As you are all well aware by now, Monolith Cocktail has an impeccable taste in music. And at that, a polygenesis one at that; covering every style and era imaginable. Replacing the ‘New, Old, And Dug From The Crates’ series, “What I Like…” is…well, exactly that, music I like. No other criteria is needed.
001: ‘Tarot Will Teach You – Burn Your Money’ Alejandro Jodorowsky, Don Cherry and Ronald Frangipane 1973
Starting off the new posting series on a highly esoteric theme, ‘Tarot Will Teach You – Burn Your Money’ is plucked from the mad Chilean film director, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s kool-aid psychedelic Holy Mountain movie soundtrack. Never informally released at the time of the film itself, the soundtrack has since languished in folklore, only to be bundled out at a later date as part of subsequent DVD reissues. I myself have relied upon the good-nature of others to obtain my copy.
Though the ins-an-outs of musical accreditation remain somewhat recondite and obscure – Jodorowsky taking the lions share – the well-revered avant-jazz cornetist, Don Cherry, and composer Ronald Frangipane (played on The Midnight Cowboy and Barberella scores) both played an integral and major part in playing and producing this potted spiritual and alchemical mind trip. This particular meandering eastern dirge is a track of two halves, the first sets the enlightened scene with its’ tablas and long drawn-out mantras, whilst the second speeds up the pace and follows a more ritualistic path towards fulfilment.
002: ‘Arts & Sciences’ James Cook 2012
Fast attracting a wealth of superlative-packed recommendations and nods from countless admirers in the music press and online, the agit-pop dandy, James Cook cleverly intwines a suite of poetic musings with a mixed soundtrack of glitter-ball pop and glamourous plaintive synthesiser soul. A grounding in electro with the four-piece London outfit Nemo and a stint performing and writing songs for The Mighty Boosh, have infused Cook’s music with a certain dance floor flair and lyrical, dexterous, wit.
This latest single (his fourth) is the title-track from the upcoming album, Arts & Sciences (due out on26th September); a personal travail through the “renaissance man’s” musical education. Sounding like a collaboration between Marc Almond, The Divine Comedy and Patrick Wolf, our swooning protagonist sets the scene in a heartwarming, but pinning manner that suggests a musical predilection for the artier end of the mid nineties Brit-pop scene.
003: ‘Circle Sky’ The Monkees (RCA) 1968
I’m not here to justify, pour over the evidence or even get into the numerous debates that surround The Monkees authenticity or capabilities; suffice to say, I love them, and Head is the crowning achievement in their cannon. Their counter-culture revaluation and subsequent adoption by Frank Zappa led to their most “out-there” kool-aid movie and album tie-in.
Growing ill-at-ease with their bubblegum persona the group made serious attempts to unshackle themselves from their writing team and management; gravitating as they would towards the burgeoning psychedelic and social-political scene. Already an accomplished player before joining the fictional TV band, Mike Nesmith could be said to have led the soft power coup that eventually allowed the quartet to have more control over recordings, and choice their material. Nesmith, one of the early adopters if not a founding father of the acid-country scene, produced this psychedelic Bo Diddley style anthem to life on the road; something the group were seriously tiring of.
004: ‘No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed’ Yes (Atlantic) 1970.
So Prog-rock is suddenly back in vogue…well, a certain magazine and its recent fatuous headlining awards ceremony, would love you to believe that. However, as every discernible audiophile will tell you, some parts of the progressive fraternity have always been hip and respected despite the wider ridicule levelled at these bands. For every awful late Genesis or noodl-y Egg record, there is an equally ethereal or kosmiche Soft Machine tome worthy of praise and adulation.
Often derided for their pompous infringements and wearisome conceptual albums of the 70s, Yes – certainly on Wakeman‘s watch – could be said to have taken the scene to new dizzying heights of the absurd. Yet those first three albums – from 1969’s Self-titled debut through to 1971’s The Yes Album – offer some monolithic acid-prog grooves and experimental rock jams, the likes of which have seldom been improved upon.
The Richie Haven‘s song ‘No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed’ is blasted into the stratosphere, as Yes really make a meal out of it. Taken from the bands second album (the last to feature the original line-up) this ceremonial cacophony features Chris Squire‘s infamous trebbl-y Rickenbacker gymnastic bass runs leaping wildly over an orchestral score thats plucked from the Big Country western film, and biblical epic organ overtures; totally ridiculous but utterly brilliant.
005: ‘Child Of God’ Josephine Foster (Fire Records) Released on Monday 17th September 2012.
With the second of Josephine Foster‘s atavistic Spanish songbook collaborations with her bode, Victor Herrero (and his band) still sending shivers down my spine, the ethereal balladeer from a bygone age now returns to the land of her birth on the upcoming LP, Blood Rushing – released on Monday 17th September.
Able to adopt and wear the mantle, it seems, of any tradition and culture with adroit skill and sagacious wisdom, Foster channels the social-political voices of the Woodstock epoch whilst also sailing close to the southern boogie rock of Creedence Clearwater Revival on this song, ‘Child of God’. However, those protestations remain subtly coated in a lush sacrament of melodic sweetness and drifting harmonies. Josephine Foster is Monolith Cocktails woman of the year that’s for certain; this second album joining its Iberian compadre, Perlas, in our choice list of 2012.
Here’s another chance to catch my Perlas review on GIITTV.
Find it here……..
006: ‘Magic’ People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz (Illegal Art) Originally performed live in 2010/ released as a DVD and digital download October 2012.
The integral and harmoniously odd relationship between the silent age of slapstick comedy and the Surrealists is explored to great effect on the video/musical collage duo of People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz‘s The Keystone Cut Ups – arts council funded – project. Originally performed live in 2010 at the Berwick Film and Media Art Festival, this endearing and enchanting mix of musical vaudeville, Freudian metaphors and Luis Buñuel imagery is now being released on DVD and as a digital download next month by the sample-based label, Illegal Art.
Dipping into that 40-minute performance with the waltzing paean, ‘Magic’ (a riff of sorts on the old Harold Arlen/ Johnny Mercer song), we are indolently sucked into what we believe to be a placable dreamy and swooning message of love, yet the spilt screen images flash-up a vortex of sexual tension and barely controlled lust.
007: ‘Black Light In The Forest’ Soledad Vélez (Absolute Beginners Records) 2012
Despite the mixed reviews – an aggregate of 3/5 stars across the net – and musical familiarity, it cannot be denied that the Chilean folk delight Soledad Vélez has a way of drawing-in and enchanting the listener with her visceral tones. Her debut album, Wild Fishing, was released at the beginning of September, and is laden with a veranda of promising lamented and lullaby fables, drawn from the South American landscape.
‘Black Light In The Forest‘ is the opening quiver-throaty balled from that LP. Vélez channels on the mantle of many an iconic vocal talent, whether it’s Diamanda Galás or in this instance, a strange mix of rustic Chrissie Hynde and resigned Josephine Foster. A full review of the album will be posted shortly on GIITTV, until then check out the endearing tones and pleasing melodies of this live performance.
008: ‘Hold Your Horses’ Pati Yang 2012
It’s been a busy year for the electro soul chanteuse Pati Yang. The Polish siren has released , in quick succession, two EP’s of erudite dance floor empowered pop and raptured lament; both of which have garnered a steady flow of praise and acclaim from a wide audience of music critics and radio stations. Both Monolith Cocktail and GIITTV have taken a real shine to Yang’s mature electronic sound, this latest track ‘Hold Your Horses’ (taken from the eponymous EP, realised in September 2012) being yet another quality-embossed track.
Written for those who wish to pine in isolation over a love lost, or for those whose remedy to the cracks that inevitably appear in “affairs-of-the-heart” is to stop mopping and hit the club, this clattering beat and reverent charged organ anthem will suit both parties.
A star in her native homeland, Yang has had a quiet extensive career in the music industry. Working alongside husband, Stephen Hilton, in various projects and bands, that include FlyKiller, Children and the Free Association (Hilton and David Holmes founded group), Yang has spent the past 15-years navigating the synth-based music scene, and had varying degrees of success both from critics (in 2007 The Times named FlyKiller as that years second most important breakthrough act) and with gaining the support slot to Depeche Mode when they came to Warsaw in 2006. Since than she has built up a burgeoning following as a solo artist, with 2012 being a pivotal year. A new album is scheduled for release in February 2012.
Read my full review and stream Pati Yang’s ‘Hold Your Horses’ EP here.
009: ‘Schallcarri’ Grupo Abharca (Analog Africa) 12th November 2012
From one of Monolith Cocktail’s most revered and trusted labels, Analog Africa, comes another cuban-heel shuffling excavation of forgotten nuggets. This time the adroit spotlight falls upon South America, and Columbia’s “melting pot” of musical styles. Sometime in the mid 20th century, through the Columbian ports, the sound of Africa drifted in on a flotilla of trade ships to mix with the native sounds to produce something new.
From the upcoming 2x vinyl and digital released ‘Diablos del Ritmo – The Colombian Melting Pot 1960 – 1985’ compilation, this tasty congas rattling, horn-of-Africa blowing and Mariachi Carnival spirited mover, ‘Schallcarri’, by the Grupo Abharca is just a brief teaser of what to expect pilgrims. A full review in due course on GIITTV.
010: ‘Stripe Rhythm’ Two Fingers (Big Dada) 08/10/2012
In case this one may have slipped under your radar, the latest Amon Tobin release, under the alter-ego moniker of Two Fingers, is a grinding heavy dose of electro: the sort of distorted, sonorous bass electro favoured by our Ed Banger cousins across the Channel.
The opening cannonade ‘Stripe Rhythm’ wastes little time to in laying down the agenda: stalking beats, vapourous synths, and twisted low-rider bass. PR spill alludes to Tobin producing a “love letter to Hip Hop” – have those Street Sound Electro compilations at the ready – but there’s also miscreant adoptions of dub step and techno.
011: ‘Epizootics!’ Scott Walker (4AD) Released 3rd December 2012
The ever evasive, maudlin and brooding crooner returns with his latest album, Bish Bosch on December 3rd. Working to a laborious timetable that only he can determine, this new oeuvre appears only six-years after his last, The Drift, which for him is actually a very short respite (the previous release to The Drift was Tilt in 1995!).
Released earlier last week, ‘Epizootics!’ is the first full-length teaser. Looking up the title, Epizootic relates to new diseases found within high densities of animal groups, such as birds and fish – a sort of animal equivalent of what we class as an epidemic. Walker pursues through the usual creepy and methodical soundscape, rattling off semiotics and alluding to a myriad of references and streams of consciousness. Supposedly a little more rhythmic than the his last outing – I won’t believe that until I hear it – Walker’s new LP promises to be a emotively driven but disconcerting one.
012: Greg Foat Group ‘Have Spacesuit Will Travel Pt.1’ (Jazzman) 3rd December 2012
Plotting a course into the meditative expanses of space, Greg Foat follows up his harpsichord retro-futurist debut with more dazzling cosmic-jazz excursions. The sophomore Girl And Robot With Flowers is a majestic oeuvre of lamented wonder, which rightly deserves its place in the Monolith Cocktail 2012 choice list.
One of the two striking leitmotifs that permeate throughout, ‘Have Spacesuit Will Travel Pt.1’ is a transcendental glide into the ether, suffused with a with-strained and subtle pondering melody.
015: ‘Vol.10 Mixtape’ 13 Bags Of Dick
If the doomsayers and auguries of yore are to be believed and time is running out for mankind, then the latest miasma of dread and apocalyptic glory from the 13 Bags of Dick collective may not be the most appetising soundtrack to spend those last hours on Earth with.
But then, as we must all know by now, this ‘end-of-days’ hokum bullshit ain’t going to come to fruition. So in fact this harbinger of calamity mix tape is instead a celebratory way to muse upon what could have been, in the comfort of your own audio snug world.
Marking the group of like-minded individuals 5th anniversary, this latest cross-fertilisation of hip hop, stoner rock, growling metal and schizoid electronics makes for an uncomfortable but interesting listen.
A strange cast of contributors, including Monolith Cocktail favourite Schmoog Lebowski (Swords Of Texas) alongside Tiger T, Dr. ZeroGrav, Dr Ob (I’d question those doctorates if I were you!) and Moose, bash out a a serialism of samples, sound passages, jams and Satanic mysticism.
016: ‘Robbie Savage’ John MOuse, 4th December 2012
From the Welsh bard of kitchen sink dramas comes this latest lament, ‘Robbie Savage’. A tampered, but achingly plaintive lament to a broken family, John MOuse‘s song is akin to a poignant observational spoken word treatment.
The title’s sequinned nimble-toed footballer protagonist is a mistake of sorts, misheard from the lyrics, “Macho man Randy Savage is frozen in mid air”.
MOuse’s fourth album, the brilliantly entitled I Was A Goalkeeper, is out sometime in mid 2013.
014: ‘Sweet Mellow Cat (Trailer)’ Liz Christine (Flau)
Another charming, if not endearing, release from the Japanese label Flau, Liz Christine‘s collection of soirées, collages and musings is released this week. Entitled Sweet Mellow Cat, this display of loosely connecting narratives and audio passages is imbued with samples and cuts from old movies, jazz divas and passing symbolic jettisoned information.
The Rio de Janerio sound-artist sculpts imaginary conversations and plots out of her gathered material, and influences (Buñuel, Truffaut, Monroe, Garbo). This trailer is an indolent sample of the placid but pleasing soundscapes Christine creates, which sweep, swoon and hark at Fluxus and The Books.
017: ‘My Love Takes Me There’ Crime & The City Solution (Mute) 2013.
Returning once agin to the breach, the morosely guided beauty of Crime & The City Solution is back. Missing from the music scene for the last twenty years, their back with yet another location change and line-up, with the American Twilight LP.
Setting up camp in Detroit…breathing in the toxic fumes and heritage of what was once America’s motor city heartland, the group’s only remaining stalwart, and founder, Simon Bonney digs deep to romanticise the present times. His latest recruits to the cause include: Bronwyn Adams (Violins), Alexander Hacke (Guitar), visual artist Danielle de Picclotto, Jim White (Drums, stints in The Dirty Three and with Cat Power), David Eugene Edwards (Guitar, also member of 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand), Troy Gregory (Bass, member of Witches) and Matthew Smith (Moog/Keys, also played in Outrageous Cherry and Volebeats).
Bonny’s transient outfit has seen many changes in their 36-year career span. Disbanded, only to resurface again and again, the band first breathed life in Sydney but made more of an impact on the post-punk Melbourne scene (becoming friends, and even featuring members of both The Birthday Party and Bad Seeds in future line-ups), before breaking-up with no recordings, and moving to London during the 80s. After a brief stint in the UK it was the siren allurement of Berlin that dragged them to the German capital, where they recorded four LPs and appeared on Wim Wenders’ famous Wings Of Desire movie. The tale of a guardian angel gripped by the plaintive sadness and longing of his ‘charge’, has the band perform their ‘Six Bells Chime’ (their other contribution, ‘The Adversary’, appears on the film’s S/T album, Until The End Of The World) song in a dingy nightclub, as the main two protagonists loll about and cast resigned affection at each other – though at this point our angel cannot be seen by the object of his desire, only giving up his halo when the situation becomes unbearable later on.
Arguably the bands most productive and experimental period, the Berlin years saw them swell their ranks with members from D.A.F and Einsturzende Neubauten, creating a loose blues meets Gothic rock blueprint.
After two decades spent in the wilderness, the group are set to make a welcome return to the musical fold. Taken from the upcoming LP (released 25th March 2013), ‘My Love Takes Me There’, along with the byline quote,“We must not let the doomsayers and the naysayers cause us to lose our faith. Because without love and without hope there can be no future…”, adhere’s to a lilting optimistic and philosophical bent.
AMERICAN TWILIGHT TRACKLIST
018: ‘Deptford Days: Songs Around And About SE8’ Various (Deep River)
Brought to my notice by the Deptford exiled, Welsh troubadour Ceri James, this compilation of swan songs, elegies and celebrations to the South East London mecca was released a few months back. James, whose last EP City Of Fields was released via the same label and consisted of pining folk songs about the fiefdom of Deptford Upon Thames, is featured on this concatenate compilation – his ‘Deptford Broadway’ was the catalyst for this whole project.
The sights and history, whether unseemly or not, are immortalised in music, with songs and a capella’s from the town’s most famous and infamous sons and daughters.
A wide range of musical genres sit comfortably alongside each other: from the sneering Oi! punk of The Phobics, to the amateur dramatic choral, bygone musings of the Deepway Residential Home Reminiscence Group.
Representing the more successful Deptford bred, or just passing through, artists is Dire Straits (original demo version of ‘Sultans Of Swing’), Squeeze (‘It’s Not Cricket’), Jools Holland (‘Deptford Broadway Boogie’) and Mark Perry’s Alternative TV (‘Fun City’).
Not exactly the most exotic of locations I agree, or the most obvious environment for artistic inspiration, Deptford does seem to have played a significant part in the music cannon.
‘Down And Out In Deptford’ The Phobics
‘If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down’ Skinny Lister
019: The Hogweed And The Aderyn ‘Le Goût De L’infini (Live)’ (Through Wounded Wolf Press) 2012
And so this week I found myself pleasantly introduced to the indolent, lingering folkloric dreams of the Hogweed and the Aderyn, by the siren chanteuse half of the duo, Gozde Omay.
The Turkish, via the sun-dappled meadows of Oxfordshire, partnership of Omay and Atay Ilgun, drift amorphously through a haze of Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, Velvet Underground and Ash Ra Temple influences. Mixing quintessential atavistic elements of English acid, and bewitching folk with ambient and Byzantine soundscapes, they elicit tales of Persian carpet rides, cosmological allurement and the winds and tides of change.
Apparitional echoes from a distant land, both ‘Le Goût De L’infini’ and the EP taster (below) sound like the resonating traces of a lost radio transmission, or seance – this isn’t too surprising when you consider that the studio they recorded this record in is called the Haunted Attic Studios. Hardly released with a fanfare or clarion call of bombastic jubilation, this, their second EP, is even more palatial and organic than the last offering and comes packaged in the ‘bespoke’ Wounded Wolf Press (of which Omay is co-owner) manner – enveloped in a personalised handmade cover and limited to only a small run.
020: Yusuf Azak ‘Smile Tactics’ (Song, By Toad Records) 2012
Song, By toad Records have a knack of enriching the often fey and over-cooked ernest nu-folk scene with bands and singers that offer something entirely different. From the ‘Antifolk’ remonstrations and heartbreak of Lach, to the translucent, vapoured hushed tones of Yusuf Azak on his last release, Go Native, they uncover some rare talent.
Azak’s album has been doing the rounds since last October; receiving a muted but critical response to the attenuate, stripped songs of layered vocal and tentative finger-picked accompaniment.
Nick Drake, Elliot Smith et al are bandied around, yet the immersive gruff, troubadour can’t effectively be tied-down to any particular influence or reference point.
Leaner, mellower, cutting-to-the-chase, the Glasgow based (via a Turkish family tree) artist has stripped away some of the density of previous releases for a more succinct delivery style. ‘Smile Tactics’ is juts a mere offering from that album, showcasing the ‘short but sweet’ Azak signature.
Many Happy Returns Scott Walker
And so music’s most brooding, crooning, enigmatic soul reached his 70th year this week (9th January). We celebrate the patriarch of melancholy’s six decades as a recording artist – from his early misspent youth as part of the soft-haired, pop trio The Walker Brothers, to the abstracted Baroque, and bleak, suites of his latest epic Bish Bosch – with a personal selection of both familiar and not so well-known songs from the extensive Scott Walker canon.
Bawdry and tawdry lyrics, dirges, melancholic pensiveness and maudlin operatic await…
‘I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore’ (From Take It Easy With The Walker Brothers, 1965)– The Walker Brothers (Written By Randy Newman).
‘After The Lights Go Out’ (B-side to The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, 1966)– The Walker Brothers (Written By John Stewart).
‘My Ship Is Coming In’ (Single, 1966) – The Walker Brothers (Written By Joey Brooks)
‘Mathilde’ (From Scott, 1967)– Scott Walker (Written By Jacques Brel, Gerard Jouannest, Mort Shuman)
‘The Plague’ (B-side to Jackie, 1967) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘Next’ (From Scott 2, 1968) – Scott Walker (Jacques Brel, Mort Shuman)
‘Lights Of Cincinnati’ (Single, 1969) – Scott Walker (Tony Macaulay, Geoff Stephens)
‘Hero Of The War’ (From Scott 4, 1969) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘Boy Child’ (From Scott 4, 1969) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘Speak Softly Love – Love Theme From The Godfather’ (From The Moviegoer, 1972) – Scott Walker (Nina Rota)
‘Lines’ (From Lines, 1976) – The Walker Brothers (Jerry Fuller)
‘The Electrician’ (From Nite Flights, 1978) – The Walker Brothers (Scott Engel)
‘Dealer’ (From Climate of Hunter, 1984) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘Track Three’ (From Climate of Hunter, 1984) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘Farmer In The City’ (From Tilt, 1995) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘Jesse’ (From The Drift, 2006) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘Clara’ (From The Drift, 2006) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘Epizootics!’ (From Bish Bosch, 2012) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
‘SDSS14+13B Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter’ (From Bish Bosch, 2006) – Scott Walker (Scott Engel)
From the heartland and beyond of fuzz scuzzled garage band land, Monolith Cocktail selects eight discordant, rambunctiously screwed and deranged howlers and blue-eyed soul tropes.
Un-hinged you bet! Everyone guaranteed to clear any joyful, exuberant dance floor…Hell I know, I’ve played everyone of these loserville hoots over the years.
Paul Bearer & The Hearsemen ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ 1966
The Preachers ‘Who Do You Love’ 1965
Pagans ‘Baba Yaga’ 1965
Ferris Wheel ‘Woman’ 1966
The Mixed Emotions ‘Can’t You Stop It Now’ 1967
The Lollipop Shoppe ‘Mr.Madison Avenue’ 1968
The Rationals ‘Respect’ 1966
The Savages ‘The World Ain’t Round It’s Square’ 1966
022: The Pale Faces ‘Ocean Wide’ (Goodtime Recordings) 2013
Wafted under my nose via my involvement with God Is In The TV, the scuzzy, dirge-y and downright sleazy garage trio The Pale Faces‘ latest prowling beast of a harangued woe has just been brought to my attention: thanks!
The burlesque bordello draped video, directed by the band and Jonathan Buck (produced by Two Headed Snake Productions http://vimeo.com/twoheadedsnake), and growling slobbering beat makes for a slightly unsettling experience. An unholy alliance of influences are cited (Silver Apples, The Marvelettes, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard), yet the Leicester three-piece convincingly plough their own furrow.
023: ‘Casi Negro (Closing Beat)’ G.D.D.L.F – Taken from the forthcoming second G.D.D.L.F album.
Enigmatically secretive the psycho drone mystics known as G.D.D.L.F let loose a precursor from their upcoming second album; laconically entitled II.
Featured as a band to follow in Monolith Cocktail’s recent Notes From the Spanish Underground purview, G.D.D.L.F score atavistic Nepalese ritualistic hypnotic dirges (ala Dead Skeletons, only more melodic) and Byzantium space rock eulogies. Rather aptly this escaped occultist drone offering will close their new album. Expect a review very soon.
024: The Monkees ‘Lady’s Baby’ (taken from Missing Links Vol.1) Rhino Records 1987
025: The Monkees ‘St.Matthew’ (taken from Missing Links Vol.2) Rhino Records 1990
Under appreciated you know it, The Monkees knocked out some right melodious beauties during their tenure together; many of which never made it onto official albums or singles – though not too surprising when you’re competing with such talent as the writing partnerships of Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.
Collated during the late 80s and early 90s the choice re-issue label Rhino brought many outtakes, rarities, and oddities – better retitled ‘missed opportunities’ than Missing Links – from the Monkee archives together in three volumes.
Two particular gems that have always tickled my fancy are the tenderly cooed Gram Parsons imbued lullaby ‘Lady’s Baby’, by the groups very much put-upon Bass Player, Peter Tork, and the sweet country, gospel according to Mike Nesmith, ‘St.Matthew’.