The tunes, singles, EPs and miscellaneous music doing it for the Monolith Cocktail.
Falsetto disco pop, 80s plaintive synth crushes, Bedouin funk and sustained static blues on offer from Davidge, Tamikrest, UNDER THE CVRS, Hartebeest, European Collision and Klaus Martin.
Tamikrest ‘Djanegh etoumast’ (Glitterbeat Records)
Taken from the Tuareg desert rockers last album, Chatma, the latest single is another Bedouin trance rocker workout that takes the atavistic blues spirit that left the African shores under torturous duress for the US and remolds it as a protestation for the tribal peoples continuing struggle.
Acclaimed by the Monolith Cocktail in our ‘choice list of 2013’ list, the nomadic sub-Saharan’s Tamikrest produced one of the year’s most rhythmic, but also meandering, grooving ‘head music’ soundtracks. The second single off that, often transcendental and meander pining LP, ‘Djanegh etoumast’ falls into their ‘real goer’ camp. We suggest you stop slacking and pick up a copy if you haven’t already.
Davidge ‘Gallant Foxes’ (4AD) – March 31st 2014
A touch of Francophile noir – that will be the coldly swooned vocals of Welsh chanteuse Cate Le Bon – and retro-futuristic motorik pop from the prolific producer Davidge to kick things off.
Co-writer and producer of some renown, Neil Davidge has worked alongside Massive Attack, David Bowie, Damon Albarn (but we won’t hold that against him), Primal Scream and Mos Def, and scored the behemoth record-breaking video game Halo 4. Because the multimedia credits are many and varied, Davidge has been time bankrupt, unable or waiting for an opportunity to finally release a solo album, which as it turns out is dripping with a top drawer of talent, including the already mentioned Cate Le Bon, on this the first single from that album, ‘Gallant Foxes’.
Imbued with the tones, wisdom and spirit of the many artists he’s worked with (especially the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Frasier), the album, Slo Light, will also include collaborations from 60s barefoot contessa Sandie Shaw and the campfire smoky, folk singing Karima Francis.
UNDER THE CVRS (Twin Shadows) ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ (4AD)
Remoulding in his own image a lovelorn and plaintive collection of covers – from the breathy mellifluous plight of 10cc’s ‘Not In Love’ to the begrudgingly lovesick paean ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed – Twin Shadows’ George Lewis Jr. has, very aptly, diaphanously lit up The Smith’s meandering anthem, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’.
With the side project, UNDER THE CVRS, and joined by the esoterically beguiled presence of Friends’ vocalist Samantha Urbani, Lewis captures the essence alright, yet lifts it to another plain entirely – including a worrying shunt and crash sound effects section. The where’s and why fors can be better explained by the man himself:
“I was 19 or 20 years old, screaming at the top of my lungs at my bandmate across the room in a small loft filled with too many boys in Red Hook, Brooklyn. “I’ll never do covers man! As long as I’m in this band, we are not doing covers!”. The argument almost went physical and the roommates finally stepped in.
At the time, I was embracing punk music and everything I thought at the time represented being a “punk”. Part of what that meant to me was that you should only be delivering your own thoughts, your own energy, and that your own sweat was going to define you as a person and as an artist. I was hard headed, and still am. But what my bandmate was trying to get me to understand was something that I’m learning many years later. The knowledge gained by learning how the greats make beautiful things is invaluable. He (Zak) was right in a way, I needed to do covers whether I played them out or not.
I started the UNDER THE CVRS series as a hat tip to this idea. I spend so much time making music and forget to look out and see how it’s been done before, how it’s being done by my peers, how I am a part of a long line of storytellers and emotion capturers.
I’d like to take what they’ve so gracefully done and continue to be a part of it and to add to it. I think a song by The Smiths is either the last or first cover my fans would have expected. I’ve never felt a bond with Mr. M, and only in reviews and comments have I seen people compare or draw lines between the two of us.
This is the last cover of this short series. I thought it would be best to end with the least obvious and most obvious at the same time. So here it is, and what a beautiful song it is. So happy to have the voice of Samantha Urbani from the late great Friends who I think brings such a unique thing to the cover. Finally here’s to all of you learning to make music, look towards the greats, there is still so much to gain from the Tori’s, the U2s, the 112s, the Springsteens, the 10ccs, the Lou Reeds and The Smiths.”
Usually dismissed as erring on the side of caution and heading towards the Monolith Cocktail exit for being a little too commercially saccharine for our tastes, the latest falsetto-simpering electro pop tune from production duo, Hartebeest, just about remains in the room: Probably because our aloof demeanor suggests we don’t dance, let alone give room to malady driven, cinematic electro.
Wrong on both accounts; ‘Drums’ has a soothing languid charm that creeps up on you, delivering something enchantingly soulful with a whispery breath. And it’s catchy to boot.
European Collision ‘Well I Don’t Want You’
A glorified throwback to the bleeding heart synth pop of the 80s, via the art school moody ‘visage’ of David Sylvian and De Mode, the European Collision dreams in Fairlight.
The solo pet project of digital branding doyen James Bull plays-up to its thinly disguised romantic 80s influences, transporting them due west to the contemporary environment of San Francisco where the plaintive artist now resides. Spreading his artistic ambitions wide, James has produced a short movie, set up and runs one of the most respected and innovative digital advertising agencies and is finally now – after years of languishing on the back-burner – writing the music he always promised.
Klaus Martin ‘Master Tape’
Heading back east, hoping across the great American hinterland from California to New York, we drop in on the Brooklyn based artist Klaus Martin, treating ourselves to some understated, white noise panoramas, whilst wiping our shoegazer feet on the mat.
Regular readers may recall our review of Martins’ last bedroom offering of vignettes, sketches and fragments, Take You With Me, which drifted along to and playfully wrestled with long drawn-out sustain, fucked-up surf riffing, Hawaiian blues and searing drone. His latest, Master Tape, contains some of those same elements but for the most part evaporates and eats away at any signs of harmony, mellifluous melody and tunes with a chorus of encroaching frazzled static. Yet something emotional, despite the almost nihilistic ambient waves of an abyss, still emerges from the hum – check the tumescence cathedral drone of the noisy but lifting ‘Sometimes [Reprise] Pt2’.
Hardly the most serious or demonic of ‘reverb’ dredged experimental music; the album does have a certain sense of humour, with ‘Shuttered’ harassed by a loony spectre and ‘Corlander’ struggling to control a mocking, revved-up Hendrix style electric guitar for the best part of seven-minutes. And the short but most sweet, ‘Hey Jules’ is a blues picked paean, with no disagreeable features or signs of turbulence. Most of the oeuvre of accentuated white noise and gray shaded atmospherics, linger wistfully and longingly, the only clue to meaning is the track titles.
Martin chooses to play out with a duo of Lynchian bended country eulogies, pining in both resignation: one man’s bedroom ambitions yearning for escape. Intriguing material indeed.