October 2, 2014
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Monolith Cocktail’s vagabond-about-town cultural critic, Sean Bw Parker‘s new misadventure feature. A serial offender when it comes to upsetting the proverbial applecart – Turkish authorities, David Bowie fans (re. his fake interview with the Thin White Dupe for God Is In The TV last year), Scottish record labels, Mumford and Sons – Parker’s musings on his life and a wealth of both tangent and bizarre subjects will be housed in this regular slot.
Deported recently from Istanbul, his home for the last decade, Parker has wasted no time in ingratiating himself with the locals (whether they wanted him to or not), as he settles into his new West Sussex environment – Chichester to be exact. That 48-hour tale of woe that ended in his return to the UK and all the repercussions will kick-off this new feature. Join Parker now as he navigates the idiosyncrasies of a world he left behind, back in 2004.
If this tickles your fancy and you need a tome of such miscreant tales from the acerbic, gutter-rolling, Parker, then he’s just published a book on his time in the Bosphorus straddling metropolis, entitled ‘Salt In The Milk – Ten Years In Istanbul’, of which you can purchase here.
I had been drinking heavily on a Friday night in the Istanbul central district of Besiktas, with a revolving assortment of friends, alternating between my two favourite bars, Aylak (Hobo) and Sair Leyla (named after a famous Turkish poet). At some early hours point I took my friend S’s phone and sent a text message to the woman who heats my heart – F – informing her, uninvited, that I would be dropping by her elite Nisantasi apartment. No response.
Well as we all know, copious alcohol bears no heed to ‘no response’, and I duly hailed a taxi and sped the two miles up the summer night Istanbul hills to the luxurious neighbourhood. Upon ringing her doorbell a few times, I remembered that she was in the apartment next door, at her flaming neighbour O’s house – tried that one a few times, and eventually the door clicked open.
Now O and I generally get on famously – I remember even French-kissing him once late on a more decadently extreme night – but tonight the energy and atmosphere was evil. In his house, we started snapping at each other, and then I started fully shouting. Subconsciously duelling for F’s affections, despite our respective preferences, and soon after I noticed a brand new luminescent green snake tattoo on her hand, glasses began to be violently hurled my way, some smashing to pieces, others not.
O, from his slight frame, was thunderously ordering me to leave his house, F offering me the key to her place next door – but alcohol is as stubborn as the mind is soft, and I refused – essentially believing that F would rather be with me than stay there. Well F is much more complicated than that, and soon O was threatening to call the police. ‘Call them then!’ I screamed. So he did. Alcohol is also punitively decisive, sometimes (too often).
Three policemen arrived, within ten minutes, baffled by these three polite urbanites having a pissy fit in the middle of comparatively sleepy, refined Nisantasi. O continued his complaint, and I had fallen silent by then, knowing what this potentially meant – but too inebriated and obstinate to protest or god knows, apologise for not leaving. O made a complaint against me (the Turkish equivalent of breach of the peace), and the three of us were hustled into the back of the waiting police van.
Harbiye police station is a quaint old one-storey building between Nisantasi and Tesvikiye, two minutes from the ‘scene of the crime’. We were put in the gorgeous back garden, surrounded by wooden benches and small, overhanging trees to think, smoke, and try to sober up. One by one, in thirty minute stretches, we made our statements – by dawn, with F trying to sleep in the holding cell after arguing with the police, they led me in there too, after realising I had no residence permit, and hadn’t had a visa for my near ten years in Turkey. The police’s smiling response to this news was ‘bye bye!’
F was released when her minor case was cleared up a few hours later, but also in our shared holding cell was a Libyan businessman, M, with connections in very high places – but who couldn’t speak about them, lest his family be involved in a media scandal. He was in for drink-driving. A charming, gentle, spiritually confused man, we later discovered we shared the same birthday, and supported each other with humour throughout our unwashed incarceration.
Saturday morning turned into Sunday evening, turned into Monday afternoon as M and I went through blood test after botched blood test, handcuffed to each other and separately, led from suburban hospital to neighbouring police station – never with any warning – and me translating with my pigeon Turkish to English for him as best I could. Friends, including the angelic N, N, S, J and F (2) would come to our elegantly barred window and bring food and coffee, smoke cigarettes and generally try to keep spirits up.
M and I were finally taken unshackled to the very impressive, newly built ‘Foreigners Office’, in the down at heel, immigrant-heavy Kumkapi district (near Sultanahmet, and more famed for its fish restaurants). The grandiose neo-Georgian façade of the place belied a dark, heaving underbelly of crowded, imprisoned Arabs and mental torture. To be fair to the actual office part, the twenty or so young well-brought up bureaucrats worked frenetically – while having their joust-about fun – to make things run smoothly, to get people in and out – but it definitely seemed like they’d never had to deport a fair-haired, greying, blue-eyed Englishman before.
Upon hearing that they would need to keep us in overnight, M desperately tried to change his story not to be put in with the incredibly dangerous seeming, jam-packed Asians behind the cage on the corridor –positively lowing with frustration and sullen, grim distemper. When it appeared I would also need to spend a night there, a panic attack began to descend, slurring my speech and disconnecting me from the environment.
The commissar was persuaded to call an ambulance crew, and I knew the best way to avoid this awful scenario would be to spend the night in hospital. However when the paramedics arrived thirty minutes later, they found an extremely psychologically stressed but apparently physically perfect specimen. I was to spend the night there, while my lawyer appealed (unsuccessfully) at a courthouse in a neighbouring district. M and I were let off to a windowless, burgundy and brown rubber room, just off from the office – mental row.
After three nights inside we should have known what to expect, but this was boiling. After lying on one of the two gym mats and trying to read (The Restaurant at the End Of The Universe, by Douglas Adams) for ten minutes, M called the guard, then called me. He was taking us into the Arab dorm, as they were ‘his people’, and we would be fine as long as we got the bunk with some air next to the window.
In this seventh layer of hell I spotted a familiar junkie-beggar from the streets of Beyoglu who had always hugged me and called me ‘brother’ on the street, because I tended to palm him a lira when I could. He now gave me up his bunk, and seemed a little offended when at the sound of the evening call to prayer (ezan), one of the inmates shouted/sang ‘Allah Akbar!’…and I motioned to M that I wanted to leave, immediately.
If you’ve seen the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘The Birds’ where they move through the crows in tense silence at the end, that’s exactly what this was like, with more exposed deep brown torsos, knife scars and tattoos. I smiled my polite western smile and heaved a huge gasp of relief when we slammed the door of our hot rubber cell behind us.
Back on madness row, there were two flamboyantly gay boys from Turkmenistan and Iran, – who happened to be an absolute delight – and I gave them my cigarettes when I could. They didn’t have a cell to their own, so that they could flirt with the boys in the neighbouring buildings into the night. Their payment for this was to be directly outside the cell of a nameless Afghani bomb victim, who had had both his lower arms blown off, and was blind and mostly naked. They warned me about him, though when I saw him he was heavily sedated on his back, quiet as a very odd-looking lamb.
Sleep was near impossible in the heat, but just as the sweet embrace was closing in both M and I were shocked awake by an inhuman, repeated screaming from his cell. Then for five hours he kept on, a cat sound here, throwing himself at the wall there, causing unbelievable pandemonium solidly, from shell-shock or god knows what. The gay couple asked M to speak to him in Arabic, which he tried, but returned to our room highly disturbed. A night with a banshee on acid throwing themselves repeatedly around in a deliberate, incognent rage suddenly took on new meanings of real pain. The Turkmeni ladyboy explained that that night he had been comparatively restrained (the Turkmeni boy had been there for fifty days.) I had heard him excrete in the night, and no one cleaned up the next day. The whole row stank of piss and shit.
The next day was confusing as M was taken away at one point, and me at another to face our fates – though eventually I had to wait crouched and huddled with only Mr Adams for sanity until the evening. The commissar had found out about my ten year overstay, and was baffled. How was this possible?
He decided I was a ‘flight risk’, that I wouldn’t leave given a chance, and told my lawyer and F that the standard fifteen day appeal was not applicable to me, and to get the next plane home. No time to pack – airport, stamp, then out.
My flight was at 11pm from Sabiha Gokcen airport on the Asian side of the city, and my summons was an hour and a half late, and not with the trusted officer who had become my friend and promised to accompany me.
I sat at the back of a blacked-out-windowed van and sped through the Istanbul evening, over the Bosphorus with full red and blue deportation lights blazing –unclean! (Not to overstress the point.) An hour later, after the drivers had stopped for tea and got to know me, I fell into the arms of eight true Istanbuller friends who had been following the story and had gathered at the airport to meet me, and so send me off.
The bizarre, mixed emotion of sorrow to leave my friends and beloved city, with the excitement and relief after all these years of ‘going home’, is hard to overstate. Our police escort were charming and hospitable (as so many of the young policemen had been), and after a farewell beer with my entourage near the departure lounge, my passport was secretly stamped, and my flight took off into the turbulent, European night sky.
I did an eleven hour shift in a plastics factory today. It’s in the middle of an industrial estate in Chichester, but it’s a very nice, English industrial estate, being in Chichester. I had bangers and mash with peas and gravy for lunch at my favourite traditional English cafe. Not so much teaching English, as doing it these days. Helpfully, the God Of Plastics (Sussex branch) arranged it that the factory was staffed by 95% Poles and an Australian, however, so I didn’t feel too unusual. Like an inverse reflection of the 99% Islam demographic in Turkey, but with more Polandrianism. I’ll leave my hilarious Holocaust jokes and Union Jack hat at home for a while though
A fine start to the day, at 5.30am. My early smoking companion was a Latvian named Sardis, whom I had mistaken for a Pole. Sardis: ‘I hate them. Fucking bastards, I REALLY HATE them.’ Oh well, long live Glasnost…
Later I discovered that the manager had cottoned on to the fact that I was/am a teacher of English, and thus the whole place knew. I spent the rest of the day feeling like Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption, minus the books and spectacles. All that was missing was Pablo Di Ablo as Morgan Freeman at the end of the line (‘we’re all counting on you, John’, etc). I would have said stay tuned for the next instalment to see how my tunnel to France is going…
Until I spoke to the health and safety manager after 10 hours of mentally and physically exhausting manual work, saying that I felt dizzy and exhausted having not done such a thing in about 12 years, and would need to ‘build up’ to the agreed 12 hour shift. He said ok, and I went on my way. 15 minutes later, the recruitment company called and said my services were no longer needed. Where am I, Manila? If any editors are reading, do drop me a line if you’d like to run with it. The name of the company is…
September 30, 2014
A choice survey of tracks from the last three months. Some we’ve covered, others we’ve heard.
Part III is, as always, a polygenesis spread, starting with a primal barrage of Dub, Dancehall and clattering beats from Kalbata and the Mixmonster, and ending on a expansive drone opus from Earth.
That track list in full, with links to the artists we’ve featured.
Kalbata & Mixmonster ‘Congo Beat The Drum’
Sean Kuti & Egypt 80 ‘IMF’
The Green Seed ‘Jude Law’
Henri-Pierre Noel ‘Funky Spider Dance’
Eno + Hyde ‘DBF’
Madlib ‘Licorice (The Beginning)’
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib ‘Broken (Feat. Scarface)’
Robert Plant ‘Little Maggie’
Little Scout ‘March Over To Me’
Chain and The Gang ‘Never Been Properly Loved’
The Boredellos ‘The Gospel According To Julian Cope’
Total Control ‘Expensive Dogs’
A Victim Of Society ‘Enough Said’
Souleance ‘Dum Dum’
Gut und Irmler ‘Parfum’
Cabaret Voltaire ‘Animation’
John MOuse ‘That’s Just The Way Our Love Is’
Anna Calvi ‘Strange Weather’
The New Pornographers ‘Brill Bruisers’
The Van Allen Belt ‘Rain’
Opal Onyx ‘Black and Crimson’
Grumbling Fur ‘Secrets Of The Earth’
Land Observations ‘The Brenner Pass’
Earth ‘From The Zodiacal Light (Feat. Rabia Shaheen Qazi)’
September 29, 2014
Sporadically releasing material in the most ad hoc manner, psych-folk troubadour Mark Fry recorded his Dreaming With Alice debut album back in 1972 for RCA Italy as a 19-year old student, but waited patiently for 36 years before producing the follow-up. Residing in a Normandy farmhouse, untouched and unscathed by the progress of time, Fry, a renowned painter, has recorded a further trio of albums in a comparatively short span including this latest opus, South Wind, Clear Sky.
We hand you over to our lyrically assiduous and literary astute critique Ayfer Simms to set up the right ambience.
Mark Fry ‘South Wind, Clear Sky’ (Second Language) Released 29th September 2014.
If you climb those stairs a little higher you may find yourself balanced on a musical leaf where a voice, gentle and soothing guides you through the air, on an autumn day, on a summer night, on a wintery frost, on a springy wavy river. The horizon is wide and open and flows like nature itself, because Mark Fry is a dreamer and his music is designed to show us the way of dreams.
Back recently from a 40 years break from music, Mark Fry who had been known for hisDreaming with Alice, is a painter, a traveler, a literature lover composing and pondering from his house, recluse and open, like a messenger from the depth of his solitary moments. The dreamy world he offers is here like a cure, like another choice, a substitute to what we have to deal with every day. Under the dreamy world hides harsh realities of deception and pollution, cruelty and coquettish, frivolous hearts. To forget? To fight or to flee? There are things we can do. Mark Fry’s path is the path of the imagination used for better deeds, lessons we can learn just as the pilot learned his with the boy we call the little Prince.
The tracks put you on a cloud, we gaze upon the shapes of the little houses’ beneath us, the smoky chimneys and the green squares of fields sketched out like rough drawings on a children’s book. Mark sends a dash of paint to the horizon, small tiny dots appear here and there, the world becomes another place, a place that exists for a higher wellbeing state: To turn our back on sorrow, to love paradise, to glide through the elements. Paradise is caught by Fry like little crystals from a snowy day.
Why lose the perfect state of peace and harmony? Why lose the way to the perfect world?
Distant world and whimsical world. Mark Fry wants to let it go, he is already there in spirits. But he shall not because we are here part of his universe. He is divided between fleeing forever and stretching a hand out for us. His earth is spinning away on its own in the distance, amid the muffled radio waves. And we remain high above the sky, “higher than the birds”, and safe in a hazy nebula, with the echoes of somewhere else. There’s a path to escape the burden of the world. Fry’s voice, gentle, marries the music’s wavy solemn movements, perfectly in tune and rich in subtle layers, the sky is wide, and the air is grand. The discreet musical horns and instruments bring us far from the sadness of this world.
With the high hopes of the seventies we sought refuge behind “San Francisco” and the flowery movements, we are now beyond that idea and seek shelter within ourselves. There is no denial in this album, there is a gentle urge to change perspective: the serene message and the musical back up that reinforces the merciful vocals do that wonderfully.
September 24, 2014
‘Selbstdarsteller’ Sean Bw Parker casts his critical aspirations and observations over the following releases this week: Martin Carr ‘s (returning from a number of alter-ego monikers with a new solo LP in his own name) The Breaks; J.P. Whipple‘s well-traveled Americana Thinking Of You…Staring At The Powers songbook; and the Bell Gardens subtly underplayed opus Slow Dawn For Lost Conclusions.
Martin Carr ‘The Breaks’ (Tapete Records) Released 29th September 2014.
There is almost something – get this – Prince-like about The Santa Fe Skyway on Martin Carr’s new The Breaks album…well, Prince fronting The Flaming Lips. It’s lovely, expansive and urban, the sound of a dusk night-drive through Chicago-via-Cardiff.
The ex-Boo Radleys guitarist and songwriter has returned with a full pop sound, sunny as Midlake, wry as Morrissey – but with a ‘Wake Up! Boo’ sized heart and sound of newly re-found fun.
For the unaware, Martin Carr was something of an alternative indie rock god in the early to mid nineties, through his steering of The Boo Radleys through a clutch of acclaimed albums – including Wake Up and seminal Giant Steps (featuring one of the tracks of the decade, ‘Lazarus’). After the Boo’s split he went on to more experimental/folk project Bravecaptain, until now stepping out into the light, while under his trademark curly mane, solo.
In 2014, Carr sounds like a happy, acquiescent, rather Zen fellow. On ‘Mainstream’, he accepts the bittersweet nature of compromised creativity – whilst acknowledging that however bitter the message, it can always be delivered in a wrong-footingly sweet way. With ‘Mountains’, we are in fully self-assured Simon & Garfunkel/Crowded House territory – a compliment – Carr ratcheting up the songwriting jack to full charm.
If contemporary Wayne Coyne had a little more real soul and a little less commercial ambition, he would turn in something as lovely, reflective whilst still experimental as ‘Sometimes It Pours’ – fireside, rainy British music at its best. He’s back into Boo’s/Morrissey territory for ‘Senseless Apprentice’ – a ‘drive time pop rocker’ if ever I heard one –, mixing dark observations with sunny vibes, Carr ably turns himself into a 21st century one-man Steely Dan.
‘Jesus was a lefty, so they nailed him to a tree – you don’t get on the wrong side of the business community’: An effective anti-capitalism lament on ‘No Money In My Pocket’, explaining non-mawkishly the current 1% problems, and internet-based challenges for all artists. The angelic voices behind the ‘maybe we’ll find heaven’ chorus are something transportive, too. The track (ideal Christmas single, were Carr inclined towards something so crass) culminates in a hail-scree of shoegaze guitar.
‘I Don’t Think I’ll Make It’ is another rolling lullaby type creature, with great Air-like synths rebounding in a circular formation, everywhere. This ditty is a number one in an ideal world, MC’s pop songwriting gifts at full throttle – who knows, maybe the UK public will betray some good taste one of these days. On the short title track, Martin resignedly, casually opines ‘fuck it’ – (‘if the breaks don’t come, we’ll just get by without them’), and its yet another gentle, soothing ode to play the listener out.
Whether there is a full-circle nature to The Breaks, twenty years after Britpop’s heyday or not, songwriting pile-driver Martin Carr proves he has enough sun, love, gentle ambition and big-heartedness to go round for everyone. We say: welcome back to the Radio – god do we need you.
Catch Sean’s recent interview with Martin HERE…
J.P. Whipple ‘Thinking Of You…Staring At The Power Lines’ Originally released back in July 2014.
His name might bring to mind Saturday afternoons trudging down Brighton Pier licking a cornetto, but the voice is pure Tom Waits/Mark Lanegan, at times drudged up from an even deeper swamp.
Banjos, Moog organs and whisky-sodden voices abound in Whipple’s tales of low life, street and bog walking Americana, best heard on the rather fun ‘Dumpster Dan’, exploiting those are-they-true, are-they-false Waitsisms to full, bar room sing-a-long effect.
It can get a little one-trick-pony predictable at times – but when Mr Whipple’s not being down low, he’s touching beautiful melancholy – such as on closer ‘She Finds’, where he treads delicately but affectingly into Wilco/Mercury Rev/Sparklehorse territory.
Bell Gardens ‘Slow Dawn For Lost Conclusions’ (Rocket Girl) Released 27th October 2014.
How are you feeling? What’s on your mind? What are you doing right now?
No, it’s not Mark Zuckerberg’s alter ego here, it’s Bell Gardens lovely album, putting the back of your head in its lap and stroking you to sleep.
You may think that a name like Slow Dawn For Lost Conclusions portends to a band that take themselves very seriously, and to be honest it sounds like you’re right. BG are craftspeople, sculpting sound, a very big sound, and leaving nothing to chance.
This sound is a comforting, lush field stretching between The Beta Band and Elbow, with the perfectionism of Pink Floyd but without the ‘scroting’ guitar solos. There isn’t any palpable ego on display, but a tangible desire for equality and gentility, from the (somewhat chintzy) album cover to album highlight ‘She Does’.
The album is one long feeling, and there are no major divergences – if you liked The Cure’s Disintegration or The Verve’s Urban Hymns, but found them, either too moan-y, pompous or grandiose, SDFLC is very much for you.
September 22, 2014
Quiet Marauder ‘Every Time We Think Of One Another feat. Francesca’s Word Salad’ (Bubblewrap Records) Released 13th October 2014.
Just one of a Bonzo-inspired 111 track behemoth, released earlier this year, Wale’s heroes of dada pop the Quiet Marauder are releasing a triumvirate of singles from their ‘crisis of identity’ satirical defensive, MEN LP. The trio of whimsical, sometimes plaintively sorrowful, singles will be released so: ‘Pretty Girls Are (Pretty)’ on the 15th September; ‘Every Time We Think Of One Another (A Petal Falls From The Flowers On Our Grave)’ in time for the ghoulish festivities of Halloween; and ‘SOS’ on the 10th November.
Morbidly curious, this ghostly Vivian Stanshall visitation quivered Doo Wop ‘exclusive track’ – granted to us no doubt for our gushing support – features a vocal accompaniment from the macabre Cardiff songstress, Francesca Dimech. A western twanged – and pranged – balled from a graveside that whips up the haunted spectre of a vaudeville Move and the mischievous Gothic rock’n’roll of the Leader Of The Sect era Downliners, this cemetery tale of entwined love in the afterlife is surprisingly heart-achingly quant: ‘When we die, we do live on/But it’s fuzzy, and it’s blurred/And you and I, are buried six feet down/In a graveyard, two rows apart.’ Warms even the most cold-blooded of hearts that one.
In case that doesn’t encourage your patronage and charity, than this LP review reminder will give you a nudge in the right direction:
‘Cast your aural memory back to the 11th October 2013, when the Monolith hosted the ‘Gummo’ inspired, ‘I Want A Moustache, Dammit!’, curio from the Welsh Quiet Marauder troupe.
Tickling our fancies then, they now threaten us with a 111-track oeuvre; a weighty satirical manifesto, a sketch show of earnest rebukes that just keeps giving. Sparks without the pizzazz, the group’s deadpan, often vaudeville modernist intonation is self-deprecating in audacity, yet at its heart beats the leitmotif of masculinity.
So not a clarion call to arms but an ironic lament to inadequacy, the soon to be released opus,Men mocks via a cast of oddballs, perverts and shy, soft-handed male characters the deficiencies and rituals of past, present and modern courtship. Those predatory thoughts and chat-up lines, best kept inside your own dome, are discussed on the Bonzo-esque, ‘Internal Monologue Date’, via a deadpan conversation, whilst ‘Pretty Girls Are (Pretty)’ is a mooningVivian Stanshall discussion between two unhinged acquaintances on public transport – a hotspot to pick up women. It gets sillier and more deranged, as our brethren of clueless fellas evoke Victoriana style serenades on the sex-pest, white gloved slobbering, themed, ‘It Wasn’t Me, It Was The Moon’. They even stoop to the level of employing a ‘co-pilot’ in the shape of a cute dog and ‘a bubbly guy who’s gay’, as a failsafe shoehorn into the ladies affections. Sexual predilections are numerous too, one of the most lighthearted if bizarre is the Toreador’s love for his prey on ‘Sad Spanish Eyes, Rodrigo’; a touching tale of man falls for bull.
As with the previous QM featured track, the ‘alpha male model’ is tackled throughout this album. Varying between quite poignant under-riding lament and lampoon. A ridiculous incanted list of the British prime ministers, is made even more silly by the hovering presence of a ghoulish imp and a Eno-esque spooky soundscape on the vignette, ‘Prime Ministers (1952 – Present)’; reducing them to their unsettling but almost irrelevant status as power-hungry dickheads. ‘If We Were Playas’ is another suitable ‘piss-take’ that sounds like the bastard child of Cliff Richard and The Chefs, and offers a dandyish opine on matching up to the paragons of machismo.
Quite the collaborative effort, prized guests feature everywhere. One of the most startling contributions and a tune that stands out from the witty rhetoric, is the soft-lilting, dry-ice synthesiser balled, ‘Caged’. Lost in a parodied misty smog of 80s neon-tubed remorse, it features the voguish siren Gothic swoons of Jemma Roper; a duet of sorts that actually manage to almost sound convincingly emotive.
Released in their native homeland next month (November) but held-back from the marauding hoards of English till January 2013, those seeking a sneak peak will find solace here.’
September 19, 2014
Fofoulah ‘Fofoulah’ (Glitterbeat Records) Released 22nd September 2014
A blurring of cultural and musical boundaries, the cross-pollinated London/Bristol quintet Fofoulah, send ricocheting percussive shots echoing across a backing of West African and European landscapes on their eponymous debut LP. Part of the celebrated Glitterbeat Records roster, they share many traits with fellow global mind travellers, Dirt Music. But whereas Dirtmusic were all transcendental and moody abstracted guitars and esoteric blues, Fofoulah center their sound around the rhythmic phrased language of the Sabar and Tama drums – the sabar used to communicate messages between villages, through the centuries, by the Wolof people of Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania, and the Tama, a ‘talking drum’ that can be regulated to mimic the tone of a human voice.
Alongside band member and the group’s producer, David Smith’s (who also performs with the equally cosmopolitan imbued Robert Plant’s band, the Sensational Space Shifters) sensitively attuned drum kit, the percussion is key, underpinning and leading each loose song form along its meandering path. Yet despite the dub like feel and swaying movement, there is an urgency – a poignant one at that -, delivered through the political and personal charged lyrics, sang for the most part by the group’s main vocalist, Senegalese born singer and Bristol resident Batch Gueye. As an example of this underscored call for harmony, the hypnotically polyrhythmic reverberated sound clash album opener, ‘No Troubles’, calls for “…peace in the community.”
An extended collective of featured artists join the quintet on their echoed sonorous travails, with the Gambian master griot and single-stringed riti player Juldeh Camara lending some meditative tones to the searching, searing ‘Hook Up’, and the Algerian/Parisian singer Iness Mezel cooing reverently and majestically over a tribal clattering Afro-soulful rich desert song, ‘Blest’. There’s also a Dream Warriors meets Tricky style ambling turn from the amiable, adroit spoken word rapper Ghostpoet on the breezier laidback, rim shot rattling, ‘Don’t Let Your Mind Unravel’ – an album highlight.
Pretty much a seal of quality, the Glitterbeat label can once again be relied upon to offer, yet, another distinctive polygenesis slice of West Africa and beyond; reminding us that these lands gave birth in the first place to blues and rock’n’roll.
Fofoulah blur the boundaries even further, absorbing the surroundings and musical exchanges of London with touches of reggae, Afro rock and saxophone- caressed soul, to plow their own distinct furrow.
September 17, 2014
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.
September 15, 2014
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.
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…
September 12, 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: monolithcocktail@
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.