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Tickling Our Fancy:  Ninetails, A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Kitchen

 

 

Guest Contribution:  Sean BW Parker reviews Two Wings and interviews Onur Andic

 

 

SoundBite:  Incredible Bongo Band



Ninetails  ‘Radiant Hex’  (Pond Life)  –  10th March 2014


Using a similar sonic palette to their polygenesis rich Slept And Did Not Sleep EP from back in 2012, the Liverpool group, who convincingly fused polyrhythmic indie with art house pop on that record, once again amorphously drift through a myriad of inspired ideas on their latest, Radiant Hex.

The first release since the departure of their former singer/guitarist Ed Black, Ninetails have become a slicker unit, the production taking on some contemporary R&B production values along the way. Releasing all those built-up and pent-up ideas into the ether, the same aimless spirit – used here in a complimentary manner, not as a criticism – of those same heady days still prevails, with another placable soundtrack that encompasses elements of progressive rock, musique concrete, jazz and ambient music.

Allowed to find a natural course, with no particular sound or motif dominating; the extended EP’s immersive contours and textures swim between suggestions, hints and narratives. Echoes of far eastern and African cooed harmonic voices blow in on a slipstream of reversed guitar, succinct vibraphone, consoling Miles Davis trumpet (I’m thinking his 80s era soundtrack work) and fluid synthesised backing. Expansive, even palatial, throughout, the EP is devoid of any anthem climaxes, relying instead on the subtle serialism fluctuations and dreamy, melting soundscape to rouse and probe emotion.

Hardly surprising that the band have found a home on Keith Aspden’s Pond Life label, home to, perhaps, Ninetail’s most redolent influence, Talk Talk (some of their most imaginative back catalogue of opuses, including both Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock are licensed to the label). Throw in some Dirty Projectors, a bit of These New Puritans and some less hostile Mogwai too, and you have a startling impressive array of sounds and colours: a hell of a lot more impressive and aspirational than the likes of Alt-J, that’s for sure.

Inspired by Terence Malick’s Tree Of Life and composer Gabriel Fauré’s afflatus ‘Requiem’, the band has absorbed a wealth of lofty aspirations both lyrically (I’m sure I heard some quoted Latin in there) and musically. With titles and Apollonian themes that wouldn’t seem out of place on a David Axlerod produced Electric Prunes litany. The Hex is an undefined balance of the spiritual and ecclesiastical, which aims to incite some kind of veiled epiphany in the listener: a group that at least dares to reach out beyond the usual, empty, indie vista to acquire a greater knowledge.

Attentively ducking any conclusive finale and unflinching in its awkward rhythm, melodic changes, the Hex is still a diaphanous, mostly gentle suite. It will gradually unfold its many layers and charms, so give it time.





A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Kitchen  ‘The History of Music: A Mosaic’  (Jezus Factory)  –  Available Now





Even for a label that prides itself in releasing some of the most left of field records, the Jezus Factory excel themselves this time around with their latest twisted avant-metal-industrial-post-punk offering from A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Kitchen.

Unearthing psychedelic and electric kool-aid drunken malcontents from the underground Antwerp scene, the JF label goes beyond the Monsterism Island of Angels Die Hard (reviewed a couple of weeks back) and sweetened progressive folk of The Strumpets to beat the listener into submission with an anvil bashing, mangled maelstrom.

Formed by a rabble of Belgians, Danes and Scots, the group features Craig Ward (previous roles in The Love Substitutes, True Bypass, iH8 Camera and most famously, dEUS, and a production credit on The Frames ‘For The Birds’ with Steve Albini), a bloke – or typo on the part of the PR – called Butsenzeller (DAAU, Kapitein Winokio, Dóttir Slonza) and Paul Lamont (Hitch). They produce hardliner, gnarled, even painful, experimental rock.

Influenced by a wealth of awkward, far out and noisy doyens, from Beefheart to King Crimson (notably their later Red period), the trio embarks on an unnerving meander through a series of eerie empty industrial spaces and damp cellars (suggested by the dank, spooky atmosphere created on the album’s finale, ‘Bedbugs’).  Essentially shaped and informed by growling, grizzled wailing guitar riffs and sustained lingering notes, and galloping jazz fusion drums, the album is often lumbering towards the edge but never quite threatening or serious (‘My Sinister Trousers’ as its names suggests, is a lark; a shapeless dEUS inspired mess of squealing rodents and whining).

What begins as a surreal esoteric, séance induced introduction to some old Scottish dear, either talking in tongues or acting as a vessel to the Venusians, grows into a proper space rock anthem. Launching off into a more stratospheric direction, ‘Floyd Is Warped’ (apparently!) could be the Stone Roses jamming with the Throbbing Gristle, and is the most rhythmic, melodic track on the whole album. The rest is…well, what you might call difficult. There are plenty of incantations and demonic muffled vocals, twisted through a megaphone effect, and plenty of strangulated horn sounds abstract noodling and repetitive incessant prods.

Sulky with a wry sense of its own miasma laden silliness, The History of Music: A Mosaic scratches out a fine line between the unnerving and heavy mental; transducing progressive jazz to their own bewildered ends – that’s a compliment by the way.





Guest Contribution: 


Sean BW Parker…you all know the drill…pontifications, opinions and harangued criticism from our resident Englishman in Istanbul.

On a mission to interview every mover, shaker, miscreant and irritant from his adopted home, and to on occasion also reach beyond out the Bosphorus to tackle the biggest names in music and cultural criticism from around the globe, Sean catches up with Onur Andic of the Turkish capitols most explosive new band, Saigon Traffic.

He also offers his customary dismissive (but fair) deliberation on the, so far much acclaimed effete cool band of the moment, Two Wings and their upcoming LP, A Wake. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Two Wings

Two Wings  ‘A Wake’  – 14th April 2014





Do/did you like Kate Bush? Many consider her one the of the world’s boldest musical visionaries – me too, especially her first two albums in the late 1970s. So, presumably, does Two Wings‘ vocalist Hanna Tuulikki, such a carbon copy of Bush’s quirky pipes does she possess. I’m not talking inspired by here; I’m talking couldn’t tell the difference if I didn’t know the names.

Nothing wrong with that – genius steals (just ask every decent Damon Albarn idea). True genius also repays a thousand fold of course, which isn’t exactly what’s going on with A Wake (nice pun. Ouch). Generally Two Wings (what’s with all the generically tedious names these days?) sound like late 80s Fleetwood Mac with the aforementioned KB fronting – but in her reverential Celtic idiom.

It’s when Two Wings’ get either quaint, traditional (‘A Wake To The Dream’) or groovily – though comparatively – experimental (‘You Give Me Love’) that they shine. In other places the album becomes teeth-itchingly MOR, all Eric Clapton with no cocaine. All cool criticism apart, and putting all hipster conditioning aside (or is it?), after a few listens A Wake is in fact a very enjoyable album.

So unless you’re one of those so-uncool it’s cool types – which you may well be – this is a bit of a nostalgia time capsule with some genuinely lovely moments. For the rest of us, get out those old copies of Q magazine stuffed under the bed with Stevie Nicks or Lindsay Buckingham on the cover and have a jolly old time.





Onur Andic Interview



Onur Andic (pronounced ‘anditch’) is visionary singer/songwriter for Istanbul’s most exciting new group, Saigon Traffic. Andic spoke to Sean Bw Parker about the Turkish independent music scene, protest music, ponchos, and more.

Your trajectory has taken you through such Istanbul indie luminaries as Hard Elastic, Alpaca Approach and now Saigon Traffic. Why all the chopping and changing?

Indeed the last 15 years, I played with many bands. I had a punk rock band, two grunge bands, an alternative metal band, a nu-metal band, a reggae band, a prog rock band, a rock’n’roll band and so on.  All of them were cover bands and none of them was a regret on my side. Had some great parties, many back stage stories, some travelling and made a good amount of musician friends. I think the stage was the reason behind all this. It was my ultimate comfort zone, the very place I feel alive.  I am suffering from OCD for many years; throughout I learned that while on stage I have a clear state of mind and a meaning to my existence. Also I must add, all the music I previously made, all the bands that I have been in, was in a way to found Saigon Traffic. I was waiting for the music in me to add up, and for my songwriting talent to get to this point.

 

You are well know for your surreally abstracted lyrics, sung in English, juxtaposed with complicated, sometimes nearly prog musical motifs. Was this a deliberate design?

First of all, I am a prog-head. Saigon Traffic is indeed all about me trying to make my band members play a little bit more complicated structures each time. So we can say our music is evolving. I want it to be at the perfect place where it can be catchy, easy to listen but at the same time I want it to be polished with weird timings and complex riffs. So it should attract people who are seeking a good night out and if you are willing you can hear the amount of practice we put inside the songs as well.

As for the lyrics, I would never be explaining myself enough if it were in Turkish. It is a way for me to express my OCD, sometimes putting random words and inside jokes that only I will get. Even the rest of the band doesn’t have any idea about what some of the songs mean. Some songs, even I don’t know.

How would you describe the Turkish independent music scene right now in 2014, and what would you do to improve it?

It is a one big family and I am very happy to be a part of it. We launched ST in a kabataş studio that we owned. There were some other bands sharing the studio and band members with us, namely Ringo Jets, Esas Çocuk, Eskiz, The Away Days, Help The Captain Threw Up and so on. All of them are amazing and unique bands.  I think the indie scene is never this powerful in Turkey. When I was growing up, there were lots of Turkish metal bands, sadly most of them disbanded. I was very pessimistic at first; I thought it would all be mainstream alternative pop rock. But now things are changing. I think we are entering a new era now. Of course to improve, we have to go to lots and lots of gigs here and there. The bands need our support.



Which Saigon Traffic song are you most proud of right now, and why?

 

We have a 5-minute song with 6 – 7 different time structures. It is called ‘Starstruck’ and it will appear in our first EP. It is Saigon Traffic’s tribute to wonders of the music world such as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

You often wear a Mexican-looking poncho onstage. What’s the story behind this?

I got it from an Italian merchant in Philadelphia. I love theatrical stage acts like Peter Gabriel era of Genesis. Also we can say it is my way of remembering Alpaca Approach. I have respect for AA, it was the first band I played guitar constantly and the first band I founded instead of playing with pre-made bands of some other people.

With the name Saigon Traffic and some other clues, you seem to have a strong connection to the far-east, in particular Vietnam. Can you expand on this?

Well, I run a tourism company called Siam Tur. As a guide and owner, I went to Indochina many times. There is also a song of ours called ‘One Quiet Night’. It was about the Agent Orange that was used during the Vietnam War. And by the way, Saigon’s traffic is the craziest thing I saw in my life. Millions and millions of motorbikes. It is chaos, like some of our songs.

What are your feelings on the Gezi protests and Graft corruption scandal of 2013 in Turkey? How did they affect your outlook and writing?

It was insane. Even before Gezi, Saigon had political themes in the songs. During the protests we made a song called ‘Prime Sinister’ to support. It says “divide the seas/ divide you and me/ to paint the clouds / in heathen blood” These are my official feelings. : )

Who was the last artist in Turkey and/or internationally that excited you?

British band Haken caught my attention recently. Usually I am not a fan of prog metal, but this band is really talented. As for Turkish comrades, Free Licks are interesting. They might lead our way too, they have English lyrics as well.

 

What do you see in your crystal ball for Saigon Traffic?

We are now trying to publish the EP. After it is done, we will try our luck with festivals and competitions. I am only worried about how big we can get. Sertac and me are working, if the time came, we might want to stop getting bigger than we can handle. Quitting our jobs is not an option at this point. But again, who knows.

Can I get you a drink?

Of course. Actually we should jam too sometime.

Thanks, Onur

Anytime.




incredible bongo band

SoundBite

New musical highlights in brief.

 

Incredible Bongo Band  ‘Bongo Rock’  (Mr. Bongo) – Available Now



Arguably – actually it’s a fact – the most sampled percussive and funk-licked album of all time in the Hip Hop community, the treasured Incredible Bongo Band’s 1973 Bongo Rock album has been re-released for the first time in over forty years. Packaged to look as fresh and clean as the day it was first coveted, the 180g heavyweight vinyl edition is housed in a spanky top-quality Japanese sleeve by MR Bongo.

Every beat, break and bingo bongo rolling workout has been meticulously broken down into macro-parts by every decent and half-decent DJ since the 70s so that it sounds so familiar it seems ridiculous that this will be its first proper reissue outing.

If that wasn’t enough excitement, they’re also celebrating the 40th anniversary of the follow-up to that progenitor, The Return Of The Incredible Bongo Band (I defy anyone to equal the surrealistic lunacy of the cover).

IBB




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