ALBUM REVIEW/GRAHAM DOMAIN

Ali Murray ‘Wilderness of Life’
(Dead Forest Records)

Wilderness Of Life is the new album by Ali Murray, out now via Dead Forest Records. It is an album of Dark Intense Folk Pop with intermittent Shoegaze guitars. The songs are full of imagery, nature reimagined as pain, the loneliness of the Cosmos painted in sound on a skyscraper guitar.

His voice lies somewhere between Tom McCrae and Simone Felice with nods to Elliot Smith. The songs are dark hymns to loneliness, heartbreak, and emotional turmoil, with enduring hope in the face of adversity.

Songs such as ‘Wilderness of Life’ and ‘Rainbox’ point the way forward – the words brought to life with intense effect laden guitars akin to Slowdive or Big Flower. In this setting he could become a cult hero, a modern-day Elliot Smith painting his pain not just with words but also with emotion as sound. One to watch!

PLAYLIST SPECIAL

The sounds that have piqued the team’s interest, filled their hearts, fucked with their heads, or just sent sauntering towards escapism, the Monthly playlist gathers together all the music we’ve featured over the last month. We’ve also picked some of those tracks that managed to evade us and some we just didn’t get the time or room to exalt.

Our eclectic as usual mix starts in Tel Aviv with the Şatellites and moves across continents to take in Rwanda’s The Good Ones, Sao Tomé and Principe’s vintage África Negra, the Georgian choir Iberi, and one of Scandinavia’s principle jazz ensembles, OK:KO.

There’s plenty of more, with a freshly produced diaphanous, slow knocking beat gauzy treatment of the burgeoning pop enchantress and dystopian muse Circe’s ‘Mess With Your Head’ – now transformed into ‘It’s All Over’ under the Secret World Orchestra guise -, and a rafter of choice hip-hop cuts from Billy Woods, Dabbla, Lyrics Born and Lunar C with Jehst. Pop, jazz, electronic, dreamwave, psychedelic and post-punk are all represented. And there’s even a track from our very own Brian Shea and his cult dysfunctional family band The Bordellos.

The Monolith Cocktail team, corralled into action by me, Dominic Valvona, currently includes Matt Oliver, Brain ‘Bordello’ Shea, Graham Domain and Mikey MacDonald.  

Those Tracks In Full Are:{

Şatellites  ‘Zuhtu (Live)’
Melody’s Echo Chamber  ‘Personal Message’
IKE (Ft. Sera Kalo)  ‘What Then’
Dana Gavanski  ‘Indigo Highway’ Crystal Eyes  ‘Wishes’
Pete Rock  ‘Brother On The Run’
Steve Monite  ‘Only You’
África Negra  ‘Vence Vitoria’
Samora Pinderhughes  ‘Holding Cell’
Izzi Sleep & Rat Motel  ‘Good Going Down’
Mercvrial  ‘Look Inside’
The Bordellos  ‘I Hate Pink Floyd Without Syd Barrett’
Peace De Résistance  ‘Boston Dynamics’
The Legless Crabs  ‘Boo Hoo Hoo’
Otoboke Beaver  ‘YAKITORI’
Papercuts  ‘Palm Sunday’
Kloot Per W  ‘Le Pays’
Nicole Faux Naiv  ‘Moon Really’
Liz Davinci  ‘Daisy’
Julia Holter, Harper Simon & Meditations On Crime  ‘Heloise’
Amine Mesnaoui & Labelle  ‘Bleu Noir’ Billy Woods  ‘Wharves’
Professor Elemental  ‘Inn At The End Of Time (Remix)’
Dabbla  ‘Alec Baldwin’
Nelson Dialect & Mr. Slipz  ‘Association’
SAULT  ‘June 55’
Nduduzo Makhathini  ‘Amathongo’
Rob Cave & Small Professor  ‘Respect Wildlife’
Lyrics Born (Ft. Rakaa Iriscience, Shing02, Bohan Phoenix, Cutso)  ‘Anti (Remix)’
Kino & Sadistik  ‘The Earth Was Empty’
Aethiopes (Ft. El-P, Breeze Brewin)  ‘Heavy Winter’
Laddio Bolocko  ‘Nurser’
Novelistme  ‘Never’
Astrel K  ‘Maybe It All Comes At Once’
David J  ‘(I Don’t Want To Destroy) Our Beautiful Thing’
Jörg Thomasius  ‘Okoschadel’
Ed Scissor  ‘Dad’
Violet Nox  ‘Eris’
Moscoman  ‘Dalmar Is Back And It’s Final’
Grandamme, Claudia Kane & Bastien Keb  ‘Nirvana’
FloFilz (Ft. Dal)  ‘Levada’
Chairman Maf  ‘Gammon Island’
Moon Mullins  ‘Welcome To Tilden’
IBERI  ‘Arkhalalo’
Papé Nziengui  ‘Gho Boka Nzambé’
The Good Ones  ‘Happiness Is When We Are Together’
OK:KO  ‘Vanhatie’
Ubunye  ‘Our Time’
Shrimpnose & BLOOD $MOKE BODY  ‘Beyond The Villian’
Justo The MC & Remulak  ‘Knockturnal’
Lunar C (Ft. Jehst)  ‘Any Given Wednesday’
Qrauer  ‘The Mess’ Circe/Secret World Orchestra  ‘It’s All Over’
Brianwaltzera  ‘tracing Rays [reality glo]’
Kota Motomura (Ft. Akichi)  ‘Flower’



REVIEWS ROUNDUP: Graham Domain

PHOTO CREDIT: CECILY ENO

Roger Eno ‘The Turning Year’
(Deustsche Grammophon) 22nd April 2022

Walking down rain sodden streets, the lights from car headlights and shop windows reflected in the wet pavements and puddle-strewn roads. Shops closing early, café’s empty and being cleaned. A sepia world of sadness over-shot with colour, hope, a need, a craving for love and an end to this all-pervading sense of loneliness.

The Turning Year inhabits this world of rain, loneliness, hope, longing, forever searching. Always the sense of arriving too late, shops closing, opportunities missed, soaked to the skin but still looking to the stars – forever chasing the elusive shadow that is love. Glimpsed for a fleeting heartbeat. A dream, of hope. To love is to live. Love is the beginning, the awakening. Happiness and heartache, sadness and ecstasy, purpose and despair, confusion and belief, danger and grace.

The Turning Year is music of beauty, simplicity, sadness with underlying hope. At its best it is melodic or mysterious piano underscored by beautiful string orchestration. It engages the mind, the body, the emotions. It is music to treasure.

Highlights: ‘The Turning Year’, ‘A Place We Once Walked’, ‘On the Horizon’, ‘Low Cloud Dark Skies’.

Dana Gavanski ‘When It Comes’
(Flemish Eye/North America, Full Time Hobby/UK) 29th April 2022

Photo Credit: Clementine Schneidermann

When it Comes is the wonderful second album by Canadian/Serbian singer songwriter Dana Gavanski. It is an album of strange melodic songs that don’t quite make sense in a literal way but imprint themselves on the mind of the listener, stirring emotions, attaching themselves to the psyche and staying there like half-remembered memories of past lives.

The songs exist in dream dimensions where images are thrown up in random succession, touching emotions at an elemental level, like ancestral knowledge or the wonders of the natural world – the untamed ocean, stunning mountain sunsets, summer meadow’s humming with bees and wild flying insects.

The album begins with ‘I Kiss The Night’ a strange intriguing song that engenders feelings of isolation, loneliness: abandonment even. The protagonist just about holding things together, dissecting and controlling her emotions – “I built a fortress in my mind– take apart the thoughts – leave the furthest far behind.” But is her dream lover all in her mind as she imagines “milk white words of love falling on (her) sleepy head” and pictures “the faces that were never there” leading to the sad refrain of “I needed you to help me – but every night… it’s just the moon that I see”.

In ‘Bend Away And Fall’ the singer focuses in on her feelings as they change “bend away and fall” and considers that the love she is now experiencing is “slower, scented, experience altering!” The words are impressionistic, non-specific and primordial, painting emotive colour over metal black memory.

Dana Gavanski possesses a voice that is light, tender but somehow emotionally detached with a tone and phrasing similar to Cate Le Bon. But, while Cate Le Bon writes intelligent absurdist lyrics that cut to the chase, Dana Gavanski’s lyrics are more abstract and non-linear, reflecting feelings that cannot easily be expressed in words.

Perhaps the most commercial song is ‘Letting Go’ a simple song about reaching a point where a person is able to let go of emotions from past relationships and move on: “I thought I saw my solitude end it’s hour of grieving.” The singer unconsciously seeking love again, “it happens every time I find a hole, just to fill it.” She is finally ready emotionally to re-take the plunge, her confidence re-charged she is feeling good once more: ‘The Sun’s so hot, I heat up again”

‘The Day Unfolds‘… begins with a crawling crab of a rhythm walking sideways and sounding not unlike Wire circa Chairs Missing. Again, the words are abstract and open to interpretation with “snow falling bright, shapes in plight”, but may be about losing your own sense of self in a bad relationship…”Control, a bending knife you will shine… I’m losing my way, down the avenue… I found my soul undone… I know fallen one your time will come.”

Meantime, the song ‘Lisa’ reminds me of Weyes Blood but plays like a Scott Walker suburban drama of loneliness, longing, desperation, and unrequited love. The protagonist pleading “Please Sir have you noticed me… I watch you roam the streets a frown sketched on your face, chasing after days that melt behind… crowds form early on, dogs and families and city siren songs, I wait until they’re gone to show my face… Something like this I have never felt… a belly full of tremors… and what I can offer you?”

The album ends with the hymnal ‘Knowing to Trust’, which comes across like Beach House covering Mazzy Star. Again the abstract lyrics breath life and strangeness into the song… “Face on, am I howling too loud, does my worry crowd your view?”

Although I have tried to interpret some of the songs on the album, it is often not the words she sings but the feelings the songs stir. The songs and the album are the musical equivalent of Penda’s Fen, you can’t elicit why it’s great but it leaves an emotive lasting impression.

Dana Gavanski has created a wonderful album, mysterious, beguiling, intriguing, full of wonders to be uncovered with each listen. The music that underpins the songs is sparse, minimal but warm, played on strummed guitar, piano, electric keyboards, synth, organ and drum-machine. Vocally Dana Gavanski falls somewhere in-between Cate Le Bon and Weyes Blood. Creatively, she perhaps falls closer to Nico or Aldous Harding with her oblique, abstract words conjuring up scenarios of emotion by the juxtaposition of images and lyrical ambience.

Key Tracks: ‘I Kiss The Night’, ‘Letting Go’, ‘The Day Unfolds’, ‘Knowing to Trust’.

Ignacio Simon ‘Old Friends’

Old Friends is the beautiful new album by Ignacio Simon (a composer, musician and artist, Spanish but based in England). Seven years in the making, it is the attention to detail and beautiful understatement, that makes this such a compelling listen. The space as important as the notes played.

The album begins with the whispered sigh of a song that is ‘Don’t be Long’. As the song progresses, minimal guitar gives way to silence, cello and a choir of mermaids singing on a distant shore. Sounding like it was arranged by Scott Walker circa Tilt, it is a thing of beauty, hope mixed with sadness.

The following mood piece ‘Victor’ begins with dissonance and single piano chords with ten seconds of silence, repeated, before cello, double bass and more dissonance make their own small marks on the canvas. Just when you think it has ended, mumbles of words come in creating an ambience of regret and longing from a jumble of memory and half remembered dream. More an expression of feeling than a song, the words are oblique and the message non-linear, understood more on a primordial, emotional, unconscious level.

‘Being Here’ follows like a disturbing nightmare with its discordant clangs, ghostly murmurs and sighs, suggesting suspense, dread, a stalking evil, dark rooms of terror, confinement and lunacy!

By way of contrast ‘Old Friends’ sighs in with soft brushed drums, double bass, understated guitar and ripples of orchestra, sounding majestic, like David Sylvian at his most heart breaking. The vocals, like “gentle drones inside our heads”, have echoes of Mark Hollis, Bill Callahan and Rufus Wainwright. This is perhaps the standout track on the album with its minimal soft jazz beauty and uplifting sadness.

The night terror interlude of ‘Being There’ begins with a crescendo stab of orchestral menace and a choir of distant full moon madness – like howling lost souls heard from far, far, away. Soon gone, it is replaced by the serene magic of…

‘The Magician’, a mystic hymn to nature and the continual cycle of life – birth, death, decline and renewal. Minor key piano chords underpin feelings of detachment and isolation as the words seep out … “We won’t touch, we won’t exchange a word…” Echoes of the Pop Group’s ‘The Savage Sea’ can be heard in the abstraction and widescreen sonic wastelands as he sings, “When will the sun come up?” The song fading into raptures of delirium, drowning in a sea of sirens… lost beneath the waves, but overtaken by calm… soon to be “long, long, gone.”

You won’t find a more beautiful record this year, full of uplifting sadness and hope. It is already my album of the year 2022! You can download it or buy the CD version on Bandcamp. Have a listen to this great record, particularly if you like Mark Hollis, Talk Talk, David Sylvian, Scott Walker, and Graham Domain. This wonderful record is deserving of a much wider audience.

Bambara  ‘Love On My Mind’

Bambara hail from Athens, Georgia, but have all the street punk attitude of the dark side of New York, where they now reside. Like one of the street gangs from the film The Warriors they possess a cool menace and visceral charm.

Musically they are a strange mixture of The Birthday Party, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Lou Reed, New Model Army, Swans, The Telescopes and The Modern Lovers. Big guitars, driving bass, machine-like drumming give them an 80’s Goth vibe but with a low-life reality and fighting spirit.

Reid Bateh sounds like a young Nick Cave, full of energy and bite but with a drawling vocal more akin to Lou Reed on speed, cranked really high!

The new six song EP has energy in abundance, great literate songs full of imagery and fire, the shadow of death close by. A band set to burn bright live fast and die in a blaze of glory! See them on tour this spring before they’re gone!

ALBUM REVIEW/Graham Domain

Anton Barbeau ‘Power Pop’
(Big Stir Records)

The new album by, Sacramento native, Anton Barbeau is called Power Pop. The irony is that it is not power pop! It is however Pop! More accurately, it is Pop with the sound of the early 1980’s, when bands like Vince Clarkes’ Depeche Mode and Howard Jones troubled the charts!

The new single ‘Rain, Rain’ is a case in point and comes across like the Eurythmics with male vocals! Complete with thunderstorm sound effects, the lyrics are standard Pop fare “rain on me, wash away my tears, set me free!”

Similarly, ‘The Never Crying Wolf Boy’ sounds like a cross between Yazoo and the Human League with its pulsing bass synth and daft lyrics… “The sound of silver tambourines spells out my name at Halloween.”

The short instrumental pieces between songs, such as ‘Slash Zed Zip’ and ‘Pompadour Toupee’ sound like off cuttings from The Art of Noise but don’t really add anything to the album!

The song ‘Power Pop’ meanwhile, begins like an alternative dance record before morphing into acoustic rock dourness, but still manages to have throwaway pop lyrics like “if this is war I’ve had enough, my mouth is full of power pop!” Sometimes, the songs stray into pure pastiche of the comedic type (like Neil Innes or The Rutles), for example, ‘The Drugs’. Elsewhere, the guitar pop of ‘Julian Cope’ reveals some terrible rhymes such as “Julian Cope, how do you cope?” and “I saw you Vibing, we beamed up Croyden Style-y, next thing it’s Bracknell and we’re backstage getting smiley!”

Overall it’s a fine pop album even if it’s a bit Retro in its sound and vision.

ALBUM REVIEW/Graham Domain

David J ‘What the Patrons Heard’
(GIVE/TAKE)

The new album by David J (one-time bassist with Bauhaus and Love and Rockets) is a collection of 10 songs recorded over the past 34 years and now released for the first time on CD, Vinyl and download. It is a mixture of original and cover version songs that cover a variety of musical styles from folk, country to punk, goth, blues, and poetry.

The first song ‘Lay Over And Lay’ sounds like the Clash or the Pogues. It has the brashness of an alternative song from the early 1980’s with its punky folk-country charge along!

The second song ‘(I Don’t Want to Destroy) Our Beautiful Thing’ sounds uncannily like Mark Lanegan in both voice and musical accompaniment: sounding not unlike the songs on Whisky for The Holy Ghost. Never the less it is an accomplished song and performance and is perhaps the best song on the album.

The next song is a rendition of Neil Youngs ‘Vampire Blues’ with funeral organ and drums underpinning intermittent heavy guitar chords and resonance. The vocals sound worn and tired like an old blues-singing preacher.

John Lennon’s ‘Gimme Some Truth’ follows sounding like a cross between Barry Adamson and The Eels. It is an interesting twisting version that adds to the original.

‘His Majesty The Executioner’ is an original song that begins like an ambient David Sylvian piece of music with acoustic guitar and looped piano before being overtaken by a storied narration, part horror, part mystery. Unfortunately, the voice is not engaging enough and the words too repetitive to sustain repeat listens.

Track 6 is ‘The Shadow’, a kind of gothic folk song, part murder ballad. It sounds like a folk song from the late 60’s or early 70’s and is reminiscent of such folk singers as Fred Neil or Nick Garrie. Perhaps it will be covered by other artists in the future.

‘The Rape of The Rose Garden’ follows and is a melancholy tale using a Rose Garden in decline as a metaphor for the decline of the American dream after the death of JFK. Musically it is a folk-country piano ballad and is successful in its telling and construction.

In ‘Scott Walker 1996’, an acoustic guitar figure repeats creating an air of mystery, suspense and drama as David J recites a poem about Scott Walker living in Holland Park, 1996, the album Tilt had been released and had put him back in the spotlight once again, but he still craved his anonymity, invisibility, wearing his baseball cap as disguise, ‘dark blue glasses for eyes’…

‘Down In the Tenderloin’ is another original song that David J sings in a higher register sounding a bit like David Bowie with the acoustic guitar somehow reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cults ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’.

‘A Girl in Port’ – is a cover version of a song written by Will Sheff for his band Okkervil River. David J here sounds like a cross between John Bramwell (I Am Kloot) and Richard Ashcroft (The Verve). A nice countryfied version of the song.

Overall, a good album. However, given the time period over which the songs were recorded, it does lack cohesion. Nevertheless it has some good songs, ‘(I Don’t Want to Destroy) Our Beautiful Thing’, ‘A Girl in Port’ and ‘Lay Over And Lay’ being the stand-out tracks.

EP REVIEW/Graham Domain

Sis ‘Gnani’
(Native Cat Recordings) 

Gnani is an excellent 6 track EP channelling the Spirit of Alice Coltrane via 70’s vintage synths / keyboards, tape loops, afro-beat and chilled jazz and dance rhythms. The music created, a kind of chilled spiritual jazz /dance hybrid – a music of calmness, reflection and spiritual re-birth. It engenders feelings of carefree spring days, untroubled moments of discovery, the joy of just living! Its creator Sis, is the alter-ego of singer and muti-instrumentalist Jennie Gillespie Mason.

The first song ‘Double Rapture’ sounds like a lost chilled dance remix of Everything But The Girl. Analogue Synths vibe alongside a drum machine and percussion giving it a laid-back feel while the calming soft vocal sounds both, of the future and of the past.

‘Wooie’ is a catchy song with a distorted beat. It has a feel of something recorded in the mid 1980’s and rhythmically sounds almost like a cross between ‘Sledgehammer’ era Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads. If this song had been released as a single in 1985 with a cut-up photo animation video it would have been a hit!

‘Flower in Space’ is the longest song at around 6 minutes. It begins with a looped piano motif, as Sis sings of the man without lips who is speaking, who sees without eyes, the man without ears who listens…from a flower in space. The song takes on a spiritual dimension as the Eastern sounding music builds up and philosophical words are spoken on top. Soft echoing synths underplay the melody as the words once again make an emotional connection ‘I had another dream, the end of suffering’. Melodies spiral from the depths as the music devolves into mid period EWF cosmic noodling, finally ending with a dawn chorus of inter-galactic bird song to greet the new day! A strange but rewarding track that gets more seductive with each listen.

‘Light Is There’ begins with vocal harmonies and a short sampled ethnic song melody. The walking cosmic frequencies that underpin the high range girl harmonics add to the universal one-ness of being before eventually trailing off, leaving a hand-clap rhythm and shooting stars burning up the night sky!

‘Embodiment’ is a kind of restrained dance song uplifted by live percussion and acid-house hi-hat. It is propelled at various moments by deep synths, organ, Fender Rhodes, 70’s Wow synths, strange whirling bee sting noise, and later on by intermittent outbreaks of modal jazz clarinet. The vocals hide in the music with melody low on the agenda making it the least interesting song on the EP.

The final track ‘Gazelle Rites’ is an instrumental that starts off sounding like a Lonnie Liston Smith out-take from the 70’s with its Fender Rhodes riff and wobbly bass synth, soon augmented by a funky clavinet giving it a slight Stevie Wonder vibe for a few moments. It is my favourite track, with its minimal use of some great sounding vintage keyboards and analogue synths (B3 Hammond Organ, ARP Odyssey among them). Splendidly Cosmic!

Overall, the EP presents a transformative journey. Moving from a feeling of detachment at the outset, a feeling of being on the outside looking in, by the third song the calming and slightly surreal music has become more spiritually uplifting, inventive and liberating. The underlying message – accept yourself and heal. A wonderful EP that becomes more addictive with each play.

PLAYLIST SPECIAL

Another eclectic spread of all the artists/bands/ensembles/collaborations that have piqued our interest, warmed our hearts and got us thinking during March, the Monthly playlist collects tracks from all the reviews, mentions during the last 31 days on the blog. There are also a number of tracks that got away, or we just didn’t have room for.

We have Matt Oliver once more on the rap control, picking another essential showcase of new hip-hop cuts from Your Old Droog, Fly Anakin, Juga-Naut, The God Fahim and Jesht. Plus a myriad of borderless picks from every genre imaginable; including tracks from El Khat, Koma Saxo, Big Thief, Sweeney, ASSASSUN, Crows, Alice Dreamt, Kick, Adam Walton, Kristine Leschper and plenty more.

THOSE TRACKS IN FULL ARE:::

Paten Locke & Edan  ‘Fried’
Koma Saxo w/ Sofia Jernberg ‘Koma Krig (Ft. Lucy Railton & Maria Reich)’
El Khat  ‘Djaja’
Terakaft  ‘Jagwar’
Etienne Jaumet & Fabrizio Rat  ‘Rive Opposte’
Big Thief  ‘Time Escaping’
Tone Of Voice Orchestra  ‘That Kind Of Day’
Pussy Riot w/ Vérité & Latashá  ‘Laugh It Off’
Martha D Lewis  ‘Dawn’
Sweeney  ‘The Break Up’
ASSASSUN  ‘Over Again’

Le Pietre Dei Giganti  ‘Ohm’
Bleak Soul  ‘Mundane, USA’

Kick  ‘Sirens Never Sleep’
Nova Charm  ‘Over.Loading’
Exociety  ‘Good Grief (Ft. Rav, Kill Bill: The Rapper, Scuare & Airospace)’
Raw Poetic & Damu The Fudgemunk  ‘Chewing Gum’
Fly Anakin  ‘Sean Price’
Neuro… No Neuro  ‘Take A Step Outside Of Yourself’
Mai Mai Mai  ‘Fimmine, Fimmine (Ft. Vera Di Lecce)’
Your Old Droog  ‘.500’

Flying Monk  ‘Fuck The Fame (Ft. Axel Holy)’
Elzhi & Georgia Anne Muldrow  ‘Every moment (Ft. Dudley Perkins)’
PLOP & JUNNU  ‘Totnoy’
Tom Caruana  ‘3000 Volt Scarf (Ft. Lee Scott & Jazz T)’
Psych Major ‘Peace Bridge (Ft. Jamal Gasol, Wyze Wonda, DNTE & Toneyboi)’
J Scienide  ‘Danceteria’
Juga-Naut  ‘Dressed As Myself’
V Don & Sauce Heist  ‘Wray & Nephew’
The Other Guys  ‘Crepes And Breaks’
Isambard Khroustaliov  ‘Cryptoersatz’
Simon McCorry & Anthéne  ‘Distant Glitter’
Leaf Dog & BVA  ‘Devil’s Breath’

Stinkin Slumrok  ‘SHOW ME’
Jehst, Confucius & Mr Brown  ‘Daily Planet’
The God Fahim  ‘4 Matic’
Nicolas Zullo  ‘Strano Siero’
Chlorinefields  ‘Finally’
The White Russian  ‘B Child’
Shelterheart  ‘Empty Pockets’
The Lancashire Hustlers  ‘Happiness On A String’
David Åhlén  ‘My Only Treasure’
Rodrigo Bragança  ‘Third Walkers’
Fatoumata Diawara  ‘Dji L’eau (Malian Movement)’
Amaru Tribe  ‘La Serpiente’

Istanbul Blues Kumpanyasi  ‘Keep The Lord (In You) – Live’
Papercuts  ‘Palm Sunday’
Crows  ‘Garden Of England’
Alice Dreamt  ‘All Those Little Things’
Harry Christelis & Pedro Velasco  ‘LD13’

Alex Izenberg  ‘Egyptian Cadillac’
Bart Davenport  ‘Billionaires’
Carl Erdmann  ‘Turritella Flats’
Σtella & Redinho  ‘Charmed’
Adam Walton Cloudbursts II’
Kristine Leschper  ‘Carina’
Pjusk  ‘Aftenblå’

ALBUM REVIEW/Graham Domain

Sweeney ‘Stay For the Sorrow’
(sound in silence)

This is the fourth solo album by Jason Sweeney (based in Southern Australia) and what a great record it is; a forlorn song cycle of break-up, sadness, mental illness, loneliness and the pursuit of love.

The influences are many – Mark Hollis, Talk Talk, Cousteau, Ian McCulloch, David Sylvian, Scott Matthew, Galaxy 500, David Ackles, Max Richter, Oren Lavie, John Grant, Perfume Genius, Scott Walker, to name a few, but Sweeney somehow manages to rise above them all and produce a great album that sounds like himself.

The first song ‘Lonely Faces’ reminds me of Cousteau in the vocal phrasing – a plaintiff, mysterious piano with a nice melody. On the chorus his vocals take on an Ian McCulloch vibe (circa Heaven Up Here – A Promise) as he cries …Be Alone. A great track. The next song, ‘The Break Up’ has echoes of early Talk Talk and Mark Hollis with its icy programmed synths and electronic drums. While ‘Home Song’ is a moody slow song with descending piano chords and string synths. Here, all hope seems lost as he mumble-sings ‘saved from this Hell outside’ before the song ends with the forlorn repeated plea to his lover to please come home…

‘Fallen Trees Where Houses Meet’ has a very David Sylvian like title but sounds vocally somewhere in-between Galaxy 500 and David Ackles. The music is a programmed keyboard pattern repeated with icy siren synths as Sweeney sings ‘You tell me there’s no moon tonight’ and other oblique lines creating a fairly atmospheric song that fades out too soon, before it has a chance to progress. ‘You Will Move On’ meanwhile, sounds like a semi-robotic hesitant alien computer trying to communicate. I would have liked to listen to this song again but the link blocked me – such is technology! It reminded me of the great, forgotten, Phillip Jap, atmospheric, a cry for help! ‘Years’ has echoes of the emotional Scott Matthew (the Australian, not the Scott Matthews from Wolverhampton) as Sweeney sings …the fear of life, the fear of death… dreams of life, dreams of death …years go by – the anxiety eventually giving way and opening up to summer birdsong at the end (the light at the end of the tunnel)!

The stand-out song, for me, is ‘Anxiety’ – a lilting piano song, almost upbeat, catchy like Covid, cheerful like Tommy Steel with bipolar, as he sings ‘I may die from anxiety, I can feel it killing me, gnawing inside painfully’. It is actually a beautiful song of sadness, mental illness and slow recovery.

‘Dear Friend’ finds a tired half-asleep drum machine talking to a drunken string machine as a Bryan Ferry song plays at the wrong speed on the jukebox. Reminiscent again of Talk Talk or perhaps even Icehouse. The only miscalculation on the album is the song ‘To Be Done’. Lyrically it’s like a song Stuart Staples might write but is ruined by a middle part that is a direct steal from David Sylvian’s ‘Maria’ – so obvious, he should have scrapped it! The final song ‘I Will Be Replaced’  finds the singer replaced in a relationship by another man, while he despairs to know why? A sad George Michael Careless Whisper saxophone plays to heighten the misery.

Overall, a very good, deep album of songs about sadness, loss and the continual search for love. It is an album where the sadness and struggle are somehow inspiring and uplifting. Highly recommended.

ALBUM REVIEW/Graham Domain

Simon Grab And Francesco Giudici ‘[No] Surrender’
(-OUS)

[No] Surrender is a Dark Masterpiece, a seething cauldron of anger and an uncompromising aural assault on social injustice and the underlying, ineffective and corrupt systems of power prevalent in modern societies. The greedy, self-serving officers of power protecting and abusing their positions of trust while condemning the community they are meant to represent and serve!

The music, or detailed aural atmospheres, created in the work, inhabit interior worlds of unease, suffocating terror, blackness, claustrophobic darkness, inescapable fear and the closed dark prison of the mind.

‘I Leave’ begins the chilling journey. The music surrounding you like an angry mob. Closing in, the one thought, to escape. But like a nightmare, you cannot move, cannot run, cannot scream, cannot breathe. Silent tears choke and bind the voice box. Suffocating dark sadness. The taste of death, like candy in your mouth.

In ‘Forest Spirit’ a sense of unease pervades, an atmosphere redolent of the 1970’s film The Warriors – trying to make your way home down ill-lit paths, potential violence around every corner! The music unbalanced, static and feedback, like walking through a crumbling dead city of dark looming buildings, cries and wails in the distance, carried on the wind. The blood stains of forgotten terrible murders visible in the moonlit sheen, droning chaos, sweat pouring down a white stretched face, mouth open in silent terror!

In ‘Sirens’ tuneless stalking feedback and footsteps of death echo back along the dark paths of a mind closed down. Hidden. A black wall erected to block out the alien landscape of dust and intermittent sirens. Moonlight seeping through black cloud, the awful bitter taste of death, no saliva in the mouth, sheer panic. A drill pressed hard against exposed nerve, deep wound, cut to the bone! Unsettling disquiet!

In ‘Wolves’ alien insect noise, disturbing, all-consuming smothering sound. High haunting feedback. A noose of sound, pulled tight, gasping for air, submerged in deep water, screaming out blackness. The final thought, terror, confusion, helplessness. Awaiting execution. The merciless look in dead eyes. The waiting, the not knowing! Buried alive, shallow breathing. A crescendo of abject fear.

The last track, ‘Aftermath’ slowly reveals its’ charms of rolling dust, thunder, high pitched feedback and static. Extreme weather engines, the constant pulse of machines, electricity burning through bodies, smoking flesh. The throb of a cold dead hell, insects crawling over the silence. The eternal unremitting high-pitched silence.

[No] Surrender then is the sound of pure evil disguised as benevolence, the helping hand withdrawn for your own good, replaced with the gift of poverty, starvation and death, awarded with a knowing wink and a dazzling smile. Photogenic devastation. Social Injustice has never looked so shiny and bright.

The Album is out now on the –OUS Label as a vinyl album and download album.

PLAYLIST SPECIAL

An encapsulation of the last month, the Monolith Cocktail team (Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea and Graham Domain) chose some of the choicest and favourite tracks from February. It may have been the shortest of months, yet we’ve probably put together our largest playlist in ages: all good signs that despite everything, from Covid to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, artists, bands everywhere are continuing to create.

65 tracks, over 4 hours of music, February’s edition can be found below:

That exhaustive track list in full:::

Animal Collective ‘Walker’
Modern Nature ‘Performance’
Gabrielle Ornate ‘Spirit Of The Times’
The Conspiracy ‘Red Bird’
Cubbiebear/Seez Mics ‘All Friended Up’
Dubbledge/Chemo ‘Itchy Itchy’
Dirty Dike ‘Bucket Kicker’
Future Kult ‘Beasts With No Name’
Lunch Money Life ‘Jimmy J Sunset’
Ben Corrigan/Hannah Peel ‘Unbox’
Uncommon Nasa ‘Epiphany’
War Women Of Kosovo ‘War Is Very Hard’
Ben Corrigan/Douglas Dare ‘Ministry 101’
Sven Helbig ‘Repetition (Ft. Surachai)’
Ayver ‘Reconciliacion Con La Vida’
Lucidvox ‘Swarm’
Provincials ‘Planetary Stand-Off’
Wovenhand ‘Acacia’
Aesop Rock ‘Kodokushi (Blockhead Remix)’
Junglepussy ‘Critiqua’
Tanya Morgan/Brickbeats ‘No Tricks (Chris Crack) Remix’
Buckwild ‘Savage Mons (Ft. Daniel Son, Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon & Eto) Remix’
Che Noir ‘Praises’
Koma Saxo w/Sofia Jernberg ‘Croydon Koma’
Medicine Singers/Yontan Gat/Jamie Branch ‘Sanctuary’
Black Josh/Milkavelli/Lee Scott ‘Die To This’
Funky DL ‘I Can Never Tell (Ft. Stee Moglie)’
Mopes ‘Home Is Like A Tough Leather Jacket’
ANY Given TWOSDAY ‘Hot Sauce (Ft. Sum)’
Split Prophets/Res One/Bil Next/Upfront Mc/0079 ‘Bet Fred’
Nelson Dialect/Mr. Slipz/Vitamin G/Verbz ‘Oxford Scholars’
Immi Larusso/Morriarchi ‘Inland’
Homeboy Sandman ‘Keep That Same Energy’
Wax Tailor/Mick Jenkins ‘No More Magical’
Ilmiliekki Quartet ‘Sgr A*’
Your Old Droog/The God Fahim ‘War Of Millionz’
Ramson Badbonez/Jehst ‘Alpha’
Ghosts Of Torrez ‘The Wailing’
Pom Poko ‘Time’
Daisy Glaze ‘Statues Of Villians’
Orange Crate Art ‘Wendy Underway’
Seigo Aoyama ‘Overture/Loop’
Duncan Park ‘Rivers Are A Place Of Power’
Drug Couple ‘Linda’s Tripp’
Ebi Soda/Yazz Ahmed ‘Chandler’
Brian Bordello ‘Yes, I Am The New Nick Drake’
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets ‘Bubblegum Infinity’
Steve Gunn ‘Protection (Ft. Mdou Moctar)’
Jane Inc. ‘Contortionists’
Black Flower ‘Morning in The Jungle (Ft. Meskerem Mees)’
Jo Schornikow ‘Visions’
The Goa Express ‘Everybody In The UK’
Pintandwefall ‘Aihai’
Thomas Dollbaum ‘God’s Country’
Crystal Eyes ‘Don’t Turn Around’
Glue ‘Red Pants’
Super Hit ‘New Day’
Legless Trials ‘Junior Sales Club Of America’
Monoscopes ‘The Edge Of The Day’
Alabaster DePlume ‘Don’t Forget You’re Precious’
Orlando Weeks ‘High Kicking’
Carl Schilde ‘The Master Tape’
Bank Myna ‘Los Ojos de un Cielo sin Luz’
Park Jiha ‘Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans’
Simon McCorry ‘Interstices’



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