Choice Music From The Last Month
Curated By Dominic Valvona

Those July tunes from the Monolith Cocktail team of Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea and Andrew C. Kidd; 45 tracks that represent the blog’s tastes this month.

As a companion piece, we’ve now started compiling a version over on our Youtube channel. With some video tracks not included in, and a different order to, the Spotify playlist. This includes the brand new Violet Nox (the Boston synth futurists) video for ‘Magnetar’ and Sebastian Reynolds athletics-inspired alternative soundtrack ‘Cheptegei’ (the Extra Mile Edit), plus a track from Andrew Spackman’s newest alias The Dark Jazz Project. We also have a few alternative track selections from the artists.

But first here’s that Spotify link and track list:

The Difference Machine (Ft. Sa-Roc)  ‘Repeater’
Ree-Vo  ‘Groove With It’
Wu-Lu  ‘Scrambled Tricks’ Ferry Djimmy  ‘Toba Walemi’
Marva Broome  ‘Mystifying Mama’
The Legless Crabs  ‘(I Wanna Be A) Cult Musician’
Toni Tubna w/ The Stockholm Tuba Section  ‘The Triennial’
The Doomed Bird Of Providence  ‘Unlawfully And Maliciously Murdered’
Archers Of Loaf  ‘In The Surface Of Noise’ The Burning Hell  ‘No Peace’
Kamikaze Palm Tree  ‘In The Sand’
Bruno Hibombo  ‘Black Dogs Down At Marie’s’
Elle E  ‘Oh Blue Eyes’
Kick  ‘Some Velvet Morning’
U.S. Girls  ‘So Typically Now’
Gillian Stone  ‘Amends’
Rezo  ‘Your Truth’
Tau & The Drones Of Praise  ‘It Is Right To Give Drones And Praise’
The Meltdown  ‘Lie To Me’
group O  ‘Kabelslat’
Axel Holy, Galloping Ghosts (Ft. Wish Master)  ‘Nothing Personal’
Stevie Pre  ‘Sent From The Top’
Sly Moon  ‘Banned From The Vic’
BKO  ‘NGON’
Amos, Mt. Stupid  ‘Technophobia’
Apollo Brown  ‘Just Like Home’
The Korea Town Oddity (Ft. Kahil Sadiq)  ‘HOMEBOYS IN OUTERSPACE’
Tumi Mogorosi  ‘Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child’
CMPND  ‘Acid Reign’
Healing Force Project  ‘Double Orbit’
Moebius  ‘Rast’
Fera  ‘Animale’
Nwando Ebizie  ‘I Seduce’
Ekome  ‘Gahu (Live At WOMAD 1982)’
Dynamo  ‘Arabia’
Skuff  ‘Sly Flute’
Blaktrix, A.H. Fly (Ft. Sonnyjim)  ‘Shoey’
The Difference Machine  ‘Flat Circles’
Aftab Darvishi  ‘Sahar’
Hatis Noit  ‘Jomon’
La Chinaca  ‘Sin Titulo’
Penza Penza  ‘Neanderthal Rock’
No Age  ‘Andy Helping Andy’
Jill Richards, Kevin Volans  ‘Third Etude’
Caterina Barbieri  ‘Transfixed’

And here’s that Youtube version:


ALBUM INSPIRES SCI-FI FLIGHT OF FANTASY
Andrew C. Kidd

Catarina Barbieri ‘Spirit Exit’
(Warp)

The following is the audio transcript obtained using the application programming interface of the Epicurean II computer during its orbit of Kepler-442b. The transcript was automatically created in the year 2341 after an unknown signal was picked up by the spacecraft’s communication receiver. The audio files contained within the transcript are dated 2270 and made reference to the same unknown signal. The data retrieved had the filename Spirit Exit.

system.console.transcript(log.epicureanII);

  }

}

int main()

{

    FIND_DATA_FILE; Handle search_handle=FindFirstFile;

include <spirit exit> /s /p  

}

{

run.cross ref <spirit exit> /s /p

    outcome( élan vital ) /*

    outcome( beverage ) /*

    outcome( c.barbieri ) /*

}

{

std::string NewPath=folder Name + FileData;

FindAllFiles(NewPath) ;

include <c.barbieri> /s /p

}

{

run.transmission received /*

    outcome( time-mark July 2022 ) */

run.signal type */

    outcome( electromagnetic waveform )

run.signal frequency */

    outcome( unknown )

run.transmission medium */

    outcome( unknown ) */

run.signal description */

    outcome( oscillation.polyrhythm.humanoid.sequences )

unknown signal */

   printf( “transcription” );

   printf( “interpretation” );

}

(Music quietly playing)

Organic Interpreter 1: I believe it was Emily Dickinson who penned the lines, “Banish Air from Air/Divide Light if you dare -“. I understand that Barbieri used this word-sequencer (‘poet’ to humans) as a data reference point. When her Spirit Exit audio data were released, the year was 2022 and Earth’s populace had indeed started to divide light and banish air.

(Higher amplitude audio waveforms detected, including off-beat syncopations and human vocals)

Organic Interpreter 2: Ah yes, this is the start of the data, coded as At Your Gamut. You can hear the breakdown of the modular sequence to reveal the base notes of the arpeggios. The bass and treble are finely balanced.

{

std::string NewPath=folder Name + FileData;

FindAllFiles(NewPath) ;

include <Knot of Spirit> /s /p

}

(Modular sequence detected)

Organic Interpreter 1: These data are Knot of Spirit (Synth Version). It has a slow-keyed motif. I will call this a ‘modular aria’.

Organic Interpreter 2: You are ever the non-materialist. However, the shifts in semitones and complex structure do provide narrative. It slowly fades into a disintegrated ambience.

Organic Interpreter 1: These modular arpeggios are the lifeblood of Barbieri’s sound. The arterial cacophonies are layered polysequences. As with At Your Gamut, the eventual revealing of the scale notes in each arpeggio sequence is subtle capillary action.

(Harpsichord keys detected)

Organic Interpreter 2: I believe this not to be a harpsichord, although the allusion to it cannot be denied. Such carbonised instrumentation preceded these audio data by many centuries. The clavicembalum was the first such example.

Organic Interpeter 1: This cannot be concluded with 100% certainty. Transfixed also has vocoded voice, which one could argue is somewhat outside the norms of these data. It cannot be denied that the orbiting balance of timbre and amplitude remains. It is not the only example of carbonised instrumentation in these data. On Canticle of Cryo, there are the unmistakable wave frequencies of ‘guitar strings’.

Organic Interpeter 2: Talos has also identified wavelengths belonging to a further such organic instrument, which humans aptly denoted as an ‘organ’.

Talos (neural network algorithm): Correct. The wavelength of an organ is twice the length of its carbonised pipe and its resonant frequency is almost double that of a human. As such, it was easily identifiable. The synthetics and melodies in these data are similar to the harmonics we experience in the present aeon. Yet, this was written 248 years ago. There is also marked accelerando that alter the space-time ratio of these data.

Organic Interpreter 1: Her urgency to share these sounds perhaps resulted in this accelerando.

Talos: The frequencies of the MC-202, Roland’s 1983 monophonic synthesiser, are detectable on Life at Altitude.

Organic Interpreters 1 and 2: Remarkable.

Talos: It is also important to highlight that my computations suggest that the triangular zenith of the ‘modular synthesiser’ was realised through Silver Apples of the Moon (Morton Subotnick), Buchla Concerts 1975 (Suzanne Ciani) and Sunergy (Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and the before-cited Suzanne Ciani). Regarding the present data provided by Barbieri, my Forier Transforms cannot accurately detect the interchangeability of the wave frequencies. I have detailed the evidence of my failed attempts here:

{define.new result

modular_shift = key_base + avg_oscillation

/* plt.plot(major key, modular_shift)

SYSTEM.ERROR

}

Organic Interpreter 1: I believe this was coded as ‘melody’.

Organic Interpreter 2: This is an important observation and your algorithms warrant further training using these data.

(Music playing)

Organic Interpreter 1: The humans of the year 2022 would perhaps have proffered the words ‘hymnal quality’ to these data. The evidence is the harpsichord and allusion to a verse-chorus form on Transfixed, the plainsong vocals on Canticle of Cryo and organ allusion on Knot of Spirit. However, this ‘cathedral of sound’ would have been no totem to past glories. It would have been cryptless. There were no dead there. The cantabiles were early machine learning. The data output would have been exponential.

Organic Interpreter 2: Again you possess a leanedness of the humans and their ‘metaphors’. The sequencing of these data is to be applauded. The ascension of sound and melodic reprise of the opening data courses from Life at Altitude to the pulsing synth-repetition and sub-bass rhythm on Terminal Clock, the melodic data from the latter are seamlessly drawn-out and introduce The Landscape Listens. Each piece traverses space and time to echo and generate their respective progenitors and descendants.

Talos: Do you regard this as masterful?

Organic Interpreters 1 and 2: We do.

(Fading waveforms)

Organic Interpreter 1: I think the signal is being interrupted by solar bursts emanating from the K-type dwarf. I can still hear the gentle undulating amplitudes of The Landscape Listens. It is like a coracle on a cosmic sea, swashed and mov…

(Waveforms undetectable)

{

run.signal frequency */

    outcome( unknown signal lost )

start command.exe

archive.transmission received /*

    outcome( transmission time-marked July 2022 archived ) */

}

BLOG EXCHANGE
WORDS: Matteo Maioli 

PHOTOS: Roberta Paolucci 

Over the last few years the Monolith Cocktail has been sharing/exchanging a post each month with the leading Italian culture/music site Kalporz. This month Matteo Maioli catches the feted Amyl And The Sniffers live.

A great evening of celebration for the tenth anniversary of a quality review: this is how one photographs the live performance of Amyl and The Sniffers at the Rocca Malatestiana in the midst of a European tour that is rewarding for the quartet led by Amy Taylor. An enviable energy that at times makes up for a lack of originality, the impression is nonetheless that of participating in a collective ritual of raw and simple entertainment fuelled by whiskey, beers, fuck (but now they’ll start saying vaffa) and crowdsurfing. New York Dolls, Motorhead and Pistols all rolled into one, with a Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex) post litteram.

So organised are the folks at Acieloaperto that they were able to cope with the last-minute absence of Not Moving Ltd due to covid-19 – which then until the day before I had too. In fact we gladly see Solaris again, young but with a defined repertoire and style with an excellent record such as 2020’s Un Paese Di Musichette Mentre Fuori C’è La Morte and the latest collaboration with Ottone Pesante. The Go Down stage thus begins to fill up and after a half-hour of singer-songwriter soul noise we return to the rock ‘n’ roll atmospheres dear to the Sniffers with the Chronics, a historic power-pop trio formed in Bologna in the late 1990s by guitarist and songwriter Stefano Toma with (today) Marco Turci on drums and Michele Rizzoli – ex-Avvoltoi – on bass, which also includes for the occasion guitarist Giuliano Guerrini (Titta and Le Fecce Tricolore) who mixed and played on the new LP Do You Love The Sun? (Puke N’ Vomit Records). Fulcrum of the setlist obviously this latest work, with climaxes that included the splendid “I Did Not Try” and “Gimme Fun“, with melodies suspended between Ramones and The Flaming Groovies. There is no shortage of highlights from previous records such as “Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut” (from Suggested For Mature Audiences) and covers – Mike Watt‘s “I Backed Up Into My Self” and 13th Floor Elevators“Levitation”. A tear for “First Time Best Time”: a 1999 single for Rip Off Records, it is a true anthem that will open for such lauded formations today as Judas or The Peawees. To be seen and seen again as the anticipation grows for the Melbourne band.

Bar lines, stadium choirs, and rock t-shirts, everyone wants to be ready for the adrenaline rush of Amyl and The Sniffers. Yet the first two songs sound very low in volume when in fact they are born as incendiary as the self-titled record (Rough Trade, 2019) from which they come. With “Choices” everything is in place, rhythm shot with shirtless bassist Gus Romer shirtless writhing madly; the riff of “Guided By Angels” is greeted by a roar and the pogoing of the rows below the stage. The glam, streetwise look is another detail not to be overlooked – like identifying Valentino Rossi with Romagna, or guzzling alcohol while singing, very lads! – and you can bet that the yellow exhibited by the vocalist will be back in fashion in a (seemingly) post-pandemic season.

“Control” and “Capital” verge on Black Flag hardcore while remaining the best example of their art; on the other hand, “Knifey”, from Comfort To Me, slower and with a new-wave timbre, does not come out as punchy as the studio version. Messy and proud to be so (“I’m Not A Loser”, a manifesto from Big Attraction), rough and fast, these are the Australians live, and “Don’t Need A Cunt (Like You To Love Me)” and “Security” sound like excellent pub tunes, where amidst rivers of beer they declare that pent-up rage against authority. “Hertz”, close to the stuff of the later Idles, leads toward the epilogue of “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)” for a short – fifty-five minute – but undoubtedly successful set in which the band fraternised with the audience before, during and after the live show in toasts, photographs and hugs typical of those who follow Acieloaperto and its excellent programming.

The set list of Amyl And The Sniffers at the Rocca Malatestiana:

Gacked on Anger
Got You
Choices
Guided by Angels
I’m Not a Loser
Control
Capital
Security
Balaclava Lover Boogie
Knifey
GFY
Don’t Need a Cunt (Like You to Love Me)
Maggot
Starfire 500
Hertz
Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)

REVIEWS ROUNDUP
GRAHAM DOMAIN

Here are reviews of some great singles, EP’s and Albums that have recently been released by Brona McVittie, Panjoma, Jose Medele and Hari Sima. Have a listen; you won’t be disappointed.

Brona McVittie ‘The Woman in The Moon’ (Single)
(Company Of Corkbots)

This is a fine song and the Title Track from her forthcoming third album (out in October 2022). It is essentially Autumnal Celtic Folk with a jazz and spooked electronica edge. Double bass, harp and understated jazz drums underpin the song mixed with sparse electronica giving it an eerie off kilter Autumnal feel, like the changing of the seasons as the days get shorter and night falls too soon.

Panjoma ‘Sun and Moon’ (Extended Play)

On first listen, the lead track ‘Sun and Moon’ sounds almost like a psychedelic 60s keyboard band with phased female vocals. Initially the song seems limited by the drum machine and seems to cry out for a real drummer and maybe a full a band to make it more organic and give it greater feel, especially on the semi-improvised instrumental parts! However, after a good-few listens, it begins to sound fantastic as it is, like something from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – a crazy space age dance for Gerry Anderson Puppets, Robbie the Robot and Zooney from Fireball XL5! F.A.B!

The song ‘Free’ is almost summery in its groove but is held back by the overly loud keyboards that make it sound almost like a stuck record. It may be that the artist intended the song to be ‘challenging’ but it soon becomes annoying to listen to, for the reasons given.

‘Like Thunder’ is the most melodic song on the EP with its saxophone refrain creating a late-night ambience and an air of neon-lit excitement.

Overall, the EP contains some good songs (The Yin) balanced by (The Yang) the more challenging material. I suspect this is intentional – one to watch!

Jose Medeles ‘Railroad, Cadences and Melancholic Anthems’ (Album)

Perhaps best known for his time as drummer with The Breeders, Jose Medeles has recorded this album as ‘a drummer’s tribute to the music of John Fahey’.

The album features some fine guitar playing from the likes of Marisa Anderson, Chris Funk and M Ward giving it a laid-back melancholic feel in keeping with the sparse melodic Americana of the songs. The six songs are things of slow tumbleweed beauty that stretch across the wide-open plains and dusty roads of America’s backwoods like ghosts, half glimpsed in the shimmering heat of the day.

Standout Tracks: ‘Voice of the Turtle’, ‘Mid the Snow’ and ‘Ice’.

Hari Sima ‘Solo en Occidente’ (Album)
(Objetos Perdidos)

This is the second album release by Hari Sima. The eight pieces of Ambient music are a mixture of cold technology, human sadness, mystery and musical travelogue of the mind.

The first track ‘Fontanar’ begins with distant synthetic sound, like alien field recordings, that create a feeling of being alone by the sea on an alien planet. The slowly creeping sequencers build harmony while creating feelings of isolation – a desert of dream, a paradise of unease. All is not as it seems.

‘Del Barranco al Rio’ meanwhile, develops from cold sequencer repetition, gradually becoming infused with melancholic clouds of melody – like music created by a cyborg Arvo Part – sadness at the heart of a technological wilderness.

‘Sumatra’ enlists Indian table drums to create a Middle Eastern vibe that slowly evolves into a downbeat spy or espionage film theme.

‘Petricor’ continues the Middle Eastern vibe with synthetic drones creating mystery and tension.

‘Cuando Sonaban las Caracolas’ uses drones, synths and echo to create a feeling of foreboding – like walking into a dark alleyway on a short cut home and suddenly regretting it!

‘Envuelto en Celulosa’ uses a sequencer to create a vaguely Japanese melody that mixes in burbling synth sound and synthetic wind to create the feeling of journeying in a distant land.

‘Dessaraigo’ similarly uses a sequencer and computer-babble noise to create an almost African musical travelogue.

‘En la Azud’ uses African type drums and a sequencer to create the feeling of voyaging deep into a tropical forest.

Whilst the album could easily be used to soundtrack a documentary or film, it can also be enjoyed as background Ambience. It is available now on the Valencia based label Objetos Perdidos as a limited-edition vinyl or digital download.

ALBUM REVIEW
ANDREW C. KIDD

Aftab Darvishi  ‘A Thousand Butterflies’
(30M Records)

The Hamburger label 30M Records is an intercontinental phonograph. Its pivot hinge moves a funnelled horn to bring sounds of Iran out of Iran to the world. They have a tender reverence for tradition. The 30M name is a cryptic derived from a 12th century mystic poem. In the poem, 30 birds (Persian, sī murğ) flock to find their king, discovering not only that there is no king, but that their winged efforts had in fact made them kings. The label also embraces modern Iran where analogue-altered sorna flutes and kamancheh (spike fiddle) play koron (quarter tones). Having briefly explored some of their back catalogue, I am keen to return to explore more of Iran’s sounds, and the techniques employed. For example, how can I identify a dastgāh, and what melody makes a particular gusheh?

My present focus today is not on the modal system classifications that define Iranian classical music, but on Aftab Darvishi and her ‘portrait album’ titled A Thousand Butterflies. The composer has an impressive curriculum vitae. Her compositions include commissioned work for ’50 For The Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire’ and a reimagining of Puccini’s opera Turandot titled ‘Turan Dokht’. A Thousand Butterflies marks more than a decade of her writing. The album opens with longbowing on ‘Sahar’, which Darvishi describes as the dawn chorus of Kermanshah, an ancient city in western Iran. When I listen to this, I envisage an orange-brimmed skysill contrasting the deep cerulean and royal blues of the Tekiye Moaven Al Molk. I see night lifting from the trees in the Taq Bostan. The cellos wind-dance and build and hearten until everything is suddenly revealed in luminous glory: the sun has strewn her rays across this lasting land. The tone changes on ‘Hidden Dream’, the only live track on the album. The soft reeds of a quartet of saxophones build upon the feeling of newness that ‘Sahar’ imbued. The soothing vibrato permeates warmth. The piece ends with murmurings that descend into quietude, then silence.

Narration is important in Darvishi’s work. The title track of this album has been written to include three movements, each one representing immigration. The movements are not discrete but share the same instrumentation: piano and clarinet. There is a feeling of bewilderment on the first movement. It feels ruminant. There are few stops, and as such, there is little air. The piano is heavy. Its bass notes are occasionally echoed higher in the octave. The clarinet and piano slowly peeter away as if gazing together into a new distance. The clarinet is lighter in the second movement. There is longing here, possibly for home that is no longer home. The sound is delicate. In contrast to the airtightness of the first movement, Darvishi provides space for the listener to breathe. The clarinet plays a gentle melody throughout and acts as an anchor (this represents hope to me). The third movement is brighter. The pianist uses a broader range of the scale. The clarinet flutters and changes rhythm. At points it almost cries out in reedy catharsis. The piece has now become butterfly-like. Its wings are the transparency of sound. It is sky-bound.

On her website Darvishi describes the album as evoking “a life that has crossed continents”. This is reflected in the distinctiveness of each piece. An interesting observation is the sequential lengthening of each track. ‘Sahar’ clocks in at just over six minutes and ‘Plutone’ concludes at nearly fifteen minutes. I think the lengthening of each track immerses the listener deeper in Darvishi’s aural landscapes, the most complex of which is ‘Forgetfulness’. This is almost entirely devoid of narrative and opens with a musical oxymoron of tremolo and legato, where trepidation is met with calmness. The strings are played sul ponticello (high near the bridge). They are hoarse. The reeds are hushed. The stringed instrumentalists and flautists dance around atonality and lyricalism. I think I can hear augmented seconds and chromaticism, typical of Iranian classical music. I have read that the music of Iran typically makes little use of harmony with solo performances having a position of prominence. There are elements of this on ‘Forgetfulness’ (the strings take the lead at points). This is also evident on the album’s title track where the clarinet stars.

In musical composition, the true skill is the appreciation of balance and an understanding that individual parts construct the whole. I cannot think of a better example of Darvishi’s mastering of these principles than in her final piece, ‘Plutone’. I have listened to this countless times. Its name immediately conjures thoughts of the dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt. We are somewhere faraway here. The breathy reeds and droning bells kindle a cosmogonical spirit. The tones are crystallophonic. They are glassy and enduring. They morph to become dial-like, as if they are trying to communicate with one another. The violas and cellos lift us from the blackness of these droning inklings. They strings open but stop short of an adagio. The bells continue to build and shape to become something altogether greater, reaching out for higher frequencies. A quiet piano motif is played in fifths. The bass clef rumbles. The piece eventually becomes a giant orb that is filled with resonating eddies and beautifully balanced instruments that crest and fall together. ‘Plutone’ is quite simply a masterpiece in ambient electronica. I think its success lies in its measure. Measure in time, and tone. Measure in each of its movements. Darvishi maximises the synergy of her instruments so that they ripple to become swells and torrents that wrest emotions from the listener. I can tell you that this piece has drawn me inside out and laid me bare.

ALBUM COMPILATION REVIEW
Dominic Valvona

Various ‘Live At WOMAD 1982’
(Real World Records) 29th July 2022

Chief among those promoting (what has become a problematic term in itself) “world music”, the WOMAD festival and organization took a punt forty years ago in treating those artists considered outside the rather myopic scope of Westernized music with equal validity and respect. Even now, as we like to believe our tastes are so much more eclectic, festivals struggle with giving parity to the stars of Africa, South America, and Asia. Glastonbury, that so called totem, consigns (for the most part) world music to its own stage and fringe.

These days of course all festivals need to balance commercial concerns with the creative. It’s a business after all, and anyone setting up such an enterprise has a litany of historical financial failures to jolt them from taking gambles on lineups: the extraordinary naïve but possibly musically, as well as diverse, benchmark being both Woodstock and the 1970 Isle Of Wight festivals, but in more recent times, the failure of many so-called boutique mini-festivals.

It does however seem that WOMAD remains the “allowable” alternative; although even they had to include some stellar pop, rock bands and artists on the bill at the inaugural event in 1982: The likes of a rising Simple Minds and the blossoming Echo And The Bunnymen, albeit with the sonorous galloping and clattering drum beat of WOMAD stars and stalwarts, the Drummers Of Burundi – appearing under the elevated Royal Burundi Drummers name in this case. 

Credit: Chris Greenwood

What could have seemed a vanity project for its main instigator Peter Gabriel became a mainstay of the international music festival circuit. That very first event, now celebrating its fortieth anniversary, was almost the last.

Creatively and collaboration wise an incredible success, WOMAD was an unmitigated financial disaster for Gabriel and his partners. Facing bankruptcy, personal physical violence, the former Genesis star turned soloist and producer, label boss was thankfully able to pay off the accrued debts when his former prog-rock band mates offered to play a benefit concert. With the sagacious advice of Harold and Barbara Pendleton, who’d created the relatively successful Reading Jazz And Blues Festival, and others the WOMAD ideal was saved from collapse and a minor footnote in Rock’s Back Pages.  

Arguably still one of the only avenues for world music, the WOMAD festival is one of the most cherished if not important events of its kind anywhere. But those early days in the idea incubator of Gabriel’s mind, it seemed pure madness to even conceive of such a thing. Being called mad or crazy was part of the course for Gabriel however, who not only saw it as a challenge but adopted such derisory language in his various projects: Syco being another one. And so “MAD” became part of the festival signature, appellation, though it also, when put together with the “WO” bit made up the World Of Music Arts Dance acronym. Corralled into this mad project, the young collective of post-punk tastemakers that made up The Bristol Recorder went from interviewing Gabriel for one of their magazines (with accompanying vinyl) to taking on the day-to-day running of what would be the first grand-scale festival of its kind dedicated to world music and its ilk. What might have surprised, or set a spark for Gabriel was the zine team’s mutual interest in eclectic music; a love for the Gamelan music of Bali and Java especially. They would also be pretty useful at sniffing out the talent and bringing attention to new sounds, new fusions, many of which featured in the very first WOMAD lineup. 

A benefit concert helped to ease WOMAD out of a financial blackout, and in the very beginning too, when announced to the press from a farmhouse north of Bath, Gabriel would have to release a charity album to help fund it. Music And Rhythm, as it was called, featured a rafter of the acts that appeared in 1982. In conjuring up the spirit of WOMAD, the Burundi Drummers would beat out a thunderous performance on the front lawn – so thunderous in fact that the local farmers were worried that it would upset the livestock grazing in this idyllic valley retreat. Overcoming such protests, a lack of support and any sponsors the tribal drummers and an international cast from over twenty countries appeared at the Royal Bath and West Showground near Shepton Mallet in Somerset in the July of 1982.

Photo Credit: Larry Fast

Now forty years later in the act of both preservation and celebration, Real World Records have retrieved and restored (including bonus material) nineteen live tracks from that event; many of which have never been heard before. Original programme notes, with even the times of performances, have also been included in this snapshot of not just WOMAD’s foundations but a changing post-punk scene; an age of fusions, collaborations and the increasing influence of world music on the Western cannon.

I could regale countless artists just before and after this event that would work with those from South Africa to Timbuktu; from Hispaniola to Southeastern Asia. But here were ensembles with atavistic and more contemporary heritages mixing it and existing on equal terms with rock bands in the West. As Gabriel would put it: “Our dream was not to sprinkle world music around a rock festival, but to prove that these great artists could be headliners in their own right.”

Ian McCulloch and his Bunnymen, riding high at the time in the indie scene and obviously a draw, appeared with the (already mentioned) Royal Burundi Drummers in one such meeting of alien cultures. A stirring emergence from the Gothic mists vision of ‘Zimbo’ is taken up a level of the exotic and moody by a deep lumbering of beaten drums; a union of Joy Division pain and authentic African tribal rhythms.

The familiar Drummers Of Burundi, who’s ranks could swell to thirty plus members but appeared in a reduced, but no less impactful, form at WOMAD, have their incredible floor-shaking front lawn performance ‘Kama K’iwacu’ included on this compilation. Due to the physicality of their performances these rousing bombastic drum initiations, rituals could only be played in short sets, and so during that three-day festival they appeared at least four times, across multiple stages.

In a similar mode, passed on through generations, compilation openers The Musicians Of The Nile brought an Upper Nile touch of the ancients to proceedings. The gypsy descendants from the age of the Pharaohs are represented by a mystical, mizmar-drone sandy embankment peregrination entitled ‘Taksim Arghul’ (which both by its name and sound has a real Turkish feel to it) and shorter, quickening tabla rhythmic sunrise introduction called ‘Tabla Iqae’

Staying in Africa, highlife doyen Prince Nico Mbarga, appearing with the actually London-based The Ivory Coasters, shines with a sun brilliance and life-affirming rendition of ‘Wayo In-Law’ – a bonus track and really worthy of inclusion; among my favourite turns on the whole album. The Cameroon-Nigerian star is famous for releasing one of the continent’s best-selling records of all time, ‘Sweet Mother’, and famously appeared with various versions of the Rocafil Jazz troupe. If you love the lilted South African leaning sounds of King Sunny Ade, then you’re in for a treat.

Travelling eastwards, the Chinese (though there’s no information to hand on the provenance of this group) Tian Jin Music And Dance Ensemble provided a peaceable Zen moment of blossom tree beautification, fluted and dulcet mallet atmospherics on the forked and bowed ‘Raindrops Pattering On Banana Leaves’. Representing the Gamelan sound, the twenty-five strong Sasono Mulyo ensemble of Javanese and Balinese musicians and dancers magnificently set out on a two-speed voyage of discovery.

Circumnavigating the Pacific, and to the Hispaniola and Americas, the Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, Colombian and Dominican Republic troupe of NYC salsa stalwarts, Salsa de Hoy (notably playing with such luminaries as Oscar Hernandez and Tito Puenta) give a suitable Latin buzz of sauntering and horn paraded fun to the festival with their signature barroom jazz signature.

Showcasing a burgeoning world music infused spirit of diversity in the UK, as the transference from punk to post-punk was now complete, there’s a great, if looser and more dubby rendition of The Beat’s two-tone single ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ and a Mardi Gras, via Manu Dibango, and ska version of Pig Bag’s self-titled anthem. Evolving out of The Pop Group, picking up on the way a burgeoning Neneh Cherry and the Antiguan-British dub bassist/guitarist Jean Oliver, the eclectic Rip Rig & Panic serve up a sassy and pumped-up smorgasbord of Liquid Liquid no wave, neo-soul, Pablo dub and bleated, trilled lurching saxophone with ‘You’re My Kind Of Climate’. Previously of both groups, the pianist Mark Springer appears in his solo guise playing an electric-piano like flange-effected soulful, spiritual hymn ‘Key Release’ – actually, it has more than a semblance of Bill Withers too.

Photo Credit: Chris Greenwood

Despite the name Ekome were a Bristol dance and music company formed in the aftermath of a Ghanaian steel and skin-drumming workshop. Members appeared twice at WOMAD, rattling away to call and response trills and an Afro-Brazilian carnival feel on ‘Gahu’, and also in accompanying Gabriel on the Scottish-piped yearned cry of universal suffrage and apartheid anthem ‘Biko’ – a cry of lament for the late leading South African activist that has an air of both Marillion and Mission To Burma about it. Gabriel’s plaint proved a worthy and indeed poignant reminder of the festival’s platform in not only sharing the global community’s music but in shining a light on global issues, the crimes of world leaders, and in this case, the apartheid movement. This stirred rendition did a lot to raise the profile of detention deaths in South Africa, paying special homage to one of the leading activists of that struggle in the 70s, Steve Biko, who died in police custody five years previous to this event.

Gabriel, as much for his formative years steering Genesis as for his subsequent solo endeavours and collaborations, was of course one of the festival’s main attractions. And so he appears twice on this live collection; once with the already mentioned ‘Biko’ tribute and before that with a bittersweet irony, over a hammer and tongs electronic production, performing a pop-fusion version of ‘I Have The Touch’ – taken from his then current self-tilted album and a single in its own right.

From a similar orbit, Robert Fripp (at the time reforming King Crimson) offered up as almost Eno-esque, late Tangerine Dream classical-strained electronic suite; an ambient stirred anthem that gave a certain gravitas to the festival, named in its honour, ‘WOMAD II’.  Fripp’s solo recitals were self-confessed challenges to the audience, needing certain conditions, and restricted to smaller crowds of 150, and so hence the maverick’s higher number of performances across the three-day event.

Fellow former idiosyncratic prog-rocker Peter Hammill, of Van Der Graf Generator fame, is captured with a new age Cope and Gong-like version of the almost theatrical, giddy ‘A Ritual Mask’ – the opening meandered and building maelstrom from his twelve album, Loops And Reels.

No festival of its nature could be complete without the Irish, and the famous Dublin institution The Chieftains. Proving a popular choice, the Irish-Gaelic troupe (almost together for twenty years by this point), fiddle and clap a merry Celtic jigged version of the hoedown country standard ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’ – the Emerald Isle goes West to Arkansas.

Still, just about in their infancy and most interesting period, a pre-arena anthem-hitting Simple Minds stand out as a usual choice. Their current at the time ‘Promised You A Miracle’ 12” is performed with professional clarity and vigor; a decent enough live version of the original anyway, sounding a bit in places like ABC. 

Taken as a whole this run-through of the inaugural WOMAD holds-up as a pretty unique, open and international experiment. Astonishing to think that despite barriers coming down, and with a supposedly easier than ever access to every music scene in every corner of the world, WOMAD remains the only real prominent and long-running celebration and showcase for such worldly wonders in the UK. That year, 1982, sounds pretty vibrant even now by recent standards. And this live album proves Gabriel and associates were right in fighting to keep it alive, no matter the cost, sniping and criticism that came their way. Not just a worthy album, but a global, polygenesis power house of sounds and energy that’s well worth the admission price. Live albums don’t come much more eclectic. Here’s to the next forty years. 

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

GUEST POST/BOOK REVIEW
Rick ACV.

Vukovar helmsman and burgeoning fiction writer Rick ACV has joined the Monolith Cocktail pool of collaborators this month with his review of a new upcoming alternative bio of the idiosyncratic Dan Treacy. Next month sees the blog serialise Rick’s latest book, Astral Deaths/Astral Lights, after previously featuring his last surreal esoteric tome The Great Immurement.

‘Dreamworld Or: the fabulous life of Dan Treacy and his band The Television Personalities’ by Benjamin Berton (Ventil Verlag) 29th July 2022

To start at the end and then to end at the start – The life of Daniel Treacy of The Television Personalities is, nor was, a fabulous one, except seemingly near the start of it. Though his life is not yet over, Daniel’s story very nearly is. The last passage of ‘Dreamworld’ deals with this truth indelicately and head-on but transformed; made poignant & bittersweet in a mono-no-aware fashion through surreal storytelling rather than recounting of actual events. This is a common mode throughout Dreamworld and works all the better for it. Fans of the TVPs are not oblivious to their obscurity and the lack of documented history, not to mention Treacy’s constant disappearances (homelessness, prison time etc.) and lack of public ‘limelight’ since the mid-90s. To therefore have written Dreamworld as a straightforward biography would have been dull. Dull and incredibly short.

Instead, Benjamin Berton mixes cold-light-of-the-day fact with fiction. Or a bending of fact. The lines are blurred, it is sometimes clumsily done (perhaps due to the translation) but even then it still provides an interesting take on what, to those unaware of Treacy & TVPs, could be an unremarkable story – musician starts band, band doesn’t quite make it big, man has drug problems, drug problems cause life problems et sic. To further this strange take on a biography, along with the surreal passages, Berton invents his own dialogue between the pro/antagonists when recounting ‘real’ times and tales from Treacy’s past, and this is all done in present tense. What happens, then, is the reader is transported through little time warps to actually be THERE and THEN and experience it all first hand but through a haze. Like remote viewing. At times, it is extraordinarily visceral. 

The aforementioned surreal passages will not be spoiled here. They may sometimes be clumsy & the humour within somewhat strange and stilted, yes, but they are clever & cutting, and deeply touching. Much like the music of Dan Treacy and The Television Personalities himself and themselves. Watch out for Geoffrey Ingram. Dreamworld jumps backwards and forwards through different times, from different angles (much like Mr Ingram’s archival footage…), which keeps the book jittery and from ever losing steam. All of this adds up to a book that should be sought out even by people who have never heard of its subject matter. 

A lot is made of the ‘spirituality’ of Treacy’s music throughout and his own personal approach to life. I would suggest more esoteric & metaphysical. What endeared this book to me more was the strange ‘psychic’ links I encountered while reading. Whether it be people I actually know, similar experiences or topics that I had been discussing with other people that very day, the pages constantly vomited up coincidences, right from the off with Jimmy Page, Satanism and a certain place and a certain reaction. It would be foolish to recommend the book based on something as personal, but it is perhaps the strange style in which it is written that allows for this sort of reaction. I finished reading this on Syd Barrett’s birthday. Fans of Treacy will recognize the relevance. 

Although the book seems well researched and v v v informed – sometimes even poetic in its recalling of facts – there are some inconsistencies so cannot be relied upon totally as a factual history. (For example – there is a section about a band and a singer I know personally that is so bitter about them and so insulting and which I know most of the account to be untrue.) There are a lot of pictures and posters and photos in Dreamworld, which gives a great visual history. However, just because it isn’t a totally factually accurate history it does not mean it isn’t the truth. The Truth about someone is how they appear to other people, is the mythos around them, is the aura they give off, is something deeper than what day something happened or what words escaped their lips. The Truth is so much more important than The Fact. It is so much more entertaining, too. Invest yourself fully into Treacy & Berton’s Dreamworld for an Astral adventure. 

PLAYLIST SPECIAL
Dominic Valvona

An imaginary radio show if you like, a taste also of my DJ sets, the Monolith Cocktail Social is a playlist selection that spans genres and eras to create the most eclectic of soundtracks. Each month I compile a mixed bag of anniversary celebrating albums (this month being 50 years since the release of Amon Düül II’s seminal acid-rock communions with Yeti, Wolf City, Curtis Mayfield’s equally seminal soul triumph soundtrack Superfly, T-Rex’s big-hitter The Slider, and the more obscure self-titled album of brown-eyed soul and singer-songwriter woes from the mellow New York artists Alzo), newish tracks (this month that includes Wu-Lu, Horsegirl, Cities Aviv, Eerie Wanda, Basia Bulet and Robert Stillman) and music from the last six, seven decades (that includes The Wolfgang Press, Delaney Bramlett, Readykill, 5 Revolutions, Lew Lewis, Sergius Golowin and many more). Expect to anything and everything.

That track list in full—–

5 Revolutions  ‘Greetings’
Deeper  ‘Willing’
Horsegirl  ‘Anti-Glory’
Free Loan Investments  ‘BBC’
The Wolfgang Press  ‘Shut The Door’
Bill Jerpe  ‘Behind The Times’
Delaney Bramlett  ‘What Am I Doin’ (In A Place Like This)’
Spontaneous Overthrow  ‘All About Money’
Crimewave  ‘Disposable’
Krack Free Media  ‘Let The Band Play’
Cities Aviv  ‘BLACK PLEASURE’
Wu-Lu  ‘South’
Readykill  ‘Watching The World Going Down’
Thirsty Moon  ‘Speak For Yourself’
Curtis Mayfield  ‘Little Child Runnin’ Wild’
Patrick Gauthier  ‘The Good Book’
Wax Machine  ‘Canto De Lemanjá’
Sun Ra Arkestra Meets Salah Ragab  ‘Ramadan’
Amon Düül II  ‘Sleepwalker’s Timeless Bridge’
Pugh Rogefeldt  ‘Haru Sett Mej Va…’
Misha Panfilov Sound Combo  ‘Way Higher’
Chris Corsano/Bill Orcutt  ‘The Secret Engine Of History’
Idassane Wallet Mohamed  ‘Aylana’
Susanna w/Delphine Dora  ‘Le Possédé’
Basia Bulet  ‘The Garden (The Garden Version)’
Azalia Snail  ‘You Belong To Me’
Eerie Wanda  ‘Sail To The Silver Sun’
T. Rex  ‘Ballrooms Of Mars’
Grave Flowers Bongo Band  ‘Squeaky Wheel Oil Can’
Lew Lewis  ‘Wait’
Os Mundi  ‘Gloria’
Daevid Allen & Kramer  ‘Thinking Thoughts’
Shoes  ‘Tomorrow Night’
Alzo  ‘Without You Girl’
The Ladybug Transistor  ‘Windy’
Ben Marc w/Joshua Idehen  ‘Dark Clouds’
Robert Stillman  ‘Cherry Ocean’
Sergius Golowin  ‘Die weiβe Alm’



ALBUM REVIEW
MATT OLIVER

The Difference Machine  ‘Unmasking The Spirit Fakers’
(Full Plate) – Out Now

“Criticise me from a safe place, when you never had the courage to keep up the same pace”

Unmasking the Spirit Fakers sounds righteously, overzealously put through an 80s keep-it-real mouthpiece, though its sourcing from a Harry Houdini essay does complement Chuck D’s pronouncement of ‘no more music by the suckers’ perfectly. Fundamentally it goes for a hip-hop trope old as time itself and still one of 2022’s causes for concern – separating the authentic from the phony.

Their description as a ‘psychedelic hip-hop group from Atlanta’ doesn’t do The Difference Machine much of a service. These underdogs hide in plain sight: though the opening and closing tracks evoke burnt out rock star imagery in the last throes of the limelight (or another Public Enemy reference, ‘Do You Wanna Go Our Way???’), The Difference Machine’s reshaping of long-haired prog rockisms, is more about achieving the optimum volume to get foundations crumbling (first thought of comparison – Flatbush Zombies). For psychedelic, read a vivid shock to the senses, playing out a bad trip, Strawberry Fields becoming killing fields. On one hand you’re prompted to “take a step inside the mind of man with no time to lose” – the reality is when you’re told to “get behind the wheel and drive with no fucking fear”.

Drum welts and gut-punching synths introduce ‘Atlantis’ and producer Doctor Conspiracy, with the bit immediately between the teeth of emcee Day Tripper. Positioning himself in the eye of the storm as smoke bringer #1 (“never thought that black cloud would hover over me”), the prevalent, what’s-the-worst-that-could-happen mentality has evolved from the band’s first albums The Psychedelic Sound of The Difference Machine and The 4th Side of the Eternal Triangle, both of which made more of a jangly, moptop sound delivering Edan-feedbacked zingers. Those faking the spirit behind the peace signs have obviously tipped The Machine over the edge, DT grinding magical mystery tours to a halt (okay, the ghostly melodies of ‘Flat Circles’ appear to put the Ark of the Covenant up for grabs), by spitting with kerbside, high stakes amplification, armed with jagged book smarts, and numbness as an essential power-up. A distrust viewing everything and nothing as real, reaches the conclusion that it’s best to “fuck a half full-half empty, fill the whole cup”.

Four tracks in and DT is playing the last action hero in sweat-stained vest, brushing off chunks of shrapnel. Sure ‘Car Key’ lies on a bed of sitars and flower power, but Day Tripper’s savage stick-up shtick – “this your last chance before these bullets tap dance across your face like scatman” – is not for dressing in tie-dye. Humble enough to reveal “it all came to me one day rapping in the shower” before Denmark Vessey jumps in, DT shows his hustler’s mentality matches the next man on ‘Huckleberry Finn Day’ (“I sacrifice comfort for wonder, I sacrifice slumber for numbers”); and, like all defender of the universe appointments, a sliver of vulnerability is seen seeping under the armour.

Whereas ‘Repeater’, an epic, can’t stop-won’t stop rumble with Sa-Roc guesting (“got a cheat code embedded within me that’s infinite”) arms the charges into combat, the scuzzy ‘It Ain’t’ is where all thoughts tangle into a fiery stream of consciousness, caught wondering whether not giving a fuck is actually the safest option. The Quelle Chris-starring ‘Re Up’ is a rare simmer down, though still with nagging thoughts persisting as to riding the risk-reward seesaw. Perhaps the album’s crystallising moment is when on ‘Pulling Capers’, featuring a fed-up-as-he-gets (which never sounds quite right) Homeboy Sandman, DT nutshells his higher calling -“I ain’t ask to be a rapper, rap asked me with a dagger to my throat”.

After 38 minutes of pressure, the engaging cult of the Machine continues. It’s an interesting dynamic, of DT blazing out on his own with Doctor Conspiracy’s production acting like a Foley stage. Without really sounding like a traditional DJ-MC combo, it’s to Conspiracy’s credit that DT (dare it be said, at times channelling the new king of Glasto) sounds like he’s the figurehead for a whole squad of Max Mad musicians, rather than an MPC twisted inside out. Also marking a slightly more hard-nosed departure for Full Plate (whose entertaining acts Dillon, Batsauce and Paten Locke always do well on these pages), The Difference Machine rock cores with their unrest soundtracking the here and now – the days of the sucker are numbered.

AUTHOR MATT OLIVER: Sometime Clash site contributor, dance, electronic and hip-hop expert Matt has been offering up his wisdom and recommendations on the best rap cuts for the Monolith Cocktail for the last six years. You can find out more about his extensive writing portfolio and professional practice here.

ALBUM REVIEW
Andrew C. Kidd

Jill Richards/Kevin Volans  ‘Études’
(Diatribe Records)

Kevin Volans is probably most famous for the 1984 Kronos reworking of White Man Sleeps. His beginnings in South Africa to the Neue Einfacheit (in English, New Simplicity) of West Germany with the theorist Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose seminal sine-waves and soundscapes shaped the landscape we understand in electronic music today, are well-documented. The Man With Footsoles of Wind, an opera about the enterprise of the influential poet Arthur Rimbaud in Ethiopia, remains very much on my ‘listening wishlist’. Volans is obviously a musicologist. He is undoubtedly a modernist. This is 2022. He has offered us Études, a collection of his own previously unreleased solo piano works performed by Jill Richards and a second-half where he performs Liszt. The listener has been invited into “a sound world” with “extremely complex and challenging arrangements”. There is also an allusion to twenty fingers playing, rather than ten. These are just some of the insights that accompany the liner notes. My following review reflects the two halves of this collection.

Jill Richards plays Kevin Volans

Jill Richards by Graham de Lacy

An étude is a short piece of music that demonstrates skill. The skill is in the composition as well as the performance. Jill Richards, an accomplished pianist and long-standing collaborator of Volans, opens with the Second Étude. It is a rift of split chords and dissociated notation. There are mirroring moments: chords that delve inwards, returning later at varying degrees, but never selfsame. The piece is steady but not stately. It is measured, and open. Throughout this first half, this openness, or rather, these open spaces, are particularly evident on the Seventh Étude where the musical interstices are left unfilled. He also offers more fleeting movements such as the brushed-stabs that flee as harmonic echoes on the Fourth Étude and the alarm-like opening to the First Étude. The latter piece has a walk-around dance motif which toes lightly over the weighty bass clef. Volans opts to juxtapose the tempos of his works on Études. He presses for accelerando whilst raising the reins of decelerando. The icy and pointed Third Étude marks a sudden departure from the glacial kinesia of the Second Étude. The notes of the former rise and fall. Nothing is sequential. There is rhythmic abandonment, best evidenced by the First Étude. The Sixth Étude is an example of anti-meter. It quietly stirs. The Seventh Étude is periodic and concludes by disintegrating completely.

Kevin Volans plays Franz Liszt

Kevin Volans by Jose Pedro Salinar

From the glissandos that flitter away like rippling caustics of light through water on Fountains Of The Villa D’este to the sweeping whorl of Transcendental Étude No 11 Harmonies Du Soir, Volans captures the beauty and rhythmic complexity of Lizst. On Cypresses Of The Villa D’este, a padding crescendo presses and stresses and accentuates. Liszt’s transcription of Wagner’s Liebestod (from the German, liebe, love, and tod, death) was originally the concluding act to Wagner’s operatic drama, Tristan und Isolde. The famous five-note motif is delicately played by Volans. The lovers are beside one another. The piano slowly grows, the tremolandi becomes stronger, the accelerando pulses, the appassionato intensifies. There is quiet transfiguration in its concluding major key. Here Isolde is weeping over the dead Tristan. The calando that Volans plays out continues to emanate away into the lull and loft of her tears that river and mouth and basin. The theme is solemn, yet the piano notes wave and glint away like sun-glitter. The listener is carried outwards to drift on this sonorous and sonic sea. My water metaphor was inspired by the libretto from Tristan: “ertrinken, versinken, – unbewusst, – höchste Lust!” (in English, “to drown, to founder – unconscious – utmost bliss!”).

I consider Études to be a diptych. Volans showcases his pianistic skill and appreciation of the transformative romanticism of Liszt. There is catharsis in the atonality and arrhythmia of his preceding compositions that blow open like air. In the interstitial spaces of each half, he beckons the listener into darkness, yet ultimately bathes us in light.

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