’s also no real link back to either of the artists past incarnations, the source of this enterprise being closer in spirit to the late 80s techno and deep house scenes, and more present influences – the chaos of a prime-Faust just a memory. Yet I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was a unique or new sound, but it is a fantastic electronic peregrination.

LP  REVIEW


Grumbling Fur - Monolith Cocktail

Waiting until the bones had been well and truly sucked dry from the new and much anticipated Grumbling Fur album, Preternaturals, by the usual camarilla of music press, we have handed over the duty of reviewing this, as it happens, much entrancing cerebral Eno-esque triumph, to our literary voice, Ayfer Simms

Not so much a critique as setting the mood,  Ayfer responds with an all out lyrical purview; reaching back across both time and space. 



Grumbling Fur ‘Preternaturals’   (The Quietus Phonographic Corporation)

Once upon a time, Grumbling Fur.


Once upon a time we were none, once upon a time we were dancing in chaos in the midst of a fuzzy dream. We were little cells, spasmodic, flickering as in an irresistible compulsion to assemble and become more.

Once upon a time we were men, we crumbled and we took shape, we broke and we stood. Grumbling Fur’s album begins with voices from a cinema set that are about to shoot: A sort of genesis for its own world, a mise en scene that opens a door for us: we settle and prepare to watch, to witness the show of humanity, protected by the amiable voices of the Grumbling fur men who bring in touches of appeasing chanting.
Grumbling fur fuses cultures and ages using the scent of the mystical temples in India, the tinkles of the deep oceans, the thunder’s magnetic clash on earth as the planet calms down after a cosmic birth,  thunder falls on the calm and immense masses of gas as they dissipate to let the earth shell solidify unknowingly for our sake.

Grumbling fur is the tribal union of men crossing history, from the spark of life to the ancestral figures dancing in the collective conscience, it is all the things that gathered from nothingness, mingled in time with sometimes harsh or commendable experiences. Grumbling fur sets up the theatre of men’s evolution. Their sound is the sever gaze of man resigned in their efforts as they work the land and the iron, the face of the worker of the industrial age, the miner, the black smith, the farmer turning the earth in the vast lands, is the industrial fist of men, the cell under the water accidentally  playing harmonious sounds.

Grumbling Fur is a gathering of Men under a vault, there’s the whizzing of a boiling kettle from the 50s, a door slamming on a windy day, a house in the middle of Siberia hurling and cracking while the cold chill brings in a frozen blizzard. A solid man hits a heavy iron hammer to build the tools of survival, he is cold but has no choice, nor is he complaining. This is the way of life, to build the human chain of evolution against the elements.

Grumbling fur is Asia worshipping a perfect god with bulging eyes and horns, the church men carrying their god in their hearts, the monks copying manuscripts in the heights of a deserted mountain, the labourers, the poor’s, the genius, the apes, the tools, the elements, our consciousness.

Grumbling fur’s heart is pure: “I have seen things you would not believe”. They have witnessed, they have ingested and given back their own vision of us, assembling the history of humanity, from the beginning of things to our present conception of the future. Once upon a time we were none, but Grumbling Fur has reignited our past with their own captivating sounds.




Metamono1


Summarily sent packing from his home of the last ten years in Istanbul, now darkening our doorstep in the southern counties of England,  Sean Bw Parker poses some questions at the electronic music journeyman and ever amiable raconteur Jono Podmore.  From his Kumo via the legendary titans of Krautrock Can, through to his most recent project, Metamono, Podmore proves an entertaining subject.  Anyone who has followed the Monolith Cocktail will know that your humble editor (Dominic Valvona) has championed a myriad of Podmore guided and affiliated releases over the last couple of years; including a recent review of the Metamono debut LP, ‘With The Compliments Of Nuclear Physics’


Generous and always ready to give credit where it’s due, Podmore didn’t just answer Parkers queries but forwarded a bundle of links too,  elaborating on his influences and imbued reference points further, in a congruous but loose investigative style guide.  




To the uninitiated, how would you explain the difference between Kumo and Metamono? Also what do the names mean etymologically speaking?

Kumo is my personal artist name. Metamono is the name of a band that I am just 33% of (sometimes 34) so 2 very different entities. Mark Hill and Paul Conboy from Metamono would be most concerned by the question!

Kumo came in to existence when I was working with Plink Plonk records back in the early 90’s. I’d started releasing my own material and remixes and up til then I’d been using my own name as an engineer, producer, programmer and arranger on all sorts of dodgy records – effectively as a day job, although exclusively perpetrated in the dead of night. So it was time to find a pseudonym. Everyone involved with Plink Plonk had a pseudonym – Paul Rip (made up name) who managed the label kept a constant thread of paranoia and subterfuge dangling in all his dealings, so real names were out of the question. Kumo is the Japanese word for spider – arachnids were fascinating me at the time. When I looked up the word and the characters I realised it’s also the word for cloud. Much more appropriate for a pseudonym and redolent of a technique I was using a lot in my compositions. Borrowed from Gyorgi Ligeti, I loved creating continua of lots of notes at high tempi – to form a cloud of individual tiny events. It also reminded me of one of my favourite Mayakovsky poems: A Cloud in Trousers. Self-effacing crypto comedy was all the rage in them days. The final decider was the Japanese character (Kanji) for Kumo is very beautiful: the top part being the character for rain – complete with 4 raindrops. I was still in touch with my Japanese teacher who in turn put me in touch with a wonderful calligrapher who did a couple of versions of the character for me which became the logo on all the early releases.

The name metamono was the result of a long and protracted, at times even acrimonious process of “finding the name for the band”. We’d written the manifesto and done a couple of sessions together under a ludicrous comedy badge name, which was in danger of sticking. Mark blew the whistle and quite rightly demanded a serious name. Many pints were downed and the internet trawled before a shortlist of names ending in mono were drawn up. All our releases are in mono and it’s such a beautiful word when printed that we agreed on that, at least, quite unanimously. For some reason I got the casting vote and the band was christened. We now all agree it was by far the best name on the table and it looks great – particularly without capitalisation = metamono = changed mono – mono changed by the intervening decades of stereo, quad, 5.1 in to a choice rather than the only horse in town.




Metamono2



There is a significant connection to Can in what you do, particularly in Irmin Schmidt. How did you feel when their track ‘Vitamin C’ was all over the television on an advert a couple of years back? (Note from Ed: Sean is adamant but I’m yet to find evidence of this advert ever existing or of Vitamin C ever being used commercially)

Which advert do you mean? Don’t watch much telly these days… Frankly, use of Can tracks in advertising has no impact on me – especially not financially. I was shocked a few years ago when McDonald’s were after I Want More for a TV campaign. Not shocked that the McMurderers would find a use for that tune (it’s a no brainer for the super sizers) but shocked how all the old buggers in the band or management had not the slightest qualm about letting them use it and dashing down the Deutsche Bank to cash the cheque. It seems 1968 was a long time ago. As it turns out, it was the golden arches that got cold feet.

When it comes to significant connections I started working with Irmin in ‘97 – living in his house with the family to co-produce, programme and engineer his opera Gormenghast. The working relationship went on to produce 2 albums, a sound installation, endless tv and film music, gigs across europe, a marriage and my daughter. I was also then de facto engineer for Spoon records, running the remastering of the Can back catalogue (twice!), creating The Lost Tapes from a great heap of discarded old crap in the tape store and, interestingly and almost unanimously overlooked, co-producing the last ever Can track in 99: a cover of The Third Man – Der Dritte Mann.

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Whilst your work would be considered very much a studio-based sound, you play, or have played, live a lot. How do you find the transitional process there?

One of the most important lessons I learned from the Can catalogue is not how great they were but where they went wrong. The great albums were all created in their own studio, in their own time, playing live together and then editing together the results – capturing the energy and the personal interaction of the players. All that went out the window with multi-track methodology: clean, precise but ultimately soulless performances were the order of the day.

I’ve always played live since the earliest days putting together gigs and happenings in Liverpool in the early 80’s, and now I’m really trying more and more to bring the improvised one-take ethos of the stage into the studio. Some of the tracks of mine that you may be referring to as having a studio based sound could well have been produced on the fly, possibly in front of an audience, albeit with plenty post-production and editing. Working in Dub reggae as an engineer in the 90s taught me about performance in the studio context – something that I took into the techno, house and drum n bass I was working on. That a direct link to live performance and I developed a set up for that then which is still at the heart of my live electronic work.



Looking back over your discography, which of your albums are you most and least proud of, and why?

I’m still hugely proud of the metamono album With the Compliments of Nuclear Physics from last year. It’s the most conceptually complete album I’ve done with the clearest vision. Also because we did everything ourselves and were present at every step of the creation and funded it ourselves it’s uniquely ours in a way lots of releases aren’t and could never have been. Watered down by record companies and management; even distribution can stick its oar in and you can end up with a product you don’t even recognize as your own. As regards least proud of, I’ve been employed over the years to work on some hideous shite in one capacity or another – the structure and finance of the music business in the 90’s meant that you could be a small but talented cog in a vast machine veering dangerously into the anodyne chasms of utter tastelessness. I won’t mention any names but we all know where discogs is.


From someone very close to the heart of the subject, what did you think about David Stubbs’ recent book ‘Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany’?

Well I actually went the whole hog and wrote a full response to the book for Peter Guy’s excellent, Liverpool based blog Get Into This

I think it’s a great book and David is a friend whose voice I hear cheerfully booming out of every page. I helped him out with introductions and research for the book and the payback is on page 292, where the writing truly peaks….


Metamono is an analogue electronic project with a ‘manifesto’. Could you expand on that?

The manifesto was written before we recorded a single note. We felt we needed rules to prevent us bottling out and retreating into our digital comfort zones. Paul and I have a long history of love for analogue synths and audio technology and we were both worn down by the expediency of working “in the box”. That being said we were both surprised how creative the restriction of a manifesto was when we got to work. Every idea that was out of bounds had to be replaced, or an elegant workaround had to be found, driving our creativity ever further than the daily pixel jockeying in the everything box. We knew how superior analogue sound is to digital but we had no idea how wonderful exclusively analogue sound could be – especially live. Also, as I mentioned before about bringing the live ethos into the studio, that too is enshrined in the manifesto – hence the sheer vivacity in the metamono sound. Many of our tracks took as long to create as they do to listen to.




How do you see the rest of the recording industry in relation to what you do? Has the gradual collapse of it affected you much, or at all?

Well it’s certainly affected my income! One of the reasons I accepted the post of Professor of the Practice of Popular Music in Cologne in 2004 was that the studio skills and methods I learned over the years working with top engineers, producers and programmers from all over the world were going to be taken to the grave with me. As studios closed and people started working at home, the channels for passing on knowledge dried up. Also the gear everyone was working on and the listening environments they were sitting in all plummeted in quality. My biggest job with my students these days is getting them to hear the difference in quality. You can be an ace with Ableton, logic and all that shite and be as deaf as a bloody post. The kitsch charm of wonkiness currently in its second decade is actually often a cover for being unable to get it right. Once there isn’t a decision in why something sounds the way it is then you’re losing sight of the art. But like vinyl, proper recording studios, analogue or otherwise, will persist in small but significant numbers – if only in educational establishments set up by people like me… and I know I’m not alone.


What are you working on at the moment?

As usual, a couple of things.There’s the on-going Secrets of Nature project with metamono which has been a huge success so far and we’re planning further screenings/performances in the autumn.

I’m also developing a 100% analogue live looping project with the vocalist and composer Georgina Brett. We did an improvised show at Tuesday’s Post, an itinerant night she runs in London earlier in the summer and we’re on the bill for this year’s London Analogue Festival.

Since the spring I’ve been piecing together a live spoken voice and electronics project with German poet Swantje Lichtenstein. We’ll be putting our great heap of ideas about the relation between music, sound, speech and content together for workshops and performance at the Montepulciano summer school in September. If it’s sufficiently bonkers/arcane/incomprehensible we’ll be bringing it to a railway arch near you.

Add to that the professoring, the odd string arrangement, bits of live sound and Djing and that’s what’s going on.


 

Anything else by others you would recommend us to listen to?

I’m fascinated by this track at the moment: Gloria Ann Taylor’s ‘What’s Your World’.



I’m also a quite fascinated by the person who recommended it to me.

Not sure I can work out why it sounds the way it does…


Can I get you a drink?

Large Dalwhinney with a drop of water please. It’s good for me hearing…

Thanks, Jono

Do itasshimashite!



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LP  REVIEW

Ty Segall Manipulator LP cover - Monolith Cocktail review

Adoring if not uncharacteristically gushing in praise (for once), Sean Bw Parker looks like he’s found his favourite album of 2014 with Ty Segall‘s latest garage glam tour-de-force, Manipulator

 

 

Ty Segall   ‘Manipulator’   (Drag City)   Released 26th August 2014

Do you remember where you were when you first heard Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars? How about Parklife, or Definitely Maybe? Is This It? Right, you can tell I’m on IMPORTANT ALBUMS territory here – but there’s a crucial detail here: Manipulator stands head and shoulders above the lot of them, whilst apparently barely trying.

I was advised to do my research on San Francisco bay’s Ty Segall, as he’d been around a while. Indeed, in an era where hardly any act can manage past a lame first album, he has steadily released an album a year since 2007, allowing the lessons learnt and sound skills developed to seep into his blood and bones, to eventually coagulate into this…beast, Manipulator.

It’s phenomenally good. Fucking cracking, shit-hot, addictive, never to be lost smashes, every one. It’s almost good enough to make people buy it online. Such quips shouldn’t be here actually – my humour doesn’t stand up to the sheer integrity, craftsmanship, feeling, and pure love of the form contained in this hour of music.

So how can it possibly compare to those timeworn classics above? I mean, that stuff is really classic! I see the question mark above your head. Because 1. You can tell he fucking means it, Jack White or Jimi style, and 2. It’s packed full of inventiveness, madness, insane rhythms, psyche colour, raw sex, virtuosity, and tunes: Tunes falling over themselves to be heard, competing with the next in line like a queue of girls after a hockey match competing for the showers.

So what does it sound like? All the best bits of Tame Impala, Pond, The Jicks, The Beta Band, SFA, The Dandy Warhols, The White Stripes, Jack solo – all of these slushing around in a sandpit live studio, with simply the joy of sound, melody and rhythm buffeting them around. Where Mr. Segall triumphs though, is in his innate, self-trained discipline – he reels things in long before they become a bore, or anything close to it. Why don’t British artists seem to be able to do this anymore? Is this country so clogged by the coalition and branding? Like SA isn’t?

What Ty Segall has become on Manipulator is a postmodern magician to send his competitors scurrying – Coyne, Malkmus, Hansen, Rhys, Mason…brilliant as you are, there’s a new master in town, and he has rather raised the bar. My worthy paymasters at the Monolith Cocktail won’t be having with graded reviews – but if they did, this motherfucker would be off the scale. Play this album at full volume, on repeat, for a week. Then press repeat. Ok, go on then, one more.

Our Daily Bread 105: UZZEE

August 29, 2014

EP  REVIEW

 

UZZEE - Monolith Cocktail

 

 

UZZEE   ‘Evolution EP’   Released  8th September 2014

 

When the mainstream finally caught up with the phenomenon of the UKs homegrown Hip Hop in the late 80s and early 90s, the underground scene had more or less dissipated or progressed into other genres. Though a lineage has always existed, carrying on regardless but under the radar completely, UK rap suffered the same fate as its US counterpart, a victim of its own success, embraced by the established media but slowly disarmed over time.

Jumping the rails and fluidly morphing into garage, jungle, techno, R&B and grime, rap mostly diversified, breaking away from its origins and finding a uniquely British voice.

As with every generation, since the post war baby boomers, past events, especially music, are constantly revisited and recycled. Either in pure revisionist style or from nostalgia, we’ve recently seen a small revival in this country’s own golden age of Hip Hop, enthusiast extraordinaire Mark McDonald’s Splendid Magnificent: The Top 100 UK Rap Records 1987 – 1993 tome is about to be published, and the B-boy flygirl apparel of that period has filtered through to present street trends.

Which brings us to the MOBO and beyond recommended MC, UZZEE – who somehow softens the infamous cold machine gun’s moniker with some extra vowels and a Z -, a blossoming urban polymath, bridging both music and fashion: a second-year fashion design student at the London College of Fashion, who can be found bedecked in a mix of Afro futurist jazz cat and a metaphysical heavy stick carrying front man of a moon base Jungle Brothers.

 

His new psyche trope Evolution EP sounds like a lifetime of collected memories, both lyrically and musically from the last two decades. In fact, it could be regarded as an evolutionary chronicle of rap itself; going as far back as the initial Kraftwerk futurism of Bambaataa’s electro blasted Planet Rock and Afro space age jazz influence of the Pharaoh, Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra. UZZEE’s rise and momentary stumbles on the travail towards some kind of enlightenment are laid bare over a metallic neon fuse-lit backing track of gleaming, buffed chrome, modulating beats. The production, an amalgamated group effort by UK producer Jelacee (Stooki Sound), the Hawaiian based Mr.Carmack and Texan musician Erik Dingus (one half of Hip Hop duo, Drone), is crisp, bouncy and suitably forged with an electronic futurist sheen.

But it begins, at least, with a Edan style throwback collage of kitsch Hammond show tune pomp and esoteric, B-movie chamber psych; UZZEE delivering in a third person style announcement, the preamble to his life story: ‘Bare witness as he faces his most daunting task yet: welcome to the evolution!’

Later on the announcements and lead-ins, which break up the EP’s tracks into a trio of chapters, arrive courtesy of an unidentified honey-dipped female android, over a space station tannoy. After that set-up introduction the 60s vibe fizzles out as an early 90s cyclonic Detroit sponsored techno buzz takes over. Launching into a peppered and repetitive dance electro rap hybrid.

That UK rap lineage seeps into the next track, ‘UZZEE’s Lament’, recalling such long lost notable blasts from the golden era as The Krispy 3 and the more commercially successful Stereo MCs, whilst the hazy somnambulist induced ‘Insomnia’ wanders freely through the first Massive Attack albums. The final three-act finale, ‘The Statement Outro’, even fluctuates on the sweeping Zen like trance of 808 State, before pumping out A Tribe Called Quest ‘quasi-Rhythm (Devoted To The Art Of Moving Butts)’ era warped esoteric funk – though there is penchant for the UK, you can’t help but hear touches of that Native Tongues, Afrocentric and Nas vibe.

UZZEE’s burr is a purposeful Lost Poets style mix of narration and rhyming couplets – could do with far more of this -, a vocal that seems to fit a myriad of rhythms, from the lo-rider southern drawl warble of ‘The Return’ (back in grime country) or the string-led grandeur of the urban pop symphony ‘Maxine’, with an equally attuned flow.

That ‘evolution’ or rise from the concrete sink to the London College of Fashion and a mixtape collaboration with Long Clothing/BOY, is a diligent and spiritual trip of an album, handled with confidence: setting in motion the blossoming of a polygenesis artist, adapt at slickly moving between musical genres.

 

 

This seems as good as any a time to once again share our own list of choice UK Hip Hop tracks from the golden era…

LP  REVIEW

 

Opal Onyx - Monolith Cocktail Blog

 

Regular readers of the Monolith Cocktail will by now be used to the literary adroit moody reviews of our novelist, Ayfer Simms. Adding a certain gravitas to the musical landscape,  Simms digs deep and resurrects daemonic metaphors galore, conjuring up something dark for the debut LP by Brooklyn duo Opal Onyx.

 

Opal Onyx   ‘Delta Sands’   (Tin Angel Records)  Released 25th August 2014.

 

Truly, madly deeply, Opal Onyx and the encounter with the devil.

 

Nobody knows that hell is beautiful and the devil, a prisoner locked up in a den of quarks, is about to rise above our unpoised world. His heart beats while we wait, his heart beats while a somber ominous cloud spreads at the foot of humankind. Opal Onyx has unearthed the path to the wretched empire of the devil and fallen to its knees in adoration.

The devil is slender and paces his own cell up and down, waiting his acquittal with a steel eagerness, calm and yet burning like a bull before his death in the arena, the sound of his breath is filling our air with an invisible thunder. The devil is a man, yet up close his uncanny nature betrays him. From the depth of his cell, his grievous voice escapes and while his tails rattles, he summons all enslaved consciences to be aware of his existence. The devil is not vile, he is the stillness of a cold blade. There is no empathy in his mind, there’s a subdued anger. He is looming while the wind swipes our world. Opal Onyx’s vocalist Sarah, with her siren sublime voice stumbles upon him at the darkest hours of her consciousness, like Lankester Merrin unearthing Pazuzu’s amulet under a scorching sun, she knows the time has come to face the demon, and to love him. She is the one sitting at his feet, she is the one falling for him. Opal Onyx has brought this world to us and we in turn fall for these strange sounds and bewitching voice hardly able to forgo the abominable consequences of such a betrothal.

We wonder dazed, was hell so beautiful? Was the faint scent of the Indian sitar married to the cello the instruments of the dark pit? The embodiment of the nirvana?

The album is the sound of the shipwreck long after everyone has died in the deepest of waters, it’s the sound of the womb pumping the blood of life, it’s the sound of the planets silently creaking in the dark, it’s the sound of the devil himself disguised as a cellist who returns from the dead to heal the inconsolable grief of his beloved wife crying for his sake.

Opal Onyx, the atmosphere, the voice, the cello and other mysterious instruments and techniques used, and the esoteric theme running through the entire album calls for a standing ovation. Let the curtain fall, let them bow, humble and proud.

 

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